Bellevue TC & Hospital Station 60% Design

by DAVID SEATER

Bellevue Transit Center Station - Aerial View

Bellevue Transit Center Station – Aerial View

On Tuesday Sound Transit hosted an open house to present the 60% designs for the Bellevue Transit Center and Hospital stations on East Link, incorporating feedback from the 30% design presentation last May and the cost-savings changes approved in April 2013. These stations are expected to open in 2023 and will generate 7,000 of East Link’s projected 50,000 daily riders in 2030. The presentation and meeting materials are available on Sound Transit’s website. As elsewhere along East Link, ST is still in the process of selecting final names for these stations.

Highlights of the design changes include:

  • Canopies at the Bellevue Transit Center now cover the majority of the platforms.
  • A new eastern entrance to the Bellevue Transit Center station due to the revised station location along NE 6th St.
  • Hospital Station will have stops for RapidRide curbside along 8th in the existing locations and a drop-off loop for Access paratransit immediately adjacent to the station.
  • A Sound Transit owned and maintained pedestrian path will connect Hospital station directly to 116th Ave NE.
  • The tunnel underneath 110th Ave NE will be dug using the Sequential Excavation Method instead of the previously proposed cut-and-cover method.

Representatives from the City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Light Rail Permitting Citizen’s Advisory Committee were also present to introduce the Downtown Livability initiative, station area planning, the redesign of the Bellevue City Hall plaza, and a new downtown neighborhood association.

The Bellevue Transit Center station presented a unique set of challenges to the design team; they referred to it as the “tunnel, at-grade, elevated station” due to its profile as it transitions from a tunnel underneath 110th Ave NE to at-grade along NE 6th St before ending elevated above 112th Ave NE. The entrance at 110th NE (nearest the existing transit center) will have a large “signature” canopy covering the ticketing area, elevators, and stairs. There will also be a bike cage as well as racks available at this entrance.

Bellevue Transit Center Station - Aerial View

Bellevue Transit Center Station – West (110th NE) Entrance Plan

At the platform level the canopies have been increased to cover over 90% of the platform area, with only two 20 foot gaps in coverage. These gaps are required by code in order to avoid the need for sprinkler systems and mechanical ventilation. Ridership projections had indicated that only 50% of the platform would need to be covered, but there was a significant amount of feedback requesting more weather protection than was present in the original design.

Sound Transit is also trying to maximize the potential for development of the construction staging area, currently an empty lot. The side of the station along this lot will be designed as a solid firewall, enabling any new structure there to be built directly against the station without any need for setbacks or open space.

The entrance from 112th NE is located underneath the east end of the elevated platforms and guideway. It will have stairs and elevators to connect to each platform along with a few bike lockers.

Bellevue Transit Center Station - East (112th NE) Entrance Plan

Bellevue Transit Center Station – East (112th NE) Entrance Plan

The Hospital station appears much simpler. It is a center platform station and will be elevated 22 feet where it crosses NE 8th St. A bold red color, shown in the renderings, will be used to help riders locate the ticket vending machines and entrances to the station. Adjacent to the station will be passenger pick up and drop off space, along with a loop for paratransit access. There will be a small amount of street parking available, although Sound Transit emphasized the city will provide this for the neighboring businesses and not for park-and-ride use.

Hospital Station - Aerial View

Hospital Station – Aerial View

To better connect the station to the hospitals along 116th NE, ST is including a pedestrian path past Whole Foods. The path will be owned and maintained by Sound Transit and will include lighting, security cameras, and emergency phones, but will not be covered. The BNSF corridor right-of-way will remain, pending future conversion to either rail or a trail.

Hospital Station - Site Plan

Hospital Station – Site Plan

Questions from the audience were largely focused on station access, which the City of Bellevue will address in their station area planning. In response to a comment that the existing designs didn’t show ages 8 – 80 bicycle access along relatively dangerous streets, staff stressed that the existing plans are still incomplete, and that bicycle and pedestrian access is “something we really do care about.”

Other commenters were concerned about impacts to traffic along NE 8th at the Hospital station, particularly due to backups caused by the in-lane RapidRide stop. Sound Transit said that they have been working with the City and Metro to plan that area. Metro requested that ST place the footings during construction to allow the placement of permanent RapidRide shelters, while the City transportation department has not identified any need for road widening or bus pullouts. The station support columns will be located far enough apart that NE 8th could be widened in the future should the City choose to do so.

