Tunnel Station (by the author... I think)
Tunnel Station (by the author... I think)

Sound Transit is looking at a cheaper option for a tunnel through Bellevue.

The new tunnel would go under 110th instead of 108th, meaning the main station would be one “superblock” away from the Bellevue Transit Center, at 110th and 4th. This tunnel would also be about half the length of the preferred tunnel alternative – cutting costs significantly.

This alternative also appears to avoid cutting off access to Meydenbauer Center and the adjacent buildings’ loading dock, as the C2T option had before. It would turn east underground and run through the northern half of the City Hall site before crossing 405.

There’s an additional upside and downside here. The upside is that it’s likely the next station could be on the other side of 405 – where Bellevue City Council wants more development. The downside is that the Bellevue Transit Center station would be farther from the residential development north of NE 8th.

Overall, it cuts the length of tunneling from 5000′ to about 2000′.

161 Replies to “New Bellevue Tunnel Option?”

  1. It surprises me that seeing how “new” Bellevue is that they didn’t plan any type of underground tunnel for public transportation. You can’t tell me that anyone on their urban planning committee didn’t see this boom coming to the area. Even if it sat unused for several years, it would’ve been a lot cheaper to do it then than now. Sigh, I love the forethought people put into things.

    On another note, why tunnel? Why not do a cut and cover? Might be traffic hell in the short term, but wouldn’t this be a cheaper and faster option overall?

    1. I wonder how much faster cut-and-cover is than deep-bored. Supposedly over time deep-boring has become closer in price to cut-and-cover.

      1. Also to add to the convo – besides the possible unsightliness, why not consider an elevated line? I honestly like the look of the support structures of the monorail in Seattle – minimal footprint and IMO, it still feels “open”, though I can’t say that it doesn’t affect traffic by killing a lane. I guess the biggest obstacle would be the stations as they do require a larger area, though with some thoughtful planning, they could be somewhat integrated with a parking garage or building.

        Note: I’m not saying build a monorail, just stating I think that the support structure is viable and doesn’t detract too much from the surroundings.

      2. One of the Council members expressed a plan to me at a neighborhood meeting last night using elevated along 114th. Can’t really complain about noise since this route is up against I-405.

        The new “tunnel light” seems better than the more expensive alternative the ST board was proposing. Maybe even better than the tunnel the City Council identified as Bellevue’s preferred alternative.

        There is no “one good place” for a stop in downtown Bellevue. No matter where you put it the majority of people will need some sort of circulator. The good think is the city is doing a lot to provide mid block pedestrian access. Still sucks for bikes but walking is getting much better.

      3. This alignment on 110th pretty much gives up on serving the downtown retail core on Bellevue Way. Kemper Freeman would be pleased; no transit to interfere with his auto-oriented retail realm.

      4. The monorail downtown isn’t too bad, but it does make 5th pretty sketch and there’s not many businesses along there. And elevated light rail has a much higher footprint than monorail so that would just kill that street in Downtown Bellevue.

      5. There are actually a ton of businesses along the Monorail, the reason it looks kind of sketch is because it’s Belltown on one side and the Denny Triangle on the other. The Denny Triangle has not had nearly the same development focus as Belltown, but will get there eventually.

      6. I was talking with my dad (a civil engineer) about tunnels over the weekend. The best quote was, “When you dig a tunnel, you never know what you’ll really find.” I think Sound Transit discovered that with Beacon Hill, and there will probably be tunnel boring issues with Capitol Hill (hopefully small ones). I hope we never have to find out about the waterfront.

    1. That is close to where one of the elevated options would have put a station and close to one side of the 108th/110th at-grade couplet.

      Given how long Link platforms are I suspect the North entrance to a 110th/4th station would be pretty close to 6th which puts it right near one end of the transit center.

      Still the best ridership is going to be by putting a station more or less directly under the transit center.

      1. Some of the cost savings is by putting the curve under the empty lot north of the City Hall, instead of under Meydenbauer Center, probably with even the portal south of NE 6th. That means the north end of the station platform will be close to NE 4th, and the south near NE 2nd. So the station will not be that close to the transit center for easy connections and it will be farther from the overall downtown center of activity which really ranges from Main to NE 12th, and from 100th to 112th, so it centers at 106th & NE 6th. The station should really by under the present transit center with the TC directly above it.

      1. “doors to my left” work much better for underground stations. A center platform means that if you wanted to get off the train and catch one in the other direction you don’t need to go to the surface (or mezzanine if there is one), then go back down. They also mean smaller station excavated areas, and less circulation equipment, as the single platform can share elevators, and the like. From what I’ve seen of the construction documents, Capitol Hill, Husky Stadium, and Brooklyn stations are all center platform.

      2. Beacon Hill is also center platform. Unfortunately, the DSTT is side platform because of buses, which means that when East Link opens, those coming from Central link are going to have to walk upstairs and back down to transfer .

      3. From what I can tell, the DST stops have enough room in there to add a center platform once we finally kick the buses out. “Doors to my right and left”?

      4. For a transfer station, only ID station would need to be retrofitted. It looks to me like it might be wide enough to add a center platform, but unlike the other stations, it lacks a mezzanine level and the access to the platform would be difficult.

