At yesterday’s Sound Transit board meeting, the City of Bellevue presented revenue options that could help make up $104-150 million of the $285 million gap between budget and the tunnel option (C9T).
Despite attempts from Wallace and Freeman Jr. to derail East Link entirely or keep it out of town, City staff and the transit-friendly council minority seem to have prevailed in helping close the gap. Do remember that Sound Transit has been working to reduce this (and have gone from $500 to $400 to $285), so it’s nice to see the City finally stepping up with options to meet in the middle.
At the end of the joint city/ST analysis we reported on last month, we noticed an option for the north end of the B segment was presented to save $100 million more – it could reduce the gap from $285 to $185 million. At that point, $150 million from Bellevue puts a tunnel in striking distance of reality.
That’s not the only news from yesterday – a peer review panel released its report on the feasibility of surface light rail in Bellevue, and found it totally viable. This is the same conclusion we drew from the joint analysis – while Bellevue traffic will be bad in 2030, it will be just as bad with or without trains. They’re more interested in having great connectivity between light rail and the transit center, as 30-40% of light rail riders at that station will be transferring.
That seems to lend itself to C11A as a great alternative – so if a tunnel isn’t affordable, a great transfer at Bellevue Transit Center is easily within our reach.