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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Street Cars Not Light Rail for Bel-Red (updated 7/26)

A recent Bellevue Reporter article raises concern the Bellevue City Council’s emphasis on integrating Bel-Red development with East Link is causing zoning problems.  East Link proponents have claimed for years light rail is critical to attracting future development.

Why does anyone think light rail’s four-car-trains trundling noisily through an area every 3 ½-5 minutes for 20 hours is an attraction?   (Central Link has attracted very little development as attested by light rail ridership in 2011 being a quarter of what Sound Transit had projected.)  

The BCC recently concluded nearly two years of “negotiations” with Sound Transit because no one wanted light rail in their neighborhood.  They lost!   What makes light rail a “magnet” for Bel Red development?  Sound Transits plans to use a large part of the area to overnight trains, for maintenance, and parking for transit workers aren’t exactly a boon for development.

The Bel-Red area would be far better served with a streetcar system similar to what’s been so successful in South Lake Union.  The tracks could run adjacent to each other or in a loop between 116th and 140th (or 148th ).   Both routes could include frequent stops for easy access  (vs two stations with light rail).   The 116th terminus would provide access to BRT service directly into and out of Bellevue T/C and downtown Seattle. 

The streetcar system would cost far less than light rail and would be far more esthetically appealing.  It could begin operation in two years, depending on Bel-Red development requirements not Sound Transits 11-year East Link schedule.  When operation begins streetcar schedules could be easily adjusted to meet local needs with 5 to 30 minute intervals between cars. 

Sound Transit’s faulty Bel-Red proposal is just another example of why East Link would fail any rationale cost/benefit analysis.  They’re using eastside tax money for a Capital Hill streetcar system.  The BCC needs to “persuade” them to do the same here.

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