Downtown Bellevue (WSDOT)
Downtown Bellevue (WSDOT)

[UPDATE 10:15am: Let’s not over-interpret the Bellevue results.  This isn’t a comprehensive voter repudiation of East Link, it’s a local election with inscrutable forces, whose outcome is a Bellevue City Council that is less likely to make good decisions about Light Rail.  “Screw Bellevue” comments are totally unhelpful.]

In the other races we’ve endorsed, the early returns are not good.  Apparently the power of the STB endorsement (in bold below) does not extend much past the Seattle City limits.  Other results are here.

Transportation Benefit District No. 1 (Burien)
YES – 958 – 23.50%
NO – 3118 – 76.50%

Bellevue City Council Position 2
Vicki Orrico – 6817 – 46.55%
Conrad Lee – 7800 – 53.27%

Bellevue City Council Position 4
Kevin R. Wallace – 7012 – 50.95%
Patsy Bonincontri – 6730 – 48.90%

Bellevue City Council Position 6
Michael Marchand – 5320 – 38.72%
Don Davidson – 8385 – 61.04%

Bellevue City Council Position 8
Mike Creighton -5622 – 40.68%
Jennifer Robertson – 6493 – 46.99%
Betina Finley – 1681 – 12.16%

With Kemper Freeman’s apparent clean sweep in Bellevue, it’s clear just how much work we still need to do in the suburbs.  The likelihood of a B7 alignment — missing the population centers and blocking Eastside Commuter Rail forever — just went up.

128 Replies to “Other Early Returns Not Good”

  1. Looking at the Sound Transit maps, it looks like a B7 alignment still allows for downtown access via the transit center. It goes pretty far out of the way to get there, granted but on the other hand isn’t it more likely to be grade separated for a longer duration than any of the segments that proceed along Bellevue Way?

    Also – does B7 have any advantages in terms of land acquisition?

      1. Yeah – I saw that but that’s why I brought up the other questions. I try to avoid Bellevue Way but my recollections are that it’s not a very wide street so I’m wondering how it would be structured in terms of grade separation. In addition, if additional land is required for this alignment, does that create an incentive to go with a B-7 alignment which would run over less used space.

      2. Earlier this year, the Bellevue city council wanted Sound Transit to place the Bellevue Way/112th alignment as a side-running guideway on the east side of the road. If that alignment is ultimately chosen, there will be much less traffic disruption since right-of-way acquisition will be limited to the strip of land east of the street; mostly the edges of Mercer Slough and such.

    1. It doesn’t matter much where it goes between the stations. BNSF would add a miniscule amount to the travel time.

      “blocking Eastside Commuter Rail forever”: light rail on the BNSF corridor would probably be better long-term anyway. Light rail runs every ten minutes, while commuter rail usually runs once an hour or only a few times a day.

    2. Moving the rails to the B7 -BNSF route removes access to transit for my entire neighborhood. I bought into this neighborhood 5 years ago in part because of the great transit access. These prospective council elects want to move the rails so fewer people can actually walk to the station. The Bellevue Way route uses an existing park and ride for a station site. The B7 route would require condemnation of Greenbaum furniture. There is basically no room for TOD around the proposed station site there. THE EIS also documents some problematic environmental constraints. In summary – B7 = reduced ridership, greater environmental impact, and reduced transit access for an entire neighborhood.

      1. If you’re one of the people that hikes down the hill to S. Bellevue P&R then good on you. That P&R isn’t ever going to attract much walk in business. As for TOD around a Willburton station vs the middle of a swamp and a steep embankment it’s no comparison. There was really no reason to put in a stop at the furniture store (other than to match the stop at the muffler shop ;-). The current Council and mostly likely whoever is on board following the election are pretty much in agreement that the South Main Station can just go away which make moving the Greenbaum site north and closer to the “hotel district” a no brainer.

        I don’t know how much the new City Council will push for a change to B7 over the current preferred City of Bellevue B3 modified. The current Council all supported B7 as the next most desired route should ST not adopt the changes to the B3 route. ST has shown interest in the side running part but not to the crucial detour at the intersection with segment C. The ST board needs to come to the realization the light rail will never run along the surface through DT Bellevue.

      2. I wonder, though, just as C9T became an potentially viable tunnel option, couldn’t a better, much less disruptive at-grade variation come forward?

      3. Skipping the South Bellevue P&R has ramifications that extend farther than just the neighborhood surrounding it. The P&R has excellent access to I-90 and I-405 for people and buses coming from points east and south. It also has good access to the I-90 bike trail for people, like me, who don’t always want to ride across the bridge in the dead of winter. And bringing light rail there would also bring a sorely needed increase in parking capacity because of the planned garage. I think it would be a big mistake to skip an established, popular P&R and eliminate access for South Bellevue residents just to appease a small handful of citizens who are against it. Running Link on the east side of Bellevue Way and 112th seems like a reasonable solution to me. It would eliminate most property takings and greatly reduce noise for neighborhoods on the west side of the street. I doubt if you could hear a Link train over the roar of traffic on Bellevue Way anyways. If any station has to be eliminated I think it should be South Main, I just don’t see the point of that station other than increasing property values for redevelopment. If the South Main station were farther west it would be a lot more valuable.

