NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Monday, February 7th, 2022

Light rail trains roll through Bellevue on overhead power during weekend of testing

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

Chris Paslaws­ki was also able to cap­ture the action from a dif­fer­ent van­tage point.

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!

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  1. […] trains mak­ing test runs between three dif­fer­ent forth­com­ing sta­tions in Belle­vue. These test runs are part of a sys­tem tri­al that Sound Tran­sit began last month to pre­pare for the inau­gu­ra­tion of rev­enue ser­vice on its sec­ond light rail line […]

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