Build the West Seattle U

We need a cheaper light rail path to West Seattle – one that doesn’t require a new downtown tunnel and doesn’t require a new Duwamish crossing. Forcing West Seattle to wait till ST4 for transit is both bad for the people who live there and bad politics.  The Senate appears likely to hold the line on larger packages options for ST3.

Build a new line south through Seattle, turn east in South Park, then loop north through West Seattle.
This allows new stations in Georgetown and South Park, excellent connectivity in White Center and Westwood Village, and continues on through West Seattle.

Why:  ST has studied a new bridged and tunneled solution for West Seattle.
Its very expensive, and likely won’t fit into any ST3 packages.

Studied Proposals:
The problem statement from David Lawson and STB in 2013 still seems good.

Both David’s writeup and the corridor analysis from Sound Transit called out the desirable stops as Youngstown, Alaska Junction, Morgan Junction, High Point, Westwood Village, and White Center.

The central challenge confronting any project in West Seattle is topography. West Seattle is built on a series of dramatic hills, with neighborhoods largely separated by cliffs and ravines.
The Triangle, Alaska Junction, Morgan Junction, and High Point are all at relatively high altitude — but are themselves separated by significant altitude changes. South Delridge and White Center are only slightly lower. Roads connecting many of these areas are steep and narrow.

However, both the Sound Transit analysis and David’s write-up assume that the Duwamish needs to be crossed near the West Seattle Bridge, and must therefore be on a new and very expensive high bridge. Both also assume that there the entire line needs to be tunneled for good ridership, and to avoid political acceptance problems from residents.
The LRT costs from ST were all 4-6 billion, although a new downtown transit tunnel was included in these estimates.
However, we just built a new lift bridge in South Park, with four lanes dedicated to cars. Traffic requiring the bridge to lift is very low, as is vehicle traffic on the new bridge.

The elevation changes between these sites mean that a fully tunneled solution would require very deep stations in sites like High Point and Alaska Junction in order to keep the elevation changes elsewhere to something LRT can handle.


Sodo:  Start at Sodo station busway.

From Sodo Station continue on Busway to Industrial.   Begin elevated segement on Airport Way at the railroad tracks.  Bear right at the stub street 8th and continue south on Corson.

Georgetown:A station above Michigan and Corson would capture nightlife, industrial area jobs, and the job training at South Seattle Community College.

Build south elevated along Corson.  Corson has some residences on it, but is primarily a freeway offramp. Continue elevated along East Marginal.  Drop down to street level and take the center lanes along the new South Park Bridge.

South Park:  Elevated station just south of south park bridge.

Continue south elevated along 14th, cross 99 however possible, then turn west in the industrial area at S 96th.  Begin 3k tunneled section under SR509, and climb up to an undergrond station in…

White Center:  Underground.

Westwood Village:  To catch RT 21 ridership
Emerge and continue elevated west to 35th, then turn north along 35th elevated to a stop at…

Roxhill/Chief Sealth:

Where the hill gets steep around Thistle, begin 2.4k  tunneled section to High Point.

High Point: Buried station here.

Turn west, and continue dropping down to emerge midway down the hill, to a very elevated station in…

Morgan Junction:

continue elevated above California – five lanes wide to…

Alaska Junction:  Elevated Station here, with potential to continue to North Admiral or to Alki, should density warrant.

North Link and S 200th ST

Northgate link is 3.6 miles tunneled, 4.1 miles overall.  2.1 billion.
S 200th ST is 1.6 miles at 300 million, and one large parking garage.

8.7k to elevated to south park
2.9k tunneled to westwood village
1.6k elevated to high point
2.4 k tunneled to morgan junction
2.0 k elevated to alasak junction

12.3k elevated   7.6 miles
5.3k tunneled    3.3 miles

Napkin math suggests 2 billion for the tunneled sections, and 1.5 billion for elevated.


  • Serves jobs and job training in Georgetown
  • Serves low income and transit underserved fast in South Park and White Center
  • Allows a realistic proposal for a Seattle only package, for leverage with state legislators.


  • Doesn’t serve Burien or points south.
  • Slower service to Admiral Junction than other proposals
  • Doesn’t serve Delridge.

The West Seattle U is an alternate proposal that is cheaper than an all tunneled solution, better support economic justice concerns, and supports a Seattle only light rail solution for West Seattle.