I lied when I told you the previous would be post being the last on the BNSF eastside route.
Here is a map of possible downtown Bellevue alignments for East Link. For the BSNF rail line to be useful, it would have to be alignment C1 or C2, which one depends on the alignments for the South Bellevue Section.

25 Replies to “BNSF One Last Time”

  1. the more stops you can have the better (so C1T) …

    of course, wouldn’t it then make sense to electrify the BNSF line so that the same LINK LRVs could run on it North-South …?

    would then make it easier for the future lines to intersect with it …

    1. There are other stops in the South section that aren’t there in the downtown section.

      More stops isn’t better if they are too close together, I don’t know if that’s the case here though.

  2. An old bellevue station is 10x more useful then the ‘east main station’ on the map.

    The area around old main is developing to be pretty dense, it would be good to serve with a tunnel stop. If Seattle gets what 4 tunnels? then the eastside should get one without bending over.

    1. Entirely agreed. The ‘Old Bellevue’ station would be in a good place, since it’s close to downtown park, the new Safeway, and the small shops + condos along Main Street. The ‘East Main’ station, on the other hand, would be between 405 and some hotel. Not a good place for TOD.

    2. I’m not trying to be testy, but Seattle paid for its four tunnels (or more specifically, the three ST Link ones). The Eastside would have to fund its tunnel too.

      But I definitely agree that Bellevue would be a great spot for a tunnel.

  3. Just another reason to make the commitment now, that we will use the EC for transit. Of course the connection could also further south (if B7 route used) or north (segment D), with a new station.

  4. A Bellevue Way station (between Main St. — Old Bellevue — and Bell Square) would be ideal and would serve the west half of Downtown Bellevue. It would be centered in the Bellevue Retail Core, and would also serve the highrise development in the west half of Downtown — the area not served by a station at The Transit Center.

    1. Bellevue transit center is literally a few blocks away from Bellevue Square… But, if Bellevue has plans to grow massively then I guess more stops wouldn’t hurt.

      1. By a few blocks you mean .8 miles and up a hill. (from main and bellevue way)

        a fifteen minute walk is no big deal for some, but transit is slow enough without a half hour daily delay.

  5. This is an idea i’ve had for a while. Run dual mode (diesel/electric) MU’s on the BNSF line and connect it into the Link system at South Bellevue station. I favor the CT1 alternative in downtown Bellevue. This would allow Eastside rail trains to serve Redmond and Overlake more directly. A future project would be to connect the BNSF line at the north end of Bellevue to provide service to Woodinville and Snohomish. Another future project would be to electrify the south end of the BNSF into Renton, and combine service into the future West Seattle-Burien-Renton line and replace the 560 bus line.

    My main issue with the BNSF north line is it doesn’t go anywhere. It would make more sense to build a line to Kirkland and Bothell to Mill Creek or Lynnwood to connect with the LINK Main Line. This wouldn’t be done until ST3 or ST4 though.

    Anyways the BNSF Line sounds like it is in very poor condition. If you are going to replace it you might as well build it where the people are actually going (i.e. Bothell v.s. Woodinville)

    1. > My main issue with the BNSF north line is it doesn’t go anywhere.

      WTF? It goes through Kirkland (much to the shagrin of Houghton residents). In fact the tracks border the north side of South Kirkland P&R. In continues on through Totem Lake where a station at the South end of the Mall would tie in beautifully with the existing shuttle transfers from the Kirkland Freeway Station and Evergreen Hospital Transit Center. The tracks continue north cutting right between the city limits of Bothell and Woodinville (existing bike trail to UW Bothel/Cascadia CC and old RR spur). The existing ROW passes within walking distance of the Woodinville P&R and leaving town to the north crosses the junction of Hwy 9 and 522 which serve Mill Creek and Monroe. You may think Snohomish isn’t anywhere but the population has exploded out there already and will continue to grow with or without transit. Viable rail transit NOW on the EC is a chance to postpone or eliminate expensive “upgrades” to hwy 9 and 522.

      Thru downtown Bellevue the Hospital Station on the BNSF route is the only option supported by Overlake Medical staff. The so called Ashworth Station would take by eminent domain 10’s of thousands of square feet of existing medical space in the Commons building which can’t be replaced. It also puts the stop at the opposite end from the hospital entrance. Hospital Station is directly across the freeway from BTC. Doesn’t it make more sense to bring buses to the train than divert the train to the buses? Note, the only tunnel option supported by the Bellevue Convention Center is the one opposed by Overlake Medical. Surface and elevated are opposed by virtually everybody so based on route impacts and cost running rail thru downtown doesn’t make sense.

