Lots of good things are ahead for riding light rail to and from Capitol Hill Station but to get there, Sound Transit says coming construction will mean a few weekends without service this fall:
We’re laying the groundwork to open the Blue Line, a new Link line that will begin taking riders from Northgate to Redmond in 2023. As part of that work, we need to reduce Link service for three weekends this fall. On the weekends of October 12-13, October 26-27, and November 9-10, there will be no Link service between SODO-Capitol Hill. Trains will run from Angle Lake-SODO and UW-Capitol Hill, and free buses will connect the six stations in between.
Sound Transit says it chose those weekends because there are no Seahawks or Husky football games.
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The closures are needed to construct a temporary center platform at Pioneer Square Station that will be used in 2020 during construction of a track junction that will allow future Blue Line trains to branch off at International District/Chinatown Station and run to the Eastside via Judkins Park Station.
The “Connect 2020” effort will be a big deal. “Under tightly choreographed operations, Link will continue serving riders over an approximately 10-week construction period at International District/Chinatown Station,” Sound Transit writes. “During the process to connect East Link to the transit tunnel—known as Connect 2020—Sound Transit will close one platform of International District/Chinatown Station at a time for construction. During the construction period, riders will experience reduced frequency and reduced peak-hour capacity. However, Sound Transit will mitigate the reduced frequency by operating all four-car trains.”
From January to March 2020, light rail in Seattle will basically operate as two separate train systems, both terminating at Pioneer Square Station. Here’s how Sound Transit explains the plan for “single-tracking” —
Southbound trains originating at Husky Stadium will travel to Pioneer Square and then reverse direction to head back north on the same track. Similarly, northbound trains originating at Angle Lake will travel to Pioneer Square and then reverse direction to head back south on the same track. Riders continuing northward or southward through Pioneer Square Station will need to change to a waiting train on the opposite track, crossing a temporary center platform that Sound Transit will construct this year.
During the construction period trains on both segments will operate at a frequency of 12 minutes in each direction and will be timed to meet at Pioneer Square, Sound Transit says.
During the single-tracking period, there will also be three weekends — one in early January, one in February and a third in March — when the International District Station will need to fully close. During these closures, light rail will operate between Angle Lake and Stadium stations and between Westlake and the University of Washington stations. Sound Transit says it will operate buses on surface streets between the SODO and Westlake light rail stations in place of light rail service.