WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Draft Environmental Impact Statement delayed again, as ‘potentially affected’ property owners receive notification letters

Thanks to everyone who tipped us that Sound Transit has sent letters to owners of properties that ST might have to acquire for developing the West Seattle light rail line. (See the letter here.) While researching this, we asked ST about the status of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle-Ballard extension – most recently expected to be released before year’s end – and learned it’s been delayed again.

ST spokesperson Geoff Patrick tells WSB, “Given ongoing coordination needs and the upcoming holidays, Sound Transit now expects to publish the Draft EIS for public review and comment in early 2022. While we have not yet identified a specific date for publication of the DEIS, it was a priority for Sound Transit to send out the notifications in advance to ensure property owners have the opportunity to learn about the project, how to engage, and how and when project decisions are made.”

As for who got notices and why, Patrick says the DEIS “identifies potential property acquisition needs associated with each of the project alignment options that is under consideration. We have sent letters to owners of approximately 1,400 potentially affected properties. This notification of potential impact does not mean a decision has been made to purchase property. It should be noted that while we’re studying multiple routes, in the end we’ll just build one. So, ultimately, many of those properties we are currently notifying won’t need to be acquired to build the project.”

All the routing possibilities that are being studied for the DEIS are shown on this website. The final routing decision will be up to the Sound Transit Board to make, after the final Environmental Impact Statement is published, currently expected in 2023. Patrick says there’s more information for potentially affected property owners on this ST webpage. The letter received by property owners invites them to participate in virtual briefings, with dates offered in November and December.

It was only this past June that the Draft EIS release was announced as delayed until fall. At the end of last year, the projected timeline was “mid-(2021).” As a result of the recent “realignment” decision, the expected opening date for the West Seattle extension is likely 2032, two years later than what was originally planned when voters approved the ST3 ballot measure five years ago.

33 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Draft Environmental Impact Statement delayed again, as 'potentially affected' property owners receive notification letters"

  • Debora Robinett October 22, 2021 (12:03 pm)

    Than you for your speedy response to this very impactive letter to  residents and business owners in West Seattle.

  • Jort October 22, 2021 (12:14 pm)

    I mean, we couldn’t possibly go without a few more opportunities to inject The Seattle Process into this project, right? I continue to hope that a new Sound Transit CEO will jettison these tedious, totally unnecessary process-driven-to-a-fault methods and get aggressive with speeding up our light rail. But, then again, it might hurt the feelings of three Black Diamond City Council members if we don’t allow 14 years of public comment about the paint color of the handrails at a station. This region’s obsession with virtue-signaling on “community involvement” in the planning process is such an insufferable, unnecessary, stupid waste of time and only makes our projects crappier and take longer, while also making nobody happy.

    • JG October 22, 2021 (3:21 pm)

      Having actual community outreach is not virtue “signaling”. Having a government that talks to people instead of dictating to people is what everyone wants.

    • Nitro October 22, 2021 (6:40 pm)

      Yes, Jort. Let’s rush this process through extra fast. Considering that this will take away people’s homes and businesses, by all means let’s skip over any other processes and start demolishing everything tomorrow. Unless, I suppose, it would mean that one of your bike or transit riding buddies is going to be displaced. Good lord, show some compassion to the people that just received a letter that will have their entire life upended and changed by this. But, I forgot, compassion and kindness are not usually found in your posts. 

      • Arianna October 23, 2021 (2:37 pm)

        “Let’s rush this process through extra fast”. Really? Endless Community involvement discussions, meetings, for more than FIVE YEARS is not enough? Some people have to drive their personal agenda over benefits for tens of thousands of people (who will have to sit in traffic for hours every day, while this gets dragged on for a few more years). Then they talk about compassion. That is rich.

  • Nirmal October 22, 2021 (1:20 pm)

    Those letters are meant to drive down property values.  That way the properties that government does buy will cost it far less.  

  • flimflam October 22, 2021 (2:06 pm)

    Seems weird to freak out a bunch of property owners that may not even be impacted in the final decision – why not just figure out what’s going to happen THEN tell the folks that’ll be impacted? Unless I’m missing something, that seems like it’d be pretty stressful to just eventually find out, “never mind”.

    • My two cents … October 23, 2021 (6:28 am)

      Flimflam – For most people, purchasing a home will be the largest expenditure they will make. For most people, more knowledge and insight into potential impacts, and yes that includes local acquisition of their property sooner than later is desired. 

  • Bronson October 22, 2021 (2:17 pm)

    Another example of government’s inability to deliver on time. Do deadlines mean nothing to government workers?

    • Jon Wright October 22, 2021 (4:33 pm)

      What are some examples of billion-dollar projects in the private sector and how do they typically perform? We get to see our share of them locally with Boeing. 787? Three years late. 737 MAX? More or less on time but, well, you know. 777X? On track to be three years late. Big projects often have issues, regardless whether they are public or private. Singling out government workers is lazy and ignorant.

      • John October 23, 2021 (2:54 am)

        Yes projects do have issues but you’re comparing aircraft which have much more rigorous standards and hiccups along the way than simply building a train.

        • max34 October 25, 2021 (1:43 pm)

          “simply building a train” – you have literally no idea what is necessary to plan, design, and construct, and then maintain any transportation infrastructure with that comment.   The train itself is arguably the easiest thing.  

