I presented the following to the Bellevue City Council at their 4/25/16 meeting where one of the agenda items was the council’s approval of the Bellevue transportation staff’s April 29th response to Sound Transit’s ST3 proposal. As expected they ignored it during their subsequent discussions about the staff's response. They refuse to accept the fact that East Link's one 74-seat light rail car every 2 minutes doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate current transit ridership let alone any future growth. They made a big deal about sub-area equity in spending but ignored the lack of benefits for eastside commuters, particularly cross-lake commuters.
Bellevue City Council Should Reject ST3
My name is Bill Hirt and I live at 2615 170th SE. I’m here tonight to urge the council tell Sound Transit in their April 29th ST3 response that its current proposal does not adequately address the transit needs of eastside cross-lake commuters. The vast majority of I-90 commuters won’t even be able to access the limited light rail capacity with East Link’s one 4-car train every 8-minute schedule. That bus rapid transit (BRT) is the only way to provide the needed cross-lake capacity on both the I-90 and SR520 bridges. BRT has ten times East Link capacity, at 1/10th the cost, and could begin operation in 2017, not 2023.
The way to provide access to this cross-lake capacity is to add thousands of parking spaces to existing and new eastside P&R lots. The combination of the adding parking and increased transit capacity would reduce congestion throughout the east side by allowing thousands of commuters to leave their cars near where they live rather than where they work. ST3 will do neither forcing eastside residents to continue enduring the ever-increasing congestion during their daily commutes not only into and out of Seattle, but also into and out of Bellevue. The idea they should be expected to pay hundreds if not thousands each year for a light rail line between Issaquah and Bellevue in 2041 or towards a $4.4B subway to Ballard in 2038 is absurd.
Rather than approving ST3 the council should “recommend” Sound Transit initiate two-way BRT on the I-90 Bridge center roadway in 2017. Doing so would eliminate the disruption to those living near or commuting along 112th, the tunnel excavation under Bellevue, and the closure of the South Bellevue P&R. It would also keep Sound Transit from closing bridge center roadway for light rail without ever demonstrating outer roadway could accommodate all cross lake vehicles.
SR520 BRT to a T/C at the UW light rail station could facilitate transit for thousands of commuters from both sides of the lake. Light rail funds could be used to begin adding P&R capacity and initiate BRT on both bridges next year. The council surely has an obligation to recommend Sound Transit do so rather than agreeing to an ST3 debacle that will do neither.