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Stiff winds will hamper East Link light rail

Wednesday, April 5, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

floating bridge pounded by waves in windstormIt's a simple concept: The fewer miles you drive each year, the less you pay for car insurance.

So, if you commute via mass transit – vanpool, bus, light rail – your insurance rates should drop compared with what you'd pay if you drove your car instead.

Those savings will likely help lure riders onto Sound Transit's light rail cars, slated to connect Seattle with the Eastside by 2023. People who live in, say, Redmond will be able to hop a train and ride at 55 mph into downtown Seattle or to Sea-Tac Airport, regardless of road congestion.

Unless a stiff wind blows.

KIRO Radio's Dave Ross learned from Sound Transit that when sustained winds of 35 mph or higher blow out of the north, East Link light rail will be reduced across the Mercer Island Floating Bridge. Winds of 40 to 50 mph would prompt a full closure. Winds that high simply cause too much bridge movement for safe train travel.

The good news is, winds infrequently blow that hard, and north winds are uncommon.

Sound-Transit-train-Wikimedia.jpgSo if you plan to commute across the lake via light rail, don't renege for fear of train service being unreliable. Enjoy leaving your car behind. You'll reduce your stress and likely lower your insurance bill. For those few times that stormy gusts might divert you to your car, your mileage won't increase enough to boost your annual premium.

East Link construction will pick up steam May 16 as around-the-clock HOV lanes open in both directions across the I-90 bridge, permanently vacating the vehicle express lanes for new rail lines.

Top photo courtesy WSDOT

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