The Bellevue City Council Monday reviewed the results of a year-long effort designed to assist the community, and themselves, in evaluating and planning for a proposed light rail system in Bellevue.
It was the first of three briefings on the Light Rail Best Practices Final Committee Report. The Council appointed the Committee last summer to study what light rail systems work, and do not work, in other North American cities, how those best practices can be applied in Bellevue and what actions the city should take to implement them.
Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger thanked the committee for their "pioneering efforts," saying the report will provide direction to the Council as it discusses the community's role in the proposed light rail system.
"How do we make our voice known and engage the community?" Degginger asked.
Sound Transit's Board of Directors is expected to decide shortly whether to ask voters in November to fund the East Link Light Rail Project, as well as other regional rail extensions and expanded bus service. East Link would extend an existing line from Seattle to downtown Bellevue and possibly to Overlake.
The City Council supports light rail as the preferred option for high-capacity transit along the I-90 corridor serving downtown and the Bel-Red area, consistent with its position in support of transit as a major component of the city's land use and transportation strategy.
Among the principles the Committee identified in its report:
- the light rail system should enhance, not diminish, the quality and character of Bellevue;
- the system needs to connect places where people want to go;
- the city should anticipate project impacts and advocate for exceptional mitigation;
- alignments should consider the unique qualities of different neighborhoods; and
- ongoing public involvement is essential for success in Bellevue.
Bellevue has maintained a strong working relationship with Sound Transit throughout the year-long effort to develop the Final Committee Report. The timetable for upcoming work related to the proposed light rail project in Bellevue includes several opportunities for people to learn more about the Light Rail Best Practices Final Report and to voice their opinions.
On Wednesday, July 9, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Comprehensive Plan amendments proposed in the report. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in Room 1E-113 of City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. Up to two other Commission meetings will be held in July to develop a recommendation for the Council.
On July 14 the Council will receive a second briefing on the Final Report, focused on the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments; on July 28 Council members will review the Planning Commission recommendations on amendments and take public comments. The Council is scheduled to adopt the amendments at its Aug. 4 meeting.
Sound Transit is expected to release a draft environmental impact statement on East Link in mid-September, followed by at least 45 days for public comments. After the comment period, but before the Sound Transit Board provides its preferred alternative in spring 2009, the Bellevue Council could choose to weigh in with its own preferred alternative.
The Light Rail Best Practices pages offer more details about the initiative.
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