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Sound Transit has partnered with Oldcastle Precast and Stacy & Witbeck to engineer and manufacture a 450-foot-long prototype section of precast concrete "floating" rail for the University Link light-rail line. The new rail will be utilized along a two-mile stretch that will pass under the University of Washington's Physics Department. In order to receive funding, the project needed to maintain pre-construction vibration levels, Oldcastle Precast officials said in a press release. The prototype is composed of heavyweight concrete slabs that will rest on 7.5-inch thick elastomeric isolation bearing pads, which will allow the rail system to "float." That in turn will significantly reduce the system's harmonic effect on its surroundings, Oldcastle Precast officials said.Initial testing of the prototype has begun without trains, and has thus far indicated "satisfactory performance." Meanwhile, Sound Transit announced yesterday that it had completed initial work to integrate and test University Link's rail signal and power systems. Within the last several months, contractors have installed and tested new power, safety, train control and communications systems in most of the 3.1 miles of tunnels. Work included installing and testing light-rail control and safety systems for the entire line, as well as energizing overhead lines in tunnels.The $1.8 billion University Link line is slated to open in early 2016.
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