Link riders should plan for service impacts during "Future Ready" projects starting July 11
Improved operating plans strive to reduce passenger impacts
Preparations continue for significant Link light rail maintenance activities beginning July 11, with periods when passengers will need to allow more time for trips as Sound Transit gets ready to open major light rail expansions.
Completing these “Future Ready” projects before the Link system more than doubles in length from 26 to 58 miles within the next few years will prevent impacts to far greater numbers of passengers.
"These Future Ready projects will pack a lot of work into a few months and will be disruptive to our passengers, but it’s important to do it now to avoid bigger headaches down the road," said Sound Transit Interim CEO Brooke Belman. "We have been scrutinizing our plans, looking for ways to reduce impacts, and we thank our passengers for their patience and advance planning as we tackle this necessary work."
In preparation for the upcoming work, passengers should sign up for Rider Alerts to make sure they receive further information as it becomes available. Throughout the service impacts, the agency will be providing frequent communication with passengers to help them plan their rides.
On July 11, one side of the tracks through Seattle's Rainier Valley will close for two weeks to enable platform work at Columbia City Station. The work involves removing platform tiles and mortar and rebuilding a concrete base to ensure new tiles offer good durability, eliminating tripping hazards and safety risks from cracking tiles.
Since Future Ready plans were initially announced, Sound Transit has continued to optimize its approaches to reduce impacts for many passengers.
The 20-minute train frequencies that were previously announced to be systemwide during work will now only apply between Stadium and Angle Lake stations. Sound Transit will instead strive to maintain 10-minute frequencies between Stadium and Northgate stations.
To enable this effort, every other 1 Line train headed south will terminate at Stadium Station rather than continuing on the single track that is open through the Rainier Valley. This requires southbound and northbound trains to take turns using that track. Passengers on the half of trains that must terminate at Stadium Station will have to wait approximately 10 minutes before boarding the next trains south — with wait times subject to fluctuations. We strongly encourage southbound riders to pay attention to the train’s head sign and wait for an Angle Lake train if traveling south of Stadium Station. This will prevent the need for a transfer at Stadium Station.
The first two-week period of construction at Columbia City will run July 11-24. Another passenger-focused improvement is to delay the second two-week period of construction at the station to Aug. 19-Sept. 1, avoiding two high-ridership sports events.
The next phase of Rainier Valley platform work, which has yet to be scheduled, will involve Othello and Rainier Beach stations. The shorter distances between crossovers where trains can switch tracks will reduce impacts and allow work at both stations to occur at the same time.
Other coming Future Ready work
Later phases of Future Ready work, for which full details will be announced in advance, include:
- Electrical work to minimize future Downtown Seattle disruptions: During two Friday-through-Sunday periods (Oct. 21-23 and Nov. 11-13), Sound Transit will make improvements in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel that change the configurations of the overhead wires that power trains. The improvements will reduce impacts to passengers by enabling the overhead power to be shut off separately in each of four separate sections during maintenance, rather than shutting down the entire tunnel. Train frequencies will be reduced during this work, with details to be confirmed and announced this summer.
- Increasing reliability between Rainier Beach and Tukwila: During the third quarter of 2022 (full details to be announced), Sound Transit will replace more than three miles of overhead wire on the elevated sections between Boeing Access Road and Tukwila International Boulevard Station. The wire is worn in this area and needs to be reconfigured for more consistent and reliable train performance. The benefit to passengers will be more reliable operations and fewer stalled trains and service disruptions. Sound Transit is still reviewing operating plans.
- Safer, smoother and more reliable rides in Downtown Seattle: 1 Line passengers travelling between University Street and Westlake stations may notice that as the train curves right, it shakes and jerks on a curving section of track where work is needed to correct defects and accelerated wear. Installing new rail in this area, with improved geometry and curvature, will result in smoother and faster trips. During the same period, Sound Transit will also replace 60 signal boxes in the downtown tunnel. From 2007 through 2019, when buses also operated in the tunnel, their tires progressively damaged the boxes. This one-time replacement work will eliminate hazards and prevent failures that occasionally delay Link passengers. The detailed operating plan for this period is still under review.
- Connecting the 2 Line to the 1 Line: During 2020 Sound Transit completed the majority of work at International District Station to connect 1 Line tracks with future 2 Line tracks that will carry trains to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond. Safety considerations prevented the completion of electrical lines during 2020, and Sound Transit also needs to configure previously installed track switches. The work is planned to take place on four weekends this winter, including the MLK and Presidents Day weekends, starting late on Fridays and continuing to early on Mondays. Completing the earlier mentioned electrical work in the tunnel will enable bus bridges to operate only from Westlake to SODO stations, instead of from Capitol Hill to SODO.
Sound Transit will continue to work on detailed operating and passenger care plans for the Future Ready projects and thanks passengers for their patience and advance planning.