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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 14, 2007

Residents give input on proposed Eastside light rail

Bellevue—Bellevue residents discussed a proposed light rail line for the Eastside at a public meeting Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Meydenbauer Center. It was the first of four "scoping" meetings hosted by regional mass transit officials seeking comments about potential light rail routing alternatives currently under review.

The proposed East Link rail line would run 18 miles from Seattle to downtown Bellevue and on to Redmond.

Sound Transit has scheduled four public meetings for September as part of the early environmental scoping process for the light rail project. The public outreach is being conducted jointly with the Regional Transportation Investment DistrictMore information about the East Link project can be found on the Sound Transit website.

In related news, the King County Council on Sept. 4 approved sending to the voters in November a ballot proposal to raise the sales and use tax in King County by one-tenth of one percent to add more frequent and faster bus service to the county's busiest and most congested roads and highways.

The Bellevue City Council in August expressed support for the "Transit Now" ballot moving forward as long as it addressed Eastside needs. The second largest employment center in King County, downtown Bellevue is experiencing a substantial increase in residential and office densities. In a letter, the Council noted that new investments in transit and road services are needed on the Eastside.

The other scoping meetings for light rail, which all are from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., include:

  • Sept. 14 in Redmond at the Old Redmond School House Community Center, 16600 NE 80th St.;
  • Sept. 20 in Seattle at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St., Ruth Fisher Board Room;
  • Sept. 21 in Mercer Island at the Community Center at Mercer View, 8236 SE 24th St.

Persons seeking additional information may call Brooke Belman at 206-398-5238, or e-mail her at belmanb@soundtransit.org. A copy of the East Link Environmental Scoping Information Report is available online on the Sound Transit website and at area libraries.

The scoping process is the first step in a multi-year environmental review for the proposed East Link project, which will go before voters for approval next year as part of a larger regional transit and highways improvements package.

The September scoping meetings are designed to give citizens and other stakeholders an opportunity in identifying a wide range of potential routes and route alignments, and the impacts those routes and alignments could have on neighborhoods.

Following the scoping process, a range of alternatives based on such criteria as cost and ridership projections will be identified and presented to the Sound Transit Board of Directors for more analysis. The second phase of environmental study would then begin, and include identifying potential neighborhood station locations.

Acting on a  request by Sound Transit to make a preference between light rail and  rail convertible bus rapid, the Bellevue City Council recently endorsed light rail. Councilmembers based their decision on Sound Transit data indicating light rail would carry more passengers at greater speed and convenience than the buses.

Councilmembers have repeatedly said that a high capacity transit system should be a component of the city’s land use, economic and transportation strategy, and that system must be compatible with the quality of life currently enjoyed in the city’s neighborhoods and not negatively impact existing roadways.

“(Bellevue has) over 35,000 jobs and a growing residential population in our downtown-a downtown that is surrounded on three sides with outstanding single-family neighborhoods,” Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger wrote in a recent letter to Sound Transit.

“It is imperative that (high capacity transit) be deployed in a manner that will ensure we receive the most positive impacts from the transit system while assuring the least negative impacts to our neighborhood and community.”

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