Realignment outcomes

The steep rise in real estate and construction costs in the region have driven up cost estimates for future transit expansion projects. In response, the Sound Transit Board on Aug. 5, 2021, adopted a realignment plan that will serve as a framework for delivering agency system expansions as rapidly as possible. Learn more about the Board’s action at soundtransit.org/realignment.

Welcome

What’s the latest?

  • Sound Transit is currently studying multiple light rail routes and station locations (called alternatives) for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) project.
  • You will have an important opportunity to provide your input during a public comment period in early 2022 when we expect to publish the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS).
  • To help you prepare for the publication of the document, you can:
    • Learn about the environmental review process and the topics we are studying in the Draft EIS.
    • Learn about the alternatives we are studying in the Draft EIS.
    • Learn about each station location and review maps showing potential station entrances and connections for people walking, rolling, biking and taking transit.
    • Learn about how to comment on the Draft EIS and share your feedback.

As we approach an important project milestone, we are looking for people along the project corridor who bring diverse perspectives and lived experiences to join one of several community advisory groups that will be meeting regularly over the next six months.

What are the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions?

The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions will provide fast, reliable light rail connections to dense residential and job centers throughout the region. In addition, a new downtown Seattle light rail tunnel will provide capacity for the entire regional system to operate efficiently. These two separate light rail extensions are part of the regional ST3 package that voters approved funding for in November 2016.

Learn about the WSBLE project in this video.

Stay engaged!

Get upcoming project news and public involvement opportunities.


Request a virtual briefing for your group.

Environmental review

What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

The EIS for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project will help Sound Transit, as well as partner agencies and the public, better understand the potential impacts and benefits of the project. It will describe the multiple alternatives being considered, and how each alternative might affect the natural and built environment and transportation systems.

We need your input later this year

You will have the opportunity to review and comment on the Draft EIS which is expected to be published in early 2022. Your comments on the Draft EIS will be important. Based on the Draft EIS analysis and your comments, the Sound Transit Board will confirm or modify the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative, along with the other Draft EIS alternatives, will then be included in the Final EIS, which is expected to be published in 2023. After publication of the Final EIS, the Sound Transit Board will select the project to be built.

We will share information about the comment period in our email updates. Sign up!

Two people fill out comment submission forms while seated at a table with a box labeled ,comments' nearby.
Submitting your comments on the Draft EIS will help to shape what this project looks like in your community.

Project timeline

2016 Voter Approval 

2017-2023 Planning

  • Alternatives development  
  • ST Board identifies preferred alternative 
  • Draft Environmental Impact Statement (We are here)
  • Final Environmental Impact Statement
  • Preliminary design
  • ST Board selects projects to be built
  • Federal Record of Decision

2023-2026 (West Seattle Extension) and 2023-2027 (Ballard Extension) Design

  • Final design
  • Procure construction contracts
  • Obtain land use and construction permits
  • Property acquisition / relocation
  • Advanced utility relocation / early work contracts

2026-2032 (West Seattle Extension) and 2026-2037/2039* (Ballard Extension) Construction

  • Ongoing conversations with property owners
  • Groundbreaking
  • Construction updates and mitigation
  • Safety Education
  • Testing and preparations

2032 (West Seattle Extension) and 2037-2039* (Ballard Extension) Start of Service

*Ballard Link Extension: Sound Transit is managing the Ballard Link Extension toward a 2037 delivery target by working to close a project affordability gap most recently forecasted at approximately $1.8 billion. The agency is seeking to reduce or eliminate this gap by increasing funding and support at the local, state and national levels, and by reducing costs as the Sound Transit Board considers and adopts project alignment options with input from partners and the public. If it is not possible to close the gap, current financial assumptions reflect Sound Transit’s ability to affordably open service to Smith Cove in 2037, and to Ballard in 2039. Learn more about realignment.

Draft EIS sections

The Draft EIS will describe the multiple alternatives being considered, and how each alternative might affect the natural and built environment and transportation systems, both during construction and final operation of the light rail line. Below are examples of what the analysis for each topic will include:

Community Comment Guide

Want to learn more about how to comment on the Draft EIS?

Check out one of our neighborhood specific guides with details on how to share your thoughts on the alternatives being studied below:

Equity and inclusion during environmental review

Sound Transit is committed to inclusively engaging communities along the project corridors, striving to engage communities of color and low-income populations throughout the public involvement process. During the environmental review process, Sound Transit will conduct an environmental justice analysis, which will be included in the Draft EIS. The analysis will:

  • Describe the demographics of the project corridor.
  • Evaluate whether the project would disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
  • Consider potential project benefits such as improved access to opportunity.
  • Document our efforts to involve communities of color and low-income populations in the planning process and what we hear from outreach efforts.

Along with the Draft EIS environmental justice analysis, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle have partnered to apply a Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) for each planning phase, including the previous alternatives development phase and the current environmental review phase. The RET offers a framework and process for centering people of color, low-income and other vulnerable populations in project development and project outcomes. The goals of the environmental justice analysis and its focus on evaluating how a project impacts communities of color and low-income populations are in alignment with and form the basis of the RET report. The report documents potential project impacts and benefits and is informed by community feedback.

Alternatives

Choose a segment to view maps and descriptions for the DEIS alternatives.

Draft EIS alternatives - Interbay/Ballard segment

Map of Ballard, Interbay and Smith Cove stations in northwest Seattle showing pink line for preferred alternatives, brown lines for preferred alternatives with third party funding, and blue lines for other Draft EIS alternatives. Lines indicate elevated, at-grade and tunnel alternatives. See text description below for additional details. Click to enlarge (PDF)
Click to enlarge (PDF)

Draft EIS alternatives - Downtown segment

Map of Seattle Center, South Lake Union, Denny, Westlake and Midtown stations in Seattle showing pink line for preferred alternatives, and blue lines for other Draft EIS alternatives. See text description below for additional details. Click to enlarge (PDF)
Click to enlarge (PDF)

Draft EIS alternatives - Chinatown-International District segment

Map of Chinatown-International District station in Seattle with blue lines for other Draft EIS alternatives. Lines indicate tunnel alternatives. See text description below for additional details. Click to enlarge (PDF)
Click to enlarge (PDF)

Draft EIS alternatives - SODO segment

Map of SODO Seattle showing pink line for preferred alternatives and blue lines for other Draft EIS alternatives. Lines indicate elevated, and at-grade alternatives. See text description below for additional details. Click to enlarge (PDF)
Click to enlarge (PDF)

Draft EIS alternatives - West Seattle segment

Map of Delridge, Avalon and Alaska Junction stations in southwest Seattle showing pink lines for preferred alternatives, brown lines for preferred alternatives with third party funding, and blue lines for other Draft EIS alternatives. Lines indicate elevated, at-grade and tunnel alternatives. See text description below for additional details Click to enlarge (PDF).
Click to enlarge (PDF)

Stations

We are studying multiple station alternatives in each neighborhood. Below is a snapshot of some initial concepts around neighborhood station access and connectivity, which is based on our community engagement and agency feedback from late 2019. We will share more information about the stations, including initial station planning concepts, when the Draft EIS is published. In the meantime, click on a station below to view maps showing potential station entrances and connections for people walking, rolling, biking and taking transit.

What we have heard from the community

Sound Transit held a series of neighborhood forums as well as an online open house in fall 2019 and asked for input on the following:

  • What do you value about your community today?
  • How could a light rail station best serve your community?
  • What are key destinations in your community? Where do your daily activities take you?
  • How do you move around the area to these destinations?
  • In the future, when you get to the station, what is included at and near the station?

Check out the summary (24MB PDF) for more details on what we heard. After the Sound Transit Board provides feedback on the Draft EIS in 2021, we anticipate reaching out again to communities to share and engage around our initial station concepts.

Learn about WSBLE project station planning in this video.

Stations

Choose a station to view maps, including potential station entrances and connections for people biking and taking transit.

Property Owners

In order to build the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project, Sound Transit will need to purchase and use private property. In some cases, this means moving people from their homes or businesses.

