The C9T alternative (click to enlarge)

In an interesting twist at last night’s study session, the Bellevue City Council supported sending a letter to Sound Transit that would put the C9T tunnel option as the primary preferred alternative.  According to the Seattle Times, every councilmember in attendance supported the tunnel.  Only Conrad Lee was absent, who, in my last interview with him, said that he backed Wallace’s ‘Vision Line.’  Whether he would have caved with even Wallace giving his support to C9T, it’s unknown.

The bulk of last night’s discussion was mostly about cutting costs and looking for funding sources to pay for the tunnel.  From the Seattle Times:

The cuts — worth $104 million to $150 million — included contributing back to the project additional sales-tax and business-tax revenues the city receives as a result of the light-rail project, helping to make city property along the route more affordable and streamlining permitting, Sarkozy said.

Wallace railed against Sound Transit’s “bloated” budget and brought up the condition that Surrey Downs must be protected at the Main Street portal.  Yet despite all the discussion about “value” budgeting, we’ve already mentioned that a tunnel connection specific to the B segment (via 112th Ave) is vastly less expensive than one from B7, which the council controversially endorsed just last week.  However, if the pro-B7 tunnel support is riding on alternative funding, then there is a rather thin line between support for a cheap tunnel and C14E.

You can re-watch the meeting in its entirety on the BTV website.  The more important vote will come next week, when the council is expected to vote on the letter as drafted by city staff.

67 Replies to “Bellevue City Council Backing C9T Downtown Tunnel”

  1. So is the BCC thinking that they can connect B7 to C9T? Or are they completing giving up on the “Vision Line”?

  2. It will be interesting to see how BCC reacts to the likely scenario as follows: ST picks up the tab for the tunnel AND will do its best on mitigation for the B line but Bellevue is going to get either a B2 alignment or B3.

    The B7 and a tunnel is a non-starter both from cost and construct. And Councilman Wallace should let the C14E alignment – as well as other like approaches – die a quiet death so that you have some bargaining power to make tunnel happen as well as other necessary aspects of the all segments. If you want to do it the other way you are going to have to raise money – notably taxes – and no councilmember wants to touch that third rail (no pun intended!).

    1. I don’t think “ST picks up the tab for the tunnel” is a very likely scenario — ST doesn’t have the money and all the funding would have to come out of the East Sub-area.

      A more likely scenario would be that ST agrees to work with Bellevue to obtain Federal funding.

    2. I could see ST reprogram some money but there is going to have to be a significant contribution of some sort from the city of Bellevue.

  3. Please, BCC means Bellevue Community College, not Bellevue City Council. Speaking of which, I’m still hoping to hear someday about a streetcar from the Bellevue Transit Center to BCC to Issaquah.

    1. Mike,

      Me too. I think that a streetcar from a dogbone loop between on the NE6th mall and contraflow on the north side of NE4th joined southbound along 105th NE (the little street behind the Art Museum) and northbound on 107th NE (the right of way behind the Bellevue Galleria; it would require taking Blazing Bagels, but it could be rebuild on the second floor) through the TC, share tracks with Link across the freeway and drop down to ground level south of NE 8th, do a hairpin (northbound would go under the Link bridge to get on the “right” side for a non-crossing merge) turn into the railroad ROW. From there it would go south with several stations serving what will certainly be redevelopment of the car lots to just north of SE5th where it would drop down in a tunnel to turn under the rail line and into the north side of Lake Hills Connector, cross to the median at the SE8th intersection (for use of the light) continue to Richards Road, then exit the median through the intersection (again to use the light) and run south just east of Richards Road to the entrance to Bannerwood Park.

      There a choice would need to be made. The streetcar could enter the travel lanes on Richards Road since there are few turns between that intersection and SE 26th. Or it could pass through the narrow green belt south of the park. That would make for a very pretty ride for the streetcar patrons, but would disrupt the wildlife habitat.

      So assume the car moves into Richards Road to SE26th. It would jog east to pass behind Printed Circuits Assembly and swing east just south of the auto wrecking facilities along SE26th. This area is PRIME for TOD. A branch of the car line could continue down Richards Road to Factoria Mall.

      The BCC branch would continue slightly north of eastward past the power switching yard (an excellent thing to have near a street car line…) continue south Pacific Window Coverings, loop around the apartments just west of Bellevue College and then turn south in 142nd Place to the northeast corner of the Eastgate TC with a couple of stops along the College.

