Sound Transit 158 results

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit wants to talk with you again about stations

(Rendering from Sound Transit’s draft environmental impact statement on West Seattle extension)

Toward the end of last October’s West Seattle meeting about light-rail station planning, Sound Transit managers promised a followup event here in “early” 2024. Last night, they announced the date: March 5. They’re promising that what they bring will reflect what attendees said at the October event plus via other means of feedback – “a summary of community priorities for future light rail station design in West Seattle and SODO, based on feedback we heard from the public in fall 2023.” Currently three stations are planned on this side of the Duwamish River – Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction – and ST has presented relatively detailed layouts for the likely locations, though the exact routing hasn’t been finalized yet (that’s expected in the second half of this year). So set your calendar for 5:30-7:30 pm Tuesday, March 5, same place as the October meeting – the Alki Masonic Center at 40th/Edmunds. The $4 billion West Seattle light-rail extension is still projected to start service in 2032, after five years of construction starting in 2027.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Business at likely station site sends open letter ‘reaching out to our community for support, solidarity, perhaps even some shared strategies’

If Sound Transit keeps West Seattle light rail on its current schedule, construction could start in 2027 – three years away.

That might seem like a long time (especially considering seven years already have passed since the ST3 ballot measure that laid the groundwork for it), but for those with homes and businesses in its path, the clock is ticking. The Sound Transit Board won’t finalize the West Seattle station locations and routing until after the Final Environmental Impact Statement is published in the “middle” of this year, but is already focusing planning on likely station sites – including this one at the north end of Delridge Way.

Near the arrow labeled “north to West Seattle Bridge” is the current site of music venue/restaurant/bar The Skylark, whose owner Matt Larson sent an open letter to the community last night. We saw it via their mailing list and obtained permission to republish it:

Hello Skylark Friends, Family, Beloved Patrons,

I hope this message finds you well, and I want to take a moment to share something close to our hearts—something that directly impacts the heartbeat of our community.

You’re likely aware of the impending West Seattle Light Rail Extension, a reality that is drawing ever closer as we are directly in its path. However, what may not be as widely known are the challenges faced by businesses like ours, as well as our dear neighbors at Mode Music, Alki Daycare, and countless others in the West Seattle and Seattle area.

The city, in recognition of the impact this extension will have on local businesses, is offering support in the form of moving, storing, and hooking up our equipment. While they have committed to covering up to $50,000 in associated costs, it’s important to understand that this sum, though significant, falls short of the financial hurdles we would face. This would certainly not cover paying ourselves and our staff during the downtime, any buildouts that would most likely be necessary, the exponential increase in rent, plus all of the other costs that would be incurred with such an undertaking.

This looming inevitability not only disrupts our daily operations but also poses a significant obstacle when it comes to the future of our businesses. Even if one wanted to sell their business at this point, selling at their true value becomes impossible under these circumstances. Furthermore, we find ourselves in a challenging position as we await the letter informing us of the timeline for evacuation — ranging from 1 to 5 years (but probably closer to 1-2) — and the undetermined period we’ll have to vacate thereafter.

I share this not to debate the merits of the light rail or delve into the politics surrounding it. At this point, it’s an unavoidable reality we must collectively navigate. As the only music venue in West Seattle, one of the few all-ages venues in the city, and a hub for community events and LGBTQ gatherings, we’ve proudly been part of this vibrant community for over 16 years.

We’ve weathered storms together—from the challenges of the past years to enduring the bridge closure. Still, as we strive to find our footing amidst the rising costs of everything, the prospect of relocation without the necessary support feels disheartening, to say the least.

I share this not seeking sympathy but understanding. Our story is one of resilience, and we’re reaching out to our community for support, solidarity, and perhaps even some shared strategies for navigating this uncertain path.

In the meantime, I just ask that you perhaps pay an extra visit to us here and there! Support the other businesses and if you have something to offer, I know we are all ears and open to help, thoughts, ideas, or just moral support! We want to be here for you and we don’t want West Seattle to lose something very unique that will be terribly difficult to replicate or replace.

Thank you for being the heartbeat of West Seattle. Together, we’ll find the rhythm to face the challenges ahead and preserve the spirit that makes our community truly special.

With Gratitude,

Matt Larson
Owner, Skylark Cafe and Club

As Matt’s open letter notes, The Skylark is not the only business in this situation. But he felt this was the time to make a plea to the community. If you read our daily “what’s happening today/tonight” lists, Skylark events are a mainstay, including weekly open-mic, trivia, and bingo, plus live bands almost every Friday and Saturday. The venue is also a restaurant and bar. He’s owned it for a decade. Two years ago, we talked with Matt about The Skylark’s pandemic-survival story.

FOLLOWUP: Sound Transit Board votes to hire Goran Sparrman as interim CEO for $385,000+

Three days after Sound Transit announced Goran Sparrman was under consideration to become interim CEO, board members voted this afternoon to hire him for a year. Outgoing CEO Julie Timm‘s last day will be tomorrow, and Sparrman will start work right after that. Timm was hired less than a year and a half ago for $375,000; Sparrman’s salary will be $385,000, plus a $30,000 signing bonus and $29,000 retention bonus if he stays the entire year, according to the board-motion document. Sparrman is a former director of the city of Bellevue’s transportation department as well as former deputy director and interim director of SDOT; most recently, he worked for private-sector infrastructure firm HNTB. Major ST action expected during his year at the helm is expected to include the board’s final vote on West Seattle light-rail routing and station locations, after the Final Environmental Impact Statement is published (currently expected “midyear”).

