Seattle, Washington/Central Link LRT (MOS-1)

View printer friendly version

Central Link LRT (MOS-1)

Seattle, Washington

(April 2001)


Sound Transit (Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority) is planning a 23.5-mile Central Link light rail transit (LRT) line running north to south from Northgate, through downtown Seattle, Southeast Seattle and the cities of Tukwila and Seatac, Washington. Link will consist of 23 stations, four new park-and-ride lots, and one existing lot. The Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) consists of a 20-mile alignment from the NE 45th Street station in Seattle to the S. 200th Street station in the City of SeaTac. Twenty-one (21) stations and three new park-and-ride lots (1,600 spaces) will constitute the LPA. The system would operate on existing and new right-of-way (ROW), including the existing 1.6-mile Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Sound Transit estimates that a total of 156,400 daily riders on the 23.5-mile system in 2020.

Sound Transit proposes to implement the LRT system in several Minimum Operable Segments (MOS). The initial segment (MOS-1, also known as University Link) extends 7.2 miles from the Northeast 45th Street Station southward to the South Lander Street Station. The alignment includes 4.5 miles of new and exclusive ROW, 1.3 miles of exclusive transit ROW in the existing Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, and 1.4 miles of ROW reconfigured from an existing busway south of Downtown. Sound Transit estimates average weekday boardings of 87,200 for MOS-1 in the year 2020, including 39,800 daily new riders. Total capital costs are estimated at $2,603 million (escalated dollars).

The Link LRT system is one element of Sound Transitís voter-approved ten year $3.9 billion ($1995) Sound Move regional transit plan, which also includes the implementation of a 2-mile LRT line in downtown Tacoma; an 82-mile Sounder commuter rail system operating between Lakewood and Everett; 20 new regional express bus routes; 14 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) direct access ramps (providing access to over 100 miles of existing HOV lanes); 14 new park-and-ride lots and nine transit centers; and other service improvements.


The Sound Transit Board adopted the Sound Move regional transit plan in May 1996. Voters approved $3.9 billion in local funding for implementation of the plan in November 1996. A Major Investment Study of Sound Moveís services was completed in March 1997. Sound Move is included in the Puget Sound Regional Councilís (the areaís MPO) Transportation Plan and Regional Transportation Improvement Program.

FTA approved the initiation of preliminary engineering on the Link LRT in July 1997. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in December 1998. The Final EIS was completed in November 1999. FTA issued a Record of Decision in January 2000. The Sound Transit Board formally adopted the 7.2-mile initial MOS for Federal participation in November 1999. FTA approved the projectís advancement into final design in February 2000. Based on increased costs for tunneling, right-of-way, mitigation, and other factors, Sound Transit increased the total project cost for MOS-1 to $2.6 billion and rescheduled the revenue operations date to November 2009. In January 2001, the Sound Transit Board adopted the revised budget and schedule. FTA entered into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for MOS-1 in January 2001, committing $500 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds to the project.

In April 2001, the DOT Office of Inspector General issued an Interim Report recommending that the Secretary hold funds and funding decisions for the project in abeyance until a specific set of actions related to cost estimation, project scope, cost control, and overall financing plans for the Link LRT project have been addressed. In April 2001, DOT and FTA immediately began implementing these actions.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(85) authorizes the Seattle Sound Move Corridor (Link and Sounder), of which link is one element, for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $90.97 million for the Link LRT.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $500.0 $90.97 million appropriated through FY 2001 for the entire Link system
Local: Sales and Use Tax and MVET, and Bonds $2,103.0

Total: $2,603.0

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

This total reflects the projected cost of MOS-1.

Map of 23.5-mile Central Link light rail transit (LRT) line running north to south from Northgate, through downtown Seattle, Southeast Seattle and the cities of Tukwila and Seatac, Washington with 23 stations.