We’ve been over the plan highlights, but it’s worth it to point out some of the details that can be gleaned from the plan documents. Appendix A is the one that gets into the weeds, although the header lists it as a “draft” for the July 24 board meeting. Random observations:

  • The $17.8 billion figure is not $17.8 billion in new taxes — it includes over $2.3 billion in surplus left over from Sound Move in 1996, $895 million in assumed Federal Grants (which is much less than the $1.25 billion likely to be contributed to the UW-Seatac segment, and is therefore conservative), and over $200 million in operating revenues. In terms of cost to taxpayers, a better figure is $7.8 billion in taxes and $6.5 billion in bonds, presumably paid off mostly by taxes. In any case, we should just stick with the “$69 per person per year” figure, because that’s the number that actually means something to voters. But the daily newspapers should take notice.
  • There are planning studies for: Downtown / West Seattle / Burien / Renton; Downtown / Ballard / UW, UW / Kirkland / Redmond; and Bellevue / Issaquah.  Along with Everett and Tacoma, there are your ST3 possibilities.
  • Sounder North “provisionally” gets stations at Ballard and Broad Street. This is a big deal for some Ballard residents, and all North Line commuters that won’t have to go all the way to King St and then work their way back up to SLU or Belltown. As for the “provisional” status, I suspect this has to do with the uncertainty of tax collection, federal funding, reserve fund leftovers, etc. There’s no other obvious place to spend North King surpluses of a few hundred million, except streetcar extensions and the long-forgotten Boeing Access Rd Station.

Appendix A goes into more detail about which P&Rs get improved, etc., as well as breaking out sub-area equity carefully. Have a look if you’re interested.

The one missing piece is exactly what bus lines will see the promised improvement.  In particular, I’m curious to see what “BRT” means in the context of SR 520, since we all know that brand can be used to sell a fully grade-separated bus, or something totally indistinguishable from a standard Metro route.  The 545 already has exceptionally high-frequency service in peak hours and an HOV lane, so there’s good questions about what more can be done.

34 Replies to “Plan Odds and Ends”

  1. My guess would be south of the Olympic Sculpture Park, down the hill from the Old Spaghetti Factory.

  2. Broad Street Station will go between Broad Street and Vine Street with a modification to the sidewalk and/or removal of the Waterfront Streetcar line.

    Clay and Cedar Streets will be closed and no parking will be available.

    As for Ballard. I still personally this is a stupid idea and will not actually go through. My reason behind that is simple – Where are you going to put the station that has ZERO access to anything?

    BNSF is not going to allow it to be placed just after the bridge for safety and security purposes. The residences are not going to want people parking or walking in their neighborhood in mass quantities. If it’s further North on the line, there is no room for a station between the unstable hillsides that run between the Ballard Bridge and Golden Gardens. There is a reason why BNSF has took so long to double track the section they are currently working on now.

    Ballard is one of those silly political stations that doesn’t make any sense at all. If anything, South Auburn would benefit more from a station than Ballard ever will. I rather see On/Off’s in the upper hundreds than 5-20 people a day. At least with South Auburn, the benefit would be less crowding at Sumner and Auburn stations and would bring people from Lakeland Hills and Lake Tapps to the Sounder.

    Who would have thought I finally found something to be “bitter” about.

      1. Does it include a mural promoting creationism and a kiosk explaining intelligent design?

        The DI people are troglodytes. Remind me again why anyone takes them seriously?

    1. Personally I think Vine/Wall Street makes more sense for the stop. It would be closer to the cruise ships, and to downtown. And they already have a Vine Street station sign!

      I wrote about this last December.

      Don’t forget that Amazon soon plans to move into the Denny area, so there will be thousand more jobs that could be accessible via a north station.

      1. Amazon will be on the other side of the Denny area, next to the streetcar line (you can see it now; it’s the big hole in the ground across from the Terry & Thomas station). Paradoxically, even though Vine Street is about half as far away, it would probably be faster to go to King Street Station then take the 70.

