To address residents' continued desire for more convenient travel around Bellevue, the city has made a host of upgrades to the transportation system this year, while at the same time working closely with state and regional partners on important highway and transit improvements.
Moving forward on all transportation fronts is important, because Bellevue is not only a city of lively residential neighborhoods and a major employment center, but a regional crossroads, with three major highways passing through it.
Because the transportation system required to serve both local and regional interests is complex, Bellevue takes a balanced approach. It accommodates vehicles by maximizing the efficiency of city streets and helping to improve area highways, while encouraging options such as walking, biking, carpooling and vanpooling.
"As Bellevue, like other cities, deals with lower revenue and smaller budgets, our challenge over the next few years will be to continue making progress in key areas of the transportation system," said Bellevue Transportation Director Goran Sparrman. "For example, we need to make our existing roadways more efficient and we need to encourage attractive alternatives to driving alone."
Despite the recession, the city completed significant local projects this year, and collaborated on major regional improvements that will help shape Bellevue's transportation future for decades to come. Here's a rundown of 2010 transportation highlights in Bellevue:
- Sidewalks: Crews built more than a half mile of new sidewalk along 152nd Avenue Southeast, from Newport Way to Southeast 46th Street, a crucial route for children walking to Eastgate Elementary School. The project was partially paid for with a Safe Routes to School grant from the state Department of Transportation.
- Street Pavement: As part of the city's annual overlay program, more than 25 lane miles of roadway were repaved -- before a much more costly total replacement is needed. At the same time, workers installed 144 curb ramps to make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate sidewalks and intersections.
- Mobility and Infrastructure: Another major transportation focus this year has been design and engineering for street improvements that would accommodate anticipated increases in traffic in both the Wilburton and Bel-Red areas. Construction could start next year, depending on budget constraints.
- Mid-block Crosswalks: Pedestrians now have an easier time crossing streets downtown, with a signal added for a crosswalk on Northeast 10th Street across from the library, and new mid-block crosswalks installed at two locations on 108th Avenue Northeast.
- Bellevue Braids: To eliminate the dangerous and traffic-slowing weave of vehicles entering and leaving northbound Interstate 405 downtown, the state Department of Transportation is adding multilevel, "braided" on- and off-ramps. This year WSDOT contractors began building a new Northeast 12th Street bridge, which will be wider than the current one, with an added bicycle-pedestrian path, and higher, to allow clearance for the new ramps.
- SR 520 Bridge: City staff is heavily involved in planning for the new SR 520 floating bridge and the related improvements to SR 520, from Lake Washington through Bellevue to Redmond.
- East Link: Sound Transit is planning to extend light rail service to the Eastside. City staff and the council are deeply involved in the process.
- RapidRide Buses: King County Metro's new RapidRide buses will have signal priority on the streets, along with real-time infomation signs at stops. City staff is helping plan the B Line, which is expected to start running between Bellevue and Redmond by the fall of 2011.
- Alternatives to solo commuting: To minimize traffic congestion and reduce air pollution from vehicle exhaust, Bellevue and partners such as the Bellevue Downtown Association are working to provide alternatives to driving alone, offering employers incentives to support busing, vanpooling and carpooling. Choose Your Way Bellevue
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