As a follow up to Ben’s post this morning, here’s a nice walkshed graphic from Sound Transit that shows the accessibility for the various light rail alignments that the report covered:

Walkshed for various East Link rail alignments through downtown Bellevue. Dark orange is five minutes of walking distance, with light orange representing ten minutes of walking distance.

That C14E alignment, Kevin Wallace’s 405 station, performs the poorest for good reason. We shouldn’t build a station right next to a freeway and we should instead put the line downtown. According to the report, the other alignments serve nearly all of the 79,000 jobs downtown expected by 2030; Wallace’s proposal leaves fully one-fifth of downtown workers unable to walk to work from a station within a reasonable time. More than half of downtown residents by 2030 will be unable to walk to a light rail station within ten minutes. The high capture walkshed, 5 or less minutes, for Wallace’s alignment is pitiful with just 27% and 7% of jobs and households, respectively.

If Wallace’s proposal to site a station on an interstate highway isn’t good for Bellevue’s downtown workers, downtown businesses, or downtown residents, then who is it good for?

Walkshed table from Sound Transit's report.

For discussion on the other alignments in the above graphics, read Ben’s post covering the report on new East Link options.

Update from Ben: I just noticed one more thing about these maps, and I doubt it’s a coincidence. We know 10 minutes is pretty much the outside of what people are willing to walk from a station. The largest block in the downtown square, on the left edge in the middle, is Bellevue Square. C14E is the only option that puts Bellevue Square distinctly outside that 10 minute walk. Kemper Development spokesman Bruce Nurse called me “presumptuous” for suggesting that Kemper doesn’t want transit users to go to Bellevue Square. Apparently “presumptuous” means “absolutely correct!”

66 Replies to “Bellevue’s Proposed 405 Station: Less Accessible”

  1. What do you think the chance an option like the C14E could be chosen? please tell me an extremely small to none chance.

    1. Minuscule. If you mean “chosen” as in selected by the City, then it’s quite probably, but not by ST. The city council’s only power is to recommend a preferred alternative to Sound Transit, which is likely to throw it out.

      1. It would be, but it’s unlikely. Balducci has voiced “concerns” about it, but I’m convinced she doesn’t like it one bit.

      2. Ultimately, I don’t think the fight’s going to be C14E versus any of the downtown core alignments. I see a C9T vs. C11A battle.

    2. My favorite Jennifer Robertson quote (testimony on E Link before she was a councilmember)

      Jennifer Robertson, Bellevue resident, supports the B7 option based on the Light Rail Best Practice lessons learned on the importance of doing it right the first time as well as minimizing impacts to neighborhoods. B7 is a better route since it allows better future expansion possibilities, fewer homes and businesses will be displaced, and visibility from I-405 will encourage more regional ridership.

      Seriously. Visibility from I-405.

  2. C11A is more effective across the board than any other plan, except for being 3 minutes slower through downtown Bellevue than the tunnel. Here’s what that 3 minutes costs you:

    * $310 million
    * Easy access to businesses while the cut-and-cover tunnel is being built.
    * 1/3 of total downtown jobs that in C11A are inside the 5-minute walk corridor.
    * 1/3 of total downtown residents that in C11A are inside the 5-minute walk corridor.
    * 1/4 of total downtown residents that in C11A are inside the 10-minute walk corridor.
    * Access to the outer edge of the planned waterfront park on Meydenauer Bay (and a long-term opportunity to finally bring downtown to the waterfront.)
    * A more compact walkshed in downtown that will encourage more effective downtown development over time.

    3 minutes isn’t worth losing all those advantages. C11A is most effective, hands down. So I don’t see this as a battle between tunnel and C11A. It’s a battle between the most effective option (C11A) and the cheapest option (C14E/[Lack of] Vision). If C14E can be killed because it’s ineffective at serving downtown, then C11A will win. But if the Freemanites can keep the discussion centered on cost, the dumbest and most ineffective option could still win out.

    1. Cascadian, read the rest of my post today! It wouldn’t add $310 million anymore – it would add more like $190 million using B2A.

