Sound Transit LRV in testing in Bellevue
Sound Transit LRV in testing in Bellevue

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!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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