A $670,000 study of a light-rail route through Bellevue supported by four members of the Bellevue City Council will show that the line will either cost more, or carry fewer riders, than the proposal supported by the Sound Transit board (and the three-member council minority). However, it's unclear when the study---which council members who supported the route, known as "B7 modified," voted to fund with city dollars last year---will be released, or if it will be released at all.

The council's preferred line differs from the route Sound Transit has selected in that it would run across the Mercer Slough wetland preserve and in the abandoned Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad right-of-way alongside I-405, bypassing downtown Bellevue as well as the existing South Bellevue Park-and-Ride.  A Sound Transit study found that that alignment had the lowest ridership, served the fewest businesses, and cost the most of any potential alignment.

 

[pullquote]The only way to make the rail alignment preferred by the Bellevue council majority work is to spend significantly more money---on a route that's already far more expensive than Sound Transit's preferred alignment.[/pullquote]According to sources who've seen the council-commissioned report, it concludes that the only way to make the B7 alignment competitive, in terms of ridership, with Sound Transit's preferred alternative is to spend significantly more money than the original B7 alternative---which already costs more than the Sound Transit alignment, known as B2.

Council member Kevin Wallace is under investigation because he failed to disclose to his fellow council members the fact that his company, Wallace Properties, signed an agreement to give the short-line rail company GNP Railway exclusive use of an abandoned rail right-of-way along the B7 alignment, which Wallace supports. The dealt could have benefited Wallace financially because his company  owns numerous properties along the route, and because Sound Transit could have been forced to pay GNP for improvements to and use of its right-of-way.

Opponents of the route are pushing for the study to be released publicly at the Bellevue City Council meeting next week. City attorney Lori Riordan was in a meeting and could not be reached for comment about the study.
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