      From there it would swing due east behind Family Planning and Great Expectations at the edge of the BC property, cross 148th just north of the Toyota dealer, then make a dogbone loop through the business center between 156th and 160th SE.

      I don’t think it makes sense to continue to Issaquah, though. There’s nothing between Eastgate and Issaquah that would make a streetcar work.

      1. I wonder if Bellevue-Issaquah would be too long a distance for a streetcar. The main attraction would be the low capital cost compared to light rail.

  4. So a compromise seems possible here: the Bellevue City Council trades B7 for B3, but gets the C9T tunnel. The additional expenses look like they can be cut down and the discrepancy covered by new funding sources if necessary.

    1. Erik…really, if all you ever have to say is to have Link skip Bellevue every time we have a post relevant to East Link, then you cross the line into trolling. A number of Bellevueites, myself included, don’t appreciate that.

      1. I agree with Sherwin, Erik. Your posts in East Link threads aren’t constructive, and we’re going to moderate them if you continue to post simple rejoinders that don’t have much have thought behind them.

  5. I think a fair compromise would be to run at-grade all the way up 112th, until entering the tunnel portal. Avoids the expensive elevated alignment and jog over to I-405 (just to swing back downtown).

  6. So it seems the preferred alignment is B7 connected to a modified C9T (either alongside Main or 2nd, which is what the council would like determined through value engineering) The city would like to combine tunnel construction on 2nd with planned major street and I405 improvements in the works to minimize costs and construction disruptions.
    City staff has identified at least half of the addional cost for the tunnel segment through sales and B&O tax rebates given back to ST, property donations, and future partnerships with State and Fed.
    This seems to be a very workable solution from their perspective.
    It will be interesting to see if ST can bridge the gap.

    1. The City of Redmond should pitch in. The biggest beneficiaries of tunneling will be Redmond commuters, not Bellevue commuters. Maybe Microsoft could be convinced to be the named sponsor of the tunnel.

      1. Actually the big beneficiaries are the drivers in DT Bellevue. The Council has always been against any at grade alignment because of the impacts on traffic. Very few current DT Redmond residents are likely to ever benefit from link since it’s probably 20 years out. If Redmond did want to do something they should be looking at scope reductions and in kind contributions as Bellevue is doing but to get the line extended to DT Redmond in this phase. DT Bellevue would benefit as much or more from the line extending past Overlake.

      2. The traffic in downtown Bellevue is likely to suck in 20 years with or without Link running at grade. Especially now that none of the surface options under consideration cross NE 8th at grade.

        Of course rather than provide an alternative to driving for those stuck waiting for the light at NE 8th and Bellevue Way the Bellevue Council would rather cut of its nose to spite its face all because drivers might experience a slight increase in delays.

        In any case it would appear the Bellevue Council, ST Board, and respective staffs are converging on a solution. So the stance taken by the Council seems to have worked as a negotiating tactic.

        Personally I like the station location in C11A better but C9T is fine. Putting Link in a tunnel through downtown Bellevue has advantages for everyone using East Link and for the future so its a win if it can be made to work.

        I agree the precedent set by the tunnel negotiations should be used by Redmond to try to get segment E built sooner rather than later.

      3. At grade light rail will result in a slight delay? C’mon, like double the delay. Look that numbers that Bellevue employees presented — the intersection delays will be bad without ST2, but much, much worse with it if it runs @ grade (sometimes more than double the delay). And those at-grade trains will get stuck in all that traffic.

        Of course it benefits Bellevue to have a tunnel, but it also benefits everyone riding the train, which includes many Redmond-bound Microsoft employees.

      4. “Very few current DT Redmond residents are likely to ever benefit from link since it’s probably 20 years out.”

        Think BRT from the end of Link to downtown Redmond. Actually, RapidRide B is supposed to go that way anyway.

        I’m somewhat indifferent to surface vs tunnel in downtown Bellevue as long as something gets built. I’m glad the Vision Line is apparently off the table. But the problems with signaling on MLK show that any surface segment becomes a bottleneck, a drag on the system, and a cause of ongoing mitigation expenses. We can’t increase headways because of the surface segment, we can’t have driverless trains because of it. (One article said driverless trains are the reason Vancouver can have 5-minute headways full-time.)

      5. Think BRT from the end of Link to downtown Redmond.

        There is nothing “rapid” about any route from DT Redmond to Overlake TC. Maybe when they finish the lane addition project they’re working on now it will be better but the whole point of extending Link is that it would decrease the pressure (or at least offer an alternate) on the freeway from 202 (Redmond/Duvall) to Overlake. BRT from Redmond to Overlake won’t do squat. Most of the traffic is coming from elsewhere and the majority of the individual routes from Redmond to Bellevue aren’t that big.

