One of the more absurd Sound Transit activities is their highly publicized “attempt” to come up with savings that supposedly will reduce Bellevue City costs. Sound Transit gets about 40% of their funds from taxes generated on the east side. Only a small portion of that money has been spent on eastside improvements as supposedly mandated. Instead they’ve used the funds to pay for Central Link, the most expensive light rail system in history. They’re continuing to use our taxes to fund their University Link and a streetcar system in Seattle.
Any rationale distribution of eastside taxes would have provided more than enough to pay for whichever route Bellevue wanted approaching downtown as well as how and where the tunnel underneath the city business district should be built. Instead we have the spectacle of Sound Transit selecting the route and demanding that Bellevue come up with additional funds to pay for any deviations from their choice such as the tunnel.
What is equally absurd is the apparent willingness of the Bellevue City Council to go along with this charade. Sound Transit’s 2008 DEIS lists 9 permits or approvals they need from the BCC. Sound Transits planned route devastates a part of the Mercer Slough Park, a violation of federal environmental law (United States code Sec 138). The council surely has no legal requirement to grant these permits or accede to ST’s extortion, particularly in view of their recent budget problems that have forced them to delay needed projects for years.
Unfortunately their willingness to go along with this charade pales in comparison to their failure to use their permitting process to stop East Link altogether.