Sound Transit’s property acquisition process treats affected property owners and tenants fairly, provides appropriate Just Compensation and relocation benefits, minimizes hardships and provides communications with all parties involved. We realize that the possibility of being relocated from your home or business may be difficult and we are here to answer questions and provide support throughout the process.

Sound Transit has specific policies and procedures that describe how the agency will work with property owners and tenants throughout the acquisition process. We follow federal, state and local laws in our property acquisition process, more specifically, the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act, as well as state law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Property acquisition timeline

Mid-2021 Pre-Draft EIS release

  • Sound Transit contacts potentially affected property owners

Early 2022 Draft EIS release

  • Draft EIS available for public review and comments
  • Sound Transit Board confirms or modifies the preferred alternative following close of comment period

2023 Final EIS release

  • Sound Transit Board selects project to be built

2023-2027 Final Design

  • Sound Transit identifies property rights needed to construct, operate and maintain the system
  • Sound Transit Board authorizes property purchases
  • Sound Transit will prepare an appraisal to determine fair market value of property needed for the project
  • Sound Transit will provide relocation assistance to people and businesses displaced by the project, including referrals to comparable properties and payment of moving costs
  • Sound Transit staff are available to support property owners and tenants through this process

With final decisions still years away, we know this period of uncertainty can be stressful and are here to help. If you have additional questions or would like to set up a virtual meeting, contact our outreach team at wsblink@soundtransit.org or 206-903-7229.

A Link light rail train travels over a roadway on an elevated track with Mt. Rainier in the background.
The alternatives we’re currently studying within the Draft EIS include both underground and elevated tracks like the one above.

Property Owner Meeting Scheduling

Are you a potentially affected property owner or tenant?

Learn more about what to expect as the project progresses and schedule a briefing with our team.

Join a Community Advisory Group!

Overview

We are currently studying multiple light rail routes and station locations (called alternatives). The public will have an important opportunity to provide input during a public comment period in early 2022 when we expect to publish the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and offer a variety of ways to engage, including through public meetings, by phone, mail, email and online.

In addition, Sound Transit is forming Community Advisory Groups (CAGs) to provide another forum to share information and to collaborate with community members around issues and tradeoffs as we work to deliver a project on time and within scope. The feedback from these groups taken together with all the comments received from the public comment period will be provided to the Sound Transit Board before it confirms or modifies the preferred alternative for the WSBLE project early next year.

Structure and membership

We're forming CAGs with a diversity of experiences and perspectives from communities along the project corridor, including but not limited to, income level, race, age, physical and cognitive abilities, and lived experience. Each group will be comprised of 10-15 community members, organized by geographic area.

Members will serve as ambassadors to their communities and bring forth community values, concerns and ideas. Members will receive a stipend for their involvement in meetings, which we expect will involve potentially six virtual meetings starting this fall and continuing through early 2022.

We’re looking for people who:

  • Live, work and/or volunteer along the project corridor.
  • Are a part of or have a deep understanding of one or more of the communities along the corridor.
  • Have knowledge and/or interest in public transportation, mobility and how transportation affects the lives of people in the region.

We ask that members be prepared to:

  • Act as a community ambassador, willing to share information with community members and bring forth community values, concerns, and ideas.
  • Consider the community as a whole and go beyond personal interests.
  • Participate collaboratively with group members whose views may be different from their own.
  • Attend approximately six-monthly meetings from fall 2021 through early 2022, participating fully in the process.

Never done anything like this before? That's OK! You bring valuable perspectives, and we want to hear from you. People who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color, women, LGBTQ+, immigrant or refugee, low-income, or people with diverse abilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Submit an interest form to get involved in one of the following ways:

  • Fill out the form below and submit electronically
  • Print a PDF and mail to:
    West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension
    c/o Leda Chahim
    Sound Transit
    401 S. Jackson St.
    Seattle, WA 98104

For assistance with this form:

Submissions will close on 5pm, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.

Fill out this CAG interest form!

Stay engaged

We want to provide you with useful and meaningful engagement materials to help prepare you to comment on the Draft EIS in early 2022. While we have some opportunities to stay engaged, you may have ideas for us on how best to engage you now. Feel free to share your engagement ideas with the project team below.

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Note: If you have a question about our project, please email us.