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, July 1, 2017

Bellevue City Council’s Eastside Betrayal,

(I wrote the following in response to the Bellevue City Council’s latest newsletter warning residents about East Link .  It was way too long to present during the 3 minute public comments they allow at meetings.) 

Earlier this week I once again drove along 112th Ave on my way from the Bellevue Golf Course driving range to Chase’s Pancake House for their potato pancakes.   While it was clear preparations were underway the tree-lined avenue still had a pleasant ambience.   That’s all about to change thanks to the Bellevue City Council.  Nearly all of the several hundred trees on the east side will be ripped out and an elevated roadway constructed to accommodate light rail tracks and high voltage power lines.  It didn’t have to happen. 

More than 8 years ago I told the city council the Sound Transit East Link DEIS was sheer fantasy.  That claims East Link was the equivalent of 10 lanes of freeway ignored the reality of Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnels limitations on capacity. That the council should make approval of the 10 permits in the DEIS needed for construction contingent on Sound Transit considering two-way BRT on the I-90 Bridge center roadway.  Even a cursory study would have concluded BRT would have 10 times light rail capacity, 10 years sooner, at 1/10th the cost, effectively ending East Link.  (They could have funded the study themselves for less than what they spent on a totally futile attempt to reroute light rail into the city.)

Instead the council rewrote the city’s land use code allowing the devastation along the current route. They approved a shoreline permit allowing Sound Transit make a mockery of environmental regulations, claiming light rail noise would have no impact on Mercer Slough while demanding they spend millions shielding properties hundreds of feet away; inevitably ending the quiet solitude of the park.  They even allowed Sound Transit ignore the Revised Code of Washington requiring any high capacity transit planning consider lower cost options.

They acquiesced to Sound Transit delays in adding 4th lanes to the outer roadways that would have reduced congestion from commuters from both sides of the lake.   Recently the council allowed Sound Transit ignore their MOU concerning replacing the South Bellevue P&R; effectively ending access to transit at P&Rs for many east side commuters.    Sound Transit’s confiscation of the bridge center roadway will increase outer roadway congestion, inevitably leading to gridlock with the projected doubling of cross lake commuters they used to justify East Link.       

The council ignored Sound Transit’s own website that limited East Link to one three or four car train every 8-10 minutes; at best, one 4-car train every 8 minutes, or 30 74-seat light rail cars an hour.  They could have easily added the same capacity with fewer than 50 buses without spending a dime on light rail tracks, disrupting cross-lake commuters, and devastating the route into Bellevue. 

Instead last year the April 29th Bellevue Reporter front-page article featured the council heralding the East Link light rail extension “breaking ground” as a “cause for celebration”.  When East Link finally begins operation, Sound Transit intends to use it to replace cross-lake buses.  (Apparently like Sound Transit, the council doesn’t recognize the outer roadway congestion is not due to too many buses.)  

During peak commute, East Link will only have capacity to accommodate riders from about 50 buses an hour; that’s less than the current peak frequency.  Those on buses continuing into Seattle will be the lucky ones, avoiding the hassle of transferring to and from East Link at South Bellevue or Mercer Island.  Especially since those forced to transfer will frequently find trains full when they arrive at the two stations. 

The bottom line is many commuters have already lost access to transit from Sound Transit closing South Bellevue P&R.  Light rail construction will soon begin disrupting those living or commuting along the route into Bellevue.  Light rail confiscation of the bridge center roadway will inevitably lead to gridlock on outer roadways.  When East Link begins operation the vast majority of I-90 corridor commuters won’t even have access.   East Link will do nothing to reduce the congestion they’ve endured for years between Issaquah and I-405.  Reducing congestion with light rail along the route is another Sound Transit fantasy.

It will all happen “courtesy” of the Bellevue City Council.

1 comment:

  1. Just accept the fact most retirees like yourself want to keep Bellevue as an exclusive enclave for rich White families, just like they found it back in the good ole days of mid 20th century America. White flight into suburban areas created hostile and xenophobic communities where its citizens do not want their tax dollars paying for services for non-Whites who foul up their lily white suburban playgrounds. The whole argument against East Link construction is no more than dog-whistle speech about continued urban sprawl threatening to encroach upon Eastside city limits. Code words such as I-90 corridor commuters imply well to do privileged Whites (and Asians); light rail confiscation of right of way implies county government employing imminent domain, further stoking fears of encroaching city. Face reality: It's the wealthy (White and non-White) employees of Boeing, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon commuting by expensive cars to their expensive estates who clog the highways along the I-90 corridor. Only the natural flora and fauna have had their natural habitats destroyed by the encroaching human population since early settlement of the Eastside.