In last Friday’s B7 writeup, a post-RSS addendum to the story stated that although the cost of the actual B2M and B7R segments differed by $40m, the choice of B7R incurred an additional $100m of costs in the C (Downtown Bellevue) Segment. Some commenters asked reasonable questions about the data, so I’ve reproduced below table 2-2 from the East Link Supplemental EIS, which is a cost matrix of the various B and C segment choices.
As you can see, the total difference is $140m-$160m. Furthermore, B7R incurs an additional $9m of costs [Table 2] in the C segment over vanilla B7 in table above, making the total gap between B2M and B7R at least $150m. There are certainly both drawbacks and benefits to a B7R alignment, but the large cost difference is probably a significant argument for Sound Transit’s preference, B2M.
The Bellevue city council is expected to take up this issue tonight with lots of supporters expected from both sides, so tune in or show up if you want to see a show.
64 Replies to “About That Extra $100m for B7R…”
Do you have times and a link for the show? I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
The meeting starts at 6 and will be broadcast live on Bellevue TV.
Martin, why are you putting up a table showing the ST numbers for their (CH2MHill?) B7 with it’s poison apple features and then trying apply those additional C segment impacts to the Arup B7R? The “alternative B7 route” presented in that DEIS is a completely different animal than the Arup B7 Revised. B7R decreases segment C costs. Note, the features that accomplish this could apply just as well to the Alternative B3 – 114th Extension Design Option (what the COB Council originally support) which is the only viable choice if people just can’t let go of the notion that a light rail project for the next 100 years has to include a bad P&R decision from the last century. At least they gave up on Overlake Village; time to do the same with Swamp & Ride.
Yes, let’s instead build it THROUGH the swamp and then into the middle of nowhere.
Lets go back to the November 2010 supplemental DEIS.
1. The engineering involved in crossing the swamp is doable. Abd Running along side the swamp for a mile (rather than crossing) is far more destructive to the environment (parkland, wetlands and sensitive buffer) as well as displacement of human environment with B7 (or R) than will result from sound transit’s preferred routes.
2. Vision line is 4-5 minutes quicker through Bellevue than Sound Transit alterntives. I assume same is true as compared to B7R, as well. Is all that twisting and turning and tunneling necessary?
Let me correct that — far more destructive “as compared to B7 (or B7R)”
SDEIS indicates more loss of wetland buffer and parks for B2M, but much greater loss of wetland and habitat for B7. As for displacement of humans, they will be amply compensated for the taking of their property.
Table 3.1 of the SDEIS is pretty clear of the permanent and temporary losses vs. gains. The fact that the B7 alterntives cross over the creek along side the freeway is a given – and it does so in less than 1.8 acres of “shadow” – with very little permanent disruption.
In the meantime the sound transit alternative runs adjacent to the slough for 1.5 miles
Bruce, what would you consider ample compensation for your home? One you had no intent to move from? What do you consider ample compensation for moving a business?
ST has never been accused of providing ample compensation. Just the opposite. And an individual homeowner or businessperson is left with no ability to fight them – with their tactics of tying up all the substantial law firms in the region to tying up multiple appraisers on each challenge, and fighting to the finish just to make a point to the rest of us.
Many of these properties are already suffering a hit to market value – based on what “might” happen – all to the benefit of the comdemnation.
Are you challenging the principle of eminent domain for infrastructure projects?
According to Claudia Balducci at tonight’s Bellevue City Council meeting, 90% of the homeowners affected by B2M signed a petition specifically asking to be bought out.
I’m challenging the way that Sound Transit is doing it, as compared to cities and counties which have to answer directly to the electorate.
People are not getting fair value, and those properties that are devalued (without a taking) are getting no compensation whatsoever. The businesses (not landowners) that are being relocated are getting virtutally nothing – and are incentivized to relocate far in advance of ST offering any compensation. It’s not something you want to wait around for.
Yes, clearly the way Metro plans and executes capital projects and service changes is MUCH better.
What all-day frequent service transfer possibilities do you have at MI that you don’t have in this combined 554/5/6 proposal? In fact, what all-day transit options do you even have at MI other than Link? What could it ever have?
