West Seattle, Washington
As reported here a week and a half ago, the second of three levels of light-rail-route review has concluded and what’s known as the Golf Course/Alaska Junction/Tunnel proposal is under the microscope. A big part of the decisionmaking process involves station siting – and that’s a focus of a walk-and-talk tour you’re invited to join tomorrow. In case you haven’t already seen it on our calendar or heard about it some other way, we’re publishing this reminder tonight. The tour organizers at Feet First describes the plan as follows:
Join King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, Sound Transit officials, and community leaders for a walking tour of proposed Sound Transit Link light rail station sites in West Seattle.
This event, sponsored by the pedestrian-advocacy group Feet First, will visit Link light rail station site alternatives at West Seattle Junction, Avalon, and Delridge.* Sound Transit is currently evaluating and gathering public input about station siting alternatives at these locations.
Sound Transit’s final selection of where the stations will go has big implications for how West Seattle will evolve over the coming decades, hopefully fostering the development of vibrant and walkable communities. On this walk, we will discuss trade-offs between the various site alternatives and how to ensure good walking access to the Sound Transit light rail system.
* the Delridge portion of the walk is optional.
You can RSVP here – the walk starts at Junction Plaza Park (42nd/Alaska) at 4:30 pm and if you’re along the whole way to Delridge, discussion is planned afterward at Ounces (3809 Delridge Way SW).
Above and here (PDF), you can see the proposed new schedule for the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route of Washington State Ferries. WSF has just released the draft for public comment, a week before starting a round of community meetings about the proposal. The accompanying message, via WSF spokesperson Hadley Rodero:
Over the past two years, WSF has engaged in a robust community process and has worked with the Triangle Task Force, local FACs, and the public to develop a draft schedule that considers customers’ needs and priorities. The result of these efforts is a draft sailing schedule that focuses on the afternoon peak commute westbound from Fauntleroy and adjusts eastbound sailing times in the morning from Southworth to better serve commuters. The draft schedule also aims to provide reliability, increase capacity, and regularly fill all sailings when a third 124-car Issaquah Class vessel begins serving the route.
In response to feedback from community members, King County Metro and Kitsap Transit staff, and WSF vessel and terminal employees on the timing of a schedule change, the new schedule will be implemented on March 31, 2019 at the beginning of the spring schedule. This will allow our transit partners to better align their schedules with ours and it will allow us to start the new schedule before the busy summer season.
We hope to hear from you or see you at a public meeting!
The first meeting is at Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW) one week from tomorrow – 5 to 7 pm Tuesday, October 23rd. You also can comment via e-mail – WSFPlanning@wsdot.wa.gov – deadline November 9th. It’s been two months since the Triangle Task Force got a look at two draft-schedule options (WSB coverage here). That group isn’t scheduled to meet again until next month, and will get a look at the feedback that’s starting now with the release of this proposal.
So far, this weekend’s Highway 99 closure (SB between the Battery Street Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge) has NOT ended early. But we want to take a moment to remind you about NEXT weekend’s both-ways closure – including the last-ever scheduled inspection of the Alaskan Way Viaduct – planned to start late Friday, October 19th, continuing to early Monday, October 22nd.
The Highway 99 tunnel is set to open in early February, after three weeks of road-realignment work following the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s permanent closure on January 11th. It’ll be toll-free for a trial period at the start. Once that’s over – what will you be charged? That decision is expected to be made by the State Transportation Commission next week, after one last public hearing (11 am Tuesday, October 16th, in Olympia). Here’s the plan, with rates ranging from $1 to $2.25 (provided you sign up for Good To Go):
If you can’t be at that hearing but have something to say, the commission is taking written comment through tomorrow – scroll down this page to find out how.
P.S. Reminder that more prep work brings a closure oF SB 99 this weekend – details here.
Several readers have asked when the sidewalk in front of the 4312 SW Admiral Way 7-11 – missing for many weeks – will be restored. We took the question to SDOT, whose spokesperson LeAnne Nelson looked into it and replied:
The 7-11 hired contractors to repair the sidewalk, but they removed the sidewalk without any Street Use permits, so they were issued a citation and required to submit a traffic control plan and field review; that’s due to the amount of sidewalk removed. They were not allowed to work until both were approved, which happened last week, I’m told. Our inspector has called the contractor to ask for a completion timeline.