      4. There is a park and ride along I-405 that is closer to downtown Bellevue that would serve just as well and can be expanded to meet the needs of not only South Bellevue but also Woodridge, Kelsey Creek and Wilburton neighborhoods.

      5. It may be closer to Downtown Bellevue, but it would be harder to get to in many cases than the S. Bellevue P&R. Especially for anyone coming from the East or the South … I’ve driven on Richards Road during rush hour before and it is something I avoid if at all possible like 405 between 520 and 90.

      6. S. Bellevue P&R does have good access to I-90. Not so great if you have to battle the interchange from 405, especially coming southbound. The thing is, we’re talking about building a new P&R. It doesn’t have to remain in the swamp. I think it could be moved south into the interchange area or relocate to the I405/I90 interchange and look something like the median facility they built up in Everett. The existing location is extremely limited in terms of expansion. Not really very well suited for a regional hub. And, there is zero available land for development around the station so ridership can’t really grow with the region. Instead you’ll have the same problem as Mercer Island where demand from non-local traffic has the lot almost full by 7AM everyday. I’m pretty sure that if they built the multi story garage today it would be used at or near full capacity just as Mercer Island already is. How’s it going to look ten years from now and with the additional perk of light rail?

    3. B7 has many advantages regarding land acquisitions in that they don’t have to acquire as many properties.

      1. Out of all the alignments studied, B7 has the highest number of business displacements, the greatest impact on wetlands and wildlife habitat, the worst noise pollution, and the lowest ridership. How can you possibly support it?

      2. The business displacement issue is a red herring. ST sited the station deliberately to cause this impact and make the ridership numbers look bad (although system ridership is barely affect even using the stupid furniture store station). Drop South Main and site a single station near Wilburton P&R and the hotel district. Bingo, station costs cut in half (or more) and better ridership. The wetlands comparison would be about the same, possibly worse with the side running modification and there are additional wetland issues with the S. Bellevue station and P&R structure now that they’ve advanced that design. All of the wetland mitigation for B7 is because it crosses the Mercer Slew which is going to have to be done to reach Eastgate and Issaquah. Noise pollution? You’re running next to an interstate instead of through residential and park land. That’s just silly.

      3. Where the heck to do you put the station, P&R garage, and transit center? The Wilburton site is tiny and the land North of SE 8th that doesn’t already have something on it is mostly wetlands.

        Not to mention the location is almost entirely useless for transit or P&R users trying to access it from the South or East.

  2. Bellevue’s loss.

    Someone should tell the City of Seattle to provide incentives to boost the retail core. By the time East Link is done, we should easily have a better luxury center than Bellevue.

      1. I’d have to agree with the first part of that statement. Bellevue is definitely playing catch-up with respect to high end retail. Not so sure about the second part. Increases in the price of crude tend to contract the economy and high end retail will hurt everywhere. There are “sophisticated” urban shoppers that are going to shop downtown Seattle no matter what and there’s “new money” in the suburbs that are going to drive the Escalade no matter what. Given that most of the population growth is outside of the urban core I would expect Seattle to maintain it’s retail but lose market share. One things for sure, the Seattle downtown will never be able to compete on the bargain basement level and there’s a lot of folks that want to window shop the high end stores and then buy at Tarche.

  3. While much smaller potatoes than the Bellevue City races, the defeat of the Burien district is disappointing. The measure was actually a pretty humble one, looking at sidewalks and bike paths to start. But I think people look at a mostly vacant Burien Town Center (without considering context) and consider our first stab at inducing urbanism here to be failure. That and there are still plenty of stick-in-the-muds here who want things to stay the same and not progress. Oh well.

    1. I disagree. While I fully support a walkable and urban Burien, the method of taxation was flawed. Not to mention, any of the sidewalks near my house are not really ADA compliant and need some serious work. It would be nice if they took care of the sidewalks we have first, before adding more.

      Maybe this will send a message to the city council that they need to come up with a better funding solution to their problem. They spent millions on the Town Center, I’m sure we can find a way to build a few sidewalks.

      1. What’s wrong with an MVET? It’s somewhat progressive, related to transportation, and encourages environmentally responsible behavior.

      2. What method of taxation would you have preferred?

        I have to say that I am not impressed by the logic of “why aren’t the improvements near my house.” The sidewalk that was proposed to be fixed in Burien is on 136th Street, which is so far beyond ADA-compliant that it’s frightening and is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I encourage you to take a stroll on it some time.

      3. Been there. I went and looked for myself since pictures couldn’t do it justice. I don’t disagree that there needs to be sidewalks there. However, what do we end up with in the long run if the sidewalks we have aren’t taken care of.

        My point about the sidewalks by my house was an example that I am very familiar with since I walk on them almost every day. It wasn’t meant to say “My sidewalks are more important”. I think Burien, as a whole, needs to improve the walkability of the outling neighborhoods.

