Now that Sound Transit has cleared the hurdle of finalizing the entire East Link alignment, the next step is chugging through final design of the project.  There will be an open house for the downtown Bellevue segment this Thursday, May 16th from 5 to 7pm at Bellevue City Hall, and another for South Bellevue on May 30th at the Bellevue Hilton.  The Bel-Red open house was held in early April prior to adoption of the final alignment, since none of the cost savings options applied to the Bel-Red segment.

The final design process allows Sound Transit to advance specific design elements for the alignment– we’ll likely get glimpses of some architectural renderings as well as site plans of the stations.  Station naming will also be finalized, in line with public input and other Board-endorsed guidelines.

23 Replies to “Upcoming East Link Final Design Open Houses”

  1. Is Bellevue City Hall the building underneath which they want to build the downtown Link station?

  2. Tolling on I-90 will surely be in place by 2023. S.Bel P&R is over capacity under current conditions with 519 spaces. Link will add 881 spaces, for a total of 1,400. I can easily see 800 more cars getting off I-90 for a free parking space.
    Add in free ORCA Passports to many of those Seattle workers, and there’s no doubt in my mind the facility will still fill up during the morning commute.
    The big question is what ST and MT will do with all their routes that cross the bridge into Seattle.
    To truncate or not to truncate – That is the question.
    The agencies will push hard because of all the efficiencies to be gained. “Feed the Trunk” bumper stickers anyone?
    The riders will howl, being forced off their comfy warm tushies to wait in the cold queue for a seat (if your lucky) on Link running 10 minute headways in the peak.
    Grumpy old man: “I coulda been in Seattle by now”

      1. Not that this necessarily bodes well for Link, but BART really isn’t like other systems. It has some serious operational problems. Frequency is not good enough, and its operational expenses are far out of line. (Why do the trains have operators?)

        Ideally both BART and East Link would be so superior to the previous bus routes that riders wouldn’t tolerate the single seat ride. They would demand a transfer. If that isn’t happening, it is reasonable to ask if the improvement is actually worth the money.

      2. As far as I could tell from watching through an open cab door a couple years ago, all BART operators do is close the doors and keep their hand near an override control in case they need to take over from the computer.

    1. The answer is pretty simple: truncate low-volume and off-peak services, retain high-volume peak services.

      There is no reason to retain the full-length 554 or to keep things like the 210 and 215 going all the way downtown. But services like the 212 or 218 will keep going downtown, if only because the volume they serve is so high (and, in the case of the 218, will get about twice as high as it is now) that making everyone transfer would have significant operational effects on Link.

      1. Sounds like a very reasonable plan.
        S.Bel P&R is forecast to have 4500 daily boardings in 2030. Of that about 1500 will arrive by car, another 20% remaining on the eastside or arriving on the remnant 550, 249, etc, which will end there, or walk/bike/KissRiders. So that leaves (ballpark) 2000 to board heading for Seattle from truncated/consolidated routes as you suggest.
        This seems like a fairly reasonable mode split for arrivals.
        I wouldn’t want to be the driver on a packed artic leaving Eastgate, and announcing the next stop was their last stop. “Please get off the bus and wait for the next train.” Plus the bus is probably close to breakeven at those loads.

      2. 1) The bus destination sign will say “South Bellevue Link station”, not “Downtown Seattle”.
        2) Most riders will be repeat commuters and will already know it terminates there.

      3. In theory, a truncated 554 should mean a more frequent 554, and if that could actually happen, I could see myself favoring such. The trouble is that if frequency is set to match ridership demand, a truncated 554 will actually result in a less frequent 554, because when the truncation induces current 554 riders to drive directly to Link, demand for the 554 will dry up, especially on weekends when tons and tons of empty parking spaces at the Link stations will be available.

        I’m concerned that if the 554 does get truncated, and trips scaled back to match the reduced ridership as a result, that people who live in Seattle and want to visit Issaquah will be the ones who are screwed. Without the 554, a taxi ride from Seattle to Issaquah would run at around $50, one way. Or an all-day Zipcar rental would be around $90. It gets expensive, fast.

