It has been quite a journey to get agreement on the details for light rail in Bellevue. On Monday night the city council voted 6-0 in favor of cost-reducing changes to the light rail project that could save Bellevue taxpayers up to $35 million.

“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. “Throughout this process our number one priority has been to protect our neighborhoods – and we accomplished that tonight.”

The City of Bellevue has worked with Sound Transit since 2012 on ways to lower the cost of the project. Sound Transit’s Board of Directors is scheduled to make a decision on the cost savings options at its Thursday meeting this week. If Sound Transit agrees with the City of Bellevue’s ruling, the two groups will develop amendments to the existing Umbrella MOU and Transit Way Agreements for final council action.

Here are some of the details of the cost savings as stated by a City of Bellevue press release:

  • Bellevue Way: The council maintained the MOU option of placing light rail in a trench along Bellevue Way Southeast, in front of the historic Winters House. 
  • 112th Avenue Southeast: The council approved replacing an elevated light rail “flyover” of 112th Avenue, near Southeast 15th Street, which was in the MOU, with a “road over rails” option. It features an overpass above 112th Avenue, with the light rail line crossing under the overpass at ground level. 
  • In addition to the flyover, the council approved replacing a city-requested trench along the west side of 112th Avenue with a street-level alignment that crosses Southeast Fourth Street. 
  • This option would allow for emergency vehicle access only into the Surrey Downs neighborhood on Southeast Fourth Street, and calls for developing an alternative access into the Surrey Downs neighborhood from 112th Avenue though Bellefield Residential Park. Cost-savings estimate: $2-4 million. 
  • Downtown station: The council approved replacing a downtown tunnel station proposed in the MOU with an at-grade station on Northeast Sixth Street. Cost-savings estimate: $19-33 million.

The East Link is scheduled to begin construction in 2015 and start service in 2023. The project will run from Seattle, through Bellevue, and to Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.

For more details of the East Link visit the Sound Transit website.

SE 15th Road over RailSE 15th Road over Rail

SE 4th - Emergency access onlySE 4th – Emergency access only

Bellevue Way Retained Cut (MOU)Bellevue Way Retained Cut (MOU)

Light-Rail-Downtown Downtown tunnel station with an at-grade station on NE 6th St


  1. Wow! This has been a long time coming. I’m glad our city council made this decision…traffic is unbearable in and out of DTB during the evening commute.

  2. What a wasted opportunity. Imagine an underground station at 106th underneath the Galleria plaza. That would’ve been a great central location within steps of the Bellevue Collection, the transit center, and the future Rockefeller Center. Instead we’re getting an outdoor station (what was the point of building a tunnel?) next to 405 that is too far from anything meaningful in DTB. blah.

  3. Any pictures of the new DTB station design?

  4. We were promised a pic from the city, but it hasn’t arrived yet…check back soon.

  5. Thanks for the pics but could you try to get pics of the downtown station? This IS the DTB blog after all 😉

  6. Michell,
    Look at Page 1 (option at the bottom) of

    Looks like someone finally got the station as far away from his properties as possible.

  7. And all of page 2 in the same document are renderings of the selected option.

    It’s kinda weird that someone who has to take a connection has to cross 110th, but I guess with Bellevue itself now a destination, connections are not all that common.

  8. Not bad… but as people have said, a lot of people hope for a underground station close to the Galleria. That would be an awesome location, only steps from *everything*.

  9. @Mitchelle, we added another photo that provides some insight to how/where the station will go in downtown Bellevue.

  10. What a horrendous decision. This is such a missed opportunity, all to save a few million bucks now. If we’re building infrastructure costing billions that will last for centuries, we shouldn’t be handicapping it from the beginning.

    We managed to select the worst possible option for a station that can be called a downtown station. Pathetic, a huge wasted opportunity, and something we’ll regret for generations (and pay for through decreased ridership and lost economic gains from better design).

  11. The original plan called for the station to be at the south-east corner of of Bellevue Transit Center. The modified plan just moves it across the street to the east of Bellevue Transit Center. This location is part of Bellevue City Hall’s garden, and adjacent to many downtown locations. So I don’t get what the big deal is.

    Having the station below Galleria was never an option. And digging below a high rise is immensely complicated and costly if at all feasible. That is why most subway tunnels run under the streets not buildings.

    Personally I prefer an above ground station to an underground one, and if it saves ~$30 million or so, we are better for it.

    Excited about rail coming to downtown Bellevue!. Can’t wait till ths thing is built.