Light rail plan for Sea-Tac finalized

Following approval Tuesday by the Port of Seattle Commission, the Sound Transit Board yesterday cleared the way for extending Central Link light rail from Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

“Thanks to our strong partnership with the Port of Seattle, light rail is now officially on its way to the airport. Together we rolled up our sleeves and worked out an aggressive plan to get to the airport by December 2009,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “Today we have passed a big milestone toward making it easier for people to travel between our region and destinations around the globe.”

The agreement finalized yesterday outlines the details of the partnership under which construction of the 1.7-mile airport extension will begin this summer. At the same time construction crews build the airport light rail extension they will build major roadway enhancements to improve airport vehicle access.

The agreement locates the airport light rail station adjacent to the fourth level of the existing airport parking garage, with a pedestrian bridge and dedicated walkway to the airport’s ticket counters. A second pedestrian bridge across International Boulevard will connect the station to a passenger drop-off and pick-up facility in the City of SeaTac. The project is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.

The agreement was reached through intensive work following a preliminary agreement reached in late 2004 between Sound Transit and the Port. The final agreement includes details on design and construction, timelines, responsibilities and cost allocations. Sound Transit has already secured all of the necessary land use permits for the project.

Construction is now underway along the entire 14-mile light rail alignment between Downtown Seattle and Tukwila, with work now approximately 43 percent complete. This segment will open in mid-2009, several months before the December 2009 opening of the airport extension. During this short period free shuttle buses will carry light rail passengers between the Tukwila International Boulevard light rail station and the airport terminal.

Sound Transit estimates that by 2020 approximately 45,000 riders daily will use Central Link. Riders will be assured of a 36-minute trip between Downtown Seattle and the airport, with the line operating as a new dedicated right of way completely free of delays from roadway congestion and bad weather.

Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.