Sound Transit approves up to $2 million to study possible light rail to Ballard

Yesterday, Sound Transit agreed to commit up to $2 million for a study of possible high capacity transit on the Ballard-to-Downtown transit corridor.

This funding would be in addition to $800,000 provided by the city of Seattle. The study is scheduled to start in early 2013 and will be completed by mid-2014, according to Sound Transit.

No promises are being made on what the study will result in, but it does mean at least the possibility, finally, of gaining a light rail or a streetcar connection to Ballard in the future.

The corridor is identified in the Sound Transit Long Range Plan as a possible rail extension. The study will help update the Seattle Transit Master Plan, which seeks to expand the city's street car network.

Mayor Mike McGinn has described the Ship Canal crossing (currently the Ballard Bridge) as one of the most constrained choke points in Seattle. According to his office, the transit master plan estimated that rail will increase ridership by 12,500 people per day in the Ballard-Downtown corridor, for a total of 26,000 people per day. Rail is the only mode of transit which produced those gains, according to the Mayor.

For many Ballardites, who have waited time and again for a study only to have a new ship canal crossing proclaimed as "too expensive," this may be a long-time coming.

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