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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Council Roundup: Light rail cost savings ideas reviewed

City and Sound Transit staff  briefed the City Council Monday about the latest ideas to reduce costs on the East Link light rail project.

The council considered several cost-savings options for the section of the future light rail line between Interstate 90 and downtown Bellevue, including:

  • Bellevue Way Southeast/Winters House: Replacing a retained-cut light rail line with a street-level line by shifting Bellevue Way to the west, and adding a high-occupancy-vehicle lane (HOV) on the west side of the street, from the main entrance to the South Bellevue Station (where the South Bellevue Park and Ride is now) north to the Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue Southeast "Y" intersection (estimated $7 to 11 million savings, though the city would contribute $11 million towards the HOV lane).
  • 112th Avenue Southeast: Replacing a retained-cut 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. Other options include closing Southeast Fourth Street except for emergency vehicle traffic or keeping traffic access at Southeast Fourth with a raised street above the light rail line ($7 to 16 million savings, depending on the option, relative to running light rail under Southeast Fourth).
  • Downtown tunnel: Ideas include making several small changes to the downtown tunnel station on 110th Avenue Northeast, beneath Northeast Fourth Street; building a stacked tunnel instead of a side-by-side tunnel; and relocating the station to Northeast Sixth Street and making it above ground ($6 to 13 million savings for tunnel changes; $23 to 39 million savings for relocation to Northeast Sixth Street).
  • Cost-savings ideas along the entire East Link line: Modifying the design of elevated structures, reducing the number of stormwater vaults through low-impact development designs, and speeding up tunnel construction through additional temporary road closures ($15 to 20 million total). 

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

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

In addition to Monday's council briefing, three drop-in meetings will be this week, providing an opportunity for the public to review and discuss the updated designs and cost information. A meeting about Bellevue Way ideas takes place today from 5 to 7 p.m. at the New Hope International Church, 10808 SE 28th St.; a meeting on 112th Avenue Southeast ideas takes place Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Hilton Hotel, 300 112th Ave. SE; and a meeting on downtown ideas takes place Thursday, Oct. 4, from 4 to 6 p.m., at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE.

On Oct. 15, the council is scheduled to make its recommendations on cost savings options, and on Oct. 25 the Sound Transit Board will decide which ideas warrant further analysis. More design work and an environmental review of the refined options is expected to start in early 2013, followed by the selection of final cost-savings ideas. East Link is scheduled to begin service in 2023. 

For more information, see the council study session item at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession10-1-122a.pdf
A copy of the Cost Savings Work Plan Findings is available at http://www.soundtransit.org/documents/pdf/projects/eastlink/Cost_Savings_Work_Plan_Version_12%20_092712.pdf

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

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