One of the more pernicious aspects of the East Link debacle is the apparent willingness of those elected to east side leadership positions to either actively support Sound Transit policies or to quietly acquiesce to them. The 9/20/12 Post “I-90 Corridor City Councils Ignore East Link Debacle” explains the problem:
Any cross-lake commuter who lives along the I-90 corridor east of 405 or south of 1-90 along 405 will face increased congestion.
The only East Link access for most cross-lake commuters is the South Bellevue P&R. While ST intends to enlarge the P&R, it will never have the capacity or the accessibility needed. This lack of accessibility along with East Link’s limited capacity will force the vast majority of cross-lake commuters onto I-90 Bridge outer roadways. ST 2004 studies show the outer roadways won’t have needed capacity.
The only responsible rationale for the city officials actions is some hope that East Link would eventually include an extension to Issaquah which would include a station at the Eastgate P&R. This extension would dramatically increase access for all eastside residents, reducing cross-lake and I-90 corridor congestion.
However, the “Brief” responding to the Building a Better Bellevue suit contesting the federal authorities approval of East Link includes the following section:
IV. THERE IS NO PLAN TO EXTEND LIGHT RAIL TO ISSAQUAH
It’s clear most cross-lake commuters, who won’t have access to East Link, can look forward to many years of increased congestion if ST is allowed to proceed.
What’s even more absurd is those cross-lake commuters, who are already seeing their sales tax revenue (.9% to ST) spent on a project that will increase their congestion, are now being asked to pay a toll to cross I-90 to pay for 520 corridor improvements, a route they will rarely ever use.
Both injustices can be resolved. Local leaders can work with the Bellevue City Council to use the permitting process to block East Link. East side legislators should work with the transportation committee in Olympia to use its oversight of the WSDOT to insist ST use east side taxes to initiate BRT across I-90 and to replace the tolls, at least on I-90 if not both bridges. East side residents surely deserve this much from their elected leaders.