The Bellevue city council ultimately opted for the NE 6th station.
The Bellevue city council ultimately opted for the NE 6th station.

Last night, the Bellevue city council slogged through what may be its last big East Link planning decision ever, and ended at a unanimous endorsement of its preferred cost savings options.  Before I get to exactly which specific picks the council made, it’s worth mentioning that this is effectively only a recommendation and isn’t a binding action.  The final alignment decision still rests in the hands of the Sound Transit Board, which is expected to vote on the matter this coming Thursday.

Ultimately, the council approved three major alignment segments:

  • Retained cut alignment side-running along Bellevue Way with no savings.  A cheaper alternative would have brought the alignment to at-grade, added a new HOV lane, and pushed the entire roadway west.  This was ultimately canned after residents balked.
  • Road-over-rail crossing of 112th Ave SE and an at-grade crossing of SE 4th limited to emergency vehicle access only.  The SE 4th crossing saves in the neighborhood of $2 to $4 million.
  • Open downtown station at NE 6th, producing $19 to $33 million in savings.  We’ve opposed this option since its conception and our stance hasn’t changed.  Although I’ll give ST and Bellevue staff credit for doing their best to improve the design, the station remains hugely inferior to its 110th Ave counterpart, for all the reasons Martin alluded to last week.  As a concession to picking the NE 6th station, the council did approve an amendment which would authorize spending $5 million of the savings to improve the walkway between the station and the transit center.

In total, the cost savings don’t even end up anywhere close to the $60 million target the City was hoping to reach, which leaves anywhere from $23 to $39 million unaccounted for.  The remaining difference will ultimately have to be paid out in cash in order for Bellevue to fund its share of the downtown tunnel.

The next best thing for transit advocates to do is to make your opinion known at the Sound Transit Board meeting this coming Thursday, at which point the Board will likely seal East Link’s fate before launching the project into final design.  The meeting will be held from 1:30-4pm in the Ruth Fisher Board Room at Union Station.  Public comments are solicited near the beginning so it’s important to show up on time if you plan on testifying.

153 Replies to “Bellevue Makes its Cost Savings Picks”

  1. I’m offering 10:1 odds if you want to bet the ST Board will not rubber stamp a done deal in favor of a better rider outcome, costing more time and money.
    I think the fat lady sung last night when Claudia threw in the towel.
    I can’t wait to walk on this $5 mil sidewalk (leather??, gold embossed ??, diamond studded maybe??)

      1. I could have made a bundle too.
        Oh well, ST voted to accept the Council vote, as is.

  2. I can attend that because it’s a Thursday :-) But how many blocks away from the Bellevue TC is this proposed 6th St location? I feel like I should know that.

    1. If I understand correctly, the 6th st. station is the one illustrated in the graphic for this article, which is basically at corner of 6th NE and NE 112th on the NE corner of the block where city hall is located. The Bellevue Transit Center is seen one block away. You can see the green roof of the bus shelter for the BTC under the stop light in the illustration.

    2. One “block.” But don’t forget that Bellevue “blocks” are superblocks 500 to 750 feet long.

      1. Downtown Bellevue actually is relatively walkable, given the relatively flat topology, upgraded sidewalks that have been built over the last 20 years, and improving street level retail (outside of the mall, which is still depressing) A few trouble spots remain but are being upgraded as development takes place. I have high hopes for the area round Main & Bellevue Way.

        That said, the crossings in many places are problematic. The “walk” signals in many areas are enraging. Miss the green by one second? Oops, sorry, you have to wait another Bellevue mega light cycle before we’ll give you a “walk” or take your chances jaywalking against the “Don’t Walk”. Leading Pedestrian Intervals? What are those? Then there is the culture in Bellevue which basically puts getting cars through downtown to generate sales tax revenue above all else.

        It’s fixable, but I have no hope for the political will to materialize.

      2. Unfortunately, the station is on the opposite side of downtown Bellevue’s one meaningful hill from the rest of downtown. So the flat topology doesn’t help the station.

      3. “So the flat topology doesn’t help the station.”

        Have you ever walked from Bellevue Square to BTC? That part of the hill isn’t that difficult and the pedestrian plaza near Rock Bottom & The Taphouse is quite gentle. The OTHER side of the hill, on the other hand, towards 112th, is quite steep.

      4. Many times… I grew up in west Bellevue. It just doesn’t make any sense to put the station not only on the wrong side of the hill, but at the bottom!

    3. …and that BTC itself is one to two more “blocks” from the core downtown destinations.

      1. I actually think BTC is in a good location for Bellevue; I’m not totally sure where you could put it that would be better. It’s right in the middle of where the office towers are, though definitely not in the middle of downtown.

        OTOH, 112th and 6th is really the absolute edge of DT Bellevue. A really bad location where riders will have to cross a number of very large, busy streets to get anywhere.

      2. BTC should be the two blocks of 106th centered around 6th. That is the center of downtown Bellevue.

      3. I too think it’s a terrible design, but just to be clear the main station entrance will be closer to 6th st. and 110th Ave. The 112th Ave entrance is the second entrance.

      4. BTC should be the two blocks of 106th centered around 6th. That is the center of downtown Bellevue

        Good point. So it’s one mega-block and a half away now, and is going to be three mega-blocks away from where it should be when this thing is done.

        Bad stuff.

      5. Where is the station sticking over 112th? The center of the platform is essentially 111th. 112th is past the bottom of the top drawing, and just barely peeks out in the bottom-right corner of the bottom drawing. The escalators compensate for the hill’s incline. There may be a slight incline west of the entrance but hopefully the city will flatten the sidewalk if so.

