Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace.
Kevin Wallace

While there were no raised voices this time around, plenty of heated emotions and rhetoric were still enough to make last night’s Bellevue city council meeting a spectacle.  The most recent chapter in the saga started last Friday when the Seattle Times reported that councilmember Kevin Wallace failed to disclose a deal he signed with GNP, which, in short, has sought to reactivate the Eastside rail corridor from Renton to Snohomish in addition to the Redmond spur.  Shortly after the story broke, the City of Bellevue announced it would be hiring an outside investigator to look into Wallace’s situation.

The evening started off with a spate of public comments, ranging from support of the investigation to testimony decrying it as a “waste of taxpayer money.”  Both B2M and B7 supporters were present, the latter not explicitly emphasizing support for investigating Wallace, but that rather it include both Grant Degginger and Claudia Balducci, who have been accused by a few of having conflicts of interest of their own.  B2M supporters, on the other hand, expressed frustration with the lack of transparency recently pioneered by Wallace.

Aside from comments about the investigation, there was one testimony from a Robin Ray, who launched a blatant attack on the pro-light rail group *Move Bellevue Forward (MBF), accusing it of being “sponsored by Sound Transit” and Tim Ceis.  Ray didn’t back up or cite any of his claims, and instead attempted to discredit MBF through a mostly emotional plea.  While citizens are free to say anything they want, it interests me why Ray chose to make his claims to the city council, which has no part in the group.

As far as I’m concerned, whether or not Kevin Wallace’s dealings with GNP are a conflict of interest isn’t the only problem.  The greater concern is the fact that he didn’t disclose the deal at all, especially while the council was voting on spending $670k to further study B7.  Under the precedent of recusal, the council may not even had Wallace’s critical fourth vote to proceed with the study.

More coverage on the Seattle Times as well as live tweets and analysis from our Twitter last night.  The meeting is also now available to watch on Bellevue TV.

*In the interests of disclosure, MBF is a group I am involved with, but these opinions are my own and not on behalf of the organization.

58 Replies to “Bellevue Residents, Councilmembers Spar at Council Meeting”

  1. Is it on-topic to ask what the heck that guy was talking about with his “schoolteacher cousin in Seattle” who felt the “ground shaking” because of “the Sound Transit?”

    I had to work very late last night, and actually watched a couple of hours of the meeting, including most of the Bel-Red discussion. It was quite interesting. There was a discussion of the utility of on-street parking, which the old guy at the end of the table seemed to be very down on, in spite of his staff singing the praises of it from traffic-calming and first-floor retail business perspectives. One of the staff explicitly said at the beginning of the Bel-Red discussion that they began from the premise that Bel-Red would not be a “typical suburban development” with buildings set back from the property line and wide streets.

    One of the women (not Balducci) had the strangest questions about a proposed at-grade Link crossing. She seemed to think that the rail crossing required bells and barriers and threw a fit about the “safety implications” of a crossing with only signals.

    She also mentioned “noise issues on Ranier” at crossings where the rails are set in concrete rather than ballast. You can tell the difference on the train, but I was actually interested enough in her statement that I went out to Columbia City and stood in the the median at Tamarack while several Link trains went past at “full tilt.” I genuinely don’t understand what she’s talking about; is she making this up or is there a place where this is an issue? I know noise is an issue around Tukwila, but the speeds there are much higher, and it’s elevated and on a curve.

    I’m glad there were sane people there earlier in the video that I missed. It would be a shame if the people I saw were representative of Bellevue.

      1. Bellevue pretty much doesn’t have any on-street parking on its arterials, so RR B wouldn’t be affected. Bruce’s comment above is for the Bel-Red rezone area around NE 16th which would be near where light rail would run. See the previous STB posts about the street profile in that area.

      2. How so? SDOT basically split the baby with that decision. It was a qualified victory for transit, at best.

      3. Actually, Luna Park will still have on-street parking during off-peak hours and on the counter-peak side of the street. That is a rather unfortunate compromise that, if the 15/18 are an example, does slow down the buses significantly.

        There are several stretches of the C Line that will retain on-street parking, but aren’t listed in the article.

