Kevin Wallace (
Kevin Wallace (

Kevin Wallace, currently leading Patsy Bonincontri in the race for Bellevue City Council Position 4, disagrees with Sound Transit’s preferred alignment through Bellevue.  From the Bellevue Reporter:

Wallace, a top executive from Bellevue-based Wallace Properties, has said he does not favor the preferred route along Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue Southeast. He also said a tunnel option through the heart of downtown would likely be financially unattainable, while a surface route there would be unacceptable.

Wallace is developing an East Link routing alternative that would run light rail along the abandoned BNSF rail line through South Bellevue and close to the I-405 expressway downtown.

Needless to say, running this far from Downtown Bellevue and the Transit Center, built on the cheap and specifically designed to be far from where anyone lives or works, would be disastrous for near to medium term ridership.

The Reporter article indicates that a small group targeted Bonincontri in this election when she turned out to be the swing vote in recommending the Bellevue Way alignment.  That implies that determined citizen action in favor of an alignment that serves people and jobs can have big impact on what the City Council ultimately does.

(H/T: Zed)

218 Replies to “Wallace: Keep East Link on BNSF and I-405”

  1. What’s more troubling is how lopsided the turnout was for Wallace. It’s clear that Wallace ran the better campaign and these numbers show, but the vast majority of citizens had no idea that Wallace ran largely on a push to overturn Bonincontri’s support of light rail.

    Sure, a handful of citizens collaborated to spearhead a candidate against Bonincontri, but how many more in the city of Bellevue (me among them) would have gladly defended her if they knew exactly what was going on? Out of all the Bellevue council races, this one and the Orrico-Lee race were the two most blatantly centered around Link. I’m disappointed we lost both of them.

    1. There are only so many pro-transit people to go around. I didn’t realize this was an issue at all until very late. :(

  2. The SODO gated crossings do nothing good to advertise running light Rail in neighborhoods. They are noisy beyond what would appear to be reasonable. No wonder the residents of Surrey Downs want that line no where near them.

    The solution of course would be to elevate the tracks along the alignment. Yes there is some issues with curves but if they are gentle enough, the train wheels don’t screech.

    But isn’t the alignment a done deal, the same way the Viaduct is a done deal? Both city councils have approved something that current leadership opposes?

    1. MLK is probably a better advertisement for surface light rail than SODO. Though there really aren’t that many crossings along the B3 modified and any that have much in the way of traffic (Bellefields Office Park entrance) are well away from any residential areas.

      The residents are even more likely to oppose an elevated alignment due to both the visual impact and potential wheel noise.

    2. Gary, Chris is right. There won’t be crossing gates along the South Bellevue alignment. In fact, someone can correct me on this, but I believe there are regulations on where crossing gates can be placed and how loud they sound.

      The very very few grade crossings there will be will be controlled by the newer TSP system, like in Rainier Valley. When I say few, there are really just a few. In fact, there are no cross-streets with the exception of a few entrances.

    3. Gary, I don’t see why you’re looking at SODO when MLK is obviously not like that.

      1. Gary does make a good point in that they’re not necessarily a good advertisement. Regardless of what the actual alignment would end up like, people may see SoDo and think that’s what they’re getting without realizing that it’s specific to an area of industrial uses.

    4. The alignment is NOT a done deal. There are many areas of contension and even after an FEIS items can be changed.

      1. The City Council’s statements to the Sound Transit board don’t show many areas of contention – they show that they’re interested in modified B3, and that they’re working toward a funding package for C3T or C9T.

        Wallace is coming in out of left field, totally disconnected from the rest of the business community (did you note the overwhelming BDA vote in favor of downtown Bellevue alignments?).

      2. Wallace is coming in out of left field, totally disconnected from the rest of the business community

        Funny then that he received the endorsement of the Eastside Business Alliance, the political arm of the Chamber of Commerce.

        Here’s a quote from the BDA newsletter:

        Sound Transit’s preliminary preferred route, a couplet running on the surface of 108th and 110th, has been opposed by the BDA, Bellevue Chamber, City of Bellevue and several resident groups.

        Doesn’t sound much like an overwhelming vote of support.

      3. The Chamber is basically Wallace’s baby.

        The BDA opposes the surface alignment, but is strongly in favor of C3T and C9T.

      4. Everyone likes C9T since it avoids running rail on the surface through downtown, puts a station close to the TC, avoids the conflict with the Convention Center and keeps the Medical Center happy. So, as they say, “Show us the money!” If it can’t be funded then it’s only prudent to develop a plan that runs as close as possible to downtown without impacting the major surface streets and at the least cost. This would never involve using the BNSF ROW east of auto row.

  3. Businesses don’t focus their attention on cities that deliberately cut themselves off of mass transit.

    Good luck, Bellevue.

    1. AJ,

      Don’t discard Bellevue based on the comments of a single Councilmember. Seattle Councilmembers haven’t always covered themselves in glory either.

      1. Well, I choose to live in Seattle despite working in Bellevue, so take that as you like. I do think that not recognizing legitimate interests in the suburbs doesn’t help to build a coalition to build more transit.

        Certainly, writing off the suburbs and all the people out there trying to make transit work is a pretty good way to politically isolate Seattle even more than it already is.

      2. Show me where I’m dismissing legitimate interests? I think you’re reading far too much into my comments and not enough into Freeman’s win.

        He has the momentum, and taking that together with all his other efforts and those in Surrey Downs, it seems that it would be pretty naive to state one way or another that East Link can ever go on as planned or in any ideal configuration, barring some kind of massive external pressure.

        By the way, can you point out the relevance of singling out Seattle?

      3. Yes, up to a point, but Bellevue still needs to see itself, not in isolation, but as part of a greater whole – just as the Rainier Valley did and resisted doing for so long.

        Part of Sound Transit’s problem – and I’m guessing that this will be of concern to Bellevue – is the ridiculous amount of time it takes for the agency to build and complete its projects to a fixed schedule. The construction of Link through the Rainier Valley took way too long to complete, frustrated just about all of us in and out of the Valley area and Bellevue has a legitimate concern if its feels that construction will impact its southern approaches for too long.

        If Sound Transit can come up with a plan to accelerate construction and complete things in a timely manner, I am sure that Bellevue will be fine with what it ends up with. I always remember Mayor Greg Nickels saying at the groundbreaking for the streetcar back in 2006 that 100 years ago, the streetcar would have been built in approximately one week. If the world can be created in six days, then surely, we can build about four miles of track in less than four years or whatever the schedule ends up being for south Bellevue and without having to have armies of navvies brought in. The time frame is a legitimate concern for the folks in Bellevue, but the alignment shouldn’t really be.

      4. Martin’s point is that you’re pretty much saying, “Good luck! You screwed yourself!” to the Bellevue collective. There are a ton of us here (including myself) that support the preferred alignment as it is. Sure, the biggest stakeholders are rail skeptics, but these guys don’t run the town.

      5. AJ,

        Show me where I’m dismissing legitimate interests? I think you’re reading far too much into my comments and not enough into Freeman’s win.

        You made a blanket comment about my failure to always fight Seattle City Hall’s corner. One place in which I do so is that I’m fairly sympathetic to the suburban call to maintain their bus service, because there are legitimate interests involved. The stereotypical Seattlite position is that suburban buses run empty and that Seattle service should be maintained at all costs. If you don’t hold that position, then my remark doesn’t apply to you.

        I’m singling out Seattle because it’d be asinine to suggest that Seattle is anti-rail, although if I took a bunch of select Nick Licata quotes I could certainly make it look that way. Anyway, the suggestion that I’m somehow anti-Seattle is certainly a novel one.

        I’m pretty unclear on how much power the Bellevue council has to really gum things up, but it’s way too early to write off East Link. For one thing, I doubt a majority of councilmembers are so dead-set against East Link that they wouldn’t cave in to organized and vocal advocacy by Bellevue residents for the best alignment.

      6. You wag your tail while you bite, Martin. First you make this sweeping generality about “[t]he stereotypical Seattlite position” and then shrug off this notion that you’re showing a bias against Seattle.

        You single out Seattle because it’s easy.

      7. OK, AJ, you got me. I hate Seattle. I clearly want to screw Seattle and all its leftist hippies.

        It isn’t OK to make a sweeping generalization when I LABEL it as a stereotype?

      8. That came out of left field, AJ – where does this idea come from? I have not picked up on this in Martin’s comments?

    1. It’s hard to say at this point, but the preferred alignment still has a better chance at standing. It’s hard to dispute the fact that B7 has lower ridership, will cost more marginally, and requires more mitigation.

      In other words, I don’t know.

      1. Ben,

        If there’s no money for a tunnel, do you think Sound Transit would be open to other, better surface routes that effectively serve downtown?

      2. I’m wondering about the council’s leveraging power on dropping the East Main Station, though.

      3. There’s still the Supplemental Draft EIS and the Final EIS to get through. But hopefully you’re right that the city council can’t derail the ST board’s plans at this point.

    2. Also, when Constantine appoints a bunch of pro-transit people to ST’s board of directors I bet they will take one look at the bnsf plan and say no.

  4. Thanks again to this blog for keeping this critical issue front and center. Hopefully, it’s clear to most that Davidson, Lee, Wallace and Robertson – and their four votes – will do their best to “protect” Bellevue from the folly of light rail.

    Wallace’s company also owns property on or very near to one or more of the proposed alignments. If he personally stands to gain or lose from light rail decisions, how will the council handle that potential conflict of interest? Or is it a conflict?

    Is there a remote chance Constantine would appoint one of these four members to the Sound Transit Board?

    Please keep up the good work here.

    1. Is there a remote chance Constantine would appoint one of these four members to the Sound Transit Board?

      Not a chance. Claudia Balducci is the only Democrate left on the Bellevue City Council and board appointments are political windfall. Mayor Degginger would be the logical choice but I expect Bellevue will not see an appointment for the next four years.

      1. Four years? If not, Balducci or Degginger, why wouldn’t Constantine pick John Chelminiak?

      2. As I recall the Mayor of Bellevue is appointed by the Bellevue City Council isn’t he? In that case wouldn’t the Mayor not be eligible for ST Board membership?

