It’s been almost a year since our last photographic update of the Northgate Link stations, and a substantial amount of progress has been made. Sound Transit still has its eyes on a September 2021 opening date for the line, but there is plenty of float time to burn while the most challenging construction has wrapped up. A bookie would place good odds on the opening being a few months early to take advantage of the summer break, but it’s still too soon to tell.
The two subterranean stations on the extension have been mostly closed up and are now peering above street level, allowing sidewalk superintendents to rest their necks and enjoy a view of progress that doesn’t require dirty and scratched up windows beyond the noise/dust walls.
Both entrances of U District Station have become visible, although the north entrance at Brooklyn and 45th Street is still blocked by a wall. Those with long enough arms may be able to place their cameras in the keyhole in the concrete barrier, as I have done, or instead try one of the chain-link fences.
The framework for the stairs and escalators leading to the “upper landing” protrude out of the ground, with the future entryway only steps beyond the wall.
The south entrance is located around the corner from The Ave and 43rd Street, and its headhouse is already rising well above the wall. Both entrances are at the end of low-traffic cul-de-sacs, so onlookers will have plenty of time to loiter around before boarding the nearby 45 bus to the next stop: Roosevelt Station.
The two entrances at Roosevelt Station are easily visible to the collision-prone drivers passing by on NE 65th Street, thanks to the bright orange boards that are being used to cover exposed elements. A few pieces of the south entrance’s facade have been put in place, including brickwork that will surround the ticket vending machines.
The large red crane that hangs above the station and its adjoining staging area was dismantled last week, so these pictures capture a neighborhood icon in its final days. The crane was previously used to help build Capitol Hill Station, but its next job is currently unknown. Sound Transit even hosted a watch party to explain some of the crane dismantling process to high school students and passersby.
The north entrance at Roosevelt Station is a bit further behind, with its framework left uncovered while work progresses inside the headhouse. There’s more brickwork here, but it’s facing away from the publicly-accessible area along 12th Avenue.
At Northgate Station, things have been moving at a very rapid pace, leaving a mostly-complete framework from the mezzanine to the platform. The stairs and escalators at both entrances have been put in place, while work has started on the exterior walls for the mezzanine level.
The garage at the north end of the complex has been open for a few months and the covered levels that are currently open seem to be at or near capacity on a regular basis. The garage has one compelling feature for non-drivers: elevators with clearly-labeled floors, complete with an icon just for future Link riders! Hopefully Sound Transit comes around and corrects their mistakes at UW Station and other existing stations as soon as possible.
The view from the shared mall/transit garage is as superb as usual, so long as you overlook the new garage’s yet-to-be-opened top deck blocking views of the north entrance. Facing the station’s platform at roughly eye level, it’s easy to spot the metal frames that will soon hold up maps and other pieces of rider information. Not seen, however, is whether Sound Transit will choose the University Link-style real-time arrivals screens or go with the older DSTT/Central Link-style LED signs.
Moving on from the station, the nearby Northeast 92nd Street overpass still has the best view of the short elevated approach that leads into the Maple Leaf Portal of the Northgate Link Tunnel. I was lucky enough to catch some of the contractor crews laying down guide rails that will mark out where the actual rails will go in due time.
The east side of the viaduct also has several privacy screens installed to block train riders from looking at the eye-level rooms of the nearby Hampton Inn. One hopes that NIMBYs don’t catch on and demand similar screens for every last inch of future extensions.
The overpass also has a great view of the doomed Northgate Mall, which will see massive redevelopment to coincide with the opening of Northgate Station. Expect further coverage from the blog on the redevelopment plan, which currently sits on the border between awful and mediocre when compared to the sheer potential offered here.
The next installment of your STB Photo Walkabouts will be an update from the Eastside, which will have to be broken between several parts. It’s a fair bit harder to track on foot and by transit, but well worth the trip if you have a sunny day with nothing better to do.