News Jan 28, 2010 at 4:00 am

Inside the Plot to Reroute Sound Transit's Light Rail

Robert Ullman


kemper freeman has a vested interest in getting people and their wallets downtown. if there was some way to bring in the lightrail without sacrificing car traffic, i am sure he would be all for it.
well if kemper freeman and his gang want to pay for a rapid point to point only streetcar and all necessary transit improvements (streets, bikelanes, priority over lights) then let him. Otherwise, its going right to the transit center in Downtown Bellevue and right down SE Bellevue way to I-90--LIKE IT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED!

And maybe to help pay for the cost of a tunnel (the best solution) the bellevue city council could increase the parking rates by $2 in a garage and 50cents/hour on the street. There!
The Class War rears its extra-ugly head again....
well, I assume that the 9 minute walk from the Columbia City Station to Columbia City is also a bad idea? I mean, it's only 2 minutes shorter of a walk, but if you were going to Tutta Bella then suddenly your walk becomes 14 minutes....
have you been over there in Bellevue? its grown up a little bit, but the traffic is worse than downtown seattle...making the LINK go anywhere but the transit center is fing stupid. let KF and his people pay for it through increased car-related taxes and a LID--they can afford it. that 550ST is so packed at night with all the restaurant and mall thing you knw they'll be saying is the folks who live in rainier beach will be gettign on the train to go commit crimes in Bellevue, just like they said in St. Louis when I was living there--and now that cities systems is off to a really good start.
Difficult to see a map showing alignments without your article.
Please add.
Kemper Freeman doesn't want any of THOSE PEOPLE coming near his upscale mall. The man needs a fifth of whiskey to kill the bug up his arse.
Whatever motivations may (or may not) exist, having a rail spine along I-405 is a good idea.
It should be called the Telescope Line, since you'd need one to see downtown from the stop.
You should have speed walked in a tracksuit, that way your jeans wouldn't have gotten soaked.
Subdued excitement, are you from Bellingham?
Spicy said it all.
Mass transit: good for the economy and good for people.

Kemper Freeman: truly a modern day Montgomery Burns.
In this era of recession and sustainability I am amazed that we would even consider spending $500,000,000 to route the Light Rail through Downtown Bellevue.

It seems that the folks that are most up in arms about not running the train through downtown Bellevue are not the folks that own businesses on a street that would be torn up for years.

If you have ever been to Bellevue you would know that the Mall traffic would be even worse should the flow to traffic be interrupted by a train every 30 minutes.
Johnny Medina @ 14 - I've seen lots of construction projects in downtown Bellevue over the last 8 years that required street closures and the like at various points in their construction. Somehow, Bellevue survived and (I would argue) is in much better shape with those fancy new residential and corporate towers.

With your logic we should ban Christmas in DT Bellevue because it makes mall traffic the worst of all and, in this age of recession and sustainability, we shouldn't be buying so much crap. Lead the way Johnny!
Letting anti-rail activists plan a light rail line is like letting the Aryan Nations plan the next NAACP conference.
You are to be commended in ferreting out this story about the politics of fitting light rail into a community designed for and dominated by the automobile. Equally remarkable is the willingness of these same politicians to build a rail line right through Mercer Slough, Bellevue's largest wetland system, as if such a decision carried no penalty now or in the future.
KF is a shitbag. The answer in Bellevue is to build more roads, cut taxes, and let the poor and the car-less enjoy the trickle-down. If it sounds like Timmy Eyman, its because Eyman is Kemper's hand puppet.
i was once a member of the bellevue club and when this issue arose, every lcd screen in the place had emergency-status messages asking members to petition against light rail construction or else "the bellevue club as you know it" would be demolished. OH FUCK!!
I work with a group of ladies who are originally from LA and they're absolutely right smack in Kemper's target market.

