The Bellevue City Council has now elected its mayor and deputy mayor (they choose from council members) – Don Davidson and Conrad Lee, respectively. Both received money from Kemper Freeman Jr. during the election, and both have questionable opinions on transit.

The Seattle Times has an interesting interview up with Mayor Davidson. I call it interesting not because it offers anything new, but because it contains what I consider to be dog whistle phrases as they relate to building light rail through Bellevue. These are the ones I really noticed, from his interview responses:

  • “I kind of represent a more conservative element.”

Great news! A conservative won’t want to spend extra money, which means he’s saying “I’ll support a surface alignment through downtown Bellevue that saves hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, reduces risk, and keeps East Link on schedule.” (If you detect sarcasm here, you’re on the money.)

  • “You’re going to find people a little more aware of the taxpayers’ burden.”

This says to me: “I’m not going to ask Bellevue constituents for any tunnel funding.”

  • “I’m not after light rail, but I am after how it affects Bellevue.”

Uh-oh. This could be adding up to mean “I don’t want surface – I want a tunnel and I want Sound Transit to pay for it.” What’s more, that would really mean “Because the eastside will be paying for this tunnel anyway, many of the same taxpayers will be footing the bill – but this saves me the political cost of asking for it.”

  • “They haven’t figured out how to get across Lake Washington.”

Mayor Davidson is perfectly aware of how East Link will get across Lake Washington. He’s playing to the element who refuses to accept independent engineering study showing light rail over the I-90 bridge is feasible using existing technology. We could be hearing: “I don’t like the R8A project and won’t raise a finger to support it.”

  • (last one) “It’s going to be quite a bit of time before we see light rail being laid here.

If you live or work on the eastside, this is a little concerning. The mayor of Bellevue should be supporting the schedule as it stands, not making remarks disparaging to a project his constituents support.

So, Mayor Davidson: You claim to be conservative. If I’m reading this right, you probably don’t want Bellevue to pay for a tunnel. If that’s the case, the conservative choice is an affordable surface alternative.

Update: As I was writing this, the Times’ Bellevue Blog has more, and it seems to back up this read. He definitely doesn’t want Bellevue to pay for a tunnel, and he points out Beacon Hill being funded by Sound Transit. It’s interesting that he doesn’t make the distinction between Sound Transit and North King, though – Bellevue didn’t pay for any of the Beacon Hill tunnel. Almost all of North King is Seattle – so essentially, Seattle taxpayers paid for Beacon Hill. Keep that in mind as this discussion moves forward.

Update 2: Davidson also claims: “we maybe could get to Redmond if we used a surface system.” As he almost definitely means downtown Redmond, that’s factually incorrect. The money in ST2 only gets us to Overlake.

69 Replies to “The Conservative Choice is Surface”

  1. So, if none of the politicians/business leaders/etc. want light rail in Bellevue, and the voters aren’t voting for people who will support it, then why are we building it there?

    Instead, make the U-district/capitol hill the split, go across the new 520 bridge, take a left turn and hit Kirkland, which is a pretty transit-friendly town, compared to Bellevue, and then go onto Redmond to deliver the Microsofties to work.

    This is a shorter route, so with all the money we save (even after the Kirkland tunnel), we can afford signs on the sides of Link trains mocking Bellevue residents.

    1. Because it is what was promised to the voters of Bellevue (and Mercer Island and Redmond) who overwhelmingly passed ST2 with that specific route in mind.

      1. This is an irrelevant point. The Sound Transit Board is empowered to change the alignment, just as they were empowered to cancel the First Hill light rail station. That is what we elect our leaders to do. If the board were to feel uncomfortable changing the alignment without resubmitting matter to a public vote, they could easily do so, a simple ballot referendum:

        Option 1.) original alignment as voted on in 2008
        Option 2.) 520 alignment as outline in exhibit A (include picture)

        The people were never given this option, the decision to pursue an I-90 alignment and to present such an alignment as the sole option to the voters was made by the politicians. Stop reading “will of the people” into the 2008 vote. The only “will of the people” expressed was to raise their taxes build 50 miles of light rail north, east and south. I suspect that the ballot initiative above would pass with Option 2 coming out the clear winner. Mercer Island doesn’t want light rail any more than Bellevue does and Redmond would be better served by a 520 alignment, not worse.

