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Council nears vote on plan changes, light rail

The Bellevue City Council took another step toward how light rail might fit into the city Monday as members listened to community comments on amendments to its comprehensive plan.

The amendments were recommended by a Council-appointed Light Rail Best Practices Committee, then reviewed and revised by the Bellevue Planning Commission, which held a public hearing on July 9. Council members further refined the proposed amendments in recent weeks.

The council is scheduled to vote on the suggested changes at its next meeting on Aug. 4.

A report issued in June by the Best Practices Committee was the result of a year-long effort designed to assist the community and the council in evaluating and planning for a proposed light rail system in Bellevue. The committee studied how well light rail systems work in other North American cities, how best practices from those cities can be applied in Bellevue and what actions the city should take to implement them.

Last week, Sound Transit voted unanimously to place a $17.9 billion package on the November ballot of regional improvements that includes East Link – the extension of light rail across Interstate 90, through Bellevue to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.

The council wants to adopt amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan prior to Sound Transit’s release of a draft environmental impact statement on East Link, which the agency has delayed until mid-October at the earliest. The purpose of amending the comprehensive plan prior to the environmental review is to make Bellevue’s light rail preferences known in order to help guide future decisions.

Previously, the council has stated its support for light rail as the preferred option for high-capacity transit along the Interstate 90 corridor serving downtown and the Bel-Red Corridor, and its support of transit as a major component of the city’s transportation and land-use strategy.

To view a copy of the Planning Commission’s recommendation to the council on Light Rail Best Practices proposed comprehensive plan amendments (part of the council’s July 28 meeting agenda) visit the city of Bellevue website at www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketExtendedStudySession7-28-083c.pdf.

The Light Rail Best Practices Final Committee Report is at www.bellevuewa.gov/light_rail_best_practices_info.htm.

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