Light Rail Trains Cross Bellevue in Airstream During Test Weekend :: NPI’s Cascadia Advocate

In yet another reminder that we’re getting ever closer to the inauguration of service on East Link/Line 2, Sound Transit’s first east-west line, the agency this weekend rolled out trains on the tracks between Spring District, Wilburton and Bellevue Downtown stations, marking the start of the test phase of the light rail expansion that voters authorized in 2008.

On several different nights over the past few days, light rail vehicles have traversed the elevated and surface-level segments closest to downtown Bellevue, including the one spanning Interstate 405. The tests occurred between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., when automobile and pedestrian traffic on nearby roads is quite light.

Video taken by the Sound Transit photographer shows trains rolling from multiple angles during these nighttime forays on our new rapid guideway. You can also see what it was like to be inside the train and stations during testing:

Images courtesy of Sound Transit

Chris Paslawski was also able to capture the action from a different point of view.

For the past several years, Eastsiders have watched Sound Transit contractors dig trenches, lay beams and assemble platforms and station exits. Now the trains started rolling. By summer 2023, construction crews will prepare each station to welcome runners.

And eventually, Sound Transit will begin running trains across the entire new route, not just the middle Bellevue segments.

It won’t be long before Eastsiders running errands or going to and from Seattle will see test trains gliding through Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond.

If watching this video left you feeling hungry, there’s good news: we’ve got more! Last fall we released an aerial tour of all the new East Link stations from Judkins Park to Redmond Technology and then added a sequel featuring the two additional Redmond stations that will open later as part of the Downtown Link expansion in 2024. These are definitely worth checking out if you haven’t seen them, as they feature some exquisite drone photography.

There’s also an article from 2019 that will give you an idea of ​​what it looks like from the top of the guideway that now spans Interstate 405 in Bellevue. Sound Transit kindly took us for a walk from Bellevue Downtown to Wilburton before the tracks were laid on the elevated guideway which made for some great photos.

Wilburton station is really moving forward and looks pretty much finished these days, as you can see in these photos taken by NPI.

This month, the Permanent Defense of the NPI celebrates its twentieth anniversary. There will be a special online event on February 15 that readers are invited to attend. We’ve come a long way since 2002, when Sound Transit and transit advocates fought hard for Link’s survival against road warriors seeking to unplug regional light rail. Twenty years later, light rail is firmly established in our region and extremely popular with voters, according to NPI research.

This is real progress!

We look forward to celebrating more milestones as we get closer to East Link’s debut. Congratulations to Sound Transit for this latest achievement!

Jose P. Rogers