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Construction is underway at Sound Transit's new rail yard in Bellevue.
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Sound Transit’s new Operations and Maintenance Facility will be located along a spur track from the light rail mainline between Wilburton and Spring District Station.

Fresh pics: Laying rail around the region

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This holiday season, we’re thankful for all of the work that’s gone into expanding our region’s transit system. 

One of the highlights of 2019 was seeing all of the progress on the Northgate Link, East Link and Hilltop Tacoma Link extensions. 

While a lot of work goes into preparing sites for new stations and lines, seeing the rail going in the ground makes it seem all the more real. 

Several projects are well into the construction phase. We also recently celebrated the groundbreaking of the Downtown Redmond Link and Lynnwood Link Extensions, which will be followed by the line to Federal Way next year.

Over the next five years, we’ll open more than 20 stations and 40 miles of light rail, so we thought it would be fun to do a visual tour of rail installation around the region happening today. 

If you enjoy these photos, follow us on Instagram and tune in on Fridays for our regular "Field Trip Friday" stories where we visit Sound Transit construction sites. 

For more information, check out our website, sign up for project alerts and of course, subscribe to The Platform to get the latest news and photos delivered to your inbox!

Rail grinding 

With Northgate opening in 2021, we’ve already started the process of rail grinding. It’s one of the last tasks before we move into systems testing and punchlist work. 

Grinding makes a smoother rail surface that improves safety while reducing noise, vibration and long-term maintenance costs.

Here’s a video of how the process works:

Here are some more pictures of the work, which was completed earlier this fall.

Sparks fly as a rail profiling machine travels down the tracks during the rail grinding process.
Rail profiling machines travel slowly up and down the tracks during rail grinding.
A man in a hard hat and construction vest uses a tool to measure a section of rail at Northgate Station.
Sound Transit has a rail grinding specification used on our Link track sections.

New rail yard

As we expand the light rail network, we’ll need more places to store, clean and maintain vehicles. 

The Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) East in Bellevue is under construction and scheduled to be substantially complete next year. 

This photo shows the side of the OMF East building, with the rail yard on the right and the Maintenance of Way building in the background.
An OMF typically has 18 storage tracks for two sets of four-car trains per track.
This photo was taken from one of the vehicle maintenance bays currently under construction, where light rail vehicles will go for service.
The new vehicle maintenance shop will have 14 service bays.

We’re currently scouting locations for an OMF South, and an OMF North is also planned. 

Tacoma - Hilltop Link

The Hilltop Tacoma Link project more than doubles the length of Tacoma Link, starting with a relocated Theater District station, and adds six new stations.

Crews placed the first 300-foot sections of new rail in Stadium Way over the summer, and are now working on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Crews weld sections of rail together in Tacoma.
Rail welding work is happening this month in Tacoma.
Stacks of rail are pictured, with construction equipment in the background.
The Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension is set to open for service in 2022.

More stories on construction

Hopefully this isn't the first time you've run across our continuing coverage of light rail construction.

Check out our past stories for more action shots and information.

Fresh pics: exploring East Link from above and below ground

Fresh pics: progress along Northgate Link Extension

Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension on track

More light rail to the north, south and west

You can also check our system expansion page for details on the overall regional expansion taking light rail all the way to West Seattle, Ballard, Everett and Tacoma.

But before we continue expanding, we’ll need to do some work in the downtown tunnel stations to connect a new line to our existing service.  

Learn more about this project, which we’re calling Connect 2020, before it starts on Jan. 4. 

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