      4. How is this different from transit or planning projects anyplace else in this city or any other? Talking about changing parking even in downtown Seattle involves the same combination of outrage, indifference and support. And, eventually, compromise. Hanging this on West Seattle or Bellevue is a tired stereotype. There’s a great deal of support in those places for decent transit.

      5. I’m frankly astonished and impressed this thread hasn’t turned into a Bellevue bashing/East Link bashing flamefest yet.

      6. I once rode the 55 through the Luna Park area on a Saturday afternoon. Traffic was light enough so the effect of an exclusive lane on travel time would have been essentially zero. So, based on my single-trip experience, I think their decision to allow parking during the off-peak hours and restrict it during the peak was reasonable.

        A bigger issue with the C line is the fact that the bus is going to make two extra turns to stop at the Alaska Junction stop, rather than just continue down California Ave., turn right at Alaska, and move the stop to right after the turn. I’ve been through the Alaska Junction area and there is nothing sacred about the current stop location that makes it worth slowing buses down for the sake of stopping right there and not 50 feet over.

        The same issue also applies to routes 54 and 55 today.

  2. The few minutes that I watched included a pretty detailed discussion by the city attorney that seemed to clear Ms. Balduci of an appearance of conflict of interest (in the opinion of the attorney).

    1. She doesn’t have personal interest in either Bellevue or Sound Transit – she can’t profit from either.

      1. Agreed. And it was also discussed how membership on the Sound Transit board cannot be a conflict of interest (e.g. holding 2 offices) because of the law that created Sound Transit requires its make up. Yet, the one neighborhood group has fixated on making Sound Transit the enemy.

      2. Charles, one neighborhood group (Surrey Downs) thinks that Sound Transit targeted it. Despite the prevailing belief here that Surrey Downs is filled with SUVs and 3000-square foot homes, it’s actually filled with old people who have preserved their neighborhood downtown for 50 years. Very few rich people live in Surrey Downs. Sound Transit thought there wouldn’t be a lot of opposition from the poorest neighborhood in West Bellevue.

        I ask continually why Sound Transit favors preserving businesses to preserving homes even though I know the answer. Homeowners don’t retain legal counsel.

      3. @AP That just makes the opposition from Surrey Downs more inexplicable. If I was an old person I would do everything I could to get Link in my neighborhood as I would benefit even more than a young person from the improved service Light Rail would bring, not to mention the increase in property values that will result.

        Have you been to the Ranier Valley recently? If not, I challenge you to go out to the Columbia City station and watch the trains and busses and cars and trucks go by and tell me which is the loudest. Hint: It’s not Link. Then walk a block away from the tracks and go behind a house and try again. I bet if you listen carefully you’ll be able to hear the train’s bell at the intersections, but nothing else. With the buffers I’ve seen proposed for 112th St, that’s what Link will sound like to you.

        Sound Transit probably thought Surrey Downs would act in their best interests and welcome Link with open arms.

      4. Bruce, I believe I understand your point of view, but you need to try to understand points of view different from yours. You can’t tell an 80-year old that her property might be condemned so that Seattle can build a train that will service her neighborhood when she is 95 and expect to get her support. And yes, in 2006 Sound Transit was talking about tearing down houses in north Surrey Downs to use as a “staging area”.

        Transit in this region has long been perceived as Seattle-focused and Eastside-sponsored . Sound Transit coming in to order us around is a bitter pill to swallow.

        These arguments have been going on since 1995-1996. People are tired of it. I really doubt Sound Transit would be approved by voters today.

      5. @AP “Seattle” is not building this train. Sound Transit is not the City of Seattle nor King County Metro and its governance structure includes strict subarea equity rules that guarantee the different subareas do not subsidize each other. I can’t be bothered to dig them up right this minute, but every couple of years, ST performs detailed internal audit reports about subarea equity. ST’s governing board is also composed of a balance of people from throughout the region, and Seattle’s influence is probably more dilute there than on the county.

        I appreciate that the Eastside subsidizes Seattle’s King County Metro busses to a small extent; if makes you feel any better, I don’t own a car but I get to help pay for rural King County road that I couldn’t care less about. I’ve also advocated Seattle splitting itself off from rest of the county, even though it would mean more taxes for me, if only so that we can can control our own transit destiny. Ultimately, though, KC Metro subsidies are irrelevant to any discussion about ST.

        Your initial argument is not an argument against B2M but in fact an argument against any public works project whatsoever. Sometimes you have to take private property (with the proper compensation) to build roads and transit systems, and while one tries to minimize that, there is a compelling public interest in building a light rail system on an optimal alignment (in terms of cost, ridership and construction risk) and I am convinced that ST has stuck the right balance, and justified the small number of buyouts that will occur in order for East Link.

        A couple of weeks ago, we had a post about an independent poll that ST commissions periodically to evaluate the public’s perception of it. It shows steady and continuing increases of support each year for ST, and also majority support among Eastside residents for the 112th alignment vs B7. But you’re right about one thing: I’ve only lived here six months, and I’m already tired of the B2M/B7 debate and I’m particularly tired of the anti-B2M crowd’s arguments, as they don’t make sense.

        I’m trying very hard to understand the different points of view here, but the facts do not support them.

      6. AP, I’m very confident that if the ST2 ballot proposal were to be voted on today, it would pass with the same or higher margin it did in Bellevue.

        The fact also remains that the 112th alignment is simply the best solution for this system. Any other alignment has been shown to be inferior in terms of achieving overall system goals, environmental factors and costs to taxpayers. And it is not Seattle’s system, EastLink is the Eastside’s system that serves Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond with connections to Central Link in Seattle. If you live in Surrey Downs and want to get to Overlake Hospital, Eastlink will get you there and a whole lot faster than the bus. If you live in downtown Bellevue and want to get to the tech campuses in Redmond, Eastlink will get you there in a few short minutes. If you live in downtown Redmond, and want to get to Lincoln Square or any other of Bellevue’s attractions, EastLink will get you there with no parking hassle.

        Change is never easy, and yes, the Surrey Downs neighborhood is being impacted but in the long run, this neighborhood benefits. Sound Transit has also offered significantly generous mitigation benefits including purchasing those properties adjacent to the line that wish to be bought out. As far as noise, Link trains are quiet, often quieter than road generated noise.

        And what you as a Bellevue resident should be more concerned (IMHO) about is the out and out corruption that has besmirched the reputation of your city government both in terms of the money used to basically purchase the election of city council members and turn the city from a productive and cooperative agency into a potentially litigious agency that works not for the best interests of its citizens but for the whims of those with vast sums of money and who would warp the process in an effort to stop this system, or failing that, to maneuver its features for their own personal gain.

        I lived in Bellevue when its reputation was legendary as a well run and efficient city. I hope the citizens of Bellevue recognize the folly of what has gone on and clean house in the next elections.

      7. Your attempts to convince me with statements like “any other aligment is inferior” are missing the point. I’m not trying to convince you that B7 or B12 or B2MA is the best alignment. I’m trying to illustrate that Sound Transit is not seen as a trustworthy and competent agency in the Surrey Downs area. I think this lack of trust is more widespread than Surrey Downs, and certainly more widespread than denizens of this blog would believe.

        Please put away the zealous drums for a moment and try to understand why these strange, not-sane people are throwing fits. It’s a matter of understanding your enemy before you attack them. (And before you object to the terms “enemy” and “attack”, read the comments in this thread!) I’m trying to explain why Surrey Downs residents are so upset by illustrating their point of view.

        I’m probably the homeowner in Surrey Downs who is most in favor of Sound Transit, and even I no longer believe the agency is competent. I flipped the bit on them when they changed the route from the east side of 112th to the west side of 112th in order to save the Bellevue Club’s tennis courts. Soon after, Sound Transit they told Bellevue that their tax base had decreased by 1/3 so they had to build a cheaper, surface route through downtown. Anything to get the train built! This from the agency that stopped Central Link a mile away from the airport.

        Seattle gets tunnels. Bellevue gets the cheap routes. How am I supposed to believe that Sound Transit is treating our area fairly? Frankly, I would not be unhappy if the current economic situation caused Sound Transit to pull the plug on EastLink. Because I don’t believe Sound Transit when they tell me this is the “best” route. I think it’s the “affordable” route. I think the “best” route is up Bellevue Way almost to Bellevue Square, then east on 6th across 405. But Sound Transit knew they’d never win against those lawyers.

