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, November 7, 2016

Seattle Times Concedes “ST3 Won’t Reduce Congestion”

The Seattle Times seems to be of two minds when it comes to Sound Transit’s light rail program.  For example, the Oct 28th editorial “No on ST3 and Permanent Tax Authority” recommended rejection because “Prop 1 would give Sound Transit permanent tax authority”.    The editorial opined “If voters reject ST3, Sound Transit should return with a measure specifying which taxes would be terminated and when”. 

The Times Nov 1 edition headline, “Parking finds its place in Sound Transit vote” heralded the Sound Transit decision to add 8560 park and ride stalls between 2024 and 2041.   All the other approximately 20,000 park and ride stalls with access to either I-5 or I-90 are essentially already “in use”.  It’s “doubtful” spending $698 million on 8560 stalls between 2024 and 2040 will provide the access needed for many of the 700,000 daily riders Sound Transit is "anticipating" in 2040.   

The Times Nov 3rd edition headline, “Primed for major growth: Lynnwood and light rail” explained how Lynnwood “will play a very large role in the success of expanded light rail".   It quotes city officials who “count on four-fifths of train riders to take a bus, walk or bike to the station”.  Another quote “Community Transit will quit driving express buses into Seattle and focus on bus-to-train service in Snohomish County.

No one seems to recognize the way to reduce congestion is to increase the number of transit riders, not move those currently riding buses to trains.   They only attempt to attract more riders by increasing the “chronically full” Lynnwood T/C from 1,368 spaces to 1,900 spaces”.   Not much considering the billions spent extending light rail to the area.   

Thus, it’s “doubtful” the Lynnwood extension “will play a very large roll in the success of expanded light rail”.  (At least in terms of reducing congestion.) Spending an additional $5.8 billion extending light rail to Everett with no plans to add the thousands of parking spaces needed to attract additional transit riders does nothing to change that result.

After essentially promoting the light rail extensions, the Times Nov 4th edition front-page article asks “Would transit plan ease traffic?”   The answer to the more specific question “Would ST3 reduce congestion?” was “It would not”.  The best they could say was the plan “offers an escape from traffic misery for people who can reach the stations on foot, on a feeder bus, or via park-and-ride”. 

Even “leading proponents don’t promise that traffic will improve”.   More quotes “We’re building additional capacity to give people options to get out of traffic” and “The yearning to escape gridlock might push demand higher, and light rail capacity seems up to the task”.  

First of all those wanting an “escape from traffic misery” need access to parking either at stations or a P&R facilities with bus connections to stations.  Yet all the P&R’s are already essentially “in use” and Sound Transit plans to add 8560 by 2040 are a tiny fraction of what’s needed.   

Even if they did add the needed parking, light rail routed through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) will never have the capacity needed to give enough "people the option to get out of traffic” to reduce congestion for those unable to do so.  While “the yearning to escape gridlock might push demand higher”, light rail routed through the DSTT will never be “up to the task”

In conclusion, the Times recent assessment ST3 will not reduce congestion “suggests” they recognize the futility of spending $54 billion and 25 years attempting to do so.  However, stopping ST3 is not enough. 

The problem with congestion in our area is only 10% of commuters on the area's major roadways use transit.  The only way to significantly increase that number is to spend billions adding parking spaces throughout the area and provide those who park there with sufficient transit capacity to take them where they want to go.  None of the extensions beyond the UW stadium station, the Tukwila T/C, or across I-90 Bridge include sufficient added parking or have the capacity to accommodate more than a fraction of the commuters needed to do so.

Again, "Stopping ST3 is not enough!"

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