Weeklong closures affect Link Light Rail, crews repair sinking tracks

Aug 14, 2023, 7:05 AM | Updated: 10:04 am

Link Light Rail tracks sinking...

Sound Transit Link Light Rail in Seattle, Washington. (File photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(File photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Update 8/10: Starting Aug. 12, Link Light Rail’s one-line service from the SODO station to Capitol Hill station will be shut down while crews work to fix the sinking tracks.

S Royal Brougham Way will also be closed to vehicle traffic between 4th and 6th Avenue from the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 9, before reopening to traffic the morning of Aug. 23.

The Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square, International District/Chinatown, and Stadium stations will be closed, according to Sound Transit, but shuttle buses will be available every 10 minutes to accommodate for the closed light rail stations for free.

(Graphic courtesy of Sound Transit)

Original Story:

Sound Transit is suspending Link Light Rail service from SODO station to Capitol Hill station for two weeks because the ground that the tracks are on is sinking.

A section of light rail track is sinking at Royal Brougham Way, leading to a big disruption starting next weekend, August 12.

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The track at Royal Brougham Way needs to be reconstructed because soil conditions are causing the track alignment to sink and create a buildup of puddles in the depression. According to Sound Transit, it is “just a geological issue.”

Sound Transit Spokesperson John Gallagher said that the repairs are urgent and, due to the wet soil, the repairs need to be done during this warm, dry weather that Seattle is having now.

“The tracks at Royal Brougham are sinking. The ground underneath them is shifting, and they are literally sinking,” Gallagher said. “There’s like a slow movement order in place there, and when it rains, there’s some ponding. It’s an issue that really needs to be taken care of, and it can only be done in nice, dry, sunny weather, unfortunately.”

It’s an issue Sound Transit has known about for a while, but the organization claimed the project can’t be done in rainy or overcast weather.

“It has to be sunny weather so that really limits the window from when it can be done,” Gallagher told traffic reporter Micki Gamez on KIRO Newsradio. “It’s been noticeable for a while that there’s an issue there. We’ve also been noticing that there has been some water collected there when it rains as well. It’s been an issue. We’ve been talking about this in our boardroom since the beginning of the year that this is a project that we needed to undertake.”

The repair work means busses will need to shuttle passengers between the Capitol Hill and SODO stations next weekend. The Seattle Mariners will be in town all weekend, which may cause increased disruptions. Bus shuttles will run between the stations every 10 minutes. Trains will run every 15 minutes between Northgate and Capitol Hill stations and between SODO and Angle Lake stations.

Because of this shuttle transfer, passengers should expect their trips to take a little extra time. Sound Transit is estimating at least a half hour will be added to most trips.

“You should count on an additional half hour. Headways are going to go from eight minutes to 15 minutes. If you’re traveling through Pioneer Square, you’re gonna have to add up to 12 minutes for a transfer,” Gallagher said.

(Graphic courtesy of Sound Transit)

Disruptions will continue through the following week when the trains will share one track through downtown Seattle. Trains will be running on both platforms at Pioneer Square Station, where passengers traveling in either direction will be required to transfer to the other side of the platform to continue their ride.

S Royal Brougham Way will also be closed to vehicle traffic between 4th and 6th Avenue from the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 9, before reopening to traffic the morning of Aug. 23.

More from Micki Gamez: Drive safe and survive the summer on Washington highways

A second light rail construction project will follow shortly after as crews replace cracked or broken tiles at Othello and Rainier Beach stations. Sound Transit said that these tiles are creating a safety hazard for passengers.

From August 21 to September 3, the northbound track at both stations will be closed. From September 4 to September 17, the southbound platforms at the stations will be closed.

Micki Gamez contributed to this reporting

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Weeklong closures affect Link Light Rail, crews repair sinking tracks