WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit sets the date for draft Environmental Impact Statement release

Just announced by Sound Transit – January 28th is the date it’ll take the next major step in planning the West Seattle to Ballard light-rail extensions – that’s the date ST will release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Here’s the announcement:

We are excited to announce the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project will be available for a 90-day public review and comment period starting on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022! We will offer multiple ways to comment including online, at public meetings, by phone, and via email and mail.

The Draft EIS comment period is an important milestone to provide input and help shape what this project looks like in your community. Your input is a key part of the process and will help the Sound Transit Board understand what is important to you as they consider which alternative to build.

After voters approved the ST3 ballot measure in 2016, the agency originally planned to release the DEIS last year, but it’s been delayed several times, most recently in October, when ST announced it would be out “in early 2022.” The current planned opening date for the West Seattle extension, 2032, is two years later than the original plan.

49 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit sets the date for draft Environmental Impact Statement release"

  • Derek December 28, 2021 (4:44 pm)

    Yesssss! Love progress. Anything to get this expedited and please close the book on that awful Slylink thing. 

  • Yep December 28, 2021 (4:47 pm)

    What is included in the draft EIS that we haven’t seen before? 

    • WSB December 28, 2021 (7:04 pm)

      Topline: The results of studies of the proposed routing and station-location options, All that’s been done previously is decide what would be studied. Now we’ll know what ST says those studies found – what the effects of each studied options would be.

      • Yep December 28, 2021 (7:12 pm)

        Thanks! I’m really looking forward to seeing some more specificity as this project progresses. 

  • 2032?? December 28, 2021 (5:33 pm)

    I think we’ll be dead before the West Seattle extension is operational. So much for taking it to the airport as the commercials advise.

    • Martin December 28, 2021 (6:34 pm)

      SkyLink gondola could get you to SODO by 2026 so that you can catch Link to the airport. It could also take you to the International District so that you can catch Link to Bellevue. If a light rail connection gets built to West Seattle by 2032, it will only take you to SODO, meaning you can transfer to the airport, but you would need to wait for a train from the Rainier Valley before you can catch another train to Bellevue.

      • Neighbor December 28, 2021 (7:04 pm)

        How would the gondola work in wind storms?

        • Martin December 28, 2021 (7:45 pm)

          Would you want to walk to and wait for a bus or light rail train in a wind storm? Gondolas need to slow down or stop when it gets crazy windy, but they keep operating in snow while bus service may get severely reduced. VancouverBC even had to slow down their trains this week due to snow.

        • Martin December 28, 2021 (8:33 pm)

          Would you want to walk to a bus or train station in a storm? If it gets crazy windy, a gondola may have a to slow down or stop for an hour, but at least it continues when we get snow. Though we didn’t get much snow, bus service will be severely limited for days, in VancouverBC they even had to slow down their trains, gondolas would continue without any issues. 

          • Neighbor December 28, 2021 (9:20 pm)

            This doesn’t make any sense. Will the gondola go to my house? I doubt it. I have a bus stop 10 minutes from my house in Alki. Presumably the gondola only goes to major stops like the Alaska Junction. So to get downtown I would have to take a bus and transfer to the Gondola, right? It sounds like gondolas can’t run in the wind. Wind storms last longer than an hour. Trains don’t have to stop for wind or snow. The gondola seems like a really bad idea for Seattle.

      • Jort December 28, 2021 (9:06 pm)

        The only issue with your wildly optimistic 2026 start date is that it would actually require the West Seattle “Skylink” to not be a joke and be actually, realistically feasible. I again request that “Skylink” proponents be honest about their intentions to cancel the light rail project at all costs, up to and including wasting Sound Transit’s resources on studying a fantasy gondola project that for thousands of reasons will never happen. You can ask any gondola proponent: if Sound Transit rejects the gondola, will you support the light rail? The answer is always “no.” They are anti-rail community activists, not public transportation planners.

        • Martin December 28, 2021 (10:09 pm)

          The whole reason to build SkyLink is to provide access to Seattle’s light rail network sooner! Why would this be anti-rail, Jort? I don’t want to wait until 2032 for a light rail connection to SODO where I would have to wait for another train. There are plenty of transit needs in our region where the savings would be welcome (South Park, White Center, Renton…).You may not care about the 700 families and businesses who have been notified that they may lose their houses, but I do. Sound Transit just approved $4m to find opportunities for value engineering, wouldn’t it make sense to study a gondola option for less than a tenth of that if you can accelerate the schedule and save billions? If it turns out it can’t be done, of course we will have to wait for light rail as West Seattle needs more robust and higher frequency transit options.    

