Aerial of South Bellevue P&R neighborhoods (base courtesy Google)

Like many other transit agencies and local municipalities, Bellevue is facing a budget shortfall of its own, though not as dramatic as say, Sound Transit’s.  Nonetheless, several important transportation projects have fallen under the axe through the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.  The $353 million plan, which delegates funding for capital projects through 2017, strips $29 million of funding for such projects, a few of which could actually be very useful for South Bellevue P&R users.  From the Bellevue Reporter:

More than $29 million of that came in the form of transportation projects, including $6 million that would have went toward neighborhood sidewalks, $5.2 million on 145th Place Southeast and 4.4 million on 108th Avenue SE and Bellevue Way to Interstate 90.

While the original projects weren’t massive non-motorized traffic-calming master plans with cycletracks and road diets, they were part of an Enatai neighborhood program aimed at promoting traffic safety through sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.  Any loss of pedestrian projects in the park and ride’s station buffer is not welcome news for neighborhood non-drivers. The current lack of sidewalks on both 108th and Bellevue Way poses a safety hazard and acts as a major deterrent for residents walking to the park and ride.  Not only such facilities give pedestrians a place to walk, they also help mitigate impacts from traffic.  The future success of a Link station at South Bellevue will depend on whether or not walking/biking are feasible options.

Unfortunately, the city council seems oblivious to these kinds of travesties.  But as the council majority has consistently favored throwing money at fantasy routes over the kind of mitigation South Bellevue neighborhoods need, no one can truly be surprised.  Ironically enough, the defunding of the sidewalks would only add to the already-questionable impacts of the city-pursued A-2 replacement for the park and ride.  Considering that traffic will feed directly from both sidewalk-less Bellevue Way and 108th Ave SE via 113th, I have to question if the new and revised B7 is still truly about “protecting neighborhoods.”

33 Replies to “Budget Cuts Sidewalk Projects Near South Bellevue P&R”

  1. Sherwin does an excellent job of advocating for better bus and rail transit in and around Bellevue. He is articulate in arguing for his preferred alignment through the downtown core.
    So, where’s the hard-core and vocal blogger for South King County? They just lost their extension for rail to N.Fed Way. RapidRide is making a disappointing debut and Kent (nearly as large as Bellevue) is still treated as a second class transit city.
    “Where’s the Beef?”

      1. Amazing that a well managed city like Bellevue for decades maintained quality of service and fiscal prudence until “transit” came along and started busting their budgets.

        I kind of wonder what fiscal state Washington would be in, if we still had the $20 billion from LINK.

    1. To be fair, East Link is planning is much further along than South Link (aside from the S. 200th extension) and much more in the nitty-gritty of the political/legal strangehold of things.

    2. ST didn’t cancel the extension. It just said it was beginning to consider alternatives. The extension could be built late in stages, or it could be replaced by BRT, or anything else you want to suggest to the board.

      My impression from riding the A last week is, there isn’t much around the potential stations. Highline CC is about the only significant destination. Federal Way mall would be a destination but ST2 stops short of it. I’d like to hear Des Moines announce future TOD zones there. There’s potential for 10-mile long continuous TOD if the cities get their act together, same as highway 99 in Snohomish County. We’d have to keep some large businesses but there’s an excess of decaying restaurants and car dealerships on huge lots, and no single-family houses to shout NIMBY. But it sounds like the cities just want to add big P&R garages and leave it at that.

      1. I read a report a while ago about a plan for a high density urban center along the Pacific Hwy corridor from about a half mile north of Kent-Des Moines Rd to 240th. I can see that taking advantage of the College to create some good development around the station. I hope that they decide to, as a solution to the budget problem, only extend Link to Highline Community College and at the same time raise RapidRide frequency and give it better infrastructure.

  2. How about slapping the city with an ADA lawsuit? Surely it would be easy to find someone with standing. Then see which is cheaper, the cement or the lawyers.

    1. Seems wise.

      Sidewalk funding should be in the top tier of priorities, after water and sewer, and *well* before roads.

      1. Not that there’s actually a grounds for a lawsuit, though. You can never sue for *failure* to do a construction project. :-P If the city rebuilt the roads without providing suitable pedestrian facilities, that would be worth considering.

  3. Pretty much every other city in the region has embraced transit better then Bellevue. If they don’t get their act together, their economy will not keep up with the others in the region.

    1. Bellevue has done pretty well prior to this B7 controversy. It has had a central transit center for two decades, it has embraced density downtown. The buses on NE 8th are 15 minute frequency in the daytime and Saturday. Routes around Bellevue College have been consolidated, an Eastgate P&R added, and some bus service added to Somerset. There’s a large park, regional library, and city hall within walking distance of the transit center. Which other cities besides Seattle have done this much?

      1. In the downtown area, they’ve encouraged quite a lot of growth. Several 5+ story apartment and condo buildings. I think I read somewhere that the plan was to increase the population of downtown by 400%+ over the next few years. There’s frequent bus service provided from the recently rebuilt Transit Center (anchored by the 545 and now the 542). City hall and KC regional library are both on the bus lines.

        Outside of downtown… I don’t know as much about that.

    2. The Eastside would embrace transit to a higher degree if they could actually get better service. They get less than half of the service that taxes from the Eastside generate for Metro.