  • gxnx October 22, 2021 (3:49 pm)

    I will be dead by the time they 1st dug a hole for this…

  • Sasquatch October 22, 2021 (4:53 pm)

    when you tack two years on top of 15 years it doesn’t seem as bad – but this IS ridiculous. If anything it should be moved up two years earlier! Is it just me or does it seem like sound transit and SDOT do not give a crap about us? Watching the West Seattle Bridge sit empty with no workers on it for a year and watching light rail being built all over the place except West Seattle…

  • TJ October 22, 2021 (5:40 pm)

    Maybe they are realizing the errors of their ways and that 1800’s era technology trains on fixed rails that are convenient only to those who live next to the line and where it goes, on a astronomically mind boggling budget that will still be way over budget and dalayed and irrelevalent when it is finally finished. You know, like Los Angelas light rail. I know a lot if people that live in the greater LA area and honestly don’t know one who uses their light rail. It is irrelevalent. Traffic didn’t improve there at all. People would rather drive their own car, just will like happen here.

    • The King October 23, 2021 (1:14 am)

      Well, well, well…looks like Amazon is about to roll out an autonomous vehicle called zoox. Where’s all of those commenters from a couple years who said I would believe anything car manufacturers would say, it will never happen etc. China figured out legislation for their driverless buses a few years ago and japan the same for cars. It’s coming. At least we’ll have a very loud, unsightly concrete monster that nobody will use  taking up valuable land by 2032. Good job Seattle, I would expect nothing less. 

    • KM October 25, 2021 (8:49 am)

      Surprising to nobody, TJ and I know different people in LA.

  • AF46 October 22, 2021 (7:42 pm)

    The Sound Transit website does not make it clear that the West Seattle light rail line will only go to the SODO station in 2032 and that riders will have to disembark and catch another train or two if they want to go anywhere else.  It won’t go directly farther than SODO until a second downtown tunnel is built in 2037 at the earliest.      

    • BD October 22, 2021 (9:22 pm)

      Well, if that’s the case we should just build a gondola. 

      • Joe Mahma October 22, 2021 (11:09 pm)

        Gondola is so 2020. We should build a penguin powered helicopter system. They can even sing to us unlike the gondolierless gondolas.

      • 98126res October 25, 2021 (2:50 pm)


    • Joe Mahma October 22, 2021 (11:07 pm)

      You mean like any other passenger in any other rail/subway/train system in any other city?

      • Martin October 23, 2021 (12:09 am)

        Cities like Paris, VancouverBC, Mexico City, Ankara… all have metro transit and still built gondola systems where hills or other obstacles made it difficult to expand the metro, just like West Seattle. 

        • 98126res October 25, 2021 (2:53 pm)

          Torch ridiculously expensive and disruptive plans for Light Rail – do the practical – build gondolas for hills, or even use vans and metro buses from Delridge up the hill.  West Sea not exactly on the way to anywhere as it is.  And Light Rail does not seem or will it appear to address the quiet beautiful bedroom community that it has always been.

  • Mj October 22, 2021 (10:17 pm)

    This may be a first bit Jort is right too much time in “the process”. 

    Yes some people will have to sell, I remember the airport expansion in the 70’s and being forced to move. People did it! 

    Compensation for eminant domain is better than selling your home via agent since all fees are paid; and moving expenses are also paid.  It sucks but sometimes stuff happens.

  • bill October 23, 2021 (12:55 am)

    I’m not sure how this letter can be a surprise to anyone paying attention to light rail in West Seattle, but evidently it is. I like all the options, particularly the one closest to my house, although it will be a godawful elevated eyesore and I might be too old to walk to the station by the time this is built. (A mere ten years? In Seattle? Get real.) I bought an investment property in the area with full knowledge of the projected alignments, which were public years ago. Guess what, I got a letter! Maybe I will have to sell. At a depressed price? I don’t think so. Values are driven by comparable properties, which will be coveted by people looking for convenient commutes. I agree the process is ridiculous; outreach now is absurd.

  • Niko October 23, 2021 (2:50 am)

    Defund Sound Transit! 

  • Sick of Delays October 23, 2021 (8:07 am)

    Ok, so 5 years later there is already a 2 year delay. Now completion estimated to be 2032 (11 years from now). At that delay rate, it will take an additional 4+ years more. So, like 2036 or 2037 (15+ years). Too long!!! Figure out a way to speed it up!!!

  • ARPigeonPoint October 23, 2021 (4:41 pm)

    Are sellers who have received those notices required to notify potential buyers of their properties about the possibility of upcoming eminent domain? 

    • wetone October 24, 2021 (8:23 am)

      If you have been notified then yes you would have to include that info to prospective buyers. Really crappy deal ST has done……. especially if one was planning on selling soon.

      • Bronson October 25, 2021 (7:52 am)

        That’s not accurate. Washington is a buyer beware state. 

        • Debora October 25, 2021 (1:16 pm)

          Buyer beware is more a concept than a legal fact. Once a government has informed you of the potential purchase by eminent domain, you simply cannot deny prior knowledge. In a court case, failure to disclose a publicly/common known fact would likely supersede buyer beware. Also, a realtor and title company must disclose or risk their licenses. Lastly, any one with morals and ethics would disclose, just as one would expect when purchasing their next home. 

  • MOB October 25, 2021 (12:54 pm)

Sorry, comment time is over.