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.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The “Human Face” to the East Link Debacle

Today’s Bellevue Reporter (10/5) is finally putting a “human” face on the tragedy that awaits many as a result of the Bellevue City Councils approach to Sound Transit’s East Link program.  Last week the council was critical of ST’s plans for a maintenance yard in Bel Red area, something that had been in the plans for at least 4 years.  Even the Bellevue Reporter, a staunch supporter of East Link, objected to the yard location last week with a follow- up cartoon today.

Yet neither the council nor the BR appear the least bit concerned about the impact of their East Link complicity on the lives of those living along the current route.  They persist in plans to save a few million by deleting features that would have at least mitigated the damage for hundreds of residents.  The cities associate planning director commented ST needed the savings because the “$300 million tunnel under downtown Bellevue wasn’t part of the original Seattle to Bellevue light rail plan”.  (This is the same planning director whose competence is belied by his claim that “single bus lanes in each direction on the center roadway” (i.e., BRT) would have operational problems and insufficient capacity”)

What’s practically obscene is this same ST recently committed to tunnel between the University Light Rail Station and Northgate.  ST never made any commitment for a tunnel there, yet they opted to do so without demanding any additional funds from Seattle.  It’s particularly galling that ST gets nearly 40% of their funds from taxes generated on the eastside.

The council’s decision to essentially throw Enatai and Surrey Downs residents “under the bus” and yet object so strongly to a long-planned maintenance yard in Bel-Red is only part of their problem.  They have a very simple option to resolve both issues; refuse to approve the ten permits ST needs for construction and insist ST consider cross-lake BRT on the center roadway. (BRT would also prevent 1-90 gridlock that  would inevitably result from East Link.)  

Any competent evaluation would quickly conclude BRT was far superior to light rail in terms of cross-lake capacity and accessibility as well as eliminate the devastation to Bellevue.  "Persuade" ST to use the billions they were planning to spend on East Link to eliminate the need for 520 tolls.

What’s most troubling is apparently the council is in the process of finalizing a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) that limits their options for using the permitting process to restrict ST.  Doing so some four years before construction begins would be unconscionable.   

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