Sound Transit opened its 30-day comment period for its West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project earlier this month, and will host an open house 6-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Ballard High School.

Sound Transit, in partnership with the Federal Transit Alliance, has started the scoping process for the light rail extension project. The first step in the scoping process is an environmental impact study.

Voters gave Sound Transit the go-ahead to work on its ST3 plan in 2016, which will open new light rail and other commuter rail stations from as far south as Tacoma and north to Everett. The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions’ planned opening is 2035.

Sound Transit looked at eight alternatives for expanding light rail from Westlake to Queen Anne, Interbay, Magnolia and Ballard before narrowing it down to three options, which will be studied and presented to local groups and the public for input. An online open house will remain active through the March 18 deadline to provide comment. Email comments to wsbscopingcomments@soundtransit.org.

Options

• The extension would begin at West Republican Street, travel up Elliott Avenue West and curve onto 15th Avenue West, then cross Salmon Bay west of the Ballard Bridge and continue on 15th Avenue West in Ballard.

• Armory Way/Tunnel/14th Avenue: The extension would begin on West Mercer Street, connect to West Prospect Street and then to 14th Avenue West where it would move west of the Interbay Golf Center and Interbay Athletic Complex on Alaskan Way West. It would lead into a tunnel station on Thorndyke Avenue West, then it would cross Salmon Bay east of the Ballard Bridge and end on 14th Avenue Northwest in Ballard.

• Central Interbay/Fixed Bridge/14th: The extension would begin near Seattle Center and move west of the Seattle Armory, Interbay Golf Center and Interbay Sports Complex into a tunnel station on Thorndyke Avenue West. Another tunnel east of Ballard Bridge would cross Salmon Bay and end either at 15th Avenue Northwest or 14th Avenue Northwest near Ballard High School.

The Ballard Alliance plans to lobby for a tunnel under Salmon Bay, with a station on 15th Avenue Northwest in Ballard.

“This route minimizes impacts for both business owners and residents, provides much greater predictability than a draw bridge alternative, limits the impact upon maritime dependent business and establishes a station that is closer to the center of Ballard's HUB Urban Village," according to the nonprofit’s latest newsletter.

Sound Transit published a Level 3 draft evaluation matrices in January that assesses all three proposed alternatives, including reliability, travel times, connectivity, capacity, demand, feasibility, service, economic impacts, sustainability and modal integration.

The ST3 Representative project could restrict reliable service due to the Salmon Bay bridge being opened for large ships, while the West Seattle Tunnel and Ballard Tunnel option would maintain the best system reliability. When it comes to financial stability, the option that includes a tunnel under Salmon Bay may cost Sound Transit an additional $1.9 billion than the baseline Representative option.

More accurate cost estimates will be presented during the design phase, which will begin in 2023. Phased construction is estimated to begin in 2027.

Spoken comments can also be made at 833-972-2666. Written comments can be mailed to: West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104.

ST3 EVALUATIONS Feb. 1, 2019 by on Scribd