[UPDATE from Martin: Councilmember Claudia Balducci clarifies what’s going on  in this comment.  Showing up in person is more effective, but written comments can be submitted to council@bellevuewa.gov.]

As a few folks have pointed out in comments in the last few days, the new Bellevue City Council plans to revisit the old City Council’s East Link alignment recommendations.

Tomorrow, the Council plans to look at the “B” portion, from I-90 up to the south edge of downtown Bellevue. The Council previously recommended a modified B3 (PDF), going up Bellevue Way to serve the existing South Bellevue Park and Ride, then heading a bit east on 112th – and giving a wide berth to the angry Surrey Downs neighborhood.

Sound Transit’s preferred alternative doesn’t swing out around Surrey Downs, but is substantially the same.

The new City Council is under pressure to change their recommendation to B7 – which would skip the South Bellevue Park and Ride. I haven’t yet heard an argument for B7 from any interest except the “keep those trains away from my house” interest, so I don’t really have any sympathy.

I do, however, have sympathy for the people who use South Bellevue P&R and might lose their service – Sound Transit intends East Link to replace bus 550, so it’s rather important that Link stop at South Bellevue.

Originally, this Bellevue City Council meeting was scheduled for Wednesday night, but it’s been moved up to Tuesday, with 6:00pm 8:00pm public comments (Note from Sherwin: comments start at 8pm, but coming out at 6pm and staying for the whole session will establish a stronger presence). Do you use that Park and Ride? Do you know someone who does? If you want Link to to go there, being at Bellevue City Hall Tuesday evening to say a few words in support will let City Council know that this isn’t just a NIMBY issue.

Please do show up! I know there are several regular commenters who prefer B3 – we need you tomorrow!

122 Replies to “Want Light Rail To South Bellevue? Come Out Tomorrow.”

      1. Just stay away from Kemper land. Also, I may be over 21 (28 to be exact), but I don’t drink booze of any kind. My brother will be coming and is under age (he’s 18)

  1. I’m working tomorrow and possibly early Wednesday morning. Is there an easy way to submit written comments?

    Also, can somebody briefly explain what the “Study Session” is all about vs. the “Regular Session”? I’m guessing “Study Session” is where the council learns about issues but doesn’t vote on any items. If I’m reading the agenda correctly, there aren’t any opportunities for public comment during the Study Session. That has to wait until after 8pm during the regular session.

    1. You may be right, I’ll have an answer soon and update the post.

      I believe there’s a way to submit written comments. I’ll add that too.

      1. We’ll have a discussion item at 6:00 p.m. in our study session room. The opportunity for public comment will be shortly after 8:00 in the regular session in Council chambers.

        People should be aware that there are limits on public comment at these regular meetings – we allow 3 commenters on any side of an issue and comments are limited to 3 minutes for an individual, 5 minutes if the speaker is representing the official position of a recognized organization.

        Our current schedule calls for a full public hearing – where everyone who wishes will be allowed to speak – in February. However, there is no guarantee that we won’t take action on the B segment before then. So it is important that people who have an opinion show up tomorrow night.

        My personal advice to anyone who wants to influence this decision would be to come to the study session at 6:00 and stay at least through the public comment item on our regular study agenda. We do tend to judge the level of public interest based on the numbers of people in the audience who appear to be on one side of an issue or the other.

        Finally, because of the 3-people-per-side rule, it does help if you seek out others in the audience who have your same opinion and agree to divide up the slots in a way that makes sense (3 people with the same opinion from 3 different perspectives is always more educational for us than 3 people who say exactly the same thing).

        Thanks for your interest in this issue —

      2. Hey, thank you! I hadn’t had time to ask yet. :)

        We’ll definitely post again about the future hearing.

  2. I may be coming out to this if I get a chance…especially as a frequent visitor to Bellevue to buy stuff from its shops and malls.

    B3 and a C9T (or that modified tunnel) makes the most sense to me. Its a no-brainer on that alignment.

    1. I sure hope you aren’t shopping at Bellevue Square! Depsite fitting Kemper’s preferred demographic to a tea, I will never spend a penny of my money at that mall again.

      Kind of like being anti-gun, yet sending a check to the NRA each month.

    2. The council likes B9T… with no cost to Bellevue residents. That of course is not an option so the fallback is leaning toward elevated. Does’nt matter which elevated proposal the station is in the same place. In my opinion the ST board needs to advance the engineering options that provide an improved automobile alternate with the C9A alignment. In conjuction with that there needs to be separate bike and pedestrian routes. C9A could help but it’s not defined in the DEIS.

      1. That of course is not an option so the fallback is leaning toward elevated. Does’nt matter which elevated proposal the station is in the same place.

        Not really. C8E has the station at 110th, C7E has the station at 112th, and the “vision line” has the station at 114th. The extra distance makes a big difference for ridership, just look at the fall-off between C8E and C7E, expect a similar fall-off for the “vision line” from C7E. In addition C8E supposedly has some real problems with column locations not playing well with the intersections it crosses. I’d expect similar problems with an elevated variant of C9 as well.

        I’m also guessing that there will be a lot of objection to any attempt at putting an elevated alignment through downtown Bellevue due to the visual impact.

  3. I know this doesn’t bear directly on Kemper’s attempt to ruin the light rail path through south Bellevue, but I’ve been thinking about finances, and how to make use of the gas tax money that can only build roads.

