I was surprised a recent Seattle Times editorial page included a letter asking why Sound Transit had not considered BRT on I-90 Bridge; apparently in response to the $225 million increase in bridge construction costs. It’s something I urged them to ask via emails eight years ago when the Sound Transit 2008 DEIS neglected to consider inbound and outbound BRT as the no-build option. Later I referred them to more than 50 posts on this blog dealing with the issue. All were ignored.
Sound Transit’s legal arguments against BRT on I-90 are “interesting”. I’d always assumed the DEIS included a study maintaining the center roadway with both lanes in the “peak commute” direction was their “low cost” option required by RCW 81.104.100. It 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.
When recently queried about the issue Sound Transit responded claiming they developed draft and final system plans that complied with these requirements. However, they also claimed my presumption the DEIS “no-build” option was due to the requirement in RCW 81.104.100(2)(b) was not correct claiming East Link planning was a “Project level review” and not subject to RCW requirements.
Clearly any rational planning would have concluded BRT on I-90 Bridge center roadway would have 10 times East Link light rail capacity, 10 years sooner, at I/10 the cost. Fifteen years ago Sound Transit could have added 4th lanes to the bridge outer roadways for non-transit HOV and used light rail funds to add thousands of parking stalls on the east side providing access to BRT routes to Seattle and Bellevue.
We now know Sound Transit’s legal justification for never considering BRT. Their failure to do so with added parking to attract more transit riders has already forced eastside commuters to endure years of congestion. East Link confiscation of the bridge center roadway will only make it worse. It’s way past time for the Seattle Times to show concern.