Great Northern Tunnel

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Great Northern Tunnel
Seattle - South Portal of train tunnel 02.jpg
South Portal of the tunnel
Location Seattle, Washington
Coordinates Coordinates: 47°36′14″N 122°19′59″W / 47.604°N 122.333°W / 47.604; -122.333
System Amtrak Empire Builder
Amtrak Cascades
Sounder commuter rail
Opened 1905
Owner BNSF
Great Northern Railway (original)
Operator BNSF
Character passenger, freight
Line length 1 mile (1.6 km)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Tunnel clearance 28 feet (8.5 m)

The Great Northern Tunnel is a 1-mile (1.6 km) double tracked railway tunnel under downtown Seattle, Washington, completed by the Great Northern Railway in 1905, and now owned by the BNSF Railway, on its Scenic Subdivision. At the time it was built, it was the tallest and widest tunnel in the United States at 28 feet (8.5 m) high and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.[1]

The southern portal is just north of King Street Station, the northern in Victor Steinbrueck Park, below the Alaskan Way Viaduct, between Virginia and Pine Streets. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel passes four feet below the Great Northern Tunnel.[2]

Freight and passenger trains use the tunnel, including Amtrak to Chicago ("Empire Builder") and Vancouver, B.C. ("Cascades"), and Sound Transit's Seattle-Everett "Sounder" commuter train.

A more distant view of the South Portal of the Great Northern Tunnel
A more distant view of the South Portal of the tunnel


  1. ^ Daryl C. McClary (November 27, 2002). "Great Northern Tunnel — Seattle (essay #4029)". Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  2. ^ "Pioneer Square Station-the Pioneering Spirit". King County Metro. April 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 

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