Sound Transit announced its University Link light rail extension will open to passenger service March 19, six months ahead of schedule and more than $150 million under budget.
“University Link opens March 19th, changing forever how we move around Seattle,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “With fast, frequent trains bypassing some of the region's worst traffic, thousands of people will now be able to get to work, school and appointments on time, every time.”
The 3.1-mile extension of the current light rail line that opened in 2009 includes stations on Capitol Hill and at the University of Washington near Husky Stadium. The trip from UW to downtown Seattle will take eight minutes, bypassing some of the most congested traffic in the region.
Through the efforts of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and other congressional leaders, Sound Transit secured an $813 million federal grant for the $1.8 billion project.
“As the Puget Sound region continues to grow, we need to make transportation investments that make our communities more livable, create jobs, improve access to education centers, and support our local small businesses,” Sen. Murray said. “That's why I am so thrilled to see Sound Transit reach this milestone on this important project for commuters and communities, and it’s why I am going to keep fighting for local investments like these that help our economy grow from the middle out.”
The University Link extension is expected to add up to 12 million more annual riders on the light rail system by 2020.
Later this fall, Sound Transit will also open the 1.6-mile light rail extension from SeaTac/Airport Station to the new Angle Lake Station near South 200th Street in SeaTac.
By 2023, Sound Transit will operate nearly 50 miles of light rail lines extending to Lynnwood in the north, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area to the east and the Kent/Des Moines area in the south.
Sound Transit established the budget and schedule for the University Link project in 2008 and broke ground in 2009 after successfully overcoming major engineering challenges and securing the Federal Transit Administration's highest possible rating for the project.