ST opens state-of-the-art Link light rail Operations & Maintenance Facility

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As Sound Transit works to finalize expansion plans for a 60-mile regional light rail system, commuters got an up-close look today at the operational hub for the initial light rail system that will open in 2009.

“Welcome to the future of public transit in the Puget Sound region,” Sound Transit Board member and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who led an open house and tour at the completed Link Operations and Maintenance Facility in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood just south of downtown. “As the pieces keep coming together, this building will be the epicenter- the heart and soul of our new 21st century transit system.”

Link light rail construction continues to move ahead on schedule, with the 2009 start of service fast approaching. The O&M Facility’s completion sets the stage for starting intensive testing of the light rail system and vehicles.

“Every new light rail construction milestone proves we can really build the rail mass transit system that our region has been doing without for too long,” said Sound Transit Board Chairman and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “The light rail testing that is getting underway will give people a look at what they’re voting on this November. We’ve heard the call for more light rail. This fall voters will have the chance to expand the initial light rail system to reach the Redmond, Bellevue, Lynnwood and Tacoma areas.”

“It is my hope that this new light rail facility is just the beginning of the expansion of mass transit that I believe is needed for regional mobility in the 21st century,” Sound Transit Board member and King County Executive Ron Sims. "Light rail is an investment that we need to build on."

The 160,000-square-foot O & M facility sits on a 25-acre site in Seattle’s SODO area and offers the long-term capacity to accommodate the operations and maintenance of more than 100 light rail vehicles. The facility’s storage yard provides room for storing the initial fleet of 35 vehicles, with room to grow as Sound Transit builds system extensions and runs longer and more frequent trains to carry more passengers.

Monday’s event featured the unveiling of one of the facility’s new public art installations – an old Rainier Brewery “R” that has been incorporated into the building’s exterior signage, recalling memories of the bottling plant formerly located at the site. The STart program’s reuse of the icon connects the new facility to its SODO neighborhood.

Light rail will offer fast, frequent and reliable service, free of delays from congestion. Trains will run every few minutes, 20 hours a day. The 15.6-mile segment between downtown Seattle and the airport will open in 2009, and Sound Transit is working to start building light rail to the University of Washington as soon as 2008 with existing local taxes and a proposed $750 million federal grant. The November 2007 Roads & Transit ballot measure is proposed to expand the system by more than 40 miles.

 

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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.