        Martin- I don’t really think an MVET encourages any environmenally responsible behavior. I’m not going to walk more or ride my bike because I’m paying $25 more a year for sidewalks and a bike lanes. Now, this specifice MVET, one could argue, would allow for more people to do that, but I hardly see anyone using the new bike lanes the city put in the last couple of years.

      4. The plan was to take care of existing sidewalks on 136th street, which were build decades ago and are dangerously out of compliance with ADA (as well as to build a multi-purpose trail along 8th). So it seems to me that your point that “we should maintain sidewalks we have before we build new ones” is an argument in FAVOR of the TBD, not against it.

        If you don’t like car tabs, what kind of tax would you prefer?

      5. No answer. I guess it’s easy to say to the city, “come up with a better funding plan” and “I don’t like this kind of tax” but it’s very hard to explain how you would do it differently.

        The city’s revenue options are brutally limited by Eyman initiatives (even pre-1033) and state law. Those who opposed the TBD by calling this “the wrong tax” generally just meant “I don’t like any tax increases.” A selfish, shortsighted approach to dealing with infrastructure.

  4. as the possibility of east link declines, does the possibility of a link to west seattle increase?

    or is it just bad news for everyone?

    1. I dont think the possibility of East Link necessarily declined since voters already approved it. It’s just that the chances of a smart alignment through Bellevue went down…

    2. East Link money couldn’t be used to go to West Seattle.

      The less successful the system seems, the less popular further expansion will be.

    3. These results aren’t going to stop East Link. They might cause the Bellevue City Council to do some dumb things, but the A, D and E segments are pretty non-contreversial.

    4. The two likely outcomes of this election are:

      1. The City of Bellevue pushes for the B7 alignment over the B3 “modified” they proposed earlier this year. The big problems here are the loss of 4,000 boardings a day at the S. Bellevue P&R, the far less convenient transfer access for bus riders or drivers coming from the East or South, and the potential for congestion around the SE 118th P&R location.

      2. The City of Bellevue pulls a Tukwilla if the money can’t be found for a tunnel through downtown. This most likely results in East Link skipping downtown Bellevue entirely along 405 and the BNSF ROW if it gets built at all.

      Hopefully the council members have the sense to try to find the money for a tunnel still rather than trying to play chicken with ST in hopes they can get ST to pony up for the tunnel costs.

      We could still end up with East Link following the B3 “modified” and C9T alignments, it just depends on how much sense the City of Bellevue decides to have.

      1. Couple of questions:
        1) Who uses the South Bellevue P&R? Is it moslty Enatai/Beaux Arts/Surrey Downs residents or are people communting from elsewhere?
        2) Related question – why would Sound Transit create a new station @SE 118th rather than expand the Wilburton P&R to include a Link station?

      2. 1) Factoria, Sammamish, Renton – there are a lot of users.

        2) Wilburton is way out of the way. It would add a couple of minutes to the Seattle-Bellevue time. In the long run, it’s a poor choice.

      3. Wilburton is not out of the way and the folks from Factoria, Sammamish and Renton have either the Eastgate Park & Ride to use (accessed when the B& alignment is in use) or the Mercer Island Park & Ride.

      4. Wilburton is very far out of the way. If I’m going from Factoria or Newport Hills to downtown, I don’t want to have to go north almost to DT Bellevue to get on a train that will just come back down to I-90 anyway.

        Eastgate will likely have a Link station come ST3, but in the meantime it will have much worse trip frequency to downtown than a Link station at South Bellevue would. Mercer Island P&R doesn’t make any sense, because there isn’t any local transit to there from off the island, and it’s too far away for that to be very feasible.

      5. lots of people use that P&R. It’s full by 8:30am. I use it because of the 550. vs the Eastgate P&R which is closer but has much much worse service.

      6. yeah, not saying that people don’t use it since I go past it on the 550. Just wondering who the users are – whether it’s pulling from the local population or if people are driving from further away.

        Given that the Wilburton P&R is adjacent to 405, why would swapping South Bellevue P&R for Wilburton P&R not be an equitable swap in terms of ridership? I don’t think many people currently use Wilburton because it’s not far from South Bellevue and because it’s not served by the Seattle lines.

      7. Willburton and South Bellevue are both full (S. Bell. @ overflow capacity) and B3 modified can serve both areas. I’m pretty sure S. Bellevue and Mercer Island catch the greatest percentage of non-local traffic because of better bus connections and much easier freeway access.

        The real stinker in the East Link alignment is Overlake Village. A failed experiment in TOD that should just go away. B7 was made to look bad because it didn’t line up well with the original tunnel proposals and it skipped S. Bellevue P&R. Surprise, nobody can afford those tunnels. B7 would be interchangeable with the B3 modified should the funding for the new C9T be found; an option that never would have materialized if Council Candidate Kevin Wallace hadn’t championed it.

        One big advantage of B7 is that it builds the crossing of the wetlands at the I405/I90 interchange making it much cheaper to extend to Eastgate and Issaquah, the areas of greatest P&R usage. Crossing back over 405 and rejoining the BNSF ROW as the C9T option would do is also in a perfect position to extend a spur to S. Kirkland P&R (beyond that I don’t think rail has a prayer of going through Houghton though).

