Seattle's Sound Transit opened its University Link light rail extension, which will feature eight-minute rides between the University of Washington (UW) and downtown Seattle.
The University Link project is opening six months ahead of schedule and about $200 million under its $1.9 billion budget. The project’s success was supported by strong collaboration with the federal government and partners, including the City of Seattle and UW and the Washington State Department of Transportation.
“Today, we celebrate an historic achievement — delivering new high-capacity light rail that will transform transportation in our region for the next century,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Thousands of commuters will now be able to get to their destination on time, every time, even as our population grows.”
The Federal Transit Administration provided $829 million in grants to the new line. University Link connects with the existing light rail line between SeaTac and downtown Seattle on which ridership has grown in double-digit percentages every year since its 2009 opening. That line received $500 million in federal grants.
“The Obama Administration is proud to support the enhanced access to jobs, education, and opportunity that University Link will bring to residents of Seattle and the entire Puget Sound region,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Seattle’s commitment to an effective and connected transportation network will be the key to its success as the region’s economy and population continues to grow.”
The City of Seattle played a major role in developing the project and land use planning around the stations.
More than 5,000 union workers affiliated with the Washington State and Seattle/King County Building and Construction Trades Council and affiliated unions of the Northwest Construction Alliance put in more than three million work hours building University Link.
The University Link extension is estimated to nearly double weekday ridership on the existing light rail line to more than 70,000 riders on weekdays by 2020.