Option B, 112th Ave SE Crossing

As we reported last week the B-segment of East Link is still not finalized, with the City of Bellevue going through a blitz of public engagement over the next week. Tonight the city will hold an open house to get feedback from the public on the latest design options, and next Monday the City Council will address the topic at it’s regular meeting time.

Yesterday, the city released design drawing showing two design options that have been further refined through coordination between the City and Sound Transit. Option B, shown above, is a fully grade separate option with both elevated and retained cut segments. The elevated segment crosses 112th Ave SE at roughly SE 15th St, first reported here. The elevated crossing and retained cut design further north eliminates the only two at-grade crossings between Seattle and downtown Bellevue, assuming a downtown tunnel (C9T) is built. Option C is an at-grade design with Link crossing from the east side of 112th Ave SE to the west side at SE 15th St. Option A is essentially the original B2M at-grade design with Link crossing 112th Ave SE at SE 6th St. The changes reflected in Option B and C are in response to the city’s insistence that Sound Transit use “exceptional mitigation” for design of this segment.

Finances for East Link are already strained, and while Option B is undoubtedly the most expensive, it could be a win for both sides. It would meet the city’s desire for exceptional mitigation while giving Sound Transit a higher quality design, with completely grade-separate operations between downtown Bellevue and Seattle. This would increase reliability and slightly reduce travel time, and combined with a downtown Bellevue tunnel, could give Sound Transit more operational flexibility over the long term.

27 Replies to “112th Ave SE Design Options”

  1. “Finances for East Link are already strained”
    Maybe Federal Way can chip in some $$, as they aren’t building anything, anytime soon [sarcasm]

    1. Looks good, just as an example of getting regional transit right the first time. Other southern points besides Federal Way could use some grade-separated service.

      Passengers headed for international flights should not have to take cabs or Shuttle Express to be sure they make check-in on time.

      Both projects are exactly the kind of thing advanced countries do to get themselves out of a depression. Question is not if, but when.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Has anyone given a look at what it would cost to drop down all the crossings on the MLK portion of Link? I know they aren’t pretty, but in Mobile there are some places where it’s been done.

      2. If your concern is speed though the MLK corridor, it would be vastly cheaper to just build Jersey barriers alongside both the tracks. The reason the train has to follow the speed limit isn’t because there are grade level crossings, it’s because it essentially shares the roadway with the cars. If instead they just put Jersey barriers up I believe that the train would be allowed to go 55mph instead of 35mph.

      3. I’ve actually wondered about that stretch. During my last visit to Seattle, I rode Link for the first time end-to-end to check it out and I was blown away by the fact that you switch from one segment of grade separation to drop down to street running and then back to grade separation again for the rest of the trip.

        I don’t understand the rationale for this at all, beyond budgetary reasons and even then, why not install crossing gates? That’s what my hometown Calgary did on a stretch of its Light Rail line which operates in the middle of 36th Street NE (a much busier route for automobiles than this MLK appeared to be) and the traffic has to treat the C-trains just as they would treat any other railway crossing: always yield to the train.

        For such an intense build up for a backbone network for a major metropolitan centre, this stretch seems to be a critical weakness.

      4. Ive never been late to the airport because of Link. And Link has very good on time % (could not find report for exact numbers). Maybe im just lucky but i also have not been on a train stopped at a light. The lights are timed to give trains priority.

        @steven increasing speed on that section would not save you much. The at grade section along MLK is 4.5 miles long. Without stops a train would cover that in 7.7 min at 35, and 4.9 min at 55 (2.8 min slower). Obviously it takes much longer than that because of stops at stations and acceleration/decleration times. So if you increased speed to 55 you would only be able to save aprox 1-2 min in travel time down MLK. Is that worth putting up ugly jersy barriers down the entire road?

      5. I understand that 2.8 min is a good ammount of time. But 2.8 min is what you would save without stations. The 3 Stations on the route will drastically reduce this.

      6. Assuming you have three stations for *both* options you would roughly have the same difference in travel time. There is some extra time lost for a route running at 55 mph because of the additional acceleration/deceleration time but I would guess that would be around 10-15 seconds per station compared to the acceleration/deceleration from 35 mph.

        Having stations vs not having station is something entirely different.

      7. @Stephen,

        Jersey barriers won’t stop most of the collisions, which are primarily left hooks by cars not observing the traffic lights and signs.

  2. Doesn’t Option B add 120MM to the price of East Link? This is over and above what the tunnel will cost. It seems to me that if Bellevue wants this mitigation they should pay for it. No one on the Bellevue City Council has stepped up on this issue to my knowledge, and the silence is deafening.

    Bellevue is becoming a black hole for light rail dollars. I sympathize with Federal Way’s plight in this planning cycle.

    1. I would just point out that even if *all* other south subarea projects are dropped there still isn’t enough money to get to federal way.

    2. I sympathize with Federal Way as well, but that DOESN’T mean we should build East Link the wrong way. Adding travel time by level crossings in a link this long is unacceptable.

  3. “the city will hold an open house to get feedback from the public on the latest design options”

    My goodness, just pick a damn option and be done with it. These endless “feedback” meetings are beyond ridiculous. Here’s a hint to our elected officials: we elected our political leaders to make these kinds decisions. If we don’t like the decisions, we can vote them out. But this endless, “we must talk to all the people who, by the way, will never come to a consensus!” meetings are beyond stupid.

    Pick a design and move on. We don’t need endless community meetings that only serve to waste time and money.

    1. Except our elected officials make so many decisions on so many issues and when we walk up to the ballot box, we are presented with two choices – two entire slates of ideas on what to do with all those issues. Not that direct democracy is necessarily great, but you can see why people feel powerless when they have to say so much with that one decision every two years at best. No wonder you can virtually plan on having a job as a US Representative for life or until you voluntarily retire.

  4. I’m glad they’re looking at putting the trains in a trench so that they don’t block the traffic noise from 112th.

  5. This is very encouraging. Now we just need to grade-separate a bit of the Bel-Red corridor, and it will be 100% grade-separated all the way to Microsoft!

  6. I’m an aethetics guy. I like that it’s faster, cost isn’t a big deal to me necessarily, but that elevated style is ugly. Better than Vancouver? Probably, but still ugly.

  7. IMO, Elected Officials and ‘The People’ shouldn’t be making engineering-related decisions. This should be done by the planners. You shouldn’t be able to do things the wrong way, just because politics says you can.

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