ST3 Letter

Mar 26, 2019  -  Business | News & Updates | Resources

Sound Transit Stakeholders Advisory Group

Sound Transit Elected Leaders Group

Sound Transit Board

 March 25, 2019

The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce (WSCC) is committed to promoting sustainable economic growth of a diverse, viable business community. One of the biggest challenges to achieving this goal is our present transportation infrastructure. To support the future viability of the business community on the West Seattle peninsula, the WSCC has 3 main objectives by which any light rail proposal should be assessed:

  1. Does the solution improve the quality of life for residents ( i.e. customers and business owners) who live and work in and around the proposed alignments and station locations?

  2. Does the solution improve the movement of people and commerce?

  3. Does the solution minimize the disruption to economic activity during and after construction as well as provide suitable mitigation measures?

The WSCC continues to have grave concerns about the present alignments that appear to moving forward for further study in the upcoming Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The WSCC would like to put forward the following concerns and comments from our business community here in West Seattle:

  • Given the increased density in our West Seattle neighborhoods, we feel that it is essential that Sound Transit (ST) have an even deeper engagement with the residents and business owners that are going to be impacted by the proposed alignments. While we appreciate ST’s engagement to-date, we strongly believe more is necessary. Everyone impacted by the various alignments needs to fully understand the unique potential impacts each alternative could have on each individual neighborhood’s residents and businesses.

  • In certain potentially impacted neighborhoods, ST must take into consideration the low-income population, diversity of cultures, potential for language barriers, and afford the same level of outreach that other areas have received prior to the Elected Leaders Group (ELG) making any Level 3 recommendations. This could include, but is not necessarily limited to:

    • Bus-rail integration at the different station locations

    • Providing the best service to communities that are further south of any of the proposed alignments or station locations

    • Transit oriented development opportunities that are equitable

    • Displacement and gentrification risks near the potential station locations of alignment choice whether the placement is north or south of the West Seattle bridge

The WSCC would offer these observations about alternate station terminations in the West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village:

  • The 44th Ave SW location would appear to be the most disruptive and least convenient

  • The alternative location spanning SW Alaska St will disrupt traffic for many years during construction

  • The 41st Ave SW location will be less disruptive to traffic and more convenient for feeder and distributor traffic modes especially navigating the grade from Fauntleroy Way to Alaska Street.

  • The proposed stations on either 41st or 42nd Ave SW will have an adverse impact on many business locations and increased housing density that is developing in this area.

  • The Avalon Station must be included to intercept the bus traffic from the south on 35th Ave SW, reduce transit traffic in the Alaska Junction Station site and therefore providing more reliable and safer service in the coming years.

  • It would also be advisable to start the tunneling phase in this area at Avalon and continue into the Junction station.

    • Consideration should also be given that any proposal of an elevated light rail system should not work against the planning for the Fauntleroy Blvd beautification project that has been worked on by the community for almost 20 years

    • Consider that an elevated light rail line would go right over the “gateway” to West Seattle

Further, the WSCC would like to understand the specific construction impacts through each proposed route, especially around each of the proposed station locations as well as along the Duwamish crossing,  and would like significantly more detail around the Alaska Junction terminus.

It is impossible to imagine an elevated alignment along the Spokane Street route that would not be debilitating during construction, and destructive to the quality of life of West Seattle residents and businesses when completed. The WSCC understands that mitigation would be required and wants to better understand what mitigation Sound Transit would be providing along this critical corridor if ST were to proceed with an elevated alignment. Given the extended construction period, the WSCC feels that it is important that ST considers further study of another route not along the Spokane corridor to provide the community and businesses with clear, distinct options.

The WSCC continues to support further study of segments of the “Purple Line” alignment with these observations:

  • Span the Duwamish Waterway south of the West Seattle bridge to avoid interference of Port of Seattle activities that need access to Spokane St SW

  • Consider alternatives to an elevated Delridge Station as it will have multiple negative impacts on the surrounding community, bus travel routes, nearby residences, sports activity spaces and cultural spaces.

  • Provides immensely less impacts on the North Delridge community and North Delridge business node

  • Impacts of traffic from the Port of Seattle/Northwest Seaport Alliance operations, operations at Nucor Steel and traffic egressing and ingressing the Pigeon Point neighborhood (including traffic to Pathfinder School).

The WSCC supports the tunnel alternatives. The cost of tunneling will be somewhat offset by two factors: 1) the continuing reduction of the cost of tunneling through advancement of tunneling technologies and 2) the cost savings from not having to purchase as much residential housing stock and commercial land as would be needed to complete an elevated line into and through the heart of West Seattle.

In conclusion the WSCC would urge the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG), the ELG, and the ST board to continue to move forward with the proposed expansion of light rail to the West Seattle peninsula as rapidly as possible. It is imperative that the proposed alternate “Purple Line” which as proposed would cross the Duwamish River at a more southern location be included as part of any upcoming EIS scope for these reasons:

  • It would more easily allow two tunnel segments to be built more easily. One under the Pigeon Point neighborhood and the second from SW Avalon Way to the Alaska Junction.

  • The tunnel options would increase the opportunity for more transit-oriented development

  • Interconnecting of existing transit systems and those to come would be far easier to accomplish

  • Will help to preserve the urban landscape in West Seattle by eliminating towering pillars that will reduce existing travel lanes.

  • Will reduce oppressive shadows that will be cast by any elevated rail line.

  • Reduce the potential noise pollution not only in the Delridge corridor but along any other stretch of elevated line through our West Seattle community.

  • Minimize the potentially vast and impactful scope of taking by eminent domain of as much existing housing stock and commercial/business properties as appears to be envisioned by any of the elevated lines.

  • Minimize the impact on our West Seattle businesses and traffic during the construction as seems to be envisioned by any of the elevated lines.

The WSCC and our entire West Seattle business community are committed to working with the SAG, ELG and ST Board.  The WSCC would welcome further discussion of any of these alternatives as you move closer to a final decision on the scope of the upcoming EIS.

 

Sincerely,

Lauren Burgon, Board Chair 

Julia Jordan, C.E.O. 

Special thanks to the Government Advocacy Committee for your work on the project 

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