Here is a visual update to Link Light-Rail for 12-11-08

Link is testing between South 154th Street Station and Othello Street station. Yesterday, I was passed by a 4 car set at 55mph (I was doing 25mph on I-5) The train-sets are now being stored at South 154th Street Station if you are looking for them.

Wire is mostly completed from Walden Street to Beacon Hill Tunnel. Wire is done inside of both Beacon Hill tunnels. Wire is not complete from the O&M to Beacon Hill Tunnel but the equipment is there and awaiting the crews that are finishing up at Walden Street.

All of the MLK Way stations appear to be visibly clear of construction equipment and the scissor lifts are also gone. Mt. Baker and Sea-Tac Airport stations are the last to be finished. The status of Beacon Hill station is unknown.

Rail is all the way into Sea-Tac Airport Station and the end of track. OCS installation and traction power station installation will be the last of “initial” segment.

Track speed from Tukwila Station to Sea-Tac Airport will be 35 to 55mph, speed through Beacon Hill Tunnel will be 55mph.

Spring 2009 will introduce full line testing from Westlake Station to S 154th Street. This testing will be at various times throughout the day as they ramp up to scheduled operation testing to opening day. Testing is also to get people used to seeing the trains interacting with buses in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) Testing to Sea-Tac Airport will at various times, mostly at night, starting in late Summer to Fall 2009.

That’s all for now! Less than 8 months until Opening Day!

20 Replies to “Link Light-Rail Update”

  1. Potentially silly question. When is Opening Day? Has there been a definite date set? The most I ever see when searching on this is “Summer of 2009”.

  2. Friday, July 3rd, 2009. No idea if it will be free ride for a couple of weeks (like most LRT openings) or if Beacon Hill Station will be finished by that point (Elevators)

    1. Oran, alexjonlin, and I talked to an ST employee at one of the MLK events where they had a vehicle open. He told us it would be full-fare from day one (or at least day two). He said they’ll have some grand opening stuff, and then the next morning, normal service. Here’s hoping they have it free for at least the first weekend, lots of people would be here (4th of July), and if it’s free, there’s no harm in trying it out.

  3. Brian

    Have you seen any design pictures for the west portals of the Beacon Hill tunnel – will there be a dramatic entry way or something ordinary.

    Also, do you know what they are constructing by Tullys on the I-5 – nothing Light Rail related I assume?

    I confess to feeling slightly bored by all of ST’s pronouncements on Light Rail testing as I have only seen one train running since they mentioned it. They create the impression that it is a constant 24/7 testing when it clearly isn’t and only in segments.

    So long as they get it ready by July 3rd I guess its OK


      1. Thanks Pete

        For some reason I did not get ST’s photo of the week emnail this week

        It looks OK, nothing dramatic as an entry way – am kind of disappointed


      2. Remember though that the West Portal is set back a way from Airport Way, and about 25 feet above it, so most people won’t see this entrance to the tunnel. Even if you’re on Link you most likely won’t see much of it as only the driver will have a clear ahead view and the passengers’ views will be off to the side. At best you’ll probably catch a glimpse of the entrance to the opposite track just before you enter the tunnel.

  4. Yeah the testing happens in segments as the contractors finish their work. Once that is done, they turn it over to Sound Transit to begin testing. This is what is happening between Othello and South 154th Street.

    Since the dead-wire testing is completed, except for the Northbound tunnel, I would have to assume they are awaiting for the contractors to finish up the wire at Walden Street before they begin testing between Mt. Baker Station and South 154th. Dead wire testing will need to be conducted on both tracks into the tunnel and the substation powered on by City Light which controls the power from Walden through the tunnel to the O&M. I’m not sure if their is redundancy but there is a substation at both ends of the tunnels. It could be separate each tunnel or redundant in case of a power outage/surge.

    Sometime early next year, there should be a push through of several LRV’s to the MLK side and starting in Feb/Mar should see testing ramp up between Walden and South 154th with daily at speed trains. I believe this main hold up is because the operator would not clear Walden Street with a 4 car LRV and it would be easier and safer for the operator to use the platform at Mt. Baker Station (like they are currently doing at Othello)

    The most visible testing will be for now, South 154th to Othello, Othello to Walden (early 09), Walden to O&M (March 09), then Westlake to South 154th (Spring 09)

    Testing does in fact happen along MLK with a single car sometimes however expect trains at any time

  5. Correct – When the final operating hours are decided, Link and buses will be in the tunnel during those hours. The transit tunnel itself will be open 7 days a week and for the last Link and bus.

    1. This will be so nice. I’ve often trie dto catch a southbound tunnel bus around 6:45, and I never know if I should try the tunnel in case there’s still one headed out, or if the next will be on the surface streets. Getting rid of that confusion will be great.

    2. Yeah that’s one of the big things that we don’t talk about much. It will allow people like me who live in the U-District to have a seamless transfer from the 7X series to the Link and vice versa. And the latest ridership estimates were much lower than the earlier ones… they were saying that for the first couple months, they’re expecting 25,000 or so per day. Let’s hope they get proven wrong.

    3. This makes me recall a time between 1998 and 2000 when the tunnel was open until 11 PM instead of the usual 7 PM on weeknights. At least we’ll get more local 71’s, 72’s and 73’s (which travel via Fairview and Eastlake instead of I-5, a la the Express service that runs through most of the day) in the tunnel. Most local 71’s, 72’s and 73’s run when the tunnel is closed!

  6. The article in today’s DJC states that ST says the Beacon Hill tunnel work will not be finished until May, but service is still scheduled to begin in July.

    1. Since rail runs through both tunnels and the OCS is installed as well, it makes me wonder if they aren’t talking about the Beacon Hill Station instead of the tunnel proper. We know from the agency progress reports that the station work (especially the elevators) is on the critical path for the whole project.

  7. are the sound transit chartered construction tours worth seeing? do you see anything that you otherwise couldnt see on your own?

    i was considering planning a trip to seattle from portland around doing one of these tours but want to know if its worth it?

    1. Well I am not sure I would all the way from Portland just to see the lunch time tour – if you are thinking that they will take you on a hard hat tour of yet-to-be-open stations and through the tunnel, then they do not do that!

      I would wait until it is open.

      Of course, please come to Seattle for other reasons!


    2. Unless you know someone at Sound Transit (or ST knows you) and can get a hard hat tour arranged, you have the lunch bus tours. Personally, I’ve never been on one myself.

      Last year’s transit planning class at UW had a tour of the O&M facility. A couple of STB bloggers got to tour the O&M facility and the Tukwila Link station as well.

  8. thanks tim

    i was planning to do a lunch time tour as part of a larger visit to seattle. i was hoping that it might have a behind the scenes portion but i’m not surprised it doesn’t. i’ll probably just wait until it opens to tour the system, though i’m sure i’ll visit seattle several times until then. afterall theres a fair bit to tour here in portland with the I-205 MAX line, downtown line and WES commuter rail.

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