    If tolls can be used to build replacement capacity, why not redirect the 520 toll money to building the Downtown Bellevue Transit Tunnel? (since University/East Link can replace a big chunk of trips on 520, and East Link will serve most of the same neighborhoods served by 520) And then redirect the gas tax money appropriated for the downtown Seattle car tunnel to the construction of the 520 transit lanes? (I know, it is supposed to be HOV, but can’t those lanes be changed to transit-only in the future with little re-engineering?)

    If the DBTT becomes financially feasible, that would help remove Kemper’s I-don’t-want-Birkenstock-clad-bus-riders-in-my-Vision Line from the table, wouldn’t it?

    1. Tolls won’t cover the cost of 520 replacement so they aren’t a good candidate for raiding. Add tolls to I-90 then you’re getting closer but there is still a LOT of gas tax money needed.

      Going forward, gas tax revenue is going to be flat or declining unless the political will is there to raise it. People are currently out of work and thus not driving as much. They are also in the process of replacing land yachts with more efficient cars. Add in the arrival of electric cars and/or plug in Hybrids and “presto”, you’ve got a declining gas tax revenue picture.

      Existing gas tax revenue will be absorbed by the maintenance needs of the massive road network we’ve already built. Adding *any* general purpose lanes will just make the financial picture worse.

  4. Ben and others are justified to advocate for a position they believe in. I wish more people in our society would get involved with their local government. That said, I think other well meaning citizens and leaders in Bellevue have a different take on things, and are equally right to lobby for what they believe in.
    I have pushed for passenger/commuter style rail along Lk Washington since 1992, with no success. I suppose I should give it up, as I no longer live in the area, or work in Bellevue, and don’t have a dog in this hunt. But my grandkids do, so for that reason, I think the Vision Line proposal offers some unique possibilities to fulfill a long standing vision of my own.
    Ben challenged me to run the numbers, so with the latest ST/PB/PSRC study in hand, I did. The result was encouraging.
    Combined with the Vision Line, a startup DMU service could be built for about $306 million, and paid for with $160 million from Vision Line savings, and $50 million dedicated for that purpose in ST2. That leaves a shortfall of $96 million for a 20 mile line, running from Colton Pk to Woodinville, 7 stations along the way, with 30 minute headways for 16 hours a day.
    Shared platforms with E. Link at 3 Bellevue stations would make N/S transfers to the E.Link line seamless. Future electrification and extentions to Burien and Snohomish would really get the Eastside plugged into the spine everyones been paying for since 1996.
    I used ST cost methodology – their numbers – only scaling quantities for different track lengths and number of stations. It included all the contingencies, and excluded the bike and pedestrian trail costs.
    You may not like the Vision Line proposal for a variety of reasons, but it’s not a red hearing to defeat any rail on the eastside. May the BEST alternative win.

    1. Rail along a body of water or a freeway suffers the same math problem as buses along a waterfront: There are only neighborhoods and passengers on one side, so the ridership is automatically cut if half.

    2. Wouldn’t it make more sense to electrify the line and combine it as part of the greater LINK system? Sure there are greater capital expenditures for the OCS … but the benefits of tying it into LINK would be better in the long run (and it could use the same LRVs which would cut down on the need for additional vehicle types

    3. Mike, thanks for the numbers. A couple of questions: Did you mean Coulon Park to Woodinville? If so, do these numbers include the reconstruction of the bridge over 405 for the BNSF line? I’m curious too, how does this alignment handle the crossing at NE 8th? Are there ridership numbers for this proposal? Finally, given that the southern portions of the BNSF are being rail-banked, isn’t some type of trail access required?

      1. Yes, Coulton Park to S. Woodinville, so as to not interfere with switching operations on both ends of the line. That’s an issue I didn’t want to tackle for now. I pulled the cost of Recrossing I-405 at Wilburton out, as well as the new parallel trestle next to the wooden Wilburton. The pedestrians can have it, with a greatly diminished weight requirement for a trail.
        NE 8th is crossed just like I-5 was crossed using post tension construction and precast segments, going from Vision Station, across 405 and NE 8th.
        There is already a trail along the old Lake Washington Blvd for most of the southern portion, with several dedicated sections for bikes and ped. I see no reason to rebuild it, as that’s about as traffic calmed an area as you could ask for. Sharrow lanes would be added in the Newcastle neighborhood to further define the row. Hope that helps Brian.

      2. The PSRC did the modeling on the DMU segment (A and B)a year ago, and came up with 5,000+ daily weekday riders, as a stand alone system. Combining both the BNSF with E.Link would be higher, due to the synergy of two lines and transfers at 3 common station platforms, but I hesitate to guess how many.

      3. Can diesel and electric trains share the same track? Take note of the height of the Link vehicles, and where their overhead racks connect to the power line.

      4. Yes, Typical DMU, like Siemans Sprinters are a little wider and the floor is 6″ taller. Both LRT and DMU fit under the catenary wire. Special built, narrower and squatter DMU’s would be ordered (10 cars) for compatility with Kinkisharo cars. Eventually, they would be replaced with LRT as the Eastside Vision line is electrified and extended to Burien and Snohomish.

    4. What are the 3 stations where BNSF DMU riders would transfer to ELink? Hospital Station is the only one I see. So a rider from Woodinville working at Lincoln Square (NE 8th & Bellevue Way) would take DMU, transfer to E Link at Hosptial Station, ride one stop to NE 6th Station, then walk 10-15 minutes?

      1. The three stations would presumably be the 118th SE station in B7, the vision line station on 114th SE and Hospital station. For your hypothetical rider, the Vision Line station would be closest.