        I’m not sure when the other 7 King County ST Board seats have their terms expire but the next two ST board members are likely to be the next Mayor of Seattle and whomever replaces Constantine on the County Council.

      3. The Bellevue City Council chooses one of it’s members to be Mayor and another member as Deputy Mayor. The Mayor has only one vote just like every other elected council position. In essence they are a spokesperson and a figure head. And they get to bang the gavel at council meetings. The City is actually run by a full time manager hired by the Council. That would be Steve Sarkozy. He would not be eligible for appointment to the ST board.

      4. I’m not sure when the other 7 King County ST Board seats have their terms expire but the next two ST board members are likely to be the next Mayor of Seattle and whomever replaces Constantine on the County Council.

        And Mary-Alyce Burleigh from Kirkland chose not to run for reelection and will have to be replaced. That position should go to someone on the eastside and representation is supposed to rotate. That will be the interesting one to watch. How does Constantine’s Council position get filled and if it’s an appointment does that person automatically take over the position on the ST board like Kurt Triplett did for Ron Sims?

    2. There is so much ignorance in this place. None of the Bellevue City Council are advocating for no transit at this time. They are advocating for transit that makes sense for Bellevue since Bellevue will have to live with the results.

      1. They are advocating for transit that makes sense for Bellevue

        By moving rail as far as is feasible from the most dense transit and housing.

      2. “They are advocating for transit that makes sense for Bellevue since Bellevue will have to live with the results.”

        If that were true they’d be advocating for putting a light rail station in the middle of every neighborhood in Bellevue. Instead they want to run it across a swamp, next to a freeway, along an abandoned railroad, and through a half deserted industrial district. Sounds real pro-transit to me.

        You can say what you want, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that if you want people to use transit you have to build it as close as possible to where people live and work.

      3. There are NO Bellevue Neighborhoods other than downtown that have density that warrant light rail. Why on earth would Bellevue advocate to run light rail through Bridle Trails? As far as routing through a half deserted industrial district I be inclined to agree; Bel-Red isn’t that important. B3 runs between a steep hill and a swamp. B7 runs between some small condos and a freeway. More people using I-405 or rowing up the Mercer Slough? It doesn’t take a genius to see that if you want people to use transit you have to build it where they want to go.

      4. B3 actually serves two neighborhoods and a major transit center, B7 doesn’t.

        You know full well what I mean, I don’t know why you have to be so contradictory all the time.

      5. B3 picks up South Bellevue P&R. As it exists that’s hardly a major transit center but I do agree it’s a major plus for the B3 alignment. But even with a 300 stall parking garage it’s not a major transit center; it’s not even a large P&R and outside of peak hours it’s a ghost town. What neighborhoods does B3 actually serve? Certainly not Enatai and Surry Downs really doesn’t want it. The condo owners along the B7 ROW don’t want it either but I’m more inclined to support transit to areas zoned condominium than single family residential. Besides, these folks bought property next to railroad tracks and the freeway. It’s hard to reconcile that with an expectation of low noise.

      6. How is South Bellevue P&R not a major transit center? Like the name suggests, it’s the primary transfer point for South Bellevue (Factoria, Newport Hills, etc.). The fact that it isn’t busy outside of peak hours has more to do with the fact that the buses through there become infrequent after 8 PM; put a Link station there and increase frequency on the 240/222 and it will be a lot busier.

      7. Do you use South Bellevue P&R? How can you speak so authoritatively about it?

        Right now it has 520 parking spots and 6 bus routes. When fully built out it will have 1500-2000 spots and a fully-fledged transit center. The plan is for buses that formerly would have crossed the bridge to terminate at South Bellevue P&R so people can transfer to Link. The draft EIS shows 3500 boardings at South Bellevue alone, that’s higher than the Redmond Transit Center.

        I actually know a quite a few people in Enatai and Beaux Arts that walk or bike to South Bellevue P&R and voted for light rail. Besides, even if only 10 people boarded Link there that’s still 10 more than B7, which serves no one but still costs as much.

      8. I lived near Factoria for 12 years before I went to UW, so I used either South Bellevue or Eastgate to get from my house to downtown, and still get picked up from there whenever I go back to visit. So, I guess I count as someone who uses South Bellevue but never really parked there (on weekdays, in any case).

      9. I didn’t mean that part of the comment to be directed to you, Eric, you just happened to reply before me. Sorry :-)

        I use South Bellevue too, and can’t imagine anyone in their right mind advocating for light rail to skip it.

      10. ericn, as you point out the reason for going to S. Bellevue P&R is solely to get somewhere else. There is NO reason to specifically go there other than to enjoy the Mercer Slough wetlands. It’s a transfer point and never will be anything more than that. Zero on the TOD scale. I too have used it as a meeting point to carpool to Enumclaw. It’s a ghost town in the early afternoon and upon return at 9PM it’s empty. Building a multi story parking garage at upward of $40k per stall is an unwarranted expense in my book just to garner maybe 500 additional riders per day. Don’t build the parking garage and the ridership projections for B3 collapse.

      11. Right now [South Bellevue P&R] has 520 parking spots and 6 bus routes. When fully built out it will have 1500-2000 spots and a fully-fledged transit center. The plan is for buses that formerly would have crossed the bridge to terminate at South Bellevue P&R so people can transfer to Link. The draft EIS shows 3500 boardings at South Bellevue alone, that’s higher than the Redmond Transit Center.

        And couldn’t they just as easily terminate at M.I. P&R since WSDOT has laid down the law that ST can not take the HOV access lanes to I-90? I fully agree that Redmond Transit Center was a terrible use of ST funds to build a multi story parking structure. City of Redmond agrees that it’s a bad idea to spent the additional money required for East Link to divert to that location and an undesirable impact on Redmond even if it were free.

      12. So what if South Bellevue is nothing more than a transfer point? If it’s an effective one, then it should have a Link station.

        As for the parking garage, you may be right that a large Eastgate-style garage isn’t necessary. A shuttle bus to Eastgate would probably serve that purpose nearly as well. However, South Bellevue P&R is already above 100% capacity today, so there is presumably some unfilled demand for people who want to park there and ride.

      13. Yes there is and a shuttle from Eastgate is a great idea. I’m not categorically opposed to the Bellevue Way alignment. I think that with the “Modified” detour to Wilburton it would be very attractive. Without the Eastgate-style garage in the wetlands even more so. But that doesn’t seem to be part of the ST agenda.

      14. Erin C, spoken like a person who won’t have to live with the impacts. Go over to the Mt. Baker station and listen to the noise of the train then imagine your kids being woken up late at night by that noise and then consider that again.

        No, I don’t live in S. Bellevue.

      15. Cindy,

        ST is soundproofing homes when they exceed noise limits. Regardless, Mt. Baker is a turn on elevated track. The B3 alignment is on the surface. As someone who lives two blocks from MLK, I can assure you that it’s no louder than the traffic on MLK.

      16. Cindy, B3 is going to be on the surface and across Bellevue Way from residential neighborhoods. Furthermore for much of the alignment the nearest houses are actually up a bank and even further from the road. I question if the trains will even be able to be heard during the times of day there is traffic in the area.

        A much fairer comparison is the at grade section down MLK or through SODO. There just isn’t much wheel noise on the surface sections. The sharp elevated turns are the only places where the wheel noise is all that loud. Trucks and buses make much more noise than the trains do.

        Besides to the extent there is any track or wheel noise there are measures to mitigate it.

      17. My sister-in-law lives about a block from the tracks on MLK. You can hear and feel the trains in her apartment. They’re much more of an issue than trucks an buses. Partially because they run constantly from pre dawn to Oh-dark-thirty and also because trucks and buses don’t ring a gawd damn bell as they drive up and down the street. I’ve got no big issue with B3 over B7 (other than the approach to Main) and no one is asking for a tunnel in the B segment or Bel-Red. What I think Kevin Wallace is calling unacceptable is the at grade alignment through the heart of downtown. ST has done nothing to show how a tunnel can be funded or find an acceptable surface alternative. If they do I’m sure the City Council will be eager to listen.

      18. “transit that makes sense for Bellevue” IOW you want it built somewhere else and want a few more lanes added to 405 right?

      19. Not sure where this remark was pointed? Nor am I clear on where “somewhere else” would be referencing since I don’t what “somewhere here” would be. 405 goes through Bellevue. It actually screws up transportation for Bellevue. Show me a plan for light rail that can demonstrably reduce 405 traffic and I’ll show you a plan that Bellevue residents would get behind in a New York minute.

      20. We’ll have to live with the results too. What good is the line if nobody can get into downtown Bellevue on it?

    3. The same way that they handle every other conflict of interest such as the “independant” consulting firms being involved with Sound Transit, Bellevue will ignore it. The entire Light Rail process is surrounded by firms that are intertwined with each other in clinflicts of interst.

  5. Martin,

    Why would the BNSF right of way be “disastrous for near to medium term ridership?” How many people actually take the bus to or from downtown Bellevue? Not how many transfer at the BTC, but are actually originating from or destined for it.

    Bellevue is a democracy and if the majority of people who live in the city don’t want a Max clone on their downtown streets, they should have their way. I think they’re making a mistake, and when OPEC makes good on its intention to sell oil only in other currencies and gas is $10/gallon, even the rich folks in Bellevue will be hurting.

    At that time they may re-evaluate their decision, but it’s anti-democratic to ram the project down their throats.

    1. “Bellevue is a democracy and if the majority of people who live in the city don’t want a Max clone on their downtown streets, they should have their way.”

      Bellevue’s elected city council already selected their preferred alignment and voiced their opinion on the matter to Sound Transit at the beginning of the year. A small group of people didn’t like that decision and made sure people who are sympathetic to them, like Wallace, were elected to the city council this term. It’s not as if there’s some huge outcry from the populous against the preferred alignment through downtown.

      1. Wrong again. 437 donors to the Wallace campaign, only 75 to the Bonincontri campaign. And Patsy Bonincontri was never elected by the people of Bellevue. In fact when the people did have a chance to voice there opinion they rejected her and the defining issue was her stance on East Link.

