Issaquah mayor encourages Bellevue leaders on successful light rail pact
December 6, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
The decision to run a light rail line through downtown Bellevue came after some public urging from Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and other Eastside leaders.
Bellevue City Council members, after a contentious, monthslong debate, approved a pact Nov. 14 between the city and Sound Transit to build the long-envisioned East Link light rail route.
Frisinger and other mayors said inaction on the agreement or a failure to reach a deal could have jeopardized light rail expansion to Issaquah and other cities.
“Each one of us would like to see light rail come to our city,” the mayors wrote in a letter dated Nov. 3. “The decisions made by Bellevue now will impact when our communities will see the benefit of the regional investment in light rail.”
The letter from Frisinger, Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride, Mercer Island Mayor Jim Pearman and Redmond Mayor John Marchione came days before the Bellevue council decision.
The agreement between Bellevue and Sound Transit calls for the city to contribute $160 million for a light rail tunnel beneath downtown.
East Link is a proposed $2.7 billion, 14.5-mile line to connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond. Sound Transit estimates passenger service could start in 2022 or 2023.
“Decisions regarding light rail routing are significant and will impact land use and transportation for the next 50 through 100 years and that is not to be taken lightly,” the mayors wrote. “However, the voters approved the expansion of light rail to the Eastside in 2008 by over 56 percent. It’s up to us to help implement light rail in good faith through our respective cities.”
Voters approved plans for East Link in the Sound Transit 2 package in November 2008. No firm proposal yet exists to expand light rail to Issaquah, although East Link is seen as a crucial step in eastward expansion.
“There is a concern amongst the cities who signed the letter about the impact or consequence of not having East Link happen,” Frisinger said in a later interview.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.