University Link is a future 3.15-mile (5.07 km) subway light rail extension of Sound Transit's Link light rail system in Seattle, Washington, USA. The line will connect downtown Seattle with the University of Washington via Capitol Hill. The line was approved by the Federal Transit Administration in November 2006. Construction began in late 2008, completion of the University Link Tunnel excavation occurred in July of 2013 and the line is scheduled to begin operation in 2016.
Sound Transit began the federal grant process in August 2005 for a US$750 million grant that would allow Sound Transit to build the $1.9 billion project to connect the University of Washington and Capitol Hill to Downtown Seattle without increasing local taxes. In November 2005, the line received the FTA's best rating of "High". During a visit in November 2006 by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Senator Patty Murray, it was announced that the line had passed its third of four milestones to get the grant when it received federal approval to complete its final design. In January 2008, the Federal Transit Administration announced that they would finance $830 million of the cost for the construction of the line after Sound Transit agreed to add $127 million in contingency amounts to cover unseen costs of the tunneling.
After years of negotiations, Sound Transit reached an agreement on disruption and construction with the University of Washington in 2007. As part of the agreement, Sound Transit moved the preferred site of the first University station near Husky Stadium and the University of Washington Medical Center, instead of at 15th Ave NE and NE Pacific St. An additional station serving the university will be at NE 45th and Brooklyn as part of the Sound Transit 2 (ST2) package approved by voters in November, 2008.
University Link is actually a subway, operating underground for its entire route via the University Link Tunnel. It will start at the northernmost stop of Central Link underneath Westlake Center and continue northeast to its first stop beneath Capitol Hill at Cal Anderson Park, near Seattle Central Community College, before heading north to its final stop at the University of Washington near Husky Stadium and the Burke-Gilman Trail. The line originally included a station on First Hill, but due to soil conditions that might increase costs and construction risks, as well as cost-effectiveness requirements, the station was dropped from the route. To make up for the cancelled First Hill light-rail station, a streetcar will connect First Hill to the Pioneer Square and International District neighborhoods.
|Station Name||Opening Year||City/Neighborhood||Location||Platforms||Notes|
|Connection to (Central Link)|
|Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel|
|Westlake||1989||Downtown Seattle||under 4th Avenue & Pine Street||Outside||Connections to monorail and South Lake Union Streetcar.|
|University Link Tunnel|
|Capitol Hill||2016*||Capitol Hill (Seattle)||under Broadway at Denny||Center||Connection to First Hill Streetcar (2014*)|
|University of Washington||2016*||University District, Seattle||Intersection of Montlake Blvd. and NE Pacific St., in front of Husky Stadium||Center|
|End of line; future extension (Northgate Link Extension)|
* Scheduled opening
Kinkisharyo-Mitsui was chosen to design and manufacture low-floor light rail vehicles and provide additional equipment and support. 27 light rail vehicles will be purchased as part of this project, additional to the 35 already purchased for Central Link.
- Gregory Roberts (2006-11-27). "Light rail to UW one step closer". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- "University Link". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- Mike Lindblom (2006-11-28). "Light-rail tunnel gets key support". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- "U.S. to finance 40 percent of light rail extension costs". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-16.[dead link]
- Mike Lindblom (2007-06-06). "Husky Stadium light-rail construction may start next year". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- Light rail showcases new plans in Kane Hall
- Eric Pryne (2005-07-29). "Board cuts First Hill rail station". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- "September 2010 Agency Progress Report, Link Light Rail", Sound Transit, Retrieved 2010-12-29.