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New 24/7 I-90 eastbound HOV lane at 80th Ave opens

Members of the Mercer Island City Council, Sound Transit, Washington State Department of Transportation and other state agencies listen during a press conference celebrating the completion of phase two of the Seattle to Bellevue light rail project. - Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter
Members of the Mercer Island City Council, Sound Transit, Washington State Department of Transportation and other state agencies listen during a press conference celebrating the completion of phase two of the Seattle to Bellevue light rail project.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter

Officials from the three agencies responsible for the funding and construction on I-90 for light rail and improved HOV operations, came together today to cheer the completion of a major milestone. Sound Transit held a rainy dedication ceremony of the new I-90 eastbound HOV ramp from Mercer Island to Bellevue at the 80th Avenue S.E. and I-90.

Despite the downpour, Sound Transit and Washington state Department of Transportation officials came to celebrate with contractors and local governments. Jody Earl, the CEO of Sound Transit attended as did Sound Transit Board members, Mayors Conrad Lee of Bellevue, Bruce Bassett of Mercer Island, and Deputy Council president Fred Butler of Issaquah. Former Mercer Island Mayor Jim Pearman attended as did other Mercer Island council members.

While others praised the critical role that partnership between several entities played in making these projects happen, Butler pointed to progress made to the ultimate goal. "We are getting I-90 ready for the future," he said.

The first phase of the I-90 two-way transit and HOV operations project was completed in 2008 with the opening of 24 hour operating HOV lanes on Westbound I-90 between Bellevue and Mercer Island. The third and final phase is the extension of full time HOV lanes between Mercer Island and Seattle.

Organizers say that the the project will help ease traffic by making ride-sharing a better option for commuters as well as making way for light rail construction to begin. Light rail operations are set to begin in 2023.

Learn more about the project at the WSDOT website.

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