ST Capital Committee Nixes Center-Running for 112th

ST Capital Committee has taken all center-running options out.

On Thursday, Sound Transit’s Capital Committee held a meeting to discuss the 112th Avenue options that have dominated the “airwaves” recently.  There was heavy turnout, roughly 60 to 70 in attendance.  The comment period was long and featured a variety of stakeholders.  Due to heavy “public interest,” Fred Butler, chair of the capital committee, moved the public comment period ahead of the committee presentation and discussion.  Because the issue at hand was about the 112th Avenue and Hospital Station options, Butler heavily emphasized having comments focus on “those alternatives” alone (in other words, he didn’t want to hear anything about B7).  You can view the meeting in full at ST’s website.  More below the jump.

I won’t cover all the comments, but the synopsis is this.  Those favoring a west-side B2M alignment dominated the comments.  Out of the 16 or so who testified about the B2M segment, 15 were either for B2M in general or supported the Option 2 west-side alignment.  Only one, Scott Lampe from Surrey Downs,  testified explicitly in favor for B7 despite being told not to.

As per my post on Wednesday, the pro-option 2 group has gained extraordinary traction.  Representatives from both the Carriage Hills and Carriage Place Condominiums (the homes to be displaced by Option 2) testified in accordance with several representatives of the Bellevue Club.  A few members of Citizens for Responsible Transit, a pro-B2/B3 group, testified about the general merits of a 112th/Bellevue Way alignment.

The most intriguing comment came from a voice we haven’t heard much from yet in the East Link discussion.  Sharon Lee, director of LIHI, a nonprofit affordable housing organization, exclaimed, “wherever Sound Transit goes, we go!” and even referred to LIHI as a YIMBY (yes, in my backyard) group, which elicited chuckles from the crowd.  According to Lee, LIHI had already acquired a property in anticipation of building affordable TOD housing near East Link.

Unfortunately, Options 3 & 4, going into the 2nd street tunnel portal, would actually condemn the property that the group acquired.  Lee pleaded for ST to take the 2nd Street Tunnel options out of consideration and testified that it would be difficult to find another location for affordable housing in downtown Bellevue.  With the state of real estate in the area, I don’t doubt it.

Due to the lack of interest over the center-running options, the committee did not include those in its recommendation.  I was unable to stay for the length of the discussion, but was forwarded an e-mail statement from Claudia Balducci, committee and Bellevue city council member, regarding committee action:

The committee recommended taking 1, 3 and 5 out of the mix and moving 2, 4 and 6 forward.  Fred noted that there was an interest in 2 and 6, but that Boardmembers would like to hear from the City before narrowing further.

Comments

  1. SJ says

    From my experience with the center running I would be happier with a separate ROW, as there would be a smaller chance of left turning incidents. and the possibility of placing a physical barrier between rail and pedestrians/traffic (such as on the busway.)

  2. Scott Lampe says

    “Only one, Scott Lampe from Surrey Downs, testified explicitly in favor for B7 despite being told not to.”

    Just to correct the record, Joe Shephard of the Bellevue Club also stated the B7 alignment is the Bellevue Club’s preferred alignment. Before stating Surrey Downs’ continued support of B7, I requested the Sound Transit Capital Committee hold off on making any routing recommendation until the needed empirical data from Bellevue’s independent studies has been completed. Three of the four studies are now complete, with one demonstrating two viable options for the South Bellevue Park and Ride combined with B7. This,in my opinion,is pivotal in determining the best solution for South Bellevue. The Bellevue City Council will be weighing in on this study as well as three others on noise, Mercer Slough impacts and B7 costs at its Monday meeting.

    • Michael says

      Hi Scott,

      I’m a reader here on STB, but not normally a commenter. I was wondering what were the conclusions of the other 2 completed studies?

      • Scott Lampe says

        The S Bellevue P&R alternative location study as well as those on noise on 112th and B7 costs are available at: http://www.bellevuewa.gov/light-rail.htm. The Mercer Slough impact study is scheduled to be complete Monday afternoon. Regarding the noise study, although Sound Transit has updated the expected impacts on 112th to reflect actual experience with Central link (impacts have increased from 20 in the DEIS to 120 for center running at-grade in the new ST analysis), the report highlights significant issues to residents along the proposed line.

        First, impacts from crossing bells and train horns are averaged over a 24-hour period, which, although keeping with FTA methodology, quoting the report “it does not fully reveal the noise level the community experiences.” Further, the FTA guidelines cite that “bells can be extremely annoying to nearby residents.” I have personally recently attended meetings in Tukwila and Beacon Hill and have heard from residents that they have not experienced a restful night’s sleep for over a year due to the ringing of bells every 7 minutes 20 hours per day 7 days a week.

        Second, crossover switches noise impacts are “more irritating on an event level, rather a 24-hour project average.” As I sat in a Beacon Hill home and listened to the crossover ka-thunk every seven minutes, the vibration alone was sufficient to regularly set-off a neighbor’s car alarm.

        Third, to minimize noise problems “The design of the alignment is also critical. To minimize the impact, routing the alignment in areas with a higher existing ambient sound is one approach, as the sounds from the train are partially masked by ambient sounds.” Siting the train adjacent to I-90 and I-405, in other words using B7, accomplishes this objective.

        Regarding the B7 cost analysis, nothing significantly different from the DEIS information was noted from my first cursory review.

    • Brent says

      Hi Scott,

      Thanks for the link showing the City of Bellevue’s studies on possible B7 alignments (none of which propose the bizarre pull-in and back-out suggestion one of the city council members made off-the-cuff a few months back).

      I can see that these alignments bring up interesting issues around pedestrian/bike access, bus connectivity (especially from the east), and neighborhood/wetland displacement. It also looks like they’ll cost a pretty penny in road construction.

      But my biggest point of curiosity is how you would envision connecting B7 with a downtown Bellevue station(s) to maximize the walkshed of those downtown stations.

      Thanks.

  3. Brent says

    Thanks for the quick response!

    That East Main Station seems to be the far corner of southeast downtown, with (relatively speaking) not a whole lot around it. Looking at the map, it seems pretty clear that C1T would have provided the best station locations for riders, with a lot more destinations around the Old Bellevue Station, and the best connection with the transit center, which is to say right through the middle of it. Somehow, ridership lost out.

    One thing that is clear from the Bellevue study is that the parking garages in the new B7 South Bellevue Stations would be almost expensive as what the City of Bellevue is offering up to have the light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue.

    So, has anyone suggested scavenging the 112th/SE 8th Station in favor of using that money to extend the tunnel or move it a block west?

    I remain impressed that the city has offered up that money, given that the primary beneficiaries would be riders going between stations north of the tunnel and stations south of the tunnel.

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