Light rail is coming our way! Sound Transit’s East Link is slated to connect Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond to Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport via light rail by the year 2023. According to Bellevue Patch, “the regional rail system is designed to stretch more than 50 miles, after the work to extend existing service north and south in addition to east. Sound Transit says that more than 50,000 riders are projected to ride East Link every day by 2030” (read article).
As is the case with so many public projects, this one is not without its debates. The question of whether to build the Link above or below ground have sparked intense conflict within the city council. Those wishing to mitigate costs are confronted by issues of running the Link through neighborhoods with one neighborhood leader recently told the council, ground-level trains would mean excessive noise “all day and all night long forever into the future” (read article). This Seattle Times article details the difficult issues facing the council and the details of this project.
The good news is that as cost-cutting measures are considered by this council, the nation’s leading bond rating agencies have given Bellevue its top rating. Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s last week gave Bellevue AAA and Aaa ratings, respectively; according to Jan Hawn, the city’s Finance Director, Bellevue is in a “great” position to finance some of its major capital projects, such as work related to the East Link light rail line (read article). Good news for those fighting to reduce noise and consider an underground option for the Link.
As the time draws near to make a final decision on the design and cost of the project, what we know on our end is that more commuter options is a great boon to the work we do in the real estate industry. With so much east-west travel for those employed in the Puget Sound area, the ease of the Link will create an accessibility that means more flexibility for living on the Eastside. As custom home builders, we look forward to welcoming those commuters for whom the Link makes our communities a refreshing and now convenient place to call home.