Topic: light rail
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October 29, 2013 at 12:19 PM
A garbage fire set by homeless campers on Beacon Hill was the source of smoke that got into a light-rail tunnel Monday evening.
The smoke halted rail service shortly after 6 p.m., and full service wasn’t restored until 8 p.m.
The incident began when Link rail operators reported what smelled like electrical smoke at the Beacon Hill, Mount Baker and downtown stations. The Seattle Fire Department launched its highest response level — some 64 firefighters — a response reserved for disasters such as a tunnel, pier or marine fire, said fire spokesman Kyle Moore.
The Beacon Hill Tunnel was eventually closed, forcing transit riders to detour using Metro buses.
Firefighters smelled burnt plastic, though no transit-tunnel smoke alarms tripped, Moore said. They inspected station elevators, and rode the trains, while several returned to their posts. The fire department released the trackway at 7:32, and Sound Transit took several minutes to restart the trains, said Moore.
Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said full service returned by 8 p.m. It takes about 20 minutes to check elevators, alarms and the vast ventilation system, he said. “We got back up as quick as we could, given the complexities of Beacon Hill.”
Transit police on Tuesday morning walked the hillside and found three people in a homeless camp, and refuse from a garbage fire, on restricted transit property, said Bruce Gray, Sound Transit spokesman. Smoke had been sucked into the tunnel through the west portal.
“The firefighters, and Sound Transit too, we always have to be safety-minded first,” Gray said. A debriefing will be held with firefighters. “When things happen like this, we’ll be talking about what we can do to not shut down the entire line for an hour,” Gray said.
That incident overlapped with another problem, in which two stalled King County Metro Transit buses blocked Link trains from using the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel at 6:15 p.m., for 25 minutes, Gray said.
Link trains carry about 32,400 people per weekday and ridership is growing.
October 28, 2013 at 7:20 PM
UPDATE, 8:09 p.m. | Sound Transit says light-rail trains are again serving all stations, with minor service delays.
UPDATE, 7:43 p.m. | Sound Transit has issued the additional following information about bus service to replace the closed section of light rail:
“Heading north toward downtown Seattle, board the Metro-operated Link Shuttle bus Route 97 on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South at stops adjacent to Rainier Beach, Othello, Columbia City or Mt. Baker stations; or on Beacon Avenue South near the Beacon Hill Station and transfer to the Link train at Stadium Station.
“Heading south toward Sea-Tac Airport, board the Metro-operated Link Shuttle bus Route 97 on SODO Busway adjacent to Stadium or SODO Stations; or on Beacon Avenue South near the Beacon Hill Station; also on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South adjacent to Mt. Baker, Columbia City or Othello stations and transfer to the Link train at Rainier Beach Station.”
EARLIER POST | Reports of smoke from an unknown source in a Beacon Hill transit tunnel have prompted Sound Transit to stop Central Link light-rail service in both directions between the Stadium and Rainier Beach stops.
Alternate shuttle-bus service is en route for passengers who had to get off Central Link before their stops, according to Sound Transit. Central Link is serving other stations with minor delays.
Passengers who need service between the Rainier Beach and Mount Baker stations can take Metro Route 8 on Martin Luther King Junior Way South.
The Seattle Fire Department is investigating the source of the smoke.
We will update this post as more information becomes available.
August 31, 2013 at 5:07 PM
A van and a light-rail train collided north of Othello Station this afternoon, but the accident was minor and no one was injured, said Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason.
Reason had few details about the accident at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Brandon St. After the accident, Sound Transit used just one track for about 30-45 minutes.
The train involved in the incident was headed north, Reason said, and afterward, was taken out of service for inspection.
April 8, 2013 at 5:45 PM
A man was taken to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries after being struck by a light-rail train near Seattle’s Rainier Beach Station about 5:10 p.m. today
The man, in his 40s or 50s, had a pulse but was not conscious, according to the Seattle Fire Department. He is in critical condition, according to Seattle Fire spokesman Kyle Moore.
The man was “running across the cross walk, against the traffic signal,” when he was hit, said Bruce Gray, spokesman for Sound Transit.
Besides a “Don’t Walk” signal, he said, there also was a blinking sign showing the outline of a train to show one was coming.
Gray said the train had been slowing down as it was pulling into the station, and he did not know how fast it was going.
He said the conductor “hit the emergency brakes and stopped as quick as he could,” but the man still was hit and thrown some distance away. No passengers inside the train were injured, said Gray.
Initially, train service was stopped in both directions, and then service was restored for one track around 8 p.m. Detectives are still investigating exactly what happened.
September 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM
An 86-year-old woman who incorrectly thought she could beat the train across the tracks was unconscious and unresponsive after she was struck by a Sound Transit light rail train just before 2 p.m. on Friday, according to police and fire.
