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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Freeman/ETA Suit Should Stop East Link

The Oral Arguments for the Freeman v State of Washington are scheduled for 1:30 PM, February 19.  It should be any easy case to win if the below paragraphs copied from the WSDOT/Sound Transit Oct 2 "Brief" filing is their response to the suit in court.

In September 2004, the Federal Highway Administration' s Record
of Decision designated R-8A (the HOV Project) as the selected
alternative. CP 1406, 1419-69.  This alternative was chosen because it "would accommodate the ultimate configuration of I-90 (High Capacity Transit in the center lanes)." CP 1407, 1432.

C.       Analyzing the Installation of High Capacity Transit in the 1-90 Center Lanes
With federal project approval in 2004, the signatories to the 1976 Agreement, along with Sound Transit, took the first step toward installing High Capacity Transit in the center lanes of I-90.

In the 52004 Amendment to the 1976 Agreement, the parties agreed to the principle that upon completion of the HOY Project, they would "move as quickly as possible to construct High Capacity Transit in the center lanes." CP 1008, 1034. The parties defined "High Capacity Transit" as: a transit system operating in dedicated right-of-way such as light rail, monorail, or a substantially equivalent system. CP 1033.

The parties also committed to the "earliest possible conversion
of center roadway to two-way High Capacity Transit operation based on outcome of studies and funding approvals." CP 1407, 1472. ~4).

The September 2004 Federal Highway Administration document,  “I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Operation Project, Record of Decision”, purported to justify the East Link use of center roadway does nothing of the sort.  It’s true the R8-A alternative" would accommodate the ultimate configuration of I-90 (High Capacity Transit in the center lanes)."  However, as the below paragraph from my 5/16/12 post explains, the R8-A from the 2004 study was not the R8-A configuration selected for East Link.  

The study’s preferred configuration, R-8A, is documented on pages 9 and 10.   It adds a 4th lane to the outer bridges for the combined bus/HOV traffic.  However, it provides the needed additional capacity by retaining the two existing reversible bus/HOV lanes on the center roadway.  Thus, contrary to what Sound Transit and DOT told the judge, there is not a shred of data that supports their claim that R-8A’s installation of a Bus/HOV lane on the outer bridge would eliminate the need to use the center section for highway use.

The other absurdity is the WSDOT/ST apparent unwillingness to consider bus rapid transit (BRT) as a “High Capacity Transit” for the center lanes.  BRT would provide far greater capacity and accessibility at far less cost than light rail.  The 1976 Agreement includes “upon completion of the HOY Project, they would move as quickly as possible to construct High Capacity Transit in the center lanes”.   I-90 BRT could have been initiated 15 years ago. 

The WSDOT/ST failure to ever seriously consider BRT for the I-90 Bridge center roadway, along with their delay in implementing the 4th lanes on the outer roadways, has been a historic blunder.  Their incompetence has resulted in hundreds of millions wasted and years of added congestion for cross-lake commuters. 

Hopefully this case will end this debacle before additional billions are spent on an East Link program that will devastate parts of Bellevue, inevitably gridlock 1-90 Bridge and do nothing to ease congestion along SR405 and I-90 corridors.

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