Sound Transit News Releases
- Funding for construction the current U-Link extension of Seattle's LRT system north to the University of Washington was secured as part of a public vote in 1996 approving an increase in local sales taxes to fund an LRT system for the city and its region. Federal funds to match local contributions for the $1.95 billion 3.15 mile (5km) extension with its two underground stations, was secured in January 2009 when a FFGA (full funding grant agreement) from the FTA (Federal Transportation Administration) of $813 million was signed with Sound Transit.
The 2023 build-out plan for Seattle's Link LRT system
- The grant also including funds to complete the EIS (Environment Impact Statement) for extension of the system north from University of Washington to Northgate. The new line will continue the U-Link north from University of Washington station through two more cut-and-cover stations at Brooklyn and Roosevelt on a 3-mile (5km) section of twin bored running tunnels to a portal where the line will continue on the surface for another 1.5 miles to an elevated station at the Northgate shopping mall. Earlier this year, two teams were interviewed to complete final design of the extension and the contract was awarded to Jacobs Associates.
- Construction of the extension is programmed to start in 2012 and to be in operation by 2020. Local funding towards its construction and for development of three additional and substantial extensions of the system was agreed on the November 2008 ballot when local voters agreed by 58% an increase in local sales taxes over 20 years to finance an estimated $17.8 billion package of transit and road projects.
- For its part, Sound Transit is developing the Sound Transit 2 (ST2) program that will expand the first 19-mile (30.5km) line, from SeaTac Airport to the University of Washington station on the U-Link, which is scheduled to open in 2016, by a further 57.5km to a total system of 55-mile (88km) by 2023. In addition to the extension to Northgate, the build-out plan includes an extension south beyond SeaTac Airport to Redondo/Star Lake, north from Northgate to Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood, and east for 14-15 miles from the downtown area, onto Mercer Island and on to Bellevue and Overlake.
- The East Link to Bellevue and the North Link to Northgate are the next extension to be developed with the North Corridor link to Lynnwood and the South Link to Redondo/Star Lake programmed to come into service in 2023.
Preferred route for the East Link
- Preferred East Link route identified
The East Link alignment branches off from the International District/Chinatown Station of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, and travels eastward on I-90 to the Rainier Valley Neighborhood before entering the existing Mount Baker highway tunnel and crossing Lake Washington on the I-90 floating bridge to the Mercer Island Town Center. It remains on I-90 to the City of Bellevue, extends north from I-90 toward Downtown Bellevue to Overlake and on to Downtown Redmond, the terminus of the project.
- As well as running through the existing Mount Baker tunnel on two centre lanes that are used for peak hour contra-flow at present, but were designed from the start of the highway tunnel project to be converted to LRT services eventually, the East Link alignment might also include a new cut and cover tunnel in the centre of Bellevue.
- Last week, (July 23, 2010) the Sound Transit Board completed work to define the preferred alternative for Bellevue route and Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon announced that "our preferred alignment provides effective service in South Bellevue and enables a partnership for building a tunnel in downtown Bellevue. Bypassing South Bellevue, as some proposed, was not an attractive option."
East Link services will run through Mount Baker Ridge highway tunnel and across the I-90 floating bridge to Mercer Island
- In April 2010, Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue signed an agreement to identify up to $75 million in project savings in order to afford a potential downtown Bellevue tunnel alignment not part of the original project budget. The City agreed to provide up to $150 million in city right of way, in-kind services and other means to reduce the overall project costs.
- The 'B7' alignment that some advocated along the I-90 and I-405 freeways would either bypass South Bellevue altogether or expand the financial gap that must be filled to build a tunnel by developing a brand new South Bellevue facility near I-405.
- The preferred Bellevue alignment includes an option for either a cut-and-cover tunnel, as advocated by many in the community, or an at-grade option. All alternatives in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will continue to be carried forward and evaluated in a Supplemental Draft EIS this fall and included in the Final EIS for the selected route in 2011. Both the at-grade alignment and the tunnel alternative through downtown Bellevue will advance through preliminary engineering as the Final EIS is completed.
- The East Link route runs approximately 18 miles east from downtown Seattle to Mercer Island and South Bellevue, crossing Lake Washington in center roadway of I-90. Construction is scheduled to start in late 2013/early 2014. Service to Bellevue is scheduled to open in 2020 under the at-grade option or 2021 under the tunnel option. Service to the Overlake area of Redmond is scheduled to open in 2020/2021.
- The first 14 mile route to the Overlake Transit in Redmond is funded for construction and estimated in 2007 dollars at $2.4 billion with a surface alternative in downtown Bellevue and at $2.6 billion with the cut-and-cover tunnel.
- Celebrating first year anniversary
On Friday 16 July, the Central Link light rail mark the first birthday of services on the 16-mile line with 13 stations between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. Link services currently carry about 23,400 riders each weekday. The first-year ridership numbers are particularly strong given that the recession reduced transit ridership across the nation by about 4% last year.
Aaron Reardon, Sound Transit Board Chair, celebrated Link's first anniversary at the Mount Baker Station
- Top award for outstanding procurement practices
Also in July 1020, Sound Transit was recognized for exceptional contracting policies by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. The Outstanding Agency Accreditation Achievement Award recognises professional excellence in public purchasing policies and practices.
- The three-year accreditation recognizes premier best practices in eight areas of procurement and contract administration, including vision and mission, strategic planning, and transparency and integrity in contracting services.
- The NIGP commended Sound Transit for utilizing advanced technology in procurement and contracting initiatives and distinguished the agency for state-of-art purchasing practices in light rail design and construction.
- Kunjan Dayal, Sound Transit's Director of Procurement and Contracts, said the accreditation "affirms our strong commitment to engaging in full and open procurement practices as we move forward in bringing Link light rail, Sounder commuter rail, and additional ST Express service to Central Puget Sound."
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