The C4A Preferred Alternative from Sound Transit
The C4A Preferred Alternative from Sound Transit

I attended last night’s workshop for the Downtown Bellevue segment of East Link.  After the meeting, I talked to Kevin Wallace briefly about the Vision Line.  I will be meeting with him on Friday to further discuss details about the plan.  I’ll also compile a list of questions or concerns that you might have, so leave a comment below if you have a question you want to ask Kevin about this new proposal.  As much as you may disagree with this proposed line or even the premise of it, keep the comments civil and practical.  Avoid statements like “What’s with the circusy station?  It’s ugly!”  I won’t be able to ask him all of your questions, but I will bring forth the most pressing issues.

Below is a recap of the workshop written in real-time.

WORKSHOP RECAP

I’m currently at the Downtown Bellevue workshop for East Link at Bellevue City Hall.  Like the three neighborhood workshops that came before this one, public comment booths for each downtown alternative are out with strip plots and maps detailing the plan and elevation of each alignment.  Vision Line Coalition folks are aggressively lobbying outside the meeting area and handing out literature to attendees about Kevin Wallace’s proposed alternative.  The turnout is fairly high tonight with at least 100, give or take, in attendance.  The minutes of the presentation are below the jump.

5:09pm: Katie Kuciemba, the East Link public outreach specialist, has started the presentation.  She’s giving a very brief overview of the basic East Link route, the previous workshops, and other fairly nondescript background information.

5:12pm: Katie runs down the purposes behind the meeting and stresses the agency’s need for public outreach.  After doing so, she hands things over to Don Billen, East Link project manager.

5:13pm: Don gives some more overview of how East Link is progressing, history of the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement), and how the preferred alternative was developed.  Preliminary engineering is still being advanced to a 30% design completion.  Don mentions the development of the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) next year along with a Draft Supplemental EIS for the new alternatives.

The basic timeline for East Link:

  • Mid-2010: Draft Supplemental EIS is issued.  Public comment period is ongoing.
  • Fall 2010: Final EIS published and a final project decision is made by the Board.
  • 2011-2013: Final design of East Link.
  • 2013/2014: Construction begins.
  • 2020/2021: Service begins.

5:15pm: Don proceeds to break down the preferred alternative as it currently stands and mentions how there is only construction funding up to Overlake thus far.  The agency is still reevaluating the downtown alignment; with so many new alternatives and stakeholders on the project, this segment is by far the most important on East Link.

5:17pm: Don goes over each segment of East Link in detail from Seattle to Redmond.

5:19pm: Sue Comis, project manager of the Downtown segment, takes over to talk about the Downtown alternatives.  She introduces C4A as the current preferred alternative and goes over its routing.  The segment would be counterflow to automobile traffic, meaning that trains would run against the direction of one-way traffic.  Sue mentions the concerns about traffic impacts and explains the accommodations of a peer review board for traffic analysis of the C4A alternative.  She goes on to mention potential property impacts.

5:22pm: Sue talks briefly about C3T, which was identified for further study.  The tunnel is deep bored and was the original preferred tunnel option.  This is when Sound Transit asked the city to look at additional funding sources.  She goes on to mention the more recent new C9T option, a cut-and-cover tunnel that was suggested by a peer review board.  As we just reported, the projected cost of C9T is $980 – $1,010 million in 2007 dollars.  Starting the tunnel from the elevated guideway at East Main Station would tack the extra $30 million on top of the $980 million base cost.

A quick cost rundown of the most important alternatives:

  • C4A: $700M at grade, $705M elevated
  • C9T: $980M
  • C3T: $1,175M

5:25pm: Sue proceeds to mention the peer review board commissioned to further evaluate the at-grade segment and its impacts.  A value analysis workshop held in mid-October also reviewed all of the alternatives.  Sue then talks about the newest alternatives that just surfaced:

C9A: An at-grade version of C9T, suggested by the peer review board and recommended by value analysis workshop attendees.  There are fewer intersection crossings and eliminates the need for a NE 8th crossing.  This is the hybrid alternative recently reported in the Seattle Times.

C11A: An at-grade segment running north along 108th Ave NE, east on NE 6th St, and elevated over 405.  This is also another hybrid alternative recommended by the peer review board.  The downtown station would be right at the transit center.

5:28pm: Sue mentions the City’s presentation on December 10th to the Sound Transit Board of identifying additional funding sources for a tunnel.

5:29pm: The podium is handed back to Katie, who briefly goes over the comment process and how the attendees can submit comments. She goes over the next steps in the public outreach process leading up to the publication of the FEIS and closes the presentation with her contact information.

5:32pm: Katie opens up a brief period for open questions, with Don Billen answering:

  • Question 1: “Are there cost projections for C9A and C11A yet?” Answer 1: No cost projections yet; environmental impact and ridership analysis will come later.
  • Question 2: A gentleman comes out very angrily against C4A and claims that no one in attendance supports it.  He goes on say that it would “destroy the city” and asks for a show of hands of those who would support C4A.  Answer 2: Don Billen calmly responds by saying that Sound Transit is openly making accommodations to consider new alternatives and that the whole point of the meeting was to get input on the preferred alternative.
  • Question 3: “There’s been new information about the noise level of the trains.  Is there funding for sound walls in neighborhoods like Ashwood and Surrey Downs?” Answer 3: Sound Transit is working to make sure Link doesn’t exceed federal standards.  Information about the costs for noise mitigation are to be upgraded for the FEIS.
  • Question 4: “What step in the process are you at now as far as finding funding for the tunnel goes?”  Answer 4: The City will brief the Board on December 10th to identify funding sources.