      6. The line between the Meydenbauer Center and the Bravern’s garage is “essentially 111th”. 98% of the platform is beyond that.

        The platform — and any four-car train — sticks out a few feet over 112th’s sidewalk. This can be clearly seen in the “below view” diagram above. 112th is (conveniently) off the bottom edge of the “aerial view” rendering, but the length of that 4th car clearly extends well past the markings in the turn lanes.

  3. Ugh. We’re spending $3 billion to build a train to a random superblock 1500 feet from anything that could be considered even the edge of downtown Bellevue. Waste makes me sad.

    1. The $2.8 Billion will build far more than that. Based on plans I’ve seen but can’t find now, the South Bellevue Bellevue Station could be Sound Transit’s best Rail/Bus Transfer point yet with bus platforms located directly under the station and layover space for multiple routes. Sadly, most of the documents online emphasize potential visual and noise impacts rather than how easy it will be to transfer from train to bus, which is a concern.

      My hope for Eastlink is that people will eventually *DEMAND* two seat rides since Link will likely be far more reliable than current buses. Dedicated ROW, PoP fare inspection, and multiple doors of Link will make it easy and quick to get from Downtown Seattle to Mercer Island or South Bellevue where one could transfer to local bus service. Frequency of bus service to Eastside transfer points can be improved from savings of eliminating one-seat rides. That’s my hope at least but I’ve had many occasions to have my hopes dashed over here so it’s entirely possible that Metro will continue competing service on traditional one-seat rides like the 202, 205, 210, 211, etc… (They can prove me wrong by eliminating the 211 once the First Hill Streetcar is up and running)

      1. Unfortunately, instead of demanding two-seat rides, they will demand lots and lots of parking. What they don’t realize is the land and financial cost of building a south Bellevue P&R with the combined parking capacity of the existing South Bellevue P&R, Eastgate P&R, Issaquah P&R, and Issaquah Highlands P&R, is prohibitively expensive.

  4. In that picture somehow the people are as large as the cars. In reality, that street is much wider, the cars much larger, and the people much smaller.

    1. Maybe they’re taking into account shrinking car sizes by 2030 in the hope that by then, everyone will be driving a smart car?

      1. It doesn’t matter – there are standards of how large a parking space has to be and every parking space still has to accomodate every standard-sized car.

    2. And there are a million people on the street, whereas in reality there are no pedestrian-friendly destinations east of 110th.

  5. I hope Sound Transit realizes that an open-air station defeats the point of burying the line other than mollifying whiny, short-sighted property owners and tells Bellevue “if you won’t bury the station, we’re not burying the line”. Especially with how little savings Bellevue came up with, which suggests the whole notion of an open-air station at 6th was yet another Kemper plot to ruin the line.

    1. I’m not sure I’d agree. The point of burying the line is avoiding at grade crossings. The siting of the station has nothing to do with that. All things equal, an open air station probably is preferred by many riders, such as due to claustrophobia of enclosed underground spaces, safety, etc.

      1. claustrophobia of enclosed underground spaces, safety

        What the hell is this, pre-history?* Is Seattle really so insular as to reject the well-understood benefits of 150 years of subways worldwide? To Weather protection and the safety of having an enclosed “destination” to reach are what make subways desirable.

        By your logic, a bus stop on a street corner in the sprawl is the height of transit infrastructure.

        David L is correct below. With the station sticking out over 112th, it’s now little better than just having build elevated on a 112th alignment. Which would have been just as grade-separated.

        *(Oh wait, in pre-history people lived in caves!!)

      2. It appears you’re not claustrophobic – doesn’t mean others aren’t. Also, half the population are women, many of whom do see a safety advantage in not being in an enclosed space where a potential attacker can lurk. As a 6’3″ 235 lb. man, I don’t feel threatened in such spaces, but I do have an open enough mind to appreciate that some may feel differently on the subject.

      3. Bullcrap. Being in a well-lit subway station — especially on a transit system with fewer than ten subway stations total, each of which is incredibly well monitored — both feels and is about a million times safer than standing on an open platform, visible to all passers-by.

        The only people who make the “subway stations are dangerous” places argument are people who have seen to many fucking Charles Bronson movies.

        This is not up for debate. Your ignorant small-town rhapsodizing is simply incorrect!

      4. [too many…]

        Responding to the boundless ignorance espoused on this blog strains my eyes.

      5. D.P., honestly try to learn to express a modicum of respect and politeness to others, even when disagreeing. You don’t know me and characterizing me as having a small town view is completely ridiculous considering my address is above the bus tunnel in Seattle’s central business district. The bullshit and f* bomb laced commentary are not going to convince me that your points have any rational basis.

        I also live some of the year in Portland and often enough use the Sunset transit center there. The station platform is in a retained cut construction and open air. It makes for a fairly pleasant place to wait for the light rail, which is fine even in inclement weather and on a sunny day that’s rare enough in the NW, it’s preferable to an underground platform.

      6. I’m sorry, but you completely lost the right to “respectful difference of opinion” when you trotted out the old tired line about women and claustrophobes being terrified of subway stations. The world had that debate 100 years ago and the preference for an enclosed platform is now well-established in cities that work.

        Meanwhile, you have now lost all credibility for citing as an ideal our diminutive neighbor to the south, a city in which downtown transit moves at 6 mph and where your highwayside transit center requires the MAX line to make a complete 180° turn to serve a parking garage as well as bus bays that are ridiculously hard for the bus routes to reach.

      7. Steve W: when you pulled out the hysteria tactics about “safety” in underground stations, d.p. stopped trying to convince *you* — since that demonstrated that you didn’t know what the hell you were talking about and didn’t want to — and started trying to convince the *audience*. At that point, there’s no reason to be polite to you.

