The Sound Transit Board identified the preferred alternative for the West Seattle Link Extension and requested further study for the Ballard Link Extension. For details, please view our press release and the Board Motion. Information on this website is based on the Draft EIS analysis of project routes and stations and will be updated as more information is available.

Welcome

Back in 2019, the Sound Transit Board identified preferred alternatives and other alternatives to study in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which was published on Jan. 28, 2022 followed by a 90-day public comment period. The Draft EIS evaluated potential impacts and benefits of the alternatives on the natural and built environment and transportation system, and identified potential mitigation measures.

After reviewing the Draft EIS and the comments from Tribes, the public and agency partners, the Sound Transit Board identified the preferred alternative for the West Seattle Link Extension and requested further study for the Ballard Link Extension. Read more about the Sound Transit Board’s action in our press release and the Board Motion.

In the Final EIS, expected to be published in late 2023 , Sound Transit will respond to comments received during the Draft EIS comment period. Following the publication of the Final EIS, the Board will select the project to be built. The Draft EIS Agency and Public Comment Summary Report provides an overview of comment themes along with appendices of all comments received.

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The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions will provide fast, reliable light rail connections to dense residential and job centers throughout the region.

About the project

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 Link extensions are part of the regional transit system expansion approved by voters in November 2016.

New to the project and looking for more background? Visit the project overview to get up to speed.

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What is the Draft EIS?

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is an environmental review document that outlines the possible routes and station locations under consideration – collectively called “alternatives.” It will help Sound Transit, our partner agencies, the public, and other decision-makers understand the potential impacts and benefits of each alternative by describing how the alternative might affect the natural and built environments and transportation systems during both construction and future operation.

Overview

About the project

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 Link extensions are part of the regional transit system expansion approved by voters in November 2016.

  • West Seattle Link Extension
    • Adds 4.7 miles of light rail service from downtown Seattle to West Seattle's Alaska Junction neighborhood.
    • Includes 4 new stations from SODO to Alaska Junction.
  • Ballard Link Extension
    • Adds 7.1 miles of light rail service from downtown Seattle to Ballard, including a new downtown Seattle rail-only tunnel.
    • Includes 9 new stations from Chinatown-International District to Market Street.
An image of the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project map that displays the preferred alternatives and other alternatives we are currently evaluating. The map also includes station locations, and describes if an alternative is elevated, in a tunnel or at-grade.
Preferred and other alternatives we are currently evaluating.

Learn more about the alternatives

Choose a segment below to view the route and station options and a high-level comparison of the Draft EIS alternatives. 

Equity and inclusion

Sound Transit is committed to centering communities along the project corridor and engaging communities of color and low-income and other vulnerable populations throughout the public involvement process. During the environmental review process, Sound Transit conducted an environmental justice analysis, which is included in the Draft EIS. The analysis:

  • Describes the demographics of the project corridor.
  • Evaluates whether the project would disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
  • Considers potential project benefits such as improved access to opportunity.
  • Documents our efforts to involve communities of color and low-income populations in the planning process and what we have heard so far from outreach efforts.

Along with the Draft EIS environmental justice analysis, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle have partnered on the Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) process for the project. The RET lays out a process and a set of questions to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of the project to advance racial equity. The RET process began early in project development, informing data analysis, technical evaluation and the focus and extent of community engagement. During the environmental review phase, the RET builds on the environmental justice assessment for this project, documenting potential project impacts and benefits, and community feedback. However, given that the RET process is guided by a different framework than the EIS environmental justice requirements, the report on the RET process and findings is structured differently, and is oriented around RET outcomes for the project. A draft RET report on the process, requirements, outcomes and findings is available now. 

Interbay/Ballard Alternatives

Compare Interbay/Ballard Alternatives

South Interbay Alternatives

Compare South Interbay Alternatives

Downtown Alternatives

Compare Downtown Alternatives

Chinatown-International District Alternatives

Compare Chinatown-International District Alternatives

SODO Alternatives

Compare SODO Alternatives

Duwamish Alternatives

Compare Duwamish Alternatives

West Seattle Junction/Delridge Alternatives

Compare West Seattle Junction/Delridge Alternatives

How did we get here?

