The Federal Transit Administration announced to Congress today it’s plan to fund University Link to the tune of $813 million. The notification is the second to last step to ensuring the full funding grant agreement between the FTA and Sound Transit. After today, Congress as 60 days to discuss the agreement, and if nothing unsurprising happens, the FTA will be able to execute the agreement. So by the middle of January, the FTA can start giving Sound Transit money to for University Link.

The press release, I can’t find a link, includes this quote:

University Link will provide a reliable option for drivers and transit users who are stuck on I-5, a facility that operates over capacity for up to eight hours a day, with vehicle speeds running between 15 and 35 mph. Already, buses can run up to 30 minutes behind schedule due to congestion. Compared to bus service, University Link travel times will be almost three times faster. From the University District, it will take 9 minutes instead of 25 minutes to get downtown and 3 minutes instead of 22 minutes to get to Capitol Hill.

Three minutes from the UD to Capitol Hill. Amazing.

51 Replies to “FTA: $813 Million for Univesity Link”

  1. Also in the news, the ST board authorized the first action on ST2: the purchase of the property for the Roosevelt Station, which will be used as the staging location for the North Link tunneling operation.

      1. Yeah, I’m guessing it’s straight from Husky Stadium Station to Capitol Hill Station and they turn the equipment after that to head downtown.

  2. 3 minutes…to the stadium, not quite the U-district proper. To be honest, I think other than game days (and even game days if the huskies keep playing as they do) this will be one of the least used stations. It would be nice to have some serious density rezones and deregulations just across the University Bridge but based on their sway in the 520 discussions my guess is that it will be a long time before those people will give up their SFHs.

    1. I think the ridership may be stronger than you expect here despite the lack of residential density. The UW Medical complex is a huge employer and destination. Those students and faculty who have departments located in the south end of campus will love this station even when rail is extended north.

      As a Coug, I hope the football game ridership is still weak ;)

      1. Yes, all the buildings around the fountain, as well as the HUB, are closer to Husky Stadium than they are to either the Campus Pkwy bus stop or the ST2 station at 43rd.

    2. If it were here now, I’d be riding it everyday. The station is within a 3-5 minute walk from the Civil Engineering, Forest Resources, Computer Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering buildings. It’s really not far from the HUB, the center of campus, about less than 10 minutes. It’ll take around the same time to walk from there to the station as it takes to walk to the 71,72,73 stop on The Ave.

      In short, the engineering and medical students will get to enjoy easy access to Link while the liberal arts folks will have to travel farther or wait for Brooklyn station to come online.

      Not to mention its proximity to the Burke-Gilman Trail which makes it really accessible from the U Village/Ravenna and south Wallingford areas. They recently added lots of bike parking next to the route 44 layover area. I think they were intended for people going to Husky games.

      1. I might use it every day, too. I don’t know if it would be easier to go from Roosevelt Station to the stadium and get on the 545, or to Westlake and then walk across the bridge.

    3. Keep in mind that the Magnuson Health Sciences Building is nearly 6 million sq ft–one of the largest buildings in the country, even though it is only 5-8 stories tall. Also, the Ravenna-Bryant Urban Village (around University Village) is densifying, including a new retirement community that’s almost finished, and QFC announced plans to replace their parking lot with apartments. SDOT has plans for HOV lanes on 25th which would make it very easy to get to Husky Stadium if you don’t want to do the one mile walk.

      1. Fun fact: the Health Sciences Building is the second-largest office building in the US (behind the Pentagon). That’s a lot of people!

    4. Husky Stadium will also serve UW medical center, which is a major bus hub. But yeah, the stadium is not really the U. District. They’re going to have to reroute buses that now go to 45th & the Ave. or Campus Parkway to serve the Link station. Or create some kind of shuttle.

      ST is only planning to have one entrance/exit from the Husky Stadium station though, which I think will prove to be a costly mistake. DC has spent a lot of $$ retrofitting old Metro stations to add 2nd and 3rd exits. Given the massive crowds coming and going largely at the same time for events/games, I don’t see how a single entrance could be enough. They’re building 3 at Capitol Hill.

      1. How about a pedestrian tunnel under Montlake with an entrance on the southeast corner of the campus? Wasn’t that originally part of the plan?

      2. The current plan is to have a skybridge across Montlake connecting campus to the station. There’s a decent diagram here. I don’t think a tunnel would work, since the Triangle Parking Garage is in the way underground.

    5. I disagree. Living in the U-District, I regularly catch one of the 71/2/3 buses to and from downtown, and they’re always packed. Standing room only. And these buses run every 10 minutes or so.

  3. Greetings from Portland, and congratulations on the passage of Prop 1. I am curious if the impending regime change in Washington DC may permit Sound Transit to revise the University Link project to include the sadly dropped First Hill station. I assume that we are too far into the process for a revision of this scope, but it seems short sighted to make an investment in infrastructure on this scale without maximizing its long-term benefit.

    1. I think the soil conditions make it very, very expensive to put a station under First Hill.

      The first hill streetcar is meant as a replacement to the station. It will connect Capitol Hill station to the east edge First Hill, to Little Saigon and the ID station.

    2. It is also incredibly short-sighted to not a have station actually on the UW central campus area, with entrances on the Quad and Red Square. It is ridiculous to spend hundreds of millions on this project and then fail to place stations in the most obvious places that would attract the highest ridership.

      1. You know when you go to another city and think, “Why the hell is the station here? It makes no sense!” Well, when you a bunch of different groups with competing goals compromises are worked out that never quite seem ideal to the outsider.

        In this case, ST indeed would have loved a station on campus. UW didn’t want to disrupt any scientific experiments or research and vetoed the plans. Indeed, the tunnel to 45th St will take a much longer route around the campus to avoid disturbing research. For its part, ST maintained that construction wouldn’t disturb research but in the end it’s UW land and their call.

      2. Keep in mind that the largest UW dorms are actually over on Campus Parkway–closer to 45th than to the HUB. The Quad and Red Square have lots of bodies during class times, but they are not transfer points like 45th.

        Also, as mentioned below, for commuting UWMC and Health Sciences is the area of highest ridership.

        I think the EIS shows the tunnel going through campus, just not anywhere near the Physics Building. In fact I can’t imagine any way from Husky Stadium to 45th that’s not through campus.

  4. I wish they would demo husky stadium to make way for much higher uses, they could easily play their six home games at Qwest…

    1. Qwest could better handle the traffic, which is terrible during games from Pacific through 75th ave. Unfortunately, most of the students would have to get to Qwest. Wouldn’t be that hard once University link is up in 10 years.

      1. Yes, I was going to suggest it will be simple with both the University station and King St. station.

        Considering how infrequent football games are (what, once a week at most?), it certainly seems like having two stadiums is redundant. My one concern would be a location for them to practice (or maybe they’ve been skipping that part?). But it doesn’t seem like they need a giant stadium for that – just a field.

      2. Everyone is ignoring the money issue. Even a losing Husky team (though not perennial losers as is becoming the case), rakes in a lot of cash from playing at their own stadium rent-free. Moving to Seahawks Stadium means paying rent and losing control of scheduling.

        The scheduling matter at Qwest is a big deal by itself, you can’t just say “once a week at most” what with having to share it with the ‘Hawks and Sounders (the pro teams who will likely receive scheduling priority), the WSU game, the WWU-CWU rivalry game, a couple high school football games (maybe more if Memorial Stadium is finally condemned) plus avoiding big events at the Events Center and the Theatre. I would hope this leads you to note that it is not so simple as stating “infrequent games.”

        Finally, there’s the more sentimental stuff. Husky Stadium is an organic part of the built environment in a way that the other stadiums, frankly, aren’t. The stadium has stood on that spot for 90 years and the current version still incorporates much of the original athletics stadium. If anything, we should knock down one of the two other big stadiums and build greater density there (benefitting as those sites do from being even closer to downtown). Perhaps replace both of them with a single multi-purpose domed stadium. Also, there’s the issue of prestige – the “biggest” college football program that currently shares a stadium with an NFL team is Pitt.