      2. Wow, a whole 437 donors to a well-connected lawyer and commercial real estate agent. I stand corrected, that is a huge public upwelling.

      3. 6X the number that felt it was worth donating to his opponent and the largest number of individual donors of all candidates. What you’re trying to do is paint the citzens of Bellevue as a bunch of uninformed yokels that can be manipulated by small group of underhanded investors which is not only wrong but offensive. When a sitting council person in Bellevue gets unseated it is a huge public upwelling. I don’t think there’s ever been a case where two have been tossed out in the same election. People don’t understand that Bellevue is a small town compared to Seattle. Conrad Lee was head and shoulders above all other candidates in fund raising. He had $91,000 in his campaign coffers. Jessie Isreal had twice that and even though she out spent Nick Licata still failed by a wide margin. Bellevue elects their mayor from amongst the members of the City Council. Contributions to the Seattle Mayors race were 4X the contributions to all Bellevue City Council races.

      4. Yes Bernie, I understand how Bellevue politics work. I’ve lived there and worked there and have done work for the Bellevue Downtown Association.

        “What you’re trying to do is paint the citzens of Bellevue as a bunch of uninformed yokels that can be manipulated by small group of underhanded investors which is not only wrong but offensive.”

        I’ve never said such a thing. I was just pointing out to Anadokas that his characterization of the situation in Bellevue is wrong. A majority of people aren’t against the preferred alignment through Bellevue. It’s a small group of people that show up at every city council meeting and every Sound Transit meeting and say the same thing over and over and over until someone listens. It was that same group that put Wallace up against Bonincontri because they were targeting her because she was the swing vote when the council selected the preferred alternative. Even with Wallace’s overwhelming number of donors, he still only beat Bonincontri by 4 percentage points, hardly a resounding victory.

      5. I understand how Bellevue politics work.

        Then you know that neighborhood associations are what drive Bellevue politics. All candidates prefaced almost every remark with something to the effect “neighborhoods matter”. The majority of Bellevue citizens don’t oppose light rail but they also don’t see themselves as regular users. They just want to minimize the impact and secondarily increase the speed so that when they do want to go to Seattle it’s faster than the bus. Can’t speak for Redmond but I expect the travel time issue is an even greater concern. Well… I guess the greater concern is cost containment so that light rail actually reaches Redmond some time in the next 20 years.

      6. Getting to Seattle faster than the bus? Using the B7 alignment there would be no stations between SE 8th and Mercer Island. For someone in South Bellevue (Factoria, for example), driving or busing up to SE 8th then taking a train back over I-90 would be far slower than transferring to a bus from South Bellevue P&R or Eastgate to downtown.

      7. Except you’d be silly to go north to catch light rail instead of going to Mercer Island. But there’s no reason to not expect an intermodal transfer point at the I-90/Bellevue Way interchange. The South Bellevue P&R caters solely to the drivers that want to park there. Building $40,000 per stall parking spaces doesn’t seem like that much of a “driver” for B3.

      8. “But there’s no reason to not expect an intermodal transfer point at the I-90/Bellevue Way interchange”

        It’s called the South Bellevue P&R, and it’s not included in B7. Why is this so hard to understand?

      9. There are no local buses from Bellevue into Mercer Island as there are into South Bellevue P&R, so I’m not sure how a transit user should be expected to do anything other than go north to catch the train.

        As far as an intermodal transfer point goes, where would you put it? There’s no room for a Link station or bus bay at that interchange (which is elevated on top of the slough to boot), not to mention that there hasn’t been any discussion of such a thing so far in the B7 alignment, so I’m not sure why you think it should be expected.

        Also, regarding the P&R catering solely to drivers: try taking the 240 or 222 between there and Factoria sometime; it can get pretty crowded with people transferring, especially during peak hours.

      10. Wouldn’t you expect reroutes after East Link is open just as there are now that Central Link is open? Imagining every route would stay the same lacks imagination.

        Where would I put it? I don’t know but elevated stations and flyer stops are far from science fiction and there is a large amount of real estate at that interchange which is not wetlands. You’re right that nothing was included in the DEIS for B7. Why? Seems to me that ST really didn’t want to provide any information that could possibly upset their preordained preferred alternative which is counter to the purpose of a proper DEIS.

        Connections to Factoria I believe are important. Nowhere have I seen this discussed in the DEIS or in context of the East Link alignment. Next to downtown Bellevue Factoria is the largest employment center in Bellevue and it seems to be forgotten in all of the planning.

      11. I’d most certainly expect reroutes, but skipping South Bellevue makes them a lot harder. For example, there would be no easy way to get from Newport Hills to Link; would you have route 240 go to Mercer Island instead of Bellevue? It’s similar for Factoria: it would be wasteful to have a bus going from Factoria to Mercer Island P&R or SE 8th station when it would run right next to Link for most of its route. Connections to Factoria aren’t discussed in detail in the DEIS because they already exist: buses to and from South Bellevue P&R, which come at 15-minute frequency during the day.

        As far as the I-90/Bellevue Way intersection goes, the entire interstate there is on columns elevated above wetland. Just about the only place for a flyer stop would be north of I-90 along Bellevue Way, and to make that feasible Link would have to navigate the maze of on/off-ramps to get off of the express lanes, then back to above I-90 to get to the BNSF ROW. If Link is going to go north of I-90 to a stop, why not stop at the transfer point near there that already exists, South Bellevue P&R?

      12. I don’t disagree that S. Bellevue P&R is an important transfer point. But is that worth $40k per stall times ~1,500 stalls? That’s $60 million dollars. What’s the cost per rider? Elevated stations, like Tukwila are already engineered. And in fact the proposed S. Bellevue P&R Station is already elevated. Again, if they don’t build this expensive parking garage in a wetlands the ridership projections for B3 collapse because there is nothing at this location. This type of project both in Redmond and in Montlake Terrace already seem to me to indicate these are dollars not well spent.

      13. However, ridership wouldn’t ‘collapse’ without a new parking garage. The garage would add about 950 parking spots over the current parking lot. Presumably not all of these would be taken due to its size, so let’s say that no parking garage reduces ridership by 500. That’s only a drop from 4,000 boardings per day (according to the DEIS exec summary) to 3,500, still 87.5% of expected ridership—certainly not a ‘collapse.’

      14. I disagree that not all spots would be taken. S. Bellevue P&R is at 105% capacity and M.I. is already at 100% capacity. Fast forward 12-18 years and factor in the preference for rail (5X if you believe the Tacoma Link supporters)and those stalls will be used. If not then the ridership numbers for B3 are bogus. The question is what cost and do those numbers entail. The fact remains that S. Bellevue P&R is in the middle of nowhere and an expensive P&R in a wetlands is poor justification. Peak usage isn’t the overridding issue. If it is then BRT is the obvious choice. A parking garage at Marymoor has multiple uses. Likewise a parking structure near the hotel district at SE 8th. An intermodal transfer point east of the East Channel bridge is all that’s required to regain most of the B3 ridership.

      15. “An intermodal transfer point east of the East Channel bridge is all that’s required to regain most of the B3 ridership.”

        That’s what the South Bellevue P&R will be.

        How many circles are we going to go in here?

      16. Bernie: In your comment at 23:25:01, you said that “Building a multi story parking garage at upward of $40k per stall is an unwarranted expense in my book just to garner maybe 500 additional riders per day.” That’s what I was basing my P&R usage numbers off of. How many riders do you actually think a P&R will attract, 500 or 1000? The more people who use it, the more worthwhile it becomes.

      17. I was off on the size of the parking garage. It will pull in more like an additional 1200-1500 (over the surface lot). But each of those riders comes at a high cost per stall. ST has a budget problem. I’m not against them building multi story parking garages but only if demand will support charging commercial parking rates.

    2. More than 56% of Bellevue voters approved Prop. 1 last year in both of the primary legislative districts– the 41st and 48th. Most did so under the understanding that East Link would connect Downtown Bellevue with Seattle. Where is the evidence that the “majority of people” don’t want the South Bellevue alignment? I don’t see any project being rammed down throats– the side-running option ensures no residences in South Bellevue and Surrey Downs are displaced. Put this up for a vote in the whole city with the facts, and I guarantee that the “majority” is fine with the preferred alternative.

      1. the side-running option ensures no residences in South Bellevue and Surrey Downs are displaced.

        No, the crucial part of the B3 Modified presented to ST was the continuation of the route west on SE 8th and avoiding SE 112th approach to downtown.

        More than 56% of Bellevue voters approved Prop. 1

        Which was for bus and light rail and had no referendum on alignment. Don Davidson, a stanch supporter of B7 won relection with 62% of the vote. All of candidates that stood up for no surface alignment through the Bellevue CBD won their election. The vote has already occurred. Unfortunately, like Seattle’s vote on the tunnel, large bureaucracies feel they can ignore the public mandate. Fortunately Bellevue has far more say on East Link than Seattle does with respect to SR-99. Too bad Seattle didn’t elect a mayor that respected the will of the people before the fix was in.

      2. “No, the crucial part of the B3 Modified presented to ST was the continuation of the route west on SE 8th and avoiding SE 112th approach to downtown.”

        That’s not the crucial part of B3 Modified. B3 never included an approach into downtown from 112th NE. That’s why it’s called the “112th NE Bypass.” If you want to read Bellevue’s rationale behind B3 Modified it’s in the city’s preference letter here;

        The point of B3 Modified is to reduce traffic conflicts, reduce the cost of rebuilding Bellevue Way, and move the alignment farther from residences by running on the east side of Bellevue Way and 112th. The little jog over on SE 8th is to avoid impacts to businesses on the north side of NE 8th, but that isn’t the main point of the modified alignment.

      3. The evidence would be the 75% of people who responded to the NEIS for East Link that preferred B7.

      4. That right there is why we vote, instead of letting non-working spouses go speak for the commuters.

      1. Sherwin,

        That “annual cost effectiveness” figure is a red herring. It’s artificially inflated because there are so few “segment boardings”. The station draws only from its rather small Park and Ride, and not from any business or residential development or feeder buses.

