Posted: 26 Apr 2022 By: Marty Westerman
This is a late moment reminder to send comments from Fauntleroy to Sound Transit for its DEIS public comment period. Though Fauntleroy may be distant from the construction zones between West Marginal and Alaska Junction, these issues are relevant to FCA.
DEIS comments are due to Sound Transit by 5:00 p.m. Thursday, April 28. You can email your comments to WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org, post them online through https://wsblink.participate.online/, or call them in to voicemail at 1-800-471-0879.
Many issues may be important to Fauntleroy residents. For example, if you are employed in the Harbor Island-West Marginal area, or in North Delridge (from the Skylark to the Frye Business Center), those areas are slated for business displacement or teardown. It’s similar for other businesses through Avalon to the Junction, and the newly-built Spruce or Maris apartment buildings are slated for teardown, along with Trader Joe’s and L.A. Fitness, to make way for the three, two block-long light rail stations that Sound Transit proposes.
Sound Transit’s Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) states that light rail construction, depending on the route that gets chosen, will permanently displace up to 1000 people from their homes, displace and close business and cost up to 1000 jobs (including permanently closing several Duwamish maritime companies, and all the businesses at the north end of Delridge from the SkyLark to the Uptown & other enterprises in the Frye Business Center. It will also bulldoze up to 1.9 acres of Pigeon Point forest and green space — important to the Olmstead Legacy, Duwamish Tribe and Pigeon Point neighborhood, and take another acre south and west. (All these are listed in Ch. 1, 4, 5, 6 & Appendices). Comment: choose the least disruptive, destructive and environmentally damaging light rail option, or consider less damaging, non-light rail options instead.
Construction will take 5-7 years to complete (approximately 2026-2032). Comment: voters in 2016 approved a $1.7 billion budget and proposed delivery by 2030 for West Seattle light rail. Estimate is now $3.2 billion and delivery in 2032. Comment: this isn’t what we voted and are paying taxes for.
It’s likely that traffic around ingress and egress points of the high bridge will congest and jam as Delridge, Avalon, 35th and Fauntleroy are closed for varying lengths of time. So expect transit, freight, emergency, garbage-recycling and commuter vehicles to be delayed. Comment: choose the least disruptive, destructive and environmentally damaging light rail option, or consider less damaging, non-light rail options instead.
Sound Transit doesn’t consider any less disruptive and destructive alternatives in the DEIS, even though others exist that can provide high capacity transit (minimum 3200 passengers per hour each way) for West Seattle. Those options include exclusive lane bus rapid transit (like RR C and H) and gondola (approved as high capacity transit by Sound Transit, RCW and federal statute). Instead, all perspectives in the DEIS favor light rail. Comment: Given destructive nature of rail to West Seattle, DEIS should consider less damaging high capacity transit alternatives.
Though climate change is imminent and dangerous, the DEIS contains no complete carbon footprint analysis or natural capital (green infrastructure) evaluation for the full project in any chapter or appendix. DEIS calculates construction-related carbon output (Appendix L4.6D) at 158,067 to 614,461 tons, but the regional, annual carbon reduction from vehicles (Table 4.2.6-2) is 10,941 tons once the light rail connects directly downtown in 2037. Approximately a third of this reduction would be from West Seattle. By DEIS calculation, it may take between 42 to 168 years to offset the carbon emissions generated by West Seattle light rail construction. Comment: DEIS must prioritize climate change and ecosystem health in its analyses, and find less carbon-intensive, and ecosystem destructive ways to provide transit.
The visual landscape of the approach to West Seattle will significantly change, as a third bridge higher than the high bridge, and viaducts up to 150 feet-high will wrap around Pigeon Point and climb the hill to Alaska Junction. Comment: A less visually obtrusive option needs to be considered. The Olmstead Brothers envisioned views from Pigeon Point to be unobstructed, and light rail structures will block them. Densely developed neighborhoods from Capitol Hill north have used tunnels for light rail. This should be the first option considered for densely developed West Seattle.
The DEIS presents no plan for managing potential displacement of Pigeon Point’s blue heron rookery and other bird & animal nesting areas, nor of addressing issues with treaty protected Duwamish River fisheries, and possible disturbance of Superfund sediments, other than “mitigation” of damage. Comment: Sound Transit needs to present clear plans for avoiding ecosystem disruption beyond mitigation — which will require the years of construction (5-7) pus re-growth years for plants and habitats to recover to maturity. The DEIS appears to assume that if urban ecosystem has been done already, it is acceptable to do more damage.