      > Anyways the BNSF Line sounds like it is in very poor condition.
      > If you are going to replace it you might as well build it where
      > the people are actually going (i.e. Bothell v.s. Woodinville)

      Well, it does go to Bothell and replacing ties and rails on existing ROW is called maintenance. Versus acquiring new ROW and establishing a new grade it’s billions of dollars cheaper and decades faster. Besides, it would be hard to survey a better route; that’s why they put it there 100 years ago!

      1. Bernie,
        I doubt service on the BNSF ROW is going to happen other than maybe Link using portions of the ROW. I think some of the segments are useful and providing a better connection to Totem Lake or Woodinville would be a good thing, but the political will and backing just aren’t there.

        As for East Link, if it doesn’t serve downtown Bellevue it doesn’t happen. Options with that alignment aren’t on the table and doing so would kill ridership to the point that it would indeed be the expensive boondoggle nobody rides that the critics say it is.

        The most important stakeholder for the Bellevue alignments is the City of Bellevue. They want light rail, they want it to serve downtown, and they want it to serve the Bel-Red corridor. They also want a tunnel they are going to partially pay for. They are in a position to get buy-in from the Medical Center, Convention Center, and to a lesser extent from neighborhood groups.

        In the specific case of the Hospital I suspect the real question is one of money. If they get enough for losing the space in the commons building I doubt they will try to block East Link construction. There is buildable land as close to the main Hospital as the commons building. Once construction is finished there will be two lots the Hospital could use for future expansion: the one where the commons building is and the lot to the North of the current hospital.

        With the convention center I can understand why they don’t like either C1T or C2T. The transition between tunnel and elevated is right in front of their door. Even so, I’m sure between the City and ST a solution they can live with will be found if either of those alignments is chosen.

      2. The Convention Center folks oppose C1T and C2T precisely because the transition is right in front of their door. Literally, right in front of there door as in walk out and stare into a cement wall. It destroys the whole architectural plan of the building and tells out of town visitors the folks in the NW just don’t think straight.

        Several large practices testified to the City Council that if they are forced out of the Commons Building they’re moving to Issaquah. Many have just recently relocated to the Commons and as such searched diligently for suitable office space in Bellevue. It’s just not available and given the costs of relocating they’re “out-a-here”. Even if you think that’s not a big deal in the big scheme of things the Ashworth Station alignment is useless to the hospital as it currently is layed out and aligning the tracks with the obviously preferred alternative makes a lot more sense that “rotating” the hospital.

        Irregardless of Eastlink, Bellevue already has plans to build yet another overpass at NE 6th. If, for a change, they made this pedestrian friendly (think “lid”) the connection between Hospital Station, the Convention Center and BTC would be a sight for sore eyes instead of the ubiquitous Bellevue eyesore. We’re at a crossroads. Tunnel underground so nobody has to see the light of day or make the bold move to transform Bellevue into above ground city where walking and being outdoors is a different experience than the concrete jungle it’s become.

        In short the Hospital Station does serve Bellevue; just doesn’t cater to the drive you’re SUV to Bell-Square set. A Main Street Station along the existing BNSF ROW would do everything the ST proposed East Main Station would do with far less disruption and cost. But I don’t think it’s an immediate priority. SE 8th at the interchange with 405 and the Lake Hills Connector makes a lot more sense and is a way better option than the proposed 118th Station.

        Bellevue needs transit options NOW. None of the East Link routes fill that need but all promise disruption and sky high costs for at least ten years. At best they’ll create nodes which will have to be serviced by other means. All of the East Link routes through downtown have major drawbacks and if you guess wrong you’re stuck with it. It’s contentious to pick a preferred route today and fool hearty to think that’s going to be a great choice decades from now.

      3. Bernie,
        Let me say up front I have little insight into how potential East Link alignments are being seen in the area. The only noise that has made it to this side of the lake is the City of Bellevue’s desire for a tunnel in downtown and the objections by Surrey Downs to rail coming anywhere near them (IOW B7 or there will be lawsuits).

        That said, I agree the Convention Center has a legit objection to the C1T and C2T alignments. At this point I don’t see either as being terribly likely to make the final cut. But were one of those to be selected I’m sure their acceptance of the situation can be bought. The fact that the PDA is more or less an extension of the city government means that if the city wants C1T or C2T for its own reasons the Convention Center will have to live with it.

