Structural engineers agree that tunnels can be one of the safest places to be during an earthquake. The SR 99 tunnel is being designed to withstand an earthquake that only happens every 2,500 years on average (in the range of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake) without collapsing.
The tunnel will have emergency passages to safe refuge areas, and state-of-the-art ventilation, fire detection and suppression, security and lighting systems. It will be monitored 24 hours a day by WSDOT, similar to the I-90 tunnel today. Check out our tunnel safety fact sheet (pdf 1.6 Mb) for additional information.