On Tuesday, the City Council reviewed an aggressive public outreach effort to inform residents about the East Link light rail project, as Bellevue works to negotiate a binding agreement with Sound Transit by Oct. 25.
The agreement, or memorandum of understanding, will outline numerous steps the transit agency and Bellevue will take, including how to mitigate neighborhood impacts and how the city will help pay for a light rail tunnel in downtown Bellevue.
Councilmembers signed off on the following approach to letting the public know the latest information, and for soliciting feedback:
- Open house: The public is invited to an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. Topics will include design options for the light rail segment south of downtown, information on tunnel funding and the potential addition of a high-occupancy vehicle lane on southbound Bellevue Way, from the 112th Avenue Southeast intersection to Interstate 90.
- Public Hearing: A public hearing will be held during the council's regular meeting that begins at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, in the council chambers of City Hall. Suggested comment areas will be similar to topics presented at the open house.
- Mailings, phone calls and small-group meetings: City staff are in the process of contacting approximately 160 residents in the Enatai and Surrey Downs neighborhoods whose homes would be most directly affected by the light rail route. They will offer to meet with them individually or in small groups to explain options and hear concerns.
The outreach blitz also will include a citywide postcard mailing, email notifications, web page information and newspaper advertising. Additional outreach dates and activities may be added as the council continues discussion of the project and the agreement with Sound Transit.
Councilmembers remain especially concerned about potential noise, visual impacts and the effect on traffic from the East Link route south of downtown.
East Link will run from Seattle, through Bellevue, to the Overlake area of Redmond. Construction is forecast to begin by 2015 and service is expected to start by 2023 if the tunnel option is selected.
Feedback: Michael Kattermann, Senior Planner, 425-452-2042 or firstname.lastname@example.org; and Bernard Van de Kamp, Regional Projects Manager, 425-452-6459 or email@example.com
Hilltop and Horizon View take step toward annexation
An effort to annex unincorporated areas of South Bellevue progressed Tuesday, with the council accepting notice-of-intent petitions to commence annexation from at least 10 percent of the property owners in the Hilltop and Horizon View neighborhoods.
The council had accepted notice-of-intent petitions from Eastgate and Tamara Hills in June. The four areas together comprise the South Bellevue potential annexation area, 750 acres of land south of I-90 surrounded by incorporated Bellevue. The annexation area is home to 5,554 people.
The council began the annexation process in February, after residents in all four areas expressed interest in becoming part of the city. With annexation, the property owners in those areas would pay less in taxes than they pay in unincorporated King County and receive Bellevue's high level of urban services, including fire and police protection.
Annexation would be affirmed when the city receives a second set of petitions for annexation from property owners representing at least 50 percent of assessed value for each area. The unincorporated areas could be annexed by April 2012.
To ensure that residents have the information they need for annexation petitions, the city is holding community meetings at Eastgate Elementary School on Sept. 27 and Oct. 25. Staff will also be available for "drop-in sessions" at several South Bellevue locations this month and next.
Details about the annexation, including downloadable petition forms and maps and an online calculator of the fiscal benefits of annexation to a property owner, are available at South Bellevue Annexation.
Feedback: Nicholas Matz, Senior Planner, 425-452-5371 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Cheryl Kuhn, Neighborhood Outreach Manager, 425 452-4089 or email@example.com
Downtown and hospital district traffic lights to get 'smart'
Continuing an effort to make traffic flow through Bellevue intersections smoother, the council approved installation of "traffic adaptive" technology for traffic lights downtown and in the hospital district.
The city will use a federal grant to pay TransCore ITS $240,687 for the system that collects road data continuously and constantly adjusts signal timing to provide the most efficient traffic flow.
The technology will be installed at 18 intersections downtown, along Northeast 12th, 10th and Second streets as well as Main Street and 112th Avenue Northeast. In the hospital district just east of Interstate 405, the lights will be improved at 13 intersections along 116th Avenue and Northeast 10th and Eighth streets.
The project, scheduled for January and February of next year, will be the second phase of a six-phase effort, projected to wind up in 2015, to make all the traffic signals in the city part of an "intelligent transportation system."
Phase 1 was completed in May, with the traffic adaptive technology installed downtown at Northeast Eighth and Fourth streets and Bellevue Way, as well as intersections on Factoria Boulevard and Coal Creek Parkway.
Feedback: Mark Poch, Traffic Engineering Manager, 425-452-6137 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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