      2. Ah, apologies I didn’t understand and didn’t read in earlier comments that DMU would re-use ELink tracks.

        This could presumably be true regardless of section C alignment, as long as
        1) B7 is picked for section B
        2) Assuming electrified DMU trains.

      3. Electrified DMUs are called EMUs. DMU stands for Diesel Multiple Unit. In other words, there is no separate power vehicle, the car has a smaller diesel engine and can carry passengers. You can hook together two or more of these or tow un unpowered car (hence multiple units).

      4. Hospital, Vision and Wilburton trains sharing the same B7 tracks. That eliminates the need to rebuild the BNSF ‘missing link’ across I405, and leaves the trail to peds/bikes.

  5. If you were an alien who came to earth (or a third grader) and were looking at the proposed routes one of your first questions would have to be: Why don’t the tracks go to the stations? To borrow from John Dillinger, that’s where the people are. to bypass either (or both) the South Bellevue park and ride and the DT Bellevue transit center would be a huge swing-and-a-miss.

    1. Points well taken. Vision Stn is a 3 minute walk from BTC and and Expedia HQ. Seatac Stn is 4 minutes from the ticket counters. Vision is 3 minutes from future development along auto row and TOD up the cazoo via a skybridge across I=405. A slower, longer route through Bellevue’s CBC is a “3 strikes your out” when you look at the big picture.
      S. Bellevue P&R is a good place for cars. Forced transfers to E.Link for all I-90 buses to Seattle is a wash, time wise, maybe even a huge penalty, given the trains only run every 15 minutes. S. Bellevue residents who drive or use transit could just as easily transfer to Link at the Wilburton P&R station with no time penalty.
      Batter up.

      1. What moving sidewalk? I think it is a mirage. Until there is a concrete plan for funding and building it, it should be treated as such.

      2. The moving sidewalk is an integral part of the Vision Station, Ben. That would be like saying the stairclimb at Beacon Hill Station is horible without the elevators.
        By my math(peds at 4 mph) with the belted sidewalk, BTC is 2 minutes, Bellevue Square is 7 minutes, the library is 7 minutes, and Old Town is 10 minutes. Keep in mind, that the vision line is totally grade seperated, so you save 2 minutes over the surface route just getting into town, which I didn’t include in my calculations. Hope that helps.

      3. Wilburton P&R is way off of the I-90 corridor — almost to downtown Bellevue — for buses going between Issaquah and Seattle. The opportunity for a quick ride on the I-90 transit lane, transfering to East Link, and heading north to Microsoft and beyond would be replaced by either riding all the way to Mercer Island Station, or taking one of the neighborhood crawler routes, and transfering along the way.

        The Issaquah routes to Seattle are simply not going to be rerouted to make a stop at Wilburton.

        Keeping South Bellevue as a station is key to the future of rapid ride or light rail to Issaquah.

      4. Agreed; Wilburton is ridiculously far away from I-90, especially during rush hour. Maybe if there were HOV ramps from I-90 to I-405 it could work, but right now it’s a recipe for failure.

      5. Can’t a skybridge be built across I-405 regardless of where the station is built? — with a moving walkway to the skybridge?

        I’m not sure how many people going to automobile dealerships will want to ride rail. It is automobiles they sell, after all.

      6. I think that in the long term, they want to get rid of the auto dealerships there and develop the properties for offices / shopping (after all they are a big waste of space)

      7. I’m not so sure most municipalities want their dealerships to go away. Because we rely heavily on sales tax revenue in this state, auto sales are a major contributor to a town’s coffers.

        The one dealership in Bothell, Brooks Biddle, was the biggest single tax source for that city (at the time I lived there).

      8. Bellevue actually has two or three auto rows. There’s also the upscale dealerships along NE 20th, plus dealerships scattered around Eastgate/Factoria.

      9. I think this would be a perfect corridor for a streetcar, but a light rail station should serve the middle of Downtown Bellevue, not its edge.

      10. @Brent:

        “Build it, and the parking lots will go away. We hoped for that in Rainier Valley.”

        Uh… It’s been half a year…. half a year IN THE WORSE ECONOMY SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION. Don’t you think it’s a bit early to be calling it failure? LOL

      11. Not only that but the most vital segment – the airport station – opened just a month ago, and bus feeder and duplicated route service hasn’t dropped out yet.

      12. As was said above, the plan is to develop the dealerships into something else. For folks accessing those businesses, their better option would be to get off at the hospital station, which for the alternatives gaining traction would be in the BNSF ROW north of NE 8th. Then you’re just faced with the prospect of crossing NE 8th. This is almost as daunting a prospect as crossing I405. Ideally, the station would be elevated, spanning NE 8th with an exit on the south side of NE 8th.

      13. No light rail on the west side of 405 will have much impact on development on the east side of 405. That’s so far outside the walkshed of the station it’s not even funny.

      14. “Can” is totally different from “will”. We “can” do a huge number of things, but we have limited resources and political will, so we “won’t”.

      15. Downtown Bellevue (West of I-5) has enough development capacity for many years. Factor in Bellevue Way and I think that a TOD that involves crossing about 11 lanes of traffic won’t be the most attractive option.

      16. The airport comparison is particularly problematic. Wait until February 5, and see how many people will be complaining about losing a 1-minute walk to the south terminal in favor of a 4-minute walk to the station (after spending closer to ten minutes going to the south terminal first to find it closed without any posted notices — I checked it out yesterday — and then walking all the way from south terminal to the station).

