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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

BCC East Link Justification "Flawed"

(I wrote this in response to comments during the Bellevue Patch candidate interview.)

The Bellevue City Council justifies their recent East Link agreement with Sound Transit with three  “questionable” assertions.

First, the council claims state regulations prevented them from using the “permitting process” to stop Sound Transit from installing light rail through the city.   The applicable code in the Revised Code of Washington RCW 36.70A.200  stipulates the following with regard to what the council can and cannot do.

No local comprehensive plan or development regulation may preclude the siting of essential public facilities.

“Essential public facilities” are described in RCW 47.06.140 as

Those including regional transportation systems that can be defined by a number of things such as “high capacity transportation systems”

However, there is nothing in the RCW that prevents the council from deciding to reject light rail in favor of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as its preferred “high capacity transportation system”.

Second, the council claimed they were required to approve of East Link because of voter support for Proposition 1.  The problem with that argument is Sound Transit greatly exaggerated East Link benefits for cross-lake commuters.  For example, the DEIS claimed East Link was like adding “10 lanes of freeway” that would increase “person-moving capacity by up to 60%”.  

Simple mathematics belies the DEIS claim a 4 car train every 9 minutes could carry up to 24,000 riders an hour.  (Their actual capacity is further limited by the number of riders in each 74-seat car (ST claims up to 200) and I-90 Bridge structural concerns and high vehicle operating costs that make 4 car trains highly “problematic”)  

Whatever limited capacity light rail has will be compromised because the only access for most cross-lake commuters will be a South Bellevue P&R with limited capacity and difficult access.  Those without access will be forced to endure ever increasing congestion on the bridge outer roadways despite DEIS claims “travel times across I-90 for vehicles and trucks would also improve or remain similar with East Link”.

Third, the council claims revisions to the land use code have enabled them to work with local residents and Sound Transit and agree on a light rail route that “everyone is agreeable to”.   

What the revisions did was take out the code requirements to  Develop a light rail system that minimizes environmental and neighborhood impacts, and balances regional system performance” and is “not contrary to the best interest of the citizens and property owners of the City of Bellevue”.
The only way light rail could meet those requirements was a tunnel into Bellevue, something ST refused to even consider. 

Instead the revised code includes the following

The regional transit authority has the written consent of the affected property owner to apply for the permit(s); or) from the owner of the property affected by the RLRT Facility or System

The question is “who decides what it takes to qualify as an affected property owner?”.  Noise and vibration from Central Link 2-car train operation has necessitated ST incorporate major sound proofing in homes more than 400 feet away from the tracks.  The impact from East Link 4-car trains will surely be comparable.  Is everyone within 400-500 ft an “affected property owner”?  

I doubt if those living along the route who were aware of the possible noise impacts from light rail, would "agree” with the council's decision.

In conclusion, there are no regulations that require the council to accept light rail through the city;  Sound Transit's blatant mendacity regarding light rail benefits is surely grounds to ignore the Prop 1 vote; and finally any code revisions that allow the construction of elevated roadways and a light rail system that will devastate so many is surely not something to be proud of. 

No comments:

Post a Comment