Thursday, January 22, 2009

Redmond ST Public Hearing On Eastside Link

Wednesday January 21st I attended the Sound Transit Open House in Redmond and signed up to speak during the pubic hearing portion. I was second on the dockett (a couple of people bailed). The first speaker made a strong pitch for one of the ideas I am partial to which is reversing the construction schedule and build from east to west. One point he brought out was that cost overruns typically affect the finishing of a project. Meaning overruns on the build across the lake and through Bellevue would most likely doom any possibility of the Bellevue to Redmond portion being built on schedule if at all.

Most of the comments were from condo owners on Old Redmond Road opposing the E1 and E4 options. They were generally in favor of option E2 which follows SR520 along the northern edge of Marymoor Park and then doubles back along the old BNSF right of way through downtown Redmond. This option is the least expensive proposal, provides the most connectivity and presents the least undesirable impact.

My question is how does this route compare to the ERN proposal to bypass Totem Lake and connect Bellevue to Woodinville via SR520 and the Redmond/Woodinville spur? The idea of taking the rail line all the way to the end of SR520 and then coming back through Redmond along the old rail line has a number of benefits and appears to be the most cost effective. (note, on the official ST plans there is no longer an E3 option; how stupid must that one have been ;-)

For my testimony I decided my main emphasis would be expressing my reservations about sinking billions of dollars into a bridge that by all real world experience is nearing the end of it's useful life. I also echoed the sentiment of the first speaker who lobbied for the construction of the Eastside Link from east to west rather than the proposed west to east schedule. Reversing the construction provides capacity on the eastside exactly where it is needed the most and can be done faster and for less money. I spoke with one of the ST representative during the open house portion of the meeting about this subject. It's obvious they have a bias to xtending their existing line irregardless of what benefits eastside residents the most. One argument was that it was essential to have the line connected with the maintenance facility in Seattle. Evidently the planned "maintenance" facilities on the eastside will be incapable of performing major repairs. I didn't think of it at the time but the answer that would have stopped them in their tracks is to use DMUs instead of electrifying the route at the outset. Cheaper, quicker to implement and nullifies the need for connection to the Seattle maintenance facility.

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