Anyone who’s counting on some land use code revisions to hold Sound Transit to “strict standards” that will somehow alleviate the devastation to their neighborhood is delusional. (Feb 15th Bellevue Reporter) Doing so with the current East Link route gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear".
There simply is no way ST can install light rail tracks and 5000-volt power lines along Bellevue Way and 112th Ave that would comply with anyone’s definitions of “strict standards”. Hundreds of trees and other greenery are going to be ripped out along a beautiful boulevard and park as part of the construction.
When its complete residents can look forward to trains trundling through their neighborhood on tracks, some within 30 feet of their living rooms, every 3 ½ - 5 minutes for up to 20 hours a day. The proposed code even limits the height of any fence for those living adjacent to the tracks and requires them to maintain any trees or other landscaping attempts by ST to shield the noise.
Some might argue that the benefits from East Link outweigh the “costs” to those living along the route. Sound Transit promised voters prior to the 2008 Prop 1 vote that cross-lake light rail was like adding 10 lanes of freeway across the bridge and would increase person-moving capacity by up to 60%.
The reality is East Link is not only a disaster for those living along its route, it’s a disaster for the entire east side. It will never have the capacity or the accessibility to carry more than a fraction of cross-lake commuters. Those without access to light rail will be forced to use outer roadways that Sound Transit studies show won’t have the needed capacity. (The 5/15/12 post “The case against East Link” explains the problem in detail.)
Sound Transit made a monumental blunder when the refused to consider bus rapid transit for the center roadway and assumed the 4th lane on the outer roadways could accommodate all the HOV and bus traffic. Now they are attempting to get the BCC to agree to try to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that is East Link. It can’t be done!