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, September 25, 2012

Bellevue City Council East Link Support Betrays East Side

The Bellevue City Council’s recent complaints in a Seattle Times article concerning Sound Transits plans to spend $225 million for a huge maintenance facility in the Bel-Red area is another example of BCC malfeasance in dealing with their constituents commuting problems.   The idea these plans are a “surprise” is totally absurd.  Anyone who bothered to read the December 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) would have noticed there were three different locations identified in the Bel Red area and one near Redmond town center.  (A 7/26 post identifies this facility as one of the reasons a streetcar system would be far better than light rail for Bel-Red development)

Council member Claudia Balducci recent comments that Sound Transit’s proposed Bellevue sites “are really, really disappointing” and  “They’re just not good sites” are particularly disingenuous.  After all she’s been on the Sound Transit board for years.  If she was serious about objecting she could have done so a long time ago.  Her recent “disappointment” about the location suggests either incompetence or mendacity.

This maintenance location decision is just another example of the BCC, and Balducci in particular, failure to represent eastside commuters.   They could have used the permitting process to insist on a tunnel between South Bellevue P&R through downtown.  Build a Better Bellevue recently announced plans to sue because of Sound Transits refusal to consider this option.   

Any ST concerns about the extra costs involved with tunneling are belied by their recently announced plans to tunnel between the University light rail station and the Northgate station.   Their attitude towards eastside is particularly galling since eastside taxes make up about 40% of all their funding.    

In the meantime, the BCC has agreed to a light rail route that devastates parts of Bellevue and violates federal environmental laws by encroaching on Mercer Slough Park.  They’ve even acceded to ST demands for an additional $200 million to pay for a tunnel underneath city center. 

All this pales in comparison to the BCC failure to recognize that East Link will never have the capacity or the accessibility for more than a tiny fraction of cross-lake commuters.   Instead of spending thousands on consultants for totally futile studies of alternate light rail routes into Bellevue, they could have considered the BRT option.  Even a cursory analysis would have shown BRT had 10 times light rail capacity at 1/10th the cost, 10 years sooner and would be accessible from every eastside P&R not just South Bellevue P&R.  

Their willingness to go along with East Link will result in billions spent on a light rail system that will devastate Bellevue, gridlock Lake Washington Bridge and do nothing to ease the already serious congestion on 1-90 and 405.  An earlier post refers to Bellevue City Council malfeasance; a better word is "betrayal".

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