Even though we are about 7 years away from its launch, the East Link Rail Service is already drawing major companies to the Bellevue area. Most companies are well aware of the projected addition according to Bellevue’s Economic Development Director James Henderson. These companies are not only well aware but want to be close to the stations.
Amazon and Apple both have suggested plans to expand to the Eastside and the light rail will ease the traffic and make it easier for employees to travel between offices or from home to work.
The East Link is the Puget Sound’s most expansive construction project and the impact will be felt in Bellevue more than anywhere. Although it’s been 8 years since voters approved the extension, crews are just beginning the $3.7 billion project.
The new line is expected to open in 2023, which will no doubt build long-term anticipation. When complete, a trip from Bellevue to Seattle along the line will take just 20 minutes. To Microsoft’s campus near the eastern terminus will take less than 10 minutes.
The Bel-Red Corridor is the area that will change the most. Currently, Wright Runstad & Co. is building the $2.3 billion office and residential complex in Spring District. There will be a light-rail station on the edge of this neighborhood. REI has been negotiating with the development company to purchase 8 acres for a new headquarters here as well. GIX, the Global Innovation Exchange, will also be in Spring District allowing only a 7-minute ride from the Microsoft headquarters.
Even though the end result will be well worth the wait, the construction time and mess is not something anyone is looking forward too. Crews are already working on plans for a tunnel that will stretch about 1.3 miles under downtown along 112th Ave SE. The South Bellevue Park and Ride will be closed during construction, which could complicate commuters requirements. In less than a year, heavy work will be underway and there’s no denying it could greatly affect traffic, homeowners, and businesses. Everyone knows and understands there will be frustrations but voters approved the line by a wide margin. Many people feel that when complete, it will greatly improve overall access for downtown businesses. In some ways, it may even unite the tech industries of the Puget Sound region.
Read more: Homes Cost More Around Light Rail Stations
6.2 miles of the East Link will run through Bellevue and only about half will be at street level. This alone may mean less disruption. Most of the line will run on aerial structures and a downtown tunnel.
What commuters and homeowners should know
Commuters to the area can expect extra traffic along the 112 Avenue Southeast of SE. 15th St. The 2500 employees at the Bellefield office Park along 112th, may also be affected. The north end of the Bel-Red corridor is likely to be the most affected, particularly for the businesses around NE. Spring Blvd. and 136th Pl. NE. All in all, there are approximately 85 businesses directly adjacent to the light rail alignment. The agency is working with these businesses to prepare them for the impacts that the construction may have. To combat additional dust and mess, sound transit will have a street sweeper and offer businesses car wash vouchers and window washing services. Sound transit has even offered to provide white noise machines and ear plugs to business owners and employees upon request.
For more information on the East Link Rail Service stay tuned to our blog and for homes and real estate around the Bellevue area or if you’re looking to sell your home Contact Mary Pong today.
Transit image By Oran Viriyincy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/viriyincy/2894812620/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons