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.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Making UW Link "Work"

(Sound Transit plans to initiate UW Link operation next year prompted the following post)

Making UW Link "Work"
Sound Transit’s video of a ride on the UW link exemplifies how light rail could “work” in Seattle.  However, their ability to complete it “under budget” and “6 months ahead of schedule” is overshadowed by two blunders.  The first was their decision not to include the link as part of the original Central Link route.  The UW Link’s initial projection of 71,000 daily riders should have made it a priority.
That blunder "pales in comparison" to the long-term effects of their second blunder; not including a T/C near the UW station.  The T/C would have provided an interface between 520 BRT routes and light rail for commuters from both sides of the lake.  Eastside residents could use BRT express routes for their morning commutes from P&R lots near where they live to the T/C for access to UW and light rail into Seattle. 
Seattleites could use the returning buses for direct service from UW station to either Bellevue T/C or Overlake T/C.  The routes would be reversed in the afternoon.  The number of inbound and outbound riders would likely be similar for both morning and afternoon commutes, taking maximum advantage of both light rail and BRT capacity.  And they could begin doing so in 2016
ST instead allowed the UW to reject the T/C.  It’s not clear what the university’s objections were.  I suspect ST was “agreeable” because the T/C-via-520-BRT route to Microsoft would have detracted from the Seattle-through-Bellevue-to-“Microsoft” East Link route.  Whatever the reason, until the Northgate extension is completed in 2021, UW Link ridership will be limited to those riding between Seattle and UW station.
The $2.1B Northgate Link was initially projected to add 16,000 riders daily, some of whom previously rode Metro 41 into Seattle.  However, the 16,000-rider prediction far exceeds those with direct access to transit at Northgate.  Thus ST is going to have to spend 10's of millions to add parking and bus service to the light rail station to provide access.  Yet I've seen no mention of ST plans to do so.

The Northgate Link concerns go beyond its limited access.  ST agreed to a UW  “Master Implementation Agreement” (MIA) that “Protects research and instruction by defining levels of vibration and magnetic field (MF) thresholds which ST shall not exceed without advance approval by the University”.  The MIA also required ST make a “lump sum payment of $20,000,000” to the UW; agree “Not to commence Revenue Service on University Properties if (Vibration and MF) Thresholds are exceeded; and gives the UW Board of Regents “ultimate approval authority on design, mitigation and monitoring plans required of ST under the MIA”. 

The bottom line is rather than insisting on a UW T/C that could have added thousands of commuters from both sides of the lake ST agreed to a UW MIA that epitomizes their “High cost/minuscule benefit” approach to the entire light rail program, but especially to their Prop 1 extensions.

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