Sound Transit's most recent preferred alternative on the left, and Bellevue's on the right

Tonight, the Bellevue City Council will meet once again to discuss East Link (agenda here), and more specifically the B7 route, something that Sound Transit has repeatedly tried to move forward on.  We reported earlier this year that the council had approved some $200,000 for four independent studies essentially aimed at critiquing ST’s job in the DEIS as well as studying B7-related elements.  When those studies were complete, it was discovered that there was no new information that suddenly made B7 the rock-star alignment that some of the councilmembers were expecting.

At a study session last Tuesday, Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson once again questioned the “sufficiency” of information available for B7.  Staff was then instructed to prepare discussion materials for tonight’s meeting to see if the council wants to pursue “additional studies.”  According to talk over the grapevine, the pro-B7 quorum’s intent is to bring B7 up to a similar level of engineering as Sound Transit is doing with B2– not at all an easy or cheap endeavor.

According to the study session materials (PDF), the City has a remaining $270,000 left in East Link study budget.  Considering that Sound Transit has discretion to dictate the final alignment, it’s beyond me why the council isn’t choosing to spend this money on wiser investments– like mitigation or neighborhood impacts for B2/B3, things that people actually care about.

The study session will begin tonight at 6pm in the 1E-113 room at Bellevue City Hall.  Bellevue or Eastside residents interested in East Link planning or even just prudent fiscal governance are encouraged to attend.  You can read about this blog’s endorsements and opinions of the whole saga here.

43 Replies to “Bellevue City Council Still Looking to Advance B7”

    1. Na, even if the court does rule in KF’s favor it would hardly be the end of the story. Those lanes had always been planned for conversion to HCT and all involved parties are onboard with that. Just because KF isn’t doesn’t mean that the world will stop and suddenly revolve around his backward views.

      Court cases can be messy, but this train has left the station. One way or another, we will see LR on the I-90 bridge.

  1. Great, now we have to pray the the court doesn’t stick its rear ugly head up its ass and force us to stay in the 20th century

      1. That’s already the schedule. Northgate Station is scheduled to open in 2010, on or before the opening of East Link.

  2. this is really embarrassing in an area of budget cutbacks that my city could waste so much money and time on something just to appease Surrey Downs. Just terrible…

    1. Forgive us, Sam, if Kemper’s lawsuit to block light rail across I-90, or his campaigning against rail ballot measures, causes us to assume he is against light rail.

      Has he done anything to promote bus rapid transit, besides campaign against light rail?

    2. Gotta agree with Brent on this one, Sam. If Kemper’s Kamp came up with a well thought out proposal for a world class BRT system in place of Link, I’d be all for it. Instead, he fawns over the automobile as a transportation option giving “freedom” and “independence” and says that buses are “less expensive” than light rail.

      I’m looking forward to driving RapidRide B soon. Even if it’s not really BRT, it should be an improvment over the existing 253 service. Kemper would do the Eastside a great service if he would stop fighting light rail and start pushing for improved transit service. You like buses? Fine – There are plenty of places on the Eastside that will not be served by Link that would be excellent locations for BRT lines – have at it, my boy.

      1. While BRT isn’t perfect, I’d be more willing to use it than a regular bus route because of the frequent service during off-hours. That’s the experience I got from Swift.

  3. I wonder, how much would it take to bring B7 up to a similar level of engineering as Sound Transit’s B2? Far more than $270K I supposed. And would that be worth it? Probably not.

  4. I’m so worried the NIMBYs will get their way and East Link will be as useless as the monorail. Already, too many people are, unfairly, saying “we spent tons of money for a train that goes nowhere.” We need to get this right.

  5. For the record, SeaTac-to-Northgate is scheduled for 2020. That will be the core of the system, with or without East Link. If Kemper and Wallace succeed in derailing East Link, the Eastside will have a large pot of money for BRT lines. Then it’ll be time for Kemper to put up or shut up.

    I’m not so worried about B7. It’s not the most significant aspect of the line. Just having Link to the Bellevue TC and almost to Redmond will make a significant difference, whichever route it takes in south Bellevue. The South Bellevue P&R is a significant transfer point, but it’s not the most important thing either. Even under the best scenario it’s still less than ideal (a P&R in the middle of nowhere in a wetland).

    It is curious, does the Bellevue city council really believe Surrey Downs is more important than their downtown tunnel? There’s not a lot of extra money in a recession. ‘Twould be best to prioritize. It would be something to mention during their reelection campaigns.

    1. I forgot the last part. If the Eastside builds a big BRT system instead of Link, they’ll be screwed when peak oil hits and they have trouble buying the fuel.

      @Zach: Maybe. I don’t know how much is federal vs local.

      So, what about the nightmare elephant in the room? If East Link is scuttled and the Eastside’s pot of money is drastically reduced, would that force the other areas to be reduced too under subarea equity? Although if North Link is well under construction by then, it could be argued by estoppel that it shouldn’t be affected.

  6. Make you guys a deal:

    1. Bellevue gets B7
    2. South Bellevue Park and Ride is restored to its natural state
    3. ST builds North Bend its own P&R so they stop parking in Bellevue
    3. ST remediates the damage the SBP&R has done to the green belt and slough
    4. ST builds a 96K per space multi-story P&R at SE 8th – like Mercer Island has
    5. ST builds a stub-end station at the Bellevue Transit Center (no tunnel req’d)

    And, in return:

    1. You can bypass us whenever you want and go straight to Redmond/Microsoft.
    2. You can have all the blueberries you can eat along the way
    3. We’ll get Kemper to stand down.

