Light rail testing starting on MLK Jr. Way; Sound Transit rolls out major education campaign

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Link light rail trains are ready to roll on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. Today Sound Transit officials kicked off a major safety education program aimed at keeping the public safe and sound around Link light rail as the system moves into its next phase of testing for service in 2009.

“After so much talk and so much work, it’s going to be exciting to see the trains rolling down MLK,” said Sound Transit Board Chairman and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “With gas prices continuing to climb, these trains are a welcome sight for commuters.”

Today staff briefed members of the media on the Link testing and safety outreach program for the Rainier Valley. Light rail vehicles will begin making initial runs in August and will gradually ramp up as the vehicles and new signal systems are tested along the 5 miles of at-grade tracks on MLK Jr. Way South to prepare for passenger service in 2009.

Sound Transit has distributed safety education information and materials to more than 10,000 Seattle school students at 23 different schools in Southeast Seattle, Tukwila and Renton. A mass mailing about staying safe and sound around Link light rail is headed out to nearly 67,000 households, and Sound Transit staff will be giving safety presentations to schools and community organizations, and will also be on hand at fairs, festivals and community events throughout the summer and fall spreading the word about staying safe around Link light rail.

During this phase of light rail testing, drivers, bicyclists and others can expect to see the light rail vehicles on the track along MLK Jr. Way South between Rainier Avenue and Boeing Access Road. Testing will gradually roll out with one or two trains a day, allowing time for pedestrians and drivers to adjust to the new activity. As testing progresses, more trains will be running. It is important to stay off the tracks, look both ways before crossing and always expect a train.

Sound Transit reminds motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to be alert and keep the following precautions in mind:

  • Only cross at designated crosswalks and signalized intersections. Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Link trains are electric and very quiet. Whenever you are around trains or tracks, remember to watch for trains.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the tracks. Trains can travel in any direction, on any track, at any time. After a train passes, another train may be coming from the opposite direction.
  • Do not walk, stand, or park a vehicle on the tracks. Trains can arrive at any time.
  • Stay away from the track switches that are used to change train directions. These switches are very powerful and can move at any time without warning.
  • Trains may run at any time, day or night. Be alert and be safe.
  • Never race a train or try to beat it through an intersection.
  • When crossing the tracks on a bicycle, always cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle to prevent your bicycle tires from getting stuck in the tracks.

Learn more about staying Safe & Sound with Link>>>