I recently received a BBB email announcing the Bellevue City Council will approve a new code amendment that addresses many of the concerns BBB's supporters had with Sound Transits East Link light rail proposal. It wasn’t clear what concerns BBB supporters had that were addressed by the new code.
For instance, the revised code doesn’t include the original staff proposal requirement (Section V) to
Develop a light rail system in collaboration with the regional transit provider that advances the City’s long-term transportation and land use objectives, minimizes environmental and neighborhood impacts, and balances regional system performance.
These requirements would seem to be critical to the BBB lawsuit that Sound Transit’s decision not to consider a tunnel in South Bellevue violated federal environmental law. If there is no need to “minimize environmental and neighborhood impacts” how can the BBB argue for a tunnel?
Also eliminated was the staff proposal Sub Section C that states
The amendment is not contrary to the best interest of the citizens and property owners of the City of Bellevue.
If you can’t argue about the best interest of Bellevue’s citizens and property owners in general how can you argue about the inevitable gridlock on I-90 from Sound Transit’s choice of light rail over BRT for cross-lake mass transit.
The code revision does require the following:
The regional transit authority has the written consent of the affected property owner to apply for the permit(s); or) from the owner of the property affected by the RLRT Facility or System;
Presumably the consent would be predicated on some sort of compensation and/or other agreements to reduce the impact from light rail construction and operation; for instance “sound proofing” or other shielding of some sort.
What’s inexplicable is this same BBB organization emailed dire warnings of the adverse affect of light rail in South Seattle with comments like:
Some of these homes are even "protected" by an existing layer of homes, and still incur massive noise and vibration.
A home 300' + back from the train line, with two layers of homes between it and the train line, which still has to be mitigated with complete exterior and interior walls replacement, and with new double and triple pane windows.
How do they propose owners not directly adjacent to the tracks get compensated? Remember South Seattle has only been exposed to noise and vibration from two-car trains. East Links plans for 4-car trains would substantially increase the area and the magnitude of the noise and vibration.
Clearly, mitigation is not the answer. The vibration issue even raises questions about the acceptability of a tunnel. Again, the only rationale answer for mass transit in our area is BRT. Surely the Sound Transit Board is aware of the noise and vibration issues. They have presumably raised these concerns with the Bellevue City Council. If so, the fact that both organizations continue to push for East Link is unconscionable.