The Bellevue City Council voted Monday night to approve a memorandum of understanding with Sound Transit for routing, financing, and mitigation of the proposed East Link line.
The binding memorandum of understanding outlines how the city and the transit agency would cover the additional $276 million that a tunnel through downtown Bellevue would add to the $2.5 billion cost of the East Link project. The version of the agreement approved by the council can be seen here on the city's website.
King County Executive Dow Constantine praised the Council in a press release Monday night, saying: "Bellevue voters have consistently supported the expansion of light rail as a way to link businesses, residential neighborhoods, and cities throughout our region. Tonight’s vote reflects the negotiated outcome between Bellevue and Sound Transit that brings us one step closer to construction."
On Bellevue Patch's Facebook page, Councilwoman Jennifer Robertson said of the unanimous vote to approve the agreement: "The fact the the Council took this action on a 7-0 vote is meaningful. There was a lot of diligent work by Bellevue Councilmembers to get the best agreement possible and the unanimous vote demonstrates that."
Earlier, the mayors of Kirkland, Redmond, and Mercer Island , saying that says that delays caused by disagreement between Bellevue and Sound Transit would impact how soon other Eastside residents could use light rail.
While the Eastside mayors have encouraged the city to sign off on the project, others in Bellevue, bolstered by a private research firm, continue to encourage the city to reconsider approval of Sound Transit's chosen route along Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue Southeast, according to the Seattle Times.
, Bellevue city officials have also angled to include provisions on how the transit agency will minimize the impacts to the Surrey Downs, Enatai and other neighborhoods that fall along the above-ground path of the East Link line.
Sound Transit in July approved a light rail line that included a downtown Bellevue tunnel for its East Link project, which connects Seattle with the Eastside through Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond.
, with the condition that the city cover $160 million of the tunnel cost with through tax breaks, property acquisition, cash and other actions and that the city also sign a memorandum of understanding with the transit agency on how the costs would be split.