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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Council Roundup: On track for light-rail negotiations

The City Council is on track to negotiate a contract with Sound Transit that will spell out steps the agency will take to limit neighborhood impacts from its Eastside light rail line as well how the city will help pay for a tunnel downtown.

Light rail trainThe Council Monday approved a term sheet that establishes the framework for a binding agreement in which the city would offer easements, permit coordination, the purchase of some properties and other contributions to cover up to $160 million of Sound Transit's costs for a downtown tunnel for East Link.

"I feel very strongly that I want to enter into negotiations with Sound Transit," Mayor Don Davidson said during the Council's special meeting, called solely to address the term sheet.

To limit noise and visual impacts on the Enatai and Surrey Downs neighborhoods, the term sheet calls for Sound Transit to consider changes to its route through South Bellevue including:

  • Grade-separate the alignment along 112th Avenue Southeast to eliminate the need for warning bells and crossing arms;
  • Moving a proposed station from Southeast Eighth Street north, to a location near Main Street, with noise walls added to cut noise; and
  • Helping to pay for an additional southbound lane on Bellevue Way between Interstate 90 and 112th Avenue, to accommodate added traffic from expansion of the South Bellevue park-and-ride.

The term sheet, an update of an April 2010 agreement between the city and Sound Transit, is non-binding, just setting the stage for negotiating a legally binding memorandum of understanding. Sound Transit approved the term sheet on July 28.

If Sound Transit agrees to the Council's amendments to the term sheet, the city and the regional transit agency will continue negotiations in hopes of signing an MOU in late October.

In addition to approving the term sheet, the Council passed a resolution calling for public outreach, including an open house or hearing and direct mailings, to gather input about all possible mitigation measures for the light-rail route from the residents closest to the route.

Citing concerns about neighborhood impacts, a majority of the Council has favored a different route through South Bellevue, along Interstate 405 rather than the alignment along 112th Avenue Southeast and Bellevue Way Southeast, which has been picked by Sound Transit.

The Council struck a statement from the term sheet expressing "general support" for the 112th/Bellevue Way route.

East Link will run from Seattle, through Bellevue, to the Overlake area of Redmond. Construction is expected to start by 2015 and service is projected to begin by 2023 if the tunnel option is selected.

For more information, see the Council study session item at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/Agendas/CityCouncilAgendaExtendedStudySession8-8-11.pdf

Feedback: Diane Carlson, Director of Intergovernmental relations, 425-452-4225 or dcarlson@bellevuewa.gov

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