Sound Transit celebrates paving completion in Rainier Valley, hosts community block party
Sound Transit and the City of Seattle will celebrate the completion of paving along the Link light rail line in Rainer Valley with a block party Saturday. The paving completion brings a significant reduction in traffic impacts along the four mile stretch of light rail in Southeast Seattle.
“I want to thank the people of Rainier Valley for their patience during construction,” said Seattle Mayor and Sound Transit Board member Greg Nickels. “This has been a long process to get here and I’m glad to say we’re in the home stretch of the major construction in the Rainier Valley.”
With the completion of paving, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle are hosting a block party from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at S. Myrtle Street & Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. to provide a preview of the light rail stations and artwork to be installed this summer. The event also features food and entertainment from Rainier Valley merchants and performers and important safety information on crosswalks and traffic signals changes with the arrival of light rail.
“By this time next year, we’ll see the stations finished and light rail cars traveling through Rainier Valley for testing,” said Mayor Nickels.
Sound Transit contractors worked with the City of Seattle and local businesses to minimize impacts during construction that began in the summer of 2004 including helping to promote the diverse Rainier Valley businesses through the “World at Your Doorstep” program that highlights local restaurants and shops.
“Now more than ever is a great time for the city and region to see everything the Rainier Valley has to offer,” said Mayor Nickels. “And when light rail opens, this community will be a showcase for the benefits of fast, reliable light rail service.”
The major construction work so far has included rebuilding the entire South Martin Luther King Jr. roadway and sidewalks along the light rail route and moving overhead utilities underground. Crews this summer will concentrate on installing the rails, stations, artwork and new landscaping along the alignment. Some traffic revisions will take place along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and at some intersections during the rail, systems and station installations, but the worst of the traffic disruptions are over.
The 15.6-mile Link light rail line between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International Airport that opens in 2009 will serve the heart of Rainier Valley with four stations. The stations will feature prominent art installations inspired by the diverse communities light rail serves.
Sound Transit estimates the Rainier Valley segment will serve more than 10,000 riders a day by 2020. Light rail trains will serve the stations every six minutes during peak travel times with service to the airport and downtown in about 14 minutes no matter what time of day or traffic conditions. Overall, the project is more than 70 percent complete and on schedule to open between Downtown Seattle and Tukwila in July, 2009 and to the airport by December, 2009. Link is projected to carry more than 45,000 people a day by 2020.
Fifty miles of proposed light rail extensions would further expand the reach of the Link light rail investments from Sound Transit’s first phase of construction. In November the region’s residents will vote on major expansions of light rail, Sounder station and ST Regional Express bus services as part of the Roads & Transit ballot measure. The plan would expand light rail across a regional system stretching more than 70 miles, adding fast, frequent and reliable service to the Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island, Northgate, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Alderwoo, 164th St./Ash Way, Des Moines, Federal Way and Tacoma areas.
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Sound Transit’s regional network of express buses, commuter rail, light rail and transit facilities connects communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.