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Sound Transit

Faced with overgrown rail line vegetation requiring tools and expertise beyond the scope of existing resources, Sound Transit calls on Davey Tree Surgery Company to quickly and efficiently restore the lines to safe standards.

The Challenge

Sound Transit is a rapid transit light rail system in the Seattle, WA area. Early in 2018 the company identified a 5 mile long section of rail line for vegetation clearing and removal. Parts of the line runs through environmentally sensitive green belt areas.

This section of line had been lightly maintained since its installation approximately 10 years prior. However, many of the trees had matured, and bringing it under control would require additional tools and expertise. Sound Transit was concerned that if not properly addressed, overgrown vegetation could soon present a hazard to passing trains, and/or cause conditions that could contribute to line shut-down.

The Solution

Davey Tree Surgery Company was hired in early June 2018 to clear vegetation from the lines. With a certified arborist on staff, they were able to quickly identify trees and other vegetation presenting the possibility of falling onto the line, growing into the rail deck, or otherwise damaging rail lines or equipment. In addition to pruning and removing smaller trees and other vegetation and debris, the Davey crew safely removed some very large hazard trees measuring up to 30” in diameter and 80’ tall.

Because this section of line runs adjacent to private property in many places, it was also necessary to accommodate the scheduling needs of various property owners. Davey successfully handled the coordination of scheduling with different homeowners as well as municipalities abutting the rail line.

The Results

Due to excellent advance planning on the part of Sound Transit and a good working relationship between the two companies, the project progressed in a timely fashion with no injuries, accidents, or other incidents. 98% of the work was completed in early November 2018, well before the year-end deadline. Work on the remaining portion was delayed due to permitting issues with a local municipality surrounding one of the environmentally sensitive areas; however it is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

The client was very satisfied with the timely and efficient manner of completion. In the words of Marc Reeves, Sound Transit’s Landscape Project Manager, “[Davey’s] crew has been very responsive to my needs. Frank, the crew leader, has done a great job with communication and doing what I’ve asked him to do, and I feel confident that I don’t have to go back and check on every little day-to-day thing. We’re a public agency and every once in a while they had to deal with the public, and they did a good job with that. Also Jeff McCormick has been just a fantastic partner in helping me set this up. It’s been just win-win all around.”

Photos courtesy of Sound Transit

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