Sound Transit finishes excavation of Bellevue light rail tunnel

Crews finished digging the new Light Rail tunnel underneath downtown Bellevue.

The breakthrough into daylight for a new light rail tunnel in Bellevue was hardly spectacular.

No boring machine was used on the shallow tunnel project, so there was no dramatic falling of concrete.

But that doesn't mean the tunnel is anything less than a big deal for the Eastside.

Content Continues Below

"It is hard to imagine any single project that will do more to transform the map of this metropolitan area than East Link," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff.

East Link is the $3.7 billion light rail extension that voters approved in 2008 to bring trains over the I-90 bridge to Mercer Island, Bellevue and the edge of Redmond.

Work is now visible all along the line.

The new 2,000-foot tunnel will connect two stations in Bellevue, and it happened only after the city kicked in $100 million.

Bellevue and Sound Transit had sparred over where the route should go.

"It's a breakthrough in our politics, we were known as the place light rail was going to stop, because people didn't want it to come here, but that is not the case anymore," said King County Councilmember and former Bellevue mayor Claudia Balducci.

When East Link service starts in 2023, a ride from Downtown Bellevue to Seattle's International District will take 20 minutes.

More news from KIRO 7