First section of East Link rail installation on Mercer Island nears completion

In the coming year, crews will install rail on the Interstate 90 floating bridge.

  • Monday, December 31, 2018 1:30am
  • News

Sound Transit briefed media on the installation of ballasted tracks that will carry light rail vehicles across Mercer Island on Dec. 18.

The mile-and-a-third-long segment, running from 80th Avenue Southeast to just east of East Mercer Way, will be the first segment of rail completed on the East Link project.

Contractor crews are installing rail on concrete ties set in large rocks, or “ballast,” which forms a bed for the track. The installation process for ballasted track starts with applying a rubberized material to the existing pavement known as a “ballast mat.” Crews then place an even layer of ballast along the ground where the tracks will be set.

Pre-fabricated concrete ties are evenly set on top of the ballast. Once the ties are set, crews thread long sections of steel rail through clips on each end of the ties. Then, crews “flood” the rail bed to bring the layer of ballast flush with the top of the ties. Finally, a machine called an automatic tamper rolls along the rails to precisely measure the height of the rail using a laser, and adjust the level of the ties and rails as necessary to maintain a consistent height.

In the coming year, crews will install rail on the Homer M. Hadley floating bridge, including the innovative track bridges that will accommodate lake motion to allow light rail vehicles to travel safely and reliably across the floating section of I-90.

East Link will extend light rail 14 miles from downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue and the Overlake area of Redmond via Interstate 90, with 10 stations. Construction of the East Link extension is more than 40 percent complete, and the entire line will be operational in 2023. For more information on the East Link Extension see: www.soundtransit.org/Eastlink

Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south, east and west, opening new stations every few years to form a 116-mile regional system by 2041. Starting in 2021 the Northgate project will provide reliable, congestion-free travel to Seattle’s University District, Roosevelt and Northgate neighborhoods. Northgate Link will be followed by the opening of service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake community in 2023. Additional extensions to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Kent/Des Moines, Federal Way and downtown Redmond are planned to start service in 2024. Further light rail extensions are scheduled to reach West Seattle, Fife and Tacoma in 2030; Ballard in 2035; Paine Field Industrial Center and Everett in 2036; and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041.

The agency is also working on further investments including, but not limited to, expansions of Sounder South service and bus rapid transit service in 2024 along the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington. More information is available at https://systemexpansion.soundtransit.org.

More in News

Photo courtesy of City of Mercer Island
                                A cougar was captured by security footage on Aug. 5.
WDFW: Mercer Island cougar sighting ‘not unheard of’

The animal has not been spotted since the initial report was made

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photos
                                Covenant Living at the Shores residents and staff with Ageless Aviation pilot and team at the Renton Municipal Airport on Aug. 12.
Covenant Living at the Shores Residents take flight

Tom Norris, Sid Boegl, Doug Wilkinson, and Jack Nelson take flight in a 1942 Boeing Stearman.

The map shows ten areas of Mercer Island that require critical infrastructure and resources, should a natural disaster occur. Photo courtesy of the city of Mercer Island
Preparing for “the really big one” in a city surrounded by water

The Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan covers nearly 60 planning partners, including Mercer Island.

Photo courtesy of Juliana Kang Robinson
                                Juliana Kang Robinson’s public artwork, “Alone Together.”
MI artist completes Seattle public artwork

Juliana Kang Robinson designed the new artwalk intersection University and 1st Avenue near Harbor Steps and the Seattle Art Museum.

Dr. Richard Repass is the owner and medical director of Revolution Psychiatry. He has spent the last decade caring for patients who struggle with mental health illnesses and substance use disorders. Photo courtesy of Richard Repass
A new psychiatry clinic offers natural, alternative methods of detox various disorders

Revolution Psychiatry helps patients suffering with alcoholism or drug abuse, among other disorders.

The French American School of Puget Sound moved to Mercer Island in 1999 and took over the old fire station just north of the Stroum Jewish Community Center property. Madeline Coats/staff photo
Planning for the Community Facility Zone is paused after community expresses concern

Next steps for the zoning effort will be discussed on Aug. 20.

Mercer Island’s new rules for tree retention in full effect

New criteria must be met before a tree is removed outside of development.

Spring Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish and Wildlife Service
State awards millions for salmon recovery

Puget Sound counties received more than $45 million.

Most Read