What could light rail look like in Ballard?

With Sound Transit’s expansion plans for Ballard and West Seattle gaining steam, one reader of the West Seattle Blog whipped up some UNOFFICIAL renderings of what elevated light rail could look like in that neighborhood. Since there are parallels with Ballard, we thought we’d share one here:

The caveats are many: the routes aren’t finalized, the dimensions may be off, this is just one person’s interpretation… but it provides a little perspective on what’s likely coming our way. The photo above seems similar to the 15th and Market corner; you can see the elevated station in the distance between the buildings (there are more renderings on the West Seattle Blog).

While the West Seattle route slices through the center of the neighborhood, Ballard’s elevated route will run from Lower Queen Anne along Elliott and 15th Ave. through Interbay — across a new movable bridge — and into Ballard at 15th and Market St.

If you’d like to have a say in all of this, now’s the time. Sound Transit is looking for Ballard volunteers to join its advisory board for the project.

Since the project is in very early stages, there are no official drawings.

(Thanks to West Seattle Blog and “Avalon Tom,” who gave us permission to post it.)

Mayor Durkan signs agreement for ‘expedited’ Ballard light rail

Ballard’s light rail project initially was slated for completion in 2038. But under a new Sound Transit partnership agreement signed by Mayor Durkan today — which we previewed last week — the target date moves to 2035.

The agreement aims to identify a preferred alternative in the next 18 months as well as expedite the Environmental Impact Statement. Mayor Durkan is also joining the Sound Transit Board of Directors in an effort to improve coordination.

“We need better transit as quickly as possible. By expediting light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, we will be transforming our city for decades to come,” Durkan said in a news release. “As both mayor and a member of the Sound Transit Board, I will work to cut red tape to provide faster, more reliable transit service to neighborhoods sooner.”

West Seattle’s target date moves up to 2030 instead of 2033.

Of course, these are just targets, and 17 years is a long ways away. The Ballard project is particularly complex, relying on two new tunnels — one downtown and another in South Lake Union/Lower Queen Anne — and a movable bridge over Salmon Bay.

Sound Transit board unanimously approves ST3 updates

As the My Ballard team reported last week, many readers are aware of the updated ST3 plan that may bring, among many other things, grade separated light rail to Ballard three years earlier than originally planned.

This morning, the Sound Transit board officially and unanimously approved the updated ST3 plan that will be on the ballot this November.

“The vote you’re taking today is…truly momentous,” Dow Constantine, King County executive and chair of the Sound Transit board, told board members this morning. “You are setting down the template for the growth and development of this region for the next several generations.”

After listening to feedback from about 35,000 surveys, updates were made to the ST3 plan which includes bumping up Ballard’s light rail line to open in 2035 as opposed to the originally planned 2038.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff confirms that it might be possible to speed up the timeline even more with a series of process changes which include favoring a design/build contract instead of a design/bid/build contract, having senior staff meet with stakeholders first to address concerns upfront, and finally, having local municipalities make zoning changes to allow light rail sooner.

To deliver the light rail options in the tighter time frame, Sound Transit believes that the overall cost of the project will increase by $4 billion.

Despite the timeline victories won in the updated plan, according to The Stranger, many transit advocates are pushing for a tunnel rather than a bridge to carry light rail to Ballard.

According to The Stranger report, the tunnel option would be significantly more expensive by $450 million.

Advocacy group Seattle Subway is also still pushing for a light rail line from Ballard to UW that, they say, could potentially be funded by unexpected revenue or money leftover from other projects.

“We need to be both prudent and scrappy and plan for success,” Seattle Subway’s political director Jonathan Hopkins told the Sound Transit board this morning.

According to The Stranger, the Sound Transit board showed little excitement for either changes but advocated have another three weeks to push the ideas forward.

The Sound Transit board will take its final vote to send ST3 to the November ballot on June 23.

