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Sound Transit notes progress on University Link, Sounder projects


This week, Sound Transit marked milestones for both the University Link light-rail and Sounder commuter-rail projects.

Yesterday, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) pushed through the wall into the Capitol Hill station site, completing a two-mile light-rail tunnel from the University of Washington. The University Link TBM was launched in May 2011, and passed beneath the Montlake Cut and Montlake, Interlake, Volunteer Park and north Capitol Hill neighborhoods. A second TBM still is mining the second tunnel between the university and Capitol Hill, and is expected to arrive in April. Meanwhile, a third TBM is mining the second tunnel between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle. That machine is expected to arrive in June.

In the meantime, contractors have begun mining 20 cross passages between the north and southbound tunnels. Once that work is complete, contractors will build a new track bed in the tunnels, and begin laying the rail and communications systems for light-rail operations. At the same time, contractors will finish building stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.

Scheduled to open in 2016, the $1.9 billion, 3.1-mile University Link will connect the University of Washington and Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle via an underground alignment.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit reopened Pacific Avenue yesterday after crews spent nine months building a rail bridge, and re-grading and re-paving streets for the agency’s D to M streets Sounder track and signal project. The 1.4-mile project will enable Sound Transit to begin operating five daily peak-period round trips from Lakewood to Seattle.

The Pacific Avenue work marks the final phase of construction for the project. Now, crews will solidify the rail bed and lay track from D to M streets; complete the Pacific Avenue rail bridge; install new crossing gates, signals and other safety equipment; build a new pedestrian underpass on A Street; re-pave South Tacoma Way and make improvements to South C Street; and landscape the area. Service is expected to launch Oct. 1.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/22/2012