We will check back on that if there’s no work-crew sighting at the site soon.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 4:04 PM FRIDAY: Nine days after the Stakeholder Advisory Group for West Seattle/Ballard light rail decided to recommend two options for the third and final stage of review, the next group up the ladder has thrown one of them out. We’ve obtained from Sound Transit the results of this morning’s Elected Leadership Group meeting:
That means the ELG did not accept one of the SAG’s recommendations, keeping the “Pigeon Ridge” alternative – which ST estimated would cost an extra $1.2 billion – in play. (The “Golf Course” etc. option is projected to cost $700 million extra.) Here are discussion points from the meeting:
Here’s the full set of ELG recommendations from todaySeattle Channel website eventually, as SC has recorded the ELG meetings because the group’s membership means the meetings technically also qualify as Seattle City Council Sustainability and Transportation Committee meetings.
WHAT’S NEXT: The third and final level of review now begins, with a “preferred alternative” for environmental study to be arrived at next spring. The next public meeting in the process isn’t until late November, when the Stakeholder Advisory Group is scheduled to meet again.
ADDED SATURDAY: Here’s the video of the meeting.
One of the dormant SDOT projects in West Seattle is about to start up again. Just out of the WSB inbox:
Crews plan to begin striping the intersection of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St tomorrow, Friday, October 5. This work must be completed in dry weather conditions and may be postponed to Monday, October 8. Striping will take approximately 2 days to complete.
Due to a manufacturing delay, crews are unable to activate the bike signal until late October. Initially crews hoped to activate the signal and complete road striping at the same time. However, striping cannot be completed in the rainy months, so it may occur before the bike signal can be activated. Later this month, crews will also install fencing along the bike path and complete plantings.
Traffic impacts during striping and signal activation:
*Westbound SW Spokane St will be reduced to one lane of traffic at Harbor Ave SW, except during peak hours (3 PM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday), when it will remain fully open
*2 uniformed police officers will be direct traffic at the intersection of Harbor Ave SW from SW Spokane St during work hours
*Sidewalks will be maintained for people walking and biking
Last time we mentioned the now-set-for-2021 Delridge Route 120/RapidRide H Line transition, an upcoming open house was noted. Today, details were announced – one week from tonight, Wednesday, October 10th, 5:30-7:30 pm. The event announcement from SDOT – which is partnering with Metro on the project going back to when it was under the “Delridge Multimodal Corridor” umbrella, since the transition will also “redesign” much of Delridge – includes:
In the Delridge corridor, we are proposing:
Protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenway connections
Water and sewer pipe upgrades
Spot parking and bike lane removal
Learn more and give specific feedback about this early design work at our upcoming open house with King County Metro.
Attend our open house: Wednesday, October 10 – 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Mount View Elementary School
10811 12th Ave SW, Seattle
*Child care provided
For more information about the open house, please click here to see our postcard.
Stay tuned for an online open house with survey questions if you can’t make the event. Check out our website and keep an eye out for additional email updates from us to learn about additional opportunities to review the preferred option and provide feedback.
If you’re not on the e-mail list already, send a note to DelridgeTransit@seattle.gov. We first reported back in July that the H Line launch date had been pushed back to 2021.
As we’ve been reporting in coverage of the Triangle Route Task Force advisory group, Washington State Ferries is preparing for the first major change in years to the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth schedule. The new schedule hasn’t yet been finalized; the task force got a look in August at two possible options, and a proposal will be out soon for public comment. With that as a backdrop, a new community group is organizing, and sent us this announcement:
Everybody has an opinion on how to fix the triangle route ferry schedule — lots of discussion and controversy. It’s not just about the time the boat is moving. It’s total time including the annoying wait in a ferry line while congesting and polluting the dock neighborhoods.
So, how would life be different if you knew a boat would leave at least every 30 minutes from the Fauntleroy dock throughout the day? Ferry waits would be dramatically reduced. On average, ferry users save an hour a day — an hour now mostly spent congesting and polluting the Fauntleroy dock neighborhood.
How could it be possible? The answer is so counter intuitive that you will laugh. Every boat should stop at every dock on every triangle route run, from early morning to evening. A group of Vashon commuters has completed over the last 18 months a professional, thorough process engineering ferry efficiency study. It shows that clearing the Fauntleroy dock of both Vashon and Southworth cars every 30 minutes is feasible and would reduce dock area waiting cars by 50% while creating 20% more departures. That’s a fact-based prediction based on detailed ferry observation, data collection and analysis.
You would be right to say “prove it.” We couldn’t agree more. We need the legislature to approve funds and direct WSF to test the concept with a pilot project. We need to be positive and professional with WSF and Olympia or nothing will happen.
We have put together a citizen team to make this happen. Want to help too? Email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together for positive change.
