Painting of the proposed 'Vision Line'
A pretty painting of the "Vision Line" by J. Craig Thorpe

The “Vision Line” route for East Link proposed by Kevin Wallace is fantastical, but in the real world of building effective mass transit, that is not a good thing.

The plan offers plenty to roll your eyes at. From the circus tents that would provide protection from rain if only they wouldn’t be the first thing to be cut when going to design, to the mile walk to Bellevue’s shopping and entertainment core that would depress ridership, to a watercolor rendering showing a dense urban forest growing under a concrete, elevated light rail station next to a somehow nearly-empty I-405.

The watercolored amenities, of course, will disappear from design shortly after a more prudent tunnel is taken off the table by the Bellevue city council, which may be point of the proposal. Not included in Wallace’s lowball cost estimate is the centerpiece walkway nor the cost of moving the Bellevue Transit Center away from the downtown core, which he has proposed. Mayor Degginger has noted that creating an expensive walkway could bring total costs in line with tunnel estimates.

Wallace’s route misses the South Bellevue Park & Ride and loses north of 3,000 daily riders, which he says can be made up with transit-oriented development. But you cannot develop around stations that are cut, you cannot develop on top of I-405 which borders most of the alignment, and you should not sacrifice serving an established downtown core. Wallace argues that that the “cost per rider” metric is more important than just looking at ridership, but compares segment cost with total ridership rather than segment ridership. Using the more accurate measure for the impact on Bellevue make the proposal’s cost numbers less impressive.

Continue reading after the jump…

The proposal simply tries to sex up the terrible idea of aligning a major mass transit investment next to a ridership-killing highway. The always on-point hugeasscity reminds us of the basics:

Ridership vs. Walking Distance, by Robert Cervero.
Ridership vs. Walking Distance, by Robert Cervero.

Getting the highest return on transit investments hinges on the creation of high-performing transit-oriented communities (TOC) around the stations. And the easiest way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to site stations next to large freeways. Yet this is exactly what newly elected Bellevue City Councilor Kevin Wallace has just proposed, in his “Vision Line” plan that would move the downtown Bellevue Station from the ideally located existing transit center, over to the edge of I-405, about a quarter mile to the east.


When you site a station next to a freeway, right away you’re throwing away half of your walkshed, because (1) the freeway itself obliterates a massive swath of land in the station area, and (2) few people will be willing to walk across the massive pedestrian barrier formed by a freeway like I-405. Ridership depends on pedestrians and walkable destinations, and a freeway is anethema to both.

The Vision Line proposal would also add significant inconvenience to intermodal trips, as a rider transferring from bus to train would have to make an extra five minute walk. The simplest way to kill transit ridership is to make it inconvenient. The Vision Liners’ apparent belief that the covered walkway shown in the rendering would make up for the inconvenience of distance is wishful thinking.

Well said.

I think Bellevue will get it right in the end, but in the meantime we cannot afford to treat with seriousness the copyrighted watercolor paintings and alignments titled with superlatives rather than “C9T” or “B3.”

(Robert Cervero’s research on distance v. ridership can be read online. Thanks to reader Jeff Wood for the link.)

144 Replies to “Editorial: Don’t Build a Train Station Next to a Highway”

  1. A friend of mine says that everyone should be able to walk a mile since he’s willing to. He doesn’t have much empathy for others.

      1. Bellevue should follow the same capital investment path as Seattle. Build a bus tunnel first with ROW improvements/purchases from I-90. Time light rail for 520 and keep the Bellevue-Redmond segment funded currently. Build the Wallace proposal to serve Commuter rail and route the light rail/bus corridor within 1-2 blocks of this location.

    1. Is he disabled? Is he elderly? Does he have children? Does he carry groceries? Does he always have that amount of time in his busy day to get there? Does he walk alone or with everyone else he’s making walk that mile simultaneously?

      I’m sure your friend’s rule is good for him, but he’s overgeneralizing from a clearly biased sample of 1.

  2. I sincerely doubt that young Mr. Wallace has ever in his life ridden a transit bus to or from downtown Bellevue.

  3. Half a mile to a mile seems reasonable considering suburban sprawl makes it neigh on impossible to get nearer than that to a parkway/expressway, which is more than likely the ROW they would want to use for a Light rail/streetcar/BRT system.

    The DART system here in Dallas runs its red line up I-75 for the most part and now the green line is being built up I-35E. Looking at a map, thats the only ROW they had to work with. Everything else is all sprawled out. That, for the most part, I could see as the reason for building rail next to a highway, there’s just not anywhere else to put it. Tunneling cost a pretty penny and elevating a line might seem unsightly to some.

    1. Serious question – can someone point me to where tunneling is on par, from a cost perspective, with the cut and cover method?

      I know I brought this up once before and I think it was Ben who said that they are pretty much the same cost. However, I have yet to find anything that states this on my own research and I am having a tough time seeing how a cut and cover is just as expensive.

      Is the cost including the “inconveniences” of having to redirect traffic to other streets while this is happening?

      1. I may be wrong here, as I have not researched it, but it seems to me that a large portion of the cut and cover costs would have to do with utilities. Think about all the underground gas, water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, eletric, and fiber optic lines that would need to be moved to make way for a cut and cover tunnel.

      2. C9T is a cut-and-cover tunnel, but I think it’s apples and oranges. I think the concensus is that deep bore tunneling is slightly more expensive over shorter distances but cut-and-cover requires a lot more mitigation since it has such a dramatic impact on local businesses. So, in net, they’re about the same cost.

      3. Yeah I haven’t done any research but from my background knowledge I think Trevor and John are right. Utilities are a huge issue as well as mitigation (like keeping traffic flowing using temporary structures) for cut and cover while bored tunnels have a significant lump sum cost for the boring machine and the associated components but lower mitigation costs.

        One bright spot for a cut and cover tunnel in Bellevue is the relative new and thus well documented utility system in the city. Something similar would be torture in a city like Boston but not so much in Bellevue.

      4. Mike,

        The main increase in costs for cut and cover is the way the utilities must be handled. I was in San Francisco when the Market Street Subway was being dug and saw how it’s done, and believe me, it’s not easy.

        First they remove the pavement and dig down a couple of feet to the depth at which the utilities begin. Then the workers lay a series of what looks like bridge trusses across the growing hole about ten to twenty feet apart usually. They’re placed closer together if they know they’re going to have a lot of heavy pipes below a particular stretch.

        Then they resume digging carefully to unearth the utilities a lineal few feet at a time. They put slings under them at each support and connect the slings to the supports above. After they’ve supported each pipe exposed at a certain depth, they resume digging until they arrive at the next pipe. The process repeats until they get through to “clear” earth.

        For most of the distance east of about Ninth Avenue the web of hanging pipes was usually about ten feet thick but was occasionally as much as twenty. It was kind of like a modern sculpture to see pipes hanging from supports running in all directions.

        When there is a station, the process is more complicated because the utilities crossing the tunnel zone at stations often must be rerouted around the bigger hole for the station. Since the Market Street Subway has two track levels, when the Mezzanines are added the whole thing is about eighty feet high, so the Mezzanines considerably shallower than those in the DTCC. At Montgomery and Powell there are sunken plazas on the north side of the stations with wide open air stairs like those of a government building leading down to the station entrance. The utilities which once lay under Market Street have been rerouted around those huge stations and quite an expense.

        One has to go through that same process for stations in bored tunnels and if the Mezzanines will intrude on the lower portion of the utility zone those utilities must be rerouted as well. If the station is deep enough only connections to the surface (elevator shafts, stair cases and escalators) will penetrate the utility zone.

