Over the Columbia. The new I-5 bridge over the Columbia would allow Tri-Met’s Max rail to cross over into Vancouver Washington. I guess they would have to change their name to Quad-Met?

From the articile:

Making light rail part of a new Columbia River Crossing would serve Clark County residents who want an alternative to commuting by car to Oregon jobs, Gov. Chris Gregoire told a Portland radio interviewer Wednesday.

In an interview with Emily Harris, host of KOPB’s new call-in public affairs program Think Out Loud, the governor stopped short of saying inclusion of light rail will be a condition for state participation in the project. But she made her support for the mass transit option clear.

Light rail would cost more initially than bus rapid transit on a dedicated freeway corridor, but it would save money on maintenance over the long term, Gregoire said. Light rail also would allow Vancouver residents to move around their own city car-free, she said

Interesting. Now about that 520 bridge, Mrs Governor…

11 Replies to “Gregoire Wants Light Rail on the Bridge…”

  1. Is 520 the best crossing location for rail? I never understand why people assume the best place for rail is where there’s a highway. Yes, in the Puget Sound we use the freeway system (not a transit map) as our visual map of the region. But freeway locations are the opposite of pedestrian oriented, and stations near freeways are in the most congested places, making transfers from buses difficult.

    The 520 corridor has other problems. Where does rail go on either side of the lake? On the Seattle side, where would you go after coming to land near Husky stadium? On the Eastside, the 520 corridor is a transit wasteland until around Overlake – that’s many miles without any passenger interchanges, and no high density destinations along the way.

    Perhaps a better approach would be to cross from Sand Point to Kirkland. A line from Ballard, Fremont and Wallingford could run through the U District in the 45th St. corridor (shown in ST’s long range plan map), serving the U District, University Village, Children’s Hospital and new development at Sand Point. Sand Point Way is very wide, and the crossing to Kirkland is about half as long as the 520 crossing. And Kirkland is a real place; Medina will not generate transit riders. From Kirkland one could enter the BNSF corridor and continue to either Bellevue or Overlake. This sort of line would allow transit to serve neighborhoods that are hard to get between in a car, making it very competitive and creating accessibility that doesn’t exist today.

    I’m not saying that’s the best thing to do or even a priority – but if you’re going to think about spending an extra billion to make the 520 bridge rail-accessible, you ought to at least consider whether it’s the best place to put it in the long run.

  2. quasimodal brings up an interesting point. What is the cost savings from having the transit bridge over a preexisting route versus a new route? Also what about tunneling under the lake? I’m not sure about the depth of lake washington between Sand Point and Kirkland but the average depth (according to the authoritative Wikipedia) is 108 feet, versus the San Francisco’s Transbay Tube’s maximum depth of 135 feet. (Again according to the authoritative Wikipedia.)

    Wouldn’t this be cheaper to maintain in the long term? Plus a tunnel wouldn’t need a lock mechanism and/or underpass to allow ships to pass.

    (The authoritative Wikipedia also defines sarcasm as the “Inversion of meaning or truth”.)

  3. The edges of the lake drop very steeply, so the San Francisco-style submerged tunnel is not possible. A bored tunnel may be, but would cost many times more than a bridge.

    The main advantage of a tunnel is its minimal impact on neighborhoods nearby and minimal interference with traffic. In the middle of the lake where neither og these are concernts. what would the extra billions it would cost to tunnel buy you?

  4. Hmm.. what about a floating underwater bridge? Not under the lakebed, but under the water line, attached to the bottom of the lake, al la a floating bridge.. perhaps the best of both worlds? Or should I stop attempting to get a degree in engineering via wikipedia?

  5. There has been a group of engineers promoting that idea for several years. Yes, it’s theoretically possible (but not well proven) to float a tunnel, but it’s still very expensive, and has potential for calamity.

    But still, the same question arises – what would all of the extra cost buy you? Very expensive solutions ought to result in some added value, but I can’t see what that added value would be. I think bridges can be very nice – especially if they’re devoted to transit and bikes.

  6. Re: ” I think bridges can be very nice – especially if they’re devoted to transit and bikes.”

    Ahh… you just reminded me of the Purple People Bridge in Newport/Cincinnati. I used to live in that area and one of its few redeeming features was the Purple People Bridge, a nice pedestrian bridge across the Ohio River. It was nice to be able to cross without the smell and noise of autos…

    Although to be truly recreational it needs good anchors on either end. The Newport Southbank Bridge connects a major entertainment/shopping center and park.

  7. 520 is a terrible location for a rail crossing. It’s actually a good thing that the Governor came out against that.

    On extending MAX to Vancouver, I am all for it.

  8. I once had an idea of a floating linear park/trail/transitway between Kirkland and Sand Point. Then it would provide another connection for bicyclists and transit across the lake, one that autos don’t get.

    Kirkland has a nice downtown and Sand Point is a huge park + Burke Gilman Trail connections. I can see some potential.

    The biggest headache for 520 design is the west landing. There are so many factors like the Arboretum, Montlake neighborhood and drawbridge, ship canal, Husky Stadium, UW Medical Center, etc. I could see a transit line heading up from the stadium to 45th and Ballard but the transition from bridge to land is going to be an engineering challenge. Not to mention quasimodal’s excellent points about Eastside ridership.

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