        Moral: if you want people to be polite to you, try to come across as someone whose views are sane enough that you are capable of having your mind changed.

    2. What would the projected ridership numbers be now? Seems like for all this extra money, the original surface C4a alignment would have been best.

      1. Since Bellevue probably isn’t going to actually fund the $40 million which would be required for Bellevue’s preferred alignment, they may GET C4a after the dust settles.

  6. Although I’ll give ST and Bellevue staff credit for doing their best to improve the design…

    How has the design improved in any meaningful way?

    Because they added an exit directly onto 112th, where absolutely no one is going? Because they extended the platforms even further east so that pedestrians have to overshoot the driveway into the City Hall garage? Because the station is now closer to the next Link stop eastward than it is to actual downtown Bellevue.

    There is literally nothing good about this design.

    1. Of course, I agree, but it depends what you mean by “meaningful.” Also, you can’t put too much blame on the staff here. This is all on the policymakers and the MOU.

    2. At this point Sound transit should just say “FU Bellevue” and build either elevated on 112th or at-grade on 108th.

  7. I too think it’s a terrible design, but just to be clear the main station entrance will be closer to 6th st. and 110th Ave. The 112th Ave entrance is the second entrance.

      1. If the station were buried in the tunnel, the platform would also be at the bottom of an escalator’s distance away from the corner of NE 6th and 110th NE.

      2. But you can still approach from 110th and 6th, correct? So, if you’re standing on the corner of 110th and 6th, you need to walk about 1/4-1/3 of the block to reach the escalators (but it would be through the pedesrian-only plaza), then you go down the escalator, and by the time you get to the platform you’re more than halfway across the block.

        If that’s the case, I agree it’s a penalty that will deter many riders.

      3. d.p., look at your Streetview link from overhead. That location is less than halfway between 110th NE and 112th NE (closer to 110th).

      4. Yes, I see now. But I think you have misplaced the top of the escalator slightly. From the drawings, it appears that there is only one lane going into the upper level of the parking garage at the location of the current west drive. It looks like the horizontal transition for the top of the escalator is directly above that.

    1. That’s a good observation. The station platform is along the entire north edge of the city hall block adjacent NE 6th. It’s not even a full block walk to the Bellevue transit center; it’s simply crossing the street. You’d merely exit the platform at the NW of the block, cross the intersection of NE 6th and 110th NE, and you’re at the Bellevue transit center.

      1. Will the plaza be built in a way that avoids any sort of slope or will riders need to slog up any portion of the hill without the help of the escalator?

        In other words, going from the Station to the BTC, will I just have to go up the escalator and then walk a third of the block on a level surface to get to the corner of 110th and 6th? These sort of minute details matter when considering transfer points.

      2. Well, then the illustrators have succeeded in their propagandistic mission. And all they had to do was to find the right perspective and distort the scale just a smidge.

        Where the actual platforms start is directly across the street from the start of the Meydenbauer Center’s curved roof-line.

        So let’s go back to the Google Map. It’s actually more than half the block!

        Meanwhile, you’ll notice in both diagrams that the east end of the platform (and the east end of a 4-car train) actually stick out over the 112th sidewalk by a few feet.

        This is a “112th” station, plain and simple.

      3. Why do you say the driveway access from NE 6th would remain undisturbed? For the driveway to remain there, entering cars would have to cross the light rail tracks at the tunnel exit to get to the parking.

      4. “Where the actual platforms start is directly across the street from the start of the Meydenbauer Center’s curved roof-line.”

        The platforms extend to the west from the elevator landing. In the station platform drawing, you can see people standing past the escalators.

      5. I meant escalator landing, not elevator. Actually, the elevator will probably be near the end of the platform.

      6. Okay, I stand corrected.

        The most easily accessible point on the platform will be across the street Meydenbauer Center’s curved roof-line, i.e. over half a super-block away from 110th.

      7. I’ve just reviewed the document on the Sound Transit website illustrating the two station alternatives: the selected NE 6th location vs. the underground location on 110th NE. The under 110th NE station platform shown in the document straddles NE 4th, and thus would be located further from the corner of NE 6th and 110th NE than this NE 6th station alternative. In other simpler words, even though the “entrance” of the underground station would be closer to Bellevue transit center, then platform is farther.

      8. I can’t even find the diagram you’re talking about.

        But I will note that the 110th station has been made shallower as well as having it’s entrance moved closer, so there’s actually less vertical distance involved than the below-grade-yet-elevated outdoor station.

      9. Steve W, see page one of that document. You’ll see that there are two altervatives for the underground 110th NE station, the original and the modified alternatives. For the modified alternative, the entry is much closer to BTC.

        It also has another advantage in the southern entry which is closer to some other parts of downtown Bellevue.

      10. Right, A.W., that’s exactly what I observed above. The entrance to 110th alternative is closer to BTC; whereas the platform itself is farther.

        As long as we’re bemoaning how far the platform of the NE 6th alternative is from the BTC – a whole 1/2 block, which apparently is so very far as to discourage many/most from a BTC to NE 6th station transfer. It is worthwhile to point out that the other alternative actually places the platform farther from the BTC.

      11. I see what Steve is looking at, and the fact that the left image applies to both the original 110th station and the “optimized” one — which are actually super different from one another — suggests that those black-Sharpie station boxes are incredibly inexact illustrations.

        The two Sharpie marks aren’t even the same length as each other: the NE 6th mark seems to included the entire “station footprint” (included dead plaza area), while the north-south mark doesn’t even attempt to do the same for underground footprint.

