Bellevue is in the midst of its “South Downtown I-405 Access Study,” which is expected to wrap up at the end of the year. The East Main Link Station opening in 2023 is expected to spur development in the area below Main Street, which in turn will add to congestion in the area.
The City of Bellevue wants to minimize traffic congestion and help people get where they need to go, whether they are walking, biking, riding transit or driving.Study Website
They’re down to seven alternatives, and there’s an online open house where you can comment on them. It’s safe to say they are centering the “minimize traffic congestion” bit, at least in intent.
The first two options merely add on and/or off-ramps to I-405 at various points. In a direct sense, these are entirely useless for bikes, pedestrians, and transit. Proponents might argue that they might keep some cars away from the station area.
The history of induced demand, as well as congestion reduction plans that propose removing downtown Seattle exits, suggest this is a doomed hope. Feeder roads into freeways are hopelessly congested, and the merging motions slow up the freeway as well.
The remainder of the options, besides the do-nothing alternative, build some sort of new bridge over I-405, which at least helps repair the street grid. The choices are NE 2nd and SE 6th, with various combinations of new exit ramps. The problem with the new ramps is that they just inject more cars into supposedly pedestrianizing station areas. Option 5, with an express toll lane-only exit at SE 6th, is probably the least bad of the exit permutations.
But for those who remain unconvinced that another freeway interchange is the answer, Option 3 appears to be the best. A bridge at NE 2nd with no exits at all, this adds a freeway crossing, with the full range of uses, in an area well-served by two light rail stations. It is listed as a “disadvantage” that there is no new access to/from I-405, but this is the best thing about it. There is no new encouragement to dump more high-speed vehicles into Downtown Bellevue, and an opportunity to instead have a relatively sedate corridor for all modes.