          • Canton December 28, 2021 (11:13 pm)

            Yes it’s worth considering, as we should be looking at ALL options. Aren’t we the region that accepts any and all concepts of movability? The gondola won’t come to our door, light rail won’t come to our door. Especially to those of us south and east of the junction.

          • Hurryuplightrail December 29, 2021 (7:06 am)

            With your Skylink you’ll also transfer to a train. 

        • Yes to SkyLink! December 29, 2021 (7:28 am)

          Jort, do you have a fear of heights?  Your anti gondola position is puzzling, for someone seemingly so progressive regarding their position on cars and alternatives to driving. Martin here has shared sound points as to why a gondola makes good sense, you are smart, so all I can figure is you have a personal discomfort and it would seem inconvenient for you. Many times you have spoken out and asked others here to adapt, perhaps it’s now your turn to flex your mind, and consider other alternatives.

          • Jort December 29, 2021 (1:28 pm)

            My anti-gondola “position” is no more puzzling than the naked attempt by gondola boosters to intentionally slow down and eventually cancel the construction of elevated light rail to West Seattle. I oppose this complete, laughable farce of a “proposal” because it is first and foremost an obvious joke. But, more troublingly, the gondola boosters are conning well-intentioned neighbors into supporting a fantasy project purely because they want to halt elevated light rail construction in West Seattle. They are fully and aggressively weaponizing The Seattle Process to stop the elevated rail, and they are not being honest about their intentions. Putting a veneer of seriousness on a fundamentally infeasible proposal does not mean the concept should be treated with respect. It means it should be laughed off and thrown in a garbage can. Mark my words: the gondola people will attempt to sue Sound Transit in order to force them to consider this stupid proposal, which will absolutely meet their goal of adding years of delays to this project and wearing people down enough to try to get it canceled. 

          • Yes to SkyLink! December 29, 2021 (5:01 pm)

            Some in the community have been for light rail expansion in WS and elsewhere, but now are excited and quite serious about the SkyLink proposal as a new idea and solution, in learning of the benefits.

            NOT anti light rail, just pro good new SkyLink proposal, that for many reasons, is worth exploring as a more immediate, more affordable, less negatively impactful, modern solution to urgent WS transportation needs!

            Also, for those worried about wind, the type of gondola and cabling system being proposed here would be robust and strong, and would withstand typical winds without impacting service. It’s not like you would be bouncing around on an old ski chairlift, though understand that might be what gondola calls to mind for some.

            In a serious wind storm, water taxis and ferries, bicyclists, and motorists are all also impacted, while in transit. Other transportation modalities are not immune to or perfectly safe from the impacts of a wind storm, keep in mind.

      • Bus December 29, 2021 (6:34 am)

        I’m super curious where this 2026 date is coming from.  It is taking them, what, 6 years to upgrade the 120 bus to a RapidRide?  How do you figure they can create and implement infrastructure for a whole new transportation modality in four years when it takes six to upgrade an existing one?  Until you can come back to the comment boards with an actual plan instead of just your wishful thinking presented as fact, your incessant commenting about the glory of the gondola is just pushing me towards cheering the light rail on just so I don’t have to hear about your gondola fantasy any more.

      • Joe Z December 29, 2021 (8:24 am)

        Who needs a gondola by 2026 when we’re going to have monorail in West Seattle by 2009. 

  • Jim December 28, 2021 (6:39 pm)

    When are we finally going to admit that it’s time to defund Sound Transit?!

    • Neighbor December 28, 2021 (7:05 pm)

      Hopefully never.  They have a great track record.  ST3 is making up for infrastructure we should have had in place decades ago.  Voters are finally opening their eyes to the necessity.

      • Canton December 28, 2021 (11:16 pm)

        Yes sound transit has a great record, if you allow them to move the goal posts every few years to their own accord.

