The Bellevue Transit Center Expansion increased the platform length and the number of bus bays and created/improved interchanges connecting to highways that accessed downtown Bellevue, WA
Project Type:Station Project Mode:Bus Rapid Transit Average Weekday Riders:5,738 Length (mi):0.00
Project Flags:Intermodal Economic Distress:0.89 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):863 Population Growth Rate (%):0.85
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.95 Market Size:900,155 Airport Travel Distance:17 Topography:21
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:WA County:King
City:Bellevue Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Bellevue
Impact Area:Local Area Transportation System:Transit GIS Lat/Long:47.615463 / -122.194807
Initial Study Date:2000 Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:2002 Constr. End Date:2005
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2002 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):176,183,586 Actual Cost (curr $):228,144,523
Intermodal Actual Cost (YOE $): 19,320,000Intermodal Actual Cost (curr $): 25,017,950
Highway Road Access Improvement Cost (YOE $): 156,863,586Highway Road Access Improvement Cost (curr $): 203,126,573
Average Annual Daily Traffic: 147,000Number of Parking Spaces: N/A
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||373.38||251.12||624.50|
|Output (in $M's)||1272.95||856.15||2129.10|
The Bellevue Transit Center Expansion and Access Downtown improvements to I-405 doubled the number of bus bays at the Bellevue Transit Center, provided a new HOV/bus interchange from I-405 at NE 6th Street with direct access to the transit center, and improved two additional interchanges from I-405 to downtown Bellevue, WA. The projects were undertaken in support of a downtown plan completed for the city in 1981, and a long-range transportation plan for I-405 completed in 2002. The transportation improvements allowed an acceleration of the pace of development in downtown, and were important in attracting several major employers to the downtown, including Microsoft, Expedia, Eddie Bauer and Symetra Financial. To date, the attraction of approximately 6,000 jobs (some to existing space) to downtown Bellevue has been facilitated by these transportation improvements. The impacts of these transportation improvements on downtown Bellevue likely will increase in the coming years.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Bellevue Transit Center is located in the heart of downtown Bellevue, Washington, directly west of I-405. I-405 provides north-south interstate access through the city. Three interchanges from I-405 provide direct access to downtown at NE 6th Street (HOV and bus access only), NE 4th Street, and NE 8th Street. The Transit Center was expanded in 2002 from 6 bus bays to 12 bus bays. Future plans call for light rail transit between downtown Seattle and Redmond, WA, with a stop at the Bellevue Transit Center.
Bellevue is the second largest economic center in the state of Washington and is located in King County approximately 10 miles east of downtown Seattle across Lake Washington. Interstate 90 runs east-west through Bellevue, providing a direct connection to Seattle and I-5, which runs the entire length of the west coast. Washington Route 520 also provides east-west access between Seattle and Bellevue.
The Seattle Tacoma International Airport is located 17.3 miles south of Bellevue in SeaTac. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma provide both deep water shipping access and railroad access, and the Burlington Northern branch line provides local freight service. The Seattle Amtrak station, located 8 miles from Bellevue, offers the nearest intercity train service. The nearest intercity bus service is also located in downtown Seattle.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Between 2000 and 2008, the population of Bellevue increased from 109,569 to 123,771 (+13%), while employment increased from 118,400 to 128,330 (+8.4%). Over the same period, King County experienced an 8 percent increase in both population and employment, and the State had a population increase of 11 percent and an employment increase of 13 percent. It is notable that the population in Bellevue grew faster than employment, which may reflect the City's efforts to attract more people to live in the downtown. Also notable is that the number of jobs in Bellevue is greater than the number of residents, an indication of the City's importance as an economic engine within the region.
In 2000, Bellevue's per capita income was $36,905, below that of both the County ($55,535) and State ($39,730). By 2008, the City's per capita income grew by 28 percent to $47,330, still below the County's per capita income ($58,141) but greater than the State's ($42,747.) The rapid increase in income can be attributed in part to the increase in high technology jobs in the city.
The City of Bellevue is one of four major employment centers in the Puget Sound region, the others being Seattle, Tacoma and Everett. Bellevue is located east of Seattle across Lake Washington. The Eastside is the fastest growing region within the Puget Sound metropolitan area. Bellevue's downtown is home to over 6,500 residents and downtown businesses employ 45,000 workers.
