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East Link project hits 30 percent completion as Seattle construction begins

A graphic representation of what the East Link light rail line will look like across the floating I-90 Bridge over Lake Washington. (Sound Transit)

Construction on the East Link light rail project is now about 30 percent complete, and people in Seattle are going to start seeing some work on their side of Lake Washington.

If you’ve been driving I-90 or I-405, you have been seeing all the work for the light rail extension to Bellevue and Redmond, but Seattle is about to get a taste of that. Rainier Avenue is going to be closed this weekend as Sound Transit contractors begin their first demolition work in Seattle. They are taking down the old bus ramp from westbound 90 to Rainier Avenue to make room for the new Judkins Station.

“The demolition is going to be happening from above, and we don’t want anyone in the vicinity of that work,” Sound Transit’s Rachelle Cunningham said.

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The closure will begin at 11 p.m. Friday night and last through 5 a.m. Monday morning. This could be the first of three weekends of closures, depending on how well the demolition goes.

This is the first major Seattle work on the East Link project; Cunningham said the rest of the expansion is a lot further along.

“We’ve got working going on from south Bellevue all the way to Redmond,” she said. “We’re creating bridges and over-crossings. You can see the work all the way from Mercer Island, the bridge, and all the way through Redmond at this point.”

It’s only going to get more visible as East Link construction ramps up.

“You’re going to be seeing track going down soon,” she said. “Month by month. Week by week. Things are changing. People will be able to see more.”

The light rail station will pop up in the middle of the existing I-90 freeway lanes. You will be able to access it from Rainier Avenue below and 23rd Avenue via Judkins Park. The pedestrian and bike trails already there are staying. The goal is to make this station a place that the public will want to hang out.

“It’s going to be a meeting place, a gathering place and someplace that people will actually want to spend a little, hopefully,” Cunningham said.

Sound Transit is still on schedule to get light rail to Bellevue and the Microsoft campus in Redmond by 2023, and to downtown Redmond a year later. For a map of Sound Transit’s entire planned future rail network, click here.

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