First section of Eastside Link opens April 27

The expansion will allow riders to travel from Redmond to South Bellevue.

Pieces of the Link light rail are slowly beginning to connect as Sound Transit announces the first section of the Eastside Link — an extension of the 2 Line — will open on April 27. The celebration will begin with a ribbon-cutting at the 594 110th Ave. NE Bellevue Downtown Station, followed by family-friendly activities at each station.

This section will travel from the Redmond Technology Station at 15590 NE 36th St. to the South Bellevue Station on Bellevue Way Southeast. The section will have eight stops and run in 10-minute increments from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Ticket fares range from $2.25 to $2.50, depending on the length of travel. Free parking is provided at the Redmond Technology, BelRed and South Bellevue stations, and bike parking is available at every station, according to Sound Transit.

Once complete, the Eastside Link will travel from the Downtown Redmond Station to the Seattle International District/Chinatown Station. The last two legs — Downtown Redmond Station to Redmond Technology Station, and South Bellevue Station to the International District/Chinatown Station — are anticipated to open in 2025.

The 14-mile-long Eastside Link will have 10 stations. A ride from Redmond Technology Station to the International District/Chinatown Station will take 35 minutes, according to Sound Transit.

The Eastside Link extension will connect two pieces to the 2 Line puzzle by fusing with the currently operating Westside Link to the Northgate Station. Riders can soon travel from Redmond to Northgate in one ride.

“When the 2 Line opens on the Eastside, people will have more choices for accessing employment, education, housing, health care, entertainment and food within the community via Link light rail, and throughout the region with connections to the transit network,” said a Sound Transit spokesperson.

By 2041, Sound Transit anticipates riders will be able to travel from the Eastside to Everett.

Upcoming Eastside Link projects

Once the Eastside extension for the 2 Line opens, the next Eastside Link project will focus on travel from South Kirkland to Issaquah.

The South Kirkland-Issaquah Link, anticipated to open in 2041 or 2044 — depending on how soon Sound Transit can close the project affordability gap forecasted at $90 million — will have four new stations and three existing stations connecting to the 2 Line in South Bellevue.

While Sound Transit has not announced details of the construction schedule or solidified the station locations, the agency anticipates the initial project planning phase will begin around 2027, according to a City of Issaquah post.

To prepare for the future Link, Issaquah recently posted a volunteer request to engage residents and businesses in a focus group to develop a shared vision that encapsulates residents’ goals for the future Central Issaquah Station.

The city has also been evaluating how the Link will blend with the Central Issaquah Plan, adopted in 2012, said Issaquah Senior Transportation Planner Thomas Valdriz.

The plan underscores Issaquah’s need to accommodate 3,500 housing units and 7,950 jobs over the next 20 years while keeping the character and scale of existing neighborhoods.

“[The plan] will guide the long-term evolution of our 1,100-acre commercial core into a more sustainable urban area that will meet our community’s needs for environmental protection, jobs, housing and rapid transit,” according to the City of Issaquah website.

Overall, Valdriz said people living next to high-capacity transit will lower greenhouse emissions and connect regional and local citizens to new opportunities — especially for residents in the urban growth area.

“Living next to high-capacity transit means fewer people needing a car and helping people without a car. It’s going to mean more local trips, more people walking and biking to do their daily errands,” Valdriz said. “It’s also going to mean shorter trips. So if you do get in your car, maybe you don’t need to go as far because there is a local option to get what you need, or there is a job that you can work at nearby.”

The blue line represents the 2 Line route. The purple line represents the future South Kirkland-Issaqauh Link. (Sound Transit)

The blue line represents the 2 Line route. The purple line represents the future South Kirkland-Issaqauh Link. (Sound Transit)

Central Issaquah Plan (City of Issaquah)

Central Issaquah Plan (City of Issaquah)