  3. I’m curious as to who would use the Boeing Access Road Station? The area is strictly industrial and residential areas are quite a ways away from the proposed station location…

    1. My guess for BAR would be those working in the industrial area or people who do not want to park in Downtown Seattle and doesn’t mind a 10-15 minute ride on Sounder or Link into Seattle. If I had the option, I’d probably go for driving from say, Covington to BAR and take Link into Seattle. It avoids the Downtown stress and bad drivers, not having to pay for parking if the employer doesn’t provide it, and probably would encourage those whom never took transit to give it a shot, especially when the good ole radio pipes up “It’s raining, 3 car pile up at Boeing Field, blocking all but the HOV lane, and traffic is backed up from Tukwila to Downtown” blah blah blah. =)

    2. As BAR is the only place LINK will cross I-5 and the Sounder south of downtown, it’s the most obvious place for an intermodal station for Sounder, express bus, and light rail.

      It would give buses a fast pickup/dropoff point without going through downtown (boosting operating frequency), give a good transfer point for Sounder riders to get to the airport, and maybe a decent spot to put a park-and-ride.

      The existence of some jobs around there is almost incidental, but you’d figure lack of NIMBYs would encourage TOD pretty quickly.

      1. Wouldn’t some industrial property owners oppose TOD or non-industrial development like the Port of Seattle Interbay deal that fell through?

        Most of the land around the BAR station are strips of land between the tracks and the freeway. The large area to the SW is a police K-9 training facility. TOD won’t be able to go very high as it lies in the flight path of the Boeing Field runway.

      2. I am one of the community outreach staff for Link light rail, and I frequently handle inquiries about the BAR station.

        The BAR station was put in “deferred” status in 2001 due to high construction costs (wetlands needing mitigation, configuration issues due to location between BNSF and I-5, and access limited to Boeing Access Rd. It would have to be a multi-level station as well, further adding to expense.

        When ST looked at ridership potential, even including xfers between Sounder and Link, the numbers just weren’t there, certainly not in proportion to the high construction costs. During the ST2 deliberations, nobody found any changes in the analysis that lead to the decision to defer, so the station was not included in the new plan.

  4. The Ballard stop does seem very silly. I can’t imagine it getting more than 15-20 people a day. Not sure about the Broad Street one either… if we build out the Streetcar system then Belltown and South Lake Union residents will have very easy access to King Street Station, so why bother slowing Sounder down?

    1. It’s not for Belltown/SLU residents. It’s for people coming from SnoCo who work in the northern part of the core.

      Going to King St and back up will cost you at least 20 minutes on your commute, and probably more. That tends to wipe out the time advantage of taking the train, and then some.

      1. This could make a lot of sense, if combined with some good bus service from that station up into Belltown/SLU/downtown.

    2. A stop at a simple platform station like this doesn’t have to eat up much time, and the savings would be great for many commuters. I work downtown and were I to have to go to King Street just to commute back north by bus or light rail I’d probably just drive due to the extra lost time doing so.

      A 2 minute stop is all that is needed, and trains move through there pretty slowly anyway, so it wouldn’t be like they’d be slowing down from a high speed clip.

  5. A station in Ballard would be a terrible waste of money. To get FROM just about anywhere in Ballard (except maybe the 5 blocks right around the hypothetical station) TO just about anywhere in downtown (other than maybe King Street/Pioneer Square) it would be much quicker to just take the bus, especially with the new RapidRide coming online. I live in Ballard and work 3 blocks from King Street Station, but I would never take the Sounder.

    ALSO, if light rail to Ballard eventually happens, a Sounder stop would be COMPLETELY redundant.

    1. A station would be easy. Take over part of Golden Garden Park (sorry, a transit station from 7am to 6pm is worlds more important than some silly park) and build it where the ped. tunnel goes under hte RR tracks. It has signal protection, a wide ROW, and the slope is far enough east from the tracks not to pose a safety issue. Use money to fix the road coming down from 85th. And light rail to Ballard will take at least a decade. Build it and they will come…

      You live in Ballard, work 3 blocks from KSS, but you won’t take the Sounder if its an option? With all due respect, you have a screw loose.

      1. I could either walk three blocks from my house to the bus and ride it straight to work, or I could walk to the bus, ride it to Market Street, transfer to another bus that would take me to the Sounder station, and then pay a higher fare to get to work that way. It would be slower, involve two transfers, and cost more money. If I actually did all of that, THEN I would have a screw loose.

