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Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Overlake center all gussied up for its new role in area transit

Seattle Times staff reporter

True, the buses started rolling through Overlake Transit Center several months ago.

But the passenger shelters hadn't been erected, the 209-space parking lot was unpaved, the oak saplings hadn't arrived, and the compass-themed public artworks hadn't been installed.

Now, the $11 million Sound Transit project on the edge of the Microsoft campus is ready for showing off.

Federal, state, county and local officials yesterday dedicated the Redmond center, which serves the Eastside's largest employment center. Microsoft, which donated the 10-acre site, borders the center on two sides, and Safeco, Group Health, Eddie Bauer and Nintendo are nearby.

"This is just superb," said Redmond Mayor Rosemarie Ives. "The things we see every day and live with are very, very important."

Next week, a crane is expected to lift into place the site's artistic centerpiece: a 7-foot, three-dimensional compass topping an orange steel cluster of 30-foot light poles. Snohomish artist Karen Guzak designed the artwork, which includes a curvilinear compass design poured into the plaza's pavement.

Microsoft has expanded its campus shuttle-bus system to include stops at the transit station, which about 350 employees use. One of two new buildings, under construction, will house Microsoft's shuttle base. Sound Transit is working with other employers that might offer similar shuttle service.

Groundbreaking is set for this summer for Sound Transit's rider-services building, with bike storage, concessions, a Redmond police substation and office space for the Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association.

Sound Transit provided about $8 million, the bulk of the financing. Microsoft contributed $1.2 million, the land and its shuttle-bus building. King County added $1.1 million, Redmond $350,000 and the Federal Transit Administration $250,000.

Sound Transit and Metro buses began serving the center in February via transit routes along city streets as well as "freeway stops" on both sides of state Highway 520 at Northeast 40th Street.

Diane Brooks can be reached at 206-464-2567 or dbrooks@seattletimes.com.

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