Sound Transit Board identifies alternatives for environmental study for West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions

Action demonstrates successful work with partners to expedite overall project delivery through early community engagement and collaboration

Publish Date

The Sound Transit Board of Directors has identified preferred alternatives and other alternatives to study in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) phase for the 11.8 mile West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project. The Board action reflects 18 months of robust public engagement with community organizations, neighborhood groups, agency partners and local elected officials.

As part of the work to meet the accelerated timelines of projects included in the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) plan, Sound Transit developed a System Expansion Implementation Plan (SEIP) that embraces new ways of working. Those adjustments include internal changes at Sound Transit to apply innovative ideas and lessons learned to refine and improve project development and delivery, as well as new approaches to working with project partners, communities, and local jurisdictions. 

In particular, the SEIP called for the convening of a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) and an Elected Leadership Group (ELG) to advise the Board. Informed by technical evaluation results and community input, these groups screened many alternatives to focus on the alternatives with the most promise and made recommendations to the Board on what to study in the DEIS phase. The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project is just one of several voter-approved ST3 projects informed by these groups. 

"When voters approved ST3 in 2016, we committed to engaging with the public early in our project planning to achieve stakeholder agreement on route and station alternatives," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "The process worked. We now have a group of high quality alternatives informed by technical analysis and robust public and agency involvement to move into environmental study that will keep these projects on schedule."

Sound Transit in coordination with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will prepare the DEIS, followed by a public and agency comment period in late 2020. The Sound Transit Board would then confirm or modify the Preferred Alternative after consideration of the environmental evaluation as well as additional public and agency engagement. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is anticipated to be complete in 2022, after which the Board will select the project to be built and seek a Record of Decision from the FTA. 
When construction is complete in 2030 and 2035, respectively, the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions will provide fast, reliable light rail connections to dense residential and job centers. The project will also include a new light rail tunnel in downtown Seattle that will add regional system capacity to operate more trains and faster frequencies as light rail expands to Northgate, Bellevue, Redmond, Lynnwood, Federal Way, Tacoma, Everett and other communities.

The motion approved by the Board outlining the alternatives selected for environmental study is attached

A full list of all Board motions can be found at https://www.soundtransit.org/motions

More information on this project and subscriptions for project updates are available at https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/west-seattle-ballard-link-extensions.