        However, if the alignment were actually to bypass downtown Bellevue completely on the BNSF ROW as proposed by Kevin Wallace, the construction cost is likely to be much less than even the Bellevue Way alignment. It might dip as low as $350 million. If such an alignment were selected, the station at SE 18th would not be included; it would be replaced by a stop at Lake Hills Connector I expect.

        But… even if it were to cost $510 million, the total daily system boardings fall only by 1,000 to 2,500. That is not going to cause the system to lose Federal funding. Not even close.

      2. However, if the alignment were actually to bypass downtown Bellevue completely on the BNSF ROW as proposed by Kevin Wallace

        Poppy Cock! No one is suggesting rebuilding a crossing diagonally across I-405 to replace the Wilburton Tunnel. I don’t kwon where you’re coming up with your cost estimates because that alignment has never been studied.

        Kevin Wallace supports the C9T alternative but points out that ST has to finance it. If ST needs the station two blocks closer to the Bellevue TC so that they can get federal funding why shouldn’t that federal funding go toward building the tunnel??? ST has a funding problem and they’re trying to make the City of Bellevue their scape goat. Hopefully we’ve got a City Council in place now that is going to stand up to this BS.

      3. “ST has a funding problem and they’re trying to make the City of Bellevue their scape goat. Hopefully we’ve got a City Council in place now that is going to stand up to this BS.”

        If the money is not there, it’s not there. ST has been clear from the beginning that the East King subarea does not generate enough tax revenue for a tunnel. How is that Sound Transit’s problem? Besides, the money for a Bellevue tunnel would come from Bellevue tax payers anyways, regardless of it being raised by ST or the City of Bellevue. At least Bellevue has the option of taxing the huge downtown commercial real estate market instead of making citizens pay for it through a sales tax.

        I don’t know why you want East Link to fail so badly. You act as if Sound Transit is just building it for the sake of building it. All of the compromises that you seem to be okay with have real consequences for the people who will actually use East Link. Pushing the alignment to the east side of downtown and skipping the South Bellevue P&R could easily turn East Link from a success to a boondoggle. And for what reason? To appease some woman in Surrey Downs and to save the city a few dollars. Bellevue needs to grow up, pick the alignment that best serves its population, and figure out how to pay for it.

      4. I though Wallace was one of the idiots who wanted Link to go through Auto Row and avoid downtown Bellevue completely?

        In any case the next step really is to get a rough idea what the ridership, travel time, and cost of the C9T alignment will be so various funding options can be discussed.

        If there is enough money in the East sub-area budget after funding East Link to Overlake TC then yes I think Sound Transit should kick down a little more money over the cost of the at-grade alignment. However Bellevue has been told a tunnel wasn’t in Sound Transit’s budget for East Link for a while now. So I don’t think it is unreasonable to tell the City they are still going to have to cover some of the cost if they want a tunnel.

        The only way I can see maybe not doing things that way would be if the FTA looks inclined to be much more generous with grants than they have been recently. However I believe Sound Transit would rather use the “extra” money to fast track segment E instead of paying for the Bellevue tunnel.

      5. I think you’re right. ST would like Bellevue to pick up the tab for a tunnel so they can get federal funds and use them for something else. Probably sounds great to Redmond Mayor and ST board member John Marchione!

      6. What do you mean “something else”? East Link is East Link, it’s one project. The feds don’t see it as Bellevue’s East Link money or Redmond’s East Link money, it’s all or nothing. If the cost-effectiveness rating doesn’t qualify East Link for federal funding the entire project will suffer.

        If Bellevue can’t come up with the money for a tunnel than Sound Transit will build the surface alignment on 108th and 110th so that ridership forecasts don’t suffer. Under the state’s GMA there is nothing Bellevue can do to stop it. ST is obligated to listen to Bellevue and try to incorporate the city’s wishes into the final alignment, but once ST chooses a route there is nothing the city can do to stop construction. Hopefully it won’t come to that, and hopefully they can come to an agreement on a tunnel, but in the end there is no way ST will let Bellevue jeopardize federal funding for the entire project.

      7. Interesting how no one speaks about the lunacy on the part of Sound Transit of putting an alternative forward for a vote without providing funding for that alternative.

      8. Cindy,

        You understand that 15-year projects don’t always bring in exactly as much revenue as predicted? That it can vary up and down?

      9. Yes I understand all about the vagaries of funding. That is a different issue than putting forward an alignment that people get excited about seeing when the agency had no intention of funding that alignment in the first place.

      10. Bypassing downtown Bellevue to the East when combined with the B7 alignment (especially if the P&R stop is eliminated) easily loses more than 2500 System boardings. In fact I’d guess the ridership loss would be in the range of 15,000 to 25,000 daily boardings which is anywhere from a 1/3 to a 1/2 drop. Certainly enough to put East Link in boondoggle territory and likely enough to cost Federal funding.

        Of course that gives the Kemperites what they want. No rail on the Eastside and a nice big pot of money they can keep plotting somehow to raid for widening 405 or replacing 520.

      11. Nobody is seriously proposing bridging 405 at the location of the old Wilburton tunnel and then tearing down the historic Wilburton trestle and replacing it with a double track RR bridge for Link. The trestle was originally completed in 1904. This was prior to the Army Corp of Engineers starting work on the Chittenden Locks. If Lake Washington had already been drained the line would have just continued north along what is now the 405 ROW.

        The actual idea is to use the “frontage road” as Dr. Davidson likes to call it which is 114th. This would be far cheaper and provide faster travel times than the acquisitions and mitigation required to run at surface through the Bellevue CBD which really is a non-starter.

        Interesting to note that while Kemper Freeman is listed on the Wallace campaign webpage as an endorsement he was the only winning candidate to not receive a donation from Kemper Holdings LLC. Wallace Properties is a long time competitor and the endorsement is more of a no confidence statement about Patsy Bonincontri.

    3. It is not being rammed down their throats! The region overwhelmingly adopted Prop 1 last November and this supplied the vision for East Link to reach the eastside using the I-90 Bridge deck, Mercer Island and a southerly approach to Bellevue along or close to the corridor currently taken by the busy 550 ST Bus. We can tweak the finer details, but the overall plan/vision is there and has been agreed upon.

      1. Tim and Others,

        I’m not quarreling with regional vote, and I certainly agree that it would be much better from a system and TOD basis for the line to penetrate the center of the Bellevue CBD, preferably through a tunnel. However the people of Bellevue either can’t (unlikely) or prefer not to build a tunnel and are concerned about the effects of an at-grade alignment through their downtown. I expect that a large number voted yes under the assumption that one of the “T” options would be selected. Seattle has a CBD tunnel; why not Bellevue?

        People who might have supported a concept sometimes change their minds once things are fully defined and should be allowed to do so. That has obviously occurred in Bellevue now that a specific alignment has been specified: all of the pro-Link council members up for re-election lost.

        I do not believe that the regional vote last fall specified the SE 112th alignment or precluded a BNSF option. How does one define “along or close to the corridor currently taken by the busy 550 ST bus”? At the time of the vote the BNSF right of way was one of three general approaches from I-90 to downtown Bellevue shown on the website for the ST2 vote. In fact the Link alignment as selected will only serve patrons of the 550 at the BTC and the South Bellevue P&R. For that matter, only the alignment option along South Bellevue Way all the way to NE6th would have served any other part of the 550 route, with the station at Bellevue Way and Main.

        It’s true that a BNSF routing would not serve the South Bellevue P&R, and so far as I can tell, there’s no suitable location for one near the Factoria interchange. That’s part of the reduction in ridership that the BNSF option suffers. And the Wilburton trestle replacement wouldn’t be cheap. Those are good reasons to advocate for the SE112th alignment. But if the people of Bellevue — through their elected representatives — don’t want Link on the surface in their downtown, their wishes should be honored.

        Remember that Bellevue owns the streets on which Link must run. If advocates get too high and mighty the city council can make a lot of unpleasantness for ST and Metro.

        And the car folks will be playing the “transit fascist” card again and again.

      2. I should have said “only the alignment option along South Bellevue Way all the way to NE6th would have served any other part of the 550 route, with the station at Bellevue Way and Main, unless you consider watching light rail trains run by your house or business ‘service’“.

        Some people might consider that being “served” like the cow is “served” by the bull.

      3. And the Wilburton trestle replacement wouldn’t be cheap.

        What does the Wilburton trestle have to do with anything? B7 doesn’t cross I-405. Comments like this and “running the tracks though auto row” make me think people arguing against anything but the gospel according to ST have no clue what Bellevue actually looks like.

      4. Bernie,

        What Kevin Wallace is proposing is to run the BNSF ROW all the way to the curve heading out to the Bel-Red area. He is not advocating B7 as studied. You’re right that B7 leads to one of the downtown Bellevue options via an elevated structure starting where the BNSF ROW crossed the southbound freeway.

        Anyway, if ST followed the BNSF right of way, those car lots would be filled with mid to high rise buildings within ten years. Downtown Bellevue would span the freeway.

      5. If you take a look at last year’s voter’s pamphlet, the diagram of ST2 expansion shows East Link stations at South Bellevue and Downtown Bellevue. It doesn’t stipulate what is South Bellevue, but we can gather two things:

        1) It refers to the South Bellevue P&R. Obviously not in the BNSF ROW.
        2) The diagram also draws out the BNSF corridor as “potential right-of-way purchase” but it does not show East Link following the corridor. That effectively implies that what we currently refer to as B3 was always the target alignment.

      6. OK, I see what you mean now. According to the Bellevue Reporter he’s advocating a routing “close to the I-405 freeway through downtown”. I misread the quotation as referring to the BNSF ROW, which is close to the freeway. So what he wants would be like B7 at least to the C segment boundary. Apparently he hasn’t put forth the actual placement through downtown but is thinking about running it along the west edge of the freeway ROW. That would probably mean taking SE 14th and its little on ramp at NE 2nd.