        In a city like Bellevue which isn’t all that old the utility layer is certainly not as tangled as was Market Street. So the cost of protecting and moving utilities there would be considerably lower and maybe cut and cover would be cheaper in that instance. But one still has the costs to businesses of the disruption in access.

        Does this make sense?

      5. Thanks to all who responded. All your points make sense and I can see how costs can increase depending on what’s buried underneath as well as how it affects the local economy. Cheers!

      6. News flash, utilities will have to be dealt with no matter what process is used and deep bore tunnelling will run into a mess of cables and old rebar, etc. that is not removed when older buildings were torn down, or so Sound Transit says.

    2. If the market you are seeking is peak-hour commuters, then yes, stations along freeways, accompanying large park-and-ride lots, are the way to go. If you have a broader mission, one that includes nurturing the development of Walkable communities, then you don’t want a lot of stations adjoining interstate freeways.

    3. Deacon,

      The Red line isn’t right alongside I-75. It’s in the old Southern Pacific right of way that certainly “follows” the freeway (actually, the freeway followed the SP), but only for less than a three-quarters of mile at Lovers Lane and the stretch just north of Spring Valley of about a mile is it directly adjacent to the freeway. The rest of the route is as much as a mile east of the freeway.

      And it’s pretty misleading to say that the Green Line will go “along” I-35E. If you mean “along” as in “in the direction of” rather than “alongside”, well then, “Yes”. The Green Line, it only comes physically near to the freeway occasionally when topography or development demands it.

      Victory Station is alongside the Stemmons, but nearly the entire length of the Green Line north of there will be on the old “Katy” (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) right of way to Farmers Branch and Carrollton along Denton Drive.

      Neither of these routings can be compared to the Vision Line downtown Bellevue placement. DART penetrates downtown Dallas directly and on the surface to boot; it doesn’t skirt the city along a freeway.

      1. My apologies the “along” part of my argument was meant to indicate “in the direction of”.

        The point I was trying to make is that the Red Line works fine and the Green Line will too, with stations being in the general vicinity of/next to a Highway or under it. Just saying its not always a bad thing. It works in Dallas.

        For Bellevue though the ‘Vision Line’ proposal is idiotic, it misses everything it needs to be successful. The line needs to go through downtown Bellevue, whether it be by Cut and Cover or Bored Tunnel.

      2. Deacon,

        Actually, I misquoted you a bit. You said “up” which I interpreted to mean “alongside” (I’ve lived in Texas. I know ’bout “up” as in “up aways”); my apologies. And given that we agree on “in the direction of” I also agree both your posts. In Dallas and Houston especially, the form in which the cities have developed along the freeways necessitates following their paths fairly closely.

        That’s because new office building development lines the sides of the freeways in many places. I have to say that the way they do the service roads and interchanges there is very smart, assuming you want everybody driving. Which seems to have been the goal until very recently.

        For those readers who haven’t been there, every urban freeway — heck, most of the rural ones too — has a one-way service road on each side of it (in the countryside they’re two way; cars traveling the opposite direction of the nearby freeway lane have to stop for the on and off-ramps so cars can enter and exit freely).

        Instead of having the off ramp just “before” an interchange and the on-ramps just “after” the way they are nearly everywhere else, TXDOT puts the off-ramp for the next over-passed street just after an overpass and the on-ramp from the street crossed by the one just crossed just before the next overpass. The overpasses have separate U-turn loops on each side of the road that’s overpassed that allow a car to turn left twice and go back the way it came on the opposite side service road without going through the intersection. They’re separated little “contra-flow” lanes going under the bridge, connecting the two service roads. The sidewalk for the street over which the freeway is passing usually separates the two roadways, so people don’t think a car is going to head on with them from the right.

        What that means is that people going to or coming from the buildings on either service road can do so without stopping at a light, to or from either direction on the freeway. It’s quite ingenious. But of course it enormously favors the sort of spread out development that transit cannot serve efficiently.

      3. And the feedback from the Dallas city officials is that they would never again put a rail line at grade through downtown. They wish they had put a tunnel in and we should learn from the mistakes of others.

      4. Cindy,

        You continue to make this point as if it supports your position. But you’re not advocating a funding source for a tunnel, you’re instead advocating a surface alignment outside downtown.

      5. It does support my position. We need to learn from the mistakes of others. I would love to see a tunnel for downtown Bellevue. I believe a tunnel is the only best alternative through downtown Bellevue, after all let’s not forget that it is a neighborhood too. Downtown residents walk and an at grade alignment through downtown will only make the streets less safe for pedestrians. I support the Vision Line because it is a dose of reality that admits there is no money for a tunnel and it offers train transit for Bellevue without damaging the qualities of downtown Bellevue and surrounding neighborhoods that made downtown Bellevue an attractive place to live in the first palce.

      6. Cindy I’m sorry but Wallace’s idea is by far the furthest from reality of any of the alternates and hands down the worst. You can ague otherwise but your wrong.

      7. Cindy,

        Downtown Bellevue is hardly downtown Dallas. It’s a ludicrous comparison.

        Look, every city would “like” to have a subway in its downtown core. There’s no better way to move masses of people in and out of a CBD than by an attractive and rider-friendly subway.

        It certainly would benefit the through-riders as would the Vision Line. But the Vision Line without some sort of dedicated CBD circulator is a big mistake and really quite deleterious for the future of downtown Bellevue.

        I do think it might work with a circulator that has proper priorities (e.g. not buses). But without it, downtown Bellevue would be crippled and eventually eclipsed by Redmond.

        Do you really want that for your city? I doubt it.

    4. Untrue about DART: the ROW along Central Expressway (US-75 not I-75 by the way) allowed faster trains to Plano but was not the only option. For example, McKinney Ave runs parallel to 75 up to SMU and even has a trolley!

      The DFW area is sprawled out but that doesn’t mean you can’t build TOD from the ground up… unless you build your stations next to a highway.

      1. They’re not “next to the highway” except for about 12% of the entire route including two stations. The McKinney Avenue trolley is about 6% as long as the Red Line. Sheesh!

        Have you ever been to North Dallas?

    1. Sam, the only similarity between downtown Bellevue and Southcenter is that each has a shopping mall. Beyond that, they couldn’t be more different.

      Downtown Bellevue has a highrise office core and a growing high-rise residential community. Southcenter has a mall and miles of strip malls, all with one free parking space for every employee and for every shopper.

      1. Correction, Bellevue City Council WANTS a downtown high-rise residential community. However it HAS a high-rise residential ghost town.

    2. This blog was not around when the Central Link alignment was decided, and we’d rather see the line grow in the best way possible than argue about the past.

      1. I was posting on my long-defunct livejournal about point defiance bypass in 2005, I recently found.

  4. Icing on the cake is how Mr. Wallace passed an amendment to the Northgate North Core upzone that means no affordable housing will have to be built. Can’t believe the stakeholder group went for it, but they did.

  5. I think Sound Transit needs to start looking at alternatives that take advantage of tunnel, surface, and elevated ROWs when that type of ROW yields the largest advantage. Something like a hybrid of all the options.

    Rather that looking at just a tunnel or just surface alignments ST should look at alternatives that use short underpasses to get under NE 8 and NE 4, at grade ROW where possible to minimize cost and visual intrusion, and elevated at the north and south ends of the CBD to minimize traffic impacts and decrease travel times.

  6. I would like to see an alignment that uses the new NE 10th overpass. This would mean a shorter tunnel under either 108th or 110th, and takes away opposition from those around NE 12th and would have a station right next to Overlake Hosp. The biggest flaw of the City Council?? alternative that does a partial tunnel and going east on NE 6th, is that a station would be not close enough to the existing Bellevue TC. Should not totally dismiss the Wallace Plan, only because there is always the possible Eastside Commuter Rail line along the BNSF line (how do we intergate with that).

