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Sound Transit shows disrespect for Bellevue
Light rail is not appropriate for Bellevue Way/112th SE for several reasons – all vetted in the city of Bellevue's Best Practices document and the Comprehensive Plan.
Environmental impacts such as the destruction of up to 50 homes and businesses, noise, light, and vibration from the operating system as well as the general degradation of the surviving residential and business environment during construction, cannot be denied.
And most profoundly, the stewardship of Bellevue’s birthplace must not be compromised. The Mercer Slough artifact, with its nineteenth and twentieth century topographical and agricultural past, its heritage business and buildings and interpretive nature park represents the future of our City in a Park as it takes its rightful place in the historic culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Breaking Bellevue’s rules and locating East Link on Bellevue Way/112th SE will jeopardize Bellevue’s much revered and envied urban edge city style. The special character of our business district that results from adjacent family homes joining business into one downtown neighborhood will gradually be faced with the typical slums and unkempt territory that mark the border of most other business cores.
Indeed, the Eastern edge of West Bellevue will be severely compromised; business serving the local population will be driven out, a neighborhood park and its dedicated parking will be used as a casual train station or worse, and our 112th SE hospitality industry now a clean and safe neighborhood partner will take on an unhealthy inner-city personality. The omen of Eastlink on Bellevue Way/112th SE is already causing a family neighborhood to be sucked into a future of devaluation and blight.
Mitigation of these effects is a meaningless exercise. While money can bring a simple write off of homes with replacement addresses, and castle walls can shelter those of us within a stone’s throw of the track, how will the noise that injures folks’ health and forfeits their quality of life a half-mile to the West be mitigated? How will the compromise of Mercer Slough’s historic focus be explained, and what will you say to the post Eastlink generation about the sellout of the greater downtown neighborhood and its loss of unique community? Or do you choose to ignore these local issues outright?
The only effective mitigation is to utilize the existing regional transportation corridor.
But leaving the perceived NIMBY issues aside, in the larger context, multi-modal transportation goals do not depend on use of the existing South Bellevue Park and Ride (and it’s link to 112th SE). Crossing Mercer Slough at I-90 where existing track right of way can connect to further north and south destinations as well as enable future eastern access, provides a host of goal oriented design opportunities with vision instead of expediency.
While ridership, cost and timeline are indeed prime parameters for producing an Eastlink line, maintaining and perpetuating the Bellevue vision with efficient transportation for the Eastside community is the overriding goal. Eastlink is a 50-100 year regional transportation system product. You must ask yourselves, what route through Bellevue will best promote that product? And won’t stations connected to I-90 and I-405 reveal the optimum link to a true multi-modal regional transportation system?
Yes, light rail is not appropriate for Bellevue Way/112th SE for several reasons, but the most meaningful reason is that a practicable alternative may exist.
While the state indeed gave Sound Transit the authority to break the rules, Bellevue indeed does not have to accept this disrespect of our city shown by the current Bellevue Way/112th SE scheme. The inability and unwillingness of Sound Transit to engineer a transportation product that serves our city as well as the region is a glaring violation of public trust. They must take the time and spend my tax dollars as necessary, to honor the greater goal. A quick and dirty system is not what we voted for.
L. Lee Maxwell, Bellevue