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.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sound Transit Integrated Transit Service "Crashes and Burns"

I recently noticed a Sound Transit depiction of I-90 Bridge showing three-car trains going both directions on the center roadway and a Sound transit bus on the eastbound I-90 outer roadway.  (I’m always amused by the paucity of vehicles on ST 1-90 depictions.)  The fact that an ST East Link I-90 depiction includes a bus implies the end of their Integrated Transit Service (ITS) plan to use light rail to replace all I-90 bridge buses.  The implication, at least for Mercer Island, would seem to be confirmed by ST charts showing the five different options for routing ITS buses on and off MI are marked “No longer under consideration”. 

The decision was probably the result of Mercer Island objections to ST plans to terminate I-90 bus routes at their light rail station.  However, I’ve seen nothing in the MI Weekly about it.  Apparently ITS, which was “still up in the air” as of mid October at least for MI, has very quietly “crashed and burned“.  The congestion along the I-90 off ramps to Bellevue Way and the return routes from the P&R lot to I-90 make it unlikely ST would attempt to route the buses to South Bellevue P&R station.

The implications of the demise of Mercer Island and presumably South Bellevue ITS go way beyond simply easing islander concerns.  It’s unlikely to have a significant effect on the $3.6B East Link construction costs.  Also the other “costs” for eastside residents namely: disruption to those living or commuting along the route into Bellevue; loss of P&R access to transit with South Bellevue P&R closure; and the increased congestion from the loss of one on the two HOV lanes on center roadway won’t change,

However, without ITS, East Link’s supposed benefits will be dramatically reduced.  It will lose 40,000 of the 50,000 riders they predicted would access light rail via the bus routes in 2030.  ST “sold” East Link to east side residents with claims 20,000 commuters would be able to use light rail for their morning and afternoon commutes into and out of Seattle.  Without ITS the only ones with access will be those within walking distance of light rail stations or those able to use their very limited parking, a tiny fraction of the 20,000. The vast majority of East Link commuters not losing benefits will be Seattleites whose access to Bellevue and beyond won’t change.

The reality is East Link will be a disaster for eastside commuters with or without ITS.  Its 4500 rider-per hour capacity (per PSRC) would require nearly 4½ hours each morning and afternoon to accommodate the 20,000 commuters.  ST claims ITS would have reduced the number of buses and congestion on the I-90 Bridge outer roadways ignore the fact the congestion there is not due to too many buses.  Instead East Link with ITS would have increased outer roadway congestion since the lack of light rail capacity would have forced more commuters to drive rather than ride.

The bottom line is the ITS demise essentially ends east side access to light rail.  It’s time eastside commuters recognize it’s no big loss. They need to insist ST use their tax moneys to divide the I-90 center roadway into inbound and outbound bus only lanes and add thousands of parking spaces at existing P&R lots and adding new ones where needed.  Allowing commuters to leave their cars near where they live is the only way to reduce the area’s congestion.  

Instead, if allowed to continue, ST will spend $3.6B on East Link so that 5000 commuters, the vast majority of whom will be Seattleites, can ride light rail across I-90 Bridge each morning and afternoon.  This blog's goal is to stop them.

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