Friday, November 18, 2011

Sound Transit's East Link light rail alignment receives FTA approval

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Seattle's Sound Transit Board received the Federal Transit Administration's Record of Decision for the East Link light rail project and voted unanimously to launch work on the final design for the route between Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond.

The FTA approval of the East Link project culminates more than five years of work to select the route.

"We are grateful for the strong partnerships with the Federal Transit Administration, Washington State Department of Transportation and city of Bellevue that enable the board to move forward today," said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Deputy Issaquah City Council President Fred Butler. "And we are especially grateful for the contributions that hundreds of community members made to shaping this project over the past five years."

The agency is working to start construction of East Link in 2015 and launch passenger service in 2023. The project is estimated to create more than 20,000 direct, construction-related jobs over the duration of the work and 34,000 to 42,000 indirect jobs as the stimulus spreads throughout the economy.

As the region's population continues growing in the decades ahead, East Link will provide tremendous new transportation capacity to the I-90 corridor. Increases in the length and frequency of trains over time offer the capacity to carry from 9,000 to 12,000 people per hour in each direction, which would more than double the person-carrying capacity of I-90 and is roughly equivalent to seven to ten freeway lanes of vehicle traffic. By 2030, East Link is projected to carry more than 50,000 riders each weekday.

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