Redmond’s preferred downtown station (Image: Redmond TRAIN study)

East Link to Downtown Redmond is scheduled to open in 2024, and the Sound Transit Board will update its preferred alternative on June 22. “Concept refinements” are now being considered. These are minor updates to the alignment including changes to station locations and the vertical profile of the guideway. Redmond last week approved a letter to the Board setting out what they hope to see.

In Downtown Redmond, a public process early this year considered four options: elevated vs at-grade, east (between 164th and 166th) vs west (between 161st and Leary). The Downtown Transit Integration (TRAIN) Study (large pdf), and public response, prefer the “East Elevated” option. That places the station opposite the Redmond Town Center parking garage. It allows easier bus-rail transfers because buses could approach both sides of the station, eliminating most street crossings for transferring riders. The shorter guideway for the East option reduces by several blocks the impacts to the Redmond Central Connector trail, and elevating the guideway eliminates vehicle and pedestrian conflicts if gates were opening every four minutes at peak.

Redmond’s second ST3 station is in Southeast Redmond in the Marymoor area. Here, the city prefers an at-grade alignment. Both affordability and trail connection considerations figured in that choice.

In creating the ST3 financial plan, Sound Transit developed a “representative alignment” for the line. The ST3 representative alignment budgeted for one elevated station, though the assumption was for an elevated Southeast station and at-grade Downtown station. (Confusingly, the 2011 Record of Decision assumed both stations at grade). Building the station and guideway at grade in Southeast Redmond would save $110-$136 million vs. the ST3 budget. This easily accommodates the added $45 million cost of elevating the downtown station.

Unlike downtown which has already seen a lot of development in recent years, the Southeast station area is more of a blank slate. The low-value land uses in the area today are likely to be swiftly replaced. Either an elevated or at-grade station is consistent with other city goals for the station, but a lengthy aerial guideway through Marymoor Park would be costly. Generally, the guideway across SR 520 and through Marymoor must be entirely elevated or entirely at-grade.

The heavy purple line indicates where the City would like to connect the East Lake Sammamish Trail and Redmond Central Connector (Image: City of Redmond). Click for full map.

An at-grade configuration for Southeast Redmond eases an important planned trail connection for the city. The downtown section of East Link follows the Redmond Central Connector, a former BNSF line through the city. The former rail line is truncated by SR 520 off-ramps to Avondale Road. On the other side of the ramps, the former rail line continues as the East Lake Sammamish Trail. Redmond would like to join these.

With light rail crossing the area of the ramps at grade, the ramps need to be rebuilt to accommodate the rail. That, fortuitously, makes it fairly inexpensive to add a trail connection alongside. With elevated rail, the aerial guideway would be high above the ramps and could not accommodate a trail connection. The trail would need either its own elevated structure, or the ramps would need to be rebuilt to fit a trail beneath. In the elevated rail scenario, the SR 520 modifications for the trail, whether above or below, would be costly and not offset by efficiencies from running the rail and trail together. That increases the potential cost of the trail crossing alone to up to $20 million. Redmond staff estimate the trail connection is not likely in the foreseeable future without a Sound Transit partnership.

With net project savings of $65-$91 million, Redmond anticipates Sound Transit will be pleased to accept the alignment modifications.

All the elevated concepts studied would completely separate vehicle and rail traffic. Most at-grade concepts also do so, excepting one concept that includes an at-grade rail crossing at the westbound on-ramp to SR 520 at NE 76th St. At-grade options in Southeast Redmond do add some temporary traffic impacts during construction because of the need to rebuild SR 520 ramps.

The City’s letter also makes recommendations about the Southeast station area and parking. Redmond wants good non-motorized access from the station to Marymoor Park and the East Lake Sammamish Trail. The parking (1,400 stalls are planned) should be in multiple structures and wrapped with retail or other pedestrian-friendly uses.

33 Replies to “Redmond stations”

  1. Elevating the downtown stations is a smart investment, I’m glad the city decided to endorse that.

    For the “at grade” SE Redmond station, the line would go under 520, correct? The only at-grade crossing is of the off-ramps?

    Has the city specified a vision for the SE Redmond areas? That block of land between the park & Redmond Way should make for good mixed-use redevelopment, but that would presumably require very different zoning than the current retail/light industry use.

    1. Yes, the line would go under SR 520. As Dan indicates, the SR 520 ramps which currently cross the former BNSF rail corridor at-grade would be reconstructed to be elevated above the rail corridor; this would enable both at-grade light rail as well as the trail connection.

      Redmond has been working on updating planning for the SE Redmond neighborhood, and the Marymoor subarea specifically, for several years now.

      1. Oh cool so there would not be an at-grade intersection of Link and the off-ramps? I was initially visualizing an at-grade crossing.

        Thanks for the link.

      2. That’s the way it read to me too — at grade crossing intersecting the off ramps. I’m relieved to hear that isn’t the case.

  2. Question – was a small approach tunnel and flyover from 520 down the slope to the Redmond Connector ever considered to avoid the awkward dogleg via 520 to Redmond Way? (e.g. really bad image Sort of like the tunnel on the Evergreen extension in Vancouver.