        As for the Hospital, the loss of the commons building is unfortunate, however it can be mitigated. Part of the mitigation might be to arrange for a medical office building to be built in the area with right of first refusal given to current tenants. Some of the tenants may choose to relocate out of the area, but that happens any time there is a displacement. Another option might be to forgo use of the commons site as a staging area and to only impact as much as is needed to build the ROW and station. As for the relation of the Ashworth/hospital station to the main hospital entrance, I will point out there is a large parking garage near where the proposed pedestrian underpass crosses under 12th NE. There are already a large number of people entering the hospital from this direction rather than the main entrance. There is no need to re-orient the entire hospital simply because the station is on the North end of campus. Besides this is an opportunity to provide a better pedestrian link to the hospital’s clinic and office space on the other side of I-405.

        I agree Bellevue should think of putting a lid over I-405 through the downtown core. But that is something they need to work out with WSDOT it isn’t a Sound Transit problem.

        At this point there are no alignment options for East Link that bypass the downtown Bellevue core. I doubt any such option would be seriously considered. It kills ridership (again this isn’t supposed to be the Microsoft express) and simply doesn’t make sense. I doubt the City of Bellevue would sign off on such a thing.

        I will agree the SE 118th station location sucks. Other than the small size of the site I don’t know why the current Wilburton P&R isn’t the station location for the B7 alignment. However I doubt this alignment will be chosen in any case.

        I really have no idea what you are advocating. Any improved transit for Bellevue and the East Side other than revising existing bus routes will take time to implement. Be it East Link, commuter rail on the BNSF alignment, or BRT. Personally I think East link with the B2E, C3T, and D2E alignments is the right solution for the long-term. But it remains to be seen what falls out of the EIS process and what sort of funding is available.

        At some point you do have to pick a solution that will be in place decades later. The only other option is simply to keep doing what you are doing, which as you point out already isn’t working.

  6. WTF? The old BNSF line will cross the ST line at or near the old Safeway plant just east of the hospital. It’s just basically the finger of God painting down from the clouds and saying “Keep it simple”. 80-20 rule and all that.

  7. as catowner says, the alignment does penetrate interesting places: next of Lake Bellevue and Overlake Hospital, the Wright-Runstad redevelopment site (Safeway), south Kirkland P&R, downtown Kirkland, Totem Lake, Willows Road, NE 145th Street wineries, and downtown Woodinville. How about an elevated wye over NE 6th Street to a station atop BTC. East Link LRT is not due until 2020.

  8. These Eastside Corridor threads have a lot of confusion about a simple fact- in today’s environment, you don’t build suburban transit to where the people already are. Those people are already happy with their transportation choices.

    The same thing was true when the freeways and suburbia were built. Nobody built a new freeway to old Bellevue or Beaux Arts, because those people were already happy with what they had. Freeways then and transit now need to serve places where future housing will be built to serve future residents.

    So the fact that the proposed EC goes to large undeveloped parcels of property is a feature, not a bug. Those are the places where you can actually do TOD without displacing existing homes and businesses.

    There’s also some confusion about the idea that because trains share the same gauge, you could just shunt EC rolling stock over LINK trackage. There are some places in Europe where they actually do this kind of thing, but in general systems run better with a high degree of homogeneity- much higher than simply sharing a gauge.

    1. TOD along tracks that do thirty minute headways and stop operating at night and on the weekends? I don’t think that’s possible. We’ll call it TOD. It’ll be sprawl.

      1. Well, if you would keep track of the business news from the Eastside, you would see that some of these sites are already planning for development. The owners who are planning for development say they can’t just wait around for transit to come- that takes decades.

        As for the idea that the current downturn will permanently ice development, dream on. With another million people expected over the next 30 years, the Eastside will be developed.

    2. And let’s put it in context: downtown Manhattan was always a busy place. Queens, Brooklyn, and the rest of NYC may have developed around the subway but it’s because it had a destination. TOD around tracks that lead to other TOD? Right… You’d want to hit at least Downtown Bellevue.

      (And you do! And you do! With a transfer to Link!) Yeah, I get it, but given the combination of headways with the transfer, it’s just not realistic for most people.

      1. Thanks. I had been to that page before, but somehow managed to ingore the sidebar with the links to all the alignment pdfs.

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