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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sound Transit; Mendacious, Incompetent and Arrogant

Sound Transit is not only “Missing In Action” when it comes to resolving eastside commuting problems their approach to the issues is mendacious, incompetent, and arrogant.

Sound Transit mendacity is typified by their claim cross-lake light rail is like adding “up to 10 lanes of freeway” that can carry “up to 24,000 riders per hour (rph)”.  Their 2008 DEIS claimed they could provide this capacity with a light-rail train every 9 minutes.   They assumed each train would consist of 4 cars each carrying 200 riders.  Simple math says 4 times 200 or 800 riders per train times 6 2/3 trains per hour gives 5333 riders per hour in each direction or 10666 rph total.

An earlier post (7/04/12) detailed concerns that four 74-ton cars could create structural problems for the bridge.  The 200-riders-per-car assumption also seems “optimistic” since each car only has 74 seats.   Thus, Sound Transits promised capacity far exceeds any rational estimate. 

Even this very limited capacity won’t be accessible to the vast majority of cross-lake commuters (5/15/12 post) who will be forced to use the outer roadways.     Those forced onto the outer roadway will encounter the results of more Sound Transit mendacity; Their DEIS claim “Travel times across I-90 for vehicles and trucks would also improve or remain similar with East Link”.  

The details of how Sound Transit and WSDOT lied to a Kittitas judge regarding the capacity benefits from adding a 4th lane to the outer roadway are in a 5/16/12 post. Their claim moving HOV and bus traffic to the 4th lane would provide capacity needed to allow the center roadway to be used for light rail was belied by their own 2004 study.   ST lack of veracity in responding these and other questions concerning their 2008 DEIS are detailed in the 7/05/12 post.

Sound Transit also gives a whole new meaning to the word “Incompetent”.  Their decision “light rail was the answer” for cross-lake commuters that resulted in their failure to seriously consider (at least publicly) BRT some 15 years ago would rank high on anyone’s list of all time blunders.  Instead, they’ve spent, by some estimates, close to a billion dollars over the years promoting light rail with public hearings and countless studies of nearly every conceivable route on the eastside.   Yet questions still exist as to whether the I-90 Bridge can accommodate their 4-car trains.   
More Sound Transit incompetence is detailed in the 6/07/12 post explaining how East Link hurts Central Link viability and why it makes no sense to extend light rail toward Federal Way or beyond Northgate.  (The major beneficiaries of those extensions (and for East Link) are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington (ABCWW) and their labor unions.)

The fact their 2012 budget estimates that “farebox revenue” makes up only 5% if their income or that costs for their Sounder Trains to and from Everett exceed fare revenue by $20,000 per year for each rider  (6/12/12 post) are hardly “reassuring”.    Sound Transit’s incompetence in refusing to recognize the costs associated with trying to provide rail service to anyone who wants it will cripple the areas transportation budgets for many years.

Sound Transits arrogance is typified by their attitude towards environmental concerns, Bellevue residents and other eastside cities.  The 7/15/12 post explains the East Link’s impact on the environmental.   They’ve also shown an utter disdain for Bellevue concerns.  They decided on a light rail route that will violate federal environmental law by encroaching on Mercer Slough Park, threaten the historic Winters house, devastate a beautiful boulevard, (and apparently some residents yards) and extorted $200 million from the city for a tunnel.

All of these problems could have been avoided if Sound Transit had considered a tunnel from the South Bellevue P&R through the city.  (Build a Better Bellevue is suing on this issue).   While obviously more expensive than a surface route, the increased costs didn’t deter Sound Transit’s from recently announcing plans to tunnel most, if not all the way from the University Station to Northgate.  East side taxes make up about 40% of Sound Transits tax revenue.  Any fair review of how that money is spent would quickly conclude that Bellevue deserves better.  (Again my 7/16/12 post advocates for BRT not the tunnel)

Sound Transit needs to recognize their responsibility is to provide a cost effective transportation system that meets commuter needs throughout the area.  Instead in an effort to garner voter support for their Prop 1 vote they promised light rail service from Mill Creek to Federal Way and across Lake Washington through Bellevue to Redmond.   They later “reconsidered” blaming lost revenue from current economic conditions.  (Though most of the extensions wouldn’t begin until 2020)

Cross-lake commuters and the entire eastside have already paid dearly for Sound Transit’s “MIA”.   The hundreds of millions could have been spent funding the 520 bridge rebuild and potentially eliminated the need for tolls.  Commuters throughout the area have endured years of needless congestion.  And it’s only going to get worse!  Sound Transit’s confiscation of the center roadway for light rail eliminates cross-lake BRT, the only way to accommodate the projected doubling of cross-lake traffic in the next 30 years.  East Link needs to be stopped.

That’s why I run.

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