Sound Transit 176 results

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: City changes plan for Delridge station recommendation

One month after a City Council committee got its first look at which West Seattle/Ballard light-rail routing/station alternatives were proposed for official city support – as covered here – there’s been a big change. At its meeting this morning, the Transportation and Utilities Committee voted unanimously for amended city-supported recommendations – including no preference for the Delridge station location.

(Light-rail discussion starts 33 minutes in)

As we reported last month, the draft recommendations included support for the alternative known as DEL-6, which was a late addition to what Sound Transit decided to study in the draft Environmental Impact Statement. Much recent concern centered on two specific facilities that DEL-6 could take out – the Alki Beach Academy child-care center in the business park off SW Andover, and Transitional Resources supportive housing for people living with mental illness, most of whom had previously been homeless. The amended resolution passed today says the city can’t support a “preferred alternative” for the Delridge station because of inadequate study of those effects. Bottom line, there’s “no clear community consensus” for a Delridge option, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold said during this morning’s meeting. Here’s the Delridge-related language in the amendment:

The resolution did not change the other two alternatives recommended for city support in this leg of ST light rail (currently expected to open in 2032) – the WSJ-5 “medium tunnel” option for The Junction, with an underground 41st SW station and a “retained cut” Avalon station, and a south Duwamish River crossing (DUW-1a). However, as pointed out during the meeting, the city recommendations are just recommendations – the decision on which alternatives to pursue for the final EIS and then the construction decision are wholly up to the Sound Transit Board. Its next vote is expected on July 28th, and board committees will talk about it before then, including the ST Executive Committee this Thursday (July 7th), 10:30 am. It’s a hybrid meeting; the agenda explains how to sign up for public comment, either online or in-person.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit Board looks ahead to next month’s ‘preferred alignment’ decision

The Sound Transit Board‘s June meeting just wrapped up less than an hour ago – last one before it’s tasked with “confirming or modifying” a “preferred alignment” for West Seattle/Ballard light rail. ST staff is working on a proposal for that, board members were told, and will present it at the Executive Committee‘s meeting in two weeks. The board in the meantime were presented an overview today of the 5,195 comments received regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement between January 28th and April 28th. You can see them all here. Today’s meeting also featured a substantial amount of public comment from people in West Seattle, primarily expressing opposition to the DEL-6 station location/alignment (see page 10) for its prospective displacement of Transitional Resources – which provides supportive housing and mental-health services – and Alki Beach Academy.

Board chair Kent Keel insisted that when staff presents its draft alignment, that will not be “the final say” – the board will consider it over the course of three meetings, with a vote expected during the full board meeting on July 28th (for which the ending time has been potentially stretched to 5 pm, an extra hour). The two committee meetings at which this will be discussed before then are the Executive Committee meeting at 10:30 am July 7th and the System Expansion Committee meeting at 1:30 pm July 14th. ST has moved to hybrid meetings, so you can attend online or in the board room at Union Station downtown. One other thing to watch in the meantime: The city is drafting its official recommendations for the routing and station locations – which, when previewed earlier this month, included DEL-6.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Here are the routing/station options the city is recommending

Next Tuesday morning, the City Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee will get a look at what West Seattle/Ballard light-rail routing and station-location alternatives the city is proposing supporting, before the Sound Transit Board settles on its “preferred alternative” recommendation next month. You don’t have to wait until the meeting for a look – the slide deck is already published along with the agenda (which explains how to comment at the meeting).

To come up with these recommendations, the city presentation notes, “Nearly 100 subject matter experts from 15+ City departments reviewed and commented on the 8000+ pages of (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) analysis.” They submitted more than 1,500 “technical comments” before the deadline a month ago; now, the biggest comments of all – which routing/station options the city wants to officially support. First, for The Junction:

The slide deck goes into more detail about why the city’s behind each option in the draft recommendations. Next, for Delridge:

And for the new bridge to get light rail across the Duwamish River, here’s the city’s choice:

The city support doesn’t carry an official weight – the final decisions on routing and station locations are in the hands of the Sound Transit Board, whose members include City Council President Debora Juarez and Mayor Bruce Harrell. They’re expected to settle on a “preferred alternative” at their July 28th meeting, though the absolute final word isn’t due until next year.