        Saying that the walk from the station to the transfer center isn’t much longer than that for the airport is a DOA argument. And then, most people riding to downtown Bellevue won’t be going there to find the transfer center. They’ll be going there to find existing businesses, their condos, etc. Adding an extra five minutes to their daily commute so that imagined riders from automobile dealerships can have a shorter walk is, well, um, making me wonder what you are actually trying to achieve here, Mike.

      17. “….shorter walk is, well, um, making me wonder what you are actually trying to achieve here, Mike. ”

        A more immediate utilization of the BNSF corridor for Commuter Rail.

        Essentially, making lemonade out of lemons.

        I agree with his idea as far as commuter rail in that ROW, but I personally am not supportive of the ‘Vision Line’.

        Jim

      18. Except for WSDOT replacing the rail link, this is a corridor that has the capability, with some minor upgrading (estimated by various sources at around $40-$60 million, to support a startup DMU commuter service.

        It’s not necessary to build the system to ST’s design specs now.

        Get the service up an running first.

        Jim

      19. The design specs in the PSRC review were basic ADA requirements and neighborhood political requirements. Until you can address the specific, outlined costs, the underlying assumptions (as written), and explain where you’ll save money, the idea is just detrimental to discussing real transit options.

  6. Yes, I’d like to go. So the proposal that Bellevue is looking at would go up the old BNSF corridor, right? Like Ben, I think this doesn’t make a lot of sense demographically and the idea of some long bridge over the freeway to the Transit Center doesn’t make much retail sense either seeing that most of Bellevue’s shopping is in the Bell Square shopping area and the Bravern now.

    1. B7 would follow the BNSF corridor from around I-90 to the approximate location of the former Wilburton tunnel, then continue north along the west side of I-405 to the vicinity of the Wilburton P&R.

  7. Well, I can bring a long-time resident’s perspective coupled with that of a bus driver in the area. Since the comment period isn’t until the regular session I can attend. Anybody else looking to coordinate can contact me via Twitter.

  8. I wish I could go, but am currently living out of the country. I have a vested stake though as a homeowner in Seattle who is interested in seeing the transit system grow.

    In my opinion the vision line is a clear loser. South Bellevue is entirely cut off, leaving the neighborhoods of South Bellevue, Factoria, Newcastle, and Eastgate shutout of the system unless they drive or bus to Mercer Island. Downtown Belleuve is an established and growing regional center that needs service with good access – not on the periphery. Mercer Island will be upset because their tiny P&R will be overflowing and will effectively be the only P&R on the system between Seattle and Overlake. Ridership will be much less than forecasted. Bus service slated to be reallocated will wastefully duplicate the rail line. It goes on an on.

    The only vision the proponents have of this line is for it to stay as far away from them as possible and keep people away from their turf. Bellevue is too important to the region to allow them to succeed. We must maximize our investment in rail by making it as accessible and easy to use as possible. If this rerouting proposal succeeds, the line would be underutilized for decades to come, calling the credibility of the entire system into question yet again. Don’t let ’em do it!

    1. Ryan,

      Your vested stake — a regional interest — is reflected in the Sound Transit Board.

      The Bellevue City Council is there to represent the interests of Bellevue residents and employers. Input from other stakeholders is basically just noise.

      On the merits, I obviously agree with you.

    2. I agree with Ryan on this. As a driver on the Route 240 one shakeup, many connections are made at the South Bellevue Park and Ride, (also the Route 222). So, if the Bellevue City Council decides not to have LINK serve South Bellevue Park and Ride lot, they are essentially disfrancising Factoria, Eastgate and Newport Hills (all of these areas are within the Bellevue City Limits) from the city.

      1. FUD. It wouldn’t change bus connections at all. Plenty of buses are still going to be using the I-90 corridor. And, like the 8 along MLK it’s obvious there will be a need for more bus connections along any light rail corridor. It’s unfortunate that when they decided to fill in the wetlands they did it so far from I-90 that you can’t park and walk to a true flyer station but that’s no reason to compound the mistake by building a multi-story parking garage there. South Bellevue P&R is surrounded by a watershed, not a walkshed.

      2. The comparison with Rainier Valley doesn’t work. There are apartments and businesses between the stations that are served by the 8 and other routes. The buses heading between South Bellevue and downtown Seattle are just staying on the freeway and pulling off at the future light rail stations. Hence, the duplication of service.

        Indeed, the buses will probably end up having fewer stops. Once rail takes over the transit lanes, the Rainier Freeway Station will just be for rail. The buses will have to take the outer HOV lanes (and, BTW, get stuck in traffic with the carpoolers and lane hoppers).

        I do agree, though, that more work is needed on the interchange between Issaquah buses, East Link, and eastside commuter rail. The current location of South Bellevue P&R may be inadequate for the task, but Wilburton would be a far worse location because of its distance from I-90. Personally, I’m kind of fond of not plowing down farmland, and ST has shown that it has a huge build-shed for any of the stations.

      3. I should mention (on the topic of duplicate service) that I don’t know whether the 7x routes will be truncated. I’m just assuming they will because it makes so much sense to redeploy these buses for more frequent neighborhood service.

        However, the removal of the 194 seems to be the exception, rather than the rule.

        ST and Metro are ramping up 177/577 service between downtown Seattle and Federal Way. That route will compete with the 574/Link two-seat ride, with 574 running higher frequency all day.

        There will be similar competition between the 150 and the (rerouted to TIBS) 140/LINK connection. In this case, both routes run frequently all day.

        Which approach most riders choose will probably be a function of the average amount of time the I-5 buses sit in traffic.

