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, August 28, 2012

8/28 Presentation to 48th District Republicans

It’s been an interesting 3 months since I introduced myself as the anti-East Link candidate.  I’ve added some 40 posts to my stop-east-link-now blog and had over 1700 views.  Nearly all of the posts have been aimed at exposing Sound Transit’s East Link light rail debacle. 

Several posts have detailed Sound Transit’s truly historic blunder; their decision to select light rail as the transit choice for cross-lake commuters.  Sound Transit knew, or should have known, that a bus rapid transit system was far superior.   BRT has 10 times light rail capacity at 1/10th the cost and could be in service 10 years sooner.   Equally important, a BRT system could provide access from every eastside P&R.   East Link’s only access for most cross-lake commuters would be the South Bellevue P&R.  This lack of capacity and access will force the vast majority of cross-lake commuters to use the outer roadway.

Those forced on to outer roadway will fall victim to another Sound Transit fantasy; their claim a 4th lane added to the outer roadways can accommodate all the HOV and bus traffic.  They used that claim to convince a Kittitas judge the center roadway could be used for light rail.   Yet their own 2004 studies showed a single lane would not have the capacity needed for both bus and HOV traffic.  The lack of capacity and accessibility on both the center and outer roadways will inevitably lead to cross-lake gridlock.

Another post refutes the idea that light rail is the way to enhance development of the Bel-Red area.  Sound Transit’s claim light rail trains trundling through the area every 3 ½ to 5 minutes for up to 20 hours a day, will attract development is dubious at best.   Bellevue residents fought unsuccessfully for two years to keep light rail out of their neighborhood.  The post explains how a South Lake Unions streetcar system is a far better choice for the area.  It would be less intrusive, far more accessible and far less expensive.  Its construction could also be timed to meet the area’s development schedule not some 2023 light rail schedule. 

Another post questions the assumption East Link is needed to provide Seattleites access to Overlake area and Microsoft.  A 520 BRT system would be far faster for the majority of Microsoft employees who live north of the city center.  The 520 BRT service could also provide eastside residents with improved access to UW and to the light rail station there for downtown connections. 
The bottom line is there is absolutely no justification for East Link.  It will result in gridlock on 1-90, won’t benefit Bel-Red development, and is a poor choice for Microsoft commuters.  Fifteen years ago Sound Transit could have added the 4th lane to the outer roadway and initiated BRT service on the center roadway.  Thousands of commuters from both sides of the lake would have benefitted.  Instead they’ve refused to do either, wasting hundreds of millions perpetrating a totally flawed light rail system.  They give a whole new meaning to the word “incompetent”.

What’s truly incredible is that, after another four more years of this debacle, it gets worse.   In 2016 Sound Transit will close off the center roadway and force all cross-lake traffic onto the outer roadways.  Their own studies predict a substantial increase in congestion.  They’ll spend billions over the next 7 years devastating Bellevue to construct East Link:  A light rail system that will have a truly miniscule effect on the gridlock that will inevitably result on the outer roadway.

My candidacy is the culmination of three years of failed efforts to convince the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, the media and many others to stop East Link.  My opponents response was “Get over it, Sound Transit is going to install light rail across Lake Washington come hell or high water”.  

My goal is to prove him wrong.  The best way to do this is to tell not only 48th District voters, but the entire eastside about East Link.  I believe every eastside candidate could benefit by coming out against this debacle.  Candidates should promise to work towards requiring Sound Transit add the 4th lane to the bridge next spring, not 2016, and initiate BRT service soon after.  Tell voters BRT service is the only way to avoid gridlock on Lake Washington and alleviate congestion throughout eastside.  BRT will also end the devastation of parts of Bellevue and put a stop to paying the additional 200 million Sound Transit is attempting to extort for a tunnel.

Lastly candidates should tell voters Sound Transit should be required to use eastside taxes to end the 520 bridge tolls rather than fund East Link.   Every eastside-precinct-chairperson should be urged to use their facebook page to spread the word that East Link can and should be stopped.   Their candidate may not win, but their efforts to end this debacle will be appreciated by all.

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