The May 1st Bellevue Reporter article announcing “No more East Link challenges left” is another example of how Sound Transit is able to avoid any serious challenge to East Link. What’s “troubling” is the fact that none of the petitioners could be found to explain why they chose to withdraw their challenge. What’s “typical” were ST comments regarding their decision.
“We felt like the shoreline board did a good job granting us the permits and we did quite a bit of work on the EIS”
“Sound Transit has a healthy mitigation plan to counter impacts from future light rail construction and operation”
The “quite a bit of work on the EIS” apparently refers to the East Link Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact (SDEIS) document. 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.
Thus, it’s no surprise the shoreline board granted the permits.
It should have been a relatively easy case for the petitioners to point out ST plans to spend millions shielding homes across a major roadway and hundreds of feet from the tracks would belie their claims “B2M would not impact noise levels in the park”. It would be “interesting” to know what caused them to withdraw their challenge.
As far as their “healthy mitigation plan to counter impacts”, ST has yet to propose a viable plan to “mitigate” their closure of the South Bellevue P&R next March. There’s even concern as to what sort of cross-lake light rail service, if any, East Link will provide, and how they intend to “mitigate” the lack of capacity needed to accommodate all the bus riders they intend to transfer to light rail at South Bellevue and Mercer Island.
In conclusion, while East Link has no legal challenges left, the “challenge” for transit commuters begins only a few months away with P&R closure. In 2017, I-90 center roadway closure will “challenge” all cross-lake commuters, and the deficits when East Link begins operating in 2023 will “challenge” the entire area’s transportation funding.