A Mercer Slough flyer from years ago. Image from HistoryLink.org.

The Bellevue City Council could make a very bad decision Monday night, choosing to change its preferred alignment from the superior B3 alignment to the environmentally-questionable B7 alignment that skips the South Bellevue Park & Ride, instantly losing thousands of daily riders for East Link.

Transportation Choices Coalition has the details:

The City Council meets on Monday, March 1st to potentially reconsider its decision to serve the South Bellevue Park and Ride with a light rail stop. Last year, the City Council picked an alignment (B3) that would bring a light rail stop to this popular Park and Ride. The city council — with its two newly elected councilmembers — is considering switching its preference to an alignment (B7) that bypasses the South Bellevue Park and Ride, runs along the freeway and would serve the much smaller Wilburton Park and Ride, potentially leaving hundreds of transit riders in the lurch.

Show up on Monday and urge the council to keep light rail service to the South Bellevue Park and Ride.

WHAT: Bellevue City Council meeting to discuss the light rail alignment in South Bellevue
WHEN: Monday March 1 at 6:00pm.  Public comments are taken at the beginning.
WHERE: Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE (one block from the Bellevue Transit Center)

Action on the B segment may be taken as early as 6pm, so please try to be there at or before then.  Comments are scheduled for 8pm, but a stronger showing at six will be more influential.  The meeting will be in conference room 1E-113, next to the council chamber.

Our own Sherwin has written a great article on the Bellevue City News blog on how many residents in south Bellevue support the B3 alignment. We ran an op-ed earlier this week against the B7 alignment. And in an open letter earlier this month to the city council, we shared our thoughts on segment B in South Bellevue:

[…] The South Bellevue P&R is a critical transit access point and must be served by East Link, since ST Express route 550 will no longer exist once light rail begins service. However, even the modified B7 has environmental concerns that leaders should consider carefully. We are confident the legal, financial, and environmental obstacles of crossing environmentally-sensitive wetlands will prove that B3S is the more practical and affordable alignment. […]

The final decision on the alignment comes down to the Sound Transit Board. Many on the board have expressed their desire to see regional light rail built in the best way possible; a good route will enhance the chances of future expansions of Link passing the ballot in the future and bringing light rail to communities that boardmembers represent, the thinking goes. Make no doubt: skipping the South Bellevue Park & Ride will hurt East Link deeply. The Sound Transit Board should overrule the Bellevue City Council if the council decides to be unconstructive rather than find an acceptable compromise.

39 Replies to “Be There: Bellevue Could Vote for B7 Monday Night”

      1. Noise. Trains going through the slough would have a serious impact on the wildlife. It’s already bad enough to have 90 and 405 on the edges, but there’s quiet space now that needs to stay quiet.

      2. Short-term impacts will also be pretty bad. B7’s staging area infringes upon more sensitive areas of the slough, and you pretty much have to do pile-driving into some habitats.

  1. “The South Bellevue P&R is a critical transit access point and must be served by East Link, since ST Express route 550 will no longer exist once light rail begins service.”

    Just serve the S. Bellevue P&R with a bus route. How much could that cost?

    1. Then you’d be paying for both light rail and buses, when the job could have been done by just light rail. Couple that with a light rail line that will have significantly less ridership on B7, then you’ve got both increased operating expenses as well as decreased revenue.

    2. It would cost more than putting light rail there in the first place, and it would get you fewer passengers to boot.

    3. Norman, if you’re opposed to taxpayer-supported light rail because of its costs to taxpayers, you should, ergo, at least support those alignments generating the highest ridership and freeing up the most bus service hours—rendering what you consider a waste of money as cost effective as possible.

      1. I have not followed this closely, since I think that any light rail over the I-90 bridge is a tragic waste of billions of tax dollars. But, from the little I have read on it, I thought one of the arguments for the b7 route was that it cost a lot less money. Is that not true? If it is true, how much less would that route cost than your preferred route?

        Just running a few buses between the park and ride lot and Seattle would not cost very much. How many parking spots are at that P and R? How many buses would it take to handle the number of people who board there each day?

        How about just buses between that park and ride and the nearest Link station? Sort of link between South Center and the Tukwila Link station? How much would that cost? Almost nothing?

        Bottom line: it would be very easy to serve that park and ride lot with buses to either downtown Seattle or the nearest Link station. This is a very poor argument against that alignment.

      2. The cost of the 2 alignment options are the same. B3 may end up costing less depending on how they route the portion between SE 8th and Main St..

    4. The bus service in the south Bellevue 550 corridor would presumably still exist, for the same reasons the 8 exists along MLK: to get people to the rail station.

      It just wouldn’t go all the way to Seattle.