      5. To rehash a VERY old issue here: I haven’t seen Metro drivers utilize the astoundingly expensive passing lane in the DSTT stations for years. How expensive were they? Well, consider: a single center platform would have taken around 75% of the space compared to separate side platforms. Also, 2 lanes v. 3 would have taken 2/3 the space. Oh and, the cost of vertical access to both sides (escalators, elevators, and stairs) is double as it’s provided to on BOTH sides. The original designers of the DSTT did the best they could with the parameters that they were given in the early 1980’s but its annoying to see an exorbitantly costly center lane go to waste for no apparent reason. Almost every day I witness a bay “C” bus idle behind a stalled bay “D” bus and contribute to DSTT delays.

      6. Two things with the passing lane. I don’t think it worked out the way the planners were hoping and I believe the operating rules since Link started up prohibit the buses from passing each other once they’ve entered the shared section of the tunnel.

        I suspect even if the passing lane hadn’t been put in when the DSTT was built it likely would have been side rather than center platform because buses tend to have doors to the right. If the tunnel had center platforms Metro would have either had to buy special buses with left side doors (at the cost of some seats) or have the buses cross to left side driving at either end of the tunnel.

      7. Zed, that’s how the Bellevue TC works.

        I think that once we do clear out the buses and hopefully make 3rd a real transit mall, then the tunnel can undergo a second renovation that make it a true metro and transfer friendly at ID. Even if a center platform can’t be laid down, I think it would be ideal to put up a barrier or fence through the center of the roadway.

      8. Obviously Metro buses didn’t pass when they were the old Bredas. Then with the newer hybrids they passed for a couple of years. Then they stopped, long before Link started. Anyone know exactly why?

      9. Ah… I remember that. It used to be dark in there! Why did the hybrid buses stop passing long before Link operations began?

  2. Many people disembarking Link in Bellevue will be wanting to transfer to buses at the BTC. I know that area. That’s a 5 minute walk. 10 if you’re elderly or disabled. The station needs to be closer.

      1. It might not be the brightest idea, but as Rummy would say, you go to war with the streetgrid and budget you have, not the one you want. Or something.

      2. I’m really not sure we should be looking to a disgraced ex-secretary of defense and architect of the biggest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam for wisdom on how to plan a transit system through downtown Bellevue.

      3. The fact that dozens of systems fail to make transfers convenient is no reason why we should follow their example. You may have noticed that transit accounts for about 3% of all trips in the united states. We are trying to attract choice riders here and convenience matters.

        The transit literature is very clear on this point: people hate transferring. It is one of the most frustrating and unpleasant aspects of taking transit. The transit systems that are really successful either eliminate the need for transfers as much as possible or go to great lengths to make transfers convenient. It makes no sense to spend $15 billion on a light rail system then shoot ourselves in the foot ridership wise in order to save a few million. Build it right the first time and you don’t have to fix it later.

      4. Well, they could make it fun, like in Mexico City’s La Raza transfer station, which is a 20-minute walk through the “Tunnel of Science!”

      5. No, seriously, the north end of the station will probably be like thirty feet from BTC. It’s unlikely to be an issue.

      6. Impossible that it’s 30 feet if the curve and portal are on the property between city hall and NE 6th St. There’s a reason they are calling it NE 4th St – that’s the marketing name for a stop that’s probably closer to NE 2nd.

      7. The literature is actually clearer than you think.

        People don’t mind transferring if it’s easy.

        A timed cross-platform transfer hurts ridership very little.

        A trip up or down an escalator/elevator, across an overhead/underground walkway, and down to another platform, where the next train is waiting (Clapham Junction? Sydney Central?) hurts ridership somewhat, less on a long-distance trip than on a short one.

        A blocks-long march through wiggly corridors followed by a long wait hurts ridership a lot.

        Waiting on a street corner looking for a bus which you’re not sure stops right there kills ridership dead

    1. assuming the middle of the platform will be under 110th/4th then the North end of the platform will be halfway up the block and the surface entrance could easily be almost at the corner of 110th/6th which is the East end of the Bellevue transit center.

      Yes it isn’t as good as a station directly under the transit center or along 108th centered on 6th, but it is better than one on 112th or 114th.

    2. Agreed. ST has a long standing habit of coming very close to activity centers, but not quite getting there. On a case by case basis, this might be OK, but taken together these near-misses will take a toll on the system. It’s cumulative.

      As an example, north link connects this region’s two largest centers (CBD + UW) but the UW stations are located 2 blocks west of campus’ edge (brooklyn station) and on the the far SE corner across from a huge intersection (UW station). Despite running under the very heart and core of this region’s #2 activity center, LINK only offers stops at peripheral locations.

      Some trip based examples:

      +First Hill to Airport: Take the trolley to IDS, transfer to LINK, ride 38 minutes, walk over 1000 feet to the nearest terminal.

      +UW central campus to Rainier Beach (the actual neighborhood, not the station). Walk 5-10 minutes, use a pedestrian bridge, descend over 100 feet in stages, ride a train for about 30 minutes, walk 1/2 mile).

      +Future: Washington state convention center to Bellevue Square – walk 5-7 blocks to Westlake (because ST opted to not build a convention place station), ride the train for at least 25 !minutes, walk another 1/2 mile.

