News Roundup: Phased Out

Photo by KurtClark

This is an open thread.

Comments

  1. Making Bellevue into Blahvue says

    I travel to Bellevue quite frequently for work and I just don’t get it. It seems like they are modeling it on Wilshire Blvd through Beverly Hills, which is one of the most dreary stretches of street in the known world. I would argue that Kemper is actually doing a long-lasting disservice to Bellevue through his development work. His vision of utopia seems to be modeled on one of those awful senior retirement cities south of Palm Springs. All it’s missing is Palm Trees.

    • John A. Bailo says

      Haven’t been for a few months but I remember the sidewalks near the mall and the big downtown park with the fountain full of happy shoppers.

      • AP says

        Our saving grace is that Bellevue Square is tucked into one corner of Bellevue downtown. Bellevue will expand eastward with the Spring District, the hospital district, etc. The west side of Bellevue Square will always be McMansion residential (with the exception of one row of multifamily dwellings…)

        As for the “Blahvue” comment, every city has its crappy malls. Seattle’s Convention Center-Westlake Mall area isn’t exactly a shining jewel of urban development and yet the city manages. Cut Bellevue some slack.

    • Making Bellevue into Blah-vue says

      I liked the old Bellevue of the 60’s-70’s. Bel Square before the bunker-like parking garages and widescale homogenization, was charming. My point about “blah-vue” was the recent stuff that Kemper has developed. It is blah. As is much of the new development in Downtown Seattle. Try not to be so defensive.

  2. Matthew Butler says

    Part of me really wants to see the waterfront streetcar come back, because those are great looking cars. But at the same time I feel like it would be confusing for people new to the system. Especially once the First Hill Streetcar connects with the SLU Streetcar (through 1st?).

    Plus, isn’t the beauty of a giant park like the new waterfront supposed to be that you actively walk or bike along it? And that there is plenty of space to do so? It just sounds like a monument to a not-so-glittery past, that probably wouldn’t get used much.

    • redmondrider says

      85% of the infrastructure is still there. I want the waterfront line to come back for two reasons: There’s no sense in lacking some sort of people movement up and down the waterfront that isn’t cars. Second, all that money has been spent on preservation and minimal upkeep, let’s put those resources to use and get the trolleys rolling again.

      • Bruce Nourish says

        “85% of the infrastructure is still there.”

        Wrong. The trackage and OCS on the waterfront have been demolished from Lenora to Main, and a previous study by the Pioneer Square neighborhood association found that the remnants of the trackage and OCS on Main are unserviceable and would have to be completely replaced. No significant money has been spent on maintenance of the trolleys or infrastructure since the service was discontinued, just enough to keep the trolleys safely mothballed. Any new waterfront service would be essentially rebuilt from scratch.

        Metro is also on record as saying that the agency will not again run the Benson cars in mixed traffic in their current form, due to concerns over the braking distance. Any future use of the trolleys would be in their own right of way.

    • Mark Dublin says

      Some travel ideas for you, Matthew:

      1. San Francisco Muni carries thousands of people a day on refurbished streetcars of several vintages- including one or two Melbourne cars- on the “F” Line on Market Street and Embarcadero. Museum cars use same base route as the light rail fleet.

      2. The waterfront in Oslo, Norway is a very large flag-stone plaza with double-tracked streetcar line, the Route 12, running articulated cars through crowds of strolling people.

      There are no signals, warnings, or markings of any kind on structures or pavement- and motormen tell me there’s never a problem, either. Overseas experience seems to be that streetcars are probably the most crowd-friendly form of transit. Maybe it’s because vehicles occupy known and fixed space, unlike buses.

      3. There are various ways of dealing with various floor heights. SF has raised ramp-accessed platforms at front ends of car stops.

      Should be complete perspiration-zero to make the Waterfront Line the west end of the First Hill Line, operating streetcars of different eras under integrated maintenance and communications.

      Good route would be Occidetal Mall from Jackson to Yesler, and Yesler to the Waterfront.

      Mark Dublin

      • Brent says

        I still see the waterfront streetcar as essential to making the waterfront a place where people go to walk, bike, and do touristy stuff, rather than a place where people go to park.

      • Matthew Butler says

        @Mark – if you do the marketing for the waterfront line and make it as easy and clear as you make it sound here, then I’m all for it!

        I guess I was thinking that adding an additional north/south line would make things more confusing, but I’ve realized that is the nature of adding transit lines. Adding another Subway line would be just as “confusing” by my own reasoning, and that’s not a good enough reason to not do it.

      • asdf says

        It all comes down to a question of priorities. Do we prioritize our scare service hours on lines that are short enough that by the time you wait for it you could just work, or do we prioritize our resources on distances that are long enough to make it actually worth waiting for.

        If tourists are willing to pay high enough fares to make the system pay for itself, do it. But don’t pay for a waterfront streetcar at the expense of other transit corridors.

      • Mike Orr says

        We’re not talking about new service hours today when Metro has none to spare. We’re talking about service hours several years in the future after the waterfront is rebuilt. Who knows what Metro’s budget will look like then.

    • says

      “Plus, isn’t the beauty of a giant park like the new waterfront supposed to be that you actively walk or bike along it?”

      Sure, people with mobility issues — of any sort — shouldnt have any place in our grand new vision for the waterfront. Too unsightly.

      Obviously I’m being sarcastic. The beauty of a park is not in the acts of walking or biking. I injured myself a few weeks ago and have had intermittent walking difficulty ever since — let me tell you, it gives you a heck of an insight into the ageist and ableist perspectives here on STB.

      • says

        Yeah, those old people keeping those nonsensical routing choices alive, and those disabled people taking forever to use the lift! :)

      • Norah says

        I know what you mean. I know the idea is that buses that stop less are quicker and more people will want to ride them, but I still cringe whenever I read “stop diet” on here when it’s not for an express bus.

      • says

        @Norah: When it comes to minimizing walking distances, stop spacing is not the only variable, route spacing is as well. Most of the distance you walk to the bus is walking toward the street it runs on, not along it. When you put stops closer together this decreases average walking distance, but the closer they get the returns diminish as total running time multiplies.

        King County Metro has intentionally set a policy of aiming for quarter-mile stop spacing for local routes, and I think that’s a pretty sensible policy. Most of our routes are spaced considerably farther apart than a quarter-mile, so bringing stop spacing closer, which has a significant effect on speed, doesn’t have a great effect on average walking distance. But since most of the bus network was designed before the policy was in place, it takes a “stop diet”, distasteful as the word is, to bring a route close to the general goal.

    • Mike Orr says

      “isn’t the beauty of a giant park like the new waterfront supposed to be that you actively walk or bike along it”

      It’s 1 1/2 miles long. Walking and biking may be the primary activity on Alki, where most of the business destinations are concentrated in one place, but the waterfront is about going to widely scattered destinations and between them. Viz. the ferry, aquarium, Experience Shoes :), the Bell Street pier/world trade center, Pier 70, and Myrtle Edwards Park. Elderly people, businessmen, tourists, and especially families with kids will not necessarily want to walk to them or between them.

      • asdf says

        True, but families with kids will not exactly want to stand at bus stop for up to 30 minutes either. Given that the ROW is only wide enough for a line to be single-track, that is the best frequency you can realistically get.

        If you really want decent transit service on the waterfront, simply extending an existing bus route to cover it is the best option. For instance, if frequent, all-day service is our goal here, how does a waterfront reroute of the 36 sound (assuming, of course, the highway 99 construction is complete and the viaduct is gone)?

