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, April 28, 2016

How BCC Should Respond to ST3

I doubt if many of those who watched the April 25th Bellevue City Council meeting on TV or later viewed the video were favorably impressed by the council’s approach to their April 29th response to ST3 proposal.  What was billed as the council’s approval of their transportation staff’s “final” draft response was anything but an “approval”.  

The draft was supposedly the result of several months of consultations with the staff and Sound Transit to update their January ST3 response. Yet every councilmember had some objections.  For example one suggestion was to ask Sound Transit to come out with an interim “ST2.5 proposal” rather than ST3.  How’s that for a last minute change?

Others expressed concern over the lack of sub-area equity, transparency, cost, or whether Issaquah-to-Bellevue should be light rail or BRT.  They all seemed enthused by BRT without recognizing the lack of ST3 funding for the thousands of additional parking spaces needed to make it effective. 

Both the draft and all of the council’s comments ignored the concerns in my earlier presentation about the ST3 failure to accommodate cross-lake commuters or reduce I-90 Eastgate congestion.   It makes one wonder whether anyone on the transportation staff or council had every experienced either.

I’m curious as to how the transportation staff will respond to all the council ST3 “suggestions”.   Presumably they’ll submit the "final" version to the Bellevue Reporter for publication telling residents what they’ve asked for in exchange for the hundreds if not thousands they’ll be forced to pay each year for the next 25 years if ST3 passes.

My response from the council would have been as follows;

The Bellevue City Council believes the current Sound Transit ST3 proposal fails to address the congestion commuters from throughout the east side face during their daily commutes both into and out of Seattle, and into and out of Bellevue.  ST3 funding perpetuates an ST2 Prop 1 East Link light rail system whose capacity will be limited to one 4-car train every 8 minutes or about 4500 riders per hour. 

Thus ST3 does nothing to provide the capacity needed for current peak cross-lake transit demand let alone any future growth.  The only way to do so is to initiate BRT on both the I-90 and ST520 Bridges.  BRT on the I-90 Bridge would use the two center roadway lanes for inbound and outbound buses only.  BRT on SR520 would use the HOV lanes with +3 riders required during peak commuter hours.

I-90 BRT would avoid the likely gridlock on the outer roadways resulting from closing the center roadway, the disruption to those living near or commuting on 112th Ave from light rail construction, the impact on downtown Bellevue from the need to tunnel under the city, and the loss of transit access from the closure of the South Bellevue P&R.  

SR520 BRT to a T/C at the University Link light rail station near the stadium would provide thousands of cross-lake commuters from both sides of the lake with a combined BRT/Light rail commute.  The University Link has twice East Link's  capacity and BRT riders could avoid paying bridge tolls and downtown parking fees.  Both could begin operation in 2017 yet ST3 precludes I-90 BRT and ignores BRT on SR520.

Light rail funds should be used to add thousands of parking spaces to existing and new P&R facilities with direct BRT routes either into Seattle or Bellevue and Overlake T/Cs.  Thousands of eastside commuters would be able to leave their cars near where they live rather than where they work easing congestion throughout the area.  Since all of this could be easily done with existing Prop 1 funds the council recommends eastside voters reject ST3. 

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