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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What I Hoped to Present to the BDA,

I wrote the following in anticipation of having 3-4 minutes to explain my candidacy at the BDA candidates forum.  I learned today there will be a 1 minute limit.  Needless to say it will be substantially “abridged” for the meeting and decided to post it, 

I welcome the opportunity to be here this morning not to ask for your vote but to urge you to visit my blog stopeastlinknow.blogspot.com.  Those who do so will learn the following:

First, 15 years ago ST could have moved the cross-lake non-transit HOV traffic to 4th lanes on the I-90 Bridge outer roadway and initiated inbound and outbound Bus Rapid Transit on the bridge center roadway.  The 4th lanes would have eased congestion for cross-lake commuters from both sides of the lake but particularly for reverse commuters.  The BRT lanes would have allowed express bus connections between each eastside P&R and dedicated drop off points in Seattle.  The costs would have been minimal and the additional riders attracted would have reduced congestion throughout the eastside. Instead ST spent countless millions on consultants for detailed designs and open houses for public comment for things like light rail stations that won’t be needed until 2023.  

Second, if ST is allowed to continue, their past failures will pale in comparison.  In 2017 they’ll close the center roadway and spend the next 6-7 years completing East Link.  Closing the center roadway will significantly increase congestion on outer roadway and light rail construction will devastate those living along the route and wreck havoc on downtown Bellevue.

Third, when light rail service begins, I-90 congestion will actually increase.  ST intends to terminate the cross-lake bus routes at the South Bellevue or Mercer Island light rail stations.  20,000 bus riders will be forced to transfer to and from light rail trains at the two stations.   Yet East Link capacity will be limited to 4500 riders per hour.  At that rate it will require nearly 4½ hours each morning and afternoon for the 20,000 riders.  I-90 commuters will have to choose between trying to drive into Seattle on a heavily congested outer roadway or ride a bus to a light rail station and attempt to get on an overcrowded light rail car.

Fourth, high light rail operating costs in combination with ST plans to route East Link trains from Redmond to Lynnwood will dwarf the fare box revenue. As a result ST will be forced to subsidize East Link by $285 million annually to make up for the short fall.  Where does ST expect to get that money?

The bottom line is East Link will create gridlock on the I-90 Bridge, devastate parts of Bellevue, and bankrupt the areas transportation funding.  Yet legislators on this panel are doing absolutely nothing to stop this $3 billion debacle despite the fact its purported benefits have shrunk from the equivalent of ten lanes of freeway to a mere 10,000 more transit riders daily.  Even that meager gain is highly unlikely.

I urge the BDA demand the Bellevue City Council disallow the 10 permits ST needs and stop the East Link debacle. 

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