11a. Memo

West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) Briefing

AGENDA MEMORANDUM                        Item No.          11a 
BRIEFING ITEM                            Date of Meeting       April 12, 2022 
DATE:     March 25, 2022 
TO:        Stephen P. Metruck, Executive Director 
FROM:    Geraldine Poor, Regional Transportation Senior Manager 
Matthew Mateo, Senior Environmental Planner 
SUBJECT:  Sound Transit 3  West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) Briefing on Draft
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Ballard/Interbay Segments 
In January 2022, Sound Transit published their WSBLE DEIS for a 90-day comment period, closing
April 28, 2022. At this April 12th meeting, Sound Transit will provide an overview of this significant
Seattle area infrastructure project and show that the Port of Seattle must remain closely engaged
with project development as the environmental review, design and construction efforts move
forward. This briefing follows an April 5 briefing to the Northwest Seaport Alliance Managing
Members on the WSBLE Duwamish Crossing. Here, Port of Seattle Commissioners will learn more
about the project and have the opportunity to ask questions. 
Sound Transit's mission is to plan, build and operate mass transit service throughout central
Puget Sound. The initial phase of the regional mass transit system, called Sound Move, was
approved by voters in 1996. The second phase, Sound Transit 2 (ST2), was approved in 2008.
Under these plans, the regional light rail system will more than double in length from just over
20 miles today to over 50 miles by 2023. Service is also increasing on the 83-mile Sounder
commuter rail line from Everett to Lakewood, and ST Express buses continue to serve major
highways in the region. 
Sound Transit 3 (ST3) provides the next phase of high-capacity transit improvements for central
Puget Sound. In November 2016, voters of the Central Puget Sound region approved the ST3
ballot measure. With this plan, the light rail system will more than double again to 116 miles with
over 80 stations. Light rail will expand north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to downtown
Redmond, south Kirkland, and Issaquah and west to Ballard and West Seattle, building 62 new
miles of light rail. ST3 will also invest in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in two corridors: connecting
Lynnwood to Burien via I-405 and SR 518; and on SR 522 between Bothell and Shoreline. Finally,
the plan will extend Sounder commuter rail to serve Joint Base Lewis-McChord and DuPont. 
The ballot measure included a "representative project alignment," essentially acting as a baseline
and budget for further development of the link extensions. 

Template revised April 12, 2018.

COMMISSION AGENDA  Briefing Item No. 11a                                 Page 2 of 4 
Meeting Date: April 12, 2022 
The "representative" project for the West Seattle Link Extension builds light rail from
West Seattle's Alaska Junction neighborhood to downtown Seattle primarily on an
elevated guideway with a new rail-only fixed span crossing of the Duwamish River. The
West Seattle Link Extension will connect to existing Link service, continuing north to
Lynnwood and Everett. 
The "representative" projects for the Ballard Link Extension and downtown Seattle Light
Rail Tunnel build light rail from Ballard's Market Street area through downtown Seattle
with both tunneled and elevated alignments and a rail-only movable bridge over Salmon
Bay. These connect to Link service, continuing south to Tacoma. 
The focus of this briefing will be on the Interbay/Ballard segments of the Ballard Link Extension.
It would be about 7.1 miles from Downtown Seattle to Ballard's Northwest Market Street area
and include a new 3.3-mile rail-only tunnel from Chinatown-International District to South Lake
Union and Seattle Center/Uptown. Stations would serve the following areas: Chinatown-
International District, Midtown, Westlake, Denny, South Lake Union, Seattle Center, Smith Cove,
Interbay, and Ballard. 
In early 2018, Sound Transit launched an "alternatives development" process including broad
stakeholder involvement with the goal of building consensus around a "preferred project
alignment" for the WSBLE in advance of starting the EIS. That process includes the formation of
an Elected Leadership Group (ELG), Inter-Agency Group (IAG) and a Stakeholder Advisory Group
(SAG).  Alongside ten other elected officials, former Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie
Bowman represented Port of Seattle and NWSA interests on the ELG. Port and NWSA staff were 
represented on the IAG and closely monitored the SAG and other outreach efforts. in April 2018,
the Managing Members received an overview presentation and provided comments regarding
Sound Transit's West Seattle and Ballard Extensions. 
In 2019, Sound Transit embarked on an environmental process for WSBLE. The Port of Seattle
and Northwest Seaport Alliance submitted scoping comments to Sound Transit on April 2, 2019,
which can be viewed as a separate attachment.
Later  in  2019,  the  ST  Board  identified  alternatives  for  review  in  the  EIS,  considering
recommendations from these groups. They included a preferred alternative for most of the
segments. For the Ballard Link Extension segments of interest to the Port, these are described
South Interbay Segment Preferred Alternative: The Galer St Station/Central Interbay
Alternative would continue the tunnel beneath lower Queen Anne to a tunnel portal on
the east side of 5th Avenue West. From the tunnel portal, the alternative would become
elevated and cross to the west side of Elliott Ave W and continue northwest. The
guideway then would cross back to the east side of Elliott Ave W near W Mercer Place
and would continue northwest between the east side of Elliott Ave W and Kinnear Park.
North of Kinnear Park, the alignment would transition to the west side of Elliott Ave W to

Template revised September 22, 2016.

COMMISSION AGENDA  Briefing Item No. 11a                                 Page 3 of 4 
Meeting Date: April 12, 2022 
enter the Smith Cove Station, which would be elevated above the W Galer St bridge. From
the Smith Cove Station, the elevated guideway would cross over the Magnolia Bridge and
continue north along the east side of the BNSF Railway tracks to W Armory Way. It would
then continue north along the western edge of the Interbay Golf Center and Athletic
Complex. The elevated guideway would continue over W Dravus St and connect to the
Elevated 14th Ave Alternative in the Interbay/Ballard segment. For this alternative to
connect to the tunnel alternatives (Tunnel 14th Ave Alternative and Tunnel 15th Ave
Station Option) in the Interbay/Ballard segment, it would transition from elevated to atgrade
along the Interbay Athletic Complex to continue under W Dravus St. 
Interbay/Ballard Segment Preferred Alternative:  The Elevated 14th Ave Alternative
would cross over W Dravus St on an elevated guideway parallel to the BNSF tracks and
curve northeast to the Interbay Station. The station would be just north of W Dravus St
between the railroad tracks and 17th Ave W. The alternative would continue on an
elevated guideway from the Interbay Station northeast over the Emerson St interchange
and then curve north to cross Salmon Bay on a fixed-span bridge on the east side of the
Ballard Bridge (15th Avenue Bridge). The alternative would continue north within the 14th
Ave NW right of way before transitioning to the east edge of the road south of Northwest
Market Street. The Ballard Station would be on the east side of 14th Ave NW, straddling
NW Market St. Elevated tail tracks would extend north of the station along the east side
of 14th Ave NW and would then curve west to end above the center of the roadway. 
The Board also selected a Preferred Alternative with Third Party Funding.  For this
segment, the alternative replaces the fixed-span bridge with a tunnel under the Salmon
Bay portion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. 
In August 2021, the Board adopted a Realignment Plan for projects not yet in construction. The
COVID pandemic and related changes in economic forecasts had caused the Sound Transit Board
to recognize and affordability gap due to steep rises in real estate and construction costs in the
region. After 17 months of discussion and public engagement, the Board extended completion
dates for the West Seattle Extension to 2032 and for the Ballard Extension to 2037 to Smith Cove,
and a target of 2037 to Ballard (depending on improved funding) but budgeted by 2039. 
Current Status 
The Sound Transit Board has published the DEIS which evaluates potential impacts and benefits
of the alternatives on the natural and built environments and transportation system and
identifies potential mitigation measures.  It is available for review and public comment from
January 28, 2022 to April 28, 2022. Port of Seattle staff are reviewing the document and will
provide detailed comments in addition to executives' policy comments in a joint letter from the
NW Seaport Alliance and the Port of Seattle. 

Template revised September 22, 2016.

COMMISSION AGENDA  Briefing Item No. 11a                                 Page 4 of 4 
Meeting Date: April 12, 2022 
Through construction and subsequent operations, as outlined in the 2019 scoping comments,
this project has the potential of impacting the following Port of Seattle and NWSA-managed
Terminal 5 
Terminal 18 
Terminal 25 (east side of East Waterway, north of Spokane St) 
Terminals 30 (north of T-25) 
Terminals 102, 103 and 104 (south of Spokane St) 
Old Tsubota Steel site (near Magnolia Bridge) 
Interbay/Magnolia cruise and fishing terminals (Terminals 90 and 91) 
Fishermen's Terminal 
These extensions could significantly improve transportation in our region; however, given the
route of the current representative alignment, there could be significant negative impacts to the
region's maritime and industrial sectors if key issues are not appropriately addressed. 
After completion of the public comment period on April 28, the Board will identify the preferred
alternatives for evaluation in the Final EIS (FEIS). The Board is not bound by its 2019 identification
of a DEIS preferred alternative in the various segments. After completion of the FEIS, anticipated
in 2023, and issuance of the Record of Decision by the Federal Transit Administration, the Board
will make a final decision on the project to be built based on the alternatives evaluated in the EIS. 
(1)   2019 West Seattle Ballard Link Extension Scoping Letter (April 2, 2019) 
(2)   Presentation slides 
July 2, 2020, the NWSA Managing Members approved a Partnering Agreement among Sound
Transit (ST), the Port of Seattle (Port) and The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) for the
West Seattle Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE), GA 0089-20. 
April 3, 2018, Sound Transit staff briefed the Managing Members on the West Seattle Ballard
Link Extensions. 
Staff provides regular Sound Transit updates to Managing Members. 

Template revised September 22, 2016.

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