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New Bellevue alliance weighs in on light-rail options

This Sound Transit rendering shows light rail crossing to the west side of 112th Avenue NE and avoiding impacts to the Bellevue Club on its way downtown.  - Courtesy of Sound Transit
This Sound Transit rendering shows light rail crossing to the west side of 112th Avenue NE and avoiding impacts to the Bellevue Club on its way downtown.
— image credit: Courtesy of Sound Transit

A group of businesses and homeowners from 112th Avenue have joined forces to support light-rail alternatives that would cause more property takings than any other option for their street.

The new alliance includes the upscale Bellevue Club, the Red Lion Inn, the Hilton Hotel, and even condo owners who would lose their homes with the favored alignments.

The group sent a letter to Sound Transit last Friday supporting two routes along the west side of 112th Avenue and opposing anything that would use the center or east side of the road.

The Sound Transit board is due to vote on a preferred alignment for that area July 22.

A statement from the Bellevue Club web site reads: "Of the options provided only those on the west side of 112th Ave SE protect the value of the Club."

The Bellevue Club actually prefers to see light rail in an altogether different location: along the abandoned Burlington-Northern rail corridor west of I-90 – a route known as B7.

But the Sound Transit board has named 112th Avenue as its preferred alignment, leaving those who live or do business along the street to choose between the lesser of evils as far as their own interests are concerned.

There are six options available: two on the west side of the road, two on the east, and two in the center.

The west-running alternatives would displace 46 homes and seven businesses apiece, while extending Surrey Downs Park to create a buffer for the adjoining neighborhood.

The east-running options would take out tennis courts and a swimming pool at the Bellevue Club, as well as parking at the Red Lion and Hilton hotels.

Most of the residents who would lose their homes are willing to be bought out, but the only compensation for their backyard neighbors in the Surrey Downs neighborhood will be noise mitigation – and few of them think it will be sufficient.

Pleasing the Bellevue Club and its allies could end up costing the city more money, since Bellevue is partially on the hook for building a downtown tunnel.

Sound Transit last month proposed a shortened downtown tunnel that could save an estimated $75 million on the overall project. The west-running options for 112th Avenue do not work with that plan.

Many residents from Southwest Bellevue neighborhoods like Surrey Downs, Enatai, and Bellecrest prefer the B7 route, which would run parallel to I-90 before moving downtown. The majority of the Bellevue City Council also supports that alignment.

A group called Building a Better Bellevue launched an initiative last weekend to advocate for B7 with mailers, a new web site, yard signs, and a fundraising campaign.

Bellevue City Council member Claudia Balducci is among the council minority that voted for a 112th Avenue alignment over B7. She is also a member of the Sound Transit board – the only one from Bellevue.

Balducci has said she will not be available for the board's July 22 vote, due to a previously scheduled meeting with federal officials who oversee her work as regional jail coordinator for King County.


Light rail options: 112th Avenue

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