Sound Transit completes first elevated light rail span in Tukwila

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Sound Transit construction crews today completed the first span of elevated light rail guideway in Tukwila. The milestone marks the launch of a nearly 380-foot-long steel truss that will take a five-mile journey through Tukwila, leaving a light rail guideway in its path.

"People won't believe how quickly they see the elevated tracks going into place," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "This massive piece of equipment will become a familiar sight as it completes up to two new spans each week. We've built a lot of projects around the region, but never before has our progress been this dramatic on a day-by-day basis."

"Sound Transit is on its way to the airport," said Sound Transit Board and King County Council Member Julia Patterson. "We are on track to complete the airport connection by the end of 2009, and to do it under budget. The progress people are seeing is proof that Sound Transit has become an agency that is delivering the projects that South King County and the region need to keep moving as our population grows."

Over the last several months people have watched with anticipation as concrete piers up to 65 feet in height have sprouted up along State Route 518 between Interstate 5 and the airport exit. Between now and 2007 the truss will "walk" from pier to pier along the five-mile Tukwila alignment, hoisting into place the pre-cast concrete segments that will form most of its elevated guideway.

Today, crews used the truss to hoist into position the final pieces of the first span. A typical 120-foot span between two columns is formed by 12 pre-cast concrete segments. The truss lifts the segments into place one by one and supports them while they are connected. The truss then moves forward to the next column. The Tukwila alignment includes almost 200 spans. The work is being performed by PCL Construction Services, Inc., a respected Bellevue-based firm.

Construction of the Central Link light rail system began in late 2003 and currently is about one-third complete, with rapid progress occurring all the way from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. Overall, construction bids came in 6 percent below estimates and construction is currently about $200 million under budget. Sound Transit remains on schedule to begin carrying passengers starting in mid-2009. The airport light rail connection — Airport Link — is scheduled to be completed by December 2009. By 2020 the system is projected to carry more than 45,000 riders daily between downtown Seattle and the airport.


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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.