        As for corruption in Bellevue: yes, I know our council reps have day jobs, and they may have conflicts of interest. Corruption is rampant in politics–ask any Seattle cop about that. But as I said on another thread, Wallace may be a crook, but he’s our crook.

      8. I’m trying to illustrate that Sound Transit is not seen as a trustworthy and competent agency in the Surrey Downs area. I think this lack of trust is more widespread than Surrey Downs, and certainly more widespread than denizens of this blog would believe.

        AP, the very poll Bruce refers to shows that approval of Sound Transit is high and on the rise, which directly counters your claim.

        I flipped the bit on them when they changed the route from the east side of 112th to the west side of 112th in order to save the Bellevue Club’s tennis courts.

        At the same time, many of the condo owners on the west side of the street expressed a preference for that alignment, because it would buy them out.

        Seattle gets tunnels. Bellevue gets the cheap routes.

        Seattle has had that tunnel for two decades. Unless you’re referring to the Beacon Hill tunnel, in which case I would challenge you to come up with a way over that hill that didn’t result in trains failing to make the grade and sliding backwards down the track.

        Sound Transit has been willing to work with Bellevue on a funding plan for a downtown tunnel. They even signed a term sheet. But the Council majority has persisted in attacking Sound Transit with nonsensical arguments, attempted to delay the process while they keep re-engineering B7, and has threatened to attempt to withhold necessary permits (which we all know Tukwila failed to do).

        I think the tunnel is an important part of making sure that downtown Bellevue is ready for its inevitable transformation to a dense, walkable city, as well as ensuring that the entire East Link line performs acceptably. But clinging on to the tunnel as a status symbol is short-sighted.

        As for corruption in Bellevue: yes, I know our council reps have day jobs, and they may have conflicts of interest.

        The actual scenario is that one Councilman does have an apparent conflict of interest, and has apparently spent City money to benefit that private interest. The remaining Council members do not have apparent conflicts of interest.

      9. AP,

        It troubles me that you use the term “enemy”, and that you think of this process as adversarial. It need not be. As for your perceptions of Sound Transit’s competency, they are charged with building a light rail system given at best, a gauntlet of daunting circumstances including now, vociferous opposition from self interested property owners and business people. The fact that they built the starter system Central Link is a testament to the courage and tenacity of its leaders. And in large part, it was a series of compromises based on finances, politics and time. The reason the initial line stopped short of the airport was money. But, they pulled it off. In all cases, the line conforms to the EIS and alignment issues even the Tukwila alignment bypassing South Center had a rationale. (I didn’t like that decision but hey, nothing happened in a vacuum)

        As for tunnels in Seattle versus Bellevue, 1) there was already an existing tunnel in downtown that was built with a future vision of light rail. So the billions that would needed to be spent to construct one were avoided in the ST budget. 2) the tunnels in Beacon Hill and in the University Link segments were decided on based on specific criteria in the EIS. The same criteria applies to the Eastlink segment. Topography, population density, and ridership are the key points:

        As discussed in the EIS, Section 2.1.3.1, tunnels were considered only where they would meet the “tunnel criteria,” that is, where difficult topography, physical barriers, lack of available right-of-way or high ridership demands would make new at-grade or elevated routes infeasible or impractical.

        Section 2.1.3.1, Central Link FEIS:

        For Segments A and B (North and University Link), the figure (see above) shows that high ridership, lack of right-of-way, and topographic factors would require primarily elevated and tunnel profiles.

        With limited exceptions, Segments D (Rainier Valley), E, and F have gentle topography, sufficient rights-of-way, lower density, and lower projected ridership and train frequencies, warranting profiles that are almost entirely at-grade or elevated.

        From a STB post by Sherwin Lee

        Despite the outcome that you do not like, Sound Transit’s processes have been open, fair, and rigorous.

        As for Kevin Wallace, I did not name him in my comments above, but if the shoe fits, he can wear it. I’ll say, when I lived in Bellevue, its council members, while many were conservative Republicans, they at least knew that they were the stewards of a special place much admired near and far. Corruption in politics in the Northwest is culturally condemned, to the point that people from elsewhere are amazed at how things work here. I remember Ken Behring’s henchman calling the Seattle area “provincial” in its attitudes for not wanting to play ball with their scheme to move the Seahawks to southern California.

