NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Sound Transit to inaugurate University Link light rail service on Saturday, March 19th

Flanked by Seat­tle May­or Ed Mur­ray and new Sound Tran­sit CEO Peter Rogoff, King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine announced today at a media event on Capi­tol Hill that Sound Tran­sit’s Uni­ver­si­ty Link light rail exten­sion, which has been in the con­struc­tion phase for the last few years, will have its pub­lic grand open­ing on Sat­ur­day, March 19th, 2016, at 10 AM in the morn­ing.

“Uni­ver­si­ty Link opens March 19th, chang­ing for­ev­er how we move around Seat­tle,” said Con­stan­tine in a news release dis­trib­uted at the event. “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.”

Uni­ver­si­ty Link was orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled to open in the autumn of 2016, but because con­struc­tion went so smooth­ly, it is open­ing ahead of sched­ule and under bud­get. Much of the pro­jec­t’s cost was tak­en care of by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, thanks to appro­pri­a­tions secured by Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Murray.

“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,” 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.”

University Link route map

Uni­ver­si­ty Link extends light rail north from West­lake to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton (Map: Sound Transit)

The 3.15 mile Uni­ver­si­ty Link exten­sion adds two new sta­tions to Puget Sound’s light rail spine.

One is on Capi­tol Hill, near Cal Ander­son Park, with mul­ti­ple sta­tion entrances. The oth­er is adja­cent to Husky Sta­di­um and Hec Ed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington.

Uni­ver­si­ty Link is com­plete­ly under­ground, run­ning in its own right of way, so the expe­ri­ence of rid­ing it will be some­what sim­i­lar to a sub­way. No mat­ter what the weath­er or the traf­fic is, it will be pos­si­ble to move between West­lake Cen­ter and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton in sev­en to eight minutes.

That’s going to be huge.

Metro and Sound Tran­sit plan a series of major changes to bus routes and sched­ules one week after Uni­ver­si­ty Link opens (on March 26th), to ensure that bus ser­vice bet­ter com­ple­ments the new­ly extend­ed light rail spine.

At today’s event on Capi­tol Hill, Con­stan­tine and Mur­ray unveiled a spe­cial clock that is count­ing down the days, hours, min­utes, and sec­onds until U Link opens. There are many fes­tiv­i­ties plan­ning for Open­ing Day, as Sound Tran­sit explains:

We’re kick­ing off U Link ser­vice with a free com­mu­ni­ty cel­e­bra­tion that includes music, per­for­mance art, com­mu­ni­ty booths and more.  From 9 AM to 5 PM on March 19, we’re host­ing a tail­gate par­ty at Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Sta­tion and a street fes­ti­val at Capi­tol Hill Sta­tion – with light rail serv­ing as your link to both. Sta­tions open and train ser­vice begins at 10 AM. Sub­scribe to U Link Updates to get the lat­est details on our Launch Day lineup.

If you would like to be among the first to ride U Link on Open­ing Day, you can enter to win a spe­cial “Gold­en Tick­et” from Sound Transit:

Here are the ways to enter and win (you must be 18 or older):

Fol­low @SoundTransit on Face­book, Twit­ter or Insta­gramTake a pho­to or video let­ting us know where you will Link in 2016. Share using #Ulink2016 @SoundTransit.

Lis­ten to these radio sta­tions: KEXP (90.3 FM); KUOW (94.9 FM); KNDD (107.7 FM) and KNHC (C 89.5 FM) for your chance to win two Gold­en Tickets.

Sub­scribe for U Link updates. Sub­scribers will also receive updates about spe­cial U Link Launch Day events and promotions.

Stop by any of these U Dis­trict or Roo­sevelt busi­ness­es, spend $5 or more and fill out an “enter to win” Gold­en Tick­et raf­fle card (begins Jan­u­ary 29). Par­tic­i­pat­ing busi­ness­es include: Brook­lyn Avenue Den­tal, Cedars of Lebanon, My Favorite Deli, Nasai Teriya­ki, Nep­tune Music Com­pa­ny, Samir’s Mediter­ranean Grill, Sweet Alche­my (opens Feb­ru­ary), Ugly Mug Café, Health Mutt, Nature Nails, Pies and Pints, Roo­sevelt Vac­u­um, Sub­way (Roo­sevelt Square), Teddy’s, Thrive, Toron­a­do, UPS Store on 65th.

