The Ballard Link Extension will provide fast, reliable light rail connections to dense residential and job centers in the Chinatown-International District, downtown, Interbay and Ballard neighborhoods. In addition, a new downtown Seattle light rail tunnel will provide capacity for the entire regional system to operate efficiently. The Ballard Link Extension is part of the regional transit system expansion approved by voters in November 2016.
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 nine new stations from Chinatown-International District to Market Street in Ballard.
- Start of service scheduled for 2039.
Ballard Link Extension project timeline
2016 Voter Approval
The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) were evaluated together in the WSBLE Draft EIS published in January 2022. As described in the WSBLE Draft EIS, the two extensions will function as two separate lines, with the West Seattle Link Extension (WSLE) connecting to Everett and the Ballard Link Extension (BLE) connecting to Tacoma.
The extensions were initially on the same environmental review timeline. However, given additional environmental review needed for project refinements for BLE resulting from the Sound Transit Board action in March 2023, environmental review for the two extensions will now proceed on different timelines.
WSLE will proceed to a Final EIS, which is anticipated to be published in 2024, while a new Draft EIS will be completed for BLE to reflect action by the Sound Transit Board in March 2023. The BLE alternatives will be updated, including analysis of the preferred alternative, as well as other refinements and alternatives identified in the March 2023 Board Motion. The new BLE Draft EIS will build upon and incorporate the existing work to date on the WSBLE Draft EIS including all previous scoping comments, public outreach and feedback and environmental analysis. The BLE environmental review timeline will be updated when it is available.
Preferred alternative for the Ballard Link Extension
Ballard Link Extension project map
- Stations South and North of the CID, which shifts the Midtown station to the location North of CID.
- Westlake Station: incorporates the Westlake Station (DT-1) Entrance Consolidation.
- Denny Station: Denny Westlake Shifted North
- South Lake Union Station: includes South Lake Union/Harrison Street (DT-1) Draft EIS Station.
- Seattle Center: incorporates the Seattle Center Republican West Station refinement.
- In the South Interbay segment, the alignment follows the Modified Galer Street Station/Central Interbay (SIB-1) Alignment, which includes a tunnel portal from the Downtown segment at Republican Street, an elevated Galer Street Smith Cove Station and an Interbay Station shifted south to straddle Dravus Street.
- In the Interbay/Ballard segment, the alignment follows the Tunnel 15th Avenue Station Option (IBB-2b) with the Tunnel 15th Avenue Cost Savings: Draft EIS location.
In addition to the BLE preferred alternative, all Ballard Link Extension alternatives that were studied in the WSBLE Draft EIS, as well other alternatives and refinements identified in March 2023 Board motion, will be studied in the BLE Draft EIS. In July 2023, the Board modified the preferred location for the Denny Station for the Ballard Link Extension. For details, view the July 2023 Board Motion. To learn more about project updates presented to the Board, view the South Lake Union webinar presentation.
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 WSBLE Draft EIS station alternatives and offer ideas and recommendations in response to the community priorities we heard. This work is summarized in a Station Planning Progress Report that we published alongside the WSBLE Draft EIS to help communities understand the opportunities and challenges of the different alternatives. Please note that we continue to refine the preliminary design and location of stations as part of the environmental review process. We anticipate future opportunities to engage around station planning as the project progresses.
Check out the Station Planning Progress Report – Ballard Link Extension (62 MB) for more details.
Community feedback was gathered as part of engagement activities throughout the further study period from July 28, 2022, through February 23, 2023. Learn more about further studies.
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 was developed to help Sound Transit, as well as partner agencies and the public, better understand the potential impacts and benefits of the project, evaluate potential impacts and benefits of the alternatives on the natural and built environment and transportation system, and identify potential mitigation measures.
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.
In July 2022, 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 the July 2022 press release and the Board Motion for more information.
After a period of further studies from July 2022 to February 2023, the Sound Transit Board identified a preferred alternative for the Ballard Link extension. Read the March 2023 board motion and press release for more information.
In the Final EIS, expected to be published in 2024, 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.
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.
Want to learn more about further studies?
For an overview of the further studies and the results, read the Executive Summary and reports or the Further Studies Engagement Summary. Descriptions and key findings for each further study are included below by segment.