5:37pm: The presentation concludes after the open question period.  It turns out Andrew and Shefali from the Transportation Choices Coalition are sitting next to me and noticed I was writing for STB.  We chat for 30 seconds before they head out.

After the presentation, I head out to check the strip plot for C4A.  Ironically, I overhear an attendee state that he does, in fact, support the alternative, contrary to the earlier gentleman’s statement that no one in attendance did.  The largest drawback to the alternative is that there will be no signal priority for trains and that left turns that cross the tracks will not be protected by a signal either.   Without priority, this could result in significant system bottlenecks through Downtown Bellevue.

Overall, the workshop was very similar to the ones that preceded it.  Presence for the Vision Line and against C4A were strong, but things remained mostly civil.  Again, drop a comment if you have a question or concern about the Vision Line and we’ll try to get them answered by Kevin Wallace himself.

97 Replies to “Vision Line Comments and DT Bellevue Workshop Recap”

  1. No signal priority in a contra-flow configuration will probably be pretty clumsy. The lights are probably synchronized for with-flow pulses now and the train is going to cross 2nd, 4th, and 8th with potentially adverse signals. One can expect that NE 6th would have signal priority, because most of the vehicles crossing on 6th are buses. Still, the lack of priority would seem to devalue C4A pretty significantly.

    It seems likely the C9A will be the final choice. If it is, ST, please reserve space in the right of way to build the retained cuts for C9T along 6th and Main streets.

    1. The more I think about C9A the more I like it. It would be really nice to know if the ST board is serious about considering this or is just using it as diversion and cover before reaffirming the current preferred alternative. To some extent I believe this depends on the City of Bellevue making a strong commitment to one of the at grade alignments (which in turn depends on ST signaling that they are willing to accept abandoning C4A). I believe using 110th could actually benefit traffic flow through the city; and by benefit I mean move the same number of cars with less congestion. And it has potential to be a very much needed north south pedestrian and bike friendly corridor. It seems to work just fine for transit connections and with the $300 million savings you could build a streetcar loop around the entire CBD and still have an endowment large enough to fund fare free operations forever.

      1. Bernie, the problem with the C9T alignment is that it takes a big chunk out of the Surrey Downs neighborhood by taking the businesses on Main Street, some of the homes behind those businesses and leaving the neighbors behind that with a train in their back yards.

      2. Bernie,

        I just put a post on the previous thread about a pretty serious potential operational conflict with C11A; if you haven’t read it, you might wan to. I can’t imagine that they’ll adopt that option; it was someone’s good idea, but when they realize that buses will have to wait to enter the TC whenever a train is there on the side at which they stop, they’ll toss it. Bus flow will be pretty severely impacted.

        I’m wondering how the planners are envisioning the transition between elevated structures over 112th NE at both NE 6th and Main Streets to retained cuts west of 112th for C9T. It seems that’s going to be a bit like a roller coaster! From eighteen feet in the air at track crown to thirty feet underground in one superblock. Woo-hoo! Grant that the ground level rises to the same elevation as the elevated structure in that superblock. So it’s only really the thirty feet. Still…..

        Cindy,

        Doesn’t C4A have worse effects on your neighborhood than would C9T? A retained cut into the rising hill is going to allow less sound to escape than would an elevated structure to which the hill is rising. The sound wall which will certainly be built behind the houses on SE First Place would be more effective if the noise begins at ground level than if it’s in the air. I would think that you’d be a supporter of C9T.

        I expect C9A or C11A would be essentially the same as C4A as far west as 110th NE although I don’t think we’ve yet seen a detailed map of it. It would not therefore take the businesses on the south side of Main Street but will probably be a bit noisier than C9T, even though a few yards farther from the houses on First Place.

        All,

        If ST and Bellevue do agree on C9A, I hope that they build the elevated structure on the north side in a way that allows the roller-coaster to be built in the future should a tunnel be needed and purchase the strip of land needed for the retained cut along NE 6th.

        So far as the Vision Line, one advantage I have to give it is that it would have less impact east of I-405. According to its map it will be elevated above the cloverleaf at NE 8th (I wonder if WSDOT will allow that since it would preclude ever modifying the interchange). East of the freeway it’s shown just south of NE 8th, which means it would only have to take a couple of smallish restaurants and an auto parts store to get over to the BNSF ROW.

        The C9’s and C11A will both require that the Coast Hotel be demolished (you can’t have an elevated trackway with trains running at speed fifteen feet from hotel rooms. At least you don’t want that). And the auto dealerships on the east side of 116th NE will certainly be disrupted by the supports.

        If the Vision Plan included lidding I-405 between NE 4th and NE 6th in order to make the area between the freeway and BNSF ROW developable it might not be a disaster. Some sort of people mover would be required in downtown Bellevue, though; either a streetcar loop or an actual PRT people mover like in Miami.

        A PRT of course costs big bucks, but the property owners might be up for a LID for that. It’s futuristic, which is a big deal in Bellevue, and access can be controlled.

      3. And of course a lid would cost big bucks, but could probably be paid for out of the increased value of the land east of I-405.

