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Council discusses new South Bellevue light rail alignment
Posted by Nicole Tsong
In a new development for light rail in South Bellevue, the City Council expressed interest Tuesday in a new alignment that would largely bypass Bellevue Way Southeast.
The new alignment would include a station at the South Bellevue Park & Ride, but then the line would turn east across Mercer Slough Nature Park, intersect with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks and head north to downtown, parallel to I-405.
The council last year voted 4-3 to recommend a line that left I-90 at Bellevue Way, stopped at a Bellevue Park & Ride station and continued on Bellevue Way north. That line would turn on 112th Avenue Southeast then head into downtown. The Sound Transit board also recommended that option for further study.
The new variation proposed Tuesday would extend the South Bellevue Park & Ride south and include a station there, then the route would run about 2,000 to 3,000 feet north of I-90 across the Mercer Slough Nature Park, city staff said.
"There's no good, easy decision," council member John Chelminiak said during Tuesday's discussion. "No matter what you do, you're going through environmentally sensitive areas. No matter what you do you're going near people's homes."
The council also asked the city staff to draft a letter to Sound Transit, which would ask the agency to study the new alternative. The council also asked staff for a more detailed plan for the proposed variation.
The City Council does not have the final say on light rail alignment in Bellevue. The Sound Transit board, which includes newly appointed Bellevue council member Claudia Balducci, will make the final decision on alignment later this year. Light rail service to Bellevue is projected to start in 2020.
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