Residents were split across the board at last night's Downtown Bellevue Light Rail open house, hosted by Sound Transit to discuss the recently studied alignments, including a still over-budget, but cheaper, tunnel option. Representatives from the Surrey Downs Community Club, who are apparently staples at these events (and have a really terrible website), handed out Tootsie Pops with their preferred alignments (B7 and C14E—in short, the vision line) taped to the wrapper, with a note that said "'Sweet' Light Rail Alignments For Bellevue's Downtown and Neighborhoods." But that alignment along I-405 would skirt downtown, and cut ridership by 2,500 people a day.

Mostly, though, people wanted the tunnel. "It has to be a tunnel," said Joyce, another resident, "It has to be at the Bellevue Transit Center." Bernard Van de Kamp, Regional Project Manager for the City of Bellevue, heard the same concerns—"a lot of support for the tunnel," he said, as well as "how to make the tunnel work from a funding perspective." Unfortunately, even the new, cheaper tunnel option being studied is still $185-285 million over-budget.

A brief Powerpoint presentation in the City Council chambers included details for each alignments, including potential noise, cost, parking accommodations, and access to hospitals (.pdf via Seattle Transit Blog).

Outside of downtown routes, folks were concerned how routes through South Bellevue would affect the Mercer Slough, a nature park near downtown Bellevue. How could Sound Transit protect wetlands while still providing access to the South Bellevue Park & Ride? Since this was a downtown workshop, however, those concerns weren't addressed with statistics and graphs.

"I'm very concerned for any option that could hurt the slough," countered another Bellevue resident, adding that "whatever option gets chosen, it has to serve the ridership... any option that won't get us downtown is ridiculous."

I asked Don Davidson, Mayor of Bellevue, what the biggest concern he's been hearing is. He responded, "Not in my backyard!"

"By the time you construct it," an older gentleman named Jay told me, "the people that said 'not in my neighborhood' will dead and buried. "I'll be dead before they even start it!" added Susie, who was there with him.

"Just do it," said Susie, "Enough delay."