        I have to say that I’m shocked that you would accept an attitude of corruption by your officials (e.g. “so and so” is a crook but he is our crook). That is such a defeatist and suspicious attitude about government. What makes the Northwest so special is that we reject the politics that are common elsewhere. If this had been Chicagoland where I’ve spent the past 15 years, you would not have had an opportunity to participate in the planning of a transit system like you have here or to voice your opposition in the manner that you have. The decisions would have been made and that would be the end of the story. Because you see, they operate according to the standards you’ve now accepted for your city, e.g. he who controls the machine with cash, makes the decisions and reaps the rewards (real estate, graft, contracts etc).

      10. Regarding the poll, can you link to it? I searched for “poll” and can’t find the relevant post.

        Regarding the condominiums, of course they wanted to be bought out. I don’t expect many of those condominium owners are going to be purchasing homes next to the train tracks, but I could be wrong.

        Regarding the tunnel, it’s not so much a status symbol as it is the fact that downtown Bellevue traffic is horrid already. (Bellevue hardly needs status compared to Seattle: it’s far, far better or far, far worse, depending on the metric you examine.) Putting a train on the surface will slow down the train and slow down traffic. I know, I know, this blog’s opinion is “once the train goes in, no one will drive”, but that’s another point I refuse to accept. (I’ve also read on this blog “I prefer a slow train…”)

        Regarding tunnels, I wasn’t referring to the downtown tunnel (which so recently removed train tracks that were never used–another shining example of Seattle transit planning!) I was referring to the fabulously expensive University Link tunnels. If Sound Transit had run the train down the middle of Broadway I would feel better about them running a train on the surface streets through Bellevue downtown.

        As for Wallace, let’s please wait for proof of wrongdoing. I’ll admit it’s shady that he didn’t advise the city attorney previously. But the charges against him are far from proven. See his response and wait for the inquest.

        I want the train. I really do. But I won’t stop fighting to have the train move 3 blocks eastward because (for many reasons) I think it will be better for Sound Transit and better for Bellevue. I’m not in the group that gets attacked so frequently on this blog–I’ve only gone to two council presentations in 10 years. But I feel like Sound Transit has betrayed my interests, marketed their plans with opaque supporting data and pushed a Seattle-focused agenda. We don’t have a strong history of successful public works in this city, and Sound Transit lives up to that low bar.

      11. https://seattletransitblog.com/2011/03/08/survey-shows-favorable-results-for-sound-transit/

        I’ll let Bellevue residents address the rest of your points, but if you seriously think it’s physically possible to get Link from Westlake station, up Pine to Broadway and then to the U-District, you’re not in possession of the facts. ST is actually building rail at-grade on Broadway, though. It’s the First Hill Streetcar and it’s going from Capitol Hill south to Yestler and then Jackson in the I.D.

      12. referring to the Beacon Hill tunnel, in which case I would challenge you to come up with a way over that hill that didn’t result in trains failing to make the grade and sliding backwards down the track.

        That’s easy, you take the same route that is planned for East Link and avoid the problem entirely. It also saves the money of having to come back later and put in those very same tracks.

      13. That’s easy, you take the same route that is planned for East Link and avoid the problem entirely.

        And miss SODO, Stadium, Beacon Hill and require a huge tail track to get to the O&M yard?

      14. “I flipped the bit on them when they changed the route from the east side of 112th to the west side of 112th in order to save the Bellevue Club’s tennis courts.”

        Huh? Sound Transit has not moved the alignment to the west side of 112th. The preferred alignment is still on the east side or the median. There is a group from Bellevue, including the owner of the Bellevue Club and some condo owners, that is currently advocating for the alignment to be moved to the west side, but no decision has been made yet.

        “Soon after, Sound Transit they told Bellevue that their tax base had decreased by 1/3 so they had to build a cheaper, surface route through downtown.”

        They’ve been saying that since before the ST2 vote. There has never been money for a tunnel in Bellevue since Sound Transit scaled back the project scope after the defeat of the “Roads & Transit” proposition. Bellevue’s own mayor was the vice-chair of the Sound Transit board during the ST2 scoping process and budget creation, so maybe you can blame her for not advocating hard enough for a tunnel.