    • Martin December 28, 2021 (7:55 pm)

      Jim, I think overall Sound Transit is doing a great job increasing transit options in the region. We need more transit to fight climate change and congestion, the faster we can roll out zero carbon transit, the better for our environment and more transit also allows for more housing without relying on more cars. I just wish they would consider other transit modes besides light rail. Light rail is great for getting across our region but takes lots of time and money which slows down our transit expansion.

    • bill December 28, 2021 (8:17 pm)

      When hell freezes over. Go ride the trains through downtown and the university at rush hour and then imagine all those people driving cars instead.

    • Jort December 28, 2021 (8:57 pm)

      Yeah! We should hold a big, regional vote on it and see what happens! Oh wait, we did have a big, regional vote and people overwhelmingly supported the expansion of Sound Transit. 

  • Flivver December 28, 2021 (7:52 pm)

    neighbor. As good as light rail with a power failure.

    • Neighbor December 28, 2021 (9:23 pm)

      Are you suggesting the gondola doesn’t require electricity?  Does it run on coal?

  • Pessoa December 28, 2021 (8:26 pm)

    “Light rail” seems to activate some sort of  romantic train nostalgia in people and short-circuit rational, pragmatic thinking processes.   This proposed West Seattle link is a certifiable boondoggle.  

    • Jort December 28, 2021 (9:02 pm)

      Yes, because as you can see from the thousands of examples from cities and regions all around the planet, modern rail is perhaps one of society’s greatest all-time failures, right? I mean, because the technology spans three different centuries, it surely can’t be anything but a “certifiable boondoggle.” The mountain of evidence of the failure of rail-based transportation is staggeringly large, perhaps when stretched end to end would be a rail line of FAILURE all the way to the moon!!! But, I suppose to a so-called “libertarian” “mindset,” anything that more than one person can ride at the same time is the threshold of communist hell. My favorite anti-rail clown argument, because it’s so self-evidently true and the facts just speak for themselves, amirite?  “Rail is so OLLLLLDDDDD, man! So OLLLLLLDDDDD!!!!!” 

      • Pessoa December 28, 2021 (10:52 pm)

        Jort: Try to make an argument – in fact, say anything – without the inane bellowing and we’ll see where it goes from there.   If you can’t – or don’t want to  – perhaps we should start seeing other people, so to speak.  

    • Neighbor December 28, 2021 (9:37 pm)

      How is it a boondoggle?  Seems like a regular infrastructure project to me.  Light rail works great through Seattle.  What “pragmatic” ideas do you have?

      • Martin December 28, 2021 (10:25 pm)

        Can you share any other light rail project which has a 150′ high ramp to get up hills? Yes, rail has been around for a long time, but it has some limitations which make it far more complicated to use in West Seattle. That’s why they built cog railways in Switzerland or cable cars in San Francisco, but those are very proprietary and expensive. Another technology which has been around for more than a hundred years are ropeways/gondolas, many cities with hills use them: La Paz, Mexico City, Ankara, Moscow, Berlin… As it is the perfect complement to connect the rail lines into the hills or across waterways or other obstacles. Kirkland is even considering building one. 

      • Pessoa December 28, 2021 (11:02 pm)

        Buses.  They are a proven, flexible and cost effective means of delivering people from point A to point B.

        • Reed December 29, 2021 (7:08 am)

          Not here where the ability to build surface streets is limited by water and topography, unless you start taking away more car lanes. If you want 8 lane highways everywhere, go back to LA.

          • Pessoa December 29, 2021 (11:14 am)

            On cue, the textbook “move back to X,” a sort of frustrated Pavlovian mental reflex I’ve come to expect in this neck of the woods.    Now on to your illogical argument, all of which is essentially a non-sequitur.  You argue that topography limits surface streets, and then in the same breath argue for a system that will further decrease that capability.  Guess what, Reed?  Bus transit runs on those streets too, and it is a simple task of dedicating some of those lanes to buses.  Los Angeles has the Orange Line, a wonderfully efficient, smooth dedicated bus line running from Chatsworth to N. Hollywood.   I’ve ridden a great deal of light rail in Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles and here in Seattle, and it has failed miserably to live up to its shiny promises. 

