Representative project alignments for the West Seattle and Ballard Link extensions (courtesy of Sound Transit)

The stats suggests that a few of you are interested in the Ballard to West Seattle light rail alignment in ST3. Your first shot to ask questions directly of agency staff is coming up in a couple of weeks.

West Seattle: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center

Ballard: Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge

Downtown: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 5:30–7:30 p.m. at Union Station

Can’t join us in-person? Our online open house goes live on Feb. 12:

There are several open debates on this alignment. Beyond the issues discussed at the link, Rob Johnson has expressed a desire to move the Ballard station west of 15th. In any case, the wish list generally costs money. Sound Transit hasn’t shown much inclination to let the schedule slip to take on some of these desires. The overall project budget, though fairly conservative at the time, is threatened by both a volatile federal administration and a Washington Legislature inclined to raid ST’s budget to fund tax cuts. The decision process is supposed to wrap up in the next year or so.

This confluence of conditions is not good for people who hope to broaden the scope.

72 Replies to “Ballard/West Seattle Open Houses Coming Up”

  1. I would think a Ballard station east of 15th would be more expensive. The line is already west of 15th as it travels through Interbay (mandated by the hillside), so a Ballard station west of 15th means the track doesn’t have to cross 15th north of the ship canal.

    Assuming the ship canal crossing, itself, isn’t tunneled, there is no good place for the train to cross 15th without a lot of extra engineering.

    1. I don’t think anyone is proposing a station east of 15th?

      If the ship canal is tunneled, I think it could sense to shift the station a few blocks west.

      If the ship canal is a bridge, I think it will be so, so much cheaper to simply run elevated up 15th that trying to shift the station off of the 15th ROW won’t be worth the incremental cost.

      1. Well, unless we’re willing to take away traffic lanes from 15th, or run the train in mixed traffic over a congested bridge, there is going to be a new bridge, and, barring an additional crossing of 15th with the train tracks, the new bridge is going to be just west of the existing one.

        Most likely, I see the station site being the Wallgreens property at the southwest corner of 15th and Market.

      2. Definitely a new bridge – the current bridge is at the end of life.

        I assumed since the station was elevated, it would be literally over the intersection with equal access from all corners, similar to the Chicago L stations along Wabash Ave.

        I don’t think any of the alternatives include 15th at-grade.

      3. I would love to see an elevated station with equal access from all four corners. But I’m afraid that, after rounds of coat cutting, that won’t happen. The obvious way to cheap out is to put the station on surface level, with access from one corner only. Besides making people wait for more stoplights to get to and from the station, this design would also make it very difficult to extend the line in the future. But the way ST thinks, since extensions beyond Market St. have not been votor approved, they cannot plan for them. Which increases the likelihood that they will cheap out and have the line touch down just north of Leary, on the west side of 15th for a station on the Wallgreens lot.

      4. Ballard-UW has already had a planning study and UW Station still doesn’t appear to know that it exists. If ST has made any kind of transter plan it’s keeping silent about it. That raises a worst-case scenario of having to come up to the surface, cross a signalized intersection, and go back underground again.

        I think the Ballard line is safer because a northern extension is simply an extension of the line rather than a different line. And yes, 65th and 85th were in earlier planning studies. They’re “if funding allows”.

      5. In other words, I think ST left enough wiggle room in the ballot measure to allow an extension to 65th and 85th if it ends up fitting within the declared tax period, or if other funding like grants stretches the budget. That is very unlikely this round because North King’s ST3 list is packed full and some of the budgeted funding may not be realized. But theoretically it could happen, just like Madison RR was initially sketched to 23rd but SDOT considered a longer line to MLK or Madison Park before finally settling on MLK, and Roosevelt RR was sketched to 45th but possibly 65th or Northgate and settled on 65th.

  2. 1) I really encourage folks to show up to these open houses. Especially, and I mean this affectionately, the Ballard Lobby Group. You really need to attend and show that pride in your Ballard “urban village”.

    I don’t recommend bringing presents however. Sound Transit “Ethics” Policy is now in full force and swats that away. Something to discuss on an open thread…

    2) “A Washington Legislature inclined to raid ST’s budget to fund tax cuts”. Yup, good framing!

