Light rail vehicle testing begins on Northgate Link extension, set to open in September

Those passing by Seattle’s Northgate area will see light rail test trains operating on the new elevated light rail tracks as crews prepare for the on-time and on-budget opening of passenger service to Northgate in September.

“Seeing light rail vehicles on the Northgate extension really drives home how close we are getting to the start of revenue service,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “Less than a year from now, Northgate Link will be offering passengers reliable, traffic-free travel to downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac airport.”

Trains ran for the first time Monday morning to test the overhead electrical power system throughout the Northgate line. Testing will continue for several months, mostly during morning hours. While most of the line is underground, the trains at Northgate will be noticed by travelers on I-5 and in surrounding areas. The results of the testing will determine whether any adjustments are necessary to the system to improve performance.

Construction on Northgate Link began in 2012 with a baseline budget of $1.9 billion and a projected opening date of 2021.

When finished, the 4.3 mile regional light rail extension will offer riders reliable, traffic-free travel between Northgate and downtown Seattle in 14 minutes. Trains traveling in 3.5-mile twin tunnels north to and from the University of Washington Station at Husky Stadium will stop at underground stations in the U District and Roosevelt neighborhoods, exit the tunnels at First Avenue Northeast and Northeast 95th and transition to a 0.8-mile elevated guideway to reach the station.

Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south, east and west. Northgate Link will be followed in 2023 by the opening of service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake community. Additional extensions to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Kent/Des Moines, Federal Way and downtown Redmond are planned in 2024.


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