      • Anandakos says

        Mike,

        If you want it to be a viable circulator it has to be double tracked so that it can come every five or so minutes. It’s not that far from Pier 70 to the Hillclimb Steps. People will mostly walk.

      • Mike Orr says

        The Benson streetcar was 20 minute frequency, and that was not sufficient. We should not just single-track it again. I don’t care what mode it is as long as it goes up and down the waterfront every 5-15 minutes.

    • Lightning says

      I’d like to see streetcars return to a renovated waterfront, but not the Benson cars. They are Australian–still had the old Melbourne ads in them. What makes them so special for Seattle? Now if they had been old Seattle streetcars, that would be different, but AFAIK, those don’t exist any longer. I prefer an eventual continuation of the First Hill line and the modern cars.

  3. says

    “Metro estimates it will save about $80,000 a year in printing and supply costs alone”

    I wonder how much Metro would save if they eliminated paper transfers? They’d still need some sort of PoP voucher for RapidRide cash payment (Good only on the coach/trip issued and hopefully for a higher cash price), but without transfers the numbers of paper slips given out would decline significantly.

    • Lex H says

      Eliminate the transfer benefits to non orca users. People will whine at first but they’ll make the switch. Which will speed the entire system up while saving some money.

      • Ryan says

        Metro seems very reluctant to make any changes that encourage people to use ORCA. And I see this as a major issue. To be honest, every single form of cost savings needs to be on the table given Metro’s current crisis. Frankly, I would have a hard time supporting more taxes for Metro knowing that there are so many small fixes like this that can help offset the shortfalls.

      • Charles says

        Metro seems very reluctant to make any changes that encourage people to use ORCA.

        I suspect it’s possible that Metro views ORCA as a revenue killer for them and thus the passive/agressive behavior…

      • Mike Orr says

        Metro is afraid of angry passengers complaining to the council when it takes their transfers away, and losing ridership by people not willing to switch to ORCA.

      • Brent says

        Nobody is taking anybody’s transfers away. Metro would just be reducing their street resell value.

    • Brent says

      I’m afraid the LIFOAC report is headed toward becoming a list of competing concerns, rather than a proposal for a low-income and no-income fare program. TRU and Metro brought reems of research to the table. Others brought positions and themselves.

      So be it. I think Metro needs to move forward full steam with paper transfer elimination, the cash surcharge, and a general fare restructure that includes peak and zone elimination, introduction of express fares, and some increase for everyone. However, the portion of fare revenue increase that is calculated to be coming from low-income riders (roughly 25% of the ridership) should be set aside for no- and low-income fare subsidy programs.

      Metro knows best how to implement these programs IMHO, has done lots of research on what does and doesn’t work, has listened to the human service agencies at length, and should move forward with what Metro knows actually works. The county council would do well to follow Metro’s lead in this hopefully bold process. Metro has been patient with its red ribbon committee. Now, it needs to put forward a blue ribbon proposal.

    • Alex Kven says

      I’m sorry, but I whole-heartedly disagree with eliminating ticketbooks and transfers. I mean really, if you eliminate those, you are giving the finger to all the travelers to SeaTac airport. The airport makes paper transfers more necessary in King County than in Pierce County. I am sure that someone flying in to SeaTac to see his friend in, say, Shoreline, would be thrilled to find out that the cost of his trip is between $6.75 and $8.00 depending on the time of day, or else he has to pay $5.00 for a card with nothing on it.

      And ticketbooks are good cheap disposable forms of payment that you can buy with a debit card and can’t be used to track you. You don’t need to pay a $5 fee for nothing, and if you are a youth, you don’t need to bring your proof of age to downtown Seattle, or wait for delivery in the mail.

      Plus, sometimes you find metro tickets on the street or the floor. I love it when that happens.

      And doing so will save $80,000 a year, which is about 1/1000 of the budget hole. That’s 600 service hours, which is 0.02% of current service, probably not even enough to add 1 daily trip to a route. It’s a small price to pay for ease of use by infrequent and visiting riders.

      The right way to encourage ORCA is to have cash fare 25 cents higher, and to give out only 60-90 minute transfers. And either ditch the $5 fee for the card, or convert the $5 fee into a $5 minimum load.

      • Mike Orr says

        Out-of-town visitors will have no idea what the fares are or should be. In New York they can easily pay $8 or more for a few subway rides a day. Denver’s airport bus charges $13. The $5 fee looks big for a single trip, but it pays for itself after just one or two inter-agency transfers. And even if you don’t transfer, after a week or two the $5 is a tiny fraction of the fares you’ve paid. And transferring from Link to Metro for Shoreline is an inter-agency transfer. The ORCA agencies do need to lower the fee or offer a visitor’s card, but people also need to not blow the $5 fee all out of proportion. After a week’s or a month’s worth of riding, it’s just a drop in the bucket.

      • Brent says

        Why keep the ticketbooks? Nobody buys them, and they take up shelf space where ORCA could be sold.

      • Mike Orr says

        And the Link single-ride and all-day tickets aren’t going anywhere. So visitors can still make a single trip to downtown or to the Shoreline station without being assimilated by ORCA.

      • Alex Kven says

        @Mike Orr
        I am assuming that these hypothetical visitors plan on taking the A-Line and 124 downtown, and transferring to a Lynnwood bus because it’s cheaper than link.

    • Aleks says

      Metro already has an uphill battle trying to remove one-seat rides in favor of a coherent network. If you remove transfers, without providing a compelling replacement, then it becomes that much harder. I don’t think that would be a net win.

      In addition, it would cost some amount of money to institute a new system that was RapidRide-specific, which is money that could be better spent elsewhere.

      • Brent says

        The current transfer slips will work quite adequately on RapidRide for the time being, even if they are only accepted on that route.

        The street resellers can then hang out at the West Seattle stops.

  4. John A. Bailo says

    Bangkok Building First Hydrogen Fueling Station

    Yesterday I talked about Japan opening their first public hydrogen fueling station. Today I want to talk about another Asian country’s first as well.

    Bangkok Industrial Gas Company (BIG), a subsidiary of Air Products, has decided to be large and in charge by creating Thailand’s first hydrogen fueling station. Air Products now operates 90 worldwide hydrogen fueling stations.

    http://www.hydrogencarsnow.com/blog2/index.php/hydrogen-fueling-stations/bangkok-building-first-hydrogen-fueling-station/

  5. RossB says

    So, I’m a big confused (and generally ignorant) about the transportation budget process in Olympia. I would like to write my representatives with a proposal, but I want to get my facts straight. Essentially, I would like to suggest that they pay for projects that have already been started (like 520 and 99) along with giving local jurisdictions the right to approve their own transit funding.

    If I understand it right, the transportation budget has been approved (with a few line item vetoes). Meanwhile, the state House has approved transportation funding, but the state Senate has not. If that is the case, does it makes sense to write my representatives with my proposal, but from a purely funding standpoint or is it too late? Will these projects be delayed or eliminated if they fail to find funding? If so, who decides which projects continue (is that determined by the funding as well)?

  6. Mike Orr says

    ST is asking for comments on the station names in Bellevue and ped/bike/bus access at BTC. Deadline May 24th. We’ve discussed the merits of the NE 6th station extensively but not the station names.

    The stations needing permanent names are BTC, East Main, and Hospital. The suggestions for BTC are “Bellevue Transit Center station”, “Downtown Bellevue station”, and “Bellevue Civic Center station”. I’m undecided but I don’t like anything with “Downtown” or “Transit Center” in it. It reminds me of “Downtown Mountain View”, which should have been just “Mountain View” because the plain name implies it’s downtown. So “Bellevue station”. “Bellevue Civic Center station” puts a lot of focus on City Hall which had a nefarious role in the station location, but on the other hand it is a well-known public landmark and it sounds better than “Downtown”.

    For East Main it’s actually asking what to name the “tunnel portal”, which I assume means the station because why would the portal itself need a name? The suggestions are “Main Street Portal” and “Downtown Bellevue Portal”.

    For Hospital the suggestions are “Lake Bellevue station” and “Midlakes station”. I kind of like “Lake Bellevue” but not completely. “Midlakes” has a nice ring and is accurate, and could be a new name for the neighborhood, but it’s perhaps too close to “Overlake”, which also means nothing if you don’t already know where it is. (And the fact that the term Overlake is so vague that a hospital on 116th has its name is part of the problem.)

    So what do others think?

      • Brent says

        Or Bellevue Hospital Station? (to avoid confusion with any future Childrens’ Hospital Station, Capitol Hill Station (for First Hill and Group Health Capitol Hill riders), UW Station (for UW Medical Center riders)

      • Mike Orr says

        It is? Well that’s a good reason for it. I wonder why the name fell into disuse. I grew up in Bellevue and “Lake Bellevue” was barely recognizable, but I never heard of “Midlakes” at all.

      • Bernie says

        The Post Office there was called Midlakes. I believe it was a reference to being midway between Overlake and Lake Washington. There have been a number of businesses over the years that have put Midlakes in their name. Bartell’s identifies it’s new store as Midlakes. Officially though I don’t think it’s ever been defined as a neighborhood by the City. Officially it’s all Wilburton which I don’t feel has any connection with what is commonly called Bel-Red. Lake Bellevue is considered a “landmark” of the Wilburton neighborhood though so Lake Bellevue Station is the best choice of those on the survey.

      • Dude says

        “Midlakes” = the area of Bellevue midway between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish

    • Mike Orr says

      “Hospital station” sounds boring. It also suggests tht Overlake is the main hospital in the area, when actually Harborview is.

    • aw says

      “Bellevue Civic Center” could be construed to include, not only City Hall, but Meydenbauer Center. It works for me.

      For East Main and Hospital, name them after the nearest cross street, thus “SE 4th Street Station” (or wherever it actually is) and “NE 8th Street Station”. Wayfinding is your friend.

  7. Possibly ignorant says

    What Othello and SE Seattle needs are for the trendy artsy types to move in. This will trigger the message to other well to do city dwellers that it is safe to return to SE Seattle. Then that area can get the full Fremont/Ballard/Greenwood treatment.

    • RossB says

      I commented on the CrossCut piece and stand by my comments. The area is simply on the wrong side of the economic resurgence right now. Eventually it will improve. The fastest way I know of making it improve is to spiff up the local schools. Make Rainier Beach as attractive as Franklin and Garfield (very similar schools) and that area will boom very quickly.

      Eventually it will get there, though, for the exact reasons you mention. Trendy, artsy folks move into areas that are on the edge of stereotypical acceptability. That’s how gentrification typically happens (in cities like Seattle). I’ve seen it happen throughout the city, and it is pretty easy to predict. Developers predict this as well. There are probably a lot of really savvy people who bought a bunch of houses in the Central Area forty years ago, only to sell those houses for a mint thirty years later.

      The same thing is happening here, but I think there is a waiting game going on. This occurred to me after I made that previous comment. Basically, it goes like this: Someone is sitting on a lot, knowing that it will eventually be worth a lot (once the area gentrifies). But if they build a building now, they won’t be able to make that much money. So they wait. The waiting means less shops, less people and more empty parking lots — in short, a less desirable neighborhood. Eventually, of course, you reach a tipping point, and developers feel confident that they can make good money from their development. Once that happens, the place starts filling in and it looks like Ballard (big buildings and cranes everywhere).

      • FC says

        Despite the diversity of the population, the existing built environment there is awful. The area has no good architectural “bones” or the diversity of uses that tend to attract artists. Its a linear strip of retail along a largely auto dominated arterials. Light rail probably has raised land values, but not enough to attract location-sensitive renters at the rents needed to justify stacked flats. It no doubt has helped the areas as a market for less location-sensitive homeowners, hence the new SF homes and townhouses down there.

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        I think it’s a fallacy to think that TOD must look like the Othello Station Apartments. Safeway has wanted to close their store on Othello for years, but it’s still open and very busy–that’s TOD. The sidewalks in the neighborhood are more active than before the station opened–that’s TOD. If the crime rate is down–that’s TOD. Houses in the neighborhood are being fixed up and people are moving in–that’s TOD. Just because the neighborhood hasn’t turned into a glass, steel and concrete canyon like downtown or Broadway doesn’t mean that TOD isn’t happening.

      • RossB says

        I agree, FC, the existing architecture is not very good. It is also quite a ways away from downtown (much further than the C. D. and even further than Fremont). All of this slows the speed with which this place develops. But, as folks have mentioned, it will eventually develop. As David said, when prices in Columbia City start going up, folks will realize that this is a perfectly good area (not “ghetto”) and they will start moving into the area. I have no doubt that ten years from now those empty lots will be replaced with big buildings. Since some of the housing will be less than ideal (e. g. inadequate noise protection) it is likely to be a nice, busy place with a fair amount of racial and economic diversity.

      • JohnS says

        Ross, there would be a supplemental transportation budget proposal, I would assume, wrapped up with a request to voters for new taxing authority (again I’m assuming the Legislature wouldn’t try to pass something on their own). I am not a legislative expert however :)

        A new proposal, with new revenue, would right now assume most of the money going to the ‘Puget Sound Gateway’ set of projects, along with the Columbia River Crossing and more new highway projects. Last I saw, that proposal was also bundled with some support for local transit.

        There’s more on the package here:

        http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/judy-clibborn/revised-transportation-package-released/

        and you can see Doug McDonald tearing it apart on Crosscut as well :)

      • JohnS says

        Sorry, that comment should have been upstream (on the transportation package stuff).

        On this thread – 40 years ago the CD was red-lined, so if you were buying house(s) there you didn’t need financing.

      • RossB says

        Thanks for the info John. With regards to the 40 year comment, I think we are getting old. 2013 – 40 = 1973. The Civil Rights act passed in 1968 (thus ending red-lining everywhere). Your point, though, is correct (if I understand it). It basically reinforces my point. In 1973, formally segregated property next to Garfield High School could be purchased for a relatively small amount of money. Now, that property is worth a lot. The same could be said for areas throughout the country (Harlem, Oakland, etc.). Smart folks (and I know a few) figured out the long term trend and bought houses in the area. The ones I know were simply home owners who decided to buy a house in the Central Area instead of one in, say, Ballard. These folks now sit on property worth way more than the house they considered in Ballard. You can pretty much repeat the pattern all of the way south. In 1973, you could get a bargain next to Garfield. By 1983, it was harder, but you could get a great deal on one next to Franklin. Now, houses close to Rainier Beach aren’t too bad. Race (or peoples stereotypical attitudes towards race) have a lot to do with it. It isn’t that folks don’t want to live next to people of color, it is that a lot of folks (including many African Americans I know) assume (incorrectly) that if an area has a lot of people of color, then it a dangerous neighborhood.

