Sound Transit contractors have connected the University Link light rail tunnels with the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT). The tunnel boring machine, nicknamed "Brenda," recently completed its one-mile trip on the second tunnel between Capitol Hill and downtown.
The tunnel-boring machine removal of a headwall between the mining operations and the DSTT means there are now twin tunnels running 3.1 miles between downtown Seattle and the University of Washington. The contractor team, JCM U-Link Joint Venture, mined two tunnels about a mile long between the site of the future Capitol Hill Station and downtown Seattle. A separate contractor completed the twin tunnels between UW and Capitol Hill in early April.
The contractors will now focus on completing 21 cross passages between the twin tunnels by early 2013.
Overall, the $1.9 billion project is about halfway complete and scheduled to open in 2016. Between now and then contractors have to finish stations at UW and Capitol Hill, install communications and power systems and test the new line.
The expansion with stations in the heart of Capitol Hill and the University of Washington will provide unparalleled speed and reliability through Seattle's most dense neighborhoods. A trip from Husky Stadium to Westlake will take six minutes and is expected to add 70,000 riders to the system by 2030.
The corridor includes three major universities/colleges — the University of Washington (UW), Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) — with a combined enrollment of more than 50,000 students.