      Given Bellevue’s importance in this region, I strongly hope that ST breaks it’s pattern of serving the periphery of activity centers and instead places a station as centrally located as Westlake is. 110th is, frankly, the periphery of the periphery.

      1. I think you may not be accurately gauging where the ridership comes from at UW. To the west of campus is the most dense residential neighborhood in the state – maybe even in the pacific northwest. The southern station well serves the stadia and the hospital.

        A half block walk isn’t taking any kind of toll on ridership. Look at how people actually make mode choices. You walk just as far if you park somewhere.

      2. In the case of UW it might not be sound transit’s fault. The university didn’t want the train to go under the middle of campus.

        The campus and the hospital attract tens of thousands of people every day of the year and the stadium does six days a year. So we build a station that has great access to the stadium, ok for the hospital and lousy for the rest of campus. That fits in nicely with a lot of other decisions that ST has made.

      3. The Montlake Station will be a major inter modal transfer point for all buses coming across 520. UW certainly doesn’t want that traffic in the middle of it’s campus. The campus is designed for walking, not driving. The hospital parking garage will be directly accessed by Link. You can’t get any better than that. You can’t have thousands of non hospital riders any closer to the hospital entrance. It’s not just Huskey Stadium. There’s also Hec Ed. Both of these are used for a lot of activities besides Football and basketball. Many of the events aren’t even UW events. Plus the station is right next to the main parking lot so it’s not like students aren’t already accustom to walking.

        There is nowhere in Bellevue that puts people within an easy (less than 5 min.) walk of any more than one or two of the dozen or so places it needs to serve and there’s no justification for looping back and forth and building multiple stations. There’s more jobs in the CBD of Seattle than there is population in all of Bellevue.

        I would like to see a stop at the Convention Center, perhaps with a bus interchange/I-5 Flyer stop? Maybe after they’re done using that area for construction staging?

      4. It will be interesting to see what happens with Convention Place Station, which has great access to the I-5 commute lanes.

        The actual Convention Center (7th and Pike) is about 3 blocks from the station–it’s basically just as close to Westlake Station.

      5. Oh, and “the university didn’t want the train to go under the middle of campus” is completely false. They didn’t want it under Portage Bay and the part of campus next to 15th Ave NE, the original preferred alignment, because that would go under Physics and Geology (Johnson Hall).
        http://dailyuw.com/2004/2/26/light-rail-showcases-new-plans-in-kane/

        The current preferred North Link alignment past Husky Stadium goes through the middle of campus instead of along 15th.

      6. The Daily got it wrong. Sound Transit and the UW had an agreement regarding the original preferred alternative across Portage Bay and along 15th. Construction risk and much higher than expected bids on the Portage Bay tunnel forced Sound Transit to look at alternate alignments. One of those alignments had crossing the ship canal at Montlake. Sound Transit initially proposed for the Montlake alignments to have a station at Rainier Vista between Stevens Way and Pacific. The UW objected to having the rail tunnel pass directly under Rainier Vista and the Science Quad. The UW suggested an alternate alignment with a station at Husky Stadium. This is more or less the alignment that was chosen for U Link.

      7. Actually Belltown, Capitol Hill, and First Hill are denser residential neighborhoods than the U District. Still the University District is rather dense compared to most of the rest of the region and The Brooklyn Station is located in the commercial heart of the University District Urban Center Village. There is a reason NE 45th and University Way NE is a major transfer point already.

        Most of the busiest transit routes through the University District don’t actually go up onto the main campus. The 48, 71/72/73/74, 49, 43, 44, 70, etc. all pass along the edge of the UW campus but pass through the main part of the University District commercial area.

        The UW station and Brooklyn station are closer to most of the classroom buildings on campus than the giant Montlake parking lots.

      8. Yeah, though the 2000 census didn’t count students (highrise dorms) in residential density. I’d love to see the surface lots along Brooklyn redeveloped like Vancouver’s West End: green space and podium/tower highrises. If only I was a billionaire. :)

      9. Correctly adjusting the 2000 census for dorms actually does leave UW higher than Belltown or First Hill.

      10. “You walk as far when you park somewhere”

        1.) when parking you walk once: from your car to the store / office. With Link, you have a long walk on both ends of the trip.
        2.) With the exception of UW, people never park 1/2 mile away from their destination, not even if you park at the very edge of a Walmart super center.

        “A half block walk isn’t taking any kind of toll on ridership.”

        True, but half a mile will.

        “Look at how people actually make mode choices.”

        Agreed, most people make choices based on a multivariable utility function, choosing the option that minimizes their fully qualified user cost. This generally takes into account safety, time, comfort, convenience and marginal monetary expense. People tend to value station access (walking) time at about 1.5 times their hourly wage. A ten minute walk for someone making $20 per hour amounts to a $5 time penalty (dollar equivalent). Throw one of those on each end of a one way trip and your round trip time penalty is $20 a day and that doesn’t factor in the time cost of actually riding the train, waiting for the train at the station, paying the fare and the loss of option value when one travels without a car. At the margin, that $20 time penalty can make the difference between riding and driving for many people.

        This contrasts with the way rail-o-philes with their cult-like love of trains make decisions, which is to ride the train no matter what because it’s a train.

