Seattle begins construction on $2.9-billion, 8.5-mile grade-separated LRT

Sep 4 2019, 3:40 pm

Construction officially commenced on Tuesday on a northward extension of Sound Transit’s Link light rail transit (LRT) extension to the Seattle region’s suburban city of Lynnwood.

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The Lynnwood Extension project pushes the Central Link line north from the future terminus of the Northgate Extension.

Seattle Sound Transit Link Rail

Artistic rendering of Seattle Link LRT’s Lynnwood Extension. (Sound Transit)

Seattle Sound Transit Link Rail

Artistic rendering of Seattle Link LRT’s Lynnwood Extension. (Sound Transit)

The 8.5-mile-long extension will include four new stations and extensive sections of elevated track for a fully-grade separated system to ensure this portion of the Link LRT is capable of achieving a high level of reliability and speed, resulting in optimal travel times that are competitive with driving times. Trains will run every four to six minutes during peak hours.

This extension alone is expected to come at a cost of $2.9 billion.

“You cannot have a big-league economy with little league infrastructure,” said Rick Larsen, US representative for Washington State’s 2nd congressional district, in a statement. “Sound Transit Light Rail is coming to Snohomish County, and that means more jobs and more opportunity.”

Initial lines of Seattle’s Link LRT network incorporated at-grade roadway crossings, but in recent years there has been a shift for a longer-term preference of grade separation.

“Too many of our residents are stuck in traffic for far too long every day,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive and Sound Transit board member. “Giving them additional options to avoid driving on the freeways — including light rail, bus rapid transit and heavy rail — will improve their quality of life and our region’s environmental health.”

Seattle Sound Transit Link Rail

Artistic rendering of Seattle Link LRT’s Lynnwood Extension. (Sound Transit)

Seattle Sound Transit Link Rail

Artistic rendering of Seattle Link LRT’s Lynnwood Extension. (Sound Transit)

When the Lynnwood Extension is complete in 2024, travel times from Lynnwood City Center to downtown Seattle — a distance of about 16 miles, including the length of track of the under-construction Northgate Extension and recently-opened University Link — will be just 28 minutes.

The $1.9-billion, 4.3-mile-long, three-station Northgate Extension is set to open in 2021, with ridership estimated to be 41,000 to 49,000 per day on average upon opening.

Coupled with the Northgate Extension, which begins at the University of Washington campus, the Lynnwood Extension is projected to bring in 47,000 to 55,000 daily riders on average by 2026.

Seattle Sound Transit Link Rail

Artistic rendering of Seattle Link LRT’s Lynnwood Extension. (Sound Transit)

Sound Transit is currently undergoing an ambitious expansion of its Link LRT network; the $3.7-billion, 14-mile-long, 10-station East Extension towards Redmond is also under construction for a 2023 opening, and eight other extension projects totalling 60 miles of track by 2041 are in various stages of planning.

This includes a 15.5-mile-long Everett Extension by 2026, starting from the northern terminus of the Lynnwood Extension.

“The Lynnwood Link Extension project will lay the tracks to extend light rail into Snohomish County and build out a modern infrastructure system in Puget Sound and throughout our state, for families and communities today and beyond,” said US Senator Patty Murray.

And with the under-construction extensions accounted for, the distance of new future track increases to more than 90 miles.

Currently, the Link LRT network — 21 miles of track and 22 stations across two lines — sees about 80,000 daily boardings on average.

Seattle Link Sound Transit

Map of under-construction and planned Seattle Link LRT expansion projects, as well as existing Link lines. (Sound Transit)

Seattle Sound Transit Link Rail

Artistic rendering of Seattle Link LRT’s Lynnwood Extension. (Sound Transit)

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