Capitol Hill Station ‘launch’ planned for March, indeed

IMG_8039-600x900CapitolHillStationSign-600x112 (1)March 2016 will be an epic month for Seattle’s transportation system. Sound Transit officials are planning for a “launch” event that month for the new light rail extension from downtown to Montlake via Capitol Hill, according to a Wednesday morning Seattle “special events” planning session.

Meanwhile, state officials are also planning a March 2016 grand opening event for the 520 bridge replacement project that will include a fun run across Seattle streets and WSDOT’s new floating bridge. No, the westside portion of the project won’t yet be complete. The Cascade Bicycle Club is also planning an Emerald City Bicycle Ride as part of the grand opening festivities, according to Wednesday’s meeting.

The opening of the two major infrastructure projects will be big news for transit geeks and commuters alike. The March 2016 light rail launch event will involve both Capitol Hill Station on Broadway and the UW Station near Husky Stadium. No specific dates for the events have been announced.

This March, CHS reported on planning documents that detailed a March 2016 start of service for the new light rail extension but Sound Transit officials cautioned that the schedule as of last spring was still in the air. The new events planning apparently aligns with the longterm plan.

The $110 million Capitol Hill Station facility stretches from John to Denny below two acres of Broadway just northwest of Cal Anderson Park. “Pre-revenue testing” has been underway will begin in early 2016 in the twin tunnels between downtown and Montlake under Capitol Hill. The testing includes trains — passenger-less, of course — continuing from Westlake to UW Station to put the system fully through its paces.

When service begins, Broadway riders will descend around 65 feet via escalators or elevators to reach the Capitol Hill Station platform. In addition to the main entrance near Broadway and John, the station will also be accessed by a Seattle Central-friendly entrance near Denny on the west side of Broadway and a third entrance on the south end of the site.

Above the platform, the controversial Jet Kiss, a massive sculpture crafted from A-4 Skyhawk fighter jets by artist Mike Ross, already hangs. Tiled murals by Capitol Hill artist Ellen Forney will be installed before the station’s opening.

By 2030, about 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day. Hours of operation will mirror the service — the facility is scheduled to be open from 5 AM to 1 AM — every day but Sunday when hours are reduced to 6 AM to midnight.

The ride from downtown to UW via Broadway is expected to take about 8 minutes — 3 minutes from the Hill to the Montlake station adjacent Husky Stadium. When Metro buses are finally phased out of the Downtown Transit Tunnel in 2021, Sound Transit expects the the trip to UW to drop to around 6 minutes. CHS reported that, yes, you’ll be able to use your mobile phone thanks to a new contract Sound Transit has pounded out with a service provider for the twin tunnels on the route. Fares and service hours are predicted to remain stable.

Development including affordable housing around Capitol Hill Station will not have broken ground by the time the system opens next spring.

With the March planning, the First Hill Streetcar now has a firm goal to race against if that project hopes to begin serving Capitol Hill riders before light rail. In the meantime, Metro is optimizing its routes in anticipation of the start of light rail service and the city is refining parking rules around the station. The big, red construction wall — and its gallery of art installations — is now long gone.

UPDATE: A Sound Transit spokesperson could neither confirm nor deny our report. “For now all I can say is that U Link it’s scheduled to open in Q1 of next year,” the spokesperson tells CHS. Sorry we are too impatient to wait for the press release, Sound Transit spokesperson. Thanks for continuing to answer our messages anyway.

UPDATE x2: Here comes the streetcar. We heard 404 (pink!) was on Broadway Wednesday afternoon:

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27 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Station ‘launch’ planned for March, indeed

    • From my point of view, they’re a nod the gay roots of Capitol Hill, which I love. However, I think they’re a bit controversial because of the whole war plane (violence) reference.

    • We have such a cozy little town, that is so welcoming to the arts and gay people, in large part thanks to the military and Boeing. Service men and women who came here on assignment and realized that they didn’t have to go back home and live in a closet, Boeing’s long history of supporting the arts….Those would pontificate about the “war machine” need to stop and think about that particular deal that this region made with the devil, and how it made a lot of our lives a whole lot better.

    • I don’t have a synthetic overview detailing Boeing’s contribution to the arts, but here’s one example: http://www.artsfund.org/about-arts-fund/history

      From what I understand, compared to a company like Amazon, Boeing has a much more well-developed commitment to things like the arts and philanthropy.

      That doesn’t mean the company is perfect, but I don’t think the assertions made by think about it are off the mark.

    • If you’re not aware of Boeing’s history of philanthropy, both the corporation and its employees, then you haven’t lived here long, or haven’t been paying much attention.

      Almost every theater and major museum in this town has had Boeing as a patron, and groups like PONCHO received huge amounts of money from Boeing through the years.

      That’s probably changed since they moved the HQ to Chicago, but you still see Boeing’s name pop up from time to time on donor lists.

  1. What was the “Wednesday morning Seattle “special events” planning session”? Did it have ST ppl in there? They’d be the only ones who could possibly know.

  2. The icon they chose to represent the Capitol Hill station is… an American flag..? the hell? During the icon suggestion phase, I suggested twin guitars- representing Capitol Hill’s history as both the gayborhood and music epicenter of Seattle. Hell, even a car to represent CH’s history as auto row would be fair… but a generic American flag? WTF

  3. Why is the LINK only running until 1AM? It is an invaluable resource to reduce drunk driving incidents. It should run until at least 2:30AM on Friday/Saturday, and ideally all week. Service doesn’t have to be frequent, but there need to be a few trains during those hours.

    • Could not agree more! I have been saying this for a while: Once the train is running to Capitol Hill, and then later to the heard of the U District, Sound Transit has GOT to include trains later than 1am on weekends, at a minimum. We want to encourage people to use transit and if they have to go home early to ride the train, well, they just won’t ride the train.

    • Hugely support this, but of course it will cost a good amount of money. Honestly if they add a $1 late night fare hike to help pay for it I would be perfectly happy though.

  4. Does anyone know whether the cell access in the new part of the tunnel will be added to the existing part of the tunnel? I sure hope so. It’s really ridiculous that there is no service in the tunnel at all. Riding MUNI in SF just a week ago, full service everywhere. Riding the BVG in Berlin, full service everywhere. Riding the subway in NYC, full service everywhere. It’s just natural that business and persona lives should be able to continue, not to mention from a safety standpoint.