      2. The fact is that if Kirkland wants it and Bellevue doesn’t, that is the most important issue

        Please offer some proof that Bellevue does not want light rail.

      3. I view changing a route much different than changing the alignment.

        They changed the alignment of University Link by dropping the FH station, thus skipping a neighborhood, and gave them the street car instead. If they skip Bellevue, they are skipping two CITIES (and multiple stations) that voted for the I-90 route, which was clearly the way ST was going to go. They did not have their funding, which would have been in jeopardy if it wasn’t dropped. ST secured their funding for East Link with the premise of it going across I-90. Changing that route would be suicide for ST. Also, where are you assuming Mercer Island doesn’t want East Link? They overwelmingly passed ST2, too.

        There’s no way the 520 option would be preferred. This is exactly what Susan Hutchison proposed, and she was ridiculed for that route and obviously got destroyed in the elections.

        I see the worse thing that comes out of this is that we get a line similar to the Vision line.

      4. What makes you think “Mercer Island doesn’t want light rail any more than Bellevue does”? Rep. Clibborn, who, as best as I can tell is a constiuancy of one when it comes to light rail? The City of Mercer Island as best as I can tell seems every bit as enthusiastic about East Link as the City of Redmond..

        For that matter I don’t believe just because some groups have been able to make a lot of noise it means Bellevue “doesn’t want light rail”. I’m sure that if light rail was bypassing Bellevue there would be even louder objections about how it wasn’t going to serve the second largest city in King County.

      5. For the seven thousand two hundred and eighty third time…..THERE IS INSUFFICIENT CAPACITY IN THE U-LINK TUNNEL FOR THE PRIMARY ROUTE TO THE EASTSIDE TO GO NORTH FROM DOWNTOWN.

        How MANY times do people have to repeat that.

        You’d have to replicate the Capitol Hill tunnel. And the most rational route is Seattle/Mercer Island/downtown Bellevue/Overlake/Redmond. It’s not a perfect straight line because of the “chokepoints”, but it’s waaaaayyyyy straighter through the population centers than a 520 alignment.

      6. I suspect that if a 520 rail line is ever built it will likely follow the Portage Bay viaduct and head downtown along Eastlake. Another possibility might be 23rd to somewhere in the CD with a turn West under First Hill then Downtown.

        In any case such a beast is so far in the future as to not really be worth worrying about.

    2. Ben will undoubtably make the same point he has been harping on for years about interlining and system efficiency in response to this. I thought I’d preempt that. If anyone wants to read the standard line on this issue you can find it here: Why Link Will Cross I-90 First. It’s also linked in the sidebar on the home page of this blog.

      The reason I want to preempt that inevitable response however is because I do not believe it addresses the central point that Jeff is making, which is political, not technical. The fundamental principle is: don’t force a transit project on a constituency that doesn’t want it. Likewise, don’t force a freeway project (e.g. 520 rebuild, Alaskan Way Tunnel) on a constituency that doesn’t want it. Forcing an unwanted project is the very definition of wasteful. The idea that “bellevue should be thankful that we’re giving them light rail” is completely flawed. Bellevue is perfectly capable of determining what is in their own best interests, just as Seattle is capable of determining its own interests.

      The same issue occurred in Seattle when we chose to build the initial segment in Southeast Seattle (which didn’t want it) rather than in West Seattle (which did). Now we are scrambling to catch up (i.e. find the money to build light rail to West Seattle) and dealing with an angry constituency in Southeast that does not want their bus service changed and does not want upzones, gentrification and TOD.

