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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit briefing at Junction Neighborhood Organization

April 29, 2018 10:28 pm
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 |   Neighborhoods | Sound Transit | Transportation | West Seattle news

Our video is from Sound Transit‘s briefing at the Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting last Thursday. It didn’t exactly pick up where the West Seattle/Ballard light-rail projects’ Stakeholder Advisory Group had left off just two nights earlier (WSB coverage here), but it did aim to clarify what the next public-participation meeting, next Saturday’s West Seattle “neighborhood forum,” is meant to accomplish. The three ST staffers who briefed and answered questions from JuNO attendees attempted to clarify how, while the Stakeholder Advisory Group has recommended “alternatives” to move forward, those aren’t the final say – what ST hopes to hear from neighborhood participants are potential “refinements.” Maybe even, they said, “mix and match” elements of possible alternatives. So if you weren’t at the JuNO meeting – or at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting where we’re told the same team appeared earlier that night – watch and listen, and then be at next Saturday’s neighborhood forum: 10 am-12:30 pm May 5th, Masonic Center, 4736 40th SW.

LIGHT RAIL: ‘Pigeon Ridge,’ ‘Oregon Street’ concepts survive Sound Transit Stakeholder Advisory Group’s Level 1 review

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

They’ve been working for months on a light-rail extension we won’t see for years, but had just minutes to decide which rough-draft alternative concepts should move forward and which shouldn’t.

That’s how it went last night during the Sound Transit West Seattle/Ballard light-rail extension Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting at ST’s downtown boardroom.

The process already has been billed as hurried so that the 2030 target for opening West Seattle’s ST3-decreed line can be met or maybe even exceeded, but this stop along the route was the most rushed of all we’ve covered so far.

The meeting had begun with facilitator Diane Adams telling the group (see its membership here) being told, “Tonight you won’t need to make a ‘preferred alternative’ determination,” followed by ST executive Cathal Ridge adding, “We would at least like to make some progress down that road.”

That they did – but with little time for detailed deliberation. Here’s the bottom line for the West Seattle segment, after the tables’ discussion toward night’s end:

Sorry for the fuzzy image – the checklist slide was created on the spot, so there’s no digital version, but here’s the pre-yay/nay version of the same list so you can read and compare:

And here are the maps from last week showing details on each:

Here’s how those decisions were reached (again, the group had to decide yay/nays on the other parts of the West Seattle/Ballard extensions too, but for obvious reasons, we are mostly just reporting WS details):

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Here’s your first look at 5 early ‘alternatives’ for West Seattle light rail, as unveiled at Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting

(WSB photo from tonight’s meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Here’s where the rubber meets the road – or the trains meet the rail – as the accelerated process of getting to a “preferred alternative” for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle/Ballard light-rail extensions moves forward.

ST has now refined the “themes” that emerged in early comments into early “alternatives” for routing/station locations that were shown, explained, and discussed at tonight’s Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting downtown. When the group meets again in a week, they’re expected to decide on the first-level recommendations they’ll forward to the Elected Leadership Group and Sound Transit Board.

Five “level 1 alternatives” were shown for the West Seattle segment – but a disclaimer, these are not the “finalists” necessarily. “Level 1” refers to which stage of the review process this is in, not their ranking. And a reminder – the SAG members are looking at the entirety of West Seattle to Ballard, and while we know the rest of the line is of interest to many here, especially SODO and Downtown, we are just focusing on the WS end. Here’s the full slide deck for everything covered in the meeting, including all the “level 1 alternatives” and the criteria used to rate them:

(Here it is in PDF on the ST site.) You’ll also see slides in which the criteria are explained, as well as each alternative’s ratings using those criteria – the darker the dot, the better. (We’ve broken the pairings down one by one below.)