Your waffle about the swampish nature of South Bellevue is irrelevant. It’ll be a transfer hub.
The Arup study disagrees with you. It says that B7R Segment C costs are $9m higher than B7, assuming a tunnel.
While not part of the cost analysis the “surplus property” is getting turned into a freeway on ramp. It’s already been acquired for that purpose. ST will end up leasing the area from COB for staging which will end up being part of the cities contribution to the cost of C9T. B2M screws up the Main Street redo that’s coupled to the NE 2nd project.
I’m not sure how that refutes any point I’ve made. I believe that all the plans have surplus property at the end that can get sold off and isn’t accounted for in the cost figures.
If you want to discount the cost of the Sheraton entirely, for whatever reason, that still leaves you over $100m in the hole.
More importantly, the Arup study in no way disputes that the B7 approach to the tunnel is $100m more expensive than the B2 option. You believe the ST B7/C9T approach is hopelessly gold-plated, and it might be, but the COB has failed to identify any significant cost savings.
Which means none of these studies really tell us what the true costs are going to be. I can see where the Red Lion property for example might be considerably more valuable after a South Main Station opens. It’s likely that the owner would lease access during construction and rebuild. Likewise, I don’t see why PSE would back away from their plans for the other parcel. Isn’t access to light rail supposed to be a good thing? The Sheraton property had to be acquired by COB in preparation for the work on NE 2nd. There won’t be any impact on that parcel once construction is complete.
I can stand at the corner of Main and 110th and see both stations (throw a rock to both stations, actually).
How does having two stations that close together make any sense – especially when the hotels that support(?) the case for main station are gone.
Bernie, you are *really* grasping at straws.
Yes Bernie, all studies inherently have prediction error and there always unknown elements. However, it’s unreasonable to assume a priori that ST will recover substantially more from B7R than B2M.
From Table 2 of the Arup report:
Segment C Total- B7-Revised: $378.9 million, ST B7/C9T: $369.7 million
It seems really quite simple to me why Martin put that table up. Let’s simplify the math. ST B7 is $150m > ST B2M. Arup B7-R > ST B7 is $10m. Therefore, Arup B7-R > ST B2M is more or less $160m. It’s not difficult to acknowledge that this new alignment is more expensive than old B7.
The $10 million difference in construction costs includes a South Main Station which isn’t in the ST B7 proposal.
But the ridership it picks up is cancelled out by ridership losses later in the line.
Bernie, I’m confused. Are you advocating for something other than the B7R proposal in the Arup study?
Actual B7R as presented in the Arup study I don’t think should be built. The fatal flaw is the A2 station at $234 million dollars [Table 1, $119.8 + $14, table 2 says only $204 million]. If it’s absolutely essential on a system that’s being built for 100 years to serve the swamp and ride then it makes more sense to parallel Bellevue Way. But if that’s the case then I’d really like to see the Council go back to pushing for the B3 – 114th Extension Design Option but with Arup revisions to the C segment connection to C9T.
It’s apparent that this song and dance has never been about making good decisions. It’s been about enriching Councilman Wallace and pacifying residents of Surrey Downs.
You may believe B3M is a worthwhile alignment. Even if the city council agreed, they are not in a position to pursue it.
Ok, if we’re not arguing the facts in the post, then I’d have to go back and look at the B3 plan again to see what I think of it. I have no great love for the P&R either, but the bus transfer station is important whether A-2 or SB.
All that said, if we have a binary choice between B2M and B7R I think the data is pretty clear that B2M is the responsible choice, unless you place enormous value on reducing impacts to Surrey Downs.
If it were a choice of B7R with the A2 station or B2M with SB I’d take B2M hands down. A2 has worse bus connections and costs an obscene amount of money. Note I mistyped the cost in my post above. Table 1 says $134 million, table 2 says $204 million. Even with the lower estimate that’s ~$90,000 per stall ($140,000 at $204 million). And it’s a blight on the landscape and the Enati neighborhood.
As far as bus transfers MI and BTC should be the focal points. And related to the transfer issue if that’s the reason for a SB P&R station then fine but don’t add expensive structured parking to bolster ridership. The cost of capital increases the incremental cost per boarding about $2-3 ($5-6 dollars round trip) for each butt on the bus. Remember, in the original DEIS even though B segment boardings were cut substantially system wide ridership remained virtually unchanged and in the end that’s what really matters, not which artificial segment boundary the station is in.
