by BERNIE HAYDEN
The Bel-Red area, Segment D in East Link speak, has been highly touted by the planning community. To realize this vision City of Bellevue and Redmond worked out the BROTS Interlocal Agreement with the Spring District as the center piece. But this whole segment, which includes two stations and a new P&R have been eclipsed recently in the Collaborative Design Process discussions. I think it’s important to highlight a few of the issues which can have a huge effect on the future landscape of this area.
Little in the way of cost savings have surfaced through the Collaborative Design Process, but there are opportunities for a fuller street grid and improved pedestrian access if Bellevue and ST work together on the new 15th/16th street corridor.
Use of “low impact design elements” and existing stream beds to channel runoff contribute perhaps $2M in savings, but these elements can be abused if not bird-dogged by citizens. The 130th St. P&R is shown with Goff Creek left buried. Let the promised daylighting of Kelsey Creek stand as a reminder of what can happen.
As far as development goes, a recent Seattle Times article notes Wright Runstad may break ground in the Spring District next year and is already selling off parcels for residential development. The multi-developer rather than single developer model is what Group Health switched to in Overlake to accelerate construction. However, the city council has not fully funded the infrastructure projects in the Bel-Red corridor.
Also much angst has been expressed over some low traffic crossings being at grade; SE 4th for example. Yet there is no similar concern over crossing NE 20th St at grade just prior to transitioning to elevated along SR-520. NE 20th carries 23,000 vehicles every weekday. That’s the same volume as Bellevue Way going through downtown.
Of course the real heavy lifting is going on in Bellevue’s Budget One process. Staff and the City Council are in effect accelerating project plans where concurrency with East Link is required. It’s a “messy job” finding the right balance between studying design alternatives, making compromises and then committing to one idea. But it’s important to remember that the vision that prevails today will determine what Bel-Red looks like in twenty years.