WSF is planning public meetings for schedule comment starting later this month, including a 5-7 pm meeting October 23rd at Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A week and a half after the big news that the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close forever on January 11th, with three weeks of Highway 99-less-ness to follow before the new tunnel opens (and other traffic effects beyond that), the West Seattle Transportation Coalition got a high-level briefing.
Leading that briefing last night: WSDOT’s Viaduct/99 project boss Brian Nielsen, SDOT’s downtown-mobility director Heather Marx, and King County’s Chris Arkills.
There were a few new bits of information – but even the not-so-new info bears hearing over and over as the 99-less period approaches.
Marx began with the overview that getting around the city is about to change – “it’s not going to be super-fun, for a few years” – with the promise that after those “few years,” things will be much better.
She showed the five pillars of how “downtown mobility” will be managed.
She made way for Nielsen, who promised specifics on “what’s going on in the Viaduct program now and the next couple years.” The number 5 figured into his early going, too – 5 things that have to be completed before the tunnel can open.
Just in from SDOT:
Saturday morning, we’ll be closing (the inside lanes along) 500 to 1000 feet of the Fauntleroy Expressway portion of the West Seattle Bridge. Approximately 9 Jersey Barriers struck in a recent vehicle collision must be moved back into their protective alignment.
What you can expect:
Our Roadway Structures team will maneuver and realign the jersey barriers, in an area currently coned and taped off.
September 29 | 7 AM – 3 PM
500 to 1000 feet of WB and EB left lanes of Fauntleroy Expressway, just E of 35th Ave SW
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two levels of review down, one to go until the Sound Transit West Seattle to Ballard light-rail-extension project focuses on a “preferred alternative” for environmental study.
At their 3+-hour meeting tonight, members of the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Group made its recommendations for which alternatives its members want to see advance to the third level of study, segment by segment – Ballard/Interbay, Downtown, Chinatown/ID, SODO, and finally, West Seattle – seated in four groups, with the results collected and announced after each segment discussion.
For West Seattle, here’s how it concluded, with two of the three Level 2 tunnel-inclusive options recommended to remain under review in Level 3:
The alternatives that are advancing are from among five under review in Level 2, including the ST “representative project” (the all-elevated plan that was originally outlined before the ST3 ballot measure).
This is the first weekday since Metro‘s latest “service change” kicked in on Saturday. For West Seattle, Routes 56, 57, 120, and RapidRide C Line have added weekday trips. But there’s one more important note: As noted here last Tuesday, timetables were printed with the belief that the Viaduct-to-tunnel Highway 99 change was happening soon – but as you no doubt have heard by now, it’s not happening until January 11th. So Metro wants to be sure you know this:
Transit service will continue to operate on the Alaskan Way Viaduct until early 2019
In a revision to previously published information for Metro’s September 22 service change, routes 21 Express, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125 and the RapidRide C Line will continue to operate on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and along Seneca and Columbia streets, until early 2019, instead of changing to SODO surface streets as previously planned.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct is now scheduled for closure in early 2019, and until it is closed, the routes that have been operating on it will continue to do so.
Updated schedules are online
While Metro works to update all of its data information systems, use the timetables posted on Metro’s website to plan your trip. During morning peak hours, some buses may arrive in downtown Seattle slightly earlier than scheduled.
When using Metro’s online Trip Planner, watch for the ‘Alert!’ symbol on affected itineraries, and check posted service advisories for routing or stop revisions. Revisions will be fully integrated in the Trip Planner by or before October 20.
New red timetables
Routing and operating times in new red paper timetables for viaduct routes that were distributed prior to September 22 do not reflect this late change to actual operation.
Affected timetables are being revised. Use online timetables or note that, because scheduled running time was added for the expected surface street operation, buses may seem to run earlier or later than the times shown in those timetables.
Downtown routing revisions for some viaduct routes
In the downtown area, some morning peak hour buses have revised routing. After exiting the viaduct, routes 21 Express, 121, 122, 123 and 125 that used to operate a short distance north on 1st Avenue or south on 2nd Avenue are all now operating via Seneca Street to 3rd Avenue, where they will continue north on 3rd, except for Route 125, which will continue south on 3rd.
To get to points south of Seneca St, transfer to applicable service southbound on 2nd or 3rd avenues from posted bus stops just south of Seneca St, or enter the transit tunnel at 3rd Av and Seneca St and transfer to southbound buses or Link light rail.
Some onboard stop or landmark information for viaduct buses in the downtown Seattle area may temporarily not be announced or may be announced incorrectly.
Listen for operator announcements or check with your driver if you need assistance with stop information for your route. These systems are also in the process of being updated.