SOUND TRANSIT: Former SDOT executive Goran Sparrman proposed as interim CEO

Four weeks after Sound Transit‘s CEO Julie Timm announced her plan to leave, ST has announced a prospective interim CEO. Goran Sparrman served as acting Seattle Department of Transportation director under two mayors last decade, the second time for about half a year in 2018. At that time he was described as having “come out of retirement” but apparently he didn’t go back into it, as the Sound Transit announcement says he’s most recently worked as an executive at infrastructure firm HNTB (which the city hired in 2020 to design a potential West Seattle Bridge replacement). He’s also a former director of Bellevue’s city Transportation Department. The announcement also notes he’s a licensed professional engineer. The Sound Transit Board will consider appointing Sparrman to be acting CEO for a year at a special meeting this Thursday (January 11th). The year ahead will be pivotal for West Seattle’s planned light-rail extension, as the ST board is expected to decide later this year on the routing and station locations. We’re following up on ST regarding the time of Thursday’s meeting as well as what salary they’re proposing for the interim CEO.

ADDED TUESDAY: The meeting is set for 3 pm Thursday – here’s the agenda.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: 3 new Sound Transit Board members nominated

With the final major decisions for West Seattle light rail expected to be made this year – finalizing the routing and station locations – the Sound Transit Board will be down to just one West Seattleite. That person is King County Executive Dow Constantine, the current chair, who just nominated replacements for three King County vacancies: Succeeding former King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, the West Seattleite who did not run for reelection, would be County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay of South Seattle; succeeding former Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez, who also did not run for reelection, would be City Councilmember Dan Strauss of Ballard (which is also getting a light-rail extension), and succeeding former Kenmore mayor Dave Baker would be Redmond Mayor Angela Birney. They’ll all serve four-year terms on the board if approved by the King County Council. As the announcement explains, the board “includes 17 local elected officials – 10 from King County, four from Pierce County, and three from Snohomish County, and members are appointed by their respective County Executives.” Also on the board is state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar. The ST Board will make those major West Seattle decisions after the Final Environmental Impact Statement comes out in a timeframe ST current describes as “the middle of” this year. The board also has to find a new CEO. Its first full meeting of this year is January 25th.

LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit CEO leaving after less than a year and a half

As light-rail planning for West Seattle approaches a key point, Sound Transit will be changing leadership again. 15 months after starting as CEO, Julie Timm announced she’s leaving the $375,000/year job “in order to return to the East Coast to take care of family matters.” That’s according to an ST news release that says her last day will be January 12th, one month from today. The ST board will appoint an interim CEO “in the weeks ahead.” Their next meeting had been scheduled to include Timm’s performance rating and bonus, according to agenda documents. Before Timm, Peter Rogoff was CEO for more than six years. Around the middle of next year, the board is supposed to get the final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle Link Extension, after which the final routing (alignment) will be decided. There also will be some board changes early next year, since some of its current members are leaving, including West Seattle-residing County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who didn’t run for re-election.

LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit talks about stations with West Seattle Transportation Coalition, asks for your feedback

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though the Sound Transit Board won’t decide on the final West Seattle light-rail routing (“alignment”) before the middle of next year, the agency is proceeding with station design based on the “preferred alignment” that got preliminary board approval.

And as ST reps reiterated to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition last Thursday night, this is prime time to tell them what you think about how the design of West Seattle’s stations is shaping up. Your primary way to do that is to answer this survey – also pitched at ST’s recent meeting in The Junction (WSB coverage here and here) – if you haven’t already. That meeting did not include a briefing, just a chance to circulate and look at maps and sketches, so even if you attended, the materials from the WSTC meeting might provide a somewhat closer look.

Here’s the full slide deck from Thursday’s meeting. It includes three views of each planned station (Delridge, Avalon – still potentially on the table for omission, but design continues – and Junction). Below are the three major design views on which presenters focused:

First, the Delridge station (elevated) – some key points mentioned by ST’s Sloan Dawson included that the platform will be about 55′ above a reconfigured Charlestown Street. They’re working on pickup/dropoff/pedestrian zones to minimize having people crossing “a busy arterial.” The station itself eventually won’t front on Delridge – the street was shown as running alongside transit-oriented development projects that could be up to 85′ high (three stories higher than the platform). They don’t believe 26th/Andover will warrant a new signal but a new intersection at 23rd/Delridge will.

Next, the Avalon station (underground in what ST calls a “routine cut”):

This station will “straddle 35th SW,” underground, so entrances will be roughly where Taco Time and Pecos Pit (WSB sponsor) are now. Dawson also pointed out a plan to “reroute” part of SW Genesee in the area, as well as “a lot of new bike infrastructure” planned. He said they’re not currently envisioning any changes to the existing intersection signalization.

And next, the westernmost West Seattle station, in The Junction (tunneled):

Its entrances are envisioned on 40th and 42nd SW, and the platform would be 65′ below street level. There is new bicycle infrastructure here too, with protected bike lanes envisioned “all along the Alaska corridor.” Transit-oriented development in the area could go up to 75′.

Again, the full slide deck (here it is again) also has station-by-station looks at two other views – development near the station, and how you’ll get to the station (where buses and other vehicles will drop people off, for example).

In Q&A, ST reps were asked what happens if the board vote next year results in a different “alignment” than the ones these stations are on. The feedback provided now could be applied to other station locations, they said, but for the record, these are the only station locations getting some early design work now.

