Seattle-to-Ballard light rail could benefit other neighborhoods

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by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 4, 2013 at 12:08 PM

SEATTLE -- Plans to build a light rail line between downtown Seattle and Ballard continue to move forward. Eight different options are now being studied. A few would run through Interbay. Some would go through Fremont and one would even travel through Upper Queen Anne. 

Option five, as it's called by Sound Transit, would run a tunnel beneath Queen Anne Hill, putting a transit stop around Queen Anne Avenue and Boston Street. 

"I'd say go for it," said Austin Harrington, who works at a barber shop in the neighborhood.  "I'd say definitely get some light rail up here.  We've got tons of new residential, tons of new apartments, new condos." 

He figured it could offer a faster way to get off the hill, whether traveling to Ballard or downtown Seattle. 

But some in the neighborhood might fear a major disruption caused by construction. Of the eight light rail options, some feature tunnels while others have elevated tracks. The costs vary between $500 million and $3 billion. 

Some of the options go through Interbay. A few others would run along the west side of Lake Union and pass through Fremont. 

Martha Ivy was visiting the Fremont Troll with her family Wednesday night. She originally moved to Seattle in 1987.

"They started talking about light rail back then," she said. 

Ivy moved away to Dubai eight years ago where a light rail system was built in just three years.  She returned to Puget Sound last week and discovered the city was still talking about light rail in many neighborhoods.

"It's been time for about 20 years," she said. 

She thought a line running through Fremont would be useful for that neighborhood's many tech workers, but she also felt the Interbay line might be easier because it is still an industrial area.

"I don't know that I have a preference of one over the other," she said with a laugh. "I just feel we should definitely be moving forward on it."

Sound Transit is collecting feedback on all of the options. To take part in the Ballard transit expansion study, visit http://ballardtransit.publicinvolvement.net/.

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