Bellevue City Council Considers Study of B7 Modified

[UPDATE 7:30pm: We were just contacted by John Chelminiak, a city councilmember who let us know that no formal votes were cast regarding a preferred B segment.  Instead, the council was merely unanimous in agreeing to further study of a B7 modified segment.  A vote, however, will be taken on January 25th to authorize Mayor Davidson to draft a letter to Sound Transit requesting the study and for the segment to be included in the Supplemental EIS.

So no, the council did not choose or favor a particular segment.  I’ve changed the title and the story in accordance with that.  Publicola has more reporting.]

Last night, the Bellevue City Council had a regular study session discussing the B segment of East Link.  As we’ve hinted before, the council was apt to change their preferred alternative from B3 modified, and as was expected, it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen.  Commenter Mike Skehan posted a short update following the session last night in our notification thread:

Update: Bellevue council 7-0 in favor of B7 modified (S. Bellevue P/R, then cross Mercer Slough to BNSF ROW). Letter being drafted to ST to that effect.

A B7 modified route appears to be a compromise alignment between the original B3 and B7 routes.  As Mike said, the route would serve South Bellevue, but would have to cross Mercer Slough to meet up with the BNSF tracks, leaving a big question about the potential environmental impacts.

While none of the blog staff were able to show up at last night’s meeting, we’re asking any commenters who attended to report on the session.  For my part, I was able to catch a few public comments off the live stream near the end. Most B7 supporters largely constituted a Surrey Downs neighborhood committee, which has been attempting to push light rail far away, even more so than the compromise alternative the council picked last year (which would curve around the neighborhood).  However, there were also a few comments speaking out against B7 from residents living near the BNSF right-of-way and from Enatai commuters.

These next few months will bring a barrage of East Link relevant meetings, some more important than others.  We will be reporting on the dates soon and a potential meet-up in Bellevue.

Comments

  1. Mike Skehan says

    Well, when I heard what the ‘modified’ route entailed I about soiled my skivveys. Jeeze, it’s a sensitive nature preserve, the largest in the NW for bogs, and wetland habitat. Drilling piers through a wetland is problematic, especially for endangered salmon trying to spawn. Overhead trains along I-90 are one thing, but smack through the middle of the park? Pick a number and get in line for everyone willing to chain up to a blue heron trying to nest.
    So now I’m left wondering what the last moves of the chess game will look like. C9T or bust?

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Yep, my opinion is that it sounds like a total non-starter from the ST Board’s perspective.

      • Sherwin Lee says

        If the vote was 7-0 then, I’m interested in seeing what Balducci will say to the ST Board about B7 mod.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Sherwin I think it is important to note that they made that vote without ANY information about constructibility or environmental information. Their support can only go down from 7-0 vote right?

      • Sherwin Lee says

        Scratch anything about voting. It was just a unanimous decision to go forward with study.

      • Mike Skehan says

        My quick post after the ‘workshop’ was a nose count after each council member spoke. Resolutions and votes never happen in workshops. Thought that was clear – Sorry.

      • Gary says

        As salmon spawning wetlands, the Slough is terrible. The headwaters drains in via a culvert which effectively prevents any upstream migration. Also the flow rate is too slow for eggs.

        However, there are plenty of turtles, Blue Herons, and I suspect bass in that particular stretch of water. And it for sure does not need more concrete pilings in it. In fact, that whole sinking pile of buildings in the office park should be removed and never rebuilt. You can see the land sinking by looking at the light stands and noticing that the roadway is no longer where it was, but instead is 2ft lower.

        Trying to put pilings in that peat bog underneath all that muck would require very deep drilling/pounding, otherwise, come next earthquake that section of track will be in the water.

    • says

      B7 crosses the Mercer Slew. So does a major Interstate Highway. The only difference with B7 modified is that the crossing is farther north. The nature preserve is actually narrower there than at I-90 meaning less piles will be required. On Goggle Maps it looks like there’s an access road to what might be a utility easement in about the right location.

      • Gordon Werner says

        maybe it could lead to a suspension bridge over the wetland … something that would be both functional and architecturally significant (in the world of cool looking bridges)

      • says

        Not likely. ST is finally having to deal with the reality of a limited budget. A tunnel through DT Bellevue is the where any “extra” money would go first and it’s just not there. Everything about East Link is going to be about minimizing cost. Which is why I think B7 may prevail and why the only viable options for DT Bellevue are either surface or elevated. C9 is the most likely surface alignment. 112th or 114th are the front runners for elevated. The station would be in the same place for either of those

      • Chris Stefan says

        The station would be in the same place for either of those

        No it isn’t the station for the 114th alignment is a couple hundred feet further East.

