On November 6th, Sound Transit held an open house for the final design of East Link’s South Bellevue Station. East Link is a light rail project that will link downtown Seattle to Bellevue and Overlake (home to the headquarters of Microsoft) via I-90. The South Bellevue station will be the first one in Bellevue that riders go through when traveling eastbound.
The station will feature a 1,500-stall park-and-ride, which is triple the capacity of the current one. Sound Transit expects 4,500 daily boardings at the station, which means that 3,000 people will take a bus, walk, or bike to the station. The station will also have generous bus layover space, a kiss-and-ride area, and bike cages and racks.
About half of the focus of the open house was on construction. The current park-and-ride will close when construction begins–though buses will still stop at South Bellevue. As a result, Sound Transit is looking at other options for the current users driving to the park-and-ride. These include directing people to under-used park-and-rides, leasing more lots (like churches), or even creating a brand new lot–the most likely location being at Mercer Island. Sound Transit expects a mix of these options will make up for the lost parking at South Bellevue.
Utility work will also require some street closures. Bellevue Way will be reduced to three lanes between 112th Avenue SE and the park-and-ride, with an alternating middle lane that switches direction based on the time of the day (similar to the I-90 and I-5 express lanes). Some complete weekend closures are also planned. 112th Avenue SE will be reduced to a lane in each direction from Bellevue Way to SE 8th Street. However, work will be completed faster than on Bellevue Way.
The other half of the open house focused on art and the station design. The sidewalks and other pedestrian paths are going to be designed like a boardwalk. A concrete path will be poured and crossed by many evenly-spaced gaps to remind people of Mercer Slough. Additional trees will be planted throughout the site, thanks to an effort from Enatai residents.
Two artists for station art were also selected, although they could not make it to the open house.
Katy Stone will be the principal artist to design the facade of the new parking garage. This art will include a large, perforated screen that covers the entire height of the garage, which is approximately 50 feet, as well as a screen on the last level. Passengers will get a glimpse of this screen from the platform or when aboard a stopped train. Both screens will consist of green tones, a nod to the park environment of the station. However, the screens will be differentiated. The top most screen will feature an image of cattails while the perforated screen below will feature an image of a weeping willow.
Vicki Scuri, on the other hand, will take charge of the artistic design on the station itself. Columns at the station will feature leaf images. From close up, these leaf images will be made of hexagons. The station ceiling has changed color from plain concrete to a bright orange to give more life to the station. Leaves are the focus for the screen on the platform, which superposes many giant leaves varying in shades of green. The leaves will also be made of small hexagons like the ones on the columns.