BELLEVUE - The 14-mile long extension of Sound Transit’s light rail service to the Eastside of Lake Washington was approved unanimously by the Sound Transit Board Thursday.
The transit board vote follows a unanimous vote by the Bellevue City Council Monday to approve its half of an agreement to clear remaining obstacles for getting East Link built.
"At this point, we have set the alignment,” said Claudia Balducci. She is both a Sound Transit Board member and a Bellevue City councilmember.
The agreement commits Bellevue to provide more than $100 million to the project, mostly to get light rail through downtown inside a tunnel.
By building an above ground station between city hall and the Meydenbauer convention center, where the trains will exit and enter the tunnel, the city's potential financial commitment will be reduced to $53 million. Initially the city was concerned about a commitment of to up to $160 million.
Much of the money will be paid "in kind" through the transfer of some city-owned property.
The final alignment includes running along 112th Avenue SE at street level, rather than on elevated tracks. That alignment will result in the transit agency buying out owners of 50 residences, including two condominium complexes.
Many residents who own homes that back up to 112th have been fighting the rail route. At one point, tracks would have come as close as 10 feet to homes. Bellevue later insisted on a 60 foot buffer zone. Homeowners could see offers on their properties as soon as this fall.