The two final Redmond light rail stations were approved as part of the Sound Transit 2 package in 2011 but only fully funded with the passage of Sound Transit 3 in 2016. File photo

The two final Redmond light rail stations were approved as part of the Sound Transit 2 package in 2011 but only fully funded with the passage of Sound Transit 3 in 2016. File photo

Redmond’s downtown light rail station will be elevated

The Sound Transit Board voted in September to raise the future light rail track and station.

Redmond’s future downtown light rail station and track will be elevated following approval of the city’s preferred alignment by the Sound Transit Board in September.

Sound Transit was considering four options for the light rail station in Redmond, which will be the fourth and final station slated to open in the city. The downtown station will be elevated above the road, which will help prevent the train from interfering with the flow of pedestrians and traffic. Around 83 percent of Redmond residents asked for input said they would prefer the elevated design.

Redmond Planning Manager Don Cairns said they got community feedback on the design and placement of the station.

“From the public, we had an overwhelming majority that supported the east location,” he said.

In addition to elevating the station, Sound Transit chose to locate it along Northeast 76th Street between 164th Avenue Northeast and 166th Avenue Northeast, a location that provided more transit-oriented development options than the other possible location a few blocks west at the intersection of Bear Creek Parkway and Leary Way Northeast. Pedestrians will have direct access from the bus stops to the elevated station plaza.

Cairns said the trains arriving and departing from the station will generally be four cars long, or around 400 feet. They will be arriving and departing around every six minutes, meaning that between inbound and outbound traffic, trains would be crossing any given intersection every three minutes. If the station was at ground level, this would mean long delays for cars trying to cross the tracks as well as for pedestrians.

“By elevating it up, there’s more permeability beneath,” he said.

The downtown Redmond Link Extension will add 3.4 miles to Sound Transit’s Eastside build-out, connecting Redmond with Bellevue and Seattle. The route will run from an Overlake station to a future Redmond Technology Station near the Microsoft campus. The rail will then follow the State Route 520 corridor to the ground level Southeast Redmond station near the SR 520 and SR 202 intersection. This third station in southeast Redmond will have roughly 1,400 parking spaces as well as bike parking and bus transfer facilities. From there, the route will turn west, passing under SR 520 using the former BNSF Railway corridor where it will be elevated to cross Bear Creek and finish its route at the elevated downtown Redmond station.

The downtown station itself will be located along the north side of Northeast 76th Street and will have a footprint of roughly three acres. Sound Transit spokesperson Rachelle Cunningham said the budget for the downtown and southeast Redmond stations is still being developed and is scheduled to appear before the Sound Transit board for approval on Oct. 25.

The two stations were originally approved as part of the East Link Extension in Sound Transit 2, but funding cuts stemming from the recession put the project on hold. It was fully funded through the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure approved in 2016.

The Technology Center station is scheduled to come online in 2023 with the downtown Redmond station opening the following year. The stations are part of a massive build-out of Sound Transit light rail infrastructure that will result in 116 miles of rail throughout Puget Sound by 2041. Light rail line will run from Issaquah in the east to Redmond and Bellevue before crossing the Interstate 90 bridge to Seattle. Riders will be able to take a train north-south from Paine Field in Everett down to Federal Way. From downtown Redmond, riders will be able to reach Seattle in around 45 minutes and downtown Bellevue in 15.

“The light rail is really critical for the city moving forward,” Cairns said. “… it provides a whole new transportation system.”

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