This March marks the fifth anniversary of my first appearance before the Bellevue City Council. I'd decided to use my “limited public speaking abilities” to address the council concerning East Link even though I didn’t live near any proposed route and no longer commuted regularly into Seattle. I did so because Sound Transit officials refused to respond to questions as to why they hadn’t considered two-way bus only-lanes on the center roadway as the “no-build” option in the Dec 2008 DEIS.
I’d lived in Bellevue for more than 40 years and always appreciated the council’s apparent ability of making it so “livable”. I thought the council, some of who had dedicated major parts of their adult life to improving Bellevue, would see the benefits of disallowing the permits ST needed for East Link.
It quickly became clear they weren’t interesting in disallowing the permits or even using the permitting process to affect ST policies. They never questioned ST decision to use light rail on center roadway rather than 2-way bus-only lanes. Instead they wasted time and money studying alternate light rail routes through Bellevue before acquiescing to the ST selection. Rather than insist ST consider a tunnel along their route into Bellevue I-90 they acceded to ST demands for additional funds to pay for a tunnel under city center.
The agreed to a mitigation agreement with ST that will likely expose many residents along the route to a lifetime of noise from trains trundling through the area 20 hours a day. They also agreed to the “eye sore” of a huge maintenance facility in Bel Red area and didn’t bother to mitigate potential train noise issues there. In the end they revised the existing land use codes to make light rail through the city “permitable”.
One of the more egregious examples of their “lack of concern” was their failure to object to ST plans to terminate all the I-90 bus routes at South Bellevue or on Mercer Island even though light rail won't have needed capacity. They were certainly aware of the termination plans, (a “surprise” to me, 1/23/14 post) since Claudia Balducci, their new Mayor, had been on the Sound Transit Board for years.
The council knew (or should have known) the adverse affects of the light rails limited capacity and the “transfer scenario” (1/29/14 post) on all cross-lake commuters. As a result, their “lack of concern” will not only devastate the route through the city and force them to pay for a “tunnel”, it will also condemn cross-lake commuters to either the “transfer scenario” debacle or gridlock on the outer roadway for those who choose non-transit HOV or SOV.
If those actions don’t qualify as a lack of “care” I don’t know what does.