Re: the importance of having a 100 year system serve the swamp & ride
It’s only important because it’s a useful transfer hub. Riding a high frequency service out of downtown Seattle (550 now or East Link in the future), it’s the place you fork off to lower frequency routes to points south & east (Newcastle, Factoria, Eastgate etc.). It’s obviously not the busiest transfer point in the system, but it is a crucial one for a non-trival number of users. It will become more important over the next century as the suburbs between Renton and Bellevue densify.
So a single transfer point as far south as practical on the eastside must be preserved. Moving these transfers to BTC would mean adding an extra ~20 minutes to these riders’ trips, which hurts. Moving them to Mercer Island is not practical, as it would be a massive detour for most of the routes.
I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the parking, but maybe the extra land it’s on will come in handy 50 years down the road if an Issaquah line is built. Not that any of these plans would particularly help an Issaquah line.
What routes wouldn’t be served just as well with a Mercer Island Transit Center? The tens of millions it will cost to build a parking garage in the swamp could make a lot of improvements on Mercer Island. Unlike the swamp MI is next to the cities business district and the government of MI is asking for more transit services. The best transfer system has a limited number of nodes and MI and BTC would seem to cover that. What we have now is people riding from the south getting 5 minutes added to their trip to Bellevue. I’m guessing most of the ridership is taking the Bellevue bus to Bellevue and not as a transfer route to Seattle so adding 5 minutes to their commute makes more sense.
The 554, for starters, would fare more poorly truncating at Mercer Island Station.
If riders from Issaquah are trying to get to downtown Bellevue or Microsoft, transferring at South Bellevue Station is much faster. For Issaquah riders headed to the westside, avoiding three more miles of stop-and-go freeway traffic makes a difference.
Take all the buses that could terminate at SB Station, and instead have them terminate at MI Station, and you end up with a huge increase in operating costs, in perpetuity.
The only losers I see in the SB Station truncation scenario are some of the Mercer Island riders going to south Bellevue. But is that really much of a market?
“What routes wouldn’t be served just as well with a Mercer Island Transit Center?”
Buses coming from the south. None of them go to Mercer Island AFAIK, so you’d have to transfer at BTC. The worst-case scenario is going from Renton or Newcastle-ish toward Issaquah.
One interesting possibility mentioned to me by someone in the know at Sound Transit would make great use of the South Bellevue P&R: combine the 554, 555 and 556 into an all-day frequent service route calling at Issaquah, Eastgate, South Bellevue P&R, Bellevue TC, U-District. Riders to Northgate would transfer to Link at UWS. Essentially this would be the 556 minus the long tail from the Ave to Northgate.
This gives the following results:
* Issaquah and Eastgate riders bound for downtown are essentially no worse off than a transfer at Mercer Island.
* Keeps the one-seat rides from Bellevue and Issaquah to the U-District, same travel time for Bellevue, slightly slower for Issaquah.
* Gives same-speed two-seat rides to Northgate to everyone who currently has a one-seat ride to Northgate, even in the absence of the Montlake flyer stop.
* Everyone currently using the 556, especially those making a transfer to another frequent service route on the Eastside, are better off due to vastly improved headways.
* Concentrates service into one trunk line providing shorter headways at the same net cost, with only slightly longer ride times for some riders and more opportunity for BRT-type capital improvements on one corridor.
Obviously, for this to work, you have to serve South Bellevue. Moreover the A-2 station, although I think it would allow this, would add travel time to this route, as for every route that would have to wind its way through it.
Regarding buses coming from the south, that’s mainly routes 240 and 222. Anecdotally speaking, there are a lot of people who commute from South Bellevue to Downtown through that park-and-ride. If I remember correctly, one of the commenters here has driven the 222 before, and could give a more detailed description.
Also, keeping the South Bellevue transfer point might enable easy truncation of route 212 (the rush hour Eastgate-Downtown express). Turning it into an Eastgate-South Bellevue shuttle would only add a few minutes to the trip, while saving a ton of service hours. If this shuttle was expanded to all hours, it would make it a lot easier to get between downtown and Eastgate without relying on the half-hourly 554.