    • says

      Just a quibble, but there’s no salmon spawning in the lake or it’s sloughs. Those portions of the aquatic system support salmon migration and rearing. Wetlands and sloughs can be crucial for watershed hydrology, flood storage, off channel rearing and refugia (though probably not in a lake environment), and food production for juvenile fish. But just because there’s less of a salmon hook doesn’t make these places impervious to the effects of the alignment. Environmental review will be expectedly scrutinous.

      • says

        When I lived on Lake Washington in the 60s salmon spawned on our beach every winter. What the situation is today I cannot say, but it is certainly not lost to memory.

  2. justin says

    Often people used the wetlands as a reason to pick b7, even though it would have significant impacts as well. now they are going to cross the entire park? how is this going to fly? Why cross the slough for a tiny portion of the remaining bnsf corridor?

    It feels like the conservative new members want b7 modified to fail so they can default to b7 IMHO

    • LorScara says

      So how tight of a turn radius can you turn a link train around in?
      If the real goal is to force B7 when this fails, could you run link on i-90 from seattle turn to hit South Bellevue P&R, Loop the train around the P&R and head back South to rejon i-90, and the default B-7 Alignment?
      My guess is no, the turn radius of link is to great to turn it in the space over the P&R but I am no engineer ;)

      • LorScara says

        I am imoressed, I was expecting at least double that

        It would be possiable to turn a link LRV arround within the existing confines of the South Bellevue P&R

        not that I think my above solution is realistic, it may be the only B-7 option that would be able to include South Bellevue P&R and not stomp all over the nature preserve

        Lor Scara

      • Gordon Werner says

        well … you have to take into account the following:

        1. double track line
        2. ample safe clearance for overhang of the vehicles
        3. minimum radius is just that … the minimum. I doubt that they would ever even try to approach that for revenue track (I am not sure what the northbound curve into Westlake is … but you can feel just how rough that is even when going slowly)

      • Zed says

        At that radius there’d be so much squealing you’d be able to hear it all the way from Surr(l)ey Downs.

      • LorScara says

        the evil part of me says to let em Squeal (both the wheels and Surrey Downs ;)

        but there is another option, Link pulls into South Bellevue P&R, and the operator gets out and walks to the other end of the LRV, gets in and heads back towards I-90, and then procedes with the rest of his/her route

        Lor Scara

      • alexjonlin says

        You also have to have 400 feet of straight track for the station. And that whole deal would add at least a few minutes to travel time, which would be bad for ridership.

      • Anandakos says

        Lor Scara,

        A two minute stop for every train? No good. Besides, you’d have the same problem that would have ensued with a stub-end terminal proposal someone made for downtown Bellevue: two level crossings at the throat of the station. It would completely screw up schedule keeping.

  3. Zed says

    This is really irritating. What’s wrong with B3-modified? It’s the alignment that the Bellevue City Council suggested, and the ST Board adopted, over 6 months ago. With the alignment pushed to the east of Bellevue Way and 112th I can count on one hand the number of houses that will be within earshot of the trains. Are we really going to plow through a wetland just to placate 5 people with sensitive ears?

    • says

      This is really irritating. What’s wrong with B3-modified? It’s the alignment that the Bellevue City Council suggested, and the ST Board adopted, over 6 months ago.

      No, the ST board ignored the portion of B3 modified that actually deviated from the B3 ROW; that being the jog over to Willburton. Picking up the P&R was one good reason for the modification but the major reason for B3 modified was the transition to the C segment. The only alignment that matches B3 modified is B7. The Coucil hasn’t changed their mind about B3 modified. ST said they wouldn’t build it.

      • Zed says

        “ST said they wouldn’t build it.”

        When did they say that? All of the alternatives are still on the table and being included in the final EIS, including all of the modifications suggested by the city council.

        From the 10/08/09 Sound Transit Board meeting;

        “The preferred alternative for Segment B in South Bellevue includes a station at the South Bellevue park-and-ride and expansion of the park-and-ride, a major focal point of bus transfers. The environmental review process led to modifications in response to community concerns, including minimizing construction impacts on Bellevue Way and 112th, and to provide separation from the residential neighborhoods. The City of Bellevue recommended a variation of B-3 that will place the alignment on the east side of Bellevue Way and 112th. Engineering work is under way to develop this alternative further in conjunction with the City.”

        “All of the alternatives included in the draft EIS are still under consideration. Recommendations on the draft EIS require adding variations to the final EIS. The City recommended a jog in the alignment at SE 8th, which creates a longer route and additional business displacements, but reduces wetlands impacts. This variation meets the standard of being a reasonable option and will be covered in the final EIS.”

