CHOKEPOINTS

Light rail riders need to prepare for 10 weeks of service disruptions

Sep 3, 2019, 6:47 AM

The 80,000 daily light rail riders through Seattle need to be prepared for two and a half months of service disruptions as the east link tracks are tied-into the system.

New lanes finally coming to I-90 east of Bellevue

Riders going through downtown are going to have to switch trains during the first 10 weeks of 2020. Sound Transit will be closing parts of the International District/Chinatown Station from January through mid-March to tie-in the east link track. This means that the trains will not be able to go through that station during the closure.

Sound Transit’s Rachelle Cunningham said that left the agency with a difficult question: how to keep the trains running.

“It’s going to be a very choreographed and coordinated effort,” she said. “We want to keep the trains running. We didn’t want to close down the system during this project.”

Sound Transit came up with this solution: A line from U-dub that ends at Pioneer Square and a line from Angle Lake that ends at Pioneer Square.

“Each of those trains will stop there, and passengers that are going through downtown will switch trains,” Cunningham said.

That will allow passengers to continue their trips through downtown.

I know what you’re thinking. How are we going to switch trains in Pioneer Square? There is no platform connecting either side. That will change next month, when that platform will start taking shape. To make that happen, there will be three weekends of reduced light rail service and no service at all from SoDo to Capitol Hill.

Cunningham said trains should run every 12 minutes during this construction phase in early 2020. Trains currently run every six minutes during weekday peak hours and 10-15 minutes the rest of the time.

“People can still take the Link light rail,” she said. “It’s going to be crowded. There will be longer wait times. We will be running four-car trains to try and increase the capacity during that time, but people are going to want to plan ahead.”

How bus reroute will ease traffic slog for West Seattle riders

There will also be three other weekends where no trains will run between SoDo and Capitol Hill during that January to March time frame.

We will keep you up to date on the weekend closures and service disruptions as we get closer. This is just a reminder to start planning your trips and prepping for longer commutes.

In other Sound Transit news, it’s never too early to start thinking about the names of the light rail service. The current north-south line will be called the RED LINE. Service to the Eastside will be called the BLUE LINE.

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Light rail riders need to prepare for 10 weeks of service disruptions