      I know, people will whine about losing their one-seat ride. But, hopefully, the entirety of southwest Bellevue will have enough bus routes to get from every neighborhood to the southern rail station as well as to downtown Bellevue, and with plenty of frequency.

      I still totally support eliminating the 194, but I am annoyed that the 574 comes only every half hour, so Federal Way riders are essentially forced onto the 577 to get downtown on time, while people in between have a right to complain that the two-seat combo is slower, since the half-hour wait still exists as if it were the 194, plus transfer time to Link. Sound Transit should have timed the 574 frequency to make the two-seat combo faster for the riders who get on between FW and the airport, instead of creating a whole bunch of new duplicate service competing with light rail.

      I also find it bizarre that Sound Transit deploys no-wheelchair-or-luggage space buses on the 574 route. The 574 bus seating arrangement is like a Greyhound bus. But I digress.

      Given that history, it may be presumptuous of us to assume the 550 will go away when East Link opens (or even at the next pick).

      1. Brent,

        The MCI coaches have wheelchair spaces for 2 people and a lift on the right side of the bus. Luggage can be stored under the seat or in the overhead luggage racks. The same goes for the Gillig buses as well.

      2. The MCIs are the biggest PITA in the whole system; takes about 10 minutes to load me + another 10 to offload me

        here’s the bad part: say there’s already a chair on board on the door side: to board a second chair, the first has to be moved to the other side. The MCIs, while they are wheelchair accessible, are the biggest pains

      3. That’s fine for me since I currently ride the 550 to downtown Seattle. But what about the passengers who ride the 222, 240, and 560 (and soon the 555 and 556) to transfer to the 550? For them the trip will be a 3 seat ride. Adding light rail to SBPR, with even more frequency than the 550 and better reliability, will allow more reliable transfers to light rail at that station.

  2. Isn’t this good? I thought folks were against park and rides. This is confusing. I thought it helped encourage folks to walk to light rail if it didn’t stop at park n rides.

    1. since that spot will never (at least not anytime soon) be upzoned a park and ride to attract riders from the I90 corridor would be a good thing, at least better than driving into seattle or bellevue. for b7 we still get a park and ride just a smaller one in a much worse location for I90 people.

    2. We are, in general principle. South Bellevue is a low-density single-family suburb– it would be prudent to realistically recognize that. But building a park and ride at Wilburton is much much worse. You’re essentially driving up a greater demand for sprawl than you would have with So. Bellevue.

      1. But isn’t most of Southeast Seattle also a low density single family suburb of downtown? Weren’t Mt. Baker and Columbia City two of the original suburbs? Not sure why they are any different in relation to downtown Seattle as Wilburton or South Bellevue is to downtown Bellevue. There should be uniform application of theory and practice. Let’s face it Bellevue is winning the competition for jobs and tax dollars when compared to Seattle.

      2. South Seattle is an urban area and it’s dense compared to Bellevue. South Seattle has the highest bus ridership of any area in the state, for example. In fact, for nearly every metric South Seattle and South Bellevue are completely different places with the singular commonality being a light rail line may run eventually in both areas. Why wouldn’t we view them as different problems?

        Why should there need to be a “uniform application of theory and practice”? The real world is complex and we should be capable of making the best judgments for specific problems.

        A final difference is that the South Bellevue P&R already exists and not serving it would significantly hurt ridership and leave current transit riders in the dust.

      3. You should read my post last year about the decision to disallow park and rides in SE Seattle. Have you been to Columbia City, esp. the Historic District? You can’t seriously tell me that’s a suburb. We recognize that demand for cars is high in both West Bellevue and SE Seattle, but the availability of transit options is much higher in the latter.

    3. South Bellevue P&R has a convenient connection to I-90; a Wilburton area P&R stop would convince many I-90 commuters to use the Mercer Island P&R. The Mercer Island P&R would be at capacity soon after opening East Link.

      1. MI P&R will be expanded for East Link. That extra capacity will probably be quickly used up either way, but even worse without South Bellevue P&R also serving East Link.

      2. Not according to the East Link DEIS. Page 2-17 says it will still have 450 parking spaces after East Link is complete.

      3. I should clearly check the documentation for things that I ‘know’. In any case, the city of Mercer Island had testified during the DEIS comment period about some concerns with the P&R capacity. From http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/eastlink/deis/EastLinkCommentSummary031909.pdf:

        “Mercer Island Station. Mercer Island preferred the station design with entrances on 77th and 80th rather than with the pedestrian bridge, with the understanding that Sound Transit will work with the City to address park and ride capacity.”

    4. This has been argued here before but basically South Bellevue is more walkable/bikeable than Wilburton, has a higher existing user base, and has more existing bus routes that can be used to transfer passengers to/from light rail.

