Over the past several months Sound Transit contractors have installed and tested new power, safety, train control and communications systems in most of the 3.1 miles of tunnels between Westlake Station in downtown Seattle and the University of Washington.
The work included installing and testing new light rail control and safety systems for the entire light rail line. Workers also energized the new overhead lines in the University Link tunnels that power the trains.
The $1.8 billion University Link light rail extension includes new stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. The line is entirely underground and currently $150 million under budget and six to nine months ahead of schedule. A trip from UW to downtown will take eight minutes bypassing some of the most congested traffic in the region.
Over the next months, contractors will remove the temporary wall and doors between the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) and the University Link tunnels and install the last 600-feet of power and communication lines in that section.
During the final phases of testing beginning this fall, all trains that operate during normal service hours will continue on to Capitol Hill and UW Station before returning south. All northbound passengers will still have to de-board at Westlake Station and the first station southbound will still be Westlake until the extension opens in early 2016.
This final phase, also called "pre-revenue service testing," is necessary to familiarize operators with the new stations and ensure all systems are performing well.