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, April 9, 2017

East Link SEPA Addendum Exemplifies Sound Transit Failure

The East Link Extension April 2017, SEPA Addendum exemplifies Sound Transit’s failure to effectively deal with the public transit system on the area’s major roadways.  Their failure is particularly egregious for the east side where their East Link extension will do absolutely nothing to reduce the congestion on I-90 corridor.  Its confiscation of the I-90 Bridge center roadway for light rail service consisting of one 4-car train every 8 minutes will increase not decrease cross-lake congestion.

On a daily basis, about 160,000 vehicles travel on I-90 across Lake Washington between Seattle and Mercer Island and about 174,000 on the East Channel Bridge between Mercer Island and Bellevue. The amount of volume on the floating bridge in the westbound and eastbound directions is fairly evenly split with about 80,000 vehicles per day. About 15,000 vehicles per day use the center roadway and about 6,500 of these go to or from Mercer Island.

Currently there are approximately 63 buses on I-90 during the peak hour in the peak direction and approximately 500 buses daily on I-90.   The addendum’s baseline East Link FEIS provides approximately 48 I-90 buses during the peak hour and 350 daily buses.   With Sound Transit’s Integrated Transit Proposal (ITP) all of the buses would stop at the Mercer Island station and riders would transfer to East Link in the morning and from East Link to buses in the afternoon.  

Many of those arriving on the 63 buses during the peak commute along with Mercer Island commuters will likely have to wait since much of East Link's limited capacity will already be "in use" when it arrives at their station.  Also, returning commuters will need to wait at the station for their respective bus routes.  Not only will they face long delays in each direction they will likely not be enamored with the probability of paying a second toll. 

However, even if commuters are willing to go along with the addendum proposal it finalizes Sound Transit intentions to spend $3.6 billion that, at best, will reduce the current number of vehicles crossing I-90 daily from 160,000 to 159,500.  Sound Transit simply fails to recognize the congestion problem isn’t too many buses, it’s not enough buses.  The way to reduce congestion is to dramatically increase the number of cross-lake buses by initiating inbound and outbound BRT service on the bridge center roadway.  Every additional 100 bus routes can replace up to 10,000 vehicles crossing I-90.  That’s how you reduce I-90 bridge congestion. 

It can also reduce I-90 corridor congestion.  Light rail funds could be spent adding thousands of parking stalls at existing and new P&R facilities throughout the area.  Each P&R could have its own dedicated BRT route across I-90 to Seattle or to Bellevue T/C.   Commuters could leave their car near where they live rather than where they work reducing congestion throughout the east side.  Not only does the SEPA Addendum finalize an East Link extension that will do nothing to ease I-90 corridor congestion, it finalizes an East Link that makes public transit less attractive and has limited capacity to meet current requirements and no capacity to meet future growth. 

The entire east side will rue its result.

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