Today’s Times has a helpful reminder ($) that the fate of the Downtown Bellevue Link station will likely be decided this week. Bellevue’s Council will decide on its favored alternative tomorrow (Monday), which influences the Sound Transit Board’s decision on Thursday.
The process has placed a lot of weight on short-term construction impacts and noise issues to a few homes along the line, and little to the impact on thousands of future riders, every day, over the decades (centuries?) that may find that transit doesn’t work well for them due to a station design that doesn’t care about effective transfers and moves the station away from most of the activity centers in Bellevue.
Now is the time, especially if you’re a Bellevue resident, to let your Council know that the latter set of issues is the important one – particularly when the savings will be no more than $33m,or just over 1% of the cost of an East Link project whose primary purpose is to serve Downtown Bellevue. Do it today.
If you don’t live in Bellevue but have a stake in what’s going on there, your best bet is to contact the Sound Transit board members that happen to represent you. Everyone in King County votes for Dow Constantine, and if you’re in Seattle, Mike McGinn, Richard Conlin, and perhaps Joe McDermott or Larry Phillips represent you as well.
Commenting below on this is all well and good, but nothing works like constituent mail or phone calls. Even if you think that East Link is not the best use of resources out there, it’s in almost everyone’s interest that the line be as effective in moving people as possible.
Go write that email, then come back and read some additional thoughts after the jump.
Last week I hinted at possible tradeoffs to cover the cost. I think that deserves a little more explanation.
From a transit perspective, the best outcome would be for Bellevue to come up with the money. As usual, bringing more money into the transit account makes things better. Second best would be to weaken the noise mitigations elsewhere along the line, somewhat reducing the attractiveness of living there.
Third best would be to sacrifice some parking spaces at the South Bellevue Park & Ride. Although I think that location is a better location than most for a park-and-ride and am not a person that thinks they are never justified, we will win far more riders by enhancing service to dense areas than spending thousands of dollars per parking space — and it’s relatively easy to add the spaces back if funds are available in the future.
Finally, and least desirably, Sound Transit can typically ease project finances by delaying construction. I don’t have the figures, but say that another six months or a year of project delay earns enough money to do the right thing in downtown. In forty years, no one will care if the line opened in 2021 or 2022 — but they will care if we botch the most important station on the East Side.
As someone who lives every day with the (wildly overblown) noise impacts of surface running Link, and the (underappreciated) fiasco of botched transfers at Mt. Baker Station, I say let’s get this right.