Sound Transit reaches major milestone with release of draft environmental impact statement and preliminary staff-recommended route for Link light rail

Publish Date

Sound Transit - The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority - today officially issued the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the 24-mile central Link light rail system that will connect the cities of Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac. The EIS is a document required by state and federal environmental laws that analyzes the economic, environmental and financial impacts of major projects in communities.

Release of the draft EIS begins a two-month long public comment period prior to the formulation of the final EIS. Sound Transit will hold five public hearings in January 1999 throughout the region to receive comments on Link light rail and the draft EIS. The public comment period runs until February 5, 1999.

Included in the draft EIS is the preliminary staff recommendation for the route and station locations for the central Link light rail system. The recommendation was distilled from nearly 40 potential routes that were initially considered, many of them suggested by local communities and citizens. While the final route for the central Link light rail system will not be identified by the Sound Transit Board until February 1999, the Board directed the staff to develop a preliminary route recommendation to help focus public discussion on the central Link light rail system. A separate analysis of routes and stations is being conducted for Tacoma's 1.6 mile Link light rail system.

Executive summaries of the draft EIS and the preliminary staff recommendation are available from Sound Transit by calling Rebecca Withington at (206) 398-5000 ; 1-800-201-4900; or TTY/TDD (206) 398-5086 . Copies of summaries and the full draft EIS document are also available for review at many area public libraries. Maps, detailed descriptions of the routes and other information about Link light rail may be viewed and downloaded from the Sound Transit Web site at

The preliminary staff recommended route for the central Link light rail system is divided into six segments north to south:

    Segment A - 
    Northgate to University District:
    Mostly elevated near I-5 from Northgate to the Roosevelt District; tunnel from Ravenna Blvd. to the N.E. 45th.
    Segment B - 
    University District to Westlake Station in downtown Seattle transit tunnel:
    Tunnel under 15th Ave. N.E., Portage Bay, Capitol Hill and First Hill.
    Segment C - 
    Westlake station in downtown Seattle transit tunnel to S. McClellan Street:
    Existing downtown Seattle transit tunnel; street level on the existing E3 busway located between 4th and 5th Ave. S.; tunnel under Beacon Hill. 
    Segment D - 
    S. McClellan Street to Boeing Access Road (Rainier Valley):
    Street level on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S.; elevated across I-5 to Boeing Access Road.
    Segment E -
    Elevated from Boeing Access Road; street level on Pacific Highway S. (SR99/Tukwila International Blvd.); elevated north of State Route 518.
    Segment F -
    Elevated from S. 154th Street; west of Washington Memorial Park, north of Sea-Tac International airport terminal, 28th/24th Ave S. to S. 200th Street.

Sound Transit is on track to implement a three-county region-wide transit system plan known as Sound Move. Approved by voters in 1996, Sound Move will be a seamless blend of three regional transportation systems. Along with Link light rail, Sound Move includes Sounder commuter rail, running 81 miles from Everett to Tacoma/Lakewood and Regional Express, a bus transit system that will connect the major metropolitan areas of Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma and Seattle with numerous cities and communities with 17 new, fast, limited-stop bus routes and numerous improvements to transit centers, park-and-ride lots and HOV lanes throughout the region. 

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(Editors: limited numbers of computer discs with graphics of the route maps on CD-ROM format are available on a first-come, first-serve basis by contacting Denny Fleenor at (206) 398-5056 .)  

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.