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, December 11, 2015

Ending I-405 HOT Debacle

I doubt if many I-405 commuters were “surprised” by the 12/09/15 Times B1 page article “I-405 tolls cost more than first forecast”.    It’s clear the WSDOT I-405 Lynnwood to Bellevue HOV/HOT lanes are more about increasing revenue than reducing congestion.  Why else would they deliberately increase congestion on the regular lanes by making it more difficult to carpool with their +3HOV requirement during peak commute.  Obviously, the worse the congestion the more the incentive to pay; and the more of those willing to pay, the more they’re forced to pay. 

The WSDOT official was almost gleeful about the revenue with comments “I think we’re surprised to see that people are willing to pay $8 or $9 for a reliable trip” and “This really proves how valuable people’s time is”. They seem to feel they have no obligation to provide a “reliable trip” without the tolls and a total lack of concern for those unable to pay them.  Their only response to the “higher than anticipated tolls”; increasing them earlier to avoid ”sudden price spikes”.   

The implication that tolls may be reduced after “the six months for traffic to settle into a pattern” seems rather “optimistic”.  The fact that WSDOT spent $484 million initiating the HOT lanes anticipating a $1.2 million profit the first year from tolls says a lot about both their financial “acumen” and the failure of Rep. Clibborn’s House Transportation Committee oversight.   

At this point the only way to ease the problem is to eliminate not only the tolls but the HOV lanes as well.  Letting everyone have equal access to all the I-405 and SR167 lanes was one of the Mobility 21 study recommendations.   Normally, HOV lanes can be justified by making public transit more attractive.  Yet Sound Transit’s version of public transit from Everett and Lynnwood, ST532 and ST535, is limited to 15 buses during the 3-hour morning commute. 

ST could probably fill ten times that number if they chose to provide additional P&R lots in the Everett/Lynnwood area and bus routes connecting them to Bellevue and Overlake T/Cs.  They should be "persuaded" to do do.  Once they begin the added service the HOV lanes can be reinstated to facilitate bus commute times.   

As bus traffic increases, it may be necessary to implement +3 HOV requirement on HOV lanes to minimize transit commute times.  The fact that additional thousands will have the option of using public transit makes it far less likely and onerous.  In any case tolls should be a thing of the past and everyone will benefit from their demise.  

Unfortunately that's not likely until the WSDOT and Sound Transit "recognize" the only way to ease the entire area's congestion is to add thousands of parking spaces "near where people live" and bus routes to "near where they want to go".  Again, they need to be "persuaded".

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