East Link Extension (Sound Transit)
The East Link Extension is a planned Sound Transit Link Light Rail line, spanning about 22 miles from Downtown Seattle eastward to the city of Redmond. Funding for construction of the portion of East Link between Downtown Seattle and Overlake Transit Center was approved by voters in November 2008, while the final segment between Overlake Transit Center and Downtown Redmond was identified as a priority extension in a future expansion measure. Construction of East Link began in 2016, and the line is scheduled to open for service to Overlake in 2023.
On April 25, 2013, the Sound Transit board decided on a final route for East Link, traveling east from International District/Chinatown station in Seattle, across Lake Washington and Mercer Island, through Bellevue and Bel-Red to Overlake Transit Center in Redmond. Voters in Bellevue, Washington approved the Link light rail extension from Seattle, across Lake Washington on Interstate 90, through Bellevue and on to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond. The project is currently in the final design phase, with construction scheduled to begin in 2015 and service expected to start in 2023. An estimated 50,000 passengers will use East Link every day by 2030.
From the International District/Chinatown Station, trains will travel on existing ramps to the Interstate 90 express lanes from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, possibly in mixed traffic with buses. Currently, the I-90 express lanes carry vehicle traffic (both single-occupancy vehicles and high-occupancy vehicles (HOV)), but will be modified to serve only trains, and an all-day HOV lane will be added to each direction of the I-90 bridge. The trains will use the center roadway from Seattle through the Mount Baker Tunnel, across Lake Washington on the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, under Aubrey Davis Park on Mercer Island, and on the East Channel Bridge to South Bellevue. Trains will turn and head north from I-90 along Bellevue Way and 112th, before cutting across to Main and I-405. In Downtown Bellevue, the trains will go through a tunnel underneath 110th, a plan that the board decided upon in July 2011. From there, trains will head east at NE 12th street past Overlake Hospital through the Bel-Red industrial area along NE 16th street. In the Overlake neighborhood, trains will connect with State Route 520 and head north towards Downtown Redmond and Redmond Town Center.
East Link construction began in April 2016 with the demolition of homes along the right-of-way of the south portal to the Bellevue tunnel in the Surrey Downs neighborhood (near East Main station). A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held in Downtown Bellevue on April 22, 2016.
Construction on the at-grade and retained cut Bellevue segments, as well as the Overlake segment, will begin in late 2016. The remainder of the line, including the Interstate 90 corridor and Bel-Red, will begin construction in 2017.
When the light rail line is completed, it will be the first time that a light rail line has operated on a floating bridge. Challenges faced by Sound Transit include stray current, expansion and contraction of the bridge itself, weight of the rail infrastructure (rails, catenary, etc.), weight of the light rail vehicles, and the expansion joint on either end of the bridge.
|From Northgate via the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel|
|East Link (Downtown Seattle - Bellevue - Redmond)|
|International District/Chinatown||International District||Under S. Jackson St. and 5th Ave. S.||Connections to Central Link, Sounder Commuter Rail and First Hill Streetcar|
|Judkins Park||Central District||In the median of Interstate 90 at Rainier Ave. S.|
|Mercer Island||Mercer Island||In the median of Interstate 90 at 77th Ave. S.E.||Park & ride improvements|
|South Bellevue||Bellevue||Above Bellevue Way S.E. at 112th Ave. S.E.||Park & ride, bus transfer improvements|
|East Main||Bellevue||At Main St. and 112th Ave. S.E.|
|Bellevue Downtown||Bellevue||Under 110th Ave. N.E. at N.E. 6th St.||Serves Bellevue Transit Center|
|Wilburton||Bellevue||Above N.E. 8th St. along BNSF Woodinville Subdivision corridor|
|Spring District/120th||Bellevue||On N.E. 16th St. at 120th Ave. N.E.|
|Bel-Red/130th||Bellevue||On N.E. 16th St. at 130th Ave. N.E.|
|Overlake Village||Bellevue, Redmond||Next to State Route 520 at 152nd Ave. N.E.|
|Redmond Technology Center||Redmond||Next to State Route 520 at N.E. 40th St.||Serves Redmond Technology Park (Microsoft, Nintendo, etc.)|
|End of light rail extension funded by Sound Transit 2|
|SE Redmond||Redmond||Next to SR 520/Avondale Road at N.E. 70th St||Park & ride improvements, near Marymoor Park|
|Downtown Redmond||Redmond||Possibly on BNSF Right of Way at Leary Way (Undecided)||Serves downtown Redmond|
|End of line|
- "East Link Project Update" (PDF). Sound Transit. January 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "University Link Extension Project update: First phase of University Link testing complete". Sound Transit. June 30, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
- Lindblom, Mike (April 25, 2013). "Sound Transit signs off on Bellevue's light-rail route". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
- Lindblom, Mike (April 22, 2013). "In historic step, Bellevue approves light-rail route". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
- "Light Rail and Bellevue". City of Bellevue. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
- "East Link Extension". Sound Transit. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
- "I-90 - Two-Way Transit and HOV Operations". Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Retrieved May 23, 2009.
- "East Link Preferred Alternatives" (PDF). Sound Transit. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
- Whittenburg, Jake (April 13, 2016). "Home demolitions begin Monday in Bellevue for East Link light rail". KING-TV. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- "Sound Transit kicks off East Link light rail construction" (Press release). Sound Transit. April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- "ST Spotlight: Building East Link". Sound Transit. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- Media related to East Link Extension (Sound Transit) at Wikimedia Commons
- Sound Transit's page on the East Link Extension