        Sounds like B3 modified is still alive and well to me.

      • says

        When did they say that?

        In response to the engineering alternatives that have been advanced to about 30% completion. ST took the side running aspect of B3 modified but claimed the jog at the north end of the B segment wouldn’t work because of wetlands issues. At least that’s the story they told the Bellevue City Council when they last presented the results of their work to date. That was the Study Session on October 12th of 2009.

      • Zed says

        That was the “Value Analysis Workshop” people who suggested the jog at the north end wouldn’t work because of wetlands issues. They want to route it straight down the middle of 112th to Main Street. The people who did the value analysis work are separate from ST, they were from WSDOT and the cities of Bellevue and Redmond. The ideas they generated were presented by the ST guy in charge of East Link, but it’s not part of the engineering that ST is doing.

      • says

        The value analysis group feed ideas to ST. What ST presented on the 12th was what they chose to take from that input. One of the outcomes was C9. ST has been very clear in fact they are not advancing engineering on the jog over to Willburton. It came up in the Study Session again this Tuesday.

      • says

        Really it’s the modified modified B3 that ST has advanced. The crucial part of the transition to segment B which resulted in the City Council adopting it as their preferred alignment has been dropped. Of course they could flip flop on that now that Bellevue actually has someone on the ST board. Someone that really wants to build a mega garage on the fill dirt in the wetlands.

      • Chris Stefan says

        A station at Wilburton isn’t going to serve the Eastside nearly as well as one at the S. Bellevue P&R. Unless of course you live in some alternate universe where 405 and Richards Road aren’t parking lots during commute hours.

    • blueumbrella says

      IMO this all about special interest and someone protecting their business property. The new council members represent a very narrow contingency and were elected for this very reason. Why place LT in a place which least serves the public? If this is the plan, why have LT rail at all?

  4. Gordon Werner says

    Is Sound Transit obliged to follow what Bellevue City Council says?

    And does anyone have a map of where this “Modified B7″ route will go?

    Will it still serve downtown Bellevue?

    • alexjonlin says

      No, Bellevue is just making a recommendation. This is just the South Bellevue segment, so it doesn’t have anything to do with the DT Bellevue alignment. Anyone know if they’re going to reconsider that too?

  5. Jeremy says

    Seems to me that Federal Section 4(f) rules prohibit this alignment from ever being permitted: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Environment/Compliance/Section4Fguidance.htm

    Even if Bellevue wanted to go ahead and issue local permits for B7 Modified, they would be prohibited by Federal Law.

    Solidifying the drunken sailor decision-making which seems to dominate the City of Bellevue these days, they still want a tunnel. But they don’t want to help pay for it.

    • Jessica says

      We Bellevue residents* want a tax increase to pay for it

      * except for the ones bribed by Freeman

  6. Charles says

    Clearly choosing the wetlands route appears to be part of the Freeman owned council tactics for delay and obstruct. So, what are Sound Transit’s options? Who has final say?

    • blueumbrella says

      ST has final say, but the council can refuse to issue build permits. I really doubt it would go this far.

  7. Bob Bengford says

    While I’m happy to see that they at least kept the station at S.Bellevue (which I live 200 yards from and use 550 about 3x a week with many neighbors), I agree with many comments above that the centralized wetlands crossing to the BNSF ROW is ST non-starter. Not only does the route cross right through the middle of the wetland area, it adds impacts to residents along the BNSF route, and there are considerable limitations for a station and TOD in the area just south of SE 8th. Considering the alignment of the modified B3 across a busy four lane road from any Surrey Downs’ house, I just don’t see the justification for this new modified B7 (other than a delay tactic as suggested by Charles above).

  8. Andrew Smith says

    Jesus. Don’t even build LRT to DT Bellevue, take it across I-90 and put it to Issaquah, then around Sammamish to Redmond.

    • Gordon Werner says

      from what I gather it is the same … but the line crosses the big green patch near or at the park and ride (orange square)

      • Jack Valko says

        Gee, I can’t imagine it will take a long time nor too much money to get the permits and the environmental laws changed to build there. Brilliant.

  9. Tim Whittome says

    Bellevue, I’m afraid was always going to be problematic as a potential location for East Link – lot of money and influential folks to put their money where their voices are – or the other way around. This all threatens to become a debacle reminiscent of the Rainier Valley only with more idle money at work to work mischief.

