Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel closed for light rail integration testing Saturday

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Bus services diverted to surface streets, light rail service turning at SODO Station

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) will close temporarily to train and bus riders for about six hours Saturday morning, Aug. 9, while Sound Transit and King County Metro conduct operational tests for the planned 2016 opening of the University Link light rail expansion. The tests will run from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Northbound Link light rail service will stop at SODO Station south of the DSTT. To connect riders between Link and downtown locations, Link Shuttle Route 97 buses will operate between the DSTT stations and SODO Station. Bus routes that normally operate in the tunnel will use surface streets during the testing.

Visit Metro Online for complete information about the routing and stops that will be used by tunnel routes and by the Link shuttle bus Route 97 during the closure.  Heading toward SODO Station for connections with Link light rail, the Route 97 bus operates via Pine Street and Third Avenue, and makes stops downtown on Pine just east of Fifth Avenue and at the island just east on Third Avenue, then southbound on Third at Union, Seneca and James streets.

During Saturday's testing, trains and buses will simulate future rush hour conditions in the DSTT. When the University Link extension opens in early 2016 trains will operate every six minutes. Today trains operate about every 7.5 minutes during peak hours. The simulations will measure overall service quality in the DSTT to help determine the optimal level of bus service in the tunnel when the University Link extension opens.

The DSTT is one of many areas where Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit have intensified work to integrate bus and rail service under an initiative recently launched by King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine. With more than 30 miles of light rail extensions set to open by 2023, a major focal point of the initiative is ensuring that Link stations serve as transit hubs where riders can move easily between buses and congestion-free train service.

The University Link 3.15-mile underground light rail extension to the University of Washington stations on Capitol Hill and at the UW is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2016, six to nine months ahead of its original construction schedule and about $150 million under budget.

With the University Link addition, the light rail system is expected to carry an estimated 62,000 riders on weekdays by 2018.