By Elliot Suhr – UW News Lab
Materials from the Open House are now available for public access. Click here to visit the Ballard to Downtown Transit Study website and click the “Meeting Materials” link at the bottom right of the page.
The Ballard to Downtown Transit Study Open House on transit options for the neighborhood drew over 150 people Tuesday night at the Ballard High School Commons.
The event was the first step in a transit-expansion study that will support the City of Seattle’s Transit Master Plan and inform updates to Sound Transit’s long-term plans for transit in the Seattle area.
While the specifics of where, when and how much have yet to be decided, Sound Transit Board members and Mayor Mike McGinn asked for public support. The previous push for high capacity transit in Ballard was during the monorail project in 2005, which never materialized. “We know that folks here in Ballard have been around this merry-go-round before, and we’re going to ask you to hop back on ‘cause we think we can get it done this time,” said McGinn.
The study is scheduled to be completed in 2014 and incorporates factors such as current and predicted housing, employment and land use, and cost estimates for the corridor. A measure to expand transit could be put on the ballot as early as 2016.
“The good news is at the federal level, the funding priorities are more supportive of in-city transit. We want to be in a position where the city of Seattle is ready with Sound Transit to compete for federal funding,” said McGinn.
Visitors were invited to post comments and mark potential routes on several interactive surveys around the room.
“It’s not always this good,” said Rachel Wilch of Sound Transit. “I’m really excited to see so many mark-ups and comments.”
Transit efficiency along with increased mobility between Ballard and downtown Seattle were the most heavily marked priorities by attendees.
“What we really need more is connecting our neighborhoods to each other in Seattle,” said McGinn.
Bob Massina, a Ballard resident, said he uses transit almost every day. “I want to see good plans for the future. I’m retired so I use it to go downtown, go to meetings and visit the library,” he said.
Matthew Loar, a Belltown resident, said he visits Ballard often. “I don’t own a car,” he said. “[The bus] is my primary mode of transportation when I’m not walking.”
Added McGinn: “I decided to take the RapidRide up here today just to see how that felt. I’m not going to say anything negative about our partners at King County, but I think we can have even better transit for Ballard.”
Those unable to attend the meeting can offer feedback online through the project website between March 11 and March 15.
We will keep readers updated on the study as it progresses.
Photo courtesy of the Office of the Mayor.