Ideas are in the works to bring a light rail tunnel right into the heart of Ballard — with a price tag of $450 million.
Sound Transit has just released another light rail alignment option (.pdf) that would dig a tunnel under downtown Ballard, with a station at 20th Ave NW and NW Market St.
The tunnel option under the Ship Canal with a 14th or 15th Ave alignment would add an estimated $350 million, while an elevated fixed bridge over Salmon Bay would come in at $100 million extra.
Though the tunnel idea has been popular among Ballard residents, some say a 14th or 15th Ave station would be too far from Ballard’s core. In response, Sound Transit has explored the 20th Ave alignment and station, determining that it would ring in at $450 million extra.
Here is the full list of alternatives currently in discussion for Interbay and Ballard:
- Movable bridge with 15th elevated station – From elevated Interbay station, continues along 15th Avenue W and crosses Salmon Bay via a movable bridge west of the existing Ballard Bridge. Continues in an elevated guideway along 15th Avenue NW. Terminates at an elevated Ballard Station on 15th Avenue NW near NW Market Street.
- High fixed bridge with 14th elevated station – From elevated Interbay station, continues over 15th Avenue W, crosses Salmon Bay via a fixed bridge east of the existing Ballard Bridge and continues in an elevated guideway on 14th Avenue NW. Terminates at an elevated station on 14th Avenue NW at NW Market Street.
- Tunnel with 14th or 15th tunnel station – From Interbay station, descends into a tunnel beneath Salmon Bay. Terminates at a tunnel Ballard station with station options beneath 14th Avenue NW or east of 15th Avenue NW at NW Market Street.
- Tunnel with 20th tunnel station – a shallow-trenched Dravus Station, a tunnel under Salmon Bay, curving west to 20th Ave NW.
City officials say they don’t yet know where the extra money would come from to pay for the alternatives — third-party funding will be necessary.
Photo: 20th Ave NW and NW Market St, where the underground light rail station would be located.