Council wraps up East Link study
By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
June 14, 2011 · 3:34 PM
With Sound Transit's final East Link decision looming, the Bellevue City Council cut its independent study of its preferred route short.
The council decided that a finalized version of the interim report released last month by Arup North America would be enough to show to Sound Transit and the public as a way to persuade the transportation body to change its minds and consider a route that goes along the west side of Interstate 405 through South Bellevue, bypassing 112th Avenue and Bellevue Way, as Sound Transit prefers.
At Monday's council meeting, staff reported that several change orders increased the cost of the contract to more than $730,000 up from the $670,000 the council OK'd last October. The report will not give them the kind of comparison to Sound Transit's option that they sought when commissioning the study.
"This report would be a standalone document, it would not have the 'apples-to-apples' comparison, it's just a report on the B7 route," said Bellevue's Project Manager Maher Welaye.
The study has concluded thus far that a new park and ride station off Interstate 90 would increase ridership to a similar level of Sound Transit's option. But the route would require more environmental mitigation from the impact on the Mercer Slough and could cost as much as $150 million more.
The council showed a collective frustration on the cost figures. Council members said they were unaware of the change orders that included studying a second option along the BNSF rail corridor. The unanticipated spending may have aided the council in a 5-2 decision (Claudia Balducci, Conrad Lee) to prepare the final report.
"We don't need to spend any more money on this," said Mayor Don Davidson. "I think we've gotten all the information we needed."
What remains unstudied could potentially cause problems. Many council members used the word "constructability", or the feasibility of building the tracks over the unstable Mercer Slough terrain. Without that, it's hard to argue the B7 revised as a viable alternative Sound Transit should consider, they said.
The report will be released to the public at an open house on June 29 at 5 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall.Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.