Service change information
Information about all fall service revisions is posted online, and is included in new red timetables.
P.S. If you have questions about January’s Viaduct-to-tunnel transition, bring them to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting this Thursday (September 27), 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way).
At right is Penny Scott, a Routes 125/128 bus driver who is one of three Metro drivers honored today as Operators of the Year. This was the first three-way tie since Metro started presenting the award in 1979. From the announcement:
Penny drives Route 125 between Downtown Seattle and West Seattle and Route 128 from West Seattle to White Center and Tukwila. She was hired as a part-time transit operator in July 1995 and went full-time in March 2001. She has earned a 22-year Safe-Driving Award and received several commendations. She was named Operator of the Month in October 2017. Penny was born and raised in Seattle, and graduated from Garfield High School in 1991. Penny is known around the base as “The Five-Star General” … because of the safety pins she proudly displays on her Metro jacket. Penny has two grown sons, Johnathan and Dorian. In her spare time, Penny enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends.
Read about her two co-Operators of the Year, Ricardo Diaz and Robert Leyse (who drive non-WS routes), in the full announcement here. Metro says all three got the news “at a surprise ceremony today at Atlantic-Central Base.”
Two Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99-related notes on this day after The Big Announcement (WSB coverage here) that the AWV’s permanent shutdown for the tunnel transition (and then demolition) won’t happen until January 11th:
ANOTHER CLOSURE THIS WEEKEND: WSDOT confirms that another Highway 99 closure north of the West Seattle Bridge is planned this weekend, this time northbound, according to spokesperson Laura Newborn. When we checked with her this morning, she was awaiting confirmation on the Friday night (September 21) start time (update: 9 pm), but added that “WSDOT plans to open up the NB ramp at Royal Brougham so NB SR 99 will be accessible after the Seahawks game on Sunday.” That’s assuming the closure doesn’t end early, as last week’s southbound closure did.
BUS ROUTING AFTER THE PERMANENT CLOSURE: Looking ahead to its next “service change” this Saturday, Metro created timetables with information about what happens to the 12 routes that use the Alaskan Way Viaduct, once it closes. Below are the links to PDFs of each timetable and the language each respectively contains regarding rerouting during the Highway 99 closure:
(During the Highway 99 closure) … the C Line will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. The C Line will continue to operate via 3rd Ave midtown.
(During the Highway 99 closure) … Route 21 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. All Express service will operate exclusively via 3rd Ave midtown; Local service will remain unchanged midtown
(During the Highway 99 closure) … Route 37 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. All Route 37 service will operate via 3rd Ave north of Columbia St during this time.
(During the Highway 99 closure) … Route 55 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. Route 55 will operate via 3rd Ave, but otherwise remain unchanged midtown.
(During the Highway 99 closure) … routes 56 and 57 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. Both routes will operate via 3rd Ave, but otherwise remain unchanged midtown.
(During the Highway 99 closure) … Route 113 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. Midtown, Route 113 will shift operation from 1st Ave and 2nd Ave to 3rd Ave.
(During the Highway 99 closure) … Route 120 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. Route 120 will operate via 3rd Ave, but otherwise remain unchanged midtown.
(During the Highway 99 closure) … routes 121, 122 and 123 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. Midtown, the three routes will shift operation from 1st Ave and 2nd Ave to 3rd Ave
(added) Route 125
(During the Highway 99 closure) … Route 125 will be rerouted through SODO via 4th Ave S, and via 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave south of Columbia St. Midtown, Route 125 will operate exclusively via 3rd Ave.
Since the timetables have language suggesting that the permanent AWV closure was expected to start around the end of this month, some might be confused, so we contacted Jeff Switzer of Metro, who reiterates, “The printed timetables for the 12 routes that use the viaduct will be accurate at the time the tunnel opens. The interim pathways defined during the closure are set, however, additional bus stops are under consideration. Buses will continue to use the viaduct and their current paths, and riders can expect the same trip duration, until the viaduct closes.” The mention of “additional” stops dovetails with what Metro deputy general manager Terry White said at yesterday’s media briefing, that stops are still being finalized.
