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4/27/2015



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sound Transit earns Bellevue's approval for East Link light-rail


After receiving the go-ahead from Bellevue, Wash., leaders, Sound Transit is one step closer to constructing its 14-mile East Link light-rail line.

The Bellevue City Council last week unanimously approved finalized agreements with Sound Transit for the line, Sound Transit officials announced.

The agreement cuts the city's upfront contribution to the project from $160 million to $100 million, and also includes provisions to address the potential impacts of constructing an operations and maintenance satellite facility in the Bel-Red area.

The agency must still make a final route selection following a planned environmental review of multiple sites within Bellevue's Bel-Red area.

The agreement caps years of discussions between Sound Transit and city of Bellevue officials, said Sound Transit Chairman Dow Constantine.

"With this unprecedented partnership, we will reduce the tunnel's cost to Bellevue, while helping to deliver East Link on schedule and promoting transit-oriented development throughout the Bel-Red Corridor."

Sound Transit has adopted a $3.6 billion lifetime budget for the East Link line, agency officials said in a statement. The budget includes a $33 million contribution from Microsoft to fund a bike/pedestrian bridge over a state road at the Overlake Transit Center Station.

Slated for completion by 2023, the East Link line is expected to carry about 50,000 riders each weekday by 2030, Sound Transit officials said. It will have stations in Seattle, Mercer Island and Bellevue, in addition to stops in the Bel-Red and Overlake areas.

Meanwhile, the agency aims to advance its "Sound Transit 3" ballot measure by developing a priority project list for public input in June. The ballot would allow voters to consider allocating $15 billion in new revenues for regional mass transit extensions, officials said.

The agency plans to complete estimates of projected ridership, conceptual costs potential transit-oriented developments and other figures for each project on the list.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated from an earlier version.]



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