WHAT’S NEXT? The station-planning survey is open through December 20th.

WSTC’S NEXT MEETING: The group usually meets every other fourth Thursday, so that means the next meeting will be January 25, 2024 – watch westseattletc.org for info.

ADDED WEDNESDAY: Here’s video of the WSTC meeting, which the group just uploaded:

LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit reps @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition tomorrow

Following up on last month’s West Seattle station-planning event (WSB coverage here), Sound Transit reps will be guests at Thursday night’s meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. The group usually meets on fourth Thursdays, every other month, but moved this meeting because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Chair Michael Taylor-Judd promises “an in-depth review and discussion with Sound Transit on the latest planning for light rail expansion to our side of the Duwamish.” The WSTC meeting is online, 6:30 pm Thursday (November 30), and you can attend via this link (meeting ID 885 1970 8802, passcode WSTC) – all are welcome.

LIGHT RAIL: Here’s everything Sound Transit showed at West Seattle event, as another round of drilling continues

Thanks to the reader who texted the photo of Sound Transit‘s drill rig by Taco Time at 35th/Fauntleroy. It’s another round of the sampling they’ve been doing around the area as part of environmental studies for West Seattle light rail. ST spokesperson Rachelle Cunningham tells us it should be done at that spot by today’s end. Meantime, we promised to let you know when all the graphics show on easels and tables at last week’s open-house-style station-planning meeting were available – we requested them the next day but it’s taken ST until now to get them into a sharable format. Here they are, in PDF (41 pages).

P.S. The related survey remains open through December.

Sound Transit returns to West Seattle to talk about light-rail stations, kicking off another round of feedback

Last night’s Sound Transit open house at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction, the agency’s first in-person West Seattle meeting in many months, was largely a kickoff for a new round of feedback – which you can provide via this survey if you weren’t there to put sticky dots and/or notes on easel displays.

Though the final routing (alignment) of the $4 billion West Seattle Link Extension won’t be settled until after the final Environmental Impact Statement, its four planned stations – The Junction, Avalon, Delridge, and SODO – have ST-“preferred” locations on which the design discussion is focusing.

The feedback ST sought last night, and is seeking via the survey, focuses on possible projects near, and leading to/from, the stations, as well as the potential mixed-use Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) that’s likely to be built on station-adjacent sites that are used for construction staging. Regarding the station siting, here is the main graphic for The Junction’s station:

For Avalon (which, it should be noted, is still under consideration for removal from the plan to save money):

For Delridge:

We’ve requested the PDF version of all the meeting displays from Sound Transit and expect to have that later thi afternoon, plus it’s supposed to be added to the project website. Also note: We’re only focusing on the line as it crosses the Duwamish River and heads into West Seattle, but SODO is considered part of the West Seattle Link Extension too, so you’ll see that in the full package. In this round of feedback, the Delridge has the largest number of potential “projects” proposed, and the survey will take you through each one (you can choose to give feedback on one specific station, or all four). It’s open until December 20th.

Aside from an in-person version of the survey, last night’s gathering did include a few remarks from the stage, but rather than presenting project information, it was mostly an introduction of who and what was in the room. Nonetheless, we recorded video just in case. The first speaker is Jason Hampton, ST’s current point person for this project; the graphics projected onto the stage screen were images of ST stations elsewhere in the city:

As speakers noted, there was a significant city presence at the event too, since that’s who would lead the many potential transportation projects connecting to the stations. There was also a pitch for the draft Seattle Transportation Plan (feedback on that continues through Tuesday, October 31). Once the survey’s over, ST promised to return to West Seattle “early next year.” The timeline for the project continues to estimate the West Seattle extension will open in late 2032.

ADDED OCTOBER 30: We’ve also published this separately but for the record, the meeting graphics as shown on easels and tables are here.

WEDNESDAY: Sound Transit’s next West Seattle meeting

Reminder if you’re interested in Sound Transit‘s West Seattle light-rail plan, tomorrow night (Wednesday, October 25th), ST is hosting a “station planning forum.” It’s scheduled for 5:30-7:30 pm – with a “short presentation at 6 pm” – at Alki Masonic Center (40th/Edmunds) and will cover the stations in West Seattle and SODO. Recently, ST officially separated planning for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions, since the latter has fallen further behind and needs a new draft Environmental Impact Statement. Next key date in the West Seattle plan is the release of the final Environmental Impact Statement, which ST now says is due out in “mid-2024.” That would be followed by a final board vote on routing (“alignment”) for the extension. At the Wednesday meeting, ST says it will show “updated designs” for the stations – West Seattle has three proposed, Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction, though the possibility of dropping the Avalon station has not yet been formally ruled out. Current estimated date for West Seattle light rail to start service is late 2032.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Date set for Sound Transit’s next West Seattle meeting

While Sound Transit works on the final Environmental Impact Statement for its West Seattle to SODO extension – to be released next year in the run-up to a final vote on routing and station locations – it’s been promising another round of “community engagement.” Tonight we know the date for an in-person West Seattle meeting that’ll be a key part of that – three weeks from tomorrow, Wednesday, October 25th. The 5:30 pm meeting at Alki Masonic Center (40th/Edmunds) is described as a “station planning forum … to see updated designs for future light rail stations in West Seattle and SODO, and share your ideas and feedback.” Though the timeline for the final EIS has slid, Sound Transit still says West Seattle’s light-rail extension will be running by the end of 2032.

