(I presented the following at the Bellevue City Council meeting last night. Only time will tell whether it made any difference.)
Dear Bellevue City Council
My name is Bill Hirt and I’m here tonight to object in the strongest possible terms to your decision to approve the Sound Transit Shoreline Development permit and the other permits ST will need for East Link.
The “Shoreline” permit approval is presumably based on the council’s conclusion East Link will not adversely impact the Mercer Slough Park. Yet, the council forced ST to commit millions to mitigate noise for residents along the route but nothing to mitigate train noise that will end forever the quiet solitude of the park, a clear violation of federal environmental law. However, allowing ST to proceed is a far more serious violation of the trust of all those who elected you to this council.
In 2016 ST will close the South Bellevue P&R without, as yet, any clear plan for those driving the 700 cars that fill the P&R before 7:30 every morning or their plan for rerouting the ST and Metro bus routes that use the P&R. Soon after they intend to tear out thousands of trees and spend the next 5 years installing light rail tracks, power lines, and an elevated roadway in place of a beautiful boulevard into the city. While doing so they intend to route hundreds of cars along 108th Ave, what was a quiet residential roadway.
When East Link does begin service, residents along the route can expect more than 20 hrs a day of light rail noise sufficient to force ST to sound proof homes more than 300 ft from Central Link tracks. Commuters will find East Link, which was sold as the equivalent of 10 lanes of freeway, will be limited to one 4-car train every 8 minutes, or thirty 74-seat cars an hour.
ST’s Integrated Transit Service plan attempts to use this limited light rail capacity to replace all cross-lake buses. The ITS diverts all the East Gate buses to the South Bellevue P&R along with up to 84 buses per hour to the Mercer Island station. East Link simply won’t have the capacity to accommodate all those bus riders along with the other commuters attempting to use public transit into and out of Seattle. Return connections will be especially onerous since neither light rail station includes adequate provisions for buses to drop off or pick up riders.
The lack of capacity and the hassle of transferring to and from light rail will induce thousands to attempt to drive rather than ride. Unfortunately, the 4th lanes ST adds to the outer roadway won’t have the capacity to make up for the loss of the 2 center roadway lanes, let alone all the former transit riders.
In conclusion, it’s bad enough ST will spend billions and years disrupting commuters and devastating the area along the route into Bellevue to create East Link. What’s infinitely worse, the result will be a light rail system that turns commuting into Seattle a nightmare, not only for transit riders, but every eastside resident. I urge you to not allow that to happen.