It takes the 554 6-7 minutes now stop to stop from Eastgate to MI. That’s exactly the same amount of time it takes the 555 to get from Eastgate to SB. Everyone headed to Seattle pays the time penalty of the longer link segment and there’s no savings in bus service hours. I think it’s about creating stops with the greatest number of transfer choices instead of a confusing matrix where you have to “connect the dots”.
But you’re not running two busses next to each other on I-90, one to South Bellevue, one to Mercer Island, so you can run the busses at better headways, reducing your probable travel time.
Again, it’s the same amount of time Eastgate to MI as it is to SB. All you’re doing is adding more time to peoples commute into DT which is the purpose of that bus. And for people using it to transfer they would have many more possiblities if MI is a TC hub. You put Transit Centers where there is development and density, not in a swamp.
Routes 554 and 555 aren’t comparable between Eastgate and MI/South Bellevue. Route 554 stops at the Eastgate freeway station, while route 555 stops at the bus bays below the overpass. More comparable is route 556, which stops at the Eastgate freeway station, then goes to South Bellevue P&R in 3-4 minutes. This is intuitive—it’s half the distance from Eastgate to South Bellevue as it is from Eastgate to Mercer Island.
@Bernie What all-day frequent service transfer possibilities do you have at MI that you don’t have in this combined 554/5/6 proposal? In fact, what all-day transit options do you even have at MI other than Link? What could it ever have?
Your waffle about the swampish nature of South Bellevue is irrelevant. It’ll be a transfer hub, not a destination in itself. In fact, Mercer Island near the current stop is a wasteland of concrete as far as I can tell.
I’d also add that I don’t think Metro will truncate any of the 21x commuter busses before downtown, because those commuters are just going to want fast rides straight downtown. It might make more sense just to have those busses skip Mercer Island and maybe other intermediate stops to shave off some time; force all traffic elsewhere onto the 554/5/6.
I don’t understand what you’re getting at. If all the buses from Eastgate terminate at MI then you’re average wait time is shorter. If you split them between MI and SB the rider has to guess which connection is going to be faster which is a real crap shoot, especially late at night. Then you wait around, decide you’ve missed it, hop back on link to backtrack to MI just as you see the late bus you were waiting for pull into SB. The optimal transfer scenario is for them all to be in one place and since I-90 goes to Seattle, not Bellevue Mercer Island is the obvious choice from both a transportation and development standpoint.
I didn’t find Bruce’s proposal that hard to understand.
Like Zed said, it’s pretty easy: Axe the 554/5/6 and make an all-day frequent service route that runs as follows:
* Issaquah TC and points east
* Eastgate Freeway station
* S. Bellevue
* Bellevue TC
* UW Station
* Some local stops in the U-District, like the 556, but terminating at the Ave.
The 554 takes 6 minutes to Mercer Island vs 4 for South Bellevue. Presumably that Link segment won’t take more than three minutes, so the only people who lose from this are:
* People bound for Mercer Island from Eastgate and points east. I don’t see this as a big deal off-peak. Those people probably have cars and are driving anyway.
* People bound for downtown from Eastgate and points east. They lose a few minutes versus a transfer at Mercer Island.
These people do, however, gain a raft of things not possible otherwise (for the same number of service hours):
* Frequent service one seat rides to BTC and the U-District, and North Link transfers at UWS.
* Transfers to frequent service south into Factoria.
* Transfers to RapidRide B.
* Faster Link connection to points east of BTC on East Link.
This to me sounds like a vast improvement in connectivity with only a small loss in speed to downtown and a relatively large penalty to Mercer Island. I’m assuming that Metro will continue it’s 21x commuter express service to Issaquah etc., so on-peak commuters will still have those fast one-seat-rides downtown.
