Seattle Monorail Electrical Room Upgrades


Award of Merit

CONTRACTOR: C3M Power Systems

OWNER: City of Seattle

LEAD DESIGN FIRM: Elcon Associates Inc.

Installed in 1962 for Seattle’s World Fair, the city’s monorail electrical system at Seattle Center and Westlake Center stations was overdue for an upgrade.

The team improved the system with new traction power switchgear systems, including two DC switchgear lineups, an AC switchgear breaker and a rectifier-transformer. The modernized setup also allows the monorail to control the system remotely with real-time updates.

To keep the trains running during construction, the team designed a temporary power configuration using the existing gear and placed it in the Seattle Monorail maintenance bay. The monorail ran off on this temporary setup at Seattle Center for two months. To integrate new and existing equipment, the team researched 30-year-old schematics and coordinated with its engineers and the vendors in Switzerland to confirm interconnections between the devices.

Seattle Monorail

Photo courtesy C3M Power Systems

Westlake Center posed a particular challenge. The electrical room, located in the basement of a shopping center, runs through a series of narrow, winding corridors. To place the DC gear inside the electrical room without having to go through the sidewalk overhead, the team split the DC gear in half to fit down the hallways and into the room.