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, September 1, 2016

East Link's Final "Surprise"

One would have thought that Sound Transit’s East Link light rail extension, which will result in closing the South Bellevue P&R later this year making it far more difficult to use P&R lots to access transit and next year close the I-90 Bridge center roadway inevitably leading to 6 years of frequent gridlock on I-90 Bridge outer roadways, would be a boon for cross-lake commuters when it began operation in 2023.  If they did, they’d be wrong. 

East Link, which was sold to voters in 2008 as the equivalent of 10 lanes of freeway, will provide at most one 4-car train every 8 minutes.  Its operating schedule should be no “surprise” since the narrative on the video depicting East Link operation on the extension website describes its operation as being “one 3 or 4 car train every 8 to 10 minutes”.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of commuters (and voters this fall) will be "surprised" by East Link's limited operation.  

The other “surprise” is those who are  aware of the schedule, the Sound Transit Board and their supporters in the media and elsewhere apparently don’t “recognize” no matter how many riders they cram into each 74-seat car, capacity will be a fraction of what was promised.  Not only will it not (as was promised in the 2008 DEIS) “increase person-moving capacity across Lake Washington on I-90 by up to 60%” it will have less than half the capacity needed to accommodate current peak transit ridership. 

The vast majority of I-90 corridor commuters’ only access to even this limited capacity will be the South Bellevue P&R station.  Many will be “surprised” to learn East Link operation will do nothing to ease the congestion they frequently encounter every morning, beginning near Issaquah through Eastgate to I-405, and is even worse during their return commute in the afternoon.

Sound Transit had earlier proposed their “integrated transit system” (ITS)  which terminated all the cross-lake buses at the two stations. (Initially 40,000 of Sound Transit’s projected 50,000 East Link riders were from the terminated bus routes.)  Mercer Island official objections ended that option at their station.  The East Link video indicates some bus routes will be terminated at South Bellevue though it's unclear how many.  Whatever bus routes they terminate there rather than continue into Seattle will have a miniscule if any affect on bridge outer roadway vehicle congestion.

Those forced to transfer will likely be less than "enthused" with the resulting hassle every morning and afternoon.  Particularly in view of the fact that, at least during the peak morning commute, East Link’s limited capacity will likely result in full trains before they even get to the South Bellevue station.  The probability those forced to transfer will have to pay a second fare makes if even less attractive.

The bottom line is that the South Bellevue P&R closure later this year (and after the ST3 vote) is just the beginning of Sound Transit’s East Link “surprises”.   They exemplify Sound Transit’s entire approach to dealing with the area’s congestion that “the less people know the better their chances of ST3 approval this fall”.   It’s unfortunate that, at least to date, the Seattle Times seems a willing accomplice.

No comments:

Post a Comment