Many posts on this blog have explained how East Link construction and subsequent operation will devastate Bellevue residents, increase cross-lake congestion and do absolutely nothing to relieve congestion on 405 and I-90 corridors. To make matters worse, eastside residents will also be saddled with paying a major portion of the huge construction debt and increased operation costs for Sound Transits Central Link extensions to Federal Way and Lynnwood. The reason is the majority of the transportation sales taxes generated on eastside (about 40% of Sound Transit funding) are needed to fund Central Link construction and operation.
Construction costs for the Central Link extensions dwarf the $2.8 billion Sound Transit plans to spend on East Link. (Their plans to tunnel all the way to Northgate, something they wouldn’t even consider on the east side, is particularly obnoxious.) In addition, the costs of providing the added equipment and operating costs necessitated by the longer Central Link routes far exceeds any possible revenue from additional riders. (The fact commute times on light rail will exceed those available on buses doesn’t help). The resulting financial “black hole” due to construction debt and increased operating subsidies is detailed in other posts (3/9/13, 3/29/13, 4/26/13, 5/01/13 and 6/21/13) posts.
Sound Transit has a moral if not legal obligation to spend east side tax funds on east side transportation improvements. It's bad enough they're spending that money on East Link rather than on BRT and funding 520 bridge or 405 and I-90 improvements. What’s even worse is that most of eastside taxes will be perpetually required to fund Central Link extensions and operations they will never use.