I just found this nifty little widget. Given all the things that can go wrong with tunneling, I’ll feel a lot better once all these machines punch through to the other side. That’s not to say tunneling is never worthwhile or that it’s even likely that something will go wrong. It’s just one of the larger technical risks in a project of this nature.

45 Replies to “U-Link Progress Report”

  1. Let’s hope this progress bar is more accurate than the Windows one ;)

    More seriously, Brenda will be making two trips, right? Is the 4.8% for the current trip, or total?

    1. I think it’s total. That makes for a total of 7667 feet, which some rough work on Google Maps shows is way too long for a single trip.

    2. Another question about that? Does anyone know why brenda is making 2 trips and why they would not just continue running togo or balto all the way through to downtown. I figured there would be a good reason. Im just not sure what it is. Also on that topic, are these same TBMs going to be used for the rest of the North link tunnels? Or are we going to have to buy more?

      1. Well I think at least a partial answer to both questions is that there are two different contractors for the UW->CHS and CHS->WLS segments, and the contractors own the machines. IIRC, the UW->CHS contractor was talking about disassembling their machines’ innards and leaving the shells underground, which I guess they do a lot in Japan.

      2. It cuts construction time in half. DT to Capitol Hill is half the distance of the Hill to UW. It’s the logical place to meet since they have to excavate for the station there.

      3. The original shells for the DSTT tunnel boring machines were also left underground, at the west portal out of Westlake Station.

      4. Honestly, the abandonment of TBMs has always seemed wasteful to me. The logic is that the transportation costs for them are huge, but if you’re going to dig another tunnel… in the same city… well, I know there are some parts you need to replace every so many feet, but it just seems wasteful not to reuse the ones you already have here.

  2. Can’t wait untill 2016 to check this out. It will make traving between downtown, Capitol Hill and Montlake alot faster compared to the bus service that’s in place now.

    1. I wonder about Montlake or much of the back part of Capitol hill for that matter being improved after this is done. You’ll still need to take a bus or walk a healthy distance to reach the 2 new stations. I can totally buy commuting to UW Hospital or a Husky game from Broadway will be great.

      I’d also hazard the existing express buses you can catch at the Montlake 520 flyover heading towards downtown are probably very close in time to the new train times once done.

      Ben

      1. I’d also hazard the existing express buses you can catch at the Montlake 520 flyover heading towards downtown are probably very close in time to the new train times once done.

        Not when there’s any traffic on 520 or I-5 (i.e. most of the time).

      2. What flyover? By the time the trains are running, the Montlake Freeway Station will be a thing of the past.

      3. Last I’ve heard, the plan is:

        – During peak, each 520 route will come in two flavors; one will exit at Montlake and continue to UW, and the other will skip Montlake and head towards downtown.

        – At other times, there will only be one flavor, which will stop on the Montlake lid, then continue to downtown.

      4. The freeway is usually fast, but the downtown streets, especially the 2-3 cycles it often takes to get through the light at Denny Way are not. The few times, I’ve taken an afternoon peak-hour trip into downtown, the 545 took longer to get from the Stewart St. exit ramp to 5th and Pine than it would have taken to get off a Montlake, jog over to the UW station, and then ride Link to 5th and Pine. If the plan of record is correct, we won’t be getting this option.

        I think the most important thing is that off-peak, buses headed from the eastside provide a stop somewhere around Montlake. The time penalty that would result from forcing people to go downtown and backtrack would be way beyond the range of acceptable, even with Link, as would a forced transfer at Evergreen Point to a 271 that runs every 1/2 hour on evenings and Saturdays or just once an hour on Sundays.

      5. @Aleks: I had been under that impression too, but look at the diagram on page 2 of this pdf and tell me how that’s possible.

