Sound Transit breaks ground on Northgate Link light rail extension
Biggest ST2 construction project so far is estimated to create more than 20,000 jobs
Community members joined Sound Transit officials and partners today to kick off construction of the biggest Sound Transit 2 construction project to date: the 4.3-mile Northgate Link light rail extension from Husky Stadium to stations serving the U District, Roosevelt and Northgate.
"Today represents a historic step toward delivering the 36 miles of light rail extensions that voters approved in 2008," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "The start of construction not only offers good news for commuters but also for our entire region's economy, with our projected creation of more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs."
A groundbreaking ceremony and celebration at the site of the future Roosevelt Station offered a chance for community members to hear about the project's strong partnerships and collaboration with the Federal Transit Administration, City of Seattle, King County Metro, University of Washington, Puget Sound Regional Council, labor unions, contractors, businesses and community organizations.
"Expanding rail transit in Seattle is critical to our future. It gives people a better choice for getting around town. It will help us move away from our dependency on oil. And it creates opportunities to build the kind of vibrant communities that make city living so special," said Sound Transit Board Member and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "Today's groundbreaking is the latest milestone in an effort to expand transit that is made possible by strong and successful relationships with regional partners. I look forward to continuing to work to expand transit in Seattle."
"The transit we build today will determine the land use of tomorrow. Fast and frequent light rail service to stations along the line will help communities achieve their vision for the future," said Sound Transit Board Member and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "By working together we can help the Northgate neighborhood transform islands of asphalt into a thriving hub with homes and jobs for thousands of people."
Speakers at the event praised the Puget Sound region's strong federal partnership, including congressional representatives' support for the region's commuters and the Federal Transit Administration's critical funding and oversight for projects.
"The Northgate Link light rail extension is a big win for Seattle, bringing the region a step closer to completing a first class transportation system with seamless connections between downtown and SeaTac," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "This project creates jobs and brings more good transportation choices to everyone who lives and works in Seattle, the University of Washington and Northgate."
The community celebration following the groundbreaking ceremony featured musical performances and family-friendly activities including face-painting, a balloon artist, a train-themed bouncy house for kids, a Link train photo booth, and of course the chance to meet Zap Gridlock, Sound Transit's traffic-fighting superhero.
The $2.1 billion Northgate Link Extension will run mostly underground through one of the most congested travel corridors in the region. When the project opens in 2021 it will offer fast, frequent and congestion-free service 20 hours a day that connects North Seattle destinations with the University of Washington, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle, South Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac. A trip from Northgate to downtown will take 14 minutes. Northgate to UW Station will take eight minutes.
Northgate Link construction will get underway with demolition activities in the Roosevelt area. Next year Sound Transit will select a contractor that will excavate the underground stations and use tunnel boring machines to construct twin 3.7-mile tunnels from north of the Roosevelt neighborhood to the University of Washington Station. Tunneling will begin in late 2014. Other future construction contracts will cover construction of Northgate Station and the elevated guideway to the tunnel portal; finishes at the U District Station; finishes at the Roosevelt Station; utility work; and systems and track work.
Construction continues to move forward toward a 2016 opening of the University Link light rail extension between downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium. Tunnel boring activities are now complete. Sound Transit is also preparing to move forward with an expedited extension of light rail southward from the airport to South 200th Street that will also open in 2016.
In 2023, further Link extensions to the north, east and south will stretch the Link system to more than 50 miles, with service to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Redmond's Overlake area, and South King County. Sound Transit has adopted a route for extending light rail east and has launched planning and environmental work to establish the alignment for extending light rail from Northgate to Lynnwood. This fall the agency will hold the first open houses on options for extending service from South 200th Street to Federal Way. Current financial projections reflect sufficient Sound Transit funding to reach the Kent/Des Moines area by 2023.
By 2030, Link trains are projected to carry more than 280,000 riders each weekday. In all, construction of Sound Transit 2 projects through 2023 is projected to create more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.