The City Council elections just concluded, and before long, a new Council will be in place. Already the Bellevue city government is starting to plan for the new year; laying out goals and objectives for 2012. The main initiatives on the table include the Bellevue Light Rail, the Bel-Red Transformation, and improved mobility and infrastructure.
The light rail, called East Link, is a project approved by voters to connect the Seattle light rails to Bellevue and Redmond. The project is part of Sound Transit, but Bellevue voters have a say on what goes on through the City Council as well as through more direct means, such as surveys and forums.
Residents have been weighing in on such things as construction, routes, and funding since September, and the plan was approved by the Council at the end of November. In order to impact the fewest businesses, the plan is to build a tunnel.
A committee called the Best Practices Committee is monitoring the light rails in other cities, seeing what works and what doesn’t, to improve the efficiency of the Bellevue process. The project is forecasted to be completed sometime next year.
Another project on the table is the Bel-Red Transformation. The point of this one is to turn the industrialized area into a place of mixed neighborhoods and businesses so that more people can benefit from the light rail. They plan to do this with implementations of new suburban housing developments and new regulations such as noise control.
This project has been in the works since it was proposed in 2007, and work will finally begin this year. Since its conception, the plans have been revised several times until environmentalists were satisfied that its impact would be negligible compared to benefits. The project will be ongoing until the housing is established.
As for mobility and infrastructure, the city is planning on reducing traffic and congestion in the downtown area by expanding the roads and working on system efficiency. The roads the council plans on having expanded or extended are Northeast 4th, Northeast 5th, Northeast 6th, and 120th Avenue. These are the roads pertaining to the places developing most quickly.
The city will be announcing open houses and public forums for the citizens in Bellevue to put forth their ideas on the projects, or share how construction is affecting the city. This project will also be an ongoing issue with no real schedule released yet.
The city is also concerned with environmental cleanliness; they will be continuing to work on a Shoreline Management Program this year to protect the lake water from pollution, and also to work on safe water regulatory systems. The council wants to expand lakefront homeownership, but not at the expense of the environment.
There was an open house immediately after the project was announced at the beginning of last year where around 80 people came to share their views; another public information session will be held before work on the project starts.
The new year is right around the corner, and the Bellevue City Council already has initiatives that it will be working on in the coming year. Some are new, some are in progress, and which ones will be approached first will depend on the new council. More information on these initiatives as well as other projects is available on the City of Bellevue’s website http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/