Bellevue downtown from Seattle
Downtown Bellevue, Photo by JP Chamberland

Andrew Austin at TCC points out that the Sound Transit board put up the motion for alignment choice (PDF) today!

The motion still has to move tomorrow at the board meeting, but as written, it’s pretty close to what we expected. 

For the A segment, the motion recommends (drumroll please…) the only option there is. Something Martin mentioned once before but I don’t think is clear to most people is that the ramps between Airport Way and the Mount Baker Tunnel will have joint bus/rail operations. This allows buses to have a clear connection between downtown and the I-90 HOV lanes. As East Link will operate every nine minutes under plans I’ve seen, I don’t think this poses a capacity problem.

I have one complaint about A. More free parking on Mercer Island. I mean, I understand it, but it seems like Mercer Island residents just see this as an alternative to paying for downtown parking. I’d rather see pedestrian improvements.

For B, which starts where I-90 hits Bellevue Way on the eastside, the recommendation is B3, with minor modifications. This would run largely at-grade to the east of Bellevue Way and 112th Ave SE. The connection between I-90 and Bellevue Way would be elevated, preserving the I-90 HOV ramp access from Bellevue Way. I don’t see anything about the crazy right turn that Surrey Downs residents wanted included, so I think we’re safe from the roller coaster option.

For C, the board recommends surface (as they must) and the bored tunnel option, C3T, yay! That’s the fastest and highest ridership option through downtown Bellevue, would connect to the existing transit center without demolition, and will (hopefully) create a station straddling 405 at NE 12th to serve both the hospital and Bellevue’s northeast downtown high density residential well. Bellevue has until one month after 15% design, probably spring 2010, to find funding sources. I suspect that through land grants and perhaps an LID, they can do it.

I also want to note here that they’re looking for a way to avoid taking the Commons Medical Building. I think this is feasible – with an elevated structure, they could probably cut the parking lot without taking the building.

D is also as expected, at-grade through Bel-Red, D2A. They’re also studying grade separation of 120th and 124th crossings, if they can get funding from local developers or Bellevue. I think this will turn out well. This will terminate at Overlake Transit Center, smack dab in the middle of Microsoft.

For E, keep in mind there’s no funding past some design work. They selected E2, which I personally didn’t like that much – it serves Marymoor first, passes downtown Redmond, then turns northwest from the velodrome and goes downtown. It seemed to be the preferred option in Redmond, though. I don’t know much about the E segment, so it’s very possible that it’s the best choice and I just don’t know why yet.

As usual, kudos to the Sound Transit board for being logical!

Check out the cool interactive maps, too.

36 Replies to “We Don’t Have To Wait Until Tomorrow…”

  1. Yay couplet! I hope they add more stations though. It would make it really cool and pedestrian-accessible like Portland’s MAX. Only one station in Bellevue seems kind of lite.

      1. I think he means downtown Bellevue. But that shouldn’t be too much of an issue; Bellevue TC is easily accessible by the NE 6th pedestrian corridor.

      2. I meant the downtown core. Further examining a map, it would be a bit hard to pull off since downtown Bellevue is a little strangely shaped.

      3. It’s also really small, about three-quarters of a mile square. Not really big enough to need a ton of stations.

  2. E2 is probably the best option for Redmond. If you look at the renderings for the Leary Way-alternative (E4 and E1), the elevated guideway would be “shoved” into the steep hill, with the little 7-11 store right under the guideway (see the renderings) or the guideway making the nearby apartments seem unreasonably unattractive. Also considering the geography of the area, E2 is the easiest and cheapest to construct in my opinion.

    1. I agree on this one too, E-2 does seem a bit strange but makes it a lot easier to hit Redmond TC.

      1. By ending East Link in the BNSF r/w it would be easier to extend the line up to Woodinville someday.

        It will be interesting to see what kinds of amendments or substitute motions come up during the meeting today.

      2. Actually, I think Redmond wants Redmond Town Center to be the final stop.

      3. Redmond proposed a Leary Way station rather than the silly spur to what’s optimistically called Redmond Transit Center (now an office building with a small parking structure. They plane to create a pedestrian corridor to City Hall, the Library, P&R, etc. to the stop. They specifically stated the reason for pushing the station west of TC is to minimize parking poaching (their words) at Redmond TC. FWIW more large new condo development is going it northwest of Redmond TC. Both of the Redmond Stations would be along well established walking and bike trails (East Lake Sam, Sammamish River Trail, TC bypass). The BNSF ROW through Redmond was mostly double track because it served industry in downtown (the T&D feed mill) so I expect a trail parallel to the tracks here as well.

