Regional leaders broke ground on the Sound Transit East Link extension today – looking forward to people riding light rail from Seattle to Overlake in Redmond sometime in 2023.
Bellevue Councilmember Conrad Lee applauds as the region’s elected leaders break ground on Eastlink.
Demolition actually started a couple of weeks ago in prep for tunnel excavation expected in the fall.
At its deepest, the tunnel will be about 60 feet under downtown Bellevue.
It will be dug – not bored – through mostly glacial till via sequential excavation.
Construction starts are planned in Overlake and South Bellevue later this year.
While the entire 14 miles will open in 2023, construction will start in different places at different times to maximize efficiency and minimize impacts on surrounding communities.
Construction along all parts of the line – including on I-90 over Lake Washington – is expected to be underway in 2017, after new HOV lanes are up and running.
An estimated eight million craft hours will be required to complete the entire $3.7 billion project, which includes 10 stations.
Former Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci – now on the King County Council – reminded people that regional rail had first been envisioned in the 1960s.
“Soon, people who live or work in Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond will have a new, fast, reliable way to travel across Lake Washington and around our region – out of the traffic that gridlocks our freeways each and every day.” – Claudia Balducci, King County Council
Current Bellevue Mayor John Stokes provided a tour of recent economic development projects throughout the city “which would not have happened without light rail.”
The Mayor’s list included REI’s recent decision to relocate its headquarters to Bellevue, a new Marriott Hotel and the Global Innovation Exchange in the budding Spring District.
Sound Transit anticipates 50,000 daily passengers on the line by 2030.
Looking ahead, King County Executive Dow Constantine noted that a million more people are expected in the region by 2040, mostly living in the urban area from Everett to Tacoma.
He called the urban region “one big city,” and noted work to prepare Sound Transit 3 for voters this fall.