Last week, Sound Transit formally kicked off its scoping process or the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions. The process is important because it will set the stage for actual alignments, construction methods, and future service. The transit agency held two open houses sharing detailed rolled maps depicting what conceptual alignments look like.

Four roll maps of the extensions provide a window into how segments might be elevated, tunneled, or at the surface. Quarter-mile and half-mile radii are identified in relationship to conceptual station locations. One of the more interesting aspects to the maps though is the profile of the alignments. Station and track elevations are specifically called out painting a picture of the kind of grade changes that the alignments might experience.

In the case of the new Downtown Seattle, a Midtown Station on Fifth Avenue could be 110 feet below ground while the one in the International District could be much shallower at 45 feet below ground. In Ballard, the alignment would include a low moveable bridge 90 feet above water and tailback tracks extending 500 feet from the terminal station. And in SoDo, the profile detail notes that the existing Stadium Station might be removed and replaced to accommodate both the Ballard and West Seattle lines.

Roll map of the conceptual alignment from Ballard through Interbay. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from Ballard through Interbay. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from Uptown through Downtown. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from Uptown through Downtown. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Closeup of Denny and South Lake Union stations. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from Chinatown through SoDo. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from Chinatown through SoDo. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from SoDo to Alaska Junction. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)
Roll map of the conceptual alignment from SoDo to Alaska Junction. Click for larger version. (Sound Transit)

The map and profile diagrams shed light on other details that might be burning questions in the minds of transit wonks and should be helpful to those wanting to provide more specific feedback in their scoping comments. There is still ample time to do so; comments can be submitted through March 5th. Sound Transit has made it easy to do with an online open house and collaborative interactive map for commenting. One last in-person open house will also be available tonight at Union Station in Chinatown. The public can drop in from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

Scoping Begins: Weigh In on Ballard and West Seattle Light Rail Extensions

6 COMMENTS

  1. Sound Transit sure seems to enjoy putting train stations next to golf courses. Makes the earlier article about considering residential development in these properties even more on point.

    • Agreed. I drive by Jackson Park Golf Course all the time. I wonder how much space is *actually* needed. Maybe they can lop off the top 1/4 mile of the course–along NE 145th for residential development; re-design the course, reposition the greens and still have 18 holes?

  2. Does anyone know the thought process that has gone through the Denny/SLU stations? Every time I see this map it seems obvious that these two stations should be consolidated. If you put one in the middle it would be closer to the heart of SLU and would better connect with the streetcar line.

    Benefits would be money saved and journey time reduced. Maybe the extra money could be used to extend the Ballard line to the north or to tunnel underneath Salmon Bay.

    • I think the two stops are trying to achieve different things. Yes, both serve SLU, but the one at Aurora connects to buses heading north and south on Dexter and SR-99. Meanwhile, the one at Denny offers a connection to the streetcar and Route 8. You can image how that would help connect certain communities, such as Capitol Hill with Ballard/Uptown, Ballard to Denny Triangle, or Fremont with Chinatown. That said, the closeness of the stations seems a bit much. Do they both actually have to be in SLU?

      • I see two feasible ways to tackle the problem of Aurora bus transfers, but both of them have a station at Westlake and Thomas/Harrison.

        1. Consolidate the two stations. Give Aurora buses an exclusive left turn from Aurora into a Harrison bus lane to reach the station, and vice versa.

        2. Place the Aurora station between Valley and Aloha, serving east Lower Queen Anne and Dexter Avenue. Build a transit center in the Horizon Church parking lot, a bus ramp for northbound buses (and a future Aurora extension), and a pedestrian bridge to reach Dexter.

        Regardless, the SLU station should be in the heart of SLU; the Gates Foundation can run a shuttle or have people walk on the Thomas greenway.

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