The light rail link extensions for Sound Transit can get difficult to keep track of. As the nation’s fastest-growing light rail transit organization, Sound Transit is extending its line north, south, east and west, all simultaneously. The goal of the organization is to connect the entirety of the Puget Sound through light rail track.

The Downtown Redmond Link Extension serves as the next step in that expansion, with a groundbreaking in the books on a 3.4-mile stretch to extend the Blue Line from Redmond Technology Station into southeast Redmond to its terminus in downtown Redmond. 

When open in 2024, the link will connect the Eastside area to Seattle, the University of Washington, Sea-Tac Airport and south Snohomish County. The project includes two new stations and will follow the planned 2023 opening of light rail between downtown Seattle and Redmond’s Overlake area. 

Stacy & Witbeck/Kuney, a joint venture, is completing the final design and will handle construction on the $730 million extension. 

“Downtown Redmond’s opening, just one year after the completion of East Link, will unlock transformative mobility and economic opportunities,” Claudi Balducci, King County Council vice chair and Sound Transit board member, said in a statement. “The 2024 opening will not only provide congestion-free trips to more jobs and schools across the region, it will create new connections to our most iconic parks and trails, and it could spur much needed affordable housing on the Eastside.” 

The project was first approved by voters in 2016 and community, engineering and environmental studies followed in 2017. 

“Sound Transit’s investments are creating economic opportunity for thousands of working people including hundreds of good, family-wage jobs for skilled craftspeople here in Redmond,” Monty Anderson, executive secretary of the Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council, said in a statement. “Through apprenticeships and training programs with this project, we are also building the next generation of construction workers from our local communities including women, people of color, veterans and others who are disadvantaged.” 

The track will travel along State Route 520 with stations in southeast Redmond near Marymoor Park and in downtown Redmond. The project includes 1,400 new parking stalls in southeast Redmond. Service will include four-car trains every eight minutes during peak hours. 

Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south, east and west, opening new stations every few years to form a 116-mile regional system by 2041. The Northgate Link Extension adds three stations to the Red Line in 2021. In 2024, the Blue Line will extend from Overlake into downtown Redmond and additional extension will operate to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Kent/Des Moines and Federal Way. Further light rail extensions are scheduled to reach West Seattle, Fife and Tacoma in 2030, Ballard in 2035, Paine Field and Everett in 2036 and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041. 

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb