Sound Transit Board identifies preferred alternative for Ballard Link Extension
Directs further collaboration for Union Station activation and Jackson Hub improvements
On March 23, 2023, the Sound Transit Board identified a preferred alternative for the light rail route and station locations for the Ballard Link Extension. The proposed 7.1-mile extension includes nine new stations from downtown Seattle to Ballard, including a new rail-only tunnel through downtown Seattle.
The Board weighed community priorities, regional needs, input from agencies and the City of Seattle, analysis of alternatives included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and results of further studies and engagement directed by the Board in July 2022. A final decision on the project to be built will not occur until after environmental review is completed and the Final EIS is published.
"Today we are closer than ever to realizing a connected regional light rail network that will serve transit riders and become the template for our region’s future success," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Through extensive engagement with community members and collaboration with key partners we have identified a preferred alternative for the Ballard Link Extension that is affordable, accessible and equitable."
"The Sound Transit Board vote yesterday on the Ballard Link Extension project represents a major milestone for our city and the entire region," said Mayor Bruce Harrell. "With this action, we are advancing a transformational transit project that Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved and insist we deliver as soon as possible. This major investment is about more than just transportation – it is also about a demonstration of our One Seattle commitment to creating opportunities, centering equity, and creating a connected, sustainable, affordable, resilient neighborhood for every community. I want to thank the wide array of community voices who have been core to this planning process – we look forward to your continued partnership as we build out neighborhood stations."
The preferred alternative includes stations South and North of the CID and shifts the Midtown Station to the location North of CID. The Board also directed that the CID 4th Avenue Shallower option be carried forward for additional environmental review.
The Board did not modify the previously identified preferred alternative for the Denny Station located on Westlake in the Draft EIS alternative. However, the Board directed staff to also carry forward the Denny Station on Terry (i.e., South Lake Union Mix and Match) alternative as part of ongoing environmental review and to further clarify the technical, financial, schedule and risk implications of both alternatives.
Stations at Westlake, South Lake Union, Seattle Center, Smith Cove, Interbay and Ballard were confirmed based on recommendations forwarded from the System Expansion Committee on March 9.
Acknowledging that south downtown would benefit from Union Station activation and Jackson Hub improvements regardless of the location of the CID station, the Board directed staff to work with the City of Seattle, King County, and other potential partners to clarify the potential scope and schedule of such improvements as well as funding and partnership opportunities; and to conduct further community engagement. The Board specified that the scope of the improvements should extend beyond the CID to the abutting stations and transfer points to improve accessibility.
Details of the Board action on the Ballard Link Extension are included in Motion M2023-18.
Information about the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions projects is at www.wsblink.participate.online and https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/west-seattle-ballard-link-extensions.