Gamez: Link Light Rail repairs lead to hour-long delays in scorching heat

19 August 2023

Throughout the past week, Link Light Rail’s one-line service from Seattle’s SODO station to Capitol Hill has been shut down with crews working to fix the sinking tracks. According to Sound Transit spokesperson John Gallagher, the repairs can only be done during this warm and dry weather due to the wet soil.

So, since the repairs were only able to take place during Seattle’s most intense heat, many Capitol Hill riders have had to fight off scorching temperatures during delays up of to an hour.

More on the urgent repairs: Weeklong closures affect Link Light Rail, crews repair sinking tracks

“I had to postpone a meeting because of (the delays). Then I came home on Tuesday, and it took me about an hour to get home when it takes me normally about 15-20 minutes because it is a one-track train,” Kaeli Grant, a Capitol Hill resident who frequents Link Light Rail for her commute, told KIRO Newsradio.

Grant added the communication about what was happening on the tracks was not clear.

“The commute and the heat have been brutal. It was confusing too because they didn’t say that it was one track originally and a train that was going southbound came and I didn’t realize that it was only one train at that point. So mass confusion.”

Grant stated that a lot of people were waiting alongside her on the platform in the near record-breaking heat.

“When I first came down, a lot of people were waiting and I was like, ‘Oh, this seems like it’s just a busy day or something,’ and then I came to realize it was one track,” Grant said. “More and more people came. By the time the train was arriving, it was packed as if there was a Taylor Swift concert.”

Temperatures topped out at a 95-degree high at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport this week, KIRO 7 Chief Meteorologist Morgan Palmer said. That was just one degree shy of the single-day record for Aug. 15 when it reached 96 in 2010.

More on Washington’s heat: Cliff Mass claims ‘This is the last major heat event for Puget Sound’

The Associated Press found three people may have died in a record-shattering heat wave in the Pacific Northwest this week, officials said. One death was reported Monday in Portland, according to a statement from the medical examiner. At Portland International Airport, the daily high temperature Monday of 108 degrees broke the previous daily record of 102, the National Weather Service said.

“I think Sound Transit needs to do better giving people a heads up,” Grant continued. “I don’t think everybody reads the news or is informed, but I do feel like a lot of people have ORCA cards or a cell phone. This summer has been the summer of road closures and detours and whatnot, so it wasn’t as much of a surprise and it wasn’t easy and accessible as it could have been.”

More from Micki Gamez: Community fights Sound Transit’s plan to remove hundreds of trees

Sound Transit crews are expected to wrap up work Sunday. But the next day, Rainier Beach is expected to see delays for nearly a month of track work starts.

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest.com

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here

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