Did you know Sound Transit is thinking about running rail through Wallingford? Well, they never came to Wallingford to ask, but they are in fact planning it. Hell, I wouldn’t have known if Mike Ruby hadn’t told me, and he didn’t even know until a week and a half ago.
You might think “that’s nice, maybe I’ll use it”, but if you think that then you clearly don’t understand what adding light rail means. Light rail costs over a half billion dollars per mile, so the city completely rezones neighborhoods for density when adding it. The effect of “light” rail on Wallingford will be far, far greater than making 50th and 45th one way. Adding light rail to Wallingford will mean making Wallingford look like the U-District.
Here is a Q&A with Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick. It took them over a week to reply to one email asking about the project, but you now have less than a week to tell them what you think:
Q1- When Through Wallingford: As we are in Wallingford, we are very interested in the newly proposed Sound Transit line between Ballard and the U-District. When are you considering that- after the Ballard line from downtown or at the same time as the Ballard line from downtown? As part of ST3, or after ST3?
Geoff: In August, public input that we are collecting through July 8 (there is a survey we are promoting at soundtransit3.org) will help the Sound Transit Board update a Draft Priority Project List identifying projects that are proposed to be studied as potential candidates for ST3. Information from the studies (including estimated costs, ridership and other information) will enable the Board to further narrow from those candidate projects to shape the ST3 measure. The Ballard-UW project is one of those on the list proposed for study as a possible ST3 project. If it is not included in ST3 it is envisioned by our Long-Range Plan to be built as part of a later measure.
Q2- Where Through Wallingford: Where are you thinking stations would be located between I-5 and Aurora? Are they all going to be located along NE 45th street?
Geoff: If the project is ultimately studied, that work will take a very general look at where stations could be located from the standpoints of developing conceptual ridership and cost estimates. However, it’s important to note that if the project was included in ST3, station locations wouldn’t be selected until Sound Transit conducted a very thorough environmental review process following passage of the measure. One of the important aspects of environmental review is involving community members in making these kinds of important decisions.
Q3- Above or Below Ground: Would you plan to bore all the way through Wallingford, or might the line be partly above ground through Wallingford, and if so where?
Geoff: If study of this project moves forward within the ST3 process, general assumptions about where the project could be underground, at-grade and elevated will be part of developing a conceptual level estimate of the project’s cost, travel times and ridership. However, the same response to the previous question applies here. Decisions about the routes and profiles of all light rail extensions will follow thorough environmental review processes that provide involvement opportunities for community members.
Q4- Walllingford Rezone: Our understanding is that the city says it will expand 60ft zoning to a 10 minute walk shed around station stops. Is that correct, and if so what are the possible zoning impacts of stations to Wallingford? What is the band of streets that could be impacted- for instance, would zoning impacts be limited to being between N 40th and N 50th?
Geoff: We need to refer you to the City of Seattle planning folks on this question.
Q5- Square Footage Requirements: What is the square footage requirement for stations? Can they straddle a roadway or must they all be located on a single city block?
Geoff: The space requirements depend greatly on the specific location and configuration (elevated, underground or at-grade). On this potential project, platform lengths would be assumed to be 200 feet long, enough for a 2-car train, and at-grade station platforms would not be divided by streets. Tunnel stations may be designed to accommodate 4-car trains for future potential expansion.
Q6- Congestion Tolling vs Property Taxes: In terms of funding, we recently had a poll on Wallyhood where 142 of 179 voters said they preferred congestion tolling to property taxes as the preferred mechanism for funding transit (79%) While we understand that the legislature require property taxes as the funding mechanism, you do have the ability to add advisory votes to the ballot. Would you consider having not just ST3 on the ballot, but also an advisory vote on the ballot that would ask the legislature to shift ST3 funding from property taxes to congestion tolling?
Geoff: The Sound Transit Board requested a mix of sales tax, MVET and property tax revenues from the Legislature because these are the sources most capable of generating the significantly increased revenues needed to make major infrastructure investments around the region. Other sources including tolling do not provide revenue levels significant enough to fund these major projects. The Board is likely to propose a ballot measure that uses the sources the Legislature granted.
What’s Next? When is the decision being made on what goes in to ST3, and what is the process leading up to that decision, including public comment?
Geoff: As mentioned earlier public input that we are collecting through July 8 (survey at soundtransit3.org) will help the Sound Transit Board decide in August which projects will be studied as potential candidates for ST3. Information from the studies (including estimated costs, ridership and other information) will enable the Board to further narrow from those candidate projects to shape the ST3 measure. Our schedule assumes that in early 2016 the Sound Transit Board will advance a draft ST3 measure for more public input.
More Reading: All this planning has of course not involved a single visit to Wallingford, but the transit blog has been discussing the issue for a while. Here are some links:
- The specific options for that route that Sound Transit evaluated are described here:
- Here is some back story and advocacy for additional stations:
- And if that’s not enough, here’s more advocacy, including a bit about buses:
2014/06/30/ballard-uw-should- be-the-next-light-rail-line- in-seattle/
So, what do you think? If you are a home owner, are you eager to cash out? If you’re a renter, are you interested in moving? Because it seems unlikely to me that you’ll be using light rail in your current home. I figure a vote is in order: