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Link light rail reaches Seattle’s University District, Roosevelt and Northgate neighborhoods

Opening of new 1 Line extension marks the start of a major expansion over the next three years

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Starting early tomorrow morning, riders will have more options for fast, reliable travel as Sound Transit opens the Northgate light rail extension. The 4.3-mile extension adds three new stations to the system, at Northgate, Roosevelt and U District, with trips of just 13 minutes from Northgate to downtown Seattle. 

The opening heralds the start of an unprecedented period of transit expansion in the region. In just three years, the Link light rail network will nearly triple in reach, from 22 miles to 62 miles, with service to Tacoma’s Hilltop in 2022, East King County in 2023 and Lynnwood, Federal Way and Downtown Redmond in 2024. 

"This is a historic day and the start of three years that will transform how people get around our region," said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place Council Member Kent Keel. "Northgate Link will let thousands of riders get to their destinations on time without sitting in horrendous traffic. We are able to celebrate this milestone thanks to support from Federal Transit Administration, our congressional delegation and the regional voters who approved building a world-class transit system for our growing communities." 

"The opening of Northgate Link is a great leap forward for Puget Sound commuters, the first of many leaps forward for Sound Transit in the coming years," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "As Sound Transit looks to nearly triple our light rail network in just the next three years, we are thankful for the hard work and dedication of staff and the construction workforce in achieving this monumental feat in the middle of a pandemic." 

The project’s $1.9 billion baseline budget includes a $615 million credit agreement under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which provided significant long-term savings for regional taxpayers through reduced borrowing costs.  The project is coming in approximately $50 million under budget. 

"One thing I always hear from commuters across Puget Sound is that people want more public transit –and the opening of the Northgate light rail extension is a testament to Puget Sound taxpayers and their commitment to reliable public transit that will connect our entire region," said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. "This expansion is a huge step forward in increasing accessibility, cutting emissions, and improving commutes for Sound Transit riders. It’s great to see transit options like the light rail expand throughout the region—and I am going to continue pushing for more investments to keep commuters in our state going where they need to go." 

"Reaching Northgate is a big milestone for Sound Transit and North Puget Sound commuters," said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell. "Northgate has always been a place where traffic clogs. Now commuters have a new alternative for downtown, SeaTac and other connections instead of sitting in I-5 congestion."

"I am deeply proud of the incredible success of this light rail extension that is a clear example of our region's leadership in not only advancing transportation equity but also in addressing the climate crisis," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. "In the State Senate and now the House of Representatives, I have consistently fought to expand support for light rail through work with the U.S. Department of Transportation in addition to state, county, and local partners. I was proud to secure funding for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension and other critical local projects as part of the INVEST in America Act. As we keep expanding light rail throughout our region, I am looking forward to continuing my partnership with Sound Transit and regional stakeholders to connect our communities and deliver investments in transportation, infrastructure, and climate justice."

"Sound Transit Light Rail is one stop closer to Snohomish County, and that means more jobs and opportunity for the Second District and Northwest Washington," said Rep. Rick Larsen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The Northgate Link light rail extension, along with expanded bus service options from Sound Transit and Community Transit, are critical parts of connecting communities like Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville and Mukilteo to Seattle and Tacoma. I will continue to work with Sound Transit, local leaders and stakeholders to expand and improve light rail, reduce traffic congestion and provide a reliable transit option for commuters in the Pacific Northwest." 

"The opening of the Northgate Link Extension will vastly improve travel between North Seattle and downtown," said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. "With a seamless connection to the rest of the Link network, more people can easily reach jobs, schools, and other opportunities throughout the region and replace sitting in traffic with safe, fast and efficient light rail service." 

"We must do whatever we can to create a sustainable, climate-friendly future for our state," said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. "Northgate Link and future light rail extensions are a great example of projects that help us do just that. They show how we can help build greener options for Washington while driving job growth for our residents."

"This is a major milestone in building our world-class transit system, and a transformational moment for our region," said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "The opening of Northgate Link provides a fast, reliable, and carbon free option to get thousands of people out of traffic and connected to work, school, and the places that make this region special – now and for generations to come."

"Puget Sound is greener today with the opening of Northgate Link," said Sound Transit Vice Chair and Everett City Council Member Paul Roberts. "As the first major light rail system in the nation to be carbon-free, Link is setting a new standard for environmentally friendly transit and regional sustainability."

"The opening of these three stations is another transformational milestone in Seattle’s history. Transit is the key to solving so many of our challenges in Seattle: climate change, access to good jobs, affordable housing. Clean and reliable transit like light rail will take thousands of commuters off our roads, relieve congestion and create healthier communities," said Sound Transit Board Member and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. "As we celebrate this turning point, it’s also a reminder of how important it is now to build for what Seattle will need in the future, rather than playing catchup later. We must use every available resource to speed up the development of our light rail network."

"The Northgate Link light rail extension is a game-changer for North Seattle," said Sound Transit Board Member and Seattle City Council Member Debora Juarez. "Opening in tandem with the Kraken Iceplex and with 4,000 units of housing on the way, the area is poised for an explosive economic recovery. Many of the training facility’s 800,000 annual visitors will share the light rail with North Seattle College students traveling downtown to start their new careers in technology, engineering, medicine, and business. Access to opportunity is everything, and a well-connected North End benefits all of Seattle." 

"On behalf of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, I congratulate Sound Transit and all of the agency's partners on the completion of this important addition to the region's transportation system," said Muckleshoot Indian Tribe's Vice Chairman Donny Stevenson. "Providing safe, affordable public transportation options is key to the region's quality of life and good for the environment. And, as a sponsor of the Seattle Kraken, we especially appreciate giving fans a fast and efficient transportation option to visit the Kraken Community Iceplex, the Ice Sports Hub of Seattle!"

"Today’s opening couldn’t have been accomplished without the dedication of the labor workforce that rose to the challenge in the face of a pandemic," said Mark Riker, Labor Liaison to the Sound Transit Board and Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. "This project has provided 5 million labor hours, nearly a third of them worked by people of color. These jobs help fuel the region’s economy while providing a strong financial footing for the workers and their families."

Voters approved the Northgate Link extension in 2008 as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. Construction on the project began in 2012 following six years of planning. Twin boring machines began tunneling in 2014, completing the 3.5-mile twin tunnels in 2016. Guideway construction was completed in 2018 and rail installation in 2019. Construction of all three stations was substantially complete at the beginning of 2021, and since August, trains have been running simulated service, during which all Link trains continued without riders from University of Washington Station to Northgate. 

Multiple contractors worked on the project. Tunneling work was performed by JCM Northlink, a joint venture formed by Jay Dee Contractors, Frank Collucio Construction Company and Michaels Corporation. Hoffmann Construction was the contractor for the University District and Roosevelt stations, while Absher Construction was the contractor for Northgate Station. Stacy and Witbeck was the contractor for trackwork, and Mass Electric was the contractor for systems. 

The opening of Northgate Link will also bring significant service changes for bus riders, providing seamless connections to and from local and regional routes while enabling savings to be applied in other areas. As a result of the opening, ST Express routes 511, 512, and 513 will now end at Northgate station. ST Express Route 522 will now end at Roosevelt Station. ST Express routes 542 and 556 will end at the U District Station. Riders on these routes can then transfer to the 1 Line to reach their final destination. More information about the service changes is available at https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/changes-affect-my-ride/service-changes

In addition to service changes, riders will see changes in the way that Sound Transit lines are named. Link becomes the 1 Line, Tacoma Link becomes the T Line, Sounder South becomes the S Line and Sounder North becomes the N Line. 

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