Here’s the remainder of our conversation from last week (Part 1). I should correct one thing. In Part I, I remarked that the ST2 plan did not include funding for an I-405 light rail study, pretty much ruling it out for ST3. Since then, ST has posted an updated plan that shows an I-405 study included.
JJ: I don’t have massive opinions one way or the other, but the BSNF Eastside corridor doesn’t really seem to connect the areas that need to be connected. Perhaps part of that right-of-way can be used for a future ST plan. If some company or manicupality can find a way to use the ST2 matching funds and it works, that’d be great. But I don’t think anyone can do it, and that money will go to 405 bus service.
ST3 would be smart to address N-S travel on the Eastside, and not head out to Issaquah.
AS: Clearwire has 1000 in its campus (as of January they had 200 OPEN positions http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/venture/layoff.asp?id=821 ) Bungie has 107 (according to their website) and Monolith is now Warner Brother’s Seattle area hub (my brother-in-law is a VP there) and has about 400 employees.
According to the workspaces site MS has 221 employees in Redmond Town Center.
I don’t want to argue about this anymore, but both Houghton and downtown kirkland are a short walk away from where BNSF goes through Kirkland.
JJ: I should note that Renton <=> Bellevue is much worse than Bellevue <=> Kirkland, in my experience.
BS: Monolith hasn’t really grown that I know of. Here’s a source that they had 100 at the time I moved to Sony, and I haven’t heard that they’ve picked up any more:
(link to Seattle Times article)
Indeed, Bungie has more than 40. I guess they hired more.
Regardless, it’s pointless. Five hundred people who live along the line in Seattle or downtown Bellevue will take rail and then transfer at Overlake Hospital to get to work. Five thousand (actually, Redmond extension was more like seven thousand) will board at two downtown Redmond stops to come to MS and DT Bellevue. There are a tiny number of people who would be able to access the Kirkland line, except at the S. Kirkland park and ride, which is already full.
BS: Indeed, and that’s where the BNSF line is being severed anyway. Most of those people aren’t coming from Renton anyway, they’re coming from Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Tacoma, etc.
AS: Absolutely, I-405 is a disaster right there. I’m going to throw up another flame-inspiring thought: none of these extensions – BNSF or Redmond – will work without more park-and-ride spots.
JJ: BNSF, absolutely, since it doesn’t hit core areas.
In terms of Link, Downtown Redmond near the Redmond TC is not the type of area where you build a massive park and ride structure like brad is fawning for. Those streets aren’t designed to handle a lot of traffic — many one-ways, all are small. Extend the line to the Whole Foods area, and now we’re talking. Even some of the plans from ST2 that went closer to Marymoor would be more compatible with parking (currently light industrial areas).
The thing about Downtown Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue is that these are undoubtedly auto-dependent suburb downtowns (less so with Bellevue), but they are not typical suburb sprawl that would be totally compatible with large park & rides that belong more toward the fringes of the system.
BS: I’d recommend terminating at Bear Creek, yes, near Whole Foods. One DT Redmond stop, then a terminator with a park and ride to be a catch-all for Union Hill Road and East Lake Sammamish. My original point about DT Redmond is that it will grow in response to a light rail station -it’s upzoned, something DT Kirkland likely won’t be.
Both DT Kirkland and DT Redmond are similar, yes. But BNSF doesn’t go to DT Kirkland – it goes to a suburb of a suburb, and you have to transfer to get there.
MD: I think Ben makes a good point about commuters from Kent, Auburn, Puyallup, etc. Luckily, we have a commuter rail line to serve them that intersects with Eastside rail at Tukwila.
It’s certainly true that it’ll be expensive to replace the crossings on the southern half of the line. The question is, though, expensive compared to what? Building light rail on that corridor, using whatever optimal right-of-way you come up with, is going to be considerably more expensive.
I don’t see buses as a good long term solution. First, the HOV lanes are probably going to fill up soon. Secondly, 405 is unique in not really having a parallel arterial when there’s an accident and the highway goes to pot. Third, buses have the same old capacity, reliability, and quality-of-ride issues you have everywhere else. It’s not a good technology for regional backbones, as we’ve argued before.
BS: Martin, the city of Renton has made it crystal clear that they will not be reactivating the track through their downtown. Yes, there’s all this need. There isn’t all this money. That’s why it waits for ST3 to start saving money, and ST4 for construction.
Remember, it’s not the buses or the trains, it’s the right of way. I know you guys want there to be some kind of easy eastside solution, but there isn’t. You get through Renton, and then you have to deal with all the crossings kids use near the water, and the Wilburton Tunnel replacement, and the fact that people don’t want to ride a train across the trestle (yes, that’s an issue), and then you’re east of downtown bellevue, so your transfers don’t look good.
The problem with this line is less that it’s impossible, and more that its tiny ridership would deal a devastating blow to the image of transit. That is why these generally anti-transit people support it!
Just FYI, the Boeing Turn still goes through Downtown Renton. BNSF rebuilt all of the bridges on the route and also laid new 132lb rail between the BNSF mainline and to Renton Boeing.
The City of Renton’s has changed it’s position recently after public outcry for not being a part of the transportation solution of having some sort of rail system, especially since it runs right through Downtown Renton.
At this point, I would have to say while DMU’s would be excellent, light-rail should be the preferred options. If you want to kick it up a notch, Siemens has a Diesel LRV… Yes, Diesel Light-Rail.
The total build out (with the way I did it with a few BNSF engineers) came out to just alittle over $650 million dollars for a complete and nearly full double track corridor, some grade crossing seperations, new quad gates with wayside horn so trains don’t blow through the crossings and 132lb rail. If it was to be a light-rail corridor, 115lb rail could be used and that money saved from the rail could provide a connection closer into Downtown Bellevue. It doesn’t need to physically go INTO Bellevue but following along 112th Avenue SE would be the best solution. The only way this would work is at the Wilburton Tunnel and have it bank left (as your heading Northbound) to 112th Ave SE. It would be best to cut it back over of the same routing of Link with a “ramp” down to the BNSF mainline.
This COULD realistically be a prevision for Eastside Link if sometime like this was to happen.
Ok, enough day dreaming.
MD: I should correct my point at the beginning of this thread: the latest update to the Sound Transit 2 map has an I-405 HCT line as one to be studied, so there is a chance it might show up in ST3, instead of 4 as I suggested earlier.