        “Sound Transit thought there wouldn’t be a lot of opposition from the poorest neighborhood in West Bellevue.”

        The Bellevue Way / 112th alignment wasn’t developed unilaterally by Sound Transit, the previous city council included it as one of their preferred alternatives, that’s why it was brought forward in the EIS process. City staffers also had a hand in developing the current B2M alternative.

        “And yes, in 2006 Sound Transit was talking about tearing down houses in north Surrey Downs to use as a “staging area”.”

        It couldn’t have been in 2006. The scoping process didn’t start until the end of 2006 and the DEIS was written in 2008 and since then the Red Lion site has been the preferred construction staging area. The houses along Main, the ones that have been turned in to commercial property, may be on the chopping block.

        “I think the “best” route is up Bellevue Way almost to Bellevue Square, then east on 6th across 405. But Sound Transit knew they’d never win against those lawyers. ”

        That probably was the best route, it was the one I supported, but it was not supported by the Bellevue city council when they informed Sound Transit of their preferred alternatives, that’s why it wasn’t brought through the EIS process. It has nothing to do with Sound Transit being afraid of lawyers. The city council thought the construction impacts to Bellevue Way would be too much to handle and didn’t support the route.

        “This from the agency that stopped Central Link a mile away from the airport.”

        Last time I checked, Link went to the airport.

      15. Zed, it’s a one-mile walk from the Link station to the Airport terminal.

        But that’s the Port of Seattle’s fault, not Sound Transit’s.

      16. Zed, it’s a one-mile walk from the Link station to the Airport terminal.

        Bollocks. It’s about 1/4 mile, give or take depending on which airline you’re flying.

      17. And miss SODO, Stadium, Beacon Hill

        East Link will be within wheel squeal distance of Stadium Station. I’d be for closing SODO today. Trade an expensive underground station on Beacon Hill for a bus transfer hub at Rainer, you betcha.

        and require a huge tail track to get to the O&M yard?

        If ST couldn’t find anywhere else along Railroad Ave.

      18. SODO station is marginal, but it does support local industrial business — a cause I believe you have supported on the Eastside. Omitting Stadium station will knock a hole in Link’s game day ridership, which negates one of rail transit’s great strengths, namely that it’s fantastically cost effective and efficient at high loads. It also saves Metro money by moving bus drivers on the clock to their starting points without having to car-shuttle them. Beacon Hill is arguably the best performing station between Downtown and Tukwila.

        Basically, everything you’re proposing is a short-term money saver that we pay for indefinitely into the future in terms of lower ridership. That’s exactly the kind of mentality that got Seattle into the fix it is now, with a high running cost, slow, overloaded urban bus network, and it’s precisely the kind of thinking we need to stop.

        There’s also a qualitative difference. Your proposals here at least save money up front at the cost of ridership and level of service. B7 in any of its variants costs more, has worse ridership, has much higher construction risk, and causes more environmental damage than B2M. Moreover much of the opposition to B2M seems to stem not from rational disagreement over cost-benefit analysis, but from grievance mongering against ST and irrational and afactual beliefs about light rail; moreover it’s all fueled and goaded along by a coterie of very wealthy and well connected anti-rail advocates on the Eastside.

      19. “That’s easy, you take the same route that is planned for East Link and avoid the problem entirely.”

        They studied that in the EIS, it didn’t make it through the process. Case closed. Nice 15-year later quarterbacking though.

      20. @Zed, initially the Central Link went to Tukwila International Blvd. It was a bit later that they extended it to the airport. Confounding, but I suppose someone will point out the very good reason for stopping the line in Tukwila.

        @Bruce: Thank you for the link to the survey. I was searching for a poll. I especially like the part that says the west option up 112th “is supported by some nearby residents who want to control costs and be close to L.R.” I suppose if I said this poll was worded in a leading fashion, I’d be ripped to shreds. As for Seattle splitting from the rest of the county…go ahead, and please take Quebec with you :)

        I think I’m convinced. I much prefer to have my downtown neighborhood cut off from downtown by rail. And I know there won’t be any problems, because Sound Transit has my back.

