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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Council Roundup: Light rail tunnel still on table

Also, Wilburton connections progresses, wastewater rate increase proposed, volunteers and top recyclers honored and city's reporting on performance recognized

Council members on Monday committed to working with Sound Transit on funding issues related to a tunnel alignment downtown for light rail.

The council favors a tunnel over street-level light rail downtown to minimize traffic impacts of the East Link light rail on downtown streets, and assure better efficiency for the entire regional light rail system.

Sound Transit had asked the city to commit to a "term sheet" establishing the framework for the city and Sound Transit to work through tunnel funding and design issues.

According to the term sheet, Bellevue's financial support could come in the form of contributions such as property and rights of way, one-time tax revenue as a result of the East Link project, in-kind services, streamlined permitting assistance, cash contributions and construction of East Link capital projects that also benefit the city.

Sound Transit's support would come from cost reductions and added fiscal capacity.

While the term sheet is not a legally binding agreement, it provides the basis for a permanent agreement with Sound Transit, once the agency completes a final environmental review of the East Link project, expected in early 2011.

Sound Transit's Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on whether to include the tunnel as a preferred alternative, along with a street-level option, at its meeting on Thursday.

Under the tunnel option, called C9T, the line would be routed below Main Street, near 112th Avenue Northeast, turn north on 110th Avenue Northeast, then east on Northeast Sixth Street and emerge as an elevated line to cross over 112th Avenue Northeast and Interstate 405. An underground station would be located beneath 110th Avenue Northeast, at Northeast Fourth Street.

If no agreement is reached on funding a tunnel, Sound Transit's Capital Committee has recommended that a less expensive, street-level alternative called C11A be built instead. That line would run on Main Street, 108th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Sixth Street, with stations at 108th and Main and at the current Bellevue Transit Center.

East Link is one element of a regional transit package approved by voters in 2008. It includes the extension of light rail from Seattle, across Lake Washington on Interstate 90, through Bellevue, to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.

Design work for East Link will continue through 2013, construction is expected to begin by 2014, and light rail service to Bellevue is projected to start in 2020.

Light Rail and Bellevue
Sound Transit East Link 

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

Council OKs next steps on Wilburton Connections 
The council approved additional funding for the Wilburton Connections, a set of high-priority transportation projects just east of Interstate 405. It's part of a major initiative to improve mobility in Bellevue. 

One resolution allocates $1.34 million for a consultant to complete the final design and other work to extend Northeast Fourth Street from 116th to 120th Avenue Northeast. A second resolution budgets $93,000 for a traffic assessment and public involvement effort on Northeast Fifth Street, from 120th to 124th Avenue Northeast.

In response to concerns expressed at a recent public open house on Wilburton Connections, the council also created a new improvement project for 120th Avenue Northeast, from Northeast Eighth to Northeast 12th Street. An initial budget of $190,000 will pay for early engineering. Work to improve 120th Avenue Northeast from Northeast Fourth to Northeast Eighth Street is already well underway.

Wilburton Connections is a crucial piece of the city's Mobility and Infrastructure Initiative, intended to increase connectivity, and decrease traffic congestion, between Wilburton, Downtown Bellevue, and the Bel-Red area in anticipation of future growth.

Feedback: Tresa Berg, Transportation Public Involvement Coordinator, 425-452-4638, tberg@bellevuewa.gov

County proposes wastewater rate increase
The council was briefed on a proposal by King County to increase wastewater rates in 2011. The wholesale rate charged by the county for treating wastewater would increase from $31.90 to $35.15 a month, a 10.2 percent increase.

That increase would be passed through to Bellevue customers, along with the amount needed to operate and maintain Bellevue's wastewater collection system. The total average wastewater rate for a Bellevue residential customer is currently $54.62 a month.

King County is also proposing a 2.8 percent increase for homeowners with new sewer hookups. The "capacity charge" is proposed to increase from $49.90 to $50.45 per month in 2011.

The bulk of the proposed increase will pay for the $1.8 billion Brightwater treatment plant under construction near Woodinville as well as other county capital projects.

The proposed wastewater rate increase will be factored into the city's rate development process now underway.

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

Three businesses honored for recycling
Bellevue's top business recyclers in the small-, medium-, and large-business categories for 2009 are La Tienda, Bellevue Healthcare and Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. In addition to recognition from the city and Allied Waste, Bellevue's garbage and recycling contractor, each business will receive a month of free garbage service.

Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, the winner in the large commercial category, had an 83 percent recycling rate. A maker of skin-care products, Pacific Bioscience has designed its packaging to be recyclable and also requires suppliers to use recyclable packaging.

Bellevue Healthcare, which sells, rents and services home medical equipment, won in the medium-size category with an 80 percent recycling rate. The company provides easy access to recycling bins in its building and "closes the loop" by purchasing office supplies made from recycled content.

In the small-business category, La Tienda recycles 87 percent of its waste. La Tienda, which sells South American and Mexican foods, recycles a large amount of cardboard from incoming shipments. It has won this award before.

The commercial recycling program is available at no additional charge to Allied Waste commercial garbage customers. The program allows all recyclables to be combined in the same recycling container. Businesses seeking to learn more about recycling can call Allied Waste at 425-646-2492.

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

Volunteers honored
Sharon and Dallas Graham, who chair the Bellevue Botanical Garden's popular Garden d'Lights event, were honored Monday with the City Volunteer of the Year award.

The husband and wife team oversaw all aspects of the event, including months of planning, coordination of 300 volunteers, logistics, teaching and evaluation. Due in large part to their efforts, more than 166,000 visitors attended the December event (the most ever), and donations reached an all-time record.

The police department recognized volunteer Pauline Beerman for 15 years of service. Posted at of the Factoria community police station, Beerman answers phones, greets visitors and answers questions with "an unfailingly positive attitude," said Marji Trachtman, who coordinates the police department's volunteer program.

In 2009, more than 5,000 volunteers performed a staggering 127,000 hours of community service for Bellevue programs. 

Feedback: Shelly Shellabarger, Volunteer Program Coordinator, 425-452-5375, sshellabarger@bellevuewa.gov

City earns award for reporting on its performance
The Association of Government Accountants honored Bellevue with a Circle of Excellence Award for regularly informing residents about how the city is performing in key areas.

The City Council was given the award Monday by Kenneth Smith, a professor with the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University. Smith noted the city first earned the AGA award in 2004, and has been recognized for five consecutive years of performance reporting excellence.

Bellevue is considered as a state leader in compiling and reporting performance data. Each year the city compiles statistics in a number of categories to determine overall municipal performance and areas where improvement should be focused. Results are then shared with residents. Areas include fire and police response times, water quality, conditions of neighborhood streets and roads, overall satisfaction with parks and recreation and other municipal service areas.

Bellevue Citizen Outreach and Performance

Feedback: Rich Siegel, Performance and Outreach Coordinator, 425-452-7114, rcsiegel@bellevuewa.gov

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