[This is a live-blogging post from Bellevue City Hall. Keep refreshing for continued updates.]
5:57pm: I’m at the Bellevue City Council extended study session for tonight’s decision on the B segment of East Link. Thank goodness there’s wi-fi. Turnout is mediocre. So far, I don’t recognize any attendees from our meet-up, but I may be wrong.
5:59pm: Conrad Lee, deputy mayor, opens the executive session.
6:02pm: There’s pending litigation items, so the meeting won’t start for another 30 minutes. Check back soon.
6:05pm: Surrey Downs is, by far, showing the largest contingency. Martin Paquette, an Enatai resident who has spoken out against B7 in the past, has joined me.
6:26pm: I’m now hearing that representatives from Surrey Downs are giving some kind of a presentation on B7. That would explain the extraordinarily disproportionate representation of residents we see.
6:36pm: The Council is still in executive session. Things should be telecast on BTV, so check the link in the post below.
6:41pm: The council is finished with executive session and has entered the conference room. Whether we move to the main council chamber for comments remains to be seen.
More below the jump.
6:42pm: Don Davidson, mayor, opens up the session and comments.
6:43pm: Bill Hirt, someone I recognize as having written anti-ST and anti-Link letters to the Bellevue Reporter, goes off on ST.
6:44pm: Bill Hirt says no current development in Seattle will show TOD potential for Bel-Red. He also says the 41st and 48th voted ‘no’ against ST2. Completely untrue.
6:45pm: “East Link is a fraud,” says Bill Hirt. Sorry, a pretty funny albeit tense way to start off the session.
6:47pm: Some non-Link-related comments from the school district are being made. There’s a long line of people waiting for comment.
6:48pm: Scott Lampe, from Surrey Downs East Link Committee, is up. He’s openly opposing B7 modified, citing environmental reasons. Okay, we might agree with that.
6:51pm: Lampe wants a city-sponsored study of environmental impacts of B3, B7, and company. More taxpayer money and more studies!
6:52pm: Stacey LeBlanc (sp?) cites Surrey Downs historical significance and homes eligible to the historical register.
6:53pm: LeBlanc cites the condemnation of one business, a law firm if I’m hearing right. She also says noise, dust, grime, etc. are blights to these historic properties.
6:56pm: Betsy Blackstock urges the council to “consider carefully.” It sounds like she wants more study. And it sounds like she’s inferring that B7 modified will be the best choice. She cites a 4-3 vote in favor of B7 as dangerous.
6:59pm: An Enatai resident, who says he has personal experience with ST, slams ST for not listening to him.
7:01pm: I’m going to line up to fire a few comments. Stand by. I won’t cover the comments from now until I go up.
7:20pm: Martin Paquette, a younger fellow for B3, another gentleman from Mercer Slough were all considered pro-B3. Since they only allow “three” comments “per side,” I had to make it look like I wasn’t endorsing any alignment outright.
7:21pm: I also add that the council says it is “unsure” whether or not they’ll vote on B7.
7:22pm: Comments are closed, the council has moved on. East Link discussion will resume later.
7:47pm: A lot of non-Link-related items up for discussion. I’ll be back once they get back to East Link, or later if my battery dies.
8:18pm: A ton of delay. Mayor Davidson has called for a 5-minute break, which he thinks in reality will turn into a 10-minute break. We’ll be back soon.
8:26pm: We’re back. Council is reconvening.
8:28pm: The Transportation Board will respond to earlier questions on B and C segments. Goran Sparrman is briefing the council on Segment C.
8:30pm: Sparrman is going over the traffic analysis. The analysis models did not assume signal pre-emption for the trains. The priority for signaling would be for the NE 4th and NE 8th crossings. Work on models that would include the signal priority would take 2-3 weeks. Basic assumptions: vehicle travel times slower with train priority, trains are faster. No brainer.
8:34pm: Points made from the workshop are being made.
8:36pm: Sparrman goes over LOS (level-of-service) for each intersection. He mentions that traffic will be horrendous, whether the alignment is grade-separated or not.
8:41pm: The main point seems to be that vehicle travel times are worse with signal pre-emption for the trains.
8:46pm: My battery is close to conking out, so if my updates suddenly stop, that’s why. Discussion is slow. Mostly about delays at each intersection.
8:48pm: Claudia Balducci asks if vehicle travel times would be the same between the grade-separated alignments and no light rail at all in 2030. Sparrman says no due to the number of trips that light rail would take away from downtown roads. He estimates traffic could be up to 20% as bad. Commenter Eastside Regionalist says that Goran put the estimate at much higher than 20%. I must have misheard.
8:55pm: Sparrman says that at-grade would lock in the street capacity of downtown Bellevue. He cites Houston and Phoenix as examples for light rail-car accidents.
8:57pm: Growth forecasts are being discussed. Between the downtown subarea, hospital district, and Wilburton subarea, the Wilburton subarea has the least potential for development, with 1.7 million sq. (commercial and residential) in 2030, as opposed to 39.5 million in the downtown subarea.
9:01pm: I’ve got no battery left so I will be signing off for now. We’ll have more with the decision on the B segment. But do follow the BTV site for live coverage.