Sound Transit gives tunnel presentation to emotional crowd

Bellevue residents were given the opportunity Tuesday night to listen to Sound Transit officials and express concerns of their own regarding construction on the south portal of the Bellevue Tunnel.

Bellevue residents sounded off regarding construction on the south portal of the Bellevue Tunnel during a recent Sound Transit meeting.

Bellevue residents were given the opportunity Tuesday night to listen to Sound Transit officials and express concerns of their own regarding construction on the south portal of the Bellevue Tunnel.

The tunnel, a 1,985-foot-long portal that will begin just south of Main Street at 112th Avenue Northeast, will connect the planned East Main station and the Bellevue Downtown station for the East Link light rail project.

East Link is a 14-mile-long project Sound Transit has begun work on to provide light rail mass transit to the Eastside. The train will run from Seattle, along I-90 over Mercer Island into Bellevue, and over I-405 to Overlake and Redmond.

Luke Lamon, the community outreach specialist for Sound Transit, said the meeting was likely to be the first of many times he’d be addressing Bellevue residents.

Engineers on the project showed slides of Sound Transit’s other projects, including the University District light rail link, which is scheduled to open this spring. The Northgate connection is another project scheduled for first service in 2021.

Some audience members didn’t find the presentation appealing.

“It’s a frickin’ sales pitch,” said one resident of West Bellevue.

For the East Link line, first service is scheduled for 2023. Sound Transit hopes the option for reliable mass transit will alleviate traffic pressure on the region’s highways and surface streets.

According to projected numbers, Bellevue’s population is expected to increase 33 percent by 2040. Sound Transit projects its own lines (bus, light rail and Sounder train) to carry 101 million yearly passengers in the Puget Sound area by 2025.

Bellevue’s line will head underground on 112th, then will head west to 110th Avenue Northeast before it gets to Northeast 2nd Street. The tunnel’s north portal will emerge at Bellevue City Hall, and the line will be elevated along Northeast 6th Street over I-405 and to the planned Wilburton station.

Construction in Bellevue is estimated to take 52 months and preparatory work could begin on the south portal as soon as late February.

A 20-foot high “noise wall” will be erected for surface work to avoid bothering the residents near Surrey Downs Park and West Bellevue as much as possible, Sound Transit said.

Excavation on the tunnel could begin late summer or fall of 2016, with the sequential excavation method, a lower impact method in which bits of the tunnel are excavated and completed at a time with shotcrete.

Residents can expect lane closures along 110th and 112th Avenues and Main Street during construction.

 

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