East Link
East Link

Sound Transit will be holding an open house on 4pm this Thursday, March 28 at Highland Community Center to show final designs for East Link. The project is entering final design phase, moving from 30% to 100% design complete.  More info here.  If you do attend, send us a report!

24 Replies to “East Link Final Design Open House”

    1. The same thing, only worse, is happening with the Seattle City Council’s apodments hearing. It’s at 11:30 a.m.

      1. When, and in what committee, is the apodment hearing? I’m having a tough time finding it on the web.

    2. As aw pointed out, you don’t have to show up at 4. Most of the open-houses around here have about enough material to get through in 15 minutes. Even if you read all the posters, fill out a comment form, watch the presentation, and talk some poor staffer’s ear off you don’t need to be there the whole time.

  1. FWIW there is one next Wednesday at Bellevue city hall (a bit more transit accessible), though it is also at 4pm.

    1. As a side note, this perfectly illustrates the transit accessibility of different locations. The 60-minute transit circle around Bellevue City Hall is much larger than the one around Highland Community Center. This means, for instance, that if somebody is in the U-District and gets off work at 5pm, he can get to the event before it’s over, but if he’s in Ballard or West Seattle he’ll be right on the edge, and if he’s in Lake City forget it. This has happened to me for ST open houses in Des Moines and Tacoma: it takes 2+ to get there from northeast Seattle and I couldn’t leave by 3pm. Ironically, Link will help this situation significantly, by shortening the travel times for at least part of the trips, and turning three-seat rides into a one-seat ride or a train-to-train transfer.

  2. Will any of the green-painted buses, like the one shown in the picture, still be in service when East Link opens? Will there still be bus routes that cross between Seattle and Mercer Island?

    1. Also, will there really not be much more added to the Bellevue skyline in the next 12 years?

      1. My crystal ball doesn’t go out 12 years but over the next 3-6 years the answer is yes. Projects on hold after the last boom/bust cycle are back on track. Say bye bye to the Bellevue example of Marina Safeway architecture.

    2. Why wouldn’t there be green-painted buses in service? Metro has not indicated any plans (to my knowledge) to change its livery.

      Also, the current buses delivered in 2011-2012 (Orions and DE60LFRs) should still be in service by then. That one is a 2008 DE60LF, which will be right around retirement age.

      1. I haven’t paid attention to which buses are painted what colors, other than RapidRide’s hot dog red. I thought the newer buses were blue and mustard.

        At any rate, I guess my more serious question is which routes between Seattle and Mercer Island would actually continue to exist more than one pick beyond East Link’s opening, and why would they continue to exist?

      2. At least they got rid of the white buses. Those were harder to see in traffic and the dirt was always visible.

      3. The colors will get more flamboyant, as bus wraps get sold more. But then, ST can’t show bus ads in its own drawings.

      4. I don’t think East Link will change the peak I-90 service all that much. I think at least the high-volume commuter routes (212, 214, 216, 218) will continue to operate as is, because riders will be reluctant to add 5-8 minutes for a transfer, and because that would be a staggering number of riders to transfer at one station (S Bellevue P&R). Off-peak, I’d expect the 554 to get truncated. During peak, I think lower-ridership routes like the 210 and 215 might get truncated.

  3. There were a lot of interested people at the meeting, surprisingly good attendance considering the relatively inaccessible location (though judging from the parking lot most people drove). City of Bellevue Councilmembers John Chelminiak and Kevin Wallace were present.

    The meeting kicked off with the usual staff introductions and an overview of the Link system, covering the existing line, current construction on U Link and North Link, and the planned extensions to S 200th, Lynnwood, and, of course, East Link. Sound Transit is projecting daily ridership of 50,000 for East Link in 2030. The total program cost is $2.8 billion (2010 $), and is targeted for revenue service in 2023. Estimated travel times:
    – Bellevue TC to Overlake TC: 10 minutes
    – S. Bellevue to Stadium: 20 minutes
    – Bellevue TC to UW: 30 minutes
    – Mercer Island to UW: 20 minutes
    – Bellevue to Sea-Tac Airport: 55 minutes (includes transfer)
    – S. Bellevue to Sea-Tac airport: 50 minutes
    – Bellevue to International District: 20 minutes

    The schedule has Final Design extending from 2011 to 2015, with 60% design expected late this summer. 90% design is expected to be complete in 2014. Construction will start in 2015 and last until 2022, followed by testing & pre-operations later that year to prep for the 2023 start of service.

    Bellevue’s vision for Bel-Red was covered briefly. The City is planning for this to become a mixed-use area with 5,000 housing units and 10,000 employees. To move all these people there will be an increase in road capacity including a new East-West corridor and street grid. Extensive sidewalks, trails, and bicycle facilities will also be added, along with a “re-greening” of open space and stream corridors.

    This meeting focused on the Bel-Red segment, which is about 1.5 miles long. It will be a mixed of at grade, retained cut, and elevated sections, running from the Hospital Station near downtown to the SR-520 right of way. There will be two stations, one at 120th Ave NE (tentatively called “120th Station”) and the other at 130th Ave NE (“130th Station). 120th Station will be in a retained cut, subject to agreements with the property owner, while 130th Station will be at grade with a 300 stall surface P&R lot (more on that later). The line will transition to elevated as it approaches SR-520.

    Station naming was covered briefly to emphasize that the current names are temporary. Sound Transit is seeking comments and suggestions for station names, which must comply with the criteria the Board set recently.

