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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Council Roundup: No thanks to light rail maintenance facility

The city council on Monday expressed strong opposition to locating a light rail operations and maintenance (O&M) facility in Bellevue.

Sound Transit has identified four potential sites in Bellevue and one site in Lynnwood for the rail yard, which would support the agency’s regional network, including East Link. Sound Transit officials told the council they need a 20- to 25-acre site to accommodate about 80 light rail vehicles, in addition to the 100-plus vehicles they will keep at their existing maintenance base south of downtown Seattle.

In a letter that councilmembers approved sending to the Sound Transit Board, they called the timing of a study of the Bellevue sites an "unwelcome surprise to the city. We were assured by Sound Transit … that a maintenance base was not needed for East Link or on the Eastside."

All four Bellevue sites are located in the city's Bel-Red corridor, and councilmembers said the proposals "would clearly be incompatible" with the city's plan for the area. Officials rezoned the Bel-Red corridor in 2009 and it’s slated to be transformed from a light industrial area to a mix of residential and office uses focused around development near two future light rail stations.

The letter notes the need for an O&M facility appears driven by the expansion of light rail north of Seattle, so the facility should be located there, rather than an incompatible area of Bellevue. The council urges Sound Transit to investigate further potential sites along the North Link Extension. Also, the letter explains, cumulative noise and environmental impacts of such a facility have not been sufficiently studied.

The four Bellevue sites are located: at the former International Paper plant, along the BNSF railroad line, south of Northup Way; at the Cadman ready mix concrete yard on the west side of 130th Avenue Northeast, south of Northup Way; east of 130th Avenue, between SR 520 and Northup Way, in an area now occupied by small businesses; and on 148th Avenue Northeast where a Fred Meyer store currently is located. The Lynnwood site is near Interstate 5 and the Lynnwood Transit Center, on property owned by the Edmonds School District.

council study session item

Feedback: Chris Salomone, Director of the Department of Planning and Community Development, 425-452-6191 or csalomone@bellevuewa.gov

Bike-pedestrian lane for West Lake Sammamish Parkway
The city will soon begin work on long-awaited improvements to West Lake Sammamish Parkway that will make the important north-south arterial safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The council approved a $4.8 million contract for the first phase of the project, a section of the roadway between Interstate 90 and Southeast 34th Street. Tacoma-based Active Construction will add a multi-purpose trail, separated from vehicular traffic by a landscaping buffer, as well as pedestrian crossings along the corridor.
The city began considering improvements to West Lake Sammamish Parkway in 1996, after Bellevue, Redmond and King County completed a joint study of the arterial where traffic volumes have been growing. In 2005, after extensive public outreach, the council approved a general design calling for a10-foot-wide multi-use trail and a landscaping buffer where feasible.
The improvements are to be made in five phases, each for an approximately one-mile segment of the 5.5-mile stretch of roadway between I-90 and the north city limits. There was overwhelming public support for starting with the southernmost segment. Construction is expected to begin early next year and be substantially complete in late fall.

The southbound lane of the street will have to be closed for the duration of the project. Southbound traffic will be detoured to Southeast 34th Street and to I-90, from which travelers may return to destinations in the closure area using the I-90 West Lake Sammamish Parkway off-ramp, then heading north.
Staff are in the process of notifying affected residents and businesses about the detour, giving them time to prepare for it. A newsletter about the project will go to residents in November.

council study session item      

Feedback: Paul Krawczyk, Project Manager, 425-452-7905 or pkrawczyk@bellevuewa.gov

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