How will COVID-19 impact this project?

The COVID-19 crisis is greatly reducing the revenues Sound Transit relies on to expand our regional transit system. With greatly depleted revenues, Sound Transit will not be able to deliver expansion projects on their original timelines. Through a process called realignment, the Sound Transit Board of Directors is working to determine the degree to which plans and timelines for voter-approved projects will need to change due to lower revenue projections. Learn more.

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 fall 2021 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.

We recognize that the past year has been extremely challenging. We are living through the COVID-19 pandemic, a national reckoning of racial injustice and an unprecedented change in daily life. We hope this website allows you to get caught up on the project at your convenience and well in advance of when we will be seeking your comments when the Draft EIS is published.

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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.

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 fall 2021. 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!

Timeline

Schedule subject to changes resulting from the COVID-19 crisis and realignment

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

2026-2031 (West Seattle Extension) and 2026-2036 (Ballard Extension) Construction

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

2031 (West Seattle Extension) and 2036 (Ballard Extension) Start of Service*

*COVID-19 has significantly impacted Sound Transit's long-term funding projections, causing uncertainties about project delivery dates. In 2021, the Sound Transit Board will continue a realignment process to determine the degree to which plans and timelines for voter-approved projects need to change.

In recent months, COVID-19 has also impacted Sound Transit's work with partners to advance WSBLE environmental review work. Until the Board makes realignment decisions in 2021, WSBLE project materials will continue to reflect the original project schedule with the exception of incorporating the recent impacts to the environmental review timeline. These changes include moving the completion dates from 2030 to 2031 for West Seattle and from 2035 to 2036 for Ballard. Schedules are based on limited design and engineering at this phase of project development. Opening dates are subject to further changes under the realignment process.

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:

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.

Stay engaged

We want to provide you with useful and meaningful engagement materials to help prepare you to comment on the Draft EIS in fall 2021. 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.