Sound Transit-led partnership delivers Eastside project under budget
In Bellevue it's called "Access Downtown." Regionally it's known as the "Bellevue Downtown Access Project." Whichever name you choose, it is virtually complete and an unqualified success - a public agency partnership delivering the Eastside's single largest transportation improvement project a year ahead of schedule and $25 million under the baseline budget.
After three years of construction, the partnership - Sound Transit, the Washington State Department of Transportation, City of Bellevue, King County Metro Transit, the Federal Highway Administration and the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board - today celebrated the opening of the project that added a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Direct Access Ramp from I-405 at NE 6th Street to the Bellevue Transit Center. Other major improvements include reconstruction of the NE 8th and NE 4th Street overpasses, the SE 8th Street interchange and numerous Bellevue city street projects which have combined to improve traffic flow into, out of and around Downtown Bellevue.
The baseline project budget was $164.5 million and the original plan called for extensive closures of NE 4th and 8th Streets as well as I-405. Through a creative bid process, strong partnership and outstanding contractors, the current working budget is $139 million. Many of the planned closures were eliminated or shortened, disruptions to commerce, services and traffic in Downtown Bellevue were minimized and the entire project was completed a year ahead of the baseline schedule.
"This is an incredibly important project for the region," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "It will improve the speed and reliability of transit, create a better flow of all traffic on I-405 and provide better access to downtown in the Eastside's largest city."
"Beyond that," added Ladenburg, "Sound Transit and WSDOT added to our growing knowledge of how to deliver large and complex projects on time - even ahead of time - and under budget."
"This is the way we aim to complete every project," explained WSDOT Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald. "I'm proud of the project team and our partners for their creativity and hard work in delivering this project ahead of schedule and under budget."
The Bellevue Downtown Access project connects the city's downtown to Sound Transit's growing regional mass transit system. That means Bellevue-bound commuters - as well as carpools and other HOV's -- will have faster, easier access into and out of downtown via I-405. The new HOV ramp will handle 177 bus trips each weekday.
More than 15 years went into local planning for improved access to downtown Bellevue. With financial resources and the regional perspective Sound Transit brought to the partnership, the Access Downtown project made it from the drawing board to reality.
"It's not every day that government agencies get to announce such good news -- completion of a major construction project, a year ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget," said Bellevue Mayor Connie Marshall. "To top it off, Access Downtown is wrapping up before the holidays. The opening of the new NE 6th Street ramp is a perfect holiday gift to our community."
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.