The contracting team working to dig the tunnels needed to bring Link light rail to Northgate via the University District and Roosevelt has successfully completed its mining work, Sound Transit announced today.
The milestone was actually reached yesterday when a tunnel boring machine operated by contractor JCM Northlink LLC holed through to the construction retrieval shaft adjacent to UW Station at Husky Stadium.
JCM Northlink is a joint venture of three companies: Jay Dee Contractors, Frank Coluccio Construction Company, and Michels Corporation. The contracting team began digging the seven miles of light rail tunnels in 2014; Sound Transit says the mining operation resulted in the excavation of more than 500,000 cubic yards of soil and the installation of 7,352 concrete tunnel liner rings.
“In just a few years, light rail riders will be enjoying fast, frequent, congestion-free service to the U‑District, Roosevelt and Northgate,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine in a press release. “By this time next month, we’ll have opened the Angle Lake station in SeaTac, our third new station in six months. These are just two examples of Sound Transit’s steady progress as we work to expand light rail throughout the Central Puget Sound region.”
Sound Transit kindly invited NPI and other media outlets to take a look at the tunnel boring machine’s cutterhead following its breakthrough this morning.
NPI’s Rennie Sawade was able to get several excellent wide angle shots while at the construction zone, which we’ve posted to our microblog, In Brief, for your viewing enjoyment. Our photo of the cutterhead (which we think you’ll agree is a pretty impressive sight!) has been republished by Sound Transit on its official Instagram feed with a brief description of this morning’s event.
Sound Transit’s North Link tunnelling milestone ironically occurred the same day that the Seattle Times published the latest in a series of editorials intended to undermine Sound Transit 3, the agency’s 2016 proposal for system expansion.
ST3 would bring light rail to Ballard, West Seattle, downtown Redmond, Everett, Tacoma, and communities in between. It would also expand Sounder commuter rail and ST Express bus service. ST3 is truly the bold investment in high quality transit that our region needs. The Times, however, is opposed, and has been beating the drum against ST3 for months, along with other foes of the agency.
The Times has tried to make its opposition to Sound Transit 3 sound more reasonable by urging the Board to “slow down” and work on “a leaner Plan B” that would go before the voters in some future year, conveniently failing to acknowledge that ST3 is based on years of public outreach (including countless community workshops), consultations with cities across the region, and opinion research.
(After Sound Transit’s Board wisely ignored this concern trolling and unanimously sent ST3 to the ballot, the Times shifted its stance slightly and began calling for a “robust” debate over ST3 so voters could make an “informed” decision.)
“A pause and reset would not stop Sound Transit’s progress,” the Times editorialized in June. “It has funding for years to build and complete rail from Seattle north to Lynnwood, south beyond Sea-Tac and east to Redmond.”
Nowhere in that editorial or in subsequent editorials did the Times mention that in 2008, it was completely and totally opposed to authorizing Sound Transit to raise the funding to bring Link north, south, and east — as the agency is now doing.
The “progress” we’re seeing now is only happening because the people of Puget Sound ignored the Sound Transit bashing Seattle Times editorial board and gave a big thumbs up to ST2. In the eight years that have transpired since, Sound Transit has been hard at work trying to deliver the projects the voters authorized.
Now is the perfect opportunity to ensure that the agency has the backing it needs to keep system expansion going for years to come. ST3 is all about bringing more high quality, high capacity transit to our congested urban corridors as quickly as possible, so that fewer of us are forced to drive to get to where we want to go. A bold investment is precisely what’s needed to combat the gridlock we’re stewing in.
Sound Transit has proved, repeatedly, that it can deliver transit expansion projects to the people of this region. Under the leadership of Joni Earl, ST adopted a posture of striving for continuous improvement in all facets of project management, from conceptualization to design to construction to communication to mitigation.
Earl’s successor Peter Rogoff has continued to build on the culture of excellence Earl fostered during her incredibly successful tenure at the agency’s helm.
Impressively, Rogoff has taken the time to meet with the public at ST’s community workshops. He’s led presentations, fielded questions and made himself available for conversations with taxpayers. He’s an accessible CEO… our favorite kind.
Sound Transit knows what the public wants because it has made a concerted effort to ask the public for input. By sending ST3 to the ballot, it’s acted on that input.
ST3 reflects the public’s desire for a transportation system that is oriented around people, not cars, and allows for a reliable commute.
With ST3, we are deciding as a region whether we want to authorize Sound Transit to further expand the network of high quality, high capacity transit it has been building to more places. The actual design and construction will only proceed if voters give the green light, as was the case with Sound Move in 1996 and ST in 2008. Sound Transit now has twenty years of experience with project management, and after a rocky start, it has demonstrated it is worthy of our trust.
This North Link tunnelling milestone is the latest indication that ST2 is going well. Sound Transit’s on a roll, and we should keep it that way by saying YES to ST3.