A Link Light Rail Update -By Jeremy Minor

A Link Light Rail Update -By Jeremy Minor


The Basics

Link light rail is a growing rapid transit system serving the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Originally conceived in 1996 when a ballot measure finally passed on it’s second attempt, the system is managed by the Sound Transit Authority, and consists of two lines: the 1 Line in King County travels for 26 miles between Seattle and Seattle Tacoma International Airport -and the T Line (formerly Tacoma Link) in Pierce County, which runs for some 4 miles. Sound Transit is working on extending the system another 116 miles and 70 stations by 2044. Currently the 1 Line system services 19 stations. Starting in Northgate (opened Oct. 2nd, 2021), the line makes it’s way to Roosevelt (Oct. 2nd, 2021), the U District (Oct. 2nd, 2021), Univerity of Washington (Mar. 19, 2016), Capitol Hill (Mar. 19, 2016), Westlake (July 18, 2009), University Street (Mar. 2016), Pioneer Square (July 18, 2009), International District (July 15, 1990), Stadium (July 18, 2009), SODO (July 18, 2009), Beacon Hill (July 18, 2009), Mount Baker (July 18, 2009), Columbia City (July 18, 2009), Othello (July 18, 2009), Rainier Beach (July 18, 2009), Tukwila International Blvd (July 18, 2009), Seatac (Dec 19, 2009), and Angle Lake (Sept 24, 2016).


The Expansion

As previously mentioned, using funding approved by voters in 2008 and 2016, Sound Transit plans on expanding the system some 116 miles by 2044. This expansion includes the Lynnwood Link Extension, the East Link Extension, and the West Seattle Link Extension. The Lynnwood Link Extension is set to open in Fall of this year (2024), and includes stations at Shoreline South/148th Station, Shoreline North/185th Station, Mountlake Terrace Station, Lynnwood City Center Station, and the 200th Street Project (Lynnwood Transit Center).


Planning has started on the Everett Extension as well, with construction starting in 2030. The extension is due to be completed sometime in 2036 thru 2041. This extension is planned to span 16 miles, with six new stations. Right now, the plan is put stations at West Alderwood, Ash Way, Mariner, SR 99Airport Rd, SW Everett Industrial Area (near Paine Field), and the SR 526/Evergreen Way.


Construction on the East Link Extension has been underway for a number of years now (April 2016), with the Redmond Technology center to South Bellevue (known as the 2 line) due to open in April 2024. Due to strutural issues (concrete track supports on I-90 floating bridge), labor issues, and supply chain issues, the project has been plagued by delays. The project is now projected to be completed by Spring of 2025.


Approved by voters in 2016, the Ballard Link Extension (BLE) is currently in the planning phase. The Environmental Review period was extended to address concerns. This extension will add an estimated 7.7 miles of track, including a dedicated rail only tunnel to downtown. 9 new stations will open up on the route between the International District and the burough of Ballard. Stops will include Interbay, Smith Cove, Seattle Center, South Lake Union, Denny, Westlake, Midtown, International District, and the Stadium District. Completion of the project is slated for sometime in 2039.

The West Seattle Link Extension is currently in Environmental Review, with the final Environmental Review Statement due out sometime this year (2024). Approved in Spring of 2022, the approved route will take the tracks from SODO, along the West Seattle Freeway Bridge, with stops along Delridge, Avalon, and the Alaska Junction. Completion is now slated for sometime in 2032.


Due to open in 2025, the Downtown Redmond Link Extension will follow the curve of SR 520, from the Redmond Technology Center, to the station at Marymoor Village. This route will add 3.4 miles of track and two new stations.


Other Link Light Rail Extension projects that currently are waiting for Voter Approval, include the South Kirkland to Issaquah Link Extension, and the TCC (Tacoma Community College) Tacoma Link Extension.


It would also appear from some of the project maps, that a future extension could include a Mariner to Redmond line.


Combined with the Missing Middle Housing Laws now on the books (See February 2024 Newsletter), it’s no wonder that a scramble for available housing around these stations is under way.


-By Jeremy Minor



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