      6. So, the argument for linking suburban downtowns is that’s where the ridership is and will increase at. Are you saying that’s not the case for Redmond? If not, where would be the best location for stations or BRT beyond Overlake TC? It sounds like extending Link or BRT to the Redmond-Fall City Road would bring in those riders? Although you’d need a big park n ride.

      7. Marymoor makes sense for a P&R because it intercepts the auto traffic before it gets to the conjested 520/405 interchange. I’d think it would replace the Bear Creek P&R. Plus Marymoor really needs some more real parking because they’re currently parking thousands of cars on the grass during events like Cirque du Soleil. I think it’s also the best place to put the MF for East Link. It’s flat and it’s got to be cheaper than acreage in Bel-Red. Someday Bel-Red will look more like DT Redmond so sighting the MF facility there seems rather at odds with that.

        From Marymoor it’s a short hop on the BNSF ROW for a DT Redmond station with Redmond Town Center plus thousands of residents within walking distance.

      8. Since East Link won’t get to downtown Redmond in the first phase of construction, that would be non-sensical.

      9. Redmond commuters and Bellevue car commuters. Bellevue transit commuters would be better served by a C11 surface alignment with two stations – The walkable distance map covers virtually all of downtown Bellevue.

        The tunnel option would still be very walkable but not as much as the C11 alignment.

    2. I find the alignment south of 2nd very interesting. ST identified that the reason this would cost more was because of the property acquisition (it’s a lot more valuable property). If Bellevue provides the ROW as part of the long term plan to add the half diamond freeway interchange and widen 2nd the actual construction costs would be less because the tunnel would be significantly shorter.

      Using the B7 ROW (especially since it’s now publicly owned) would be a cost savings and also improve the transition to a 2nd alignment; assuming it came in elevated on 114th.

      The really great thing about the 2nd alignment coupled with the road project is that this then allows the Main Street remake (2 lanes plus turn lane plus bike lanes) which would tie into the Meydenbauer Park project. I think it’s the best scenario for the south DT area.

      Another possibility is moving the tunnel portal to the Red Lion site. While more expensive to construct at least half of the difference would be made up by the increased residual value of the site (i.e. it’s useless if elevated track cross it since you can’t build under the ROW but you can build over a tunnel.

      One other change that was asked to be looked at was to do away with the underground station and use the location of the C9A at grade station. This might actually make for better bus transfers and would save some $38 million.

      I’d like to see the 130th P&R station postponed. I’m not convinced that the Hospital Station is really needed between the TC and 124th. Certainly 4 stations between 405 and Overlake TC is overkill. I mean there’s 4 stations in DT Seattle and only 2 for the U district. Bel-Red would end up with 2 to 4 times as many stations as the Bellevue DT core.

      1. Bernie,

        But Bel-Red is the BEST location for TOD on the Eastside. In fact, I think the only other comparable location in King County is Linden between 125th and 160th. Having frequent stations through Bel-Red will allow the development of a linear mixed-user neighborhood of middle density. Fewer stations would have to have higher and more concentrated development around them to generate the ridership needed to support the system.

        Bel-Red is “outside” the main Seattle CBD to Bellevue CBD trunk so it can be considered a “collector” zone for the Link. It’s a place where walk to the system instead of transfer rides can be developed. And since it’s currently pretty much unpopulated, there isn’t likely to be NIMBY opposition to densification.

      2. it’s currently pretty much unpopulated

        Exactly, so how does it make any sense at all to put in as many stations as there are on all of MLK. It’s really a lousy collector zone because there’s no other transit connections. Building a P&R on 130th, away from the transit connections on 405 or even 520 is only going to funnel more traffic into the area and a good portion of that is going to be cut through traffic on 134th and 140th.

        We have pressing needs and a very limited budget to try and fill those needs. Unnecessary spending on areas where there aren’t any plans save for the Spring District doesn’t make sense. Overlake P&R was supposed to be the end all for TOD and turned out to be a total failure. All it’s done is add 5 minutes to everyone’s bus ride.

      3. Putting in stations is a bit like building interchanges, it worked to trigger development along freeways, it will work to trigger development along the transit line.

        The interchange just north of the spiderweb on 405 that connects to Woodinville and Bothell, when built, served farmland. It served farmland for many years. It certainly doesn’t now.

        But, had that interchange not been there the land might still be growing hay.

