The entire eastside would benefit if the Building a Better Bellevue organization leading the fight for those living along the light rail route into Bellevue would chose to “litigate” to stop East Link rather than attempt to “mitigate” its impact on the area. The 3/16/13 post “BBB Should Appeal Judge’s East Link Decision” explains why the judge’s inexplicable decision to reject their suit should be easy to reverse on appeal. A successful appeal would seem to leave Sound Transit with the option of a tunnel along the current route or dropping light rail in favor of cross-lake bus rapid transit (BRT)
The whole reason for the “trench” vs. “at grade” debate is an attempt by the Bellevue City Council to reduce their portion for the $320 million downtown tunnel Sound Transit claims was not included in the Proposition 1 budget. What’s absurd is apparently ST didn’t recognize the unacceptable devastating affects associated with the constructing and subsequent operation of a light rail system in the Bellevue business district. (The BCC still hasn’t explained where they will get the funds needed for their “share” of the cost due to this ST incompetence). The agreement to pay extra for the tunnel is particularly egregious since eastside sales tax revenue already provide more than enough funds to pay for any route or tunnel. ST recent decision they had sufficient funds to tunnel the entire length of the Northgate extension just adds to the insult.
Even if the BBB does convince the BCC and subsequently ST to go with the “trench” those living along the route will be faced with years of disruption from its construction. Also there’s no guarantee they still won’t not be exposed to high noise or vibration when service begins. The other seemingly ignored issue is what happens to development in the Bel-Red area. The BCC has apparently already agreed to allow ST to despoil a major part of the area with their maintenance facility. What are their plans to “mitigate” light rail noise/vibration issues in the area?
Again, a successful appeal by BBB has a far greater chance of success of ending the devastating impact of East Link along the route than any efforts at mitigation. Forcing ST to tunnel would minimize the adverse affects along the route into Bellevue. Convincing them to switch to BRT would do much more. It wound eliminate the need for Bellevue to come up with nearly $200 million for a tunnel and maintain Bel-Red as an attractive area for future development. It would also benefit the entire east side if, along with the minimal funds needed for BRT, the rest of the $2.8 billion East Link funds could be used to eliminate the need for tolls to fund the 520 Bridge and fund other eastside improvements.