Photo by Zachariah Bryan
Mayor Mike McGinn at the first open house for the proposed Ballard-Downtown high capacity transit line. Join him again tonight from 5-7 p.m. at the Ballard High School to discuss possible routes.

Join Mayor McGinn tonight for Ballard-Downtown rail line open house

From Mayor Mike McGinn

This evening (5-7 p.m. at Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St) the public will be able to view eight potential rail lines from Ballard to Downtown. This is an exciting and important step forward toward our goal of connecting more of our neighborhoods with rail. This is also part of the planning work Sound Transit (ST) is doing to update its long-range plan for a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure. ST is also analyzing a Ballard to the University District (and beyond) route, and a route from Downtown to West Seattle and Burien.

These routes represent an opportunity to provide Ballard with the transportation infrastructure that should have come along with the addition of significant housing and jobs in this great neighborhood. They represent our commitment to making it easier for people to choose transportation options that are better for our climate. They represent an investment that will support thriving business districts, bring more people to and from jobs more easily, and potential economic investment near stations.

They also represent our forward momentum in funding and building more rail in Seattle. By moving forward on these plans, we’ll be prepared to take advantage of funding opportunities such as a Bridging the Gap renewal and a Sound Transit 3 vote, which could happen in 2015 and 2016, respectively. I look forward to continued partnerships as we work to bring faster and more reliable transit to more Seattle neighborhoods.

There is a long way to go before track is laid, however. How and where to cross the Ship Canal is a big decision, and I’ve worked to fund further study of a crossing (that would take place in conjunction with the ongoing Sound Transit/City of Seattle study) so that we’ll be ready when those funding opportunities arise.

These eight routes include a variety of different alignments – using tunnels, elevated tracks, and also existing streets – and they have important tradeoffs for the public to consider. These include ridership, travel time, cost, impact on automobile, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic, potential support for future development, connection to a regional transit system, and impact on the environment.

I invite you to help us evaluate these options and share your thoughts at tonight’s open house. It’s at Ballard High School, 1418 Northwest 65th Street, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Come view the eight routes yourself and weigh in with what your priorities are for a future rail line. If you can’t make it to the open house in person, you can also view information on those eight routes, including suggestions gathered at the March open house, a Corridor Results handout, and the Criteria Analysis.

Check back at after the open house for the latest updates.

Downtown to Ballard is just one route that we’re focusing on. Seattle’s Transit Master Plan, adopted by the City Council unanimously last year, highlights three other high capacity transit routes: the University District to South Lake Union, a Center City Connector (connecting the South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcars), and Madison Street.

The Center City Connector, which will be a streetcar, had its second open house earlier in June and we will have a locally preferred alternative by February next year. Madison Street, which can only be Bus Rapid Transit because of the steep grade, is moving forward quickly. And planning for the University District to South Lake Union route, for which I have proposed to advance the timeline, will (pending Council approval) get started later this year.

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