As options for the Ballard Light Rail alignment have been narrowed down, the Seattle Transit Blog is urging against a 14th Ave NW station.
Sound Transit’s Stakeholder Advisory Group’s current recommendations for the Ballard station include either 14th Ave NW or 15th Ave NW at NW Market St. The general consensus was that a 15th Ave NW station would provide closer access to downtown Ballard — the 17th Ave NW station was dropped because of “property, construction and visual effects”. Now, with 14th and 15th still on the table, Frank Chiachiere from the Seattle Transit Blog says that despite rail alignment benefits of 14th Ave, it’s not a good place for the station.
An approach via 14th avoids Fisherman’s Terminal and has the best options for crossing the bay (a fixed bridge for an extra $100M above the project baseline or a short tunnel for an extra $300M).
There’s a big downside, however: 14th & Market is a bad spot for riders, as Seattle Subway has pointed out. 15th & Market, just one block over, is superior.
A 14th Avenue station would force thousands of riders to cross 15th Ave every day on foot to get to and from central Ballard. The bike path is over on 17th and there’s no good way for bike riders to cross Market, either. An underground pedestrian tunnel might eliminate the traffic light penalty, but still add 3-4 minutes walking time and make some riders feel unsafe. Transfers to and from buses going north to Crown Hill and Northgate would be difficult. Finally, 14th & Market is the far edge of the urban village, abutting single-family zoning.
Chiachiere says a station with options to exit on both the east and west sides of 15th would be ideal. “Nobody should have to cross traffic on Market St or 15th to get into or out of the station. That’s how the walkshed of the station gets maximized.”
The three recommendations moving forward are the following:
Central Interbay/ Fixed Bridge/14th This proposal is for a high-level fixed bridge crossing Salmon Bay east of the Ballard Bridge, with an elevated station straddling 14th Ave NW and NW Market St.
Armory Way/Tunnel/14th This proposal includes a tunnel crossing under Salmon Bay, and a tunnel station straddling 14th Avenue NW and NW Market Street.
Central Interbay/Tunnel/15th This proposal also includes the tunnel crossing under Salmon Bay, and a tunnel station straddling the east side of 15th Avenue NW and NW Market Street.
For more background on the full scope of options presented for Ballard, click here.