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, August 12, 2012

Times Interview Presentation

(I had intended to present this as part of my Seattle Times interview this week.  The interview has been delayed until mid September and thought voters might be interested)

My qualifications for representing the 48th District are different from most who seek elective office.  My only previous experience in community activities was some 40 years ago when I circulated a petition in the neighborhood to underground the power and telephone lines.  Not only did the “undergrounding” enhance the entire neighborhood, it also stopped the infrequent but disconcerting occasions when the neighbor’s son kicked a football into the power lines and seemed to shake the whole house.

If elected this fall, I believe I have two qualities that would make me an effective representative.  The first is my “curiosity” about things.  A large part of my reading and internet activity is dedicated to learning more about the world around us.    I have a whole shelf filled with discs from the “The Teaching Company” on a wide range of subjects.  I particularly enjoy learning about how we got to where we are and how things “work”.   My current “course” interest is on  “nanotechnology” the technology of the future.  My latest book is “An Appeal to Reason – A Cool Look at Global Warming”

My second qualification is my ability to work with others.  During my 36 years at Boeing I worked in several different organizations that were forced to either layoff or relocate personnel to other states.   I once estimated I’d sat either beside or directly in front of or behind 23 other engineers who were laid off or transferred.  The fact I was retained when so many very competent engineers weren’t suggests several organizations recognized my ability to work with others.

While I believe I could be an effective legislator, my goal has always been to use my candidacy to publicize my concerns about Sound Transit, particularly their East Link light rail program.   Sound Transit’s 1990’s decision that light rail was the preferred option for cross-lake mass transit is a truly historic blunder.  Any competent analysis would have concluded East Link will never have the capacity or the accessibility needed to accommodate more than a small fraction of cross-lake commuters. 

Even worse, East Link’s confiscation of the center roadway will make it impossible to implement BRT, the only transportation mode that will provide the needed capacity for the projected doubling of cross-lake commuters over the next 25 years.

What’s most despicable is Sound Transit (and WSDOT) knew, or should have known, that BRT was far better than light rail.   Instead they’ve wasted hundreds of millions promoting light rail with countless studies and “public hearings”, money that could have been used for the 520 rebuild and other eastside improvements.  Cross-lake commuters have already had to endure nearly 15 years of congestion that could have been avoided.

One of the most disturbing aspects about this debacle is that the Seattle Times could have ended East Link a long time ago if they had shown any interest in investigating the issues involved.  Instead they chose to ignore my attempts to encourage their involvement.

Sooner or later everyone is going to wake up to the reality of the East Link debacle.  My goal is stop it now, "persuade" Sound Transit to redirect the money to the 520 corridor (potentially reducing tolls) and other eastside improvements.  If allowed to proceed ST will shut down the center roadway, create gridlock on outer roadways, and spend billions devastating parts of Bellevue for a totally flawed light rail system.   The Times should do their part to make sure it doesn’t happen.

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