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Sound Transit selects Bellevue site for new light rail operations and maintenance satellite facility

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New vehicle maintenance site needed for expanding light rail system

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today selected a site in Bellevue’s Bel-Red corridor between downtown Bellevue and Redmond for a new Link light rail operations and maintenance satellite facility. The new facility is needed to store, service and deploy the expanding light rail train fleet as the system expands from 16 to 50 miles by 2023.

The Board’s decision today followed three years of environmental impact studies and work to maximize future development around the facility. Sound Transit narrowed potential locations down to four sites and studied the potential impacts of the sites in a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) completed in September. The Board identified the site as its preferred alternative in July 2014.

The site is west of 120th Avenue NE adjacent to existing railroad tracks, south of SR 520 on land that Sound Transit already owns a portion of. Sound Transit will now seek a Record of Decision from the Federal Transit Administration and move into final design for the new facility. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 and open for service in 2020.

The existing light rail fleet will triple in size from 62 to 184 vehicles as Sound Transit opens more than 30 new stations and carries more than 280,000 riders a day by 2030. The current operations and maintenance facility in Seattle has capacity to store and maintain 104 light rail vehicles.  As Sound Transit buys additional vehicles in advance of opening voter-approved rail lines to the north, east and south, the existing facility will reach full capacity by 2020.

The Board directed staff to design the facility to maximize potential transit oriented development in the vicinity of the preferred alternative. Staff incorporated site modifications recommended by the Urban Land Institute and a group of local stakeholders to provide development opportunities in the area.

The new facility needs to be close to an operating light rail line, roughly rectangular in shape and approximately 25 acres in order to store and maintain the additional fleet requirements. The new facility is estimated to cost approximately $380 million.

Sound Transit will open new light rail lines between downtown Seattle and the University of Washington in 2016 along with an extension to South 200th Street in SeaTac. Extensions to the Northgate neighborhood north of Seattle will open in 2021 and extensions to Lynnwood and Bellevue will open in 2023. Planning and environmental work are also moving forward to establish alignments for extending light rail from South 200th Street to the Kent/Des Moines area by 2023.

Following the 2023 opening of all the Sound Transit 2 extensions that regional voters approved in 2008, Link trains are projected to carry more than 280,000 riders each weekday by 2030. The projects are playing a major role in the region’s ongoing recession recovery, creating a projected 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The region’s 50 miles of light rail will serve as a critical element of the region’s overall transportation system, significantly expanding its capacity and attracting riders who won’t compete for increasingly scarce space on congested freeways and roads.