      Of course there were “technical” reasons why Southeast was better, and technical analysis should play a role, but it should not be the deciding factor. Fundamentally, public projects are about public good, and public good means giving constituencies what they want, not denying some constituencies a service they desperately want in order to force that same service onto a different community that doesn’t want it.

      The fact is that if Kirkland wants it and Bellevue doesn’t, that is the most important issue. The technical challenges can be solved more easily than you think they can. We’re just not trying to solve them because we assumed that I-90 was a better solution. We are going to put light rail on 520 someday anyway, so we will have to overcome the technical challenges eventually, why not start now?

      1. The fact is that if Kirkland wants it and Bellevue doesn’t, that is the most important issue

        “Bellevue” does want it. There are constituencies in several communities who object to the planned route who banded together to deliver an anti-transit result in the city council races.

      2. Not an “anti-transit” result, an anti BAD transit result.

        None of those folks who are “fighting” the ST Board on alignment have said that they don’t want transit at all. They have said that citizens should not be run over by an out of control bureaucratic monolith who thinks that they benevolently know best. People should not loose their homes so ST has somewhere to park their bulldozers. People should not loose their businesses (check out how many businesses went out of business during ST1) so that ST can plough through anywhere they want to even when 70% of people responded that they preferred B7.

        Stop self congratulating yourselves and start listening to the issues presented by the people who will have to live with the impacts after ST pulls up stakes and goes home.

      3. I don’t think for a moment that just because these two individuals were elected, that now suddenly Bellevue is against light rail through the city – the ST2 vote exemplifies that.

        Bellevue is still conservative, and there were many issues, not just light rail, that factored into their decision to vote for these people. It couldn’t have hurt to be bankrolled by Kemper Freeman either.

      4. We are going to put light rail on 520 someday anyway, so we will have to overcome the technical challenges eventually, why not start now?

        1) “Eventually” could be a long time, and we have no idea what the revenue and land use contexts will be, much less what other lines will exist for it to connect to.
        2) Switching would create huge delays for a project most people already think takes too long.
        3) We have no idea if a SR520 alignment would be affordable given current taxing authority, and I have my doubts.

      5. Forcing an unwanted project is the very definition of wasteful.

        No, the definition of wasteful is forcing a transportation project to bypass a centralized job center. East Link should be built to downtown Bellevue because it makes sense. It’ll definitely get me out of my car, making the time you spend in yours a little bit shorter. You have to realize that your selfish NIMBY attitude doesn’t really apply to Light Rail, because we’re all getting Light Rail in our backyards. I’ll rarely use the University or North Links, but the Central and East Links will more than make up for it for me.

      6. Right on. Frankly, the Bellevue city council can’t stop it anyway, it’d just have to go before some sort of hearing, like Tukwila did. Sound Transit won then too – they’re building projects of regional significance here.

      7. The choice between the Wallace alignment and a good alignment is not likely to trigger the “projects of regional significance” threshold, unless it threatens federal funding. I don’t think that’s likely.

      8. I think the Wallace alignment might be enough of a ridership drop to cause Federal funding problems. 114th NE is pretty far from 108th NE, especially when coupled with the ridership drop of BNSF over S. Bellevue P&R.

      9. Martin, I suspect it’ll be a Big Deal. We won’t know until the ridership and cost numbers come out for sure, though.

      10. The DEIS doesn’t bear that out. Because it’s elevated, the speeds are higher, so you get more riders from points East to at least mitigate the loss in DT Bellevue.

      11. By “the DEIS” I mean the 112th Ave elevated option that they studied, vs. the surface option. Obviously 114th will be worse.

      12. 114th is much, much worse. It eliminates the majority of transfer riders to BTC. A five to six block transfer is not the same as a three to four block transfer (112th).