The design of the stations is expected to be finalized this year with initial construction activity, mainly utility relocation, starting in 2015. Heavy civil construction will likely begin in 2016.

Comments

  1. Carl says

    At the Hospital station there needs to be a footbridge to the south side of NE 8th St – so that riders can reach eastbound buses, and for the eventual development of the auto row area.

    • asdf says

      From the looks of things, at least in the westbound direction, someone heading from the crossroads area to downtown Seattle will have a much better bus/Link connection at Hospital Station than at Bellevue Transit Center – the walk between the bus and train will be considerably shorter, and all the downtown Bellevue stoplights that the bus has to contend with avoided.

      Eastbound, it depends. Ideally, it would be the same way, but having to walk all the way over to 116th and back, on top of a 3+ minute wait for a walk signal to cross the street is just downright awful. If a bridge is too expensive (or the support structures to disruptive to precious parking for nearby businesses), the city could still improve things immensely with an at-grade signalized crosswalk directly adjacent to the station. If synchronized appropriately with the light at 116th Ave., the traffic impact from such a crosswalk would be negligible.

      • aw says

        I agree that it’s a lost opportunity that there isn’t a grade separated entrance on the south side of NE 8th St.

        However, someone at Crossroads that wants to get to Seattle might find it quicker to travel out-of-direction to Overlake Village station on RR-B. It would be less bus and more train anyway, so some people might prefer it even if it wasn’t time competetive.

      • says

        ST Officials told me that they were actively working at getting a crosswalk under the station to avoid the walk all the way to 116th.
        The path to 116th north of the station will cross a potential ped/bike trail far enough from 8th that building a overpass across it can be done with an ADA slope. Not very useful for the station itself but important for the bike trail.

      • Carl says

        Given that the light rail structure crosses NE 8th, It’s really too bad they couldn’t incorporate a pedestrian bridge. I suspect that ADA would require an elevator, and that is a cost driver or space driver to eliminate a pedestrian bridge. While conceptually I support ADA, if it causes elimination of pedestrian facilities, that’s an unhelpful byproduct.

        I suspect Bellevue will flight a traffic signal at this location.

      • says

        Since the station entrance and ticket machines are at ground level north of 8th, an elevated entrance south of 8th would require duplicating at least some of that. An at-grade crosswalk seems more realistic for what really isn’t a major station. Anyway, an at-grade crosswalk would contribute in a small way to creating a more granular pedestrian network, which this area desperately need if it’s going to be even slightly less miserable than it is today.

        If the Eastside Rail Corridor MUP happens in our lifetimes, that and the ST-maintained path at the north end of the station will at least enclose a Bellevue-sized block. It’s sort of a travesty that the Guvm’nt Train Comp’ny has to build and maintain such a sidewalk instead of adjacent property owners, upon whom this responsibility falls in the civilized world; it’s pretty alarming that Bellevue-sized blocks that will be pretty sparsely used with nothing facing them is progress here. But none of the existing buildings or parking lots are worth anything, really, so maybe from this start the next round of development can be encouraged to complement them, particularly considering the major transit station they lead to. I really believe one of these decades we’ll manage to get rid of the stupid cloverleaf at 405/8th… and the limitations for this area would recede a bit, to be more like those on NE 45th east of I-5. Still very limited. But a bridge over 8th won’t get us even started toward that.

      • Bernie says

        ST Officials told me that they were actively working at getting a crosswalk under the station to avoid the walk all the way to 116th.

        There’s a much better solution that should have been done from day one of the B line opening. B Line turns up 116th and stops an NE10th. Then it turns back east on NE 12th (where the new bike ped path is, major med and office towers) and then south on 110th with stops at the library. These are places transit riders might actually be trying to get to; Rack & Road… not so much.

      • William C. says

        Bernie – With how frequently I’m going to the library, I’d support that. But everyone else who’s transferring at the BTC or walking from there to Bellevue Square wouldn’t. (Sure, the 550 stops at the library for its layover, but it’s just one bus, and this plan still makes people travel further and maybe miss a connection.)