      11. I’m not sure what you are objecting to here. The U Link decision is a “done deal” at this point. The location of UW station has some advantages and disadvantages vs. the Rainier Vista alternate, but the difference in ridership isn’t dramatic.

        First Hill station would have been nice but it wasn’t worth the billion dollars it would have cost Sound Transit.

        The new proposed tunnel alignment for Bellevue is as an alternative to an at-grade alignment through Downtown Bellevue. The other tunnel alignments may be “better” but they are so expensive they aren’t likely to be built at all. The new alignment also allows a station at the BNSF tracks and NE 8th serving the Hospital and Mid Lakes (aka Auto Row) which the city has targeted for re-development without putting a big wall in front of the convention center.

        Will the downtown Bellevue station lose some riders due to the sligtly less convenient location? Yes it will, but in the overall context of East Link ridership it is a wash with an at-grade alignment through downtown Bellevue.

      12. Actually, the UW stations are pretty close to perfect. The one by Husky Stadium is closest to two very large schools (Engineering and Medicine) and the largest employment center (UWMC). The Brooklyn Station is literally next to the second largest employment center (UW Tower, formerly Safeco) and closer to U-District retail (including the UBookstore). There are also about 4000 non-UW jobs (after subtracting Safeco) in what the city calls the Northwest University Community Urban Village Center:
        http://joshuadf.blogspot.com/2009/07/draft-u-district-status-report-seattle.html
        This is stuff like the PCC headquarters, multistory bank offices, dentists, etc.

        “Central campus” is historic and beautiful, but not where the density lies. Unless you’re talking about academic books, because there are millions of those in Suzzallo Library.

      13. I went into this some in my reply to Ben, but let me say again the Brooklyn Station serves the non-University parts of the University District better than a station on campus would. The Hospital and Health Sciences complex is very well served by the UW Station, this is roughly 1/3 of all of the square footage on the entire UW campus. Sound Transit initially proposed a station along Rainier Vista between Stevens Way and Pacific, but the UW objected to having a rail tunnel running under some of the labs most sensitive to vibration and EM interference. In short Brooklyn Station is in a near ideal location and the UW station isn’t in quite an ideal location but it is damn close to an ideal one. If you don’t believe me look at the ridership projections for the various U District station options in the North Link SEIS.

        – The First Hill station had to be dropped because the extra cost and risk meant ST wasn’t going to get $800 million in FTA grants. While it would have had good ridership, it didn’t add enough to justify spending an extra billion on the station.

        – As airport rapid transit stations go the Airport Link station is actually pretty close to the terminal. The Port and the TSA had as much to do with the station location as Sound Transit did. Besides it isn’t like the current bus stop is all that close to the Alaska or United gates and check in counters.

        – What alignment exactly should Sound Transit have followed in order to serve Rainier Beach better? Swinging over to serve the RB neighborhood directly would have added travel time for people going further South.

        – Due to the need for U Link to pass under I-5 it wasn’t practical to put a station at Convention Place. It was looked at and dropped very early on in the alignment planning. Sound Transit also took another look at it in the SEIS they did for North Link as part of a possible Eastlake alignment to serve the Denny Triangle and SLU better. There was a large drop in ridership and greatly increased construction risk due to the unstable slope I-5 sits on. I’m told it might be possible to someday put an infill station in along the stub tunnel, but that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

        – A Bellevue station at 110th & 4th is still going to be more or less in the middle of most of the office space in downtown Bellevue. Due to platform length the North entrance of the station will very likely be right at the East end of the current transit center. While there will be some drop in ridership compared to 108th & 6th it won’t be dramatic.

      14. Convention Place would be a good place to terminate some trains that do not need to go all the way to Northgate. Either with a station or with a yard for extra train storage … or both.

      15. Actually all of the trains will need to go to Northgate. The Northgate to ID is where the heaviest concentration of ridership will be once ST2 is built out. The South and East segments are each expected to see roughly half the ridership of the North segment, most of that between Northgate and downtown.

        I suspect the future of the Convention Place station is as a bus holding area and possibly a transfer station along the lines of the transbay terminal or Port Authority bus stations in NYC.

      16. I like the streetcar barn idea that was pitched here on the STB a while ago. And sometime in the next decade they’ll probably build an expansion of the convention center in the airspace over Convention Place Station.

      17. “Sound Transit initially proposed a station along Rainier Vista between Stevens Way and Pacific, but the UW objected to having a rail tunnel running under some of the labs most sensitive to vibration and EM interference.”

        When you are spending $15 billion dollars on a piece of 100 year infrastructure for which a few thousand feet makes the difference between riding and driving for a choice rider, you don’t move the station, you move the physics lab.

        “Due to the need for U Link to pass under I-5 it wasn’t practical to put a station at Convention Place.”

        Convention place would have been a good alternative to the First Hill station, the streetcar (or whatever) could simply have gone up Boran and served the heart of First Hill via a straight shot, rather than gracing the edge of First Hill as the Broadway alignment does, or running through a convoluted zig-zag and the proposed Madison-Boran alignment does. Why exactly was it considered impractical?

      18. …You move the Physics lab

        Tony,

        It should be evident that ST would have been on the hook for the full expense of moving it, and UW would have every incentive to load as many costs as possible onto the project.

