Council Roundup: Transportation projects moving forward

Council Roundup: Transportation projects moving forward

On Monday, the City Council provided direction on two important transportation projects during an extended study session. The city will move forward on a trail project along Interstate 90 and defer work to add a high-occupancy vehicle lane on Bellevue Way Southeast until funding becomes available.

Expected to be formally approved on next week’s consent agenda is a $17.5 million Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail project, the first phase of work to fill a three-mile long gap in the regional trail along I-90, in the Eastgate area. In March, it was confirmed that Bellevue will receive $14 million in state funding to construct trail crossings over the Factoria Boulevard Southeast, I-90 and I-405 off-ramps, plus other improvements. Additional funding will come from a $2 million cost-sharing agreement with the state Department of Transportation and $1.5 million in city funds — savings from a 120th Avenue Northeast roadway project that came in under budget.

Construction of the long-planned trail crossings project is expected to begin in late 2018 and finish in 2020. Funding to complete the rest of the trail in Bellevue has not yet been secured.

In addition, early design work for a southbound HOV lane on Bellevue Way Southeast has reached the 30 percent level of completion. Although money has been budgeted to finish the design, construction of the project’s first phase is expected to cost $22 million, and that funding has not yet been allocated.

The council decided to defer additional work until 2021-2022, with construction to follow as funding becomes available in the capital budget. The design work that’s already been done would still be applicable.

When fully funded, the project will include a new 12-foot-wide, southbound HOV lane, two 11-foot-wide general-purpose lanes to replace the existing ones, and a five-foot wide planter at the base of a retaining wall. It will run from near the historic Winters House to the future South Bellevue light rail station (formerly a park-and-ride lot). There, it will connect to the section of Bellevue Way, including an HOV lane that extends to I-90, now being built by Sound Transit.

More information on the transportation projects is available in the agenda packet materials.

Creative Edge plan update

Earlier, the council was briefed on the work being done to advance the city’s integrated approach to cultural and economic development, known as “Creative Edge.” Developed over the course of the last year, the plan identifies how arts, culture and creative sectors contribute to Bellevue’s community and economy. The “creative economy” is often cited as a big draw for companies and workplace talent in determining where both will locate.

The plan, as drafted, identifies three overarching goals. These include:

• Creative placemaking and a transformed public realm;
• Creativity and culture as a key driver in innovation and economic growth; and
• A resilient and sustainable creative cultural sector.

Each goal is tied to specific outcomes and a slate of 20 strategies are also identified. These range from embedding creative placemaking into city planning to developing a cross-sectoral cultural investment strategy.
Councilmembers praised the work done to develop the plan, but some expressed an interest in discussing it further, given potential policy implications. Additional background on Creative Edge can be found in the agenda packet materials.

Environmental Stewardship Initiative progress

Councilmembers also received their first biannual update on the city’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) work. The program, created in 2007, was envisioned as a way for Bellevue to coordinate and lead key environmental efforts. To date, 64 percent of the strategies included in the original plan have been implemented, with another 34 percent in the process of being initiated.

The briefing provided an overview of Bellevue’s tree canopy status and ongoing efforts to preserve it. The city is working on a baseline tree canopy assessment that will provide scientific data for any future conservation strategies. The last full assessment occurred in 2007, placing Bellevue’s canopy at 36 percent. This is down from 45 percent in 1986. Complementing this work is the city’s participation in King County’s Million Trees program.

In addition, the city released its greenhouse gas emission inventory for 2017 for both citywide and municipal operations. Due to the cold winter, emissions crept up by 3.9 and 0.8 percent respectively. Overall, however, emissions have decreased by 7 percent since 2006 citywide and by 21 percent between 2011-17 for municipal operations. As part of the ESI work, staff is working on an analysis with the U.S. Department of Energy to identify factors that drive change in greenhouse gas emissions.

More information on ESI’s priorities and accomplishments can be found on the program web page.

National Police Week proclamation

To kick off the meeting, the council recognized May 13-19 as “National Police Week.” The proclamation commends the community’s police officers who “play an essential role in safeguarding the safety and freedom of all those who live, work and visit Bellevue.”

The Bellevue Police Department is nationally accredited, with 184 commissioned employees and a total staff of 225. The proclamation is available for reading.

Published on 05/16/2018
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