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Puget Sound Transportation Projects

University Link Light Rail

Map of North Link alignment

Construction Underway as of 2010

This is the North extension of the Seattle/Central Link Light Rail project to the University of Washington and the U District. This is a subset of the final North extension to Northgate. While the 1996 vote that passed Sound Move did propose a line all the way to Northgate, budget and technical issues, especially tunneling under Capitol Hill and the Montlake Cut, have delayed the project until now.

The project will be completely in a tunnel. It will originate from the Westlake station in downtown Seattle, continue under First and Capitol Hill, go under the Montlake Cut and end at the University of Washington.

This extension solves a number of transportation problems and opens up a number of opportunities for the entire Seattle area, and outside the area:

  • Allows access via High Capacity Transit (HCT) to Capitol Hill, one of Seattle's densest communities.
  • Allows access via HCT to the University of Washington, a major research institution.
  • Allows for a North expansion to Northgate, already a major bus transfer point.
  • Allows for possible expansion North of Northgate to Lynnwood and eventually Everett
  • With extension to the Eastside, allows users from the University District and Capitol Hill to reach employment centers like Bellevue and Redmond and employers like Microsoft.
  • With extension to Federal Way and eventually Tacoma, allows for access from South King County and Pierce County to the University of Washington.

Thoughts: Back to Top

While this extension is short and very expensive to build due to the amount of tunneling required, it is absolutely necessary to expand the Link network. Expansion North would not only allow for the removal of many of the buses that now travel from Northgate to downtown Seattle, but with a properly designed end station it would allow users to leave their vehicle at Northgate to access Downtown Seattle. Ridership should be high with the end point at UW; especially as college students are more likely to use public transportation and a major institution such as UW will have students from other countries and states where public transportation is more accepted.

The real jewel of this plan involves the future Link extension to the Eastside. Due to Capitol Hill being a very trendy, hip place to live, many young Microsoft and other Eastside employees live there, and now many of them clog SR 520 driving back and forth to work. Having a station in the heart of Capitol Hill would allow many of those users to take Link to their jobs instead. Given a properly constructed and run line (i.e., express trains, stations close to employers, employer shuttles), traffic congestion could diminish dramatically on the Lake Washington Bridges. Of course this also means that East Link must be built as planned.

Future: Back to Top

  • Construction begun late 2008/first train by 2016 (per Sound Transit)
  • Connections to North and East Link

Links: Back to Top

Map: © Sound Transit