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‘In West Seattle, most of the comments suggested a tunnel …’ Sound Transit releases ‘early scoping’ report for light rail

Three Sound Transit light-rail-planning updates this afternoon:

FULL ‘EARLY SCOPING’ REPORT RELEASED: Want to see Sound Transit‘s full summary of comments from the “early scoping” period for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions? There is it above, and here (PDF), all 226 pages of it. Here’s a paragraph from the opening summary:

In West Seattle, most of the comments suggested a tunnel from at least the western edge of the Delridge valley to the Alaska Junction (the intersection of California Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street), with an underground station within a few blocks of the junction. Several comments requested an alignment through the West Seattle Golf Course, while others requested alignments farther north. Many comments suggested removing the Avalon Station or consolidating it with the Alaska Junction Station in a more central location. Several other comments requested keeping the Avalon Station as an important bus transfer location. Most comments about the Delridge Station suggested moving it farther south. Many comments also requested consideration of future extensions to the south on Fauntleroy Way SW, 35th Avenue SW, or Delridge Way SW. Several others also called for providing service farther south to Westwood Village or White Center now, while others suggested just improving bus service if a tunnel could not be built.

Shortcuts, if you’re interested, include:
Page 191 – Photos of some comments written on easel displays at West Seattle open house on February 13th
Page 202 – Transcription of comments from West Seattle open house

The report also includes the feedback from a variety of groups with interests in various sections of the route, as well as government agencies (which start at page 62).

‘FIRST ALTERNATIVES’ TO BE SHOWN TO STAKEHOLDER ADVISORY GROUP: The next two Tuesdays (April 17 and 24) bring the next two meetings of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and ST says they will be shown the first set of potential alternatives to the original “representative project” (draft routing). Both meetings are open to the public (there’s no spoken-comment period, though, just observation) and both are 5-8 pm at the Sound Transit Ruth Fisher Boardroom downtown, 401 S. Jackson.

HERBOLD LETTER: At this morning’s City Council briefing meeting, it was mentioned that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was planning to circulate for her colleagues’ signatures a letter that would ask various city commissions and boards to provide feedback for the light-rail planning process. We’ve requested a copy of the letter but her office tells us that at the mayor’s request, they’re holding off on the letter for a week. So look for that next week.

(added) P.S. A reminder that the next major chance for feedback is at the first round of ST-convened “neighborhood forums” – one is in West Seattle, 10 am-12:30 pm Saturday, May 5th, Masonic Center, 40th/Edmunds.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: ‘Early themes’ from first round of feedback, and more, @ Stakeholder Advisory Group’s second meeting

(One sheet with all 5 “early themes” depicted as possible routes – see each individually in the story below)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The people who are on the front lines of filtering your feedback on West Seattle light rail got their first look last night at five possible variations of the route/stations – not a “final five” by any means, but what had emerged, Sound Transit staffers explained, as “major themes” in the feedback review so far.

This happened at the second meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Group appointed to help determine a “preferred alignment” for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions of ST light rail

As the meeting began, 19 of the 29 advisory-group members were present, including, from West Seattle, community reps Deb Barker (who is on the board of the WS Transportation Coalition and president of the Morgan Community Association) and Brian King (who is with WS Bike Connections), as well as Hamilton Gardiner of the WS Chamber of Commerce, Greg Nickels (“former mayor and longtime transit advocate” is his self-intro), and Walter Reese from Nucor Steel.

Their seating in the Sound Transit board room at Union Station downtown was changed, notably, for this meeting – instead of sitting up in the board’s”U” as facilitator Diane Adams called it, the group members were placed around square tables in the center of the room. “This meeting is going to be much more interactive,” she explained. That was a foreshadowing of the review of the “early themes” for the line.


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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s first toplines from ‘early scoping,’ and more

Updates on the process of planning Sound Transit‘s West Seattle (to Ballard) light rail:

FIRST TOPLINES FROM ‘EARLY SCOPING’: The slide deck above (also visible here) will be presented to the Stakeholder Advisory Group at its meeting this Wednesday (agenda here), and it includes toplines of what Sound Transit says it heard from commenters – in person as well as online – during the “early scoping” feedback period that wrapped up a week ago. It’s not the full “early scoping” report – that, ST says, will be out next month – but it’s important because public comment will be considered by this group before making its way to the Elected Leadership Group that in turn will, in about a year, make a “preferred alternative” recommendation to the Sound Transit board.

SPEAKING OF COMMENTS: This caught our eye when ST issued a reminder that “early scoping” is closed but that you can see the comments made on the map that was part of its “online open house” – note the number of West Seattle comments vs. everywhere else:

As you probably noticed in the slide deck atop this story, ST says it’s received 2,800+ comments in all for the West Seattle/Ballard extensions, so far.