        These drawings are about the general path of the train. The only thing we know of the “optimized” station footprint are the 100x-preferable entrances.

      12. Actually, no it doesn’t (but now I’m arguing with d.p. again, not you). If like most people you get on the escalator and just stand there, the escalator is moving you. Where you end up at the bottom is immaterial. But it does matter where the alternate entrance is. NE 2nd Pl. and 110th NE is better than NE 6th and 112th NE, for most of downtown.

      13. BTW, the 110th alternatives would be even better if they could provide entries on both sides of 110th NE and NE 4th. Is it so hard to put four entrances into an underground station?

      14. For the record, the alternative I’d prefer is 108th NE, but that’s long been removed from consideration.

        I lived for about 2 years in downtown Bellevue, so am well familiar with this part of town and used the BTC often.

        Other than the location of the secondary entrance, these two alternatives just don’t strike me as making so huge a difference.

      15. Why can’t the $5 million be used to create two passageways alongside the tracks (separated, of course) to pass under the City Hall driveway, then have escalators up to the level of the driveway, but west of it, then a wider diagonal walkway to a sunken plaza (like the one at the Powell BART Station) at the end of the BTC?

        Maybe $5 million wouldn’t accomplish all that, but with accesses from the northeast and southwest corners of the intersection it would make a crossing free access to the BTC from three points of the compass.

        It would be an amenity the city would love and would be worth the money over $5 million.

      16. Standing on a long, slow escalator makes the distance functionally even further than walking down it.

        None of this changes that the entrance is a long, unsheltered walk from any conceivable transfer or destination, or that the platform itself is even further (in time and space) in addition to that.

      17. Suppose the driveway were simply shifted a few feet to the east, allowing the station entrance to shift a few feet to the west. From the picture, it looks like there would be plenty of room.

        Also, speaking of the city hall driveway, I believe that parking there is free an open to the public on weekends when the city hall is closed. It would be a really convenient downtown Bellevue P&R for Mariner’s games on a Saturday night.

  8. Can someone please explain the point of tunneling under downtown Bellevue in the first place? Why not just stay on 112th after East Main?? This is ludicrous.

    1. The idea was that there was going to be a station under 108th, which would have amply justified the tunnel. Then there was going to be a station under 110th, which probably still justified the tunnel, on balance. Now there is a station just west of 112th, which results in people exiting the train… oh, 200 feet closer to downtown than they would at a “pure” 112th station. So I agree the tunnel is now looking pretty ridiculous.

      1. I agree with your larger point, but “just West of 112th” is a bit of an exaggeration. They will exit about halfway between 110th and 112th and then have an escalator ride and a short walk across a plaza to 110th.

      2. Also, it really depends where on the train they will be. Those exiting on from the front car will have a substantially shorter walk.

      3. A four-car train is just short of 400 feet long. The block between 110th and 112th is not quite 600 feet long. When in the station, the back end of the train will be sticking out a bit over 112th. The front end of the train will be closer to 110th, but people will have to walk backward from the front of the train to reach the elevator, which is closer to 112th than 110th.

      4. You’re right, they will have to walk backwards, but the escalator is not closer to 112th than to 110th – I think it’s just past the halfway point closer to 110th.

      1. Um, no.

        There is no inherent topographical blockage to travel at any grade through downtown. The tunnel was supposed to be all about providing the convenience of a centrally located station without the disruption of surface travel.

        Instead we get a longer route, lots of tight turns, and a station nowhere near centrally located.

  9. What are Sound Transit’s options here?

    A. Bellevue’s selected “tunnel” design with cost savings
    B. Original at-grade alternative

    Can ST force Bellevue to pay for a better tunnel option, or can ST rearrange monies and fund a better downtown tunnel themselves?

    1. As Sherwin pointed out, even Bellevue’s selected design doesn’t meet their part of the tunnel funding agreement. Bellevue would still need to pony up $30 million – $40 million. I’d hope that ST can find the money themselves to proceed with the 110th station themselves, but my impression from the open house was that they’re leaning (unofficially at that point) toward the NE 6th station.

      1. My prediction: if Bellevue actually pays out the $30-40 million in cash, then the completely god-awful tunnel alternative will be built.

        However, if Bellevue doesn’t, I predict that the original at-grade alternative will be built, which would be better for everyone. I hope, therefore, that Bellevue takes the one extra step of stupidity and refuses to pony up the money.

  10. I was trying to search through archives but I can’t find an answer: Why can’t the LINK station be underneath the Bellevue Transit Center? Is it because of the route of the tunnel? Logically, it seems the best location would be right under the BTC for the quickest transfers, walking distance to office towers and walking to Bellevue Square(not really pleasant, but I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years).

    1. It would have been directly under it in a coming-from-Bellevue Way alignment, but that was cut.

      It would have been directly adjacent to it in a 108th alignment, but that was cut.

      It would be exceedingly close to it in the optimized, shallower 110th option that was floated two weeks ago, but not that’s been cut.

      Sound Transit needs to say “hell no!” to this latest degradation.

    1. Only if we want to make it so that all transit into downtown Bellevue, not just Link, is in a useless location.

  11. Maybe defer this station for now.

    It’s just a few more “blocks” from the hospital station to downtown, across a very pleasant bridge through a very pedestrian oriented landscape.

    When Bellevue matures, build a station around the tunnel in a more logical spot. Better yet, build a station further west and connect it to the tunnel that is going to be built.

