This post is an attempt to answer the question as to what would happen if Sound Transit could be “persuaded” to stop East Link.
The first to benefit would be the hundreds of residents along the route into Bellevue who would no longer face the prospect of having their ambience devastated by light rail construction and subsequent operation. The 2.4 million commuters who annually use ST550 would not have their access disrupted during light rail construction by temporary closures along Bellevue Way and South Bellevue P&R.
Commuters to-and-from the downtown area could continue to have access to ST550 at multiple stops along Bellevue Way and at the Bellevue T/C. East Link completion would probably result in ST550 being replaced by light rail with stations near City Hall and South Bellevue P&R.
Cross-lake commuters would no longer face increased congestion when Sound Transit shuts down the center roadway to install light rail. Instead they could benefit if ST finished the 4th lanes on the outer roadways rather than wait until just before they close the center roadway (2016).
Moving non-transit HOV to outer roadways would surely lead (yes even Sound Transit) to BRT service into Seattle from each of the areas P&R lots reducing congestion throughout area. Downtown Bellevue residents could have direct BRT access from Bellevue T/C into Seattle with return routes providing Seattleites access to city.
The Bel-Red area could incorporate a “South-Lake-Union-type” streetcar system rather than a huge maintenance facility with noisy light rail trains trundling through the area every 3½ to 5 minutes for 20 hours a day. Residents there as well as those living in Redmond and Kirkland could use BRT connections from a nearby P&R lot or T/C to the University T/C for access to UW or to light rail into Downtown
The bottom line is nearly all commuters would benefit if East Link were cancelled. Express BRT would provide far better access and shorter commute times by eliminating light rail’s many intermediate stops. More BRT riders would reduce congestion throughout area. Cross-lake vehicles would avoid the congestion that will inevitably result from loss of center roadway.
Bellevue residents would not face the devastation and the BCC could use the millions they agreed to pay for a tunnel to fund much needed infrastructure improvements. Sound Transit might be “persuaded” to use part of the East Link funds to eliminate the tolls for 520 rebuild.
The big losers would be the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions. They could no longer count on hundreds of millions in contracts over the next ten years.
That’s a loss I can live with and why I’m using my candidacy for the BCC to promote this blog.