    1. Warren from Beacon, do you have any idea what the issues in Bellevue are for the folks that live here and will have to deal with the impacts after a line is built?

      1. Cindy,

        Since you’re going to argue from authority:

        Do you have any experience living next to a light rail line?

      2. No, I have never lived next door to a train track. I do however know how loud the freeway already is in downtown Bellevue and how loud the trains on the BNSF through town were and they were East of 405. You don’t have to have experience living next to a train to know that the noise will increase.

        I have stood next to the Sound Transit lines that are already working and listened to how loud the trains are. If the Eastlink trains go up Main Street there will not only be displacements in residential neighborhoods, the residents that don’t “qualify” for condemnations will be left with trains running on their back property lines. You don’t have to have experience living next to a train line to know that the noise, vibration and property values will take a negative hit.

        Oh, and there is plenty of research that proves all of those things. And don’t give me the tired arguement that property values will go up for residential neighbors of Eastlink. Research shows that is only true for those that live a few blocks from a station or farther out than 2 blocks from the line. House values for homes along a train line between stations do not hold or improve their value.

      3. Here’s another of your non-sequiturs:

        I do however know how loud the freeway already is in downtown Bellevue.

        Isn’t the presence of noise an argument for the train? Should it only be present in quiet corridors?

  7. The proposal simply tries to sex up the terrible idea of aligning a major mass transit investment next to a ridership-killing highway. The always on-point hugeasscity reminds us of the basics:

    So tell me how an elevated station and a multi story parking garage at South Bellevue are such a great investment?

    1. Bernie, we’ve been over this before. South Bellevue is the only viable transfer point for people south of I-90 along East Link. A TOD-facilitating station in Factoria would clearly be a better option, but would also be far more expensive.

      1. If it’s just a transfer point why build a 1,500 stall parking garage? What we’re paying all that money for is to “transfer” cars (average 1.2 people per car) from Eastgate and other surrounding P&R lots. So, at great expense we’re going to encourage more cars to use the I-405/I-90 interchange at rush hour and convert a surface lot to a garage which most people seem to perceive as being less safe. ST said they looked at building the new garage closer to I-90 but there wasn’t room. That doesn’t preclude a transfer station that would serve Eastgate, Bellevue College, Issaquah, Factoria as well as the existing surface lot and possibly Willburton since ST seems doggedly determined to not serve that area with a station. There’s also the possibility of the line turning east at South Bellevue and crossing the Mercer Slew to pick up the BNSF ROW around SE 32nd. From Google Maps it looks like there is already a power line easement and some other structure (pipeline, culvert?) crossing east/west here. Although I still think it would be preferable to stay along I-90 to contain the noise and visual impact. The birds and frogs don’t want a new regional rail ROW through their neighborhood either. ;-)

      2. South Bellevue P&R is not just a transfer point, but also a place to collect riders from South Bellevue. That’s why a garage.

      3. That garage isn’t going to offer much relief to residents of South Bellevue. Talk to Mercer Island about what happened when they increased parking (still 100% full). Early commuters from east of the Island fill it up. South Bellevue with a Link station will see even more out of area demand. Even if you limited access by neighborhood parking permit (not sure that would even be legal) what makes those riders worth the $40k per stall subside? South Bellevue is a built out single family area. The income level doesn’t correspond to a high level of transit demand (especially off peak) and coupled with the trends in Bellevue of less people per household and an increased number of retirees this is hardly an area which can be considered a major transit market (major transit opponent is more like it).

      4. If your concern is with filling the garage with commuters from out of the area, then the right answer is demand management by charging for parking. If they build a parking garage and it has near 100% utilization, it’s a worthwhile investment.

        Can I pay the parking fee with my Orca card?

      5. Bernie, your argument doesn’t make much sense. On one hand you’re saying that a parking garage would fill up with too many riders from outside of the area, crowding out South Bellevue residents, while on the other hand you’re also saying that people from South Bellevue won’t use the station.

        First, South Bellevue and Mercer Island P&R aren’t comparable. Mercer Island was only expanded to a 2-story garage, and is small compared to the proposed South Bellevue garage. In addition, there isn’t much reason for someone driving from outside of South Bellevue to use the P&R—coming from the east Eastgate is more convenient, while from the south Newport Hills P&R is more convenient.

        Second, when was the last time you rode a bus in South Bellevue? There’s plenty of transit demand there—in fact, route 240 is on the list for increased Transit Now service. In any case, the objective of East Link should be to make it easier for people who both do and don’t use transit currently to take the light rail.

        aw: It would be sweet if you could pay for parking with an ORCA card! Tap in when you drive into the garage, and tap out when you leave.

      6. South Bellevue residents can’t use the space if it’s already full. M.I. P&R is larger now than South Bellevue. Both lots are still at 100-105% capacity without future growth and the attraction of Link. So unless locals want to fight the early birds for the worm it’s not there to help them. If you want to reserve it for S. Bellevue residents by permit (something I wouldn’t object to but I’m not sure is legal) then the existing surface lot is probably big enough. I believe M.I. tried or did get a policy passed that “reserves” a certain number of stalls until later in the morning? Sure you can move demand there at the cost of $30-40k per person but unless they charge market rate for parking then I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s just encouraging more people to drive closer in to catch the train. I can see it being a valuable transfer point but not a good spot for a mega P&R.

      7. You put a huge P&R at S. Bellevue for the same reason you put one near the intersection of SR 202 and SR 520. It’s a good location to intercept commuters, especially those coming from areas not likely to get rail for a while.

        The overflow problem is an issue, but one I think that could be solved for all area P&R lots by using a parking charge to manage demand. When the lot is only 95% full you’ve hit the sweet spot for the parking charge. This would likely suck for people who live near close-in high-demand P&R lots as their lots would be the most expensive (Mercer Island for instance). However it might be possible to offer discount P&R permits to people who live close to the P&R as a way of mitigating that a bit.

        At the end of the day I’m against building more parking if it can possibly be helped. But we’ve already seen a big expansion of P&R capacity by Sound Transit all over the region. Since many suburban riders are only going to access Link via P&R lots we should probably put in at least a couple along East Link to serve the demand.

      8. “This would likely suck for people who live near close-in high-demand P&R lots as their lots would be the most expensive (Mercer Island for instance).”

        I think most Mercer Island residents could afford it. But in any case, if you charged for parking using Orca as I suggested earlier, you could discount the rates for users whose accounts have an associated credit card with billing address in the same area as the P&R.

      9. Bernie, what evidence do you have that most spots at Mercer Island P&R are taken up by non-local drivers? It’s not as though no one from Mercer Island is able to use the garage. Moreover, how can you say that the surface lot is enough parking for all South Bellevue park and ride demand? There are surely more than 519 people in South Bellevue who would ride the train but don’t live next to a bus line to there.

        In any case, as I commented earlier, Mercer Island and South Bellevue are quite different. The proposed South Bellevue garage would be far larger than Mercer Island (1,475 parking spots instead of 450). Also, South Bellevue has non-full P&Rs to the east and south that serve non-locals better, albeit without a train. Someone commuting from Kennydale is more likely to drive to Renton or Newport Hills P&R, while someone commuting from East Bellevue will use Eastgate instead.

      10. The city of Mercer Island had commented on the draft EIS that they needed more space for parking because the Mercer Island P&R is largely filled by folks from the east. The best solution is to add another P&R south of I-90 that would be less convenient to eastsiders, but still close to the Link station.

      11. I believe P&R lots are periodically surveyed and the plate numbers used to determine where drivers are coming from. In any case a lot of the Mercer Island lot users are coming from off the Island. It is a fairly common pattern, especially where P&R lots are free. The lots further out see less use than the ones close in, not just because of density or better transit connections, but also because everyone further out is a potential user of the lot.

