On April 27th the Shoreline Hearings Board is scheduled to begin Primary Hearings of case number S14-025 filed by Dr. Don Davidson et al. “Appeal of Shoreline Development Permit and Variance issued by the City of Bellevue for construction of East Link light rail extension”.
It should be an easy case for the board to decide. Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act precludes approval of a transportation project that adversely affects waterfowl and wildlife refuges unless the impact is de minimis. Surely the Mercer Slough Natural Park falls into that category.
The Sound Transit response to that requirement is included in the East Link Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact (SDEIS) document they submitted to the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration. The FTA and FHA used that document as the basis for their approval via Record of Decision (ROD) later that year. Chapter 3, "Environmental Consequences" included the following regarding the current light rail route into Bellevue:
1) Preferred Alternative B2M would not impact noise levels in the park.
2) Preferred Alternative B2M would not substantially affect park use, the park’s features, activities, and attributes, or diminish the park’s value.
Sound Transit presumably used that same document to demonstrate compliance with the State environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Given these inputs about lack of light rail noise impact, its no surprise the FTA, FHA, and SEPA all agreed East Link would comply with federal environmental law (and presumably similar state law).
Apparently all three organizations neglected to consider Appendix G in the SDEIS. It goes into explicit detail about all the mitigation efforts for all the properties along Bellevue Way and 112th Ave. They include:
1) Sound Wall on structure
2) Sound wall on west side of tracks (up to 12 ft high)
3) Sound insulation, if required
Surely the millions Sound Transit is promising to spend shielding homes across a major roadway and hundreds of feet away from tracks belies their claim light rail noise impact on Mercer Slough would be de minimis. Thus, it should be an easy case to convince the Shoreline Hearings Board to disallow the East Link Shoreline Development Permit.