Togo's Breakthrough (courtesy Sound Transit)

Last night, Zach, Oran and I showed up at 8:30 to try to see Togo break through, completing the first subway tunnel from UW to Capitol Hill. Sadly, in the last five feet, Togo had to slow down, and ST told us to return at midnight.  Bruce and Tim Bond joined Zach at 11pm, but breakthrough didn’t happen until 4am, at which point we were all asleep. Zach did stick around until 2:30, but finally had to give up.

Bruce Gray over at Sound Transit sent us this fantastic image, taken by workers as the Tunnel Boring Machine finally broke through, completing the southbound tunnel. Be sure to click on the image (twice) to see the full size, and check out the video Sound Transit put up here.

In another month or two, Balto will complete the northbound tunnel, and then Sound Transit’s contractors will start laying rail and building University Link stations!

22 Replies to “Capitol Hill Breakthrough”

  1. 4 am? I’m glad I didn’t arrange a pass…..

    But has anyone noticed the complete lack of coverage on this important milestone by our local, anti-transit, so called “newspaper”? After devoting a significant portion of their front-page to wild speculation over “cracking” an old masonry building, they have hardly a peep to say about this now that things have gone so smoothly – and ahead of schedule BTW.

    They do have an article, but it is well buried and you have to search for it. They will probably put something more substantial up once they figure out how to bracket it with a negative story on something like Sounder North, etc.

      1. There is much better coverage in the PI. Not perfect, but much better.

        Maybe Lindblom would have been better off catching some Z’s.

    1. Suggested Times headline: Tunnel Boring Machine Hits Problems, Breaks Through Off Schedule.

      1. That’s probably what slowed it down. Concrete Slowing Down TBM Found to be Poured by ST’s Own Constuction Team.

    2. Our online updates of the successful breakthrough were the most-read items at for much of Wednesday, and also big on B1 print edition rignt now.

      If you missed those, you probably also missed our piece about possible savings and improvement for a Bellevue tunnel: We’ve been too busy following new projects to go back and look at Sounder North anemic ridership, but thanks for the suggestion ;)

      BTW, great to see at least three STB guys out at the jobsite beyond midnight.

      1. Mike, we love ya but your employer’s thoroughly detailed anti-transit bias has a long paper trail, if you’ll pardon the pun!

        No surprise that your readership is voting with their mouse-clicks for more of your coverage. Also no surprise that The One Newspaper Town Times doesn’t want to make it any easier for folks to stumble across it. And that’s too bad.

        If you hadn’t shared that link, I don’t think any of us would have seen the Bellevue blog post. It is not here: or here: and it was not in the Newsline (daily email blast)

        And, big on B1 is great but doesn’t reach the legion of online readers.

      2. Regarding the Bellevue station designs, if they’re going to push the station that far east they might as well just build the Vision Line! Good grief, so much for serving downtown Bellevue.

      3. might as well just build the Vision Line!

        My thought exactly. Then drop the Whole Foods Station and the P&R. Get Redmond to kick in $160 million and build the E segment.

  2. So is it the North bound or South bound tunnel from Capital Hill to DT that is complete?

      1. Last night they just finished boring the SB tunnel from UW to Cap Hill.

        Previously Brenda finished boring the NB tunnel from Cap Hill to DT (she actually bored southbound in the NB “lane”).

        Thus there is no contiguous SB tunnel (yet) from UW to DT Seattle.

  3. So if the tunnels are nearly complete, Why does it take 4 more years to get U-Link opened?

    1. Why does this question have to be answered each time there is a U-Link tunneling update?

      Here is an article that summarizes the work still to be done:

      A second TBM still is mining the second tunnel between the university and Capitol Hill, and is expected to arrive in April. Meanwhile, a third TBM is mining the second tunnel between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle. That machine is expected to arrive in June.

      In the meantime, contractors have begun mining 20 cross passages between the north and southbound tunnels. Once that work is complete, contractors will build a new track bed in the tunnels, and begin laying the rail and communications systems for light-rail operations. At the same time, contractors will finish building stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.

      They forgot to include OCS and testing.

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