P.S. The board has made a big decision in the meantime – they’ve settled on a potential new CEO, Julie Timm from Richmond, Virginia – here’s the announcement made today.

VIDEO: Sound Transit might start buying property early for West Seattle/Ballard project

In case you didn’t get to watch it on Friday afternoon, that video shows the two-hour workshop held for the Sound Transit Board‘s System Extension Committee, looking ahead to July’s decisions on the West Seattle/Ballard expansion project. We watched it in real time; it was mostly an overview of the potential routing and station locations studied in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, as well as a brief mention of the possible cost-saving measures recently presented to the Community Advisory Groups. (Here’s the slide deck.)

We heard one noteworthy point during the workshop – when the topic of rising costs arose, particularly real estate, Sound Transit staff noted that they’re likely to propose “early property acquisition” after the board locks in on a “preferred alternative” in July. We immediately asked ST a followup question for more details on that, and finally got an answer this evening:

Potential early acquisitions would be reviewed and considered following the Board’s action to confirm or modify a preferred alternative later this year. There are a number of factors that the Board would consider before authorizing early acquisitions and potential acquisitions would likely be limited to a small subset of critical properties. Sound Transit would also require approval from the Federal Transit Administration prior to pursuing early acquisitions and would be required to follow all standard procedures.

The aforementioned board action is expected to happen at their July 28th meeting, but that’s still not the final decision on what will be built – the timeframe for that is now described as “late 2023,” after the final EIS is out. Key things to watch for before the July meeting include a summary of the 5,000+ public comments received on the DEIS; board members were told to look for that in June. Also, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell – an ST Board member – said at Friday’s meeting that the city soon will finalize its position on the preferred alternative (City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, said today that could come to his committee in early June).

VIDEO: What West Seattle light-rail advisory group members said at final meeting

May 15, 2022 8:32 pm
|    Comments Off on VIDEO: What West Seattle light-rail advisory group members said at final meeting
 |   Sound Transit | West Seattle news

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

The Community Advisory Group convened by Sound Transit for the most-recent planning phase of West Seattle light rail has met for the final time. The meeting this past week was for feedback from the group members, on their preferred routing and station locations as well as on the possible cost-saving ideas ST proposed at their previous meeting. Here’s the recording:

Since the meeting was about feedback, not presentation of proposals, there wasn’t much to the slide deck, but you can see that here. In general, regarding routing and station locations, most participants spoke in favor of as much tunneling as possible, particularly into The Junction. For the Delridge station location, feedback was more mixed, including a few calls for reviving the previously discarded option nicknamed the “purple line” (which would tunnel through Pigeon Point).

Regarding the cost-saving ideas – the idea of saving money by moving the Fauntleroy elevated station option east, avoiding the newly built 4754 Fauntleroy Way SW complex, did not get much traction, mostly because many group members didn’t like the elevated Fauntleroy option regardless of where it would be built. The other big cost-saving idea was potentially dropping the Avalon station. Several reiterated that removing a station should only be an option if West Seattle had something to gain from doing it – like “smart design,” one group member suggested.

WHAT’S NEXT: The ST board members who comprise the System Expansion Committee have a workshop focused on the West Seattle/Ballard extensions 1-3:30 pm Friday (May 20th). Then in July, they and the full board meet about confirming or modifying a “preferred alternative” before going into the final environmental-impact process – the committee on July 14th, the full board on July 28th. The board’s final decision on routing and station locations is expected in what ST now describes as “late 2023.”

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: What’s next, now that comment time’s over

Three quick notes about what’s next for the West Seattle (and beyond) Sound Transit light-rail project – scheduled to launch service in 2032 – after last Thursday’s end to the three-month comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement:

HOW MANY COMMENTS? We asked ST about the final tally. More than 5,000, according to spokesperson Rachelle Cunningham. ST now has to respond to them in the final EIS, expected next year.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? While ST had been saying the board was likely to decide in June what to send into the final EIS studies, its email update today says the board “is expected to confirm or modify the preferred alternative and station locations in July.” If that’s at the regular board meeting (usually the fourth Thursday of the month), the date would be July 28th.

