Publicola has a great piece on Kemper Freeman — Bellevue’s resident anti-transit tycoon — funding anti-surface rail candidates for Bellevue’s city council:
Bellevue megadeveloper Kemper Freeman and other longtime light-rail opponents are supporting a slate of candidates in this November’s Bellevue City Council elections that, Freeman hopes, will stymie plans to build light rail at-grade through downtown Bellevue (where most of Freeman’s developments are centered). Freeman, along with members of the anti-light-rail Eastside Transportation Coalition, has given thousands of dollars to the four candidates—more than $3,500 altogether.
In an interview with PubliCola, Freeman made no bones about his desire to halt light rail construction or at least to force light rail underground through Bellevue or, alternately, away from the city center. “Unless you want to just wipe Bellevue off the map, and that may be what some people want, you won’t support” putting light rail on the surface through downtown Bellevue, Freeman says.
Light-rail opponents, having lost their battle against rail in general, are now concentrating on influencing light rail’s route through the city: If light rail goes through downtown Bellevue along Bellevue Way, they want it underground (a change that would add as much as half a billion dollars to the cost); and if they can’t get it underground, they want it moved away from neighborhoods and businesses, to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe right-of-way just east of I-405.
Read the rest of the story at Publicola. What’s funny is that most transit fans in the region would likely prefer a tunnel through Bellevue, though it is widely recognized that Bellevue would have to pay for the extra cost of a tunnel option. However, candidates that support the BNSF alignment not only hurt near-term ridership but also long-term re-development potential.