Anybody using the 240 to get from Renton to Seattle is a masochist; they’ll enjoy the extra transfer from Eastgate to MI. For everyone using it to get to Bellevue it would be much better if it used I-405, the Lake Hills Connector or even 140th to NE 8th. I’m hoping that once Link is in operation RR B will go from BTC Crossroads to Eastgate instead of Overlake. As for the 222 somebody got the proportion of Codine wrong if they take that bus from Eastgate to transfer at SB to go to Seattle. Assuming no route change either go to BTC and taking Link back to Seattle or go to Eastgate from Factoria. And SB isn’t going to go away; a 550 will still get you to MI and Link. The only time penalty is the added wait to transfer to Link which should better than the current travel time via “one seat ride” on the 550. All of these routes suggested as reasons for SB being critical as a transfer point just seem to highlight how much better the system functions as a whole with few nodes that have better connections.
I don’t foresee the 555/556 continuing beyond S. Bellevue once East Link opens.
The trip time via Link from S. Bellevue to UW will be a few minutes shorter than the time it takes 555/556 to travel between the same two locations. There is a continued need for local service in south and northwest Bellevue, but that is not what ST Express provides.
I’d expect continued service between Bellevue TC and UW, but that is what the 271 provides. It’ll be a few minutes faster to take the 271 than to take Link, so I expect commuters will take whichever comes first.
Providing headway on a shorted 554 route matching E-Link’s headway is the future of Issaquah ST service, I would wager. The 555 and 556 would go away.
Also, I bet the 566 gets rerouted to serve S Bellevue, since that provides a better connection with southeast Bellevue/Newport/Issaquah/MI/Seattle/UW/Northgate than Bellevue TC does, and maybe the 566 will provide limited local stops up to Bellevue TC. It would lengthen the trip to Overlake and Redmond, but not by much.
Or the shortened 554 and the shortened 566 could get coupled. Just a thought.
Same difference, at least according to Sound Transit. You have better choices with more routes serving central nodes than a web of point to point buses that try to recreate every possible trip. The 550 or what ever it morphs into will still get you from SB to MI in 6 minutes for the locals along Bellevue way:
Or to BTC if you’re north of the P&R (SB -> BTC 7-10 min. 550/560). SB is in a geographically isolated location which makes it a sub-optimal hub for anything but local trips.
“I don’t foresee the 555/556 continuing beyond S. Bellevue once East Link opens.”
Well I do foresee it, not least because the the idea came from the guy who will most likely be in charge of redesigning the Eastside routes around East Link when that time comes, and it would be a vast improvement on what you’re suggesting.
@Bernie, I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I suspect you don’t either, so I’m going to have a better conversation with my cat.
That’s one of the trade offs of having a freeway stop be close to the freeway. It’s the same thing with Kingsgate. But one take a 1000′ walk (like you do at the airport) and you’re in Mercer Islands business district. You even have a pedestrian trail so you don’t have to play Frogger := Of course if you want to get off the bus and commune with nature South Bellevue P&R is the place.
According to Google Maps it’s 4.1 miles driving distance Eastgate to MI P&R and 3 miles Eastgate to SB P&R. An extra mile on the freeway is at most one minute but since there’s over a 1/2 mile on surface streets to SB it’s a wash. Google lists 8 minutes driving time for both. Your perception is imaginary rather than intuitive.
It’s not about Renton to Seattle. It’s about the suburbs between Renton and Bellevue, to Seattle. I’m talking mostly about the neighborhoods served by the 240, but also Factoria and the soon-to-be 241. These suburbs that will signficantly densify in the next 100 years; something we should account for in planning our “hundred year system”.
Putting these riders through BTC on their way to Seattle adds close to 20 minutes to their trips (12 extra minutes heading into downtown Bellevue on the bus, then 5-8 extra minutes backtracking on East Link). It’s true that it’s a minority of 240/241 riders that make this transfer, but it’s a large enough minority to be significant, and it will grow.
Less impacted but still important is Issaquah to Bellevue (assuming ST even decides to have the 554 stop at SB Station). A transfer at MI is still better than zig-zagging along on the 271. There’s little demand for it right now though, and if/when demand grows, the 555/556 will become all-day routes and that issue will be solved.
Anyone transferring at RTC to get from Newcastle to Seattle is a masochist. There are exactly zero all-day express routes to Seattle available at RTC; the 101 takes about 45 minutes to make that trip vs. East Link’s 15 minutes from SB station.
