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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Times and Legislature Ignore Sound Transit "Fund Misuse"

The Times editorial “The Transportation Year” urged the legislature to use this 30-day
special session to enact legislation addressing the areas transportation needs by putting a gas tax on the ballot and enacting House Transportation Committee Chair Clibborn’s proposal to “give counties authority to impose local transit taxes or seek voter approval for them”.

Both the Times and the Rep Clibborn seem oblivious to the fact residents in our area are already required to pay .9% in sales taxes to Sound Transit towards funding local transportation.  Cross lake commuters currently have to pay nearly $2000 in tolls annually to cross 520 Bridge and the WSDOT and the legislators are  “considering” requiring I-90 commuters to do the same.   There’s even talk of adding “tolls” to some of the freeways in the area.  When is “enough” enough?

A major portion of the Sound Transit funding has been spent as down payment on the $17.9 billion (2007 dollars?) Prop-1 measure voters approved in 2008.   Prop 1 initially included extending Central Link from SeaTac to Federal Way, from the University to Lynnwood, and across I-90 to Redmond/Overlake area. 

The premise for Prop 1 was the cost for constructing the extensions could be justified by attracting large numbers of riders to light rail with its purported lower operating costs.  As other posts have detailed all three extensions fail any rationale cost/benefit analysis and light rail operating costs far exceed bus costs (see 3/223/13 post). 

The Federal Way extension will add $1000 per round trip to light-rail operating costs and actually increase commute time for riders by nearly 30 minutes over buses (See 3/09/13 and 4/26/13 Posts).  The extension to Lynnwood includes the added expense of tunneling all the way to Northgate to attract riders who already have excellent bus service with operating costs far less than light rail.  The ST agreement with the University limiting light rail vibration and magnetic field effects adds additional risk.  Their agreement not to locate a T/C near the stadium station severely limits University extension ridership. (See 4/10/13, 4/15/13 and 4/26/13 Posts)

Sound Transits East Link proposal fails any cost/benefit analysis by actually increasing cross-lake commute times for all vehicles as well as devastate the route into Bellevue. (See 5/15/12, 5/24/12, 8/08/12, 2/27/13, and 4/21/13 posts)  The recent revelations about Central Link noise and vibration issues would also seem to detract from light rails ability to promote Bel Red area. 

What’s remarkable is the legislature is currently withholding support for the Columbia River bridge because it includes light rail.  Yet they’ve no objection to installing light rail on the I-90 Bridge center roadway, forcing all vehicles to face ever increasing congestion on outer roadway (See 5/24/12 post).  No one has ever installed light rail on a “floating bridge” and ST has apparently still not “proven” the bridge can withstand the loads from their 4-car trains (See 7/04/12 post)

In conclusion, any legislative action to provide additional funding for transportation needs to include a comprehensive review of Sound Transits Prop 1 plans. The hundreds of millions they’ve already spent will be dwarfed by the billions they’ll spend over the next 10-12 years completing the extensions (See 3/29/13 and 5/01/13 posts).    Both the Times and the legislature can no longer turn a blind eye to ST "misuse of funds" that could go a long way towards easing the areas transportation needs.     


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