Bellevue officials say they plan to work closely with Sound Transit as the agency embarks this fall on a multi-year environmental review for a proposed 18-mile light rail transit line that would run from Seattle to downtown Bellevue and on to Redmond.
The city is strongly committed to ensuring that Sound Transit makes every effort to respond to and involve residents and stakeholders in the planning process, including identifying and studying its potential impacts and enhancements on neighborhoods, the officials said.
Bellevue has established a special web site to help residents stay informed about the proposed light rail line. The site will be routinely updated as new information becomes available.
The Sound Transit Board of Directors last week endorsed light rail over rail-convertible bus rapid transit as the preferred technology for the proposed eastside line. The line would be built as part of Sound Transit’s second phase of mass transit projects expected to go before voters in November, 2007, in a larger, regional transportation package.
The board’s vote came after a majority of Bellevue City Councilmembers, acting on a request by Sound Transit that it make a preference between light rail or a rail-convertible bus rapid transit, endorsed light rail. Councilmembers based their decision on Sound Transit data indicating light rail would carry more passengers at greater speed and convenience than the buses.
In recent months, Bellevue Councilmembers have repeatedly stated that a high-capacity transit system should be a major component of the city’s long-term land use, economic and transportation strategy, and that system must be compatible with the quality of life currently enjoyed in the city’s neighborhoods and not negatively impact existing roadways.
“(Bellevue has) over 35,000 jobs and a growing residential population in our downtown – a downtown that is surrounded on three sides with outstanding single-family neighborhoods,” Mayor Grant Degginger wrote in a recent letter to Sound Transit. “It is imperative that (high-capacity transit) be deployed in a manner that will ensure we receive the most positive impacts from the transit system while assuring the least negative impacts to our neighborhood and community.”
The City Council on June 26 held a well-attended public meeting at City Hall to solicit resident and stakeholder comment on high-capacity transit, and plans future meetings with affected neighborhoods groups and individuals over the next weeks and months as the planning process unfolds.
Sound Transit’s own public outreach plans call for the scoping process to begin this fall. The 30-day process is the initial step in the larger environmental review process and calls for citizens to assist the agency in identifying a wide range of routes and route alignments, and the impacts these routes and alignments could have on neighborhoods.
Sound Transit officials said the scoping meetings will be well publicized in Bellevue and surrounding communities. Neighborhood groups that would like to schedule a Sound Transit presentation on the posed project should call Brooke Belman at 206-398-5238.
Following the scoping process, a range of alternatives based on such criteria as cost and ridership projections will be identified and presented to the Sound Transit Board of Directors for more analyses. The second phase of environmental study would then begin and include identifying potential neighborhood station locations.
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