June 18th, 2012The Honorable Pat McCarthy, Chair Sound Transit Board of Directors 401 South Jackson Street Seattle, WA 98104 The Honorable Conrad Lee, Mayor Bellevue City Council 450 110th Ave NE Bellevue, WA 98004
Dear Chair McCarthy and Mayor Lee:
The Seattle Transit Blog (STB) Editorial Board is concerned about the Downtown Bellevue Station cost savings designs that the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit have identified through the Collaborative Design Process. As STB has reported, tens of millions of dollars in possible cost savings have been identified recently through the design process. This is good news and very welcome, especially when design changes reduce costs, reduce neighborhood impacts and improve operations of East Link.
However, changes that result in functional and irreparable reduction in the quality of Link are unacceptable.
Over two years ago the STB Board sent you an open letter indicating our support for the C11A (surface on 108thth) and C9T (tunnel under 110th). The C3T (tunnel under 108th Ave) is the ideal solution. We still hold that position.
Roughly $180 million to $235 million dollars have already been shaved from the ideal downtown tunnel proposals (C3T to C9T). These costs savings are a result of the shorter tunnel design, which also results in a poorer station location, located farther from the geographic center of Downtown Bellevue, increasing walking time to much of downtown Bellevue. We believed this was an acceptable compromise because it reduced East Link travel times and made a tunnel financially feasible.
However, the two proposed station cost saving designs currently under review unacceptably compromise the station design. The downtown Bellevue Station is the most important station of the whole $2.4 billion dollar line and the STB Board finds the cost savings proposals short sighted.
The NE 6th St Station design is wholly unacceptable and defeats the purpose of the downtown tunnel. It reduces walk access to employment and housing throughout downtown Bellevue, results in slower travel times due to substandard curves and will result in inferior passenger comfort. It also has little TOD or development advantage over other station designs.
The Stacked Tunnel design, while better than the NE 6th design, results in reduced station accessibility due to elimination of station access on the west side of 110th Ave, reduces vehicular capacity on 110th Ave (which could degrade transit speed and reliability at the Bellevue Transit Center immediately adjacent), and eliminates the possibility of a center platform design which improves ease of use and safety while waiting. These compromises are not worth the estimated $8-13 million dollars in savings.
Thus, the STB Board urges you to cease work on these cost savings designs as they are unacceptable compromises in the quality of an investment the region will rely on for decades.
Seattle Transit Blog Editorial Board
cc:Bellevue City Council ST Board of Directors Joni Earl, Sound Transit CEO Steve Sarkozy, Bellevue City Manager