Bellevue preparing to revise preferred route for southern light rail
By JOSHUA ADAM HICKS
Bellevue Reporter Former Staff Writer
March 3, 2010 · Updated 10:50 AM
The Bellevue City Council took pivotal action Monday on the issue of light rail, calling for city staff to draft a letter that would change its preferred alternative for South Bellevue.
Last year, the council chose a South Bellevue route known as B3 Modified, which would place East Link along Bellevue Way SE and 112th Ave. SE before entering downtown.
But voters in November elected a new majority – one that prefers the B7 route following the BNSF rail corridor along the west side of Interstate 90.
Mayor Don Davidson on Monday directed city staff to draft a letter saying that the majority of the council feels B7 is the best alternative and that the route deserves increased study.
The council recently developed a compromise route known as B7 Modified that would have run East Link along Bellevue Way to the South Bellevue park and ride before turning east through the slough to reach the BNSF corridor.
But the National Park Service said in a letter that running light rail through Mercer Slough would significantly impact the nature park. The council has since made little mention of the B7 Modified route.
Members of the B7 majority have expressed frustration in recent weeks about re-hashing old debates over which line is best for the city. Some had pressed for the group to make a stand in favor of B7.
The council discussed language for a letter to Sound Transit at the Monday meeting.
“I’ve never been more convinced that the B7 alignment is the way to go,” said Deputy Mayor Conrad Lee. “I believe it’s important and we need to get the message across.”
The B3 minority, meanwhile, is holding tight to B3.
“The political environment has changed, but I’m not sure the facts have changed,” said Councilmember Grant Degginger.
“I’m having trouble seeing the wisdom of the letter right now, and what we’re trying to say, and how it will be received,” Degginger continued.
The council is scheduled to review a draft letter to Sound Transit during its next meeting, Monday, 6 p.m. at City Hall.