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Rebar to rails: A look back at building Northgate

More than 5.2 million labor hours to build the new line

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As we get closer to the Northgate Link opening day on Oct. 2, we here at The Platform are feeling a little nostalgic for our days of tromping through the construction sites and tunnels buzzing with construction workers building the new line. 

For all the incredible big machinery like tunnel boring machines, the strongest crane in North America and thousands of concrete pumper trucks, making this new line a reality still came down to the incredibly hard-working union tradespeople who built this line with their bare (gloved) hands.

Local union tradespeople have put more than 5.2 million hours of hard work into the new line. 

Here's a few of our favorite pictures from the past 9 years along with present-day shots for a before/after look where applicable.

University District Link light rail Station under construction
Looking up from the platform at U District Station before the top was enclosed in May, 2018.
The view from the U District Station platform with trains on both sides of the platform during testing.
The view from nearly the same perspective on the U District platform with trains on both sides of the platform during testing this past January.


A look at a stairwell to the platform inside the future Roosevelt Station.
Looking up the stairs from the platform at Roosevelt Station in early 2019. Riders will have the option of taking public stairs, escalators or elevators from the surface to the platform about 90 feet underground.
Looking down the finished stairs from the mezzanine landing to the platform at Roosevelt Station.
Looking back down the same stairs from the mezzanine landing to the platform at Roosevelt Station this past January.


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Ironworker Apprentice Jarin Stores, then 26, spent many of her days in 2017 hanging from the side of a wall of iron rebar at the Roosevelt Station construction site. The long steel bars are individually wired together by hand at every intersection before concrete is poured over the wall to become part of the final structure.
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Stores said she didn't mind the climbing. "It's cool going vertical instead of wrapping bar on the ground all the time," she said.


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Tons of rebar, forms and scaffolding inside the station box at Roosevelt Station as crews prepared for pouring the concrete walls in 2017. Trips from Roosevelt to downtown Seattle will take 10 minutes.


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A look at the bottom of U District Station in 2017 where Ironworkers were installing the lattice of iron rebar that supports the station platform. More than 5,000 yards of concrete went into the bottom floor of the station. For perspective, one dump truck carries about 10 yards of material.
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Miners in 2017 finished digging the 23 cross passage tunnels between the two Northgate Link light rail tunnels.  The cross passages are required as emergency exits that connect the two separated train tunnels. They're basically small tunnels between the twin train tunnels. Building them is demanding work in tight quarters to essentially hand mine, waterproof, reinforce and install utilities and communications equipment in each passageway.

Read more about digging the Northage Link cross passages.

southwest view of Northgate Link light rail station construction
The view from just north of the Northgate Station construction site in July of 2017.
Looking south at Northgate Station from the north.
A look back at Northgate Station during train testing in January.

We hope you've enjoyed this quick look back at some of the Northgate Link construction highlights. 

Take a trip back in time to all of our old "Fresh Pics" posts and more Northgate stories here.  

Check out the new Northgate Welcome website to get a taste of what's happening on opening day and sign up for all the latest opening day news!

And of course follow us on Instagram


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