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A test for Sound Transit
Sound Transit should use the Bellevue City Council agreement to quickly implement one East Link feature – adding HOV lanes to the outer edges of the I-90 bridge.
Prior to light rail construction, buses would continue to use center-bridge. However, instead of both lanes going the same direction in peak commute times, the roadway should be split into inbound and outbound lanes.
The combination of the added HOV lane and bus-only lane in each direction would dramatically reduce congestion, particularly for reverse commuters already facing serious delays. Other commuters would benefit because the added capacity could accommodate anticipated growth and increased traffic from 520 bridge construction disruptions and those avoiding tolls.
The early bridge modification has another potential advantage. Well before construction begins, ST can shut down the bridge center section for 2-4 weeks to demonstrate if the modified outer lanes will accommodate all cross-lake vehicular traffic.
If the temporary closure causes excessive congestion, the result could have East Link funds used for additional express bus routes on the center bridge and help fund the rebuild of 520 rebuild and 405 improvements, reducing the need for toll revenue.
The Bellevue City Council should make East Link permit approval contingent on ST successfully doing both.
Bill Hirt, Bellevue