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City partners with Sound Transit on new pedestrian and bicycle bridge in Overlake

A mock up of the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge in Overlake. - Courtesy Graphic
A mock up of the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge in Overlake.
— image credit: Courtesy Graphic

Following approval by the Redmond City Council last week, the Sound Transit board approved a partnership agreement for constructing a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge across State-Route 520 and a city stormwater infiltration vault.

The new covered bridge will connect the Overlake Village link light rail station — which will be right next to SR 520 — with the regional trail on the west side of the freeway and all of the development on the north side of SR 520.

The regional stormwater vault, which Sound Transit will also use, will reduce damaging flows to streams and allow for redevelopment in the neighborhood.

"Because of this partnership, the bridge and vault will be integrated seamlessly into the Overlake Village station," said City of Redmond Mayor and Sound Transit board member John Marchione in a press release from the city and Sound Transit. "These projects will increase light rail ridership and support the ongoing transformation of Overlake Village into a vibrant and transit-supportive urban center."

Joel Pfundt, a principal planner for Redmond, said the city was interested in this partnership because they want as much access to the light rail station as possible.

"This bridge opens a lot of the Overlake area," he said.

In the press release, Sound Transit board chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine added, "With the new bridge, commuters will save up to one mile in walking or biking to nearby jobs and homes. Thanks to the partnership of the City of Redmond, we are improving access to the East Link light rail extension that opens in 2023."

Under the agreement, Sound Transit will construct the bridge and vault. The City of Redmond will pay Sound Transit $19.8 million for the design and construction of the facilities.

Steve Hitch, a senior engineer for the city, said about $10.1 million of that amount will go toward the bridge and about $9.7 million will go toward the vault.To help fund the bridge and vault, the city has received a $1.6 million Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant, which will go toward the engineering and design of the project. In addition, the city received a $5 million Transportation Alternatives Program grant toward construction of the bridge. The rest of the funds will come from the city's Transportation Capital Program budget, though Hitch added that the vault will also be funded by stormwater utility rate payers and developer contributions.

Subject to final acceptance, the City of Redmond will own, operate and maintain the bridge and vault.

The City of Redmond plans to build three stormwater vaults, Hitch said. The first one is currently under construction and located underneath the ground on the Sears property at 2200 148th Ave. N.E. The one to be built at the Overlake Village station will be the second one, "which is why this is such a good partnership," Hitch said.

Don Billen, the East Link deputy project director for Sound Transit, said from their perspective, the bridge is an enhancement to the Overlake Village station. He said anything that will increase access to the station — especially non-motorized access — is a good thing, especially as park and ride capacity is always in high demand and expensive.

"We see this bridge as a really critical part of that same access idea," added Pfundt about the city.

He said the easier and more comfortable it is for people to access the station, the more likely they will utilize it.

The new city and Sound Transit agreement follows an earlier agreement among Sound Transit, the City of Redmond and Microsoft Corp. for another pedestrian and bicycle bridge across SR 520 further east at the Overlake Transit Center. That bridge is supported with $33.3 million in Microsoft funding and planned to open in 2020. The city will also own and maintain this structure.

Billen said they anticipate construction for the second pedestrian and bicycle bridge to begin in 2016 and for it to also be completed by 2020.

"It will actually open to service three years ahead of light rail service," he said, as light rail is scheduled to come to the Eastside in 2023.

According to the press release, by 2030, East Link is projected to carry about 50,000 riders each weekday. As the region's population continues growing, East Link will provide expanded transportation capacity to the I-90 corridor. Increases in the length and frequency of trains over time offer the capacity to carry from 8,000 to 12,000 people per hour in each direction, more than doubling the person-carrying capacity of I-90.

More information about these projects can be found at www.redmond.gov/overlake and www.soundtransit.org/eastlink.

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