MY Northwest: Light rail project between Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond begins next month

by MY Northwest | Jan 16, 2016

Bellevue residents are a little bit closer to being able to take light rail to a Mariners game. On Wednesday, Sound Transit announced that construction of East Link light rail will begin next month. 

"This historic moment will keep us on track for the opening of light rail service across Lake Washington," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. 

Constantine said the project is en route to a 2023 opening and will expand across to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and parts of Redmond, including the Microsoft campus. 

"How does a guaranteed 20-minute ride from downtown Bellevue on a rainy Friday night to your Mariners game sound to you?" Constantine asked. "It sounds pretty good to me."

Constantine says the first major project will be a new tunnel underneath downtown Bellevue.

He spoke about the new project at the Roosevelt light rail station — currently under construction and slated to open in 2021 — along with Sound Transit's new CEO Peter Rogoff. 

Rogoff spoke about the light rail project in his seventh day on the job, shortly after stepping down as the Obama administration's Under-Secretary of Transportation for Policy.

"In this region right here, just in the Sound Transit district, we're going to see a million more residents in the next 25 years," Rogoff said. "I would argue that the single most determining factor that will dictate the quality of life for people in this region … is how well we plan for the mobility of those million additional citizens and the citizens that are already here." 

Constantine and Rogoff noted the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations are set to open in March. They said both projects are under budget and ahead of schedule. 

Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick told KIRO Radio earlier this week that's only if you consider Sound Transit estimates given to the public in 2008, not promises going all the way back to 1996. 

In March, Sound Transit will ask the public for more comment about a November ballot measure that could ask taxpayers for as much as $20 billion to further fund the agency. 

"So far, Sound Transit has complete twelve tunnel segments," Constantine said. "Including three right here at your feet, at Roosevelt."