I presented the following to the Bellevue City Council in an attempt to persuade them to oppose the Sound Transit’s ST3 funding proposal as a way to stop East Link (and eventually Central Link extensions). I had the feeling they thought I was some sort of Don Quixote "chasing after windmills". Hopefully readers will think differently.
Bellevue City Council Should Reject ST3
Sound Transit Executive Director, Ric Ilgenfritz opined during the Feb 8th presentation to the council that since ST3 will benefith the entire region, the entire region should pay despite where the funds were spent.
The reality is if Sound Transit were interested in “benefiting” eastside commuters there wouldn’t be a Prop 1 East Link extension, let alone an ST3 proposal. 15 years ago they could have used eastside funds to add 4th lanes to the I-90 Bridge outer roadways. Other eastside funds could have been used to divide the center roadway into inbound and outbound BRT lanes, something they are belatedly proposing for I-405. BRT capacity would have dwarfed any foreseeable transit needs.
With BRT on I-90 there would have been no East Link. Eastside funds could have been spent adding thousands of parking spaces to existing and new P&R lots to provide access to BRT. There would have been no need to devastate the route into Bellevue, disrupt the city with tunnel construction, or close the I-90 Bridge center roadway next year for light rail. Closure that will likely result in gridlock for vehicles on bridge outer roadways.
In 2023, when East Link begins operation, the vast majority of eastside commuters won’t even have access to it. It will increase not decrease cross-lake congestion. It will do absolutely nothing to ease the current I-90 congestion near Eastgate let alone accommodate future growth. No one can reasonably argue that eastside residents will “benefit” from the hundreds of millions they’ve already contributed to the $3.6 billion Sound Transit will spend on East Link. Asking them to contribute a major portion of the additional billion dollars each year for a minimum of 15 years to an ST3 proposal for light rail between Totem Lake and Issaquah is practically obscene.
In conclusion, Sound Transit claims they’ll only need $600 million of the $6 billion they’ll get from ST3 by 2023 for completing Prop 1. They could easily save far more than that by diverting East Link funds from light rail construction to I-90 BRT and adding P&R capacity. The entire area would “benefit”. The council should encourage them to do so by rejecting ST3.