Construction on Connect 2020, a new Sound Transit Link project bridging the gap between Seattle and Eastside cities like Bellevue and Mercer Island, started last weekend and will continue until March 13.
The additions created by Connect 2020, which include 10 new stations, are slated to open to the public in about three years.
Transit delays will be common over the next few weeks.
“Connect 2020 will prepare our light rail system to grow dramatically but will require riders to allow more time and bring their patience,” Sound Transit Board chair and University Place Mayor Kent Keel said in a press release. “We thank our riders for bearing the pain of progress as our construction prepares to greatly expand their travel options.”
According to Sound Transit, construction crews, beginning on the weekend of Jan. 4, will be closing one downtown Seattle link at a time in order to attach preexisting routes to the 14 new service miles required by Connect 2020.
With the closures, shuttles will be temporarily taking an affected station’s place. Surface stops at impacted stations will occur between south downtown and Capitol Hill.
Fare won’t be required at the Link light rail while the closures are in place. Sound Transit is recommending riders allow for extra travel time — 30 minutes at a minimum during the earlier part of construction — because trains will be unusually crowded and run every 12 minutes.
The Pioneer Square Station will be the last stop for those coming from both the north and south. That means riders will need to make a center platform transfer there if looking to move in the direction of the University of Washington, for instance.
Bikes will be banned at the Pioneer Square Station during the 10 weeks of construction to reduce congestion, unless a rider requires a scooter or bicycle due to limited mobility.
According to the Seattle Times, construction will affect some 30,000 daily riders, and will entail that railcars be 15 percent more crowded than usual.
“Sound Transit and partner agencies are working together closely during this period to keep people moving,” Sound Transit stated in a press release.
Connect 2020 falls under the “Seattle Squeeze,” a period lasting until 2024 during which downtown Seattle undergoes several transportation-related construction and redevelopment projects to accommodate growth.
According to Seattle Traffic, about 1,000 projects are in development, with some 60 construction projects in the works. The demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is considered the most recent Seattle Squeeze undertaking.
For more information about Connect 2020, go to Sound Transit’s website (https://bit.ly/39NHzYG).