      13. The “Wallace” alignment is possibly the worst route through Bellevue I can imagine. It’s no where near anything other than Whole Foods and a bunch of empty car lots and the city hall! LINK needs a tunnel in Bellevue however we fund it. The super long blocks, the foul auto traffic all call out for a tunnel. We should do whatever it takes to get the tunnel built even if it means not getting to Overlake.

        My preferred choice is to levy a extra tax on the Eastside via Sound Transit to pay for it, second is to shorten the track approaching Redmond.

      14. 114th is much, much worse. It eliminates the majority of transfer riders to BTC. A five to six block transfer is not the same as a three to four block transfer (112th).

        The station would be west of 114th and east of 112th; essentially in exactly the same location. FUD

      15. Groups advocating for alternative routes to Bellevue are not being nimby. They have taken great care to represent a broad range of issues while at the same time advocating for what they personally need.

        Yes wasteful does apply because no one should have to love their property value with a train in their backyard when alternatives exist. Saying that it is alright because everyone gets screwed is akin to lemmings jumping off a cliff because the one in front of them did.

      16. “The same issue occurred in Seattle when we chose to build the initial segment in Southeast Seattle (which didn’t want it) rather than in West Seattle (which did). Now we are scrambling to catch up (i.e. find the money to build light rail to West Seattle) and dealing with an angry constituency in Southeast that does not want their bus service changed and does not want upzones, gentrification and TOD.”

        You keep making this claim but I don’t believe it is backed up by the facts. Yes, there was a group of people in SE Seattle, Save Our Valley, who were against a surface alignment, but they were not against light rail in general — they just wanted a tunnel, and found it inequitable that the north end would get a tunnel while SE would not. And though I was not a Save Our Valley supporter, I do see their point there.

        (Yes, it’s likely that some anti-light rail folks glommed onto Save Our Valley to try to kill the project, I guess. But I don’t see any indication that was the general motivation.)

        The general feeling towards the light rail down here is positive. People were pretty excited to have it. But there are some who disagree.

        There are always, always going to be some people who won’t be happy about a project like this. In SE, the reasons might be: property takings (to build/stage the line), dislike of change, legitimate new inconveniences affecting some people (bus reroutes, inability to turn left into some businesses or cross the street in some places, etc.), concern about gentrification. These are all reasonable concerns. (Even “dislike of change.” Change is added stress, and that can be hard to deal with at various times in peoples’ lives.) But you make the mistake of taking the discontent of a subgroup of people and assuming it applies to the wider group, and then stating it as gospel.

        I have been to meetings here in SE and seen the people who are upset that the #42 isn’t what it used to be, and complain that the train goes past their neighborhood without stopping. And I have been to others where people here have discussed how excited they are about the light rail and how thrilled they are that SE Seattle actually got something awesome and new before the richer parts of town did. (This is, um, not the normal way of things.) Do either of those groups automatically speak for the whole of SE Seattle?

        I should point out that West Seattle businesses had a hell of a lot of anti-monorail signs up a few years ago, and a few very vocal anti-monorail folks. (This is before the final collapse of the monorail, when it was still expected to be built.) Did West Seattle not want the monorail then? Or was that a particular group of people who were unhappy with the project, but not speaking for the majority of West Seattleites?

        Anyway, I’m not from West Seattle, so perhaps I can’t answer that. But I can tell you that you mischaracterize Southeast Seattle.

      17. “I have been to meetings here in SE and seen the people who are upset that the #42 isn’t what it used to be, and complain that the train goes past their neighborhood without stopping.”

        That is a valid complaint. Let’s put a stop at Graham St.

      18. Let’s put a stop at Graham St., and one at 133rd, and build Boeing Access Road – but let’s at the same time make speed improvements that allow it to make Airport-Downtown time-neutral.

    3. Hold on everybody. No one is talking about not building light rail in Bellevue, leaving aside the obstructionism over the I-90 crossing, which isn’t really a Bellevue issue.

