Construction will close light rail in downtown Seattle on three weekends this fall

Preparation to connect light rail to the Eastside requires weekend shuttle buses between SODO and Capitol Hill on Oct. 12-13, Oct. 26-27, and Nov. 9-10

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During three weekends this fall, Link light rail will not run between SODO and Capitol Hill while construction crews build a temporary center platform at Pioneer Square Station as Sound Transit prepares to expand light rail service to the Eastside. 

The construction will affect service on the weekends of Oct. 12-13, Oct. 26-27, and Nov. 9-10. During those weekends, trains will run between Angle Lake and SODO and between Capitol Hill and University of Washington, with shuttle buses bridging the gap between Capitol Hill and SODO.

Learn more about the closures.

The establishment of a temporary center platform at Pioneer Square Station is in preparation for Connect 2020: the 10-week period of major light rail service impacts beginning in January that will connect the existing light rail system in downtown Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond. The 10 weeks of around-the-clock heavy construction will shift existing tracks to join the new Eastside light rail line and update the signal system. Track closures will significantly reduce light rail service, and both northbound and southbound riders traveling through downtown will have to use the temporary center platform at Pioneer Square to continue their journeys.

The upcoming weekend closures and the more extensive Connect 2020 work starting in January are part of the next chapter of the "Seattle Squeeze" (see below). Sound Transit and partner agencies are working together closely during this period. Sound Transit's commitment over the next five years is to complete light rail extensions that will more than double the reach of current service, expanding congestion-free commuting options for thousands of new riders each day.

Connect 2020 construction 

As construction in the area of International District/Chinatown Station closes sections of track in January, train service during Connect 2020 will operate four-car trains every 12 minutes in each direction, compared to every six minutes during normal peak-hour service. Riders will experience crowded conditions. The ability to maintain 12-minute service in both directions during the intensive construction depends upon essentially operating two separate lines that meet at Pioneer Square Station, with a transfer at the center platform for riders continuing through downtown Seattle. 

Up to 1,600 passengers at a time will exit trains onto the temporary center platform and cross over to reach the train on the other side. To ensure a safe transfer for all riders in this constrained environment, Sound Transit will not allow bicycles in Pioneer Square Station during Connect 2020. Riders who bring bicycles on board will be required to exit the train before arriving at Pioneer Square Station. 

At the end of the Connect 2020 process the existing light rail tunnel through downtown will be ready for the 2023 opening of the Blue Line, providing one-seat rides between Northgate (where service will open in 2021) and Redmond's Overlake area. In 2024 further extensions will reach Lynnwood, Federal Way and Downtown Redmond. 

Learn more about Connect 2020 at soundtransit.org/connect2020

Managing the "Seattle Squeeze"

As the "Seattle Squeeze" continues over the next five years, Seattle's downtown will continue to undergo transitions to meet the needs of a growing city. Regional transportation partners including the City of Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation, King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Port of Seattle are all working together to keep people and goods moving safely to and through downtown.

The third chapter of the Seattle Squeeze begins this fall with the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the construction of the new waterfront continuing to change travel behavior on the waterfront. Increased King County Metro Transit service beginning Sept. 21 will add transit trips during the shoulder peak periods, and WSDOT will begin tolling the SR 99 tunnel late this fall, again shifting how people travel to and through downtown. The last element of Chapter 3 of the Seattle Squeeze will begin in January with Connect 2020. Learn more about the Seattle Squeeze at www.seattle.gov/traffic.