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Sound Transit installs first rails for Central Link light rail line

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Crews today installed the first rails for the Central Link light rail system — a major milestone as light rail construction continues forward rapidly, on schedule and under budget.

 "These ribbons of steel will carry thousands of people a day for many generations into the future," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "Today is an important day in construction of the mass transit system this region needs to keep moving people as our population continues to explode in the years ahead."

 "I have been amazed at the speed with which we've reached this milestone from the day we chose the final alignment," added Ladenburg. "This is still another example of how Sound Transit is delivering the projects and services to meet the needs of the commuting public."

 "The voters of this region made an investment in light rail, and Sound Transit is making it happen," said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. "Today is a historic day for the future of transportation in our region."

The first rail to be installed, running through Seattle's SODO area between Holgate Street South and South Lander Street, includes four 1,200-foot-long ribbons weighing approximately 23 tons each. Mountain Pacific Rail is installing the rail as a subcontractor to Kiewit Pacific Co., the general contractor for the SODO portion of the Central Link system.

Construction bids for the Central Link project came in six percent below estimates, and Sound Transit remains on schedule to begin carrying passengers starting in mid-2009. Intensive construction is currently underway all the way from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. The airport light rail connection — Airport Link — is scheduled to be completed by December 2009, several months after the opening of the initial segment between downtown Seattle and Tukwila. By 2020 the 16-mile system is projected to carry more than 45,000 riders daily.

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