        Tens of thousands of people live within a 5 block radius of a stop on the 15, 17, 18, or 28 which all run downtown all day long, including express during the morning/evening commutes. Perhaps a few hundred live within a 5 block radius of where the Sounder could stop. The only people for whom a Ballard Sounder stop would make any sense are those few hundred – provided they need to commute between 7-8 a.m. and 4:30-5:30p.m. All of this for 3 round-trips per day?

        Most of Ballard is no where near the BNSF tracks, let alone the one point along those tracks where a Sounder stop could be located. Commuter rail makes sense for transit between suburbs and the city, where the train station itself is a point that people either drive, bike, or ride a bus to. It does not make sense when efficient bus routes already run (more frequently, with more destinations directly served) from one neighborhood of a city to another.

        Let’s use the North King money for something that will provide useful service all day long. If we are really concerned about best serving Ballard, we will save it and apply it to the future light rail line that will reach that neighborhood.

      2. chh, the fourth Sounder round trip comes online later this year.

        Ballard is likely getting streetcar service from the city in the same timeframe as ST2 improvements would be built.

        How about we let the planners figure out how many riders it would get, and whether or not to implement it? It sounds like there’s a lot more going on here than you think. Consider the 48, for instance – it would serve this station.

      3. Uh, the 48 terminus is several hundred feet above Golden Gardens and the railway track. I guess technically one could make that transfer, but that’s just one more deterrent to ridership.

        Realistically, any Ballard/Shilshole Sounder stop would be served by the 46, which I understand is supposed to see more frequent service starting in a few months. But even that route will only have half-hour headways.

        3 round trips, 4 round trips, I’m not sure it makes a difference — this stop would be implemented in order to throw Ballard a proverbial bone. Dozens of people will be thrilled. But it’s not a cost-effective use of ST $$$.

      4. The only way that route 48 is even relevant to this discussion is if the Sounder station is near Golden Gardens, which would make it even less useful than if it were located near the Ballard Locks.

        Then again, maybe this is the long-awaited transit godsend that all of those Mukilteo-to-Ballard commuters have been pining for!

        As for the suggestion that we “let the planners figure it out,” I think it would be important for the planners to take into account the usefulness that this project would have for people who live in Ballard, such as myself. (For most of Ballard, that usefulness is zero.) Sharing my thoughts on the question is my way of helping the planners “figure it out.” I hope that is okay with you.

      5. The answer to this is a ski lift going up Golden Gardens hill.

        Either that, or an extension of the planned Ballard/Fremont streetcar route to Golden Gardens.

  6. I find the cost part really interesting and I hope that gets stressed more. Those couple billion can make a big different, especially when you put it in percent terms how much cheaper it is than they’re saying.

    Also, I’m guessing we wouldn’t know the actual federal funding numbers before the vote but it’d be great to stress how conservative those numbers are. But it’d be even better if we could point out how much cheaper it just got when actual numbers come in though.

    1. We’re already seeing the same kind of price confusion as we did for Prop 1 when the cost seemed to differ every time anyone talked about it. That kind of confusion turns voters off. They think they’re being lied to. It is very important the price tag be talked about the same way by all media outlets, otherwise I fear people will vote against the measure as much because they feel they don’t know what the cost will be as anything.

      1. You realize that’s why the media outlets are using different numbers, right? The Times and P-I don’t want this to pass.

      2. Ben – I’m as cynical as anyone about the media, but I don’t think that’s the reason – rather I place the blame on ST proponents. I don’t think reporters have been provided an internal memo telling them to obfuscate the cost by introducing confusion.

  7. Having a spare $100 million is a nice problem. Here on the Eastside, that would get you an entire retrofitted rail corridor from Renton to Snohomish. Probably could include some park-and-rides along the way and shuttle buses to SeaTac from the southern terminus.

    1. Don’t forget, the current plan already includes $50 million in partnership funds for that rail corridor, so we might see something there in the near future. I don’t think it would be too hard for a private company to raise another $50 million to get to your estimate.

      Instead of shuttle buses, would it be possible to connect an Eastside line to the light rail? Google Maps makes it look like the rail goes all the way through Renton, meeting up with the main Sounder line near Tukwila. If the Boeing Access Road station were finished, the line could easily end there.

      1. The line runs *on* downtown streets in Renton. They’ve made it clear they will not have trains running through their downtown.

      2. Ah, that would be a problem. Well, even if the rail line can’t make it through downtown Renton, they can still connect it to the 560 somewhere around there.

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