For me, most projects start with a leading question: Are you afraid of heights? How do you feel about being underground? As a documentary filmmaker, I tend to get a front row seat to adventure.

For this project, I was able to tag along for a few days while the team at Traylor Frontier-Kemper completed the final stages of the Northbound tunnel of the University Link Light Rail project. The tunnel is a 2.15 mile stretch from Seattle’s University District to Capitol Hill neighborhood. It reaches a depth of 310 feet below ground and travels under parks, water and densely populated urban neighborhoods.

I was tasked with filming the tunneling process as the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) holed-through to the Capitol Hill Station. More importantly, I was asked to tell the story of the tunnel and the team that made it happen.

Throughout the few days underground, I quickly learned the importance of the safety training we received. The tight spaces, heavy machinery and constantly moving pieces created an environment that true professionals excelled in. I, on the other hand, hit my head around 50 times. Luckily I was wearing a hard hat.

Another thing I learned about was the camaraderie of the miners. Each person had an important job to do and they relied on one another to maintain a safe and productive environment. Strong bonds are built in the tunnels as people work rigorously to do a difficult job.

What’s the reward? Watch the video to find out.

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