Last night I joined eight other 41st and 48th district candidates at the Bellevue Downtown Association Candidate Forum. I’ve included below what I had planned to say as introductory and closing comments. I managed to say most of the first however they limited the closing statements to one minute rather than the two minutes I had expected. I used that time to briefly explain my concerns about the East Link devastation to Bellevue and its affect on cross-lake congestion.
I thought the entire event was almost surreal. None of the other candidates had any interest at all in the devastating effect East Link will have on Enatai and Surry Downs neighborhoods or the cross-lake congestion resulting from center roadway closure for light rail construction.
It was clear how the incumbents, several of whom were in committees dealing with “transportation,” had allowed Sound Transit to spend hundreds of millions on a light rail program that will never have the capacity or the accessibility for more than a fraction of cross-lake commuters.
They talked about a “transportation package” but ignored the fact most serious problems facing their constituents could be alleviated by directing ST to initiate BRT on the center bridge and spend the East Link billions on 520 rebuild and other eastside improvements.
The most obnoxious idea of all was Rep. Hunter promising to impose tolls on 1-90 bridge. He apparently wants to make sure all his constituents who cross Lake Washington pay their “fair share”.
My name is Bill Hirt and I became a candidate for the 48th District to use the Voters’ Pamphlet to attract readers to my blog. It explains why I believe Sound Transit was not only mendacious; they gave a whole new meaning to the term incompetent.
ST problems began in the ‘90’s when they made an historic blunder by selecting light rail for cross-lake mass transit. They could have moved the HOV traffic to a 4th lane on the outer roadway and initiated two-way bus rapid transit on the bridge center roadway. They knew or should have known BRT had more than 10 times light rail capacity that could provide express bus service from every eastside P&R
Instead ST lied about East Link for years and spent hundreds of millions on countless studies promoting a light rail system that will never have the capacity or the accessibility for more than a fraction of cross-lake commuters. They also lied about the congestion on the bridge outer roadways when they close the center roadway to install light rail. They used both lies to convince voters to support the Prop 1 initiative in 2008.
If allowed to continue, ST will spend billions on a light rail program that will devastate parts of Bellevue, gridlock the 1-90 bridge, and do nothing to relieve congestion on 1-90 and 405. I’m running to do what I can to stop them.
When I filed as a candidate back in May I recognized I had little chance of having the honor of representing the 48th District. I did so as part of a long term effort to stop an East Link program I thought would be a disaster for the entire eastside. My concerns were never personal since my home is nowhere near light rail route and I rarely commute into Seattle. I still felt an obligation to do what I could.
I filed to use the Voters’ Pamphlet because more than three years of appearances before the Bellevue City Council and countless emails to the council, Sound Transit, the media and many others had been ignored. My response from the state DOT was a letter advising me to seek private council if I was unhappy with Sound Transit’s lack of response. Rep Hunter responded with “Get over it, Sound Transit is going to install light rail across Lake Washington come hell or high water”
I’m here tonight to tell voters this debacle can be stopped. Enatai or Surrey Downs residents need not have their lives devastated by light rail tracks, 5000-volt power lines and noisy trains trundling through their neighborhood every 3-5 minutes for 20 hours a day. The vast majority of cross-lake commuters, who won’t have access to light rail needn’t endure the ever increasing congestion and inevitable gridlock because of East Link’s confiscation of the center bridge. The billions ST planned to spend on East Link could be used to pay for 520 bridge and other eastside improvements.
All these good things can happen if the Bellevue City Council refuses to approve the permits Sound Transit needs for light rail. Their failure to do so betrays not only their constituents, but the entire eastside.