Bellevue City Council approves Transportation Improvement Plan update

At their May 21 regular meeting, the Bellevue City Council approved the updated six-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which covers projects from 2019-24.

The TIP is a plan for various projects for the city’s transporation systems and is updated and approved annually. It is not revenue constrained, so the TIP acts as a list of projects the city would like to see completed, not projects that have been committed to begin work.

The Bellevue TIP is divided into four sections: uncompleted projects that have had some funding from the Capital Investment Program (CIP), unfunded projects listed in the 12-year Transportation Facilities Plan (TFP), other unfunded projects identified by planning or pre-designed studies, and projects led by outside agencies like the state or King County that the city may participate in.

Separate from the TIP, city staff is also working with the transportation committee on an update for the TFP, which contains the highest priorities projects for the city and is a financially constrained plan.

Eric Miller, capital programming manager for the city of Bellevue, explained that through public engagement at the transporation committee’s meetings and public hearings, there were requests to reconsider the inclusion of project TFP-158 in the Lake Hills area. That project would construct five-foot-wide bike lanes on both sides of Southeast 16th Street, as well as a curb, gutter, four-foot planter strips and six-foot sidewalks along the north side of Southeast 16th Street between 148th Avenue Southeast and 156th Avenue Southeast.

Earlier that evening during the public comment section of the meeting, two members of the public voiced their concerns regarding TFP-158, stating it was the only project to receive more negative votes than positive ones during the public outreach events. Both speakers said numerous residents have testified against the project during transportation committee meetings and the committee removed the project from the TFP. They were confused as to why the project reappeared on the TIP before the council for approval.

Miller said the project remained on the TIP because they were still referencing the previous year’s approved TFP plan. The current TFP update is still being worked on by the transportation committee and when they complete that update, any changes will be reflected back through the current TIP.

In council discussion on the topic, council member Janice Zahn asked Miller to clarify if the project could move forward before it is able to be taken off of the plan.

“Transportation staff is not proposing that it be funded in this year’s capital investment program update and there is no current funding for that project in the CIP,” Miller responded. “It has had funding in the past to complete 60 percent design but that money has been spent and that phase of the project was completed, so it’s now fallen out of the CIP down to the unfunded TFP for further implementation and consideration.”

Mayor John Chelminiak expressed concern about removing the project, asking staff about the relationship between TFP-158 and the Puget Sound Energy project to build a new transmission line in the Lake Hills area. Miller said they are not directly related, but part of the reason the TFP-158 had some design funding was to potentially accommodate facilities in PSE’s project.

It was unclear from the staff if the PSE project was dependent on TFP-158, so Chelminiak asked staff to look into the relationship of the projects before further decision making takes place.

Council member Jennifer Robertson suggested council adopt the TIP that night and that the concerns over the TFP-158 project will be address by both the council and transportation committee during the appropriate process.

“The fact that the process hasn’t trued up yet doesn’t really concern me because if this project is pulled off the TFP, and that will be a council discussion at which point the concerns that have been expressed by my colleges can all be addressed,” she said. “If it is pulled off the TFP then it would naturally be pulled off the TIP next year when we adopt that per the State Growth Management Act.”

The TIP was approved in a unanimous 6-0 vote, with council member Conrad Lee absent from the meeting.