Seattle’s Sound Transit board approved the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, establishing a $285.9 million budget for preliminary engineering for the project and giving the green light to move forward with extending light rail to some of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in the region. Also in a related action, the board executed a $24.4 million consultant contract with HNTB Corp. to begin project development services.
“With the approval of this important step for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions, Sound Transit moves forward to implement the system expansion plan that voters approved last November,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “We look forward to working closely with stakeholders and communities to decide on the project details rapidly and bring light rail to more communities on schedule and on budget.”
The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions are part of the Sound Transit 3 Plan that voters approved last fall. The project includes extending light rail to West Seattle by 2030, building a second downtown tunnel in conjunction with the extension to Ballard, and beginning service to Ballard by 2035. This fall, Sound Transit will initiate technical work on the project, and in early 2018 embark on a community engagement process to reach early consensus on a Preferred Alternative by early 2019.
West Seattle Extension
The project assumes connecting West Seattle to Downtown Seattle via Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Genesee Street, Delridge Way, Spokane Street, and the SODO Busway. The extension also includes a new connection to the existing Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel south of the International District/Chinatown Station, a new rail-only high-rise bridge over the Duwamish Waterway, elevated alignment over SR 99 and the South Spokane Street Viaduct, and an elevated alignment in West Seattle. This extension would serve five station areas.
The project would connect Ballard’s Market Street area to Downtown Seattle, then cross Salmon Bay on a new rail-only bridge near the existing Ballard Bridge. The extension would continue south on an elevated guideway through the Interbay corridor along 15th Avenue Northwest and Elliott Avenue West before transitioning to a new Downtown Seattle light rail tunnel. The new tunnel would run through the Uptown and South Lake Union neighborhoods along Westlake Avenue to Sixth and Fifth Avenues before reaching the International District and connecting to the existing Link tracks at South Massachusetts Street. This extension would serve nine station areas.
Sound Transit’s consultant team, HNTB, will be responsible for providing planning, engineering, operational, environmental, and community outreach technical services to support the first phase of project development work for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions. Other firms on the HNTB team include Jacobs Engineering, CH2M, EnviroIssues, Fehr & Peers, Hewitt Architects, and LMN Architects.