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New Light Rail Tunnel Set To Open Makes 8-Minute Commute Between Downtown And UW A Reality

Jennifer Wing
Inside the new light-rail station in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighbohood. This terminal and the University of Washington station are set to open on March 19.


Sound Transit's light rail line will soon be carrying passengers to the University of Washington. The agency says service to UW and Capitol Hill will begin on Saturday, March 19.



Speaking at the new light rail station on Capitol Hill, King County Executive Dow Constantine said commuters between these two destinations who opt to take light rail will see their travel times cut significantly.


“Eight minutes from downtown to the University of Washington, four minutes from where we’re standing to downtown. It took me more than four minutes to get here, ” said Constantine.


The new three-mile tunnel extension includes two new stations: one on Capitol Hill and the other at UW just across the street from the stadium.  Both feature large works by local artists. At the Capitol Hill station on Broadway there is a giant red, black and white enamel mural by Ellen Forney. Two arms reach toward each other and join at the pinky.


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said this new section of light rail is going to be a huge boost for commuters and will bring new life to Capitol Hill.


“The fact that tens of thousands of people will be coming through this station is going to create businesses and restaurants once again on Broadway and revitalize it," said Murray. "So I think it’s going to be a major, positive turning point for the densest neighborhood north of San Francisco.”


The terminals are opening six months early and $150 million under budget. Construction continues north of the UW station. The section between the University District and Northgate is expected to start operating in about five years.


Meanwhile, the Sound Transit board is reviewing future projects to include in a levy measure it is planning for the November ballot.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.