    At least, the modified version will still capture South Bellevue, but of course crossing the wetlands will be a problem and devising a useful station that works for both the businesses and retail interests in the Bellevue core, even more so.

    • Mike Skehan says

      OMG, I hope another Tukwila snake route isn’t in the offing. Lots of turns and no stops. Mayor Rantz should have taken the 10mil when it was offered, and let airport link go up 99. Trouble is, this is a higher stakes poker game. Well above my pay grade!

    • Mike Orr says

      Maybe ST can build it just to the South Bellevue P&R and stop. That would ensure permanent popularity and expansion of the P&R in the future, and force Bellevue to get its act together and agree on a transit-friendly, wetland-friendly downtown segment. If it doesn’t, ST3 could change the route to Issaquah and leave Bellevue out.

  10. Gordon Werner says

    why are they so against it? are they afraid that it’ll bring poor people into their neighborhoods?

    • says

      - Hate to shatter your outdated stereotype of the eastside, but Bellevue is now more racially diverse than Seattle.

      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003209866_diversity19e.html

      – Please God, not another slow, meandering, zigzagging, milk route on rails.

      – It’s in ST’s best interest for people NOT to switch from cars to trains, because if people start giving up their cars in favor of Link, ST loses out on a lot of car tab revenue. This is why they are purposely designing lines to get people off of Metro bus routes and onto trains. Very clever of them, actually.

      • alexjonlin says

        Race isn’t income… He said poor people, not non-white people. And that’s obviously not true, Sound Transit is definitely getting people out of cars with its light rail lines. Where would you suggest it go to get people out of their cars? Because the lines seem to be going to all of the major activity centers of the region.

      • oldmain33 says

        Sam you do realize that most of us will still have a car or two that pay tabs right? It’s tough to go car free on the eastside.

      • Jessica says

        Not that tough

        (granted, I have an excuse to be car free whether Kemper likes it or not and granted I bought a house on the 230 which is a straight shot to Microsoft)

      • justin says

        I live in DT Bellevue and the bus service is great for going to UW or DT Seattle, but a joke anywhere else.

        Places I want to go on the weekend: Take 1/23 at 11am:

        Factoria Mall 8min drive, 27 min Bus

        Redmond Town Center: 14min drive, 57 min Bus

        Greenlake: 16min drive, 1:11mins Bus

        North Bend 28mins drive, 1:42 Bus.

        Combine these long times with a half hour to hourly frequencies and it’s just terrible. So I guess you can live car free in Bellevue, but I would consider that “tough”, but that’s just me.

      • says

        What you need is access to Access. Sunday, 6PM Bridle Trails to Sears 3 minutes. Metro is non-existant on 134th unless you’re going to Sammamish HS but Access is County provided free taxi service.

      • Gordon Werner says

        I was being facetious … Bellevue is just frustrating … I cannot understand why someone wouldn’t want high-speed transit in their neighborhood (or nearby) … but not wanting it near your commercial property (re: malls) smacks of elitism … they don’t want non-wealthy people there for some reason.

      • says

        Your use of “they” is troublesome. Who they? Seems like a case of Seattle liberal elite portraying Bellevue as a monolithic group. With respect to commercial property the owners are looking at being able to turn a profit. Sort of the definition of commercial property, no? You, anybody, with a different vision, bring it up! What the owners of commercial property in Bellevue know, many want to ignore, is that road access is key to their survival.

        And to try and keep the record straight, Link is NOT high-speed transit. B7 is an improvement on average speed but average speed is still pathetic.

      • Mike Orr says

        I think it’s automobile preference, and skepticism that rapid transit is really possible. Kemper may have talked about “those people” or “Southcenter people” coming along with trains, but the reality is that they can already take the 550 or drive into Bellevue.

        The biggest problem is people don’t think the train will really be better than the 550, and they don’t want trains running through their neighborhood. People believe in trunk rail lines after they see them functioning, but before that they’re afraid they’ll destroy their communities.

      • says

        You’re right about the automobile preference. It’s not 100% of Bel Square customers but it’s pretty darn close. The number one reason people tend to sight for not going to Bel Square (assuming they have any desire to shop there in the first place) is that the traffic is too bad. Light rail at grade will make traffic worse. That’s just a fact. Light rail may very well be a better way to get into Seattle but it won’t help Bel Square. Just won’t. It might help stores in DT Seattle. Interestingly the Bravern is closer to all of the proposed alignments and is a more “up scale” metropolitan shopping experience than Bel Square. Personally, I think they should follow the 520 ROW and have a stop at the Cash & Carry; much more the style of retail I want to shop at. Plus you pick up Dick’s Restaurant Supply, a great NAPA store and Skate King. All of which I frequent far more than Bel Square. Never been inside the Bravern, probably never will and don’t really want to.

