Ballard transit expansion study

Exploring transit possibilities between downtown Seattle and Ballard

Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) are partnering on a study of possible transit improvements between Ballard and downtown Seattle. The outcomes of the study are: 

  1. Support implementation of the Seattle Transit Master Plan
  2. Support future Sound Transit Board discussions on long-range high capacity transit (HCT) options. This study will also examine HCT rail potential in this corridor, using light rail as the representative transit mode. 

By partnering and increasing efficiencies, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle are saving planning dollars during this project development phase. This study began in early 2013 and is scheduled to be complete by mid-2014, with opportunities for public involvement. 

Construction of any potential future transit extensions would be subject to Sound Transit and City policy decisions and identification of funding sources. Voter approval is required for potential Sound Transit investments.


Project phase: Planning study

Milestone: Scheduled to begin in early 2013 and to be completed in mid-2014

Study area: Map

Partners: Sound Transit, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)

Sound Transit's role

Sound Transit's emphasis is studying "high capacity transit" (HCT) operating principally in exclusive rights of way. That means, for the most part, these services have their own lanes separate from traffic, providing faster and more reliable connections. This study will consider and narrow a range of HCT alternatives, evaluating routes and station locations. In 2008, voters approved the ST2 plan, which includes studying potential HCT options between Ballard and downtown Seattle.

This study will also support upcoming work by the Sound Transit Board to update the Regional Transit Long Range Plan, a process that will involve the public in discussing long-term possibilities and priorities. There have been no decisions so far on when a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure would be considered or what it would fund, including whether a downtown Seattle-Ballard project would be part of it. If the Sound Transit Board decides to advance a regional Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in the coming years, the agency would need to seek approval of additional local funding sources from the Washington State Legislature.

SDOT's role

In April 2012, the Seattle City Council adopted the Seattle Transit Master Plan (TMP), which focuses on using transit to connect communities in Seattle. The TMP identified five corridors for investment and that the Ballard to downtown corridor would be the first one studied. The Ballard to Downtown Seattle Transit Expansion Study will examine rail options such as rapid streetcar in this corridor as identified in the TMP. 

The City of Seattle is also conducting the Center City Connector Study which is looking at streetcar options to connect the First Hill Streetcar currently under construction and the South Lake Union Streetcar. The Ballard to Downtown Seattle Transit Extension Study will coordinate with the Center City Connector regarding transit connections in downtown. 

Project fact sheet

Outreach staff

Ryan Bianchi Ryan Bianchi
Title: Community Outreach Specialist
Office Phone: 206-398-5070
Email Address:

Latest news

Open house displays
Dec 5, 2013: Screening process and criteria, public feedback by location, study timeline and process, five corridors identified in the level two analysis, evaluation results

Open house handouts
Dec 5, 2013: Project overview, five corridors identified in the level two analysis, study timeline and process, printable survey, evaluation results

Open house handout
Jun 27, 2013: Maps of eight corridor options, screening criteria, study timeline and information and the open house comment form

Open house displays
Jun 27, 2013: Goals and objectives results, maps of eight corridor options, screening criteria, study timeline and other displays