ONLY ONE ‘NEIGHBORHOOD FORUM’ HERE: As we mentioned last week, ST now says the “neighborhood forums” will start in late April. Though the agency previously had suggested they would be deeper dives into individual areas, the list on the slide deck for Wednesday’s meeting notes only one West Seattle “neighborhood forum” is planned, out of the six locations listed (clarification: in the first round, ST notes).

LIGHT-RAIL DISCUSSION IN ADMIRAL: Tomorrow night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting will include an unofficial light-rail discussion, led by ANA president Larry Wymer, who is a member of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition board. ANA now meets every other month, and at an earlier time; tomorrow’s meeting is at 6:30 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd SW/SW Lander).

Light-rail tunnel talk @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

(Slide deck for JuNO tunnel proposal)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

To tunnel or not to tunnel.

Sound Transit‘s draft plan for light rail to West Seattle, opening in 2030, is all elevated.

But here in the midst of its “early scoping” period soliciting comments and ideas, the idea of finding a way to put it underground, at least into The Junction, has some loud voices of support.

At last night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, not only did Junction Neighborhood Organization reps present their tunnel-to-The-Junction proposal – the one previewed here on Wednesday – but County Councilmember Joe McDermott declared that he also envisions light rail getting to The Junction underground. His voice is a significant one, given that he is on the Sound Transit board – which has the final say – and co-chairing the Elected Leadership Group that will recommend a “preferred alignment” to the board next year.

McDermott also offered something of a primer of the upcoming transportation changes and challenges that peninsula residents do, and will, face getting to and through downtown in the next few years.

But first – JuNO’s presentation:

JuNO’S PROPOSAL FOR TUNNELING TO THE JUNCTION: Rich Koehler, with whom we talked for the preview published here on Wednesday, presented it, with slide deck (see above). Here’s our video:

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s first open house, report #1

6:45 PM: By our rough count, more than 150 people are already at the Sound Transit open house that’s on until 8:30 pm at the Masonic Hall in The Junction (4736 40th SW). What’s billed as a short presentation is about to begin, and then the commenting and one-on-one chats with ST staffers will continue.

ST staff stresses that written comments are what they’re looking for tonight (and in the rest of the “early scoping” period that continues through March 5th) so your comments can be part of the official record. You have several options for doing that here, including sticky notes on maps (photo above).

7:08 PM: The presentation is over, and it’s back to open-house mode. Other commenting options here include simply writing them on paper (photo above). Or, just gather all the info and ask all the questions you need to, and then get your comments in via e-mail or the “online open house” whenever you have time – the deadline in this round is March 5th. And if you didn’t get to this open house – the information (Ballard extension as well as West Seattle extension, since they are being planned concurrently) will also be presented, and comments accepted, at the next two open houses:

Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th Street

Downtown Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson Street

Online ‘open house’:

You can also comment by e-mail – – phone (206-903-7229) – and postal mail, c/o Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle 98104

7:50 PM: Still here, just to observe how it’s flowed, and there are at least 40 people still here talking, commenting, etc. Among those we’ve seen here are local neighborhood and transportation advocates, including Deb Barker, who is on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the project, and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is on the Elected Leadership Group – comments like the ones made here tonight will be filtering up through those groups. We also talked briefly with “Avalon Tom,” whose unofficial renderings of the potential elevated track through West Seattle generated a lot of discussion on WSB last month (and beyond, including at the recent Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting, and we’ve seen some printouts being viewed here too). You still have time to get here, ask questions, take a look at maps and boards, and make comments – until 8:30. We’ll have a separate report recapping what happened here and what’s next.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s first official ‘open house’ set for February 13th

January 29, 2018 9:40 am
|    Comments Off on WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s first official ‘open house’ set for February 13th
 |   Sound Transit | Transportation | West Seattle news

(Sound Transit’s West Seattle-to-Ballard ‘representative’ map – draft ‘alignment’)

The date is finalized for the next step in planning for the West Seattle (to Ballard) Sound Transit light-rail line: The first West Seattle in-person meeting, “open house” format, is set for 6:30-8:30 pm Tuesday, February 13th, at the Masonic Hall (4736 40th SW). ST also will launch an “online open house” the day before the meeting. If you’re still catching up on why you need to get involved now for a service not scheduled to start until 2030 – here’s our most-recent coverage, from the first meeting of one of two advisory groups, the Elected Leadership Group. We also just got time/location details on the first meeting of the other group, the Stakeholder Advisory Group5-8 pm February 8th at the Union Station boardroom (401 S. Jackson).