Just a few blocks uphill from Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy terminal, you can drop in until 7 pm at Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW) to find out about/comment on the WSF Draft Long-Range Plan. Among the easel displays, the ferry of the future:
The proposed plan would have three 124-car hybrid-electric ferries serving Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth by 2029. Other big changes on this route would include a second slip at Southworth by 2026. The long-range plan – which is supposed to look all the way ahead to 2040 – also covers climate change:
And it covers budget woes – with one board saying the system only has half the funding it would need to make it’s proposed plan reality. If you can’t make it to this open house, you have until late October to comment via this online open house. The so-called Triangle Route, meantime, has a much nearer-term change in the works – a new schedule for the first time in a long time (here’s our most-recent report on that process). We just got the schedule for three meetings specific to THAT proposed change:
-Fauntleroy, 5-7 pm October 23 (Fauntleroy Church)
-Vashon, 6-8 pm October 24 (Vashon Island High School)
-Southworth, 5:30-7:30 pm October 25 (Harper Church)
(Added 6:20 pm: Full unedited video of briefing)
1:02 PM: Here’s the full news release:
Mark your calendars. In early 2019, the new State Route 99 tunnel will open, offering travelers a direct route from Seattle’s stadiums to the Space Needle.
To open the tunnel, the Washington State Department of Transportation must first realign the state highway, and then move SR 99 from the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct into the tunnel. This intensive work will last about three weeks and prompt the longest major highway closure to ever hit the Puget Sound region.
“The opening of the SR 99 tunnel will be an historic event in the state’s transportation history,” said Brian Nielsen, administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “Before we can celebrate, we have to get through an unprecedented closure that will require all of us to change our behavior.”
WSDOT’s current plan is to close SR 99 through Seattle beginning Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Closing SR 99 through Seattle is the only way crews can finish building the highway and the eight new ramps that will allow travelers to enter and exit the new tunnel
Travelers should expect region-wide congestion for up to six weeks as crews complete final connections to and from the new tunnel. In addition to the three-week closure:
*The off-ramp from southbound SR 99 to South Atlantic Street will permanently close one week earlier than the viaduct.
*The new off-ramp from northbound SR 99 to South Dearborn Street will require up to two weeks of additional work after the tunnel opens.
Get ready, make a plan
When the viaduct closes, 90,000 drivers who normally use the Alaskan Way Viaduct will need to find another way to get to, or through, downtown Seattle. During past Alaskan Way Viaduct closures, congestion increased on all major highways throughout Puget Sound as well as on local streets.
While WSDOT is working closely with the Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Metro and other key transportation agencies to keep traffic moving during this challenging time, help from drivers is critical.
“We need drivers to change their habits for three weeks to prevent gridlock,” said Nielsen. “We recognize everyone’s strategies will be different based on their needs, but consider other ways to get to and from your destination, if you can.”
When Seattle Tunnel Partners finished disassembling the tunneling machine Bertha in 2017, WSDOT estimated the tunnel would be open in early 2019. While there was optimism this date could be moved up, a number of factors influenced the decision to stay with the early 2019 date:
Construction progress: WSDOT has several contractors that must complete work to be ready for the three-week SR 99 closure. Scarsella Brothers, Inc. will then build the final tunnel and ramp connections. Some of this work, like road striping, is weather dependent.
Public notice: Starting in January ensures that contractor work will be complete and we can provide a specific date much further in advance. The public’s help will be critical and this will give everyone time to plan.
Holiday travel and commerce: WSDOT and its partner agencies are committed to keeping people and goods moving during the busy holiday season. Avoiding a major highway closure between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day helps achieve this goal. There are also fewer major events in early 2019 than there are during the last quarter of 2018.
Per the Legislature’s decision, the SR 99 tunnel will be tolled as a part of the project’s financing plan. The tunnel will be free to use when it first opens.
Additional details about the closure, tunnel opening and the future tolling of the tunnel can be found at www.99tunnel.com.
1:50 PM: The briefing is over and we’re headed back to HQ. We recorded it all on video and will be uploading that. Also, some West Seattle-specific details: Paul Brodeur from the King County Water Taxi said it will run a two-boat schedule on weekdays during the closure, with shuttles also doubled, and there will be extra parking including a lot at Pier 2, at Don Armeni, and along Harbor Avenue.
3:26 PM: Bus reroutes during the closure are already mentioned in route-specific pamphlets as part of Metro’s service-change announcement – but the language suggests they were expecting the closure to be much sooner, so we’re asking Metro if the January timing will change anything. Metro’s new deputy general manager Terry White said at the briefing that the stops for the 12 routes that will have to be rerouted are still being finalized.
6:20 PM: Just added our full unedited video of the briefing and Q&A from this afternoon.
SDOT says the work at Olson/1st, on the east end of the Roxbury corridor, continues this weekend:
This weekend we are repaving the busy 1st Ave S and Olson Place SW intersection, at the east end of the SW Roxbury corridor. Our crews worked 12-hour shifts every weekend in August to complete installation of new wiring and bonding underground, across about 70 feet of travel lanes. The trench was covered in steel plates to await asphalt.
