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.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Eyman Response to Attorney General Ferguson

I emailed Tim Eyman the following in response to the Seattle Times 4/1/17 front page article announcing Attorney General Ferguson’s intent to sue for alleged misuse of campaign funds.   I decided to post it since he may have other ways of responding.

Eyman Response to Attorney General Ferguson

Tim Eyman should respond to Attorney General Ferguson by filing a class-action suit against him because of the failure of his office to require Sound Transit comply with the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) regarding its planning for both the Prop 1 and ST3 “beyond Prop 1” light rail extensions.  That as a result, the area’s residents will be forced to pay billions for light extensions that the Seattle Times in a Nov 4th front-page article concluded  "would not reduce congestion".

I attempted to attract the Attorney General’s attention to these concerns by emailing the following letter as a General Consumer Complaint.  (Doing so avoided 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.  An option that should have been considered as a 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

I received the following response:

Dear William James Hirt:

Thank you for contacting the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office. Your complaint has been reviewed and it was determined that the issues presented are under the regulatory authority of another agency. Your complaint has been closed accordingly.

We referred your complaint to the following agency. Please contact the identified agency directly with questions about the status of your complaint.  

Sound Transit Board of Directors
c/o Board Administrator
401 Jackson S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 398-5000

Sound Transit responded with the following: (The italics are mine)

Dear Mr. Hirt,

Sound Transit is in receipt of a complaint you filed with the Attorney General’s office asserting that Sound Transit failed to comply with RCW 81.104.100 in the development of options for the 1-90 Project.

As you noted in your complaint, Chapter 81.104 RCW requires development of a high capacity transportation system plan, and RCW 81.104.100 specifically sets forth the requirements that must be included in that system-wide plan. Sound Transit developed draft and final system plans that complied with these requirements and included extensive public outreach from 2005 to 2008. Draft and final supplemental environmental impact statements (EIS) on the updated system-wide plan were prepared in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The decision to implement East Link light rail was made as part of Sound Transit 2 (ST2), the system plan that was adopted by the Sound Transit Board and authorized by voters in Sound Transit’s taxing district in 2008.

Project level reviews are not subject to the requirements in RCW 81.104.100. As noted in your complaint, the project level review of the East Link project did include a no-build option. Your presumption that this was due to the requirement in RCW 81.104.100(2)(b) is not correct. As indicated above, this statutory requirement applies to system-wide plans, not project level reviews.

HOV lanes on 1-90 were evaluated as part of the 1-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV project (also known as R8A]. This project is not a part of the East Link project. Draft and final EISs were prepared for the project in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Your assertion that Sound Transit’s failure to consider bus rapid transit (BRT) use of the center roadway failed to meet the statutory requirement outlined in 81.104.100(2](b) is misplaced. As noted above, the cited statute does not apply to project level reviews. In addition, the project did evaluate conversion of the center roadway to two-way bus and operation, among other alternatives. The project to build chosen by the Sound Transit Board for the project includes lanes on the outer roadways of and the work to add those lanes will be completed this year.  

Amy Joe Pearsall
Senior Legal Counsel 

When I asked the Attorney General’s Office if they concurred with the Sound Transit position on RCW compliance I received the following:

Dear Mr. Hirt:

Thank you for your recent e-mail to the office of the Attorney General regarding Sound Transit RCW compliance.

As stated in my prior correspondence to you on March 5, 2009, March 17, 2009, September 26, 2011 and December 26 2014, regarding Sound Transit, our office does not advise or represent regional transit authorities, nor does our office have the role of supervising or correcting the activities of such authorities.  Furthermore, I previously pointed out that we are not in a position to provide legal advice or representation to private citizens.  The authority of our office may be found in RCW 43.10.030 and RCW 43.10.040.

BRYCE E. Brown
Senior Assistant Attorney General

The earlier letters were Attorney Brown’s response to my concerns Sound Transit had “deceived” voters with claims in their 2008 DEIS that East Link was the “equivalent of up to 10 lanes of freeway” across I-90 Bridge. That WSDOT lawyers had “misled” a federal judge, citing a 2004 FHWA ROD as justifying the claim the R-8A configuration allowed center roadway be used for light rail despite the fact the ROD required maintaining center roadway lanes for vehicles. 

That Sound Transit had made a mockery of environmental laws when they told the FTA and FHWA that light rail noise would have no impact on Mercer Slough park while committing to spend millions shielding properties hundreds of feet away and across a major roadway.

Regarding the recent inquiry, I never asked for any legal advice or representation.  Brown’s response raises the question as to who is responsible for “supervising or correcting the activities of such authorities” when it comes to complying with the Revised Code of Washington.

Sound Transit’s failure to comply with the RCW requirement to consider low cost options in their planning for the “Prop 1 and beyond” light rail extensions has already resulted in billions spent on light rail extensions “that will not reduce congestion”.   Money that could have been spent adding parking with access to BRT routes along limited access lanes to where commuters wished to go could have attracted thousands of additional transit riders, reducing the area’s congestion. 

Those funds pale in comparison to the $54 billion Sound Transit will spend over the next 25 years on a fatally flawed light rail system.  The fact that Attorney General Ferguson’s office is suing Tim Eyman for allegedly misusing campaign funds while ignoring the billions Sound Transit RCW violations allow them to spend needs more “publicity”.  An Eyman counter-suit could do just that.

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