Why Did We Want to Study the Economic Impact of Sound Transit’s Light Rail?
Why Did I Fund the Research?
$2.5 Billion to be spent on just the East Link light rail line seemed like a good idea in 2008 assuming it would help alleviate traffic congestion and contribute to a multi-modal solution to getting people to and from work, shopping and entertainment. At that time, various light rail route alternatives were being examined by Sound Transit, the City of Bellevue and members of the public.
I attended meetings hosted by the City of Bellevue, The Bellevue Downtown Association and the Bellevue Chamber. The debate seemed to be between the cost of various routes and the corresponding ridership associated with each route.
A NIMBY Was Born
Being a commercial property owner in the path of one of the routes, I assumed it was best if the chosen route was not in my backyard.
I attended more open houses, study groups and Bellevue City Council meetings with the intent of arguing for alternative routes other than what became C9T because they avoided our building in Bellevue. As I learned more about Transit Oriented Development (TOD), I also learned that our building’s proximity to a light rail station could prove to be advantageous for future development. So why was I concerned?
While the debate continued it bothered me that it didn’t include much discussion about the economic impact to Bellevue during the multi-year construction period.
While attending a Bellevue Downtown Association committee meeting, I asked Steve Sarkozy, Bellevue’s City Manager, whether the city was going to conduct an economic impact study regarding the East Link construction period. His answer was they would look into it.
If the city wasn’t going to move forward with this research I felt I should. So I funded this study conducted by Hebert Research. My intent is to fast forward the original conversation with this one question: What is the real impact of East Link light rail to our community?
Thank you for joining the conversation.
Fast Forward Eastside is led by Alex Smith, the CEO of Kaye-Smith Enterprises, headquartered in Bellevue, Wa., with manufacturing facilities in Renton, Wa. and Portland, Or. Mr. Smith is a graduate of the University of Washington, a member of the Bellevue Rotary Club, The Seattle Chamber of Commerce Trustee Board, the Renton Chamber of Commerce, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and the Bellevue Downtown Association. He serves on the board for The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research and for The Tateuchi Center. Alex also is the manager of The Lester & Bernice Smith Foundation.