      12. On I-90, there’s also a time advantage to using a closer in lot. If I can get down the freeway faster than a bus could while making its stops, it’s in my interest to go to where the congestion gets bad before going to a park and ride. As an example, I could pick up the 554 as Issaquah Highlands, but I might save time by going to Issaquah Trasit Center, or Eastgate P&R, or Mercer Island P&R.

      13. I believe P&R lots are periodically surveyed and the plate numbers used to determine where drivers are coming from.

        I know DOL has the plate vs registration information. I was wondering if privacy laws would allow such surveys. Sure if it’s left “anonymous” no harm no foul but I can also see where it would leave to some “big brother” concerns. I’ve listened to public testimony and whether it’s true or not M.I. residents certainly feel that a large number of off islanders are using the lot. If you’re driving in early enough on I-90 to beat rush hour I can easily see how M.I. could save you 10 minutes or so at each end of the commute and leave you with a lot more options on your return commute.

      14. There’s been some talk of integrating new P&R space into TOD on Mercer Island and having it be by permit for island residents only. I think the mayor of Mercer Island spoke about it during a Sound Transit board meeting last spring.

      15. I would support by permit for Island residents. I know there’s a fair bit of ill will concerning “private” SOV access on the center roadway and the huge cost of putting a lid over I-90 but the whole premise behind a P&R is you drive a short distance avoiding areas of high congestion and use transit. Legally the issue with M.I. is that it’s a ST P&R lot and therefore “owned” by the whole eastside sub-area. On the other hand there is precedent in Seattle for neighborhood parking permits even though everyone in the city presumably pays for all on street parking.

      16. I think Mercer Island plans to pursue P&R space dedicated to residents as part of mitigation for losing their SOV access to the center lanes.

      17. The Mercer Island park n ride is also full because people from further east tried the other park n rides along the way and they were full.

      18. Actually on I-90 the next P&R out from M.I. is the Eastgate mega garage with 1,600 spaces and it’s only at 72% leaving more empty spaces than M.I. has total. Which is another reason it’s crazy to spend million$ of dollar$ to build another mega garage at South Bellevue. Other lots on the I-90 corridor; S. Sammamish 54%, Issaquah TC 60%, Issaquah Highlands 76%. Hint, if you encounter a full lot, turn around. Do not drive closer to the city center expecting to find an empty stall.

      19. Comment by Chris Stefan
        2009-11-24 19:10:14

        You put a huge P&R at S. Bellevue for the same reason you put one near the intersection of SR 202 and SR 520. It’s a good location to intercept commuters, …

        It’s not at all the same. At Marymoor a P&R intercepts commuters before they get on SR520 or drive into downtown Redmond. Bear Creek P&R is at 110% capacity. Building up at S. Bellevue would be like adding another 1,000 stalls to Overlake TC. It defeats the purpose of putting HCT through a highly congested area because it adds more cars at the worst possible time of day. We already have the intercept lot built on the correct (i.e. east side) of I-405, Eastgate which isn’t even at capacity. And to the south there’s Newport Hills which is also running at only 65% usage. Building more parking close in is the wrong thing to do. Why not just have ST build the lot’s in DT Seattle and DT Bellevue and dispense with the whole transit system?

        When the lot is only 95% full you’ve hit the sweet spot for the parking charge. … offer discount P&R permits to people who live close to the P&R

        Roger that! By using the neighborhood discount you cut down on vehicle miles driven by financially herding people to the closest lot.

        At the end of the day I’m against building more parking if it can possibly be helped.

        And in the case of S. Bellevue it can by simply offering bus transfers. It can also be mitigated by following the City of Bellevue request to modify the alignment slightly and serving Wilburton P&R.

      20. Eastgate was at 72% full in the 2008 4th quarter, but was 92% full in the 2007 4th quarter. Once the economy picks up we should expect to see it used to capacity again.

      21. A big part of Eastgate being at 92% in Q4 of 2007 is that M.I. and Issaquah P&R lots were closed for construction. Lots that are at +100% capacity have latent demand. So, as soon as a spot opens up in these close in lots somebody from farther away “poaches” it. That’s happened all over the region during this downturn. This is counter to one of the stated goal of transit spending which is to reduce VMT. If you’re going to encourage people to drive west of the 405/90 interchange Why not just build the P&R lots in SODO and be done with it? Parking at S. Bellevue is a short term “fix” to increase initial ridership. Long term it’s just dumb and dumber.

      22. Sorry, putting a station at Wilburton just doesn’t work as a transfer point. It’s quite a bit further North and more or less useless for anyone riding a bus from the South or East. Indeed in the DEIS the plan is to shift transfers from the South and East to Mercer Island if B7 is chosen.

        Speaking of impacts, it sort of amuses me there is such an outcry about what B3 will do to the residential neighborhoods across the road from it. Nobody seems to mention that B7 will pass within just a few feet of several condo developments along 118th. I’d guess the number of people impacted is actually greater.

      23. Speaking of impacts, it sort of amuses me there is such an outcry about what B3 will do to the residential neighborhoods across the road from it. Nobody seems to mention that B7 will pass within just a few feet of several condo developments

        I’ve sat next to the one of the main opponents to B7 at one of the DEIS meetings. Somebody gets’ screwed by building East Link. This blog seams to promote the “it’s all roses” ideal. Well, it ain’t true. Yes B7 “screws” the people along that route. Yes the properties they live in, adjacent to a century old RR ROW and a freeway would be better off if a regional transit line didn’t pass close by. Look, if it wasn’t a negative for Link to be close neither side would be arguing.

      24. My point is the impacts will be somewhat more severe for the 118th condo owners than the whiners along the B3 alignment.

        Homes in Enatai and Surrey Downs are across a wide road ROW from the B3S alignment and mostly set well back from Bellevue Way and NE 112th, both busy arterials with constant traffic. While the RR ROW may be a century old, there haven’t been all that many trains operating along it since the condos were built. Link trains are going to be going by every 2.5 to 7.5 minutes. In addition the Link ROW will run alongside some condo developments to the North that were never on the RR ROW. Based on the proposed ROW, Link trains will be very close to some bedroom windows and decks.

        I guess I’m asking why Surrey Downs continues to be in such a froth about Link when the impacts from any remaining alignments will be minimal and why they think pushing far more severe privacy and noise impacts on a bunch of condo owners who probably outnumber them is such a great idea.

      25. Sure, if you buy a house right next to RR tracks the noise will be more severe. I have no sympathy for the excuse the line was hardly used and hoping it would become a rail trail or just being able to poach the ROW. Sometimes that happens (Burke Gilman), sometimes not (Pt Defiance bypass, Stampede Pass). When in addition to the RR tracks the property backs onto an Interstate I really don’t believe anyone should have any expectation of quiet. The Brookshire Condominium built in 1993 is the only residential building. All of it’s “neighbors” are industrial warehouse garage type usage. The question should be who ever thought rezoning and building a condo here in the first place was a good idea?

      26. Bernie,

        I don’t see where you get that it would increase VMT.

        If people are driving to Seattle, then either they keep doing it or are lured by SB to stop there instead.

        If they use Eastgate, the garage will still be there and almost certainly have service into Seattle. The only way to boost VMT is if a ton of people abandon Eastgate to use SB.

      27. The only way to boost VMT is if a ton of people abandon Eastgate to use SB.

        That’s exactly what I’m saying happens when you increase capacity at M.I. and S. Bellevue. The traffic gets pulled in from the lots farther out. Admittedly the drive from Eastgate to S. Bellevue isn’t very far but the point of Eastgate being where it is is to intercept traffic before the 405 interchange. The new spaces will also bring in people from Newport, Issaquah and Sammamish; all of which are currently underutilized.

