Two quick hits on Eastside issues:

  • The Mercer Island Park-and-Ride that opened eight months ago is already full most days, despite having twice as many spots as the park-and-ride it replaced.
  • In this DJC interview Bellevue’s Mayor, Grant Degginger, talks about walk-ability, environmentalism and transit. It’s behind a pay-wall, but here’s a short excerpt:

    Q. What are your plans to create affordable housing in Bellevue?
    A. We are acutely aware of that challenge. We’ve been a part of an organization called ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing). Over the last 15 years, they’ve preserved or created 2,200 units of affordable housing on the Eastside. In Bellevue, we’re looking at delivering more units in the Bel-Red Corridor. The switch is to a mixed use focus with transit orientation and we’re hopefully including some workforce housing in there. It is very, very tough for people to work at Bellevue Square and live in Tacoma and Federal Way and try to make ends meet.

    Q. What tools will you use? Incentive zoning? Requiring affordable housing?
    A. We’re working with the same challenges as the city (of Seattle). We’re trying to see whether we can find the right mix of incentives to provide some of those projects. We’re working very hard on that. We had a citizen advisory committee spend months putting together a plan for Bel-Red, (making sure the) incentives will provide enough lift to deliver units. It’s a challenge, especially when you’ve got an economy that’s slowing down, to see what the right mix is. The other question is, over what period of time? You don’t get all the benefits in the first year, nor all the houses.

    Q. What role does transit play in Bellevue’s future? What is needed and when?
    A. Yesterday. There’s been a tremendous increase in the use of the transit in Bellevue and the Eastside. There’s just a huge need for additional transit. There’s a lot of people that need to get from Redmond to downtown Bellevue. The council has agreed to work with Sound Transit to get a circulator through downtown in 2010. We are really working very hard to see what else we can do to be creative. It’s the number one issue on the Eastside. The Sound Transit measure (on the ballot in November) is a good long-term goal but won’t deliver trains until 2018. There’s a lot to do between now and then. Increase bus service and make downtown Bellevue more walkable.

    Q. How do you make Bellevue more walkable?
    A. Bellevue was laid out as a suburban city and one of the legacies of that is these superblocks that are too long. We’re adding mid-block crossings … and updating and making (downtown) more visible and interesting with more artwork. I think it’s going to be very exciting to have a more walkable downtown. We’re also identifying more bike corridors, running both north to south and east to west.

    Q. It’s just so easy to park and drive in Bellevue. How do you make Bellevue less car-centric?
    A. The nature of the parking is changing. There are more and more lots where people are being charged. If we can make it easier for people to get out of their cars, (then they will) not hopscotch drive through downtown. We’ve got a huge neighborhood developing in downtown Bellevue, so it’s really important for people to be able to walk to the grocery store, walk to the cleaners and not make those short trips that clog up the streets.

    Good stuff. The whole region needed transit yesterday.

Thanks to Ryan for the links.

13 Replies to “Eastside Transit News”

  1. The suggestion that Issaquah or the Highlands is a reasonable alternate to an already-full Mercer Island PnR is INSANE.

    1. Wow, yeah. Eastgate is a decent alternative though, since it’s a massive garage with a dedicated HOV ramp. I would have liked to see some mention of leaving cars at home instead of driving to the P&R. Mercer Island isn’t that big; I’d say the top third is within easy walking/biking distance.

  2. The thing I always complain about is how few parking spots are at each pnr and how there is almost never bike parking

    1. The average voter looks at the Mercer Island PnR and sees that it was closed for two years for ‘expansion’ and then when it opens, is full. It doesn’t instill confidence in urban planning.

      1. I think we are seeing the same mistake made repeatedly: too few stalls. The Redmond TC opened with 9 more stalls than before. It should have been 90, or 190. 23,000 people live on Mercer Island. 450 stalls is enough for 2% of the population. You’d think they would have shot for at least 5% or 1,200 stalls.

      2. Well, Redmond TC had no more stalls because they took half the lot and sold it off for TOD. I’m for that.

        As for Mercer Island, I would be shocked if the two-level garage was anything but the sole a result of M.I. NIMBYs. That garage is flush with the ground.

        If M.I. residents don’t have a place to park, I bet they have their neighbors to blame. But that’s conjecture.

      3. Not conjecture at all. The answer in the Times article says “In Mercer Island’s case, design considerations and aesthetics limited the new concrete garage to two levels, with 450 parking stalls. There are no expansion plans in the works.”

  3. I wonder what this downtown Bellevue circulator will entail. Traffic in that area can already get pretty bad, so a bus wouldn’t be much faster than walking. Perhaps my dream of a streetcar down the NE 6th pedestrian corridor will finally come true!

  4. Damn…I don’t know if I can roll with you guys. You’ve got the funds to get behind the DJC pay wall? I usually walk across the street to the library, and read it the old fashioned way.

  5. Regarding “affordable housing” that is being discussed, from what I’ve seen it is only affordable for families making $45-60k a year. That’s not exactly affordable for many.

    As far as making Bellevue walkable and bike-able, it’s a great thought and would be better for traffic and the environment. In reality, most of the people who can afford to live in Bellevue will not spend their time walking – and I know many cycling enthusiasts who have recently quit riding because of how dangerous it is out there. This is besides the issue that we only average 58 clear days a year here – and how many people want to show up to work, meetings, etc wet from rain and/or sweating?

    I firmly believe there are a couple of possible solutions – people should live close to where they work and that maybe more people and employers should rethink their ideas of the traditional work day. There are 24 hours in day and perhaps it is time that we start making better use of them? Why does everyone feel the need to sit in traffic during the same times of day, day after day?

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