SB might not be going away, but AFAIK the 550 will. It’s completely pointless once East Link is open. Has ST said that the 550 will continue? If so, WTF DOOD.
OK, so looking at the plans (painful on a 21″ monitor) I see I misread the description of the portal. The ROW north of 2nd will be completely underground. The portal is east of 112th and south of NE 2nd. This will put it in the no man’s land of the southbound on ramp to 405; a fine place for it. The ROW to the portal is in a retained cut from main street to the portal which in essence is a cut and cover tunnel without the cover. I don’t know how this would affect the ability to build (air space rights, footings, parking).
Unncessary Arterial Relocation.
I don’t know how Bellevue can swap 2nd for Main if Link is on Main.
I don’t know how Bellevue can swap 2nd for Main if Link is conflicting with the new 2nd on ramp.
Are these two projects (Both ST?) in any way being coordinated at this point?
I know Bellevue itself has conflicting plans for Main that meet head on at Bellevue way – and they are not allowed to consider what either side is doing – until the plan for each has been adopted.
ST has nothing to do with the 405 interchange at 2nd (WSDOT and COB) but the tunnel won’t conflict with it at all. Link will already be in the tunnel as crosses 2nd. The City has had only one open house on the Main St design. It’s still in a concept phase and as we’ve seen with Bel-Red 15/16th design there’s going to be many iterations. The issue with Main at Bellevue Way is some people want this to be more of a through street and most people agree that it’s a better guiding principle to discourage this as a cut through route.
I thought ST had funding into the 2nd street on ramp, the same way they control the 6th street off and on ramps – requiring them to be diamond lane 24/7 in spite of WSDOT’s open lane policy during off hours.
I can’t tell from ARUPS Drawing 15 if they have taken it into account the re-alignment on 2nd. It looks like there are more lanes there than exist today, but it’s not consistent with Bellevue’s work to date.
“NE 2nd Street: Bellevue Way to 112th Avenue
Develop elements for a five-lane roadway that will connect with future I-405 on-ramps.”
If they blew off that re-alignment and moved the 405 entrance to Main – I think I know where they could find another $50-75 million.
Meeting was kinda anti-climactic. No-one called Sound Transit fascists. Kevin Wallace still came off as a used-car salesman with his “now we can all unite behind B7” pitch at the end. John Chelminiak’s point that neither alignment can realistically be used for an Issaquah extension was the only thing I didn’t already know. He and Balducci seemed to have the facts most firmly in hand throughout the whole proceeding.
That’s because they deal in facts, while Wallace’s camp deals in feelings and maybes.
Also, I guarantee that they’re going to vote 4-3 in favor of spending another million bucks trying to lower the cost of the C segment. It’ll come in at the same cost as Sound Transit’s option, but Jennifer Robertson will claim every possible best-case scenario will happen, and therefore the final price tag will come in $150 million under the expected cost.
Read the Arup report. They claim B7R is only $40 million more than B2M. But they get there by assuming you can run freight trains on the ST line and that they don’t have to build the Eastside Trail.
You should care about this not only because of the train angle, but also because the Eastside would be losing a trail that would rival the Burke-Gilman for daily riders. Cascade estimates 3,000 riders a day. There is a huge need for a safe bike trunk line with very few good current options for bikes.
There’s as much chance that corridor will ever see freight again as the Burke Gilman. That’s why it makes sense to designate the “freight” ROW as “interim” bike path. That’s what all rail banking is predicated on. And, if for some reason a RR decided they needed the entire ROW back they can kick everybody out of the pool so having a contingency to co-operate with freight isn’t a bad idea. But in this case it’s never going to happen.
Love that people against the Sound Transit preferred option are now bringing up B3. This was the same alignment shouted down by Kemper, Wallace and other NIMBY proponents back in 2009. A little late to finding religeon…
Kemper is against all alignments. Kevin Wallace has a strong preference for B7 but the council at the time unanimously supported a modified alignment very similar to B3 with the disclaimer that if the new modified alignment was ruled out then the council preference defaulted back to B7. Balducci, Degginger and Chelminiak all signed on to this. The major improvement between B2 and B3 is the entrance into DT Bellevue. That approach is inherent in B7.
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