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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Council Roundup: Preview of East Link open house

Also, plan for development of Eastgate/I-90 corridor proceeds
The City Council Monday previewed ideas for saving money on construction of the East Link light rail route through Bellevue.

The options will be shared with the public during a joint open house with Sound Transit 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. Attendees can learn about design alternatives and provide feedback. There will also be information about cost-saving ideas that were considered and rejected, the status of the project, and the latest schedule.

The focus of Monday's presentation -- and what will be shown to the public Thursday -- was on several segments of East Link with the potential for significant cost savings. They include alignment options near the historic Winters House on Bellevue Way Southeast; the alignment along 112th Avenue Southeast near Southeast Fourth Street; the downtown light rail station; the downtown light rail tunnel, and the alignment along Northeast 16th Street in the Bel-Red area.

Since January, Bellevue has been working with the transit agency, which is building East Link, on a unique "collaborative design process" to pinpoint cost savings and reduce the city's financial contribution for a downtown light rail tunnel.

The collaboration is the result of an agreement Bellevue forged last year with Sound Transit, under which the city will provide $100 million in low- or no-cost property contributions toward the cost of a tunnel. Another $60 million in "contingent" contributions by the city is the focus of the cost savings effort; the city's goal is to reduce that contribution to zero. In addition to cost, the agreement addresses the project's scope, schedule and budget, and design modifications to minimize impacts on neighborhoods.

The 14-mile-long East Link route will run from Seattle, across Lake Washington on Interstate 90, through Bellevue to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond. Six miles of the line will run through Bellevue, with six light rail stations located within the city's boundary.

After Thursday's open house, more design work will be done on the cost-saving concepts. A second open house will be in June, and will include more detailed information and costs savings estimates about the options. Following that, the council and Sound Transit Board will decide which concepts should be studied more closely.

The latest schedule calls for reaching the 60 percent design mark on the project in 2013 and for property acquisitions also to begin next year. Construction of East Link is set to begin in 2015, and service to Bellevue is projected to start in 2023.

For more information on the collaborative design process, see the council study session material at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketExtendedStudySession4-23-123d.pdf. Council meetings are shown live on Bellevue Television (Channel 21) and streamed live on the city’s website. Links to live and past meetings are available at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/bellevue_tv.htm

Feedback: Bernard van de Kamp, Transportation Assistant Director, 425-452-6459 or bvandekamp@bellevuewa.gov

Plan for Eastgate development proceeds
The council accepted a plan to keep the Eastgate-Interstate 90 corridor vital, with zoning changes that could allow for a transit-oriented development of mid-rise offices and housing clustered around the area park-and-ride.

"It's been a good process," Mayor Conrad Lee said of the Eastgate/I-90 Land Use and Transportation Project study developed by an appointed citizen advisory committee over the last year and a half. "I know the residents and the businesses, they're on board."

The council launched the study in February 2010, concerned that the 600-acre stretch of office parks and neighborhood retail straddling I-90 could experience some decline over time due traffic congestion, limited capacity for offices and housing and a lack of amenities.

The plan presented Monday envisions zoning provisions and infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years that would help ensure the corridor, home to nearly 20 percent of the city's workforce, remains one of Bellevue's major regional employment centers.

The Eastgate/I-90 Land Use and Transportation Study will now be forwarded to the Planning and Transportation Commissions for refinement and incorporation into the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Code, and Transportation Facilities Plan.

The project has already resulted in some "early wins" including:

  • State Department of Transportation spending $80,000 on I-90 signage to enhance wayfinding from the highway to institutions/arterials in the corridor;
  • Federal Highway Administration providing a $160,000 grant for preliminary engineering for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail project; and
  • WSDOT spending $1.5 million to construct a new roundabout at the I-90 westbound off-ramp at the Lakemont interchange.

Feedback: Dan Stroh, Planning Director, 425-452-5255  or dstroh@bellevuewa.gov

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