      • asdf says

        “However, someone at Crossroads that wants to get to Seattle might find it quicker to travel out-of-direction to Overlake Village station on RR-B.”

        Making the transfer at Hospital Station is much faster, especially westbound. Eastbound too, assuming the crosswalk gets built.

        While a bridge over 8th would be nice, I do think an at-grade signalized crosswalk would be sufficient. For some people (e.g. Whole Foods shoppers who aren’t connecting to the station), an at-grade crossing would actually be better. As to whether Bellevue will block the crosswalk in the name of traffic flow, we’ll just have to see. I would argue that if the signals are timed so that the crosswalk signal turns red at the same time as nearby signals on 116th and 120th, the impact on general traffic flow would be negligible. Everyone that’s stopped for the crosswalk would be stopping anyway very soon thereafter.

        I thought about the idea of the B-line looping around 116th and 12th, rather than continuing on to the TC. However, downtown Bellevue itself is still and always will be a pretty big destination and people who are already on the bus would probably get where they’re going faster overall by just staying on the bus. Especially since the bus will put people a few hundred feet closer to where most are headed. Also, while Hospital station would suffice for bus->rail connections, there are likely to be several bus->bus connection possibilities that would require going through the TC. For example, if you’re headed to Renton, the 566 is not going to be rerouted to serve Hospital Station.
        Overall, I think the B-line should just continue on to the transit center like it does today, with the understanding that most users headed to downtown Seattle (at least those that know what they’re doing) will make the connection at Hospital Station.

      • William C. says

        Also, let’s not forget that Bellevue’s TMP projects the B Line to be extended through the transit center to Bellevue Square. I think that’d be far more significant than sending it to the library.

      • Bernie says

        It’s not just the library. It would connect with the new Children’s site, the Commons which is full of clinics and the only compounding pharmacy near by. Plus there’s MulvannyG2 Architecture and lots of other office space. Essentially it’s half of the very needed Bellevue Circulator. I predict that with the current plan the few transit users will continue to access the hospital by getting off at BTC and hopping a 234/235 or 226. The location of the B Line stop on NE 8th absolutely sucks. There is nothing there but danger of being squashed by an SUV. The detour adds a half mile to the route and I’d guess adds about 2-1/3 minutes. But for anyone trying to go DT Seattle it’s a win because they get a much better transfer to Link. Also a win for everyone trying to get to South Kirkland P&R. That 2-1/3 minutes could be reclaimed by fixing the circuitous routing at Overlake.

      • Bernie says

        the B Line to be extended through the transit center to Bellevue Square.

        That would be the other half of the Bellevue Circulator. But that’s going to add a lot more time to the route. Not important to Crossroads to BTC folk but will increase the number of buses needed or decrease overall frequency. It’s also way overkill to run an artic on this loop. I don’t see the sense in extending the B line in this way; it’s cracking a walnut with a sledge hammer. The section of the route extension I’ve proposed covers way more actual destinations than all of the B line stops on NE 8th combined.

      • Bernie says

        Bellevue itself is still and always will be a pretty big destination and people who are already on the bus

        Yes but half of those people are transferring rather than walking to their destination. Today that transfer would be better to S. Kirk. P&R and destinations on Bel-Red with the reroute. When Link is built it will be a much better connection to DT Seattle. Until then start the 550 at East/Bellevue Base making a first stop at the hospital on 116th before hitting BTC. It’s not rocket surgery.

    • Sam says

      aw, have you seen any information from ST or Metro that the B Line bus stop that’s currently at the Overlake P&R (2600 and 152nd Ave NE), will be moved further north, closer to the future Overlake Village Station? I think we’re just all assuming it’s going to be moved closer. But isn’t there a possibility that they may not, or can’t, move it? Won’t they have to have two B Line and 249 stops on that short section of 152nd? Because you can’t move the stop, then force everyone (many whop are disabled) living at the Village at Overlake Station to trek a quarter mile up to the new bus stop.

      • aw says

        From the Overlake area presentation p. 14, it looks like Overlake P&R would be redeveloped. There’s a road on top of where the bus loop is today.

        Of course, maybe Metro will decide that RR-B should just stay on 156th NE and people who want to transfer to/from Link can do it at OTC. They have about ten years to figure it out.