      8. The Overlake Village Station serves much more than the TOD area. The shopping, housing, and offices S of the Microsoft campus as well as whatever gets built on the former Group Health Campus would all use this station. Also the City of Redmond has a rather substantial redevelopment plan for their part of the Overlake area. However I can see the point of siting a station for this area as if there wasn’t already an existing P&R.

        I wasn’t aware Kevin Wallace pushed the C9T, so perhaps all of the gloom an doom is premature.

        As for crossing the Mercer slough I don’t see that as a big deal preventing an expansion to Factoria, Eastgate and Issaquah. The additional cost would be minor in the context of the larger project.

        I’m not familiar enough with Houghton enough to know what kind of opposition Light Rail would face if it tried to go through the neighborhood on either the BNSF ROW or 108th (I assume nobody would really complain about a 405 alignment. I do think the BNSF ROW is the best way to get between Bellevue and Totem Lake with slight detours to provide more optimal station locations at S. Kirkland P&R, Houghton, and Downtown Kirkland. The big one here is downtown Kirkland which needs any future rail station centrally located.

      9. I’m not familiar enough with Houghton enough to know what kind of opposition Light Rail would face

        Think Surry Downs only more populated, wealthier and even more dead set against it. I also don’t think you could double track because of the steep hillside.

        The Overlake Village Station serves much more than the TOD area. … However I can see the point of siting a station for this area as if there wasn’t already an existing P&R.

        Like incorporate the P&R into the Group Health Complex. Building the station as close to the new 32nd/36th Street overpass would be ideal. That and Overlake TC would cover the area pretty well. Neither location is good for a large P&R. The “intercept” location needs to be at Marymoor. I wonder how many parking spaces the hospital had compare to the 203 at Overlake Village (only 1/3 used). I really wish we knew who the potential buyer was and what they had in mind for the development. I’m surprised MS hasn’t snapped up the land for future expansion or to at least control what goes in later.

      10. Just to be clear, the B7 route would connect in the same way as B3 to the C3T and C2T (and now C9T) tunnel alternatives. B7 looked bad because it skipped the South Bellevue P&R, AND the proposed Park & Ride at Greenbaum/118th presented major major challenges to the SE 8th/118th Ave intersection, which would need to be rebuilt to accommodate the traffic volumes.

      11. I could be wrong here (tell me if I am), but I’m not sure Kevin Wallace played a direct role in putting the C9T route on the table. He backed the original C2T cut & cover tunnel, and I believe he has looked into an alternative elevated option that would run along I-405 on the west side and cross at NE 6th.

        Above all, he was consistent in his desire to avoid the NE 12th crossing, the impacts to McCormick Park, homes, the Commons Office building, and Washington Park offices (Ashwood/Hospital station) on the east side of I-405, which Wallace Properties owns.

      12. 1. Lots of people from further North in Bellevue use it as well. The other factor is S. Bellevue is a better transfer point for buses coming from the East.

        2. The Wilburton P&R is tiny and doesn’t really have room for a large amount of parking, link station, and bus transfer center. There is a proposal for giant station structure with parking and a bus transfer area over SE 8th at 405/112th/118th, however I suspect such a beast would be rather expensive and face substantial opposition if it was seriously considered.

      13. The mega station over SE 8th has been removed from consideration according to the last ST briefing of the Bellevue City Council. It seemed like a worthwhile idea on the surface but lots of things prevent it from really working. Number one the ground in that area is barely above being a marsh. There were troubles enough building SE 8th to begin with and this proposal involved lowering the grade. The other big show stopper was there isn’t any way to really make the access ramps from 405 work with the traffic patterns as envisioned by WSDOT. However, there is still plenty of room to build a multi story garage and likely less problematic than S. Bellevue which is on fill and would never be allowed with today’s wetland protection measures.

      14. The only thing that prevents it from working is the attitude that Sound Transit always displays which is – don’t spend time making a good idea work, shoot it down and do it our way no matter how many people hate our idea.

      15. The thing is bypassing S. Bellevue P&R is a very bad idea in terms of serving commuters from the East and South. All because a few homeowners don’t want the icky trains anywhere they might see them.

      16. I’m not a resident of the Bellevue area but have a long standing familiarity – has anyone thought through the issues of current and future connections from Eastlink to Factoria, BCC, Eastgate, and Issaquah?

      17. Right now South Bellevue P&R is the main transfer point for the area south of there—Factoria, Newport Hills, Newcastle, and Kennydale on buses 222 and 240. If B7 is chosen it will be a lot harder for these areas to get to East Link if the south-most station is around SE 8th.

        As far as BCC/Eastgate is concerned, it could connect to a South Bellevue station via a shuttle bus on I-90. Like the airport connector bus it’s only 5 minutes or so between the two points, even when there’s traffic (the I-90 onramp from Factoria Blvd turns into a Bellevue Way offramp, and vice versa).