  12. Sorry, but I’m not buying it. It is not work 33 million dollars to submerge the station under the Bellevue TC, especially if the above ground alternative is only 1 block from the TC. This is a smart decision by Sound Transit. They realize that their budget is not a sideways “8”, and they are making decisions that make financial sense. On another note, if they submerged it, then an anti-transit campaign might go off on how ST “wasted 33 million dollars by choosing a more elaborate, expensive station design, don’t vote yes on Sound Transit 7.”

    They are also talking about making a walkway between the two destinations. Again, smart. There will be a ton of foot traffic there. They could take the 33 million dollars extra they would spend on an underground station, and instead use 2 million or so to build one heck of a nice speed walker that can get you to the TC in 45 seconds, 25 seconds if you walk, and 15 seconds if you run.

    ST might have just averted a disaster.

    1. “Only one block” is a tenth of a mile in this case. That’s on top of a quarter-mile you already have to walk from the far end of BTC to most downtown destinations.

      How far do you think it’s realistic to expect people to walk? How much money would it be justifiable to spend to get an extremely high-volume station that will be there for decades to be in a place where it’s actually usable?

      1. That’s exactly the point – the problem is the quarter mile you need to walk from the far end of the BTC. The extra half block really doesn’t make that big of a differemce (hence, not that huge of a difference between NE 6th and 110th)

    2. That all sounds great saving $33 million dollars and all. Now please tell me why they are spending $200 million on a tunnel that goes from 112th hard left over to 110th then hard right and burrows north from Main to NE 6th then hard right again to get to a station on below the grade of the transit center and in no better location than an elevated line straight up 112th? I’m having a hard time with the math of spending $200 million to save $33 million. Just please explain this one little detail to me and I’m totally on board.

      1. I agree, An elevated alternative up 112th is really no different than this.

        BTW the 112th elevated was eliminated from consideration in earlier phases of alternatives analysis because the ridership was too low. Somehow I doubt this current configuration will have any better ridership than a 112th elevated line and it manages to cost much more with many tight turns that limit speed.

        For that matter why don’t we build the station over 405 and drop the hospital station. We could use a skybridge and people mover to get everyone to the BTC.

      2. Somehow I doubt this current configuration will have any better ridership than a 112th elevated line and it manages to cost much more with many tight turns that limit speed.


      3. My big issue with C7E (112th elevated and all the N/S station alignments) was that it crossed 405 at NE 12thSt and had the Ashworthless Station on top of 405. One thing that was really elegant with the Vision Line was that it crossed 405 at an angle using the huge dead space which is the NE 8th cloverleaf. Putting the Hospital station elevated on the east side of 405 would have been a huge improvement over the Whole Foods Station which requires everyone to backtrack to NE8th to cross 116th and then hike back north to Overlake or Group Health. And while the Vision line was another superblock east being elevated put it at least on the same level as the TC instead of east and down in a hole. And of course there’s the $200 million or so in savings but who cares about a small amount like that when building a $3 billion dollar project?

      4. “BTW the 112th elevated was eliminated from consideration in earlier phases of alternatives analysis because the ridership was too low. Somehow I doubt this current configuration will have any better ridership than a 112th elevated line and it manages to cost much more with many tight turns that limit speed.”

        This. Might as well build the 112th elevated line now, as a cost savings.

        Or go ahead and build 108th at-grade, hire armed guards to chase away Bellevue City Council members, and in 10 years everyone will be saying how nice the station location is. But that seems unlikely.

    3. People mover? What exactly are you talking about? It would be impossible to have a people move on the platform itself without creating a major safety hazard. Then of course there’s the escalator which takes you up to the plaza. So where do you propose we put the “people mover”? From one end of the plaza to the other? Across 110th? Trust me, this will be a major burden.

      Also, as someone said, losing the second station on 110th between 2nd and 4th is a big negative since that would have provided much closer access to downtown Bellevue.

      1. In this context a people mover is a conveyer belt like in airports. It can’t cross streets at-grade but it could go up to the intersection. I’ve never seen one outdoors though. It was part of Wallace’s “Vision Line” that would have put Link on 114th with a moving walkway from the station to BTC. We don’t know if the moving walkway would have actually been funded if the Vision Line were built, or whether it would have been dropped to save money.

        More commonly a people mover is an elevated tram in a city center or airport, but that wouldn’t be the case here. I could just see the headlines, “Bellevue skips on light rail station in order to build a second downtown light rail.”

      2. By “people mover” I meant ‘moving sidewalk’. The general idea that such would be elevated over the street to avoid the grade crossing problem.

  13. I love it how people are so hot under the collar about having to actually walk somewhere. Horror of horrors! You have to WALK somewhere, not be carried there by an elevator, or escalator? People like this have never traveled to other countries, where the population is not obese and lazy like we are here in freedom loving USA. Folks, the cost of living is going UP, not DOWN. Being able to afford to drive to work and park for many means spending $10-15 PER DAY when you factor in the cost of owning a car and the cost of daily parking. Having a train to ride to work, for maybe $7 round trip, is a brilliant thing. Not to mention, you can spend your time reading or working via your tablet or phone. Bellevue will benefit immensely by the train, and Seattle too, where people work yet live on the Eastside (where it is cheaper).

    1. “Other countries” don’t intentionally place subway stations where they will be fucking useless.

      As a result, people in “other countries” actually use their transit systems at staggering rates that make anything happening outside of private automobiles in Seattle look like pissing in the wind by comparison.

      Sometimes, people in “other countries” walk a ways to access transit, knowing that the system will drop them somewhere quite convenient at the end of their journey.

      In Seattle, people who speak of “other countries” but have clearly never even visited any of those “other countries” make baseless claims on blogs in order to shelter themselves from the civic embarrassed of living in a city that gets this sort of shit wrong every single time.

      “Other countries” think you’re a moron.

