Sound Transit is getting more serious about an East Link starter line until the defective plinths delaying the lake crossing can be replaced. We earlier covered Claudia Balducci’s original proposal and Sherwin Lee’s plea for good transfers. The delay of the lake crossing has cascading impacts on the Lynnwood extension, which will finish construction first but won’t have access to the Eastside train base (OMF East). Meanwhile, the Federal Way extension needs more time to design a “long-span bridge structure”. The System Expansion Committee proposed a new opening schedule:
- Spring 2024: East Link Starter Line (Line 2: South Bellevue to Redmond Technology).
- Fall/Winter 2024: Lynnwood (Line 1: Lynnwood to Angle Lake).
- Spring 2025: East Link (Line 2: Lynnwood to Redmond Downtown).
- TBD: Federal Way (Line 1: Lynnwood to Federal Way).
The ST board will meet in January to consider whether to pursue the starter line. If it doesn’t, Lynnwood would open a quarter earlier (Summer/Fall 2024) and East Link would open as above (Spring 2025).
The starter line’s frequency would be 10 minutes peak, midday, and weekends; and 15 minutes late evening/early morning.
ST Express routes would remain unchanged. The 550 would overlap the starter line between South Bellevue and Bellevue Downtown. The 542 and 545 would meet the line at one station, Redmond Technology. The 554 would continue going from Issaquah to Seattle with no direct access to the line.
A trip from Issaquah to downtown Bellevue would be the same as now: peak-only 556, slow 271, or 554+550 transfer at Mercer Island. Train enthusiasts could do a three-seat 554+550+Link trip transferring at Mercer Island and South Bellevue, or drive from Issaquah to the South Bellevue P&R and take the train from there.
ST’s presentation in the first link says opening Lynnwood before OMF East runs the risk of overcrowding on the 1 Line, and finding overnight storage for 16 trains along the Line 1 track. East Link trains are also arriving more slowly than expected. The testing window for new track, when trains will run without passengers before the opening, is four months.
On-topic comments for this article are the proposed Link changes, and riding transit in the 2023-2029 timeframe. Other restructures will be happening around the same time: the East Link bus restructure (now in 2025), Stride 1 (Burien-Bellevue), Stride 2 (Lynnwood-Bellevue), Stride 3 (Shoreline-Bothell), RapidRide G (Madison), H (Delridge), I (Renton-Kent-Auburn), J (Eastlake), T Line (Tacoma Link MLK extension).