Sound Transit Plans Extended Service Disruption for Downtown Tunnel Maintenance
Sound Transit is moving forward with maintenance work in the downtown tunnel, which will result in an extended service disruption from January 13 to February 4. This maintenance is part of the “Future Ready” program and is being carried out in preparation for the opening of the Lynnwood Link Extension next fall. The work will involve replacing worn out rail and obsolete signal boxes in the tunnel.
To minimize the impact on riders, Sound Transit has developed an alternative operating strategy. During the 24-day period, a mix of single-track operations and full closures of the downtown tunnel will be implemented. Passengers boarding at either end of the system will be able to travel the entire length without transferring, but those who choose to board any train regardless of destination may need to transfer to continue their journey.
The frequency for through trips is expected to be around 26 minutes, which will save riders time that would otherwise be spent on transfers. However, the headways could be up to 30 minutes, reflecting past instances where frequencies were reduced more than anticipated.
On weekdays, Sound Transit plans to operate a blended Link service with some trains running through the downtown tunnel and others turning back at Capitol Hill and Stadium stations. This is a departure from previous partial tunnel closures, where service was limited to a common station for transfers or operated as a shuttle train.
During the weekend closures, the downtown tunnel will be closed to trains, allowing for broader maintenance activities on both tracks. Sound Transit will also take advantage of this opportunity to complete up to five other small tunnel maintenance projects that would otherwise require separate closures.
Replacement shuttle bus service will be provided between stations without Link service during the tunnel closures. The frequency of this bus service will be around 10 to 15 minutes, while the remaining sections of the light rail system will operate at 15-minute intervals.
The service disruption will undoubtedly be inconvenient for riders, but Sound Transit believes that the timing of the maintenance work is ideal. It is scheduled during a period of lower ridership, and completing all necessary work before the Lynnwood Link Extension opens will minimize the total number of passengers impacted. The agency is also taking steps to improve communication and passenger information management during the disruption.
Riders who may be affected by the service disruption are encouraged to consider alternative bus service between certain destinations. Sound Transit has provided a graphic highlighting these options, which could offer faster travel times, especially when the downtown tunnel is fully closed.
Overall, while the upcoming service disruption will cause inconvenience for riders, it is a necessary step in ensuring the long-term functionality and safety of the light rail system. Sound Transit is striving to minimize the impact and improve communication with passengers throughout the process.