August 3, 2009
In this weeks Classifieds, you'll find:
6 DBE opportunities
Seattle Hails Long-Awaited Central Link Light Rail
The Seattle region waited 40 years for the event that occurred July 18: the opening of Sound Transit’s new Central Link light rail line. More than 92,000 passengers rode free during the first weekend of service, approximately 45,000 of them on opening day.
“Today I’m excited to say that Sound Transit went from being that ‘Little Engine That Could’ to a promising new ‘Economic Engine’ for our entire region,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said during ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the plaza at Mount Baker Station, in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood. Murray chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, a longtime supporter of light rail and chair of the Sound Transit Board of Directors, joined Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Joni Earl and Murray at the launch.
“We are thrilled with the way this region has embraced the opening of Link light rail,” Earl said. “The years of planning and construction are paying off for thousands of riders every day.”
“The crowds at light rail stations throughout the weekend showed the excitement people feel as we have become a light rail region,” Nickels said. “That excitement about our mass transit future will only grow,” he said, “as we continue to build and expand on the light rail system.”
In addition to free rides throughout the weekend, all stations on the 14-mile light rail line showcased live musical entertainment and food from nearby restaurants and stores. The Transportation Choices Coalition, a citizen advocacy group, celebrated the opening with a black-tie event.
The introduction of light rail to Seattle means an exponential increase in intermodal connections. Link riders can “link” from mode to mode with ease, transferring to buses and trolleybuses, Sounder commuter rail, ferries, the Seattle Monorail, and the South Lake Union Streetcar.
Part of the geographical challenge for constructing light rail in the region is that Seattle is located on an isthmus, a stretch of land with water on both sides, where mobility can be difficult. Twenty years ago, however, transportation planners were looking ahead, constructing the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel with an eye to both light rail and buses. With the arrival of light rail, four of the 12 Link stations—Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square, and International District/Chinatown—are located in the tunnel. The 14-mile line also includes at-grade and elevated segments, rising to a height of 80 feet above ground at the Tukwila International Boulevard Station.
The next step is already underway. While currently the line ends at Tukwila International Boulevard and airport-bound passengers have to transfer to a bus shuttle, Link will open its Airport Link extension, with direct access to SeaTac Airport, in December.
The line operates with Kinkisharyo vehicles that can transport 200 passengers per car, 74 seated. Sound Transit estimates 21,000 average weekday boardings on Central Link by the end of 2009, increasing to 26,600 average weekday boardings in 2010 following the opening of the Airport Link extension.
The opening kicked off service on the first of what will ultimately be 55 miles of light rail service in the central Puget Sound region stretching from Seattle to Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island, and Federal Way by 2023. Construction recently began on a light rail line connecting downtown Seattle with the University of Washington, scheduled to enter service in 2016.