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.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Seattle Times back to “Cheer Leading” ST3

July 3rd marks the 3-month anniversary of an April 3rd Seattle Times editorial that prompted me to post “The beginning of the end of ST3” on this blog.  The editorial began with the following:

Expanding rail, bus transit is tantalizing, but questions must be clearly answered first.

It included the following excerpts:

Constantine exaggerated, using Sound Transit numbers to present a best-case scenario for rail while grossly undercounting freeway capacity. That may rally transit supporters, but it doesn’t help the rest of us trying to get our heads around the staggering investment the third phase of Sound Transit could require.

Public officials cannot prematurely dismiss questions about whether there are better ways for the region to spend $50 billion than the slate of trains, buses and stations in Sound Transit 3 (ST3). 

Former state Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald has estimated  ST3 would bring the overall transportation taxes and fees paid by the typical Seattle household to nearly $2,800 per year.

The point is voters need their representatives to provide clear, objective explanations of ST3’s pros and cons, not cheerleading.  Costs and benefits of rail versus buses is one of several topics that must be clarified.

The overarching question, though, is: What’s the best solution to improve mobility in a region expected to grow by 1 million people over the next 25 years?

Wading through this is a lot to ask of voters. So let’s not make it any harder by politicking.

As the April 4th post indicated I thought the editorial was an indication the Times had switched from “cheer leader” to “critic”.  There never would have been an ST3 without the Times "cheer leading" passage of a "transportation package" in the legislature last year.  That the Times as "critic" would “diminish” ST3 chances.

The editorial at least “suggested” the paper’s support was contingent on Sound Transit providing some sort of “Special to the Times” in response to the concerns.   The “Beginning of the end of ST3” post was based on the conclusion that any response from Sound Transit would never be sufficient to merit the paper’s support. 

However, it’s now been three months since the April 3rd editorial with at least no Sound Transit response in the paper.  The Times has gone back to its “cheer leader” role with their June 24th headline uncritically heralding, “Region’s voters are next stop for $54 billion light-rail plan”. 

They’ve even gone to headlines like “Home prices higher near light rail” ignoring the fact Sound Transit has spent millions “sound proofing” homes 300 feet from Central Link tracks and plans to spend millions more shielding properties across Bellevue Way and 112th Ave, hundreds of feet from East Link noise.

I leave it to others to speculate as to whether Sound Transit’s likely extensive advertising budget “influenced” the paper reverting back to "cheer leading".  Residents throughout the area will pay a heavy price for a very long time if it results in ST3 approval. 

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