      6. Is there any plan to terminate the downtown ST express busses at link stations? The ST express busses serve very similar stops to Link. It would seem more reliable and efficient (train is cheaper to operate than bus) to end all of the SR520 routes to downtown at the univeristy Link station. Then you could just transfer to Link, and be downtown in a number of minutes. It seems this would be faster and more efficient. Yes it requires a transfer but during bad traffic downtown it would still be faster and more reliable. The same could be done with the Northern ST express buses when Northgate station opens.

      7. (train is cheaper to operate than bus)

        Where on earth did you get that idea? Trains are way more expensive to operate! Even the SLU streetcar is double the cost per hour of a bus.

      8. sorry, what i tried to say was trains are cheaper per rider (if full). If the trains are running anyway and underutilized (which link will be for quite some time). Why not terminate the express buses at link stations. The buses run less miles (cheaper). And you operate the same trains just with more riders. This should save money and during high traffic congestion would probably save time and be more reliable.

      9. Matt, regarding 520 buses stopping at Montlake and continuing on, it seems possible given three assumptions:
        1) Buses will NOT use the HOV lanes between I-5 and Montlake
        2) Buses will be allowed to turn right from NB Montlake onto the EB Montlake Lid HOV lanes/bus stops.
        3) Buses will be allowed to continue straight from the WB Montlake lid HOV/bus stops onto the WB 520 on-ramp.

        For #1 the buses will be stuck in general purpose traffic and the Montlake off-ramp, which is probably why they will only do this off-peak. During peak they would stay in the HOV lanes.

        For #2, I don’t see any traffic-flow reason that this wouldn’t work. The curb for that turn would need to have a broad enough curve for a bus to navigate, but that’s easy enough to do.

        For #3, It looks like buses will already have a dedicated signal phase to make their right out of the lid HOV lane and onto the Montlake HOV lane. Presumably they could also be given time to continue straight, though that could delay traffic SB on Montlake (including buses in the HOV lane waiting to turn left). Again, not an insurmountable problem.

        It’s certainly not ideal, but it certainly looks possible.

      10. Murray: That’s precisely the plan that many of us have been advocating. Specifically, I would love to see the new 520 Montlake interchanged designed in such a way that buses can get directly to the UW Link station without having to go through any GP traffic lanes, and then off-peak, all buses would terminate there rather than continuing downtown. But regrettably, that doesn’t seem to be the direction that ST is currently heading in.

        Bernie: I’m assuming Murray meant that full trains are cheaper per rider than full buses, which is both true and is one of the main reasons that we’re building trains in the first place (well, aside from the fact that the capacity needs of the downtown-Cap Hill-UW-Northgate corridor simply can’t be met without rail).

      11. I don’t see the benefit as long as buses are still able to use the tunnel. The 255 is 10 minutes from Montlake Flyer stop to University Street Station. It’s going to be what, 4-5 minutes to get to Husky Stadium and then a 5-10 minute transfer penalty and then what, about 7 minutes to DT? Remember, you have to assume the worst case transfer when you’re planing a trip to somewhere you need to be on time like work. You reduce revenue service time for the bus but I don’t see that turning into reduced platform hours since you’re not gaining enough time to do anything but lengthen layover time. Of course a lot will depend on the traffic situation after the 520/Montlake/405/I-5/Mercer projects are finished.

      12. I don’t see the benefit as long as buses are still able to use the tunnel. The 255 is 10 minutes from Montlake Flyer stop to University Street Station.

        Assuming no traffic on either 520 or I-5 or on downtown streets. Which is generally the wrong assumption on all counts.

        It’s going to be what, 4-5 minutes to get to Husky Stadium

        Whaaaaat? If I got my way, there would be a direct transit-only ramp from 520 to Husky Station, meaning it would actually be *faster* to get there than to get through Montlake today.

        and then a 5-10 minute transfer penalty

        With all the service hours saved from not running duplicate buses, we could have 3-minute peak headways on U-Link, and 7.5-minute off-peak. So the transfer penalty is more like 3 minutes.

        and then what, about 7 minutes to DT?

