The saga of East Link has been long. Originally voted down as part of the Forward Thrust plan in 1968 (a familiar map), the I-90 floating bridge was designed to handle rail in the future. In Sound Transit’s 2008 Proposition 1, we funded cross-lake rail, and since then, planning and dependent construction work has been chugging along, even in the face of all sorts of legal and activist opposition (that clearly doesn’t represent the voters).
Eventually, the Bellevue City Council worked with Sound Transit to demand (and partially fund) grade separation through downtown Bellevue. Unfortunately, Bellevue doesn’t really have the money to make up the full difference between surface rail and a tunnel.
Sound Transit and Bellevue are working together on cost savings options to get there. Sound Transit staff presented (PDF) to the Sound Transit board last week, and came up with some interesting ideas – some new, and some that look like they’ve been brought back from much earlier planning now that cost is a larger factor.
Right now, Bellevue is on the hook for about $60 million in savings, and it looks like these options could cut those costs by as much as $20 million. Unfortunately for Sound Transit, the agreement they have with Bellevue gives any savings back to the city.
You should really look at the whole presentation if you’re interested in seeing all of the alternatives, but there will be another way to learn more. Sound Transit will be having an open house to answer questions on June 5th, at Bellevue City Hall, from 4-7pm.