The disruptions will enable contractors to attach the tracks, power and signals for the $3.7 billion East Link line, which is scheduled to connect Seattle with Bellevue in 2023.

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Some 80,000 or so daily Sound Transit light-rail riders will have to make extra transfers and squeeze into crowded railcars next winter, during construction work at International District/Chinatown Station for 10 weeks starting in early January 2020.

The disruptions will enable contractors to attach the tracks, power and signals for the $3.7 billion East Link line, which is scheduled to connect Seattle with Bellevue in 2023.

Called “Connect 2020,” this period will be the transit version of last month’s “Realign 99” highway closure, when road lanes closed for three weeks while the Alaskan Way Viaduct was detached, and new ramps built into the new deep-bored Highway 99 tunnel.

However, in this case rail service will continue to operate, but thousands of riders must change trains to travel all the way through downtown.

Basically, the 21-mile corridor from Angle Lake Station to the University of Washington Station will be temporarily broken into two train routes that each terminate at Pioneer Square Station — where a temporary central platform will be added for people to change trains.

Throughout the city, a four-car train will arrive from each direction every 12 minutes. Currently, smaller two- and three-car trains arrive every six minutes at peak times.

More people will have to stand in the train aisles, as the number of railcars per hour decreases by one-fourth. “They’re going to be more full,” cautioned John Sleavin, deputy executive director for project engineering.

Although the East Link line to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Overlake won’t open for four years, transit directors want to finish this work in early 2020. That way, the capacity crunch will be over before tourist season and baseball games. Most important, the job will be done before more trains arrive for the 2021 Northgate Link Extension, which adds three stations and 49,000 daily riders to the network.

The 10-week job includes three full weekend closures when buses will ferry riders through downtown between Westlake and Stadium stations.

Security increases andbetter lighting, as well as on-call escalator and elevator technicians, will be arranged to deal with the Pioneer Square Station’s role as a busier hub, said Marie Olson, corridor operations director. CEO Peter Rogoff acknowledged that Third Avenue entrances will need extra attention. Garbage, broken escalators, panhandling and even parked delivery vehicles often greet transit users there.

Many years ago, transit staff thought it might take a three- to six-month full closure to connect the tracks, but cutting off 80,000 customers was unacceptable, Rogoff said. Instead, teams will work 24 hours a day on the track connection. “This is a necessary inconvenience,” Rogoff said, “so we can enjoy the massive convenience of having 10 new stations in East Link.”