A worker heads out the south portal of the future East Link light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue.

Fresh pics: Going underground in Bellevue with East Link light rail

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Amid all of the hype around tunnels this month, we here at The Platform thought it would be a fitting time to check in on the progress of the new light rail tunnel construction under downtown Bellevue. 

The tunnel is part of the East Link light rail extension opening in 2023

A map showing the future East Link stations and route connecting Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Overlake.

The new line includes 10 stations connecting Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and the Overlake area near the Microsoft campus.

Trips from downtown Bellevue to the International District/Chinatown Station in Seattle will take 20 minutes, no matter how bad traffic is on Interstate 90.

Mining the new tunnel finished last summer.

Since then, crews have been working about 16 hours a day in two shifts installing waterproofing membranes, placing steel reinforcing bars and pouring concrete for the track bed. 

Here's a look at their work. 

The entrance to the future East Link light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue
The southern entrance to the new tunnel. Unlike other Sound Transit tunnels, there will be two sets of tracks in one tunnel - one for northbound trains, the other for southbound trains - because the tunnel is relatively short at just under 2000 feet.

 

Walking into the future East Link light rail tunnel underneath downtown Bellevue
The view walking toward the rebar installation area. The white coating on the walls is part of the waterproofing membrane.

 

The future East Link light rail tunnel underneath downtown Bellevue with waterproofing in place
The waterproof roof canopy in this shot helps keep the floor of the tunnel dry before another waterproofing layer is applied.

 

Workers pouring concrete for the future East Link rails in the tunnel under downtown Bellevue.
Workers pump concrete into the steel rebar cages. Rails will eventually rest on top of the rebar-reinforced tunnel floor.

 

A worker carries steel rebar that will reinforce the concrete track bed in the future East Link light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue
It takes a lot of rebar to ready the tunnel floor for the track bed. On the right side of this photo you can see where the wall between the north and southbound tracks will go up.

 

Workers approach the north portal of the future East Link light rail tunnel where trains will exit the tunnel and enter the Bellevue Downtown Station.
Approaching the north portal of the tunnel where it connects with the future Bellevue Downtown Station.

 

The area where trains will exit the tunnel under downtown Bellevue and enter the new Bellevue Downtown Station
A quick peek into the Downtown Bellevue Station area next to Bellevue City Hall.

 

A worker heads out the south portal of the future East Link light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue.
Heading back out of the southern end of the tunnel into the daylight.

Check out this story for more photos and information about how contractors mined the new Bellevue Downtown tunnel.

Join the East Link Facebook group to stay up to speed on construction in the tunnel and everywhere else along the East Link line

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