ONE MORE MEETING: The Community Advisory Groups for the project have one more meeting scheduled. The group for the West Seattle/Duwamish segment will meet online at 5 pm next Tuesday (May 10th) – you’ll be able to watch here. (Here’s our coverage of the CAG’s previous meeting, at which ST said possible cost-saving measures could include dropping the Avalon station.)

One day left for what might be your most important comment about West Seattle light rail

It’s not necessarily your final chance to comment on Sound Transit‘s West Seattle light-rail plan, but it’s arguably the most important, and you now have one day left to get your comment in. Tomorrow (Thursday, April 28th) is the deadline for commenting on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement – which examines the potential station locations and routing proposed for West Seattle light rail to get across the Duwamish River and through the North Delridge and Avalon areas on its way to The Junction. The DEIS has been out for three months, with more than 1,000 comments received as of our last check earlier this month. If you haven’t read a word of it, you can at least go through the Executive Summary. (All our coverage is archived here.) Once you’re ready to comment, here’s how. All the comments received by tomorrow will have to be addressed in the final EIS, expected to be ready next year, before the Sound Transit Board makes a final decision on what to build.

COMMENT COUNTDOWN: City Council committee spends 2 hours hearing/talking about West Seattle-to-Ballard light rail

That’s the Seattle Channel video of this morning’s City Council Transportation and Public Utilities Committee meeting, almost two hours of which was spent on the West Seattle to Ballard light-rail plan, starting about 36 minutes in. The time was divided between two presentations – first, city staff explaining how they’re drafting official city comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, so they can get those in before the April 28th deadline. Much of this presentation was given to the West Seattle/Duwamish segment’s Community Advisory Group last week (WSB coverage here). Here’s the slide deck that the city’s Calvin Chow, Marshall Foster, and Sara Maxana used today:

One major area of concern in what they’re drafting so far – they want ST to better address potential BIPOC displacement in Delridge, “more truth-checking with the community,” as Maxana described it. In council comments, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold underscored a point made that “scope reductions” – like dropping a station – should be discouraged unless there’s a very clear benefit in return.

That came up again in the second discussion, which also was partly a rerun from last week’s Community Advisory Group meeting – ST’s view of possible cost-saving measures, including possibly dropping the Avalon station. This presentation was given by ST’s Cathal Ridge. Here’s the slide deck he used:

In this discussion, Herbold reiterated that dropping Avalon would require a clear benefit such as more tunneling. She also stressed that no matter what, tunneling should be the preference for the West Seattle Junction end of the line, as elevated rail through “the heart of” The Junction would be undesirable. She voiced one other concern about dropping the Avalon station, wondering where its projected 1,200 riders would go, and wondering if that would make light rail less accessible for residents coming down 35th from areas such as High Point. Ridge said they projected that half the Avalon ridership would come to the station by bus, and they would likely ride to the Junction station instead.

WHAT’S NEXT: City staff will return to this committee May 17th; their comments on the DEIS, though, like everyone else’s, are due by April 28th and will be submitted by then. (Here’s how to comment.)

GONDOLA? West Seattle SkyLink’s response to Sound Transit’s feasibility report

A week and a half after Sound Transit released its feasibility report about whether gondola service could replace light rail for West Seattle, the organization proposing it has released its response. West Seattle SkyLink sent the eight-page response to us last night – read it here or below:

West Seattle SkyLink says the Sound Transit report was no substitute for a “technical engineering study by gondola experts.” They say, “The Feasibility Report was prepared in-house without any analysis by an engineering firm that has experience with gondola technology, design, or construction as is usually the case. There are several US firms qualified to undertake a feasibility study for an urban gondola feeder.” The response also says, “Another glaring deficiency in the Sound Transit Report is the lack of a review of current urban gondola projects … most of these urban gondola projects are being considered as feeders or connectors to a light rail or rapid bus system, just like an urban gondola would be for West Seattle.” The projects they cite range from Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit, for which a Draft Environmental Impact Report is due out this summer, to the “cable-car” aerial line that just went into operation a week ago in Haifa, Israel. Much closer to home, SkyLink also notes that Kirkland looked into using gondolas for a connection to a Sound Transit station (the city’s website says a feasibility study was done in 2018 but the gondola alternative was not included in recent environmental analysis).

