City of Bellevue, Amazon Commit $5 Million to Grand Connection Bridge Design
At 1.5 miles long, the Grand Connection today links people and places through the heart of Bellevue. It builds on a vision and existing City policy to create an active “pedestrian corridor” brought to life over time with major public and private investments. The current vision also includes a crossing of I-405, connecting through Wilburton to Eastrail.
Bellevue City Council last night received an update on the Grand Connection with the news Amazon will match Bellevue’s $2.5 million in funding 30 percent design for a pedestrian bridge that would cross from Bellevue City Hall Plaza to Eastrail. Jesse Canedo, Bellevue’s chief economic development officer, said the development of the initial bridge would be forward-compatible with a future lid park over I-405.
“The Grand Connection has been a very important multi-decade project to help improve non-motorized access to downtown for our residents, workers, and visitors,” Canedo said. “We hope the project will help enable and improve the value of redevelopment in Downtown and Wilburton moving forward.”
The Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA) has partnered with the City on a Grand Connection activation pilot program for the past three years. The BDA will continue to advance the vision and program the corridor, working closely with their members, the City and other agencies and organizations. Amazon and Vulcan were early adopters of the Grand Connection design guidelines in their Bellevue 600 and 555 Tower developments respectively. Both projects are currently under construction.
Last year, Amazon donated $7.5 million to close the funding gap for two portions of the Eastrail in Bellevue, including the Wilburton trestle. Pearl Leung, Amazon’s head of community affairs, said Amazon believes in this I-405 crossing project because the Grand Connection will be a significant step to reconnect Bellevue’s urban fabric and ‘heal the divide’ created by I-405. This donation is yet another part of their commitment to the region as they grow their presence in Bellevue and the Eastside.
“A bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-405 will create a safe, enjoyable, and vital link between Downtown Bellevue and Eastrail,” Leung said. “As a member of Bellevue's vibrant, diverse community where many of our employees and their families reside, we are committed to partnering with the community and investing in affordable housing, promoting sustainable mobility options, and supporting local organizations.”
In the coming year, City staff will work collaboratively with partners to expedite the design work, with a goal of completing the 30% design on the bridge in 2024. The full Grand Connection project will rely on a combination public capital projects, private redevelopment projects, and ultimately unifying operations and management along the route. Moving the project forward remains a core priority for the City Council.
“The Grand Connection will positively affect the community by connecting Wilburton to East Bellevue and back to our Downtown,” Mayor Robinson said. “Amazon is a great example of the private-public partnerships we can create along the way.”