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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sound Transit South Bellevue P&R SNAFU

The Sound Transit Apr 18, 2017 News Release “South Bellevue park-and-ride to close May 30” is just another example of their failure to live up to “promises made”. 

Two years ago, 4/17/15, Sound Transit and Bellevue City Council sent out an email notification announcing access to their joint East Link MOU.  It included Section 23.0 PERMITTING, PROJECT CERTAINTY, AND MITIGATION where paragraph 23.4 South Bellevue Park-and-Ride Closure, included the following:

At least 60 days prior to the closure Sound Transit will identify and implement alternate parking and transit access for the commuters who utilize the existing park and ride in consultation with the Transportation Department Director and King County Metro.

Anyone who viewed the earlier Feb 9th Sound Transit presentation to the Bellevue City Council for accommodating those who used the South Bellevue P&R would have concluded they didn’t have a clue as to how to accommodate them.  The council’s request for “clarification” presumably led to the formal MOU.

Updates for P&R replacement strategy were scheduled for later in the year and closure was scheduled for March 2016.  The updates never happened but the closure was delayed until this year.  I’ll leave it to others to decide whether they did so over concern the resulting lack of access to transit might “detract” from ST3 support.   

Rather than complying with MOU Sound Transit put out the following in an April 18th News Release. 

Commuters are encouraged to explore other options before East Link light rail construction begins at the site.  The South Bellevue Park-and-Ride lot will close on Tuesday, May 30 as part of construction of the East Link Light Rail extension from Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond. Drivers who park at the facility will need to identify other parking or commute options while it is closed for construction.  Sound Transit asks affected riders for their patience and understanding as crews work to significantly improve transit service in East King County. Information about other park-and-ride locations and commute options is available at www.soundtransit.org/eastlink. Drivers are encouraged to begin using alternate parking or commute options as early as possible.

The basic message is "you’ve been warned and you're on your own".  Even more absurd is the "promise” it (East Link) will significantly improve transit service in East King County”.  It will do absolutely nothing to improve transit service or relieve the congestion along the I-90 corridor between Issaquah and I-405.  Current transit riders will likely be forced to transfer to light rail at either the South Bellevue P&R or Mercer Island stations.  Their transfer will involve waiting to find space on overcrowded trains due to East Link’s limited one 4-car-train-every-8-minute operating schedule.  Those attempting to transfer during peak commute will have a particularly difficult time. Hardly an improvement!

My view of the website found little advice on parking alternatives.    Meanwhile the Bellevue City Council continues in their steadfast support for Sound Transit.  Their only response to the problem I’m aware of are plans to make it illegal to park on nearby streets in hopes of using the new bus stop on the west side of Bellevue Way for transit access. 

The P&R replacement “promises made” failure is just one of many.  Three days later on Jun 2 Sound Transit intends to permanently close the bridge center roadway.  The 2008 DEIS “promised travel times across I-90 for vehicles and trucks would also improve or remain similar with East Link".  Yet they refuse to delay permanent center roadway closure until they demonstrate outer roadway capacity.  The inevitable result will be gridlock with future growth if not with current traffic.

They made a mockery out of environmental laws “promising” the FHWA and FTA East Link noise would have a de minimus impact on Mercer Slough Park while conceding the need to spend millions shielding properties 100’s of feet away from this “non-existent” noise.  When East Link does begin operation its schedule belies the DEIS “promise” to provide the equivalent of up to 10 lanes of freeway across I-90.  The vast majority of cross-lake commuters will never be able to use it. 

Surely the South Bellevue P&R replacement strategy is just one example of Sound Transit’s response to "promises made" and an approach to transit that can only be described as “Situation normal all f****ed up”.

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