      28. Assuming Eastgate retains its bus service to downtown, why would someone drive to South Bellevue instead? Considering that the carpool/express lanes on I-90 aren’t that congested, driving to South Bellevue wouldn’t save the driver any time, and would cost gas to get there. The same goes for Issaquah and Sammamish as well.

        Also, I’d like to see some evidence that Eastgate was intentionally placed to ‘intercept’ drivers east of 405. I had thought that that location was simply more convenient for people living in East Bellevue.

      29. Because it gives you the option of catching the 550 with 10-15 minute headways instead of the 554 with 1/2 hour headways. Instead of sinking money into a parking garage so that people have to drive to S. Belllevue (limited to the 1st 1500 riders) terminate the 554 at S. Bellevue and use the savings over driving DT to match the frequency of Link once it’s in service.

      30. Frankly, once the East Link is completed, I’d like to see the 554 terminated in downtown Bellevue via South Bellevue. You could run the 554 up Bellevue way to BTC via the current 550 routing to move people between Bellevue and Issaquah. Those who want to continue downtown, or out to Redmond/Overlake could transfer to Link at South Bellevue. But that’s just my social engineering / maximize the use of Link side – I doubt anybody using the 554 would like my plan very much.

        Oh, and the 554 has 15 minute headways during Weekdays now. Were you referring to 1/2 hour headways on weekends?

      31. The vast majority of people commuting downtown from Eastgate take the 212 (which has 7 minute frequency during peak hours), not the 554. There should be an Link shuttle bus to Eastgate/Issaquah in the evening when the 554 becomes less frequent, but no one will “have” to drive to South Bellevue any more than they do today.

      32. Are you disputing that a station at Factoria would be expensive? Because to get there and back to downtown Bellevue you’d have to cross I-90 and I-405 twice each, and add a couple miles of elevated track.

        Or are you saying that you have a better transfer option for riders from South Bellevue? If so, show me where you could build a station that would facilitate that.

    2. Bernie, I agree with you – no park and rides should be built anywhere. But I’m more concerned with building through downtown Bellevue.

      1. No park and rides is a good rule for urban areas, but it doesn’t work in suburban or exurban areas. Park and rides increase the area from which transit riders are attracted. It’s an efficient way of reducing vehicle miles travelled and adding ridership.

        Over time, as an area gets increased density, transit becomes more effective. Projects like the Redmond Transit Center TOD make sense to increase the density around an existing transit hub.

      2. It is interesting to me that there is not clear vision for how the Downtown Bellevue Transit center will be used after Sound Transit cuts bus access after their flawed attempt to shove a train line down Bellevue’s throat is completed. The only way a transit center can work, get people out of their cars or effect change is if you connect every corner of Bellevue with the transit center. There are already areas of Belleuve (and Redmond) that done access the transit center easily. Cutting bus service won’t help with ridership nor will it get people out of their cars.

      3. What buses will be cut? The 550, 564, 565, and a few Metro commuter routes that don’t stop anywhere between Overlake and downtown Bellevue? Far more bus routes serve the transit center that the light rail will replace (222, 230, 234, 240, 253, 271, 532, 535 to name a few) and you forgot RapidRide Line B. The Bellevue Transit Center is here to stay. It is not going anywhere, unless Kevin Wallace moves it to under his proposed station next to the freeway.

      4. By saying “no park and rides should be built anywhere” do you mean Metro and ST shouldn’t be building P&R lots? I assume you wouldn’t be opposed to private investment in lots next to bus and train stations? There’s a chicken and egg problem with that approach though since the parking won’t exist without transit being offered and you can’t build any sort of transit system outside of Seattle and it’s most dense neighborhoods without parking. It seems like publicly funded lots that charge enough to generate a reasonable return on investment would be a good compromise.

      5. Do you mean that they should never ever build park-and-rides anywhere in the region? Cause I strongly disagree, for the more suburban areas it’s good to have them. Eventually when the system matures you can put TOD on where the P&R was (like they have mentioned for Tukwila/International Blvd) or at least build on properties around it. But “no park and rides should be built anywhere” is a bad policy.

  8. For currently existing examples of why not to build rail next to a highway, just look at Chicago. The Blue line takes the median of several highways throughout the very long route.

    These freeway stations are consistently:

    -The furthest away from where I want to go.
    -Sketchiest places to go at night. (a great example of Jane Jacobs point that having more people makes a place safer.)
    -Unbelievably loud and cold. I mean, REALLY loud. I have to laugh when people complain about Link being loud. The L system is pretty noisy by itself, and add to that the roar of the freeway… ugh.

    All in all, the freeway stations are probably the worst in the entire system. I avoid them, and I certainly don’t go there late at night.

    I shudder to think that decades after learning some hard lessons about placing rail lines next to freeways in Chicago, you guys are considering repeating the same mistakes.

    Watch this video and tell me this is an idea solution:

    More info on Blue Line Here:

    1. I think you’re being a bit dramatic. The Blue Line ain’t so bad. (But don’t take my defense of the Blue Line for a defense of this so-called Vision Line.)

      1. I guess there are a lot of ways to measure “worst in the system.”

        So I’ll just say that I find them to be the most unpleasant and least effective.

      2. The Blue Line may not be that bad, but I’ve heard that gentrification is happening much faster around the western portion of the Green Line (which is essentially parallel to the Blue Line) than around the western portion of the Blue Line. (Note: I’m not sure if that’s true — I don’t know Chicago all that well.)

      3. Hey, Steve: If you mean the _far_ western portions, then what you’ve heard is certainly correct. But I would argue that’s because the Green Line terminates in the heart of downtown Oak Park, one of the nation’s great suburbs (Hemingway be damned), while the Blue Line terminates at a huge park-and-ride in the middle of four cemeteries and at least two forest preserves in a much less desirable area of another suburb entirely (Forest Park).

        On the other hand, if you look more centrally, the last fifteen years have seen a staggering amount of development along the Blue Line at the Halsted (University of Illinois at Chicago, Little Italy, St. Ignatius College Prep), Racine, Medical District, and Western stops. And despite the original poster’s claims, there is no station on either Blue Line leg (Forest Park or O’Hare) nearly as sketchy as some of the Green Line stops: Not three years ago I actually locked my beloved Cannondale to the railing on an elevated Green Line platform—at three in the afternoon—while waiting to take it on the train. (A group of gentleman had asked if they could “borrow it for a few minutes” and didn’t exactly disperse when I turned them down.)

        Ultimately, there are far too many complex demographic, socioeconomic, and historical factors at play in the various neighborhoods the two lines run through for either of us to casually reduce the TOD matter to a question of which line is elevated-over-the-ROW and which runs along an expressway median: the Green Line features the Garfield Park Conservatory and downtown Oak Park, while the Blue Line runs through the Medical District and (Old Man) Daley’s University Village. Moreover, life on Chicago’s entire West Side is still profoundly impacted by block-by-block patterns of redlining and white flight three, four, and five decades ago.

        Again, I don’t support the so-called Vision Line. I support tunneling to the heart of downtown Bellevue. But I rode the Blue Line on a regular basis for much of my life—for work, for school, for bars, for Bulls games, early in the morning and late at night (I’ve slept on it more times than I care to admit)—and felt compelled to rescue it from what I find to be a pretty colorful description above.

      4. Good lord, you find “I find them to be the most unpleasant and least effective” to be a colorful description?

        All hail Jason, the true Chicagoan.

      5. C’mon, Mark, nothing in my previous post merits that response. We can’t disagree without getting personal and sarcastic? I wasn’t trying to be either mean or superior, and I apologize if something came off that way.

