City Council gives OK to hire experts to advise on light-rail route
May 12, 2010 · Updated 8:45 PM
Bellevue City Council members Monday gave the go-ahead to hire experts who will assist the city with several key aspects of the planning under way for Sound Transit’s East Link light rail line through Bellevue.
The council approved awarding four contracts to separate consultants who will study various elements of the so-called B Segment, the part of East Link that will run from Interstate 90 to just south of downtown Bellevue.
A majority of the council favors a route, called B7, that would roughly follow I-90 and I-405 toward downtown Bellevue, east of Mercer Slough. However, Sound Transit’s board recently named a different preferred alternative, known as B2M, which would be located on Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue Northeast, west of Mercer Slough.
Council members have asked numerous questions about the feasibility of each route and work by the consultants is expected to address some of them. Council members will have an opportunity to meet directly with the consultants early on to pinpoint particular areas of concern.
The latest contracts will include a review of Sound Transit’s noise evaluation, a review of the agency’s B7 analysis, an environmental review of the Mercer Slough wetlands, and a study about relocating the South Bellevue Park and Ride so that it could connect with the B7 alternative.
To pay for the latest review work, the council agreed to shift $300,000 from an earlier road project that was completed under budget. That will bring the total allocation for work on East Link to $1.07 million. Of that, $200,000 is set aside for the four consultant contracts, leaving $293,000 in the city’s analysis and development budget for light rail.
The $2.4 to $2.6 billion (in 2007 dollars), 14-mile-long East Link project is part of a regional transit package approved by voters in 2008. It includes the extension of light rail from Seattle, across Lake Washington on I-90, through Bellevue, to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.
Sound Transit expects to complete a final environmental review of the East Link project in early 2011 and a final decision on routes will be made shortly after that. Design work will continue through 2013, construction is expected to begin by 2014, and light rail service to Bellevue projected to start by 2021.