What you can expect:
Crews from SDOT Roadway Structures will move and reset steel plates during asphalt work, then remove the steel plates the following day and clear the area.
September 15 | 9 AM – 8 PM
September 16 | 9 AM – Noon
Closure | Expect lane closures on Olson Pl SW and 1st Ave S.
General | 2 Uniformed Police Officers will be on site to guide traffic.
The 1st/Olson location was prioritized for a Levy to Move Seattle major maintenance rebuild, to enhance reliability and function where underground wiring/materials had degraded. The failing existing conduit system had caused repeated maintenance issues. The new conduit connects to our Traffic Operations Center and Intelligent Transportation System, which helps enhance safety and mobility remotely.
The project includes new LED traffic signals and new signal support poles — better aligned with the current roadway configuration, for optimal visibility. These are scheduled to be installed in October.
More background on the project, including a history-related side note, is in this WSB report from three weeks ago. P.S. Thanks to Craig for sending the 1933 Seattle Municipal Railway map relating to that!
9:13 AM: Not here at the Seattle Lutheran High School gym (4100 SW Genesee) yet? More than 50 people are, as the Sound Transit “neighborhood forum” for West Seattle light rail routing/station locations begins. This is in “open house” – circulate and look at boards, maps, etc. – mode until at least 9:30, followed by a presentation, followed by small-group conversation starting just before 10, so you have time to get here. (The format is detailed here.) Here’s our most-recent coverage, with the new ST-released “visualizations” of what some of the route/station options might look like. Updates to come!
9:32 AM: The presentation’s starting, projected on the north wall. The microphone is given first to Joe McDermott, County Councilmember and Sound Transit board member, who jokes about the ease of the commute (on a Saturday morning) and thanks everyone for turning out. He’s followed by project director Cathal Ridge providing some project backstory and timeline, starting with the planning phase (now) and moving to construction starting in 2025 to open the Stadium-SODO-West Seattle extension in 2030. (Rough count update, 100+ people here now.)
Ridge reiterates that they’re not asking people to pick their final preferred alternative today, but to help “narrow” the list down. One more level of review is ahead before that preferred alternative is finalized next April, to move into full environmental study.
Ridge notes that this is the first time “cost assessment” has entered the process (as we reported last Wednesday) – focused on “limited conceptual design” (5%, compared to 60% when they get to an actual project budget) based on “consistent methodology” including 2017 dollars. In the final level of review, Level 3, they will provide costs for “end-to-end alternatives,” compared to the current comparative segment-by-segment analysis, and those, Ridge explains, “will facilitate comparison to ST3 budget” (as approved by voters).
9:47 AM: He’s followed by Stephen Mak, ST’s West Seattle-specific planner, recapping the five West Seattle segment alternatives currently under discussion, including the “representative project” originally proposed. After going briefly over the route/station maps for the alternatives, Mak hits the info-dense tables of evaluation points that were originally presented at the Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting Wednesday (and included in our coverage – you can also see that slide deck here – but be aware that latter link includes the evaluation of all West Seattle to Ballard segments; WS is last). The highlights include the same takeaway points that ST chose to highlight, such as “visual effects” – where “low” and “high” guideways are mentioned, by the way, we asked for clarification on Wednesday, and “low” means up to 60′, while “high” means up to 160′. If you want to cut to the bare-bones summary, this is the page:
(That’s on page 106 of the presentation from Wednesday; we will ask on Monday for the WS-only deck that’s being used today.)
10:09 AM: Mak is followed by ST station planner Sloan Dawson, who talks about the by-invitation-only daylong station “charrettes” that were held in July, one for Delridge, one for Junction and Avalon. (We covered a walking tour that was part of the latter.) Someone in the crowd quickly spots the acronym TOD and asks for an explanation (answer: Transit Oriented Development). Here are the slides he showed:
10:20 AM: Presentation’s ending. That means table-by-table conversations will begin. ST has a note-taker assigned to each table.
It’s announced that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is here. Someone asks if the slides can be made available online – the facilitator says yes. (Again, as noted above, the same slides were in the Wednesday presentations, but we’ll request today’s deck on Monday and add it here.) We’re within earshot of one table, whose note-taker/coordinator KaDeena Yerkan is asking people to introduce themselves and to say which station/route segment most interests them. One person in her self-intro says she’s interested in whatever would speed up the process. ST, meantime, tells us that the signup forms at last check showed 130 people are (or have been) here. The boards with post-it note options are still up for commenting on the other side of the room, too.