        And an edit: In the first paragraph of the “All” section, the clause that starts “I hope that they build” refers to the situation at the Main Street Station. That isn’t clear when I read it.

      4. I’m pretty sure the C11A route would have Link in the central lanes and buses in the outer lanes. So buses and trains wouldn’t have to wait for each other, except for some left-turning buses, I guess.

      5. The more I hear these complaints, the more I think I’d rather inconvenience Surrey Downs than another neighborhood, frankly.

      6. Let’s just buy out the whole damn neighborhood and turn what isn’t needed for transit into a park.

        Even better we could fill the former neighborhood with low income housing, halfway houses, homeless shelters, drug & alcohol treatment centers, and perhaps a jail.

      7. Again,
        This kind of malice is not at all helpful. The problem here is that people are dramatically overestimating the costs and underestimating the benefits.

      8. What about the possibility of having the C9T transition from elevated to tunnel west of the Main Street Station (the “roller-coaster”) actually occur in the middle of Main Street rather than in the strip of stores to the south. That might ameliorate some of the objections of the Surrey Downs folks. They’d have an additional twenty yards of sound attenuation and no impact to any landscaping along the back of their property.

        If C4A, C9A or C11A is adopted, the two middle lanes of Main Street west of 112th NE are toast anyway. The elevated structure supports will take one lane’s width half way to 110th and for the other half the structure will be low enough that nothing can be under it anyway. In fact, when it gets that low, the engineers will want to build a box, fill it with dirt, and lay the rails on the top. The actual bridge won’t start until the road has dipped about eight or nine feet.

        True, there would be room for a left turn bay underneath at least a portion of the elevated structure nearest 112th for eastbound Main Street to northbound 112th Avenue trips. If the structure had to dive from elevated to tunnel between 112th and 110th the turn bay would have to be much shorter, maybe holding as few as three cars.

        Still it seems like shortening the turn bay is a pretty small price to pay for getting agreement from the folks in Surrey Downs to the tunnel alignment. Assuming of course that a tunnel can be paid for.

        Thoughts?

  2. Sherwin – thanks for the report. My hunch is that most of the Wallace line supporters were from the Surrey Downs/Bellecrest neighborhood. Their support is predicated on the B7 alignment. Could you tell whether or not anyone from the downtown residential or business community supports it? That would be a good question for Wallace – maybe too early to tell – but who is lining up behind it?

    Also, isn’t this Wallace’s second “vision” line? The first was the B7-C2T-D2A? I think he had a website for it. C2T was discarded as as too expensive and disruptive, so I suppose this is the compromise for downtown. Thanks again.

  3. So is C4A the option that would be built with no contribution from Bellevue? And does that mean the cost to the city of Bellevue for a tunnel would be between $280 – $475 million? If so those numbers are substantial but not insurmountable…

    1. Yes, C4A is the current preferred alternative. However, the new at-grade alternatives, C9A and C11A look promising and address some of the concerns of C4A, namely the at-grade crossing of NE 8th, encroachment on McCormick Park, issues with The Commons, and the location of the Ashmont/Hospital station. They’re also addressing the concerns of Meydenbauer Center related to traffic patterns for entry to their garage.

      As I said in the earlier post, they don’t yet have cost estimates for C9A and C11A, but they’ll certainly come in below C9T and possibly below C4A.

      1. C11A is DOA because running both trains and buses through the TC would mean that the buses can not move while a train is in the station. They’d be driving on the trackway to pass one another accessing the various bays.

      2. I admit that the a bus at the last bay on a side could depart with the train in the station and once the train stops a bus bound for the first bay could enter. But that’s all.

      3. The trains would only be stopped at the transit center for 1-2 minutes and most of the buses serving the transit center already have a pretty substantial lay-over there. I’m sure that decent scheduling coupled with a smart layout of the transit center could eliminate most conflicts.

      4. For any buses actually laying over there, it would not be an issue on departure, that is true; they’d just leave a little late, and that’s not a catastrophe.

        It would still be an issue for arrival, though. And people wanting to catch the train would be unhappy to be stopped waiting for one to move so they could de-board.

        Once the tracks have taken the center, the layout can’t be materially improved without widening the Transit Center. Maybe that nice plaza on the north side could be narrowed to add a couple of driving lanes, but it looks to me like the south side is quite ring-fenced for at least the first bay and then at the last bay so by a large buildings. And there’s a parking garage at the east end on the north side.

        If you widen it by two lanes you really would have to reduce the walking zones on either sides and that’s not really compatible with a transit center. It might be OK because for the most part the buildings are set back, but you would certainly have to have a six lane Transit Center to avoid bus conflicts.

      5. Also, no amount of schedule tweaking will ensure that arriving buses get there when they’re supposed to.

        I’ll give you that departures aren’t so much of an issue; the bus waits until the train clears the station. That’s the way it is. But arrival blockage will generate lots of resentment without widening the Center.

      6. There’s a lot more space at the Bellevue Transit Center than what you realize. Even a 4-car Link train would only extend for a little over half of the platform length. With 4 lanes through the transit center and additional bays available on 108th avenue I’m sure there would be a way to arrange it to minimize conflicts. They could even route trains through the south side of the transit center and buses on the north side, and cluster bays at opposite ends of the transit to allow buses to pass in the middle. Until the idea is studied further by Sound Transit I think it is premature to write it off.