        Bel-Red is mostly old commercial structures built in the 60’s and 70’s. They’re depreciated and ripe for redevelopment. Freeway and arterial access is good, so truck access for deliveries to serve this neighborhood is excellent. Adjacent residential neighborhoods are well buffered and quite separated from this district – what better opportunity than this for new, dense, walkable development is available anywhere else on the Eastside?

        This is Bellevue’s South Lake Union without nearly the political baggage.

      4. Truck access is very different than peak commute access. Loading is generally done swing shift and drivers are on their routes before the commute starts. The total number of trucks is minuscule compared to the number of cars attempting to access office/retail space. Plus the directionality and the fact trucks are only accessing the freeways and not coming and going in all directions make light industrial use completely different than high density mixed use. Remember also that one of the reasons factories and distribution centers were originally sited here was because of freight service from the BNSF corridor.

        Well, along with the stops come new interchanges; slip ramp to 152nd, west bound offramp/ east bound on ramp at 124th, Northup to I-405. All of these are going to create more traffic and the Northup and 124th ramps are so close to the 520/405 bottle neck that I can only believe both corridors are going to suffer. The slip ramp to 152nd along with the Link dogleg will kill that option for biking without resorting to riding the sidewalk (like you have to do on 148th and 156th. Likewise, Northup as a “back road” you can actually ride on will be lost. Then add in the uberexpensive plan Bellevue has to create the new 15th/16th aterial and I’m seeing nothing but Autorama.

        Adjacent residential neighboorhoods are not buffered from cut through traffic. To the north 132nd/134th and 140th will become even more of a cut through route than they already are. 116th as well but it’s only developed on one side and bike access would likely remain good. I’m not as familiar with the neighborhood south of Bel-Red road except to say that the 140th problem will be a major issue. There is no north south connector between 405 and 148th other than 140th. The city plans for putting 120th on steroids only extends to autorow so there’s really no through route there so 140th will absorb all the spill over eastgate traffic trying to skirt 148th.

        Lake Bellevue (or Lake Sturtevant as it’s sometimes identified on maps, I’ve never heard anyone call it that) might be Bellevues South Lake Union (without the Duck Dodge). It’s south of the Bell-Red triangle and contiguous with the Autorow which is much closer to the DT core and already has better freeway access. Bel-Red will likely develop but it doesn’t need transit money spent now (which is in short supply) in order to line the pockets of investors 30 years from now. As you point out the giant Bothell Woodinville interchange was put in 30 years before it was actually developed. Adding stops to the line later might make sense when the developers are on the hook to contribute to the cost. As it sits now Wright-Rundstad is waffling on any commitment to help fund the station being put in solely to service their development. Not a big need for a Link station at an abandon Safeway plant; although they have tried to cut their loses by leasing part of it to Amazon Fresh.

      5. Bernie,

        The point is NOT to create transit connections. Transit interchanges are for employment centers, not neighborhoods. It’s to create the sort of neighborhoods that are right for the 21st century. It’s close to an urban core, it reuses land for which the current institutions have outlived their economic life, and it’s right between two large centers of employment for exactly the sorts of people who want the in-city living experience.

        Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Microsofties commute from Seattle to Redmond every day because they prefer being able to walk to the store, a cafe, restaurant or movie, and don’t want the responsibilities of a yard. No, Bel-Red won’t attract all of them but once that urban synergy starts, they’ll come.

        Look at Tyson’s Corners in northern Virginia. It was exactly what it’s name implies — a rural intersection — forty years ago. Now it is a dense multi-use center in which people want to live.

        Of course you’ll need crosstown bus or perhaps evenually streetcar lines passing through Bel-Red to Eastgate and Kirkland because people will want to go other places. And most of the residents will have cars to go where transit can’t take them easily.

        But they’ll appreciate the ease of taking a short walk to a high-capacity trunk system that links them directly to the three-largest employment centers in the state. What’s not to like?

      6. You’re talking like Bel-Red is being set up as a Faux Capital Hill. I’ve no problem with residence close to work. There’s a great bike trail anyone living there could use to commute to DT Bellevue or Microsoft. Unfortunately the development paradigm brings in traffic, it doesn’t reduce traffic; hence all the road projects. I don’t see anyone who chooses the Seattle urban lifestyle jumping at the chance to live in Bel-Red. It’s just not hip. Again, if development takes off there’s nothing top preclude adding stations at no additional expense. In fact, it’s the developers that should pay for them. It’s just stupid to build them now; especially another P&R. That’s simply buying ridership at $30-40k per butt. There’s lots of available condo space in Redmond which is more deserving of current tax dollars and there’s loads of DT Bellevue condo space coming on the market or left in limbo pending an economic recovery. It’s ambisous at this point to even believe the Spring District will be built out to the point to support a station by 2020-2023.

