Construction on the $110 million Capitol Hill Station has the project still on track for a start of light rail service connecting downtown to the University Washington via Broadway by late 2016. This week, workers from contractor Stacy and Witbeck blazed through the process of laying 10,000 linear feet of track and welding it together section by section.
Yes, there has been a lot of fusion butt welding going on around Capitol Hill these days. The process, designed to create a smooth and quiet ride, involves two rails laid end to end with a small gap. An electric current is the applied to the metal as the gap creates resistance and produces the heat required to melt the steel. When the rails reach 600 degrees, they are pressed together and sealed.
The completion of the tracking from the Capitol Hill Station end of things put the overall U-Link extension between downtown and the university at 65% of completion following its July 2011 start.
[mappress mapid=”58″]The $1.9 billion project runs 3.1 miles and includes sloping tunnels that dive down Capitol Hill and below the Montlake cut before emerging at Husky Stadium. Toward downtown, crews gingerly tunneled beneath I-5 to connect with the transit tunnel.
While the work to construct the station, the tunnel and the rail progresses, the process to sell off and develop Sound Transit’s property around the station has yet to leave the station. An agreement between the transit agency and the city — based on community guidelines — was originally supposed to be hammered out by this point in the process. We’ll have more soon on effort to get the “transit oriented development” part of the process on track.