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Capitol Hill to UW light rail station in 3 minutes, on track for early 2016 opening


Escalators leading up to mezzanine level of the UW light rail station. (Image: CHS)

By early 2016 getting from Capitol Hill to the University of Washington will only take a three-minute subway ride. CHS got to preview at what you’ll see when you arrive at the UW light rail station.

With about 80% of the work on the two new stations and tunnels complete, Sound Transit led a media tour of the station Friday morning to announce University Link trains will be on the move by the first quarter of 2016 — months ahead of the previous September ’16 milestone. Located about two miles from the Capitol Hill station in the shadows of Husky Stadium, the UW station will connect travelers from the university to Westlake Station in six minutes.

Senator Patty Murray spoke at a brief press conference inside the station’s mezzanine level, where future travelers will purchase tickets. She spoke about the impact President John F. Kennedy’s assassination had on her 50 years ago that day and how it’s inspired her to work on projects like light rail.

“Your legacy is to go out and do something bigger than yourself,” she said. “I’m very proud of the work getting done.”

Murray, who chairs the senate’s Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, was key in getting federal funding for the 3.1 mile University Link extension. Murray was joined by King County Executive Dow Constantine, UW Vice President Randy Hodges, Sound Transit chair Pat McCarthy, and King County Council member Larry Phillips at the event. Official’s praised the project, which Sound Transit says is months ahead of schedule and about $100 million under budget (although that depends on when you start counting).

The UW station is about nine stories underground. A pedestrian bridge will eventually cross Montlake Boulevard to provide easy access to the UW campus and Burke Gillman Trail. Sound Transit estimates that by 2030 some 25,000 will board trains daily at the UW station.

The connecting line between the UW station to the Capitol Hill is still under construction, with the rails and electricity slated to be finished early next year. The first significant Capitol Hill Station construction beyond the giant pit at Broadway and Denny got underway just after Halloween.

Capitol Hill Station will be about 65 feet deep and have three entrances: a north entrance on the east side of Broadway at the corner of East John Street, an entrance on the west side of Broadway just south of East Denny Way, and a south entrance at the corner of East Denny Way and Nagle Place. By 2030 about 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day. When construction is finished, surplus property will be sold for development that is compatible with the station facilities and community priorities.

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17 thoughts on “Capitol Hill to UW light rail station in 3 minutes, on track for early 2016 opening

  1. Re: escalators. I’ve often wondered why escalators (at least everywhere I’ve seen them in the US) are in constant on mode i.e. the escalators are always moving. When I traveled through CDG (Charles DeGaul ) airport in Paris escaltors (escalier mobile) would stop if no one was on them for a set period of time. I’ve never seen that in the US but it seems like an idea to save electricity and make less wear and tear on the machinery. This was re-enforced on me the last few days when I’ve gone by the Harvard Market and see that (as usual) the escalator is broken down and this after it was being “fixed” for most of last month.

  2. “When construction is finished, surplus property will sold for development that is compatible with the station facilities and community priorities.”

    In other words, a park.

  3. @josephsinger re: escalators the escalators at Two Union do slow down when not in use. They don’t stop completely but when it detects weight it speeds up to travel speeds. There typically has to be significant lag time for it to slow down again. Starting and stopping rapidly usually requires a significant burst of energy so in kW stingy Seattle it may be too much of a “cost”.

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