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Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel Retrofit

To accommodate light rail coming in 2009, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is being retrofitted and upgraded for use by both rail and bus. In September 2004 the tunnel was closed for up to two years. Buses that ran in the tunnel now travel on surface streets. $16 million dollars in improvements were compled to help keep downtown moving. These include Third Avenue becoming a "transit priority" corridor during the morning (6-9 a.m.) and and evening (3-6:30 p.m.) peak commute times. Only buses will be able to travel the length of Third Avenue during those times. Please note: left hand turns are restricted during peak hours an additional half hour from 3-7:00 p.m.

Street improvements to Olive Way, Ninth Avenue, Prefontaine Place South and Fifth Avenue South were made to expedite movement and ensure rapid emergency response. New permitting requirements are also being implemented while the tunnel is closed. To view a pdf of Downtown Traffic, Parking & Permitting Changes, click here.

Performance Report
SDOT, Metro and Sound Transit released their first performance report in February. In summary, the tunnel has been closed for more than three months, and were happy to report that both transit and general purpose traffic continues to move as projected. With more buses on the street during peak periods, and traffic restricted in some areas, the downtown system does become congested more easily, and takes longer to recover from incidents. But overall, the agencies hard work has paid off. To learn more read the executive summary.

Questions on SDOT's surface street improvements? Contact:
Communications Manager Gregg Hirakawa, (206) 684-8540 or

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