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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Council Roundup: Light rail cost-cutting options discussed

A light rail trainAlso, grant to make solar panel installations cheaper and council welcomes annexed residents

City councilmembers on Monday continued to deliberate several ideas for reducing the cost of the East Link light rail project.

In addition, a dozen members of the public offered their suggestions about where and how the light rail line should run through the city. The council is expected to endorse a set of cost-savings ideas for further review at its next meeting on June 25.

The Sound Transit Board, which oversees the East Link project, will provide direction at its meeting on June 28 about which ideas merit further engineering work and study.

Bellevue and Sound Transit have been working together since January on a "collaborative design process" to identify cost savings. The intent is to reduce the city's financial contribution for a downtown light rail tunnel.

In a pact last year between Bellevue and Sound Transit, the city agreed to provide $100 million in low- or no-cost contributions toward the cost of a tunnel. Another $60 million in "contingent" contributions by the city is the target of cost savings efforts; the city's goal is to reduce that contribution to zero.

Cost-saving ideas under consideration include:

  • shifting Bellevue Way to the west to accommodate the light rail line;
  • a street-level alignment on 112th Avenue Southeast near Southeast Fourth Street; and
  • changes to the downtown tunnel station.

Also during the meeting, councilmembers acknowledged a lawsuit filed last week by two Bellevue homeowners groups against federal agencies. The suit seeks to stop construction of East Link based on alleged violations of federal law. 

For more information, see the council study session material at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession6-18-122a.pdf

Feedback: Bernard van de Kamp, Transportation Assistant Director, 425-452-6459 or bvandekamp@bellevuewa.gov

Grant to make solar power installation cheaper, easier
Bellevue has received a federal grant to make solar panel installation easier and cheaper by establishing consistent standards and processes for all utility types and jurisdictions.

Solar power can generate a considerable amount of electricity for a household, but the high cost of the hardware, permitting and installation means only a dozen homeowners in Bellevue have installed solar panels on their roofs so far.

Bellevue has teamed up with the state Department of Commerce, local utilities and the cities of Edmonds, Ellensburg and Seattle to reduce administrative barriers to residential and small commercial solar panel installations by streamlining, standardizing and automating administrative processes.

Known as the Evergreen State Solar Partnership (ESSP), the team was one of 22 nationwide to receive a grant for the federal Department of Energy's Rooftop Solar Challenge. The ESSP received $523,800. The council Monday approved Bellevue's acceptance of its $65,000 share of the grant. The grant requires Bellevue to provide up to $10,000 in in-kind contributions.

The ESSP aims not only to shorten permitting processing turnaround times, but also to establish online permitting for solar panel installation. The Development Services Department plans to expand online review to all construction, fire protection, right of way, utility connection and land use actions by May 2013. 

Feedback: Heidi Bedwell, Environmental Planner, 425-452-4862 or hbedwell@bellevuewa.gov 

Reception, proclamation for annexed residents
The council welcomed Bellevue's newest residents at a reception before Monday's meeting, then issued a proclamation during the meeting honoring the people from Eastgate, Tamara Hills and Horizon View who led petition drives for annexation in their neighborhoods.

On June 1, those three unincorporated communities officially became part of Bellevue, after a majority of property owners in each signed petitions calling for annexation.

Leaders from the three South Bellevue neighborhoods shared coffee and cake with staff and the council in a brief celebration at City Hall, outside council chambers.

Lee read a proclamation that designated Monday "Eastgate, Tamara Hills and Horizon View Appreciation Day."

A community celebration will be July 26 at the South Bellevue Community Center. The event will include free classes and kids' activities, refreshments, prizes, entertainment and information about city services.

Read the proclamation online at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketRegularSession6-18-122b.pdf.

Feedback: Cheryl Kuhn, Neighborhood Outreach, 425-452-4089 or ckuhn@bellevuewa.gov

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