        The difficulty with that will be where do you put a station? He says he wants it to cross the freeway at NE 6th, but it has to go under the overpasses at Main and NE 4th or be way up in the air. Also, because of the rising southbound exit to NE 4th and the bus/HOV exit at NE 6th, the Link bridge would have to rise a little higher than it would if those structures weren’t there.

        That will be a pretty steep grade and certainly can’t host the station. It would have to go between 4th and 2nd, a long way from anywhere and terrible for feeder bus access or elevated above the freeway alongside the NE 6th HOV interchange. That would certainly solve the bus access issue but what a lousy place for a station and transfer point.

        Of course that area of town would get redeveloped just as the auto row would were the station over there.

      7. It is being rammed down Bellevue’s throat. 75% of the people that commented on the DEIS preferred the B7 alignment yet that is not the so called “preferred” alignment.

      8. So? The people that comment on the DEIS are hardly an accurate sample of the Bellevue populace. Most of the people who participate in public commentary are the ones who have something negative to say or have their own agenda.

      9. That may be true but it’s harder to dismiss the overwhelming sweep in the General Election.

      10. If you aren’t part of the solution then you are part of the problem. If folks don’t get involved, such as commenting on the DEIS, then they don’t have a right to complain about the decisions made by those who do. Apathy is not a voice and apathy does not show a preference through silence. The citizens of Bellevue spoke loud and clear about what they want when they elected a slate of council members who will watch out for their quality of life as well as look to the future transportation needs.

      11. Cindy, you’re right people absolutely have a right to state their opinion, and this is indeed the correct time to haggle over alignments. And perhaps Bellevue’s voice will be in favor of the Wallace Plan. That might even win out in the end.

        However, Bellevue’s powers are limited by the State Growth Management Act and the regional authority of the Sound Transit Board, which is basically a creature of County Government. There’s a complex tradeoff between neighborhood and regional interests and I think both sides should recognize that the other has merit.

        I happen to think that if Bellevue thinks a B7/I-405 alignment is in their interests they’re mistaken and will regret it, but then that isn’t my call to make.

      12. Bellevue’s powers are limited by the State Growth Management Act and the regional authority of the Sound Transit Board, which is basically a creature of County Government.

        I can accept that and Goran Sparrman, head of the Bellevue transportation department, has made it clear in presentations to Council that the ST Board makes the decision on the alignmnet. What I don’t understand is how the UW has more control over the routing of a tunnel than a city has over a surface alignment?

      13. I wouldn’t put this in a post, cuz I’m not sure, but if the Tukwila lawsuit is any guide I think the courts would side with Bellevue as long as the City’s alignment didn’t reduce ridership so much that it jeopardized federal funding.

        And we won’t know that till the estimates come out.

        The UW thing is a bit before my time so I can’t speak to it. I’m guessing that the delta in ridership numbers is a rounding error for North Link. With the Bellevue alphabet soup, the absolute max ridership option is about 48K, and with bad alignments you might lose something like 6K.

      14. Public comments can influence the selection of the preferred alignment, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of the planning process. If they were, what would be the point of having experts study the options at all?

    4. Anandakos,

      Aside from the responses to you above, I’ll just say that the BTC is more or less near the center of Downtown Bellevue. Put the station another block or two out towards the freeway (or worse, BNSF) and there are many fewer people willing to walk, who might not be up for transferring to a bus. That’s why ridership would be worse.

      If Bellevue voters would really prefer to have poor access to the train to avoid short-term disruption, a small amount of ambient noise, and/or taxes to pay for a tunnel, that’s their affair but we as a community should make sure they understand what the full implications of that are.

      1. I completely agree with your last paragraph, Martin. It’s is MUCH better that Link serve the BTC.

      2. Your last statement is so condiscending. Thank goodness us uneducated citizens of Bellevue who are too stupid to comprehend the full impacts of this situation have you to ride in and save us from ourselves.

      3. Don’t put words in my mouth Cindy. I didn’t say they’re stupid. The public at large is NOT investing the time to understand the pros and cons of each alignment. It’s people obsessed with this — like you and me — that are.

    5. I have to agree, let Bellevue be Bellevue. It will be a self (Bellevue) inflicted wound if rail bypasses downtown Bellevue, but better to let them have their way now and push on to Overlake and Redmond. I would hate to see the Eastside suffer more delays in getting real rail transit while this is sorted out. Besides the downtown Bellevue interests will scream like all other bypassed business districts have in the past and pull strings later to have a nice stub terminal built at the existing transit center.

  6. I’ve done some web research but am having a hard time figuring out who actually makes the decisions when it comes to stuff like this. How much power does the Bellevue City Council actually have when it comes to alignment?

    1. Bellevue runs the risk of getting what Tukwila got, a bad compromise.

      As far as what ‘power’ a city council has, this might help:,soundtransit,fdo,9-15-99.htm

      I’m not interested in seeing Bellevue drain most of ST’s revenue to gold-plate their part of the light rail line, as MERCER ISLAND did on the ‘road building’ side of things with the I-90 lid.

      Bellevue already sucks up more than their fair share of my gas tax dollars, of which I feel I’m already being over taxed for.


      1. I am sure you are not saying that the I-90 Mercer lid was a bad idea, right? It has a beautiful park across it now!

        If Bellevue wants and can pay for a tunnel through its downtown, then let it assume the responsibility for this ‘gold-plated’ option as you call it.

        What I don’t think Bellevue should be doing is trying to shift the entire alignment towards the 405/BNSF rail line.

      2. Mercer Island residents didn’t have to foot the bill for that lid. There’s really no precedent for a regional transportation system attempting to extort the money required to properly traverse an area of high rise buildings from the local municipality. If ST had no intention of paying for it they shouldn’t have proposed any of the tunnel options in the DEIS or at the very least made it clear in the document that additional local funding would be required. Likewise it makes no sense to advance the engineering on a project they can’t afford to build. It’s bait and switch.

      3. “Extort the money” – that is a serious allegation. Americans just don’t trust their governing agencies very much do they! They are not all run by guys like Hamid Karzai if allegations are to be believed! Corruption is not running rife through local government that I can see. No one can govern in a climate of fear and if you want government through elections, then we all have to give up something in return – such as day-to-day decision making and oversight. Our country is too big for Athenian democracy to quite work as it orginally did for Athens. We can’t have our politicians every lunch hour coming out to open spaces/forums and spouting on the issues of the day to get a reaction from the public as to how they are doing and where they should go next. We elect state representatives every two years – how much more frequently than that do you want to elect them! I think a columnist in the Seattle Times reiterated this argument recently – that not all of our elected representatives are jerks and it is not very constructive to assume they all are!

      4. The Mercer Island lid is a great idea. All freeways should be built as such. However, building a freeway to that specification costs around $200 Million per lane, per mile. (i.e. 6 lanes is over $1 Billion a mile).

        I actually have mixed feelings on in-street, at-grade light rail alignments. I used to feel grade-separated or at-grade in an exclusive ROW was the optimum system. Now I’ve come to realize that the stations, and the system, become more of a part of the activity in a neighborhood when run in the street. It just slows the travel times, so I’d only do street running in limited areas.

        The whole cost/ridership question is best served by S/T’s choice, but I can understand that one wouldn’t want to drive a mere Chevy SUV, when an Escalade is the more upscale version (even though they are the same vehicle).

        I’m just seeing the rhetoric around light rail in Bellevue start to sound like Tukwila’s, and I personally think Tukwila lost out in that battle.


  7. OK, this is an issue where most of us should be pretty muich on the same side and it comes back to what I have said in previous discussion, that the approximate alignment of Light Rail through Bellevue has been decided upon by the voters last November. All of the routing options were there if people were interested in seeing them and now along comes the gang to second guess the decision with an arsenal of other tactics – such as using the courts. I don’t get the point of elections, voting or deciding if someone then comes along and tries to subvert the choice/decision. It is a waste of money to print the ballots if our decisions aren’t worth the paper the ballots are printed on.

    I am sure that Bellevue’s citizens have some concerns about alignment, but they had plenty of opportunities to filibuster the decision away before the matter even got to a ballot. Bellevue needs to look at the broader regional picture and we can tweak the local one as we proceed down the road towards completion. Bellevue is a big city now and has big dreams to go with its new size. It is projecting its new found power through its great restaurants and retail opportunities and it it should have Link to go with these. We had this problem with Central Link through the Rainier Valley and it set Central Link back years having to address everyone’s concerns. Big projects have big consequences and need to be buttressed by big visions.

    1. RV is not downtown Bellevue. Bel-Red is akin to RV and nobody is asking for a tunnel there. Or anywhere else on the East Link ROW for that matter.

      1. Well I am referring to the stalling tactics which are comparable. The southern approach alignment to Bellevue has the potential to be a huge distraction from the higher vision and purpose – much like the endless fighting over Link through the Rainier Valley was. When I left Seattle for a few years in 2000, I thought Link was doomed for going through the Valley and pretty much doomed for good, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that things had worked out by the time I returned in 2003.

      2. Tim,

        There’s been no final decision on the alignment. At this point what Wallace is putting on the table doesn’t introduce much delay.

        It just happens to be a bad alignment.

      3. No, but they have a preferred alignment, don’t they which doesn’t include anything near the BNSF corridor.

        Actually, it would probably be quicker (construction wise) to go that way if the goal is to reach Redmond and ignore downtown Bellevue. However, as you say, it would just be a ‘bad alignment’ and one we should reject as a community for the reasons most people have outlined here.

      4. The BNSF alignment issue on the B segment is an entirely different issue from the C segment alignment through downtown. Why is it people are having such a hissy fit over something they don’t even understand?

      5. Worked out for who? The people who lost their homes, the people who lost their businesses, the people who now have to listen to trains at decibles louder than the federal government rates as a health hazard?

      6. Cindy, I presume you believe the Interstate highways were a tragic mistake. I-5 and I-90 destroyed far more homes and business, and creates far more noise, than Link ever will.

        To answer your question, it worked out for the people who are using the system in droves. By the way, the train passes within two blocks of my house and the noise is barely noticeable when my windows are open.

      7. Those people were more than fairly reimbursed for their properties, probably more than they’d receive if they were selling today. People and businesses are transient, the MLK light rail line will be benefiting South Seattle for generations.