      The issue is whether we’re going to build this thing next to people, so they can use it, or by the highway, where it won’t “bother” them. It’s an important debate but not one that means it time to say “screw Bellevue.”

      1. Thanks Martin – things were getting a little out of hand…
        This project is something which will be used for 75-100 years. It should be built to/from job and population centers which are known now and will in turn become magnets for more development. Believe me, when petrol is US$10/gallon (coming to a pump near you very soon) the Bellevuites will be HAPPY to have Link in their CBD.

    4. Jeff, picking between alignment choices for a small segment of the route is completely, radically different from switching bridges. And you know that.

      1. Yes, I do… I’m just a bit tired of the Bellevue NIMBYism that I read week after week here, and I guess I was pointing out that if Bellevue wants to hold ST “hostage” (we’ll block any attempt to build Light Rail here until you agree to pay for a tunnel), then there’s an alternative…

        For the sake of argument, however, if rail was built first over 520 to Kirkland, the 520-to-Kirkland bit could represent part of a North/South Eastside line, which would extend through Bellevue. Looking at the map, there’s already a rail corridor there, too.

        I totally agree with the I-90-better-than-520 for the initial lake crossing argument, but that argument is based on the premise that light rail has to go to Bellevue. If that’s not the case, then the routing might change significantly.

      2. They can’t hold ST hostage, don’t worry. ST really can override the city of Bellevue, it’s just a pain in the butt.

      3. did ST over ride the City of Tukwila; they did not force Tukwila to accept the alignment in the middle of SR-99, but placed it in the envelope of several freeways (e.g., I-5, SR-599, and SR-518). ugh.

      4. ST lost the court case. Cities can’t kill the project but they can make some changes to the alignment.

        My guess is the Bellevue City Council can make the 114th alignment happen unless Bellevue voters make it clear that’s unacceptable.

      5. Martin, Sound Transit kind of lost and won. The GMHB gave them what they really needed.

        The GMHB told ST that Tukwila was allowed to change their zoning code to require that light rail go through Southcenter, because the GMA doesn’t say they can’t try.

        The GMHB also said that Tukwila would not be within their rights to deny permits for an essential public facility (Central Link) based on that zoning code.

        From the decision: “Until a regional decision is made, the City may lobby for Sound Transit to adopt the City’s favored alignment and, to the extent that its comprehensive plan expresses the City’s aspiration for its future development, Tukwila may express its preferences in its plan.However, once that regional decision is made, the City has a duty not to preclude the light-rail alignment and system design selected by Sound Transit.”

        The decision:
        http://www.gmhb.wa.gov/Legacy/central/decisions/1999/9303,soundtransit,fdo,9-15-99.htm

      6. Yeah, they got what they needed to get a system built. They didn’t get the best alignment, down SR99 in Tukwila.

    5. I live in bellevue and I most definitely want link to come here. Bellevue is a major city in the region and needs to be part of our light rail network. Trust me, while the city’s position is a little disappointing (I blame Kemper Freeman’s involvement), I know there is a large population in Bellevue that are in favor and dependent on transit. And you have to remember that Bellevue has made plans for the Bel-Red area for transit-oriented development, so I don’t think the city’s againist it.

      While personally I would like to see a tunnel I don’t think it’s the end of the world for a surface option. I mean It works in Tacoma, right? But I suppose tacoma link is more like a streetcar…

      What ever happened to the elevated option? Does Sound Transit have the ultimate authority to decide which alignment It builds?

      1. Sound Transit has the ultimate authority, yes.

        The elevated option basically just kills the street it’s on.

      2. True, but I have a feeling if they go with the street option it’d make downtown a huge traffic mess everyday (NE 8th already gets bad) and that would completely kill bellevue’s efforts to make downtown more pedestrian friendly.

        I wonder how expensive a underpass would be for link to go under NE 8th…

        I’m just trying to think of different alternatives but a grade seperation between NE 8th and link is pretty much a requirement.

