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You want light rail? Your home has to go

BELLEVUE — Sound Transit’s plans to bring light rail to the Eastside may cost some people in Bellevue their homes.

surreySeveral people in Bellevue’s Surrey Downs neighborhood have received letters advising them that Sound Transit will begin assessing the value of their properties.

“Imagine having to uproot your whole house, your investment,” said Lee Maxwell. She lives just across the street from several homes that will have to go.

Her home will be spared, but after 44 years living here, she’s not sure she’ll stick around through the construction and what’s left: A giant concrete wall.

“You have a buffer, but you don’t really feel that sense of community,” said Maxwell.

Her neighbor, Arjun Sirhori, is one of the 18 losing his home. He lives within walking distance of his work downtown, and wants to stay in the Surrey Downs neighborhood, but said there is rarely anything available.

“When there’s one house that gets listed, there’s five offers and it goes even before people get a chance to look at the property,” said Sirohi.

According to Bruce Gray, spokesman for Sound Transit, all of the homeowners will get fair-market value.

“This is a huge step for someone to have their home bought by us and we take that very seriously and we don’t cut any corners,” said Gray.

It still leaves Sirohi in a tough spot. Much of Bellevue is priced out of his range. If he can’t stay in Surrey Downs, he’s not sure what he’ll do.

“We are hoping against hope to find a home in the same neighborhood so that we have the same quality of life that we have now,” said Sirohi.

There will likely be more homes taken over the next year as Sound Transit comes up with its final design for light rail.

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