Sound Transit releases Ballard to downtown transit expansion study

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By Joe Veyera

Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) completed their report for the Ballard to downtown Seattle transit expansion study earlier this week. The new report includes the results of their analysis and a summary of public feedback on the potential corridors.

The study looked at several potential corridors that would connect Ballard to downtown — via various neighborhoods including Fremont, Queen Anne, Interbay, and Belltown — considering the cost of construction, peak period travel time, and the estimated daily ridership. The study’s outcome supports the implementation of the Seattle Transit Master Plan, and future Sound Transit Board discussions on high capacity transit options.

Since the study began in February of last year, more than 2,500 stakeholders participated through three open houses and interactive online tools to help inform the technical analysis. A majority of commenters (76 percent) preferred a tunnel option that connected Ballard to downtown via Fremont and Queen Anne.

The partnership between Sound Transit and SDOT also saved planning dollars during this project development phase. The study is one of nine high capacity transit corridor studies that were called for in the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure approved by voters in 2008.

The report will now be considered by City of Seattle leadership and the Sound Transit Board for possible future action. Any construction would be subject to Sound Transit and City policy decisions, and voter approval would be required for any Sound Transit investments.

To download the full report, click here. For more information on the transit expansion study, click here.

15 thoughts to “Sound Transit releases Ballard to downtown transit expansion study”

  1. ….and here we go again.

    We voted “yes” 4 times on the monorail extension until the powerbrokers forced a 5th “no” vote based on misleading cost projections.
    After the recent downtown “Bertha” mishap, a tunnel option would be dead on arrival.

    So — let’s do the same as Capitol Hill and Rainier, and build the at-grade streetcar option. We have the room, we have the money – but do we have the will to demand the same transit equality as the rest of Seattle has already committed to?

  2. Paul, Sound Transit built tunnels under capitol hill. The tunnels are done, they’re being outfitted with tracks and power systems now. Thus far they’re months ahead and a hundred million under-budget.

    Sound Transit is competent. They are NOT the same as WSDOT (who is failing at the SR99 Tunnel)

  3. Paul, we actually don’t have the room for an at-grade streetcar. As we found out with the miracle-to-be Rapidride D line, traffic between here and downtown won’t move any faster/better without more crossing(s) of the Ship Canal. The beauty of a tunnel under the Ship Canal and under Queene Anne Hill is that (a) we add meaningful capacity crossing the Ship Canal and (b) we have stops in dense Queen Anne, rather than along unpopulated Westlake Ave.

  4. Oh good yet another election on the issue of transit. God knows we haven’t had enough of those! I’ve lived here 10 years and seen us go through numerous transit related elections and still have nothing to show for it. How is it other cities are able to complete transit systems faster than Seattle can decide on them? At this point people in Seattle deserve to be stuck in traffic all day for being so short-sighted.

  5. Corridor D! That would lure thousands of commuters from Ballard/Fremont/QA which would be thousands of less cars on the roads. Pair that with the new Westlake Cycletrack for the sunny months and then we’d be getting somewhere

  6. And sea spider I can understand your frustration about how long these things take but we have one of best light rail lines in the country and it’s growing North AND East as we speak.

    I work as a architectural designer on these types of transportation projects and trust me, they take this long EVERYWHERE.

  7. Does anyone else think that all of the corridors should end in Ballard with some plan on how to eventually go north on 15th ave to Holman to the Northgate park and ride?

    I’m also dumbfounded on why in downtown none of these would connect to the light rail in the bus tunnel?

    All of these point A to point B mass transit plans with different modes of transportation aren’t mass transit at all, they are just transit.

    Also, their population numbers for Ballard (they use 2010) and the future population growth of Ballard seem way to low.

    Why the love affair with QA? There are already 4 bus lines that run downtown from QA and the total time is like 15 minutes from the top of QA to pike/pine. Why spend 500M to change that to 12 minutes? This logic also goes for the “Rapid” line D.

    Lastly, the transit times for the D line during rush hour are an outright lie. When are they going to synchronize the lights along 15th like they promised??

  8. Ballard Dad. You are 100% correct about the D and about those population figures.

    Regarding downtown: it is not possible to interline with the downtown tunnel as it will be maxed out by what is already going in there. Any new plan will include a new downtown transit tunnel with pedestrian connections to the other tunnel. This is consistent how other cities deal with that issue. It will be part of the same network.

    Upper QA has never seemed like it was worth it to me, but the public has spoken. The public might have missed the fact that a Ballard UW study with possible Fremont stations were coming right behind this… Bit 76% is 76%.

    There is still a political process to go through so I can easily imagine the line changing when funding realities come into focus.

  9. KyleK — I just hope the political process doesn’t try to move any part of the line to surface lanes, since that’ll just make current bus and car traffic worse without helping anything. I do find it pretty amusing that choice “B” is just an inferior (not fully elevated) version of the old Monorail and choice “C” is just the RapidRide D line.

  10. Mondoman – I agree. The public has spoken and they rated cost as a low priority vs utility. I suspect that if Alt D is impossible for engineering or cost resons, a modified version of alt A that skips upper Queen Anne would be the next choice. For that reason, I’m hoping ST will study a full tunnel version of C1 as a backup to serve lower Fremont in case alt D doesnt happen. If Alt D does happen, A3 is the clear winner (but it needs a few more stations: Upper Fremont/Zoo – East Ballard – East Wallingford all rate a station.

  11. No matter how the line gets to downtown wouldn’t it make more sense to run it up 14th ave (Railroad Ave) than 15th? It would end right at Ballard High. There would be very little disruption to the neighborhood other than loosing the parking down the middle which is all ready planed. Then the next Tunnel would start at the BH Playfield where it would come out at Holman Road on its way to Northgate.

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