      7. If the a bi-directional trackway occupies the center of 108th NE, there will be no place for buses to lay over along it.

        But you may be right that the length of the block might make it possible to support some bus movement within the four lane model. If the train stops were at the far end of the center platform each way and a full Link train is only half the length of the station, then the first two bays on each side could certainly be accessed with a train in the station.

        The blocks are that long? Wow. Of course they encompass two address blocks.

  4. Please ask Kevin Wallace how the “Vision Line” is better in the downtown segment than ST’s C9A or C11A allignment.

  5. Sherwin, nice report. I guess the sixty four thousand dollar question for Councilman Elect Wallace is, how much does it cost? And to put in in comparison we need 2007 dollars. Of course even then we don’t have much to go on because ST has their own set of rules for cost projections so relative comparisons are difficult.

    Second question would be why does it need to be four stories high? Follow up would be to ask if this takes into account a long range plan to create an interchange at NE 2nd.

    I would ask directly about the issue of conflict of interest between transit proposals, political office and real estate holdings. The innuendo is out there and this is a chance for him to answer his critics.

    Mr. Wallace has stated publicly that he doesn’t believe $500 million can be found within the tax base of Bellevue. Does he feel as strongly about $300 million? What level of funding for downtown upgrades does he believe can be found. Follow-up, does he have an idea of what the assessed property valuation is for downtown and how that would relate to a LID that funded a $300 million project? How does this compare to the $25 million LID package SLU overwhelmingly agreed to and what would the “payback” for downtown property owners be compared to the benefits expected from the trolley in South Lake Union.

    An email with the questions tomorrow so that he had time to research some figures that no one is likely to have just off the top of their head might be a good idea.

    1. Excellent questions, Bernie.

      How much more does it cost to put light rail on posts? With modern concrete casting machinery, not very much actually. It’s way more than grading greenfield right of way of course, but when one has to tear up an existing street, possibly moving utilities and certainly protecting them, it’s actually not enormously more costly.

      Granted, the stations are way more expensive when they’re on posts.

      1. In the DEIS the elevated options were about the same as at grade. Elevated can be the cheapest way to go. But this idea of putting it four stories in the air is different. It’s more than four times the concrete because as you go up the base has to get correspondingly thicker. Contruction is that much harder because of all the scaffolding. Then you’ve got the job of pumping or lifting the concrete a much greater distance while working with the same set times. Then start adding in the elevators and the “people mover” I’m just not smelling cost savings here. Could be dead wrong but I think it’s up to Kevin Wallace to provide a credible cost estimate before this gets any sort serious consideration.

  6. Here are my questions;

    1. Who else is a member of the “Vision Line Coalition”?

    2. How can he claim that his alternative “will provide as good a ridership as any other alternative at a much lower cost” when neither a ridership analysis nor a cost estimate has been performed?

    3. Why does he support denying transit access to residents of South Bellevue, Newport and Factoria? The B7 alignment skips the South Bellevue P&R which is a key transit access point for these residents.

    4. The Bellevue City Council resoundingly rejected Sound Transit’s elevated proposals, why should the city support this one?

    1. Question 1.) relates to my question about the issue of conflict of interest issue. It’s a valid concern.

      Question 2.) adds a very important point to my question about cost analysis. We really need to see some numbers and more than that know how they relate to the numbers provided by ST. If there’s a disagreement about the methods of modeling that’s fine but redefine the ST numbers using your modeling methods for comparison. Chose to believe which ever one you want but the comparison needs to be relative. Also, and of major concern is how do the modeling methods comply with federal guidelines which control federal funding. In other words, it may matter more that D.C. likes the numbers than that the numbers are correct.

      Question 3.) B7 is a completely separate issue from segment C so I wouldn’t dwell on this but if you have time you might delve into B7 issues.

      Question 4.) Elevated never even got talked about. So saying it was resoundingly rejected isn’t really true. And elevated next to the freeway is entirely different than elevated downtown because of noise, visual and traffic impact. Pretty much what’s lead up to this was the City rejection of anything other than a tunnel being unaccepable and the reality that anything other than a tunnel is the only real choice. I would use this to ask if the C9A might be common ground.

      1. The elevated options were discussed in-depth by the city council prior to their issuance of a locally preferred alternative. From the preference letter issued by the city council;

        “The Council also unanimously rejected the two elevated options through downtown. Elevated structures are in direct conflict with the well-established urban design policies and principals for the downtown.”

        I know the area near 405 isn’t exactly downtown, but Wallace’s proposal includes some pretty immense elevated structures, so I think the question is relevant.

      2. A related question for him is how he thinks the new proposed alignment will affect upzoning on auto row/east of 405. If we’re looking at some significantly elevation, are we effectively re-creating the Viaduct issue?

      3. The one good think one can say about the Vision Line is that it serves the area between I-405 and the BNSF right of way. If the freeway were lidded between 4th and 6th I expect that everywhere between 110th and BNSF would develop rapidly. The question is, what about the investors in all the big new buildings that have gone up around the BTC. They’d be left out in the cold and rightly would feel cheated.

        Expect lawsuits should this go forward. Fortunately that’s probably the main reason that the members on the council will greet his election with a distinctly chilly demeanor.

        And I expect that Mr. Wallace can expect a well-funded challenger his next election.