  3. I think ST made a pretty stupid move when they decided to only build a two-story MI P&R. They totally weren’t planning for the future at all.

    1. I 100% agree that the two-story garage was short sighted, but I think the blame falls on Mercer Island, who had a two-story zoning limit.

  4. ST should consider NOT building additional P&R capacity on Mercer Island or at South Bellevue. Riders may walk or take local transit to the south Bellevue station. ST Route 554 could be extended to south MI to provide all-day service to the spine of MI. Riders need not reach LRT by car. The funds needed to construct garages with a cost of at least $30K per stall would attract more riders if used on additional service on routes 554, 545, and 522.

    1. Quiet frankly I think that all park and ride lots should have some fee to park there. I don’t think that tax payers should be fully subsidizing peoples parking. I Especially feel this way since I don’t need to drive anywhere to get to a bus.

      1. I agree. At least the multi story structures should have a fee. MI complains that the MI garage is already mostly used by people driving there from points east. Link will make that worse. I could be for a discounted rate for local residents. Seattle residents sometimes get special neighborhood permits for street parking.

      2. Metro/Sound Transit and the other transit agencies need to focus on creating better bus service rather then building 500+ park and rides. Building giant park and rides only make traffic bad around them. Although have to do this any more I would sometimes have to drive in the wrong direction from my final destination to get to one on these giant park and rides. In the long run it would probably cost about the same to run more buses.

      3. I quite agree – we should NOT be subsidizing parking any more. Many people who drive COULD walk or bus, and those who drive shouldn’t have their parking subsidized/paid for – we’ve been doing that for a century and it is time to call a halt to it.

      4. Anything that gets people out of their cars and onto public transit is a good thing, and free parking at Park&Rides does that. Fees at Park&Rides does the opposite. The higher the fee, the higher the number of car commuters who will drive all the way into work.

      5. Do we really need park and rides? Not really, because park and rides can be eliminated by better bus service and better growth management. End result people not needing to drive at all to get to work.

      6. I’m for anything that will reduce private commuting and freeway congestion. Charging to use P&R’s, or eliminating them altogether, does the opposite.

      7. Sam your missing the point I have made twice: replace park and rides with better bus service.

      8. This isn’t feasible in much of the suburbs, since development isn’t nearly dense enough to support decent bus service. Expanding bus service in, say, Mercer Island or Somerset enough to put everyone in walking distance of a bus that runs half-hourly or better would eliminate the need for park-and-rides there, but would also cost far more than a park-and-ride would. For now at least, the park-and-ride is the most efficient way to serve these areas.

  5. So on the surface route between I-90 and DT Bellevue, will there be many at grade crossings?

    1. Looking at a map, the route runs east of Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue SE, and there appear to be no roads crossing the route in that area, thanks mostly to the Mercer Slough Nature Park. It looks like it goes elevated just in time to overpass SE 15th Street, and just in time to overpass at South Bellevue Station, which is next to the next road to the south.

      So there should be zero automotive grade crossings in that section. Possibly a pedestrian crossing or two?

      The automotive grade crossings should appear within downtown Bellevue if the couplet is chosen, and within Bel-Red and Redmond for certain.

      1. Bel-Red will have a small handful, but we’ll see if Bellevue or private developers will handle separating them.

  6. Will there be a publicly recorded vote of the ST Board or will this just come out signed from behind closed doors? Honestly I never would have predicted either of these routes would make the preferred alternative. Bellevue City Council in a 4-3 vote selected B3 Modified-C2T-D2A over the C7 surface alternative. Other than the Bel-Red corridor the ST proposal incorporates nothing of what Bellevue wants. Maybe the idea is to present a surface alternative that is so antithetical to what Bellevue will accept that it will force a yes vote on funding a tunnel. But then they push forward the tunnel idea Bellevue rejected.

    For: Wright Runstad, ?
    Against: Surry Downs, Kemper Freeman (and downtown business), Overlake Medical
    Ambivalent: City of Redmond, Microsoft

    1. Not much point to have one there and S. Bellevue, I guess in the future one could be added but we are already making this too much of a milk run for my tastes…

  7. Also, it looks like maybe E2 was selected to eventually connect north to Woodinville rather than south to Sammamish? Or possibly east to Kirkland?

  8. In the City’s presentation to the board they proposed having a station roughly at Leary Way and the BNSF ROW. The idea being it is a bit closer to the transit center and the West side of downtown than Redmond Town Center.

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