        Six minutes to Westlake. Or three minutes to Capitol Hill, a very popular destination for 520 riders, which is currently about 20 minutes away from Montlake today (whether you transfer there, or backtrack through downtown.) Or three minutes to the U-District, which is about 10 minutes away from Montlake by local bus.

        Remember, you have to assume the worst case transfer when you’re planing a trip to somewhere you need to be on time like work.

        Yes, but you also have to assume the worst case traffic. If trains are running at 7-minute headway, and I miss one, then I have to wait 7 minutes. If there’s terrible traffic on 520, my bus could *easily* take 30 minutes longer than normal.

        You reduce revenue service time for the bus but I don’t see that turning into reduced platform hours since you’re not gaining enough time to do anything but lengthen layover time.

        Huh? At 5 am, the 545 is scheduled for 19 minutes from SODO to Montlake, then 28 from there to Bear Creek. Skipping the downtown run would save over 1/3 of the trip. At 8 am, it’s scheduled for 31 minutes from SODO to Montlake, then 35 to Bear Creek — so you’re saving *half* the time! That means half the vehicles can provide the same amount of service.

        (FWIW, note that at peak, the 545 is sometimes scheduled to take almost 20 minutes to get from Montlake to 5th and Pine. I’ll take the 6 minutes, even with the transfer penalty.)

  3. Right now I’m imagining one of those fast-talking horse-race announcers going continuously for the next 5 years.

    1. Gordon, Balto launched about a month AFTER Togo did — by design. In practice, the second machine tends to catch up with the first launched, as there’s more going on (e.g. digging of cross passages) in the first.

  4. Looks like at 1,500 feet Togo is just past the Montlake Cut and starting the long spiral up to Capitol Hill.

  5. I posted the link to that DAYS ago, LOL.

    I thought it was neat too, and anyone can always jump on Google Earth to get the approx location, topside.

    I think it’s exciting…crossing the Cut is just another “hum-drum” milestone by a very good transit agency.

    1. I expect much more fanfare once a machine breaks through. It’d be cool if we get a chance to walk through it!

      1. I’d love to take a walking tour from Husky Stadium to Capitol Hill through the new tunnel before they fill the base of it and add all the track’n’stuff

    1. At Yankee Stadium they actually have subway races on their big screen instead of our hydro races. They race the B, D, and #4 lines from their origin points to…..Yankee Stadium (i.e., they show a race to the game using the 3 lines that actually serve the stadium).

      It’s sort of interesting, but the hydro races are much more fun….

  6. I noticed two semi-trucks loading up the concrete liners from the storage area on Elliot Ave this morning during my commute on the 24. Nice to see progress.

    Of course, the trucks were in the BAT lane!

    1. yeah … one of them almost ran me over crossing Broadway to get to the NB 9X stop

      one thing I do not get. At the CHS construction site … the TBM conveyor belt is dumping the muck into the station pit … and they are using a backhoe to lift it all the way out one bucket at a time into dump trucks … that cannot be the most efficient way to get the muck out of the hole … wouldn’t a concrete pumper do a better job (the mud can’t be harder to pump than concrete can it?)

      Kudos to the backhoe operator (or whatever the piece of equipment is called) as they have to dump the muck into a truck 2 stories (at least) above where the operator sits

      1. If you look close at that machine he’s got a camera mounted on the boom. I’m pretty sure he’s just watching a video screen when he’s dumping, as there’s no way he could see the trucks, and he’s going too fast to be doing it by radio.

      2. of course … still takes skill … and still seems to be a very slow, inefficient way of removing the muck

      3. Yeah, it’s probably not the fastest, but on the other hand all they really need to be able to do is keep up with the amount of spoil the TBM is producing. If they could go any faster than that they’d have just spent money on excess capacity. Still, a big screw conveyor and a hopper to dump into the trucks would be cooler and more elegant, I’m with you there.

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