Residents of Enatai, Beaux Arts and Bellevue: You think traffic is bad now? Give Sound Transit a few months to show you what bad traffic really is. Would you want a pharmacist planning your traffic for the next seven years? Neither does Beaux Arts Village. This is what Sound Transit has offered us in exchange for our tax dollars.
Sound Transit’s management of the upcoming East Link project in Bellevue is causing local residents a great deal of stress. Residents are increasingly concerned that the projected seven-plus years of construction will create an inescapable traffic disaster.
The traffic in several south Bellevue neighborhoods will be severely impacted for at least the next seven years and Sound Transit has avoided commissioning a professional study and plan for traffic relief. Instead, Sound Transit has punted the thankless job of traffic mitigation to a committee of representatives from Beaux Arts, Enatai, Bellecrest and Surrey Downs. The committee was convened to “work with the city of Bellevue to identify ways to lessen neighborhood traffic impacts.” But since the committee does not have the expertise of traffic engineers or a promise of regular, reliable data collection, the meetings have instead been dominated by seemingly endless arguments about theoretical scenarios and equally theoretical solutions.
One committee member stated, “I’ll vote for anything just to not have to attend another meeting.” This was after the committee, a group of people who are volunteering their time because they care about the safety and welfare of their neighbors, were encouraged to debate over the locations of turn restrictions rather than provided professional plans to work with.
I know that if we do not speak out now, when traffic gets bad in a few months, Sound Transit will say, “Well, we invited a committee to do things, but they couldn’t figure out what to do.” That is not true. We know what we need and have been refused. Beaux Arts representatives have been attending these meeting for months. Our mayor has reached out with his own request and been ignored.
Month after month, we have asked for the same things:
• Ongoing dynamic traffic data collection along 108th Avenue Southeast and 104th Avenue Southeast, so we have documentation if/when traffic floods our neighborhood.
• Professional traffic engineering plans for light traffic calming, medium traffic suppression and last-resort draconian restrictions to implement if/when traffic swarms our neighborhood after the South Bellevue Park and Ride is closed and Bellevue Way is narrowed and Sound Transit trucks throng Enatai going to and from their staging area at Enatai Beach Park.
• Flashing mobile speed signs to remind speeding drivers of the limits.
• Zone parking to prevent hide-and-riders when the Park and Ride closes (I was told this is currently being implemented, but haven’t seen it yet).
I am the pharmacist who doesn’t have the steam to attend another of these fruitless committee meetings, but I’m not ready to give up on representing my community. So, the question I posit to you is: Can I please get some help? Contact your elected representatives if you agree with me that you deserve professional traffic mitigation services, not a plan cobbled together by volunteers.
Cynthia Hudson is a member of the Beaux Arts Town Council.