(This post was prompted by the Jan. 19th Seattle Times B1 page announcement Attorney General Ferguson was filing suit against a student loan company because of its deceptive practices.)
My post-ST3-approval blog posts have attracted nearly 20,000 page views. They include urging the Seattle Times recommend an outside audit of Sound Transit, urging Sound Transit use ST3 funds to expedite West Seattle and Ballard extensions, predicting the likely failure of the Issaquah Transportation Summit to effectively deal with transportation problems, urging Mercer Island City council to rescind East Link building approvals, the failure of the “Expert Review Panel” to recognize light rail problems, and why Sound Transit’s light rail spine planning violates the state’s RCW. Sound Transit’s actions, however, seemingly continue as ineffectual as ever.
This post is an attempt to attract the attention of the Washington State Attorney General’s office to these concerns by emailing the following letter as a General Consumer Complaint. (Doing so avoids the 5000-character limit imposed on “Contacts”)
Dear Attorney General Ferguson,
The Revised Code of Washington RCW 81.104.100 details the code requirement for high capacity transit system planning. RCW 81.104.00 (2) and section (b) are shown below:
(2) High capacity transportation system planning is the detailed evaluation of a range of high capacity transportation system options, including: Do nothing, low capital, and ranges of higher capital facilities. High capacity transportation system planning shall proceed as follows:
(b) Development of options. Options to be studied shall be developed to ensure an appropriate range of technologies and service policies can be evaluated. A do-nothing option and a low capital option that maximizes the current system shall be developed.
Sound Transit’s 2008 Draft Environment Impact Statement DEIS included a “no build” option for their East Link light rail proposal, presumably their response for a “Do nothing, low capital option”. It included adding 4th lanes to the I-90 Bridge outer roadways and maintaining current procedure, reversing the two center roadways for morning and afternoon commutes. They apparently never considered initiating permanent inbound and outbound bus rapid transit (BRT) only lanes on the center roadway. Doing so would have provided “low capital” cross-lake capacity far exceeding light rail.
There is also no indication Sound Transit ever considered BRT use of limited access HOV lanes along the I-5 corridor. Again, an option that should have been considered as a “do nothing, low capital” response to the RCW. Especially in view of the Seattle Downtown Transit Tunnel limitations on light rail capacity.
Surely your office has a responsibility to require Sound Transit comply with the RCW.
William J Hirt
This latest letter is the 3rd attempt to attract the Attorney General’s attention to Sound Transit’s "problematic" actions. A 9/23/13 post “WSDOT/ST Lawyers Fail to do Due Diligence” detailed problems with his support for lawyers in the State Supreme Court rejection of the Freeman light rail lawsuit. They claimed the center roadway could be used for light rail because the addition of 4th lanes (Alternative R-8A) on the outer roadways would make the center roadway unneeded for vehicles.
They supported that claim by referring to several studies, one of which was an FHWA Sept. 2004 document, "I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Operations FEIS [(Final Environmental Impact Statement)] and ROD [(Record of Decision)]”. That document, however, stipulated the two center roadways would still be needed for vehicle use on the center roadway with the added HOV lanes (R-8A) on outer roadways. Yet Sound Transit has no plans to demonstrate the FHWA was wrong by temporarily closing the bridge center roadways prior to permanently closing them this summer for light rail construction.
The 2nd attempt was a letter to the Attorney General Ferguson’s office (posted 2/21/15) concerning Sound Transit’s response to federal environmental regulations. They require light rail have a de minimis impact on the Mercer Slough Park. Sound Transit responded telling both the FHA and FTA the following:
1) Preferred Alternative B2M would not impact noise levels in the park.
2) Preferred Alternative B2M would not substantially affect park use, the park’s features, activities, and attributes, or diminish the park’s value.
Yet Sound Transit was responding to Bellevue City Council concerns about light rail noise with plans to spend millions shielding properties hundreds of feet away across a major roadway from light rail tracks. The obvious “discrepancy” didn’t keep the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) from approving Sound Transits response to environmental regulations; making a mockery of the whole environment review process and ending forever the quiet solitude of the park.
Again Attorney General Ferguson has not responded to the earlier concerns about I-90 Bridge outer roadway capacity and the impact of light rail noise on the Mercer Slough Park. It remains to be seen whether he will show as much concern about Sound Transit’s flagrant violation of RCW requirements as he does about those making student loans.