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Bellevue gets started on downtown transportation plan

With expectations of more growth downtown, Bellevue has begun a process to reshape its transportation policies.

An open house Tuesday at City Hall served as the public kickoff for the Downtown Transportation Plan Update.

Bellevue Planning Manager Kevin O'Neill said the public meeting is meant to understand which areas are of most interest to the population. This input along with guidance from the city's Transportation Commission and a consultant team, headed by DKS Associates, will provide technical information and analysis to assist in decision-making.

The open house drew approximately 50 interested members of the public with a variety of priorities.

Josh Rehder and Jared Deszo were both at the meeting as boy scouts looking to earn their civic merit badges, but they also were curious to see how bus service would change in the coming years.

"It would affect me if the lines get extended out," said Deszo, a student at Newport High School, who takes the bus to and from school every day.

This plan update will add to the transportation portion of the Downtown Subarea Plan which was adopted in 2004.

The plan update will consider and incorporate forecasted growth in population and employment through 2030. This planning effort will include planned transit improvements such as King County Metro's RapidRide bus service and East Link light-rail. Other regional projects, including State Route 520 improvements and tolling, will also play a key role in the function of Bellevue’s transportation system. These and other projects and plans, such as the updated Bel-Red Plan, were not included in the currently adopted Downtown Subarea Plan and need to be reflected moving forward.

Laura Ruppert will be affected by the plan both personally and professionally. She works in downtown Bellevue as a civil engineer. She is excited to see light-rail trains come in from Seattle, and she is also interested in the Bellevue Braids project that adds new onramps to State Route 520 and siphons some of the traffic off Northeast Eighth Street.

"Some people will use 10th and stay off Eighth which will be great because Eighth gets really bad," she said.

The next special public meeting isn't likely to be held until next year, but the Transportation Commission will discuss the plan at its meetings, the second Thursday of every month. Planners say the update is slated to be finished in 2013.

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