An article in the August 29th Bellevue Reporter details a Sept. 9 Sound Transit meeting at the Bellevue Golf Course explaining plans to offset the loss of a part-acre of the Mercer Slough Park needed for the South Bellevue light rail station by adding acreage elsewhere. Apparently this is an ST response to Sec 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act that protects parks, waterfowl and wildlife refuges from encroachment by transportation projects unless there is no feasible and prudent alternative or if the impact is de minimis after mitigation.
Their approach to this minor issue typifies ST priorities when it comes to dealing with East Link problems. For example, over the last three years they’ve spent tens of millions getting “public input” for light rail stations that aren’t needed until 2023. Yet they refuse to spend the minimal amounts needed to add 4th lanes to the I-90 Bridge outer roadways and demonstrate the added lanes will make up for the loss of the center roadway. They’re also apparently unconcerned about the inability of their scheduled light rail service to provide needed capacity for cross-lake commuters. They simply ignore the potential impact from the lack of capacity on I-90 bridge center and outer roadways for cross-lake commuters.
In the Mercer Slough Park land-swap-mitigation plan ST simply ignores the far more egregious “encroachment” on the park; namely light rail train noise. Central Link 2-car train noise has forced ST to spend millions “sound proofing” homes more than 300 feet from the tracks. Obviously 4-car trains running on elevated tracks near the station will increase the noise.
The ST Shoreline Substantial Development Permit Application goes into great details about the extensive mitigation efforts for ~200 properties some distance from the tracks along the west side of the route. Yet they’re doing absolutely nothing to mitigate the noise on the east side for tracks directly adjacent to the park. As one who years ago used to enjoy the quiet solitude of canoeing along its waters, the idea ST would consider the resultant level of train noise de minimis is truly obscene.
ST’s approach to environmental law regarding the Mercer Slough is consistent with their DEIS claim “The East Link Project would also offer environmental improvements over the No Build Alternative”. They substantiate that claim promising “The project would benefit the region by decreasing daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by approximately 200,000 miles and daily vehicle hours traveled (VHT) by approximately 15,000 hours.
It reminds me of an old “Peanuts” cartoon where Snoopy opines “birds have been known to fly to the moon and back”.