      7. “Faux Capitol Hill”, yes, that’s what the Eastside needs. You can’t just transplant the atmosphere and architectural/economic mix, which took decades to build through very different eras. But there needs to be large walkable neighborhoods of some sort outside of Capitol Hill and the suburban downtowns. Central Seattle can only fit so many more people, and the suburban downtowns are too expensive with their concentrations of “luxury destinations and lifestyle living”.

        A neighborhood outside downtown would hopefully be more cost effective, with a mix of residential and businesses to make it liveable, but not necessarily highrise office towers and corporate headquarters. This would be completely in line with how Bellevue developed in the first place: ordinary houses for ordinary people outside downtown. The shift towards upscale goes back only to the 1990s.

      8. Bernie,

        Well, “faux” or not, why not? That’s what has happened in lots of formerly suburban areas that provide nearby employment, trunkline transit and mid rise mixed use development. There is a large demographic of young people who have chosen to have at most one child or none or even live independently.

        They are often “techies” but not attracted to the full-on urban hipster lifestyle which is more for artists and high-end service workers. Such people want a degree of public safety that they can’t reliably get in some places in Seattle, but they don’t want to live on a cul-de-sac either. They’d like to live with less environmental impact so they choose smaller places with shared walls to reduce the heating and cooling load and make more places available by walking.

        Places like Tyson’s Corners, Walnut Creek, and several long-time “commuter” suburbs with train service around Chicago, New York and Boston have recently developed into self-sustaining small metropoli.

        Of course not everyone wants that lifestyle. Maybe it’s only fifteen or twenty percent of our population. But where in King County can they be accommodated without disrupting existing neighborhoods.

        I think the Bel-Red corridor and Aurora/Linden north of 125th are the two best places to create such lively communities.

        I’m fine with not building one of the stations yet, and heaven knows we don’t want a Park and Ride in the middle of such a neighborhood, so that should be dropped immediately. But the land for the station footprint and a little public space around it should be purchased as a part of Link construction. Maybe foregoing one elevated station for ten or twelve years will make a significant contribution to the cost of the tunnel.

        There’s nothing “communist” about setting aside some land for middle density quality development.

      9. The neighborhood you’re describing is DT Redmond and it’s a buyer’s market. Bel-Red may well turn into that sort of development but the only proposal on the books is the Spring District and that’s touch and go right now. I’m really against the idea of funding stations now for something that might exist 30 years from now. Why spend the money on “setting aside” a station location. Why not require that the next developer set aside a portion of their land purchase for that station as a requirement for the zoning and permiting and use the savings to build the tunnel? We can add the stations (if needed) but we can’t just add a tunnel.

        I’m really really against the P&R just to pad initial ridership. The idea of “walkable” in Bellevue is a place you drive to and then get out of your car and walk (Bell Square comes to mind). The 130th P&R is straight out of the Kemper play book; lead with the parking. And again, we get back to the meat of the matter; do you want a tunnel or a P&R? The fact is, funding is limited and this is a very real choice.

        It’s fascinating that council member Balducci is all in on the 15/16th road project and acts like council member Wallace is nuts to suggest we consider deferring the expensive four lane bridge from 116th over the old BNSF ROW to 120th (actually, the current discussion is over spending a million bucks just to hire a consultant to “study” the project; there’s no funding to actually build it anyway). It’s like, “I’m all for transit when it gives us the excuse to create a new east/west arterial that connects a few small medical office buildings with, well… not much of anything. “We need it to support future development.” Umm, we need a lot of things to support the development that’s occurred over the last 20 years. How about getting that done first instead of mega road projects to support this “walkable” neighborhood of the future?

      10. Maybe some of the Bel-Red stations could be deferred? Reserve a space for the station but don’t build it yet.

        I wasn’t that enthused about the Hospital Station, but when I saw the 10-minute walk circle I realized my mom’s apartment is just outside it. I never thought I could ride Link directly to a non-downtown residence, but it looks like it might actually happen. (She wouldn’t be able to walk it though because of the hill.)

