East Link Through Bellevue

City Councilors and Sound Transit board members doing pistols at 20 paces. Dueling tennis racquets between Surrey Downs homeowners and the Bellevue Club. These are some of the mental images I had ahead of the recent vote to solidify East Link’s 112th Ave alignment in Bellevue. But what actually happened is even stranger than fiction…

Everyone, me included, assumed that the interests of 46 homeowners whose properties get bulldozed (under a westside running scenario) would trump the business interests whose total loss (under a eastside running scenario) is a couple tennis courts and 30 ft of parking lot. But then nobody foresaw their alliance.

As it turned out, both groups want the west alignment – although each for their own reasons. This gave the Sound Transit board exactly what they needed to move forward – and they voted accordingly. I believe the chosen alignments, while not perfect, are most compatible with community wishes. They also have the added appeal of being among the least expensive and having the shortest construction interval. Definitely a win-win for everyone except the anti-transit faction on the city council.

And where is the city council in all this? Ironically they’re even further out of touch with the local community than before. This is a shame but let’s face it: there is a significant body-politic within Bellevue City Council who simply don’t want light rail bringing hordes of unwashed Seattlites across the lake. For this reason, Sound Transit has prudently kept the surface option through downtown on the table. By doing so their message to Bellevue is clear: we’re bringing light rail through your downtown one way or the other. There is no longer any question of if, just how and when.

For everything you ever wanted to know about East Link check out the Seattle Transit blog.

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