      18. Yes, the future alignments reaching into Issaquah are very much on the minds of folks advocating for B7. Going to Issaquah, Renton, Newcastle and all parts East of 405 means crossing Mercer Slough. If Mercer Slough is crossed now using 2013 dollars it creates a 125 million (Sound Transit’s number) deposit on the alignments East of 405 because we do not have to cross the slough at higher 2020 dollars (or later) and the regional transportation corridor needed to go further East is already set in place. Use of the B7 alignment would make that possible.

        By Sound Transit’s own admission the original ridership numbers for B7 were deceptivly low. When ridership is looked at in terms of regional ridership (it is after all a regional project) then the B7 numbers are very similar to other proposed alignments.

      19. I use South Bellevue via foot, 222/550, by bike, and rarely by car. I also have driven the 222, 240, and 550 and have observed the following users:

        . The 222 and 240 bring transfers to the 550 from Factoria and north Renton
        . The 560 brings several regulars, probably from Newport Hills & Kennydale
        . Lots of kiss & ride riders
        . A trickle of 1 or 2 pedestrian riders from Enatai/Beaux Arts per 550
        . A trickle of bike & riders – bikes are also more common at the bike rack

      20. Word of clarification — The Sound Transit Board motion says that Bellevue has a responsibility to identify outside sources of funding (i.e. outside of the ST2 finance plan, but not that it has to be Bellevue’s money entirely).

        Also, if a tunnel in downtown Bellevue demonstrates the best ridership, reliability and travel times for East Link and the regional system, then why should Bellevue bear the full burden of tunnel funding? That’s a fair question ST and Bellevue will have to answer.

        The “chicken” game goes both ways. Hopefully the ST Board will work harder on a funding solution with Bellevue than on trying to play chicken with Bellevue in hopes they get the city to pony up for the cost difference on a better alternative.

      21. Also, if a tunnel in downtown Bellevue demonstrates the best ridership, reliability and travel times for East Link and the regional system, then why should Bellevue bear the full burden of tunnel funding?

        I’m sure ST would pay the cost of the tunnel just as they did in Seattle if there was enough money in the eastside sub area equity fund. But short of a miraculous turn around in the economy or a large grant from the other Washington there isn’t. And if there is any money left you can bet your booties Redmond is going to push (and rightly so) to finish the East Link project to Redmond.

      22. Bernie’s right. ST’s first priority has to be to finish the line as promised, which means going to Redmond, using surface if need be. Anything more than that is strictly “nice to have”.

      23. Point of clarity, Sound Transit committed in writing to assist Bellevue in securing the money for a tunnel and is not living up to that committment.

      24. ST2 promises to get to Overlake Transit Center in Redmond, not downtown Redmond, right? Getting to DT Redmond is a priority and should be accomplished in the next phase, but getting it right in downtown Bellevue is a more critical step (and promise to fulfill) for East Link. Time will tell as the city and ST complete the analysis, but I’m guessing the current at-grade option will fall out of favor with both Bellevue and Sound Transit. Then what? Move the alignment east of I-405? Come up with a better surface alternative? Force an elevated on 112th? Tell Bellevue to pay for a tunnel, or else? Tough choices all around. Let’s hope for a miracle.

      25. “Also, if a tunnel in downtown Bellevue demonstrates the best ridership, reliability and travel times for East Link and the regional system, then why should Bellevue bear the full burden of tunnel funding?”

        Because Rainier Valley wanted a tunnel for the same reasons and was told no.

      26. Your comparison would be closer to Bel-Red demanding a tunnel. Downtown Bellevue in no way resembles RV in density and we’re talking about a tunnel of less than a mile rather than many miles.

    5. “or is it just bad news for everyone?”: not necessarily. The most important thing is
      for ST3 and ST4 to pass (presumably with the westside line, Burien-Renton line, and N-S extensions). If the Eastsiders prefer low-budget express buses and P&R expansions in their section, it’s their loss. Better they pay less for less, than for them to vote against the package.

      I wonder if it’s time to break up future ST measures to the districts that will be paying for them. Why should westside Link be held hostage to the Eastside’s separate plans? Let each rail expansion stand on its own, and a separate measure for inter-district buses.

      1. Instead of ‘breaking them up’, just do additional measures, like McGinn’s plan for Seattle. You still get the overall measures, but you get accelerations and new projects in the places that want them.

  5. If people in Bellevue enjoy their traffic then let them have it. I avoid Bellevue at all costs because the traffic is so bad getting in and out of that city. I’d sure as hell rather spend my dollars elsewhere.

    1. I don’t think this is really fair – Bellevue voters (myself included) voted for East Link last time around. The problem now is that there’s a big block of NIMBY folks in South Bellevue and the anti-rail opposition has a more nuanced message that’s going to be really hard for the average voter to parse.

      It’s not “we hate rail” it’s “we like rail, we just want the alignment to protect our neighborhoods (cough Surrey Downs cough).”

