A woman in an orange vest holds a tablet while looking at buildings in Seattle's International District/Chinatown neighborhood.
Media Caption
Michelle Yellin, a consultant with Jacobs, performs a historic resource survey in Seattle as part of the early work to determine where the new line will run.

Fieldwork ramping up on West Seattle/Ballard Link light rail extensions

Thousands of hours going into environmental studies

Publish Date

The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions will provide fast, reliable light rail connections when they open in 2030 and 2035. 

We know that seems far away. But building quality transit takes quality time

Before construction crews turn their first shovels of dirt, thousands of hours of work goes into studying potential construction and operational impacts.

And there’s a tremendous amount of that work happening right now as we prepare to connect West Seattle and Ballard with the Link light rail system as it expands in all directions.  

We hit a big milestone last week, when the Sound Transit Board identified the initial assessment alternatives to study in our Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The Draft EIS, public and agency comment on the draft and the Final EIS enable the Board to select the project to be built based on an understanding of potential impacts from various alternative alignments.

The EIS considers a broad range of potential environmental impacts  – from effects on noise levels and wetlands to neighborhoods and historic buildings.  

Fieldwork 101

Staff and consultants are in the field right now studying how the project could affect both the natural and built environments.

Their activities include tree analysis, site reconnaissance, soil sampling and historic building inventory, to name a few.

Here’s a quick overview of the variety of work that's happening in the field right now.

Some of the work, like geotechnical drilling and noise monitoring, will be more visible to neighbors than other tasks, like the building-by-building evaluation to identify potentially significant historic resources.

Using tablets equipped with detailed mapping software, architectural historians from our consultant, Jacobs, are quickly and efficiently photographing and recording distinctive characteristics of buildings within the study area of the West Seattle and Ballard projects.

A woman uses a tablet and detailed mapping software to take note of potential significant historic resources in Seattle.
Early environmental studies will help Sound Transit evaluate and document buildings and structures that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

This is part of the work to comply with federal, state, and local regulations regarding the treatment of what are called “cultural resources.”

Over 1,200 structures (50 years old and older) within the study area are being evaluated.

The Draft EIS process takes about 18 months, said Lauren Swift, who manages the environmental work in this corridor for Sound Transit. 

The alternatives identified by the board for the Draft EIS will go through environmental review before another robust round of public engagement.

The Draft EIS will be available for public and agency comment in early 2021. 

The Board will select the project to build after the Final EIS is issued, which is expected to be in 2022. 

Get involved

Are you interested in learning more about the alternatives we’re studying in the Draft EIS and what happens next in environmental review? Join us at an upcoming forum in your neighborhood.

Reach out to an outreach specialist for more information at wsblink@soundtransit.org or 206-903-7229.

Or join us at an upcoming neighborhood forum to learn more about the alternatives we're studying in the Draft EIS. 

Nov. 20
Downtown - Station areas including Seattle Center, South Lake Union, Denny, Westlake, Midtown, Chinatown-International District
Central Seattle Public Library (Washington Mutual Room)

Nov. 21
West Seattle - Station areas including Delridge, Avalon and Alaska Junction
Alki Masonic Center

Dec. 3
Chinatown-International District Station
Union Station Great Hall

Dec. 5
Interbay/Ballard - Station areas including Smith Cove, Interbay, Ballard
St. Luke's Episcopal Church

Dec. 7
Delridge Station 
Delridge Community Center (gym)

Check out the online RSVP page for more information about the meetings, including transit directions and interpretive services that will be available.  

Back to The Platform