      • asdf says

        If you look at the area closely, Overlake Village is actually vertically closer to 156th than 152nd, and it would make a whole lot more since, in multiple ways for transit riders living there to walk out the back to catch a bus on 156th than to walk out the front and catch a bus on 152nd. Currently, the path to 156th is blocked by private property and fences, so 152nd is the only way out. I’m hoping that when whatever redevelopment of Group Health is finished, this problem will go away, and the B-line can be routed back to 156th, where it should have been to begin with.

  2. Carl says

    Also, won’t the pedestrians exiting at the west end of the BTC station gum up the operation of the transit center for buses? While some will be walking to office buildings, others will be going to the center island transit center.

  3. d.p. says

    Love how every new rendering of the downtown station is further away and more strangely askew. No attempt to befuddle the viewer is too obvious.

    Make no mistake: those stairs and escalators hit at the mid-point of the platform, 325-350 feet from the closest inch of NE 110th crosswalk paint, >1000 feet from some transfers. Part of the station is “tunnel” in name only — it sits below the Bellevue City Hall driveway, which apparently needed to remain in place at all costs.

    Meanwhile, the reasonable on-street placement of bus stops right below the Hospital station platforms is summarily undone by ST’s replication of its patented Mt. Baker Stairs Nowhere Near Anything design model.

    Every Sound Transit architect should be fired.

    • Nathanael says

      I’m not going to argue with that. Surely there are some good architects in Seattle with some common sense who don’t charge much?

    • Mike B says

      While ST shares some blame, it didn’t help that Bellevue fought Sound Transit for a couple years to keep Link out of their downtown (remember the Vision Line concept?) and ST themselves didn’t have enough money to do a proper station under the TC thanks to the recession.

  4. says

    Funny you don’t mention my comment about a potential tunnel access to BTC under 110th. ST Officials told me that such a tunnel would be cost-prohibitive for now, but after the presentation I insisted that the mezzanine (currently only planned for maintenance access) should be designed that a tunnel under 110th to BTC could be retrofitted in.

    See another report of the open house on the Urbanist here:
    http://www.theurbanist.org/2014/03/28/downtown-bellevue-open-house/

  5. Sam says

    “To better connect the station to the hospitals along 116th NE, ST is including a pedestrian path past Whole Foods. The path will be owned and maintained by Sound Transit and will include lighting, security cameras, and emergency phones, but will not be covered.” In other words, when you’re walking the 700 yards from your job at Overlake Hospital to the light rail station some dark, cold and rainy December night, you’ll be safe, but miserable.

      • Sam says

        Please explain your comment. My comment is referring to ST not including a cover for their walkway.

      • says

        Walking exposed to the elements is done basically everywhere, and covered walkways to serve essentially a couple companies’ workers aren’t that common (there are some enormous Boeing parking lots with covered walkways through them — maybe the hospitals can fund a roof for their employees). The difference between the station-hospital walk and the walks that people make between transit (or parking spaces!) and their jobs today isn’t lack of cover, it’s distance and, frankly, boringness. These things are the product of how parking physically dominates surface land use in the area and how it has dictated the design and layout of even those elements it doesn’t directly cover.

        So to explain things beyond any possibility of doubt, my comment was a silly reference to a biblical phrase in archaic translation, “… the wages of sin is death…”, whose anachronistic language makes it particularly catchy to the modern ear. It also referred to the relationship between parking, land use, and urban design in shorthand that that should be obvious to an eminent and well-read intellectual like yourself. I responded to your comment by redirecting the concern — the real issue, the issue that will keep so many hospital workers on 405 for years to come, is distance, not exposure to the elements. If I do say so myself, my comment was quite elegant, expressing all this in a single sentence!

      • AP says

        @Al Dimond, I don’t think your comment held up quite so elegantly as you intended. Your explanation made it “slightly less miserable” but overall it still doesn’t hold together in my mind.

        You say “the wages of parking is distance” and I agree this might make some sense in places where the lack of parking allows for important public facilities to be placed near to their users. For example, contrast Whole Foods (set back from the sidewalks by its huge parking lots) with a streetside vegetable stand. The parking obviously causes the distance.

