Seattle-area US public transit agency Sound Transit has approved $285.9m to conduct preliminary engineering on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions.
The agency also executed a $24.4m consultant contract with HNTB to start project development services.
HNTB will provide planning, engineering, operational, environmental and community outreach technical services under the first phase of project development work for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions.
Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said: “With the approval of this important step for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions, Sound Transit moves forward to implement the system expansion plan that voters approved last November.
“We look forward to working closely with stakeholders and communities to decide on the project details rapidly and bring light rail to more communities on schedule and on budget.”
The project, which is part of the Sound Transit 3 Plan, includes a light rail extension to West Seattle by 2030 and the development of a second downtown tunnel simultaneously with the extension to Ballard.
Light rail services to Ballard are estimated to begin by 2035.
Sound Transit plans to start technical work on the project this year and intends to commence a community engagement process from early next year to reach early consensus on a preferred alternative by early 2019.
The West Seattle Extension project will connect West Seattle to Downtown Seattle, serving five station areas, while the Ballard Extension project would connect Ballard’s Market Street area to Downtown Seattle, serving nine station areas.