SEATTLE — Prepare for impacts of reduced light rail service if you commute through downtown Seattle. Sound Transit has started 10 weeks of service disruptions due to construction.

“We expect riders will face crowded trains, crowded platforms and longer travel times as a result, and as a result they will need to provide more time for their trips,” said Ron Lewis, executive director of design, engineering, and construction management at Sound Transit.

Sound Transit provided free bus shuttles between SODO and Capitol Hill during last weekend's closure. Additional weekend-long closures are planned for Feb. 8-9 and March 14-15.

The closure is part of the agency's Connect 2020 project that's expanding light rail service to the eastside. 

Between Jan. 4 and March 15, construction crews will close one Link track at a time in downtown Seattle to connect existing service with 14 miles of new service to East King County. 

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Trains will run at a reduced frequency of every 12 minutes during this time, instead of every six minutes in peak hours. All trains will operate with the maximum four cars, officials said. 

Riders continuing through downtown Seattle will need to switch trains at Pioneer Square Station to change tracks.

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Riders with bicycles will also not be allowed at the Pioneer Square Station. Southbound riders with bikes will be forced to exit the train at the University Street Station, and northbound riders will exit at the International District/Chinatown Station. 

Sound Transit officials said with up to 1,600 riders needing to transfer across the same center platform at Pioneer Square, bikes will be prohibited for safety. 

Officials opted for extended disruptions, rather than shutting down service completely. 

When Connect 2020 is done, the existing tunnel will be ready to serve riders traveling to and from 10 new East King County stations starting in 2023, Sound Transit officials said. 

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