        In this instance, however, the train station was placed along the BNSF right of way. (The same BNSF right of way that was useless for the rest of Bellevue downtown, by the way, but that’s a different story.) No one with any real (read: economic) interests wanted the station actually placed at the hospital so Sound Transit stuck it where it made sense: along a fairly underutilized train right of way.

        I don’t think Sound Transit should be maintaining this walkway. The distant and boring trek from the station to the hospital isn’t a feature of the station at all. The trains will run whether or not people can walk to Overlake Group Health. It’s a feature of the hospital wanting some connection to a station that it likely could have located *on its property* if it had desired. (That last point is speculative, but I’m pretty certain that monied interests get whatever the f* they want from local governments and Sound Transit.)

    • Sam says

      Earth to Al. You realize you’re ranting against parking during a conversation about whether or not a walking path should be covered, right?

      • d.p. says

        In cities, sometimes people walk outside. Yes, even in cold and rainy cities.

        Of course, more stuff is close to more other stuff, since parking does not dominate the landscape. Moreover, walks of similar distance feel less unpleasant/exposed/rote.

        Only in malls and mall-like cities [ahem] are covered walkways ubiquitous, thanks to the excruciatingly dull distance that results from trudging across parking lots.

        [Ad hom].

      • says

        I’m defending the “decision” not to cover the walkway by pointing out that the real difference between this walk and walks that people make willingly in great number all over the world is primarily distance and boringness, in addition to the general inconvenience of being without a car for unplanned trips in this region generally and in that location in particular. Not protection from the elements. Covering the walkway won’t change all that other stuff.

        This station has the temporary name “Hospital” despite its distance from the hospitals because there really isn’t much else there today. I have my doubts that it will ever be a popular way for hospital workers to commute, covered walkway or not. If the station really gains riders it will be due to nearby development and RR B transfers.

      • Sam says

        d.p. and Al, if I ran an architectural firm in Seattle, and told me that the reason you didn’t include a cover over the walkway you designed is because, “duh, in other places around the world they don’t got no cover and they do just fine,” I would fire you.

      • d.p. says

        If you were hiring us to design a project anywhere near a major urban center, we wouldn’t be discussing 600-foot pathways across empty expanses in the first place, [ad hom].

      • Bernie says

        If they reroute the B line up 116th there’s no reason the station has to be tied to NE 8th which is and forever shall be one of the most pedestrian hostile places in Bellevue. If it were slid north to NE 10th it would be much closer to something and possibly a cost reduction in not having to build it elevated.

      • Bernie says

        we wouldn’t be discussing 600-foot pathways across empty expanses in the first place, [ad hom].

        Hey all, let’s try to put the civil back in Civil Engineering.

      • asdf says

        “If you were hiring us to design a project anywhere near a major urban center, we wouldn’t be discussing 600-foot pathways across empty expanses in the first place,”

        Well, what are they supposed to do – not build the pathway because 600 feet is too far to walk (thereby forcing a much longer backtrack all the way to 8th St.) If you’re going to have that attitude, you may as well save money and not even bother building EastLink to begin with.

        That said, the issue has been decided, and the line is going to get built and, given that the station is going to be there, it makes sense to do what can be done reasonably and cheaply to improve pedestrian access to it, even it’s still not ideal.

      • d.p. says

        That “block” could easily support half a dozen new cut-through streets and 65 additional buildings without even beginning to feel crowded. There’s so much unused space here that you could start the ball rolling on infill without even tearing down the present crap.

        Indeed, we’re building a multi-billion-dollar rail line — the only Eastside trunk that will ever remotely pencil out — and this is one of only three stations in the vicinity of Bellevue’s downtown. And we’re rearranging the deck chairs on a pathway across a parking lot!!!?

        If people were waking past actual blocks of stuff between the station entrance and their destinations — stuff which would likely include welcoming awnings, by the way — nobody upon nobody would be wasting breath discussing how to properly mall-ify the parking expanse.

      • aw says

        When there is a Link station there, it makes sense that there would be additional densification in the area. Heck, it’s likely that the strip mall at the end of NE 10th St. will attract a more compact development and a more urban form. When that happens, NE 10th could be extended for local access and pedestrianization.. The proposed pathway then becomes redundant.

