The Sound Transit Board identified preferred light rail route and station locations for the West Seattle Link Extension and directed staff to conduct further studies and community engagement, primarily on the Ballard Link Extension.
The board weighed community priorities, regional needs, and input from agencies and the City of Seattle, as well as analysis in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in its action. Before confirming or modifying the Preferred Alternative for the Ballard Link Extension, the board directed further study and engagement in certain areas from the Chinatown-International District through Downtown, Interbay, and Ballard.
“We recognize the impact this project will have on the Chinatown-International District, and we will continue our conversations with community members to gather information and fully understand their concerns,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place Council Member Kent Keel. “At the same time, moving forward with a preferred alternative for West Seattle allows us to continue making progress on light rail expansions that will provide a hub for the entire region.”
In the West Seattle extension, the board identified the Preferred Alternative for the West Seattle Link Extension as the Medium Tunnel 41st Avenue Station alternative in the West Seattle Junction segment, the Andover Street Station Lower Height alternative in the Delridge segment, the South Crossing alternative in the Duwamish Segment, and the At-Grade Alternative Staggered Station Configuration in the SODO segment. The board will also consider the At-Grade South Station Option as a possible Preferred Alternative with future endorsement contingent on resolving with partner agencies federal property acquisition requirements and project funding needs in a manner that does not impact the West Seattle Link Extension schedule. A report for board consideration is due no later than September 2022.
The board also directed further studies in the West Seattle extension to enhance station access, prioritize an integrated and well-designed transfer experience from buses to light rail, and address concerns over potential displacements of organizations serving low-income and communities of color and determine potential third-party funding needs. Studies will include exploring a station entrance at 42nd at the Alaska Junction station, opportunities to provide access north and south of Andover Street at the Delridge station, enhancing access from the platform to South Lander Street at the SODO station and considering eliminating the Avalon Station in the West Seattle Junction segment.
For the Ballard Link Extension, the board directed further study before confirming or modifying the preferred alternative. The board requested further study to recognize past harms, minimize displacements and potential loss of cultural identity; conduct additional engagement between community and agency partners; support investment in public spaces; improve experience for riders; minimize construction impacts and risks; and determine potential third-party funding needs. Specifically, further study and engagement will include concepts requested by community and agency partners in the Chinatown-International District segment; a number of additional studies in the downtown segment including connecting Denny/Terry station to SLU/Harrison station and connecting SLU/Harrison station to Seattle Center/Mercer station; and additional studies in the South Interbay and Ballard segments
Staff will provide updates to the board on progress in November 2022 and February 2023, after which the board may confirm or modify the preferred alternative for the Ballard extension.