  7. This is not a question for Wallace but there seems like the are so many options on the table (to many I personally think) and it makes it hard to follow all of this. I think that Sound Transit really needs to put there foot down and tell the public that the C4A line is what we are doing and at this point all other options are off. The ONLY exception should be is if Bellvue can find the money for the preferred tunnel option.

    1. There are a lot of options in play and the cost effectiveness of adding yet another to the mix is a valid question. Conrad Lee constantly asks, “how much did this ‘study’ cost?” Insistence on C4A isn’t really an issue directly related to the Vision Line but a valid question is when do you say “pencils down”, time to pick from what’s on the table and has been vetted by the public?

      1. It’s the current preferred alternative, however the Sound Transit board is free to change it’s mind. In fact a final alignment decision can’t legally be made until the EIS process is finished.

      2. Typically “pencils down” happens when the FEIS comes out. The fact other alternatives are being studied is as a direct result of various issues being brought up with the 8 alignments in the DEIS. Sound Transit is under a legal obligation to consider all reasonable alternatives as part of the EIS process. While adding new alternatives takes money and time the goal is a good one which is to find an alignment Sound Transit can afford to build and that Bellevue can live with.

        C9A, and C11A are both responses to concerns about an at-grade alignment crossing 8th, wanting a better location for the Hospital station, and wanting to avoid impacts along NE 12th.

    2. That’s basically what Sound Transit did. They’re waiting to see how much money the city of Bellevue can come up with. They may replace C4A with C9A, but it’s surface or Bellevue ponies up.

      Just like Seattle ponied up for the DSTT…

    3. It just seems like with all these alternative that Sound Transit is going to be wasting money studying with all the alternatives. Why are there are so many alternatives and were there as many alternative with central link?

      1. It’s not a waste of money to study the options! This is how we come up with a good plan.

        Central Link had just as many, yes.

    4. They aren’t “options” for options’ sake. ST is required by law to examine a reasonable range of “alternatives” in their NEPA and SEPA reviews. What constitutes a “reasonable range” is highly variable and has been the subject of a lot of litigation. Based on my experience having worked on the NEPA process for ST for Central Link, my assessment is that they are doing well to cover as many alternative segment alignments as can be reasonably analyzed in the DSEIS, to avoid later controversy and potential litigation on the environmental review process.

  8. My question is bigger than discussing the “proposals”: should Wallace even be involved in the decision making process?

    (1) He and his company owns / manages large pieces of land around 112th and 114th Ave.

    (2) His proposal exactly passes by that land.

    (3) Can he give us an estimation of how much that land will appreciate in value if his proposal is approved? And how much his personal wealth stands to gain from it?

    (4) How do we avoid conflict of interest? I will be happy if Wallace stays out of this discussion or his company sells the land before a decision is made. Even those can’t prevent some backroom deals and influences, but I will take what we Bellevue residents can get.

    (5) Beside running his real estate company, does he have a history of actively involving in public transit development process and knowledge of transit-oriented development? What qualifies him to even make proposals and take questions from us? Why the sudden interest in light rail alignment?

    1. Wallace isn’t really involved in the decision making process. He came up with an idea, and he’s managed to use the fact that he was recently elected to city council to get it press. Sound Transit has no obligation to consider it.

    2. Your comment about conflict of interest is moot. The entire light rail process is full of conflict because all the “consulting” firms are involved in other jobs that provide that conflict.

      1. As Ben said, name and prove those conflicts.

        People already gave the exact parcel numbers of Wallace’s properties beside his proposed station.

        Only idiots will not regconize that he has a lot of gain from this.

      2. No, the properties beside the proposed station don’t belong to any entity associated to Wallace properties and this tin foil conspiracy theory surrounding an elected City of Bellevue councilman is really wearing thin. Prove your conflict, I’ve already provided exact parcel numbers (and a link to where you can actually look it up yourself) that are next to the station and they are not owned or managed by Wallace Properties.

      3. Wallace Properties does own two parcels right next to the proposed “vision line” ROW and less than 2 blocks from the proposed station. I’d say there is a strong appearance of a conflict of interest. If I lived in Bellevue I’d ask council member Wallace to recuse himself from any council votes on the segment C alignment.

      4. Bernie, you were responded to with the correct parcel numbers. The parcel numbers you listed do not correspond with the addresses of properties Wallace owns.

      5. The correct parcel numbers for are adjacent to the station are what I listed. Of the three scattered (not even adjacent to each other) one of them is owned by COB. CH2M Hill is adjacent to the ST preferred alternative. CH2M Hill is a major consultant for ST. That pretty much proves ST and it’s consultants are all one big conspiracy to reroute the line, right?

      6. Either you are mistaken or you are just trying to play the words “beside the station” to confuse uninformed people.

        I personally went to King County Parcel Viewer myself and Wallace Property owns three lots on the corner 4th Street and 114th Ave. Other commenters have provided the parcel number in another thread.

        These lands are worthless now being so close to I405, and he is the only one, not Bellevue residents, not Bellevue Square visitors, not downtown office workers, who stands to gain millions from that alignment.

