Aug 9, 2023 - News

Sinking tracks cause shutdowns to Seattle light rail service

Train tracks that are sagging near the Sound Transit Stadium Station in Seattle.

The Stadium Station and a stretch of Royal Brougham Way will be closed as crews repair light rail tracks that have sunk several inches over the years. Photo courtesy of Sound Transit

Sound Transit's Link light rail service will be disrupted starting on Saturday as crews work to level sinking tracks that are susceptible to flooding.

Driving the news: Five stations will close this weekend so workers can repair rails that have sagged as much as three inches north of Stadium Station and tackle other maintenance and repairs, per Sound Transit spokesperson John Gallagher.

  • The stations include Stadium, International District/Chinatown, Pioneer Square, University Street and Westlake.
  • Following the weekend, the stations will reopen but trains will alternate on a single track across Royal Brougham Way through Aug. 20, slowing the 24-mile trip from Northgate to Angle Lake.

Plus: South Royal Brougham Way will be closed to vehicle traffic between 4th and 6th Avenues South Wednesday night through Aug. 23 to allow the rail work.

  • Rail service will be disrupted again starting Aug. 21 and lasting through Sept. 17 as workers replace the tiles and concrete substructure on the platforms at the Othello and Rainier Beach stations, per Sound Transit.

Zoom in: To mitigate the station closures this weekend, there will be free Link shuttle buses running between Capitol Hill and SODO every 10 minutes, per KOMO News.

  • Riders who want to travel from the north to south ends of the city must change trains at Pioneer Square Station.

The intrigue: Sound Transit's executive director of operations, Suraj Shetty, told The Seattle Times he suspects the rails are sagging because of the soft soil, debris, wood waste and tidal sand that was used as fill to build up SODO's tideflats during the early 20th century.

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