West Seattle residents weigh in on light rail expansion concerns

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SEATTLE — The light rail system is coming to an intersection near you in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties.

Voters in Pierce County were the only ones who voted against ST3.  But now, some people who said ‘yes’ to the light rail are now having buyer’s remorse.

Tuesday night marked the first time for public input about Sound Transit’s $54 Billion project since it was approved by voters.  Sound Transit officials say now is the time to share your thoughts on a plan decades in the making.

It's the end of a long day for West Seattle’s Brianna Estes, finally home from work in Renton.

“I take two to three buses and it takes me up to an hour and a half and on a good day its usually 45 minutes to an hour,” said Estes.

Trying to get anywhere from West Seattle means transferring two or three buses to get to your final destination so the light rail could be faster and more convenient.

“I have to go to SODO bus way first, because there’s nothing direct from West Seattle to Renton,” said Estes.

It’s those kinds of stories discussed at the first public open house for light rail expansion in West Seattle and Ballard.

“The more we can help people understand what the project is and get their input and help them engage now rather than later,” said Sound Transit Senior Public Information Officer Kimberly Reason.

Fresh off harsh criticism over car tab fee hikes due to the light rail expansion, Sound Transit is working on its transparency.

“By front loading the public process and by getting as many people as we can to bring them aboard gradually along the way,” said Reason.

It’s a tall order for 40-year West Seattle resident Bernice Carpenter.

“I think the taxes are outrageous and ridiculous,” said West Seattle resident Bernice Carpenter.

But it’s coming whether she likes it or not.  Reason says Sound Transit hasn’t decided exactly where the West Seattle light rail station will end up; original designs show an elevated station near the Junction or California Avenue SW and Alaska Street SW.

“It looks like it’s going right through West Seattle junction that has been there like 100 years, maybe more, and it’s just going ruin the whole neighborhood,” said Carpenter.

Even Estes, who wants light rail, worries about West Seattle’s charm as much as Carpenter.

"Any of the businesses it’s going to disrupt in the Junction because I know it’s an old area and there are a lot of Seattle favorites there,” said Estes.

“Take down a lot of buildings. It might be very, very noisy,” said Carpenter.

It’s why Sound Transit just launched a series of public open houses, a survey, and other outlets to hear from residents over the next year, before any construction begins.

“Buyer’s remorse is typical.  Anytime you make a major investment -- anyone who’s bought a house has had buyer’s remorse, but once you start paying the mortgage and you click on all cylinders with the payment plan you realize once you have that equity you realize it was a really good investment,” said Reason.

The West Seattle open house was just the first in a series of ways you can learn more or voice your thoughts on ST3.  The next open house is Thursday night in Ballard.  If you can’t make it in person, there’s an online open house option or reaching out to Sound Transit by email or phone.

Feb 15, 20186:30 pm–8:30 pm

Feb 20, 20185:30 pm–7:30 pm