P.S. Sound Transit reps will talk about this meeting and other updates at Wednesday’s District 1 Community Network meeting (7 pm, High Point Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW).

West Seattle light-rail skeptics to launch ‘Rethink the Link’ campaign with community walk

Seven years after voters approved ST3, four years before Sound Transit expects to start building the West Seattle light rail line, some of your neighbors want to reconsider it. They say we need more transit – but not necessarily this kind of transit. They’re launching what they call Rethink the Link, with a community walk in two weeks – here’s their announcement:

When we say “Rethink the Link,” we are acknowledging that a lot has happened in the 7 years since voters decided to approve ST 3.
-A global pandemic.
-The 2 1/2 year closure of the West Seattle Bridge.
-The work-from-home phenomenon.

In light of those events, it’s time to take a fresh look at our transit options and insure that we have efficient, safe, and sustainable connections to the places we want to go.

Starting with Link Light Rail.

West Seattle residents have been asking Sound Transit to walk the proposed route with us so we can get a better idea of what the future will look like if light rail comes to our community. They’ve promised many times to “get back to us,” but never have. We have lots of questions. Maybe you do, too. So we’ve decided to host our own walk.

Using the information Sound Transit has made public about its preferred “alternatives,” and knowledge from residents who have served on transportation advisory panels, we are going to walk the eastern portion of the route between the proposed locations for the Delridge and Avalon stations. We’ll walk the rest of the route, between the Avalon and the Junction stations, in the near future.

On this walk, you will learn about the proposed route; physical dimensions of the infrastructure; businesses that will be displaced; the effect the project will have on the Duwamish greenbelt, wildlife, and salmon habitat; and how light rail will affect the residential area.

We believe that when our neighbors have a chance to see what light rail will mean for our community, they will be better able to make up their minds about what should come next.

The walk will leave Ounces (3809 Delridge Way SW) at 11 am September 17th. They’re specifically advocating for the “no-build alternative,” which is one of the options featured in this section of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (see page 73). It “includes the transportation system and environment as they would exist in 2042 without the proposed project, and it provides a baseline condition for comparing impacts of the Build Alternatives and design options.” That section also says “No Build Alternative improvements include transit, roadway, and other transportation actions by state, regional, and local agencies that are currently funded or committed, and those that are likely to be implemented based on approved and committed funding.” Theoretically, the Sound Transit Board could decide on this option, rather than light rail, when making its final commitment to “the project to be built” at some point after the Final Environmental Impact Report comes out next year.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: More Sound Transit drilling

With the final Environmental Impact Statement – and final routing/station-location decisions – for West Seattle light rail expected next year, Sound Transit continues with field work. We don’t always get advance notice, but ST has sent word of a new round that’s about to start on the north end of the West Duwamish Greenbelt:

Starting as early as Monday, August 14, Sound Transit plans to conduct up to three geotechnical borings on the W Duwamish Greenbelt, a City of Seattle greenspace located between the Pigeon Point neighborhood and the West Seattle Bridge (see map).

Sound Transit is in the planning phase for the West Seattle Link Extensions project. This work, along with other investigations throughout the project corridor, is necessary to plan and design potential light rail alignments being studied in the environmental review process.

To study soil and groundwater conditions, a drill rig is used to bore vertically into the ground while collecting soil samples. Following the collection of soil samples, a monitoring device is installed which will be used by crews to monitor water levels on future visits. Water level readings will be taken every few months as the design phase progresses. In accordance with all local regulations, the 4- to 12- inch diameter borings will be installed carefully to avoid soil erosion and dirt or mud from leaking into surface waters, wetlands, and drainage systems. Following the completion of the work, any exposed soil will be reseeded with a native seed mix.

The ST alert (see it here) says this work will be complete by Monday, September 11, with all work to be done weekdays, between 7 am and 5 pm, no road closures expected, though the bike/pedestrian path might be closed “intermittently” for up to 15 minutes at a time while they’re moving equipment.

This comes as ST has been asking some property owners for access to their property for other field work. We heard from some residents who were concerned about what would happen if they refused to grant access to ST, and also whether the field work locations indicated some decisionmaking prior to the final EIS’s release. We took those questions to ST spokesperson Rachelle Cunningham, who replied:

We ask for permission to enter properties in the project corridor to gather information necessary for the environmental review and design of the alternatives we are studying. The fieldwork data informs the development and analysis of alternatives being studied in the environmental review process and helps us better understand the conditions of the land as well as any potential impacts the project could have on the built and natural environment.

The right of entry requests are voluntary, so it is up to the property owner whether they want to sign. If we don’t receive an agreement from a property owner, we will look to gather information from the public right-of-way.

We’re conducting fieldwork throughout the project area. It is possible that we have not yet contacted some properties that we may contact in the future. If any property owner or tenant has questions about potential impacts to their property, we encourage them to reach out to our team at wsblink@soundtransit.org and we will schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss their property in relation to the current design.

It’s been a year since the Sound Transit Board voted on a “preferred alignment” for West Seattle, with the light-rail line now planned to open in 2032, after five years of construction. At the most recent public briefing in West Seattle, at May’s WS Transportation Coalition meeting, ST reps said the final EIS would be out no sooner than the second quarter of 2024.

2 key light-rail dates pushed back, Sound Transit tells West Seattle Transportation Coalition

(Sound Transit rendering, possible routing at Genesee looking east toward Avalon)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two dates of note on the Sound Transit light-rail extension timeline have been pushed back, ST told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition tonight.

