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Sound Transit makes progress on Central and Tacoma Link light-rail projects


After nearly a year of delays, executive resignations, cost overruns and raised eyebrows at U.S. Department of Transportation, Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority seems to have settled many of the issues surrounding its Central Link light-rail project. And newly appointed Executive Director Joni Earl is pulling out the diplomatic stops, urging her 18-member board toward consensus on a minimum operable segment (MOS).

Following a series of outreach meetings, Sound Transit staff members compiled a decision matrix outlining the various proposed Central Link route segments, additional costs and key work elements. The matrix was handed out at the board’s June 28 meeting; Earl, her staff and the board expect to finalize a preferred MOS by Sept. 27.

Meanwhile, work on Tacoma Link is progressing with few of the hitches that have tied Central Link in knots. Sound Transit officials announced July 9 that initial work was set to begin, preparing for the eventual demolition of the South 25th Street Bridge and laying of rails along the 1.6-mile Tacoma Dome Station-to-Theater District route.

Sound Transit’s board approved the contract with Gary Merlino Construction Co. in February, but talks with Burlington Northern Santa Fe about light rail crossing BNSF’s tracks delayed the work. Sound Transit engineered a backup emergency braking system to help ensure crossings would be safe, and a revised waiver has been filed with Federal Transit Administration.

With that issue resolved, Earl signed Merlino Construction’s Notice To Proceed. Initial work prior to track installation will include demolishing the bridge and installing drainage, utilities, duct banks, sidewalks, power pole foundations and pavement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/10/2001