Monday, June 24, 2013

Sound Transit narrows Ballard to downtown routes to eight, hosts open house

Sound Transit narrows Ballard to downtown routes to eight, hosts open house Seattle Department of Transportation

Eight potential routes have been identified as part of Sound Transit's Ballard to downtown High Capacity Transit study, which will help inform updates to the city of Seattle's Transit Master Plan and Sound Transit's Long Range Plan.

The plans identify priorities for potential future transit expansions.

Sound Transit will host an open house June 27 at Ballard High School Commons to present the potential routes to the public.

"This open house is a great opportunity to learn more about our partnership with Sound Transit to bring rail transit to Ballard," said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "Our updated Transit Master Plan, adopted unanimously by the City Council last year, identifies a downtown to Ballard transit line as a top priority. I look forward to continuing to hear from Seattle residents about this effort and our work ahead with Sound Transit to expand transit in our city."

Sound Transit and the city of Seattle hosted an open house in March and used online tools to gather feedback on potential rail routes connecting the two neighborhoods. Based on feedback about travel destinations, service priorities, impacts and more than 200 route suggestions, the technical team narrowed the alternatives down to eight potential routes for either light rail or streetcars.

"Every step of this process gets us closer to connecting our neighborhoods with fast, reliable rail service. This is important work to give us all a clearer picture of the costs and benefits of these potential investments," said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin.

The alternatives include tunnels under the ship canal and Queen Anne, at-grade routes using the Fremont Bridge and elevated routes crossing the ship canal on new bridges. Preliminary cost estimates range from $500 million to $3 billion. The project team will have detailed maps and information at the meeting.

Construction of any future transit extensions would be subject to Sound Transit and city policy decisions and identification of funding sources. Voter approval is required for potential Sound Transit investments.

The next phase of the study will incorporate more public feedback, current and future housing trends, employment and land use factors to help further develop ridership and cost estimates. The work is scheduled to be complete in early 2014.

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