      11. More to the point, deferring a station or two could free up money to get the line closer to Redmond.

      12. No disrespect but your mom’s house is not a regional destination. Neither is Overlake Hospital. Sure it’s a big hospital and a large employer but it’s no Pill Hill or UW Health Sciences. And face it, this is Bellevue and most people are going to drive anyway. Very few people in Seattle are going to ride Link to get to Overlake Medical Center. It’s just not going to be that big a draw. Moving the station north a bit might actually be better since it’s closer to Lake Bellevue which is what by Bellevue Standards is called night life.

        I totally agree that deferring (aka limiting scope) should be the watch word and both the tunnel and getting the line to Redmond should be priorities. To date, Redmond hasn’t really stepped up to the plate. Yes, they have made clear that they don’t want any of the stupid options from the DEIS and the line should go from Overlake TC to Marymoor and then follow the train tracks (imagine that) through DT Redmond (even though ST still seems to think the world ends at the misconceived parking garage).

      13. Bernie,
        Still the Overlake Hospital area is the closest thing to Pill Hill in Seattle. A lot of other medical/dental providers are located in the area. Lets also remember that many people who need to go to medical appointments are transit dependent or may prefer not to drive.

        As it stands East Link isn’t going to downtown Redmond in this phase even if the absolute cheapest alignments between Seattle and Overlake TC are chosen. Sure some money might be saved by dropping or eliminating stations but at a certain point you end up with a line that isn’t worth building because it ends up being nothing more than an express train betweeen Downtown Seattle and Microsoft rather than a regional transit spine for the Eastside. Such a beast won’t be built both for political reasons and because it would have a hard time getting Federal funding.

        You may ridicule the possibility of any TOD along East Link, but TOD in close-in suburban areas is responsible for a lot of the success of the Washington Metro. Sure between Rainier, Mercer Island, Downtown Bellevue, Hospital/Midlakes, Bel-Red, and Overlake Village there is a huge amount of TOD capacity that won’t be used for a while. However I’d rather have too much TOD capactity than preclude the possibility of any at all (B7+C14A+D5 also dropping the Hospital and Overlake Village stations).

      14. Don’t underestimate the draw of Overlake hospital AND Group Health medical center, along with all of the other medical providers in that area. I think I’ll side with Bernie partially though – the “Hospital” station could more accurately be referred to as the “Whole Foods” station or even the “Barrier Motors” station since they are a closer walk. After driving the 3 & 4 through Harborview I’m not seeing a lot of patients using Link to get to the Hospital. More likely would be Link to BTC and then a transfer to one of the many buses that now stop in the middle of the complex. (233, 234, 249) The extra wait time would be worth it for those with mobility issues.

        Employees might make the 5-10 minute walk, especially if somebody figures out how to put a shortcut through the private property across the street from the Hospital complex.

        I’ve never paid much attention to Lake Bellevue – maybe I’ll ride through there on my way to work today…

      15. Not only is the order of magnitude difference like comparing Lake Bellevue to Lake Union but Overlake Medical is within walking distance of the Bellevue TC whereas Pill Hill is an entirely separate neighborhood from DT Seattle. There are a lot of small medical practices along 116th all the way up to Northup. The 124th station will be as close to most of these (including the not so small new Group Health building) than a station next to the hospital. And there’s not that many people using any of these medical services that are transit dependent because there’s hardly any transit serving this area now.

        The funding gap to reach Redmond is close to what the tunnel gap started out at. Even if it’s not reachable in the first phase incurring additional debt pushes it’s completion farther out to where it starts to become a dream like rail to Eastgate is. There’s something twisted and wrong about building unnecessary stations or multistory parking garages to fabricate demand because it makes it easier to justify the funding. If you strip away stations that really aren’t warranted and you “end up with a line that isn’t worth building” then what you’ve proven is the line wasn’t worth building in the first place.

        TOD is a buzz word that just doesn’t mean much in the real world. DT Redmond has been built out over the last decade in pretty much the exact model you’re proposing for Bel-Red yet the trains not going there. DT Kirkland is the hip place to live on the eastside yet rail on 520 was rejected even though we’re rebuilding the entire corridor and it’s the logical path to connect Redmond, Bellevue the U District and DT Seattle. The second largest job center in Bellevue is Eastgate. You’d think, if rail is all that essential to development that Link would be structured to reach out to that area next (like B7) instead of being fixated on demand that doesn’t exist.

      16. I’ve never paid much attention to Lake Bellevue – maybe I’ll ride through there on my way to work today…

        Don’t set your expectations too high. Growing up we referred to it as Puddle Bellevue. Although, unlike Totem Lake you can actually identify it as a body of water. Well, “body” might be a bit of a stretch but there is a cluster of food and beverage establishments which I thing started out with Clinkerdaggers getting built there back in the 70’s.

