I want to first thank Jennifer on giving me some first hand information to the Tunnel Boring update and Jeff on giving some great information on the University Link project.
Currently, the Emerald Mole is approaching 21st Street South leaving about 7 City blocks or about a month remaining for the bore. Sound Transit is planning on a media day when the Emerald Mole is closer to coming out of the tunnel. The TBM has encountered some rough spots, like water and various maintenance issues. Sound Transit will post the information on the web site when the Emerald Mole is closer to breaking through the West Portal.
University Link will have 3 Tunnel Boring Machines total for the project. Two of the TBM’s will start at the University site and simultaneously bore the two tunnels south to Capitol Hill. A third machine will start at the Capitol Hill station site and bore one tunnel south to the end of the initial segment construction. That machine will then be disassembled, moved to Capitol Hill and reassembled to bore the second tunnel (just as we did with the Beacon Hill TBM)
Now just a guess on my part, the Tunnels them selfs will be completed in 2013/2014 with this arrangement but installing rail, egrees, ventilation and safety systems, Overhead Contact System (OCS), signals, building the Capital Hill Station and University stations will eat up the rest of the 3 years until opening.
In other news – Sound Transit completed the first of many Dead Wire tests in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel on Saturday (January 12th, 2008). These tests are the beginning to live wire tests which will not happen while the tunnel is open unfortunately (How cool would that be to see it roll through the tunnel)
Dead wire testing is to ensure there are no snags in the OCS and that the pantograph moves over joints and connections smoothly.
To view the progress of the Tunnel Boring Machine, keep this page bookmarked for future reference.