In today’s Seattle Times, Mike Lindblom reported that Sound Transit is planning to study the potential of a possible rail line from downtown to Fremont to Ballard, running along Westlake. Originally, Sound Transit officials planned to do this research later in the decade; however, they are speeding up the timetable and planning to fund the $2 million study in next year’s budget.
On the plus side, I’m glad that Sound Transit is making Ballard a priority. With all the new construction, Ballard is growing rapidly. If there isn’t proper transit and more of it, Ballard is going to turn into a complete grid lock. Some residents are even brainstorming their own Ballard lines, as indicated by the Ballard Spur. The study will look at offering the potential of street cars, light rail, and buses to serve Ballard residents’ needs.
Although I’m not a mass-transit professional, I see a few positives in the proposed potential route. First, I support the idea of linking up with the South Lake Union Trolley and the Downtown Seattle light-rail. That’s a no-brainer. Also, it’s a great idea to run through the dense neighborhood of Fremont; SPU would be another great option for the route.
However, I hope the study looks at a few potential cons with the proposed route. First, it’s suggested to run up 24th Ave NW. Why not 15th Ave NW, which would be easier for non-Ballardites to get to? Second, the route goes through NW Market St. If it’s a light rail or streetcar option, that would turn NW Market St into a nightmare for cars.
Many initial readers are expressing similar concerns in the article comment section, especially regarding why we’re spending money on a study, as well as route suggestions. I only hope the study is able to obtain the results we’re looking for and actually accomplish something. I really hope the study isn’t wasted money. It wasn’t long ago that we studied a potential Downtown to Ballard monorail line extension, which resulted in absolutely nothing. I’m not bitter. Nope.