ST to host June 8 Rainier Valley light rail groundbreaking celebration

Publish Date

Community members are encouraged to join Sound Transit on June 8 in marking the start of light rail construction in the Rainier Valley.


"Central Link light rail will provide major benefits to the residents of the entire region, and no one will benefit more than people living in the Rainier Valley," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "This groundbreaking event will celebrate the start of the long-awaited progress that will unfold along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South."


Central Link Rainier Valley Groundbreaking
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Tuesday, June 8
Corner of MLK Jr. Way South and South Othello Street


"This is great news for the Rainier Valley," said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. "Light rail will bring jobs, renewal and opportunity for all. This is a huge step in building Seattle's 21st Century transportation network and in connecting valley residents to jobs throughout the city."


"Back when our region began looking at potential light rail routes, we heard a loud and clear call to serve the vibrant and growing communities of Southeast Seattle," said Sound Transit Board Member and King County Executive Ron Sims. "We answered the call by designing a state-of-the-art light rail system that reflects the communities' wishes by bringing monumental transportation and economic benefits to the Rainier Valley."


The event will include food and entertainment and a chance to meet Sound Transit Board members and local elected officials. More detailed information is available at


Central Link light rail will dramatically expand transportation options for residents of Rainier Valley and the region, providing access to major employment centers. Approximately 170,000 jobs and 45,000 residents are located within one-half mile of station entrances. And Sound Transit's fast, reliable light rail trains will also be integrated with local and regional bus service and commuter rail service, further expanding travel options.


The 4.3-mile Rainier Valley alignment will include many community enhancements, including new sidewalks, landscaping, street crossings, and underground installation of utility lines.


The Rainier Valley contract will be carried out by RCI-Herzog, a joint venture that unites two highly respected contractors with extensive experience. Sound Transit used a "best value" procurement for the contract that placed equal emphasis on price and technical criteria such as plans for minimizing community impacts and coordinating complex utility work. RCI-Herzog's $128.3 million proposal was $30.4 million under Sound Transit's engineer's estimate.


RCI-Herzog has set a goal of 35 percent small business participation, with 20 percent of that to be done by minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises. Auburn-based RCI is one of the largest minority-owned contractors in the state and in 2002 was named by Washington CEO magazine as the state's top minority-owned business.


Sound Transit and RCI-Herzog are working closely with the City of Seattle and are committed to minimizing the impacts of construction on local businesses and residents. Steps will include keeping MLK Way open to traffic throughout the construction period and maintaining access to homes and businesses. Sound Transit will keep the public well informed about construction activities.


Community members can obtain additional information about Rainier Valley construction plans at a community open house from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 10 at the Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. Information is also available by calling Link's 24-hour construction hotline at 1-888-298-2395.


Initial Rainier Valley construction work will focus on moving overhead utilities underground and removing wooden utility poles. Focus will then shift to rebuilding the MLK roadway to make room for the light rail line. Work will also include construction of sidewalks, driveways, curbs, gutters, landscaping and other improvements throughout the corridor. The pavement in the center of the street will be excavated and tracks and stations constructed. Major Rainier Valley construction is scheduled to be completed by spring 2007, to be followed by installation of power, communications and signal systems. Link passenger service will begin in 2009.


Accommodations for persons with disabilities at the groundbreaking celebration can be arranged with sufficient notice by calling (206) 689-4927 or (888) 713-6030. Non-English translation services can be arranged with sufficient notice by calling (206) 398-5410 or 1-800-201-4900.


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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.