This whole imbroglio over attempts by the Bellevue City Council to reduce costs for implementing a tunnel underneath downtown Bellevue is a self-inflicted wound. Sound Transit needs city approval of 9 different permits to begin light rail construction. The BCC can and should make these approvals contingent on getting the light rail route they want.
Build a Better Bellevue announced intentions to sue ST because they violated federal environmental law by not considering a tunnel that would have eliminated BCC concerns. Taxes generated on the eastside provide about 40% of ST funds, more than enough to pay for whatever route the BCC wants.
It’s noteworthy that on the same day BCC reached an “agreement to study” cost cutting options ST announced they were planning to use a tunnel to connect UW and Northgate. ST, which demanded the BCC come up with an additional $200 million for a tunnel under downtown Bellevue and refused to even consider a tunnel from P&R, violating environmental law, decided that tunnels in Seattle were worth the additional cost. A good part of which is paid for by Bellevue taxes.
Unfortunately, arguments over light rail route through Bellevue are like arguing which side of the Titanic is safer. The 1-90 bridge outer roadways will never have the capacity to accommodate the vast majority of commuters who won’t have access to light rail. When light rail finally begins operation in 2023, most riders will be those with access to the South Bellevue P&R who previously rode the bus. Not exactly a boon to cross-lake congestion.