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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Seattle Times East Link Complicity

My Sept 12th Presentation to Seattle Times Interviewers

My candidacy is due to Sound Transit’s 1990’s historic blunder in selecting light rail for cross-lake mass transit.  They knew or should have known that a bus rapid transit (BRT) system had ten times light rail capacity at 1/10th the cost, and could have been in operation in 2 years not 20. 

Fifteen years ago Sound Transit could have added a 4th lane to the bridge outer roadways for non-transit HOV traffic and initiated BRT on the center roadway.  The BRT could have provided direct connections between every eastside P&R and Seattle.  The entire eastside would have benefitted by allowing more commuters to leave their cars near where they live rather than where they work.

Instead Sound Transit has used the years to spend hundreds of millions on a light rail system that will never have the capacity or the accessibility for more than a fraction of cross-lake commuters.  Their 2008 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) claimed a 4-car train every 9 minutes was like adding 10 lanes of freeway capable of 24,000 riders per hour.   Even if they crammed 200 riders on each of the four 74-seat cars, the maximum theoretical capacity would be less than 11,000.  The only access for most cross-lake commuters to this limited capacity would be a South Bellevue P&R:  a P&R that will never have the needed capacity or accessibility.  

Sound Transit also claimed their addition of a 4th lane to the outer roadways would provide “travel times across I-90 for vehicles and trucks that improve or remain similar with East Link”.  They used that claim to convince a Kittitas judge that the center roadway could be used for light rail.   Yet their own 2004 studies showed a single lane did not have sufficient capacity for both bus and HOV traffic. 

Cross-lake commuters have already needlessly endured years of increased congestion because of Sound Transits blunders.  What’s truly incredible is it gets worse!  In 2016 they’ll close off the center roadway and force all cross-lake traffic onto the outer roadways, a sure recipe for eventual gridlock.  They’ll use the next 7 years to spend billions devastating parts of Bellevue with light rail tracks and 5000-volt power lines creating a light rail system that will have a miniscule effect on outer roadway congestion.

None of this had to happen.  Sound Transit could have used the eastside tax money to eliminate the need for 520 tolls rather than waste it promoting light rail.  The Seattle Times could have stopped it years ago by exposing Sound Transit’s failure to consider BRT for cross-lake transit.  The decision to ignore my many emails on these issues has been an abdication of your responsibility to inform the public.  Your continued silence will be a major contributor to Sound Transit spending the next 10 years and billions on East Link, devastating parts of Bellevue and eventually grid locking I-90 bridge.  No responsible newspaper would allow that.

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