It’s been a few months since our last check-in with Northgate Link, and things have changed dramatically around the three stations. Holiday shoppers no longer throng Northgate Mall, which is now split in two and without several of its longtime tenants. Roosevelt has gained the first of two cross-streets and welcomed a few new apartment buildings. U District Station now has furnished entrances and lighter fencing.
There is just about two years left until Sound Transit’s due date for Northgate Link, which is set for September 2021, but the project is currently sitting on enough float time to open months earlier. Sound Transit says that, as of this week, overall construction on the project is 95 percent complete and should be turned over for systems installation soon next year.
Plenty of pictures after the jump.
Let’s begin with Northgate Station, the soon-to-be gateway for shoppers and hockey players alike. The platform is fully furnished with glass windows, signposts, and escalators all the way down to street level.
The low-slung Northgate Station parking garage has been open for a full year now, but was only half-full at the time of this check (on a Wednesday at noon). The top floor remains closed for future work on connecting it to the mezzanine level of the station.
The south side of the station has an exciting development: bus bays. The relocated transit center will be tucked right under the station, with a clear path up the escalators or stairs to the mezzanine before turning around to reach the platform. Dozens of bus routes, perhaps including a few from Snohomish County, are set to terminate here, and their passengers will find standard Sound Transit-style shelters that are wider and roomier than Metro’s offerings.
There is also plenty of activity in the periphery of the station, especially at the mall. The old Bon Marché store, temporarily part of the Macy’s brand, has lost its facade and is being clawed away from the outside. One can no longer walk through the entire length of the mall, but are directed towards the sea of parking lots to continue a shopping trip. It’s a strange coma-like state for our region’s first suburban mall (and one of the first in the country), but as Charles R. Cross said to Crosscut, there is a boundless emptiness to the mall without its stores or people.
To celebrate substantial completion on the construction contract for Roosevelt Station, Sound Transit invited members of the media on a journey down to the platform.
We started from the south entrance at 65th Street, which will serve as an effective transfer to nearby buses and the protected bike lane network of the neighborhood. The ticketing hall is bright and well-lit thanks to the windows in the roof, and comes installed with a small piece of local history: the preserved facade and neon signage of the Standard Radio building, a local landmark that once stood here.
Before we go further inside, a quick look back at the new bus shelter for Routes 45 and 62 on 65th Street. The station entrance is five steps above the sidewalk on 65th Street due to the slope of the site, so there is also an accessible ramp to the sheltered bus stop.
While we weren’t allowed on the new, heavy-duty escalators, Sound Transit was happy to show off a new feature: slow mode. When pedestrians aren’t detected on the escalator or approaching from either end, these escalators are able to conserve power and prevent unnecessary wear and tear by running slower. With peak train frequency of four minutes once East Link comes online, don’t expect to see slow mode all that often.
In case the escalators are stuck in the “off” position, there’s a set of parallel stairs. In fact, there are stairs down to the mezzanine from both entrances and another pair down to the platforms. The two escalator banks from the platform do meet at the center of the mezzanine, which is much better suited for a station of this size than UW Station.
The lower set of escalators also have a fun bit of lighting that creates “waves” on the steps
Sadly, there is no option to slide down to quickly catch your train. We’ll hold out hope for U District Station. The walk down to the platform on the stairs does, however, include a bonus mezzanine that can be skipped on the escalator or elevators.
While the stairs felt a bit claustrophobic, with little room to pass, the platform is just the opposite. Much like Capitol Hill Station, there’s plenty of room to look up into the rest of the station, but there’s plenty of columns to break up and subdivide the space.
The highway ramp-like columns are a bit bare at the moment, but the underside of the stairs and escalators are painted in an almost-Husky shade of purple that creates a good contrast. There is also a nice pop of color coming from the art on the platform, a series of pieces by sculptor Luca Buvoli that are inspired by the motion of runners and cyclists, a good fit for the closest station to Green Lake.
While Roosevelt Station has now reached substantial completion on the construction side, there is still plenty of work left to do. Systems installation will be the most obvious, as the station lacks overhead catenary to power Link trains and real-time signage. One of the only forms of transport in the Northgate Link tunnel at the moment is a hi-rail diesel truck, which made a surprise appearance during the media tour.
The media tour ended in the plaza level at 66th Street, which will lead up to the new transit-oriented development on the former QFC parking lot to the west of the station. The 66th Street plaza is also home to a bicycle center that will have a cage with space for 20 bicycles and 10 on-demand lockers (with room for 20 more), along with 44 exterior bicycle racks.
U District Station
The southernmost of the new stops was also the last to be reached by the boring machines and is a bit further behind. The station entrances now have most of their structural elements in place, with bare openings and steel left to be covered.
The north entrance at NE 45th Street has been bolted to the back of the Neptune Theater. Street restoration on Brooklyn Avenue should begin soon, as it is already graded with rough pavement.
The south entrance at 43rd Street is much further along, with pavement for the new bus/bike corridor in place and the first windows waiting to be installed.
That’s it for now, but expect another pair of project photo updates in the near future. Unfortunately, the pace of construction for East Link has often leapfrogged my slow photo editing, so an end-of-the-year roundup is all that I can promise.