  9. I don’t know much about the area, but it seems to me that by the principles of this blog B7 would make more sense. There is no chance of any TOD at South Bellevue; everyone will be getting there by car. There appear to be, however, lots of opportunities for TOD around Wilburton P&R, along with plenty of places for cars. I don’t think many buses from Issaquah will be rerouted to force a transfer to East Link, as the Issaquah corridor has enough riders that it warrants a direct bus at all hours to Seattle. We’ll replace that corridor with Link later.

    1. I urge you to go back and look at the map. Both modified B3 and B7 go near Wilburton similarly. South Bellevue Park and Ride has a walkshed with hundreds of homes in it.

      1. The South Bellevue P&R will also be the closest light rail access for the Bellevue neighborhoods that exist on the south side of I-90, like Factoria. I used to live in that area and the Bellevue City Council always acted like you didn’t exist unless you lived north of I-90. South Bellevue P&R is easy to access from Factoria and Woodbridge by using the southbound I-90 ramp from Richards Road. It also has easy access from the I-90 regional trail for cyclists. Skipping the South Bellevue P&R would be a huge detriment to mobility in the South Bellevue area. And no, driving or busing to Wilburton to catch the train is not an acceptable alternative. Doing that at peak hours could add quite a bit of time to a trip because you’d have to fight rush hour traffic going in to Bellevue in the morning and coming out of Bellevue at night. If we’re going to provide P&R space on East Link it might as well be in an area that is easy to access and takes cars out of rush hour traffic instead of adding them to it.

      2. Bellevue Park and Ride has a walkshed with hundreds of homes in it.

        Seriously, hundreds of single family residences in the walkshed of South Bellevue P&R? The east is a swamp. To the south is I-90. to the west is a cliff (you think it’s steep between Broadway and 12th?). Why, that “walkshed” must generate at least a dozen riders a day! Funny how someone dead set against 40k a stall parking garages is so defensive about South Bellevue P&R being critical to East Link. Makes one wonder just how shaky the whole house of cards must be.

      3. I really hope you are not trying to compare the draw of South Bellevue Park & Ride to that of Wilburton. If you think the walkable area around South Bellevue is bad, take a look at Wilburton. Are there hundreds of homes within a mile? I don’t think so.

        Every house in Beaux Arts and Enatai is within a mile walk of South Bellevue park & ride as are many in Killarny Circle. There are hills in the area, but they are not particularly tall or steep. Bellevue has added several pedestrian facilities in the area to cut walking distances and make walking safer. More are planed including bike lanes and a sidewalk for the entire length of 108th Ave NE. It’s not Capital Hill or Queen Anne, but it IS walkable and bikeable.

        I also take issue with your characterization that a “cliff” exists to the west of South Bellevue. If you cross Bellevue Way and walk up 112th Ave SE you will find a well-built sidewalk along a relatively quiet street. It leads into the Enatai neighborhood as well as the staircase at SE 28th PL which cuts the walking distance down for those of us coming from north of SE 28th PL.

        You are a cyclist, aren’t you? Care to take a tour with me some weekend? Maybe you haven’t seen some of the most recent improvements in our area.

      4. I really hope you are not trying to compare the draw of South Bellevue Park & Ride to that of Wilburton.

        Yes, I am comparing them. There is a much greater draw to S. Bellevue. The thing to compare is how many of those are Bellevue residents and what are those drivers drawn too. I opine that it’s more toward Seattle than Bellevue!

        You are a cyclist, aren’t you? Care to take a tour with me some weekend?

        Your on. I’m old and fat so it won’t be fast. Those hills always seemed steep to me even when I was in shape.

      5. Jeff, Bernie, I’d love to come along for such a bike trip, if I may! It’ll give me a great excuse to ride over I-90, too.

      6. Sounds like a plan. Just to make things fair though Ben has to carry one pound of rocks for every year difference in our ages ;-) This Sunday afternoon is out but I think it’s wide open other than that.

      7. It looks to me like South Bellevue P&R has a walkshed of about a few dozen single family homes (smaller because there is no connection from Bellevue Way to the west north of SBPR, and SBPR has zero potential for TOD. I wouldn’t be surprised if no one at all gets to the station on foot from the surrounding neighborhoods. Wilburton, meanwhile, has no single family homes around it, but has a great potential for TOD, so you could get lots of ridership with an expanded P&R there in the short term, and from TOD in the long term.
        The only argument against B7 that makes sense to me is that it decreases access for people transferring from buses from south of I-90, out to Issaquah, but, as Mike Skehan says below, direct buses to Downtown will probably still end up being way faster than going up and transferring to Link.
        Of course, B7 has its minuses as well, displacing the most businesses and affecting the greatest number of homes, so it’s a tossup for me.

      8. I wouldn’t be surprised if no one at all gets to the station on foot from the surrounding neighborhoods.

        A few people do. They built stairs on the hillside. One person at the Bellevue City Hall public comment meeting prior to the end of comments on the DEIS testified he used that route. He was a fairly young guy that looked to be in pretty good shape. Stairs are a great workout.

        <Wilburton, meanwhile, has no single family homes around it, but has a great potential for TOD, There’s already office parks so there would be commute riders. There’s also the large number of Hotels just North of Wilburton. A parking structure built in partnership with the hotels could generate a fair deal of ridership and make dual use of the parking. Lots of big banquet type social events at hotels take place in the evening after peak commute. I bet there’s no problem at all finding parking at South Bellevue P&R at 9PM.

