Here is the latest news for Link Light-Rail and Sounder:

Link Updates

Mt. Baker Station is nearing completion. Most of the glass work has been finished and elevator testing has been completed and certified.

Wire is completed from Walden Street into the Beacon Hill Tunnel

Track work is completed in the Northbound tunnel.

Wire still needs to be completed from the O&M to the Beacon Hill Tunnel. This should be a day or two worth of work.

Ground Breaking on University Link is this month. Demolition and construction in Capitol Hill should start this Summer.

I thought previously that there were 8 LRV’s at South 154th Street Station, but there are only 4 at this time.

The truss/roof work at Sea-Tac Airport Station is ramping up.  The pedestrian bridge over International BLVD/Hwy 99 should be going over the roadway later this Spring.

Sounder Updates

The 9th Seattle – Tacoma round trip will start in July 2009. This was previously slated to start in February 2009 but due to the lack of space in L Street yard in Tacoma, new track is needed before the 9th train can be added.

The D Street to M Street (Chandler Street) work will start this year and the design is at 100 percent. The WSDOT portion of the work between Lakewood and Nisqually is on hold until 2015. Maximum speed will only be 60mph between D Street and Lakewood station until WSDOT can obtain the funding for the upgraded track. The speed will increase from 60 to 79mph and 10mph to 79mph from Lakewood to Nisqually. Amtrak service will not move until the trackwork is fully completed.

The new LED signs on Sounder will show the destination of the train (IE: To SEATTLE or To EVERETT) This will eliminate the confusion that some passengers face at King Street Station.

Everett Sounder passenger may encounter small delays between Seattle and Ballard with track work starting up between Vine Street and the Ballard Bridge (Bridge 4, Bridge 6.3, Salmon Bay Bridge, etc). Work on double tracking this segment should be finished this Summer.

A side project funding by Sound Transit, WSDOT, The City of Everett, and BNSF Railway has been completed, which added a new bypass between Lowell and BNSF’s Delta Yard. BNSF will now start work on expanding Delta Yard, adding several new tracks to expand yard capacity and will work on increasing the speed between PA Jct and Marysville. These improvements benefit freight, passenger, and auto traffic. Bayside Yard (along the Waterfront) will get a new run through track and the speed increased from 15mph to 40mph.

The rest of the projects along the Puget Sound will start up in late 2009 and should be finishing up in 2012 instead of 2015 thanks to the passing of Prop 1. The next major work point will be Edmonds, Milepost 27-28 and rebuilding of Everett Jct for higher speed movements.

That’s all for now! 178 days until the opening of Central Link and 346 until the opening of Airport Link!

15 Replies to “Link Light-Rail and Sounder News”

  1. Thanks Brian

    So now Point Defiance bypass until 2015? That sucks, but Sounder can still get to South Tacoma and Lakewood by the scheduled 2012?


  2. Correct Tim – The Gov. killed most of the funding for the bypass. It is listed as one of the Obama projects but we’ll see.

    I forgot to mention – South Tacoma Station is just about completed. Looks very good.

    1. Given the relatively small amount of money needed for the WADOT portion I have hope the Pt. Defiance bypass will make it either into the stimulus bill or the next Amtrak bill.

      1. Yeah me, too. It’s not a significant amount of cash for the feds, they spend that much on staplers.

  3. I take it that Gregoire is not a rail fan by any stretch of the imagination. Her main problem with me, is that however competent an executive she is, she appears to lack imagination to see beyond what is right in front of her.

    The Point Defiance bypass seems like a no-brainer shovel-ready-and-sunk-in-concrete type of project to me, but what do I know, I am just an European, right?

    By the way, does anyone know if Obama and Biden are coming on a special train or a regular specially-decked out Amtrak commuter train to the inaugural?

  4. Yeah the Point Defiance line should be a major priority for her but it isn’t and she is relying on the new Administration to providing funding for pretty much all of the rail projects. It is a good idea but who knows where that will stand at.

    I’ve heard there is supposed to be a huge gather of private cars in Washington DC, my guess is that he and Biden will be on one of these cars on the rear of Amtrak.


    As of today – the Beacon Hill Tunnel project is coming along very well, and the elevators should be installed soon. The vent for Beacon Hill station should be starting pretty shortly as well which will bring down the blue wall.

  5. Some inside info on the Nisqually crossover (south end of the bypass). We got to the 30% design submittal with BNSF Railway before it was put on hold. It’s not shovel ready. I don’t know about the Nisqually northward portion since we just worked on the BNSF-Bypass stuff.

  6. I hate to sound anti-rail, but although it is important to do the Point Defiance bypass, in the end it’ll only save five or ten minutes, and with a $5 billion budget deficit, children’s health care and education are more important than that this time around.

    1. True enough, but I hate seeing needed capital projects get pushed off every time the budget is tight. Some form of dedicated funding for non-road capital transportation projects would be nice.

      Speaking of which, pushing off the capital needs of the ferry system yet again seems rather stupid. I don’t want to see another situation like we had with the steel electric ferries in a few years due to yet more deferred maintenance and a refusal to replace old vessels past the end of their useful lives.

  7. The phoenix area recently opened its new Metro light rail system by Valley Metro. The system is 20 miles long and cost $1.4b. However, Sound Transit’s Link cost $2.1b but only 14 miles long. Could someone explain how come the Phoenix agency could build more with less compared to Sound Transit’s Link and which is taking longer to build than Valley Metro’s light rail.

    1. Well, for starters, Phoenix light rail is entirely on the surface — requiring many street and pedestrian crossings and the slower speeds that that entails. Sound Transit has some of these, but large sections are elevated or underground.

      Moreover, Phoenix’s platforms will be able to accommodate three cars instead of four, which means the trains can carry only 3/4 as many people. That extra 100 feet or so of platform is expensive when it’s underground or elevated.

      Finally, the new underground station at Beacon Hill is very deep, requiring lots of special and expensive measures.

      1. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Phoenix system didn’t have to do nearly as much property acquisition, pay nearly as much for what they did buy, or have to spend as much on mitigation.

        I don’t remember the exact breakdown of the cost of central+airport link but IIRC a big chunk of it was the Beacon Hill tunnel and station with another large chunk being the elevated alignment from Boeing Access Road to the airport (along with the associated stations).

      2. I thank Martin Duke and Chris Stefan for their contribution. Since Sound Transit has just posted proposals about the fare structure and payment system, it would be good to know how Phoenix’s system works as well.

Comments are closed.