City Council members on Tuesday drilled into the details of six options for running the future East Link light rail line along 112th Avenue, from Southeast Eighth Street to the Bellevue Transit Center.
While the council prefers an alternate route (called B7) that runs next to Interstate 405, the 112th Avenue alignment (called B2M) could be Sound Transit's final choice.
The agency is holding the last of three community workshops on the 112th Avenue options tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the first-floor concourse of City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. The topic is identifying community preferences. Also, an open house will be held on July 14, at the same time and location, to consider 112th Avenue, the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride and Bellevue Way.
At Tuesday's meeting, council members closely questioned Sound Transit officials on a recently released design report that evaluates the six options. Of particular interest were noise impacts and how the different options would affect wetlands and wetland buffers.
The first four options include a downtown tunnel, which the council has made a priority and indicated a willingness to help pay for. All of the ideas are significantly less costly than a longer tunnel previously proposed. Details of the six options include:
- Main Street Portal (Options 1 and 2): These options would run light rail at street level in the middle (Option 1) or on the west side (Option 2) of 112th Avenue, then in a "retained cut" on Main Street, a cut-and-cover tunnel on 110th Avenue Northeast, and a retained cut on Northeast Sixth Street leading to elevated tracks over Interstate 405. Stations would be at Southeast Eighth Street and 110th Avenue near the Bellevue Transit Center. Option 1 would impact the most driveways (15) and roadway crossings (4) according to the report; Option 2 would impact the fewest driveways (2) and have the least construction impact, but would displace the most residences (46, the same as Option 6) and affect the most park land (1.4 acres).
- Second Street Portal (Options 3 and 4): Option 3 runs at street level in the middle of 112th Avenue into a tunnel at Northeast Second Street, 110th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Sixth Street. Option 4 is similar but runs in a "retained cut" on 112th Street to a cut and cover tunnel on Northeast Second and 110th Avenue. Stations would be at Southeast Eighth Street and on 110th Avenue near the Bellevue Transit Center. Option 3 would displace the fewest residences (0) and businesses (5), and would have the least effect on wetland buffers (0.4 acres) and parks (0.2 acres), but would affect more driveways (15) and roadway crossings (4). Option 4 would displace the same number of residences (0) and businesses (5), affect the least number of driveways (2, the same as Option 2) and roadways (2) and have the fewest noise impacts. But it would affect wetland buffers the most (2.1 acres) and have the longest construction duration.
- Downtown at-grade (Options 5 and 6): These lines would run at street level in the middle (Option 5) or west side (Option 6) of 112th Avenue, elevated on Main Street, at street level on 108th Avenue Northeast and elevated on Northeast Sixth Street. Stations would be on Main Street near 108th Avenue and at the Bellevue Transit Center. Option 5 would have the greatest noise impact, but the least impact on wetland buffers; Option 6 would displace the most residences (46, the same as Option 2).
The council on Tuesday also heard about four options for a light rail station in the city's hospital district, on the former BNSF railroad corridor at Northeast Eighth Street, or a few hundred feet to the north. Three of the options call for an elevated station and one would be at ground level.
In the short run, the council is expected to weigh in with a recommendation on one of the six 112th Avenue options and one hospital station option at its July 19 meeting. The Sound Transit Board of Directors is scheduled to make a decision on its preferred 112th Street design on July 22.
Longer term, a final environmental review will be completed in the spring of 2011 and the Sound Transit Board will make a final decision on what project to build. Construction is expected to begin by 2014, with light rail service to Bellevue anticipated to start by 2021.
For more information on East Link, view the council agenda item at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession7-6-102a.pdf, or the Light Rail and Bellevue web page at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/light-rail.htm, or Sound Transit.
Feedback: Bernard van de Kamp, Regional Projects Manager, 425-452-6459 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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