Adopted by the membership at the May 11, 2022 meeting.
A Resolution Stating the 34th Democratic Legislative District’s Preferred Alternative for a West Seattle Extension and Calling for a New Independent Study
Whereas, Sound Transit (ST) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the West Seattle Ballard Extension alternatives and is currently receiving public comment on the DEIS; and
Whereas, ST3 includes light rail construction in South Downtown (SODO) and West Seattle, areas located within the 34th Legislative District: and
Whereas, the members of the 34th LD Democratic Organization live and work in these areas and have a substantial interest in the location, mode, construction, operation and costs of future transportation in this community; and
Whereas, having reviewed the DEIS they find the following issues and concerns:
- The document does not adequately address the years of traffic congestion and obstruction, noise and greenhouse gasses emitted during construction of any light rail alternative.
- Nor does it observe the disruption and destruction of mature urban tree canopy, which cannot be replaced. Trees help control stormwater runoff, improve air quality, provide wildlife habitat, and sequester carbon emissions.
- The DEIS does address the loss of 658 housing units, 120 businesses and 1,140 jobs in the Delridge, Duwamish and Junction neighborhoods of West Seattle alone – not including impacts on the International District. These losses will seriously harm our community and cannot be easily or cheaply mitigated.
- The increase in cost of the West Seattle extension and delay in completion until at least 2032 will result in added environmental impacts related to climate altering emissions, air quality and other effects. We are concerned that these impacts make any light rail alternative untenable and speak to the need for a cheaper, more rapidly deployable option.
Whereas, a new alternative, an urban aerial gondola, has been identified that is not addressed in the DEIS, but shows promise in its cost, faster implementation schedule and reduced environmental impacts; and
Whereas, such major urban systems have been successfully implemented in cities such as Ankara, Turkey; Mexico City; and La Paz, Bolivia, where they can carry as many as 4,500 passengers per hour, as opposed to the projected 3,200 per hour for the preferred light rail alternative. The cumulative impacts of that differential would be substantial; and
Whereas, it is projected the gondola system could be operational by 2026, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced/avoided more than six years sooner than the preferred alternative;
Whereas, it is also projected that the gondola system would cost 1/10 that of any light rail alternative;
Now therefore be it resolved, the 34th District Democratic Organization urges Sound Transit to contract with an independent consultant for a new study of the gondola system compared with the light rail for West Seattle, including projected cost, completion date and environmental impacts.
Be it further resolved, this resolution be sent to the Sound Transit Board as our comments to the DEIS and to the Seattle Mayor and City Council for their consideration.
Submitted by Randy Litzenberger, co-chair of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Caucus of the 34th District Democrats.