West Seattle Blog… | WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Commentary countdown continues with city sightings, ‘deep dive’ information and how to see what it will look like
By Tracy Records
West Seattle Blog Editor
46 days left to comment on what sound transit uncovered potential routes and station locations for West Seattle Light Rail Transit – the findings that make up the Draft environmental impact statement.
By the end of February, ST had received 409 comments, the Community Advisory Group for the West Seattle / Duwamish River leg was informed at their last meeting
The centerpiece of the meeting was supposed to be a “deep dive” into the parts of DEIS that group members had requested more information on – including a deck of slides with many other renders that didn’t even were discussed during the meeting. But if you’re still thinking about how you’re going to comment on options, you might be more interested in the second part of the meeting, which saw representatives from the city of Seattle talking about how official comments from the city take shape. So that’s where we’re going to start.
City officials were Sara Maxana and Brand Jesseca, two long-time urban planning specialists. First, the scope of the city’s comments:
Now here are the main concerns they see – starting with the north-south crossing of the Duwamish River, as ST assesses which side of the existing West Seattle Bridge would be better for a light rail only bridge
Maxana noted that so far all three options appear to be compatible with long-term plans to replace the West Seattle Bridge. In the meantime, for Delridge station options, here are the main concerns – the lens through which they view the options:
For Andover options for Delridge Station:
For Delridge Way options:
And for the Dakota station location options:
And for Junction, Raised and Tunneled options:
So Maxana asked the CAG members, are these the issues they think the city should focus on?
First, CAG Member Charlie Capable of The Junction said what he would like to see overall is more of a “big picture” – what is the vision of these options, “what do we want this neighborhood to look like in 20, 50, 100 years. .. (and) how do we get there?”
Member of CAG Deb Barker of Morgan Junction suggested, “the issue of displacement needs to be fleshed out more – it’s two-tiered and you’re treating it like on…some (displaced) people won’t be able to come back to West Seattle,” so, she says , further analyze what the word really means.
Member of CAG David Betterock of Delridge wanted to know if there are any studies on the psychology of people living under high rise guideways like those up to 150′ that are possible in Delridge. He also wanted to see more “apples to apples” displacement comparisons – such as number of people, rather than “displaced” houses versus possible TOD units. He also wanted to know how they ensure equitable engagement, especially with the diverse communities of Delridge. He also questioned community partnerships that will take TOD into account and how they will support low-income communities and communities of color.
Member of CAG Willard Brown of Delridge expressed concern about potential high-rise guideways and how they would affect the neighborhood. “It’s just scary for me to see exactly what it will look like, as someone who lives here in Delridge.” He is also concerned about environmental impacts, including Longfellow Creek, and wondered if more of the creek could be lit by daylight. He was also concerned with ensuring that development was equitable.
Member of CAG Inaki Longa de Delridge wanted to ensure that as many people as possible were near the stations – the projected low ridership at Avalon station worried him.
Member of CAG Ella McRae of High Point expressed concern about potentially unrealistic estimates – the three-minute transfer time, for example, does it assume a train arrives every three minutes? Also consistent with resort treatment – Northgate is beautiful, Columbia City doesn’t have the same attributes, etc. How will there be guarantees that tenants will be able to afford housing nearby – displacement even if a dwelling is not destroyed?
Member of CAG Mr Miller of Avalon supported Brown’s concern that “cost is not the primary driver” of the design, as well as whether Avalon’s station is really needed. She wants to see a discussion about the quality of Transit-Oriented Development, not just presence. She also wants to see more renders to really “understand what it looks like.” She is concerned that the project figures (for displacement, new units, etc.) seem “very specific” even though they are only estimates – it needs to be clearer that it is are “estimates and may vary”. She also said the people of South Delridge needed to have more voices. She also pointed to the point of displacement driving people out of West Seattle regardless of how they are compensated for their house/apartment. And she wanted to see services offered to people now worried that they might not be able to stay in their community.