      1. Yep, they want to run it right down the middle of Elliott West, presumably in the air. What a dumb plan. What happens at the curve with an elevated line in the middle of Elliott wanting to end up in the middle of 15th West? Remember, there’s a station just a few blocks to the southeast, but this sucker is going to have to clear the Galer Street Flyover and the Magnolia Bridge approach ramps by roughly 25 feet at the railhead. That will be 60 feet in the air, like the approach to TIBS from downhill.

        Instead, they could run it at-grade (fenced of course) at the base of the hill behind the rudimentary buildings along the north side of Elliott. The northbound track would probably have to be raised on a shelf a few feet above the southbound track, but railroads do that around the globe. Grant this means that the tunnel has to be a few blocks longer and come out just north of Mercer Place about even with Eighth West. But it integrates the train into the environment much better than does a long elevated structure.

        Then, after the Expedia stop, it would hug the hill and pass between the Magnolia Bridge ramp and the greenbelt, rise up to diagonal across 15th West at Armory and descend to run alongside the railroad tracks. This would maintain full capacity on 15th West and Elliott while making the stations quieter and less subject to exhaust.

        They sure do have an edifice complex at Sound Transit.

      2. There would be retaining walls in some places, of course, just as happen on freeways.

  3. West Seattle Residents: This is your CALL TO ACTION!

    The West Seattle Transportation Coalition, a sham “transportation” (read: automobile advocacy) group, is going to show up to these open houses and advocate for endless delays, a “tunnel or nothing” philosophy, and the priority of automobile traffic at all costs, even if it means canceling light rail to West Seattle altogether.

    Already, members of the WSTC board have suggested changing the light rail to a gondola (!) or just using the new rail bridge over the Duwamish for buses only. They have repeatedly expressed fundamental concern about how the Sound Transit will mitigate the impacts to AUOTOMOBILE TRAFFIC.

    In fact, in 2016, the WSTC couldn’t even bring themselves to support the ST3 initiative! Too many “concerns…”

    DO NOT assume this group has your best interests in mind! SHOW UP and let Sound Transit know that you want the Light Rail to come to West Seattle AS PROMISED and that you do not want the “Seattle Process” to delay its arrival. Tell them your number one priority with Light Rail is “speedy, on-time (or earlier!) completion of the project.”

    1. Very well said. THIS is the dynamic I have to deal with in my activism so much – the supporters lay back and opine from the comfort of their basement, while the opponents are face forward. Only creates problems.

      Well was said in 2000, “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

      You guys have a great Sound Transit team fighting for you. They deserve their 12s as much as the South Corridor has their 12s thanks to their star quaterback and the North by Northwest once we have a quarterback deserves their 12s. Decisions are made by those who show up.

      During the key point of drafting ST3, in the only meeting about ST3 in the North by Northwest, in the Great White Out the fans showed up and got Sound Transit to give us in the North by Northwest the light rail we not just wanted but needed. Decisions are made by those who show up.

      I think you get my point folks: Decisions are made by those who show up. GO!

    2. If West Seattle really wants RapidRide+ or a gondola instead, I’m not going to complain. Let’s plow that bonding capacity into Ballard-UW, where it’ll be appreciated.

      1. Or if West Seattlites/ST really want light rail, they can just say, “It’s either elevated or the money goes to Ballard!”

    3. >> Already, members of the WSTC board have suggested changing the light rail to a gondola (!) or just using the new rail bridge over the Duwamish for buses only.

      What? That’s crazy. First of all, a gondola doesn’t make sense for the distances involved. It is too far, and gondolas are too slow.

      Second, a new bridge? Seriously? I think West Seattle rail is stupid. A bus based solution makes so much more sense for such a dispersed low density place. But why on earth would you build a new bridge? The bridge is not the problem. In fact the bridge is part of the solution. The fact that we already have a top notch bridge (where buses can travel at freeway speeds) is one of the reasons why BRT makes sense. Build another bus tunnel, improve the bridge, and you’ve eliminated congestion for buses from West Seattle to Ballard. You might need to do a little work on the Spokane Street Viaduct, and you definitely would need a new ramp connecting the viaduct to the SoDo busway (or via SR 99 and a new bus tunnel) but you certainly wouldn’t need to build a brand new West Seattle bridge. That’s nuts.

      1. Does anyone know how the RRC will complete it’s route once the viaduct comes down?
        I’m not so sure about those “freeway speeds”; currently, the busses come to a complete stop while merging to access to north bound 99 during the morning commute.
        I don’t know how they will do the return route.
        SDOT so far has insisted there is not enough room for additional access to/from elevated portion of Spokane.

        Is there any design/planning communication between Metro and Sound Transit?

      2. The point is, a new bridge won’t fix that. If get stuck on your freeway ramp every morning, building another ramp won’t help. The problem is the freeway.

        The West Seattle freeway is basically a giant ramp to SR 99 and I-5. Those are the roads that are clogged. Building another freeway (just for buses) is a ridiculous idea. On the other hand, it wouldn’t take much work to add a lane to the Spokane Street Viaduct (and the partial cloverleaf) along with a ramp, so that buses would travel in their own lane all the way from West Seattle to the SoDo busway. That would probably cost a 100 million or so (based on similar work done on that viaduct in the past). I doubt it would be worth it unless you built a new bus tunnel though.

        As to how things will look once the viaduct comes down, I don’t think it will change things much at all. The other viaduct (the one from Spokane Street to the stadiums) isn’t going anywhere, which means buses will continue to come to a halt as they merge with SR 99 traffic (whether that traffic continues into the tunnel, or exits).

      3. ” a gondola doesn’t make sense for the distances involved”

        It’s new to the US, only a few other cities have it, so it sounds exotic and modern. Light rail reminds them of the streetcars their grandparents ripped out as obsolete technology. As for a gondola’s speed, they probably haven’t thought that far and don’t believe it wouldn’t work. After all, it’s not century-old obsolete technology. It’s the same mentality that got us mixed-traffic streetcars, no matter how ineffective transportation they are.

      4. “Does anyone know how the RRC will complete it’s route once the viaduct comes down?”

        Metro’s plan is in its 2025 plan. The C will use the transit lanes in the Alaskan Way boulevard, turn right at Columbia and left on 3rd to its regular route. There are no bus routes in the tunnel in the 2025 plan.

        In the 2040 plan after West Seattle Link opens, the C is converted to a north-south line from Alki to California Ave, the Junctions, Sylvan Way, Highland Park (9th Ave SW), and down to Burien. An Express route runs from the Fauntleroy ferry to the Junctions, the 99 tunnel, and SLU (Republican-Harrison Streets). That’s the only route in the tunnel.

      5. Gondolas don’t travel faster than 20 mph. They are great for steep climbs but not for covering flatter ground.

      6. Well said. Barring the BRT alternative, which is still my favorite solution, both West Seattle (and Ballard) will need to put in a ton of work reimagining how these terminus areas will function.

        The way to address the concern about all of the inevitable transfers is to make amazing bus transfers. This means bus priority to/from the station, a station design that facilitates seamless connections and a fantastic walking environment above all else.

        While I would hate to see a group like WSTC hold up the process, I also don’t want a scope and process that are so limited and rushed that ST refuses to consider how people will get to and from these stations. There is a big difference between trying to Seattle process something to death or make unreasonable demands on Sound Transit (ahem, Mercer Island) and asking Sound Transit to do its due diligence and ensure we don’t just build stations; we build well connected stations that people want to use.

    4. Jort does a wildy inaccurate job characterizing the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. Jort–who to the best of my knowledge has never actually shown up for a WSTC meeting or otherwise engaged with WSTC–might be surprised to learn that WSTC was formed to fight proposed cuts to transit service in West Seattle. Don’t believe every online comment you see.