        Of course, B7 has its minuses as well, displacing the most businesses

        No, not businesses, employees. That was only because of the ST brain dead idea of replacing a furniture store in the middle of nowhere with a light rail station. There’s just no explanation other than an organizational desire to make that alignment to look bad. Remeber, this was back in the days that ST was looking for ways to spend all it’s money. The most cost effective route from I-90 to DT Bellevue wasn’t a consideration.

    2. If the Vision Line gets built, the odds of building an Issaquah line will go down dramatically. With South Bellevue as the transfer point, Issaquah rail riders could transfer to light rail going to downtown Bellevue and Microsoft, as well as commuter rail to Renton and points south. If there is no transfer point until Mercer Island, then riders going to downtown Bellevue and Microsoft will just take the diagonal neighborhood crawler bus. Likewise, riders going to Renton would take a bus to Factoria or somewhere south, and maybe transfer to commuter rail.

      In other words, the Vision Line would kill any justification for the Issaquah Line. It might also kill the commuter rail line to Renton.

      1. I don’t think so Brent. The Vision line is just north and next to I-90. A good spot for an elevated station and stub track continuing on to Eastgate and Issaquah in ST3.

      2. In the area between BNSF & 118th, just North of I-405
        It’s primary function would be to transfer from Issaquah/Eastgate trains continuing under BNSF, heading east, to either Eastlink trains to BTC or southbound trains to Burien, but thats way down the road. Not all stations MUST be fed by a bus, sometimes they just make rail work better.

      3. … or they make rail work worse, since the point of South Bellevue P&R is to provide access for buses headed east and south, as well as transfer to any passenger rail headed east or south.

        On this count, the Vision Line seems to have struck out.

        So, the Vision Line skips the east and south bus connections, and stops as far as possible from Bellevue Square without jumping the freeway.

        Isn’t the point of passenger rail to get lots of people from somewhere to somewhere as fast as the automobile? This line only seems to discourage people from riding.

      4. The Vision line is just north and next to I-90.

        No it’s not. It’s west of 405 in downtown Bellevue. And light rail isn’t going to Issaquah, Kirkland, Bothell or anywhere else that’s not in the ST2 plan. In fact it’s a stretch to even talk about getting to downtown Redmond so such conjecture is fruitless in selecting the best route for East Link.

      5. More FUD. The Vision Line proposal has little to do with the B segment and the South Bellevue issue. The City’s preferred B segment up Bellevue Way would jog over to Willburton and work better with the Vision Line than the ST boards fixation on ruining (yes, “ruining”) rail down 108th. I’m not convinced the Vision Line is a good idea but the more meritless attacks the more I have to wonder about the agenda of the those opposed.

      6. I think the S. Bellevue P/R (SBPR) is worth sorting out. As near as I can tell it’s a way to feed Link with SOV drivers heading to Seattle who don’t want to pay for parking. Otherwise:
        1. The walkshed is pretty lousy.
        2. Bus connections from Eastgate to Link suck. (MT212 is 18min to Union. Link is 17 from SBPR to Union. How long to wait for a train that runs ea 14 minutes, and the time to get off the freeway and transfer.. 8 more min??
        3. Local routes to SBPR are about a wash for SBPR or Wilburton, timewise.
        4. Zip in the way of TOD in the wetland. Wilburton has some potential.
        IF SBPR isn’t that useful, except it’s there now, then B7 has some redeaming functions, like a more direct shot at Issaquah in the future, utilizing public ROW’s to save money, and avoiding a host of issues associated with running elevated tracks next to established residential areas.

      7. I don’t think an Issaquah to Downtown Seattle line would go to South Bellevue P&R… it would require going up a half-mile to South Bellevue then back, and would probably have to switch directions making the stop at South Bellevue quite long. Issaquah riders would probably still get to Microsoft and Downtown Bellevue by bus, until they created a new line from Issaquah to Bellevue (possibly in conjunction with light rail over 520?)

  10. Questions that seem pertinent:
    * Where are current users who park at South Bellevue P&R coming from? Would it be harder or easier for them to get to Wilburton?
    * Who is currently transferring to 550 at South Bellevue P&R, and will it be harder or easier for them if transfer was at Wilburton P&R?

    Non-quantitative thoughts:
    * Cars: Assuming same capacity buildable at each P&R, equal.
    * Buses: The 554 (Issaquah/Seattle) doesn’t stop at South Bellevue P&R currently, though it would be easier to stop at SB P&R than Wilburton. The 555, 560 seem equally easy to stop and the 560 actually stops at both today.
    * Walkers: # of users within walking distance of either is low for a long time. Neighborhoods west of South Bellevue P&R are all low-density single-family residential (and east is Mercer Slough Nature Park). Wilburton P&R has more long-term potential with TOD in adjacent commercial areas.
    * Cyclists: Longer for Factoria, shorter for Woodbridge. Difference in distance from I-90 trail (starting from underneath I-90 & Lk Wash Blvd SE) is .5mi (1.1 mi vs 1.6mi) and both are flat.

    Connection to downtown Bellevue seems much more critical. How much of Vision line savings are from South Bellevue? Could that make up the gap to fund C9T? C9T is $300 million short by itself, but cost differential between C9T and (elevated Vision line NE 6th Station plus moving walkway to BTC) should also be factored in.

    1. Wilburton would house a 1000 stall Park & Ride, South Bellevue up to 1500 (currently it is 519 and it’s stuffed to the gills). I can only guess where cars are coming from so I won’t.

      As for transfers from buses, there are a noticeable number of people transferring from the 560, 240, and 222 routes coming from the south. I’ve driven the 222, 240, and 550 and always watch for passengers transferring between all these different routes.

