It promises to be more disruptive than the construction of the First Hill streetcar.
On May 23, elected leaders on the regional transit board voted on May 23 to keep at least four Chinatown-International District (C-ID) light rail station alternatives alive for environmental study.
The first option is to put trains directly under 5th Avenue South. A second alternative would set the boarding platforms 200 feet deep under 5th.
Also being considered are shallow and deep versions under 4th Avenue South. A shallow station would mean 10 years of construction and $300 million more, while a deep station would require 9 years of construction and could add as much as $500 million to cost estimates.
At this same committee meeting, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also alluded to historic racism as a reason to keep exploring four options, inside 108-year-old Union Station next to regional and local train tracks.
“We cannot look at Chinatown International District without recognizing the irony that we’re sitting in a train station where those train systems were built by Chinese labor, where that Chinese labor was excluded from this country by discriminatory laws, where they carved out a toehold here in Seattle, where the Japanese community landed and then we took them and interned them, and this community has been a vibrant part of our city for a long time,” she said.
In general, C-ID residents and business owners oppose a station at 5th Avenue, saying it would be much more disruptive than building a 4th Avenue station.
No street-level retailers or apartment buildings occupy the superblock between Jackson and Seattle Boulevard South on 4th. The parallel stretch of 5th features several large apartment buildings, street-level retailers and restaurants, and the west side of the Uwajimaya complex.
C-ID activists also feel that the 4th Avenue alignment would keep noise, dust, and construction equipment at a distance, on the other side of Union Station.
The First Hill streetcar project eroded the community’s trust in city projects.
Pile that on top of other disruptive public works projects (viaducts over train tracks, Interstate 5, the former Kingdome), city and state leaders now have an opportunity to restore that trust: choose the option that the major stakeholders are asking for: 4th Avenue.