        As mentioned above, I wouldn’t expect this area to work exactly the same way. The “ghetto” image is definitely reducing the housing values, but it also lacks both proximity to downtown or nice historical architecture. This is why I think I think a house in the area will never fetch the price that one closer in will (although Seward Park is really nice). But that doesn’t mean that empty lots will sit forever. It is just a matter of time before big buildings dominate the area, assuming that the city sees the kind of economic growth it has over the last 100 years.

      • John A. Bailo says

        LOL, you just described on of the central problems of making real estate a hedge fund.

        Most of us want to use (if not own) more land. Even if you’re content in a 2 bedroom you still want to pay as little as possible and you still want parks, nice retail…other uses of “open” land.

        However when you treat these things a financial instruments too much of real life gets put on hold or made sour.

      • Eric H says

        “Safeway has wanted to close their store on Othello for years….”

        Is there something preventing Safeway from actually closing the store?

      • Possibly ignorant says

        It sure would be nice a neighborhood developed that wasn’t all huge boxes of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.

    • David L says

      It’s a matter of supply and demand. Right now, Columbia City is hot, but there is still enough room for growth there that “trendies” are not yet being priced out of the market. As Columbia City gets saturated, Othello will be the next area to boom.

      FWIW, I lived in The Station for almost a year with few major complaints. It had a few issues (the biggest by far being inadequate noise insulation), but was not at all “ghetto.”

      • John A. Bailo says

        Basically there probably are people who want to live there but you’ve got speculators wanting to wrench that last dollar out of the highest bidder.

        You could get regular working couples and students there for $600 and $800 a month who would make it nice, but they want the golden unicorns of high wage couples to fill it up.

        Nobody wins. Stalemate.

      • David L says

        John, you are right, but this is hardly a unique or unsolvable problem. Developers have never been interested in providing new working-class, market-rate housing because of the opportunity cost. Every new development everywhere, both city and suburbs, markets to yuppies. That is why the best way to provide market-rate working-class housing is to build more housing for yuppies, which holds down the value of the existing housing stock. Unfortunately, that approach just doesn’t work in any given area until there is at least some demand from yuppies to move in. At Othello, that demand will happen when they start getting priced out of Columbia City but still want to live near Link.

    • Mike Orr says

      Artsy people are the ones who gentrified Columbia City in the 1990s. In the 80s it was as run down as Othello is. Specifically I’ve heard that “a group of lesbians” established an outpost in Columbia City, and brought in art and lamp stores and showed you could live in Rainier Valley without being shot by gangs, and that low-level gentrification prepared the way for Starbucks and the movie theater and bookstores and $600K houses. There probably are artists in the Othello district already; there’s just too few of them to attract attention. Developing into a middle-class neighborhood is inevitable, for good or bad. But stereotypes can linger for decades after their antecedent has died. People are only now realizing the Central District turned majority white around 2000. It will take decades before Bellevuites feel safe going to Rainier Valley, but in the meantime the $600K houses will become $1 million houses and they’ll miss out.

      • East Coast Cynic says

        As long as many of them perceive that there are large numbers of “menacing” dark skinned people, eastsiders won’t believe they’ve missed out, even for a few hundred thousand.

      • Anandakos says

        I’m indirectly related to one of the couples in that “group of lesbians” who settles in Columbia City. They are professional women, and their parties are fab. Lots of very smart, forward thinking people.

      • Anandakos says

        P.S.

        [parties] with attendees ff both genders and all sexualities. The cool thing about lesbians (IMO) is that they are the ultimate “accepters”, as long as the acceptee respects their choice. They are happy with themselves (largely, of course nothing about any group is true of every member) and are totally cool with however you are, if you are.

      • Sam says

        East Coast Cynic, Bellevue has a larger percentage of non-white residents than Seattle, so spare us your unfounded stereotypes.

      • East Coast Cynic says

        Sam, I will grant you that some parts of Bellevue have a higher percentage of non-whites (including minorities other than African-Americans) than Seattle, however, what I have seen of Kirkland, Redmond, and Mercer Island, the stereotype isn’t all that unfounded.

      • AP says

        East Coast Cynic, if you were really from the east coast you’d realize that the entirety of Seattle is a white bread city. Yes, Bellevue is the most diverse city in western Washington, and has been for almost a decade. But it still looks overwhelmingly white, just like Seattle.

        I agree with Sam. Spare us your unfounded stereotypes.

      • William Aitken says

        And if my children’s classes are anything to go by, Mercer Island is hardly lily white either. Just looking at the class photos I’d guess they were less than 60% white. In addition, a non-trivial proportion of the whites in class are first generation immigrants.

        I’d agree about a lack of economic diversity, although even there the stereotype is at least a little unfair.

        In any case, with respect to the area around the Othello station, it’s not the racial diversity that makes me feel unsafe, but rather the bars on people’s first storey windows.

      • Scott Stidell says

        Interesting how the topic of diversity = non-whites, rather than breaking it down further. Bellevue does have a greater percentage of non-whites, but almost all of them are in a single “group” (per census reporting). For comparison, I looked up the numbers for my “other” home town of Greenville, SC, which is a pretty typical Southern city. Most would not call it a diverse place. However, their numbers are almost identical with Bellevue’s–almost the same percentage of whites with nearly the entirety of the non-white population in one group. In Greenville’s case it’s blacks, in Bellevue’s, Asians. In all other groups reporting Seattle has 2-3 times the percentage of either Bellevue or Greenville. This to my mind makes Seattle BOTH more diverse AND “whiter” than either one of the two other cities.

        (each grouping in the census figures can reasonably be assumed to have a good deal of diversity within it, whether it be Asian, Hispanic, black, white etc.)

    • East Coast Cynic says

      Right now, it seems that for a cheaper downbeat neighborhood, the trendy artsy types are choosing Georgetown– presumably attracted by Good Americana comfort food dining, trendy artsy bars, kitschy stores and possibly, more people who look like them. When the rents really start going up over there, maybe the poorer bohos will start looking at Othello and SE Seattle.

    • says

      The Crosscut article’s claim that ST is sitting on property, waiting for the “right” buyer that will build the “right” kind of TOD (that is, maxing out the zoning) is sort of disturbing. A more modest plan that can actually be financed right now could actually give the neighborhood the momentum it needs. I mean, if ST plays the waiting game with important parcels doesn’t that put the whole neighborhood at risk? Not just at risk of not-gentrifying, at risk of really sliding into a cycle of neglect, poverty, disinvestment.

      I’d think it’s more important that something with an attractive street level is built soon than that the zoning is maxed out in the medium term. And if, as has happened elsewhere in Seattle, maxing out the zoning requires street-level parking access that compromises the size and usefulness of street-level retail units, maybe maxing out the zoning isn’t the best thing that could happen. That detail aside, it can be hard for people to imagine the upside of a place when there’s no place there, and there’s no place there along MLK yet. Anything that succeeds there, even if it’s low-rise, could be the seed of success.

      If you look at successful neighborhoods (by any rubric you’d like — I’m far from convinced that yuppie gentrification defines success) and what sort of attitudes and practices led to their success, I’d be surprised if in any case the key to success was a large landowner keeping property vacant until someone else wanted to build a big enough building on it.

  8. RossB says

    Does anyone know what is happening with the station planning north of Northgate? A lot of folks (including Conlin) want to see a station on 125th/130th. They see this station as a big feeder station (especially for Lake City, but also Bitter Lake). Northgate is not very good as a feeder station for areas to the north (because the buses have to wind around busy streets). If we add a station at 125th/130th, then the argument for a station at 145th takes a big hit. Conversely, if we don’t build the station at 125th/130th, then I would argue very hard for a station at 145th (as a half-ass solution to serving Lake City/Bitter Lake).