ST3 Plan Update: Ballard may receive grade separated light rail…in 19 years

daf5e650-2392-11e6-9f0a-d39b7dcda261-1020x1607

Sound Transit released changes to the ST3 Draft Plan yesterday, which includes some updates on the Ballard transit plans.

After listening to feedback from about 35,000 surveys, updates were made which includes Ballard receiving light rail three years sooner in 2035 as opposed to 2038.

In addition to the updated time frame the updated ST3 plan for Ballard, while sticking to the 15th Ave W route through Interbay, will include grade separated light rail.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff confirms that it might be possible to speed up the timeline even more with a series of process changes which include favoring a design/build contract instead of a design/bid/build contract, having senior staff meet with stakeholders first to address concerns upfront, and finally, having local municipalities make zoning changes to allow light rail sooner.

To deliver the light rail options in the tighter time frame, Sound Transit believes that the overall cost of the project will increase by $4 billion.

The proposed updated projects and timelines are scheduled to be voted on by the Sound Transit Board at a special meeting on June 2. The completed language of the plan is scheduled for final adoption on June 23 to meet November ballot submission deadlines.

If approved, the project is estimated to add $400 a year in taxes for a typical household, Sound Transit says.

Ballard man wants light rail on 2012 ballot

When the $60 car tabs initiative was defeated, it seemed that Ballard may never get light rail. In the failed initiative, Mayor Mike McGinn had set aside money to study the alternative transportation.

Ballardite Keith Kyle isn’t letting the defeat get in the way of bringing light rail to Ballard.

Kyle is the man behind the Ballard Spur ballot measure. “The basic plan is to get a ballot measure on in the 2012 election in order to push real mass transit (read fast/not fighting with cars) to Ballard and cross town north within 10 years as part of the North Link construction,” Kyle says. “In my view, the key to getting this done fast is putting together a plan that leverages the existing investment in North/South light rail and finding as many cost cutting measures as possible to keep the total cost palatable to voters.”

The campaign is in its infancy but has launched a Facebook page here. Kyle is looking for ideas and volunteers, including an attorney to help write the ballot measure.

Would you pay more taxes for light rail in Ballard?

Mayor Mike McGinn has said all along that he would like to see a light rail line from Ballard to downtown and West Seattle. Now he’s proposing that Seattle build the transit system on its own with money collected from Seattle residents.

In this Publicola article, Mayor McGinn addresses his side of the issue – that Seattle needs light rail sooner than Sound Transit can deliver. He’s estimating that Sound Transit won’t be in the black for another 14 years. Looking at Portland as an example he writes, “Portland spent $103 million on its current streetcar line. That line, in return, has generated $4 billion in private investment and more than 10,000 new residential units within 750 feet of the line. Buses simply do not generate that level of investment or have that kind of impact on surrounding land use and development patterns. Portland’s rail system helps save more than $2 billion a year in gas costs, allowing Portlanders to spend that money locally.”

On the other hand, King County Council member Julia Patterson disagrees with McGinn. Patterson writes, “After all, the world doesn’t end at a city’s limits. Seattle’s roads don’t end when they hit Tukwila and buses don’t stop on the Bellevue/Redmond border. Sound Transit’s plan creates a regional spine of light rail through King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. While it offers a long-term, regional vision—one that includes light rail for Seattle and beyond—Mayor McGinn’s Seattle-only ballot proposal offers a short-sided, parochial vision.”

Both sides offer lengthy details on why they support their opinions. Click through to read their takes on the issue.

Mayor wants vote on Ballard-West Seattle light rail

Back during the Mayoral elections, now Mayor Mike McGinn brought up the idea of a Ballard-West Seattle light rail line. According to Seattlest, McGinn is hoping for a public vote in August or November to fund the planning stages, which are estimated at about $10 million. “Sound Transit has already promised to study these lines with the passage of Sound Transit 2 in 2008, but the vote would put the project on an expedited timeline,” the article states. You can read the entire article here.