Plus, ped-bike initiative and update on Grand Connection visioning
At an extended study session on Monday, the City Council was briefed on the initial success of the Utilities Department's recently deployed mobile devices program. The program, part of the Utilities Mobile Workforce initiative adopted by the council in the 2015-16 budget, has received positive responses from both frontline field staff and customers.
Thanks to the new tablets, staff can now diagnose issues in real-time, avoid cumbersome paper maps and logs, reduce the number of miles they have to drive, and communicate with non-English speakers via a translation program.
The preliminary batch of 65 iPad Pro tablets were deployed to field staff in December. A majority of staff now use the new tool daily. Based on the last three months of user feedback, the city has already identified areas of improvement including more interactive maps and access to past inspection data.
Utilities' program highlights Bellevue's commitment to become a "Smart City," one of the Council 2016-17 priorities. Smart Cities use advances in information and communications technology to enhance livability, sustainably and resilience. The ultimate goal of is to achieve predictive, interoperable and adaptive services and operations.
Progress on pedestrian, bicycle system
Also on Monday, the council heard a progress report on the city's 2015 Pedestrian & Bicycle Implementation Initiative. The initiative identifies strategies to carry out projects and programs identified in a plan approved in 2009.
In addition to a series of technical reports and public outreach tasks to further the initiative, city staff reviewed a Bicycle Rapid Implementation Program designed to deliver road projects quickly and cost effectively.
In the 2017-2018 capital budget, these projects are eligible for $1.73 million in pedestrian and bicycle-related funding from the Neighborhood Safety, Connectivity and Congestion levy, approved by voters in November. That revenue is expected to add 16.7 miles of new or upgraded bicycle facilities citywide by 2019.
Included in the research and outreach work done so far is: a bicycle and pedestrian count program, a map showing citywide collisions over the past 10 years, and a Video Analytics Toward Vision Zero project that could allow data from traffic cameras to be analyzed in order to predict and prevent future crashes.
Grand Connection work continues
Councilmembers wrapped up Monday's meeting with a progress update on the ambitious Grand Connection project. The Grand Connection seeks to create a landmark vision for a non-motorized corridor that would stretch from Meydenbauer Bay through downtown to the Eastside Rail Corridor in the Wilburton commercial area.
As part of the presentation, staff showcased the next iteration of three concepts for the Interstate 405 crossing. The alternatives ranged from a dynamic and fluid bridge that incorporates sustainability and innovative application of materials to a large lid-like park that creates a new public space. After additional refinements, the three alternatives will be incorporated into the Wilburton Commercial Area Environmental Impact Statement process later this year. The process will assist in identifying a preferred alternative in early 2018.
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