The Grand Connection is Bellevue’s signature downtown place-making initiative. This program functions as a series of cohesive, connected and memorable spaces and pedestrian-focused experiences and initiatives through Bellevue’s thriving central business district.
With a length of over 1.5 miles, the Grand Connection begins at the waterfront of Lake Washington at Meydenbauer Bay Park, and winds through Old Bellevue and Downtown Park. It continues through Bellevue’s dynamic retail and civic-focused parts of downtown, across Interstate 405 and ultimately connects with the regional Eastrail in the Wilburton commercial area. Ultimately the Grand Connection will include a landmark piece of infrastructure over Interstate 405, influencing the land use patterns of the Wilburton commercial area and improving connectivity to downtown.
At full operating potential, Bellevue residents, patrons and downtown workers will enjoy an iconic destination supported by open spaces, events and activation and improved access to recreation and active transportation options through the heart of the city.
2023: WSP selected for the I-405 Crossing 30% design.
In 2021-2022, an external group (Amazon) funded early concept work for a possible future I-405 Crossing.
2022: Council adopted Grand Connection Framework Sequence Two as the high-level vision for the crossing over I-405 as part of the Grand Connection.
2021: Council adopted Grand Connection Sequence One Guidelines and Standards Land Use Code Amendment.
2020: New bicycle parking racks located along the Grand Connection were given a signature gold color to help highlight the route.
2019: Staff launched the development of the Grand Connection Sequence One Guidelines and Standards Land Use Code Amendment as one strategy for implementing elements from the Grand Connection Framework Plan.
2019: Staff, in collaboration with the Bellevue Downtown Association, led the Grand Connection Activation Pilot to identify near-term activation strategies—leading to the temporary installation of lanterns and seating along the route.
2016 - 2018: Staff launched a series of pedestrian corridor transportation improvements projects aimed at crosswalk enhancements along the existing pedestrian corridor route as part of the Downtown Transportation Plan implementation (adopted 2013).
2018: Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan specific to the Grand Connection were accepted on December 10, 2018 (Ordinance 6449).
2018: Council adopted the Grand Connection Framework Plan: Sequence Two, which established the high-level vision for the corridor between I-405 and Eastrail.
2017: Council adopted the Grand Connection Framework Plan: Sequence One which established the high-level vision for the corridor between Meydenbauer Bay and the Civic Center District.
2015: The Bellevue City Council approved the work plan for the Grand Connection planning initiative and identified it as a Council Priority.
Guided by a framework plan approved by Bellevue City Council in 2017, multiple projects are already built or are currently moving forward to bring this vision to life – but there is still more to do. The City is taking a programmatic approach to creating this corridor, looking at both the near-term Planning and Capital projects and the longer-term Operations and Programming initiatives to create a sustainable vision for this cultural corridor.
Outside of capital investments along the route, which will rely on both public and private development in the coming years, we see significant additional opportunities to improve the near-term experience of using the Grand Connection corridor. The colorful lanterns, tables, and chairs, which have been seen along the Grand Connection each summer over the past several years, provide one example. In future years, with the help of many partners, we hope to deploy additional placemaking features, amenities, and small programs, which could include:
Additional seating and weather protection for enhanced comfort
Wayfinding signage and pole banners to improve the sense of place
Seasonal tree lighting for holiday cheer
Food trucks and/or a potential farmers’ market for all-day food options
Live music and/or performance artists for a lively environment