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.