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.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Four Questions MI Should Ask ST About East Link

(I thought viewers might be interested in the below email)

Dear Mercer Island City Council,
I understand the “public” will not be allowed to “participate” in the Jan21st study session with Sound Transit on East Link.  If I had been allowed to do so I would have asked the following questions. I look forward to attending the meeting hoping they will “stimulate” your discussion.
Bill Hirt

                  Why did Sound Transit never consider dividing the center roadway into two-way bus-only lanes on the center roadway when they decided to add 4th lanes to the outer roadways?

Bus-only lanes could accommodate up to 1000 buses an hour, many times the capacity of any light rail system.  The buses could have provided commuters with access at every east side P&R lot whereas most I-90 commuters light rail access will be a South Bellevue station with limited capacity and difficult access.

Why has Sound Transit delayed adding the 4th lanes to the outer roadways until 2016?

While not directly applicable to Mercer Island commuters, ST failure to do so some 15 years ago has forced cross-lake commuters from both sides of the lake to needlessly endure years of congestion, particularly “reverse commuters”.  It would have also eliminated the congestion purportedly justifying the need for I-90 tolls.   The fact ST has “invested” hundreds of millions over the last 10 years on East Link but refused to spend the relatively small amount adding the 4th lanes demonstrates a warped sense of priorities.

Why does ST continue to insist adding 4th lanes to the outer roadway should allow them to take “possession” of the center roadway?   The R8A configuration in the September 2004 document (FHWA-WA-EIS-3-01-F),” I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Operations Project, Record of Decision” maintained the two center roadway lanes for buses and HOV traffic?

Mercer Island commuters should pay particular attention to this question. Not only will congestion on the bridge dramatically reduce their speed, their access to I-90 will likely be severely limited by signal lights on the onramps needed because of the congestion.  It’s “plausible” ST delayed adding the 4th to the outer roadway because of concerns it would allow the center roadway to be temporarily closed off, demonstrating the modified outer roadways didn’t have needed capacity.

Why does Sound Transit continue to insist East Link will have sufficient capacity to justify spending $2.8 billion taking “possession” of the center roadway for a light rail system that will likely consist of one two-car train with capacity for about 300 riders every 8 minutes.

Again, this limited capacity should be of particular interest to Mercer Island commuters since their light rail station is the last of 8 on the eastside.  By the time trains reach their station they will be lucky to find a place to stand let alone sit.

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