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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Council Roundup: Downtown light rail tunnel preferred

Also, magazine names IT director one of nation’s top 25, paving contract awarded and Finance receives award

Visualization of light rail tunnelA unanimous City Council on Monday endorsed a shorter tunnel for the future East Link light rail segment in downtown Bellevue. The tunnel alternative is intended to maximize ridership, shave light rail travel times and avoid congestion on heavily used city streets.

The council will consider a letter to send with its recommendation to Sound Transit's Board of directors on Monday, March 22. Sound Transit  is expected to make its own decision on a downtown route preference at a meeting on April 22.

"A downtown tunnel was an easy choice for the council because of the obvious advantages it offers to both the regional transit system and our local roadways," said Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson. "Now it's time to lock in with our partners at Sound Transit and figure out the right way to pay for this essential transportation element."

The council's preferred alternative, called C9T, is proposed to route light rail west over 112th Avenue Southeast, along the south side of Main Street, before going underground as it runs north on 110th Avenue Northeast, then turning east on Northeast Sixth Street, emerge from the tunnel and cross above 112th Avenue Northeast and Interstate 405.

Transit stations would be located: at the southeast corner of Main Street and 112th Avenue Southeast; beneath 110th Avenue Northeast, at Northeast Fourth Street, a block southeast of the existing Bellevue Transit Center; and above Northeast Eighth Street in the former BNSF Railroad corridor, just east of 116th Avenue Northeast.

The tunnel choice was one of four alternatives that have emerged in recent months. In early 2009, the Bellevue Council's preferred alternative was a longer tunnel on 106th Avenue Northeast, while the Sound Transit Board preferred a street-level "couplet" alternative running in opposite directions on 108th and 110th avenues Northeast.

Because the council's revised tunnel preference could cost up to $285 million more than a downtown street-level alternative, city and Sound Transit executives have been working to identify a combination of funding solutions and cost reductions to close the funding gap identified by Sound Transit. 
East Link is part of the regional ST2 package of transit projects approved by voters in 2008. It includes the extension of light rail from Seattle, across Lake Washington on Interstate 90 to Bellevue, and on to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.

The timeline for East Link calls for Sound Transit to complete a final environmental review of all the alternatives in late 2010, with a definitive decision by the board on routes and station locations by early 2011. East Link design work will continue from 2011 to 2013, construction is scheduled to start by 2014, with light rail service to Bellevue projected to commence in 2020.

For more information on East Link, view the council study session item, or the city's Light Rail and Bellevue page or Sound Transit’s project web page.

Feedback: Bernard van de Kamp, Regional Projects Manager, 425-452-6459 or bvandekamp@bellevuewa.gov 

IT director makes country's top 25
Government Technology magazine, which annually honors chief technology officers who have demonstrated visionary leadership in the public sector, included Bellevue IT director Toni Cramer on its list this year.

The magazine credits Cramer, who has led the Information Technology Department for the past 10 years, for the introduction of the innovative eCityGov Alliance.

The Alliance allows computer users to find parks and commercial property in dozens of area cities by just visiting one, searchable website. People can also go to one place to obtain permits from multiple cities. The service relies on "cloud computing," with the cities in the alliance paying Bellevue to make their data available on its servers.

Feedback: Chelo Picardal, chief technology officer, 425-452-6106 or cpicardal@bellevuewa.gov

Council approves annual street repaving work
Council members approved the 2010 Overlay Program, an annual effort to repave city roadways -- before they deteriorate to the point when more costly repairs are needed.

This year, about 28 lane miles of roadway will be repaved at several different locations, mostly in the area south of Interstate 90. The work will include 9.2 lane miles of arterial streets and 18.7 lane miles of residential streets. The total cost of this year's overlay program is $4.65 million, nearly 23 percent less than the engineer's estimate of $6.02 million. 

In addition to repaving, the contractor, Lakeside Industries Inc., will repair curbs, gutters and sidewalks where needed, and install 144 curb ramps to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In some locations, crews will also restripe pavement to add bicycle lanes, a cost-saving measure compared to the expense of widening streets to create bike lanes. 

Begun in 1982, the intent of the overlay program is to maximize previous investments to the city's 942 lane miles of roadway by repaving targeted sections before a more costly rebuild is needed. Street segments are reviewed every two years and repaving work is prioritized according to need.

2010 Overlay Program Map 

Feedback: Teresa Becker, Pavement Manager, 425-452-7942 or tbecker@bellevuewa.gov 

Finance receives award
The city's Finance Department was recognized for preparing an annual financial report that clearly describes how the city spends its money.

The city earned its 27th consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for producing a readable 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that is efficiently organized according to accepted accounting principles.

Washington law requires that Bellevue publish a financial report each year, in addition to any budgets. The award was issued by the Government Finance Officers Association, a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 16,000 government finance professionals in the U.S. and Canada.

Feedback: Sara Lane, Assistant Finance Director, 425-452-7247 or slane@bellevuewa.gov

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