        • Yes to SkyLink! December 29, 2021 (7:15 am)

          The same argument could have been made for horses and covered wagons, at a moment in time. Maybe we should have just kept that once effective transportation, instead of evolving…

        • Martin December 29, 2021 (4:35 pm)

          Buses are ok while ridership is low. Even if you have a dedicated bus lane, unless you block off all crossroads, they still get bogged down. We have seen that in our downtown bus tunnel. Also labor cost keeps going up, Metro had to reduce frequency as they didn’t have enough riders due to covid. Over time, I expect all high frequency transit to be autonomous, either automated rail (like in VancouverBC) or gondolas. And no, I don’t expect driverless buses any time soon (even though Elon Musk may promise them).

  • OneTimeCharley December 29, 2021 (1:02 am)

    Regarding the gondolas, the only question is pecan, key lime, or pumpkin; because that’s what it is….pie in the sky.

    • Kraven December 29, 2021 (8:44 am)

      It literally blows my mind how we have the most educated populace and then they come up with something like this. Yes, let’s have additional wires crisscrossing the city that will carry a very small amount of people at one time because that is how everyone will want to commute.

      • Martin December 29, 2021 (4:57 pm)

        The latest line in Mexico City is used by 56,000 riders a day, that’s about 3 times as many riders commuting between West Seattle and downtown before the pandemic. La Paz’s gondola network carries over half a million riders on a busy day. The States have relied on cars for a long time, but there more sustainable alternatives used around the world. Gondolas run on very little electricity and therefore could make a major contribution to reduce the impact of climate change.   

  • Joe Z December 29, 2021 (8:27 am)

    As someone who received one of those “property acquisition” letters, I’m highly anticipating the findings of the DEIS. It will be interesting to see how the Genesee routes compare to the other options and if a tunnel is close in affordability to an elevated line. And I would like to know if I need to move in 2-3 years or not. 

    • Genesee Jen December 29, 2021 (12:21 pm)

      Joe, I totally understand your anticipation and stress. I am in the same place as you. It will also be interesting to see if they actually studied the Yancy line or if ST just pretended to consider it. Kind of like how that information meeting seemed more about checking off something on their to do list then actually solid information for property owners. Having someone dictate when, where and how much your home is worth and along with where, what they replace it with is stressful. Not to mention with the not great economic forecast for the future. All I can think about is the  last failed attempt at mass transit here during the last major financial downturn and how those property owners got severely screwed.

      • Joe Z December 30, 2021 (12:58 am)

        They have to consider all of the alternatives equally or they open themselves up to legal challenges. Relocation is obviously a major inconvenience but I think the consensus is that it is a preferable option to being one of the properties right on the edge of the construction. 

    • Martin December 29, 2021 (4:49 pm)

      Yes, stressful times, Joe. Besides the selection of alignments, it will be interesting to see how much space they plan to take over as staging area for construction of the elevated lines and stations. As some may be as high as a 15 story house, I anticipate they will need some space to build the structure. Again, it’s much easier to build a light rail line next to I-5 as it is along Genesee.    

      • Joe Z December 30, 2021 (1:00 am)

        I’m looking forward to it, the sooner they select a route the better so we can plan accordingly. 

  • Hell Yes to Skylink December 29, 2021 (11:39 am)

    Well said Yes.  However, you are confusing Jort with someone who cares about society as a whole and not his own  one sided personal agenda. Jort is the only ANTI- anything on this thread. , anit-car, which includes anti-elderly, anti-people with health problems, anti-children. He has zero compassion for people that will loose their homes and businesses and maybe that is why he prefers to not even listen to a debate about Skylink. It is definitely worth looking into as an alternative to the way too expensive rail that will do nothing to address any issues in West Seattle for well over a decade. No to gondola hate and yes to debate. :)

    • Jort December 29, 2021 (1:30 pm)

      Only in America would somebody consider equating being anti-car with being anti-elderly and anti-children. Seriously. Only in America. And, actually, no to debate. The debate is over, we voted on rail, it’s going to happen, move on.

  • John December 29, 2021 (12:58 pm)

    Enough with gondolas!

    Let’s put catapults on the banks of the Duwamish.
    No electricity needed. Just correct the aim in high winds.

  • Yes to SkyLink! December 29, 2021 (7:38 pm)

    Gondola systems for mass transit… a joke, farce, unfeasible, fantasy… according to a Jort.

    Not so for other places around the world, where others have similarly envisioned a cable car transportation solution link, and made it happen.

    This video is from 9 years ago.

    Time to Wake Up Seattle, we are way behind the times.


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