I-5 Olive Way ramp reopens as first major University Link work wraps up

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Visioning Sessions Sound Transit contractors plan to reopen the Olive Way exit ramp to Capitol Hill in Seattle from I-5 northbound the morning of May 13 at 5 a.m. as crews wrap up a major University Link light rail contract on time and under budget.

With completion of the
work, the foundation beneath I-5 is ready for passage of a tunnel boring
machine as Sound Transit builds the 3.15 -mile light rail tunnel extension
between downtown Seattle and the University of Washington. Crews working for
Sound Transit closed the ramp and others in the area about a year ago to
perform the underground work.

"The completion of
this part of the University Link project is great news for the region’s next
light rail line, which will move tens of thousands of people every day"
said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon.
"Finishing on time and under budget also shows our constituents that we’re
meeting our commitments and being wise stewards of their money."

Contractors from Condon
Johnson & Associates won the $19.7-million contract to dig four pits up to
65-foot-deep adjacent to the retaining walls on either side of I-5 near the Olive
Way exit ramp to Capitol Hill in Seattle.

After digging the pits,
the contractors cut four "windows" into the retaining walls – two on
each side of I-5 – for the tunnel boring machine to make its first pass through
as early as late 2011 as it travels from Capitol Hill to the Downtown Seattle
Transit Tunnel. The windows were filled with material easily removed by the
tunnel boring machines, the pits were filled in and the roadway surface was

Located entirely
underground, the $1.9-billion University Link project includes stations at
Capitol Hill and the University of Washington and is an extension to the Link
light rail line that opened between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International
Airport last year. University Link is scheduled to open in 2016, adding more
than 70,000 riders a day to the system.

Travel times on University
Link will be nine minutes between downtown and UW and three minutes between UW and
Capitol Hill.

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