One is the date ST will release the final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle extension, which has to happen before the ST board finalizes the routing and station locations.

The other is the date the Ballard extension is projected to open – important for West Seattle because light rail from here won’t go all the way downtown (and beyond) until then; riders from West Seattle will have to transfer in SODO.

ST’s Leda Chahim and Jason Hampton provided the updates – no slide deck, so we don’t have visual highlights. Chahim first spotlighted the split between timelines for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions, since various factors led to the West Seattle “preferred alternative” being identified first, rather than the two extensions’ planning processes rolling along in parallel. Then Chahim said they’re not expecting to publish the final EIS for West Seattle until next year – and not early in the year, either; she said it would be after the first quarter. The most-recent timeline had been “late 2023,” which is still on the ST project website tonight, though Chahim said some updates would appear there soon.

She also said the final EIS will incorporate the “further studies” items – they’ll all be fully analyzed. Otherwise, they’re “still working on details’ but expect community engagement “this fall” for the stations and design concepts. Before then, they’ll be out at fairs, festivals, and the Farmers’ Market, to get reacquainted with the community.

WSTC’s Deb Barker asked for more about the status of “refinements” (aka the “further studies” items). Hampton took on that reply. He recapped what’s been studied – potential access improvements for the Delridge station and shifting a station entrance for The Junction. Chahim said the ongoing project website will be updated in the next few days. So with Ballard on a different timeline, what will that mean for the gap between trains from West Seattle going to SODO and going beyond? The additional work on Ballard has taken almost two years so that extension is now not expected to open until 2039 – which means a seven-year gap, previously five years (Chahim said 2032 is still the projected date for West Seattle). West Seattle RapidRide routes to downtown will continue for all those years, Hampton said.

Barker wondered what ST is doing to educate candidates, considering that this fall’s local elections will bring lots of changes (for example, two Seattle ST board members are not running for re-election, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott of West Seattle and City Council President Debora Juarez of North Seattle). Chahim didn’t know of anything in particular.

WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd suggested that ST needs to think about incorporating commercial space at stations, considering the “much-loved” neighborhood businesses that are likely to be displaced. He talked about how the supportive-housing Cottage Grove Commons building included space for the nonprofit Delridge Grocery Co-op, which has taken a while to really blossom but is finally getting there.

The Sound Transit updates followed an appearance by Metro reps to discuss one specific service:

TRAILHEAD DIRECT: This is a seasonal service for taking transit to a faraway hike! Ryan Miller from Metro talked about the program, which started with a pilot in 2017, then expanded to connect with Seattle light rail in 2018 and to serve destinations that people were asking about. They “started the program to mitigate parking access” but learned that the program really was about equitable access to outdoor destinations. That led to a new route from South King County in 2019. The pandemic led to a time of re-evaluation; they brought back two popular routes, from Issaquah and from Capitol Hill, in 2021. That year, though, they also were affected by the operator shortages that have plagued the entire system. So now they’re focusing on the route from Capitol Hill, and “that’s where we’re at for this season,” said Miller.

In Q&A – what’s the cost? Same as other transit – no special fare. (That also means free for 18 and under, interjected Metro’s Al Sanders.) And the buses do have bicycle racks. In response to another question, Miller said the lessons they’ve learned from Trailhead Direct have helped them when planning service restructuring, to include parks and other destinations. WSTC’s Barker pointed out that Alki service is spotty since Route 37 is long suspended; Miller noted 50, 773, and 775 still run. What types of coaches does Trailhead Direct use? asked WSTC’s Kate Wells. They tend to be a “little smaller” than the standard Metro coach, Miller said. The drivers are with Hopelink, so they don’t come from the pool handling general Metro service.

BOARD ELECTIONS: Three members were re-elected; no one was nominated for three vacant positions, so if you’re interested, contact WSTC and get involved.

NEXT MEETINGS: WSTC remains on an every-other-month schedule – so the rest of the year will include July 27th, September 28th, November 16th (tentative), 6:30 pm. They’re still mulling locations in hopes of holding hybrid meetings (in-person and online).

In case you wondered too: More digging for West Seattle light-rail planning

February 24, 2023 5:07 pm
|    Comments Off on In case you wondered too: More digging for West Seattle light-rail planning
 |   Sound Transit | West Seattle news

Thanks for the tips/questions/photos! Work crews like the one above near 40th/Oregon in The Junction are out doing more environmental testing for Sound Transit light-rail planning. ST says nearby residents should have all received explanatory flyers, but if you didn’t, here’s the one for 40th/Oregon, and here’s the one for 37th/Fauntleroy. In both cases, crews are boring holes for monitoring water levels in the ground – according to the flyers, “Crews will monitor water levels by visiting these sites about every few months to take measurements throughout final design of the project.” ST is continuing to work toward publishing the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle routing/station locations later this year.

LIGHT RAIL: West Seattle ‘further studies’ items get briefest of briefings

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Toward the end of a four-hour meeting today, the West Seattle portion of Sound Transit‘s light-rail “further studies” briefing lasted just a few minutes. That was not entirely surprising, since the rest of the briefing for the ST Board’s System Expansion Committee included sections for which big decisions have yet to be made.”Gotta fish or cut bait pretty soon here” is how ST board member Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell put it regarding those decisions. ‘

But the briefing did illuminate a few things for the West Seattle segment. For one, ST staff put forward a possible “end-to-end scenario” that incorporated two of the three “studied” possibilities for West Seattle – moving the entrance to the Junction station and shifting the Delridge alignment – but did not include the potential removal of the Avalon station. That doesn’t mean this is what staff is necessarily formally proposing or supporting, but it’s worth noting that it’s what they showed as an example.

