About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Better Choice for 520 Commuters,

The previous post proposed a South Lake Union type streetcar system for promoting Bel-Red development rather than East Link light rail.   This proposal would presumably end any light rail extensions to Overlake area and beyond, particularly the Microsoft campus.   However, Sound Transit claims that a large number of Seattle residents would use East Link to reach Microsoft is another one of their myths. 

Most Microsoft employees who commute across Lake Washington live north of the city center and commute across 520.   Those who wished to ride East Link when (and if) it is completed in 2023 would probably have to ride a bus to the University Station  (no parking) or a station on the planned extension to Northgate or in downtown Seattle.   East Link rides from any of these locations would involve stops in Seattle (6), Mercer Island (1), and Bellevue (7) before reaching the Overlake T/C.  Presumably Microsoft would provide shuttle service to the respective campuses.  

BRT service across 520 offers a far better option.  During the peak commute hours express bus routes could provide direct connections between the University Light Rail station and specific Microsoft locations as well as current Bellevue T/C and eventual hospital station.  Again, riders would have to get to the University station either by bus or from other light rail stations.  However, the direct connection to close to their final destination would be far faster. 

The other advantage is that the BRT return routes could provide the Bellevue T/C and several other eastside P&Rs lot with direct connections to the University Station for UW access and light rail connections with downtown Seattle.  Residents from throughout the eastside could benefit.  In the afternoon the routes would be reversed.  Conventional bus routes would still be maintained as needed.

This type of BRT service is well suited for the 520 corridor where the number of inbound and outbound commuters is relatively well balanced.  The number of buses needed may require limiting HOV traffic to 3+ riders during peak commute hours.  (Its possible but unlikely all HOV traffic would be relegated to other two lanes during peak commute)

The only impediment to initiating BRT service across 520 when rebuilt is the lack of space near the Husky Stadium station for buses to drop-off and pick-up riders.  Typical of Sound Transit incompetence, their current stadium station plans make no provisions for this feature.  They apparently let University objections or their desire to eventually extend light rail across 520 outweigh their responsibility to commuters.

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