    Personally, I would like to see stations at both places, being served by a giant, looping bus route going clockwise and counterclockwise. The bus would go on 145th, Lake City Way, 125th, 130th and then Greenwood. That’s a pretty fast loop; with frequent bus service along with bus lanes (there are already a bunch) and light priority, you could improve the transit times of thousands of people without spending a huge amount of money. Not only would this connect people to Link (and thus the U-District and downtown) but also to the other neighborhoods, as well as Aurora (and Rapid Ride).

    • David L says

      The latest public Sound Transit documents indicate “possible” station locations at 130th, 145th, 155th, and 185th. 185th seems to be the only one that’s a dead certainty.

      Personally, I would favor 125th/130th, 155th, and 185th.

      130th: There is a fair amount of multifamily housing and existing ridership on the east side of the freeway at 125th, and as already noted by many a crosstown bus route on 125th/130th would serve north Seattle communities far more effectively than a slog to Northgate.

      145th is a wasteland. The interchange itself is huge and pretty much unwalkable. There is a golf course on one corner, a large school campus on another, and small amounts of housing on the remaining two. A 145th crosstown bus route would connect the multifamily housing at 145th/Lake City with the station, but wouldn’t do much else. 155th, by contrast, is accessible to a good walkshed in all four directions (although currently with all SFH), prospects for a reasonably effective crosstown bus route along the lines of the current 330, and more potential for future densification.

      There isn’t much directly around the 185th station location, but the area is walkable, and the location will permit a very good crosstown bus connection to Richmond Beach, “downtown” Shoreline, and North City.

      • RossB says

        Thanks David, I appreciate the update as well as your assessment of the possible stations. Even though I live fairly close to 145th (about a couple miles) I rarely walk there (because, as you said, it is rather ugly). Walking around the south side of the golf course is fun — walking around the north side is not.

        More than anything, we both agree (as do most folks on this site, I would imagine) that a station at 125th/130th is a great idea. I also agree that 185th make sense. 145th versus 155th is, to me, a closer call (but I think you make some excellent points). Here are my thoughts on the matter:

        What will future growth look like? It is surprising how few apartments there are on 145th (outside the Lake City Way area). If one street is more likely to grow more than the other, then I think that would sway my opinion on the matter.

        Advantages of 155th:

        1) Better walkshed.
        2) More potential growth close to the station (for the reasons you mentioned).
        3) If a station is placed at 130th and 185th (which seems likely) there is better spacing between stations (I’ll walk a mile to the train station, but if it is two miles, I’ll catch a bus or drive).

        Advantages of 145th:

        1) Faster crosstown service. To get to 145th, you have to make a couple of turns. All other things equal (which includes traffic, which is really hard to predict) I would assume that is quicker.
        2) Faster service for the folks close to 145th and Lake City Way as well as those at 145th and Greenwood. To be fair, there isn’t much at 145th and Greenwood, but there is a lot of potential growth there as well as some development on Greenwood close to there.

        A wash, or slightly leaning towards 155th:

        1) Existing bus service. The 330 is a nice crosstown bus. If a station is added, there would be little that would need to change (which makes it much easier to make the changes). 145th does have a bunch of service, but is hodgepodge of various runs.

        All in all, I would be fine with a station at 125th/130th as well a station at 155th along with a bus that circles around the two. The folks at 145h and Lake City Way (or 140th and Greenwood) might be a bit disappointed (since their bus ride will take five minutes longer) but that, unfortunately, is the nature of our train system (too few stations).

        Personally, although I made a decent case for a station at 145th, I would argue for the following:

        1) Let the folks in Shoreline build whatever they want, as long as we have their vote for a station at 130th.
        2) Build a station at 155th, since it makes a station at 130th more likely.

      • David L says

        A station at 145th would work as a transfer node (assuming major pedestrian improvements), but it will never attract local development — which to me is a high priority. In the end that’s really why I favor 155th.

        I totally agree with the need for crosstown buses serving each Link station, but I think there are more useful network possibilities than just making them loop. For instance, the 130th bus would be a natural extension of the current 75 (once the current 40 is extended to Lake City via Northgate Way to serve Lake City-Northgate demand…). The 145th/155th bus could serve Lake City on one side and SCC and the Aurora commercial corridor, which is currently a more viable destination than 145th/Greenwood, on the other. There will (or should) be plenty of gridded north-south routes connecting with the crosstown routes.

      • d.p. says

        What you’re consistently missing, David, is that the Lakeside School really needs direct, front-door access to the entire region.

        I mean, screw the hospital district and most of the actually-urbanized central city! We need to prioritize!

      • David L says

        It’s actually worse than your sarcasm, d.p. The 145th station would provide front-door access to Lakeside in the same way that the Bellevue station provides front-door access to Palomino.

    • Mike Orr says

      We’re waiting for a decision by ST. Maybe they’ll give some indication at the Shoreline meeting today. Shoreline city seems to be going forward with plans for 145th and 185th. I don’t know if that means Shoreline has more information or they’re just going forward anyway.

      ST is well aware of the popularity of a 130th station and the opportunity for an east-west bus there. I believe the Seattle City Council recommended it unanimously, and Shoreline has also given a friendly neighbor’s endorsement.

      The main issue is that having both 130th and 145th stations would cause very uneven stop spacing (0.75 miles south of 145th; 2 miles north of it), but 155th is arguably a weaker station area than 145th. Some say it’s closer to the 155th Safeway/Sears cluster but it’s still a 20-minute walk, and 145th would arguably be better for connecting buses. The secondary issue is, of course, the cost of two stations rather than one.

  9. GuyOnBeaconHill says

    It appears that somebody at Metro reads this blog–the forlorn bus pole at Seward Park Avenue South and Wabash Avenue has finally been removed.

  10. says

    Holy crap, a $15 million bridge only benefits 1,318 people a day? This garage is sounding like a sweeter deal every day.

    • says

      Here’s a map of the proposed improvements. They’re so disjointed and half-assed I think they should all be scrapped; though the 5th/94th intersection improvements do look somewhat useful.

    • David L says

      A garage is not a replacement for a bridge, especially when many of the bridge users are NSCC students who don’t have cars. And another way to say it is that a $15 million bridge benefits half a million users per year.

      And on those improvements, you see disjointed; I know the neighborhood well, and I see them as fixing a whole bunch of the worst sore spots. Current pedestrian infrastructure is “disjointed” and this will make it much less so.

      • says

        I didn’t say the garage is a replacement for a bridge, but if you look at the cost per boarding, it’s a much better value.

        I know the neighborhood better–I live here. The new sidewalks on 95th, which start, stop, and start up again, won’t do much good. They only help a few dozen addresses, and the traffic is such low volume anyways it’s not like the existing pedestrians are in much danger of getting hit.

        I suppose the saving grace is that there are virtually no improvements east of 5th. Adding sidewalks will not decrease the grade and would be pretty much pointless. The streets are 35-40 feet wide which means there’s plenty of room for cars to drive, park, and for peds to walk.

      • AndrewN says

        I’d argue that the bridge provides better value than the garage.

        -765 new daily boarding from walkers & bikers.
        -Station access improvements for 1,318 daily walkers & bikers.
        -Plus, mobility benefits for walkers & bikers crossing I-5 who are not accessing the station.