In the mid-20th century, Bellevue served primarily as a bedroom community for Seattle, with only 20,000 jobs located in the City. It began to emerge as a major employment center after completion of a second bridge over Lake Washington in the 1960s. It has continued to grow over the past several decades and is now a major retail and entertainment center for the region. Bellevue Square, located in downtown, is the Eastside's largest retail center. The Eastside is home to approximately 2/3 of the electronics industry jobs in the region. Of those jobs, 1/4 are located in Bellevue. The City is also the headquarters for some of the largest companies in Washington State, including Paccar, Inc., Puget Sound Energy, Expedia, Esterline Corporation, and drugstore.com. The largest tenant in downtown is now Microsoft, which occupies 1.5 million square feet in three office towers in the downtown. (Microsoft is headquartered in nearby Redmond and is the primary driver for the emergence of Bellevue as a technology and electronics center.) Symetra Financial located in downtown in 2003, bringing 1,000 employees to the City center. Eddie Bauer employs approximately 400 people in the downtown. There are also hundreds of small to medium-sized service and high tech firms in the downtown.
In 1985, King County Metro Transit built a transit center in downtown Bellevue on land that had been vacated by the City of Bellevue. The original transit center included 6 bus bays, a 24-foot wide platform, and sidewalks on both sides. Both King County Metro and Sound Transit buses served the station. No parking spaces were provided at the station. In 2002, as part of a plan to expand access to downtown, Sound Transit expanded the Bellevue Transit Center, extending the length of the platform and adding six more bus bays. A rider services building was built across the street. Between 2002 and 2005, the City of Bellevue, King County, Sound Transit and the Washington Department of Transportation undertook Access Downtown. This project aimed to improve access to downtown by creating an exclusive bus/HOV ramp at NE 4th/NE 6th Street, providing direct access to the Bellevue Transit Center for buses. This ramp allows HOVs to exit from the inside lanes of the highway without having to cross lanes of traffic. The NE 6th street interchange (which serves all vehicle types) was also widened. Access Downtown also included the replacement and expansion of the SE 8th Street interchange (which brings travelers to the region's biggest shopping center and the Overlake Hospital Medical Center, the largest medical facility on the Eastside) and improvements to the NE 8th Street interchange. All new overpasses were built to accommodate future widening. Improvements are now underway on the NE 10th Street interchange.
The Bellevue Transit Center cost $16.2 million ($2002), while the rider services building, completed in 2006, cost $3.12 million ($2002.) The total cost of improvements to the three interchanges (exclusive of NE 10th Street) was $156,863,586 million ($2002). The HOV/bus interchange comprised $82.9 million of this total, and was fully funded by Sound Transit. The remainder of the project funds for the interchange improvements came from WashDOT, the City of Bellevue, King County Metro, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Transportation Improvement Board. The total cost for both the highway and transit components was $176,563,586 ($2002.)
There were several motivations for the transit station expansion and Downtown Access improvements. In 1981, the City of Bellevue adopted a downtown plan, which emphasized a goal of becoming a major employment center in the region. The plan further promoted providing access to the downtown through means other than single occupancy vehicles. The development of the original transit center was a recommendation of this plan. Bellevue began to develop as a major employment center in the 1980s, and growth continued through the 1990s and into the early 2000s. The expansion of the transit center and the improvements to interchanges with I-405 were pursued to continue to support development in the Downtown. Further, under its Growth Management Act, the state of Washington requires that all new development in urban areas be accompanied by transportation investments that support the new development. Thus, as Bellevue began approving new office towers of 40 stories or more, it also had to invest in the transportation infrastructure to serve the new development. Finally, I-405 is the second most heavily traveled highways in the Seattle region and it has suffered from substantial congestion. The roadway and transit improvements will ease this congestion and save up to five minutes per vehicle trip and 4-6 minutes per transit trip.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
In 2000, 68% of trips to downtown were made by single occupant auto, 17 % by HOV, 13% by transit, and 2% by other modes (bike, walk, telecommuting, van pool.) By 2008, the mode split had changed to 61% SOV, 19% transit, 11% HOV, and 9% other. In 2009, 5,738 people boarded buses at the Bellevue Transit Center each day1. Average weekday boardings at the Bellevue Transit Center in 2000 totaled 4,517, compared with 5,738 in 2009 (+27%). These include boardings on both Sound Transit and King County Metro buses. In 2000, average annual daily trips on I-405 at NE 4th Street totaled 160,000. In 2009, AADT at this location had decreased to 147,000. Year 2000 AADT at SE 8th Street totaled 193,000, compared to 179,000 today. These decreases in highway traffic represent both the City's success in attracting people to transit and other modes, as well as the negative impacts of the 2008-2010 economic recession.