        If you read the paragraph, it was your first post I called colorful, not your second. It’s the “I certainly don’t go there late at night” part that I especially think gives people unfamiliar with Chicago or the Blue Line the wrong impression. I mean, seriously, if you’re at a party in Old Irving and need to get back to Bucktown you won’t take the Blue Line out of concern for your personal safety? Of course it’s fine if that’s the case, but then I think it’s safe to say that as a transit user you have an atypical perception of safety.

        Also, whether Blue Line stops are consistently the furthest from where you in particular want to go isn’t really a valid critique. No one can really argue that the line doesn’t effectively connect tons of neighborhoods, schools, and employment centers with the downtown core.

        Anyway, I too laugh when people complain about Link noise. Or bumpiness. But I guess light rail is held to a different standard than heavy rail.

      6. I’ll have to agree to disagree on the usefulness of the blue line freeway stations… but I will agree that I was being snark-tastic. My bad.

    2. I have in fact driven those freeways of Chicago and it is apples and oranges to Bellevue. Chicago grew up around a rail line and the placement of the freeways is dictated by the movement of a city that has a culture of trains. Bellevue grew up around the freeways and the placement of trains should be dictated by the movement of the city as it grew. It has been shown that train systems are the least successful where the city and population does not have a history of train use. Now power outages, train derailments, pedestrian accidents, car accidents and computer “glitch” delays may not sound like a problem to you (and that is just within the last few months) however it is no way to run a railway. The fact that the downtown Seattle busses are now not on time due to delays while the trains are in the tunnel (occassionally stalled in the tunnel) is creating a bad sentiment against the trains rather than making people want to get off busses.

      1. When was the last time a train stalled in the tunnel? On October 16th a bus broke down in the tunnel, delaying light rail service, but I can’t find any record of a train stalled in the tunnel delaying buses.

      2. I’ve observed more buses delaying trains in the tunnel than the reverse.

        There are buses that sit there for minutes and have to restart the engine, buses loading wheelchairs, overcrowded buses which take forever to load and unload, and after 7 pm, one-door pay as you enter.

  9. As you correctly point out in the editorial, there is not much potential for transit-oriented development when more than half of the potential land within walking distance is cut off by I-405 – and in addition NE 8th St is a 7-lane barrier to the north.

    But a bigger problem is that the “Vision” station is poorly cited for all the development that has already occurred in downtown Bellevue – offices, residential and retail. Moving the existing transit center would make that even worse. The downtown Bellevue station needs to be in the downtown, not removed to one side. And no, it is not reasonable expect transit users to walk a mile to access transit. Most users will walk only 1/4 mile. It’s important the Link station be centrally located.

    1. half of the potential land within walking distance is cut off by I-405

      Except there is another station east of the freeway just north of NE 6th which serves that side.

      in addition NE 8th St is a 7-lane barrier to the north.

      So are you saying an East Link stop at the Transit Center is a bad idea? It has the same issue with the 7-lane barrier to the north.

      1. It’s not about serving “sides” of the freeway. It’s that you halve, on both sides, the amount of area open for TOD. And one should not sacrifice serving an established core for TOD “potential” (that is halved by virtue of hugging 405).

      2. Fair enough. East of 405 will be accessed well enough by a stations at Overlake Medical and South Main (which really should be close to the freeway). The CBD for Bellevue doesn’t need TOD. It’s developed just fine with no rail system at all. This isn’t the Rainier Vally where numerous stations are hoping to spur urban renewal. So really we’re talking about serving existing development. A big part of that is minimizing negative effects on traffic flow.

        If ST had the money to build any of their proposed tunnel alignments then it’s easy to just look for the ideal location. They don’t so we’re stuck with a compromise. 106th and 108th have major traffic impacts on their own and cross at grade all the east/west arterials. Plus 106th is pretty boarder line for serving, City Hall, the Bravern and Meydenbauer Convention Center; not to mention being a bit of a hike it’s self from the Transit Center. 114th has virtual zero impact on traffic and it’s really the only alignment where elevated is acceptable as it places the noise and visual blight next to a freeway.

        The original ST proposal for 112th Elevated would have had to site a station at the south east corner of 112th and 6th which would have it in virtually the identical location to the Vision Line. And it would have had to have been about as tall to cross NE 6th and the NE 8th interchange. So in that respect I think it should be considered as an improved version of C7E.

        So we’ve covered the good and the ugly, now for the bad. It’s an unacceptable walk to the Transit Center. A transfer needs to be closer than a walk to a destination. Adding bus stops directly below the station platform might work but it’s less than ideal. Moving sidewalks are expensive to build and maintain especially when really the only period they’d see much use is peak commute. The location isn’t really walking distance to the western edge of the CBD; Bellevue Place, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square. All these properties are owned by Kemper Development which isn’t exactly fighting to move the rail line closer. I’d note this distance is not only perfectly acceptable for serving the UW campus but preferable to locating a station in the center of campus (Bellevue CBD 400 acres, UW Seattle Campus 643 acres). In other words why try to cram regional rail through a market that doesn’t want it and is an expensive detour? Is there middle ground between elevated along the freeway (112th/114th) and at grade on 106th and 108th? Quite possibly on 110th. I’d really like to see a watercolor rendering of how this would look all the way from Main to where it crosses 405.

      3. The CBD doesn’t need TOD but it does need transit service for the rest of the line to maximize its potential. TOD in other areas is used as a way to generate boardings and encourage compact growth. The CBD in Bellevue already can already generate boardings and already has compact growth (relatively).

        The leap you make is saying that Bellevue doesn’t want light rail to serve closer to downtown, nor do they want to pay for it. Of course there is no evidence of this assertion, besides Kemper Freeman’s opposition to light rail in general but he does not decide zoning codes nor transportation corridors by virtue of being rich and owning property. Without action for Bellevue’s current leadership we would not be talking about a tunnel at all.

      4. I agree that development on the east side of 405 is served by the hospital station. Therefore supporting TOD east of 405 isn’t a benefit of the Vision line’s Bellevue station and there isn’t much TOD to be done near 114/112/NE6.

        NE 9th St. is 7 lanes across 405 and there is no pedestrian crossing on the east of 112th. By the time you get to 108th, NE 8th is narrowed to 5 lanes and easier to cross.

        Bellevue is well developed and dense and needs a Link station that is well-sited to serve the population and activity centers. The existing BTC is significantly closer to virtually every destination riders want to reach than the Vision line station. A station near BTC is much better for virtually every rider destined for downtown Bellevue.

      5. That was supposed to say NE 8th St is 7 lanes across 405…
        I don’t know how to edit my post

      6. I agree but the trick is how do you serve the TC without having the type of severe impact on the street grid that virtually all of the land owners and merchants are concerned about. There isn’t funding for a tunnel. ST doesn’t seem to have the money and the City of Bellevue certainly isn’t going to be able to pay for it. So there’s either a compromise or a long and expensive legal battle. And if the 106/108th couplet gets pushed through we end up with a line that’s going to be stalled in traffic, only actually stops next to the Transit Center in one direction, screws up the cities plans to make Main into a pedestrian/bike friendly corridor, hoses single family residential to both the north and south of the CBD yet misses the current thrust of City development along the east side of I-405.

      7. The city has been actively identifying a funding source for a tunnel. I don’t understand why you’re so fatalist about that work — is there something I’m missing? Certainly, if the city council remained in its prior configuration then I’d be more optimistic — but that implies it’s a political problem not a financial restraint problem.

      8. Bernie,

        Your points are well made. I think C9A (110th NE to NE 6th at-grade) is the only option that meets all the goals of minimizing traffic disruption, serving the recently built large towers around the TC, and not busting the bank.