      1. Point of correction – The folks in South Bellevue to whom you refer as Nimby are not trying to stop Sound Transit. They are trying to make sure that the transit alignment gets done right the first time thereby maximizing the use of our tax dollars. They are trying to look to the future thus setting up ST3 for going east of 405 and they are indeed trying to save downtown neighborhoods from negative impacts of trains being run by an organization that has no idea what it is doing, namely Sound Transit that has lied again and again about the capabilities of the trains system. For proof of that one need only look at the cost over runs (additional 3.1 billion), the noise of the current trains (Federal gov’t says that 80 decibles is unhealthy and Sound Transit thinks it is okay)and the lack of forthought that has gone into planning (the airport trains don’t go to the terminal which is the place people need to be).

      2. the lack of forthought that has gone into planning (the airport trains don’t go to the terminal which is the place people need to be).

        Huh? The airport station opens in less than 60 days. Compared to airport “stations” on many other rail transit systems Link actually gets fairly close. I’m sure Sound Transit would have preferred placing the station closer to the terminal but the Port and the TSA said “no”.

    2. I really don’t think this is a straight vote on light rail. There are many issues in this election and Bellevue voted for Sound Transit 2.

      1. Outside of STB, no one covered this. I had trouble finding info about the Bellevue I voted for. I’d expect that most Bellevue voters didn’t know.

      2. That’s what I’m saying. I looked at all the campaign flyers and went to a lot of the campaign web sites. It looked like everyone campaigned in favor of East Link but some of them had dog whistle messages about protecting neighborhoods. Anyone who isn’t reading STB (or who lives outside of Surrey Downs) would have had a really hard time differentiating the candidates.

      3. There is some hope there in that the Surrey Downs folk and the council candidates who were trying to appeal to the neighborhoods wouldn’t come out and oppose East Link directly. While some may be simply hiding their true feelings because it is somewhat unpopular, others may truly support East Link but simply wish to have their concerns addressed in one form or another.

      4. Chris, that is because they DON’T oppose East Link. They oppose East Link done badly. There is a definate difference.

      5. Cindy, the “solutions” I hear advocated by those who oppose the current preferred alternative amount to East Link done badly. From a ridership and station access standpoint B7 is a bad idea. The only reason to do it is if there is no other way to build East Link in a timely fashion. The idea of either keeping Link in the 405 ROW through Downtown Bellevue or pushing it out to auto row is even worse. It is highly unlikely such a line would be able to secure Federal funding due to the rather severe ridership fall off by not serving the major population and job center. There is a reason such alignments were eliminated entirely early in the project scoping changes.

      6. Publicola actually broke the story, but yes, I wouldn’t read this is any sort of public repudiation of East link. It just makes the legislative path to getting a good alignment built that much harder.

      7. What are the chances that the new council will even have enough leveraging power to steer the alignment away from ST Board’s preferred B3S?

      8. Weren’t most of those who won incumbents? In a low-information election the incumbents tend to keep their seats.

      9. Conrad Lee and Don Davidson are long time incumbents. In fact four years ago Conrad ran against the very same opponent. Patsy Bonincontri and Mike Creighton were both appointed to fill vacancies on the council. Councilwoman Bonincontri has served for a couple of years, Mike Creighton for only a couple of months but he was previously on the council and was once mayor. Neither mounted a strong campaign yet the race for position 4 (Bonincontri and Kevin Wallace) is far too close to call on early returns. Mike Creighton may well have won if it hadn’t been a three way race.

  6. I really don’t see why BNSF discarded the East Side alignment. It provides crucial redundancy for them in the case of a closure of the Great Northern tunnel under Seattle; as it is, a closure requires all north-south traffic to go via *Spokane*.

    Worse (for BNSF), the Great Northern tunnel is the only way for traffic to “choose” between the Cascade Tunnel and the Stampede Pass. If the Great Northern tunnel is out of commission, a closure of the Cascade Tunnel means BNSF simply loses all traffic from/to Bellingham and British Columbia to CP, CN, or ships. A closure of the Great Northern tunnel and the Stampede Pass forces a diversion through Vancouver, WA and the Columbia Valley Gorge for all eastbound Seattle and Tacoma freight traffic.

    I can see maintaining it to a low standard, but I’d think they’d have been set on keeping it as a backup route in case of tunnel problems.

    1. That’s all moot now that WSDOT has daylighted the Wilburton Tunnel. And do you think the Wilburton trestle could have handled a high volume of intermodal trains?

      1. In theory BNSF could tell WSDOT that they want a bridge. I believe WSDOT is on the hook to replace the rail crossing if BNSF or another owner of the rails wants to press the issue.

      2. Isn’t the new owner of BNSF good friends with Bill Gates(I know they work together on charitable work)?

        Still, would be a frightening nightmare for Freeman, if instead of LRT or Commuter trains on the BNSF corridor, it is modified for Z-Trains to run on.

      3. I’m hoping the new owner of BNSF will take an interest in passenger rail. It just takes a nudge from the top to prioritize track improvement and cooperate with commuter rail agencies.

      4. Interesting piece on King5 news at 11 this evening about the number of fires in Washington caused by BNSF operations. Part two is tomorrow night if anyone’s interested.

