Past and current Board members joined agency staff this week to honor former Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl by naming the Great Hall of the agency’s historic Union Station headquarters the Joni Earl Great Hall.
For 60 years following Union Station’s 1911 opening, the Great Hall’s majestic, barrel-vaulted ceiling and 460 shining lights helped make it one of downtown Seattle’s iconic public spaces. After the station’s closure for more than two decades, the hall came back to public life in 1999 as Sound Transit moved into the restored facility. The Sound Transit Board adopted a motion in May to rename it in tribute to Earl.
“This is a very special honor to me. Over the years the Great Hall has not only been part of our region’s transportation history but hosted numerous wedding receptions, high school proms and other events. It’s a wonderful people place, and it is amazing to me that my name will be part of Union Station’s future history,” Earl said. “I am very proud of my time at Sound Transit and the agency’s continuing service and dedication to the public.”
A plaque to be erected inside the entrance to the hall will read:
“Joni Earl joined Sound Transit in 2000 and served 15 years as CEO. Earl created a culture of integrity, accountability and excellence. During her tenure, Sound Transit built commuter rail stations, transit centers, park-and-ride lots and HOV direct access ramps throughout the region and opened light rail lines in Tacoma and between Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. Earl’s leadership transformed Sound Transit from a struggling, startup agency to a nationally recognized leader in public transit. She was always quick to say that the agency’s accomplishments were due to a team of dedicated staff. A Puget Sound native and lifelong resident, Earl graduated from Washington State University, the University of Puget Sound and Harvard University’s State and Local Government Executive Program. After a remarkable career in public service, capped off with the opening of the University Link light rail extension, Earl retired in 2016. Union Station’s Great Hall was re-named in Earl’s honor in 2017.”