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.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Citizens Advisory Committee Charade

I presented the following at the Dec 18 meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee formed apparently to “advise” the Bellevue City Council concerning the permits Bellevue has to approve for East Link.  My impression was the committee was another BCC “charade” attempting to give legitimacy to their foregone conclusion to approve the permits.  (Similar to the Bellevue leadership alternate light rail changes to the land use code that made light rail "permitable" 2/20/13 post). I doubt if any questions as to what qualified them to "advise" the council would have been welcome.  They  appeared to listen but had no comments or questions dealing with the serious issues I attempted to raise.

Dear Citizens Advisory Committee,
My name is Bill Hirt and I have lived at 2615 170th SE in the Lake Hills area for more than 45 years.  I’m here today to urge you in the strongest possible terms not to approve the 10 permits Sound Transit needs for East Link.  

Contrary to what you may have thought, Bellevue is under no legal obligation to allow light rail through our city.  State regulation RCW 36.70A.200 stipulates that the permitting process cannot be used to prevent the siting of essential public facilities such as high capacity transportation systems. RCW 81.104.015, defines “high capacity transportation systems” (HCT). They include “rail fixed guideway systems” that are hereby defined as a “light, heavy, or rapid rail system.” However, it also allows  "high occupancy vehicle lanes". Thus, there is nothing in any regulation that prevents Bellevue from selecting bus rapid transit or BRT as its preferred HCT system.

The entire east side would benefit if Bellevue disallowed the permits. Those living along the route would no longer fear having their lives devastated by several years of light rail construction and a lifetime of noise from light rail train operation. Also cross-lake commuters from both sides of the lake would no longer face the congestion from light rail confiscation of the center roadway. 

Stopping East Link would likely result in ST adding the 4th lanes to the I-90 outer roadways for non-transit HOV and initiating two-way BRT on the center roadway.  It could be operating in 2015, not 2023; with 10 times light rail capacity at a fraction of its cost.  BRT could provide I-90 commuters with access to direct routes into the city from every eastside P&R rather than just East Link’s South Bellevue light rail station. Letting commuters park their car at a P&R near where the live would reduce congestion throughout east side. 

In conclusion, I’m not sure your committee’s recommendation could stop East Link.  However I’m absolutely certain 5 years from now the resulting congestion on I-90 and devastation along the route into Bellevue will make you regret not trying to do so.  I urge you to visit my blog stopeastlinknow.blogspot.com for more on why it’s so important you try.

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