NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

East Link from the air, part two: Get a bird’s eye view of station construction in Redmond

In 2023, less than two years after the com­ple­tion and open­ing of the North­gate Link exten­sion, Sound Tran­sit will inau­gu­rate ser­vice to ten new sta­tions serv­ing Mer­cer Island, Belle­vue, and Red­mond. The addi­tion of these new sta­tions will be the biggest expan­sion in the his­to­ry of the sys­tem, dwarf­ing the num­ber of sta­tions added as part of pre­vi­ous exten­sions in 2009, 2016, and 2021.

Last month, we took the wraps of a spe­cial project doc­u­ment­ing these ten new sta­tions from the air. The project, which took months to cre­ate, pro­vid­ed a primer on each new sta­tion along with eleven gal­leries of pho­tos. It was so well-received that we decid­ed to do a fol­low-up this month with two addi­tion­al gal­leries of pho­tos depict­ing con­struc­tion on two more sta­tions that will open in 2024, the year after East Link comes online, bring­ing light rail into Down­town Redmond.

The Down­town Red­mond exten­sion is actu­al­ly part of the larg­er East Link project, but its sta­tions won’t open at the same time that the oth­er East Link sta­tions do because they were fund­ed as part of ST3 in 2016 rather than ST2 in 2008.

Nev­er­the­less, Sound Tran­sit and the City of Red­mond had their act togeth­er, and coop­er­at­ed to ensure that design and con­struc­tion could pro­ceed on the final two sta­tions as soon as funds were available.

That smart think­ing allowed the agency to even­tu­al­ly aim for a com­ple­tion date in 2024 rather than in, say, the 2030s. Red­mond’s two east­ern­most sta­tions will thus be part of the very first wave of ST3 projects to be completed.

Con­struc­tion on the Down­town Red­mond exten­sion is now hap­pen­ing in tan­dem with con­struc­tion on the more west­er­ly tracks and sta­tions — it’s just not as far along due to hav­ing start­ed lat­er. (The ground­break­ing was in 2019.)

So while there aren’t any sta­tion plat­forms to look at yet, we can show you some pret­ty cool struc­tures ris­ing from the ground here in NPI’s hometown!

When fin­ished, the East Link exten­sion, offi­cial­ly known as Line 2, will con­sist of twelve sta­tions that are locat­ed to the east of the main­line run­ning north/south:

  1. Jud­kins Park
  2. Mer­cer Island
  3. South Belle­vue
  4. East Main
  5. Belle­vue Downtown
  6. Wilbur­ton
  7. Spring Dis­trict
  8. Bel-Red
  9. Over­lake Village
  10. Red­mond Technology
  11. South­east Redmond
  12. Down­town Redmond

To see the pho­to gal­leries for the first ten sta­tions, along with bonus pho­tos for the Oper­a­tions & Main­te­nance Facil­i­ty East, fol­low this link. Do that first before you read on if you haven’t seen those images yet. Then, come back here and resume your tour. If you’ve already seen the pho­tos pub­lished in Part I, then it’s our plea­sure to be able to say wel­come back to the tour!

We’ll pick up where the pre­vi­ous post left off: in Microsoft-Land, the part of Red­mond that is home to the main Microsoft cam­pus. The Red­mond Tech­nol­o­gy Sta­tion will, until the Down­town Red­mond exten­sion opens, be the east­ern ter­mi­nus of Line 2. But already, Sound Tran­sit’s con­trac­tors are prepar­ing the right of way for the tracks that will allow trains to go into the heart of Redmond.

After leav­ing Red­mond Tech­nol­o­gy, trains will trav­el east along­side State Route 520, pass­ing under­neath the inter­change with 51st Avenue and over the exit ramp to West Lake Sam­mamish Park­way. After cross­ing the Sam­mamish Riv­er, trains will trav­el next to Mary­moor Park until they arrive at their next stop.

Southeast Redmond Station

This sur­face lev­el sta­tion will be locat­ed next to the Red­mond Inn at the con­flu­ence of State Route 520 and Red­mond Way in the city’s south­east­ern sec­tor. It will have a large 1,400 stall park­ing garage for com­muters who live on the Sam­mamish Plateau and in Red­mond’s north­ern res­i­den­tial neighborhoods.

Click any of the images above to launch the light­box for a bet­ter view

The sta­tion is being built across from the com­plex that present­ly hous­es Blaz­ing Bagels’ Inter­galac­tic Head­quar­ters and New­port Cus­tom Shutters.

“The effi­cient foot­print of the sta­tion allows for a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the site to be used for tran­sit-ori­ent­ed devel­op­ment,” con­trac­tor Hewitt says.

“Specif­i­cal­ly locat­ed between the high­way and future tran­sit ori­ent­ed devel­op­ment, the park­ing garage acts as a buffer to mit­i­gate traf­fic noise, become a visu­al bar­ri­er to [State Route] 520, and help achieve a more pleas­ant pedes­tri­an expe­ri­ence in the neigh­bor­hood. The train­way itself pass­es under the garage. This reduces patron trav­el dis­tance for those arriv­ing to the sta­tion by bus and by car, aid­ing in mak­ing tran­sit a more attrac­tive option for the neighborhood.”

“The sta­tion design focus­es on pro­vid­ing a com­fort­able and safe expe­ri­ence for patrons. Pedes­tri­an safe­ty is empha­sized by pro­vid­ing an option for grade-sep­a­rat­ed access from the park­ing garage to the sta­tion platform.”

“Ample weath­er pro­tec­tion has been pro­vid­ed for patrons wait­ing for bus­es and para­tran­sit, and the sta­tion is designed to max­i­mize views to the adja­cent Mary­moor Park for patrons await­ing the arrival of their train.”

Here’s a bonus image:

Southeast Redmond Station, view five (East Link aerial tour)

New hous­ing under con­struc­tion across from the forth­com­ing South­east Red­mond Sta­tion (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Downtown Redmond Station

This sta­tion will be the east­ern ter­mi­nus of Line 2 when it opens in 2024. It is an aer­i­al sta­tion, sus­pend­ed above NE 166th between Red­mond Town Cen­ter and Cleve­land Street in Red­mond’s com­mer­cial core.

Click any of the images above to launch the light­box for a bet­ter view

By choos­ing an aer­i­al align­ment for Down­town Red­mond, Sound Tran­sit and the City of Red­mond ensured that there would be no at-grade cross­ings near the line’s ter­mi­nus, which will cre­ate a safer expe­ri­ence for everyone.

The trip from down­town Red­mond to down­town Belle­vue on Link will take just sev­en­teen min­utes, very sim­i­lar to trav­el time by car, and less than half the time it takes to get between the two down­town on Metro’s RapidRide Line B.

This sta­tion will be with­in walk­ing dis­tance of NPI’s head­quar­ters in down­town Red­mond at NE 83rd Street and 164th Avenue, as well as the Leary Way his­toric dis­trict, Red­mond Town Cen­ter, and the Sam­mamish Riv­er Trail. The Red­mond Cen­tral Con­nec­tor trail will be adja­cent to the new sta­tion, pro­vid­ing direct access to the Sam­mamish Riv­er Trail plus the East Lake Sam­mamish Trail.

“The Down­town Red­mond sta­tion entrances, enclosed in glass, act as bea­cons to the neigh­bor­hood wel­com­ing patrons to the sta­tion and con­nect­ing rid­ers to Belle­vue, Seat­tle, and beyond,” Hewitt says.

“A large plaza has been cre­at­ed at the west sta­tion entrance, pro­vid­ing a future gath­er­ing space for the city and com­mu­ni­ty. This civic gath­er­ing space includes an inte­grat­ed art pro­gram to liv­en up the plaza.”

“Com­mu­ni­ty char­rettes were crit­i­cal to ensur­ing that all voic­es were heard dur­ing the ear­ly design and plan­ning process,” the firm adds.

“The inter­ac­tion between all modes of trav­el was a pri­or­i­ty in the dis­cus­sion between stake­hold­ers, and result­ed in a well-orches­trat­ed plan for bus cir­cu­la­tion, sta­tion access, bicy­cle and pedes­tri­an circulation.”

Here’s a bonus image:

View to the east of where the ini­tial gird­ers have been erect­ed, show­ing the rest of the con­struc­tion site where the future Down­town Red­mond Sta­tion is being built (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

And that does it for this adden­dum to our East Link aer­i­al tour!

Project safety information

All our flights were con­duct­ed in accor­dance with FAA reg­u­la­tions using reg­is­tered air­craft at times when con­struc­tion work­ers were not present.

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