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East Link Extension

East Link project schematic
Project Type: 
Public Transit
Sponsor / Borrower: 
Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit)
Credit Agreement Status: 
TIFIA Assistance: 
$1,330 million
Primary Revenue Pledge: 
Tax Revenues
Project Cost Details: 

$4.031 billion

Duration / Status: 

The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD), approving the East Link Light Rail line in November 2011. Construction to reconfigure the I-90 floating bridge began in January 2015 and will conclude in 2017. Preliminary civil construction has begun on the East Link as well. Substantial completion is expected to occur in 2023.

Fiscal Year Closed: 
Project Description: 

The East Link Extension is a 14.5-mile Light Rail Transit (LRT) line that will provide east-west connections from the Eastside's largest population and employment centers to downtown Seattle, doubling the capacity of the I-90 Floating Bridge. On the east shore of Lake Washington, the new line will extend from Redmond to South Bellevue, where it will join the alignment of I-90 and continue to Mercer Island and downtown Seattle via the I-90 floating bridge. The new LRT line will terminate at the International District/Chinatown station, where onward connections are available to the Central Link Light Rail line running between downtown and Sea-Tac International Airport.

The project also includes the I-90 Two-Way Transit project, which will provide eight miles of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes across both sides of the I-90 Floating Bridge. This aspect of the project improves transit and HOV reliability using existing right-of-way, without widening the I-90 floating bridge. The project also will replace the fire/life/safety systems located in the Mt. Baker tunnels connecting to the I-90 Floating Bridge, as well as seismic retrofits that will improve the earthquake resistance of the floating bridge.

According to Sound Transit, the TIFIA credit assistance is estimated to generate up to $300 million in additional financial capacity while reducing the risk of scope reduction and service delays. The East Link’s extended reach will connect over 200,000 existing jobs in downtown Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond, and it is expected to create an additional 49,000 new jobs.  The bridge’s increased capacity is projected to eliminate 10,000 vehicle hours, eliminate 230,000 vehicle miles traveled per day, reduce average travel time by 25 minutes per trip, and reduce greenhouse gases by 22,000-29,000 metric tons.  The expected travel time savings are expected to save $65 million annually.

Funding Sources: 
  • Contribution from cash balances: $281.4M
  • Sound Transit tax revenue: $1.086B
  • Grant revenue - Federal / Local: $88.693M
  • Bond proceeds: $1.060B
  • TIFIA Loan: $1.330B
  • City of Bellevue: $184.475M
Project Delivery / Contract Method: 

Multiple contract delivery methods

Project Advisors / Consultants: 

Piper Jaffray - Financial Advisor

Foster Pepper PLLC - Counsel to the Borrower


  • TIFIA Financial Advisor - Taylor-DeJongh and Booz Allen Hamilton
  • TIFIA Legal Advisor - Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP
Project Lender(s): 
TIFIA Credit Assistance Detail: 

Direct loan: $1.33 billion. The TIFIA loan will be repaid through pledge of sales and rental car taxes.

Financial Status: 
The TIFIA credit agreement was executed in January 2015. Interest payments are set to begin in 2028, with principal payments to begin in 2030; final loan maturity is expected to occur in 2058.
  • This project combines funding from a large and varied number of stakeholders.
  • USDOT awarded Sound Transit a $14 million TIGER grant, which will be used to support the $225.6 million HOV component of the project.
  • The City of Bellevue has committed $185 million in cost sharing to support the construction of a tunnel in downtown Bellevue.
  • $2.2 billion in local funding is provided in Sound Transit 2 Bonds leveraging a voter approved revenue measure passed in 2008.
  • As part of the Spring District Transit-Oriented Development, the real estate developer Wright Runstad & Company will invest approximately $50 million in public infrastructure improvements adjacent to the East Link 120th Street Station. Other private sector support is expected from Su Development, Microsoft, Boeing, T-Mobile, Bellevue College and Groups Health.
Project Contacts: 

Katie Kuciemba
East Corridor Community Outreach Supervisor
Tel: (206) 398-5459

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