Sound Transit to move forward with East Link Starter Line in 2024

Advocacy, Community,

Last week, the Sound Transit Board of Directors decided to move forward with the opening of the East Link Starter Line, with hopes of service beginning in March 2024. The in-person meeting room was full, and nearly 300 individuals joined virtually to listen to public testimony and the Board’s resulting actions. 

Highly-anticipated due to the deliberation of the ELSL, a handful of Chamber members and other stakeholders were present to share their piece. VP of Government Affairs Jodie Alberts was one such testifier, and our President & CEO Joe Fain made an appearance on KING5 as well. 

“15 years in the making, Bellevue and the Eastside have been patiently waiting for light rail,” said Alberts. “This time has certainly not been wasted as city officials and the business community have used this period to prepare the infrastructure, zoning, and development to make the most of this investment … We are more-than-ready for the East Link service expansion."

Don’t want to hear it from us? Listen to what some of our fellow community members had to say at the meeting.

John Chelminiak, former Mayor of Bellevue: 

“I came on the council along with your colleague, Councilmember Balducci — we were elected in November of 2003 — [and] one of the first staff meetings we had was about the expansion of Sound Transit,” said Chelminiak. “That was 20 years ago … The rails are in, we are ready to go, [so] let’s put the trains on the track and get the East Link Starter Line underway.” 

Keri Pravitz, Community Engagement Manager for Amazon: 

“As the largest employer in the state, we would like to reiterate our support for opening both the Lynnwood Link extension and the East Link Starter Line in 2024,” she said. “Amazon is proud to be growing on the Eastside and in Snohomish County … Having access to light rail in these communities next year will not only benefit our employees and their families, but also supports regional economic development by connecting people to opportunities, supports our planet by reducing car trips, as well as activating the ‘T’ in ‘TOD neighborhoods.’” 

Ada Healey, Vulcan Real Estate: 

“We work with some of the state’s largest employers, and understand that expanding light rail service across our region as quickly as possible benefits everyone,” said Healey. “Vulcan has three projects in Bellevue — two in downtown and one in the Bel-Red corridor — and each of these was designed with East Link service in mind.”

Lynne Robinson, Mayor of Bellevue: 

“As home to six East Link stations, our city is committed to improving mobility and access for everyone who lives, works, and plays in Bellevue. With continued growth and development in our city, light rail service will fill a critical piece of our vision for a multimodal transportation system, and a sustainable and equitable future … We are ready and eager,” she said. “Let’s get started.” 

Barb Wilson, Puget Sound Local Government Affairs for Microsoft: 

“As your CEO mentioned, [in Redmond] we have already started operating shuttle services and we are really looking forward to metro service starting in just a few weeks. It would be quite amazing if we could add to that the starter line in the spring of 2024,” said Wilson. “What we can say is that we are ready for you … People are coming back [to work] more and more everyday, and we are seeing a major increase in demand for shared transportation and public transit. This will really make a big difference for Microsoft.” 

Check in with the ELSL on the Sound Transit website.