    Next the station architect spoke about each station in greater detail, first pointing out that Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue expect significant bicycle, sidewalk, and street access improvements through the whole project area. 120th Station is clearly intended to be the “TOD” station, surrounded on the map by planned future developments on all sides with a large number of new structures planned immediately south of NE 15th Street between 120th Ave NE and 124th Ave NE. The station itself will be in a retained cut, with side-platforms about 25 feet below grade. Most of the space above the platform will be open, and the walls will be inclined and textured to give a more open feel. From the diagrams it appeared that about half of the platform length would be covered with a transparent roof for shelter from the rain.

    In contrast, 130th Station looked very utilitarian and sparse. The station will be located at grade, and surrounded by a 300 stall surface Park & Ride to provide vehicle access (and some bicycle storage). Some of the renderings for the station showed 6+ story TOD developments adjacent to it. After the meeting I asked Sound Transit staff about their plans for the station. They said that the parking lot is intended to be temporary, and that both Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue would much rather have TOD in that area. I asked if it would be possible for TOD to be present at the site when the station opens, assuming that an interested developer was found, but staff said it was unlikely (though possible) since they’d need a staging area for construction. Any TOD development would also be required to replace any displaced parking and bicycle storage capacity at the site. My impression is that Bellevue and Sound Transit are focusing their TOD efforts at 120th for now, with 130th to follow later if things pan out.

    To wrap up the presentation there was a short slide about the “STart” program (they’re looking for artists), and a plug for an upcoming “Spring Forward” expo hosted by the City of Bellevue to gather input about development plans in the Spring District. Sound Transit also plans to have open houses in May or June for the downtown Bellevue stations, and towards the end of summer for the Overlake stations.

    Moving on to the Q&A, the first question was about the lack of turnstiles and concern about people dumping (or jumping) onto the retained tracks and station around 120th. Sound Transit reiterated that they will not have turnstiles because fare enforcement officers will be patrolling the trains. The retained cut sections will be protected with a screening barrier along 120th Ave to stop cars, and railings or planters along sidewalks in other areas.

    Next was a concern about the impact of the retained cut on streams and creeks in the area. Apparently there used to be a creek under what is now the Safeway site, and the questioner wanted Sound Transit to use a bridge in this area to restore and improve the stream rather than cutting under it. Staff were unsure about the specific creek in question, pointing out that the EIS was based on existing (not historical) conditions at the site. However, they promised to look into this further.

    Another concerned commenter raised the issue of earthquake safety, saying that the area is currently mis-classified and is actually at a higher risk than the existing code specifies. She concluded by saying that the station should be built to exceed existing building code. A Sound Transit engineer said that they are designing the system to withstand a “2500 year event” rather than the typical “1000 year event” used for most structures.

    The remaining questions focused on materials to be used in the station, weather protection, and visibility to/from the elevators. Surprisingly there were no questions about parking and traffic, nor did anyone bring up the perennial question of restrooms.

  4. Why not use a ped bike underpass as a substitute for the bridge over design that ST is describes below?

    To view the look of such an option look at the Burke Gilman trail underpass in Kenmore on the corner of 68th Ave NE & NE Bothell Way.

    Sound Transit CEO says:

    “On Thursday, the Sound Transit Board agreed to proceed with the design of a pedestrian-bicycle bridge over SR 520 that will connect to the future Overlake Village light rail station in Redmond.

    Even though a pedestrian-bicycle bridge is not part of the East Link project’s scope, the City of Redmond and Sound Transit have been discussing the feasibility of a bridge and how best to advance design if the dollars could be found for it.

    The Overlake Village Station will be located on the south side of SR 520 near 152nd Avenue Northeast. We expect the bridge will benefit the Overlake neighborhood, increase access to East Link and be popular with pedestrians and bicyclists because the surrounding area includes substantial employment and housing.

    The bridge is a joint project with the City of Redmond, which also approved the project earlier this month. The City is contributing $1.8 million for the bridge design and Sound Transit $75,000 for project administration. Redmond received a $1.6 million Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality grant for engineering and design of the Overlake Village Bridge and the City and Sound Transit will work together to identify construction funding as design progresses.”
    Quoted from the Sound Transit CEO report of March 29, 2013

    1. “Why not use a ped bike underpass as a substitute for the bridge over design that ST is describes below?”

      SR-520 is about 8 lanes wide there and the surrounding streets, along with the 520 trail are above the grade level of the freeway. A bridge matches the topography much better.

      An undercrossing would be a deep long tunnel. Beyond that, there’s the fficulty of getting WSDOT to approve of a tunnel, and ST considers pedestrian tunnels “dangerous”.

      1. This bridge seems unnecessary boarding on worse than useless. There is no escape from the SR520 bike trail between 148th and the new 36th overpass. I haven’t used the new overpass but I thought it was built to be ped/bike friendly? I’d much rather Redmond did something to improve the crossing of 148th which currently involves two dangerous crosswalks; especially the one on 29th place. 148th has sidewalk only on the west side. I’ve heard sometime in the future Redmond is going to add one to the east side. I hope this isn’t in lieu of that project.

      2. In my comment, substitute ‘dificulty’ for ‘fficulty’.

        Yeah, it seems like a crossing on the east side of 148th NE and a connection to the NE 36th bridge would be more useful. For someone biking, a little bit more distance to the station would not be a big deal; for someone on foot, NE 36th isn’t that far from the station location.

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