In a fresh reminder that we are getting ever closer to the inauguration of service on East Link/Line 2, Sound Transit’s first east-west line, the agency this weekend deployed trains on the tracks in between the Spring District, Wilburton, and Bellevue Downtown stations, marking the beginning of the testing phase of the light rail transit expansion that voters authorized back in 2008.
On several different nights over the past few days, light rail vehicles traversed the elevated and surface level segments that are closest to the Bellevue city center, including the one that spans Interstate 405. Testing occurred between 9 PM and 5 AM, when auto and pedestrian traffic on nearby roads are fairly light.
Video taken by Sound Transit’s photographer shows trains rolling from several angles during these nighttime forays onto our new rapid transit guideway. You can also see what it was like to be inside the train and stations during the testing:
Footage courtesy of Sound Transit
For the past few years, Eastsiders have watched as Sound Transit’s contractors have dug trenches, laid girders, and assembled station platforms and egresses. Now the trains have begun to roll. Between now and the summer of 2023, construction crews will get every station ready to host riders.
And eventually, Sound Transit will begin running trains through the entire new alignment, not just the middle Bellevue segments.
It won’t be long before Eastsiders running errands or going to and from Seattle will see test trains gliding through Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond.
If watching that video left you hungry for more, there’s good news: we’ve got more! Last autumn, we published an aerial tour of all of the new East Link stations, from Judkins Park to Redmond Technology, and then added on a sequel featuring the two addition Redmond stations that will open a bit later as part of the Downtown Link extension in 2024. Those are definitely worth checking out if you haven’t seen them, as they contain some exquisite drone photography.
There’s also a post from 2019 that will give you a sense of what it looks like from up on the guideway that now spans Interstate 405 in Bellevue. Sound Transit kindly invited us to go on a walk from Bellevue Downtown to Wilburton before the tracks were laid on the elevated guideway, and that yielded some great photos.
The Wilburton Station is really coming along and looking rather finished these days, as you can see from these photos taken by NPI.
This month, NPI’s Permanent Defense is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. There will be a special online event on February 15th that readers are invited to attend. We have come a long way since 2002, when Sound Transit and transit advocates were fighting hard for Link’s survival against road warriors seeking to pull the plug on regional light rail. Twenty years later, light rail is firmly established in our region and extremely popular with voters, according to NPI’s research.
That’s real progress!
We look forward to celebrating additional milestones as we get closer to East Link’s debut. Congratulations to Sound Transit on this latest accomplishment!