      1. Seriously… This is why I don’t come here much any more. Too many commenters who don’t seem to have a clue about the area outside of their own personal commutes or outside of a computer screen. Too much commentary from people about West Seattle who only look at density on maps — apparently ignoring the fact that the West Seattle Bridge has the highest daily traffic volumes of any city-owned arterial. Or inaccurate comments about residents like those above. For example, NO, the WSTC hasn’t advocated for a “new rail bridge over the Duwamish for buses only.” ST’s plan is already to build a new bridge over the river for the light rail. What has been asked is if the bridge could be built sooner to run buses and improve transit options more quickly while waiting for the light rail construction to catch up. The WSTC has also worked extensively to explore the possibility of expanding the cloverleaf between the Bridge and 99 for buses ONLY. So, why Jort imagines the group — which is a transportation coalition, not just a transit coalition — only advocates for automobiles is beyond me…

  4. Please let’s advocate for two aerial cross-platform transfers at SODO. Once open, there will be no single line running through the City from South to North. Trips between SeaTac / Rainier Valley and UW / Capitol Hill / North Seattle will require a transfer. Every transfer on the early plans require changing levels and walking hundreds of feet — maybe not even with an escalator!

    We must speak up about this! We need a place for people heading north or heading south to have a center platform with train loading on either side. It would enable a 25 foot level walk between train lines headed in the same direction.

    – one platform for riders heading north on the two lines
    – one platform for riders heading south on the two lines

    It’s so much cheaper and easier to do than the comple transfer messes at ID or Westlake too.

    I feel like a lonely advocate here. Is anyone else wanting this?

    1. I think they need to spend money looking at transfers. Do the research to figure out where the transfers will occur most often, and how to make those transfers fast and easy. In general, this is what bugs me about this entire process. Ordinary citizens should not have to advocate for basic functionality. We shouldn’t look back at our system 20 years from now and go “huh, too bad no one thought of that”.

      There will be trade-offs. In some cases, it might not be worth the money. But in a lot of other cases (like the one you cite) it could be very cheap, even if you don’t have huge numbers of people transferring there. In others (like Westlake) it makes sense to spend the extra money just because it will likely be an extremely popular transfer point. My biggest desire is that all of this be transparent. How many people are expected to transfer, in what direction, and how much would it cost to accommodate them?

      I could just assume that the agency has it under control, but history suggests otherwise.

    2. Same-platform or level transfers are important, but if the only place with that us SIDIO, that will exclude East Link riders. whereas at Intl Dist or Westkake it would serve all three lines.

      1. It’s a little harder to do with Westlake or ID because the stations are underground, no? I’m imagining Al S wants something like the Belmont or Howard stations on the CTA Red Line, except on the ground, which would be easy to do with an ped overpass connecting the two island platforms. With an underground station you’d need to dig a mezzanine of some sort for platform-to-platform transfers, sort of like the Jackson Red/Blue Line stations

      2. Belmont and Howard are good examples. So is MacArthur Station in Oakland. In Oakland, BART plans for trains to even have simultaneous arrivals during off-peak times so a connecting train is waiting for you! The optimum is probably to have a stacked station, with northbound trains on one level above the street and southbound trains one level above that. ST is already planning an aerial center platform for West Seattle anyway so this is partly a design modification instead of a new station.

        If we design for easy same- direction transfers here, we can focus design for opposite direction transfers (East Link/ two south lines) at ID.

        We spend hundreds of millions to enable a station for 5,000 or 10,000 people to use on a weekday. Shouldn’t we spend a much lesser amount for 20,000 or 40,000 people to transfer more easily?

        Ross is right that we need data to assess its value. Still, we need to ask the question now or we can potentially create hassles for riders for decades because we didn’t speak up now.

      3. ST said it would rebuild Intl Dist station as part of it. ST really should put significant resources into the two most important transfers in the system. That would be a good use of its money.

      4. Pat,

        It’s not “a little harder to do at Westlake or ID”, it’s impossible to do at Westlake of IDS. At Westlake the tracks will be at right angles (Red/Blue under Pine, Green under Seventh probably. If the Green Line is to have a “classic” full-length mezzanine, it would have to be deeper the Red/Blue tracks. Alternatively, the station could lie completely south of Pine. That would allow the mezzanine to be the same level as the Westlake Mezzanine, but it would make transfers from southbound Red/Blue trains to northbound Green trains very complicated with two level changes in order to pass under the southbound Green Line tube. This is assuming a center platform for the Green Line.

