Bellevue City Council gets update on major highway projects
June 24, 2010 · 5:13 PM
The Bellevue City Council got a broad overview of recent improvements to the three major highways in Bellevue at its June 21 council meeting.
The briefing was partly an update on how well the city has done in implementing the highway components of its Regional Transportation Vision, and partly a chance for the council to discuss transportation priorities for the 2011 Legislative session.
Bellevue’s transportation vision calls for a balanced, multimodal approach that supports the city’s economic and land use goals and consists of four elements: general purpose freeway lanes, a high-occupancy vehicle system, regional bus improvements and high-capacity transit.
Working with the state Department of Transportation and Legislature, the city has accomplished several major highway improvements the last few years.
However, with gas tax revenue falling at the same time demand statewide for new transportation investments is growing, funding for new projects are expected to be challenging.
“We’ve been very successful and we’d like to see the success keep rolling,” said Mayor Don Davidson.
A summary of key highway projects completed or nearing completion, and those not yet funded, includes:
Funded Interstate 405 projects
A total of $631 million worth of projects has been completed or started in recent years on I-405 including: an off-ramp to Northeast Sixth Street for northbound, high-occupancy vehicles; a new Northeast 10th Street overpass; added lanes through South Bellevue; and the braided on- and off-ramps between Northeast Eighth Street and SR 520.
Unfunded I-405 projects
Long-term improvements, totaling up to $1.8 billion, are planned for the highway through Bellevue, but so far there is no funding. Improvements include a southbound braided ramp from SR 520 to Northeast 10th Street; an extension of Northeast Sixth Street from I-405 to 120th Avenue Northeast; new lanes and ramp improvements at Northeast Fourth and Southeast Eighth streets; and a new interchange at Northeast Second Street, with a new bridge at Main Street.
The biggest project, at a cost of up to $825 million, would add a new lane in each direction from Bellevue to Renton.
SR 520 projects
A cornerstone of the council’s regional vision has been replacement of the SR 520 Bridge, along with other improvements to the 520 corridor, including HOV connections, direct transit access, bus flyer stops and a continuous bicycle and pedestrian path. The state has funded the work with a budget of $4.65 billion, though other corridor elements – such as interchange improvements and 124th and 148th avenues – are currently not funded.
Improvements to the I-90 corridor HOV lanes, funded at $187 million, began in 2008 and are scheduled for completion in 2014. The work is to prepare the highway for the East Link light rail project. A new auxiliary lane from the Eastgate interchange to the Lakemont Boulevard exit, estimated to cost $30 to $50 million, remains unfunded.
To help pay for projects that don’t have funding, the Legislature is expected to consider various tolling options. On I-405, state officials have been evaluating express toll lanes to improve operations and to generate funding for improvements. Several regional projects of benefit to Bellevue on the I-405 corridor could be funded this way if approved by the legislature.
The council is expected to further discuss its transportation priorities and funding options at a fall meeting as it refines its 2011 Legislative strategy.