      7. There’s only two lots on the corner of 114th & 4th. The freeway is to the east. One is 400 112TH AVE NE #230 and is owned by PSE and apraised at $15,705,600. You’re calling that worthless and accusing me of a play on words? The property on the south west corner, 399 114TH AVE NE 98004 is owned by Wallace and I acknowledged that. It’s a “super block” from where the station access would be on 6th and I don’t see how having an elevated railway in front is going to turn this into a gold mine. Of the properties Chris identified, 330 112TH AVE NE 98004 is owned by Wallace/Scott Ltd. It’s one more “super block” west and the 110th at grade would provide better access. Likewise 11027 NE 4TH ST is much better served by 110th. What, he’s conspiring to move it away from 110th because it will ruin his property values and move it to 114th where it will net him a windfall? The third property Chris identified was 222 112TH AVE NE and is probably closer to a South Main station. The ownership was transferred from Wallace/Scott Ltd to City of Bellevue in 2007 via a quit claim deed with a partner listed as “CENTRAL PUGET SOUND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY”. Robert Wallace (the individual) is still listed as the taypayer. Now if you want to start some big conspiracy theory about this go right ahead but Bellevue acquires property all over the city with the intention of securing it for future projects and typically leaves the building use unchanged until the project is moved forward. If you really want to make this into a conspiracy theory look at the property transactions for 200 112TH AVE NE 98004!

      8. Puhlease! Even if your assertion of the consulting conflicts had any merit, it doesn’t “moot” the potential or appearance of conflict created by the proximity of the “Vision Line” to some Wallace properties. Look, I’m stoked that you are participating here, bringing a local and contrarion point of view. But tossing around this kind of prejudiced illogic lowers the discussion rather than raising it.

  9. I would ask him to come hang out on the 4th street 405 overpass for a few hours to see how fun it would be to hang out with the noise and pollution of 405.

  10. Ahhhhh, Justin, Kevin Wallaces Bellevue office is right next to 4th and 405. He is quite well acquainted with that area.

  11. Better for downtown Bellevue to have a surface route than downtown Seattle. Bellevue would just be screwing itself over (and the eastside), while a surface route through downtown Seattle (like MAX or Dallas) would screw up the entire region and everybody’s transfers. Bellevue’s transit ridership will be several times smaller than Seattle’s for at least the next three decades, so a surface route may not be the disaster it would be on the other side of the lake.

    I’m more interested in the location of the platforms and the immediate approach at the BTC and South Bellevue stations. This preferred alternative is the red line in the diagram? So there would be a platform at each end of the BTC? And buses and pedestrians would have to cross the train tracks to get in and out of the BTC? Would the platform be outside the street sidewalk (so that people walking down that side of the street wouldn’t have to cross the tracks to get to the BTC)?

    1. Mike,

      I think that must be reason for contra-flow operation, now that you raised the point. With contra-flow operation C4A can have the southbound trains on 108th NE and the northbound on 110th NE be on the sides of the streets that the TC lies on and not require the trains to cross paths at the ends of 110th.

      That is, a Seattle-bound train center running westbound on NE 12th would turn into the east side curb lane of 108th NE, run south to the station at the TC and open its left doors. That allows people direct access to the TC without having to cross 108th.

      The contra-flow is not to intimidate cars from entering its way; it’s to have the doors open on the TC side.

      1. As I recall there are also statements in the DEIS about contra-flow being safer because people are less likely to make turns in front of moving trains.

      2. Chris,

        It probably did mention that, and it is an issue for side-running lines. On the Portland Transit Mall the cars are not allowed to make right turns except at three intersections where they have separate cycles for trains, buses and non-transit vehicles.

        The reason I mentioned it is that I made some speculation earlier about why they would have adopted contra-flow. Then Mike asked the question about crossing the street and the light went off: it’s the only way to have the stations on the same side of 108th and 110th as the TC but not cross routes.

    1. Chris, barman, that’s not really constructive. A few lights is nothing – Portland isn’t a disaster, and it’s a lot bigger than Bellevue.

      Build surface if that’s all we can afford, and we can go back and tunnel later.

    2. I’ll say this. I don’t like at-grade, especially when it’s without signal preemption, but this is vastly better than nothing considering that C4A only runs for 0.8 mile, compared to the 4+ miles of at-grade in the Valley. Also, remember that C9A, which has far less surface segment, has the most political leverage behind it right now and is a serious contender to replace the preferred Downtown alternative once they finish up the FEIS.

    1. Nothing concrete, but Burien-Renton will likely be in Sound Transit 3. Expect a vote on that around 2015, and completion around 2025-2030. But there will be bus expansions in that corridor over the next three years.

      Issaquah recently started making noises about wanting Link, but that was just after the ST2 vote so it would have to wait till ST3. Possible routes include Issaquah-Seattle, Issaquah-Bellevue, or Issaquah-South Bellevue (with transfer to Seattle or Bellevue).
      But an Issaquah-Seattle route may not be feasable because some have argued that the DSTT (downtown Seattle transit tunnel) and/or the Seattle-Northgate tunnel may be at capacity when ST2 is finished. (The argument being that all trains to downtown would have to continue to Northgate due to how the tunnel is being built.)

      An Issaquah-Bellevue route could theoretically be extended to Kirkland or across 520. Of course, the latest 520 proposals are rail-hostile.

      If by south of I-90 you mean Somerset and Newcastle, there have been no proposals for Link in that area. It’s all single-family housing, so it’s hard to see where a high-capacity rail corridor could go. The Burien-Renton segment could later be extended to Bellevue and Lynnwood. That would pass near if not through the Newcastle area.

