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, January 7, 2015

King/Clibborn Oblivious to ST Prop ! Insanity

I submitted this as a "Special to the Times".   I decided to post it as they are unlikely to use it.

King/Clibborn Oblivious to ST Prop 1 Insanity
The recent “Opinions” by Sen. King and Rep Clibborn concerning the need for the legislature to provide additional transportation funding in the upcoming session illustrates their failure to recognize the insanity of allowing Sound Transit to spend billions on totally ineffective Prop 1 light rail extensions. 

They and apparently the other transportation committee members, the Sound Transit board, and the WSDOT ignore the reality of light rail in our area.  A Puget Sound Regional Council 2004 document “Central Puget Sound Regional High Capacity Transit Corridor Assessment” concluded the Seattle tunnel limited light rail to a maximum of one 4-car train every 4 minutes, 60 cars per hour.   The legislative transportation committees need to use their oversight responsibility to stop ST from spending so much, $15-20B, for so little.     

No one can rationally argue that a single 74-seat light rail car every minute can have a significant effect on I-5 congestion.  The only way ST will fully use even that limited capacity is to stop competing bus routes and terminate other routes at the Northgate light rail station.  Moving transit riders from buses to trains does nothing to reduce I-5 congestion.  The fact light-rail cars are twice as expensive as buses to operate adds to the insanity.

Even worse, the East Link extension is limited to half the tunnel capacity, 30 light rail cars an hour, or one 74-seat car every 2 minutes.  That’s ST version of High Capacity Transit?  The legislators need to recognize the total stupidity of allowing ST to confiscate the I-90 center roadway and spend billions and 6 years disrupting the commutes of thousands and devastating the route through Bellevue for this debacle. (Even that capacity is “suspect” because ST chose to demonstrate the I-90 Bridge could support light rail with 2-car trains rather than the 4 cars they currently anticipate using.  The floating bridge/light rail compatibility issue may further restrict East Link operation.)

What’s absurd is they compound the I-90 capacity problem with an “Integrated Transit System” (ITS) that forces all bus riders to transfer to light rail at the South Bellevue or Mercer Island light rail stations.  The billions spent on East Link and ITS will limit I-90 transit capacity to far less is than what cross-lake buses currently provide. 

For example, the ST Nov 19th Mercer Island presentation showed they anticipated 84 buses an hour would drop off riders there during peak commute. The presentation also showed that the East Gate buses would be routed to the S. Bellevue station although no number was given.  Whatever that number, its clear East Link will never be able to accommodate all the bus transferees, let alone all the other commuters wanting to use public transit into Seattle.
The return commutes will be even worse since thousands will be attempting to use the "74-seat car every 2 minutes".  Yet ST anticipates 84 buses per hour will be arriving at MI station and an undefined number at South Bellevue.  The transportation committee needs to convince ST that ITS is simply "unworkable".

What is “beyond words” was Rep. Clibborn’s support for ST spending an additional $15B on 2040 extensions that only add to the debacle.  The legislative transportation committees need to recognize the only way to make light rail viable in our area is to terminate light rail at T/C at the UW station and S. 200th along I-5, and replace East Link with a light rail connection to West Seattle.  The money saved by doing so will go a long way towards funding any future projects.

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