Sound Transit Jul09 Seattle embraces mass transit - TunnelTalk
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Seattle embraces new transit system Jul 2009
Shani Wallis, Editor
More than 92,000 riders took to the tracks last weekend to experience service on Seattle's new light rail system between downtown Seattle and Tukwila International Boulevard to the south. About 51,000 riders in 10 hours on Saturday and another 41,000 or so during the eight-hours on Sunday enjoyed glorious summer weather, a party atmosphere, and a free ride to welcome the city's first line of mass rapid transit service.
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Inaugural ribbon cutting (from left): FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton; Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl; and Sound Transit Board Chair and Mayor of Seattle Greg Nickels

"The crowds at the 12 light rail stations throughout the weekend showed the excitement people feel as we have become a light rail region," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels who is also Chair of the Sound Transit Board. "That excitement about our mass transit future will only grow as we continue to build and expand on this first line of light rail system. It is an incredibly positive beginning of a new era in transportation for this region."
Regular services on Central Link light rail trains started on Monday morning at about 5am and on a schedule of 20 hours Monday through Saturday and 18 hours on Sunday. Regular adult fares range from $1.75 to $2.50 and services will run every 7-1/2 minutes during weekday peak times and 10 to 15 minute intervals at other times.
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Downtown bus+train tunnels

In the so-called 'bus tunnels' under downtown Seattle, the underground infrastructure, built in the late 1980s, has been adapted to operated both electric buses and the new light rail train system between underground stations. From the end of the bus tunnels the new 14-mile long Central Link LRT line with its 12 stations runs mostly at grade and elevated with a 4,300ft (1.3km) section of twin bored running tunnels and a deep underground mined station taking the line through Beacon Hill. At the south end of the new line, buses began a service connector between Tukwila International Boulevard Station and SeaTac international airport. The connector bus service will continue until the spur directly to the airport is completed and light rail services begin in December.
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  • Beacon Hill Station: platform tunnel (left); elevator concourse (middle); and bored running tunnel

Prior to the grand opening, a program of grout injection to back-fill a series of voids found behind the segmental lining of the running tunnels through Beacon Hill was complete. Injection was carried out mainly from the surface but also from within the tunnels and through the tunnel linings.
Saturday's opening kicked off service on the first of what will be 55 miles of light rail service in Central Puget Sound stretching from Seattle to Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island and Federal Way by 2023. Construction on next line, stretching entirely underground in bored tunnels from the north end of the downtown Seattle bus tunnels, through another deep underground station at Capitol Hill and on under the ship canal between Lake Washington and Elliot Bay to the University of Washington has begun with early advance works contracts. Launch of the TBMs for the running tunnels from Capitol Hill to the University by the first contractor engaged on the project, the Traylor/Frontier-Kemper JV, are scheduled to start work in 2010 and a second tunnelling contract for the section for Capitol Hill back to the downtown Seattle bus tunnels is currently in the bid phase and expected to be awarded in early 2010. The University line of the service is due to open for service in 2016.
References
Sound Transit's long term light rail plans
Low bid cuts cost of University Link - TunnelTalk, Mar 2009

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