      I think the Eastside should consider streetcars. Its superblocks and low density mean streetcars would get less bogged down than on congested ol’ Westlake Avenue. The eastside cities could build several streetcar lines for the price of one Link line, and the capacity would probably be adequate for 10-20 years, until people start abandoning cars en masse and demand light rail everywhere.

      1. I agree the Burien-Renton should probably be in ST3. There was a study about light rail along that corridor that I saw that estimated a fairly astounding 24,000 riders per day in 2030. I think an Issaquah-Bellevue route could fit in, as you could have a Lynnwood (and north)-Federal Way (and south) going every 7.5 min, the Redmond-Northgate line going every 7.5 min, and an Issaquah-Northgate line going every 7.5 min. My vision is that in the future, one of those lines would split off at Roosevelt and go up to Lake City and Bothell.
        South of I-90 has been proposed, as it is on ST’s long-range plan. But that’s a ways off, probably ST4. That would be pretty cool if the Eastside built some streetcars.
        I think ST3 should be Ballard-Downtown,building a new Link tunnel and connecting the West Seattle Line which will hopefully be be built by then; Burien-Renton; a spur from Bellevue to Kirkland and Totem Lake, and possibly farther north; an extension to Tacoma, going to the Tacoma Dome then descending into a tunnel and stopping only at UW Tacoma and Downtown Tacoma, possibly extending in that tunnel to UPS then emerging and ending at TCC; and finally an extension to Everett. And throw in some streetcar money for each subarea and Sounder expansion to all-day, faster service on Sounder North and South.

      2. Mike,

        If people abandon cars, then streetcars suddenly have reserved right of way. Sounds good to me….. ;-)

  12. Imagine this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njdfz75P65U integrated with the vision line or the B7 alignment. Better yet, imagine it integrated with our whole light rail system. This is the kind out-the-box technology we need in moving towards a better transportation future. It they (UniModal Transport Solutions Inc) can prove this technology, which I believe they eventually will since NASA recently joined their team, this can really be a game changer.

    1. This is stuff from scifi movies. We can let other cities toy around with fantastical unproven technology. For now, let’s make our light rail system the best it can be without relying on fantasy.

    2. Interesting concept but doesn’t look like they’re close to even building a prototype. Kinda sucks for them to have to demonstrate their maglev technology in that video with a floating globe from they got from a gift shop.

    3. Marcus, I’m going to tell you that PRT does not share the same values as conventional rapid transit, nor does it reap the same benefits.

    4. PRT probably would be better than what we have, but there’s no way Seattle would vote to be the first city to try it on a large scale. The only PRT systems in production are very small: Heathrow airport, and Morgantown University in West Virgina. You would have the same arguments as the monorail: unproven, and proprietary technology. Monorails actually have been proven in Asia, but their support in Seattle was still barely 50%. The main selling point of light rail was that it’s basic, standardized technology, and several suppliers make the same compatible equipment so we’re not locked into one supplier. Now with the recession and severe limitation of transit dollars, people will be even more risk-adverse.

    1. Microsoft indicated they prefer a surface route. Put it blankly, they mean: there is no money for tunnel; to argue about all the alternatives is only going to cost more money and delay this thing further.

  13. I posted this earlier… but I am curious… I have observed Kemper and the “Bellevue Business folks” are not hot on transit unless it’s buried underground. Outta sight both physically and in budget terms.
    I believe that the demographics of those who work, play and live WEST of 405 are far different than those EAST of 405 in Bellevue’s city limits. In general, those EAST of 405 are far more likely to commute by bus North to Techland, South to Renton, or West to Seattle. Those who LIVE WEST of 405 will prefer to drive their latest new car, and can amuse themselves with various toys when stuck in 6 lanes of traffic. Those employed in service industries SERVING them prefer to bus…

    My thoughts (and probably have been discussed here before, but I missed it):

    I would be propose the line come across I-90 with a stop on Mercer Island, then:
    A stop at Factoria in mid air (ala the stop at 99 pre-airport)
    Continue EAST and take the BCC offramp and stop at the transit center. Skirt around BCC campus (perhaps a second stop at the NORTH end of Campus, then Follow 148th.
    Next stop: the Old K-Mart Plaza. Plenty of room for a transit center and park and ride
    Next stop: the old school on Bell Red Road at about 150th… Plenty of room and easy grade. OR Better yet, through the slight hill and swamp and up to Crossroads Mall. Bet THEY would understand, appreciate, and SUPPORT a light rail link.
    Next stop south campus MS, then north campus MS… and on down the hill to Redmond Square. Future Extension TBA.

    Most All on surface grade or existing structure… 148th and 156th are wide enough, have sound barriers in place, and could support a rail line like that along MLK.

    Stop trying to force the horse to drink. They don’t want light rail? Fine. You have density all along 156th. Bellevue College is the largest single campus… and will someday be 4 year. Might as well link it up NOW. Downtown Bellevue loves a car and does NOT have the density of housing that overall the Crossroads area has, and will continue to build.

    YES, I know how BUSY the Bellevue Transit Center is. But its artificial. It is a transfer point, not a destination. It’s like Metro’s own Atlanta… Everyone is routed though there… you could do the same at Crossroads, or the old K Mart on 148th and Main.

    1. That’s an interesting point about west of 405 vs east of 405, but we’re limited to the spec voters approved, which goes through downtown Bellevue. While the BTC is essentially in an arbitrary location, and not the best location for anything except 405 access, it would be highly improbable to serve a side area of a major city without serving the center.