  7. Yes, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The likelihood of B7 may have gone up, but it’s chances of coming to fruition are still shadowed by B3.

    Also don’t forget that we’re still waiting on the Port and the County. Those are the two major stakeholders of the BNSF corridor, so these new councilmembers can pout, but don’t expect them to get their way.

  8. ST should call the bluff, put East Link on the back-burner and prioritize extending north and south until the political climate in Bellevue changes (Kemper is getting up there, you know). Or at least threaten to.

    It is so not worth building a route we’ll regret forever.

    1. They can’t do that, they promised the voters they’d build it.

      All lines make ugly compromises; let’s not have the perfect be the enemy of the good. In time population and employment patterns will shift to where the transit is.

      1. Yeah, I was only half-serious—although I couldn’t recall how bound they are to extending in a particular order. Mostly I’m just grumpy because all the blame will fall to ST, not Bellevue, if poor routing impacts ridership. And because underperforming extensions can hamper our ability to garner support for additional lines. I run into people all the time who _still_ compare Central Link ridership numbers to those promised in 1996.

    2. Many, many people have been telling Sound Transit that North South is a higher priority than East West. On the Eastside the North South commute is much heavier than the East West commute. We need North South transit much more than we need East West transit. Once again, Sound Transit’s arrogance in thinking that they know best is hindering the process that makes sense.

      1. Actually, Sound Transit (along with the PSRC) have already looked at north-south transit, and found that it isn’t cost-effective. The BNSF Eastside Commuter Rail Feasibility Study predicts that restoring the BNSF rail line from North Renton to Snohomish would cost $1-1.2 billion, and attract about only 5,000 boardings per day in 2020. By comparison the East Link EIS (warning: big PDF file) predicts about 45,000 boardings per day in 2030, depending on the routing. It’s pretty clear which commute direction Sound Transit should be focusing on.

      2. “Once again, Sound Transit’s arrogance in thinking that they know best is hindering the process that makes sense.”

        Yeah, who in their right mind would think a transit agency would know anything about transit demand and planning?

      3. I know, right? If I live in Bellevue, my intuition counts for way more than ST’s experience with transportation planning and construction.

      4. We’ve needed reliable and capacious rapid transit between the Eastside and Seattle since like 1980. Quote from my dad’s programmer friend then: “Tell them my rate’s $20 an hour, or $40 if I have to cross that bridge.” The route is obvious: Bellevue TC to downtown, or secondarily to UW.

        Where would a N-S rail line go on the Eastside? There are hardly any residences or businesses near the BNSF tracks. So who would take it to work? A better location would be Bellevue Way – Kirkland. Or Bellevue CC – Overlake – Redmond. The latter would give Microsofties several places to live on the line. The former would give… Bellevue Square workers and Kirkland restaurant workers several places to live. But forget about the jobs on 20th Street. In short, there’s no single place for N-S a rail line that would make a major impact. But some low-budget streetcars on Bellevue Way, 148th, 8th, 20th, and 85th would make quite a network. That would get a lot of people where they’re going with one transfer.

      5. Those are actual ridership numbers, but I suppose if you believe those are doctored there’s really no reasoning with you.

      6. I don’t know why you are having such a hard time believing that a group of transit advocates/enthusiasts would put their own time and resources into a blog about their interests without somebody paying for it.

        This is how most blogs work and there is no reason to assume this one is any different.

      7. Cindy,

        If you know where the checks are being deposited please clue me in; I haven’t been getting mine.

        Seriously though, I’ll say once more that it’s just not true. We are absolutely independent of Sound Transit and get no money from them or anyone else, except around $10/month from Google ads. Oran is an intern for SDOT, and the rest of us don’t even work in the transportation sector.

        But really, what if we were on the take? How would that change the validity of the facts that contradict the assertions you’re making in this thread?

      8. Oh boy, I really needed a laugh. My goodness, Cindy, you are a riot. Now, I’ve heard conspiracy theories before, but few can match up to this one. Bought and paid for by Sound Transit. Dare I repeat it?

        Okay, Cindy. I’m done laughing. I’ve read your comments. You are against the South Bellevue alignment, advocate pushing it to B7, think that Sound Transit is infringing horribly upon your neighborhoods, and that the agency has underhandedly sponsored a third-party blog to do dirty work for them by spewing out propaganda.

        And no, I’m quite serious now. This is important– to your integrity and mine. I also would like to know if there’s a check I’ve been missing. It’s really quite baseless to assume that just because a blog is advocating for smart transit options, you have to think it’s some secret tactic that ST uses to attain public trust. Not everyone who works outside of Sound Transit wants to block smart rail alignments, Cindy.

        Yes, we do have contacts in Sound Transit. Yes, we like to talk to them to know what’s going. And yes, we do have some commenters from ST and Metro. But just for the record. We’ve criticized both agencies on several occasions. I guess you think we were paid to do that too.

      9. It’s really quite baseless to assume that just because a blog is advocating for smart transit options, you have to think it’s some secret tactic that ST uses to attain public trust.