      3. There is an alternate surface alignment up 110th NE then East on the North edge of the City Hall property along NE 6th and over 405 to the BNSF ROW. I believe the NE 8th crossing is elevated with this alignment.

    6. I just got my friendly newsletter from Senator Cheryl Pflug and she’s 100% against the I-90 LINK alignment and 100% for 520. Her reasoning is that we should be building a new bridge from scratch to work with the rail and that since 520 is way more backed up than I-90 it’s the obvious candidate.

      I’m not going to defend her statement but rather I’m letting this group know that change via the state legislature is never that far away… of course letting politicians plan anything is a dangerous game if you want anything done that makes sense.

      1. I wonder who she’s playing to. Most of her district is outside of the Sound Transit district. I wonder what her constituents in Issaquah and Sammamish think of this since Issaquah is expecting light rail in ST3 and building across 520 instead of 90 would preclude that.

      2. Makes sense to me. The great travel difficulty in the eastside is the North/South corridor anyway. 520 sets up a North/South transit in the first place thereby taking care of that problem while at the same time being able to access Belleuve and Redmond and setting up for future lines to Renton, Issaquah, Woodinville, etc. Win – Win

  2. I don’t think Mayor Davidson’s views are by themselves influential. Bellevue is on a council-manager system; the city council appoints a professional city manager to run the day-to-day operations. The mayor thus has real power only over council procedure, so for policy purposes you should really think of Mayor Davidson as just another councilman.

    1. I just want to call out his opinions as contradictory, that’s all. He should be aware people are paying attention.

  3. with regards to the quote

    “It’s going to be quite a bit of time before we see light rail being laid here.“

    well that’s the truth isn’t it? Won’t it be another 10-15 years before light rail gets there?

    I like the idea of going to Redmond via Kirkland instead though …

    1. It’s 10 years for Bellevue. But it could be longer if they try to slow things down – and when he says “quite a bit of time” I take that to mean “I don’t care if it takes longer.”

    2. Unfortunately, the problem is that in order to hit Kirkland (even the south part), Redmond Town Center, and Microsoft’s main campus, it’s pretty hard to draw a reasonable route.

      It’s not bad if you skip MS, and your service to Kirkland is a station on 85th/Hwy 908/Redmond Way, with a streetcar up through downtown Kirkland & Juanita bay. However, MS represents almost 100,000 people who could be riding daily, which would be a pretty big boost to ridership.

  4. The Beacon Hill argument is a fairly ridiculous one. Either he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or he’s purposely misleading people. Neither is a good thing.

  5. As a West Seattle resident, I wanted monorail and I want light rail in the worse way. I’d like to be able to go to Mariner games and Bumbershoot without driving.

  6. oh Bellevue! I’m so glad I don’t live here.. unfortunately a light rail from Seattle to downtown Bellevue would be awesome for my current commute…

  7. The problem with this post is that you seem to be completely putting words in his mouth. He could very well mean the opposite of what you think he meant. The STB should try to interview him and get his view on these things before making assumptions about what he meant.
    Besides, light rail would be much better in a tunnel in Downtown Bellevue anyways. It gets it completely out of traffic, allows faster speeds, allows for higher capacity in the future, and increases ridership. I know Sound Transit doesn’t have the money for a tunnel itself, but I think that they and the City of Bellevue should try to find other sources for money for a tunnel, and we should support them on that.

    1. alex, he made his views pretty clear during the campaign. And much of what I called out, he confirmed in the further quotes in the Times blog post.

  8. The lies need to stop. This unfounded rumor that Bellevue’s constituencies are having a light rail line forced upon them after voting against it are absolutely false. I read two letters to the editor in the Bellevue Reporter blatantly purporting this lie. Go find last year’s election results: the two Eastside legislative districts (41st and 48th) both passed ST2 by at least 53%.

