Recent headlines in the Seattle Times and the Bellevue Reporter have attracted attention to articles dealing with WSDOT problems with the 520 bridge pontoons. Apparently the WSDOT made mistakes in their design details for the original pontoons that will require upwards of $100 million in extra costs to rectify and will delay completion by a year. Earlier I recall reading someone was terminated as a result.
I mention this because whatever the costs or delays due to the pontoon problems, they’re dwarfed by those associated with the WSDOT support of Sound Transit East Link program. Fifteen years ago they could or should have recognized that two-way bus only rapid transit (BRT) on the I-90 was infinitely better than light rail for cross-lake mass transit.
Its far greater capacity and accessibility at a fraction of the cost made it the obvious choice. WSDOT failure to recognize that reality has resulted in hundreds of millions “invested” in a fatally flawed concept. It also resulted in years of cross-lake congestion that could have been avoided with a 4th lane for HOV on the outer roadway and BRT on the center bridge.
Instead the WSDOT has been partner with Sound Transit going along with their "dubious" promises about light rail capacity and claims a 4th lane added to outer roadway will provide enough additional capacity to handle all cross-lake vehicle traffic. Their response, when I attempted to raise these issues was to suggest I higher private council to pursue my concerns. (See 7/19/12 post for more details) The end result of this partnership, if allowed to continue, will be billions spent on light rail that will devastate parts of Bellevue and increase congestion on the I-90 bridge.
What’s “interesting” is that both newspapers ignored many emails over several years attempting to attract their attention to these problems. A single article could have saved the area hundreds of millions and years of congestion. (BRT on I-90 years ago might have provided sufficient additional capacity to allow a 4-lane 520 bridge for cross-lake commuting, avoiding the obvious problem at the I-5 interchange.)
It’s possible the “pontoon” articles reflect a new attitude by the papers to transportation problems. I doubt it!