(I wrote the following intending to present it March 14th to the Bellevue City Council before posting it. I decided to post it since the meeting agenda didn’t allow their normal “Public Comments”.)
Bellevue City Council Ignores Cross-Lake Commuters,
At the Feb 8th council meeting, Dave Berg, Bellevue Transportation director preceded the Sound Transit ST3 presentation with remarks about the work Bellevue had done with other east side cities leading up to the Sound Transit ST3 proposals for the east side. They had agreed with Sound Transit that the way to accommodate the anticipated 700,000 added eastside residents by 2040 was to improve the eastside-to-eastside connections and to provide a “connecting ring" around the lake.
These agreements led to the Sound Transit ST3 proposal for a separate light rail line from Totem Lake through Bellevue to Issaquah and BRT around the north end of the lake and along I-405 from Lynnwood to Burien. However, the ST3 proposal did absolutely nothing to help any of the additional 700,000 eastside residents cross Lake Washington into Seattle. They didn’t even bother to propose BRT for SR 520 Bridge.
Bellevue’s apparent ST3 concurrence is the latest example of their lack of concern for eastside residents who commute into Seattle. Nearly 7 years ago I told the council Sound Transit’s claims in the 2008 East Link DEIS were sheer fantasy; That they’d made a major blunder by not considering BRT on the I-90 Bridge center roadway. (ST3 "may" have neglected to include BRT on SR 520 because doing so would raise questions as to why it was never considered on I-90.) I also urged the council to ask Sound Transit expedite adding the 4th lanes on the outer roadways. Doing so would have reduced congestion for commuters from both sides of the lake. The council ignored me.
Rather than helping cross-lake commuters the council is acquiescing to Sound Transit closing down the I-90 Bridge center roadway next year. In 2009 I gave the council excerpts from a 2004 FHWA study that concluded the 4th lanes they add wouldn’t make up for the loss of the two center-roadway lanes. Again the council ignored me, instead acquiescing to Sound Transit shutting down the center roadway without ever demonstrating the outer roadways can accommodate all the vehicles. The likely result will be eastside commuters, who’ve already endured years of congestion along the I-90 corridor through Eastgate, will now encounter gridlock on the I-90 Bridge.
When East Link does begin service in 2023, what was promised in 2008 to be the equivalent of 10 lanes of freeway across Lake Washington will consist of one 4-car train every 8 minutes. After six more years of East Link related congestion the vast majority of I-90 corridor commuters won’t even have access to it. Yet the council has no problems asking them to pay a major portion of the $1B a year Sound Transit will spend for at least 15 years on ST3.
They surely deserve better.