Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated November 2007
Q: Now that Proposition 1 (the regional roads and transit measure) has failed, will work on the Bel-Red corridor continue? Does the election result affect the timing of Bel-Red being implemented?
A: Implementation of the steering committee’s vision for the Bel-Red corridor will continue, despite the defeat of Proposition 1. The steering committee’s recommendation for the future for Bel-Red is about creating a new land use vision, a multi-modal transportation system, new parks, and improving the natural environment. The land use pattern in the committee’s vision is based on a “nodal” development concept of concentrating development in a more mixed use, dense fashion that could support, and be supported by, transit. This land use vision will initially be supported by enhanced bus transit and light rail in the longer term, should voters support light rail extensions in a subsequent vote. There are also many other reasons by this type of land use pattern makes sense for the area: more efficient use of land locating houses, jobs, and services in closer proximity to each other, and creating a more walkable, connected area. The plan can be implemented with bus rapid transit supporting redevelopment in the Bel Red area until light rail transit is implemented.
Sound Transit is proceeding with the environmental review of the East Link project, which would connect light rail from downtown Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond. The East Link project is funded through the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and includes conceptual engineering on the EIS alternatives. The draft EIS is anticipated to be released in fall 2008. Ultimately, voters will need to approve funding for the construction of East Link. Having started the environmental and engineering process will allow for a faster implementation once a funding package is approved. Funding to construct this project will be subject to discussions between Sound Transit, the state legislature, and other regional transportation stakeholders. The timing and funding source of East Link is unclear at this point, yet the project continues to be a vital component of the City’s mobility strategy.
Q: What is the steering committee’s vision for the future of the Bel-Red corridor?
A: According to the committee’s vision, the Bel-Red corridor in 2030 will be an area that is unique within the city of Bellevue and the entire Puget Sound region. It will be an area where thriving businesses will be adjacent to, and sometimes mixed with, livable neighborhoods, all served by a multi-modal transportation system that connects the area to the greater city and region. The area will also be distinguished by environmental and community amenities that will serve residents and employees in the area, as well as residents from surrounding neighborhoods and the entire city. The area will transition over time, accommodating a mix of both existing businesses and new forms of development as the area changes.
Q: What is included in the committee’s preferred alternative?
A: The plan includes more intensive, mixed use land use patterns in portions of the corridor that would be linked with light rail transit stations; improvements to the overall transportation infrastructure; parks, and other open space amenities; and improvements to the natural environment, focused on the stream corridors that run through the area. The best way to describe the preferred alternative is by using the land use map: Bel-Red Corridor Preferred Alternative Map.
Q: I’m concerned about transportation impacts. How does the committee’s recommendation address this?
A: The committee’s recommendation includes major transportation system improvements in the preferred alternative (found on: Bel-Red Corridor Preferred Alternative Map). The alternative plans for new arterial and local streets, and trail, pedestrian and bicycle connections to support anticipated development and provide better linkages within the area and to adjoining neighborhoods. The plan also anticipates light rail transit and local bus improvements that would support light rail (as well as provide better transit service before light rail becomes operational). Given that Bel-Red is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, neighborhood traffic calming and strategies to minimize cut-through traffic into neighborhoods is an important component to the transportation strategy.
Q: What happens now that the steering committee has completed its work?
A: The steering committee’s recommendation was transmitted to City Council on September 24. On October 1 the Council directed the city boards and commissions wiith crafting new Comprehensive Plan policies and Land Use Code regulations that implement the preferred alternative. The Planning Commission will lead review of potential Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code changes, and, following input f rom four other boards and comissions, will likely forward its recommendations to Council in early 2008. The Council will then consider the Planning Commission recommendation, and potentially approve plan and code amendments and an associated financial strategy in spring 2008. Additional implmentation actions will likely be needed that occur after the adoption of the plan and code amendments.
Q: How will this vision be implemented by the city?
A: There is much additional technical work to create the ordinances and tools to implement the committee’s vision. The technical work will include a phasing plan, a financing strategy for public improvements, and design of streets and other facilities. There will also be work undertaken to update the Bel-Red Overlake Transportation Study (BROTS) agreement between Bellevue and Redmond, since Redmond has also been updating their plan for the Overlake area.
Q: What occurs after a new transportation and land use vision is adopted?
A: Once the City Council approves a new subarea plan, the plan would likely be phased in over several years. Given the area’s transportation constraints and the need for other infrastructure to serve new development, the phased approach will coordinate the land use plan with the city’s ability to provide transportation capacity, public services and facilities.