        But there is a design alternative which might be the best of all, but it would be considered quite unusual. That is to have two mezzanines for the Green Line, one to the north of the Red/Blue tracks and one to the south. That would allow level walkway connections to the two mezzanines directly from the platforms at Westlake.

        A rider transferring between a northbound Blue/Red train and either direction on the Green Line would walk through the southern connector tunnel to the south semi-mezzanine and descend to the Green Line track level. A rider doing the same from a southbound Blue/Red train would do the same, but in the northern connector tunnel.

        The two mezzanines between them would necessarily cover less than half the Green Line platforms — the middle 1/4 or so would be occupied by the Red/Blue tracks — but either direction would be connected with only a single change of level.

    3. Of course, I’ve been writing essentially the same thing, except that I think that one center platform can serve all the trains. Stack the station so that the junctions to the north and south of the station can be non-fouling and there should be plenty of capacity.

      Yes, to go from West Seattle to the Airport or vice-versa a rider would have to change levels, but she or he would have to change levels twice with two side-by-side stations. ST is not likely to allow pedestrians to cross the tracks at the end of the station twenty-five feet in the air.

      1. That’s a good idea, and a great example of the type of thing that should be studied. I agree with you, I think it makes sense. I think there will be a lot more same direction transfers, and relatively few reverse direction transfers at SoDo. But we shouldn’t be put in a position of having to play junior planner here. This should be studied, and they should discuss the alternatives (openly) and then choose the one that is the best value.

  5. In my mind there is only one logical path for the West Seattle line…by all means find the holes in my approach, I welcome the counter points that I will inevitably face while presenting my opinion at one of these open houses.

    Elevated rail comes across the Duwamish and heads south to a station on Delridge Way. There is not a ton of dense TOD options here, so the station location is only specific to good bus transfers from further south. In my opinion the station should be between the bridge and Genesse.

    Elevated rail continues south and turns west after Delridge Playfield, at Alaska Street. Rail runs through West Seattle Golf Course on the same alignment as Alaska. If you look at the golf course, this has a permanent impact on 1-2 holes…not bad. The line then uses the grade difference of the golf course to have an at grade station just after Alaska and 35th Ave SW. One at grade crossing here, but you get dollars saved for an at grade crossing and using West Seattle Golf for your land acquisition. If you draw a 0.25 mile radius at this location, the entire Triangle is within it.

    The line continues into a 0.4 mile trench and tunnel up to the Junction Station underground. This tunneling approach happens effectively in San Francisco. In my mind, going to grade at 35th and Alaska, removing the high cost of land acquisition through the golf course, and smoothing out a lot of turns is a lot of savings to make up for a 0.4 mile long trench, tunnel and underground station.

    ST should run the numbers on this option and look at creating a LID for Junction businesses if the cost offset is around $125 million or less.

    1. Mark, I think you have something good there.
      I’ve thought that a ride over the golf course would be a great way to start/end the work day.
      A nice tradeoff for the loss of the viaduct views.
      Bus connections might be tricky, the current 35th & Avalion intersection handles many busses, but it’s a steep block away.

    2. Mark – I like your proposal. I think one of the biggest issues West Seattleites have with the elevated option is the impact to the Alaska Junction (there are probably other concerns, but the junction is a high profile one). I think the golf course route is a good option too because it probably impacts less homes. I don’t want to get rid of green space, but the golf course has less impact on people’s actual lives, in my opinion.

      Another possibility to save on costs I’ve seen floated is to eliminate the Avalon station altogether. I’m not sure if this is true, but I believe I read on the West Seattle blog that the proximity between the Avalon and Alaska junction stations might be the shortest distance between two stations in the entire light rail system. I’m on the fence with this proposal though as the Avalon area currently seems to have high transit ridership (at least it seems that way when I drive that way sometimes during rush hour).

      1. There’s an elevation difference and Avalon Station serves 35th Avenue SW which has the High Point public housing project and other lower-income residents, and I think I saw a hospital near there too if it’s accessible from 35th.

      2. Yeah, that would be a disaster from an overall transit perspective. It isn’t just that High Point has low income housing, it is that it is one of the most densely populated parts of West Seattle.

