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With 2 transit centers closing, Eastside drivers should plan for more traffic

Eastside drivers should expect a change in their commute once two transit centers close in May. (AP)

Some Eastside commuters may have to find a new way to work for the next five years.

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Overlake Transit Center, followed by the South Bellevue Transit Center, will close in May as they are transformed from parking garages to staging areas for the East Link light rail construction.

“We know this is going to be a big change for people,” said Rachelle Cunningham of Sound Transit. “This is going to be a difficult time as we make progress toward opening Eastlink. So we’re just hoping people can find a good option for them before the lot closes.”

Cunningham from Sound Transit knows it’s going to be rough for bus riders and anyone driving on the Eastside. Commuters will lose parking along one of the Eastside’s most popular bus routes: Express Route 550 between Bellevue and Seattle. More than 750,000 people used that express route last spring.

“This is a major change,” Cunningham said. “This is something people need to prepare for. And we know it’s difficult.

“Any time there is a construction project of this size it’s going to be disruptive to people and we appreciate the changes they’re going to have to make so this can progress.”

On May 30, The South Bellevue Park and Ride will shut down. Sound Transit tried to secure additional parking lots from churches and businesses to accommodate users but the agency didn’t quite get enough convenient options. That means park-and-ride users could have to take as many as three buses, depending on how far away they have to park.

If you take the bus or drive on the Eastside, you might want to leave a little earlier in the morning and expect more traffic through Bellevue until 2023 when the Eastlink Link Extension is expected to be complete.

The Overlake Transit Center closes May 1. The South Bellevue Transit Center closes May 30.

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