Light Rail and Commuter Rail Systems
Among LTK’s family of clients, no agency is better equipped to assess LTK’s systems engineering skills, than TriMet. Over the past quarter century, and several major projects, LTK has helped TriMet create a light rail system that has earned international acclaim. The firm has participated in the Banfield Corridor Light Rail Project, Banfield Double-Tracking Project, Westside Corridor Light Rail Extension, Hillsboro Light Rail Extension, Airport Light Rail Extension, Interstate Light Rail Extension, I-205 PE and Final Design and Mall Final Design. Throughout this development period, LTK has served and continues to serve as TriMet’s consultant for systems engineering. This level of continuous client service is rare and stands as a clear testimony to the quality of our work. LTK’s vehicle and systems design solutions for TriMet’s light rail and commuter rail systems demonstrate the firm’s sensitivity to environmental and community concerns.
LTK has also had the privilege of providing additional services to TriMet through several task order-type contracts, providing expertise in all elements of systems engineering including, for example, discrete design tasks, equipment modification programs, equipment tests and failure investigations and employee maintenance training programs.
Banfield Corridor Light Rail Project (The Eastside Line)
In the mid-1970s the Portland metropolitan area achieved consensus that the best solution to the region’s increasing transportation needs was a balanced system incorporating all modes. At the heart of this regional plan was a new light rail transit network. Federal funding was reallocated from the Mt. Hood Freeway Project to plan, design and develop a new light rail line and to modernize an existing freeway in the Banfield corridor through Portland’s east side.
LTK served as TriMet’s Systems Engineering Consultant for the light rail project. LTK engineers functioned as an extension of TriMet’s staff with responsibility for conceptual design, preliminary engineering, final design and construction/procurement management for all systems elements, which included 26 LRVs, a 100,000 square foot operations and maintenance facility, 16 traction power substations, overhead contact system (OCS), system-wide ductbank, train control/signal system, train-to-wayside communications (TWC), radio communications system, wayside lifts, fare collection equipment, corrosion control design, and work equipment/special tools. LTK also was responsible for all vehicle and systems inspection, testing, integrated testing and start-up.
Final engineering for the light rail project began in mid-1980, and construction began in early 1982, on a line consisting of 13 miles of double track and two miles of single track. The majority of the line is open tie and ballast trackwork, but about 2.5 miles of track is in streets. The signal system is ABS, with warning gates and flashers, Vetag, and preemption of automobile traffic signals. The overhead contact system is catenary construction in open track areas and trolley wire in more visually-sensitive downtown areas. A fleet of 26 light rail vehicles was procured from Bombardier. Construction cost for the light rail portion of the Banfield corridor project was $212 million, or an economical $14.1 million per mile.
Now known as the Eastside leg of the Blue Line of MAX, the Metropolitan Area Express revenue service began in September 1986, and gained immediate public acceptance. Initial daily ridership of 20,000 grew steadily to nearly 40,000 per day in 2005. The system is internationally acclaimed for its moderate cost (built under budget), aesthetic urban design and cost-effective operation.
Westside Light Rail Extension
As TriMet’s Banfield Line was being completed during the 1980s, plans were formulated to extend light rail service west of Portland into the region’s most congested corridor. Funding commitments were obtained and final engineering began in 1992 on the Westside Extension, the largest public works project ever undertaken in the Portland area. Full revenue service along the corridor began in September 1998.
The Westside Project extends from downtown Portland to 185th Avenue, a distance of about 12 miles. The project included a three-mile section of twin-bore tunnels, up to 400 feet deep, through the hills just west of the downtown core. The extension is fully double-tracked, with the majority in open tie and ballast construction. As on the Banfield Line, the overhead contact system and signal system have been tailored to the surrounding urban character.
Following LTK’s successful work with TriMet on the Banfield Light Rail Project, the firm was selected as TriMet's systems engineering consultant for the Westside Corridor. LTK provided preliminary engineering, final design and construction management for all systems elements.
As part of preliminary engineering and in support of the DEIS, LTK performed a Level Boarding Alternatives Study to address ADA accessibility requirements. This work ultimately led to TriMet's decision to procure the first modern low-floor light rail vehicles in North America. LTK subsequently provided services for the procurement of 52 low-floor LRVs. LTK prepared specifications for these revolutionary vehicles, in addition to conducting drawing reviews, in-plant and source inspections, proof-of-design testing, acceptance testing and warranty assistance.
Firm experts also were involved with design and construction management on the 75,000 square-foot Elmonica operations and maintenance facility, with duties that included work equipment and special tools. LTK staff was responsible for 12 traction power substations, overhead contact system, system-wide duct bank, train control/signal system, train-to-wayside communications (TWC), fare collection and corrosion control. The expansion of service and the addition of a tunnel to the system created more sophisticated control systems needs for TriMet. LTK provided systems engineering services for the procurement of a 15,000-volt distribution system, 30 miles of new fiber-optic backbone communications system, full central control, SCADA, closed-circuit TV, ADA-compliant message boards, PA and a 900 MHZ radio system coordinated with the City of Portland's regional system.