        Link may be a 100-year project, but there is zero consensus that it should be given the blank check that implies. Until we get a State that is inclined to top up ST with the general fund, we’re not going to be able to take on side projects that cost hundreds of millions, all in effort to a provide service to an entity (UW) that clearly doesn’t want it that much.

      19. The UW suggested the current U-Link alignment as an alternative to the Rainier Vista alignment. While telling the UW to move the labs seems like a better idea in the long-term, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Since the UW is a public agency Sound Transit can’t use eminent domain on them and any use of UW property has to be done with UW co-operation. Furthermore the UW could have forced extremely expensive vibration and EM field mitigation measures on Sound Transit.

        According to the SEIS there really wasn’t a big ridership drop with relocating the station. One advantage of the new location is it will be easier to make transit connections with the buses passing through Montlake especially those heading across 520.

        Remember the UW is a bit of a special case for choice riders as the institution makes taking transit fairly easy with the U Pass and punishes SOV drivers with high parking fees and distant parking lots.

        Due to the unstable slope on Capitol Hill Link needs to pass under I-5 at close to a 90 degree angle, it also needs to be deep enough to pass under the express lanes. The initial Link segment also required a tail track and crossover at the North end of the line. All of this would have required a near complete reconstruction of the Convention Place station. A station might have been built as part of the stub tunnel, but this would have added cost and also would have required extensive rebuilding of Convention Place.

        Perhaps someone who is more familiar with Sound Transit’s decision making process on Convention Place can give a bit more detail on why it was dropped from Central and U Link.

        The good news is it might be possible to put an infill station in the stub tunnel. But this isn’t likely any time soon. At the very least it will need to wait for the buses to get kicked out of the DSTT.

      20. Martin, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the UW doesn’t want Link all that much, just that they want it on their own terms. Though big universities have a weird habit of forcing rapid transit to the edges of campus or off campus entrely. Compared to elsewhere the UW and ST have a better relationship than has been typical elsewhere.

      21. There’s nothing “weird” about it. No more so than Microsoft having Overlake station in the middle of it’s campus. U-Link is supposed to generate something like 60,000 riders per day. The vast majority are not students or staff. It would be insane to want that activity on campus. The foot traffic and the large number of bus connections it will generate belong in a buffer zone at the edge of campus. Both Station locations are ideally suited for this.

      22. One advantage of the new location is it will be easier to make transit connections with the buses passing through Montlake especially those heading across 520.

        And remember that in all of the westside options for the 520 rebuild the Flyer Stop at Montlake is history. And when U Link opens that pretty much eliminates buses from 520 to downtown using the transit tunnel. The only viable solution will be a transfer at Montlake to Link. Hopefully WSDOT will settle on option K and integrate it closely with the Link station.

      23. 1000 feet from station to terminal…and you think that’s a bad deal? That is pretty good compared to other airport to rail connections I have seen. Actually, the current station at Tukwila via shuttle bus is a better connection than many airports I’ve been to.

      24. I’m really hoping the airport will set up a travelator/moving walkway through the garage. It would seem absurd not to.

      25. The Brooklyn Station will be on 45th one block away from the Ave. What exactly makes that a “near miss?” That is the single busiest commercial area in the U District.

      26. I guess it qualifies as a “near miss” if you only consider the University itself as a destination in the neighborhood. Even that is a bit flawed since the University has a large amount of office space including the old Safeco Tower along 45th.

  3. Is there some reason 110th and 6th wouldn’t work as a station location? Is it that construction would mean displacing the Transit Station? It seems like the ideal place for a station is right next to where the buses are already.

    1. 110th and 4th isn’t far enough to really discourage transfers – and yeah, it’s expensive to tear up the station and rebuild it.

      1. Do you have any data on that, Ben? It may not be far enough to discourage you from transferring, but you are a fit young person who doesn’t own a car, you and I are not really representative of the marginal choice rider. The mode choice literature indicates that people consider one minute of out-of-vehicle time equivalent to 3 minutes of in-vehicle time. A five minute walk to make a transfer has the same impact on the overall convenience of the trip of adding 15 minutes to the line haul.

      2. mode choice literature indicates that people consider one minute of out-of-vehicle time equivalent to 3 minutes of in-vehicle time.

        As evidenced by the mall shoppers that will drive around for 5 minutes to find a spot 30 seconds closer to the entrance. Not going to get those folks on the bus anyway. Of course they’ll walk the length of the mall to go back and save 50 cents on an item. What’s really a crack up is the same driving around to find the spot closest to the door behavior at the health club ;-)

        BTC was not put where it is with any great forethought and planning. I’m sure this can be made to work and given the problems with the downsides of alignment under the transit center anyway this looks like a win. Think how much we’ll save on health care if everyone started walking 10 minutes a day :=

        FWIW, I’ve found the retired set that seems to make up the majority of the condo owners north of 8th (the only demographic that can afford to live there) are not only willing to walk they moved there because they’d rather walk than drive.

      3. If mall shoppers are willing to walk that far, here’s the solution: build a continuous underground shopping corridor between the station, the TC, and Bellevue Square. I’ve walked through one in Singapore and it’s pretty nice.

      4. Talk to Kemper Jr. You might just be on to something! Really, walk one end of a mall like South Center or even Bell Square (counting the parking garage) and it’s way more than 5 minutes. Stores design it so that you spend that much time just walking past their displays.

