At about the same time that the Washington Transportation Blog posted these, I went and took some photos along the Rainier Valley Light Rail segment. I also have a few comments about the line’s design.

Down around Rainier Beach station, the track seems completely done, with the station apparently complete and the overhead wires installed. As you go north, things get progressively less developed till you reach Mount Baker station and the Beacon Hill segment.

Here’s Othello Station, which as you can see is surrounded by retail development.

Immediately north of Othello, the pylons are in with the pointy tips that my friend remarked made them look like “weapons for giant fighting robots.”

Up at Columbia City station, they’re putting in little plazas at each corner of the station. They’re looking nice.

And the station itself is coming along nicely.

One thing that could be a problem is a lack of crossing gates at major intersections. Here at MLK & Alaska, I can certainly envision some idiot trying to turn left and blocking the train.

And lastly, a pedestrian crossing near the Rainier Vista development. There’s a boys and girls’ club going in near here, and I’m really concerned kids are going to run across the tracks wherever they like. It’s a matter of time until the first accident. That’s not only a tragedy in its own right, but will almost certainly result in reduced speeds afterwards, which makes LINK a less attractive option.

I would propose a tasteful, 2 or 3 foot black iron fence along the length of the right-of-way to channel people into the signalized crossing, as well as crossing gates at intersections. How much more investment could it be on a multi-billion dollar project?

By the way, you can see that drainage on the tracks already sucks.

10 Replies to “Rainier Valley Segment Photos”

  1. It will not take long (days, probably) before the first idiot hits a Link train… I would love to see crossing gates at major intersections and tasteful fencing. The more grade separating features in this non(semi?)-separated section, the better.

    I assume that the Link trains will have “turn green” buttons for the traffic lighted intersections? It’s surprising how fast MAX runs through some non-grade separated areas with their signal priority system.

    Speaking of our transit infrastructure implementation… I saw one of the So. Lake Union streetcars in front of Whole Foods doing a test run last week, and it made me feel a little giddy.

  2. Dig through some of the paperwork on Link and you’ll find the official estimates that were required to be submitted to the federal government for how many accidents the line will be involved in each year, and the number of pedestrian deaths that are expected…

  3. Martin: No more children will be hit by Link trains than those who are already hit by cars.

  4. Ben,

    Of course cars hit kids. I’m not arguing against rail!

    However, when LINK trains hit kids they’re going to mandate speed reductions, making riding it insufferable.

    It seems like a simple investment to prevent it, too.

  5. Houston is not a guide. It is the poorest designed light rail line in the country. Tracks run in the street similar to a streetcar.

    The ST design is a good one. Crosswalks and platforms are designed in a Z formation to force peds to look in the direction of oncoming trains. All trains will have signal priority.

    In real cities with light rail already, when you listen to the news they always say, “some idiot hit a train again” But they don’t freak out about a minor accident here and there.

    MLK post-rail is a much safer street for peds and cars than it ever was before with no center island for peds and its 1950 four lane design.

  6. Suggestion for a “tasteful, 2 or 3 foot black iron fence along the length of the right-of-way” won’t fly between stations because emergency vehicles need to be able to make U-turns across the tracks. There will be a little fence between the tracks in the stations to hinder people from crossing the tracks illegally. You can see that fence in the video animations of stations on the Sound Transit web site.

  7. This is the exact same design that the Interstate Max line (Yellow line) uses in Portland.

    I haven’t heard of an accident on that line… ever. Of course the train only goes 35-40 mph.

Comments are closed.