      Granted, yes, I now think C11A is still better.

      1. Yeah, I saw that post but I was going off the official numbers in the report comparing just the downtown segment. Still, I was a big tunnel supporter, and now I’m leaning toward C11A. The point about travel time to get out of a tunnel is also valid. It might eat up a lot of that 3 minute difference.

  3. Today, I just discovered that Kevin Wallace’s father owns several large buildings right around the area of his proposed “Vision” line 8th Street station. Now I understand why he thinks his idea is so great.

    1. Would you mind going into more depth on this? Which properties to be exact? And how did you find this out?

      1. Anc, we had a comment thread here a while back with parcel numbers. It’s all on King County’s website.

    2. Erica wrote about this on Publicola a few weeks ago as well, and the Stranger picked it up when they interviewed me about it a week ago. The news is starting to spread!

      1. Yes, compare it to the properties along C11A and C9A. Or, just take the ST route of cherry picking facts you like and then twisting them to fit a conclusion. Oh, while you’re at it, please, include a section about Wright Runstand and the 25 acres they purchased around the proposed stop in Muffler Town. And don’t forget to mention their political contributions to the last Council election.

        Someone please explain why it’s so important to avoid passing near any Wallace properties (good luck with that) and go through as many Freeman properties as possible?

      2. Your last sentence is a strawman. No one (with a megaphone) thinks it’s important to do those things: light rail routing is not a game of spite. But Kevin Wallace is the only player in the region who has so forcefully advocated for a singular alignment like the “vision line.” He happens to have a financial interest at stake here that the Seattle Times saw fit to mention.

        I don’t like calling motives into question. I doubt Wallace’s property is behind his advocacy for such a terrible light rail alignment. But government officials — Kevin Wallace is a member of the Bellevue city council — typically avoid even the appearance of conflicted interests. His role is much different than a private company wanting to profit from the rail alignment; he has a role in deciding the alignment. He did more than donate to a candidate: he ran as one, and won. The Times, The Stranger, and Publicola are right to point out what at the least qualifies as an appearance of conflict.

      3. Kevin Wallace’s motives are completely straight forward. A tunnel can’t be paid for. At grade is unacceptable to everyone on the City Council. Elevated was never seriously considered prior to the close of public comment on the DEIS. Bellevue had “tunnel vision” and ST was “full bore” on an at grade alignment; in fact the worst possible at grade alignment. Councilman Wallace has proposed an elevated alignment that might overcome this impasse; a fall back position. Personally I’d like to see ST seriously advance the C9A option with details on exactly how it would look at street level. I think they’re waiting on the City of Bellevue to acknowledge such a proposal would be seriously considered (given that several of the at grade crossings are deemed unacceptable and the route into DT from the south is still highly contentious).

        It’s no straw man to summarize the sentiment on this blog as screw Freeman and Wallace by doing exactly the opposite of what they propose “just because”. And oh, sshhh… don’t say anything about Wright Runstad; that’s TOD.

      4. Our opposition to Kemper Freeman’s policies is because he is against expanding regional light rail which most transit advocates support. But no one has ever seriously promoted an alignment to “screw” him “just because,” that’s made up.

        Our opposition to Wallace’s line is because it is a poor alignment that doesn’t serve existing development and won’t serve future alignment. There is nothing “just because” about opposing an alignment because it is bad. We are opposing something because it is a stupid idea and we’ve had about six entries articulating our position on the issue. To boil that down to “just because” is complete bull.

        As for Wright Runstad… I doubt many people besides you have even thought to have an opinion on a developlment business trying to make money on development. Wright Runstad is not a member of the Bellevue city council; he/they cannot vote to buy his/its own property. Kevin Wallace is a member of the city council.

        We should take Wallace’s motives as “straight forward” with no questions ask, why exactly? Because you and him ask us to have total faith in him? The media has a duty to present the obvious appearance of conflict. (The media should do it so there is some public accountability; so others with more brazen and actual conflicts of interest go reported as well.)