      8. Martin, is your home also close to a freeway. I-405 is effectively in a valley through Bellevue with both sides along the freeway going uphill. All the sound from the freeway goes up those hills and bounces around. The walls along the side of the freeway are not sound absorbing so the noise hits the wall and bounces back to the neighborhoods along the opposite side. Add to the freeway noise (listen to it with studded tires), the constant noise of traffic helicopters hovering over the freeway (early in the morning I might add) with mor to be added if Kemper Freeman has his way, and then add in the noise of trains ever 7 minutes (and they are loud trains even the federal government says the current decibles are a health hazard) add just a dash of compassion and you might, I say might be able to understand. Then there are all the other impacts in addition to noise.

      9. I can certainly hear the ambient whirr of the freeway, but I wouldn’t say I’m close to it.

        I don’t follow your logic at all. The noise of the corridor, to me, would seem to mask the sound of light rail and make it more palatable.

        It’s the elevated sections that are noisy, and those are apparently going to be fairly limited in the B and C segments.

      10. Cindy, where were you when I-405 expansion was on the table? Can you show me where you fought that project?

    2. I don’t think Wallace’s proposal would run counter to what was in ST2. The B7 alignment was one of the studied alternatives post-ballot, and a 405 alignment through DT isn’t really any more of a change that ST’s new tunnel proposal.

      It’s just a bad alignment, not one that’s legally beyond the pale.

      1. So far it looks like the only one ST is able to afford. ST promised to work with Bellevue to find funding for a tunnel. So far they not only haven’t done that they’ve been unable to even give Bellevue a price tag on what they expect the City to cough up. What’s the City to do, just write a blank check for the tunnel alignment they rejected?

      2. It’s a little early to jump to that conclusion, isn’t it? This whole process has only been going on for a few months and most of that has been taken up by election season. The new tunnel option just came out in October.

      3. And the opinion of planners at Sound Transit.

        Look, I’m a believer in rail transit and think it’s good to give people good rail options to where they need to go. Obviously, that means I weigh ridership pretty highly compared to other impacts.

        You can consider the negative impacts more important than the ridership, but it’ll come as no surprise that I think those people are seriously underestimating the value of having this transportation option.

      4. Is he supposed to be speaking for the universe, here? Does anyone else here vote to give Martin leave to speak for them?

        Of *course* it is ‘in his opinion.’

  8. I say if we skip downtown Bellevue, there’s no point in going there. The gig’s up. If the only politically acceptible alternative is to go along I-405, I say Link should just bypass Bellevue altogether and stay on I-90 to Issaquah. Stations could be built near Bellevue Way, Factoria, Eastgate, Lakemont, and Issaquah TC. Makes the whole thing a lot easier and uses existing park and rides to boot.

    1. Issaquah will be part of ST3 if we can get there and yes, you’re right, it will be a straight shot down the I-90 with little or no problem envisaged.

      1. There would probably only be one station after Mercer Island before Issaquah which would be the Eastgate flyer area – which is already built up. I can’t see Issaquah endorsing any related TOD along the stretch of the I-90 under its control, Eastgate neither. Don’t forget that the I-90 is part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway and so therefore has a degree of federal and local protection – not quite like the situation we have along the Rainier Valley. TOD usually, it seems to me, fills an aesthetic gap if I can call it that without meaning to cause offense. The I-90 to Issaquah doesn’t really have that, whereas the Rainier Valley for example is ripe for TOD because of the long neglected state of the MLK corridor. This is one of the advantages of Link and other such dedicated transit corridors. The South Lake Union Streetcar is another example, as also is Tacoma Link.

        However, we are really jumping the gun here as ST3 is scarce a twinkle in anyone’s eye right now. We have more close at hand work to do before this happens.

      2. I’m pretty sure many of the alternatives for an Issaquah spur would have the line get off the I-90 ROW and serve the Issaquah TC/P&R which would likely see some support for TOD. I also see some push to maybe do a Factoria station too though I don’t know how likely that would be. Also I suspect one of the Eastgate alternatives will be to run the line North of I-90 so the station can serve the P&R directly and offer better opportunities for TOD.

        Operationally I’m not sure if the Issaquah trains would stay on the Eastside with a transfer at one of the East Link stations or if they would run into Seattle as well. I’m sure that is part of the scoping/alternatives analysis as well.

      3. You do realize that a rail line bypassing Bellevue (by stopping somewhere near I-405) would essentially be a freeway rail line, right? It already is a freeway line other than the Bellevue segment, and the Bel-Red area.

      4. Cindy, regional transportation is to connect edges to centers. Bellevue is a pretty major center – the whole point of East Link is to connect downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle.

    2. An alignment on 114th doesn’t skip Bellevue any more than the 520 alignment skips Microsoft. Sure a tunnel to connect a couple of blocks closer to the Transit Center would be better but ST doesn’t think it’s worth funding. Going to Eastgate and Factoria skips the two largest employment centers on the eastside. You’d essential have a one way commute like Sounder.

      1. Not necessarily – the 554 bus usually has very good ridership at least as far as the Eastgate freeway flyer because of Bellevue College inter alia.

        Issaquah likes its buses and I am sure that ridership would be bi-directional once reached. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that we could get Link to pound its way up the hill to the Issaquah Highlands and Sammamish – it would necessitate yet another – you guessed it – tunnel!

      2. Eh, not sure about that Tim. The grade to Issaquah Highlands is almost the same as heading up to Sea-Tac Airport/Tukwila station. The LRV’s are rated to go up a 7% at 40mph.. and that would be roughly what the highlands grade would be.

      3. Using the 520 alignment bus 545 daily… it’s smack in the middle of Microsoft. A 405 alignment is at one edge of downtown Bellevue, not in the middle.

    3. I think that’s a little extreme. Plenty of rail systems (like Portland’s) have lots of suburban freeway alignments. It ain’t great but it’s better than nothing.

      It also seems to ditch Bellevue because of a freeway alignment in favor of an Issaquah run that will certainly be along the freeway.

      1. And Portland’s system works great in that regard as well. The main difference is the I-84 alignment is all stations and I-205 is all park and rides, except for one or two stations.

      2. Thge I-84 alignment also made use of existing industrial areas. Yes, I have been on Portland’s MAX, lived there when it was put in.

      3. Yeah, but the MAX Blue Line doesn’t skirt around the edge of downtown Portland, it goes right through the heart of it.

      4. Cindy, that’s why we built the Rainier Valley and Tacoma Link projects differently, learning from Portland’s mistakes.

    4. The “gig’s” not “up” if the BNSF (B7) alignment is selected. As Martin has stated there would certainly be less Bellevue CBD ridership on Link and that might make the TOD along NE16th weaker.

      However, Miami and LA have exactly the same sort of “get right up close to downtown and get dumped” transit systems. Miami’s elevated heavy rail system runs along the west side of its CBD, and LA’s light rail systems terminate at the north and south edges of its downtown.

      The two cities solve the problem differently, and LA at least is contemplating a new tunnel to link the LRT lines. Miami has built an elevated people mover distributor that seems to work quite well, and LA forces people onto the Red line heavy rail for the ride into and across downtown.

      I think that Bellevue might be just the place for a people mover like Miami’s. If it were built by the city it could have all the security that the whitey tighties there want and be an aesthetic plus for the city. In fact, it would probably serve a greater proportion of the downtown that does the BTC.

      Of course the cost is probably nearly as great as the tunnel, but I expect that it would be much more popular since the “undesirables” on Link would be riding by the city core.

      You might even get Kemper to toss in the cost of a couple of Bel-Square stations.

      1. P.S.

        There’s probably a good case for a people mover around Northgate, too. There’s plenty of developable land west of the freeway that would be a two or three minute hop on the people mover to Link. Not to mention NSCC.

      2. I agree, both of those ideas would be great! And I’ve always envisioned Northgate Mall in the future building a couple more parking garages then using the extra current parking lot space for mid- or high-rises. Mmmm.

      3. San Jose put in at grade alignments through their downtown and now regret having done so. When the Bellevue Best Practices Committee visited (with Sound Transit representation) they were very clearly told that San Jose would NEVER again put an at grade alignment through that sort of area again.

      4. Downtown Bellevue = Downtown San Jose?

        Wow, I didn’t realize the 425 had gone so far downhill.

  9. I realize the rhetoric of editorials gets a bit loose, but it’s not really accurate to say the proposed alignment goes “far from where anyone lives or works.” It’s a lot less dense now both occupationally and habitationally than the ST-preferred alignment, but it’s not a desert, either.

    While the practical impact would be lower Bellevue ridership, politically, do you really want to tell all the people who do live or work near the proposed alignment that they’re “nobody”?

  10. If Bellevue doesn’t want to pay for a downtown tunnel and won’t let them put it at-grade, any way they could defer the East Main Station and maybe one of the Bel-Red stations (not both, I think it’s a really important sustainable development opportunity there) and shuffle some other money around to pay for that cheaper option for the Downtown tunnel that puts a station at 110th & 4th? If Bellevue is being uncooperative, instead of punishing it by skirting around it or giving in to the stupid ideas of some to put Link on the other side of the 405 from DT Bellevue, let’s try to work with them and get what’s best for Bellevue and the region.

    1. Bellevue City Council is already on board with eliminating the South Main Station. There’s really not the demand near there to support it and it avoids some serious neighborhood impacts. Bellevue’s plan for Main is to remake it into a corridor that’s pedestrian and bike friendly and creates a buffer between residential to the south and the commercial center of downtown. Likewise there is already the plan to include only the Wright Runstad Station in Bel-Red. But that doesn’t even come close to bridging the tunnel gap. Again, nobody is talking about putting Link on the other side of 405 from DT Bellevue. 114th is on the west side of 405, the same side as the DT Bellevue CBD. The only portion under discussion on BNSF ROW east of 405 is the station that serves Overlake Medical Center. This is after the DT stop and the overwhelming choice of the medical community.

