Sound Transit to hold open houses on route, station alternatives for West Seattle, Ballard light rail extensions

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Public meetings, website provide chance to weigh in on early analysis and help narrow alternatives 

Sound Transit is kicking off a second round of public meetings and online input for the West Seattle and Ballard Link light rail extensions, seeking the public’s help to narrow route and station alternatives to help inform the Sound Transit Board in identifying a preferred alternative by next spring.

Sound Transit will present preliminary results of its technical evaluation work to-date at these upcoming open houses/neighborhood forums:

West Seattle
9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at Seattle Lutheran High School Gym, 4100 SW Genesse St.
 
Downtown Seattle
5:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Union Station’s Ruth Fisher Boardroom, 401 S Jackson St.
 
Ballard-Interbay
5:30-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 at Ballard Eagleson VFW, 2812 NW Market St.

People unable to attend an open house can review alternatives and provide comment online at www.wsblink.participate.online.

Work continues by Stakeholder Advisory Group and Elected Leadership Group members to advise the Sound Transit Board on narrowing alternatives. The process for recommending the most promising alternatives to carry forward into a third and final round of technical analysis before environmental review will consider community input and criteria such as cost, construction complexity, the time needed to complete the project, and environmental and community impacts, among other factors. 

The technical analysis completed so far follows months of intensive work to accelerate project development by analyzing, evaluating and narrowing down alternatives to study further during the environmental phase of the project. Along with other system expansion projects approved by voters in 2016, the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions are under aggressive timelines to reach West Seattle by 2030 and Ballard by 2035—three years earlier than originally planned.

To speed up project delivery, Sound Transit overhauled its project development and public engagement process by working with stakeholders, elected leaders and communities sooner and more intensively than it had previously done on other projects. Sound Transit leaders consider robust public involvement essential to not only reducing overall project delivery time by reaching early public consensus on a preferred alternative, but also to reducing the risk of new alternatives being introduced late in the environmental review process or after the environmental process is complete.

The Sound Transit 3 (ST3) representative project is itself based on extensive planning and public involvement work, including high-capacity transit studies, the process to update the agency’s long-range plan, and the work to develop the ST3 Plan. Early scoping work—the first round of public involvement that resulted in refinements to the representative project and formed an initial set of alternatives to study in Level 1 analysis—occurred in February and March. Level 2 analysis began in May. Level 3 analysis will begin later this fall. 

An outline of the Community Engagement Guide is available at www.soundtransit.org/wsblinkceg

Sound Transit will continue to engage the advisory groups and the public through spring 2019. The Sound Transit Board will identify a preferred alternative, as well as other alternatives, to evaluate in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in April and make a final decision on the project to be built after environmental review is complete. 

More information on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions is available at www.soundtransit.org/wsblink.

In addition to the West Seattle and Ballard Link light rail extensions, Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south and east, opening new stations every few years to form a 116-mile regional system by 2041. The agency is on track to open extensions to Seattle’s University District, Roosevelt and Northgate neighborhoods in 2021, followed by service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area in 2023. Additional extensions to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Kent/Des Moines, Federal Way and downtown Redmond are planned in 2024. Further light rail extensions are scheduled to reach Fife and Tacoma in 2030; Paine Field and Everett in 2036; and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041. 

The agency is also working on critical expansions to southline Sounder service and the 2024 launch of bus rapid transit service along the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington. More information is available at https://systemexpansion.soundtransit.org