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Sound Transit explores Eastside-only Light Rail line

It would be a temporary solution until the full line to Seattle is ready.

BellRedTrain_SEA

Sound Transit has recently done live vehicle testing on Bellevue-Redmond tracks.

Photo via Sound Transit

Here’s an idea that’s gaining serious track-tionSound Transit officials want to see what a Light Rail that runs only on the Eastside might look like in the near future.

If the plan moves forward, eight stations between Redmond and Bellevue could roll out as soon as next year. The rest of the line — still being built across Lake Washington to Seattle — would then join the party later. 🎉

What’s with the change of direction? 🚈

As public transportation nerds know, the Eastside Link — also known as the 2 Line — was actually supposed to open in 2023 originally. But unforeseen construction issues on the Mercer Island and Seattle side of the project led to a revised timeline for completion in the latter part of 2024.

However, since the Eastside Light Rail stations and track work are already 98% completed, Sound Transit recently floated the idea of a “starter line” that would run from south Bellevue to Microsoft’s Redmond campus in the meantime.

The benefits are that a 40-minute journey by car for many Eastsiders would turn into a 17-minute rail trip. Plus, riders get a whiff of that new train smell without having to wait too long.

All aboard 🔊

Patience is still a virtue. Even though local officials and tech execs signed off on the plan, there are still costs to hash out and a lengthy process to meet federal safety protocols.

But Sound Transit’s new CEO Julie Timm promised to provide updates in mid-November, with the goal of having the organization’s board vote on the proposal by early next year.

Finding those platforms 💻

Keep an eye on Sound Transit’s calendar for upcoming meetings, which are open to the public. The System Expansion Committee convenes today at 1:30 p.m., while the next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m.

Oh, and be sure to brush up on your Bellevue knowledge. Traveling there may soon be a breeze.