Sound Transit has been busy boiling down thousands of public comments to find the best light rail route into Ballard. Even though light rail is YEARS away, the decision on the specific route — which will be Ballard’s largest development project since the Ballard Locks — will be made early next year.
At this week’s advisory board meeting, Sound Transit rated 7 routes into Ballard — some over a bridge, some through a tunnel — by 25 different criteria.
Let’s start by showing the routes (click for larger):
And the ratings for each of the routes (click for larger):
The “ST Representative Project” is Sound Transit’s initial proposed route, running down Elliott and 15th Ave. NW, traveling over Salmon Bay on a “movable bridge” (which opens for ship traffic) and moving into an elevated station at 15th and Market. As we’ve been reporting, this route has been widely controversial — mostly for traffic and business disruptions — and Sound Transit is using it as a “baseline” in the evaluation, giving it half circles across the board in the ratings.
While all of the 6 alternative routes avoid traveling down 15th Ave. north of Dravus St., they vary widely. One proposal puts the Ballard station as far west as 20th Ave. NW and Market. Another at 17th Ave. NW and Market. Two proposals have the station in the industrial area at 14th Ave. NW and NW 51st St. The proposed routes range from a fixed bridge or movable bridge to a tunnel.
In the presentation — which is available here in a .pdf deck — Sound Transit looked at each alternative, crunched the ratings and presented “alternatives with more potential” vs. “alternatives with greater challenges.” Here it is (click for larger):
The tunnel options scored high on reliability and minimizing impact on Fishermen’s Terminal, but low on engineering constraints and costs. And that bumped them down the list, leaving the fixed bridge and movable bridge options in the top three: 1) Fixed bridge just to the west of Ballard Bridge to station at 15th and Market 2) Fixed bridge north of Fishermen’s Terminal to station at 17th and Market 3) Movable bridge a block east of Ballard Bridge to station at 14th and 51st St.
The advisory group meets next week (April 24th from 5-8 p.m.) to see which alternatives to take off the table — and which to favor. The goal is to come to a top-level recommendation they’ll forward to the leadership group and the Sound Transit Board. Then they’ll decide by early next year where Ballard’s light rail line and station will be located. For more information on the project and the timeline, visit Sound Transit here.
(Our thanks to West Seattle Blog for help on this story).