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.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The "Beginning of the End" of ST3

The Seattle Times 4/03/16 editorial “Questions on Transit Need Clear Answers” marks the “beginning of the end” of Sound Transit’s ST3 funding proposal.   The Time’s decision to finally question Sound Transit Chairman Dow Constantine’s veracity, the “wisdom” of committing to spend $50 billion over the next 25 years on light rail extensions, along with including the anticipated $2800 annual cost per household is truly a watershed event.

I used the adverb “finally” since the Times, until recently, was actively supporting Sound Transit light rail extension efforts.   They were the ones who last year urged the legislature allow Sound Transit ask voters to approve an additional billion dollars a year in taxes and fees for the next 15 years.  They apparently agreed with Dow Constantine’s fanciful “vision” for ST3 when the legislation was approved. 

“What we can do is create light rail to take you where you want to go, when you want to go, on time, every time, for work, for play, for school”    

Last October they co-sponsored a “Livewire Event” with Sound Transit dealing with the areas transportation problems that essentially substantiated  ST3 plans.  In December they heralded Sound Transits plans for a second tunnel and separate light rail extension to Everett as part of ST3.   As recently as a March 29th article about Dow Constantine’s “State of the County” presentation extolling the benefits of ST3, the Times uncritically reported the only “push back” was for “more light rail, sooner”.    

The Times transformation from “Cheerleader to Critic” even at this late date should be welcomed by all.   (I‘ll leave it to others to decide whether any of the many posts I referred them to on this blog critical of ST3 had any influence.)   It may even convince the Sound Transit Board to concede the likely failure of ST3 this fall and “reconsider” their options not only for ST3 but Prop 1 extensions as well.      

The Times editorial, while accurately critiquing ST3 “problems”, does little to propose "solutions" for Sound Transit to consider.  For example they could “expand” on the editorial comment “I-5 is already heavily used by buses” by suggesting Sound Transit “options” include bus rapid transit (BRT) in combination with added P&R capacity as a way of dramatically increasing transit capacity into the city without spending billions on light rail.  

Another “option” would be to devote a fraction of the $2 billion Sound Transit will spend extending light rail to Northgate adding a T/C at the UW light rail station that could serve as an interface between BRT and light rail for thousands of SR-520 transit commuters from both sides of the lake.  

The BRT “option” on the I-90 Bridge center roadway, again in combination with added P&R capacity, could provide far more transit capacity than light rail.   (It would also end the absurdity of Sound Transit closing the center roadway next year for East Link without ever demonstrating the outer roadway could accommodate all the cross-lake vehicles.)  

Sound Transit could begin adding parking and BRT service next year with a fraction of the funds they would spend closing down the center roadway and spending six years on East Link.  Any remaining East Link funds would be far better spent on a West Link to West Seattle.

The Times may not be there yet, but their editorial is a welcome “start”.

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