        It’s fine that you think Wallace is above reproach, but not everyone is going to ignore the appearance of conflict for someone who’s been in office for less than three months. I personally think Wallace is being a constructive participant in the alignment process. I don’t think he is motivated by property he has a financial stake in, and it wouldn’t really matter: his idea doesn’t get any better or worse based on whether his motives are good or bad.

        I don’t know why he’s hiring consultants and paying for his own studies and watercolor paintings and a snazzy website. He might think he has a good idea but he is being awfully PR-oriented if it’s such a great concept on its face. The thing is, it isn’t a great concept. You like it, but then again you don’t even want East Link to be built. Should we expect that you really have the best interests of East Link in mind?

      5. for Wright Runstad… I doubt many people besides you have even thought to have an opinion on a developlment business trying to make money on development. Wright Runstad is not a member of the Bellevue city council; he/they cannot vote to buy his/its own property. Kevin Wallace is a member of the city council.

        Well, certainly folks on this blog want to ignore it. Much easier to point at properties Wallace owns or rents than to look at a 25 acre tract that Wright Runstad bought solely with the idea of reselling after a zoning change. Getting involved in city politics is in your book some how bad? You have no idea how the Wright family operates.

      6. We expected property companies to buy and sell property. That went for Kevin Wallace, too: we expected him to do his job. We expected him to make money on speculation, even when that speculation involves zoning changes. In fact, we support speculation that leads to transit-oriented development or better light rail lines. Having the market drive some smart goals home is fine by us.

        The difference is that now Wallace can decide on zoning changes and he has a hand in crafting the light rail alignment. Any potential conflict of interest should be reported because he is an elected official and isn’t above reproach, no matter your personal admiration of him. Wright Runstad is not elected to the city council. We know they donate to candidates. We know that companies have influence over local politics. It could be significant. It is not notable to report on their conflict because everything they do has a clear interest. Every subject they broach is specifically brought up to raise revenue. We do not have a similar expectation from Wallace, and why would we?

        I understand you’re adopting the town hall style of “discussion” — angry recriminations and accusations of conspiracies — but you’re misrepresenting our work. How many times has Wallace’s property ownership been brought up in our reporting or editorials? I haven’t mentioned it once. That’s because we feel that though there might be an appearance of conflict, we doubt that Kevin Wallace is actually in it for the money. That doesn’t make his proposal that barely serves Bellevue any better.

        And that’s the point. You want to take about us and where we’ve failed, or how Wright Runstad benefits from TOD. You want to make Wallace above questioning. But this is the conversation that matters: where do we place light rail in Bellevue? And Wallace, probably a good person with good goals, is suggesting a bad alignment and is doing some pretty serious lobbying to get it done. It’s our duty to push back, because our interest is in the best alignment for East Link. Notably, the interest you’ve made apparent is to kill East Link entirely. We have different goals, and different conclusions.

      7. “Oh, while you’re at it, please, include a section about Wright Runstand and the 25 acres they purchased around the proposed stop in Muffler Town”

        Jeez. Bernie just won’t stop with these mis-informed conspiracy theories.

        There IS NO DEBATE on the Bel-Red light rail alignment. So, pray tell how the Wright Runstad conspiracy theory plays out like the self-interested Wallace story does?

        The city has been working on re-developing “muffler row” for a long time now. Unless you turn existing arterials into mini-freeways around there, it just isn’t going to pencil-out without light rail.

  4. I noticed that the central station for C9A they show in the diagram is on NE 6th. In the Bellevue workshop a few months ago, that was shown on 110th NE, just south of NE 6th. They no doubt adjusted it for some good reason, but C9A would score a bit higher with a station on 110th NE (the walkshed would be unaffected on the east and north, but would stretch a little farther to the west and south).

  5. All of the alignments except C14E show three stations. Clearly another attempt by ST to cook the books by comparing a three station alternative to a two station map. The change in the walkshed for the Hospital Station has to make you wonder too. Then there’s the “uncrossable freeway”? What about sidewalks on NE 6th since it’s extension to 116th NE is already in the works. Again, ST ignores facts they don’t like.