      5. RE: Underground shopping corridor between Bellevue TC and Bellevue Square –

        There’s also a massive underground shopping center in the Sannomiya district of Kobe, right near the JR and Hankyuu stations. I’m not sure if they connect up or not (seriously, it’s a maze down there), but I’m sure such a thing would not be unprecedented.

      6. The distance from the northern entrance of a 110th/4th station would be roughly the same as the length of the Bellevue TC from end to end. That’s not bad, at all, even for the elderly who I constantly see hoofing it up hills. If the project can fund a walkway (covered: ideal) that connects to the TC, install proper wayfinding, then accessibility will be no problem. It would be no worse than the walkway from the Canada Line’s Waterfront platform to the surface station.

      1. This article http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/bellevueblog/2009937570_soundtransitstudyinganotherlightrailtunneloptionfordowntownbelle.html says that the routing curves east south of NE 6th St. Given the need for the curve, and that the station needs to be on a straight section of track, the platforms will end near NE 4th St and extend south of there. While there could be a pedestrian tunnel, the station is at NE4th and removed farther removed from most activity centers and destinations in Bellevue than a BTC station would be.

      1. Right, I’m not saying the station, I’m saying an entrance. The entrances could be across the street from the actual station, as is common in Downtown Seattle. We’d have to get more information.

  4. 110th? Isn’t that right next to the Bravern? WE CAN’T DISTURB THE PRECIOUS BRAVERN!!!1!!ONE!! ;)

    On a more serious note, while that’s okay for connection to the existing bus transit center, it’s fairly far from Bell Square. It seems like running along 108th with exit/entrance stairs at the intersection of 108th and 6th would be the most central location to meet both transit and the highest density of shopping in the area. There’s a bunch of older, non-skyscraper type buildings on the West side of 108th south of 6th as well. Could those be bought out inexpensively for a station construction project?

    1. Another advantage of a 108th Ave tunnel alignment is that you could build an underground pedestrian concourse along NE 6th from 106th NE to an underground level of the light rail station. It would make a pedestrian connection between the station and Bellvue Square mostly flat. Also, pedestrians along the NE 6th corridor could take advantage of the station elevators to get to the street level transit center and the local office buildings.

      1. Cost effective on what time horizon? 50 years from now we’ll never miss the $200 million, but people will be complaining, “Why did those idiots put the station so far away from everything?”

      2. The problem is that $200 million is possibly the difference between an at-grade alignment through downtown Bellevue and a tunnel. If Bellevue can’t come up with the difference between the at-grade and even this reduced tunnel then Bellevue is still going to get an at-grade alignment.

  5. I say go elevated along 108th, that place is already dark enough with the skyscrapers blocking sunlight.

    But let’s try to go for an elevated design something like Chicago’s old El lines in downtown, i dunno, that would be really cool

    1. Have you ever even been to downtown Bellevue? I have never had the impression that it is dark or that the skyscrapers block out the light. It may look dense from far away, but most of the land in downtown Bellevue is still parking lots. Those towers are spaced very far apart by Seattle standards.

      1. They’re also especially tall compared by Seattle standards. The 94 year old Smith Tower is taller than the tallest building in Bellevue.

      2. Is Tokyo not a real city? What about San Francisco? Those cities don’t have any buildings as tall as Seattle’s tallest.

        Say what you will about the city, but in terms of skyscrapers, we more than hold our own for a city of our size. Our closest peers Portland and Vancouver, BC don’t come close.

      3. Tokyo’s (or Paris more likely) is a perfect illustration of how a few tall buildings doesn’t magically turn your place into a real city.

      4. Agreed.

        I just was taking issue with the idea that by “real city standards” the height of Seattle’s skyscrapers is something to snicker at.

      5. But Tokyo, San Francisco, and even Portland and Vancouver BC have many buildings taller than the tallest building in Bellevue.

        As for San Francisco the Transamerica Pyramid and 555 California (the BofA building) are both taller than any building in Seattle other than the Columbia Center.

      6. That Emporis ranking is arbitrary and mechanical. It’s like ranking a painting by awarding points for the number of brush strokes. 1 point for a 19 story building, but 5 points for a 20 story building? What? 5 points for a 29 story building, but 25 points for a 30 story building!?

        According to Emporis (http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/1671/05bi6.jpg) beats the skylines of Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, BC, and Taipei. Really….???

        I will agree with Emporis on the #1 skyline, though: Hong Kong’s has it all. Density (residential towers like Vancouver BC supercharged), massive commercial skyscrapers with height and interesting and unique designs (like Seattle supercharged) and interesting natural features such as the mountains, fog and the bay.

  6. The transit center is already a 18 min walk from me near lake washington, I would really hope with only one stop it would be close to the center of town…

    1. In 20 years or so, 110th and 4th will be close to the center of town. Downtown Bellevue is growing east, not west.

  7. Here’s a link to a Seattle Times article about it. The mayor’s looking favorably at it. If it’s $250 million instead of $500 million there’s obviously a much better chance that this could actually be built. Deferring the Bel-Red stations will get a chunk of it. Not wasting the money on studying a surface alignment which will never happen would save some more. Adopt B7 and you’re just about there ;-)

    1. I don’t think it can get as low as 250. The station is a big component of the cost. I suspect 300.

    2. Any money saved from adopting B7 or deleting Bel-Red stations will go elsewhere in the project. Sound Transit has said it will only contribute the cost of the surface alignment toward whatever is finally done for segment C. There may be some more horse trading before everything settles out, but I don’t think Sound Transit is willing to cheap out on the rest of East Link just so Bellevue can have its tunnel.

