I’m Bill Hirt, what you might call the 48th District’s “stealth” candidate. I’m a retired Boeing Engineer whose last elective position was that of president for 25 “class of ’57 seniors” in Armstrong, Iowa. My wife and I have lived in the Sammamish Heights area since 1967 where we raised two daughters.
I’m running for office to inform voters that the billions Sound Transit is planning to spend on their East Link light rail system will gridlock the 1-90 bridge, devastate a beautiful part of Bellevue, create havoc in downtown Bellevue, and do absolutely nothing to relieve I-90 and SR405 congestion.
This debacle began a long time ago. Sound Transit’s 1996 study initially considered adding a 4th lane to the outer roadways and dividing the center roadway into two-way bus rapid transit, or BRT, lanes. Even a cursory analysis would have determined that BRT lanes provided far more capacity than light rail, easily enough for any future cross-lake transit demands.
Sound Transit could have initiated the BRT service 15 years ago providing express bus routes from every eastside P&R directly into Seattle. Commuters could have left their cars near where they live rather than where they work, reducing congestion throughout eastside.
Instead, Sound Transit has spent the 15 years and hundreds of millions of dollars promoting cross-lake light rail along with studies of nearly every conceivable route through the eastside. Their 2008 Environmental Impact Statement never mentioned BRT; instead insisting the center roadway retain the two existing reversible combination bus and HOV lanes.
The EIS claimed cross-lake light rail was like adding 10 lanes of freeway that would increase capacity by 60%. The reality is East Link will provide, at best, one 4-car train every 7 minutes. Most cross-lake commuters won’t even have access to this very limited service.
Sound Transit has also claimed a 4th lane added to the outer roadway would accommodate all the bus and HOV traffic. They used that claim to convince a Kittitas judge that the center roadway could be used for light rail. They ignored their 2004 study which showed a single lane couldn’t provide enough capacity for both bus and HOV traffic.
Sound Transit could have installed the 4th lane on the outer roadway 15 years ago, providing an additional lane across the bridge. The costs would have been minimal and cross-lake commuters, particularly reverse commuters would have benefitted. Instead they intend to wait until 2016, adding 4 more years of cross-lake congestion. Congestion that’s recently increased due to those avoiding 520 tolls.
The bottom line is Sound Transit’s refusal to initiate BRT service 15 years ago has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars wasted and forced cross-lake commuters to needlessly endure years of congestion. In 2016, their closure of the center roadway will change cross-lake commuting forever. They’ll spend the next 7 years devastating part of Bellevue and installing a light rail system with, at best, one 4-car train every 7 minutes that most cross-lake commuters won’t have access to.
I know my concerns seem a bit far-fetched. My opponent, Rep. Hunter’s response to many emails was “Get over it, Sound Transit is going to install light rail across Lake Washington come hell or high water”. My campaign goal is to prove him wrong.
I consider myself the stealth candidate because I don’t intend to run a conventional campaign. I’m not accepting any financial support. My major campaign expenditure will be the filling fee I paid to allow me to use the Voters’ Pamphlet to attract readers to my blog about this debacle. I’m confident that many who read it will agree with my concerns and support my candidacy. While I probably won’t win, it will at least expose Rep. Hunter’s complicity in this debacle and generate some much needed publicity.
I’m here tonight because the entire eastside will suffer if East Link is allowed to proceed. For those who can’t wait for the voters’ pamphlet, my daughter has printed a few cards with details on how to access the blog. Read it and if you agree, urge others to do the same. East Link can be stopped!