Draft EIS

Learn about the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The Draft EIS for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project has been developed to help Sound Transit, as well as partner agencies and the public, better understand the potential impacts and benefits of the project.

The Draft EIS:

  • Identifies the alternatives under consideration.
  • Describes the potential environmental impacts and benefits of each alternative.
  • Proposes actions that will help mitigate impacts.

The formal public comment period for the Draft EIS for the project closed on April 28, 2022. The Draft EIS Agency and Public Comment Summary Report provides an overview of comment themes along with appendices of all comments received. Analysis in the Draft EIS and comments received will help inform the Sound Transit Board as it confirms or modifies the preferred alternative. The Final EIS will include responses to comments.

Want to take another look at the Draft EIS?

While the formal public comment period is now closed, you can still explore the Draft EIS. The Executive Summary provides an overview of the Draft EIS. It condenses the larger Draft EIS to help readers quickly become acquainted with the project.

Draft EIS Executive Summary

*Sound Transit was made aware of a translation error in the Simplified Chinese Draft EIS Executive Summary in Table ES5 on page ES-29. That translation error has now been corrected.

You can view the entire Draft EIS document online. See the Reader's Guide below to help navigate the document.

Chapter 1

States what problems the project will address and why the investment in this transit project is needed.

Chapter 2

Describes the alternatives evaluated in the Draft EIS, including alignment and station locations, how they will be constructed, and how long construction will take.

Chapter 3

Presents analysis of the existing transportation system in the project area and discusses potential impacts of the alternatives to regional facilities and travel and transit operations. Discusses ridership and travel times for each alternative as well as parking impacts in addition to pedestrian and bicyclist access at each station area.

Chapter 4

Discusses the affected environment and environmental consequences of the project.

Chapter 5

Describes the project’s effects on a particular resource, combined with past, present and future effects of other projects. The cumulative impact assessment can identify consequences that might not be apparent when the project is considered in isolation.

Chapter 6

Evaluates how the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions alternatives meet the project’s purpose and need. It also summarizes the benefits and impacts of each alternative.

*Appendix I is reserved for the mitigation plan and will be included in the Final EIS.

Looking for a quick overview?

Use the links in the drop down below to help navigate the Draft EIS and find more information on a particular subject. 

Station Planning

We are studying multiple station alternatives in each neighborhood. Part of this study is understanding how stations will be accessed on foot, bicycle, bus, and other vehicles, as well as how stations will integrate with neighborhoods. We’ve partnered with the City of Seattle and communities to create some initial concepts for access, connectivity, and urban design. Click on a station below to view plans and cross-sections of the Draft EIS Station alternatives 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.

Station Planning Progress Report

Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, King County Metro, and other agency partners such as the Port of Seattle worked throughout 2020 and 2021 to evaluate the Draft EIS station alternatives and offer ideas and recommendations in response to the community priorities we have heard. This work is summarized and presented in a Station Planning Progress Report that we are publishing alongside the Draft EIS to further help communities understand the opportunities and challenges of the different alternatives. Check out the progress report for more details (links below)

View by station:

Learn about WSBLE project station planning in this video.

Stations

Choose a station to view maps and plans of the different station alternatives, including potential entrance locations, ways of accessing the stations and opportunities for development and public spaces around the stations.

Advisory Groups

Overview

Sound Transit has studied multiple light rail routes and station locations (called alternatives) and the public had an opportunity to provide input during the Draft EIS public comment period in early 2022.

In addition to the public comments Sound Transit received on the Draft EIS, the agency also formed 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 this 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.

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, and minimizes hardships 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.

Property acquisition timeline

Fall 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 based on comments from the public, agency partners and Tribes

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

Without concrete decisions until the release of the Final EIS, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Get involved

There are multiple opportunities to get engaged with the project.

Talk to project staff

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Request a briefing or meeting with us; we are happy to meet with you or your community group online with opportunities to hold in-person briefings once safe to do so

Stay engaged

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Follow us on social media @SoundTransit

Contact us

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Call the project line at 206-903-7229 to speak with a community engagement specialist
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Email with questions, concerns or comments: wsblink@soundtransit.org
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Your input is vital to the success of the project.