  4. From my reading, the reductions of the CIP budget was $29 million. Of this, $15.6 million, or 54% of the total reduction, came from the sidewalk projects. Sidewalk projects typically involve roadway elements like drainage improvements, signal adjustments, and shoulder additions. So, it could be estimated that the cut was 50% to motorized modes and 50% to non-motorized (although, that is purely conjecture as there were no other projects listed in the article) Note that this is the 6-year CIP. Projects which have made it on to the CIP in the first place, often reappear since they have likely met criteria to place them on it in the first place. Once revenues begin to pick up, it is likely that these projects will return. What is missing from this is whether this is for the entire project including engineering, permitting, etc. or if it is just for construction. If it is the later, a shelf ready project will have an even better chance at coming back.

    Regarding the ADA lawsuit: What is the ADA violation? No where in the ADA does it state that cities are obligated to provide separate pedestrian facilities. Rather, what facilities they own must be in compliance with various technical requirements. So, if the sidewalk is built, it must be a certain minimum width, meet slope requirements, and on and on.

    1. If the city doesn’t provide separate pedestrian facilities, I’m pretty sure the road is legally a pedestrian facility.

      Watch Bellevue try to claim that it’s safe for a blind person to walk down the road.

      1. Of course, the ADA only applies if something is being reconstructed, so there would be no grounds for lawsuit unless the road got rebuilt *without* sidewalks.

  5. At least for the section of Bellevue Way between I-90 and the intersection with 112th Ave SE, it makes sense to delay this. When East Link is built along the B2M alignment, that is the appropriate time to do streetscape improvements. There is no sense putting in sidewalks that may just be torn out and rebuilt.

  6. Was it just taking the sidewalks out of this year’s budget or a longer-term thing? East Link won’t be open for 13 years, and maybe longer in this financial climate. So there’s plenty of time to build sidewalks between now and then.

    1. The Bellevue Circulator was on the cut list. Last night at the Council meeting on the budget Councilmember Robertson asked for it to be put on the list for possible funding.

  7. The future success of a Link station at South Bellevue will depend on whether or not walking/biking are feasible options.

    If that were true shouldn’t ST be spending tens of thousands of dollars on sidewalks instead of hundreds of thousands on free parking that’s going to make traffic worse?

    1. Isn’t that the city’s responsibility? Maybe if they would spend their time actually working on developing decent station area plans instead of squabbling over whose ears are more important they could actually make some progress on this issue.

      1. Isn’t that the city’s responsibility?

        Ensuring the future success of a light rail alignment? The City should be working on pedestrian improvements but the reality is virtually nobody has any reason to be walking along Belleuve Way. The City has done a lot to make pedestrian access to the TC and throughout DT pretty good. And there are a lot of place in the City where the money can be better spent on pedestrian improvements. Just because it’s a busy road doesn’t mean it is a high priority pedestrian corridor. If you really want to make it more pedestrian friendly don’t triple the amount of free commuter parking! If you want people to walk to the train station then put the station near multi-family housing or at least where there is the possibility of development around the station; not in a swamp.

    2. The P&R station always will be a drive-and-transfer place. It’s like SODO station: there aren’t a lot of pedestrians in the area so the station will always have low ped usage. The station was built for other reasons (SODO: the appearance of providing rail to industrial jobs, and leveraging the E3 right-of-way; SBP&R: a P&R and transfer station). What would be bad is if all Link stations were like this, but fortunately many of them are in neighborhood centers.

      Incidentally, this shows again why the SBP&R station is not one of the most vital stations on the Eastside. Ideally it should be where E-W and N-S rail lines meet, but the ideal meeting point is not clear: it could be at SBP&R, it could be where I-90 and 405 meet, or it could be at the Eastgate P&R. All of these locations have their pluses and minuses, and each would help people coming from different directions, so it’s not clear where the best point should be. Also, from a pedestrian perspective, BTC should be the meeting point for everything. But BTC is not in a straight path from Issaquah to Seattle. (Although it would be reasonable for Renton to Kirkland.) With all these competing factors, the south Bellevue station is doomed to be sub-optimally productive no matter where it is. Which makes one wonder if eliminating the station would really be that bad.

    3. Thing is, who’s going to walk to South Bellevue station? The walkshed is tiny, because of all the cul-de-sacs and the fact that only 112th (the little, residential southern portion) and 113th intersect with Bellevue Way between I-90 and 112th (the big northern portion). Any chance at all for some TOD? I can see that being a great location for a couple 6-story mixed use buildings, maybe between the parking garage and Bellevue Way (I think there’s a fair amount of space between them).

      1. Not a good opportunity for TOD at all — we would be forcing the issue into and on the wrong type of lands/neighborhoods. Need to go east and north east into I-90, factoria and bel-red.

        It’s pretty clear that this area isn’t even a good place for a park and ride. Both the existing and Bellevue’s idea of multi-story complex for B7 should be kept away from the single family homes, the parkland and the wetlands.

        Bellevue Planning is already adopting a shoreline managment (critical areas style) ordinance that will ‘de-develop’ the area to the north – such as Bellfield business park etc. — that would never have been built in today’s environment.

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