        So, basically, a bus could go down 35th, and right before getting on the freeway it could take a left on Alaska, go through two busy traffic lights and drop people off at the junction, so they can wait for a train. It is worse for the folks along Avalon. They would have to take a bus up the hill, or over to Delridge, despite again being very close to the freeway. That means more work for Metro, and a worse transit experience for those people than today.

      3. Yeah, the Avalon station is important for bus transfers, I think it will stay in some form.

      4. I saw what looked like a hospital high on a hill from, maybe California & Fauntleroy? Is this a major instiution that people from the surrounding area use, or something like a large church school? is it a short flat walk from 35th?

      5. Mike Orr, that’s not a hospital—it’s senior housing and elder care, if we’re talking about the same facility. It’s not s hospital, as there aren’t any hospitals in West Seattle.

    3. I like the idea of running across the golf course – anytime we can leverage publicly owned ROW that’s a good thing.

      Also, remember it’s not a golf course. It’s a public park that just happens to currently be a golf course. So I wouldn’t worry too much about impacting the holes. So if you ignore the current golf layout, the cheapest option could be to turn off of Delridge at Genesee and then run a long diagonal across the park to 35th, ducking underground basically right where that rotary viewpoint is.

      The at-grade 35th street station could also function as the tunnel portal, similar to how the East Main and Downtown Bellevue stations function for the short tunnel in Bellevue. in East Main, the portal lid is going to be a park – I could imagine the same thing working here, where the current viewpoint becomes a portal lid,with the station immediately beneath it.

    4. Good idea about trekking across the golf course. Maybe in the same push we can get it converted to park/housing on the north side and just keep the back (or front?) nine, which would be unaffected by construction. If the other alternatives are buying and demolishing existing homes, we really should look into this routing. The only issue I do see versus the initial proposed route is decreased access for the apartments on Avalon. They’ve got a long walk to a station on 35th and Alaska, and there are a lot of people living there, and moving there soon based on new developments.

      An alternative I’ve wondered about it making the turn west at Andover and then angling up to Avalon over the self-storage buildings. It’s a slow curve and there’s a little more extra space than on Genesse.

      Mark, there may not be tons of room for TOD today around the Delridge stop, but imagine the branding on a new development of a former steel mill site. There would be a lot of exposed steel and rusty chains to complete the ambiance for new apartments and offices. But then again, the neighborhood could no longer justify calling itself Youngstown after killing off its namesake for real estate purposes.

      1. Is the steel mill site is on Port of Seattle land? If yes, it really comes down to the Port. Do they want to get into the TOD business, or keep that land for industrial uses? I think we’d first need the Port to take an official position before determining the ideal location for a Delridge station.

      2. I think it’s all privately owned, at least south of Spokane. I don’t think the mill is in any hurry to vacate that location, but the land today is valued at over $60 M by the county. If that number keeps going up, the owners may take that to the bank and invest in other locations, who knows.

      3. It’s one gigantic parcel and privately owned. Port and BNSF land begins north of Spokane. Looks like their property tax bill was $736,410.49 last year. FWIW, the land is “only” worth $34,185,800. The balance is the value of the improvements.

      4. Apparently you’re referring to the Nucor Steel site, which I know well having worked right next door at the small office complex right off Andover wedged between the steel mill and Delridge. They used to give tours of the facility so I took my employees there in small groups and most found it pretty interesting. (I’m not sure if they still do the tours today.) They mostly turn out rebar from scrap metal suppliers that always seemed to be arriving around the clock. Overall, our company never had any issues with the plant being right there.

        I doubt that the company has any plans currently to vacate this site as I think it’s been a pretty profitable location for Nucor (unless things have changed in the last few years).

        The King County tax records show that the site was assessed in 2017 for:

        $41,782,700 land
        $20,837,900 improvements
        $62,620,600 total

      5. Wouldn’t there be remediation issues with turning the steel mill into housing? No, it’s not Superfund-toxic — even smelting iron ore only uses carbon and limestone — but it’s a lot more than tearing it down and planting grass.

    5. The problem with using the golf course is Section 4(f) of the DOT Act. The section was put in specifically to avoid the depletion of parkland as cities took advantage of it for cheap transportation right-of-way. You can only use parkland if you have no other reasonable and prudent alternatives, or if your use – during both construction and operation – is de minimis. Bisecting a golf hole with an elevated light rail guideway would not be considered de minimis.

