For those who expected the Bellevue city council to finally come to consensus on a ‘B’ segment decision last night, it didn’t happen. The large expectations were that the council was to pick up on a vote, where it left off last Monday. From internal sources, rumor was that Mayor Davidson was intending to do just that until the word reached his ear about the damage a vote could do to choosing a tunnel for the ‘C’ segment. This was further coupled with a mass of discontent from B3 supporters. Either way, progress was limited yet again in last night’s study session.
A recap of the meeting is below the jump.
For those who haven’t been following closely with our East Link coverage, there has been a swiftly growing movement, mostly led by Mercer Slough and Enatai residents, to counter the revival of the B7 route. A large number of B3 supporters turned up, including several of our readers who heeded our call to action (thanks, guys!). We were provided pro-B3 stickers and badges to show support, which visibly wrangled the nerves of several Surrey Downs attendees. Turnout was so large, that a dividing wall had to be opened up to another conference room to accommodate us all.
Largely, the discussion was focused on drafting yet another letter to Sound Transit- whether it should be done, how it should be done, when it should be done, etc. However, John Chelminiak blew a considerable amount of caution to the wind and hinted at the growing pile of letters already sent to ST from the council.
Much of the dialogue between Mayor Davidson, Claudia Balducci, and Jennifer Robertson was how to properly word the letter. Robertson wanted the letter to state that the “council, as a whole, supports B7″ when Balducci wanted to make clear that only a “majority of the council” supports B7, but not as a whole. It’s also important to note that there was unanimity in dropping B7 modified from consideration, which will be noted in the letter.
The question on everyone’s mind was how things have changed since last year as to warrant amending the preferred alternative. While Grant Degginer explicitly expressed his belief that nothing had changed except for the “political environment,” Kevin Wallace responded by saying that a significant number of things have changed and ranted about no one being proactive about modifying B7 to address its shortfalls. One of these modifications suggested even included the possibility of eliminating any kind of B segment park and ride completely.
Conrad Lee made the most outlandish statement of the night. While proclaiming himself as the biggest “transit system advocate,” he went on to say that “transit can be designed to support B7″ and that “freeways were built exactly for the purpose of transit.” Garnering several eye-rolls and scoffs were not enough to deter him from continuing to say that light rail “should not run through congested neighborhoods,” which left many of us wondering what we’re doing at Capitol Hill if that’s the case.
The only consensus of the night was that no vote should be taken. Instead, council staff were directed to draft the letter, which we expect could be up for further consideration next week. At the end of the discussion, Balducci essentially summed up what everyone was thinking: “agreement will likely never be reached.”