        RE: all the comments about light rail being quieter than I can imagine. Check out the first link in the latest post on this blog: it appears at least part of the party line is BS.

      21. @AP Did you read the article or my first post at the top?

        From the article:

        The worst spots are two crossovers, near Mount Baker Station and near Othello Station, where trains go “ka-thunk.” Crews will insulate homes in the Cheasty Greenbelt, a hillside west of the Mount Baker switch.

        In the Ranier Valley, ST had no choice but to put crossovers near existing buildings. Presumably in Bellevue, ST will put the crossovers in the retained cut on Bellevue Way away from houses. Moreover, in any of the B2M scenarios, Surrey Downs will have a buffer of a wall and green space that the RV does not have.

        The other noise complaints that are referenced in that article come from Tukwila, where Link is elevated, on a curve, and runs at 55 mph, vs at-grade (or retained-cut), straight, and < 35 mph which is how it will run in south Bellevue. I challenge you to go to Columbia City station like I did this week, walk a block back from a house, and tell me that Link is louder than a diesel bus or truck. Hell, I'll meet you there and we can experience it together, if you want.

        Finally, that article doesn't seem consistent with ST as a "bad neighbor" does it? If they were a bunch of assholes, wouldn't they just tell these homeowners to piss off? After all, the noise is within the legal limits, so the homeowners have no legal recourse.

        But they're not a bunch of assholes, so they're trying to make it right for the TINY number of people who've been adversely affected by Link in the RV. The people you don't hear from in that article are those whose commutes are now faster and smoother compared to the old bus 42.

        I fear I'll never convince you that ST aren't a bunch of raging assholes, but those are the facts.

      22. @Bruce: Probably not. But I merely alleged ST is inept, and possibly deceitful. (At least they spin their messages heavily and provide opaque numbers.) I never referred to ST as “assholes”.

        I believe the rhetoric is extreme on both sides. The people screaming that ST will destroy their lives are full of it, yes, but so are those who claim Surrey Downs residents are all rich, environment-destroying, mall-shopping, BMW-driving Republicans.

        I’m trying to illustrate another side of this conflict. Take what you will of it. I really think things will end up ok for both sides but vehement opposition is a necessary part of the process.

  3. Bellevue’s former mayor was vice chair of the Sound Transit board when ST2 was being developed, there was no conflict of interest then, so I don’t see why there’d be one now with Claudia Balducci on the board.

    1. Public-public interactions probably aren’t conflicts of interest because in neither case is there personal gain.

      1. Isn’t one of those guys (Dellinger) on ST’s board? If it ever comes to a lawsuit, it may not be a state ethics violation, but he’s going to have to recuse himself from decisions on one or other of those bodies. I believe he said something to that effect.

      2. The people accusing Balducci for a conflict for being on the ST Board are either ignorant or not well-versed in how the RTA works politically. By that logic, then McGinn can’t be on the Board because of U-Link, neither can Reardon because of the North Corridor, nor Patterson because of South Link. You get the picture?

      3. Degginger is not on the ST Board. He has said he will recuse himself if his firm is ever contracted by ST to fight a case with Bellevue, but he did hint last night that he doesn’t think Lane Powell will be working with ST on any East Link case. Even if it comes down to that, then that just makes Bellevue look even more terrible.

  4. There is no conflict of interest with Balducci. This is a pathetic attempt divert attention from Kevin Wallace’s true conflict. She runs the jail for King County. They have their own transportation system. You may have seen their buses around. They have bars and screens on the windows and don’t make many stops.

    1. Cool. Security bars to keep the riff-raff out, purely express with a one seat rides to destination, and a county wide RFA to boot.
      What’s not to like about it?

  5. BTW, I think this post should say precedent, not precedence in the second-to-last paragraph.

  6. While the city fights internal conflicts ST continues to engineer B2M. Bellevue has to put this behind them and soon.

    Look!! Here comes the train down Bellevue Way and 112th at grade all the way through downtown.

    1. I was one of those Bellevue residents who supported higher taxes to pay for a tunnel. Having just gotten back from Portland (and spent a week on MAX), I think Bellevue will do just fine with surface light rail. If it does come down to it, I’m not opposed to a tunnel (provided there’s a direct link to the existing BTC), but I would be just fine with surface rail that ran through BTC as well.