    1. Perhaps very early on, but I’d imagine that would be much more expensive than leveraging the 520 ROW as much as possible. Also keep in mind the elevated alignment in downtown Redmond is using an existing rail-to-trails ROW, and the trail will still exist underneath the rail, so I don’t think burying the rail will add the much value to Redmond.

      The ‘dogleg’ is useful insofar as the SE Redmond station is useful. SE Redmond is important for serving areas east and south of the station, including most of the city of Sammamish, which is in the ST service area.

      1. @Dan Ryan

        So there was gonna be three stations in downtown Redmond, and now there’s only going to be one?: That sucks.

        Are they at least going to reroute all the bus routes from Redmont Transit center to the LINK station?

      2. @ChrisC, I don’t think they would have built more than two in downtown, though three locations were in play.

        There is a future bus route map in the TRAIN report (link in 2nd paragraph). You’ll have to scroll through to about page 40. I think it’s the LRP map.

    2. It is awkward, but it is at the end of the line. That means the only people who suffer from the design are those that get on at the last stop. The cost savings as well as the additional stop make up for that I guess. I am curious as to how much time it costs the folks at the end of the line. Any idea Dan?

      It could be extended, but if it was extended, it would likely be extended in the direction the train is now facing (northwest) instead of the direction it would if it took a more direct route (southeast). Even in that direction though, it wouldn’t be extended very far (before you start running into golf courses and other greenbelts).

      1. The EIS indicates, if I’m reading it all correctly, that the travel time (and cost and ridership) were all very close between the alternatives. Seems to have come down to minor differences in impacts to neighboring uses. The E2 alignment (what was selected) also could have been extended to another station near the current transit center. Maybe maintaining that flexibility for the future is worth something. But it gets a lot more disruptive.

      2. It’s an unfortunate problem with sprawl: there’s no good way to serve destinations scattered by the wind with a single line.

    1. He did the same thing yesterday in the UW Reroute article. Wells is becoming as eager to post about driverless cars as Bailo was about hydrogen cars.

  3. So the main Marymoor Park access and the redevelopment would be at the east end of the park? What about the west end? I’ve taken the 545 to Marymoor a couple times and it’s quite a long walk into the park, 40 minutes to get to the soccer fields. I assume the park property goes all the way out to the road so there won’t be any redevelopment there. Will there be a station where the bus stop is? Are there any plans for changes in the station area?

    1. Since I don’t play soccer anymore, I only to go Marymoor once a year for beerfest–this Saturday!–and the poor transit access to one of the eastside’s biggest parks annoys me every time.. Why can’t they build a stop at the freeway off-ramp and Lake Sammamish Parkway for Northbound 545s?

    2. Yes, since so many of the Eastside’s events and clubs are being sent to Marymoor, it needs to have good transit access. Cirque du Soleil and music concerts draws a regional crowd, and the event I bused to was a rugby game. Games and tournaments mean that teams from everywhere go to it, and their fans do too. I think it’s the largest park in the Eastside so lots of families go to it. St Edwards and Discovery Park are more of a quiet hiking niche, whereas Marymoor is more of an activity center like Seattle Center, Alki, and the hoped-for downtown waterfront. So a good Link station for it would bring people from Seattle and elsewhere regularly, who maybe can’t get to closer parks because they don’t have much transit access (ahem).

    1. The ramps are already elevated, so the rail line would be ~50 feet high in the air. You could put a trail up there, I suppose, but it would be a big structure and nobody seems to think that’s the way to go.

      1. Might be useful to have it closer to track level if you wanted the path to help feed the station south of there.

  4. I can’t remember where ST ended up with their Eastside maintenance facility. Is it still planned for the area to the east of the SE Redmond Station? That would really hamper any TOD and rezoning efforts for the station area.

      1. …where it’s currently hampering TOD and rezoning efforts for the station area : )

        I expect ST to sell the Eastside maintenance facility in a few years when redevelopment becomes insanely profitable. Then they’ll move it to east Redmond.

      2. The cost to move a fully built OMF will more than offset any real estate “gain,” given ST would need to turn around and acquire property elsewhere.

        I’ll also counter that SE Redmond has pretty much the same TOD potential as the Bellevue OMF footprint

  5. Didn’t the west elevated option have a tail track? I don’t see one here.

    This is going to be the end station for decades to come. While it is possible to reverse trains at the station, not having a tail track will diminish the operational flexibility of East Link. I hope we aren’t sacrificing operation efficiency for a block less of aerial track.

    1. Good question. There was a request from Sound Transit for a tail track, and there is still a request for space to store some trains overnight. So this may end up having a tail track, though it’s not in any of Redmond’s graphics.

  6. In the bus reroute map, it shows two of the routes coming from the north still rerouting to Redmond Transit Center. I don’t see the point. In fact, I don’t even see the point of maintaing a “transit center” there as such. There’s still one route that uses 83rd Street, so it could continue to stop there, but there’s no reason for those other two routes to divert there anymore. It would just add to their travel times.

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