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, March 16, 2013

BBB Should Appeal Judge's East Link Suit Decision

Judge John Coughenour’s recent decision rejecting the Building a Better Bellevue and Friends of Enatai suit can most "charitably" be described by the legal term “unfounded”: not founded on fact or truth.  His claim “the decision to build rail instead of an alternative such as bus rapid transit was the result of a long, careful, and deliberative process” is simply wrong. 

The brief filed by the federal defendants  (Case 2:12-cv-01019-JCC Document 35 filed 01/25/13) doesn’t even attempt to make that argument.  Instead on page 1, lines 11-15 include the following:

As applied to this case, where the planning efforts of state and local transportation officials have come to focus on the problem of extending the light rail system to serve a particular corridor, it makes little sense in an environmental analysis to study the environmental impacts of the bus-based options which plaintiffs say federal defendants should have also evaluated.    

The judge apparently decided to ignore the defendants’ argument that the light rail study wasn’t needed by concluding that Sound Transit had instead done a long, careful deliberative process to select light rail rather than BRT.   It’s not clear what “long careful deliberative process” the judge is referring to. 
Sound Transit didn’t even consider BRT (two-way-bus only lanes on center roadway) as the “no build” alternative in the 2008 DEIS.  (See 5/30/12 Post for details)  The WSDOT and Sound Transit did make a similar claim to a Kittitas judge in response to the Freeman/ETA suit. 

The WSDOT/ST in the Freeman/ETA suit also made the claim the center roadway wasn’t needed for “highway needs” once Sound Transit had added the 4th combination Bus/HOV lane to the outer roadways.  The 5/15/12 and 5/16/12 posts refute that claim by referring to FHWA 2004 documentation showing the center roadway was still needed for “vehicle” use with the 4th lane on the outer roadways.  

The 2/01/13 post explains why this should have been an easy case for the BBB and FOE to prevail.  They didn't because the judge made his decision on a "finding" that the defense did not even mention in their filing.   Sound Transit never seriously considered BRT for East Link.  If they had they would have quickly concluded BRT was infinitely better than light rail in terms of capacity, accessibility and cost. (See 8/02/12 Post).  This historic blunder has already resulted in hundreds of millions wasted and years of needless congestion for cross-lake commuters.

I urge the BBB and FOE to appeal because allowing East Link to proceed will result in additional  billions spent, money that could be used to fund 520, SR405 and I-90 improvements, on a light rail program that will devastate parts of Bellevue, require the city to come up with $200 million for a tunnel, and inevitably lead to gridlock on the I-90 Bridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment