The Daily Journal of Commerce is reporting that an issue with the elevators in the Beacon Hill station could delay the opening of Central Link next year. As you may know, the Beacon Hill station is located 160 below ground -about 16 stories – and high-speed elevators are supposed to move riders between the surface and the platform. The Beacon Hill tunnel has been the cause numerous schedule problems and delays and the elevators are just the lastest. According to the DJC:

The four high-speed elevators that will take passengers from the surface down to the station platform in 20 seconds are still being built in other parts of the country. They may not be installed until next March, even in the best-case scenario.

Sound Transit says the trains can still begin running on time.

Sound Transit has been pressuring its Beacon Hill contractor, Obayashi, to get Kone to move faster. But over the summer, Obayashi told Sound Transit that the elevators wouldn’t be done until July 29, 2009, according to a letter from Richard Capka, the Beacon Hill project’s resident engineer for Sound Transit.

The trains are supposed to begin rolling between Seattle and Tukwila in July of 2009.

“This schedule is totally unacceptable to Sound Transit,” Capka wrote in the letter to Obayashi project manager Masaki Omote.

Kone will have to bring in extra crews working overtime to get the elevators installed on time, Link director Ahmad Fazel said yesterday

I’ve got my fingers crossed this will not be a huge problem.

19 Replies to “Beacon Hill Elevators May Delay Link Opening”

    1. This seems like the easiest solution to me. Open the whole line to get it running and than open the Beacon Hill Station a few weeks later.

    2. That seems like a good potential solution, but you’d have to change the schedules to deal with it after you started stopping there.

      MAX does this when Washington Park is closed. Those elevators break down sometimes, and there was a fire once when I was there, so they did just pass the station.

    3. I really do not want to see light rail service delayed by elevators. I really hope they either get this done in time or simply “breeze right through” for a few weeks.

  1. This is just like the time when Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel Co. incompetently delayed supplies of rail steel for the building of Taggart Transcontinental’s Rio Norte line between Cheyenne and El Paso. Even renowned industrialist Dagne Taggart couldn’t save the Rio Norte in time to provide freight capacity for the Wyatt Oil Co. Tragedy would have been averted if the project was run by Sound Transit.

    PS: none of this actually happened and expanded public transit is Seattle’s only choice.

    1. Why doesn’t ST just do what Dagny would have done and drop the incompetent elevator company to find someone willing/able to do the job right?

      I’m sure timely service is in their contract, allowing them to dump Kone and find someone new.

      1. Right. Because changing suppliers on a large, complex show-stopping component to the project will SPEED things up.

        Yes, change suppliers and the line won’t open for another two years.

      2. I’m not saying to drop Kone before you’ve looked around, but a phone call to Otis or ThyssenKrupp couldn’t hurt.

      3. Let’s put it this way, Matt.

        I worked in purchasing for over a decade on large capital projects. If I had a dime for every time an engineer suggested to me “just make a call and see if you can ‘work your magic”, I’d be personally picking up the entire tab for Prop 1.

        My experience with Japanese firms has been if they promise a delivery date, that is the date, period. (Notice there is no mention of the vendor being LATE or DELAYED.) The dates just don’t pencil out on the delivery and this is going to be a big deal. There will have to be testing and testing and more testing before that station opens.

  2. Not to point fingers, but as Brad points out in his last statement. It probably isn’t the Japanese Company, Sound Transit or the planners probably just didn’t check or initiate the effort appropriately.

    Project failure to meet dates are like wrecks, 97%+ are fault of the operator.

    1. I honestly really doubt it. Notice it says that Kone will bring in more staff to get the elevators installed on time? Either ST compressed their schedule (possible) or Kone had a subcontractor taking longer than expected.

      1. It would only be temporary for 2 weeks. Besides if you live or work on Beacon Hill would you rather walk 160 feet or drive or take a bus to the next station?

      2. I would take the stairs. I use the stairs whenever I can in buildings and in the transit tunnel. I simply don’t know how many people are willing to do that.

        It takes more effort to go up stairs than to walk. Going down or up many flights of stairs can be disorienting. I did that a couple times walking down from the 16th floor to the 4th floor lobby in the Seattle Municipal Tower.

        Actually, 160 feet is the depth of the station platform, not the total length of the path up the stairs. My bad. I can cover 160 feet of level ground in less than a minute but it’ll take a few minutes to get to the surface from that depth.

        It’s a temporary inconvenience and if it allows the system to open as scheduled, I’m all for it.

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