CENTRAL Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority has awarded a $23m contract for conceptual and preliminary engineering for Seattle’s planned Link light rail network (RG 1.98 p33). This will connect the communities of Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac airport, with a separate route joining central Tacoma with Tacoma Dome commuter rail station. Puget Sound Transit Consultants (PSTC), a partnership of three engineering firms: Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, ICF Kaiser Engineers and BRW Inc, will undertake on-site surveys, examine surface, elevated and tunnelling design and methods, conduct geotechnical analysis, develop architectural designs for the 26 stations, and assess track alignments and design.

This month the authority plans to invite tenders for up to 60 bi-level commuter rail cars and 12 locomotives to work the Sounder service between Everett and Lakewood. Expressions of interest were invited in mid-January, with a request for responses by February 20. RTA hopes to begin operating the 55 km between Tacoma and Seattle by the end of 1999, with the extensions from Tacoma to Lakewood and Seattle to Everett following later. o