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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bellevue's East Link Ineptitude

The Bellevue City Council claim in last week’s Bellevue Reporter (11/9) (Council upset at rail yard plan) that the East Link maintenance yard location in Bel Red was an “unwelcome surprise” typifies BCC mismanagement.   The BCC insists “we were assured by Sound Transit….that a maintenance base was not needed for East Link or on the Eastside”.  

ST mendacity has already been noted in several posts on this blog.  However, anyone who had bothered to read the 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (or the 2011 EIS) would have learned of ST plans for the Bel Red yards.  The idea the council has been in constant negotiations with ST for 4 years and not clarified this issue “screams” incompetence.

This recent action is just the latest example of their ineptitude.  The 11/10 post explains how they could have used the permitting process to insist on BRT through the city or a tunnel from South Bellevue P&R to 116th.   Either option would have avoided the devastation along the route into Bellevue and the violation of federal environmental law from encroachment on Mercer Slough Park.  There was surely no justification for BCC acquiescing to paying an additional $200 million for a tunnel under city center.  (They still haven’t explained where they will get that money)

Bellevue mismanagement is not limited to the BCC.  The city's associate transportation director belied his purported expertise by claiming cross-lake BRT on the center roadway would have “operational” problems and lack capacity.  Anyone who knows anything about BRT would recognize that its far greater capacity and accessibility, minimal cost and essentially instant availability made it the ideal solution for I-90 public transit.

This transportation “expert’” also supported the ST decision to delay adding the 4th lane to the outer bridge until 2016 because of planning and funding problems with the modification.  He apparently didn’t recognize the fact the delay was adding to the nearly 15 years of increased congestion cross-lake commuters, but particularly reverse commuters, have already endured because of the lack of the 4th lanes on the outer roadways.

The Bellevue Transportation Commission supposedly advises the City Council on transportation related issues.   Yet, the only response I received from several emails requesting the opportunity to discuss my ST/East Link concerns with the commission was an “out of office” from the BTC coordinator.   One can only assume they’re not aware of the “reply” option to emails.

With the city's transportation advisors so inept or unresponsive its no wonder its so mismanaged.  The citizens of Bellevue and the commuters throughout the eastside deserve better.

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