Last Thursday evening, over a hundred community members showed up to attend Sound Transit’s kick-off open house for East Link final design, beginning with the Bel-Red corridor segment. The project is nearing the 60% design mark, at which point specific design elements for stations, trackways, etc. will be refined and new cost estimates modeled. Thursday’s open house zeroed in on Bel-Red and East Link’s integration into the City of Bellevue’s vision for the neighborhood.
The Bel-Red corridor redevelopment has been a major planning initiative in Bellevue for quite some time now. The area is expected to add 5,000 new housing units and 10,000 new employees over the next two decades. In response, the City is upgrading the infrastructure, with a network of rebuilt streets and a new grid with East Link at the centerpiece. Let’s take a look at the designs of the two stations, which have already progressed quite a bit.
120th will be the westernmost station in Bel-Red and the transit hub of Wright Runstad’s Spring District TOD project. Currently, the station is situated below grade within a retained cut profile, subject to an agreement between ST and Wright Runstad. This would make all of East Link through Bellevue grade-separated at every crossing west of 130th Station, a fairly remarkable feat particularly considering most of the alignment is at-grade.
Like International District Station, 120th will be open-air and “daylighted”– which is an important design component, according to the LMN architect working on the project. Nonetheless, much of the platform would still be covered by either the station structure itself or canopies, offering weather protection for riders.
Looking eastward, 130th is Bel-Red’s second Link station and would run at-grade, similar to the existing Rainier Valley stations. Two design phases have already been drafted– an interim station design prior to the construction of the new NE 16th Street (through which Link will run), and a future station design after the completion of the street– indicating that construction of the two projects will likely not occur in conjunction with one another.
Unlike 120th, 130th Station is being envisioned as more of a commuter station. In addition to a 300-stall park-and-ride, Sound Transit is also planning significant bike storage, with racks, lockers, and even a bike cage that would be housed within an ancillary structure. The bike plaza would sit at the southeast corner of the parking lot and could conceivably accommodate vendors as well.
In line with recent renamings of other planned Link stations, ST is also seeking public input on the Bel-Red station names. The process will largely hinge on criteria established by an ST Board resolution made last year, which specified basic guidelines like name brevity, ADA compliance, neighborhood identity, etc. Given the general remoteness of the station locations (at least in today’s context), I can’t see how anyone could have particularly strong feelings one way or the other. At any rate, you can make your suggestions known here.
Sound Transit is soliciting any other comments on final design through Thursday (tomorrow) and will incorporate them into a public comment summary to be released next week. For more on the design plans and drawings, the East Link document archive has a wealth of information, including all the display boards that were shown at the open house.