Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.
Seattle-Area Tunneling Nearly Complete
Ever since Bertha, the five-story tunneling machine that was once the world’s largest, got unstuck and repaired, the news from Seattle-area tunneling projects has been almost relentlessly upbeat. The latest in that string of stories: Sound Transit is about to wrap up digging of its East Link tunnel under downtown Bellevue five months ahead of schedule.
425 Business reports that the agency announced that it had just about finished digging out the one-third-mile tunnel at the end of June and that work on the Bellevue Downtown station would begin later this month. Excavation work began in February of last year and took 15 months to complete, five months fewer than scheduled.
The tunnel was excavated using a newer tunneling method known as “sequential excavation.” It’s like boring, in that digging takes place entirely below the surface, but differs from it by using an excavator and other cutting equipment instead of a boring machine to remove small chunks of dirt at a time. The tunnel project removed 72,000 cubic yards of soil and applied 9,000 cubic yards of shotcrete to a girder lattice to line the tunnel.
The tunnel is part of a 14-mile, 10-station light rail line that will connect Seattle with its suburbs on the east side of Lake Washington; Bellevue, which has its own downtown, is the largest of the communities East Link will serve. The line should open for revenue service in 2023.
Contracts Signed for Key Components of Lagos’ First Metro Line
The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) has picked French rail equipment manufacturer Alstom to build the power supply and communications technology for the first rapid transit line in Nigeria’s largest city.
According to a story in Metro Report International, the agreement between Alstom and LAMATA on behalf of the Lagos state government covers work on the first two phases of the Lagos Blue Line’s construction. In Phase 1, Alstom will build the third-rail power supply and substations for the line’s initial segment; in Phase 2, it will work with the state government to structure export credit agency financing for a control center, passenger information and ticketing systems for the line. It will also supply communications-based train control for the Blue Line trainsets, which LAMATA ordered from CRRC Dalian, a different rail equipment manufacturer, in 2015.
Heavy construction work on the 12-km (7.5-mile), five-station initial section of the line is nearly complete. The first section will run from Marina to Mile 2; according to a Railly News report, the first section will include a 4-km (2.5-mile) viaduct and have five stations.
Lagos’ 22 million residents deal with severe traffic congestion daily. The Blue Line is the first of several metro lines planned in an effort to reduce congestion and speed travel through the city. When complete, the line will run for 27 km (16.8 miles) from Okokomaiko to Marina.
“The Blue Line project is of strategic importance for the city of Lagos as it allows our people to travel safe and fast across longer distances,” LAMATA Managing Director Abiodun Dabiri is quoted as saying in both news reports. “The integration with existing transport systems like our bus or boat lines and future metro lines will largely contribute to our global transport plan for Lagos to reduce traffic congestion and make Lagos a smart city.”
Canberra Gets Its LRVs Ready to Roll
The International Railway Journal reports that the initial light rail line for the Australian capital of Canberra moved that much closer to opening with the beginning of overnight testing of the first LRVs (light rail vehicles) that will provide service on the line.
Seven of the 14 CAF-built Urbos 3 LRVs are now running overnight between Nullarbor Avenue and Gunghalin Place. Testing is taking place overnight so that construction work on the line can continue during the day along other sections of the line. The tests will gradually extend to other line sections over the next several weeks.
Canberra’s first light rail line is slated to open at the end of this year. It’s being built through a public-private partnership between the Australian Capital Territory government and the Canberra Metro consortium, which will operate and maintain the line for 20 years.
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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.