        Maybe it’s best to view the proposed pedestrian path as a necessary, worst case, temporary, possibly optional solution. Spending any money to improve it would be money wasted.

    • AP says

      And hey, that gives me an idea for the station name: BNSF Station. It’s the only train station on the BNSF railway. How about it, Bellevue?

    • Bernie says

      In other words, when you’re walking the 700 yards from your job at Overlake Hospital to the light rail station

      I measured it on the map and it’s about 900 feet (300 yards) from the station to the crosswalk in front of the employee garage. Add distance on the platform and the distance from the crosswalk to the persons office and you might get to 700 yards but most of that will be inside the hospital. It’s still pretty long though. It takes my wife about ten minutes to get to her car and she’s on the first floor. The light crossing 116th is timed only to optimize traffic, which especially in the mornings is actually fairly light. I see very few hospital works using the stops on 116th or NE 10th; it’s maybe dozens per day. This extra distance isn’t going to add more no matter how cool riding the train is.

      • asdf says

        I’ve generally found the crossing at 10th St. of 116th to be fairly reasonable. It’s much better than 8th St. anyway. As to whether hospital workers will use it in any reasonable numbers, we’ll have to see. A reasonably fast walker could probably make it from train to entrance in under 10 minutes. And with proper clothing, being exposed to the weather isn’t that big a deal.

        While the walk might be slightly further from the train than some bus routes today, the train will run a whole lot more frequently and reliably, and that will attract additional riders in its own right. Of course the big driving factoring is probably going to be how much money the hospital charges employees to park in its garage, and what level of transit subsidies they are willing to offer as an alternative.

      • Bernie says

        Of course the big driving factoring is probably going to be how much money the hospital charges employees to park in its garage

        Parking for Overlake employees is free. I’m not aware of any transit subsidies. The main “driving” factor is time to commute. You start adding 10 minutes each way to a transit trip that costs more in marginal cost (fare vs cost of gas) and it’s not going to be a winner. Add to the inherent disadvantage that the vast majority of employees would have to drive to get to/from a transit stop anyway and unless it’s uber convenient it’s a non-starter.

      • Carl says

        Well, not the cost for them to park is not free. Someone paid big bucks to build and maintain a huge garage. Management’s biased policy is to subsidize the full cost of parking for employees and to provide no subsidy for transit, so they are distorting the employee decision. And U.S. tax policy allows this without consequence.

      • Bernie says

        I’ve generally found the crossing at 10th St. of 116th to be fairly reasonable. It’s much better than 8th St. anyway.

        Crossing at NE 10th would get you to the Group Health facility. That’s not chopped liver but it’s not a hospital either. Group Health got out of the in patient business years ago. Overlake is the 800# gorilla and the crosswalk on 116th from their employee garage is a really long wait. But yeah, compared to crossing NE 8th; well, the City Coucil really doesn’t expect or want pedestrians clogging up that vital arterial to Bellevue’s sales tax lifeline.

  6. Al S. says

    I still don’t understand why Sound Transit doesn’t design a center platform for the BTC station. It would enhance overall capacity of the platforms (especially needed in the evenings), allow for two escalators (one up and one down), and make the station entrances on 110th and 112th much easier to figure out. I realize that the structural costs are more, but the operational design would have many more advantages.

  7. Nathanael says

    “These gaps are required by code in order to avoid the need for sprinkler systems and mechanical ventilation.”

    This is nonsense.

    Without side WALLS, you don’t need mechanical ventilation regardless of where the ROOF is …but I see from the rendering that the plan is in fact to have side walls, which will then have to have gaps in them.

    Who designed this? It’s normal to have completely open sides on railway platforms, and a continuous *canopy roof*. Are the side walls another of those “noise mitigation” things demanded by crazy NIMBYs?

    • Nathanael says

      I realize that this horse has been beaten to death, but the downtown Bellevue tunnel — now with no stations in it, but still with three tight curves — has become a pointless waste of money.

    • Nathanael says

      By the way, if there really is a “code requirement” for 20-foot long “let’s get rained on” gaps in the canopy, even when there are no walls… then you need to change your building code, because it’s been written by idiots.

      This isn’t the building code of any other city with rail in the world, all of which have normal railway platform canopies extending for thousands of feet continuously.

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