‘A monument to confidence,’ VIPs and officials take ride to Capitol Hill as U-Link set for grand opening

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

“This is a statewide asset. It is a monument to confidence.”

Friday’s VIP University-Link ride was all about the public officials who helped make Saturday’s launch happen through years of planning, negotiations, budget deals, and lobbying. Stretching from the first ever U.S. Transportation Secretary appointed in 1967 to the current one, the roster of officials attending Friday’s event stretched across multiple State of Washington, City of Seattle and King County administrations.

After christening UW Station, the VIP crowd took the ride to Capitol Hill Station. With a yank of a rope, Mayor Ed Murray, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, and former Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl  “turned on” the station along with a light show and music.

“For me, a 32-year resident of Capitol Hill, this is about light rail coming to Capitol Hill,” Murray said. “The densest residential neighborhood north of San Francisco and west of Chicago is about to have rapid transit.”

Light Rail Launch VIP - 2 of 9Saturday, the station at Broadway and Denny and the 3.1-mile U-Link extension from downtown to UW via Broadway will begin its official service carrying thousands of riders every day.

Capitol Hill Station Grand Opening
Saturday, March 19th — 9 AM to 5 PM

Friday, officials toured the Broadway facility, where the first Capitol Hill Station busker played an ode to trains on the accordion.

Prior to the ride, the VIP crowd gathered in the entrance to Husky Stadium for a ceremony lead by Sound Transit CEO Rogoff.

Former CEO Earl, recovering from a serious brain surgery, got an ovation for her work on the project.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox said the Obama administration was incredibly supportive of the project.

“Keep going,” he said. “Don’t wait for growth to choke your traffic and your daily lives.”

“This is a statewide asset,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “It is a monument to confidence.”

When outgoing Rep. Jim McDermott moved to Seattle in 1966, I-5 was still getting constructed. He said he never thought he would live to see the day light rail opened from UW to the airport.

“This is proof that the people through their government can get the things done that they need,” he said.

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13 thoughts on “‘A monument to confidence,’ VIPs and officials take ride to Capitol Hill as U-Link set for grand opening

      • Example? I’ve seen quite a few opening events and this one seemed to be going fine and actually had some fun stuff to do.

    • “Oh no, I couldn’t drive to a RAPID TRANSIT opening”

      Absolutely hilarious.

      Oh, and for the “poor planning” bit, you could have driven to Northgate and gotten the shuttle.

    • The concept of park and ride has clearly not made it to seattle yet. Where on the system is any parking ? Given the size of the seattle area, it’s crazy to not connect it to anywhere with mass parking, that place could be uw, but no parking…

    • It’s a tragedy that 500 people couldn’t receive parking at an event that accommodated 30,000 people in 8 hours.

      The reality is that it would have had negligible impact on attendance — just as spending tens of millions of dollars on parking garages would also have negligible impact on ridership.

      The lack of parking isn’t because anyone is stupid. It’s because in comparison with Transit Oriented Development, parking-centric station planning leads to underperforming urban transit stations, and a waste of taxpayer funds vs. encouraging tax-producing development on that land.

  1. Examples of poor planning? Just getting to a train platform was a nightmare, what with all the entrances blocked off and the lack of clear signage. We talked to two staffers and walked blocks and blocks before finally finding the right queue at the Capitol Hill station. When we tried to re-enter the system at UW, we knew enough to ask, but the Sound Transit person gave us incorrect info (we overheard her manager correcting her afterward), so it wasn’t even clear to them how we were supposed to get to the train.

    I could give you many more examples, but if you’re a transit service and you can’t even get people on your train without enormous hassle and confusion, I’d call that poor planning.

    • How about some cheese with your whine? If you couldn’t figure out how to navigate these two stations on your own today then perhaps you should hire a personal escort to show you around.

    • Carla, there were dozens of people around me equally confused. I’ve used public transit in scores of cities around the world, in a half dozen languages. One of my friends who was with me is a professional in the transportation industry. One of the Sound Transit staffers was herself confused (see above). So, no, I don’t think it was my fault.

  2. SURPRISE SURPRISE…People come on hear and start to complain. Nothing will make you people happy! If it’s not one thing it’s another. Please do us all a favor and not use it heaven forbid any of us happy folks get forced to ride next to you!!!!

    • Sorry to harsh your buzz. I complain more in sadness for the opportunity lost. I’m a huge public transit fan, which means both that I’ve seen it done really well and want it to work here in Seattle. Today was a great opportunity to show off how easy and convenient it is to use light rail. Instead, for my friends and the dozens of people around me, it was a confusing hassle. The whole event just sent the wrong message. Glad you had a good time!

  3. We queued up with hundreds of others and found it all quite effortless. Rode the rails most of the day. Looking forward to the Farmer’s Market next!

  4. There were huge signs all over the place and it was explicitly clear where to go. Someone is trying really hard to find something to complain about.