Overall, the SkyLink response concludes, “The Sound Transit Report did its best to throw as much dirt as it could on urban gondolas as a feeder to its light rail system without noting the many other public transportation agencies, both domestic and foreign, that have found an urban gondola feeder is exactly the appropriate complement to their bus and light rail systems.” Their contention continues to be that a gondola line could be built more quickly and inexpensively, with much less residence and business displacement, but as for how much money and time it would take, that would be up to a “properly produced study” to determine.

Will such a study be commissioned? Sound Transit staff repeated last week, in a presentation to the 34th District Democrats, that it would be up to the board to order it. ST’s Carrie Avila-Mooney added during the 34th DDs’ meeting Q&A that the agency “has no voter-approved money” to study it. The board’s next meeting is Thursday, April 28th, and it will include a public-comment period; watch for the agenda here.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: 10 days left to comment; 2 meetings this week

As of today, Sound Transit has received almost 1,000 comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle-to-Ballard light-rail project. The DEIS was published three months ago, analyzing the routing/station-location alternatives the ST Board chose for studying. This is arguably the most-important comment period before board members lock in next year on what to build, and you have 10 more days to comment until the official deadline on April 28th. Here’s how. And if you are still looking for particular information in the DEIS or have questions about it, ST is offering four more blocks of “virtual office hours” for you to book a spot to get your questions answered – the info is all in their latest email update.

Among the many entities commenting on the DEIS is the City of Seattle, and two city meetings are on this week’s schedule. Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, the City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will get briefed both on the city’s commenting plans and the ST cost-savings proposals, both of which were presented to the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group last week. The agenda includes information on watching and commenting. The cost-saving proposals also will be presented to the Seattle Design Commission on Thursday morning (April 21st), at 9 am. Here’s how to register to watch the meeting.

VIDEO: Drop Avalon light-rail station? It’s a cost-cutting possibility, Sound Transit tells West Seattle Community Advisory Group

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With the West Seattle-to-Ballard light-rail project still projected to have a nearly $2 billion “affordability gap,” Sound Transit has floated some cost-cutting ideas – including axing the Avalon station.

Those ideas were presented very briefly, in the last 15 minutes of tonight’s two-hour Community Advisory Group meeting for the West Seattle/Duwamish section of the project.

This is the second-to-last meeting for the advisory group. The meeting began with a quick recap of what the group has done since it was convened last fall. Then the CAG members were separated into three breakout groups for ~40 minutes of discussion on “issues, tradeoffs, opportunities” with the routing/station alternatives that were studied for the Draft Environnmental Impact Statement, which is open for comment until April 28th. And they heard from city reps about where the city’s going with its official comments on the DEIS. But the cost-cutting possibilities were the biggest news of the night, so we’ll start there.

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VIDEO: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s workshop to help you have your say on light-rail plan

6:01 PM: Just under way, both in-person and online, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s workshop to help you with the process of commenting on West Seattle light-rail routing and station locations, as detailed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement – a process that ends in three weeks. This is in part a drop-in event – the full agenda is here and below:

6:00 Doors Open
6:30 Welcome and Introductions
6:45 Overview of Light Rail Proposal
7:00 The EIS Process
7:15 Making Comments on the Draft EIS
7:45 Examples of Public Comments
8:00 Q&A
8:15 Write your public comment
8:30 Thank you and wrap-up

If you want to go in person, this is happening at American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle, 3618 SW Alaska. Online, the link is in our calendar listing.

6:30 PM: Update – WSTC says this is the new Zoom link. (We’re changing the link in our calendar listing too.)

8:33 PM: We recorded the heart of the meeting on video and will add that here when we have it uploaded later. (Added – here it is:)


All the ways you can comment are here.

UPDATE: Sound Transit releases ‘feasibility report’ on West Seattle SkyLink gondola proposal

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When we first reported in early 2021 on the West Seattle SkyLink campaign – people advocating for a gondola (aerial tram) system between West Seattle and downtown instead of light rail – they suggested a feasibility study, for starters.

Sound Transit‘s board eventually asked the agency’s staff to do one, and this morning, ST has made its report public. The 17-page report is here and below:

It was officially released during the board’s monthly Executive Committee meeting, but without even an agenda item of its own – ST CEO Peter Rogoff announced its completion during the regular “CEO Report” item.

