NPI congratulates Sound Transit on East Link tunnel breakthrough in downtown Bellevue

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Construction on Sound Transit’s vitally important East Link light rail extension reached an important milestone this week when contractors digging a tunnel under downtown Bellevue broke through to daylight at the future site of the station that will serve the city’s central core. The hole-through was expected to take place at the end of 2018, but construction has gone so well that it happened five months ahead of schedule.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve congratulated Sound Transit on the breakthrough, noting that expansion of the region’s light rail spine is crucial to the realization of a future that will enable Puget Sound residents to enjoy greater freedom of mobility.

“As a future East Link rider, I’m thrilled to see the progress that Sound Transit and its contracting teams have made on this vitally important project,” Villeneuve said.

“Light rail will revolutionize not only cross-lake travel between Seattle and the Eastside, but also commutes and trips between Eastside neighborhoods. It’s truly reassuring to see girders and columns rising up along each part of the alignment, from Judkins Park to Mercer Island to Bellevue to Redmond, NPI’s hometown.”

East Link (which was approved in 2008 as part of Sound Transit 2) may be on track and headed for completion, but other communities are at risk of losing the voter-approved Link expansion they voted for, Villeneuve warned.

“Two years ago, our region decided to invest in transit options that we know will give people an alternative to sitting in traffic. We voted to expand light rail in four directions as well as add more express bus, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit service,” Villeneuve said. “Sadly, Tim Eyman and other Sound Transit 3 opponents do not respect the will of the voters and are seeking not only to sabotage Sound Transit 3, but to wipe out funding for Amtrak Cascades plus local roads, sidewalks, and bus service with Initiative 976.”

“At NPI, we are mobilizing to fight this threat to our transit investments. Implementation of I-976 would cause catastrophic damage to every part of Washington State — from Spokane to Kelso and Anacortes to Clarkston,” Villeneuve said.

“Every Washingtonian would lose under this initiative, whether they live in a rural community, a suburban neighborhood, or the big city. That’s why the team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is accelerating our work to unite Washingtonians in support of Amtrak Cascades, Sound Transit 3, and essential local projects, so that we get the transportation improvements that we sorely need.”

In the past, initiatives similar to I-976 have benefited from a lack of vigorous, year-round opposition. But those days ended with the establishment of Permanent Defense.

“An inclusive economy requires an inclusive, multimodal transportation system that gives people choices. Thanks to great work by our elected representatives and sound decisions we’ve made at the ballot as a people, we are moving away from an auto-centric transportation system and towards a human-centric one,” Villeneuve said.

“But communities that are anxiously awaiting vital transit and road improvements are at risk of not getting them if we don’t neutralize threats like I-976. So while we are thrilled to celebrate today’s big East Link breakthrough, we are mindful of the need to protect all the projects that are still on the drawing board or undergoing final design.”

On Monday, July 23rd, NPI will unveil a new NO on I-976 website meant to help voters understand the threat that this destructive initiative represents, and enable concerned citizens and organizations to join the coalition opposed to the measure. The site’s availability will be announced through NPI’s publications as well as via news release.

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