What MIGHT elevated light rail look like in West Seattle? See one reader’s unofficial interpretation

Though Sound Transit has stressed that nothing’s final, it’s envisioning the future West Seattle light-rail line as elevated. If you’ve found it difficult to imagine what that MIGHT look like, “Avalon Tom” wants to help. He e-mailed WSB after making these renderings based on what preliminary information is available about the possible route “alignment,” and gave us permission to publish them.

“Avalon Tom” explains that he has “18 years experience in the architectural industry producing images like these professionally,” and adds, “I’m not associated with any group, just a citizen who lives and works in West Seattle and wants everyone to understand what they are proposing.” He also acknowledges that he is concerned with “the size” of the project and hopes that ST will consider tunneling.

Again, these are UNOFFICIAL, and we can’t vouch for the dimensions – whatever’s built could be higher or lower, wider or narrower, on a different route – but it’s something we’d been wondering about, and wondering how to visualize – so we’re sharing Tom’s renderings, in case you were wondering too. And as ST stresses, NOW is the time to get involved, because major decisions will be finalized in the next year-plus, even though the service itself isn’t expected to launch until 2030.

By the way, “Avalon Tom” says he’ll be printing 11×17 versions of these (and a few others) and bringing them to meetings.

(Sound Transit’s description of the “representative” – draft, basically – alignment, on which Tom’s images are based, can be seen and heard in our coverage of last week’s Elected Leadership Group launch meeting.)

The issue of overhead vs. underground is likely to be a big one – for the Ballard end, as well as West Seattle – as the “preferred alignment” is developed in the next year-plus, and Sound Transit has warned that tunneling would change the cost and likely the timeline.

Speaking of timeline:

STAKEHOLDER GROUP RECRUITMENT CONTINUES: Sound Transit is continuing to seek applications for at least five people in the West Seattle-to-Ballard corridor area to be on its Stakeholders Advisory Group. Just another week and a half to apply if you’re interested – go here to find out more, including how to apply. This group is expected to have its first meeting (CORRECTED DATE) February 8th, ST tells us.

OTHER WAYS TO HAVE A SAY: Keep an eye on the project website (and on WSB) – more feedback opportunities/meetings are expected soon.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Why you need to heed 2018 ‘sense of urgency’ for 2030 service

(Sound Transit’s West Seattle-to-Ballard ‘representative’ map – draft ‘alignment’)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you care about what’s going to happen with West Seattle’s forthcoming light-rail line, you need to pay attention to and get involved in the process right now, especially for the next year and a half – though it’s not due to arrive until 2030, the timeline depends on key decisions being made in the next year and a half.

That point was made repeatedly during the first meeting of one of the groups that will be involved in the planning process for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle and Ballard extensions, the Elected Leadership Group. Here’s video of the meeting, just published by Seattle Channel:

Another point: The planning process is not ONLY for groups – individual comments will be vital. (But if you want to get involved at a more-intense level, you are invited to apply ASAP for one of up to seven spots open on the soon-to-launch Stakeholders Advisory Group, which has 19 members already announced – more on them, and how to apply, later.)

West Seattle-residing County Council Chair Joe McDermott is co-chairing the Elected Leadership Group with City Councilmember Mike O’Brien. Others in attendance at the group’s first meeting, at Sound Transit headquarters on the south side of downtown, included Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Lorena González, Bruce Harrell, Lisa Herbold, and Rob Johnson.

