Sound Transit Board identifies alternatives for environmental study for West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions
information from Sound Transit
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 available at this link.
From the Motion:
West Seattle (Avalon and Junction)
- Elevated stations – Avalon station in vicinity of SW Genesee Street, SW Avalon Way and 35th Avenue SW. Turns southwest on Fauntleroy Way SW with both elevated Alaska Junction station options oriented north/south and staying east of the Alaska Junction on Fauntleroy and in the vicinity of 41st/42nd Avenue SW.
Preferred Alternative with Third Party Funding
- Tunnel station – Avalon station in vicinity of SW Genesee Street, SW Avalon Way and 35th Avenue SW. Turns southwest with both tunnel Alaska Junction station options oriented north-south in the vicinity of 41st Avenue SW and 42nd Avenue SW. Based on current information, these alternatives would require additional third-party funding.
Additionally, the Board directs staff to evaluate potential cost savings opportunities and look for opportunities to minimize community impacts and create a high quality transfer environment for both the Avalon and Alaska Junction station locations.
West Seattle (Delridge)
- N of Genesee station – Elevated guideway runs south adjacent to Delridge Way SW to an elevated Delridge station on a diagonal between Delridge Way SW and 26th Avenue SW north of SW Genesee Street. Continues west on an elevated guideway along SW Genesee Street.
Additionally, the Board directs staff to explore refining the Delridge station location, prioritizing a further south location and looking for opportunities to minimize potential residential impacts, create a high quality transfer environment, optimize transit-oriented development (TOD) potential and reduce costs.
Interbay and Ballard
- High fixed bridge with 14th elevated station – From elevated Interbay station, continues over 15th Avenue W, crosses Salmon Bay via a fixed bridge east of the existing Ballard Bridge and continues in an elevated guideway on 14th Avenue NW. Terminates at an elevated station on 14th Avenue NW at NW Market Street.
Preferred Alternative with Third Party Funding
- Tunnel with 14th and 15th tunnel stations – From Interbay station, descends into a tunnel beneath Salmon Bay. Terminates at a tunnel Ballard station with station options beneath 14th Avenue NW and east of 15th Avenue NW at NW Market Street. Based on current information, both these alternatives would require additional third-party funding.
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.