Before getting to that slide, ST’s Cathal Ridge showed slides going back through the three West Seattle “further studies” proposals (explained in this memo). The most detailed was the possible Delridge “refinement,” which Ridge said had been evolving as design work proceeded:

Here’s the “updated concept” addressing some of the Delridge station concerns:

Another major concern that had come up earlier in the process was the potential effects on Transitional Resources, a nonprofit serving people living with behavioral-health challenges, with services and facilities including supportive housing. As this slide showed, the current alignment goes right through the heart of its operations:

The “refinement” shown today wouldn’t entirely spare Transitional Resources, but would reduce the major effect to one smaller property, Ridge said:

Uphill from there, he had little elaboration about the possibility of dropping the Avalon station, beyond what this slide shows:

Earlier in the meeting, leading off the public-comment section, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold urged board members to think about how elimination of the Avalon station might affect low-income High Point residents needing to get to light rail. Meantime, back to the last “further studies” area, here are the slides shown for the possible relocation of the Junction station entrance:

This option, it was clarified in response to a question, would only move the entrance, not the station itself.

So what’s next? For the West Seattle items, that’s up in the air. No vote is required (until the vote later this year that finalizes “the project to be built,” after the Final Environmental Impact Statement comes out). The board does have to vote on a “preferred alternative” for the rest of the West Seattle/Ballard extensions, beyond SODO, and is expected to do that next month. One thing we do know is that they’re still taking community feedback on all the “further studies” items (see the full 134-page slide deck here) and will get a summary at the full board’s February 23rd meeting, so if you feel strongly about one or more of these possible changes, now’s the time to say something. Here’s a survey, open for one more week (until February 17th), also reachable from the “further studies” section of the West Seattle/Ballard Link Extensions website.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: The ‘further studies’ are done. How could these 3 potential changes affect the plan?

Tomorrow, the Sound Transit Board‘s System Expansion Committee takes a closer look at the West Seattle/Ballard light-rail extension proposals that were suggested for “further studies.” This includes three possible West Seattle changes:

-Move Junction station entrance west to 42nd SW
-Shift Delridge alignment
-Drop Avalon station

None of these were part of what the ST Board approved as the preliminary “preferred alignment” last year, but any or all could be added to the plan before the board’s final routing/station-location decision later this year. First, the results of the “further studies” have to be presented (and potentially discussed), and that’s on the agenda for the committee’s 1-5 pm meeting tomorrow.

The details are in this document. Here are toplines on the three:

Above is the map for what moving The Junction station would look like. The key points from the report:

Study focus: Improve station access
The Alaska Junction Station Access Refinement concept reduces the travel time needed to access the station entrance for passengers approaching from California Avenue SW and transferring from north-south bus routes.

Other Implications
Property acquisition and displacements

The Alaska Junction Station Access Refinement concept results in full acquisition of the Jefferson Square property, bounded by SW Alaska Street, 41st Avenue SW, 42nd Avenue SW, and SW Edmunds Street, and reduced property acquisition east of 41st Avenue SW, south of SW Alaska Street. This results in a net change of 39 fewer residential displacements and 32 additional business displacements.

Development opportunity
The full acquisition of the Jefferson Square property increases the opportunity for agency-led equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) for WSJ-5. This provides the opportunity for development of a large contiguous site with 90 additional potential residential units, compared to WSJ-5.

Cost
The Alaska Junction Station Access Refinement concept has the potential to increase the cost from the realigned financial plan (including WSJ-5) by about $81 million.

Next, the map for what shifting the Delridge alignment would look like:

Key points from the report:

Study focus: Improve station access and transit integration
The concept achieves the study objective of facilitating streamlined bus-light rail transfers by positioning bus stops adjacent to the light rail station entrance. DEL-6 assumed bus loading zones on both sides of SW Andover Street, requiring people transferring between buses and light rail to cross SW Andover Street at street level in the vicinity of the main access point for trucks serving Nucor Steel. This refinement eliminates the need for light rail passengers transferring from buses to cross SW Andover Street and removes conflicts between people walking and biking to the station and freight movement. Additionally, the refinement lowers the station height by about 15 feet, reducing the time needed for passengers to access the station from ground level. These changes improve the transfer experience for passengers traveling to and from communities to the south of the station, with higher percentages of people of color and low-income people.

Study focus: Reduce effects to organizations serving low-income and communities of color
The concept avoids two Transitional Resources buildings on the west side of SW Avalon Way at SW Andover Street, which include multiple residential units and outpatient behavioral health offices. The concept avoids 31 units of housing but does affect a different Transitional Resources property that provides housing for five people. These units could be more easily relocated than those affected by DEL-6.

Other Implications
Traffic and transit effects

The project team evaluated the traffic implications of adding a new signal at 23rd Avenue SW and Delridge Way SW. A new signal at this location is not expected to affect roadway safety for southbound traffic exiting from the West Seattle Bridge onto Delridge Way SW. Additionally, in the afternoon peak period when southbound volumes are highest, the new traffic signal is not expected to result in a queue beyond what would occur without the new signal. This result is in part due to the existing signal at SW Andover Street and Delridge Way SW. The project team is currently evaluating circulation options to minimize bus travel times on Delridge Way SW, while still providing a direct connection to the station entrance. This work will be completed in the preliminary engineering (PE) and final design phases of the project.

