SEATTLE — Monday evening, Ballard and Interbay residents got the opportunity to help in the planning phase for their own light rail extension, as Sound Transit hosted its first open house for the anticipated project.
It comes just days after it was announced that Sound Transit is delaying Tacoma’s Hilltop streetcar extension again. But despite this, area residents expressed optimism about the Ballard project, with two main hopes in mind: property values going up, and the number of cars on the road going down.
Transportation officials said the Ballard rail extension will not be done until 2037, or 2039 at the latest. But that’s not stopping public interest.
“We’re excited, yeah,” said real estate broker Scott Richey. “That it takes a little longer is just the way it is. But we think it’d be smart to be in the know as we go along so we can better advise people.”
Tahys Richey, who is also a real estate broker, added, “It probably will help with traffic because traffic is crazy these days.”
Scott Richey said he “really” believes the light rail extension will raise property values in Ballard. “And that’s a good thing, right?” He added, “It would be nice to get places easier and faster and not drive.”
Roughly 60 people attended the open house at Lawton Elementary school to share their feedback on how the line should be built, including when it comes to crossing Salmon Bay into Ballard.
Sound Transit's rendering of a fixed bridge over Salmon Bay extending from 14th Avenue Northwest showcased a design that put the bridge at 136 feet, but in the spring, the U.S. Coast Guard told them it would need to be at least 70 feet higher to accommodate taller boats. That is something they will have to adhere to.
Even though Sound Transit had to push back their target date for Tacoma’s Hilltop streetcar extension of the T line, a spokesperson assured KING 5 that the Ballard-Interbay extension is happening.
“It’s happening, yes, we are all here tonight to make sure that this happens. It’s a long process from here. I mean, it’s not gonna happen overnight, but this, we’re in this early stage where people can provide input.”
For extending the light rail across Salmon Bay into Ballard, Sound Transit says there are two "preferred" alternatives: the first, a bridge over the water, and the second, an underground tunnel– but the latter would require third-party funding.
If you are interested in viewing plans in person and providing input, mark your calendars: the second part of the engagement series will be held on Jan. 11.