The Eastside's largest city has seen bursts of growth before, but Bellevue is undergoing an unprecedented construction boom now. Downtown bristles with construction cranes, and a record number of new office buildings, restaurants, houses and shopping and apartment complexes are going up around the city.
With the season's nice weather and longer daylight hours, major highway, arterial and utility projects that will help accommodate the city's growth are getting underway too. That means more noise and traffic congestion.
"A healthy economy, hot job market and new construction are making Bellevue a major urban destination," notes Mike Brennan, deputy director of Development Services. "But that kind of transformation can't happen without some inconvenience in the process. We're asking people to be patient while Bellevue goes through this growth spurt."
To keep up with builders, the city has added staff and hired consultants to handle the 13,800 permits and almost 60,000 inspections needed at this time. At the same time, the city approves construction schedules that balance ambitious project timelines with the needs of area motorists and residents.
City code limits construction noise to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, but some work is allowed at night under special conditions.
When utility work is required on new buildings or the city is making improvements to water and sewer systems, work may need to occur at night during non-peak hours. The city may also allow night work if no residences are nearby and a project is in an area with high day traffic volumes.
The Transportation Department always considers traffic impacts when it temporarily closes lanes and streets to make way for various projects.
To help citizens get a better idea of where projects are occurring and who to contact with questions, Bellevue is developing a section for the website focusing on traffic and noise issues related to the summer construction boom. Meantime, users can consult a real-time traffic map and weekly traffic advisories under Getting Around Town on the home page.
The surge of construction is a sign of prosperity, and residents in surveys say they think Bellevue is a good or excellent place to live and that they think the city is headed in the right direction.
“We hope people can tolerate some noise and traffic and realize that major construction will be completed by the end of 2008,” Brennan said. “The experience is a lot like remodeling your home. You put up with a few inconveniences along the way, but the end result is worth it. In this case, we are remodeling a city and I think people will be pleased with the end result.”
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