        That said, I truly hope they’ll design the interfaces between the elevated and at-grade sections to be convertible to elevated to tunnel. It’s not easy nor cheap to do that, but it’s worth spending $20 million if that’s what it takes in order to allow a future upgrade.

      9. Bernie – the couplet plan is for 108th & 110th – this bookends the transit center. If a surface route is all the can be afforded, i would prefer using 108th for both directions and then having the route turn east at NE 6th with stops at the transit center and crossing the freeway here so as to avoid NE 8th and make a stop near NE 8th on the east of 405

      10. Bernie,
        I don’t think you should be so quick to write off the surface options. Most of the objections are to the 108th/110th (NOT 106th) couplet, and at that mostly about the crossing of NE 8th.

        The other two proposed surface alignments don’t cross NE 8th and don’t impact the residential neighborhood to the North of NE 12th.

        True there is some impact with all surface (and all tunnel except C1T) alignments to the area between 112th and 110th or 108th along the South side of main. However this is already commercial property for the most part and tearing some of it out to make way for Link isn’t exactly going to kill Surrey Downs.

        As for making Main a pedestrian/bike corridor, I’d say putting surface rail in would be quite compatible with that goal. It certainly seems to work along MLK. It also means there should be less concern about having a surface Link alignment block traffic across Main than there otherwise would be. Heck Sound Transit may even pay for it as part of their mitigation (see MLK again).

      11. I’m not writing of the surface options. I think that’s probably the best alternative if an acceptable compromise can be found. 108th/110th turning at NE 6th would be OK. Not only does it avoid crossing NE 8th but it puts the Hospital Station in a better place to serve the area east of 405. Ashwood Station on top of the freeway seems to serve neither side of “the great divide. It would put only one track through the transit center which might avoid some of the concerns other people had about it blocking in buses and overloading the surface area of the TC. One issue though is still the one way streets. There’s a lot of parking access on 110th. Only being able to approach/leave in one direction and then having to backtrack would seem to put a lot of extra traffic load on the street grid and since most of those cars are residents or office workers it’s centered on peak commute. I’d like to look at 110th becoming local access only and making it into more of a transit mall leaving 100th, Bellevue Way, 108th and 112th as the major N/S through streets.

    2. There isn’t supposed to be TOD in Bellevue South of Main Street as prescribed by the Bellevue City Council on numerous occassions. The Vision Station is connected to the Transit Center by a people mover. Folks who have disabilities, the eldery or the simply lazy don’t have to even walk a quarter of a mile (let along the 2 blocks from Vision Station to Transit Station). When did the notion of what “most people” do become our standard of reasonableness? If most people jumped off a cliff would that make it reasonable for you to jump as well “Eastsider”? I’ll go you one better, I don’t hide behind an anonymous moniker, I actually live in downtown Bellevue and I walk all over downtown Bellevue because that is the culture of downtown living. We walk!

  10. I’ve looked at the ‘vision line’ proposal, and one thing that seems to be missing from the cost estimate is the fact that the Vision line would require a rather lengthy separate bridge over the Mercer slough, while the routings along Bellevue Way SE would not. I would imagine that once the cost of this bridge is taken into account, the cost of the ‘vision line’ would be similar to the C9T option.

  11. I am so glad that someone is able to see past the bullshit smoke and mirror tactics Kevin Wallace is employing. Jeez that pretty water color is a nightmare.

    1. Khamis, The Vision Line is based on real research by professional designers such as Sound Transit uses. The difference is that there is some outside of the box thinking in the Vision Line that protects the interests of people who actually live in Bellevue. Your immensely articulate and intelligent commentary leads me to believe that you have a personal issue that really doesn’t belong in any problem solving discussion.

  12. Thanks John and Sherwin for being the reaosnable voices on this blog!

    We need to kill off this annoying noise and move forward to design a great rail system for Bellevue!

    It cannot be overstressed that the Vision Line is a complete BS and that
    (1) Kevin Wallace is a developer who owns a few acres of land around his proposed station.

    (2) Kevin Wallace has no history of actively involving in Bellevue civic matters nor any expertise in transit oriented development.

    (3) Kevin Wallace just got elected to City Council and the first thing he did is to have this proposal that would have millions of dollars of benefits to himself.

    (4) Lastly the proposed line is complete garbage – as a downtown office worker I will not walk half a mile uphill from a noisy staton beside I405. It is not cheaper, it will have much fewer riders. So everyone loses except himself.

    1. The last time I looked it was not a crime to be a developer involved in planning for downtown Bellevue development. If it is we have a bigger problem on our hands.

      Kevin does have a long history of active involvement in Bellevue matters and continues to gain experience as he is one of our proudly elected city council members.

      Our newly elected Councilmember Wallace has been working on the Vision Line long before the elections as have many others who have a vested interest in Bellevue, we LIVE HERE!

      Your so intelligently crafted fourth comment is based on what? Oh, slouth and a lack of research.

      1. Here you are again. You have made 22 posts in this single thread, none of them have valid points, facts or arguments.

        The only thing you do is to defend Kevin Wallace. Care to reveal any conflicts of interest on your part? Or we should just ignore your posts as from Wallace Property?

        In reply to you:

        (1) We have no problems with developers in Bellevue. We have problems with a developer paying thousands to get elected, then immediately use his position to influence policies for which he will directly benefits from. You know what’s this called? Corruption.

        (2) Care to tell me what “long history of active involvement in Bellevue matters” Kevin Wallace has? Except making money from his Wallace Property company?

        (3) Care to show us where is the research supporting that Vision Line is superior in serving downtown residents? Where is the research showing that people are willing to take trains to a shadowy, noisy station beside Interstate (oops, Wallace just happens to own a few acres of the currently worthless land there), walk uphill at least half a mile to anywhere? Where is the ridership number?

        See, I just destroyed you. Show us answers before you are completely disregarded on this board, where a lot of us are not Wallace’s muppets and sincerely care for Bellevue.

  13. I find people’s conceptions of Bellevue somewhat stunning. Many seem to think that it’s a built-out city center with little remaining developable land, but probably 25-30% of downtown is still surface parking there are many, many parcels likely to be developed in the coming decades. Besides the old Safeway, there’s the strip mall/QFC area just north of Bellevue Square, almost all of Main St. between Bellevue Way and 108th Ave NE, old apartment complexes along Bellevue Way, old restaurants just-barely-hanging-on, and even a suburban-style Wendy’s with a large parking lot just a block northeast of Bellevue Square. Bellevue is an exercise in illusion…stand in any surface parking lot downtown and slowly turn 360°. Besides the glitz and glamor you’ll see plenty of eyesores. There remains an incredible amount of potential.

    Which makes it all the more stunning that Kevin Wallace and others claim that “Bellevue’s road network just cannot accommodate a light rail system”…it’s an incredible testimony to the failure of auto-centric planning that a half-developed city core with 8-lane roads is already tapped out to the point where they are FEARING rather than embracing the addition of transportation capacity! What sort of traffic do they expect when Bellevue is actually fully built-out?

    It’s to be expected given funding constraints, but it is rather shortsighted that we’re only seriously talking about serving half of downtown with one or two stations. Downtown Bellevue (defined as the square up Bellevue Way from Main to NE 12th, east to 112th, south to Main, and west back to Bellevue Way, is 1.75 square miles. That’s larger than the 1.6 square miles of downtown Seattle between 1st and 6th avenues and from Pine St. to Jackson St. To properly develop as a city, Bellevue needs at least three stations, preferably running southwest to northeast in a tunnel.

