System expansion and the environment

Delivering transit expansion projects while protecting or restoring the natural environment

Transit expansion helps us all breathe easier by creating alternatives to driving in traffic. Once the entire system is built, we will provide riders with reliable access to communities across the Puget Sound region, resulting in annual reductions of 362 million vehicle miles traveled and 793,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. As we build projects, we inevitably will have effects to the natural environment, but Sound Transit sees this as an opportunity to make lasting improvements where nature and our new system meets.

We are working on projects that expand our systems in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. For each project, we conduct an environmental review process to identify likely effects of the project and ways to mitigate or solve them. Following the environmental review, the South Transit Board decides how and when to advance the project to the design and construction phases. Taking a project from concept to reality requires fulfilling a web of governmental agreements, laws, regulations and permits, all intended to leave our region and the planet better off than when we started.

Connecting stations with transit often requires creative solutions for managing effects to the physical environment. Common issues found during environmental review and permitting require a multi-jurisdictional mitigation approach including:

  • Conducting Migratory Bird Treaty Act surveys and implementing protection as required.
  • Replacing removed trees.
  • Replacing or improving wetlands.
  • Building over, under or near regional waterways.
  • Maintaining and monitoring ecosystems affected by the project.
  • Stabilizing steep slopes.
  • Minimizing noise and light.