10:50 AM: Conversation continues and is scheduled to go until about 11:30 – soon shifting to “part 2, (to) share input for each sub-segment.” One participant at the table within our earshot asks what happens if the Port is not happy about a favored route – does it have a veto?The coordinator’s not sure. Meantime, all this feedback is to be summarized and provided to the decisionmakers further up the line – the Stakeholder Advisory Group will meet September 26th to make its recommendations for what to advance to the third and final review level; the Elected Leadership Group then considers those recommendations (but is not bound by them) on October 5th. (The public is welcome at all of those meetings but if you go, take note that there’s no public-comment period at the SAG meetings; there IS, at the ELG meetings. SAG meetings are not recorded on video; Seattle Channel does record the SAG meetings, which are also technically City Council meetings because the ELG has a quorum of city councilmembers.)
11:24 AM: Still talking, as the prescheduled adjournment time of 11:30 am nears, though a couple of the table groups are breaking up. We’re going to go look around at easels etc. and will add a few images later. (Update: Added below)
If you couldn’t be here, you still have a way to get involved in this round – as we reported Friday, ST has an “online open house” now under way until September 23rd, with info and comment opportunities. Find it here.
With another tentative agreement for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302, work is expected to resume on many projects in the region, including two that SDOT has going in West Seattle. One is the Arbor Heights sidewalk project along the west side of 35th SW between SW 100th and 106th; SDOT’s LeAnne Nelson tells WSB, “We are working with crews to plan work starting on Monday, but it’s not yet known if there will be challenges in getting materials—with many public and private projects resuming concrete/asphalt work at the same time. It’s expected that the concrete work will take place first.” The other is the Chief Sealth Walkway Improvements project on 25th and 26th north of SW Trenton. Nelson says, “This work requires asphalt, which ended up with more of a backlog from the strike than did concrete. The team is checking with the contractor to determine when the asphalt subcontractor will be available to finish the trails.”
4:03 PM: In our Wednesday coverage of the newest information available about potential West Seattle light rail alternatives, we mentioned that Sound Transit promised to make new “visualizations” publicly available. They are now up for you to view as part of an “online open house” that’s also been launched – see them above or here (PDF). They’re black and white (unlike the unofficial community-member-created ones featured here back in January) and do not appear to cover all the possibilities currently under discussion, but they’re something else you can take into consideration. The new “online open house” starts here and is open for use until September 23rd. And again, you’re invited to the West Seattle Neighborhood Forum that Sound Transit is presenting tomorrow (Saturday, September 8th), 9-11:30 am in the gym at Seattle Lutheran High School (4100 SW Genesee). This is a key time for your feedback, as the process of determining a “preferred alternative” to send into full formal environmental study is about to get to the third and final stage of review.
ADDED 6:21 PM: We have since received some additional information we had requested – the estimated numbers for displacements projected along each of the alternatives currently being reviewed, and an additional 100-plus-page document with even more evaluation specifics.
The “representative project” (ST’s original proposal): Between 85 and 145 potential residential unit displacements
Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel: Between 145 and 220 potential residential unit displacements
Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Elevated: Between 145 and 220 potential residential unit displacements
Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel: Fewer than 85 potential residential unit displacements
Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Tunnel: Between 145 and 220 potential residential unit displacements
(ADDED 6:52 PM: Full presentation with evaluation information on all 4 segments, West Seattle at end)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
5:30 PM: Just past the halfway point in the process of coming up with a “preferred alternative” for the West Seattle and Ballard light-rail extension, Sound Transit has just gone public with an avalanche of evaluation information about the options on the table.
The information is being presented to the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Group at the ST board room downtown. We were invited to an advance media briefing this afternoon, with the details embargoed until the SAG briefing began for this meeting.
Three of the five potential routes that are in the second of three phases of review involve tunnels – and the newly released evaluation information makes it clear that tunneling will cost extra money and time.
The document’s not online yet but we have a paper copy and are starting with a few highlights:
The documents are densely packed, evaluating the alternatives on hundreds of points. Cost-wise, ST says the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel alternative would be $1.2 billion more than the originally drafted “representative” project; the Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative would be $700 million more; the Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative would be $500 million more. Those all would require “third-party funding” to cover the tab, ST says. And while specific time wasn’t cited, the agency says adding tunneling would “affect the schedule” – meaning it would take longer than the 2030 opening goal.
