On Monday evening, the Bellevue City Council voted yet again along partisan lines, to award a $670,723 contract to Arup North America (the same firm that did Wallace’s Vision Line) to study the B7 revised alignment, which would include the new Enatai Park & Ride, a mere 0.5 miles from the current South Bellevue P&R. The move was not unexpected, as the four-member pro-B7 council quorum has been desperately trying to catch up with Sound Transit in pursuing a study that would purportedly better compare B7 to B2, ST’s preferred alignment.
The study has a 6-7 month time frame, which by that time, the FTA will likely already have issued its record of decision for Sound Transit’s final preferred route. Arup, fully aware of the timeline discrepancies, did insert a “tipping point” condition– a check-in after about 4 months and $504,000 to either proceed or cut the rest of the study depending on council action.
As always, the pro-B2 councilmembers asked tough questions about the wisdom of this kind of budgeting, particularly John Chelminiak, who has since returned to the council after a vicious bear attack. The city has $6.2 million set aside for all work related to East Link over the next two years– only $650K of which is specifically appropriated for consultant work each year. While the Arup study will use $270K of 2010 funds, the remaining amount would drain 60% of that $650k, money which could better used for things like impacts mitigation.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear where I stand on this issue. A minimum of $504k for a couple pieces of paper that may never see the light of day isn’t exactly pocket change. You can find the council’s study session materials for the contract here (PDF).