We reported this morning on a report covering new light rail options for East Link’s downtown Bellevue alignment and later showed that a 405 station is less accessible than other alternatives. We’ve editorialized in the past that Sound Transit should put the downtown Bellevue light rail stations in the right place, with that place not next to a freeway. Readers should know by now that we’re no fans of a 405 station.

Neither is Dan Bertolet, the former HugeAssCity blogger who now posts at Publicola. Last Friday, he provided some data about the development potential of a station build next to 405 versus one that serves Bellevue Transit Center. Some arguing for a 405 station have incredulously claimed that a stop along the highway would have more transit-oriented development (TOD) potential, but according to Bertolet’s data, there’s much more developable land near the transit center. That land has the potential to hold many more jobs and residents:

The Bellevue Transit Center has more TOD potential than a stop near 405. (Image and data from Publicola.)

Most of us know what greenwashing is; it’s when an otherwise terrible thing for the environment is promoted as green — such as advertisements in the bus tunnel proudly proclaiming that a local car dealership is carbon neutral. We’re seeing that cynical mindset spread to a new area in the Seattle region as transit options become more politically popular. Now we have transitwashing. Promoting ideas that seriously, adversely damage public transit’s usefulness being sold as something transit-friendly.

Claiming a freeway stop has development potential because there are a bunch of low-density lots across a large interstate is transitwashing, and Bertolet proves it.

12 Replies to “Bellevue’s Proposed 405 Station: Much Less TOD”

  1. I don’t know why they have to do all this planning and super-architecting.

    Why not build the system empirically?

    Try a bunch of different SoundTransit Express Bus options to simulate a light rail corridor and see what people like/ride/want more of and then go with it.

    Gets rid of analysis paralysis.

    1. That’s what the 550 is. :) And the 41, and 71/72/73, and 358… These were all made repeatedly faster and more frequent as demand increased. We already know where the high-ridership corridors are, and they’ve been held behind by lack of rail for decades. (“Held behind” meaning the buses had to endure traffic, and many drove because the buses were too slow/infrequent.)

  2. 405 is an interstate freeway?

    BTW, STB bloggers in the past have written that light rail routed adjacent to freeways does have significant benefits. Why the silence now?

    1. The “I” in front of 405 is “Interstate.”

      Routing is not the same thing as station placement, but I have no idea which posts you’re talking about. If we’re contradicting ourselves, you could do better by actually pointing out some contradicting posts.

  3. Yes, I-405 is an interstate freeway. That’s what the I in I-405 stands for, INTERSTATE. Even numbered three digit interstate highways are circumferential (like I-405) separate and then return to their “parent” (in this case, I-5) but are considered part of the interstate system.

    1. Yes the last two digits refer to the “parent” freeway. Even number routes are E/W and odd are N/S with numbering stating in the SW of the US.

  4. Biggest irony of this entire Kemper’s Kandidates saga: Mr. Freeman told us – 10 years ago – that Bellevue lacked sufficient density to justify rail transit.

    Then, he spent a decade building that density, modeling his developments on Chicago’s downtown (I’m not kidding. Look it up)

    Now that Bellevue has density, guess what Kemper’s city council wants to do? Keep the train away from the high rise district!

    To me, that is irony re-defined!

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