Sound Transit will study an option to elevate the planned extension of light rail to downtown Redmond per a directive from the transit agency's board.
The study is one of the refinements Sound Transit could incorporate into the extension, which is planned to begin construction in 2019 and be in service in 2024.
The proposed refinements were identified in conjunction with the city of Redmond and other partners following regional voters’ November 2016 approval of the project. Sound Transit says they fit within the project budget and schedule and would improve service reliability and safety by separating trains from vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Additionally, the extension route would be shorter by approximately 600 feet, ending at an elevated station in the Redmond Town Center area.
“Shifting to elevated tracks in downtown Redmond is cost-effective and will create a win for transit riders, drivers and pedestrians alike,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Redmond Mayor John Marchione. “Redmond and Sound Transit have built a strong partnership that will continue to move this project forward to an expedited opening.”
The proposed refinements will undergo additional environmental review and engineering prior to the board’s scheduled 2018 adoption of the final project, which will be constructed under a design-build contract.
The project extends the East Link project that is now under construction by approximately 3.5 miles. While the Sound Transit Board adopted a previously approved route to downtown Redmond in 2011 as part of the broader East Link project, the downtown extension was not funded until regional voters’ November 2016 approval of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure. With the refinements, the project is estimated to cost $880 to $915 million, which is within the $950 million financial plan estimate for the extension. A baseline cost estimate for the project will be developed as preliminary engineering advances in the coming months, the board approves the final alignment and the agency launches a competitive procurement for the construction contract.
Though not funded by the Link project, the refined alignment also facilitates a future key trail connection through the SR 520/SR 202 interchange that will tie together the Redmond Central Connector and the East Lake Sammamish Trail. This connection is a long-standing goal of the City of Redmond and King County.