Six tunnel segments on a single light rail extension project offered plenty of opportunity for Sound Transit to run amiss of target dates, costs and plans. But with the final tunnel-boring machine mining the southbound tunnel near the new University of Washington Station for Sound Transit in Seattle, in a matter of days all six tunnel segments on the project will wrap up, pushing the Northgate Link project further toward completion.

Work on the Northgate Link project, which extends light rail service from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington and north, won’t wrap with the completion of the tunnels, though. Plenty of station and track work remains.

Next on the agenda is the Northgate Station and a contract awarded in late August to Absher Construction Company gets that project moving forward. Absher will construct the elevated station, including .8 miles of elevated guideway and tail track and a 450-stall parking garage.

The station entrance near Northgate mall and the current Northgate Transit Center will allow for a new “transit island” below the station for quick bus transfers and the adjacent park-and-ride facilities. The proximity to the mall and North Seattle College will keep the new station, with construction starting this fall, a busy portal as the northernmost terminus of the Sound Transit light rail map.

Crews have already started to relocate electrical lines to the west side of Interstate 5 to make way for the station and elevated guideway.

Another new station along the Northgate Link project has started taking shape as crews demolished a former Key Bank building in the U District. Crews will salvage building materials and then begin excavation of the site to prep it for use as contractor parking and staging for construction of the future U District Station.

Opening Early
As work continues north of downtown, a new 1.6-mile extension from Sea-Tac Airport to South 200th Street now has an opening date of Saturday, Sept. 24, four years earlier than originally planned.

The $383 million project south of Seattle was part of the Sound Transit 2 bond measure and came in $40 million under budget.

Sound Transit board chair and King County executive Dow Constantine calls opening the Angle Lake Station a “milestone in building a vibrant, regional light rail system.”

Trains will run every six minutes, connecting points south with not only the airport, but also downtown, the stadium district and eventually the University of Washington.

The extension includes elevated guideway and a new station, which will serve as the southern terminus for light rail until an extension to Kent/Des Moines opens in 2023.

The project includes a 1,050-stall garage, 70-space surface lot, van pool parking and passenger drop-off/pick-up areas.

A public art sculpture “Cloud” offers a prominent feature for the new station. Installed on the elevated platform straddling South 200th Street, 6,000 hanging disks that change in appearance in response to fluctuations in light, weather or at the approach of a train offer some artistic value to the new station.

Looking beyond Sound Transit 2, the agency has proposed Sound Transit 3, a Nov. 8 ballot measure asking regional voters for $52.8 billion in funding for 62 new miles of light rail, along with rapid bus service, Sounder Commuter upgrades, parking and more.

Sound Transit hasn’t stopped its forward progress and hopes that after November there is no end in sight to the growth of light rail in the Puget Sound.

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.