      To change the plan so fundamentally, you’d have to get the entire eastside to agree in a re-vote, in the next year before construction starts. That would be much harder to achieve than finishing the existing plan. You’d have the city council objecting to not serving the city center, and a lot of residents wondering if a route that bypasses downtown would succeed.

    2. I completely disagree. Even if a much lower percentage of people who live in Downtown Bellevue would use light rail than in other more suburban areas of the city (which I don’t think is true), Link will still get higher ridership in downtown because so many people live there. Also, a huge amount of ridership will not come from residents anyways, but from workers. A lot of people live at other areas along the line and will commute to Downtown Bellevue on the light rail. Downtown Bellevue is too important of an urban center to pass up. Your proposal can be built a few decades down the road when we’ve run out of other more important lines to build.

    3. Bypassing Bellevue downtown for your beloved BCC and K-Mart is a non-starter.

      Downtown has tens of thousands more office workers, shoppers and residents than K-Mart.

      Your apparent problem with “people living west of 405” shows typical Seattle snobness so IMHO your argument is too biased and pre-formed to be valid.

    4. I don’t think we’re past the time to haggle over alignments, but this is so far outside the envelope of what the voters approved that it’s both dead on arrival and can only serve to distract from the serious discussion about each segment.

    5. “YES, I know how BUSY the Bellevue Transit Center is. But its artificial. It is a transfer point, not a destination.”

      Nice try. Facts prove otherwise. Unfortunately, facts are in short supply throughout your posts – above and below. But that’s cool. It was a fun read.

    6. “YES, I know how BUSY the Bellevue Transit Center is. But its artificial. It is a transfer point, not a destination.”

      Do you consider pedestrians walking to another part of downtown Bellevue to be “transfers”? If not, then even a casual observation of crosswalks leading to and from BTC disproves your assertion.

  14. Kevin… for the record, not trying to be snobby, just pragmatic. The folks who use Bell Square are far more likely to prefer driving. The densities near Crossroads are just as dense or MORE per acre than current downtown Bellevue, and the folks around Crossroads are far more likely to use transit. Yes there are workers in downtown Bellevue and Crossroads, but the transit is to and from basic jobs that service during the workday. more of a 10 hour vs. 18 hour cycle of use.

    I live in north seattle, but grew up on the eastside, in the fourth home built in Lake Hills… I moved to Seattle in 1973, but am on the eastside at least 4 times a week, and when possible, using the bus to do it. That includes time in downtown, BCC, crossroads, Kirkland and Redmond.

    the cost vs. benifit… cheaper to take the line up 1-90 and up 148th or 156th to Redmond vs. trying to meet the masters of Downtown Bellvue. Check out the Density zoning around Crossroads and the easy grade of following the 148 / 156th valley… I picked blueberries as my first job there. I am not “pro Kmart”… the lot is underutilized, and is between two major arterials.

    As for snob… don’t think so. But my family has been here since 1910, and watching the changes and knowing the players, It will be easier/ cheaper / and faster build of ridership to follow the East of 405 loop than deal with West of 405.

    I find myself spending more time around crossroads than bell square.

    1. I would work on both-and rather than either-or. The East Link line is funded and it’s not going to move more than a mile from Bellevue Way/BTC. But Crossroads and the whole Redmond-BCC corridor is ready for rapid transit. In the long term, both lines will be necessary anyway. So I would focus on, what would work best for Crossroads and complement the East Link line?

      There’s one corridor from (Redmond? – Marymoor? -) Overlake – Crossroads – BCC (-Factoria?) and another from South Bellevue – Eastgate P&R – BCC – Issaquah. This makes a T shape, which could be served by some combination of streetcars, LR, and/or RapidRide. It just needs somebody who lives on the Eastside to champion it. I grew up in Bellevue and my mom still lives there, but it needs somebody with activist energy who lives there now.

      And another plug for downtown light rail: it’s not just for the residents and workers, but also for shoppers, tourists visiting the art museum & Bellevue Park & annual crafts fair, people transfering all over the Eastside, etc. And also Bellevue conference attendees going to the airport, sightseeing Seattle, or (eventually) going to the Kirkland waterfront. That’s a lot of people. A major transfer point in a walkable downtown is a double benefit.

  15. I live in the Enatai area and want to be able to use the train from the South Bellevue Park & Ride. With B7 and the Vision Line, the South Bellevue Park & Ride appears that it will be rendered worthless (no more route 550), and not exist as a rail stop. Further the Vision Line appears to make downtown Bellevue an inconvenient place to get to by train from anywhere. If I had my way, I’d have gone for a B1 route straight up Bellevue Way with a stop near Bellevue Square. It will never happen, of course, but I still see a B3-based route as best.

    1. I doubt the 550 would be totally eliminated. The 550 has quite a few passengers before South Bellevue but it becomes *packed* AT South Bellevue P&R. If Link does end up on a B7 alignment, I really hope ST & Metro look seriously at ways to get South Bellevue residents over to the Mercer Island station as well as any Bellevue stations. Bringing back the 226 and/or 235 and having them terminate at Mercer Island might be a good way to go. The 222 could then skip Beaux Arts & Enatai which would improve service for folks heading from Bellevue to Factoria.

      Not an ideal solution but when life gives you lemons…

      Now, all of that dribble aside, I’ll keep pushing for a B3-based route for Link.

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