    • Anandakos says

      BINGO! You win the prize Gordon. Congratulations.

      Ed, what has Gordon won this evening?

      Well, Bob, he will receive an You-Tube video of the latest Seattle Transit Blog meetup.

      Thank you Ed, and congratulations again, Gordon

  11. alexjonlin says

    No way this is going to happen. No one’s going to let them put tracks through Mercer Slough, and the ST board has no obligation to go with the Bellevue City Council’s recommendations anyways.
    Why do they always seem to pick a route that has never been mentioned before? Did they do any studying of it at all?

    • oldmain33 says

      it was talked about a bit but ruled out as being crazy as I recall. Then they talked about a spur to S.Bellvue and then back to B7, also ruled out for being too slow etc.

      this is not a new idea, just a new tactic to delay

  12. jeff says

    A lot of people say this is a delaying tactic. When is Sound Transit supposed to have decided on a route? How soon could they reasonably do so? If they miss that deadline how much will that mess things up?

  13. Peter Carlin says

    How does the environmental impact of crossing Mercer Slough at Bellevue P&R (B7-modified) compare to the impact of crossing the Slough just north of I-90 (B7)?

    If this is a delaying tactic, why was the Bellevue City Council vote 7-0? All the folks on the council previously in favor of light rail suddenly want to delay it?

    • oldmain33 says

      Peter what happened was the Surrey Downs / Kemper peeps helped elect a new council that is in favor of b7, and they are trying to make good on that promise.

      The Slough crossing is pretty rough by I90 as adding width to an already large structure can’t be good for it, crossing with a modified b3 will have some impacts just being so close to it. b7 has impacts on it’s side as well, the mitigation for b3 and b7 seemed similar from what I remember. Both have to deal with wetlands near the Wilburton P&R, especially B7’s new huge park and ride there. Davidson keeps bringing up that the S. Bellevue lot was infill and used to be a wetland there, but there is a big difference between the 60’s and now with regards to sensitive environmental areas.

      Of course if rail eventually goes east it will have to cross I90 anyways…

      • says

        No, what happened is the citizens let their majority opinion speak clearly. Unlike Seattle where big unions and large media budgets hold sway, Bellevue politics is still face to face in neighborhood meetings and candidates actually door belling. Funny how when there’s a vote for transit like ST2 it’s “the people have spoken” but when there’s an election result liberals don’t like it’s all conspiracy theory and bought elections.

      • Chris Stefan says

        No conspiracy theories here, just follow the money.

        Also look at the turnout numbers, in Bellevue it is quite possible that a small and vocal group was able to swing the election their way. On the other hand Seattle had a record turnout for a off-year election.

        Still at the end of the day you are right, the election results are the election results no matter how we got there. If the Bellevue city council isn’t reflecting the will of the voters they’ll have another opportunity to fix that in two years.

      • Anc says

        Apples to Oranges. ST2 was a vote ONLY on ST2. City Council elections involve much more than what people thought about Lunk or alignments.

        And saying Bellevue’s elections were somehow ‘more pure’ is laughable when you have a ideologue multimillionaire like Freedman bankrolling those candidates he can get to dance to his tune. Seriously think about it. Scale dictates that the smaller the election the easier it is to buy it.

      • says

        You can live in your conspiracy world but the facts on campaign contributions are public record. Kemper wasn’t the leading donor in any of the winning campaigns. Steve Ballmer opened up his checkbook to support Vicki Orriko. Ballmer is way richer than Kemper so she must be in the pocket of Microsoft, right?

      • says

        ideo·logue:

        1 : an impractical idealist : theorist
        2 : an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

        I assume you are referring to definition 2. With respect to Microsoft’s “our proprietary standards will rule the world” I’m not so sure. Ideology Technology… hmmm And with respect to alignments; Microsoft towers in Bellevue and the campus in Overlake have a much bigger stake in this than Kemper.

      • blueumbrella says

        What happened is the election was bought and paid for, especially in the case of Wallace. He spent $67,000 compared to his opponents approx. $3000.

      • says

        Patsy Bonincontri got over $9,000 in contributions but spent a little less than $4,000 ($3,866.02). Can we say, not really trying very hard to get elected? City Council positions pay squat and I’m sure her day job as a project manager at PSE is demanding enough that the time commitment really wasn’t worth it to her. She was appointed to the position to fill a vacancy and probably felt like combined with her time on the planning commission she’d contributed enough.

