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Bellevue Reporter: Sound Transit Alignment Remains Contentious

By Erica C. Barnett September 27, 2011

We weren't able to attend the Bellevue City Council's public hearing on Sound Transit's preferred light-rail alternative through the city, but the Bellevue Reporter's Nat Levy reports that---as predicted---the meeting quickly devolved into a battle between Bellevue propoerty owners who oppose the adopted route and light-rail proponents who want the city and Sound Transit to move forward with the adopted alignment.

For more than a year, a slim majority of the Bellevue council has argued against Sound Transit's chosen alignment, which would cost less and serve more residents and employees than the council's preferred alternative. That alternative would cross a protected wetland, require the construction of a new park-and-ride, serve fewer people than any other alignment, and cost the most of every alternative.

Levy reports that the majority of those who turned out at last night's meeting favored Sound Transit's alignment, but that the comments broke down largely on parochial lines---people whose property would be impacted by the alignment opposed it, while people whose property would be impacted by the council alternative supported it.

According to the Reporter: 
Monday's hearing was the second of two public events to review new design options. As it is now planned, the rail line will cross Southeast 15th and Sixthstreets, with a crossing from the east to west side of 112th Avenue at Southeast EighthStreet. The two options push the road crossing south to Southeast 15th Street. One option runs the train at street-level, with the other creating a 40-foot high fly-over that dives into a trench, going under Southeast Fourth.

These new options received mixed reviews. Residents on the west side of 112th Avenue could see trains infringe on their property. But businesses in the Bellefield Office Park and Bellevue Club area pushed for those options, as they could save their land from disturbance.

Opponents of Sound Transit's preferred option have lately taken the tack of seeking to delay the planning process, claiming they haven't had "enough time" to look at Sound Transit's alternative. As we noted last week, the single biggest reason the project has been delayed this long is that rail opponents on the council have fought Sound Transit's alignment at every turn, even spending more than $700,000 of taxpayer dollars studying the council's doomed alternative.
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