Sound Transit's East Link light rail line will extend 14 miles from downtown Seattle to the Overlake area in Redmond, with 10 stations in Mercer Island, South Bellevue, downtown Bellevue, BelRed (Bellevue) and Overlake. When in service in 2023, East Link will be known as the Blue Line.
Aerial footage of the East Link alignment in Bellevue
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 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)
Light rail construction in Bellevue
The six East Link stations as well as the downtown tunnel in Bellevue will be constructed in separate segments:
- Tunnel: (Under Construction) Half mile of tunnel from Main Street to NE 6th Street. Work began March 2016; tunnel excavation began Feb. 2017. Heavy (civil) construction to end 2nd Quarter 2020.
- South Bellevue Segment: (Under construction) I-90 East Channel Bridge to SE 4th Street on 112th Ave SE. Work began Spring 2017; expected to end 4th Quarter 2020 and includes construction of the South Bellevue Station including a new parking garage and work on Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue SE to build the guideway and other infrastructure.
- Central Bellevue Segment: (Under construction) SE 4th Street on 112th Ave SE to 124th Ave NE. Work began Spring 2017; expected to end 4th Quarter 2020 and includes:
- BelRed Segment: (Under construction) 124th Ave NE to intersection of NE 20th St and 136th Ave NE. Work began Spring 2017; expected to end 3rd Quarter 2020.
The following segment includes stations outside of Bellevue:
- SR520/Overlake Segment: (Under construction) NE 20th St to NE 40th Street at Overlake Transit Center. (Redmond, WA) Work to began Summer 2017; expected to end 1st Quarter 2020 and includes:
- I-90/Seattle-Mercer Island Segment: (Under construction) From International District/Chinatown Station to the East end of the East Channel Bridge. Work began Summer 2017.
Systems and testing: construction of the systems (guide wires, electronics, signaling, etc.) will occur as each segment is completed and will be completed mid-2021. Testing of the entire East Link will take approximately one-year, with revenue service expected to begin in 2023.
Operations and Maintenance Facility
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. The 2015 MOU 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 (MOU) 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 OMSF.
Members of the Light Rail Permitting Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) were appointed by the City Council to help ensure community issues and concerns were to be addressed during the permit review process as defined in Bellevue’s Land Use Code. A great deal of public input was received at meetings and public events that helped shape the Design and Mitigation (D&M) Permits to be issued by the City.