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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

WSDOT Needs Better Leadershiip

One of the initial posts on this blog “WSDOT Major Culprit In East Link Debacle” posted on 7/19/12 raised concerns about the WSDOT role in promoting East Link. The 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) included the WSDOT as the “Co Lead Agency”. They knew (or should have known) bus rapid transit (BRT) was a far better choice for cross-lake commuting than light rail.  Instead their support undoubtedly played a role in convincing the media that light rail was indeed the answer for cross-lake commuting.  

Lynn Peterson’s selection as the new Transportation Secretary raised hopes new WSDOT leadership would result in better management of the area’s mass transit system.  Her position as the WSDOT representative on the Sound Transit Board gave her the opportunity to have a major impact on Sound Transit actions.  As the 2/08/14 post “ST Board Needs New Leadership” explains she has been either unwilling or unable to make the needed changes.

Secretary Peterson’s Feb. 21st Bellevue Reporter article detailed her concerns about the “money crunch” jeopardizing the states ability to meet transportation needs.   She warns additional funds (Plan B) are needed beyond the proposed 10-cent gas tax increase to deal with “worst cases of transportation and preservation needs to ensure public safety”.   However, it’s not clear what additional funds she deems necessary. 

She acknowledges the WSDOT pontoon design errors and asks for additional funds to ”address contracting methodology for construction projects ” and a “quality assurance manager” to oversee those responsible for quality assurance of the various projects.  Both problems suggest the need for more competent people rather than more funds.

What’s particularly bothersome is Secretary Peterson’s apparently doesn't   recognize or speak out about the problems with Sound Transit’s Prop 1 extensions.  She surely should recognize closing the center roadway will increase cross-lake congestion on the outer roadways and that light rail will never have the capacity to replace I-90 buses.  She should also recognize that light rail operating costs will make the extensions to Lynnwood and Federal Way too expensive to operate.  

Secretary Peterson needs to demonstrate better leadership by using her  board position to urge ST redirect the  $2 billion they’ll spend annually over the next ten years on Prop 1 extensions towards addressing her concerns in the article.   If unable to convince the board, she should use her WSDOT position with the media to publicize her concerns and advocate for any legislative action needed to redirect the funds.   Failure to do either would be ample reason to replace her with someone who would.

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