They absolutely loathe the new Bravern (the new ultra-luxurious shopping development) because of the Microsoft offices in the floors above. They say all these filthy people walking around in t-shirts and shorts really detract from their overall experience that they've come to yeah, if they can't stand underdressed software developers making 6-figures, they're probably not going to be too receptive to THOSE PEOPLE, and Kemper knows it.
the real reason is they don't want low -lifes with no money coming there.
1. Sound Transit needs to draw a line in the sand. The LINK must make a stop at the Bellevue Transit Center, wherever else it is routed. The Transit Center is vibrant, with many connections. For the LINK to bypass the Transit Center would be the equivalent of having the Seattle train bypass Westlake Center.
2. Rather than see Kemper's position as a battle in the class war, I see his position in terms of dollars and cents; that is the language he speaks. Running the line through an area of low density should result in new growth and development along the corridor, a windfall opportunity for Mr. Freeman and his colleagues. Have you looked at MLK BLVD lately? This was the strategy employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad when when in 1873 it chose to locate its Puget sound terminus at the minimally inhabited Commencement Bay rather than in the growing town of Seattle, figuring they would be able to build a new city there.They delayed making the announcement until they secretly purchased as much of the land at Commencement Bay as they could. For better or worse, the result was Tacoma.
Maybe the point of the rail is to get commuters to work instead of shopping. The bulk of the ridership will be for Microsoft and other employers in Overlake and SE Redmond. Getting from Seattle to the techie area is terrible by mass transit right now. Employers such as the hospital and those going into the soon to be growing Bel-Red corridor will also be serviced. And, if the time in the article is correct, about 5 minutes to some of the office towers (in between 405 and the mall) is better than paying for the parking garages.

It will be so slow that people won't even consider it for off peak access to Bellevue Square anyways. Retail will already be serviced. Try Westlake/Pacific Place, Northgate, or Redmond Town Center if you must go to a mall by rail when it is all complete. It also looks like it will be a decent walk to University Village if taking the north route. Is that some sort of elitist conspiracy?
Wouldn't building the "Disney Train" be just as disruptive to business? Wouldn't it cost just as much? Wouldn't the "Disney Train" disrupt and delay traffic just as much? How does anyone see the "Disney Train" solution as an improvement?

On the other hand, Seattle has been building a lot of these "Disney Trains" (SLUT) and plans to build more (First Hill).
I used to work as a security sub contractor at Bellevue Square Mall. Yeah, I know, Mall Cop! I was so ashamed of myself every time I had to wear that outfit. I always expected that I would actually accomplish something with my life.

The KDC regulars though, just don't get that the joke IS them. A few are cool, normal guys, but the mid level supervisors I had to deal with were stereotypical, gung-ho, cop wannabes.

They're too savvy to just come out with it in this day and age but I know in my heart and from empirical experience that KDC does NOT want anybody but their "Upscale" clientele on or near their properties. That holds true for the whole of the East side though.

Don't you dare think you're going to comfortably shop there if you're black. I walked through the mall before I changed into my uniform and I swear that security was ready do go "LAPD/Rodney King" on me. Listening to the radio calls was absolutely chilling when they were trailing a black "suspect" through the mall.
My hunch is that his primary concern is the disruption to car traffic during construction. No matter how you cut it, building LRT lines on existing roads is generally bad for traffic and surrounding businesses during the couple years of construction work. It just is.

However, I still 100% agree with #22. Sound Transit needs to insist the line stop at the transit center. Yes, it will have short term pain, but it is so obviously the right thing to do long term that I'm surprised there is even a serious debate about it.
The anti-rail component on the new Kemper Freeman Bellevue City Council do not want rail anywhere near “their” downtown, and have pushed the Council to favor a route that cuts straight across I-90 to the railroad and north to Overlake Hospital, both eliminating the South Bellevue P&R, and bypassing downtown - the place where transit riders want to go. And their B7 modified proposal runs across Mercer Slough! The public cherishes the Bellevue park system, and it needs to be protected - particularly from a group of self-interested developers manipulating the public sphere for their own selfish interests. The B3 route, proposed by the original (untainted) Bellevue City Council, made sense:
lowest environmental impact, lowest contruction costs, highest ridership.
@4 - I'm not sure how slow you walk, but I live in Columbia City, ride the train all the time, and it takes nowhere near 9 minutes to walk to Rainier (where the shops are). It's 2 blocks. Google Maps says 7 minutes from the far end of the platform and even that seems a little long.
...the problem with light rail to the eastside is that it works both ways. The eastsiders will be able to come to Seattle, too. And who really wants that? Let them stay over there in their SUV ghetto, driving from three-car garage to grocery store to soccer game to luxury mall to meaningless office job and back. They love it! Live and let live.
Don't forget that Bellevue councilmember Kevin Wallace is a principle at Wallace Properties (His dad, Robert Wallace) is the other. The Wallaces are just as committed as Kemper to right-wing politics and keeping upstanding properties safe for the wealthy.
Kemper has a closed system. People live, shop, seek entertainment and may even work all within his properties that are connected by Sky Bridges. Maybe he doesn't want them to have an easy way to discover the wider world out side Kemperland.
It's simple, it's a ridiculous boondoggle and the least cost effective way for people to commute. It is an inflexible, expensive shiny bauble in liberals eyes.

Monorail! Monorail! MONORAIL!

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