      For more info:

      1. But if it’s not a golf course, I think it can be de minimis. If it’s converted into a more typical park – open spaces, play fields, and so forth, I think the line can be done such that guideway has minimal impact on the park.

        Also, this is a regional rail line bisecting a municipal park, so I don’t think the DOT Act would apply? I’m no lawyer, but I’d assume either a federal highway or a federal park would need to be involved? The FHWA only gets involved with Link when Link is using interstate ROW, like I5 and I90. I don’t think they’d be involved with the West Seattle EIS?

      2. The other obstacle is that the West Seattle activists prioritized “no impacts to the golf course”.

      3. I would agree that this is going to be a major impact to the park. I could also see how this permitting issue alone could add a few years to the opening date.

        In fact, the path of least resistance could be to have the public vote to vacate the needed park land for Link than it would be to go through the legal permitting process at the Federal level.

        Actually, a pretty good case could be made to reduce the course to nine holes, and redevelop the other half for a dense new community. It’s in a great location for TOD!

      4. I don’t mind if West Seattle takes a few more years. I do mind if Ballard and DSTT2 take a few more years. If West Seattle opens later, that means shortening or potentially eliminating the period where it runs as a shuttle to SODO only. If we eliminate that period, that would presumably reduce the cost a bit because they wouldn’t have to do extra work for shuttle operations and transferring.

      5. Doesn’t section 4(f) of the DOT Act of 1966 only come into play if the project is receiving some type of DOT agency funding? I’m not familiar with the funding assumptions for any of the specific ST3 projects and it’s probably too early in the project development process to know how the federal funding will come into play for any given project. The 2017 Annual Financial Plan stated the following general assumption about federal funding for ST3 projects:

        “Federal Grant Support: In addition to local tax revenues, the agency expects to receive approximately $7.7 billion in grant funding over the 2017 through 2041 time period. This amount includes a $1,173 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the Lynnwood Link Extension. The balance of grant revenues is expected to come primarily from future FFGAs for ST3 projects, from FTA formula funding grants and other
        competitive grant programs.”

  6. We should articulate some talking points for reference going into the open houses. What is your list of most critical factors? Concisely, please.

    I have trouble coming up with this or remembering everything. I just have an image of how transit works so well in cities where it’s grade-separated, frequent, and near the pedestrian concentrations (e.g., neighborhood centers). The other half of that image is how much is within the walk circle around the station, and how many people could reasonably both live and work and shop in the neighborhood (number of people, varlety of jobs). And when I see a concrete proposal I’m inclined to compromise because something is better than nothing. But others are better able to come up with a more complete list of factors.

    1. In no particular order:

      1) Design the stations so that there is good pedestrian access.

      2) Likewise with with bus to rail transfers.

      3) Allow for easy train to train transfers, both same direction and reverse direction.

      4) Consider future expansion, not only of the lines (e. g. extending the Ballard line to 65th and 85th) but for new lines (e. g. Ballard to UW).

      For the first three, prioritize based on use. For example, bus to rail transfers are a lot more important at Delridge than they are at Expedia (or whatever they call that stop).

      All of this basic stuff, but we really need to emphasize it, because Sound Transit has a history of forgetting all of this (perhaps because they are run by politicians who know very little about transit). The public shouldn’t have to suggest things like a NE 130th Street Station — that is pretty obvious. We should be admiring the station design, critiquing the art work, and arguing over the names of the stations. Instead we are worried about whether they once again put the station on the wrong side of the road, or forget that a lot of people will make a transfer at Westlake.

      1. I like your proposed relationship to demand. As this is the initial systems stage, there needs to be some standards (based on demand) when a platform has 3 (1 down and 2 up) or 4 (1 down, w up and 1 flex) escalators to guide station designs. There needs to be measures like how far do people have to walk to transfer from rail-to-rail, rail-to-bus and rail-to-shuttle/pickup zones. There needs to be a way to decide when to include pedestrian tunnels or sky bridges to prevent crossing of busy or unsafe streets.

