When it comes to freeway expansion and light rail, Alice Nordwall of Bellevue finds herself squeezed in the middle. One Sound Transit proposal...

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When it comes to freeway expansion and light rail, Alice Nordwall of Bellevue finds herself squeezed in the middle.

One Sound Transit proposal runs light rail in front of her condo on 118th Avenue Southeast. Interstate 405 runs behind her building.

Nordwall was one of more than 130 people at a workshop at Bellevue City Hall Tuesday commenting on possible routes for the Sound Transit East Link light rail.

People were randomly assigned to small groups and told to discuss one route between I-90 and downtown Bellevue and talk about things they wanted preserved.

Four additional workshops will be held in the next two weeks. Two meetings will focus on stations on Mercer Island and in Seattle’s Rainier Vista neighborhood. One meeting will explore options through the Bellevue-Redmond corridor, and the final meeting will cover routes to Redmond.

Community comment will be considered in the final route planning process, transit officials say.

In Nordwall’s group, people were worried about encroachment on established residential areas around downtown Bellevue.

East Link route workshops


Community members are asked to RSVP for workshops by calling 206-370-5516 or e-mailing eastlink@soundtransit.org For more information, go to www.soundtransit.org. Maps of the proposed routes are available at the Web site.

Today: 5 to 7 p.m., Rainier Vista Neighborhood House, 4410 29th Ave. S., Seattle.

April 4: 5 to 7 p.m., Community Center at Mercer View, 8236 S.E. 24th St., Mercer Island.

April 5: 4 to 7 p.m., Highland Community Center, 14224 N.E. Bellevue-Redmond Rd., Bellevue

April 10:4 to 7 p.m., Redmond City Hall, 15670 N.E. 85th St., Redmond.

It isn’t just the neighborhoods, said Susan Woerdehoff of Bellevue. It’s the amenities, too.

“Don’t touch the Pancake Corral,” said the 42-year-old who grew up in Bellevue. “Don’t mess with Chace’s pancake house.”

The 10 people around the table in group five, including moderator James Irish of Sound Transit, laughed and agreed that the 48-year-old restaurant was a community treasure.

Comments ranged from concern about noise to the use of local parks as construction staging areas. One man, Josh Montgomery, suggested that East Link be routed along 116th Avenue with trolleys running across the freeway to downtown Bellevue.

“We don’t need the redevelopment that light rail brings in downtown,” he said. “We need it along 116th.”

Woerdehoff, who lives in Surrey Downs, agreed.

“I’m not going to take the train to take the dogs to the groomers, to Safeway to get groceries, or to pick up my brothers at basketball practice. We don’t need light rail on our local roads.”

If built, the East Link extension would cross Lake Washington on the Interstate 90 bridge and head north to downtown Bellevue and east to the Microsoft Campus and downtown Redmond. The route could be scaled back, depending on funding, particularly the Overlake to Redmond leg.

It would operate 20 hours a day. People could go from downtown Bellevue to Seattle/Qwest Field in 20 minutes and from Redmond’s Overlake Transit Center to downtown Bellevue in 10 minutes, transit officials estimate.

Light rail could open to downtown Bellevue as early as 2016 or as late as 2020.

The Sound Transit board won’t decide on a final Eastside route until after November, when voters will decide on a $16.5 billion Regional Transportation Investment District highway measure.

That includes $6.7 billion for roads and $9.8 billion for the phase two plan of light rail. That cost also includes expansion of light rail from Seattle to Lynnwood and Tacoma. The Legislature has mandated that voters must approve the transit and highway plan together.

The Environmental Impact Statement, which will contain the final routes, is expected to be complete in 2008.