Sound Transit has cleared the way for the partial start of the East Link light rail Starter Line between South Bellevue and Redmond Technology Stations next spring.
The Sound Transit Board of Directors has authorized up to $43 million from the existing East Link Extension's $3.7 billion budget to fund projects necessary to open the East Link Starter Line in March 2024.
The eight-station segment’s opening was approved by the board on Thursday, despite the fact the full East Link light rail extension will not be completed by then. Quality-control issues were discovered along the Interstate 90 portion of the East Link Extension, resulting in the demolition and reconstruction of several concrete bases supporting the structure of the rail line.
Service is proposed to run with two-car trains every 10 minutes, 16 hours a day. The initial light rail service will run between South Bellevue and Redmond Technology stations, but will also connect passengers to Overlake Medical Center, the Spring District and the BelRed area.
“It’s an exciting step to connect more communities via fast, carbon-free Link light rail, and opening these stations on the Eastside is the opening act of the 2 Line,” Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “From Redmond to Bellevue, people have a new option to get to work, school, and all the things that make this community special.”
The board is expected in October to approve completion of the East Link Extension project as part of Sound Transit's 2024 Service Plan.
The East Link Extension project was approved by voters in 2008, with construction on the project beginning in 2017.
Light rail trains have been running to test the overhead electrical power system and train signal system. Simulated service is set to begin in early 2024 as part of stress testing of operations.