      The neighborhoods near South Bellevue are more walkable and closer, but I don’t have exact numbers. Just take a look at Google maps and you’ll get a pretty good idea.

      The big issue with a Wilburton park & ride is the mess it will create around SE 8th, 114th, and I-405. That area is already pretty difficult to get through now – put another 1000 cars in that area and it’ll be pretty ugly and difficult to mitigate. Adding a 1000 cars to South Bellevue will increase traffic for sure, but there are no major intersections between I-90 and South Bellevue. 113th may need a light but traffic engineers would know better. Adding a lane to southbound Bellevue Way would really help in the afternoon commute when there is a game or event in Seattle, but the Surrey downs junta went bananas over that idea a few years back. Rumor has it Wallace could be convinced to dump B7 if a Southbound lane were added to Bellevue Way but I have no idea how credible that is. (I’d be for an HOV lane, but I’m not a big fan of new general purpose lanes except in very special cases…)

      As for cycling from Factoria, I’d bet folks would head to Mercer Island. The I-90 trail is pleasant enough and it’s in the direction they want to go. That said, 118th is Ok, especially if your ultimate destination is Bellevue. (Then again, you’d probably just bike the whole way in at that point)

    2. * Where are current users who park at South Bellevue P&R coming from? Would it be harder or easier for them to get to Wilburton?
      The fact this lot fills so early in the day is an indicator that it’s not primarily local. Yes it would be harder to get to Wilburton. At current levels not so much because you have to get there early or you’re out of luck. Later into the commute which would be the case with an expanded P&R it gets much more difficult for the out of towners. Bellevue folks coming down the Lake Hills connector it’s a win. From the Surrey Downs direction it’s a wash. From Factoria, neither option is good but South Bellevue is better.

      Connection to downtown Bellevue seems much more critical. How much of Vision line savings are from South Bellevue? Could that make up the gap to fund C9T?

      This is just plain disjointed. First, there are no savings from the Vision Line. There’s not even a cost estimate. Second, the Vision Line is the C segement. You don’t get savings in the B segment. Finally, IF YOU BUILD THE VISION LINE YOU DON’T BUILD C9T!. Sorry for the shouting but Jeesh!

      1. Why is neither option good coming from Factoria? All you have to do is go onto the Richards Road or Coal Creek Parkway onramps and you’re at South Bellevue in a couple minutes even if traffic on 90/405 is bad, since it’s possible to go directly from the onramps to Bellevue Way without entering the freeway.

  11. The newbie apologies for the poorly worded question on C9T/Vision Line. My understanding is Vision Line = B7 + ~C7E. I was attempting to ask: If one does B7 instead of B3, would the savings pay for the difference between C9T and C4A. My understanding was C9T is $300 million more than C4A. I looked at the DEIS (Table 6-6) and learned that B7 vs B3 is not a significant cost difference. So my conclusion is no, this doesn’t help.

  12. Just wanted to chime in that missing the South Bellevue P&R would be a giant fail. A large amount of the complaining for Link so far has been lack of Park and Rides, b7’s P&R is smaller and much harder to access for anyone coming from I90.

    Some say well eventually there will be a station at the Eastgate P&R but at this rate it could be 20-30 years before that will happen.

    1. If you really want to chime in, send mail to the bellevue city council email address, right now!

  13. Update: Bellevue council 7-0 in favor of B7 modified (S. Bellevue P/R, then cross Mercer Slough to BNSF ROW). Letter being drafted to ST to that effect.

    1. That is interesting. That means that East LINK would serve both park and ride lots, providing lots of parking spaces and still making those transit connections from South of I-90. Maybe a win-win scenario.

      1. Except for the condo owners on 118th. They’re far more affected by train noise than Surrey Downs or Enatai ever would have been under a B3 alignment. I didn’t get to the study session so I’m not sure what the B7 modified looks like. But it sure sounds like those folks are potentially being pitched over the side.

        Looking forward to BTV posting the Study session…

      2. There is one, uno, condo development along the BNSF ROW. The problem was allowing that use in the first place when all surrounding property is light industrial or warehouse. And yes, the furniture store got in because it claimed to be a showroom/warehouse rather than retail. Much like Lowes (Eagle at the time) was allowed to build on the old candy factory site because they claimed the majority of their business was wholesale to contractors. Yes, by dollar amount it was but not by traffic count. There has also been a noise wall built between the condos and the BNSF ROW since the DEIS was done. Remember these folks bought next to a freeway. That’s like buying under the approach to Seatac and then complaining that it’s noisy. Funny how light rail through one of the oldest neighborhoods in Bellevue would be, according to supporters, silent; but run it next to a rouge condo adjacent to a freeway and the noise is suddenly enough to wake the dead.

      3. There are 2 condo developments which represent quite a few people. The speaker from that group said “hundreds” but I don’t know if they are including just those condos or neighborhoods to the south as well.

        I’m curious what a B7 alignment would do to any potential regional trail. Is there enough room in that ROW to build light rail *and* the trail? I suppose there is enough room on 118th except for a chokepoint by the entrance to the Mercer Slough Education Center.

        Yes, those condos should probably never have been built. But that’s water under the bridge – People live there now and I believe it is entirely reasonable for them to not want trains buzzing past their back yards every 4 minutes. I never understood Surrey Downs residents complaints since the trains were well away from the neighborhood. These units are *much* closer than Surrey Downs.

