Opinion

Light-rail maintenance yard in Bel-Red area never part of city's vision | Other Voices

Doug Mathews - Courtesy Photo
Doug Mathews
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

By Doug Mathews

For over the last 10 years I have been involved with studying both the proposed light rail alignment through Bellevue as a member of the Bellevue Planning Commission, participated on the Bel-Red Steering Committee as planning commission liaison, was a member of the Light Rail Best Practices Committee for the city of Bellevue, was a co-chair on the PSRC East Corridor Growing Transit Communities Task Force, and am currently co-chair of the Bellevue Light Rail Community Advisory Committee.

During this time I have gained a somewhat unique perspective as a private citizen of Bellevue as to what our city’s vision is for the redevelopment of the Bel-Red Corridor area, and how East Link will integrate into the future vision we have for the area. We have the opportunity to develop both business and residential communities around the light rail stations that will serve the city of Bellevue in the Bel-Red area, with each acting as a catalyst to the other in bringing a planned, organized complementary growth to this evolving neighborhood.

However, the proposed location of an Operations and Maintenance Satellite Facility in Bel-Red has never been a part of this vision, nor should not be. Placing a facility such as this goes against the very tenets of developing transit-oriented development in the area by siting the operation in a planned business and residential neighborhood that is not complementary, and actually works against, the purpose of planned development. Furthermore, it would take away an area planned for residential development that is part of Bellevue’s approach for meeting GMA requirements in future years.

I would also strongly suggest that the alternative location between SR520 and Northeast 20th Street not be considered due to the tremendous loss of numerous (100+) small businesses that would occur by being displaced from their current location, with few reasonable options for relocation.

Sound Transit should find a location that more closely suits such a facility. I would ask if it has even considered the next extension of East Link from Bellevue to downtown Redmond to see if such a sight might be workable along that alignment as a potential option.

I know this suggestion may not fit in well with Redmond’s future vision, which it has been planning and developing over the last decades too. But I don’t believe the Eastside in general should be burdened with the maintenance facility in unreasonable locations because of lack of forethought, planning and communication early on by an agency with the communities that could be affected.

 

Doug Mathews lives in Bellevue.

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