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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Council Roundup: More time asked for light rail accord

Also, preparing for La Niña and tourism marketing getting ink
City councilmembers on Monday expressed interest in asking Sound Transit for more time to complete an agreement spelling out how the East Link light rail project will be built in Bellevue.

With an Oct. 25 deadline approaching to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the council agreed to consider sending a letter to Sound Transit requesting additional time. The council plans to review a draft of the letter at its next meeting on Oct. 24. Although Bellevue and Sound Transit are negotiating in earnest and have made progress, the MOU is not yet ready for public review, as originally anticipated.

Also on Monday, the council took in a technical report by Sound Transit staff on three design options for running the light rail line along 112th Avenue Southeast, from the "Y" intersection at Bellevue Way to Main Street.

The report provides the latest information about how and where the route would cross 112th Avenue, costs, traffic and noise, and the number of property acquisitions required. Councilmembers and nearby residents are especially concerned about impacts from noise, traffic and appearance along this section of the route.

Both the route alignment and how the city will contribute to the cost of a light rail tunnel in downtown will be addressed in the MOU. The council unanimously supports a tunnel, but it would cost considerably more than a street-level alternative, so Sound Transit has asked the city to help contribute to the cost.

Bellevue's upfront share would be approximately $100 million in credit toward the tunnel’s cost. Much of the credit would come from "in-kind," contributions, such as the use of properties that benefit the city for other public purposes. Up to $60 million more could come as part of a "contingent" contribution, depending on the final costs of the East Link project.

Councilmembers are weighing how to hold down the city's tunnel contribution cost, and how the financial commitment will impact its ability to pay for other capital projects in the future.

East Link will run from Seattle, through Bellevue, to the Overlake area of Redmond. Construction is scheduled to begin by 2015 and service is slated to start by 2023.

Bellevue and Light Rail 
Feedback: Bernard Van de Kamp, Regional Projects Manager, 425-452-6459 or bvandekamp@bellevuewa.gov

City prepares for another La Niña winter
The City Council was briefed Monday night that forecasts are predicting another "La Niña" winter, meaning wetter and colder conditions than usual.

In spite of the harsh forecast, city crews are prepared to respond to rain, wind and snow storms. In addition to minimizing flooding risks and clearing streets of snow and ice, employees will open shelters at several facilities in Bellevue should residents lose power.

At Extreme Weather Response, citizens can keep informed when severe weather strikes Bellevue. The page includes driving conditions and road closures, a snow priorities map, emergency tips and phone numbers. Users can also sign up for alerts, to get notified when the page is updated. A real-time traffic map is also available.

Feedback: Wendy Hairfield, Utilities Community Relations Specialist, 425-452-5215 or whairfield@bellevuewa.gov

Marketing for Bellevue getting ink
A new marketing effort for the city managed by the Meydenbauer Center has generated coverage in several travel publications, the council learned.

Since its launch in June, "Visit Bellevue Washington" has generated coverage about the city as a tourist destination in Sunset Magazine, AAA Journey, Travel and Leisure, Northwest Travel Magazine and the Puget Sound Business Journal, reported Sharon Linton, marketing and communications manager for the effort.

In March the council endorsed VBW as the city's official destination marketing organization. Primary funding for VBW comes from Meydenbauer Center's budget. Businesses and nonprofits contribute funding as "affiliates." The Bellevue Parks & Community Services Department has contributed $200 as an affiliate.

VBW has a website, and is developing a comprehensive visitors guide.

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