      1. When I tried to discuss the Vision Line station pros/cons several years ago here, I was flamed by exactly everyone for being a moron.
        Well, here we are folks, with a platform in damn near the same place (112th/6th), but now we are down 1/3 bil to go through a meaningless tunnel chicane, and an equally slow, tortuous S-Curve to get to the next station at NE8th/BNSF, or just on the other side of I-405.
        With this brilliant Puget Sound logic established for rail design, I would now propose adding a second station at Northgate, just on the other side of I-5, which is exactly the same situation as what Bellevue/ST has decided on.
        E-Link was a joke before this, now it’s just absurd and will be the subject of many jokes for decades to come, when the riders don’t magically appear in 2030. (note: head actually exploded on this one)

      2. Thanks for attacking the idea, and not me.
        Vision Stn included the provision for same platform transfers from Link to DMU service running on the BNSF ROW at a future date (will never happen now), at least 4 people movers radiating across 405 to Hospitals and Auto Row, and two more to City Hall and BTC, some relocated bus transfers from 405/LINK/E.side DMU’s, and some parking facilities at the Metro Lot/Civic Center. All that for 1/3 billion less than will be spent with probably the same number of daily boardings.
        Alas, we’ll never know now that the ship from hell has sailed.

      3. A tunnel full of turns connecting two stations that could be connected by a half-mile of straight elevated track is dumb.

        DMU service along a line to nowhere is also dumb, as is the pie-in-the-sky idea of outdoor “people movers” spanning thousands of feet across an established street grid.

        But these are peripheral instances of dumbness. The core problem is that a station more than a quarter mile from anywhere people want to go is… dumb.

    2. Having to walk a quarter mile over a hill to anywhere meaningful just ensures that the only people who will ride this train are the people who can’t afford to do otherwise. The whole idea of building expensive rail projects is that they attract riders beyond those who ride from economic necessity. East Link with a 112th Bellevue station just won’t do that. You may whine that people are lazy, but they won’t walk 1500 feet over a hill in our weather. They just won’t. Deal with it.

      1. I think both the optimized alternative and the NE 6th alternative were too far East. But I honestly don’t see how the half a block difference between these two options (it will not be a 112th station – it will place people, on average, halfway between 112th and 110th) really makes that huge of a difference.

        I would have preferred the optimized 110th option, no doubt, but the station really should have been between 106th and 108th. I just don’t see that huge of a difference in terms of convenience and accessibility to the BTC and downtown when you compare NE 6th and 110th.

        Was it worth the cost savings? No, definitely not. They should have gone with 110th. But the difference is not as catastrophic as people are making it out to be here.

      2. One more street crossing, 50 feet more of elevation change, 500 feet more distance. How many straws can you pile on the camel before its back breaks?

        The 110th station was almost there. The 112th station has clearly gone over the edge.

      3. not as catastrophic as people are making it out to be here

        The optimized alternative is not only closer to BTC it eliminates the need to cross 110th and NE 4th. What entrance do you think more people would use, SW corner of 110th Ave & 4th St or the alternate access from 112th? But the real catastrophe, calamity, comic stupidity is the waste of $200 million dollars and years of 110th being dug up solely to slow down the train with a series of minimum radius turns. That money would be be more than enough to elevate the track and provide grade separation from NE 20th in Bel-Red or enough to pay for the entire proposed MF. Maybe they can turn the tunnel into a car wash so they don’t have to do that at night in the Maintenance Facility.

      4. it will place people, on average, halfway between 112th and 110th

        Presuming that the trains will ever be crowded enough that people can’t just all squeeze on the westmost-stopping car, than the station will place people, “on average”, 3/4 of the way from 110th to 112th. Because that’s where the middle of the train will be.

        Of course, ridership might be so terrible on this kneecapped line that the few riders who actually bother can all squeeze onto a single car.

        Bernie is correct, BTW, the “optimized shallow” 110th plan had better entrance locations and easier access than any plan since the line got moved over from 108th. Bellevue and Sound Transit are potentially throwing away a huge opportunity here.

      5. It’s hyperbole to say there will be no or very few riders. Each of these design decisions has a small effect on ridership; what’s called “marginal ridership” or the people who are pretty close to deciding either way but this one little thing gives them the nudge. Fundamentally, people still need to get from Bellevue to Seattle, and those who were going to take transit, will take transit. Link will be more frequent and more comfortable than the 550 and less subject to delay, and it will have plenty of capacity for those who can barely squeeze onto the 550 or don’t take it because it’s too full. There are always tradeoffs, and this distance from the platform is a negative factor. It’s probably no worse than transferring from Link to the 180 at SeaTac station (which I did today). The transfer distance looks less significant when you’re taking a long link trip from Seattle and a long bus trip to Kent. But it looks more significant if you’re just taking the bus a few stops from 124th or Northup Way and transferring to Link: the transfer is taking as long as the entire bus trip! Those are the kind of riders we’re most likely to lose, or maybe they’ll drive to the South Bellevue P&R.

      6. Fundamentally, even ST’s “best case” ridership estimates are awful.

        47,000 one-way boardings? On a $3 billion investment? And that was before they started chipping away at the downtown station’s usefulness!

        That said, the numbers aren’t surprising. South Bellevue and the other station locations seem almost custom-placed to ensure bad connections and bad access for anyone not coming from or heading to a destination right on the line. And destinations right on the line represent the tiniest fraction of places people are headed in the Eastside sprawl.

        The line will be lackluster even at commute hours — ST has said that it never anticipates running better than 8-minute trains, not for any technical reason, but because the demand will never be there — and will be downright abandoned outside of peak.

