The Sunday Seattle Times Editorial “Seawall SNAFU Adds to Voter Skepticism” is another example of their ability to expose problems. Yet they fail to recognize or show any concern for the real “SNAFU” facing the area: the Sound Transit Light Rail Debacle. If there was ever an organization that "qualified" for the acronym of “Situation Normal All F***ed Up,” its Sound Transit.
The ST “qualifications” began more than 20 years ago when they selected light rail over two-way bus only lanes on 1-90 Bridge center roadway for public transit. The bus lanes would have provided 10 times light rail capacity, ten years sooner, at one-tenth the cost. The capacity could have been used to provide every east side P&R with BRT service reducing congestion throughout the area.
They perpetuated that “qualification” by refusing to consider BRT as the “no-build” option in the 2008 DEIS. Instead their DEIS was filled with sheer fantasies about light rail being the equivalent of “up to 10 lanes of freeway” that would “increase cross-lake transit capacity by more than 60%". The reality is East Link’s one 4-car train every 8 minutes will reduce peak transit capacity by ~50%.
They added to their East Link SNAFU “qualifications” by insuring BRT could never be considered for I-90 center roadway, refusing for more than 15 years to add 4th lanes to the bridge outer roadways to accommodate non-transit HOV. Doing so would have made the center roadway available for two-way bus lanes providing BRT service that would have ended any public support for East Link. Commuters from both sides of the lake, but particularly “reverse commuters” have already endured years of increased congestion as a result.
The “all f***ed up” descriptor also surely applies to the following:
1) ST decision to ignore the fact the R-8A configuration the FHWA approved in Sept 2004 ROD “I-90 Two-way Transit and HOV Operations Project” required “maintaining existing reversible operation on the center roadway”.
2) They still haven’t completed the I-90 Bridge design both the FHWA and the legislature told them was a priority 6 years ago.
3) They still have no viable alternative for commuters who use the South Bellevue P&R lot when they close it next March.
If the Times is so concerned about “Voter Skepticism” with seawall costs, 520 Bridge replacement, and Big Bertha delays they should recognize voters will "be less than happy" when they learn East Link will reduce peak transit capacity by 50%, inevitably result in gridlock on I-90 outer roadways and devastate the route into Bellevue.
The Times needs to recognize that reality along with the fact the billions ST is planning to spend on the other Prop 1 extensions, plus the additional billion they intend to ask voters to provide each year for ST3 will do absolutely nothing to ease the area’s congestion. Failure to do so will surely qualify the paper's transportation policies as “Situation Normal All F***ed up”.