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East Link workshop focuses on downtown Bellevue light rail
Posted by Nicole Tsong
In opening statements at a Thursday workshop between the Sound Transit board and the Bellevue City Council to discuss light rail alignment for the Eastside's largest city, Bellevue deputy mayor Conrad Lee was critical of past communication between the board and the council.
Lee said he has been the one to initiate conversations with Sound Transit board members without receiving feedback. He said he hoped Thursday's meeting could help them "begin a meaningful, honest, two-way conversation."
He said he would like to see a line with the least amount of disruption to downtown Bellevue.
New Bellevue council member Jennifer Robertson said the most important element of light rail for her is connecting the dots, placing stations where people are at and where they go. Trains also must be fast, efficient and reliable between the stations.
The trains also must move quickly through Bellevue, she said, and she said downtown would be best served by a tunnel.
"Not everybody wants to go to Bellevue. It has to be fast through Bellevue," she said. "We cannot have a pinch point in Bellevue by going at grade" where the trains will compete with pedestrians and cars.
Several Sound Transit board members mentioned trust in their opening remarks.
"You can see there are an awful lot of different opinions," said board member and Issaquah deputy council president Fred Butler. "I want to make sure as we move forward to replace any suspicion with trust, so when we walk out of here we feel like we can deal with and solve these issues and problems with trust."
The board and council met Thursday to consider four new alternatives for downtown Bellevue, including a shorter proposed tunnel that would cost $285 million more than is budgeted.
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