        The mistakes at the downtown Bellevue station are just making the line’s mediocre prospects that much worse.

    3. Notice the difference between “walking further” from your origin to a transit station, vs “walking further” to transfer in the middle of a journey. People are willing to do the former if the transit is fast and frequent. But the latter is just bad design. Transfers are involuntary; they’re an artefact of the system design. Every minute that a transfer is made more inconvenient, ridership goes down.

      1. I agree, Bernie, it is a worse option, but do you really think the impact on ridership will be that dramatic? For someone coming from Bellevue or Lincoln Square, the difference is pretty negligible (and the 4th street entrance wouldn’t help there). If you’re going to the Purple Wine Bar/Lot #3 area it’s not that far of a walk. For those going to the office buildings along 108th and 106th, the 110th station would have been substantially better (with the 4th/2nd entrance) but it’s still not that much of a slog. I don’t think that many commuters will be lost.

        The problem is both the 110th and 6th Ave option are a pretty good hike from the main shopping areas of Bellevue (especially if you’re carrying heavy shopping bags), and shopping is the main recreational attraction in Bellevue. So that segment of the will likely be deterred from riding the light rail, but I don’t think the 110th station would have changed that by much.

      2. do you really think the impact on ridership will be that dramatic?

        The real question is, does the impact on ridership warrant spending $200 million on a tunnel. If the answer is no, then don’t build the tunnel and build the elevated station on 112th. The only answer that we can say with certainty is wrong is spending $200 million on the tunnel and then abandoning the purpose of building it in the first place.

      3. Totally agree with you on that, Bernie. If the general public wasn’t so ignorant about the inner-workings of transit planning, I imagine there would (and should) be a huge public outcry. Unfortunately, the discourse among most people really only goes as far as “Light rail is bad and a waste of money!”/”Light rail is great and we need more of it”. If people actually educated themselves about the nuances, they’d see what an enormous waste of money the tunnel is.

        I’m just saying from a functional standpoint (costs aside), the 6th Ave option is worse – but not that much worse – than 110th.

    4. D Lee: the station has been getting further and further and further away from Bellevue. It’s now in a location which was rejected originally for having too little ridership. Consider the walk to, oh, say, Downtown Park and perhaps you begin to see the problem?

  14. So there’s a station on 112th just south of Main St, then the train takes a turn into a tunnel on 110th, and then takes another turn to a station on 112th at 6th St. I think “incredible” is the only appropriate word to use right now.

    Nobody, I repeat, nobody got what they wanted with this routing. Not Surrey Downs, not Kemper Freeman, not the Bellevue Club, not the city, not Sound Transit. This entire affair is a farce of bad compromise and politicking.

      1. You can already ride in a really cool tunnel in just about every area of Seattle inhabited by people with an above-average median income.

      2. We don’t know that it will be a cool tunnel, just that it will have an awesome turn. It remains to be seen whether it will have flashing playing cards like the Beacon Hill tunnel. I wonder how the Bellevue Arts Museum will top that.

  15. How can an entire City Council have such poor vision? The right routing was under 108th, with a station under NE 6th to easily link, and really expand, the Bellevue TC. This would serve all the skyscraper employment, with cuts into the hill from 106th to serve shoppers and PACCAR and Eddie Bauer employees.

    1. Not a choice the City Council was offered. Most of ST’s EIS for DT Bellevue was a complete bait and switch. They had neither the means or intention to actually build any of the tunnel designs shown meaning the ridership number comparisons to what was actually doable were both meaningless and misleading.

    2. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

      Albert Einstein

  16. Another problem with the rendering, the clearance height shown where the tracks cross 112th Ave NE is about 1/2 of what’s required and on top of that the section depth of the structure supporting the rails is way shallow compared to what you see on the elevated section in Tukwilla. As for STart, the Navy is retiring the USS Enterprise. Maybe we can get the deck and superstructure for East 6th Station.

  17. I lived in downtown Bellevue for 13 years, 9 of them owning property in the CBD. Part of the reason I sold and got out was my frustration with the short sightedness of the city council in relation to transit. None of this latest decision surprises me.

    I thought I was not very car centric when I lived in the Bellevue CBD, but I’ve now lived in DT Seattle for the past year, and realize now how much more car oriented I was. I had friends who I’d never see because getting to Bellevue was such a hassle, and I didn’t understand that. Now I generally drive through Bellevue as I go to the mountains, and completely understand the anti-Bellevue mentality.

  18. What an embarrassment. Do it right, or why bother doing it at all?

    Saving 30 million on a 3 billion dollar project makes me laugh as well.

  19. Those who are saying that “this is essentially a 112th Station” but also argue that NE 6th is so much worse than 110th are being hypocritical. A true 112th Station would likely drop riders off on 112th halfway between 4th St. and 6th St. This would be a *full mega-block* away from where riders are proposed to be dropped off (on average) with the current plan. Meanwhile, the difference between the current plan and 110th is only half a mega-block and crossing the street.

    Again, I would have preferred 110th, no doubt, but this is not a 112th Station and the difference is not as dramatic as people are making it out to be.

    1. Not at all. The line running straight north on 112th would be elevated instead of detouring through $200 million dollar hole in the budget. That means the station could be directly above NE 6th and at an elevation that could connect to the TC with a pedestrian bridge across 110th.

      1. Yes, but given the length of the train many riders would still have to walk half a block along the platform(along 112th) just to get to the bridge and then walk the full block along the pedestrian bridge to get to 110th. Sure, there are no escalators, but that is still a full block more than the current station.

      2. And you can’t say that that distance doesn’t matter if you’re arguing that NE 6th is so much worse than 110th, which has a smaller difference.

