Sound Transit’s Executive Project Director of the East Link Extension Ron Lewis addresses the crowd at the Bellevue Downtown Association’s monthly breakfast on Tuesday. Raechel Dawson/staff photo

Bellevue business community receives update on East Link

Sound Transit officials wanted the Bellevue business community to know Tuesday morning they’re on time and on budget with the construction of East Link light rail.

Hosted by the Bellevue Downtown Association during their monthly breakfast, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff was joined by East Link Extension Executive Project Director Ron Lewis and Deputy Project Director Mike Bell.

“Things are progressing well, very well, in fact,” Rogoff told the crowd at the Bellevue Club.

Although Rogoff mentioned a new report issued by the State Senate Law and Justice Committee that claims Sound Transit misled voters and the Legislature with its ST3, $54 billion package, he said the accusations are from two senators, and the utility company has already been investigated and exonerated by the attorney general.

“We at Sound Transit are not going to be slowed and we’re not going to be distracted by these political sideshows,” he said.

East Link is no exception.

Lewis said the $3.6 billion, 14-mile project is expected to be complete by June 2023. All of its six segments are currently in the heavy civil construction phase, with six major civil construction contracts, and Sound Transit is finishing up property acquisitions.

Of Sound Transit’s most notable accomplishments with East Link, thus far, has been winning the Popular Science 201 “Best of What’s New” award in the engineering category for its technology and ability to build light rail on Interstate 90, a floating bridge.

Bell, the project’s deputy director, said it will be the first floating bridge to have light rail.

As site work is underway at the Mercer Island station, work is also being done at the now-closed South Bellevue Parking Garage, excavation at the Spring District station on 120th Street and boring for the tunnels under Downtown Bellevue.

The underground tunnel with a north and south Bellevue portal will reach 2,500 feet once complete. To date, Bell said crews have boroughed 700 feet in.

“We get really excited when [excavation] goes more than 5 feet in a day,” Bell said, adding that he estimates there’s about another year-and-a-half of that.

Construction for the entire project is projected to end in 2022. After that, Sound Transit will do one year of testing and pre-operations before it is available for commuters.

Once built, the East Link Extension will be able to transport passengers from Downtown Bellevue to University of Washington in 30 minutes, from Downtown to Seattle’s International District station in 20 minutes and Downtown Bellevue to the Redmond Technology Center in 10 minutes.

For more information on the status of the project, visit www.soundtransit.org/eastlink.

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