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Bellevue City Council signs off on light rail route

Four years after voters approved a light rail line across Lake Washington and through the Eastside, the Bellevue City Council has finally signed off on where the line will go.

"Tonight we reached a major milestone for the city. It was a hard fought effort, but the end result is more certainty for our city residents, businesses and neighborhoods," said Mayor Conrad Lee.

On Monday, the city council voted 6-0 to approve cost-reducing changes to the East Link light rail project that could save the city up to $35 million the mega-project.

The route approved by the council will include a shorter downtown tunnel than the city had first proposed. It will put cars over the tracks on 112th Street SE, instead of tracks over the cars, and the underground station in downtown will be replaced by an elevated station.

Bellevue has been working with Sound Transit to lower project costs. The Sound Transit Board will make a final selection on the cost-saving measures on Thursday. If they match up with the council's, they will develop amendments to the existing agreements for final council action.

The nearly $3 billion project is expected to begin in 2015 with service expected to start in 2023.

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