Also from the document, while we wait for a digital version in its entirety (
we’ll add it when it’s available added above at 6:52 pm), here are the ST-provided overviews of what differentiates the alternatives:
The above “Duwamish Crossing” differentiating factors refer to the alternatives for getting the light-rail route across the Duwamish River on a new bridge. Also of note above – when you see “low guideway,” that means no higher than 60′ tall; “high guideway” could be up to 160′ tall.
Next, the overview on differentiating factors between possible locations for the three West Seattle stations:
Again, the Stakeholder Advisory Group is being briefed on all this – plus the fine points – for the West Seattle segment, SODO segment, Downtown segment, and Ballard segment of the light-rail extension project. Its members are not being asked to make their resulting recommendations today on what will advance to the next level, but will be asked to do that at their next meeting on September 26th. In the meantime, the next public touchstone in the process is Saturday (September 8th) at the West Seattle neighborhood forum, 9-11:30 am at the Seattle Lutheran High School gym (4100 SW Genesee).
The briefing here at the meeting has started with the Ballard segment and is working its way south; we’ll add to this story when the discussion gets to the West Seattle segment.
6:52 PM: They’re not at West Seattle yet – but it’s coming up after 7:15. Meantime, we’ve received the full PDF with all the evaluation points on all four segments, 113 pages, and you can see it above, or here (10 MB PDF). It’s not yet on the ST website.
7:15 PM: And now, the West Seattle briefing. ST’s Stephen Mak is leading it. It begins on page 87 of the full presentation (now added atop this story, with a PDF link in the paragraph above this one). Note that when it gets to the grids, red means an alternative performs “low” on that datapoint; beige, “medium”; green, “high” performing.
Among the many datapoints are environmental effects; ST singles out the Pigeon RidgeWest Seattle Tunnel option as having a major effect on the (West) Duwamish Greenbelt forest, essentially bisecting it at one spot, they say. The Junction alternatives’ datapoints include concerns about potential for future extension of the light-rail line – where exactly it ends will make a difference in that. (The Golf Course/Alaska Junction/Tunnel alternative is described as best accommodating future light-rail extension beyond West Seattle.) Mak’s briefing is moving quickly now that the meeting is approaching its final half-hour, so by reading the pages above, you’re in essence getting the same thing. The summary page is 106, mentioning all of the key points – cost differences, schedule, differentiators.
7:31 PM: Sloan Dawson, who works on station-related planning, is discussing the results of the charrettes that discussed station possibilities. The Delridge group, he said, preferred the “Genesee Elevated” option. The “West Side Delridge” option might have overwhelming height and bulk, he noted; the 25th SW Elevated option would put the station in the middle of a current single-family-house neighborhood. One group member asked if the cost estimates included more than just building the route and station – did it include other potential features? The answer to that: No.
The Avalon options, which were coupled in a daylong charrette with Junction options, didn’t have a clear favorite. And on to Junction station options: Putting one at Fauntleroy was seen as too distant from the business district; the one with the most potential, at 42nd/41st, especially as a connection in a network that could run between California and Fauntleroy.
We’re listening in on one group which among other things is wondering about effects on the port if the crossing of the Duwamish is routed north of the West Seattle Bridge. It would affect T-5 and T-18, says a port rep, who also noted that they’re hoping to announce a new T-5 tenant by the end of the year. The group also wondered about mixing and matching parts of existing alternatives – ST has said previously that
“This next three weeks is going to be critical for reviewing” all the new information, the Stakeholder Advisory Group was told in summation. And apparently there’s even more information beyond what’s in the presentation we posted above, so we’ll be checking into that too – they include new ST-produced visualizations and those will be available online, ST just said (though they weren’t shown at this meeting). Again, September 26 is the next meeting for this group, at which they’ll recommend what they want to see move forward; that recommendation then goes to the Elected Leadership Group on October 5th.
But before then – if you care about where this is going (and if you read this far, you probably do), don’t miss Saturday morning’s West Seattle “forum.”
Two events are ahead this week as the process of planning Sound Transit West Seattle (and Ballard) light rail gets back into high gear: On Wednesday (September 5th), the Stakeholder Advisory Group meets for the first time in more than a month, and is expected to get technical-evaluation information that’s long been clamored for. That meeting is set for 5-8 pm at Sound Transit’s board room downtown (401 S. Jackson) – no agenda yet but watch for it here. Then next Saturday (September 8th) is your chance to jump in deeper, at the next “neighborhood forum,” set for 9-11:30 am at the Seattle Lutheran High School gym (4100 SW Genesee). How that’ll unfold is explained here. Feedback from the forum goes to the stakeholder group before its recommends at month’s end what should move to the third and final level of review