    According to the report, the other alignments serve nearly all of the 79,000 jobs downtown expected by 2030; Wallace’s proposal leaves fully one-fifth of downtown workers unable to walk to work from a station within a reasonable time. More than half of downtown residents by 2030 will be unable to walk to a light rail station within ten minutes.

    And now ST knows where all the jobs and residents will be in 2030. Funny, since they’re at odds with majority of the City Council which will have a lot more to say about it that ST. Maybe ST is counting on a State Bill like we had last year to force zoning on neighborhoods around “their” light rail stations.

    And doubling the number of jobs in DT Bellevue by 2030? Highly/i> unlikely. That would require the equivalent of another Microsoft or UW to locate here. And all of that will crowd into new highrise construction DT instead of less expensive areas like auto row where all the street expansions are currently planned. Are we to expect double the number of jobs in DT Seattle too? Is that what the ridership numbers are based on?

    1. Or was it an attempt by the “vision line” proponents to cook the books by dropping a station and shifting the price tag? How many jobs and residences do you expect to be built on top of I-405 by 2030?

      Remember that auto row and 120th NE would be served by Hospital station in all the other alignments being considered.

      1. Or was it an attempt by the “vision line” proponents

        Nice try, except who’s report is this??? This was an
        ST report, all the cooking was in their kitchen.

      2. Bernie it is a FACT that this report with done by both ST and the City. It is also a FACT that Wallace’s idea eliminates the 3rd station. Facts are facts and you can’t change them no matter how many times you say otherwise.

      3. The elimination of the South Main Station has been proposed by Bellevue as a cost saving irregardless of which alignment is chosen. The FACTS are, ST cooked the numbers yet again by comparing a three station alternative to a two station alternative. It would be easy to compare just the two stations in question. If it’s really so bad why do they have to fudge the numbers? It’s also a fact that NE 6th is being extended to 116th NE, why to they ignore that, hmmm.

      4. The study was joint study with ST and Bellevue both participating. If Bellevue leadership wanted to remove the South Main station then they could have told city staff that.

        C11A does not have a South Main station.

        Why did the City of Bellevue help Sound Transit “fudge the numbers”? Have you really gotten to the point where, since all the data disagrees with you, it’s a conspiracy theory?

        This is no way to discuss things. You sound like you will only believe a study if it matches your preconceived notions. The problem is that isn’t what studies attempt to do.

        I have no clue about NE 6th, personally. You can ask the City of Bellevue staff, which jointly conducted the study.

      5. It’s pretty simple. One less station is a cost saving. Compare them equally just remove the South Main Station from all the comparisons. But no, that’s not what they did. Why? Looked good in the post until it was pointed out. Of course cooking the books is nothing new. Worked before, works again.

      6. This isn’t a town hall, Bernie. You don’t just repeat irate, angry phrases and make them true.

        The City of Bellevue was an equal partner on the study. Why did the city cook its own books against its own interest? Apparently city staff should be fired for undermining the city council.

        (Or, more likely, nothing was cooked.)

      7. “In November 2009, staff from the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit met and jointly refined three new alternatives based on suggestions from Sound Transit peer review and value analysis panels – two at-grade alternatives and one tunnel alternative. In addition, the Sound Transit Board agreed to evaluate an elevated profile alternative at the request of the Bellevue City Council.”

        The Bellevue city council only asked ST to review one alignment. The others were jointly developed by the city and ST. Do you have any actual evidence that city staff is undermining the city council?

      8. Even if you remove the South Main station from the other alternatives they still perform better than the Vision Line, that’s clear just by looking at the accessibility maps produced by the city. They compared Wallace’s Vision Line proposal directly to the other alternatives, just like he asked for. I really don’t see how that’s a conspiracy.

      9. . Do you have any actual evidence that city staff is undermining the city council?

        I’ve never even suggested as such. Staff serves at the request of the council. There is a new council elected and it seems you are the one dreaming up conspiracies.