The woman suffered critical injuries, but was still breathing when she was taken by fire and medic personnel to Harborview Medical Center for treatment, according Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.
Seattle police are investigating the incident which occurred on the tracks at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South Graham Street.
Police spokeswoman Renee Witt said the woman was on foot and thought she could make it across the tracks before the train got to the intersection.
August 23, 2012 at 6:56 PM
Sound Transit’s governing board voted unanimously Thursday to negotiate a development deal at its future U District Station, despite calls to consider building a public square instead.
The underground station, on Brooklyn Avenue Northeast behind the Neptune Theatre, opens in 2021 and could eventually serve up to 12,000 light-rail riders daily. Philip Thiel, a 91-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Washington, has circulated his model of a European-style brick plaza. (Last week’s coverage is here.)
The board voted to hold exclusive talks with the University of Washington, potentially leading to a six- to eight-story building with retail at ground level. A final land deal, including any University of Washington payments to Sound Transit for the airspace, requires a follow-up vote.
Plaza supporters told the board to seize the unique chance to establish open space, as the surrounding neighborhood becomes extremely dense. The area is now zoned for buildings up to 65 feet high. Backers of a mixed-use development said Seattle residents need more housing options next to transit hubs, and that the city would fail to keep addicts and loiterers out of a large square.
Sue Alden, who lives in the 23-story University Plaza condos, suggested another concept — build a taller, leaner housing tower and surround it with greenery.
The board, led Thursday by vice-chair Metropolitan King County Councilwoman Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, listened but didn’t debate those ideas. Thiel suggested officials go visit plazas in Rome, to which Patterson joked, “best public testimony ever.”
July 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM
An average 26,600 riders per weekday rode Sound Transit light rail in Seattle during May, a 12 percent increase from a year earlier.
The trend here is much different from the typical rail startup, which rises fast and then begins to level out within about two years. Instead, the nearly three-year-old Link line “continues to mature” since its opening in mid-2009, spokesman Bruce Gray said.
In addition, total boardings topped 32,000 on the day of a Mariners baseball game Friday, May 25, as well as May 23 when Sounders FC and the Mariners both played home games, said an update issued Monday.
Sound Transit’s use started weakly but has grown in a steady, linear pattern. The SeaTac/Airport and Stadium stations have attracted more passengers than forecast, while the Rainier Valley stations lag. There hasn’t been a rush to build high-density housing there, two notable exceptions being the 351-unit The Station at Othello Park apartments last year, and the 52-unit Columbia City Station Apartments to open this summer.
One reason for Link’s weak start, at less than 20,000 daily riders, was that the line opened at the depth of the recession, said Gray. Another theory is that immigrants who don’t speak English have been slow to adapt to new train service in their neighborhoods, he said. (The airport station didn’t open until December 2009).
Light-rail will gain riders this fall when King County Metro Transit opens the new east-west bus Route 50 that connects to Sodo, Beacon Hill, Columbia City and Othello stations, Gray predicts.
Ridership on the $2.6 billion light-rail starter line is still below the agency’s original forecast, used to justify $500 million in federal aid, of 45,000 passengers by 2020. A critique and detailed charts are posted by John Niles at his website, Public Interest Transportation Forum. But that timeline becomes moot in 2016, when extensions to South 200th Street and Husky Stadium bring more customers to the system, and add 1,100 park-and-ride spaces in SeaTac, as the Kent Reporter explains here. Gray said the May gain “bodes well for our original forecasts.”
June 6, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Sound Transit is asking friends to help choose the name for a future light-rail station in Seattle, by voting or commenting at this link.
The agency has been thinking like George Foreman, the retired heavyweight boxing champ and grilling maven, who named his sons George Jr., III, IV and V. Transit managers in Seattle propose “U District Station” not far from the “University of Washington Station” next to Husky Stadium, and the existing University Street Station downtown. If nothing else, these names provide a brain teaser for arriving tourists.
The overlapping names annoy the Montlaker Blog, which naturally suggests using “Montlake Station” near Husky Stadium. But that might be confused with the Mountlake Terrace Station that is supposed to be finished in 2023.
“Husky Stadium Station” sounds logical enough, but there’s already a Stadium Station down in Sodo — about a mile north of Sodo Station.
Another approach could be “U District/NE 45th Street Station,” which tells riders they’re 45 blocks beyond downtown. The one near Husky Stadium might be “UW Medical Center Station,” not to be confused with the UW Medicine facilities on either side of the 2021 Northgate Station. Or UW Campus South.
Perhaps everyone can agree to change the University Street name downtown, which has probably been confusing travelers since 1895, when the UW campus moved to its hill above Montlake. The downtown stop could be “Benaroya Hall Station,” as one entrance is directly under the concert hall. Or “Midtown Station.” Readers of Seattle Transit Blog hashed over that issue a few days ago, here.
Transit spokesman Bruce Gray says that so far, most of the 355 respondents agree with the pairing of “U District Station” (instead of “Brooklyn Station”) and “University of Washington Station.”
What do you think? A decision is due about a month from now.
March 21, 2012 at 3:04 PM
The boldest new concept would abandon the 2011 proposal to excavate a huge underground station downtown, perhaps 70 feet deep with a mezzanine, beneath the intersection of Northeast Fourth Street and 110th Avenue Northeast. Instead, Sound Transit would look at a shallower Bellevue Transit Center Station for the East Link route.
Builders could exploit the slope that descends from the financial district to Interstate 405 — where tracks are supposed to emerge from the tunnel anyway, then become elevated near Meydenbauer Center. One layout involves a so-called “diagonal” station that cuts the corner where there’s now a City Hall parking garage and vacant King County land. The second concept is oriented east-west along Northeast Sixth Street.
Engineers are also looking at ways to save money at the 110th Avenue Northeast location by making the station shallower or narrower.
Either of the shallow stations would be about one block east of the existing bus hub, and train platforms would be closer to street level.
In other words, a layout more like Seattle’s International District/Chinatown Station and less like the University Street Station.
Besides saving money, a shallow station might improve transit operations by making the trackway more level as it emerges toward I-405 and the hospital district. A deep station would have required a 6 percent climb for trains continuing east, said Don Billen, deputy project director, in a news briefing Wednesday. Officials don’t know yet if there are any negative effects from a shallow station, said Ron Lewis, East Link executive project director.
Officials don’t know what the savings might be, but said the “first $60 million” of savings would reduce what Bellevue must spend to help fund the tunnel — implying they are thinking in eight figures.
A major challenge will be digging the tunnel using a cut-and-cover method that tears up 110th Avenue Northeast, while keeping east-west traffic flow, and allowing businesses to maintain car access, said Bernard van de Kamp, a Bellevue assistant transportation director. Heavy construction is to start in 2015 and last several years.
The concepts will soon be converted to visuals and shown to the Bellevue City Council, transit board, and in public forums this spring, with a decision due by July, said Lewis. The springtime research will be done by a team of engineering firms and overseen through an elaborate structure of government committees.
Tunneling has been forecast to cost up to $320 million more than elevated or surface tracks, but the city agreed to cover half the increase. Voters approved a $2.7 billion [2007 dollars] project without tunnel funds, from Seattle via the I-90 floating bridge to Overlake Transit Center, in 2008. Trains won’t be running until 2023.
March 21, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Sound Transit’s tunnel-boring machine “Togo” finally broke through into the Capitol Hill Station pit just after 4 a.m. Wednesday, completing its two-mile trip from Husky Stadium.
The 21.5-foot diameter rotary drill moved at less than a snail’s pace for the last several feet. The tunnel crew reduced the pressure at the face of the machine, and made more cutting rotations, to avoid breaking the concrete north wall, said spokesman Bruce Gray. The breakthrough came about seven hours later than Sound Transit predicted.
In the last two hours, the machine had to wait until a couple more sets of concrete rings could be fastened in the rear. These rings, which form the permanent tube, give the cylindrical device a footing so it can push itself forward. The screeches of steel cutting tools sounded tantalizingly close.
Finally, a few die-hard transit and contractor staff let out a whoop when the machine knocked over a thin disc in the wall, said Gray. At about 7:30 a.m., about eight or 10 workers crawled out through the cutter head and stopped to take pictures. “It’s great to see the people running these incredible machines take a moment to celebrate their accomplishment,” Gray said.
Here is Sound Transit video on the tunneling machine coming through the station wall:
A second machine, “Balto,” is excavating a parallel tube and is due to arrive in two to three weeks. The grinders are named after a pair of huskies who delivered serum to avert a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska, in 1925. They will both be lifted out by crane after Balto arrives. Another machine is digging between Capitol Hill Station and the downtown transit tunnel.
So far, there has been no damage to the 88-year-old Capitol Building, across the street, where owner Franklin Tseng has worried that soil may settle and cause cracking.
Train service from Westlake Station to the new Capitol Hill and UW stations is scheduled to start in September 2016. The $1,9 billion, three-mile extension is forecast to eventually serve 70,000 riders a day.
Another event is this Saturday at 11 a.m., when a huge portrait of the late Cal Anderson, the state’s first openly gay legislator, will be dedicated here. It will be mounted on a construction-site wall and moved when the project is finished.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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