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Ad-hoc group to be formed to discuss East Link's South Bellevue Park and Ride improvements

East Link light rail - Sound Transit
East Link light rail
— image credit: Sound Transit

Residents in the Enatai Neighborhood fought against light rail near their homes. Now that East Link has the OK to replace the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride with a new station and parking garage, they're hoping city government can minimize the impact through its permitting and area planning processes.

Oct. 10 was the launch date for the city of Bellevue's area planning sessions focusing first on the 1/2 mile radius around where the South Bellevue Station will be constructed. The city eventually will cover all six locations where Sound Transit's East link is slated for light rail stations.

Bellevue Senior Planner Mike Kattermann told residents during the session the city wants to make sure the station ends up being a good fit for the single-family neighborhood, which will not face transit-oriented development.

"That's off the table," he said. "It's been very clear from the beginning."

But addressing concerns about increased congestion on Bellevue Way and 108th Avenue Southeast, lighting on streets and public safety would fit into the city's wheelhouse and could be addressed within the 2023 timeline for East Link light rail. Where the city focuses its efforts will be partially dependent on what those in the areas of impact say they want addressed.

Resident Martin Paquette said he supports mass transit and isn't too worried about an East Link station at the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride. With the Mercer Slough Nature Park and wetlands behind it, Paquette said he's certain the station won't attract other development.

"That's basically a sacred cow," he said. "Nobody's going to touch it."

Brooks Beaupain with the Enatai Neighborhood Association said he worries replacing the 550-capacity park-and-ride lot with a 1,500-stall parking garage may not be enough to handle the increased use, which could mean overflow parking moving onto residential streets. He said he'd like to see gravel areas in the neighborhood replaced with sidewalks to discourage that. Association member Wendy Jones said the garage itself will be an eyesore for some.

"There are people who have a view of the slough that will now have a view of a five-story garage," she said, adding there's nothing that can be done about the stations coming in. "Now, we're just trying to make it the best it can be for this heavily-affected neighborhood."

In the workgroup Kattermann facilitated Oct. 10, residents said they want safe paths to the new station, enhanced lighting, safety features that address blind corners and security around the transit hub and measures taken to prevent traffic from spilling into the neighborhood. One resident suggested a skywalk over Bellevue Way, which Kattermann said had been considered, but came with a large price tag.

An ad-hoc group will later be formed to guide the planning process for infrastructure improvements around the South Bellevue Park and Ride Station, said Kate March, East Link community outreach and relations lead for the city. That will be followed by a public open house before entering the final planning stage. Each area in the city where workshop sessions are conducted also will go through this process, she said.

 

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