SEATTLE – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Seattle today for the opening of the University Link project, an extension of Sound Transit’s Link light rail service. The extension will connect downtown Seattle to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the University of Washington, bringing high-capacity rapid transit to some of Seattle’s most dynamic neighborhoods. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) contributed $829.6 million for the project through its Capital Investment Grant Program and other DOT funds. In total, federal funds covered about 43 percent of the total project cost of about $1.95 billion. The remaining cost was covered by local sources.
“The Obama Administration is proud to support the enhanced access to jobs, education, and opportunity that University Link will bring to residents of Seattle and the entire Puget Sound region,” said Secretary Foxx. “Seattle’s commitment to an effective and connected transportation network will be the key to its success as the region’s economy and population continues to grow.”
Secretary Foxx was joined at the grand opening by FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff, and other federal, state, and local officials at the University of Washington. The group also took a celebratory first-ride to the new Capitol Hill Station.
“The University Link extension will bring fast, reliable rail service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington – two of the Seattle area’s major centers of employment and education,” said Acting Administrator McMillan. “This project exemplifies public transportation’s ability to connect real people to real opportunities.”
The 3.2-mile expansion of light rail service includes two new stations. The Capitol Hill Station will bring Link service to Capitol Hill, the Broadway business district, and the surrounding highly-populated residential areas. Nearby major employers and educational institutions include Seattle University, Seattle Central Community College, and the Group Health Medical Center. Riders will also be able to easily connect to buses and the First Hill Streetcar.
The University of Washington (UW) Station is located near Husky Stadium, and has new pedestrian and bicycle facilities that will connect the station to the campus and surrounding neighborhoods. A trip between UW Station and downtown will take only eight minutes by light rail.
According to Sound Transit, approximately 5,000 workers were employed during construction of University Link, which is projected to add about 71,000 additional daily Link riders by 2030. In addition, Sound Transit is working to bring transit-oriented development (TOD) to surplus parcels of land around Capitol Hill Station, including extensive affordable housing.
University Link is one of several ongoing projects to expand light rail service in the Seattle area. The Northgate Link and Lynnwood Link projects will continue Link northward from the new University of Washington Station, with the first phase on track to open for service in 2021 and the full extension to Lynnwood planned for 2023. The S. 200th and Federal Way projects are underway to extend service southward from the current SeaTac/Airport Station, with a new station at Angle Lake opening in fall 2016. In addition, the East Link Extension, currently in final design and expected to open in 2023, will bring light rail across Lake Washington to communities including Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond.
Overall, the fully extended Link system will include over 50 miles of light rail and connect the region’s major residential, commercial, and educational centers.