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.