Sound Transit’s East Link light rail construction more than half finished

Sound Transit and Bellevue staff presented the city council with an update on the East Link project.

Representatives of Sound Transit, as well as Bellevue city staff, presented the city council with an update on the East Link light rail project at an extended study session on Feb. 25.

The 14-mile East Link Light Rail project aims to connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond. Construction on the project began in 2015, with completion planned for 2023.

The council took no action, instead, Sound Transit’s executive project director Mike Bell began the presentation with an update on the construction work. Every segment of the 14-mile rail line, from Seattle to Redmond, is currently under construction he said. In a timeline chart presented to the council, Bell showed that the construction phase is already more than 50 percent complete.

As the construction segments come to a close, Sound Transit will be beginning their systems construction phase to implement traction work, communications and the operations of the rail stations.

Bell said the work remains on schedule and within the $3.67 billion budget.

Maher Welaye, Bellevue’s engineering manager for East Link, updated the council on the various types of mitigation going on around the city, whether it be noise mitigation for nearby neighbors or improvements to local wetlands. Welaye also highlighted city work on traffic mitigation along Bellevue Way.

On the topic of traffic, Bellevue’s East Link Outreach Lead Marie Jensen covered the efforts to prevent drivers from cutting through neighborhoods to avoid construction areas. In 2016, the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee was formed by the city and residents of the Surrey Downs, Enatai, Bellecrest and Beaux Arts Village.

The committee’s pilot program stopped access along 108th Avenue Southeast south of Southeast 16th Street from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Access southbound on Bellevue Way Southeast from westbound Southeast 16th Street was also restricted from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Jensen said the pilot program created by the committee has been in place for about a year and said traffic volumes have lowered as a result. The program will remain in place until 2020 when construction work is estimated to be complete.

The city is also planning a public outreach event on Tuesday, March 26 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Global Innovation Exchange building in Bellevue.

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