An independent consultant hired by the Bellevue City Council has found that a recently analyzed light rail route is a feasible alternative to a comparable one studied by Sound Transit -- with improved ridership but a slightly higher cost.
The report, written by consultant Arup North America Ltd., compares a light rail alignment council tabbed for further examination with a similar route studied by Sound Transit in a draft environmental review of its East Link project. The new data will be helpful as the council evaluates the various alignment options.
The council will be briefed on the draft interim analysis at a study session beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, May 16, at City Hall. A final report is scheduled for release in late July.
Both the B7-Revised route studied by Arup and the B7 route studied by Sound Transit roughly follow a path east along Interstate 90, then north along Interstate 405 to downtown Bellevue. Both routes connect to a downtown tunnel (in Segment C of the project), but at different locations; both terminate at a proposed downtown light rail station in the tunnel.
The biggest difference between the two routes is that the B7-Revised alternative includes construction of a large park-and-ride garage adjacent to I-90 near Bellevue Way, while Sound Transit's B7 route locates a park-and-ride garage on 118th Avenue Southeast, near I-405.
"I'm satisfied with the preliminary numbers so far on B Segment, but I have many questions about the C Segment," said Mayor Don Davidson. "We recognize there are cost differences in the C Segment as it connects to downtown, but I'm optimistic we can use this information as we work together to create a world-class, regional transit system."
Listed below is a summary from the Arup report that includes comparisons between the two B7 routes.
- B7-Revised alternative (studied by Arup): Estimated cost, $894 million; projected 2030 daily ridership, 50,500 (14,500 boardings in Bellevue); number of housing units displaced, 12; unmitigated (mitigated) noise receptors such as homes and businesses, 237 (0); number of employees displaced from businesses, 215; full or partial property acquisitions, 35; affected acres of wetlands/wetland buffers, 1.8/0.8 acres; park lands impacted before mitigation, 1.1 acres.
- B7/C9T alternative (studied by Sound Transit in draft environmental impact statement): Estimated cost, $883.8 million; projected 2030 daily ridership, 49,000 (12,500 boardings in Bellevue); number of housing units displaced, 0; unmitigated (mitigated) noise receptors, 182 (0); number of employees displaced from businesses, 268; full or partial property acquisitions, 34; affected wetlands/wetland buffers, 2.1/1.0 acres; park lands impacted before mitigation, 1.3 acres.
Arup's report is part of a $670,000 contract the council awarded to the consulting firm to study the two B7 alternatives. The "conceptual design" report is the first of three possible work phases intended to produce an "apples to apples" comparison.
The council is expected to decide at a future meeting whether to proceed to the second phase, an environmental analysis, and later to a third phase that would produce conceptual engineering information allowing a comparison between B7-Revised and B2M, Sound Transit's preferred route.
For additional information, see the city's light rail web pages or Sound Transit's East Link project pages.
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