  11. Bernie, I don’t know how much Wallace paid you to write so many comments and twist the truths.

    I frankly don’t care about whether the line passes South Bellevue or through I90/405 intersection. The key point is it must link with Bellevue TC, preferably even get closer to Bellevue Square.

    Not a single mass transit line deliberately bypasses its downtown. Are we really that corrupt a country that we put the interest of a real estate developer before the actual commuters? If the ridiculousness can possibly become true, I will lead a bunch of people living in Bellevue downtown fighting tooths and nails against it.

    Remember my name – I will be there.

    1. Kevin,

      Please don’t accuse Bernie of being on someone’s payroll. He’s been here long enough and made enough useful and intellectually honest comments to deserve the courtesy of assuming that his opinions are genuinely held.

      1. So I won’t.

        However, since you two guys basically agree with each other, I and a lot of people here won’t believe your assessment of those comments “useful and intellectually honest”.

        Some of Bernie’s comment is downright false and stupid to such an extent, e.g. “An alignment on 114th doesn’t skip Bellevue any more than the 520 alignment skips Microsoft”, I keep my right to remind everyone, but not accuse him of, harboring certain personal / political / economical agendas.

      2. Kevin, your comments make it clear to me that you have not personally seen a presentation of The Vision Line that Wallace has proposed. You don’t have to agree with it but at least get some clarity on what he is really proposing before you shoot it down.

      3. Cindy, proposing a whole new alignment without, you know, telling anyone about it, is not only far too late, but also clearly an attack on good planning. It’s typical of anti-transit activists.

      4. I don’t know that Bernie and I agree with each other. If I were dictator I’d build B3 and go right through the heart of downtown. Bernie would probably pick B7 and I don’t know what he would do DT.

        I keep saying that the Wallace plan is a bad alignment and I don’t know that he’d agree with that.

        But I think that we both agree that any alignment wouldn’t be a showstopper as long as it doesn’t jeopardize federal funding.

        The point is that attacking other people’s motives rather than engaging with their arguments teeters on the edge of violating our comment policy.

        As for his statement: ST is probably looking at 110th Ave. Wallace would probably have a stop at 114th. Four blocks is really bad for ridership but it seems pretty evident that some number of people who work in DT Bellevue would utilize this station to get to work without needing to transfer.

      5. I suspect that any C alignment on the east side of 405 would completely kill federal funding.

      6. That’s the whole point of the Kevin Wallace contingent. They’ll advance no plan for the tunnel, oppose surface, and go for B7 – making Sound Transit’s only choice to stay on the BNSF alignment for C.

      7. To be fair Wallace was backing the C9T alignment for a while. However he doesn’t think Bellevue should contribute to the constuction costs of a tunnel.

      8. That’s not entirely accurate. Bellevue does contribute a large portion of the eastside sub-area equity funds. I think Bellevue residents would be willing to shoulder their share of a KC Metro contribution but asking Bellevue to shoulder the entire cost of the tunnel on a regional system is what’s unfair and essentially impossible. Bellevue, especially downtown benefits perhaps more than the rest of King County. But the local residents of Beacon Hill have a proportionally large benefit from their underground station yet there was never talk of a LID to fund what was initially planned to be left unfinished. The UW was never required to fund the costs of rerouting the tunnel under the Montlake Cut.

      9. Bernie, I don’t think your examples are comparable to the current situation. In Bellevue the surface routing is an alternative that is cheaper than a tunnel through downtown. However, it would very probably have been more expensive to build a high-level bridge over the ship canal, or have Link go up and over Beacon Hill. Also, didn’t Seattle pay for part of the downtown transit tunnel?

      10. Ben, the B7 alignment previously studied does not cross I-405. It stays on the West side and feeds into several of the C segment options.

        In segment C, it seems like Wallace is ordering something not on the menu, but there’s no reason to presume it isn’t on the West side of 405.

        We’ll be looking into this further.

      11. Bernie, I don’t think your examples are comparable to the current situation.

        In the case of Beacon Hill the station was going to be left unfinished; local residents we’re asked to come up with the difference to finish it. In the case of the UW the tunnel reroute to avoid a “possible” interference with an experiment required considerable re-engineering and a more expensive alignment; again not a pennies worth contributed by the UW. I had thought Seattle paid for the DSTT. After doing some checking after Ben’s questioning that assertion all I can find are references to it being entirely a KC Metro project which would seem to add to the argument for KC Metro stepping up if ST needs help with financing.

      12. “In the case of Beacon Hill the station was going to be left unfinished; local residents we’re asked to come up with the difference to finish it.” (You meant “weren’t,” yes?)

        I think that is because the tunnel was going to be built either way. The tunnel was a foregone conclusion at that point, if I remember correctly, but the station wasn’t going to be built until later.

        The difference between that and the Bellevue situation is that there is no reason to build a tunnel in Bellevue except that some people would like one better than the alternative. But the train can run that route just fine without one, as I understand it, so the default is to build no tunnel. A train could not easily go up and over Beacon Hill, so the tunnel was going to happen on that route whether BHill got a station or not.

        Same thing with Rainier Valley, really. People wanted a tunnel there, but the train could easily fit at the surface on MLK, so… we got a surface train there.

      13. I’ve never compared DT Bellevue to RV yet again there’s the opinion on this blog that it’s remotely similar. Bellevue has never asked for a tunnel under Bel-Red which would be comparable to RV. Maybe we should start there as a bargaining chip instead of being reasonable.

        Yes, the tunnel under Beacon Hill was going to be built. I’ll push aside the idea Link could have continued north to the East Link connection to downtown and refocus the question; if Beacon Hill didn’t have to kick in any local funds at all to complete the deferred underground station why should Bellevue be required to shoulder the entire cost of a tunnel?

        A train could run fine through downtown Seattle. In fact it did and there’s a contingent that think it should again along 1st Ave. Yet the regionally funded DSTT seems to be universally accepted as an equitable idea. Why not adopt the funding consortium for that project?

      14. Bernie, I suspect your question is rhetorical but I’ll answer it anyway.

        First, the DSTT. I agree that RV vs. DT Bellevue is a spurious analogy, but then so is DT Bellevue vs. DT Seattle. DT Bellevue is impressively dense but DT Seattle is a much larger job center and source of ridership. In fact, the Northgate/DT segment blows the rest of Link out of the water in terms of ridership. Moreover, without a tunnel you would have severely restricted the capacity of the entire system because you wouldn’t have eventually been able to run every 2.5 minutes.

        As for Beacon Hill, there is a fairness issue here but the subarea equity rule makes it hard to equalize standards between Seattle and the Eastside. If there’s a little extra money in the North King account there isn’t any obvious place to further extend the line. Going to Capitol Hill is a whole different order of magnitude in cost, so you’re left with infill stations. I wouldn’t be surprised if ridership estimates showed that Stadium and Beacon Hill would be better bets than Graham St. or BAR.

        Meanwhile, with East Link ST clearly isn’t comfortable that there’s enough money in the kitty to get to Overlake as mandated AND build the tunnel. Also there’s the option of going to DT Redmond with additional funds, which probably has better ridership potential than a tunnel.

        It’s probably premature to argue this further till the C9T cost estimate is ready. I remain hopeful that the two sides work out a deal to make this tunnel happen. As a personal matter, I would be fine with the County chipping in my tax dollars to move it along, but I think we can agree that the chance of that is zero.

      15. DT Seattle is much larger but the scale of the DSTT is proportionately larger that any proposal for Bellevue. Money spent on finishing the Beacon Hill station could have been spent on extending north which is waiting for funding. DT Bellevue is the make or break location for East Link and crucial to receiving federal funding so asking Bellevue to exclusively pay for putting that section underground certainly seems unprecedented.

        You’re right that there’s a cash flow problem with ST right now in meeting it’s mandate/promise. That’s largely due to the down economy but that doesn’t justify an attempt to transfer that responsibility to the City of Bellevue. Central Link was “mandated” to reach the airport and the UW but ST had to scale back the initial plans when faced with the reality of it’s cost. And they did so with no apology for spending money on expensive custom architecture for every station; again with no local tax contribution.

        C9T has almost universal support. It’s a Johny com lately to the planning process so I really don’t understand those who would argue that any plan post the DEIS is a ruse to stop rail or too late for consideration. I’d be OK with KC Metro funding. After all East Link, even with a future expansion to Woodinville which is decades away is entirely within King County. KC Metro is feeling the budget crunch, that’s true. But so is the City of Bellevue. Some how there seems to be the perception that everyone in Bellevue is so stinking rich they can fund this from a tip jar. Well, Bill Gates doesn’t live in Bellevue, he lives in Medina which nobody is asking to contribute to tunnel funding. The vast majority of the Microsoft empire is in Redmond; again not being asked for a penny extra to build East Link out to their campus.

      16. Bernie, not completing Beacon Hill doesn’t get you anything up North, and certainly not pre-ST2 when the station decision was made.

        I’ve pointed out the regional interest in making sure that we have adequate capacity in central Seattle. If you built DT Seattle on the surface there would be no ability to absorb riders from the other subareas that want to get there. That simply doesn’t apply to DT Bellevue because the 5 minute headways that are possible on the surface are more than enough to absorb ridership for the foreseeable future. At any rate you’re constrained by the other surface segments to 5 minutes.

        The negative regional impact of a surface alignment is in travel time. The rest of the impacts (traffic, disruption) are purely local. That doesn’t mean I have any problem with regional subsidy of the tunnel, but not at the cost of not getting to Overlake or some other top-tier goal.

        The core problem here is that everyone wants a tunnel but no one has any money to pay for it. The only relevant entity that even has taxing authority is the City, which could create a TBD or LID. ST’s authority is tapped out and everyone’s general fund is bone-dry. Bellevue can make the decision that a tax increase isn’t worth the benefit of a tunnel, but it should be no surprise that I think that would be a shortsighted decision.

      17. And also, ST didn’t promise to tunnel under Bellevue. So this is not an effort to push a core responsibility onto Bellevue, it’s a recognition that there is no more margin for error to pay for nice-to-haves.

        Portland is a lot bigger than Bellevue and seems to get along OK with at-grade through downtown. I’d like to do better than them and go underground, but it isn’t absolutely fatal to do otherwise.

