Downtown Trains 140 Feet Below

Mark Nowlin/Seattle Times

If Sound Transit manages to build a second light-rail tunnel through downtown Seattle, passengers would use elevators, escalators or stairs to descend as deep as 145 feet to catch a train.

That new 3.3-mile central-city tunnel would be the core of the regional $54 billion ST3 program voters passed in 2016, to build 62 miles of light rail in three counties, plus commute-train and bus capacity, serving three-quarters of a million daily trips.

Natural and man-made obstacles would force transit contractors to drill into lower Queen Anne Hill, burrow under the Highway 99 tunnel portal and existing Westlake Station, then weave between skyscraper foundations before reaching daylight near the stadiums, based on preliminary designs the agency unveiled this month.

“We’re putting in the plumbing after the house has been built, to some degree,” said Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association.

Read Mike Lindblom’s reporting in the Seattle Times