Two nights ago, we told you that the Sound Transit Capital Committee chose to pursue a recommendation of B2 modified alignment for East Link’s South Bellevue segment, and C9T for the downtown segment. Those who have not followed our coverage on East Link closely may not be familiar with B2, which had been forgotten until recent. The route, shown in the map at right, is similar to B3 but avoids the unnecessary curve away from the Surrey Downs neighborhood. Trains would instead run straight up Bellevue and 112th Ave before entering the downtown segment. The modifications are mostly regarding guideway type (at-grade, elevated, etc.) and side-running segments along 112th.
We have a few commenters who were present at the Capital Committee meeting. Bob Bengford graciously brought back his own report:
While Claudia [Balducci] walked cautiously about Bellevue City Council’s 4-3 majority preference on the B routes, there appeared to be general consensus that South Bellevue Park and Ride was a critical stop along the route and needed to be on the alignment – both in terms of accessibility for park and ride users, but perhaps more importantly, for the great connectivity with other bus routes. We heard that Mercer Island’s council had sent a letter expressing their concerns over impacts to their park and ride should South Bellevue be excluded on the Eastlink Route.
More below the jump.
Regarding the downtown segment, the committee acted on recommending the C9T tunnel option, which was unanimously voted on as the Bellevue City Council’s newest preferred alternative. The council’s 7-0 vote and accompanying willingness to bear some of the financial cost likely spurred the Capital Committee to choose C9T. We also previously mentioned that a B2 style connector (from 112th) to the downtown segment would significantly cheapen the cost of the line. It appears this may have been the reason behind the revival of B2.
Prior to the ST Board’s April 22nd meeting, both ST and Bellevue are expected to work on a “term-sheet” to make forward progress on the downtown tunnel. If the “term-sheet” is not completed by the meeting, then an alternative recommendation of C11A will be pursued. C11A is another downtown alignment we feel serves Bellevue quite well. Both C9T and C11A will now be advanced to preliminary engineering. One downside to C9T, however, will be a one-year delay of the opening date from 2020 to 2021.
Overall, we are encouraged by the capital committee’s decision to pursue alignments that will serve both the South Bellevue Park and Ride and the downtown core. The next city council study session will likely revolve around further East Link discussion, particularly regarding the recent recommendations. While the council has endorsed B7 and C9T, it will not likely get both as the tunnel may be prohibitively expensive without the B2 connector. And considering the vote was unanimous for the latter, we feel that B7 is the better one to reconsider.
For those of you who can make it, a pro-B2/C9T crowd is expected to show up at Monday night’s meeting (April12th). We encourage anyone who can attend to go and voice their concerns to the council. The agenda has been posted here, and public comment will likely be taken at 6pm. Visual presence is also a key indicator to citizen discontent. The meeting will be held at Bellevue City Hall in conference room 1E-113. City Hall is across from the Bellevue Transit Center on NE 4th Street and 110th Ave NE.
[UPDATE 4/11] Adam here. I found this great graph showing the cost difference of each downtown option by connector type. The difference between B3 and B2 ranges from $50 to $100 million with both 110th alternatives having the largest cost savings.