    At any rate, Bellevuites would be paying for a tunnel, whether via the East King subarea or as Bellevue residents. Don Davidson is correct that not many people in Bellevue like paying extra taxes, but a Bellevue Reporter poll a few months said otherwise in regards to a light rail tunnel (albeit unscientific, the reader base of the Reporter tends to lean conservative). Voters are far more likely to turn down tax increases for general funds and generic government spending. But things will change if they’re aware of the direct tangible benefits.

  9. Bellevue has some very powerful interests opposed to Light Rail, so I would urge Sound Transit to prepare themselves for a big fight ahead.

    Ben, thanks – I picked up those things too from that interview.

  10. I don’t think Mayor Davison is out of line to question all options in the context of ‘what’s best for Bellevue’.
    I can see where using the BNSF line coming into town, then transitioning to a Vision Line station would allow for ‘shared corridor’ trains.
    LRT from Seattle to Redmond, using overhead electric wires, could share a short portion of the BNSF and Vision station for Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) traveling along the I-405 corridor from Woodinville to Tukwila.
    The Bellevue Vision station would be a platform tranfer between the two lines. Shared row is nothing new around the world. The walk from the Vision Stn to the Bellvue Transit Center is actually less than walking from Seatac’s LRT stop to the ticket counters.
    Before the backhoes start digging, it’s never too late to consider your options.

    1. Mike, the DMU work would be a billion dollars for an eventual 6,000 daily riders. There’s no reason to add a few hundred million to Link to accommodate commuter rail planning that won’t ever pencil out.

      1. Sorry Ben, but I think your numbers are bogus. WSDOT is estimating new mainline track at a little over a million a mile for the Kelso 3rd main, while other projects around the nation seem to cost between 2-3 mil/mi.
        The entire Woodinville Subdivision would cost about a little over $100 mil for all new track. Add in signals, some modest platforms, rolling stock and your pushing $200 mil., not a billion.
        My point was to allow for thoughtful consideration of other options, and not to get so defensive when someone suggests otherwise.

      2. Those aren’t Ben’s numbers, they’re the numbers from the corridor study a couple months ago.

      3. Not to get too out of line here, but the PSRC/State mandated study last year was something under 300mil. for all the studies done since the old JRPC days, so here we are. I tend to question a lot of those studies, as they included the Willburten Trestle rebuild, I405 crossings, and lots of bells and whistles that a typical European style suburban DMU operation wouldn’t even consider.
        Anyway, the topic is Mayor Davidson, and his consideration of alternatives for Bellevue, not a discourse on the merits of the BNSF ROW or whos cost estimates you want to believe.

      4. Rebuilding the Wilburton trestle (or building an adjacent bridge) plus rebuilding the bridges over 405 would be required for any commuter line. Furthermore stations and potentially P&R facilities would be required.

      5. Mike, the PSRC study is here:

        http://www.psrc.org/transportation/bnsf/

        http://www.psrc.org/assets/406/BNSF_Commuter_Rail_Study_Tech_Memo_2_FINAL_2008-12-31.pdf

        Part II, executive summary (page ES-4), the cost would be between $1.0 and $1.2 billion.

        You may be thinking of the adjacent bike path. That would be $300-400 million.

        If you just want Bellevue to Woodinville, that’d only run you $400 million (don’t forget yard and vehicles), but only get you 1700 riders. In 2020.

        We reported on this quite a bit when the study came out. It’s totally, unbelievably unaffordable, even for the parts that don’t include 405 crossing or Wilburton, because it just doesn’t offer much benefit. Take away the bells and whistles and you have no riders.

        Page ES-4. Read it!

      6. [deleted, ad-hominem]

        Wishful thinking can’t do enough actual value engineering to make commuter rail work on the BNSF line. Double the speed limit (which will never happen through suburbia) and maybe that line could compete with auto travel along the 405 corridor.

        [deleted, off-topic]

      7. ST themselves admitted that the transit numbers from the “study a couple of months ago” were not accurate.

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