Each of the three potential Delridge Link station sites has substantial tradeoffs, including varying amounts of resident displacement and housing demolition.
Like the Chinatown/International District (CID) station, the Delridge station is controversial. Each station has drawn the attention of Seattle elected officials, who will dig into both stations at a special meeting on March 29. Unlike the CID station, Sound Transit seems agnostic about its preferences for the station. Each has its own technical and political problems.
Beyond housing, another crucial concern is bus integration. Delridge Way SW carries Metro’s Route 120, one of the highest-ridership routes in the regional bus network. It will soon be replaced by the RapidRide H line. That upgrade could follow the welcome precedent of other RapidRide lines and boost ridership over previous bus service.
When Link comes online, Metro could (and probably should) choose to restructure the H to terminate in Delridge, and usher Downtown-bound riders onto Link. All that means the Delridge station is a vital bus-to-Link transfer site. It’s where riders from points as far south as South Park and White Center will access the Link system.
For clarity’s sake, each heading also names alignment package of which each station is a component. Read a slide deck Sound Transit presented to Delridge residents here.
North of Andover/ST3 Representative Project
This station would offer the least TOD potential and poorest rider experience, but it will require the least demolition and displacement.
The station would straddle Delridge Way close to its north terminus, at the bottom of an on-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge.
The site is at the very edge of the neighborhood, and a long walk for most residents. The on-ramp for the Bridge will remain a high-volume car traffic choke point even after Link is built. The bottom of the ramp is a scary place to cross the street, and options are limited for a bus transfer depot. Buses would probably get caught in queues that can extend several blocks south of the onramp during peak hours.
The Bridge and Port of Seattle facilities north of the station site, the Nucor Steel mill is nearby on the west, and a steep slope is directly to the east, all of which limit its TOD potential.
This alignment would require the right of way to cross the block between 25th Avenue SW, SW Genesee Street, and Delridge Way, demanding some housing demolition. The block in question is presently built with single family homes and townhomes.
South of Andover/West Seattle Elevated
This site, which would also span Delridge Way with its south end at the intersection with SW Dakota Street, is more central to the neighborhood than the “North of Andover” site.
The site offers decent pedestrian and bike integration, since it’s only about a block away from a greenway. The slide deck also raises the possibility of a hill climb up Pigeon Ridge aligned with SW Dakota.
Bus integration is the best of the three station options. Buses could conceivably stop under the station itself, and riders could easily and safely make their way up to the platform from either side of the street. It should also be far enough south of the Bridge onramp for buses to avoid the queues that regularly form during peak hours.
Uniquely among the three sites, the station is next to offices and corporate campuses on the west side of the street. An Indian Child Welfare Office is immediately to the west of the site. Local chains Metropolitan Market and Bartell Drugs own, respectively, an operations center and headquarters on the north end of block. The east side of the street features a few single family homes. A block with strip malls is just north of the Bartell’s office.
If Metropolitan Market, Bartell’s, and the Indian Child Welfare Office are willing to relocate, and the strip malls can be repurposed, high density residential or mixed use development is possible and it wouldn’t come at the cost of displacing existing residents. But those are a lot of ifs. And, unfortunately, like the “North of Andover” site, Pigeon Ridge limits construction to the streetfront on the east side.
This alignment would also require the right of way to cross the block between 25th Avenue SW, SW Genesee Street, and Delridge Way, and the same housing demolition.
North of Genesee/West Seattle Tunnel
Bus connections would be slightly awkward, but definitely better than the North of Andover site. Sound Transit’s map appears to suggest that northbound buses would take a left off Delridge and offload buses on SW Dakota Street.
Otherwise, bus riders would have to walk a half block to the stairs and elevators of the new station, a distance roughly equivalent to the walk between the Mount Baker Station’s platform and bus depot. Unless northbound buses make that left turn onto SW Dakota, their passengers would have to cross busy Delridge Way.
This station has brought out the most ire from Delridge residents. This station would require the most demolition of existing housing. It would be built over parts of two blocks, rather than in the middle of a street, which would permanently prevent further construction on existing residential-zoned land.
The right-of-way would also require demolition of housing northeast and southwest of the site. The site also very close to Delridge Playfield, which would be difficult to repurpose because of FTA open space mandates.
Why even propose such a fraught site? The portal for the top of the hill tunnel—which would require demolishing more housing—would need to be just southwest of the station site. That roughly ground-level tunnel portal would be several hundred feet lower than the high bridge needed to cross the Duwamish just a quarter of a mile away. The station site is the only place on the guideway that wouldn’t need to be at grade.
There is some creative destruction possible with the site. The blocks in question are currently zoned single family, and hold standalone houses and townhomes. Since most of the blocks would be demolished for the station, right of way, and (presumably) construction staging, denser construction would be possible after the dust clears. The deck also raises the possibility of moving the path of a nearby greenway directly under the station, which would make for excellent bike integration.
The Delridge station is a must-build, especially because of the bus connections. Unfortunately, the same geography that makes the area such an important waypoint also makes all the sites unlikable in their own special ways.