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.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

More Losers in East Link Debacle

Some of the biggest losers from the East Link debacle are Mercer Island residents.  Their easy access to Seattle is undoubtedly one of the major reasons the island is such an attractive place to live.  Other I-90 corridor commuters go out of their way to use the MI P&R or to take advantage of their exclusive SOV access to I-90 Bridge center roadway.  One would have thought their city leaders and local legislators would do whatever was needed to protect this advantage.

These commuting concerns presumably prompted the MI city council's attempts to avoid I-90 tolls by forcing the WSDOT to conduct a 2-year, ~$9 million EIS.   An earlier post (9/04/13) explains why their attempt to stop the tolls is unlikely to succeed.  Even if they do succeed, East Link will change MI access to Seattle far more than any toll.

MI commuters’ first transportation “shock” will come in 2017 when Sound Transit shuts down the I-90 center roadway to begin installing light rail.  Not only will their SOV commuters lose access to center roadway, their access to I-90 will be severely restricted by control lights on the MI onramps due to heavy congestion.  

Once they get on the bridge outer roadway they’ll encounter the heavy congestion resulting from ST closure of the center roadway.   The 4th lane ST added to the outer roadway doesn’t provide the capacity to make up for the loss of the two center roadway lanes.  The resulting outer roadway congestion will be even worse if MI succeeds in stopping I-90 tolls since those avoiding 520 tolls would continue to use I-90.

The MI commuter transit concerns from outer roadway congestion will be dwarfed when East Link begins operation in 2023(?).   ST will force all cross-lake bus riders to transfer to light rail at either the South Bellevue or Mercer Island light rail stations.  Not only will MI commuters no longer have access to cross-lake buses, the MI light rail station will be inundated with thousands of other I-90 corridor bus riders forced to transfer there. 

During the morning commute, MI riders will be joined by upwards of 10,000 other transit riders (assuming half of the 20,000 transit riders will transfer there) waiting at the station for East Link.  They will likely have a very long wait!   ST plans for East Link, one 4-car train every 8 minutes, provide capacity for only 4500 riders per hour (RPH).  By the time light rail trains get to the MI station all of the cars are likely to be full from the other light rail stations and the 10,000 transit riders transferring at the South Bellevue station.   East Link will be a disaster for MI commuters.

Whenever I talk to Mercer Island residents about the impact of East Link I get the impression they either have “doubts” about my concerns or that “nothing” can be done.   What is truly amazing is the MI city council seems to be of the same opinion.   They make this huge effort to avoid tolls but ignore my emails concerning the posts on this blog.  ST needs MI approval to proceed with East Link.  They’re apparently willing to do so without even seriously questioning ST about East Link’s affect on commuters.  

Even more “amazing” is the lack of concern by Rep Clibborn, a MI resident who, as head of the legislatures Joint Transportation Committee, would have considerable “influence” dealing with transportation issues.  Yet she has expressed absolutely zero interest in the many emails I’ve sent concerning the problems in the various blog posts.

MI residents will pay dearly for their negligence.

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