A light rail preview ride to Capitol Hill Station

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Dow Constantine’s
speech Tuesday afternoon at UW Station was short, sweet, and to the point. Like he said, we had a train to catch. The King County Executive and Sound Transit board chair lead a tour of the about to open station and took media on a light rail ride to Capitol Hill Station as a preview of Saturday’s festivities marking the start of operations on the 3.1-mile extension.

“It’s going to be an amazing day this Saturday to kick off a better way to get around this city and this region,” Constantine said, reminding the assembled throng that the project is opening “six months early and $200 million under budget.”

Saturday’s celebration includes two parties connected by two miles of tunnels and includes music, games, parades, and food trucks. The schedule and roster of participants has been posted to ulink2016.org/launch-day:

We’re kicking off U Link service with a free community celebration March 19 from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Stations and train rides open at 10 a.m.  Here’s a sample of what we have in store at each station:

  • Self-guided tours of University of Washington and Capitol Hill stations
  • A variety of live music, including instrumental, jazz, rock and hip-hop
  • Wave of the Future Pavilions featuring games, photo booths and more
  • Food for purchase from your favorite local food trucks
  • Farmer’s market at Capitol Hill Station
  • Free commemorative items (while supplies last).

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Northbound trains will begin stopping at Capitol Hill Station after 10 AM Saturday. Rides will be free and you can also pick up a commemorative piece of the Capitol Hill Station construction wall by shopping at Broadway merchants on the 19th.

Tuesday’s preview ride was illustrative of why there is an entirely different level of excitement for the debut of the U-Link line. While Montlake was choked with cars and buses, the media contingent whizzed from Husky Stadium to Broadway in less than 4 minutes and at speeds up to 55 MPH.

From Capitol Hill, $2.25 will take you as far as SODO station, $2.50 to Othello, $2.75 to Rainier Beach, and $3 to Sea-Tac Airport. The fare from Capitol Hill to Husky Stadium will also be $2.25. Hours are 5 AM to 1 AM. Six-minute frequencies are planned for rush hours on weekdays with ten-minute waits planned for “off-peak” hours.

IMG_6239Riders Tuesday were blissfully unaware as we quickly passed only 15 feet beneath the Montlake Cut’s murky bottom and climbed through the eastern twin tunnel beneath Interlaken and Volunteer Park before gliding in below Broadway. On the Capitol Hill platform, you are greeted by the shiny pink, chrome-y goodness of the Mike Ross Jet Kiss sculpture. Up the escalator, you find Ellen Forney’s giant-paneled Crossed Pinkies and the sight of Broadway as it should be seen — from a subway exit.

It’s an exciting ride. And there is more to come. At UW Station, even after all the demolition, tunnel boring, and construction already completed, work crews are preparing to received a tunnel boring machine currently working its way beneath the U District. More trains are coming.

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