      1. My opinions are similar. Ultimately, I support whichever alignment Sound Transit picks, be it surface or tunnel. The tunnel has its perks, like capacity and travel time, but C11A has a greater service area and a really cool BTC station that interfaces really well with the bus bays.

      2. I actually support C11A over C9T because it reaches more of Bellevue, has a 108th station to serve Old Bellevue while retaining the walkshed of East Main, and its very impressive 5 and 10 minute walk times; blanketing all of downtown.

        I also don’t think the crossings at Main, 2nd, and 4th will cause a problem. It’s only three intersections and traffic will be moved off of those roads in the future with the NE 10th I405 access. Although, NE 4th will cut through to 120th which may cause it to have higher traffic.

        In any case, I’m convinced there will be a tunnel because my perception from talking with the more anti-light rail members is that the Bellevue City Council dislikes at grade light rail more than they dislike taxes.

      3. Think of this system in 2050, 30 years after it opens. What will Bellevue look like? How many new businesses or high-rise residential towers will be located in downtown?

        There’s so much tit-or-tat between Bellevue and Seattle already, I can imagine the chants of “Seattle got tunnels” from the whinerazzi.

        And when the citizenry wonders how their leaders failed to anticipate and plan for a grade-separated light rail line, our descendants will surely point them to this blog for answers.

    2. @Jack, I suppose I must be that “whinerazzi” you’re referring to. My fear is that by 2050, Bellevue will have “sunk” the rail line into a tunnel underneath the city streets to enable automobile traffic to move efficiently from the east side of downtown Bellevue (in 2050, everything east of 112th) to the west side of downtown Bellevue. I think it’s silly to claim “we can’t afford it!” now and build a surface routing that will mess up Bellevue traffic for years to come.

      And before you get indignant about the “tit-for-tat”, think about the current tunnel efforts underway in Seattle. Yes, I’ve already been chided that the Capitol Hill North Link tunnel is a necessity, and the UW tunnel just the same. But what’s the deal with the viaduct? It’s flat! Could it be that this is just another case of Surrey Downs NIMBYism, written large in Seattle downtown?

      1. I’m sure this was studied at some point, but why not cut up 108th and the Transit Center and build a retained cut in the middle of the road? Or on the east side of 108th, north side of main, and south side of the transit center? This uses the existing right of way but sinks the rail so that traffic can still pass over it. It would have very large construction impacts, but at least it would be grade separated and possibly less expensive than a tunnel.

      2. The proposed downtown Bellevue tunnel (option C9T) is a retained cut, just on a different street to the one you propose; I don’t know downtown Bellevue that well but it looks from a map like that tunnel would be longer (and thus more expensive) than C9T. Most of the alignments through south Bellevue other than 112th were rejected early in the EIS, as that was what the city council wanted before it did a 180 decided to go gaga for B7.

        As for the tunnel debate going on in Seattle, I don’t get what A.P. is talking about. Neither the current viaduct nor the proposed tunnel have anything to do with Link, they’re purely roads. Speaking as someone who lives next to the viaduct (Western & Union), I personally couldn’t give a s*** whether they build the tunnel or not, as long as they rip the bugger down ASAP before there’s an earthquake and chunks of concrete start landing on my balcony.

        One thing I will say is that the viaduct is far, far, far louder that ANY part of light rail; my building was built sound-proofed the way ST is sound-proofing those houses in Tukwila and I can STILL hear it clearly. (The viaduct as it is would never make it through an EIS process today.) Again, I extend a standing offer to meet anyone from Surrey Downs at the Columbia City station and listen to the train and car traffic together, and you tell me which you think is louder. Believe me, it ain’t the the train.

      3. Thanks Bruce! I was actually thinking of a retained cut, but without covering the top of the cut. In retrospect, that probably would not work because of safety issues…

      4. The expensive part of a cut and cover is the utility relocation, digging and construction mitigation while the road is hacked up for a months on end. I think slapping a lid on it is relatively cheap compared to the rest. Given that nothing is going to turn Bellevue into a carless paradise anytime soon, it’s almost certainly worth the extra cost just to put the lid on and return the road to its former capacity.

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