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, June 10, 2015

The I-405 Debacle

The 4/24/15 post explained 15 years ago Sound Transit could have moved non-transit HOV to a 4th lane on I-90 bridge outer roadway and initiated two-way bus only lanes with 10 times light rail capacity on bridge center roadway and avoided spending billions on an East Link light rail system that will not only devastate the route into Bellevue but dramatically increase cross-lake congestion.  The 4/28/15 post explained how ST and the WSDOT could simply limit one of the two I-5 HOV lanes to buses and increase transit capacity by more than 10 times what they will get from spending billions on Central Link extensions to Northgate and beyond.   
This post explains the total failure to deal with the congestion along I-405.  While millions have been spent adding a new lane between Bothell and Bellevue, the WSDOT and WSTC decision to use the additional lane for $10 HOT fares and +3 HOV will minimize its effectiveness, apparently more interested in increasing revenue rather than decreasing congestion.   
The Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) May 8th report to the Eastside Transportation Partnership “Stuck in Traffic: 2015” includes charts showing the I-405 delay in 2014, 10,300 hrs was second only to the I-5 delays, 14,300 hrs. Even though the number of I-405 commuters is a fraction of those on I-5. 
One reason for the discrepancy is relatively few I-405 commuters use transit.  An Oct 21st Seattle Times article reported 14 million riders use transit to commute on I-5 each year with more than 33,000 during the 6-9 a.m. commute into and 3-6 p.m. out of Seattle.  By contrast the Sound Transit 2014 ridership reports for ST532 and ST535, their routes from Everett and Lynnwood to Bellevue, totaled slightly more than 1 million.  The “likely reason”, the two routes are limited to a total of 15 buses during the 3 hr morning commute and 19 buses in the afternoon.
The Seattle Times article also reported a driver in a Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) needed to “allow 69 minutes between Lynnwood and Bellevue to reach work on time 19 out of 20 days”.   Again, the obvious solution to the problem is to increase the number of transit riders.  For starters, they should triple the number of buses during the peak commute to increase capacity.  Some of the added routes should skip some of the intermediate stops to reduce travel time.  Others could provide service to and from the Overlake Microsoft area on 520.  Survey the employment centers to identify potential riders.
The added bus routes would benefit from reduced travel time with the new I-405 HOV lane between Bothell and Bellevue; Currently 40-minutes between Lynnwood and Bellevue, with most of the delays between Bothell and Bellevue (per PSRC report during peak commute). The added bus routes could be particularly attractive in view of the WSTC decision to require +3HOV and $10 fares for HOT on both the existing and new HOV lanes.   

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