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, January 15, 2017

Light Rail Spine Violates Revised Code of Washington

(I wrote the following as a follow-up to the previous post)

Light Rail Spine Violates Revised Code of Washington
My concern about Sound Transit light rail began 8 years ago when I realized Sound Transit’s 2008 East Link Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) had “neglected” to consider two-way bus rapid transit (BRT) on the I-90 Bridge center roadway for cross-lake public transit.  Since then I’ve spent considerable time and effort attempting to persuade the area it was a monumental blunder that will increase cross-lake congestion for everyone duing light rail construction and for the vast majority of commuters unable to access East Link when it finally begins operation.

As the previous post suggests, Sound Transit’s planning for East Link also clearly violates transportation requirements in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the compilation of all permanent laws now in force.  RCW 81.104.100 details the code requirement for high capacity transit system planning.  The relevant excerpted portions of the RCW are as follows:

To assure development of an effective high capacity transportation system, local authorities shall follow the following planning process only if their system plan includes a rail fixed guideway system component or a bus rapid transit component that is planned by a regional transit authority:

 (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. 

While the RCW clearly requires the planning include evaluating a rail fixed guideway system it also requires evaluating a “do nothing, low capital option that maximizes the current system”.   Clearly the Sound Transit DEIS failed to consider “maximizing the current system” by considering two-way bus only lanes on the I-90 Bridge center roadway as an option.  If Sound Transit did comply with the RCW regarding East Link they need to provide the results.  

There’s also no evidence Sound Transit ever considered BRT on restricted access lanes as a “low capital high capacity transit option” along the I-5 corridor.  Again compliance with the RCW would “presumably” require they provide one if they have.

The bottom line is Sound Transit has, as yet, failed to comply with the RCW planning requirements for the light rail spine extensions along the I-5 and I-90 corridors.  It’s unlikely any attempts to comply will ever succeed in justifying light rail for those roadways.  Especially in view of the limitations imposed by the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.  

The irony is, their proposed ST3 light rail extensions to West Seattle and Ballard are the only ones that could comply yet they wait until 2030 and 2035 to provide them.  The failure to comply is just another reason for the Mercer Island and Bellevue City Councils to rescind the permits allowing Sound Transit to proceed.  The entire area would benefit not only from BRT on I-90 but also along I-5 corridor.

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