Calling it a "leading model for sustainable development," Senator Patty Murray on Thursday praised Bellevue's plans for the Bel-Red Corridor and raised its profile for possible federal investment.
Murray made her comments at a hearing of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which she chairs. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan appeared before the Subcommittee to testify on the Administration's Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
"The Bel-Red Corridor is a perfect example of the type of comprehensive approach to sustainable, environmentally-conscious development we are trying to encourage with the Sustainable Communities Initiative," Senator Murray said. "The City of Bellevue has done a great job of melding plans for housing, transportation and private investment to support economic growth and job creation. We need to make sure federal policy is supporting great local initiatives like the Bel-Red Corridor."
A top priority of the Obama Administration is to build economically competitive, healthy, opportunity-rich communities by breaking down the funding silos between federal departments and encouraging regional planning efforts that integrate housing, transportation and environmental decisions.
In the 2010 budget, Congress provided a total of $150 million to HUD for the new Sustainable Communities Initiative to improve such regional planning efforts and increase the capacity to improve land use and zoning.
The Bel-Red Corridor project calls for the transformation of a 900-acre brownfield infill site into mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhoods, while restoring ecological functions and creating thousands of new jobs and housing units.
Located between downtown Bellevue and Microsoft headquarters, the Bel-Red area is poised to become a model for sustainable planning, incorporating more efficient use of urban land and large-scale transit-oriented develop that will be served by Sound Transit's East Link light rail line.
"We are very appreciative of Senator Murray's comments," Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson said. "The Bel-Red vision is ambitious, and taking the vision to the next step requires substantial public and private investments in all types of infrastructure. We think it is exactly the type of program envisioned by the Sustainable Communities Partnership."
Bellevue invested more than $1 million in funding, and worked with a citizens committee for 20 months to develop the Bel-Red plan.
The city is now working to implement a strategy to fund more than $300 million in local infrastructure needs for the area to support growth. Those needs include streets, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and parks and stream enhancements.
City officials note that Bellevue is in a unique position to leverage investments from the planned East Link light rail project with federal investments to move the Bel-Red project forward.
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