      3. Derek, you are correct that, all things being equal, the location gets worse the further east you go. Which makes 112th the worst of the worst and 114th the worst of the worst of the worst.

        The question that Mic and Bernie are correct to raise is weather the NE 6th/112th location is so close to being as bad as the entirely-112th location that you really shouldn’t be spending a dime on a tunnel that provides almost no benefit to the riders.

        I think they are correct. No subway station in the tunnel should mean no tunnel at all.

  20. “No subway station in the tunnel should mean no tunnel at all.”

    last comment by d.p. is the most thought provoking of many good comments on this thread. Can someone provide a slide that depicts this latest plan that shows no station in the tunnel?

  21. “Other countries don’t intentionally place subway stations where they will be fucking useless.”

    Another comment by dp has resonated with me. It may be (have been) worthwhile for ST to pay for a field trip with the Bellevue City Council to any similar sized metro area in Europe and/or Asia to see what actually works. We are not going to “invent” good transit strategies here. The rest of the world has this figured out. Copy paste. Please.

    1. The problem is that the Bellevue City Council isn’t interested in that. What they’re interested in is minimizing the train’s impact on the status quo: car lanes, views, garage entrances, and the city’s budget. In their eyes, the train is a negative that must be mitigated. Or at best, it’s a benefit that “other people” will ride, and they’re not looking at it from the passenger’s perspective, and they’re also not looking at how an excellent transit center could benefit the city. It reminds me of Jarrett Walker’s “Millbrae triangle dilemma“.

      That refers to the triangle at the end of BART’s SFO extension. The line comes down to San Bruno, then splits into a Y to SFO and Millbrae, then has a connecting track between the two termini, making a triangle. This looked fine to the politicians because a highway can do that and everyone is happy. But a transit line is not a highway: you don’t have personal cars going each in their preferred direction. If the line splits in a Y and half the trains go to one terminus and the other half to the other, then each branch gets half frequency. That’s a serious disadvantage to passengers along the branches, who have to wait twice as long as those above the branch. If all trains instead go to one terminus and then use the cross track to the other terminus, then people at the second terminus complain that they’re being shortchanged and have longer travel time. So BART has tried several different service patterns but none of them have been fully satisfactory. What they should have done was make a decision about which station to prioritize, and serve that one first, without a triangle or Y. It’s better to sit on a train for 2 minutes longer than to wait 8 or 15 or 30 minutes longer for your train. The connection with Bellevue is that they’re also thinking like non-transit users.

    2. We are not going to “invent” good transit strategies here. The rest of the world has this figured out. Copy paste. Please.

      Someone needs to engrave this on the front door of Sound Transit offices.

      1. I’m always amazed at how Metro and Sound Transit foul things up. There are so many great examples of how to do things RIGHT all over the world, and yet, they always seem to choose the one or two ways to do things WRONG. I will still use LINK to go to Bellevue instead of drive but that doesn’t mean I will enjoy it as much as I could have. Currently, I still take LINK to Columbia City whenever I want to enjoy the restaurants and stores there, but every time I do, I still wonder why the station is three blocks away from where I actually want to be. Question for d.p. et al: How much longer will the walk be from the Bellevue LINK station to Bellevue Square compared to my current walk to Columbia City from the LINK station?

      2. Much to the shock of most people who have walked it, the distance from Columbia City station to Columbia City proper is less than 1/3 of a mile. I think it was barely .3 miles, the last time I looked it up.

        There, the problem is not so much distance as it is the deadness of the cross-street (Edmunds) that one uses to connect. It’s quiet, the blocks are long, it’s exclusively residential except for where it passes an underused park and the backside of a school playground, it’s noticeable dark and abandoned after sundown.

        If the commercial district continued in any form on Edmunds, you’d barely notice the walk.

        By contrast, Ballard RapidRide is nearly twice as far from actual downtown Ballard.

        Anyway, to answer your question, the East 6th station will be just shy of twice as far from Bellevue Way as your Columbia City comparison. And though the environment is completely different, the pedestrian experience is not all that much more pleasant.

  22. I walked the route today from the new Link station to Bellevue Square. I’m a fast walker, but I did stop at all signals and didn’t jaywalk. Here are the travel times, starting about halfway between 110th and 112th on 6th St.

    Southeast corner of 6th St. and 110th – 1 minute
    Bellevue Transit Center – 3 minutes
    Entrance to Bellevue Square (walking in the front door nearest the transit center) – 9 minutes

    The biggest comment I have to say about the walk is that nearly half the time wasn’t even spent walking, but waiting at red lights. For favorable signals timings (e.g. shorter) along 6th St. for pedestrians would make a huge difference here.

    1. Exactly, it’s all about putting the Link station on the wrong side of a major arterial. Don’t kid yourself; you’ll ever get pedestrian priority at that light. The City Council had a conniption fit over losing a few feet of turn lane on 110th. When the City pushes NE 4th across the freeway to 116th 110th will see a large bump in traffic and crossing 4th will be the same as crossing NE 8th Street today. The NE 6th Station adds 3-5 minutes to every single person boarding and alighting in DT Bellevue. And we’re paying $200 million to make it “work”?

      1. Bernie, NE 4th already goes across the freeway to 116th NE. Did you mean NE 6th?

        The folks in city hall will find the NE 6th station convenient. Their time hit will be less than other riders coming from the west.

      2. Sorry, it’s NE 2nd that the City is extending across 405 to 116th. NE 4th is being pushed through to 120th (lopping off part of Best Buy) and 120th is scheduled for a major upgrade all the way up to Northup which includes connecting the “missing link” where Bel-Red Y’s into NE 8th.

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