Sound Transit helps Capitol Hill business, offers underground walking tour of tunnel

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. —

Sound Transit has come up with a unique way to help a business hurting from the light rail construction on Capitol Hill - it's offering customers the chance to win a private walking tour of the giant underground tunnel before trains ever hit the tracks.

It's a 3-mile tunnel running from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington.

"It'd be a once in a lifetime experience," said Lorrie Cope, who was walking by a sign advertising the contest.

Sound Transit put up signs and posted information on its website last week.

If a customer spends at least $10 on Himalayan food at the Annapurna Cafe on Broadway, he or she gets an entry form.

Five people will win a private walking tour of the tunnel.

Annapurna Cafe owner Roshita Shrestha explained that the restaurant has been hurting from being hidden behind construction fences.

"Thirty percent less business than we used to have," she said.

Shrestha said that she's even had to cut back on hours for some of her staff.

"To know that you walked somewhere where a light rail is about to run," Cope said. "It'd be a once in a lifetime experience."

Some people, though, said it isn't exactly a prize they'd want to win.

"I would not want to be in a tunnel or get a tour of it and I don't see the point, to be quite honest," Michelle McCarthy said as she walked by the sign.

Cope said it did make her give the restaurant some thought.

"Approaching from this angle, I would see that sign and consider eating at that cafe," Cope said.

To enter the contest, customers have to be 18 or older and be able to walk all 3  miles of the concrete-lined tunnel. Sound Transit officials said they expect to have a drawing in mid-March.

The University Link project is running six to nine months ahead of schedule and is expected to open in the first part of 2016.