        At $20 million for the bridge, it would cost $26,100 per new boarding. A parking space costs at least $30,000, and would be used for 1 or so boardings per day. But the garage doesn’t provide secondary mobility benefits, nor serve non-car owners. Plus, the bridge can accommodate future growth in demand.

        Bridge FTW.

      • says

        One really important thing when it comes to walking (and biking) is that raw danger isn’t the only measurement that matters. There’s also a question of comfort. People are more comfortable with sidewalks than without them, especially approaching major intersections. If people are more comfortable they’ll make more trips on foot, and that has lots of benefits.

        The really important changes that need to happen for the pedestrian network in the area aren’t totally under SDOT’s control. Northgate Mall and the office/professional park south of it have limited, auto-centric access points. That’s really too bad, because in a sense the mall’s main walkway is like a covered, pedestrianized section of 3rd Ave NE… but cross-pedestrian access is so limited, and pedestrian access from the north is so badly cut-off, that of course it turns out like a big building surrounded by parking lots. As for the office park, every bus route that comes to Northgate approaches by a different route, and improving access into the office park would give more people more convenient access from transit.

    • Mike Orr says

      The bridge is absolutely necessary and should have been built twenty years ago. That single investment will increase the walkability and vitality of the urban village immensely.

    • yvrlutyens says

      If the bridge costs $20 million and has 1,318 users per day, that is $15,000 in capital costs per user.

      If the deep bore tunnel costs $3 billion and has 65,000 users per day, that is $46,000 in capital costs per user.

      Puts things in perspective.

      • FWIW says

        What kind of pedestrian bridge costs $20 million?

        Surely there’s a cheaper bridge somewhere, somehow.

      • says

        What kind of pedestrian bridge costs $20 million? The kind that has to cross almost 20 total lanes of road and freeway plus all the median spaces between them, at great enough height for the tallest trucks to pass under, designed so people can’t fall off it, and with shallow enough ramps on each side that it’s accessible to people on wheels.

        What makes this bridge expensive isn’t the people walking across it, it’s the cars passing below it.

      • Brent says

        Also, the bridge has to access the station mezzanine, not the station platform!

        It is, after all, not just for getting to the station. Not all of those 1318 daily users are transit riders, much less light rail riders.

        But consider the cost savings of not running several buses out of their way to serve NSCC from the west side. That $15-20 million investment will eventually be paid for in service savings, if Metro ditches the circuitous routings.

      • says

        What do you think the odds are of this sort of restructure? Of the routes that go from Northgate to NSCC…

        – The 345 and 346 are clearly doing the right thing, backtracking a couple blocks south from the transit center to get to the southern anchor (NSCC) of their natural corridor (Meridian).
        – NSCC is the northern anchor of the 16’s natural corridor (also Meridian). It could skip Campus Way, cross I-5 at 92nd and go straight to Northgate, but it picks up a lot of people on Campus Way.
        – The 40’s route is sort of crazy… but is it that much slower than crossing I-5 on Northgate Way? Maybe, I don’t have the data. It feels like some route ought to make the stop at Northgate Way and 3rd Ave NE (or maybe not, since you can’t even cross the street there, which is unfortunate), and if the 16 doesn’t the 40 would probably get stuck with it, and that would be even slower than its current route.

        What makes the whole thing difficult is that NSCC and the housing nearby is as important a destination for local bus service as Northgate is, and the NSCC campus, I-5, and Northgate Mall are hell for east-west travel. Maybe all the people that currently board along Campus Way would be happy walking down to 92nd for the 16 (I imagine that’s what most would do, rather than cross I-5… actually some might walk all the way to Aurora and ditch the 16 forever after realizing that buses that go straight are fast), and up to 110th for the 40. Maybe the 345 and 346 are all the local service Campus Way really warrants after the bridge is built. It would be a hard sell to everyone west of I-5, though.

      • David L says

        Al, my thinking is this:

        – You are right about the 345/346 (which, in any case, ought to be just the 346, running every 15 minutes… but that’s off topic). They should start north from 92nd.
        – The 16 should use 92nd. The Mercer deviation and using 92nd alone would be more than enough to get the 16 to 15-minute frequency without any more service hours. Most College Way riders are from the college and can easily walk to 92nd. The few that aren’t will either need to walk or use the 40 and transfer.
        – The 40 should use Northgate Way to 1st to Northgate Station (and then get back on Northgate Way and head to Lake City, but that’s another story). That’s slightly faster than the College Way detour and would put a stop by the northwest corner of the mall, which is close enough to 3rd to walk. Today’s 16 routing using Northgate Way to 5th is just a pit of slowness and nothing ought to use it.

      • says

        @David: (As an aside, the more I look at this area, the more my eyes bleed, denoted by the emphasis tag).

        Maybe you lead with that proposal and when everyone freaks out you put the 16 back like it was. Do you really think half the 16’s hours are wasted on Seattle Center and Northgate Way? I don’t, and I ride the 16 a fair amount, but I haven’t done the math. The 16 also wastes lots of time bouncing down poorly maintained residential streets that no bus route should ever use, turning a zillion times, stopping at four-way stop signs, etc. That takes more time than it looks like on a map, and so you’d probably have to fix up that section to halve service hours.

        Anyway, the 40 is more important, and if it’s going to go to Lake City it should just stay on Northgate Way… oh, wait, it has to serve the train station that we’re intentionally building in a place that’s impossible to serve with straightforward crosstown service.

        I had not considered this, but the great 125th/130th crosstown route sort of replaces the 345’s coverage (if there’s a Link station at 155th the 330 takes you from Shoreline CC to the train). So good riddance 345! But we’ll get a lot of pressure forl the 346 and the new crosstown route to take on the 345’s front-door detours to Northwest Hospital and Four Freedoms. The hospital, in particular, has got to be the worst sited hosptial in the history of hospitals. “So, guys, here’s the plan. Instead of fronting the regionally important highway to our west or the local arterial to our east, let’s put our only entrance on the dead-end street south of us! What was that thing they say about transportation access, ‘Don’t be on the way!’? I think that’s what it was, ‘Don’t be on the way.'” It’s actually sort of like the office park south of Northgate that has a row of houses between it and 95th, and thus no access from the south. Don’t even get me started on that.

      • Brent says

        The Northwest Hospital knot should go the way the VA knot will go when budget cuts force operationally-expensive front-door stops to be restructured out. If Northwest Hospital wants transit to their inner sanctum front door, they can hire their own drivers and buy their own fleet.

      • David L says

        Al, we don’t need to halve the 16’s running time to get to 15 minutes — it’s currently 20 minutes, and the reliability boost of getting rid of the Seattle Center deviation also helps. The main, irreplaceable function of the 16 is to provide local service to Licton Springs, East Green Lake, and Wallingford. The college service is redundant with the 345/346 (especially given that those routes are through-routed with the 347/348, which serve the NE side of the mall). The Seattle Center service is covered well enough by the 3/4 and the 32. Unfortunately the street network in the main areas that need the 16 is so bizarre that there is literally no way (believe me, I’ve spent plenty of time puzzling it over) to provide a north-south bus that runs straight without putting it so far away that it doesn’t serve the population.

        The Northgate Transit Center, in hindsight, was built at the worst possible corner of the mall for all routes except the 41. But it is where it is, and there’s nothing we can do about it at this point. The best solutions are those that provide as much straight, gridded service as possible, with the smallest deviations needed to serve the transit center. That’s the goal behind my plans for the 16, 40, 66/67, and 345/346.