      Critics will argue that the non-auto traffic there isn’t worth servicing with light rail but I’d argue that since the line is already heading by the existing P&R, it seems crazy to *not* service it. South Bellevue has been consistently one of the busier park & rides and passengers can be seen transferring there throughout the day. (And yes, there are many of us who walk and/or bike there – You don’t see my bike since I take it with me :)

    5. I’ve also pointed out STB’s numerous inconsistencies before. They deny they flip-flop on positions. They don’t like to be told they do.

      1. Huh? I’m simply saying I disagree with your ideas to service SBPR users with buses – I’m not suggesting you are flip-flopping, are inconsistent, or that you’re lying. I’m just saying that you’re wrong :)

  3. How can we have an influence by attending the 6pm session on Monday? Will there be an opportunity to comment or register an opinion?

    1. Yes there will be Carl. The more people that show up to these meetings and voice their opinion (as they are mostly only hearing pro-B7 people which is why they are even at this point now) the more the council will understand that B3 is much more vital and better long term solution.

      Everyone who rides the 550 should even be there, anyone who will be effected the most by this should be there.

  4. I wish I could testify in support of B3. Bellevue knows what it’s missing. Don’t screw this up and let’s be honest there’s a cynical plot to have B7 put in to kill light rail. What part of road & lane capacity is beyond max do some not get?

    Josef of Skagitonia

    1. You get it. So write to your City councilmembers:
      firstinitial last name@bellevue.wa.gov

      Claudia Balducci (i.e., cbalducci@bellevuewa.gov)
      Conrad Lee
      Don Davidson
      John Chelminiak
      Grant Degginger
      Kevin Wallace
      Jennifer Robertson

      A slug of emails expressing a point of view makes a big impact with these folks. They haven’t even pretended to care about transit riders.

      1. They haven’t even pretended to care about transit riders.

        Claudia was kind enough to come to the Eastside meetup and seemed to have a good grasp of transit issues in the brief time I spoke with her. She’s also on the ST Board.

        I believe John Chelminiak it a regular rider of the 550.

        Grant Degginger would seem to care about transit as well at least based on his public statements.

      2. You’re right, Chris. These three have shown respect for transit riders, and through their sensible approach, respect for everyone else. It’s the other 4 you want to write to. But it also helps the reasonable three to hear your thoughts – they can call out the others because they know there are supporters out there.

      3. It’s important to write to Claudia, John, and Grant as well. They support B3 and can use letters written in favor of B3 as support for their position. If they hear nothing but anti-B3/pro-B7 comments then it looks like they are all on their own. I’m crafting my letter to Claudia right now.

        FYI: I rode with John last Thursday – he’s a regular. Apparently Claudia rides the 550 as well – Don’t know about Grant.

  5. The dealbreaker on B7 & B7M for me is the alignment through the slough. I would expect there are a majority of Bellevue residents who feel this way too. I am wondering if anyone has polled to check the populous on B3 vs B7, and C9T paid for with a tax increase. If so can someone post any relevant results.

  6. I can’t be there tonight (getting over being sick) but i emailed the Bellevue City council.

  7. Yes, please provide feedback to the Bellevue City Council at the following emails:
    cbalducci@bellevuewa.gov; gdegginger@bellevuewa.gov; ddavidson@bellevuewa.gov; dondavidsondds@msn.com; clee@bellevuewa.gov; conradslee@comcast.net; kwallace@bellevuewa.gov; kwallace@wallaceproperties.com; j.robertson@bellevuewa.gov; jsrobertson@comcast.net; jchelminiak@bellevuewa.gov;

    Likewise, please provide feedback to Sound Transit at the following emails:
    ‘katie.kuciemba@soundtransit.org’; ‘boardadministration@soundtransit.org’; ‘fredb@ci.issaquah.wa.us’; ‘Richard.conlin@seattle.gov’; ‘dow.constantine@kingcounty.gov’; ‘daveenslow@msn.com’; ‘hammonp@wsdot.wa.gov’; ‘mayor@redmond.gov’; ‘proberts@ci.everett.wa.us’; ‘julia.patterson@kingcounty.gov’; ‘larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov’; ‘aaron.reardon@co.snohomish.wa.us’; ‘cThomas@cityoflakewood.us’; ‘pete.vonreichbauer@kingcounty.gov’; ‘proberts@ci.everett.wa.us’; ‘pcexecutive@co.pierce.wa.us’; ‘jmarine@ci.mukilteo.wa.us’; ‘cbalducci@bellevuewa.gov’; ‘jan.drago@kingcounty.gov’; ‘jake.fey@cityoftacoma.org’; ‘mike.mcginn@seattle.gov’

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