Last week we described the latest concepts for light rail in West Seattle and Ballard. Today, we’ll talk about the path through greater Downtown, from Lower Queen Anne to Chinatown. In a deviation from the follow-the-monorail theme of other segments, the representative alignment skirts the edges of Belltown to provide a direct line to South Lake Union.
It’s all going to be tunnel, so there are only four questions to ask:
- What side of I-5 should Midtown Station be? To the West, in the walkshed of the existing DSTT, or to the East, serving the density of First Hill while forcing two crossings of I-5? One issue with the 5th Avenue alignment is the foundations of buildings there.
- Should the new Westlake be under the old Westlake, or just to the East?
- How far apart should the SLU stations be, or should there be just one?
- Under which street should the tunnel swing west: Roy, Mercer, Republican, or Harrison? Republican and Mercer turn out to have sewer conflicts that increase cost and risk.
Interestingly, using the evaluation criteria, all of the alternatives score worse or no better than the original alignment on every metric, except that (surprise) consolidating the SLU stations into one makes things cheaper and easier.