        Another topic that coukd go ignored unless forced now is First Hill pedestrian connectivity. Any Midtown Station design should be especially sensitive to this. A series of escalators, a funicular/diagonal elevator, or a combination elevator bank and level walkway are all worthy of consideration.

        Overcrowding is a big area that has not been a major study focus in the past. A commitment to evaluate potential train, platform and escalator overcrowding is needed — and redundancy for mechanical failures is important.

        One other thing that is critical here is an evaluation of impacts to existing stations since demand use will grow significantly at some stations. Do existing stations need more escalators or entrances? Unless mentioned now, it will be hard to introduce as a consideration.

      2. “Any Midtown Station design should be especially sensitive to this. A series of escalators, a funicular/diagonal elevator, or a combination elevator bank and level walkway are all worthy of consideration.”

        It’s much easier and cheaper to have an escalator, elevator path, or pedestrian tunnel going once over or under I-5, than a light rail tunnel going twice under I-5. And it should be a 24-hour path, or at least the hours Link is operating. The problem with the accessible escalators/elevators inside downtown office buildings is that they’re only open Monday-Friday 8-5, and many people walk and take transit outside those hours.

      3. I completely agree, Mike. Put the station where there are super-high rises all around it and connect to the mid-rises up the hill by an escalator/moving sidewalk tunnel under I-5 directly connecting to the mezzanine.

  7. I am sometimes a little too “visionary”… yet this fantasy scenario crosses my mind:

    Construct an architecturally symbolic tower with an elevator shaft and connecting walkway at Midtown Station. The historic Elevador De Santa Justa in Lisbon is a good example ( Rather than build the mere ADA elevators between the street and platform, add another level 150 feet up! Then add capacity and/or more elevators to the shaft.

    From the top level, have a connecting enclosed level walkway that vaults over I-5 and lands on the other side of I-5. Treat the entry on the east side of I-5 as a paid fare area, and require that anyone taking advantage of the experience pay a fare evven if they don’t board Link (including bicyclists wanting to get up the hill). That should cover the operating costs and maybe some of the additional construction costs.

    There could be an international competition to design this new elevator shaft, walkway and overlook terrace. Maybe it would complement the Library. Maybe it would be neo-Gothic. Maybe the tower would evoke the image of a tall evergreen tree. Maybe the tower would anchor a walkway built like a suspension bridge. A panel of international architects could assess and score whose designs should be finalists and ultimately who has the best design. Finally, this would also mean that the entire structure could be considered “art” and some of its cost could be attributed to the public art budget requirement.

    Don’t get me wrong. I could see having escalator shafts underground, an above-ground or underground funicular or any number of other connections. I just throw this wild idea out there to illustrate that Link stations could be an attraction in their own right if we imagine it correctly.

    1. Do you think that there will be a plaza for a Midtown Station? I doubt it. It’s entrances will be mostly into the huge buildings surrounding it.

      As a matter of fact, I think the only sound argument against a Fifth Avenue Midtown Station is that it will have to be mined out after the tubes are completed. There will be no convenient site next to the station from which to do the excavation. It’s going to have to be New Yorked like the new Second Avenue subway; the station caverns were mined from below.

      1. Oh no! Don’t open that can of worms!

        I shudder to think of the awful mess the second tunnel construction project will bring. Let’s not even get into how many new tall buildings are going up not only at the Midtown Station site and near Westlake, but also near Denny Park.

        Oh… and does the Planning Commission ever get agreement with these tall building developers about coordinating stations with the new buildings? Did ST budget for the serious site disruption that all of these surrounding buildings will have?


  8. West Seattle Link and Ballard/the second subway should open at the same time, or WS second. What’s currently a 1 seat 15 minute bus ride from any given area of West Seattle to Downtown will become a bus ride to the WS Link station, up to 10-15 minute wait for the train, 5 minute train ride, transfer to Central Link at SODO with another up to 6-10 minute wait, 5 minute train ride.

    1. Ha ha ha ha ha… Most of West Seattle is not a 15-minute bus ride to Downtown any more. And — especially outside of a few peak-only commuter runs — large bits of it are more than a 1-seat ride.

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