      10. Bernie, what the phrase “jointly refined” means is that both the City of Bellevue staff and Sound Transit staff worked on the analysis together. When you accuse the people behind the analysis of “fudging the numbers” and “cooking the books,” you can’t blame only ST and not the city staff of doing so. Personally, I think neither party is guilty of such things.

      11. No, been to the Council meetings both before and after the November elections. There is no love loss between the City Council (before or after) and ST. But now it’s pretty obvious the answer is not only no but hell no. The currently elected City Council has zero confidence in ST. There’s nothing in these latest reports to change that.

      12. Are you saying that the city and Sound Transit didn’t actually work together on this report? Because that’s what it says on page 2. I’d rather trust what the report has to say about who worked on it, rather than some random person on the Internet—unless you have any actual evidence to suggest otherwise, of course.

      13. If you go to or watch any of the Council Study sessions you’d know that the City Council doesn’t feel ST has worked with them at all. You’re right to be skeptical, just apply that skepticism equally to what you read from ST. They can stick all the platitudes they want into their documents but it doesn’t change the fact that they have up until now ignored the Cities preferences for the B and C segments. Maybe that will change with a Bellevue member as part of the new ST board. Then maybe we’ll see a joint report that bears the City seal and is signed off on by the mayor.

    2. “Cooked the books”? Pretty big assertion there. Let’s try instead that ST evaluated the proposal that was made and exercised common sense. Yes OF COURSE hospital station shifted north. Otherwise we would have two stations that are basically 2 blocks apart but on opposite sides of the freeway and you would probably be accusing ST of trying to make the proposal look bad in that way. And where exactly is this third station supposed to be on the vision line? In fact, one of the most obvious features of the vision line is that it is by far the shortest alignment proposed to date. If ST added a third station in some weird location just to satisfy a 3 stations requirement, that would HURT vision line ridership by increasing run times.

      1. You’re right that DT and the Hospital station are too close together in both the C9 and C14 proposals. South Main should probably be shifted closer to Wilburton (as it could with B7). It’s questionable if any stations are necessary in Bel-Red (Muffler Town) in the time frame proposed for the system to open and Overlake Village has already proven it’s self as a dumb idea. There’s 5X as many jobs within walking distance of the DT Seattle Transit Tunnel as there are in downtown Bellevue. Makes sense there should really only be one stop in Bellevue, one stop for Microsoft and build the damn thing out to DT Redmond (or at least Marymoor where the maintenance facility belongs). Bellevue needs better bus service a lot more than light rail for transit to work.

      2. C11A has two stations downtown, and it serves far more of Belleve’s jobs and condos within a short walk window than just having one station would. C11A fits well within the East Link budget, and is just $50 mn more expensive than C14E when you fund the park-and-ride and circulator bus service that the Vision Line proposes.

      3. Also, one cannot both save money and buy new bus service, and also spend that money on expanding light rail to Marymoor.

    3. There are only two stations because the Wallace’s proposal two stations in segment C. (Including his segment B stop would have literally no affect on the downtown walkshed, which is what the graphics illustrate.) He shifted the hospital station north. C14E is his proposal.

      As for your accusations against ST cooking books: The City and Sound Transit agreed to evaluate each alternative based upon a set of mutually agreed-upon criteria. Members of both staffs agreed that a visual simulation of each alternative would be helpful in describing how each alternative would look and operate in downtown Bellevue. The evaluation has been completed through a collaborative process where staff from Sound Transit and the City worked closely with support from the consultant team led by CH2M HILL.

      Why will development stay in downtown? Because that’s the city’s master plan and policies like, “Locate major office and high intensity growth in the Downtown core.” There’s also less developable land within range of a 405 stop, as our TOD post shows. Which is the rosier assumption: development will continuing in a fast developing business district, or a development will shift across an interstate highway that has little development right now?

      But I suppose that’s all wrong, and a dense second business district will spawn on the other side of an interstate and will miraculously hug it unlike every other urban village in the region. And then we’ll build a foot bridge from the vision station to this second downtown. But it’ll be too long, so we should cover it and make it move. How many covered foot bridges with moving sidewalks are we going to have to price out before we all realize that building a light rail station next to a freeway is a waste of taxpayer money?