The new transit center is designed to accommodate future light rail service, which is expected to be in operation between Seattle and Redmond via Bellevue by 2021.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The City of Bellevue has emerged as a dominant office, retail and convention center in the Puget Sound area. The Vision 2040 growth plan targets major cities such as Bellevue to accommodate 32% of the region's growth, allowing for mixed use development in central cities that can be served by means other than single occupant vehicles. This plan and Washington DOT's I-405 corridor plan both acknowledge that expansion in Bellevue's city center will require expansion of the transportation network serving the downtown.
Since the completion of the transit center expansion and the improved highway access to downtown, Bellevue has moved toward implementing these plans by adding 2 million square feet of office space, approximately 1 million square feet of retail space, 2,500 housing units (apartments and condominiums), and over 700 hotel rooms. This development has added over 10,000 new employees to the 400 acre downtown area.
The transportation improvements have been instrumental in helping to support the expansion of the downtown. Major employers who have moved into the downtown include Microsoft, which occupies 1.3 million square feet in the downtown, Eddie Bauer, Expedia, Symetra Financial and Perametrix. Several firms, including Microsoft, Expedia and Eddie Bauer, specifically cited the multi-modal transportation access as a significant factor in their location decision. Many of the businesses that have located in downtown Bellevue already had a presence in the Puget Sound region, and either relocated to or expanded in downtown. Microsoft still retains its headquarters in Redmond, and is expanding that facility, but also chose to expand in downtown Bellevue to give employees a range of working environments. Expedia relocated from the I-90 corridor to downtown Bellevue. Others are small businesses that support these larger employers. An estimated 6,000 of the new jobs and the addition of 2,000 residents in the downtown can be attributed to the access provided by the transportation improvements, and all benefit from the improvements in terms of reduced travel times and reductions in congestion.
In addition, the City is planning to accommodate 75 percent of all new employment and residential growth over the next 20 years in the downtown. The transportation improvements that have been made, as well as the planned expansion of the light rail system from Seattle through Bellevue to Redmond, will be instrumental in accommodating this development.
In 1981, the City of Bellevue adopted a new downtown plan aimed at attracting mixed use development and reducing dependence on the single occupant vehicle. The City has been systematically implementing that plan over the past three decades. Bellevue adopted parking maximums for all new downtown developments, and developed a commuter trip reduction program. The Bellevue Transit Center was a direct result of this planning effort.
The City, State, County, and regional transit agencies partnered to develop a transportation investment plan called Access Downtown. The purpose of the plan was to improve access to downtown, relieving congestion on I-405 and on downtown streets, and encouraging the use of HOVs and transit. The improvements to the I-405 interchanges were part of this joint planning effort. All of these parties contributed to the financing of the improvements.
The State of Washington adopted a Growth Management Act in the 1980s in an effort to ensure that transportation investments kept pace with new development. The Growth Management Act requires urban areas to have an adopted comprehensive plan that integrates transportation and land use through zoning regulations. The plan must include a plan for capital improvements, including transportation improvements that are consistent with land use plans.
King County, Washington is a fast growing high technology center. Its economy over the past three decades has seen tremendous growth, but has also experienced downturns in the early 2000s when the dot.com industry declined, and more recently during the 2008-2010 recession. King County is known for its quality of life, which is another factor that has bolstered its growth in recent decades.
Bellevue Downtown Association
Department of Economic Development, City of Bellevue
Transportation Planning, City of Bellevue
Washington Department of Transportation
Case study developed by Susan Jones Moses and Associates