CHS Pics: With a splash of champagne, tunneling to Capitol Hill begins — UPDATE

Dignitaries federal and local were on hand with an assortment of community representatives and Sound Transit employees to launch the start of a year and a half journey for two tunnel boring machines drilling 21-foot diameter tunnels two miles from Montlake to the intersection of Broadway and John on Capitol Hill. Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Senator Patty Murray did the honors of lofting the ceremonial bottle as it was strapped into a harness for its 100-foot ride and crash above the enormous tunnel boring machine waiting below. A burst of streamers and applause followed. “Where did it hit?” somebody asked. The tunneling will be a much more precise venture. At the end of the two-mile trip, City Council member Richard Conlin reminded, the twin tunnels will break through within one inch of their marks. For more on the journey, see our recent post on the start of boring. Monday’s Seattle Times also featured a write-up on the U-Link tunnels including this nicely cleaned-up version of Sound Transit’s route map (PDF). 

In her remarks before busting the bottle, Murray said U-Link was a reminder of the importance in pushing forward during the weak economy. “Even in the worst of times you can never stop investing in the future,” she said. Employment was a theme for many of the remarks. Conlin noted that the U-Link project has already generated about 2,000 jobs and said that around 19,000 will have been created by the end of the project.

In his introduction of Rogoff, Conlin also reminded of the importance of federal boosts to make the Sound Transit project a reality including an $800 million transportation grant that is helping pay for the nearly $2 billion project. Rogoff spoke of the Obama administration’s determination to reduce the nation’s “dependence on oil” and make it possible for people to shift to fewer gas tank fill-ups. Rogoff also praised Sound Transit for being ahead of schedule and under budget thus far on the project but warned that boring is the “riskiest” part of the project.

Full PDF Version


Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

12 thoughts on “CHS Pics: With a splash of champagne, tunneling to Capitol Hill begins — UPDATE

  1. Yes, it is a waste of money. Ridership for the link to the airport is waaay under what sound transit promised us and consequently is losing money. But hey, let’s just continue with the most expensive part – it’s not like sound transit would be overly optimistic just to get this approved or anything…

    “And although light rail rail ridership continued to grow—increasing 38 percent, quarter over quarter, since 2009 thanks largely to the opening of the station at SeaTac Airport—ridership didn’t grow as fast as Sound Transit projected, and cost per boarding was higher than the agency budgeted. In 2009, the cost per passenger boarding was $9.30; that number went down in 2010 to $6.44.”

    http://publicola.com/2011/03/02/light-rail-ridership/

  2. Using existing ridership on limited coverage to cost-justify future expansion is stupid. Hell, why not just build 2 stations that connect each other and say “you guys ride this…when ridership is high enough, we’ll build more”? Duh…. Why ride it if it doesn’t go anywhere?

    This reminds me of when I moved in Miami in 1980 just as they opened their MetroRail– a single line of stations that didn’t interconnect anywhere, didn’t cross-traverse the city, didn’t go to the airport, and didn’t go to the beach. Yeah, that’s bright for a city that depends on tourism, huh? Then they were all mystified when nobody rode it. 30+ years later it sits in almost the same configuration– and still doesn’t go to the airport or beach. Morons.

    People won’t ride something much, till it goes more places– exactly as Seattle’s light rail is doing now.

  3. It does go to the airport and still they are not coming close to hitting their projections. That is a problem and the project should hace been reassesed before proceeding with the most expensive part. I think it’s a nice idea. But so is the SLUT and noone seems to ride that except the homeless, so it’s not making much sense to me at this point. Especially for a city drowning in debt. Although it’s a pleasant ride, I used to get to the airport faster on the 194 during rush hour.

  4. Yes, it’s expensive…serious infrastructure usually is.

    Seattle is WAY behind the 8-ball in getting a light rail/subway system in place. So far the coverage is limited but eventually it will cover more of the city, and that will be a very good thing. We have to start somewhere, then expand the system as finances permit.

  5. Another good point: with the economy down and construction business struggling, it’s a better time to build, cost-wise. True, it doesn’t help raise revenues, but when construction picks up again it’ll just cost more to build.

  6. Ugh. The Sound Transit folks really need to get a PR/Marketing clue. This line will be all subway. And, besides, when does anyone call the London, NY, Chicago, Paris, Montréal, Boston rail systems heavy or light rail? They don’t. See, they’re FAR more creative, resorting to the nicer, more communal Tubes, subway, Métro, Métro and “T”, respectively. What do we get? “LINK Light Rail” Lame, lame, lame. Goobers. CHANGE THE NAME IMMEDIATELY ;-)

  7. To the sourpusses: WE voted for it! This is what democracy looks like! Don’t like it? Move to Omaha. I’m much happier to pay taxes for this than some dumbass war or to keep the oil companies from having to actually invest in their dying technology.

    And, for the record, Federal Transit guy Peter Rogoff Is my kind of YUM!