In case you didn’t get to watch it on Friday afternoon, that video shows the two-hour workshop held for the Sound Transit Board‘s System Extension Committee, looking ahead to July’s decisions on the West Seattle/Ballard expansion project. We watched it in real time; it was mostly an overview of the potential routing and station locations studied in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, as well as a brief mention of the possible cost-saving measures recently presented to the Community Advisory Groups. (Here’s the slide deck.)
We heard one noteworthy point during the workshop – when the topic of rising costs arose, particularly real estate, Sound Transit staff noted that they’re likely to propose “early property acquisition” after the board locks in on a “preferred alternative” in July. We immediately asked ST a followup question for more details on that, and finally got an answer this evening:
Potential early acquisitions would be reviewed and considered following the Board’s action to confirm or modify a preferred alternative later this year. There are a number of factors that the Board would consider before authorizing early acquisitions and potential acquisitions would likely be limited to a small subset of critical properties. Sound Transit would also require approval from the Federal Transit Administration prior to pursuing early acquisitions and would be required to follow all standard procedures.
The aforementioned board action is expected to happen at their July 28th meeting, but that’s still not the final decision on what will be built – the timeframe for that is now described as “late 2023,” after the final EIS is out. Key things to watch for before the July meeting include a summary of the 5,000+ public comments received on the DEIS; board members were told to look for that in June. Also, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell – an ST Board member – said at Friday’s meeting that the city soon will finalize its position on the preferred alternative (City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, said today that could come to his committee in early June).