We got a pre-meeting briefing with Matt Shelden, the ST deputy executive director of planning and integration, who led the team that worked on the report; he also provided a very quick topline summary at this morning’s meeting. Rogoff offered a “more detaiiled briefing” to any board member who wanted one, and then moved on to other items; the board member who requested the report, West Seattle-residing King County Executive Dow Constantine, was not in attendance at this morning’s meeting.

In our pre-meeting briefing, Shelden said the staff received the request at the end of January, so the report has taken about two months. It reaches the same conclusion that ST had before the 2016 ST3 ballot measure that set the stage for light rail – that in ST’s view, a gondola system is not suitable as “high-capacity transit” – what ST is supposed to deliver – to get people between West Seattle and downtown.

The study reaches this conclusion on three main points, as summarized by Shelden:

First, ST says gondola technology would not “integrate well” with the existing (and planned) ST system, and would not necessarily be expandable to points south, as the West Seattle light rail is supposed to be. The integration also refers to the West Seattle to Everett trains – after full buildout – providing capacity through downtown, as well as to/from WS, capacity that the agency says would be lost if they instead substituted a gondola system for the West Seattle to downtown leg.

Second, they don’t believe a gondola system could reach the passenger capacity that they believe would be needed – up to 3,000 passengers per hour. While West Seattle SkyLink proponents believe the gondola cars could take off every 10 seconds, ST says even that pace would be likely to max out at 2,000 people per hour.

Third, “legal considerations” – Shelden says they believe the language of the ST3 ballot measure locks the agency into light rail, so “changing the (transit) mode would likely require voter approval.”

The report also says ST staff could not verify the SkyLink claims that the gondola system could be built more quickly and cheaply than light rail.

It also contains a few positive points, such as noting that an aerial system would not contribute to ground congestion, and that fare compliance would likely be easier to achieve than with trains.

We are seeking comment from SkyLink proponents and will add that to the story when we get it. Prior to the report’s release, they submitted these written comments saying they were unaware the feasibility study was in progress until the CEO mentioned it two weeks ago. Shelden said during the pre-meeting briefing with WSB that the study’s findings are based on staffers’ “review of other gondola systems, existing or planned,” as well as information from the SkyLink website and “a briefing last year” (which is mentioned in the SkyLink comment document).

So what happens now? ST continues with the light-rail plan unless directed otherwise by the board, which could call for a more extensive independent study, or, as Rogoff said at this morning’s meeting, independent briefings.

ADDED 3:21 PM: Here’s what we heard back from Constantine’s office, responding to our request for comment:

The Executive is looking forward to reviewing and understanding the outcomes and analysis contained within the Aerial Gondola Feasibility study he requested Sound Transit produce, based on requests from a group of community advocates in West Seattle. The Executive has publicly voiced concerns about both the legality and equity impacts of the aerial gondola proposal to replace the West Seattle portion of the voter-approved West Seattle to Ballard Link Extension, and will seek further understanding from the feasibility report and interested parties. At this time, our office has not been briefed on any planned further discussion amongst the board on this issue and would defer to agency leadership regarding any plans for continued discussion.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Avalon-area neighbors walk the (potential) line

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

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you haven’t yet decided what you want/need to say during the last major comment period before Sound Transit locks in West Seattle light-rail routing and station locations, a community workshop Thursday might help you formulate your feedback on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. (More about that later.)

Some neighborhoods in light rail’s potential path have been studying the proposal independently and extensively almost every step of the way. Among them, Avalon-area residents, some of whom might be forced out of their homes depending on where the train goes to get between the Duwamish River and the West Seattle Junction. They’ve had several meetings with ST, including one last Thursday night devoted solely to Q&A. Hours before that, they accompanied ST reps on a walk through the neighborhood, from the westernmost potential Avalon station location eastward along potential routing paths. We covered both events and have chronicled some of their other discussions, going back almost two years to this one, shortly after they learned the ST Board had decided to study a route through their neighborhood.

Thursday’s walking tour was intended to be a firsthand look at where the station might go, and how the trains would get there. Neighbors and ST reps, plus a rep for King County Councilmember and ST Board member Joe McDermott, gathered first by the Avalon Starbucks and Taco Time. ST’s reps included Jason Hampton, currently the lead for the West Seattle extension. This had been long enough in the works that ST brought the hard-copy equivalent of a slide presentation, customized for this tour.

