The May 1st Bellevue Reporter article announcing “No more East Link challenges left” has prompted me to once again file as a candidate for the Bellevue City Council. I had delayed doing so in hopes the Shoreline Hearings Board would stop East Link by recognizing the validity of the Davidson et al. appeal regarding light rail noise impact on Mercer Slough Park. It’s difficult to believe the review board wouldn’t have concluded noise, requiring Sound Transit spend millions shielding properties hundreds of feet away, violated federal environmental law. (requires de minimis impact) Unfortunately, the inexplicable “Davidson” decision to withdraw their appeal eliminates that possibility making council approval likely.
As before, my goal as a candidate is not to win but to attract viewers to this blog. It’s admittedly a “last gasp” attempt to generate a public outcry sufficient to cause the council not to approve the final permits. The blog attempts to do so with over 240 posts, mostly concerning East Link problems many are unaware of.
For example, some residents I talk to think the only people affected are those living along the route into Bellevue. They’re unaware that Sound Transit will close down the I-90 center roadway in 2017. Even fewer are aware the FHA concluded in a Sept 2004 document that, even with the added 4th lanes, the outer roadways will not have the needed capacity. East link will increase I-90 congestion and commute times for all cross-lake vehicles.
Those using P&R lots to access buses will have problems even earlier when ST closes the South Bellevue P&R next March. They still have not provided a viable plan for alternate parking. Transit commuters will be forced to play an “early bird gets the worm” approach to the other P&R’s, leaving hundreds to either find alternate ways to access transit or drive into Seattle, likely pay for very expensive parking, as well as add to the bridge congestion.
By now, most people living or commuting along the East Link route into Bellevue are aware of the devastation and disruption from light rail construction. However very few know that when East Link begins operation, those riding buses through Bellevue or from the East Gate P&R will be forced to transfer to light rail at the South Bellevue station. Riders on all the other I-90 bus routes will be forced to transfer on Mercer Island (although the MI council has recently raised objections).
This ST “Integrated Transit Service” plan will result in approximately 10,000 bus riders attempting to transfer at each of the two stations every morning and afternoon. Not only are those numbers way beyond what ST presentations indicated the stations were designed for, they’re way beyond the capacity of the light rail service they plan to provide. The lack of transit capacity and the hassle of attempting to transfer to and from light rail means East Link operation will “likely” add even more “drivers” to outer roadway, further increasing congestion.
Undoubtedly the biggest East Link “surprise” will be when residents throughout the area realize the subsidies ST will need to cover the shortfall between East Link operating costs and fare box revenue. The combination of high light rail car operating costs, four cars per train, longer routes, and the number of routes per day will cost ST nearly $9 million each day to operate East Link. Yet the vast majority of riders will be those who transfer from buses to East Link at one of the light rail stations. Since they’re not likely to be forced to pay two tolls the added revenue will be a small fraction of the added costs, forcing the entire area to subsidize the difference.
In conclusion, this is my 4th and last time I will file as a candidate to attract attention to the ST problems. It’s been more than 6 years since I recognized the ST claims in the 2008 DEIS were shear fantasy. While the billions ST is spending on Prop 1 extensions will have a miniscule effect on I-5 congestion, the money it spends on East Link will not only devastate the route into Bellevue and end the quiet solitude of the Mercer Slough Park, it will also gridlock I-90 bridge and create a light rail system too expensive to operate. My goal in running is to a least make more people aware of what is coming.