      18. I agree that a tunnel isn’t a must do but at grade through the center of Bellevue on 108th and 110th and changing those to one way streets is a must not. If there isn’t the money for C9T in the time frame that ST wants to build East Link then 114th is the best idea for a surface alignment that I’ve heard.

        There is no precedent for City of Bellevue being a relevant taxing authority to construct a regional transit system. King Count is the most obvious taxing authority and we have precedent for KC Metro building a transit tunnel within one municipality using the county wide tax base. I’m paying property taxes to ferry people from Vashon to jobs in Seattle. Why shouldn’t Seattle and Vashon contribute to a “nice to have” tunnel in Bellevue if that’s what the rest of the county wants? Remember, Bellevue isn’t screaming that they have to have a tunnel. In fact the City is trying to come up with a workable surface alternative.

        There’s one obvious source of revenue that hasn’t been brought up, increased fares on Link. If train riders don’t want to walk or transfer to a bus then increase Link fares to cover the increased debt of building the tunnel. Drivers on 520 are being asked to accept pre-tolling to pay for a replacement bridge. Why shouldn’t the users of the light rail system pay for convenience of a tunnel in Bellevue if that’s what they want?

      19. The Mayor of Bellevue and Bellevue business interests have, in fact, been screaming for a tunnel. And have been exploring revenue options to do so.

        There is in fact precedent for what you describe. Seattle is paying for parts of the Viaduct replacement program. Sound Transit leases/bought the DSTT with North King (read: Seattle) money. Seattle cannot fund the Bellevue tunnel because of sub-area equity. It would be against the law.

        Increased light rail fares cannot fund a tunnel — that’s a canard. And 520 riders cross the span that’s being replaced, no one rides light rail through Bellevue right now.

        And you know all of this.

      20. And Seattle is seriously kicking around the idea of using local revenue streams to accelerate ST3.

        Why is taking ROW on 108/110th a must not? You have far more people-moving capacity with Link than by filling that space with cars.

      21. I’ll say again that I have no objection on the merits to the County at large paying for the tunnel, but I don’t see how you could possibly do that. Where is the taxing authority?

      22. As for the fare thing, if you charged a buck or so to go to or through DT Bellevue you might come up with another $10m a year or so. That wouldn’t get you all the way there but I would have no problem with that as a component of a financing plan. Clearly we’ll have to wait for the C9T cost estimate and I hope the parties will enter into some good-faith negotiation on cost-sharing.

        But if BV takes a hard-line no-new-taxes stance we’re never going to get there.

      23. County taxing authority for transit spending is already in place with the ferry district and is not tapped out. I think it could cover payment on the debt but to follow the ST model of 50% down coming up with the 1/4 billion or so by 2018 or when ever construction starts could be a problem.

        Using fares you get back to the same issue you have with Bellevue vs all of King County. If you pushing it all on East Link riders or the even smaller subset the go through the tunnel a back of the napkin estimate would put the surcharge a $2-3 dollars each trip. $5 a day I bet most riders would rather walk the extra blocks and get some exercise (assuming 20,000 riders). If you but it up to all Link riders (guessing 120,000 you get it down to 50 cents) then it starts to look doable. Maybe you only get half the funding from riders; a 25 cent fare increase could potentially go a long way toward “selling” the tunnel.

        Some how early tolling on 520 was tied to federal grants for taxes. Part of that was for bus service on 520, which makes sense but another portion was going to ferries (not Lk Washington ferries) which really seemed like a push. But maybe there’s a way to apply money from proposed HOT lanes on 405 through Bellevue toward East Link (a parallel corridor) and/or use it to bring home more pork from D.C.

      24. And Seattle is seriously kicking around the idea of using local revenue streams to accelerate ST3.

        Why is taking ROW on 108/110th a must not?

        I don’t know what plans Seattle has for accelerating ST3 since there is no ST3 proposal. I know they want to accelerate the First Hill SC but that’s less than a quarter of the price tag, spread over a city that 5 times bigger and it’s really just a loan. Seattle not only get the money back but the extra years of service by building it sooner.

        The 108/110th surface alignment is bad for Bellevue for a number of reasons. First the trains are noisy. We know that now and all the pretending is over. Horns and bells 18 hours a day seven days a week would be horrible not just for downtown but would be heard for miles around. Second the traffic flow through the city, the other 90% of the people not using transit would be severely impacted. Unlike 2nd and 4th in Seattle there is no through street at 109th that serves as a way to back track. Bellevue has very limited arterial options. Most traffic is east/west. Trains would change signal priority to north/south. Good or bad that’s the way it is and can’t be changed now. Finally the construct impact would be terrible for retail and push a number of business either out of Bellevue or out of business entirely.

      25. Bernie,

        This is getting to be an interesting discussion. With fare increases you have to be careful about reducing ridership, which makes the calculation hairy. Furthermore, I don’t know if subarea equity applies to fare revenue or not. I suspect not.

        If we can get HOT revenue to go towards East Link I can guarantee you that STB will get silly with pleasure.

        As we’ve been covering, Seattle is seriously talking about city funds to build Link out to West Seattle. That’s one of the potential ST3 corridors.

        It’s an exaggeration to say it’d be heard from “miles around.” The noise argument always gets reduced to “you’re in the city, get over it” vs. “it’s so loud.” It really comes down to whether you think rail is a valuable amenity or not.

      26. Yeah, I’m guessing any more than 50 cents and ridership would start to tank; especially where busing is an option. So for it to generate any meaningful amount it would have to be all Link fares. Which brings you back around to the question, if the users don’t think it’s worth paying for is it really a worthwhile investment? Tolls I think are supposed to make up 20% of the 520 bridge funding. If you take 20% of a $500M tunnel option ($100M) and say 30 years at 6% your monthly mortgage” would be $600,000. 20,000 riders a day times 30 days is 600,000. So by chance with those numbers it works out to a buck a ride ($2 a day) if the users are asked to cover 20% of the cost. I don’t know if that would sell?

        I don’t know if subarea equity applies to fare revenue or not. I suspect not.

        I don’t know either. I suspect you’re right but I wouldn’t know how to find out. As far as I recall though it applied only to taxes collected. Fares “go directly” to offsetting operational costs in the budget reports and not toward the sub-area equity accounts. It would be a bit of bookkeeping shinanigans to move a surcharge from fares into the Eastside subarea equity capital account. Especially since operations aren’t even close to the break even point. Maybe it could be worked out a subarea loan. But it still wouldn’t come close to raising the $200+ million needed in ten years to stick to ST’s 50% pay as you go rule. More like a tenth of what’s needed. It’s a much thornier problem than paying of the debt after it’s built.

        Seattle is seriously talking about city funds to build Link out to West Seattle.

        Well, the new mayor has been talking about having a vote. We’ll see how much enthusiasm there is when he proposes how he’s going to raise the money. Spending is always more popular to talk about than taxing. I read over on Publicola that the City Council voted to repeal the $25 head tax which went to transit. And that that was a position McGinn and Obrian both supported. I also think Seattle would be going it alone if they did that. The city wouldn’t get back any of the ST revenue. I think it might even be a hard sell to get KC Metro to pick up the operating costs. Once burned twice shy. But the price being floated ($400 million) is still less than the tunnel upgrade in a City many times larger.

      27. If we can get HOT revenue to go towards East Link I can guarantee you that STB will get silly with pleasure. Unfortunately I think it would be more symbolic than anything. I don’t have the numbers for the 167 demonstration project but I’m guessing only a couple thousand cars a day choose to pay the toll to drive a SOV in the diamond lanes. Maybe it’s more but at that rate and if you were able to divert a two bits to transit it only amounts to a couple hundred dollars a day :-(
        Looking at the ferry district I think there’s 2 cents worth per $1,000 of assessed value left to work with. From a quick scan of a few articles it think that only comes to around $7 million a year. So over the next ten years you only come up with $70 million; well short of what’s needed to start construction. If you put it all on Bellevue you’d have to increase property taxes by an amount equal to the amount currently raise by local school levies for eight years to make it feasible. Nobody on the Bellevue Council would get re-elected if they proposed that even if they were promised the finest South African marble!

      28. Well, the new mayor has been talking about having a vote. We’ll see how much enthusiasm there is when he proposes how he’s going to raise the money. Spending is always more popular to talk about than taxing. I read over on Publicola that the City Council voted to repeal the $25 head tax which went to transit. And that that was a position McGinn and Obrian both supported. I also think Seattle would be going it alone if they did that. The city wouldn’t get back any of the ST revenue. I think it might even be a hard sell to get KC Metro to pick up the operating costs. Once burned twice shy. But the price being floated ($400 million) is still less than the tunnel upgrade in a City many times larger.

        It isn’t just Mayor McGinn talking about rail to West Seattle, Fremont, and Ballard. Richard Conlin who is likely to remain Council President has been talking about doing a Seattle funded plan as well. I’d expect that at the very least Mike O’Brien and Sally Clark would be generally in favor as well.

        Seattle isn’t particularly tax adverse either. Transit proposals tend to pass with overwhelming majorities in Seattle. Actually with the exception of the bag tax and the “latte tax” I can’t think of a single tax measure put before the voters in Seattle that was defeated.

      29. if the users don’t think it’s worth paying for is it really a worthwhile investment?

        I think you have an externality problem. Users are saving maybe a couple of minutes. It’s the surrounding community that avoids adverse impacts with a tunnel, which I guess brings us back around to the surrounding community chipping in.

      30. No, the surrounding community is served just fine by the 114th alignment. The only drawback is the extra walking distance and with the money saved a much greater range of mobility can be provided with additional transit. The additional transit really would add something to the community rather than spending it just to preserve what we already have.

  12. Ben, you are jumping to conclusions, uninformed and incorrect.

    Anyone who wants more information about The Vision Line proposed by Kevin Wallace should contact him. You can find his phone number and email address by googling Wallace Real Estate in Bellevue.

    1. Hasn’t this guy got a web site? If he wanted to disseminate this information widely, it would seem like that would be the way to go.

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