Connect 2020: Linking the downtown Seattle transit tunnel to the Eastside

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Connecting the Eastside with the downtown Seattle tunnel

Link light rail is coming to the Eastside in 2023, connecting Seattle to the Eastside with 10 new stations serving Judkins Park, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Overlake.

Though you have probably seen the heavy construction in Bellevue and along I-90, in early 2020 Sound Transit will begin connecting the new line to the current tracks at International District/Chinatown Station.

For 10 weeks next year, from January to mid-March, parts of International District/Chinatown Station will close so crews can build the rail connections that will allow East Link to serve downtown Seattle and beyond. 

We know that about 80,000 riders per weekday rely on Link to get where they are going, so we are committing to run as much service as possible during this partial closure.

With half of International District/Chinatown Station closed at any given time, both north- and southbound trains will need to share a single track.

During the 10-week construction period, Link will operate as two lines. One line will run from the University of Washington to Pioneer Square, and the other will run from Angle Lake to Pioneer Square.

Here’s an animation of how the trains will run through downtown during the first phase of the work.

Note that trains will only serve one side of the station at University Street and Westlake Stations. Both north- and southbound riders will board from the same platform.

Construction will close the opposite platform at International District/Chinatown Station during the second phase of work. Here's how trains will move through downtown Seattle during phase two. 

As the illustrations show, riders traveling through Pioneer Square Station (38 percent of current riders) will transfer between trains on a new, temporary center platform.

Trains coming from the north and south will be timed to meet at Pioneer Square Station.

Because both north- and southbound trains will be sharing tracks, trains will run less often.

Trains will run every 12 minutes at all times of day, 7 days per week. This compares to today, where trains run every 6 minutes during weekday peak hours and every 10-15 minutes at other times.

Though riders will have a longer wait for trains, we will provide as much capacity as possible by operating longer trains.

All trains will operate with four cars.

There will also be three weekend closures of International District/Chinatown Station, and on these weekends shuttle buses will connect riders from SODO to Westlake and all intermediate stations.

But despite heavy construction, all stations will be open every weekday and on seven of the 10 weekends.

Throughout the next year Sound Transit will communicate with riders to prepare everyone for this construction, so stay tuned.

Please sign up for Connect 2020 project alerts to stay informed about the upcoming work

Though we will all need to be patient and flexible during construction (we’re Link riders too!), we all look forward to the end result: more trains, more stations and more reliable commutes across Lake Washington free from traffic.

East link crossing lake washington
East Link connecting the Eastside and Seattle is coming in 2023!

More information on the East Link light rail extension

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