      17. Bernie,
        The selection of B7 vs. any of the alignments serving S. Bellevue P&R has little to no bearing on eventually reaching Eastgate. Sure you do the Slough crossing now rather than later but that is more than offset by the ridership drop, business and residential displacement, not to mention the complete lack of connections to the South and East of B7. The whole “get a start on extending to Eastgate” nonsense is being pushed by the Surrey Downs NIMBYS who think the entire neighborhood is going to be destroyed because a couple of houses will be across a 4 lane road from a rail line.

      18. The hospital district has grown greatly. A station there isn’t necessary, but it’s not bad either. We need to think in terms of intra-Eastside destinations as well as regional (from outside the Eastside) destinations. Having a Whole Foods next to a station makes it easier for folks all over the Eastside to get quality groceries on transit. The hospitals are not a great match for Link because most of the patients are coming from straight west and east and south of there, where Link doesn’t go. But it’s not a bad place for a station either, and the Bel-Red expansion would certainly bring more patients. Actually, it would be a good place for senior housing, come to think of it.

        Lake Bellevue is nothing to write home about. A few isolated office parks around a small lake. If it’s the nightlife capital of Bellevue, that’s not saying much, you might as well head to downtown Kirkland.

      19. Not only is the order of magnitude difference like comparing Lake Bellevue to Lake Union but Overlake Medical is within walking distance of the Bellevue TC whereas Pill Hill is an entirely separate neighborhood from DT Seattle. There are a lot of small medical practices along 116th all the way up to Northup. The 124th station will be as close to most of these (including the not so small new Group Health building) than a station next to the hospital. And there’s not that many people using any of these medical services that are transit dependent because there’s hardly any transit serving this area now.

        One issue is the Overlake Hospital area/Midlakes/Auto Row is on the other side of a rather unpleasant to cross car sewer known as I-405. Freeways are barriers to walkability no matter how many overpasses you build, people just don’t like walking across them unless they have to. Furthermore I think you are rather underestimating the distance. The entrance to Overlake Medical Center is over 3/5ths of a mile from the transit center or a C9T tunnel station. That is a 10 or 15 minute walk for most people.

        Now maybe something like that cool bridge in Columbus, OH with shops on it could be done along some of the overpasses in Bellevue. While such things would make the walk more pleasant it still wouldn’t overcome the distance issues.

        I seem to recall at one you claimed to support C14A (aka the Vision line) because it would facilitate the redevelopment of auto row. You also claimed the NE 8th and BNSF was a better location for a station serving the hospital area than one at 405 and NE 12th. In fact about the only two things you’ve been consistent on with East Link is a desire to get it to downtown Redmond in phase 1 and your belittling of the redevelopment opportunity presented by the Bel-Red corridor.

      20. I still think the so call Whole Foods location is much better located than Ashwood for Overlake Medical Center (it’s front door vs back of the parking garage). But the major problem with crossing at 12th is that to get there the line would have to cross NE 8th since it’s impossible to fund a tunnel of that length. Plus crossing at 12th will displace several large medical practices by chopping off the Commons building.

        The Vision Line station location isn’t that different than C9A (I say C9A because that’s another potential savings vs the underground station) but any of the locations that put the DT Bellevue station south and east of the TC shorten the distance to the Midlakes area. Putting a station on the BNSF ROW by Whole Foods would be nice; I just question the need to do it right away. If the budget works out that we can afford the C9T by reducing the scope of the project then I think Hospital Station should be held up as one of the things on the chopping block. But I’d certainly put the P&R at 130th as number one on the list of things to cut. What if it comes down to the C14E with a Hospital Station or C9T without? I’d opt for the tunnel since the station isn’t precluded at some point in the future whereas the decision to tunnel or elevate is pretty much a forever decision.

        Pedestrian and bike connections across 405 need to be drastically improve irregarless of there being a Station at the hospital. I’m hoping the Main St. makeover can happen sooner rather than later and it’s insane that 6th was designed to be pedestrian and bike hostile. 12th was about the only reasonable bike access and that’s going to be under destruction for the next two years. And I fear worse when they get done.

      21. VeloBusDriver,
        The “Hospital” station is indeed closer to Whole Foods than anything else, I expect that to be a draw in and of itself (never underestimate the power of organic arugula).