Hillsboro Light Rail Extension
With the Banfield Line already a success and the Westside Project in the works, TriMet began to proceed in the mid-1990s with a further westward extension to Hillsboro. The Hillsboro Extension added over six miles of double track to the system, more than five miles in existing railroad right-of-way and the remainder involving extensive reconstruction of downtown Hillsboro streets for in-street running.
TriMet again selected LTK to assist in fast-tracking preliminary engineering and final design. Preliminary engineering was consistent with earlier Westside designs. Final design for signals, six traction power substations, overhead contact system (OCS), system-wide duct bank, street lighting, train control/signals, TWC and fare collection were completed in less than one year, as were cost and contractual negotiations with the four prime systems contractors. The extension opened for revenue service on schedule in September 1998.
The traction electrification and signal systems were customized to the environment. Particular attention was given to adapting the LRT line to the urban streetscape of Hillsboro, including extensive utility relocation and reconstruction of the surrounding infrastructure.
Airport Light Rail Extension
LTK was part of the team charged with designing and managing construction of TriMet’s 5.5-mile light rail extension to the Portland International Airport. This project evolved as a design/build contract under a public/private partnership among TriMet, the Port of Portland and the Bechtel Corporation. LTK was responsible for the traction power and OCS portions of the extension. The firm completed preliminary engineering, conducted reviews of the contractor’s final designs and assisted with construction management of the installation. LTK staff also assisted with preparation of the integrated systems test program. Construction was completed early in the summer of 2001 and revenue service was inaugurated September 10, 2001. Airport MAX service – now called the Red Line – runs every 15 minutes throughout the day and evening, seven days a week.
Airport MAX was carrying about 3,500 weekday riders between the Airport station and Gateway Transit Center by mid-2002. The additional service Red Line trains offer on the inner Eastside line to downtown Portland also attracted over 7,000 more weekday LRT riders to that portion of the system. With this new service, total MAX weekday ridership grew to over 80,000 passengers in 2001. To accommodate the line’s ridership growth, TriMet is contemplating increasing train lengths on the Red Line from one LRV to two.
Interstate Light Rail Extension
As TriMet’s Westside MAX construction progressed, regional planners turned their attention to a North-South route to extend LRT service to Clackamas County in Oregon and Clark County (Vancouver) in Washington. Funding and jurisdictional uncertainties made it clear that it would not be possible to build all 25 miles of the proposed line at once, but that an incremental approach might make it possible to build shorter parts of the line.
Studies performed in 1999 determined that it was viable for an extension of the MAX system to the North, but within the City of Portland. The result was the selection of a route using Interstate Avenue. The predominantly center-median 5.6 mile Interstate Extension extends from the junction at the Rose Quarter Transit Center to the Portland Expo Center, and includes 10 stations. Trains provide direct service from Expo Center through downtown Portland and back.
LTK was selected to perform preliminary, final design, and design support during construction for all systems elements, including 27 additional light rail vehicles (Type 3), six mainline and one yard traction power substations, OCS, Interstate Ave. street lighting (incorporated with the OCS poles), signals/communications, systemwide electrical and further expansion of the Ruby Junction maintenance facility. Construction of the $350 million project began in 2001 and the line opened for revenue service in May 2004; four months ahead of schedule and $30 million under budget. The developmental process has moved on to the task of linking the South neighborhoods to the East-West, Interstate and Airport MAX lines.
South Corridor/Mall Extension
The South Corridor Project is the fifth major corridor light rail project undertaken by TriMet. It mirrors the Airport Extension in that the alignment is mostly grade-separated right-of-way adjacent to or in the median of the I-205 freeway and terminates at Gateway Transit Center. Operationally the new Green Line trains will be through-routed to the downtown on the existing Blue Line tracks from Gateway. However, once across the Steel Bridge, the Green Line trains will operate on a new downtown light rail alignment constructed as part of the I-205 South Corridor Project. This new alignment is a one way loop on the existing Portland Transit Mall (Fifth and Sixth Avenues), which will be re-constructed to accommodate, light rail, buses, and autos, from Union Station at the north end to SW Jackson St. at the south end. The Mall alignment will cross the existing light rail alignment at Morrison and Yamhill Streets in the heart of downtown Portland and thus increase the transit coverage and accessibility throughout the downtown.
The I-205 portion of the project is approximately 6.7 miles in length and includes eight passenger stations while the Mall portion is 1.7 miles with seven stations (per direction). LTK provided systems engineering design services during the preliminary engineering phase of the project and is providing systems final design for the Mall in addition to light rail vehicle procurement support and design of related facilities at TriMet’s operations and maintenance facilities. A total of twenty four light rail vehicles are being procured as part of the South Corridor Project.
Construction is beginning in early 2007 with revenue operation planned for late 2009. Cost of the project is estimated at $557 million.