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COMMENT COUNTDOWN: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s workshop to help you have your say on light rail

We’ve been mentioning in our coverage of West Seattle light-rail planning that the West Seattle Transportation Coalition would be presenting a workshop to help you shape your feedback, whatever it is. Details are now set for that event. It’ll be both in-person and online, 6-9 pm next Thursday (April 7th), at American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle (3618 SW Alaska). Sound Transit will be there too, but this isn’t a sit-down-and-watch-a-long-presentation meeting, WSTC says:

Our aims for the workshop include:

● Understanding what a public comment is and why it is needed

● How to write effective public comments that get meaningful results

● How to back up your comment

If you want to watch the livestream instead of attending in person, you’ll find the link (and the full announcement) in our calendar listing. Comment deadline for the light-rail Draft Environmental Impact Statement is April 28th.

Dozens of questions, answers, comments @ Sound Transit’s West Seattle light rail public hearing

(Rendering of potential SW Genesee guideway, from page 126 in DEIS Appendix N-2)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

You have four weeks left to officially comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle (and Ballard) light-rail extensions – basically, one last major chance to speak up before its final routing and station locations are settled.

As part of that process, Sound Transit held an online public hearing tonight, this one geared toward the West Seattle segment, currently expected to open in 2032. The DEIS contains results of studies of the possible alternatives for routing and station locations, and the comments will be taken into consideration by ST board members – including King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who spoke briefly at the start of the meeting – at their next major decision point, likely this June.

Three-quarters of the meeting was devoted to Q&A and comments; 22 people offered the latter, half of them advocating for ST to study the gondola system whose advocates have pitched it as an option to West Seattle light rail.

As the meeting began, ST’s Cathal Ridge began with a recap of the project plan, going back to the ST3 vote in 2016. Design starts in 2023; construction of the West Seattle line is scheduled to start in 2026. The official comment period for the DEIS began January 28th, and after it’s over, the board “will confirm or modify the preferred alternative.” He also recapped the alternatives that are being studied while noted that some of them would “require third-party funding.”

OVERVIEW: For an overview of what’s been studied, Ridge turned it over to Jason Hampton, who’s leading the West Seattle segment planning. For context on what’s in the DEIS, here are the focus topics:

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LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s West Seattle meeting Wednesday

(Rendering from Draft EIS executive summary page 28, Avalon/Genesee)

One more month to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for West Seattle light rail – telling Sound Transit what you think about the routing and station-location alternatives. This Wednesday (March 30th), 5:30-7:30 pm online, is ST’s official public meeting for this section of the expansion, projected to open in 2032. The attendance link is on this page of ST’s online open house, which offers other ways to comment – as long as you do it by April 28th. (Our archived coverage of the project is here, newest to oldest.)

P.S. Wednesday is the only community-comment meeting ST has planned, but the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is planning a workshop-style meeting April 7th to help people with the commenting process – watch for time and attendance details (it’s being planned as a hybrid in-person/online meeting).

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Comment countdown continues with city observations, ‘deep dive’ info, and how to see what it’ll look like

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

46 days left to comment on what Sound Transit has found out about potential routes and station locations for West Seattle light rail – the findings that comprise the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

As of the end of February, ST had received 409 comments, the Community Advisory Group for the West Seattle/Duwamish River leg was told at its latest meeting

The centerpiece of the meeting was supposed to be a “deep dive” into parts of the DEIS on which group members had requested more information – including a slide deck with many more renderings that didn’t even get reviewed during the meeting. But if you’re still considering how you’ll comment on the options, you might be more interested in the second part of the meeting, which featured City of Seattle reps talking about how the city’s official comments are taking shape. So that’s where we’ll start.

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LIGHT RAIL: With 52 days left to comment, here’s how Pigeon Point’s Q&A with Sound Transit went

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Tonight, the Community Advisory Group for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle extension meets online for a “deep dive” into the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is up for public comment until April 28th.

Last night, another neighborhood group met with ST to get answers to questions about the DEIS, which analyzes the proposed routing and station-location alternatives that are under consideration. The Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council has a unique perspective – to get across the Duwamish River and to a North Delridge station, the line may have to cut into the north end of their neighborhood. Just south of where, for example – as discussed in informal pre-meeting chatter – a dozen or more Great Blue Herons are back in their nests.