ST CEO Peter Rogoff opened by speaking of a “certain sense of urgency” and mentioned “how much worse congestion will get … before we can deliver these projects.” He also mentioned the hope of speeding up the projects beyond the current 2030 West Seattle/2035 Ballard opening plans. And he acknowledged the complex logistics – including the bridges to be built over waterways for both lines, and the new tunnel that the Ballard line will use. He vowed to be “responsive” and “straightforward” in the anticipated “back and forth,” and promised that ST would do its best to answer questions thoroughly and transparently.

Two West Seattleites was among the half-dozen people who spoke during the public comment period early in the meeting.

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Next step in planning West Seattle light rail: ‘Elected leadership’ group’s 1st meeting

And more transit news as the new year begins: When Sound Transit reps visited West Seattle twice recently for updates on light-rail planning, they mentioned that an “elected leadership” group would be convened to focus on the West Seattle (2030) to Ballard (2035) line. Toward the end of this morning’s Seattle City Council meeting, Councilmember Mike O’Brien mentioned that group would meet for the first time this Thursday – so we asked Sound Transit for details. Here’s the agenda – the meeting, including City Councilmembers and ST Board members, is set for 2-4 pm Thursday at Union Station downtown, and is open to the public. (added) Here are the members:

 Representing the project corridor:
o Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold
o Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell
o Seattle Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
o Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien
o Seattle Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez
o Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman

 Representing Sound Transit
o Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers
o Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan
o King County Executive Dow Constantine
o Seattle Councilmember Rob Johnson
o King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

One agenda item involves appointments of all but five members of another group that’ll be involved, the Stakeholder Advisory Group. Here are links to all the meeting-related documents, including directions to the location.

P.S. 11 of the members to be appointed to the stakeholder group are listed on the last page here.

Want light rail? ‘Call to action’ from West Seattle Transportation Coalition

If you’re interested in light rail, the time to speak up – or, speak up again – is here. Sound Transit will soon make major decisions on what to take to voters, seeking money that will shape the next generation of its projects. West Seattle needs more planning, and needs you to advocate for that, says the West Seattle Transportation Coalition:

Dear West Seattle, South Park, White Center, and Burien Residents,

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSTC) is made up of your neighbors. We are community volunteers who have been tracking mobility issues for the Peninsula and White Center since September 2013. We have been successful in bringing attention to our transportation challenges by banding together and asking for solutions.

In the Sound Transit 2 package, money was set aside to study potential corridors for Sound Transit expansion (ST3). Sound Transit has been studying the Ballard transit expansion since 2012. The three years of comprehensive citizen outreach and planning sessions have culminated in multiple routing and delivery options for Ballard. However, West Seattle and points south have not had the benefits of the same planning sessions. On December 4, 2015, Sound Transit presented to the Sound Transit Board (STB) a proposal for expansion of Sound Transit light rail.

The WSTC has raised a question (see attached letter) to the STB and the City of Seattle. The proposed three options are in direct conflict with projects voted on in Move Seattle. With a draft proposal set for March 2016 and a final draft set for June 2016, how can we get three years worth of planning done in three months?

We need your help. Our next meeting is Thursday, January 28, 2016. We want to have a brainstorming session on ways we can help Sound Transit and the Cities of Seattle and Burien hold successful accelerated planning sessions.

You don’t need to be a transportation planner, you just need to want light rail to come to West Seattle, White Center and Burien!

Date: January 28, 2016
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: (new location) The Kenney, 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates; answered Sound Transit survey yet?

(East-facing camera on the West Seattle Bridge; see other cams on the WSB Traffic page)
We start off this morning with two encore notes from Monday. First: One more reminder that the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s winter schedule is now in effect, until early April. Second: Sound Transit is officially asking you where its service might expand after “current voter-approved projects are complete in 2023.” This online survey includes questions about a possible light-rail extension to West Seattle and about your priorities in general – it’ll be open for a month, but why wait?

P.S. Looking way ahead to the weekend – early Sunday, it’s time-change time.

Sound Transit ballot decision tomorrow: Constantine says yes

Tomorrow’s the day the Sound Transit board (members listed here) is expected to vote on whether to put a money measure on the November ballot. You can read about the proposal here; it would raise the local sales tax half a cent on the dollar.. West Seattle’s County Councilmember Dow Constantine is on the Sound Transit board; he just sent a news release saying he’ll vote to send it to voters – here’s his statement:Read More