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.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

East Link Surprises

The Martha Lane letter in the Aug 12th Bellevue Reporter, “Concerned about park and ride lot closure” reflects another example of the total failure of the Bellevue City Council to effectively address the problems with Sound Transit’s East Link.  The following excerpt from the 2/13/15 post on this blog describes the problem with the closure, initially scheduled for March of this year:

The P&R has nominally 519 spaces but commuters use parking around the periphery for an additional 200 spaces, all of which are full by 7:30 AM.  During the peak commute an ST550 bus stops to pick up riders every 5 minutes.  The P&R also provides access to ST555, ST556 and ST560.  It, along with the East Gate P&R provide the major access to transit for I-90 corridor commuters; the ST550 route having more riders than any other ST route.

The 4/19/15 post described how the council supposedly dealt with the closure issue with the ST/BCC East Link MOU they announced via a 4/17/15 email.  Section 23.0 PERMITTING, PROJECT CERTAINTY, AND MITIGATION where paragraph 23.4 "South Bellevue Park-and-Ride Closure" in the MOU included the following:

At least 60 days prior to the closure Sound Transit will identify and implement alternate parking and transit access for the commuters who utilize the existing park and ride in consultation with the Transportation Department Director and King County Metro.

That post opined that anyone who viewed the Feb 9th 2015 Sound Transit presentation to the Bellevue City Council for accommodating those who used the South Bellevue P&R would have concluded they don’t have a clue as to how to do so.  More than two months later they still hadn’t responded to the council’s request for “clarification”.  

I later received an email from the deputy city manager that Sound Transit was to update their response in September of 2015.   Yet nothing in the council’s agendas for that period and beyond dealt with the issue.   The 10/13/15 post, “The East Link Debacle Begins” presented to the council during their Oct 12th communication period included the following:

Next March Sound Transit will close the South Bellevue P&R.  You could have made permit approval contingent on ST providing their long-promised plan for accommodating the thousands of transit riders who use it daily.  Yet they still haven’t provided one and likely never will.  The end result will be thousands of would-be transit riders finding the remaining P&R’s full well before they get there leaving them little choice between driving into Seattle or attempting to find other means to access buses.     

I followed that up telling the council the following at their Nov 23rd meeting:

…that next March their closure of the South Bellevue P&R will make it impossible for many commuters to use P&R lots for access to transit. 

Even Sound Transit, apparently “recognizing” the devastating effect of the closure on transit commuters, delayed it from March until after the ST3 vote this fall.  However the council still apparently "unaware" of closure concerns reaffirmed their East Link support by participating in the April 22nd “groundbreaking” ceremony and responded favorably to the ST3 proposal.

Until the Lane letter I had no idea Sound Transit had even attempted to satisfy the MOU as none of the council’s agendas had included the closure issue.  The fact the council apparently agreed that Crossroads and Renton are adequate replacements for closing South Bellevue indicates they still don’t understand the problem.  Thus it's unlikely any letters to either the council or Sound Transit will make the slightest difference regarding the closure.  

The only way to potentially stop the closure is to convince the city council to publicly oppose ST3.  Those are the letters that could make a difference.  While the closure issue alone is  surely adequate reason, there are several more "surprises" awaiting east side commuters and others if ST3 provides the funding East Link needs  to proceed.  More on those later.

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