Light rail construction in Bellevue
The six East Link stations as well as the downtown tunnel in Bellevue, constructed in separate segments, are substantially completed. Sound Transit is evaluating controls, safety and signal systems along East Link throughout 2022.
- Tunnel: Approximately one-half mile of tunnel from Main Street to Northeast Sixth Street. The tunnel was completed in September 2020.
- South Bellevue Segment: I-90 East Channel Bridge to Southeast Fourth Street on 112th Avenue Southeast. It includes construction of the South Bellevue Station including a new 1,500 stall parking garage, now open for use.
- Central Bellevue Segment: Southeast Fourth Street on 112th Avenue Southeast to 124th Avenue Northeast. Work began spring 2017 with all major construction completed in the third quarter of 2022. This segment includes the East Main Station, Bellevue Downtown Station, Wilburton Station and the Spring District/120th Station.
- BelRed Segment: 124th Avenue Northeast to the intersection of Northeast 20th Street and 136th Avenue Northeast. This segment includes the BelRed/130th Station and a 300-stall park-and-ride lot.
The following segment includes stations outside of Bellevue city limits:
- SR 520/Overlake Segment: Northeast 20th Street to Northeast 40th Street at Overlake Transit Center (in Redmond). This segment includes the Overlake Village Station and the Redmond Technology Center Station.
- I-90/Seattle-Mercer Island Segment: From International District/Chinatown Station to the East end of the East Channel Bridge. This segment includes the Judkins Park Station (in Seattle) and the Mercer Island Station (in Mercer Island).
Approximately five miles of light rail trackway are being built in Bellevue. View a comparison of aerial footage captured in May 2020 of the East Link alignment in Bellevue with the animation of the light rail created in 2014 when the project was designed to 60 percent.
- Aerial footage of the East Link alignment in Bellevue (May 2020)
- Computerized animation of the East Link alignment from Seattle to Redmond at 60% design (March 2014)
- Webcam time lapse video of the construction of the Bellevue Downtown Station
Systems installation and testing
Testing of the systems (guide wires, electronics, signaling, etc.) will occur as each segment is completed. Expect to see "hi-rail" vehicles and light rail vehicles on the tracks. Testing of the entire East Link will take approximately one-year, with revenue service expected to begin in 2023.
- Starting Nov. 1, 2022, live-wire light rail vehicle testing will be rolling out on the East Link light rail tracks. Sound Transit crews will be conducting this test overnight, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., starting Tuesday, Nov. 1 and ending Thursday, Nov. 3. Trains will be moving at typical speeds (20-30 mph) on the tracks between the 120th/Spring District and Redmond Technology stations. Neighbors may hear a low hum from the train as it passes. Uniformed police officers will be available to guide motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists during work. Sound Transit reminds you to pay attention to safety. The trains will be moving fast and can appear quickly. It is important to stay off the tracks at all times and only cross at designated crossings.
Operations and Maintenance Facility - East
In addition to the stations, Sound Transit is constructing an operations and maintenance facility in the BelRed area, where light rail cars will be stored and maintained. The facility is needed to house the expanded fleet of light rail vehicles that will come with East Link. Design of the facility will complement the BelRed Corridor Plan to transform the 900-acre corridor into vibrant transit-oriented developments.
Efforts to lessen the impacts of the construction of light rail and the operation of the trains are known as mitigation. Mitigation is a high priority for the city council and Sound Transit and was addressed in the planning, design and construction of the light rail being built in Bellevue. Mitigation measures are aimed at managing traffic, preserving the environment and reducing noise during construction and once the trains are running. A 2015 memorandum of understanding requires various mitigation for the East Link project and is captured in Exhibit O. View Mitigation Map (May 2020).
Collaborative design process
At the time East Link (Sound Transit 2) was approved in 2008, the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit began to work closely, through a collaborative design process to create a Regional Light Rail Transit that meets regional and city needs. A Memorandum of Understanding adopted in 2011 between the city and Sound Transit addressed the construction, operation, and maintenance of the light rail project was amended in 2015 to address coordination of City capital projects and terms regarding the Operations and Maintenance Facility-East.
The City Council appointed a Light Rail Permitting Citizen Advisory Committee to help ensure community issues and concerns were addressed during the permit review process. Public input at meetings and other public events helped shape the design and mitigation permits issued by the city.