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Train tracks are installed on the floating bridge between Seattle and the Eastside on a sunny day.
Media Caption
Light rail tracks cross the I-90 floating bridge.

East Link: You asked, we answer

Common questions about light rail from Seattle to the Eastside

Publish Date

Thank you to the more than 3,500 of you who have visited the East Link Virtual Engagement Booth since we launched it in November.

The “booth” closes Feb. 19, so there’s still plenty of time to visit. It’s a great way to see and learn more about the new 14-mile light rail line connecting Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island and Seattle.

We all had plenty on our minds from November through January.

Now that we’re easing into a new sort of normal, we’re checking in to answer your most common questions and hopefully nudge you to check out the booth on your own before it shuts down.

Your top East Link questions:

Q: Is East Link on track to open in 2023 as planned?

A: East Link is on track to open on schedule and within budget.

While we did have a construction pause in the early days of the pandemic, East Link is on track to open in 2023. Time is always built into construction timelines for unforeseen delays.

For more, check out this great presentation the project team gave to the Sound Transit Board of Directors last fall.

Looking from the west at the nearly complete Mercer Island Station.
Mercer Island Station, along with the rest of East Link, will open in 2023.

Q: How is Sound Transit ensuring the safety of the crews building East Link?

A: Safety is a core value at Sound Transit. This value extends to our contractors, consultants and staff.  

Last spring Sound Transit’s contractors across all our projects worked to create new COVID-19 safety plans and jobsite rules to keep workers safe.  

Some of those mitigating measures include:

  • Reducing work crew sizes
  • Staggering report times to avoid large groups
  • Adding sanitation facilities including more hand washing and hand sanitizer stations
  • Mandating the use of face coverings
  • Screening of employee wellness by front line supervisors upon reporting to the site each day
  • Emphasis of COVID-19 symptom recognition, personal protective measures, personal protective equipment and revised work practices

Q: Construction looks like it’s almost done - why do we have to wait to ride the train?

A: The parts of the project that the public can see are almost done.

That includes the track, elevated guideway and bridges, 10 new stations, two new parking garages, street-level crossings, new bus turn-offs and stops, landscaping and public art.

While those are all very important parts of a new light rail system, we still have a lot to do.

At a very high level, that additional work includes:

  • Finishing installation and testing of the power, communications, safety and security systems that connect with the central system
  • Working with local authorities to familiarize first responders with the system so they can quickly address any situation
  • Operator training and vehicle testing

And did you know the South Bellevue Park and Ride Garage is opening this September?!

Check out the virtual booth for much more information about East Link overall.

A construction worker walks along the platform at South Bellevue Station, with the parking garage visible on his left.
Looking good at South Bellevue Station.

Q: Will East Link’s completion be impacted by reduced tax revenue? Will this delay the project?

A: While COVID-19 has had some impacts on the project, the budget and schedule were designed in a way that allowed the project team to absorb those impacts.

Essentially, East Link construction was fully funded before the pandemic and its economic impacts hit.

This year the Sound Transit Board will continue a realignment process to adjust plans and schedules for projects not yet under construction in response to the COVID-19's revenue impacts as well as cost estimate increases. They expect to make final capital program realignment decisions this summer.

Go here for more information about the realignment process unfolding over the next several months.

Stay in the loop

We can’t wait to see you all on opening day in 2023 and welcome a post-pandemic world on board!

Join the East Link Facebook Group to stay connected to all things East Link!

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