        The North end of the station platform is almost a straight shot across the Whole Foods parking lot to Group Health. Perhaps Whole Foods could be persuaded to make room for a pedestrian walkway? Also a walkway over to 118th NE would provide access to the businesses at Lake Bellevue and those in the strip malls between Barrier Motors and the Station (though that area isn’t terribly pedestrian friendly at the moment).

        I don’t seem to recall it being a 5-10 minute walk from Overlake Medical Center to where the proposed station entrance will be. Maybe it is if you include the wait time for a pedestrian signal across 116th. The walk is even shorter if you cut across Whole Foods property.

      22. Oops, up above I’d referred to a new Group Health building on 116th. Thinking about it a bit I realized that it’s actually the new Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.

        Coming in Summer 2010: a new facility and new services. Seattle Children’s will open a new, 75,000-square-foot clinic and surgery center in downtown Bellevue, allowing us to offer families on the Eastside easier access to our services.

        It’s north of 12th (about where the new 15th/16th corridor is proposed and on the east side of 116th. In fact it’s address is 1500 116th Ave NE. Not exactly what I’d call downtown Bellevue and about a half mile from either the Hospital Station (aka Whole Foods) or the Spring District. I’m not sure if they are keeping their current space in Overlake Medical and expanding or just moving.

  7. I wonder if Claudia offered to drop the open meetings violation investigation in return for this vote.

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic. (Mostly.)

    1. I am also waiting for some of the staff members to give their opinion. While I’ve seen a couple posts in here, nothing really explaining what this means (or at least what they think it means).

      Maybe their is an editorial coming?

      1. “Are we happy about this decision?” Do you really need someone else tell you how to think about this? Personally, I think it’s great.

      2. To get right down to it… yes. Most of us are not on here b/c we are Transit Experts, but b/c we are Transit Enthusiasts. I LIKE to read what those more knowledgeable think on the various subjects so that I can better form my own opinion. Am I going to take every comment as gospel? No, in fact that would be impossible as sometimes different staff members have different opinions. Different people approach issues from different perspectives on almost any subject. But almost always, whether I end up agreeing or not, their posts will be well researched and informative.

        Right now I am a bit confused by what the Bellevue City Council is putting out (it seems this weeks preferred C alignment is in direct conflict with last weeks preferred B alignment) and would like more information/different perspectives so that I can decide if I should be ‘happy’ about this or not.

      3. C9T and B7 aren’t in conflict; ST is in conflict. Remember, they put out a dazzling array of alignments in the DEIS that were non starters from either impacts on neighborhoods and traffic or just plain unaffordable. C9 came from a peer review group after none of the ST alignments were deemed possible. It would be nice if we could get back the money spent engineering tunnel options that had no possibility of seeing the light of day.

        The conflict is that ST is hell bent on building a multistory P&R in the nature preserve to boost initial system ridership (hey, what’s a 30k investment in a parking space between friends). To that end any B7 connection to the C segment is “black listed” even if it would actually make the approach to say a NE 2nd alignment better. Lately they’re all on about impacts to Sturdevant Creek which flows north to Lake Bellevue, not south to the Mercer Slew and if it’s daylighted anywhere it would be nothing but a ditch.

      4. South Bellevue Station and the new P&R would be built on the existing footprint of the SBPR, not “in the nature preserve” as you say. Lets not forget that the Surrey Downs folks seemed perfectly happy to support the B3 modified alignment which would have run the line right through the middle of the nature preserve. All that environmental impact to keep the line further away from their homes than across a busy 4 lane road? Please.

        I, and many other STB folks, share your concerns about Park & Rides. I’ve consistently asked ST and Metro to start charging for parking at crowded park & rides instead of expanding them. The money could be used to improve bus connections. Unfortunately, I haven’t won the “Dictator for life” contest so the public seems to want their free park & rides – ST is just delivering what the voters asked for. Remember that Sound Transit promised a “Regional Park & Ride” in the South Bellevue area as part of the ST2 package. For all it’s warts, SBPR has proven to be a popular P&R – far more than the one at Wilburton. It also has the better bus connections than Wilburton and would be an excellent spot for terminating connecting bus routes with the planned layover spaces.

        Full disclosure: I live in the South Bellevue area and plan on using the station (mostly by bike, bus, or walking but occasionally by car). That makes my bias clear. I’ve heard a rumor that you live in Surrey Downs which I’m happy to let you put to rest right here.

      5. Nope, I live in Bridle Trails but I think Surry Downs beef is more about the transition from the B to the C segment than it is about using Bellevue Way.

      6. So they’re screwed (in their minds at least) if any option other than C14E is selected. Interesting… Looks like Kevin has turned his back on them then…

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