Sound Transit sets baseline budget, schedule for extending light rail to Northgate

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Groundbreaking scheduled for this summer; 4.3-mile line to open for service in 2021

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today adopted a lifetime budget and schedule to extend light rail from the University of Washington to the Northgate area north of Seattle. Sound Transit expects to break ground on the North Link project this summer and open for service in 2021.

The 4.3-mile line will feature stations at Northgate Mall, the Roosevelt neighborhood and the University District near the west side of the University of Washington campus. The adopted lifetime budget is $2.1 billion. Voters approved building North Link as part of the 2008 ballot measure that included 36 miles of light rail extensions to the north, east and south of Seattle. A light rail extension from Northgate to Lynnwood is scheduled to open in 2023.

North Link will connect with the University Link light rail line at the University of Washington Station near Husky Stadium. University Link is scheduled to open in 2016.

North Link will run mostly underground offering fast service to UW and downtown Seattle 20 hours a day through the most congested traffic corridor in the region. A trip from Northgate to downtown will take 14 minutes. Northgate to UW will take eight minutes. North Link is expected to carry more than 62,000 daily weekday riders by 2030.

Sound Transit has committed to providing easy, safe access to Northgate Station as part of an overall integrated access plan for pedestrians, bikes, cars and buses. The plan addresses a variety of ways riders will interact with the area including:

  • Planning for future transit oriented development
  • Building a safe and inviting pedestrian environment
  • Integrating bicycle access and bicycle parking at the station
  • Redeploying King County Metro and Sound Transit bus routes feeding the station
  • Providing park-and-ride facilities

In addition to the integrated access plan, the Sound Transit Board approved a study to identify and prioritize bicycle and pedestrian access improvements in the area. The potential improvements would be funded in partnership with the City of Seattle, King County Metro and federal and state sources. Sound Transit's contribution would be capped at $10 million. The funding would be contingent on the City of Seattle matching the investments after conducting appropriate environmental reviews.

The study includes moving plans forward on a potential pedestrian bridge crossing I-5 connecting the station area with the North Seattle Community College. If ultimately approved after further environmental review, Sound Transit could allocate up to $5 million toward the estimated $20 million bridge cost. If other full funding partners are not identified by 2015, the money could be reallocated to other pedestrian and bike improvements.

For more information on the Northgate access study see: www.soundtransit.org/Northgateaccess
For more information on the North Link project see: www.soundtransit.org/Northlink