Sound Transit appreciates patience for growing pains

Construction on the extension of the East Link light rail that will connect Bellevue with Redmond, Mercer Island and Seattle has started. This project has been years in the making, and when complete, will bring tremendous benefits to the Eastside. Here in Bellevue, work is already well under way on the tunnel beneath downtown that will connect the East Main and Downtown stations. By June, all segments of the 14-mile rail line will be under construction.

This is a huge project. In 2023, Eastside residents will be able to get on a Link train at one of 10 new stations and travel quickly and reliably throughout the region, from Redmond to Seattle, and north to the University of Washington, Northgate and Lynnwood. A transfer at the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is all that will be needed to get to Sea-Tac Airport and further south.

When East Link opens, getting around will be easy, but construction of major projects through developed areas is never simple. As the first city to begin active Eastlink construction, Bellevue will feel the effects of construction soonest. There already have been street closures near the tunnel excavation site south of downtown and in front of City Hall. The next major construction milestone is the closure of the South Bellevue Park-and- Ride lot.

The South Bellevue Park-and- Ride will close Tuesday, May 30 for approximately five years, and the Overlake Transit Center Park-and- Ride closed on May 1 for approximately six years. This is going to be tough for a lot of people, and we recognize the impact this closure will have on the public as light rail expands to the Eastside.

To provide replacement parking, Sound Transit opened six new park-and- ride lots and expanded two lots in fall 2016. There are more than 1,000 parking spots available in Eastside park-and- rides. Sound Transit continues to reach out to property owners in south Bellevue to identify potential parking along the popular ST Express 550 route that connects to downtown Seattle, and we will keep people informed as new options become available.

We know this will be a stressful time for many, as they adjust their routines. Sound Transit is providing ways to minimize the inconvenience as best we can at this time, realizing that some commuters will need to take a second bus to connect them to their final destination. Sound Transit and King County Metro have teamed up to provide resources to help commuters compare options and ease the transition. Just One Trip (www.justonetrip.org/resources) provides links to help people discover trip options, find ride share partners, request a custom commute plan and more.

Sound Transit is committed to being a good neighbor during construction. We’re collaborating with the city of Bellevue to keep the public informed about construction progress, and commute options. Our Community Outreach team is available to answer questions. Contact Community Outreach staff at eastlink@soundtransit.org or 206-903- 7177. To receive the latest updates, we encourage people to subscribe to email and text alerts at www.soundtransit.org/Subscribe. Interactive transit commuter parking maps and project updates can be found at www.soundtransit.org/eastlink.

East Link Extension will benefit the local community and support regional growth with fast, frequent reliable and congestion-free light rail service, connecting Seattle to the Eastside’s biggest population and employment centers.

There will be some growing pains along the way, and we thank everyone for their patience and support of this project that will truly shape the future of our region.

Peter Rogoff is the Chief Executive Officer for Sound Transit.

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