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, October 20, 2016

Stopping ST3 is Not Enough

I was more than a “little surprised” with the Oct 20th Seattle Times editorial “Reject Sound Transit 3”.  Their front-page Oct 13th article “The Truth Needle” extolling the veracity of Sound Transit claims seemed a sure prelude to their ultimate decision to support approval.  Instead the recent decision likely ends any chance for ST3.  

The Time’s concern about household costs, limited benefits, and permanent tax authority are well founded, but hardly new.  An April 3rd Times editorial “Questions on Transit Need Clear Answers” raised those concerns six months ago.   This despite the fact in 2015 they’d 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.

The editorial’s claim “Sound Transit already has funding to build a bus-and-rail network that will handle most of the region’s transit demand though 2040” may be “overly optimistic”.   First it makes one wonder why they advocated for passing the enabling legislation in 2015.  Second, it assumes Sound Transit 2 “wlll handle most of the region’s transit demand through 2040”.    

It’s not clear what “transit demand” will be in 2040.  What is clear is neither the Times nor Sound Transit appear to recognize a light rail system routed through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) won’t have the capacity to accommodate the number of riders needed to significantly reduce even the current congestion.  That the Times is concurring with “Sound Transit 2 projects now underway extending light rail from Seattle to Lynnwood and Federal Way, and between Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond” that will not significantly reduce I-5 or I-90 congestion

The Sound Transit 2 projects not only lack the capacity, they don’t include the added parking with bus connections to light rail stations to access even their limited capacity.  Without the parking many if not most of light rail riders will be those transferring from buses.  Moving riders from buses to light rail does little to reduce congestion.  With the parking, they could route the buses directly to their destinations rather than light rail stations: avoiding spending the billions on light rail tracks.

Only Sound Transit can confirm the Time’s claim they already have the funds needed for completing the ST2 extensions.  Whether the can or not, both need to recognize that doing so will do little to reduce congestion.  The only way to do that is to spend the hundreds of millions needed to add 15-20,000 new parking spaces each year with BRT connections to Seattle and Eastside for as long as it takes.  And they could provide more than sufficient funds without ST3 by abandoning East Link and terminating Central Link at the UW station and Angle Lake. 

"Abandoning" East Link also negates the need to close the South Bellevue P&R later this year and I-90 Bridge center roadway next year.  Those living or commuting along the route into Bellevue won't have to endure the years of disruption from light rail construction and the quiet solitude of the Mercer Slough Park will continue to be a treasure for many. (The fact that, at least as of earlier this year, Sound Transit still hadn't finalized the I-90 Bridge design "could" be an extra incentive to do so)

Clearly "Stopping ST3 is not enough!"

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