Light-rail trains south of downtown Seattle will return to regular service Saturday morning, with trains arriving every 10 minutes, after contractors replaced broken passenger platform tiles ahead of schedule.
The repair job at Columbia City Station, which began Aug. 19, has blocked the southbound platform and was scheduled to last until Sept. 1.
But the team from Waters Construction, a family-owned local business, beat that mark by about five days. They re-tiled both platforms under a $500,000 contract, said transit spokesperson John Gallagher.
Restored service will benefit hundreds of Mariners fans south of T-Mobile Park who will attend a sold-out game Saturday night, when Ichiro is inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame, followed by a Sunday game, both against the Cleveland Guardians.
During the tile repairs, and a similar July job on the northbound side, service was cut by half between Stadium Station and Angle Lake, with trains arriving every 20 minutes, when the north- and south-bound trains alternated on single trackway through Columbia City. Trains between Northgate and Stadium stations have kept their normal 10-minute frequency.
Similar detours to replace 13-year-old yellow platform tiles that broke prematurely are planned next summer at Rainier Beach and Othello stations. The new tiles are larger and secured by screws, not just adhesives.
Cracked and uneven tiles present a tripping hazard and must be replaced for public safety, which is top priority, said interim CEO Brooke Belman, in her announcement Friday. “We are excited to turn it back over sooner than expected.”
The area remained blocked by orange netting Friday morning, even though the tiles were done. Why couldn’t full 10-minute frequency return Friday?
Logistics. Gallagher said transit staff need 24 to 48 hours to reschedule dozens of operators and supervisors.
Sound Transit and King County Metro, which operates light rail here, have brought one or more extra trains to Stadium Station post-game to help crowds get home after summer sports.
This week’s success is welcome news to an agency battered by delays and errors on its much larger East Link light-rail line across Lake Washington, whose grand opening has slipped at least a year beyond the July 2023 target.