      • says

        Ah, you’re right about the 16’s frequency… I still think NSCC is the northern anchor of the 16 — it brings people there from the south, different from the 345/346 which bring people from the north. Maybe if the 16 went straight to Northgate and all the TOD and pedestrian-oriented stuff around there works out that would be even better. But my instinct is that it would actually be better off terminating at the west end of the ped bridge when it opens. Maybe I’m crazy.

        As for Northgate TC, yes, it’s a convenient location for the 41. But it’s being rebuilt into a station for a train that is going to replace the 41. All the bus bays are being rebuilt. All the parking is being rebuilt. It could be rebuilt up the road a little… or farther from the freeway in a location whose walkshed isn’t permanently limited (a bridge over the freeway directly to the train station has a great effect on train station walkshed, but a few blocks north and south its impact is more limited, and that limits people’s willingness to build pedestrian-accessible businesses there… similarly, this is why the half-mile-long pedestrian barrier of Northgate Mall and the cul-de-sac access pattern of the office park to the south matter even though they have pretty good walking access from the transit center itself).

      • David L says

        The stops on 92nd east of College Way are so close to NSCC (just across a small parking lot) that I think they serve NSCC fine. I don’t think you need to go up College Way just to serve NSCC. And the trip up College Way is a huge time sink for the 16 if you serve NTC/Northgate Station — which I think is non-optional.

  11. Mike Orr says

    With Kemper musing about a ped bridge over Bellevue Way, how about extending it east to the Link station, and possibly even further to 116th. That would connect Kempertown and the future Wallaceville with the station right in between.

    • Charles says

      There is already at grade pedway between Bellevue Transit Center and the Bellevue Collection. Does it need to be enclosed and elevated too?

    • asdf says

      Kemper would sooner build a fence to prevent access to his building from the Link station, than build a bridge.

    • David L says

      I’m not sure, to put it mildly, about the feasibility of a pedestrian bridge that’s almost half a mile long and climbs over a large hill.

      • Charles says

        How’s that different that much the ped/bike bridge over I-5 at Northgate? From 108th to Bellevue Way isn’t quite a 1/2 mile.

      • David L says

        The Link station’s not at 108th, it’s close to 112th. The stairs in on the 110th end are about a third of the way down the block between 110th and 112th.

        The difference between Bellevue and Northgate is that the Northgate bridge is crossing a freeway, while the Bellevue bridge would be crossing heavily built-up territory on a hill.

    • aw says

      Is the problem with the SR-167 HOT lanes just that the highway is not crowded enough that people feel they would gain something by paying for it? It seems like WSDOT started the experiment at about the same time that demand was falling off due to the Great Recession.

      Hopefully the state will come to their senses and shoot the I-405 expansion and HOT lane project in the head. Instead, encourage carpooling by keeping HOV only lanes and apply fixes to chokepoints (like the I-405 and SR-167 interchange).

      • David L says

        I think part of the issue is that most of the areas served by SR-167 just aren’t wealthy enough to generate a lot of users who will trade $2 for a few minutes. I think if you could put in HOT lanes on I-405 between Totem Lake and Coal Creek Parkway, in the part of the Eastside where money sloshes around like cheap beer, you would see very different results.

    • Lack Thereof says

      The SR-167 HOT lanes were just a technological test and proof-of-concept; a dry run for congestion pricing. SR-167 was chosen for the test because it’s not a particularly congested corridor and there was no way for it to screw up traffic.

      There’s no real scoop in WSDOT overestimating the traffic – their estimates are always way high.

    • Eric H says

      Pretty much any revenue forecast for any toll project that was done around 2008 has fallen short, likely because employment started falling around that time.

      • Brent says

        Or, maybe the legislature did the engineering and financial calculations by committee, and WSDOT just followed orders.

  12. Sophia Katt says

    Will, Chuck Marohn is setting up a podcast with Chuck Wolfe (Wolfe’s new book on urbanism is out now) as well. Marohn should speak in Seattle and all the STB posters should show up. Pretty fascinating day that would be!

  13. Sam says

    It’s funny to see some bloggers and commenters here demonize Mr. Freeman, because the things that he has done and is planning in downtown Bellevue is much of what STB promotes.

    • David L says

      That’s a very strange universe you’re in (or possibly just some very strange products you’re smoking) where STB promotes superblocks, giant parking lots, 8-lane arterials with 4-minute signal cycles, and massive freeway expansion projects.

      • Sam says

        David, if you take away the name Kemper Freeman, and it was just some generic corporation building high rise residential, commercial, hotel buildings, and a shopping center, in a condensed area near a transit hub, STB would be applauding this development, and would not be making cracks about expanding empires.

    • Mike Orr says

      Kemper’s buildings are walkable. The Avalon Meydenbauer has condos, apartments, and a supermarket, just kitty-corner from the mall and the downtown park, and within walking distance of the transit center and library. That’s urbanist in a lot of ways, and we should be glad Kemper is doing it. The rumor that he’s worried about Link bringing “those people” from the hood is bogus because the 550 stops right at his property and goes straight to the hood. Kemper’s problem is that he’s myopic about cars and thinks widening 405 is the best thing Bellevue could do. This may be related to a belief that his upscale customers (those who don’t live within walking distance) will be coming in cars, and that too much congestion on 8th and 405 will deter them from coming at all, and they won’t even think about taking transit.

    • Mike Orr says

      Oh, ahd the superblocks are not Kemper’s fault. They go back fifty years to when Bellevue Square was just a couple one-story buildings with no “mall” around them. The idea that Kemper had enough power then to unilaterally convince Bellevue to build superblocks rather than Seattle-sized blocks is pretty absurd. Bellevue was following the suburban ideals of the era, which is a lot larger than one little Kemper.

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        You might be amused by Kemper Freeman’s bio at HistoryLink.

        Money quotes: Kemper Freeman Jr. is fond of recounting his first memory as a toddler: a bulldozer clearing the farmland for the family’s shopping center.

        The extra-wide streets were laid out in “superblocks,” about four times the size of ordinary downtown blocks, in order to limit the number of stoplights drivers would have to face before reaching Bellevue Square.

      • David L says

        Kemper could have built in a way to minimize the impact of the superblocks and make downtown somewhat walkable. Instead he chose to build projects that accentuate them, and indeed to consolidate four of them into one mega-superblock to build the current version of Bellevue Square which opened in 1983. And he was a major force behind the widening of NE 8 St some years ago.

        Every time he has been given the opportunity to choose between expanding car capacity and improving walkability, he has chosen the car capacity. That’s true both in his actual development projects and in his political advocacy.

      • Sam says

        What Mr. Freeman is doing in downtown Bellevue is more in line with what STB encourages in terms of land use than say, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, SLU, and most of Seattle. He’s setting the bar pretty high. Compare what he’s doing to, say, the area around TIBS or Othello. He’s doing exactly what STB says developers should be doing. While liberals on Queen Anne are fighting five story apartments, Mr. Freeman is going to be building a 17 story apartment building within walking distance of the BTC and Bellevue Station.

        Mr. Freeman is, even as a conservative, more progressive and green than the progressive are!

      • Brent says

        Are we still not allowed to say anything about how Kemper Sr. acquired all his land?

      • Sam says

        Brent, sure, go ahead and talk about it, but don’t forget to talk about how land in most of America was acquired.

