Welcome to 2020! The new decade is finally upon us, and with it comes a major milestone at Sound Transit: Connect 2020, the most complex and extensive service disruption in agency history.
Starting Saturday January 4, construction crews will close one track at a time in downtown Seattle to connect our existing line with 14 miles of new tracks that will serve Judkins Park, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond beginning in 2023.
This weekend, free bus shuttles will replace Link trains between SODO and Capitol Hill so that we can get everything into place for construction to begin. We’ll have two additional closures like this, on February 8-9 and March 14-15.
For the three weekend closures only, no tickets or ORCA cards will be required to board Link at any open station, and free bus shuttles will connect all closed stations.
Starting Monday January 6, Link trains will run less often - every 12 minutes - and all trains will be the full 4-car length. Trains will end at Pioneer Square, and riders continuing past Pioneer Square will change trains on a new center platform.
Why do this now if the new line opens in 2023? Next year we’ll add 50,000 new riders when we open service to the U District, Roosevelt and Northgate.
While there is never a good time to interrupt service, the winter season is our least crowded, with fewer tourists and major sporting events. And, this is our last window to get this done while minimizing rider disruption.
We know that the next 10 weeks will be inconvenient. Trains and platforms will be crowded, and delays are likely. But it will be worth it, and we appreciate your patience.
I encourage everyone to plan ahead and be patient. Every single Sound Transit staff employee will be out there at stations to answer your questions. Just look for our ambassadors in their teal vests.
Potential disruptions to your routines can be stressful, but every day we see striking examples of Sound Transit riders going above and beyond to be kind and courteous to fellow passengers. We know Connect 2020 will be no exception.
So thank you, loyal Link riders, for making the most of a tough 10 weeks ahead. We can’t wait to bring Link to more cities and neighborhoods.
Kimberly Farley is Sound Transit's Deputy CEO.