  14. Chad N says

    I’m warming up to B7 if it can connect to alignment through the center of downtown Bellevue. Thinking long-term, why choose a slower alignment through a neighborhood that won’t allow TOD? So that we can provide a stop at a park-n-ride that will never serve anything more than a park-n-ride? Once “Issaquah Link” is built S. Bellevue P&R becomes redundant. Instead lets focus on the convenience of Link from downtown Bellevue and Bel-red to Seattle.

    • oldmain33 says

      chad either b3 or b7 come out at about the same spot, and do not affect the C segment. Also neither b3 or b7 will have TOD around them. If you live in Factoria you will not want to go to eastgate to get on link, which leaves you getting on I90 and going to Mercer Island.

      • alexjonlin says

        B7 could have TOD around Wilburton P&R. And any Issaquah Link line would almost definitely have a stop at Factoria, as it’s not only a major mall, but also has T-Mobile and other major employers.

      • oldmain says

        it is sounding pretty likely that any Issaquah Link would be on the north side of I90 to serve Eastgate P&R, there maybe a weave from factoria to eastgate but I would doubt it…

  15. Sherwin Lee says

    The way I see it, this is just a worse version of B3 modified. It seriously is. B3 mod serves South Bellevue, arcs away from Surrey Downs, and passes through Wilburton into Downtown. B7 mod does exactly the same except it avoids Surrey Downs entirely, yet is a huge blight on the slough. The three councilmembers that voted for it (Balducci, Degginger, Chelminiak) are aware of it, but I think it’s mostly a political matter at this point.

    Someone from the Mercer Slough wildlife animals NIMBY contingency should speak up about this.

    • blueumbrella says

      Protecting the endangered environmental sensitive Wallace properties takes a much higher priority. Yes, this is all politics. If the council was just basing their decision on what is best for Bellevue citizens and meeting their adopted best practices, B3 is the only choice.

  16. Seth says

    When I first read this I didn’t like this idea at all. Then the more that I thought about it the more it seems like more of a compromise than anything i’ve seen to date. The surrey downs people are happy, you still get to downtown at about the same spot, both south Bellevue P&R AND Wilburton P&R are served by light rail, and you set up light rail for an Issaquah extension. I wouldn’t be opposed to this option provided that the downtown Bellevue segment actually goes through downtown and not along the freeway like the ridiculous ‘vision line’ proposal.

    My 2 cents from a frequent Seattle to Bellevue ST 550 commuter.

  17. says

    I think B7 modified is a bad idea. It defeats most of the advantage to the original B7 alignment. Namely, lower cost and faster travel time. In fact it pretty much eliminates most of the noise mitigation as well.

    Cost is the big reason I don’t think B7 mod will fly. WSDOT has said that the Link exit at Bellevue Way will require ST to pay for replacing the HOV access ramps. A major cost not in the DEIS estimate. Of course the big ticket item is the mega garage P&R they want to build there (about $60M). Looks like to mitigate the traffic impacts Bellevue will demand an HOV lane be added to Bellevue Way from the P&R south to I-90. More added cost. Add it all up and you’ve got about a third to half the cost of the C9 tunnel.

    Want do you give up with B7? The cost of building another huge P&R lot closer to the DT core. That means less ridership on the B segment but ST projections show system ridership, which is what really matters, a wash. Not only is the phony ridership boost from South Bellevue extremely expensive but it causes long term negative traffic impacts. The very thing the City Council is so worried about by an at grade alignment through downtown. We end up with more lanes on Bellevue Way, longer traffic delays and the loss of any hope that it would be a decent cycling route. And we pay through the nose for it. Talk about cut off your nose to spite your face!

    It’s too bad the people in South Bellevue won’t have a free parking garage so that they can have all the benefits of light rail without having to live anywhere near it. Too bad it doesn’t stop at Eastgate P&R or Issaquah; lots that already have the capacity and are outside the most congested area. That’s the thing about rail. It doesn’t provide the frequent stops that bus service does and you can’t just jog willie nillie wherever the roads happen to be.

    Drop the pampered parking. Build B7 and use the savings toward building the C9 tunnel. Or better yet, to extend the line to Redmond.

    • Chris Stefan says

      With B7 you give up any hope that Link will serve anyone South of I-90 or East of 405 until something is built toward Eastgate and Issaquah. Wilburton is too far out-of-direction to serve with the existing bus service on I-90 or for many of the existing S. Bellevue P&R users.

      You know at this point I’m ready to just say why doesn’t ST just run the line along the highways with not a single stop between Mercer Island and Overlake Village. That might actually save enough money to get to Redmond and Bellvue can just die in a fire.