      1. My point is obvious: Is Bellevue going to participate in regional rapid transit or not? The majority of intelligent readers on this blog would like the answer to be ‘Yes’, since a well-designed segment that runs where people live, work, and shop makes the entire system better. You seem to have a different opinion which makes very little sense.

    1. Re the SBP&R, it was built before Sound Transit existed. So ST doesn’t have any responsibility to dismantle it and restore the wetland. ST could be given the job as part of a larger agreement, of course, but that would cut into money ST could otherwise use to increase bus service elsewhere on the Eastside. The alternative would be to simply abandon the P&R and wait until some separate campaign is raised to dismantle it.

      1. Mike,

        I think you stumbled upon something with your earlier comment.

        “I’m not so worried about B7. It’s not the most significant aspect of the line. Just having Link to the Bellevue TC and almost to Redmond will make a significant difference, whichever route it takes in south Bellevue. The South Bellevue P&R is a significant transfer point, but it’s not the most important thing either. Even under the best scenario it’s still less than ideal (a P&R in the middle of nowhere in a wetland).”

        Linking the Bellevue TC to Redmond and Seattle, and moving masses of people/microsofties between those three points, needs to be the priority here.

        No one (in sufficient quantity) lives or works near that Park and Ride station. What really is making the South Bellevue P&R the pivot point in this design decision?

        – Is it ST’s need to build-up ridership numbers via the folks in Issaquah, Snoqualmie, North Bend, Alpental, and Cle Elum that do – and will – park there? Does that not encourage people to move out east on 90 and cause more sprawl? Isn’t that counter-productive?

        – Is there an Aubrey Davis-esque back room deal to stop these people from parking on Mercer Island?

        Talk about 30 foot walls…..

      2. I didn’t understand the South Bellevue Park and Ride either…until the first time I rode the 240 from Renton to Bellevue. Even in peak traffic, it takes five minutes (at most) to get from the Factoria mall to the South Bellevue Park and Ride. Then it suddenly made sense! Factoria (and Newport hills and points south towards Coal Creek) can have easy access to Seattle and a great transfer point. Going to Eastgate would be out of the way (and the 554 headways are less than 550) and going to SE 8th would be terrible for South Bellevue.

        Riding any bus from Factoria to the South Bellevue Park and Ride is a major “aha” moment that shows the need of the Park and Ride.

      3. The population of North Bend isn’t that big, and there are almost zero commuters from eastern Washington. The biggest users of the P&R are from directly south and north. Historically there has been a draw from southeast and northeast (Bellevue and Somerset), but these are hopefully going to the Eastgate P&R now. Sammamish is the other large-population area, it it also is closer to the Eastgate and Issaquah P&Rs. But I don’t know the fullness of these P&Rs. People do drive west from P&R to P&R looking for a space, which is what Mercer Islanders hate so much — and for good reason.

        The other use of the P&R is transferring between the 240 and 550; e.g., from Seattle to Factoria or Newport Hills. Or as a secondary drop-off point if somebody’s driving you to BTC but can’t get there in time, they drive to the P&R instead and can maybe make the bus.

        When N-S rail or BRT becomes a reality, there’ll be a need for a general transfer station between it and East Link, or between East Link and Issaquah Link (however the latter is designed). The SBP&R is the least bad location for this. BTC should be the transfer point, but that means people coming from south and east would have to backtrack up to BTC and back if going west. So it makes some sense to use an existing P&R as the transfer point, especially if a new N-S line shares track with East Link between BTC and SBP&R. But all this is speculation, and SBP&R is not an ideal transfer point either, again because of its isolation.

      4. But isn’t that your point Mike?

        The “least bad” decision for Park and Ride is driving the entire decision process for East Link.

      5. That’s a funny way of putting it when the B7 fanatics are trying to hijack it to move it away from neighborhoods (the place where transit should be). SBP&R is a “good”, it’s just not a “great” or “vital”. B7 is “OK”, “not a horrible death”, but doesn’t serve the south Bellevue area where people live and go to school.

        And the issue of a transit transfer point is being lost. I’d rather that be the focus. Where is the best place for transfering E-W to N-S, and from Issaquah? Where should the next rail/BRT lines go? Then, how do the SBP&R, the B7 corner, and the Wilburton P&R compare to that ideal? What will we do if they’re all inadequate?

  7. it’s beyond me why the council isn’t choosing to spend this money on wiser investments– like mitigation or neighborhood impacts for B2/B3, things that people actually care about.

    If just not making it as bad as it could be is what Bellevue voters care about the results of the last city council election would have been diametrically different. Face it, even the people along the B7 alignment which voted overwhelmingly in favor of ST2 are it vehemently in opposition to light rail if it comes anywhere close to their backyard. The only reason SB even smells like a good idea is because ST want’s to build expensive parking in an area that has zero development potential and precludes the direct freeway access that makes it a good candidate for a transfer point.

  8. Why are we still arguing about this? Drop East Link and use the money for North Link where it’s wanted.

    Yes, Yes, regional equity means we have to build them something. Fine. How about a busway on the B-7 route leading right into NE 14th for L’il Kevin’s Fantastic Futuristic Vision Line Five Story Viaduct!

    1. Even better idea: seize Bell-Square Mall via eminent domain, raze it, and turn it into a parking garage/transit center.

  9. I saw in the newspaper, the other day there’s a freight rail possibly coming to redmond,kirkland and might extend it to renton on BNSF corridor.If that is the case what are the possiblities of east link ?

    1. I think,East Link will still continue as it is irrespective of freight use. But it is good to use their BNSF corridor for light rail too, to avoid two tracks in bellevue in future.

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