Tag Archives: sound transit

Line 2 Opening Weekend

The spring timetable change was the opportunity for Sound Transit to open a new line.  The troubles with the crossing of the I-90 bridge mean that the Redmond to Bellevue section of what is to be Line 2 is isolated from the rest of the network.  However, it was decided to open it up as a starter line to provide some service for the area pending the completion of the connection to the other side of Lake Washington.  They had a grand opening.  Rather than go on the Saturday when everyone was due to be out, I decided to try out the line on the Sunday.

I drove to the South Bellevue station which has a large parking garage.  It is the southern/western end of the line for now.  Trains run every ten minutes and I hopped on one to ride to the other end at Redmond Technology Center.  This is also an interim terminus as there will soon be an extension into downtown Redmond.  I checked out the route in the trip out and decided I would stop off at a couple of stations on the way back.

Plenty of people were out on the Sunday too.  Many seemed to be like me and exploring the new service.  Sundays aren’t a day to judge utilization of a system, but it will be interesting to see what ridership is like as the service gets going and people find out how best to use it for their purposes.  I hopped off at Wilburton Station to have a look at the platforms and the view across to downtown Bellevue.  I bumped into a guy I know from Sound Transit who was part of the opening support team for the weekend, and we ended up chatting for a while.

I then went to the station in Bellevue itself which is a nicely designed station just at the end of the tunnel that runs under the city.  You get a long view of the trains approaching from east as they come across the bridge while you can hear the trains coming through the tunnel as they approach.  After checking out a few elements of the station, I decided to head back to South Bellevue to pick up the car and go home.  The alignment was pretty good.  Ride quality was good in most areas and the stations seemed nicely put together both operationally and aesthetically.  It will be a good line when it is fully connected but, as an interim step, it seems to be worthwhile.

SR99 Bridge Over SR509

WSDOT is in the process of building a new part of SR509 that will connect I-5 to the rest of SR509 on the west side of the airport.  The alignment that the new road is taking cross SR99 at the same place that we are currently building the light rail extension.  To avoid making life too complex, WSDOT funded Sound Transit to build the bridge for SR99 that is needs as part of the light rail construction program.  The contractor diverted SR99 around the work site and then excavated the area where SR509 will go.  A new bridge was built over this and then it was all filled in underneath.  The road then was laid on top of the new bridge.

Since these pictures were taken, the road has been re-opened.  However, at this tie, they were finishing the pours of concrete for the new bridge and too tie it in to the existing roadway.  This view is now gone so it was a narrow window to see the bridge.  I was lucky to see it at various stages of its construction.  In due course, WSDOT’s contractor will come in and remove the earth under the bridge and build the SR509 roadway.  That will happen pretty soon.

Lots Of Light Rail Trains Ready To Go

I visited the Sound Transit operations and maintenance facility in the south part of Seattle for meeting recently.  This is the original facility but they have added one in Bellevue and another will be built in Federal Way in the coming years.  Plenty of the trains were parked in the storage tracks including the original cars and the new ones getting delivered by Siemens for the extensions due to open soon.  Too good to pass up the chance to grab some shots with my phone.

Looking Down On Construction

I got to climb a tower crane recently.  This is something I had never done before and, since it provides a good view of a site and it was a new experience, I was keen to go.  I had one of my bigger cameras with me but I didn’t have a strap for it.  This proved to be a poor choice.  Climbing the ladders to get up the tower is not particularly hard but trying to do so while keeping hold of the hand strap of one camera was possible but very slow.

I quickly decided to leave the camera on one of the stage levels and get it on the way back down.  It wasn’t like anyone was going to be passing by.  I still had my phone in my pocket so that would have to do.  I got up to the level just below the cab.  Stopping at a few levels on the way up game me some different views of the construction site.  An elevated position is so appealing to me.  It gives perspective that most people never get to see.

Climbing back down again was a little less easy.  There is something about climbing up something which seems more natural than climbing down.  However, I was soon reunited with my camera and then finished the last couple of levels.  I will take good note of the advice about not bruising your knees as the ladder angle changes.  I might have bashed them once or twice.  Also, next time I shall make sure to have a strap to allow me to carry the better cameras with me!

Sounder In the Fall At Picnic Point

One evening, while up near Everett, I had a bit of spare time on my hands.  I had noticed a park along the waterfront called Picnic Park and had noted that I would check it out at some point.  This was a good time to try finding out what it was like.  The weather was not great but, with time on my hands, I headed down there.  It is a small park along the water and there is a bridge across the railroad to reach it.  As I walked across the bridge, there was a nice view down to where the coast curves around and the trees along the shore had some nice fall colors.

With the sun popping in and out on a regular basis, I thought this would be a good place if a train was coming.  As it happened, the Sounder commuter rail train from Seattle to Everett was not far off so I decided to wait for it to come through.  A few minutes later it came in to view.  There was a family with a young child standing on the bridge waving to the crew and, when I looked at the photos at home, I could see both crew waving back.  It was a pretty short train.  The Sounder North has not been too successful and the commuter rail ridership is well down due to COVID.  I guess there is no need for more cars just now.

Drilling a Shaft

I was doing a visit to one of the construction sites that our team at work is managing currently.  There is a lot of elevated guideway as part of this project and that involves drilling shafts for the elevated structures.  The drilling was not underway at the location we stopped off at so I could see some of the drilling equipment.  Not only was the auger like drill on site but also the cylinders with cutting heads mounted on the edge which are rotated in place by the other tool next to the drill.  The crews can drill these holes at quite a rate when they are going and the result is that the structures are springing up across the project at this point.  Nice to be part of something that will be soon serving the communities in the south part of King County.

Mukilteo Rail Station

In all of my visits to the waterfront at Mukilteo, it would have been neglectful if I hadn’t had a quick poke around at the railroad station.  This is for Sounder commuter rail trains to Seattle and is across from the new ferry terminal.  It will be interesting to see whether WSDOT’s Amtrak Cascades trains stop there in the future to connect with the ferries but currently they do not (and, at the time of writing, the Cascades services north of Seattle are suspended anyway.)

The station is not that old since the Sounder service has only been around since the 2000s.  Consequently, it is a nicely thought out design rather than an old station that has been upgraded.  It includes some artwork with a local theme with stone sculptures of local boat designs.  A footbridge takes you over the tracks to the far platforms.  I doubt I will ever have the need to use it but it was fun to look around on a quiet weekend.

Light Rail Shots for Work

A work requirement needed some photos of a project in which we are involved.  We provided he pictures but the team requiring them had an issue with the images we had an wanted something new.  When we couldn’t find any more, the easiest thing was to take some.  I was heading in the right direction one day so stopped off to take some shots of the Sound Transit Link light rail system.  I figured I would share a little of them here too for the rail fans amongst you.

Sounder Locos

Scanning back through some images looking for something else, I came across these shots of some Sounder commuter rail locomotives.  I shot these as part of a shoot that had a previous post.  I hadn’t focused on the locos so much but this train had a loco leading but two locos trailing as well.  The trailing locos were the old and the new with an F59PHI and an MPX together.  No idea why three locos were on a relatively short train but I guess there was a good reason!

Sounder’s New Cab Cars

New locomotives are not the only new vehicles to have shown up in Seattle.  Sound Transit runs the Sounder commuter rail service in the area and they have been taking delivery of new cab cars.  These are built by Bombardier, as were the previous cab cars.  However, this is a new design that incorporates crash energy management technology.  As a result, they have done away with the passenger gangway on the front of the vehicle and provided a full width cab for the engineer.  It provides a slightly more elegant front end to the vehicle than the previous design.