    • blueumbrella says

      The B7 is no better then the modified B7 for the same reasons. Either route fails almost everyone of the best practices developed by ST and B city council. Longer travel times and significant lower ridership numbers, not to mention costs which have not been completely evaluated.

      • says

        No, shorter travel time which is why system ridership equals out even with out paying for the free pampered parking in South Bellevue.

    • Sherwin Lee says

      Or better yet, to extend the line to Redmond.

      B7, B3, B249014^2843, whatever, you can’t extend to Redmond whatever alignment you choose with B, ST2 only funds construction to Overlake.

      I don’t like huge parking lots, either, but you think B7 will leave Wilburton’s parking situation like it is now?

      • says

        Don’t know what B7 would do to Willburton Parking. ST didn’t factor in any multi story parking structures in their analysis of B7 (sort of makes you wonder, doesn’t it). I think there’s a potential for public private partnership with the hotels. That’s a lot more than South Bellevue has to offer. Outside of peak commute South Bellevue P&R is a ghost town and always will be. There is zero potential for development there.

        B7 savings won’t make up the gap to get from Overlake TC to Redmond or even Marymoor but it would accelerate the time frame in which it could become possible. I’d also drop the Hospital Station, the insane P&R at 130th and have just one stop at Overlake. Hospital Station and/or a Bel-Red stop can be added later when demand (and funding) make sense. With those cuts and the cheaper MF potential I think you could get to Marymoor by 2023 and being that close I bet money could be found to make the short extension to DT Redmond. Of course that’s assuming any savings down get put toward a tunnel in Bellevue.

      • ericn says

        No, the B7 analysis “includes a new four-story park-and-ride structure with about 1,030 spaces to replace the existing Wilburton Park-and-Ride Lot, with nearby access to and from I-405.” See page ES-19 of the East Link DEIS.

      • says

        That’s part of the stupid furniture store station idea. I don’t know why they say it would replace Wilburton P&R. The P&R does just fine now with existing bus service and would continue to serve routes that Link doesn’t. If anything the station should have been north of the P&R since that’s where the most development is and it would replace the East Main station (which looks to be on the chopping block).

        The more I go back and read their summary the more it’s obvious that ST was just dead set against any low cost alternative that might have tarnished their gold plated image. They propose a 1,000 stall parking garage and estimate 1,000 daily segment boardings. And still, as bad as they tried to make it it’s still only 4% lower than B3 for overall ridership.

  18. says

    Last night, the Bellevue City Council had a regular session discussing the B segment of East Link.

    Actually it was the Study Session which had the discussion on East Link, not the Regular Session. Regular Sessions always have a public comment segment where anybody can talk about any issue for 3 minutes (5 minutes if you represent an organization).

    • Sherwin Lee says

      Fixed, thanks. I probably meant to say that the comments were of the regular session agenda.

  19. Jason Mitchell says

    Hey Sherwin,

    In the future could you put a time-stamp on updates? It makes it a lot easier to follow comment threads. Thanks! jm

  20. alexjonlin says

    Everyone’s saying that in order for people south of I-90 to ride East Link there needs to be a stop at South Bellevue P&R, but I think that any riders coming from there to Link on a bus would simply be switching from the 550 to Link, and not generating new riders. People who won’t ride buses but will ride Link won’t ride a bus to Link. So the only riders you would get from there are park-and-riders, but probably even with an enormous parking garage at South Bellevue, the lot would fill up early in the morning. Therefore, access to those south of I-90 would be very low anyways.

    • oldmain says

      ??? So because the lot is so packed nobody will ride it? Lol.

      Tell me how b7 attracts new riders better than b3? If anything b3’s larger garage would pull in new riders…

    • blueumbrella says

      What they haven’t shared with folks about B7 route, for obvious reasons, in the event they do select B7, they will need to add sleeper cars to the train due to the increase in travel times.

  21. says

    ST would be helping themselves immensely if they were also working on an alternate proposal to bypass downtown Bellevue and extend to Redmond with the savings. The people in Bellevue are clearly in la-la land at this point.

    It would be funny to see the sympathy for Surrey Downs evaporate if the businesspeople of Bellevue thought they wouldn’t get any service.

    • LorScara says

      Sail right down I-90, from Mercer Island stop, and hit Eastgate P&R, then into Isiquah, and arround the back side of the lake into Redmond… there may be enough savings if most of this is at grade in the highway ROW to go from Redmond into Woodinville ;)

      MS wont like it cause it still misses main campus, but promis that in ST3, and see what happens

      • oldmain says

        You guys do realize how long that would take right? Why on earth would anyone from Redmond want to go to Seattle via eastgate and I90 when they have quick buses combined with a tolled 520 bridge makes for a much quicker commute.

