When looking at the two options presented by Sound Transit for South Lake Union (SLU) in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), we’re struck by how poorly the station will serve South Lake Union. The Harrison option is deep at about 120’ and all the way on the western edge of SLU. The Mercer option is slightly less deep at about 85’ but its location west of highway 99 isn’t really in SLU and involves an extremely poor pedestrian environment. Both stations are monumentally difficult to build and expensive due to their proximity to highway 99. We can avoid all of those issues and build a station that serves South Lake Union far better by building the SLU station on Westlake.
A station under Westlake located approximately between Harrison and Republican has a lot of advantages. Though it’s still slightly to the west of the center of South Lake Union, the walkshed includes nearly all of this dense neighborhood. It’s aligned with the Denny station which means isolated construction impacts and the potential for a shallow station. It can also cross SR 99 further north where it isn’t as deep while avoiding the need for a complex and expensive mined station under the highway.
A SLU station under Westlake aligned north/south can also serve the dense population and job centers to the north and east far better than the proposed DEIS SLU station locations. Aligning the station north/south will also enable a future Link extension along the highway 99 corridor much easier – opening up one of the best corridors for transit oriented development opportunities in the country.
We were initially enamored by the SLU Harrison station due to the potential for bus to train transfers but the depth, location relative to SLU, and awkward pedestrian environment has convinced us a different option is needed. Sound Transit is looking for cost saving measures to help them deliver ST3. This is an opportunity to build the SLU station both cheaper and better. A true win/win.
Though a Westlake aligned station for SLU is close to the Denny Station, it’s far from the closest stop spacing in the system and is entirely appropriate urban stop spacing for a very dense part of the city. A Westlake station also means a far better combined quarter mile walkshed than Harrison or Mercer stations – which are both marred by their proximity to wide roads and a highway. If you consider the walkshed of the Monorail (which is adding capacity), moving the station to Westlake does almost nothing but gain critical high value walkshed coverage.
Ask Sound Transit to study a shallow central SLU station.
We will have our complete EIS recommendations available soon, but if you are commenting now please include asking Sound Transit to study a Westlake Station that really serves SLU.