The creation of a cul-de-sac at 32nd Avenue SW is not expected to have implications to traffic. The block of 32nd Avenue SW that would be affected is a low volume local residential street.Some properties on the east side of the street may also be able to continue to access their properties from the alley. Additionally, emergency vehicles may have a longer route to access some properties. Design treatments for the cul-de-sacs and parking restrictions may need to be considered to accommodate adequate emergency access.

Property acquisitions and displacements
Overall, the concept results in 14 fewer residential displacements and 3 more business displacements.

Effects to Longfellow Creek
The changes to the orientation of Delridge Station result in a new elevated track alignment that crosses a daylighted portion of the creek, rather than the piped portion crossed by DEL-6, with columns within the riparian management corridor and 100-year FEMA floodplain. This new alignment will therefore require additional regulatory approvals from federal and state agencies as well as the City. The project team is coordinating closely with the City of Seattle SPU and SDCI to evaluate multiple scenarios to minimize effects to riparian corridor and floodplain.

Cost
The Delridge Access, Integration, and Alignment Refinement concept has the potential to increase the cost from the realigned financial plan (including DEL-6) by about $53 million.

Finally, the map of what would change if the Avalon station was dropped from the plan:

Here’s what the report says that would do:

Study focus: Cost savings
The Eliminate Avalon Station concept, including the Delridge Access, Integration, and Alignment Refinement, has the potential to lower the cost from the realigned financial plan (including WSJ5 and DEL-6) by about $31 million.

Other Implications
Passenger experience and station access

The Eliminate Avalon Station concept results in longer travel times for passengers taking light rail from the area around the WSJ-5 Avalon Station location. These passengers could walk, bike, or take transit to the Alaska Junction or Delridge Stations. Alaska Junction Station is located uphill from the Avalon Station location, while Delridge Station is located downhill. Bus routes that would have connected to Avalon Station would be reconfigured to connect to Alaska Junction or Delridge stations, so bus access to Link stations may take longer for some riders.

The analysis shows that the elimination of Avalon Station would not result in a reduction in ridership on the West Seattle Extension. In 2042, the Extension would serve a similar number of trips as WSJ-5 due to an anticipated ridership increase at Alaska Junction Station. Any ridership increase is not expected to result in additional substantive traffic effects as most of the additional trips would come from people walking, biking, or transferring from buses.

Property acquisition and displacements
Overall, this concept results in approximately 48 fewer residential displacements, and 3 fewer business displacements.

Construction effects
The concept eliminates the need for a one-year full closure of 35th Avenue SW south of SW Genesee Street and a one-and-a-half-year partial closure of Fauntleroy Way SW at SW Avalon Way during construction.

Street ROW [right of way] effects
The concept results in the following street ROW effects:
• Avoids permanent closure of SW Genesee Street at 35th Avenue SW
• Additional permanent roadway closures for a tunnel portal in the vicinity of SW Andover Street and 32nd Avenue SW

The report on these studies does not include a recommendation on whether the board should adopt them or not; no vote is scheduled so far. Eventually the board could simply decide to take the results under advisement and never take action on them. But if you have a strong opinion about any of them, pro or con, you’ll want to comment – you can do that during tomorrow’s meeting or in writing before/during/after. Here’s how. The meeting agenda also has the link for viewing or calling in to tomorrow afternoon’s meeting, which also is open to the public in person at the ST Board Room in Union Station downtown (401 S. Jackson).

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Two dates, plus online look at ‘further study’ findings

4:52 PM: The Sound Transit Board‘s meeting has just concluded. As we learned shortly before the meeting, West Seattle “areas of further study” results for ideas such as scrapping the Avalon station were not part of today’s presentation after all, but will be included when the board’s System Expansion Committee meets at 1 pm Thursday, February 9th. The slide deck for this afternoon’s presentation by ST’s Cathal Ridge nonetheless included two dates of note:

Those dates: The vote to finalize the route and station locations is now expected on November 16th. The Final Environmental Impact Statement will be released at some point before that. According to the new timeline, the West Seattle project schedule has slid two months; the line is expected to open in the final quarter of 2032. One more note: While a new survey for the West Seattle/Ballard extensions mostly focuses on the unsettled areas, there is an open-ended option for providing West Seattle feedback; you can go here to do that before February 17th.

6:54 PM: The project website does recap some of what’s been found about the proposed West Seattle “areas of further study,” even though it wasn’t discussed today. Go here and scroll to where you can expand the West Seattle Link Extension section. From what you’ll find there:

Delridge access, integration and alignment refinement shifts alignment south towards SW Yancy Steet to improve passenger access and transit integration and reduce effects to organizations serving low-income and communities of color.

Findings:

14 fewer residential and 3 additional business displacements
Eliminates potential passenger and freight conflicts
Permanent closure of 32nd Ave
Cost delta compared to realigned financial plan: + $50 million

Eliminate Avalon Station eliminates station and optimizes alignment to reduce costs. Assumes shifting alignment south towards SW Yancy St.

Findings:

48 fewer residential displacements and 3 fewer business displacements
Longer travel times for passengers closer to DEIS Avalon Station
No expected decrease in project ridership
Reduces temporary and permanent roadway closures
Cost delta compared to realigned financial plan: – $80 million

Alaska Junction station access refinement shifts station entrance 42nd Avenue SW to improve passenger access.

