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, October 17, 2013

WSDOT I-90 Toll EIS "Scoping" Failure

(I sent the following to the “notolloni90@aol.com” in response to an email requesting “public comment” as a follow-up to a 9/17/13 post “Stopping I-90 Tolls).    

The email referenced a WSDOT website http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I90/CrossLakeWATolling/ScopingInformation.htm that included the following:

WSDOT and the Federal Highway administration are conducting an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential effects of tolling I-90 between I-5 in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue. The additional scoping comment period starts Monday, Oct. 7 and ends Wednesday, Nov. 6

They then define “What type of Feedback is most helpful”

As you're considering your scoping comments, remember that scoping is designed to gather input on four topics: 

1.            I-90 Tolling Project's Purpose and Need to:

                 Manage congestion and traffic flow on I-90 between I-5 and I-405, which is in the Cross-Lake Washington Corridor, and contribute revenue to the sustainable, long-term funding for timely completion of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program and maintenance and future transportation improvements on I-90 in the Cross-Lake Washington Corridor.

        2.      Potential range of alternatives (pdf 80 kb) that may also help meet purpose of the project to manage congestion on I-90 and contribute revenue toward SR 520:

Variable tolls on all lanes of I-90 between I-5 and I-405
Express toll lanes on I-90
Additional federal funds directed to the SR 520 project
Additional state gas tax funds directed to the SR 520 project
Vehicle miles traveled tax
Transportation Benefit District - vehicle license fee, sales or property tax
King County motor vehicle excise tax
Adjust tolls on SR 520
Increased transit service
Widening I-90 to add new lanes
               Implement tolls on other facilities

Typical of the WSDOT, of the 11 proposed “alternatives,” the only one dealing with the purported primary reason for the EIS, “Manage congestion and traffic flow on I-90 between I-5 and I-405,” is “Increased transit service”.  While they do include a rather generic “widening I-90 to add new lanes” all the rest are intended to raise revenue.

If the WSDOT were truly interested in “managing congestion and traffic flow" they could require Sound Transit expedite completion of the HOV 4th lanes on the outer roadways. (They could have done so years ago, easing congestion and allowing a temporary center roadway closure to confirm it wasn't needed for vehicles and could be used for light rail.)  Doing so would dramatically "increase transit service" by allowing two-way BRT operation on the center roadway with far greater capacity and accessibility than light rail.  The $2.8 billion East Link funds could be used for 520 funding and other 405 and I-90 improvements as well.

In conclusion, any responsible EIS “scoping” would include this option.  Whether those with the ability to make that happen will do so remains to be seen. 

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