Northgate Link light rail extension will open to passenger service on Saturday, October 2, 2021

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Northgate Transit Station October 2020
Photo by Liam Graham

The new extension, which is moving forward under budget, will offer riders reliable, traffic-free trips of only 14 minutes between Northgate and downtown Seattle. 

In addition to the elevated station at Northgate trains will stop at new underground stations serving Seattle’s U District and Roosevelt neighborhoods. 

Of the 4.3-mile extension, all but 0.8 miles of elevated track at Northgate are located underground.

Sound Transit is working with the region’s transit providers on plans for having the opening coincide with fall service changes on ST Express, King County Metro Transit and Community Transit bus routes. In some cases bus routes are planned to be modified to allow riders to connect with congestion-free Link service.

“This milestone will transform commutes and communities, and further demonstrate the power of light rail to whisk riders to their destinations quickly, sustainably, and absolutely reliably,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. 
“King County Metro Transit will expand Northgate Link’s benefits by tying local bus routes with stations, so thousands of commuters can simply skip the daily Ship Canal Bridge bottleneck.”

Voters approved the Northgate Link extension in 2008 as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. Construction on the project began in 2012 following six years of planning. 

Twin boring machines began tunneling in 2014, completing the 3.5-mile twin tunnels in 2016. Guideway construction was completed in 2018 and rail installation in 2019. 

Construction of all three stations was substantially complete at the beginning of 2021, and since last January, light rail test trains have been operating across the alignment to test the overhead electrical power system and train signal system.

The project’s $1.9 billion baseline budget includes a $615 million credit agreement under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which provided significant long-term savings for regional taxpayers through reduced borrowing costs. The final project cost is expected to come in under budget.


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