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Preparation continues for possible light rail line

In its first meeting back after a month-long summer recess, the Bellevue City Council resumed consideration of recommended actions to help guide work on a proposed light rail line in Bellevue.

At their last meeting on Aug. 4, the council approved amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan recommended in a June report by a council-appointed Light Rail Best Practices Committee. At their meeting on Tuesday, Council considered four other types of recommendations from the committee.

Sound Transit has proposed a $17.9 billion package of regional projects, called Sound Transit 2, which includes East Link – the extension of light rail across Interstate 90, through Bellevue to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond. On Nov. 4, residents in urban areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties will vote on Sound Transit 2. Sound Transit is expected to release a draft environmental impact statement on East Link by the end of the year.

The council is expected to wrap-up the Best Practices project by accepting the additional committee recommendations at their Sept. 15 meeting. The council also may approve sending a letter to the Sound Transit Board outlining the city’s expectations. The categories of recommendations are:

Expectations of Sound Transit: Include themes such as collaboration, public communication and involvement in the East Link project, and sensitivity to Bellevue’s natural and built environments.

City capital investments: Improvements in addition to those that Sound Transit would make as part of East Link. Examples include city projects that take advantage of light rail construction work to boost efficiency and projects that improve access to light rail stations.

City policies and procedures: Examples are research that would help the process for picking an alternative alignment for Bellevue, use of citizens’ advisory committees and agreements between Sound Transit and the city on items such as mitigation, construction management and public involvement.

City codes and standards: Include issues such as the need to evaluate and amend the city’s street design guidelines, permit requirements and land-use code.

The Light Rail Best Practices Committee Report was designed to assist the community and the council in planning for the proposed light rail system in Bellevue. Committee members studied how 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.

The committee report is at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/light_rail_best_practices_info.htm.

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