Reading some of the early feedback on the Ballard light rail project, one of the early points of contention is how the trains will cross Salmon Bay from Interbay into Ballard and back.
The early plan is to build a movable bridge that runs parallel to the Ballard Bridge, opening and closing for marine traffic. But most commenters on Sound Transit’s new online map aren’t big fans of the idea. Here’s a sampling:
“Please make this a tunnel to avoid having the train blocked by boat traffic or mechanical issues with a drawbridge. We run into problems with this *far* too often already.”
“A movable bridge that is at the mercy of unpredictable boat traffic will defeat some of the greatest benefits of light rail.”
“Please make this crossing a tunnel! If it absolutely cannot be done, please include pedestrian and bike lanes in the crossing. It can be Seattle’s version of the Tilikum crossing in Portland.”
Several comments echo the need for passenger and bike access, regardless of form. “Ballard Bridge is terrifying to cross!” explains one commenter. Another suggested a static bridge that was high enough for marine traffic to pass underneath without opening.
Digging a tunnel under the Ship Canal isn’t unprecedented. A couple miles to the east, the University Link of light rail travels under the Montlake Cut — the boring machine dug just 15 feet under the water’s floor.
But a tunnel also has its complications: for example, how and where would the elevated line transition to the tunnel on both the Interbay and Ballard sides?
Under the “risks and issues” section of the Sound Transit planning deck for Ballard light rail, the movable bridge was #1 on the list. It looks like we can expect much more debate to come.
The first Ballard open house will be held this Thursday, Feb. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge. We’ll be there.