Also, Wilburton traffic, Council rules
The City Council on Monday worked on a draft "scoping letter" that will be submitted as part of a process to produce an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Energize Eastside project.
Energize Eastside is a project proposed by Puget Sound Energy to build a higher-capacity (230-kilovolt) electrical transmission line that would run 18 miles from Renton to Redmond, through Bellevue.
Bellevue's Development Services Department is the lead agency for the environmental review process, in coordination the other cities where the line would be located: Kirkland, Newcastle, Redmond and Renton. The scoping letter would be submitted by the council to the city's environmental coordinator. The coordinator is charged with accepting comments from the public to determine alternatives and elements of the environment that will be evaluated through the EIS. Contents of an EIS and appropriate areas of evaluation are established by the State Environmental Policy Act.
The five cities conducting the environmental review have determined that the EIS for Energize Eastside should be done in phases. The first phase will address alternative ways to meet the energy demand and reliability need identified by PSE, and the elements of the environment that should be evaluated for each of those alternatives. This Phase 1 scoping process allows the public, including the City Council, to suggest alternatives and areas of the environment that should be addressed.
Phase 2 of the Energize Eastside EIS will then evaluate more refined details of the impacts and appropriate mitigation for the project. A second scoping process will occur prior to Phase 2. The second phase is expected to begin in early 2016. The final EIS is anticipated in early 2017.
The council is expected to finalize the scoping letter at its June 9 meeting. More information and a draft copy of the scoping letter is available online.
Wilburton traffic impacts
Residents in the Wilburton District, east of downtown, have expressed concerns about increased traffic impacts once a four-block extension of Northeast Fourth Street is opened in early fall. In response, the council on Monday examined the projects currently under construction in the area and studied traffic modeling predictions about what to expect in the future.
Some residents say opening the Northeast Fourth Street segment before improvements are made on nearby 120th Avenue Northeast will increase traffic on Northeast Fifth Street, a mainly residential street. The 120th Avenue Stage 2 work is scheduled for completion in fall 2016, about a year after the Northeast Fourth Street extension is set to open. Two Wilburton residents told councilmembers they want the city to keep the Northeast Fourth Street segment, from 116th to 120th Avenue, closed until the 120th Avenue project is completed.
Transportation Director Dave Berg said that computer modeling indicates there will be only a minor increase in traffic on Northeast Fifth Street, from 120th to 124th Avenue Northeast. In addition, modeling shows the slight increase in traffic will continue once the 120th Avenue project is opened.
Based on the analysis and on commitments to businesses along Northeast Fourth Street, Berg recommended opening the Fourth Street extension this fall, ahead of 120th Avenue. He said city staff will closely monitor traffic once Northeast Fourth Street opens.
Previously, staff collaborated with Wilburton residents to narrow Northeast Fifth Street and add two stop signs to protect the neighborhood from unwanted traffic impacts. In addition, a second neighborhood protection project currently is under construction on 124th Avenue Northeast, from Main to Northeast Eighth Street. It will include pedestrian crossings and planted medians.
More information is available online with the council agenda material.
Council rules, procedures updated
The council approved several changes to the way it structures and conducts its meetings, the first such amendments to council rules in 15 years.
For members of the public, the most significant changes have to do with how much total time will be allotted for public comment at each meeting (30 minutes), how much time individual speakers will have to make public comments (three minutes), and how speakers will be selected if the number of speakers who want to comment exceeds the 30-minute limit (preference will be given to those addressing items on the council agenda or upcoming agendas).
Other amendments relate to: filling board and commission vacancies; the procedure for a councilmember's remote participation in meetings; revising the order of business for council meetings; clarifying how councilmembers recuse themselves from participating due to real or perceived conflicts of interest; modifying rules related to council travel; and other housekeeping amendments.
More information is available online.
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