Sound Transit, WSDOT break ground on new I-90 HOV lanes, setting the stage for East Link light rail

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Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation today broke ground on adding a new HOV lane in each direction to I-90 across Lake Washington, setting the stage for extending light rail to East King County.

“This project will save time for commuters across I-90,” said Sound Transit Board member Connie Marshall. “First, we’ll provide all-day HOV lanes in both directions. And with voters’ approval of the Roads and Transit package, we’ll be ready to add Link light rail to the Eastside.”

Currently, buses and carpools traveling in the off-peak direction on I-90 get stuck in traffic since the reversible center express lanes only operate in the peak direction (westbound in the morning and eastbound at night). The I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Project will fix this growing problem by adding a new 24-hour HOV lane in each direction. Building the new HOV lanes on the outer roadways of I-90 will enable Sound Transit to build light rail in the center lanes as part of the Roads & Transit ballot measure that will go to voters in November.

“Extending light rail to the Eastside is a major part of the more than 40 miles of new light rail service in the Roads and Transit package,” said Sound Transit Board Chairman and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “This project is a major first step toward making light rail across Lake Washington a reality.”

Monday’s event marks the start of work on the first stage of the three-stage project. This stage will improve westbound I-90 between Bellevue Way and 80th Avenue Southeast on Mercer Island. Components of this work include:

  • Adding a new HOV lane in the westbound outer roadway
  • Adding a new HOV direct access ramp to 80th Avenue Southeast from the new westbound outer roadway HOV lane
  • Modifications to the Bellevue Way HOV direct access ramp
  • Modifications to the northbound I-405/westbound I-90 connection

In November the region’s residents will vote on major expansions of light rail, Sounder station and ST Regional Express bus services as part of the Roads & Transit ballot measure. The plan would expand light rail services across a regional system stretching more than 60 miles, adding fast, frequent and reliable service to the Bellevue, Redmond, Northgate, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Des Moines, Federal Way and Tacoma areas.

 

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Sound Transit’s regional network of express buses, commuter rail, light rail and transit facilities connects communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.