Sound Transit Board selects final Downtown Redmond Link Extension alignment

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Final route incorporates changes Board requested in 2017 to separate trains from traffic and pedestrians.

The Sound Transit Board today selected an elevated light rail alignment in downtown Redmond that incorporates refinements the board recommended for further study in 2017. This action moves the Downtown Redmond Link Extension project closer to the start of construction in 2019 and service beginning in 2024, only one year after the opening of light rail to Redmond's Overlake area.

"Strong partnerships between the city of Redmond, Sound Transit and our other regional partners have enabled us to move forward with light rail in Redmond that will be a win for transit riders, drivers and pedestrians alike," said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Redmond Mayor John Marchione. "We look forward to breaking ground on this long-anticipated project next year."

The Downtown Redmond Link Extension extends the East Link project that is now under construction by 3.4 miles. While the Sound Transit Board adopted a previously approved route to downtown Redmond in 2011 as part of the broader East Link project, the downtown extension did not receive funding until regional voters' November 2016 approval of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.

The alignment selected today incorporates refinements identified through intensive work with the city of Redmond, the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, King County Metro Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation. The features will improve service reliability and safety by separating trains from vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Sound Transit prepared the Downtown Redmond Link Extension State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Addendum for the East Link Project Environmental Impact Statement issued in 2011. Additional information about the proposed refinements was included in the 2018 Downtown Redmond Link Extension SEPA Addendum issued on Aug. 31. 
 
"When Downtown Redmond Link opens in 2024, people will be able to travel congestion-free to destinations across our region, from Redmond, to Bellevue, to Seattle, to Lynnwood, to Federal Way," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "With connections from Link light rail to bus rapid transit and local transit service, people will enjoy greater mobility and more places where they can conveniently live, work and play."

From the future Redmond Technology Station, the route will run along the SR 520 corridor to an at-grade southeast Redmond station located near the SR 520 and SR 202 intersection. The southeast Redmond station will include approximately 1,400 parking spaces as well as bike parking and bus transfer facilities. After the southeast Redmond station, the route will turn west under SR 520 using the former BNSF Railway corridor, where it will be elevated to cross Bear Creek and terminate at an elevated station at 166th Avenue Northeast and the Redmond Central Connector Trail.

Though not funded by the Link project, the refined alignment also facilitates a future key trail connection adjacent to the SR 520/SR 202 interchange that will tie together the Redmond Central Connector and the East Lake Sammamish Trail. This connection is a long-standing goal of the city of Redmond and King County.

A baseline cost estimate for the project is being finalized for presentation to the Sound Transit Board in October. The initial step (RFQ phase) of selecting a contractor for this project has begun and the next phase of this process will take place later this year (RFP Phase).

Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south, east and west, opening new stations every few years to form a 116-mile regional system by 2041. Starting in 2021 the Northgate project will provide reliable, congestion-free travel to Seattle's University District, Roosevelt and Northgate neighborhoods. Northgate Link will be followed in 2023 by the opening of service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond's Overlake community. Additional extensions to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Kent/Des Moines, Federal Way and downtown Redmond are planned in 2024. Further light rail extensions are scheduled to reach West Seattle, Fife and Tacoma in 2030; Ballard in 2035; Paine Field and Everett in 2036; and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041.

The agency is also working on further investments including, but not limited to, expansions of Sounder South service and bus rapid transit service in 2024 along the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington. More information is available at https://systemexpansion.soundtransit.org.