      Look at it this way Bellevue has the second largest sales, MVET, and property tax base in King County after Seattle. If any city can find a spare $300 million somewhere it is Bellevue. Between a TBD and a downtown LID I’m guessing the City is most of the way to covering the cost of the “tunnel lite”.

    3. Your comment about B7 is spot on – it’s within 1 1/2 miles of Eastgate which is projected to yield 11,000 riders in 2030 – by far the most riders in the region per mile of track for the next phase of light rail post ST2. Compare this to the paltry 3,000 riders expected for the 3 1/2 mile segment to Redmond in ST2 for $550 million or the entire 18 mile ST2’s 45,000 riders – getting to Eastgate as quickly as possible is a no-brainer.

      1. Getting to Eastgate quickly is a nice goal, but adopting B7 now is a bad way to go about it. The station at 118th is so far north that most users of Eastgate/South Bellevue park and rides will be inconvenienced far more than under any of the other B plans, and is probably why ST predicts segment boardings for B7 to be only a quarter of B1, B2, or B3 (1000 vs 4000+ daily segment boardings). Plus Bellevue Way is only 2 miles away from Eastgate, so it’s not like it would be that much more expensive to make a connection from there.

      2. ST estimates the cost of B7 at $510 million vs $520 million for B3, the alternative selected by the ST board. The portion of B7’s cost to cross the Mercer Slough is $125 million. Thus crossing the slough now would cost no more than B3 and would save $125 million on ST3. Plus the additional congestion to Bellevue Way would be avoided. Over 75% of those voicing an opinion on the routing of the B segment in comments to the DEIS preferred B7 vs B3 (250 for B7 vs 70 for B3).

    4. They shouldn’t defer the Bel-Red Stations. They are very important to making that corridor a vibrant place. The plans they have for there, for up to 20 story buildings of offices, apartments, condos, and retail, all interspersed with parks and centered around the two light rail stations, are great, and we should make sure they can move forward.

    1. No, it saves Bellevue voters money as ST has already said that anything that cost more than there first choice is funded by Bellevue.

      1. Yeah, still looking for Bellevue to realize that {why gosh} many workers come from east King County. Need more/different economies (or revenue) to get that essential part built. But it’s encouraging that this 1/2 price alternative just “suddenly” appeared.

    2. No. It just means the amount of money Bellevue has to come up with for a tunnel is lower. This has no effect on Sound Transit’s budget.

  8. That station location is significantly inferior to the Bellevue Transit Center. It’s a long walk from a lot of important destintions in downtown Bellevue.

    1. Given that it’s likely one of the entrances would be AT BTC, don’t make false assumptions before you look at a design.

    2. This Seattle Times article http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/bellevueblog/2009937570_soundtransitstudyinganotherlightrailtunneloptionfordowntownbelle.html says it will curve east south of NE 6th St. If it curves east south of NE 6th, and the station needs to be in a straight area, the station will be several hundred yards south of the Bellevue Transit Center – which is why they are calling it NE 4th St. There is no way that this station is centered in the area of development, and not much development will occur east of there as it is a steep hillside and then hard by the freeway.

      1. The North end of the platform still could be North of NE 4th quite easily, a full Bellevue “block” isn’t needed to make the turn. With the run-out for escalators and space for a mezzanine along with perhaps a short pedestrian tunnel there is no reason there can’t still be an entrance AT the Bellevue transit center.

        See the SCCC entrance to the Capitol Hill station or compare the location of the Westlake Station entrances to the actual ends of the platforms.

        In any case if this option means Bellevue gets a tunnel rather than an at-grade alignment I’m all for it.

  9. What about elevated N/S along 106th? Given the grades in the area, a high station @ 6th could host a mezzanine (below the track/platform level) that essentially takes the east/west ped corridor through the station mezzanine. Riders would descend from the platform to the mezzanine and proceed to walk (about) 2 blocks west to Bel Square, and 1 block east to the TC. Given that Metro already has bus bays on 106th, many riders could simply descend to street level to make local connections. On top of all of this, riders going west (to the Bellevue CBD/square) and going east (to the TC) would simply descend on ramps. I’m just saying…

    1. What about it? We didn’t select it. It’s been studied and thrown out, and it’s not coming back, because everyone involved will go out there with pitchforks to stop it.

      1. The City of Bellevue, the Bellevue Chamber, and the citizens at large really don’t want any sort of elevated alignment through downtown Bellevue.

      2. Actually, it wasn’t. Perhaps you are thinking of the 110th elevated option. 106th would offer a couple advantages, such as centrality, and it could disappear into the hillside as it leaves downtown southbound, reducing the elevated mileage and visual effect. It’s hardly unprecedented to throw in modified alternatives between an DEIS and EIS, and it sounds like this is what is happening w/ this recent 110th tunnel proposal.