      3. The Seahawks are welcome to play at Husky Stadium, in fact they did while their new stadium was being built, but the Huskies will never give up their home field.

        As for the downtown stadiums, I don’t know if we want to repeat the whole Kingdome-Safeco Field-Seahawks Stadium thing all over again. The first was demolished while its bonds (from Forward Thrust) weren’t fully paid off. The second one was rejected at the ballot until the state stepped in. The third was approved by voters with a very narrow margin. And then there’s the Sonics-Key Arena-public funding debacle, too.

      4. I know, my tongue was planted in cheek regarding the domed stadium. Wanting to demolish historically interesting buildings is just a weird impulse that I cannot fathom (even buildings that are historically interesting for reasons that I cannot fathom).

        Anyhow, my point is, Seahawks Stadium is a very busy venue for a sports stadium starting in August and lasting until mid-November on weekends (which is when the games are played after all). Probably too busy to be a permanent home to TWO pro sports teams, a D1 college program and everything else that happens there.

  5. will buses remain in the downtown tunnel when east link is built? is that second downtown tunnel for buses little more than a pipe dream or is there somewhat of a chance of seeing it happen in the future?

  6. So, we were already in line for 500M for U-link from the feds. Is this in addition to that? Or is the 500M part of this?

    1. I think it was 500M for Central Link.

      U-Link had a 750M grant lined up, and this 813M grant is the same grant just with 63M worth of gravy (for some reason).

  7. Ah, okay – I had the number wrong, but this is essentially the same grant they were counting on anyway (plus a little – maybe for inflation?)

    Glad we got this (thanks, Senator Murray – where the hell are you, Jim McDermott? Why do we keep re-electing you if you aren’t helping out here?)

    Now, we turn to getting more, as the acceleration we were talking about in an earlier post.

    1. Yeah, it was the same grant. Inflation doesn’t really factor into it since we never expected the grant before now. The $63m was just gravy and I’ve yet to hear any explanation. Apparently, the typical FTA maximum for a FFGA is $750m so this is a very special case. It shows that Murray is doing hard work.

      McDermott — not to defend him because I think he is sort of half corrupt — spends a lot of his political capital on Africa and AIDS apparently. That’s why we don’t see him bringing dollars back home.

      1. I don’t know that McDermott is corrupt, but I can speak from personal experience about the rampant ethical lapses in Murray’s office because of her fixation with bringing pork home. I worked for her in DC.

      2. McDermott has one of the safest seats in the House.

        Complacent might be a better word for him than corrupt – there isn’t much he could do that would risk his re-election every two years.

      3. I voted for Joe Swzaja in 2000. But overall, McDermott is good, as is the seniority he’s accrued in his safe district. He actually answers constituents, unlike Maria Cantwell.

    2. Murray chairs the Transportation Approps Subcommittee. She’s the one in a position to do this, not McDermott. His subcommitee is on Ways & Means, which writes tax policy.

  8. I don’t think the we will need a second tunnel for buses. When the East and North link open a bunch of routes will go away ie the 41 and 550 (both which operate in the tunnel) or at least not continue to downtown Seattle.

    1. Yes, in the Rainer neighborhood. Besides downtown, it’d follow the central link route north to Cap Hill, U District, and up to Northgate.

    2. The rainier station will be on I-90 and Rainier. The station will probably draw from Little Saigon, Judkins Park and the north part of the Rainier Valley. It’ll be interesting to see over the long-term whether the station is more used to go downtown or to go to the East Side.

  9. Why a double tunnel? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put in a single track now and put the money toward extending the line in other areas? A single train shuttling back and forth would run every 12-15 minutes.

    Same question for East Link. A single track across I90 with a swtiching system could easily handle the volume (two trains don’t HAVE to be on the bridge at the same time) and that would leave enough capacity to add dedicated BRT on each side of the tracks.

    1. For starters, 12-15 minutes doesn’t even begin to cut it. At peak times they’ll be running trains every 2 minutes or so.

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