A recent article and editorial in the Bellevue Reporter suggests they finally found something to object to about East Link; Sound Transit plans to locate a light rail maintenance facility in the Bel-Red area. Apparently even the BR found Sound Transit’s explanation a maintenance yard in Bel-Red would be closer to Seattle than one south of the city “questionable”. This follows a recent Times article where the Bellevue City Council expressed similar concerns.
The BCC should have considerable “influence” over ST decisions since eastside taxes provide about 40% of their funds and ST needs Bellevue to issue 10 permits to begin construction.
What’s remarkable is that of all the possible objections the BCC and BR could have had with Sound Transit, they chose the Bel-Red maintenance yard location. It should not have been a surprise since Sound Transit’s 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) ES-41 and ES-42 detailed their plans for “Maintenance Facilities” there. Where have they been for nearly 4 years?
The BCC could have used the permitting process to insist Sound Transit consider a tunnel from south Bellevue P&R through city center. The BBB announced their intention to sue because of this oversight. They council surely could have rejected ST demands for an additional $200 million for a tunnel through downtown Bellevue. Especially since ST apparently needed no extra funding for recently committing to tunneling from the University Station with Northgate.
The council also could have objected to Sound Transit decision to reject a BSNF route that would have minimized impact of street level light rail. Instead they’re currently haggling over design details that reduce Bellevue’s additional tunnel cost by eliminating features aimed at mitigating light rail damage along ST route. (Isn’t that generous of them?)
The BR and BCC both could have raised objections to Sound Transit’s biggest oversight of all; their failure to consider Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on the bridge center roadway for cross-lake mass transit. . ST knew or should have known that cross-lake BRT had more than10 times East Link capacity at less than 1/10th the cost. Commuters from both sides of the lake would have benefitted from the increased capacity. Every east side P&R could have had an express bus route directly into Seattle allowing commuters to leave their cars near where the live not where they work. The entire eastside would have benefitted.
It’s way past time for the BR to expose these “objections” and for the BCC to use the permitting process to block East Link.