    Okay, off of my soapbox with a final anecdote. My co-workers at Bellevue Square today were talking about Kemper’s new helipad. Apparently even he can’t stomach the traffic. ;)

    1. To tell you the truth, walking around downtown Bellevue is kinda creepy. On one side of you you’ve got a jam-packed 7 or 8 lane road, on the other side a 450 foot tall gleaming skyscraper, and yet there is no one on the street. I walked around at rush hour a little while ago and the only streets on which I passed anyone were Bellevue Way outside of Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square, and the 6th pedestrian corridor. I also walked along 108th, 8th, and 10th, and I might have seen one other person on the sidewalk across the street the entire time.

      1. Pathetic, isn’t it? And how did you like waiting 4+ minutes to get a pedestrian signal to cross the street solo? It’s true, most pedestrians down there who would benefit from Link are in the single area in all of Puget Sound most hostile to transit…Bell Sq. I’m so frustrated with that place, and I have to be there every day. I’ve never driven there, and by the grace of God I never will.

        Side note…that pedestrian corridor (for which I’m grateful!) is clearly a planning afterthought, ugly and poorly lit….However, I almost wish Link could run at-grade through it from Bellevue Way through the transit center. Seals would fly before that would happen.

    2. I find people’s conceptions of Bellevue somewhat stunning. Many seem to think that it’s a built-out city center with little remaining developable land, First, Bellevue does not want to be a monolithic block that creates a concrete jungle. Second, to build a highrise you need a large block of land. Really the only blocks available are the old Safeway site which Kemper has on hold and the large land holdings of PACCAR. The edges of the downtown are designated transition zones to residential and the city really wants to keep Old Main not only as a transition zone but also as some sort of connection with the past. Main is slated to become a linear park from the new park expansion on Meydenbaur Bay all the way over to 405. The parks along NE 12th are a similar “demilitarized zone.” So yes, there is a lot of development left in the CBD but not so much highrise development.

      Besides the glitz and glamor you’ll see plenty of eyesores.

      Besides the glitz and glamor you’ll see plenty of office space. Office space is 9-5. Glitzy glamor is 10-9. What Bellevue is lacking is destinations. There’s not a professional sports franchise. Unlike Phoenix there’s no university. There’s not a regional performance center (Opera=Seattle, Symphony=Seattle, Off Broadway Musical=Seattle, Rock Concert=Seattle). It’s not as built up as downtown Seattle, it never will be, doesn’t want to be, and doesn’t need to be. “An exercise in illusion” is a fair and insightful comment. High end retail and prestigious office space is an act of illusion. And perhaps that’s part of the success story over the last 20 years.

      it’s an incredible testimony to the failure of auto-centric planning… they are FEARING rather than embracing the addition of transportation capacity!Perhaps, but that assumes the goal was ever Seattle type density, and it’s not. Downtown Seattle has about as many jobs in the CBD as Bellevue has total population. Bellevue is not even close and never intends to mimic Seattle density. If there’s anything businesses in downtown Bellevue fear it’s an easy route for it’s new resident population (largely carless) into downtown Seattle. Downtown Bellevue will never pull more people east (nor does it want to) than Seattle will pull west; especially after work entertainment.

      Okay, off of my soapbox with a final anecdote. My co-workers at Bellevue Square today were talking about Kemper’s new helipad.

      While I don’t support it and animosity is universal on the City Council, it is A) not new (built when the building was put up0 and B) primarily under the jurisdiction of the FAA rather than local authority. All local agreements are entirely voluntary so pissing off the guy with the helicopter without a legal leg to stand on is a bad idea. That said, the City does have some leverage but this is one of those quasi-judicial matters that for better or worse involves back room politics.

      1. That Wendy’s was my first job in high school. :)

        Downtown Bellevue may not seem that walkable compared to Seattle, but it was a breath of fresh air when I moved there from the darker parts of the suburbs (east of Crossroads) in the early 80s. No more walking a mile to the nearest store or movie theater (on a Northup Way that didn’t have streetlights), or having buses an hour apart.

    3. It’s true, much of the Bellevue CBD is surface parking, crappy one-story strip malls and retail, and even a few clusters single-family homes (including one just across NE 4th from City Hall).

      While I understand the concern about at-grade rail crossings of NE 8th at 108th NE and 110th NE in the C4A alignment (more for how it would delay the trains than the auto traffic delays it would cause) I don’t think it means a surface alignment is out of the question for Downtown Bellevue. Other than NE 8th and Bellevue Way the other streets downtown don’t see nearly as much traffic, even during rush hour or big retail days like Black Friday. Heck some are nearly deserted even when 8th is a clogged up mess.

    4. If we are talking shortsightedness then Sound Transit gets the prize for that. Redevelopment of 116th has already begun. By the time any train system actually gets built (if ever) I-405 will be Bellevue’s downtown because the property is already being purchased and planned for more downtown style development. The Vision Line makes access possible from both sides of 405. For Heaven’s sake none of Sound Transit’s designs allow for the future expansion out of the current footprint of downtown. Yes there is a bunch of property available for development in the current footprint but that does not define the only footprint.

  14. that pedestrian corridor (for which I’m grateful!) is clearly a planning afterthought, ugly and poorly lit…

    Afterthought is one way to look at it. Another way would be as a sea change in providing pedestrian access over the last decade. It’s not just the pedestrian corridor but a whole series of inter block walkways designed into the recent development plans. Dark? That’s how I felt about 4th AVE in downtown when the bus tunnel closed early and I had catch a late night bus back to S. Kirkland P&R. Maybe the pedestrian corridor will be better lit when the City bed time is extended past 9PM.

    1. Hang in Bernie, there is much more pedestrian planning to be put in place for downtown because it is the culture of a downtown living situation that people WALK, even further than 1/4 mile.

  15. Stations should always be where people actually want to go, but that doesn’t mean the bulk of the track can’t be along a freeway or underground or through a field or whatever. Only the station matters.

    1. True, but when your alignment is along a freeway it usually make the ideal station slightly more difficult to reach. That is, it’ll can take a lot more engineering to get your station “right” which often leads to the temptation to put your station a few blocks or just adjacent to a freeway and frequently that’s not where people “actually want to go” as you say.

      There are, of course exceptions.

  16. In reading back over these comments I see that there are a lot of comments about the South Bellevue P&R as though it would suddenly dr up and go away if the B7 alignment were chosen. The only successful transit system is a multimodal one. We will still need to be able to access busses and that is a property that will continue to be used. We will have to advocate for bus service as the people in Seattle are starting to find out that they will have to advocate for bus sservice as ST starts to shut down well used bus lines.

  17. the headline of the editorial seems sound. it could be applied to other ST Link corridors. should the Shoreline, Edmonds, and Lynnwood alignment be shifted to SR-99 from I-5? Could a station be provided next to Northwest Hospital? The tentative stations at NE 145th and 185th streets are in single family areas in the freeway envelope.

    Ben seems correct on the park-and-ride investment. The ST2 funds have the opportunity cost of foregone service frequency. Example: East subarea funds could be spent on Route 522.

    1. Of course the alignment should be along SR99. That’s where the people are and lots of development already exists. There’s even an available right of way from 115th to about 160th that could be mostly at-grade (Linden). North of there to SW 216th it would have to be elevated, but it could drop down to at-grade over to the Lynnwood P&R in the old Interurban ROW. There would have to be overpasses at SW 212th and SW 208th and 68th W.

      It’s two miles farther, though, so ST doesn’t want to go that way. Maybe it’ll be the end of a Ballard Line, should it ever come about.

      1. I was thinking maybe a line the length of 99 from downtown Seattle to Everett. I wouldn’t necessarily re-use the interurban ROW except where that made the most sense. I think a line could run at-grade right down the middle of the road like on MLK. Giving 99 the same treatment as MLK would do wonders for the pedestrian environment.

        Even center or side-running elevated would work pretty well in this corridor. Combined with street improvements it would still be a vast improvement over what is currently there.

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