I had a brief chat yesterday with current (and likely future) Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin about his plan to act on rail to both Ballard and West Seattle soon, with City funds.
For light rail to West Seattle, no directly applicable studies exist. However, Conlin guesses such a line would cost “$400m or less” based on a Duwamish crossing on the West Seattle Bridge, similar to the monorail, and connecting to Central Link with a transfer at Sodo. “I don’t think it would be a big deal to transfer given how often Central Link runs,” he said.
As for the $135m Ballard/Fremont streetcar, Conlin said that “we haven’t really discussed [financing] this on the City Council,” but he’s optimistic because last year the resolution in support of the Streetcar network passed 6-3. With McIver retiring, Rasmussen and Harrell are the only returning no votes.
One really important thing is the new mayor’s reaction. “Having the support of the mayor’s office is very helpful” because of the staff resources the Mayor’s office can commit to create estimates, said Conlin.
The Mayor-elect, as it turns out, has his own plan for rail expansion, with strong emphasis on dedicated rights of way. Fortunately, Conlin is open to taking parking and/or traffic lanes away in many places: “There are places where that works and places where it’s harder.” Conlin cited Downtown Fremont and the Fremont bridge as places where dedicated ROW would be prohibitively expensive, but the stretch between Fremont and Ballard as a place where it would be relatively easy. He said the Council will have to look at each segment one by one.