  10. This blog is almost impossible to read on the iPhone. What happened to the iPhone friendly theme you used to have? (WPtouch?)

    1. I read this blog every day on my iPhone without problems – unless that is I’m reading an individual article because the comments section gets the whole page mis-formatted. If I really want to read the comments I’ll wait until I get to my home or work computer.

      I for one disliked the “iPhone friendly theme” and am glad it disappeared.

      1. I disliked the iPhone theme as well, especially since it wasn’t easy to opt out.

        I read the main blog as well as articles with comments with no problem on my iPhone. An RSS reader like Google reader helps, especially with following comments as they come in.

      1. i can’t read this blog on the iphone either – in both format and portrait modes the font is way too small. iPhone 3GS, latest sw. I read lots of other WordPress blogs but the theme on this one just isn’t very mobile friendly.

  11. I can’t help but feel that East Link is going to be half-assed somehow, and all because people like Kemper Freeman are too rich, selfish, and stupid for their own good.

  12. It’s not a superblock. Eastside superblocks are 8 blocks long. Bellevue Square to the BTC is 4 blocks. This station would be a mere 2 blocks from the transit center, and with the promenades between buildings it would look like part of the transit center/buildings complex.

    The original transit center was on 106th; then it was moved between 108th and 110th. It was never convenient to Bellevue Square, although they tried to mitigate this with a promenade. For years it was just concrete and parking lots, but now 106th is looking quite nice; they even even incorporated the air-conditioning duct sculpture that was abandoned when the TC moved. But the part between 108th and 110th is still concrete and ashpalt.

    Moving the transit center to the other side of the freeway (the BNSF tracks) might be possible if Bellevue committed to major development there (it’s currently a no-man’s land). That would require a shuttle to get to Bellevue Square. On the other hand, the current TC is not in an excellent location either. But I expect that with the high-rises that have been built around the TC expecting it to remain there, it can’t be moved.

  13. A well-done surface alignment on Bellevue streets would be far and away the best balance of cost and benefit for a transit- and pedestrian-friendly Bellevue. The shortsighted approach of Bellevue “interests” is shocking. If a tunnel is ever needed, one could be built later and the surface transit corridors be retained for buses and rail. Check out downtown Portland some time. Surface rail allows affordable stops to be placed at closer intervals downtown, access to stops is easy, signal preemption can work, tunnels are unpleasant, streets are activitated with pedestrians, and the modest travel time increase is a worthwhile tradeoff.

  14. Martin H. Duke, ST would have been wise to fund a station within an easy, short walk of the center of campus. There should have been a station at or near the HUB; ST took the easy way out in bowing to UW. Not that Husky Stadium Station is a bad thing, but it does not directly serve campus let alone the District.

    1. Why? I had to hike plenty between classes at Bagley and the Health Sciences. If you’re a student you’d better be prepared to cover the entire campus. But more importantly this station isn’t for students. Most of them live on or near campus. It’s not a community college. In contrast the majority of Link users are going to be going to jobs (like at the hospital) or transfering and having that level of activity in the center of campus would be awful.

      1. A lot of people underestimate how busy Husky Stadium station will be. The Health Sciences building alone has 5,740,000 square feet of floor area, which is nearly as much as all of downtown Bellevue combined. And unlike downtown Bellevue, the building is full enough that just about all of that space is being used.

      2. Gotta love that. We can fit downtown Bellevue into one building!

        The distance between the far ends of the complex is longer than walking from the east edge of the Bellevue Transit Center to Bellevue Square.

      3. From the BDA:

        Downtown Bellevue covers 400 acres and includes nearly 5 million square feet of retail and entertainment uses and more than 6 million square feet of office space. There are more than 35,000 workers and nearly 5,000 residents housed in downtown.

        So no, Health Sciences has about as many sqft as either the retail or the office space in DT Bellevue. Half of Health Sciences is class rooms and the other half is hallways that don’t connect to anything else :=

      4. Actually the vast majority of UW students live off campus these days. It is much higher than many of the UW’s peer institutions. Those buses going into the U District in the morning have a rather large number of students getting off of them.

    2. Of course, “Bow Down to Washington!” ;-)

      A lot of students already walk from the medical center bus stop or from the Ave to campus. There will be a station next to the Ave by the UW tower.

      1. Of course, “Bow Down to Washington!” ;-)

        Oran, if STB did a quote of the day then this would have to be it!

    3. “ST took the easy way out in bowing to UW”

      They really had no choice. The UW might as well be Vatican City.

      The UW class scheduling system always insures that you have back-to-back classes on opposite sides of campus anyways, so most students won’t notice the comparatively short walk to the station.

      I think the Husky Stadium station and the station at 45th and Brooklyn will do an excellent job of serving the U-District.

      1. The UW class scheduling system always insures that you have back-to-back classes on opposite sides of campus

        Good to know tradition is still alive and well at the old alma mater ;^)

    4. The U District will be directly served with the station between 43rd and 45th when North Link opens.

      As for “bowing” to the UW, ST pretty much had no choice. Legally there is little Sound Transit can do to force the UW to let them build on campus, so any construction on UW property pretty much requires agreement from the Board of Regents. It is a similar situation to the Airport station where Sound Transit got to build the station where the Port agreed to allow it.

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