        Bernie, I hope you’re not too fat. The list of places I’m going to drag you to so you know what you’re talking about is growing :)

      4. B7 probably wouldn’t affect a regional trail. There is already a bike trail along 118th from Coal Creek Parkway to SE 8th, so any regional trail could branch off to that, then rejoin BNSF after the Wilburton trestle.

    2. OK, yet more proof it is Surrey Downs who is driving this as the Etenai people opposed don’t want S. Bellevue to be on the rail alignment at all.

      One huge concern I have is what sort of environmental impact crossing Mercer Slough in the middle will have, if the relevant regulatory agencies will approve, and what new opposition is likely to form due to the impact on the park.

      On the other hand it does solve the biggest problem with B7.

      1. I have to think the elevated crossing of the slough is a non-starter.
        The Nature preserve is bound by strict guidelines, the most important being to not negatively impact flora and fauna.
        Just the construction of setting piers in the bog throws that out the window. Then the long term effects of trains all day and night would surely impact the nesting habits of a variety of species – several protected – like the blue herrons.

      2. The impact of the slough crossing in the original B7 alignment had far less impact as it was right next to I-90. In either case construction will need to be done very carefully as the slough is also salmon spawning habitat and any sediment released into the surrounding water can interfere with that.

  14. rail alignments should not be determined by parking lots. the LRT stations should be placed where there are pedestrians.

    joint use by DMU, EMU, and LRT of alignments through town centers is common in Germany an Switzerland.

    ST and WSDOT are studying joint bus-rail operation on the I-90 D-2 roadway between Mt. Baker and Airport Way South (near 5th Avenue South). if joint operations are not provided, east I-90 bus trips will be about 12 minutes slower and have to use the gp interchange at 4th Avenue South. Neither Wilburton nor South Bellevue is a good transfer point between bus routes 212, 214, 215, 216, 218, 225, and 229, as there is no good path betwen the center HOV lanes of I-90 and them. MI station would work, but ST and MI are not planning enough bus layover on the island. today, there are many more riders on the routes listed above and routes 111, 114, and 210 than on Route 550; the riders of the 550 will be elevated to LRT; the riders of the other routes may suffer.

    1. rail alignments should not be determined by parking lots. the LRT stations should be placed where there are pedestrians.

      So where exactly should the stations be located between I-90 and Downtown Bellevue? There isn’t exactly a lot of “there” there to begin with.

      Neither Wilburton nor South Bellevue is a good transfer point between bus routes 212, 214, 215, 216, 218, 225, and 229, as there is no good path betwen the center HOV lanes of I-90 and them.

      Actually S. Bellevue is much better than Wilburton as it requires less out-of-direction travel to access. There are direct ramps to/from both directions of I-405 as well as I-90. While there isn’t a direct WB exit or EB entrance to the HOV lanes from S. Bellevue there is a WB entrance and EB exit.

      I’m guessing that any routes that continue to use I-90 into Seattle will likely make a stop at the Mercer Island link station. Not sure how many people will actually transfer but the option will at least be there. Off-peak I expect most routes will turn around at either the MI or S. Bellevue Link stations and require people to use Link for the cross-lake portion of their trip.

  15. So, went to the Study Session. Looked like there was maybe someone from STB in the back corner by the door who left early, Oran? Odd to see anyone under 30 at these things. Not to worry, I rode my bike today to work and then to the study session and home so I’ve singlehandedly saved the world from global warming. Other than the permanently parked bike in the garage I was the only bike commuter when I arrived but when I left there was another well equipped commuter bike there so I assume that was someone attending the Regular Session. I can watch the regular session on BTV, I was getting hungry, and it was threatening to rain (yes I’m a wimp) so I didn’t stay past 8PM. Besides, I’d worn my Chief Seattle’s Lament sweatshirt so an impassioned plea at the regular session comment period for protecting “Bellevue” might not have looked too good. Had a short chat with Conrad during the break so decided it was time to beat feet/wheels and head for the barn.

    Upshot of the study session, the Council will send within a week a preference to ST to look at a B7 modified. “Modified” meaning an exit from I-90 to serve the S. Bellevue P&R and then cross the Mercer Slew north of I-90 approximately at the latitude of the P&R. I pointed out this alternative months ago on this blog. If the P&R is really important then this approach makes sense. The full B3 modified also makes sense but the ST board has shown they’re not really interested in making sense or listening to local concerns. The issue is, routing link to serve the S. Bellevue P&R only “makes sense” in the context of building a mega P&R structure on the scale of Eastgate P&R at a cost of 40k per free Bellevue bias parking spot. Add on the cost of the reroute and the expanded impact on the nature area and it highlights why the fixation on S. Bellevue P&R is diametrically opposite the goals of the investment in light rail.

    1. It was interesting to listen to first session; Eastgate comp plan update, annexation South of I-90 and transportation concurancy. The council is thinking bigger than staff on these issues.
      How will light rail get to Eastgate P/R and Issaquah in ST3? Before deciding on the B segment, they want a plan that works for the longterm. Also, how do we transfer from E.Link to a N/S BNSF line?
      Bravo!

    1. Just general comments about how well Eastgate P/R is working (showed a Metro scattergram of where all the vehicles ‘live’ at night), rail should go there, then on to Issaquah along I-90.
      They also showed one for S.Bellevue P/R. A lot come from Factoria and S. Bellevue.

      1. The P&R plots brought by councilman Chelminiak were interesting. I wish he’d shown Mercer Island. That would have been more relevant than S. Kirkland. I’d also like to see the map for Houghton. I think there will be a lot of transfer from there to the new Link P&R at 130th.

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