The craned nicknamed "Big Red" is dismantled at Roosevelt Station in March, 2019.
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"Big Red" at Roosevelt Station as it was being dismantled. Photo courtesy of Hoffman Construction Corp.

"Big Red" crane retirement marks another major step for trains to Northgate

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Sound Transit recently said a fond farewell to the 280-foot-long tower crane, dubbed Big Red, after eight years of heavy-duty service hauling materials for two light rail station construction sites in Seattle.

The behemoth from Kroll Crane Company became a neighborhood landmark at both the Capitol Hill Station (2011 to 2014) and Roosevelt Station (2014 – 2019) sites before its retirement in March.

Roosevelt Station is one of three new stations opening in 2021 as part of the Northgate Link light rail extension.

Sound Transit hosted crane dismantling watch parties to celebrate the event and mark the next phase of Roosevelt Station construction.

Neighbors and students from Roosevelt High School science classes (across the street from Roosevelt Station) enjoyed fresh bagels and coffee from local businesses as they watched the crane come down.

Here’s the dismantling that took five days condensed into about 40 seconds.

Big Red was the largest tower crane by “picking” or lifting capacity in the Seattle area with an ability to lift 60 metric tons (132,000 pounds) at its closest radius.

One of its main jobs was lowering precast concrete tunnel liners into the station boxes as the new tunnels were being mined.

Inside the new Northgate light rail tunnels.
Inside the Northgate light rail tunnels.

What’s next

Dismantling Big Red marks an exciting step for the Northgate Link Extension, which is nearly 80 percent complete and on schedule to open in the fall of 2021.

Roosevelt Station

Roosevelt Station, the middle of the three stations in the 4.3-mile-long extension, is scheduled to be substantially complete later this year.

Hoffman Construction Company, Sound Transit’s contractor, is currently completing the north entrance steel structures, installing the escalators and stairs and moving into station finishes like tile work, painting and above-ground restoration and landscaping.

Here’s what’s happening at the other stations and in the tunnels between now and opening day in 2021:

U District Station (complete spring 2020):  

The south entrance to U District Station that is part of the Northgate Link light rail extension
The south entrance to U District Station that is part of the Northgate Link light rail extension

Crews at U District Station will continue work inside the station completing interior finishes and installing escalators, elevators and stairs.

Contractors will soon begin restoring streets in the area with new pavement, curbs, sidewalks, plantings, bike lanes and lighting along Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and Northeast 43rd Street.

Both north and south entry head houses have steel frames largely completed and exterior framing has begun on the south. The large crawler crane will be dismantled later this month. 

Northgate Station (complete spring 2020)

Crews at Northgate Station are also busy installing escalators, elevators and stairs.

A look at Northgate Station in March, 2019 as the platform roof and station stairs come together.
The main entrance at the future Northgate Station.

Upcoming work also includes the completing the station finishes such as the final concrete tile flooring at the platform, glass screens on the platform area landscaping throughout the site. 

Northgate will also be a connecting point for the future Seattle Department of Transportation pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing over Interstate 5 and the centerpiece of the city's Northgate Neighborhood Greenway Project

Track installation

The track contractor, Stacey and Witbeck, continues to install tracks in the tunnels and on the elevated guideway. Track installation is about 80% complete. Portions of the special track work, i.e. switches and crossovers, are in the process of being installed. 

Crews install rail near the future Northgate Station site.
Crews install rail near the future Northgate Station site.

Systems installation and testing (complete in fall 2021)

Systems installation and testing will be in full force in 2020.

Right now electrical crews are installing the infrastructure inside the stations and tunnels to power the system.

This is some of the final work that will happen before the final testing can begin.

Subscribe to the Northgate Link Extension email list and The Platform to stay informed as this exciting project gets closer to opening day! 

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