Northgate light-rail extension opens for Sound Transit

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Sound Transit officials are currently assessing the damage caused by a concrete strike in the Seattle area.

Sound Transit opened the Northgate light-rail extension over the weekend.

The 4.3-mile extension adds three new stations to the system at Northgate, Roosevelt and U District, with trips of just 13 minutes from Northgate to downtown Seattle. 

The opening heralds the start of an unprecedented period of transit expansion in the region. In just three years, the Link light rail network will nearly triple in reach, from 22 miles to 62 miles, with service to Tacoma’s Hilltop in 2022, East King County in 2023 and Lynnwood, Federal Way and Downtown Redmond in 2024. 

“The opening of Northgate Link is a great leap forward for Puget Sound commuters, the first of many leaps forward for Sound Transit in the coming years,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “As Sound Transit looks to nearly triple our light-rail network in just the next three years, we are thankful for the hard work and dedication of staff and the construction workforce in achieving this monumental feat in the middle of a pandemic.” 

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 project is coming in approximately $50 million under budget. 

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.

Multiple contractors worked on the project. Tunneling work was performed by JCM Northlink, a joint venture formed by Jay Dee Contractors, Frank Collucio Construction Company and Michaels Corporation. Hoffmann Construction was the contractor for the University District and Roosevelt stations, while Absher Construction was the contractor for Northgate Station. Stacy and Witbeck was the contractor for trackwork, and Mass Electric was the contractor for systems. 

In addition to service changes, riders will see changes in the way that Sound Transit lines are named. Link becomes the 1 Line, Tacoma Link becomes the T Line, Sounder South becomes the S Line and Sounder North becomes the N Line. 

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