In our news roundup yesterday, we told you about efforts in the Bellevue City Council to continue seeking B7 as a viable East Link alternative, despite ST’s preferred pick of B2M for the B (South Bellevue) segment. The move is not unexpected as the four-member quorum has been very reluctant to favor B2M (which would run trains along Bellevue Way and up 112th Ave SE along the edge of the Surrey Downs neighborhood: see map). At an earlier council meeting, Mayor Don Davidson wanted B7 upgraded to preliminary engineering as a provision for the term-sheet with Sound Transit, but that amendment was not approved. On Monday night, the council agreed to commit $200,000 to award four contracts which would evaluate several issues:
The latest contracts will include a review of Sound Transit’s noise evaluation, a review of the agency’s B7 analysis, an environmental review of the Mercer Slough wetlands, and a study about relocating the South Bellevue Park and Ride so that it could connect with the B7 alternative.
To pay for the latest review work, the council agreed to shift $300,000 from an earlier road project that was completed under budget. That will bring the total allocation for work on East Link to $1.07 million. Of that, $200,000 is set aside for the four consultant contracts, leaving $293,000 in the city’s analysis and development budget for light rail.
Though it’s not surprising to see the council continuing to commit money to study B7, it’s hard to see the wisdom in relocating the South Bellevue Park and Ride, which would add millions to the cost of East Link (taking away B7’s cost advantage), a tab Sound Transit will most likely not pick up.