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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Council Roundup: Light rail work plan approved

Also, county works to reduce Lake Sammamish flooding

An above-ground station downtown would require a shallower tunnel.After working for several months on ways to cut the cost of an East Link light rail line, the City Council narrowed the options to a handful of ideas for further study.

Bellevue will send the work plan to Sound Transit, which will build and operate East Link, along with a cover letter and a list of principles that will guide the next round of work on the cost savings ideas.

Endorsement of the work plan provides direction to city and Sound Transit staff to continue design and analysis of the options; it's not a decision to incorporate the ideas into the East Link project. The council approved the plan 6-1 on Monday, with Councilmember Don Davidson voting against it.

Sound Transit's Board of Directors will consider the cost savings work plan at its meeting on Thursday. The plan calls for further study of cost savings ideas at three locations:

  • Bellevue Way Southeast/Winters House: Replace a below-ground light rail line with a street-level line. One option that will be studied further is to shift Bellevue Way and the light rail tracks to the west and consider adding a high-occupancy-vehicle lane (HOV); another option is to relocate the historic Winters House to the east, and leave the rail line on the east side of the street.
  • 112th Avenue Southeast: Replace a below-ground light rail line the length of 112th with a street-level line as much as possible while maintaining access to the Surrey Downs neighborhood. Crossing 112th from east to west at Southeast 15th Street would be accomplished with a new overpass for vehicles, above the light rail line. Plans for an elevated flyover for light rail would be dropped.
  • Downtown tunnel: Continue to study ways to lower the cost of a light rail tunnel station downtown on 110th Avenue Northeast, beneath Northeast Fourth Street, including a stacked tunnel design. Also, study an above-ground station on Northeast Sixth Street. 

Bellevue and Sound Transit have been engaged since January in a "collaborative design process" to identify cost savings. The objective is to reduce the city's financial contribution for a downtown light rail tunnel.

In a memorandum of understanding Bellevue and Sound Transit entered into last year, the city agreed to provide $100 million in low- or no-cost contributions toward the cost of a tunnel. Another $60 million in "contingent" contributions by the city is the target of cost savings efforts; the city's goal is to reduce that contribution to zero.

Next, Bellevue and Sound Transit will continue to develop the cost-savings ideas, narrowing the options later this year, prior to a final decision on the project in 2013. Other opportunities for cost savings are anticipated through value engineering efforts that look for opportunities to reduce the costs of materials or construction techniques. 

Construction on East Link is scheduled to start in 2015 and service to Bellevue is expected to begin in 2023. 

council study session material

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

County works to reduce Lake Sammamish flooding
In response to concerns about seasonal flooding expressed by residents living on the shores of Lake Sammamish, King County will remove brush and trim trees slowing the flow of water from the lake into the Sammamish River.

In addition to mowing more frequently and cutting back willows on both banks of the slough between the lake and the river, the county may also be able to remove silt and debris that have accumulated there over decades next year.

Mark Isaacson, director of the county's Water and Land Resources Division, presented the action plan for the Sammamish Slough to the council at the council's request. Shoreline property owners have complained about recent flooding damaging their land and docks.

Widespread flooding was actually a regular occurrence in the Sammamish River valley until 1964, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a project to deepen and straighten the meandering waterway, which flows north from the lake through Redmond to Kenmore, where it empties into Lake Washington.

To ensure the water level in Lake Sammamish doesn't drop too much during the summer, a shallow, concrete weir or sill was built in the slough to stem the flow from the lake to the river as part of the Army Corps project.

The county will monitor the lake level to confirm that mowing and willow trimming reduce flooding. Isaacson told the council the county is also looking into the possibility of removing the debris downstream from the weir next fall with money from the King County Flood Control District.

Feedback: Joyce Nichols, Interim Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, 425-452-4225 or jnichols@bellevuewa.gov

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