Findings:

90 additional equitable transit oriented development housing units
Eliminates need for pedestrian crossing of 41st Ave SW
39 fewer residential and 32 additional business displacements
Cost delta compared to realigned financial plan: + $80 million

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: ‘Further study’ results due at Thursday’s Sound Transit Board meeting

ORIGINAL WEDNESDAY REPORT: When the Sound Transit Board meets Thursday afternoon, it’s scheduled to hear a report on some as-yet-undecided aspects of the West Seattle light-rail project, the “Areas of Further Study,” which most notably included the possibility of scrapping the Avalon station. The “areas” were recapped in a presentation at a board-committee meeting back in November – this is a slide section showing the West Seattle study subjects:

(The full slide deck from the November meeting includes closer looks at each “area.”) Some residents close to the proposed light-rail route have received a flyer mentioning the presentation planned tomorrow – we heard from one resident near 32nd/Genesee who said a printed copy was hung on her front gate. The flyer also says the “further study” results will be discussed when the board’s System Expansion Committee meets February 9th. Here’s the 1:30 pm meeting’s agenda (including how to comment); we’ve requested the report in advance but it hasn’t been made available yet.

One other West Seattle light-rail-related note: ST is now doing more field work, involving “noise monitoring at several properties near the West Seattle Link Extension corridor” as part of the work toward the Final Environmental Impact Statement’s publication later this year. This flyer, forwarded to us by another community member, has gone out to residents who agreed to allow monitoring devices on their property. The flyer, among other things, says they’re not recording actual sound, just decibel levels. We have several followup questions out to ST, including asking which areas these studies are being conducted in.

ADDED 12:13 PM THURSDAY: As noted below, we have finally obtained some advance information on today’s discussion, and are told it will NOT include West Seattle results, but will focus on other areas of the project, particularly Ballard. West Seattle will get a closer look at the February 9th System Expansion Committee meeting, we’re told.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: What do you think? Local writer sets up site as potential community hub

Before this year is out, the Sound Transit Board of Directors is expected to take a final vote on exactly where West Seattle’s light-rail extension will run, and stop. That decision will set in motion a wave of changes for multiple neighborhoods. Some people will have to move their homes and businesses. Some are looking forward to access to more transit. Local writer Marie McKinsey is launching a site to collect community opinions and information, after seeing how some light-rail-related posts on her personal website – such as this one – draw a lot of interest. She explains further:

The response to blog posts like this one has shown me that there are deep concerns in the neighborhood about this project. I’m not sure it would pass if presented to voters today.

I was talking to some friends about this recently. They are frustrated with this project and believe others are, too. They just don’t have a way to connect with them.

It occurred to me that it might help if there was a single website that could show the Big Picture of public sentiment. One that gives people a place to share their DEIS comments, their experiences with Sound Transit, and stories about how this project will affect them. Maybe that will lead to connections between people across the various micro-neighborhoods affected.

So I created a blog that people can contribute to. I will add separate pages if needed to accommodate community organizations, like Pigeon Point, Delridge, etc. It’s a Blogger site, so there are no expenses for any of us. Here’s the URL: westseattleneighbors.blogspot.com

I’d like for people to know they can send me information and I will post it. I have no idea where this will go. I’m just going to put it out there and see who shows up.

Her email address is on the site. Right now, Sound Transit is working on the final Environmental Impact Statement for the extension, which has to respond to concerns raised after the Draft EIS went public before last July’s “semi-final” routing/station location vote. ST’s current estimate for Final EIS release is “late” this year; 2032 is the estimated date for the West Seattle light-rail extension to start running.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: New chair for Sound Transit Board

A West Seattle resident will be presiding over the Sound Transit Board when the final decision about West Seattle routing is made next year. King County Executive Dow Constantine was elected this afternoon as the board’s new chair, a role he held 2014-2016. He’ll become chair in January, succeeding Kent Keel, a city councilmember from University Place in Pierce County, who has chaired the ST Board for the past three years. Keel and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers will serve as vice chairs. As explained here, “The board includes three members from Snohomish County, ten from King County, four from Pierce County and the secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation.” The current King County members include one other West Seattleite, County Councilmember Joe McDermott. ST is currently working on the final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle extension, due out next year, with a final routing/stations decision to follow. Latest timeline is for West Seattle to SODO light rail to open in 2032.

THURSDAY: Tour West Seattle light-rail station sites with Design Commission

As Mayor Bruce Harrell said in his budget speech, the city intends to be closely involved in planning for the West Seattle/Ballard Extensions of Sound Transit light rail – and one of the city entities keeping an eye on the project will be touring part of the planned route tomorrow (Thursday, October 6). Thanks to West Seattle community advocate Deb Barker for the tip on the Seattle Design Commission‘s plan to spend its regular meeting on this tour. The SDC is an advisory group and its meetings are open to the public. From the agenda:

SDC WSBLE Tour of Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction Light Rail Station locations

1:00 pm
Alaska Junction Station Location

Location: SE corner of SW Alaska St and 42nd Ave SW

2:00 pm
Avalon Station

Location: 35th Ave SW and SW Dakota St (one block north of station location)

3:00 pm
Yancy Guideway

Location: Corner of SW Yancy, SW Andover, and 32nd Ave SW

3:30 pm
Delridge Station

Location: NW corner of Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St

You can catch up with them at one or more of the stops.