Several Eastside cities (Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah, Kirkland, Renton, Sammamish) submitted a joint interest statement to Sound Transit that lays out a shared vision for the ST3 project list. Each city also submitted comments with respect to their particular interests. The joint interest statement was developed in response to concerns that the draft PPL would serve the Eastside poorly, and that the relatively compact central Eastside needed a more comprehensive vision for regional mobility.
A plan for ST3, the Eastside cities argue, must do the following:
“Fund Eastside needs”: ST3 must fully fund investments necessary to meet Eastside transit needs. This is, of course, a shot across the bow of other regional leaders who have looked at the Eastside’s tax revenues as a funding source for spine expansion. Concerns about subarea equity were loudly voiced in several of the City Council meetings where letters to ST3 were approved.
“Connect regional growth centers within the Eastside”: Two projects are called out here; East Link to Redmond, and light rail from Totem Lake to Issaquah. Obviously, extension of East Link is the Eastside’s highest priority, and quite uncontroversial. BRT should be built between Totem Lake and Issaquah if light rail is beyond the financial capacity of the Eastside. Investments in Regional Express within the Eastside are also called for.
“Connect the Eastside with the region”: Here the cities advocate for strengthened connections with the neighboring subareas, including I-405 BRT and Regional Express. The statement is careful to call out how these are multi-subarea investments, implying that East King should not bear the entire cost of I-405 BRT. With the BRT corridor likely to extend from Lynnwood to Seatac, a large portion now lies outside the East King subarea.
“Provide an integrated regional transit system with access enhancements”: The cities are looking for a regional network that integrates ST rail, BRT, express bus and Metro bus services. They also call for TOD and non-motorized access planning as part of ST3. Performance-based initiatives for more efficient use of parking are supported, adding capacity as needed.
“Support system expansion”: This is a call for planning and studies for future system upgrades (and for ST to plan facilities like OMSF early in the process).
The individual cities submitted their own comments, describing their particular needs in greater detail:
Bellevue‘s comments were the most detailed, endorsing East Link to Redmond and BRT on I-405. Several interesting modifications to I-405 are suggested. These include an alternative routing that exits at I-90 to Bellevue Way SE, serving South Bellevue station, East Main station, and Bellevue Downtown along arterial streets before returning to I-405 via the NE 6th St ramp. Bellevue also seeks HOV ramps between I-405 and SR 520.
Another Bellevue goal is a robust intra-eastside transit network, suggesting the Bellevue Transit Master Plan as a model for ST/Metro integration. Bellevue endorses “cost-effective high capacity transit” connecting Kirkland to Bellevue to Issaquah, but without otherwise taking a position on BRT vs. LRT in this corridor. They do state that Kirkland should be served via the ERC, that the Bellevue College Connector (more below) should be a component, and that there should be stations at Totem Lake, Kirkland Downtown, South Kirkland, Eastgate and Issaquah.
Bellevue also makes several suggestions for all-day frequent bus service including Redmond-Crossroads, Kirkland-Factoria, Eastgate-UW, and Issaquah-Mercer Island.
Bellevue College’s needs are highlighted, and the City asks that the Bellevue College Regional Connector project be a priority in the system plan. The suggested routing runs from 142nd Pl SE via Snoqualmie River Rd to SE 24th St. The connector should be a part of the Totem Lake to Issaquah transit connection.
Redmond‘s obvious priority is completion of East Link from Overlake to downtown Redmond. Redmond wants this completed early in the ST3 program, recognizing that a record of decision has already been issued for this project.
A second priority is enhanced Regional Express service along SR 520 to UW and Brooklyn stations. The City is asking for facilities to improve bus-rail integration at UW station, and enhancements to bus access in Redmond to improve reliability and decrease travel times. Redmond also seeks expanded bus service in several key corridors within Eastern King County: Downtown Redmond to Downtown Kirkland; Overlake to Downtown Kirkland; and Downtown Redmond, Overlake and Eastgate.
Redmond supports a NE 85th St stop on I-405 BRT, arguing it would expand access to I-405 BRT for Redmond and Kirkland residents, as well as commuters from north King and Snohomish County who are traveling to jobs on the Eastside.
Kirkland wants Sound Transit to connect Downtown Kirkland, Google, and the 6th St corridor to regional transit on I-405. Kirkland’s support for I-405 BRT is contingent on a NE 85th St station with a high quality connection to downtown. Fixed guideway connections or people movers are suggested.
Recognizing the difficulties in serving the sprawling Totem Lake neighborhood, Kirkland argues I-405 BRT must serve multiple stops within the neighborhood including the vicinity of NE 116th St. Kirkland suggests that a trunk-and-branch service model might resolve some of the access issues, particularly for downtown.
Kirkland also asks that BRT be considered along the ERC, insisting that either BRT or LRT should be funded in a final ST3 package (BRT being advanced as a lower cost alternative to rail). As either concept is developed, routing through downtown Kirkland should be included.
Issaquah‘s brief letter described the recently adopted Central Issaquah plan and the designation of a regional growth center within the central area. Based on this, they argued the case for Light rail to Issaquah. Issaquah also seeks a park-and-ride facility and more ST Express service.
Woodinville seeks a HCT connection to Totem Lake, endorsing both I-405 BRT and the ERC. They argue that ERC transit could connect two urban centers at Totem Lake and Canyon Park, and eventually connect other communities in eastern King and Snohomish Counties.
Renton seeks a HOV direct access ramp at North 8th St which could serve Renton Landing. Renton is supportive of I-405 BRT, of ST Express service, and system access improvements for parking, pedestrians and bicyclists.
All of the City comments and the joint interest statement are here.