      4. A truncated 554 could be extended at the other end so that each trip serves S. Sammamish P&R.

      5. asdf, most current peak-hour 554 riders (other than Mercer Islanders) are not park-and-riders — if they were, they’d be on a more direct bus. I think it should be possible to replace both the 554 and the 555/556 with a single corridor once Link is open, saving money, adding frequency at peak, and adding new off-peak connections.

  3. They should hold these two open houses together instead of having them on separate days. If they had everyone in one room at the same time they might realize that the tunnel is two blocks west of both of the stations.

    1. I walked the transfer path this weekend. It’s two minutes from the top of the escalator to the RapidRide B stop, plus one stoplight to cross the street and another stoplight (which probably nobody pays attention to) to cross the bus lane.
      Half the time is just walking across the bus bays, so Link isn’t the only thing making the walk long.

      I suspect the main result of this is that people will look at other possible stations to transfer. E.g., you can transfer to the B at Hospital or Overlake Village, and perhaps 120th or 130th is close enough to your destination. You can transfer to the 240 at South Bellevue. If these locations have closer transfers than BTC, they may become the preferred transfer points, especially going to the train. That of course means that BTC would be failing in one of its fundamental duties, being the best place to transfer.

      1. The 240 no longer stops at S Bellevue P&R. Instead you get the 241, with a totally different route beyond Factoria.

        The current plan kind of screws over people in Newcastle.

      2. … plus one stoplight to cross the street and another stoplight (which probably nobody pays attention to) to cross the bus lane.

        Alternately, peds could continue walking up the sidewalk adjacent to City Center Plaza and cross to the platform island at one of the mid-block crosswalks, or even at any other arbitrary point since people cross the bus lanes without any regard for the designated crosswalks.

      3. Nearly everyone that lives in Newcastle who wants to ride Link will be driving to South Bellevue P&R. I would hardly call them screwed.

      4. I wasn’t referring to the distance between the East Link station and the RapidRide B station. I was referring to the fact that the tunnel forces the train route to shift two blocks west and then two blocks east for no apparent benefit.

        Given that both stations are on 112th it seems like it would make sense to ditch the tunnel and just run the train on 112th. (Yes, I know this is impossible now.)

        My only hope is that when we get a train from Kirkland to Renton in a hundred years or so that they’ll be able to run it through the same tunnel.

      5. There is significant commuter ridership out of Newcastle to both Seattle and Bellevue. Keeping the current 240 configuration would require keeping the 114 when Link opens, which would be dumb. I think Metro may need to shift back to the previous 240 route in order to serve S Bellevue P&R.

  4. In terms of project planning, couldn’t all of this have been done years in advance? Why wait until the last minute? Is there a date for laying track?

    1. It would have been done two years earlier if the Bellevue City Council, Surrey Downs, and Kemper Freeman hadn’t thrown obstacles and lawsuits in the way.

      1. It would have been done five years earlier if Sound Transit had run the line down Bellevue Way instead of way on the east side of downtown. And yes, I still believe that running the train over the BNSF railway with a spur into the BTC would have made sense (and might have actually reached BTC!)

        Please quit bitching about Surrey Downs. Yes, there were a lot of crazy people in Surrey Downs whining about a train going through their homes but can’t you cut them a bit of slack now that the war has been lost on both sides? Sound Transit wasn’t a model of inspired planning either. This entire process has been a comedy of childish whining.

      2. The reason for the lackadaisical, slow progress on East Link is this.

        The most holy road lanes must be preserved, such hath the Asphalt Pope Decreed. So Sound Transit must replace every lane of asphalt they remove from the bridge with two lanes, to atone for the sin of removing asphalt.

        Since this project isn’t going to be done until 2016, the most holy decrees of the Asphalt Worshippers prevent East Link from even starting construction until 2016. Thus the slow progress.

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