        I know NIMBYS are frustrating but really. I am confident that ST will make a good choice, they are not elected directly by Surrey Downs…

      • says

        Well, probably nobody’s riding down Lake Sammamish to Issaquah and then into Seattle, but…
        could you extend to Redmond and Issaquah for the cost of a tunnel in Bellevue? Wouldn’t you pick up enough riders from those two destinations to offset the loss of Bellevue’s one?

        This, in any case, is how the steam railroads played the game- they let several communities know the railroad would come to one, and let them bid for the privilege.

      • says

        Interesting idea, skip DT Bellevue and Microsoft and pick up riders based on future development just like the railroads did back in the eighteen hundreds. Unlike the early railroads which were funded based on handing out alternating sections of “unused” land East Link has to rely on the dollars current tax payers provide.

      • says

        Bernie, to me what’s happened to Issaquah and Redmond over the past 50 years is not “future” development. I’m just asking what is the potential ridership in the two catchments compared with the potential ridership in the Bellevue catchment. And suggesting that if ST had a ‘Plan B’ on the drafting board, Bellevue would be a lot more interested in making ‘Plan A’ work.

        That’s human nature.

  22. Martin Paquette says

    I took a drive through the several condo complexes along the BNSF right of way this evening. There were a lot of folks at the meeting on Tuesday from there, and they now seem quite interested in fighting B7. This is the first time they’ve come out in force, as far as I know, but apparently not the last time. Plus, if the Sierra Club is not yet aware of B7 mod, um, I think we might be hearing from them. I’m the Enatai resident who spoke for B3 mod and against B7 on Tuesday.

    • blueumbrella says

      This is just the first time you observed this group opposing B7 or any modified version of that route. They have been very active and out in force since the very beginning. We certainly appreciate your participation and support.

      • says

        Yes, the residents of the Brookshire Condos (built in 1993, how long has the rail line been there??) have been opposed to B7 throughout this process. They’ve been “screwed” by I-405 widening and oppose a regional transportation corridor next to their homes. Much like the argument of buying a home at the end of the runway and then arguing that expansion should go somewhere else because there’s already too much noise here.

      • oldmain says

        I watch every council meeting, and a few people have from Brookshire have come out but nothing compared to Surrey, even though b7 would put a train MUCH closer to these condos then any Surrey house.

      • Martin P. says

        But this is the first time except for when all the choices were on the table that B7 is officially back on the table, though we could see it coming. It’s all politics, of course, or there wouldn’t even be a B7. Ballooning use of the BNSF right of way is as justified as any other reason people use to say no. Just because it happened to be a railroad in the past has no unique bearing. Bellevue Way is a busy street.

      • fishfirst says

        Remember the Wilburton tunnel over S-405? Yes, the BNSF tracks have been there all along. The problem is that the BNSF line ENDS half-way along the Brookshire property line. The ROW turned east and crossed 405 via the Wilburton Tunnel – which was torn down when the WSDOT widened 405. So here comes ST and the B7…

        Its not just the increase in noise (going from 6-8 trains per day to a light rail every 7 minutes)… Just where IS the B7 route is supposed to go AFTER it reaches the END of the ROW on the west of 405? How is it supposed to make the jump from that point to the Wilburton P&R? Only 1 option – THRU the Brookshire property. A point that seems to be ignored by Surrey Downs & the City Council. Of course the Brookshire folks are fighting the B7! Who wouldn’t fight the possibility of losing your home, huh?

        I’d also like to clarify a point for the Surrey Downs folks… The ST B3 runs along the PERIMETER of your mostly single-family neighborhood and impacts only the fringe homes. B7 also runs along the PERIMETER of a residential neighborhood – the only difference is that its all multi-family and that EVERY home in the neighborhood will be impacted! The math seems a little lop-sided, doesn’t it?

      • Martin P says

        This states it well, and you would do well to send this comment directly to City Council, if you haven’t already. By the way, I’m puzzled as to how the B7 is supposed to handle the stiff grade north side of the Brookshire, without massive high-rise trestles, or both sides with this new B7 modified proposal.

  23. Martin P. says

    Right. That is my point. B3 follows thru-ways that are currently a good deal busier than the BNSF corridor has been for many, many years, if ever. So even though it’s a rail line, this would be the biggest load increase its ever seen. Bellevue Way and 112th, on the other hand, would have perhaps a 10% increase in total traffic from what they are now, and no added congestion.



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