        That would be Transportation Choices Coalition. Except it’s not so much of a secret.

  9. Yeah, I was only half-serious—although I couldn’t recall how bound they are to extending in a particular order. Mostly I’m just grumpy because all the blame will fall to ST, not Bellevue, if poor routing impacts ridership. And because underperforming extensions can hamper our ability to garner support for additional lines. I run into people all the time who _still_ compare Central Link ridership numbers to those promised in 1996.

  10. I think Burien is just tax-weary. They’ve overextended themselves with annexation, the town square project, and the First Avenue South improvements.

  11. Oh, and if they align the light rail in Bellevue away from the population center, my guess is that the population center will shift. That’s what usually happens.

  12. The fact is that the only way for downtown Bellevue to continue growing is to go East of 405. That would make the alignment of B7 to 114th to NE 6th to 116th and out to Overlake right dab smack in the middle of what will become the “downtown” of the future.

    1. Cindy – at last check, downtown has reached about half of its zoned capacity for office and housing. Not to say there won’t be redevelopment in the Wilburton/Auto Row area. But I think most of the investment will happen in Bel-Red first. Who knows, maybe an arena proposal will land at the city’s feet and spur it on sooner.

      1. Bel-Red is going to grow and redevelop but it isn’t downtown. There are still many areas of downtown Bellevue that can go upward but to get outside of the current downtown square it needs to go east. The car dealerships on 116th are already moving away and that entire area is slated for redevelopment to multi use retail/condo buildings like those that are being built in downtown Bellevue.

      2. And that’s all great, but skipping the actual downtown area to put a station in a potential future downtown area is not an acceptable planning method.

      3. Wait for the credit markets to stabilize and for growth to return to the commercial real estate market– you’ll see at least thirty years before high-density zoning is realized in auto-row. You said it yourself, Cindy. “Multi-use retail/condo buildings.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but the vast swath of Downtown east of 106th is all commercial high-rises. Not in your lifetime will auto-row redevelopment match that as the city center.

        Think about what you’re saying. It’s not too different than if Sound Transit routed Central Link through First Hill and missing Downtown Seattle entirely. That’s pretty much what you’re proposing.

        By routing the initial East Link segment through the real downtown, we at least have an opportunity to preserve BNSF for another spur closer to the “downtown” of the future, as you say. That will be killing two birds with one stone. But this lame B7 excuse– missing a bird with two stones.

      4. you’ll see at least thirty years before high-density zoning is realized in auto-row.

        If that’s true then it’s 50 years before Bel-Red get’s built out. Of course “high density” according to the Bel-Red master plan is a few 12 story buildings. We’re back to two stations planned for a sea of muffler shops and a gun range.

      5. Sherwin, count again. The buildings along 108th Avenue between 4th and 8th are all high rise office buildings but most of the rest of the high rise buildings IN downtown (except for the PSE building) have condos as well as office and retail.

    2. Cindy,

      Interesting comment. During the I-405 Corridor Progam, the reason for NOT putting passenger rail, and a station, on the BNSF corridor was, that it was too far away from downtown.


    3. Cindy is probably right for 20-30 years in the future. The area around 114th, 120th, and Bel-Red will probably get much denser. Maybe not highrises, but more like Crossroads.

      But expensive projects need to show a benefit right away or anti-transit people will call it a boondoggle and use it as an argument against future expansion. That means the first line has to serve existing population centers, and if it happens to pass through a growth area or two along the way, so much the better. After the first line has proven itself, a second or third line like Cindy suggests would be more widely accepted.

  13. I have an idea. Let the suburbs decide what mode of transportation and transit are best for them and let Seattle decide what is best for Seattle. Oh wait, the rest of the county is just supposed to bow down and do what seattle says. After the second class citizens outside the city have no idea what is best for them.

    1. RennDawg,

      Seattle can’t pass County or Sound Transit measures without the help of the suburbs. The votes just aren’t there.

      1. Seattle also can’t railroad (no pun intended) everyone else into doing what they want no matter who it hurts.

      2. Or maybe it’s not a question of what Seattle wants, but the interests of the majority of voters on the Eastside in getting the highest-quality and most cost-effective line for their money.

  14. In Other news, Public transit stupidity is a mathematical inevitability: This is something I see almost every day in the New York City Transit system. A bus pulls up at a stop that’s so densely packed with commuters that they practically explode out when the doors are opened. Less than a minute later, it’s followed by a pair of nearly empty busses, running along the same route. Apparently, that’s a mathematical inevitability, termed the “Equal Headway Instability.”

    The authors of this paper create a model that can reproduce the equal headway problem, and then try various solutions under the assumption that the current behavior seriously annoys commuters. Unfortunately, none of their solutions—minimum and maximum waiting times at stops, limited boarding, etc.—work well under all conditions, and the authors recognize that having commuters watch an unfilled bus pull away is also going to piss them off. The solutions, not surprisingly, are basic commute manners: stand away from the doors, let people out first, and don’t pile into an overstuffed bus. Conductors have been saying all of that for years—good luck getting impatient commuters to go along.

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