The previous post detailed how Sound Transit had made a “big blunder” when they chose to route their “Prop 1 and beyond” light rail extensions through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) rather than a second tunnel. That, as a result, spending billions extending Central Link beyond the UW that will do nothing to increase transit capacity along I-5 into Seattle. The only way to reduce I-5 congestion is to add thousands of parking spaces with bus capacity into Seattle.
This post details how Sound Transit compounded the problem by choosing to route half the DSTT capacity across I-90 Bridge rather than to West Seattle. West Link could have added transit capacity that would have been readily accessible to thousands of commuters without the need to add thousands of parking stalls. East Link confiscates the I-90 Bridge center roadway, forever limiting its capacity to half the DSTT capacity. (4440 riders per hour per PSRC). Its construction and operation will also be far more onerous for eastside.
Central Link construction will have a minimal effect on those living or commuting along the route. East Link construction has already forced closure of two east side P&R lots, effectively ending access to transit for many I-90 corridor commuters. The I-90 Bridge center roadway closure has already increased congestion on bridge outer roadways. For example the 8:35 am, 7/24 travel times from Issaquah to Seattle increased from 28 min (average presumably pre-closure) to 35 min. on GP lanes.
Sound Transit chose to tunnel between UW and Northgate, minimizing disruptions along the route. Sound Transit refused to consider a tunnel along the route into Bellevue and extorted millions from Bellevue for a tunnel in downtown area. East Link construction is also already disrupting those who live or commute along Bellevue Way and 112th. It’s only going to get worse with Sound Transit ripping out hundreds of trees along part of what made Bellevue the “City in the Park” for an elevated roadway. Sound Transit made a mockery of environmental laws telling the FHWA and FTA East Link would have no impact on Mercer Slough despite agreeing to spend millions protecting properties hundreds of feet away from light rail noise. East Link will end the quiet solitude of the Mercer Slough Park.
Clearly east side residents will be more adversely affected during East Link construction than those along the Central Link extensions. The above increased travel times indicate Sound Transit also “blundered “when it ignored the September 2004 FHWA Record of Decision “I-90 Two-way Transit and HOV Operations Project”. The ROD stipulated the two center roadway lanes be maintained for vehicle use with the lanes added to outer roadways (R-8A). Any increased cross-lake commuting during construction will add to those delays.
However the most onerous comparison between the Central Link extensions to Everett and East Link is that Sound Transit chose to route it along side I-5 adding 8880-rph-transit capacity to those living north of the city. East Link confiscates the I-90 Bridge center roadway effectively limiting its transit capacity to 4440 rph; a fraction of what’s needed for current cross-late transit and an even smaller fraction of future needs. Yet Sound Transit’s 2008 DEIS claimed East Link was needed to accommodate their projected 60% transit increase by 2030.
The limited capacity means the vast majority of I-90 corridor commuters will never be able to access light rail. The longer travel times with I-90 center roadway closure are only going to lengthen with future growth. The $3.6B spent on East Link means the years of congestion that frequently began at Issaquah will extend across I-90 Bridge, with inevitable gridlock on outer roadways.
All for a light rail system with the capacity for about 50 cross-lake buses an hour. My candidacy is an attempt to make more people aware that East Link is beyond mere stupidity.