Vis­it Rules & reg­u­la­tions for more details.

We will be bring­ing you full live cov­er­age of Uni­ver­si­ty Link Open­ing Day on March 19th, as we did in 2009 when Cen­tral Link and Air­port Link opened to the public.

The com­ple­tion of Uni­ver­si­ty Link is a water­shed moment for our region, one worth cel­e­brat­ing. Since the found­ing of Per­ma­nent Defense in Feb­ru­ary of 2002 (which pre­dates NPI by about a year and a half), this orga­ni­za­tion has worked dili­gent­ly to defend Sound Tran­sit from the likes of Tim Eyman and ensure that our region gets the light rail spine it needs and deserves.

All of that work has been com­plete­ly worth it. Today, Sound Tran­sit is fly­ing high and enjoys broad pop­u­lar sup­port. Thanks to the lead­er­ship of Joni Earl, who is now CEO Emer­i­tus, Sound Tran­sit is a mod­el pub­lic agency that is fir­ing on all cylin­ders, deliv­er­ing projects on time or ahead of sched­ule, and under budget.

If ST had been shut down and dis­band­ed as crit­ics were demand­ing dur­ing the “dark days” of the late 1990s and ear­ly 2000s, we would­n’t have Cen­tral Link and Air­port Link, com­muter rail, express bus ser­vice, street­cars in Taco­ma and Seat­tle, or the enhance­ments to our park and ride sys­tem that Sound Tran­sit has delivered.

It should not be for­got­ten that four­teen years ago, Tim Eyman launched I‑776, an ini­tia­tive that sought to destroy Sound Tran­sit by elim­i­nat­ing one of its prin­ci­pal rev­enue sources (the motor vehi­cle excise tax). I‑776 nar­row­ly passed, but was par­tial­ly inval­i­dat­ed by the courts, allow­ing ST to pro­ceed with plans to con­struct light rail from from down­town Seat­tle to Tukwila.

ST over­came a tremen­dous amount of hos­til­i­ty and oppo­si­tion to secure the nec­es­sary financ­ing to move for­ward and break ground on Cen­tral Link.

More than twelve years after the shov­els went into the ground in the Rainier Val­ley, Link’s big build-out con­tin­ues. The con­struc­tion has nev­er stopped. Even when Cen­tral Link was done, crews were work­ing on Air­port Link. And even when Air­port Link was done, crews were work­ing on Uni­ver­si­ty Link and Angle Lake Link. Both of those exten­sions will open this year. And even when those are done, the work of extend­ing light rail north, south, and east will go on. It has to.… our region’s con­gest­ed cor­ri­dors need light rail just as soon as we can get it built.

Vot­ers can see that their invest­ments in a region­al tran­sit sys­tem are pay­ing off. This Novem­ber, the peo­ple of this region will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build on past invest­ments with Sound Tran­sit 3, a pro­pos­al that ST’s staff and board are work­ing on to fur­ther extend light rail, com­muter rail, and bus ser­vice to more neigh­bor­hoods in urban Puget Sound, includ­ing NPI’s home­town of Redmond.

We strong­ly sup­port the devel­op­ment of ST3 and will be work­ing to pass it once it is sub­mit­ted to the bal­lot by Sound Tran­sit’s Board lat­er this year. In the mean­time, it will be won­der­ful to cel­e­brate the open­ing of Uni­ver­si­ty Link on March 19th!

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One Comment

  1. Three cheers for Sound Tran­sit. I’ll be a reg­u­lar user of this. 

    # by Alysha Stanger :: January 27th, 2016 at 9:30 AM

One Ping

  1. […] Earth to Tim: this is 2016, not 2002. Sound Tran­sit is not the weak tar­get of yes­ter­year. Today, Sound Tran­sit is a high-per­form­ing, extreme­ly effec­tive pub­lic agency that is pop­u­lar with the pub­lic. And Link light rail is no longer a far-off dream — it’s real. It’s here. It exists. Peo­ple use it to get to work every day. And this year, we’re adding three new sta­tions to it. Two of those will open with­in fifty days. […]

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