      1. Yeah, I guess the idea of a medical center on the opposite side of an Interstate from the DT core is pretty silly. Better cancel that First Hill Streetcar, dense development east of I-5 will never happen.

      2. There is a station at Overlake Hospital, which has nothing to do with your idea that development will jump across 405. Of course, the C14E doesn’t serve the current downtown nor auto-row well. Basically, you seem to think we should poorly serve downtown Bellevue because maybe one day we can poorly serve Bellevue’s other downtown, too.

        Downtown Bellevue is no where near the position that downtown Seattle is in. First Hill has had high rise development since 1907. Bellevue’s ‘new downtown’ doesn’t have a single notable building.

        You’re not hiding your true wishes. You want to cancel East Link and replace it with bus service. That’s fine, but it makes me wonder if you really want the best alignment possible for East Link when you believe it shouldn’t exist in the first place.

    4. “And now ST knows where all the jobs and residents will be in 2030. Funny, since they’re at odds with majority of the City Council which will have a lot more to say about it that ST”

      The City of Bellevue generated the walkshed and density maps shown in the report, not Sound Transit.

  6. I do think one thing is presumptuous. Believing that those who live outside the city of Bellevue – commuters, should have any say at all in how Link is routed through Bellevue. Those who live and own businesses in the city should be listened to, but not commuters.

    BTW, how far of a walk is it to work for all of the workers on E. Marginal Way from any of Central Link’s stations?

    1. Well, since more people work in downtown Bellevue than live there, I think it’s important to focus on the needs of commuters, especially when it comes to designing a transit system. Bellevue’s economy is based on importing workers and shoppers from the surrounding region.

    2. Commuters do have a say since they are paying for the light rail service as well. This is a regional pool of money with a regional plan. The Sound Transit Board serves the region, not Bellevue residents, and they decide the alignment of Link. If this were the city of Bellevue’s pot of money then you’d have a point, but it ain’t. Given that the region agreed to tax itself to move forward on a regional plan, then the region is the loudest voice. Of course Bellevue’s leadership and its businesses should be able to influence the route, but not to the exclusion of all other people.

      1. Well yeah, you can’t build an airplane in your cubical. But Boeing is a huge driver of the Puget Sound economy.

        Oops, I guess they really don’t have that much direct employment in Seattle:

        http://www.seattle.gov/oir/datasheet/economy.htm

        Still, as far as economic impact they dwarf Microsoft.

        Surprising to me is Construction/Natural Resources are grouped together and only account for 7%. I would have thought Weyerhauser would have been close to that. I know most of their property is outside of King County and HQ is in Pierce but still… Trilogy on Redmond Ridge.

    1. It’s actually there to offer an alternative that might actually work. No money for a tunnel and slim chance of at grade. An alternative to kill East Link would be a cost effective bus system; not much in it for CH2M Hill though.

      1. CH2M Hill only make money if someone pays then. Zero money in reroutes of Metro busses. Build a bridge, major bucks. Great that the jobs are local but they’re not going to provide a neutral position when paid by ST (which holds the key to far more lucrative contracts).

      2. My point is if Metro and WSDOT paid them to do work, it wouldn’t be any more neutral than ST paying them to do work. Somehow being paid by ST makes them an evil conspirator and not Metro/WSDOT/etc. just because it doesn’t agree with your view?

      3. “An alternative to kill East Link would be a cost effective bus system”

        Bernie is always good for a laugh or two.

        If a BRT line actually WAS an effective way to serve the eastside, CH2M Hill would have PLENTY of work to do.

        So much for the tired conspiracy theories, Bernie…

        (sorry. I meant to post on this thread)

  7. “An alternative to kill East Link would be a cost effective bus system”

    Bernie is always good for a laugh or two.

    If a BRT line actually WAS an effective way to serve the eastside, CH2M Hill would have PLENTY of work to do.

    So much for the tired conspiracy theories, Bernie…

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