Northgate Link light rail extension will open for service Oct. 2

Testing light rail cars at the Northgate station. (Photo courtesy Sound Transit)

Sound Transit said Friday that the Northgate Link light rail extension will open to passenger service on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The new extension, which is moving forward under budget, will offer riders 14-minute trips 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.

“With Northgate’s completion Sound Transit will enter an exciting period of opening major light extensions every year through 2024, nearly tripling the region’s light rail system from 22 miles to 62 miles,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place Mayor Kent Keel. This includes Tacoma’s Hilltop in 2022, East King County in 2023 and Lynnwood and Federal Way in 2024

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.

“With the opening of Link service to Northgate, light rail gets 4.3 miles closer to Snohomish County Current Community Transit and Sound Transit bus routes that get bogged down in congestion will instead connect with congestion-free light rail,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts. “The further Link extension to Lynnwood is already under construction and will serve thousands more Snohomish riders when it opens just three years from now. During that time, Sound Transit will be advancing its plans to extend service to Everett.”

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 final project is expected to come in under the project’s $1.9 billion baseline budget, Sound Transit said.

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