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More trees come down as Sound Transit builds light rail toward Redmond

Drivers on 520 have probably already noticed, but the first signs of Sound Transit’s Link light rail expansion from Microsoft to downtown Redmond are now visible.

The elevated tracks along 520 have been obvious for months. They run right next to the eastbound lanes of the freeway to what Sound Transit calls the Redmond Technology Station, near the Microsoft campus. Sound Transit has now started clearing the path for the extension all the way to downtown Redmond.

“Removing trees, demolishing some structures and relocating some utilities, really preparing the surface for the big construction next year,” Sound Transit’s Rachelle Cunningham said about the project.

The most obvious signs of this work are the loss of trees along the freeway. Loggers have started taking them down near Marymoor Park.

“It’s unfortunate that any time we build something like this, trees do have to come down,” Cunningham said. “The good news is we do replace them with a significantly larger number of trees. In this case, in Redmond, about 3,000 trees are going to be coming down, but we promise to replace them with 12,000.”

This is the same way Sound Transit cleared the path for the Lynnwood light rail extension along I-5. More than 5,000 trees were removed for that project, and Sound Transit will replace them with nearly 21,000.

“Tearing things down before you can build them up,” Cunningham said of the process.

Sound Transit is doing a lot of environmental work on the Redmond extension. It is restoring more than 500 feet of Bear Creek, and will remove a creosote treated railroad trestle, other debris, and fish-blocking culverts.

A tour of the recently completed Bellevue Sound Transit tunnel

The 3.5-mile light rail extension from the Microsoft campus to downtown Redmond will include two stations, one at Marymoor Park and another in downtown Redmond. There will be a 1,400 stall parking garage added at Marymoor Park.

The line is still expected to open in 2024, a year after the line to Bellevue opens. Sound Transit said it will only take 18 minutes from downtown Redmond to downtown Seattle.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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