      • Mike Orr says

        You also have to look at “Walkable compared to what?” Of course it’s less walkable than University Way or Kirkland Avenue or some place in Brookline MA I’ve never seen. But many American cities have such wide arterials and pedestrian-hostile streetsides it almost makes me cry, like the six-lane boulevards every mile in Dallas or the expressways in Silicon Valley. Or the part of Kent around the Soos Creek trail (SE 272nd & 152nd, SE 208th and SE 192nd). Downtown Bellevue’s grid is pretty well-preserved compared to those. I lived along Bellevue Way for several years in the 80s (SE 3rd, also NE 17th and NE 29th) and walked all over to the mall and record shops and transit center and stuff, and while it’s not University Way it’s reasonable for a suburb. I remember when 102nd in Bellevue Square was a full street. The fact that it’s downgraded now doesn’t bother me because you can still walk through. I’m more opposed to the cul-de-sacs east of 405 and west of 100th. In comparison, downtown Bellevue is a pretty positive thing.

  14. fil says

    How does i-405 get hundreds of million of $ in the current trans package and i-5 which is just as or more congested get zero $? The roadway is as rough as cobblestone and needs to be replaced…

      • Scott Stidell says

        …also why the eastside gets lovely park lids and transit stations in three different locations over 520, while Montlake gets…

        (certainly the transit platforms are a good idea–Montlake deserves to keep theirs–but as this project is not even fully funded the park lids are overkill to say the least. But them what has, gets.)

      • Brent says

        Why does the 43rd District get the shaft in transportation funding?

        Two words: Ed, Murray.

  15. Carl says

    I looked at the material for the Bellevue poll and there are two things that just glared out at me. This is from the material presented at the meeting:

    1. There is a nice diagram of the catchment area for the “Downtown Bellevue” station. At least 40% of the catchment area is occupied by I-405, and the large majority of downtown Bellevue is missed.

    If the station were moved one superblock westward, so that it were under the BTC between 108th and 110th, instead of between 110th and 112th, the number of destinations within the catchment area would be doubled. Let’s put aside the politics of paying for it, but given the multi-billion dollar cost of the whole project, does it really make sense to put the Bellevue station so far to the side of downtown Bellevue? Even at the cost of a delay, this should really be revisited, and whether it’s tunneled or surface the route should be going via 108th, with a station closer to 108th.

    2. The proposal shows all entrance for the Hospital/Midlakes station on the north side of NE 8th St. This seems incredible short-sighted. I can’t imagine Bellevue is going to want a signalized crosswalk under the light rail, so the nearest crosswalks are at 116th Ave or 120th Ave. That makes transfers to/from eastbound buses unattractive, and it closes off the entire south side of NE 8th St from convenient transit access. The area is currently the auto row, but this is prime ground for redevelopment into apartments or offices. Even if the station is to the north of NE 8th St, there should be pedestrian crossing that lets people alight on the south side of the street. Even better is to have the station span the street, but at least the pedestrian access should go to the south side.

    • asdf says

      If the area south of NE 8th street does get redeveloped, you could conceivably see a future pedestrian bridge over I-405 that would take you right to the Link station. Suddenly, the station being a couple blocks east of what many people would have liked starts to look good.

      • says

        I’m going to try to channel my inner d.p. here.

        No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It’s unbelievable that such completely counterfactual crap passes for logic here in Seattle. How could the vague possibility of access to the station from across the freeway better than the actual actuality of access to the station right across the street from actual buildings?!?

        OK, I kind of suck at ranting, but do you see what I’m getting at? Pushing the station east toward the freeway and away from the actual places people want to go makes the location worse. Always worse, never better, unless the thing you’re moving it away from is an even worse pedestrian destination than a freeway. Each successive block away from the station some percentage of people living/working there won’t want to walk. Do the math. A freeway in the walkshed of a train station is pure waste.

        The same logic should apply to places like Northgate and Lynnwood, but for some reason we want to build the train station so it’s next to existing bus stops and parking lots, even though these are pretty much the easiest things to move in human creation. That’s sort of stupid and awful. At least Northgate has the excuse that it can serve NSCC with a freewayside location (marginally).

      • David L says

        What Al said. You would be creating a station between two pedestrian nodes (assuming, a big assumption, that Auto Row gets developed into a dense area) that are each 3/8 of a mile from the station. That’s solidly into “only people without any other options would walk that far” territory.

      • d.p. says

        I was in Bellevue yesterday for the first time in what felt like forever.

        Sitting at Main & 102nd — the heart of Old Bellevue — I realized that I was quite literally a full mile from where the primary Bellevue “subway” station is about to end up.

        A mile! And seeing the vertical glass facades in the distance that would have to be approached, skirted, and left behind, I realized just how fully that mile would be felt.

        For fuck’s sake, Bellevue City Council.

    • AP says

      If the station were moved one superblock westward, the tunnel underneath 110th might make sense. As is, the train goes from one station on 112th (at Main) into a tunnel one superblock west, out of the tunnel to another station on 112th (at 6th.) Only in Seattle does this make sense.

    • Mike Orr says

      Yes, it should be one superblock west. But that’s not where the political consensus was. We can only build what the political consensus allows. If you want a better consensus, go back in time and replace the members in the Bellevue city council (except Balducci, who would have supported you).

      • AP says

        It wasn’t just the council. It was residents, it was Kemper, it was Sound Transit itself. The train should have been down Bellevue Way except that Sound Transit blew their best hand first. As d.p. says, “for fuck’s sake”, Sound Transit.

      • Mike Orr says

        I’m convinced that ST caved in order to avoid years of delay and more litigation. It had an opportunity for an agreement with Bellevue that was better than the Vision Line and put the Surrey Downs controversy to rest, and it took it. The line is already two years behind schedule, and that’s two more years of substandard trips people will have to endure until it opens.

      • d.p. says

        What about all the substandard trips that will have to be endured after it opens, through forever?

  16. Cinesea says

    Can anyone update us on the Shoreline LINK meeting? I really wanted to go but was unable to. Any decisions made on station placement or design?

    • Mike Orr says

      I just submitted an article (which may or may not be approved). But in summary, the decision will be this fall. The active scenarios are (A) 145 + 185, (B) 130 + 145 + 185, or (C) 130 + 155 + 175. A draft EIS is coming in June or July.

      • David L says

        Who needs to be pressured to make sure one of the 130th alternatives is adopted? Who is opposed to the 130th station?

      • Brent says

        So, is 130th only alive in a 3-station scenario? That certainly would indicate the fix is in.

        Personally, I see 130th as having no inherent advantages over 145th, except as a gateway to Lake City. Its actual walkshed has the same disadvantages as that of 145th’s. 145th, at least, would be the quickest gateway to Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, and Woodinville, FWIW, and has more apartments that would get direct bus service to the station. 145th’s other disadvantage is that it has fewer well-to-do homeowners lobbying for that station, since it has more apartments.

        Will TOD happen around 130th after the well-to-do homeowners living next to the golf course win? (Where have I heard this scenario before?)

      • David L says

        Brent, you’re ignoring the multifamily housing in the 130th walkshed, mostly southeast of the station. Roosevelt/125th are also a good deal more walkable than 145th.

        Also, and equally importantly, the two urban villages you’d want to connect with a far north Seattle Link stop — Lake City and Bitter Lake — are both centered around 125th/130th. There is a cluster of multifamily housing near 145th and Lake City Way but it is at the edge, not in the center, of Lake City.

  17. Norah says

    Al Dimond, thanks for the response above regarding stop diets. That makes sense! I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

  18. Bernie says

    Interesting cover story in the Seattle Weekly, “Tall Tales From Amazonia”. Pick up a copy at your local bus stop.

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