Member of CAG Nicole Perry wanted more information on how the golf course would be affected and if that should be a concern if people using the golf course are not from the nearby area.
Member of CAG Kim Schwarzkopf from Avalon said she was immersed in reading the material, going through the routes, trying to “digest all this information”, and even after 4 months of meetings she felt like she was “just getting started” . She wondered about TOD so close to the industrial area of Nucor etc She also talked to people who weren’t even aware of the light rail project. She wondered if the public consultation period could be extended.
Member of CAG Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point noted in response to this last request that the 90-day comment period for the DEIS is actually much longer than the typical period for this type. He is also concerned about Longfellow Creek. Truck traffic to and from Nucor must be considered. And he noted that other tram zones have been dug out to avoid destroying homes – it feels like the zone is being offered poor choices. And then “impacts that are unknown”, like the slope at the north end of Pigeon Point, the West Duwamish Greenbelt, “anything that could be avoided if you went north of the West Seattle Bridge”. He also mentioned remediation projects in the Duwamish River area.
Member of CAG Emily S said she cared about “reducing displacement as much as possible” – humans and wildlife. “Not having super deep or super high stations” is important for her too, for accessibility and for visual/noise reasons. “Having stations closer to popular areas” is important, as is bus/bike/train integration. She would also like to see an overall development vision and an innovation vision for statements – “what will change in the next 10 years that we can be ahead of?” The cost is less important to her, as is the golf course. She also wants to know the time between stations.
‘DEEP DIVE’: ST Contact for West Seattle Segment, Jason Hampton, drove this for the “deep dive”. This covered topics where members of the advisory group had previously requested more detail. First, the Delridge Way station pairings – with a Delridge station between where the West Seattle Enterprise Center and DSHS the buildings are now. Here are the projected effects of the Fauntleroy/Delridge couple:
Connecting a 41st tunnel station to the “lower height” Delridge station alternative:
Here are what those effects would be:
He then turned to the work of the Racial Equity Toolkit. One of the main objectives is to ensure the proper functioning of bus/tram connections. “Transit sheds” will reach the entire metro area by 2042, Hampton said. The ‘travel time’ charts also touched on this year – 20 years from now. They expect it to take no more than 2.5 minutes to get off a bus and get to the platform at Delridge Station.
The Delridge station alternatives would not have TOD potential, he said.
Looking at the Andover station options would save you 12 minutes northbound in 2042 than what it takes now. And the transfer time – from getting off the bus to the platform – could be closer to 3.5 minutes. Andover effects – no residential displacements, but TOD potential. On Dakota Street options:
The transfer would take up to 3 minutes, but a Dakota option could do it in as little as a minute, ST said. Meanwhile, Andover options could move close to 100 units but could facilitate 400 units of TOD.
Another topic: Where to find “visual effects” Here are the specifics:
Hampton explained the “key observation points” and the comparisons in the charts – before and after – then walked through some of them. Here is a deck with many more renders than those reviewed at the meeting:
Questions and answers : As for the scheduled transfer times, “how does that work out for runners with different abilities?” Maybe a little higher than the upper end of the quoted range, Hampton replied. “Is Sound Transit partnering with advocates” to make sure these questions don’t go unanswered? Hampton and Chahim weren’t sure.
What about business travel? ST’s Station Planning Specialist Sloan Dawson explained that new commercial space is projected in square feet and there is no way to count the potential number of new businesses for a more direct comparison with projected business moves. Why can’t they say how many commercial square feet are moved, then?
AND AFTER: This group will meet on Tuesday 12 April to discuss, among other things, possible cost savings. ST is holding community meetings before then – between noon and 7 p.m. Thursday (March 17) at Union Station downtown, you can drop by and ask questions; ST’s official online meeting in West Seattle will be on March 30; and they are due to participate in the West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s online workshop at 6:30 p.m. on March 24. But you don’t have to go to a meeting to provide feedback – April 28 is the deadline, and the “online open house” can guide you through the process.