PPNC’s Pete Spalding – who’s also a member of the Community Advisory Group – facilitated. In introductions at the start of the meeting, some attendees mentioned having received the “we might need your property” letters from ST; others had not.

The meeting began with a project recap from ST’s West Seattle point person Jason Hampton, as had other meetings. We’ve covered it before – and the presenter was asked to cut the generic stuff short anyway – so we’ll focus this report mostly on unique Q&A. Of most interest to this group were the three studied alternatives for getting light rail across the river via a new bridge – either south of the existing motorized-vehicle bridge, or north of it.

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Would you pay more to speed up West Seattle light rail? You might be asked to, under bill that state legislators just approved

Light rail is currently scheduled to arrive in West Seattle in 2032, two years later than the original plan when voters passed ST3 in 2016. Would you support paying extra to speed that up? A bill enabling that option is headed to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk after final passage in the Legislature today, as reported when the City Council got a legislative briefing this afternoon. Here’s how the transit-advocacy group Seattle Subway summarized the legislation, Senate Bill 5528:

The bill allows a city, subarea, county, or combination thereof to have the option to create an “Enhanced Service Zone” to target the investments their voters care about most. SB 5528 allows the Sound Transit Board to give voters the opportunity to fund faster construction timelines on existing projects and/or fund new transit improvements and services for individual cities and sub-areas within the Sound Transit district. The funding mechanisms included in the bill are a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) not to exceed 1.5%, and a commercial parking tax. If authorized for public vote by the Sound Transit Board, voters still must register a majority in favor for the funding mechanisms to go into effect.

You can read the Legislature’s report on the final version of the bill here. Speeding up construction is just one of the possible uses of extra funding it spells out.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Haven’t commented on routing/station locations yet? ‘Deep dive’ on Tuesday

If you haven’t yet decided how – or whether – to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement about West Seattle’s potential light-rail routing/station locations, Tuesday might bring some help: That’s when the West Seattle/Duwamish-area Community Advisory Group convened by Sound Transit will take what’s supposed to be a “deep dive” into the DEIS. It’s an online meeting, 5-7 pm Tuesday (March 8th), and everyone’s welcome. No public comment, but this could set you up with better information before you send in yours (which you can do at any time before April 28th – go here). The meeting’s livestream will be here. (Our past coverage of the project is archived here, newest to oldest.)

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: What Avalon-area residents asked Sound Transit during their neighborhood briefing

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With 10 weeks left for your comment(s) on West Seattle light-rail options, some neighborhoods are organizing their own briefings and reviews of Sound Transit‘s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the extension.

Wednesday night, the Avalon-area neighbors who first organized in 2020 invited ST for another presentation and Q&A. What they asked, and suggested, might help you if you haven’t already commented (which you can do via the ongoing “online open house”).

The ST team – led by facilitator Leda Chahim and West Seattle/Duwamish segment manager Jason Hampton – opened with a presentation almost identical to what they showed the Community Advisory Group last week (WSB coverage here). That included select pairings of Junction and Delridge station alternatives – the location of the Avalon station, closest to where most of Wednesday night’s participants live, depends on what’s chosen for those two ends of the WS extension. Here’s the full slide deck from the meeting:

(You can also see it here.)

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: City Council briefing Tuesday

(One routing option by WS Golf Course, from page 253 of DEIS section 4.2.1)

If you’re still trying to get up to speed on the Sound Transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement for West Seattle (and beyond) light rail, here’s your next chance to watch a briefing/discussion: Tuesday morning, it’s on the agenda for the 9:30 am online meeting of the City Council’s Transportation Committee. The DEIS is the document that details various potential impacts of the multiple routing and station-location options. Sound Transit is taking comments through April 28th; then its board will decide this summer which routing/station locations will go through the final phase of environmental studies. The city has multiple roles in the process — it’s working with ST on station planning, it could consider contributing “third-party funding” for options that would cost extra, and it has two reps on the ST board, City Council President Debora Juarez and Mayor Bruce Harrell. You can sign up to comment at Tuesday’s meeting – the agenda explains how – and you’ll be able to watch it live (or recorded for later playback) via Seattle Channel. If you want to review the DEIS independently, you can do that via ST’s online open house here, which also offers opportunities for comment.