I-90 bridge joint inspection 5
I-90 Expansion Joint, Courtesy of WSDOT

Michael Ennis, longtime transit opponent, has been given space on the Seattle Times opinion page this morning (with a bio calling him ‘independent’, no less!) to show us not only how out of touch he is with voters, but also with reality.

He starts his piece by calling light rail a ‘controversial battle’. Maybe in 1995 – that should have been my first clue about the theme of his piece…

Let’s begin at the beginning. He starts by claiming that Sound Transit didn’t release the potential alignments for East Link light rail until after the 2008 election. He says something true here – the DEIS came out just after the election – but then he uses that small truth to claim nobody knew what alignment options there were until that document was released. Funny, that… here’s the summary board briefing (PDF, 4.1mb) and complete board briefing book (PDF, 3.5mb) on these alignments from 2006, available the whole time on the East Link document library webpage. These alternatives came from public scoping meetings in September of ’06, one of which I attended.

So either the transportation director of the Washington Policy Center hasn’t paid attention to the East Link process for two and a half years… wait. Nah.

Then he compares East Link – a project by a single agency who has secured funding – to the Viaduct and 520. Maybe he’s right! Maybe we’ll have to wait for an RTID vote and partial funding from the state legislature and a study about tolls and a study about what to build and a city/county/state agreement for… wait. Nah.

Next item! (Emphasis mine) “Light rail will increase delay on the bridge by a third during peak commute times.” Who fact checked this? What sort of magical number massaging turns the approximately equivalent replacement (PDF) of the express lanes into what would have to be a reduction in capacity by a quart… nah.

Okay, now it’s time for the ‘stray current’ argument – which the Independent Review Team found worthy of one small bullet point (PDF again, sorry) essentially saying ‘sure, it’s not an issue, we’re designing for it’. Apparently, nobody’s ever built a bridge with rail on it before, we could electrocute the entire region at once and… nah.

Oh, and $1 billion for use of the express lanes? That’s Frank Chopp, and we’ve covered this nonsense in the past.

I’m going to skip over some of this. Yes, East Link is paid for by the East subarea. Yes, Sound Transit is performing a massive amount of outreach to determine the alignment that best serves the eastside, instead of just plopping down what their engineers say. Apparently, according to Ennis, working with the public is a bad thing.

And Ennis thinks Sound Transit promised to get light rail to downtown Redmond? I missed that part – the voter pamphlet and all the maps during the Mass Transit Now campaign said we were building to Overlake. Redmond was a dotted line, just like Northgate was in Sound Move, saying ‘we’ll start buying right of way here’. Why is that? Because Sound Transit has to have voter approval to go buy land. Ennis is behind by a year – maybe he was thinking of Roads and Transit?

Finally, he goes on to talk about rising costs. Rising like those bids we’ve seen come in 20-30% under estimates?

Remember, Central Link is more than $100 million under budget. That budget was written eight years ago, in 2001. Sound Transit is proving that they’re good at planning and good at being financially secure, and they managed to show us this during the biggest construction boom in many of our lifetimes. So why is Ennis so bent on scaring us? Maybe it’s because all the opposition can do to fight a well planned system is to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Too bad he missed the election, kind of like how he missed our falling construction costs, not to mention all those East Link public meetings. Maybe he’s parodying the backward-thinking nature of our opposit… nah.

93 Replies to “Times Prints Anti-Transit Drivel Once Again”

    1. Funny how the “nationally syndicated” paper provided a much better local viewpoint than the “locally owned” paper.

      Initiative to kick Mercer Island out of the state, anyone? j/k

      1. Initiative to kick Mercer Island out of the state, anyone? j/k
        Why? In the MI presentation to ST I learned that MI has voted for every transit initiative that has been on the ballet; even those that failed. I guess if you’re anti transit you wouldn’t want those votes to count.

  1. Great post Ben. Ennis kicked of the BS party yesterday on the WPC blog, claiming that replacing lanes on I-90 with the East Link rail line will have equal effect on congestion as the shut-down of the express lanes for I-90 bridge maintenance for three weeks which started yesterday morning. What, does he think those ST trains will be empty? …nah.


  2. It’s inaccurate to call him transit opponent. He’s a transit watchdog. We need more people like him.

    1. We need people who make accurate criticisms. Everything, every single thing that he wrote in that piece was either misleading or simply false.

      If he’s worried about overruns for East Link, perhaps he should start by looking at the finance plan.

      1. The stray current is a decent litmus test for whether the person you’re talking to is crazy or not. If he/she says “stray current will destroy I-90”: crazy for sure.

      2. Something tells me you’re not an engineer.

        Don’t rule stray currents out. Its an issue. The ULink rails will be completly isolated from the ground using plastic pads and epoxy-coated anchors in the concrete. If they weren’t, the stray current would decay any rebar and the concrete tunnel walls would be damaged. The rails in the Beacon Hill Tunnel, and every other structure for that matter, are isolated from the ground (or given a quicker grounding route). Stray currents would reduce the bridge life if not properly dealt with, especially in a marine environment. There are plenty of measures we are taking to ensure it will not happen on the I-90 bridge.

        To make sure this isn’t a problem in the ULink tunnels, we’re putting corrosion testers every 400′ at the cross passages. They’re embedded in the concrete invert below the drainage trench and they will continuously monitored.

      3. Galvanic corrosion is a fact of life with ferocement construction. Stray current from rail is like putting aluminum foil on you’re head to prevent alien communication. Of course the current from the rails will be isolated, duh.

        The whole stray current crap is really embarrassing to anyone who has legitimate concerns about rail over I-90.

      4. I’m a software engineer, not a real engineer. But anyone who thinks that Sound Transit and the engineers and contractors who work with them cannot design a system to ground and properly deal with stray current is crazy.

        If we can put a man on the moon, cover the earth in wireless internet and build a large hadron collider, I’m pretty sure we can deal with stray current. And if we can’t, I’m pretty sure they won’t build Eastlink. No one would build a system that would erode out from underneath itself.

      5. I’m afraid I have to agree with Ben on this one. That piece was trash. Even on what I consider legitimate issues Mr. Ennis fails to accurately represent the facts. If this were a reader comment I could dismiss it as an honest lack of knowledge but Mr. Ennis knows what he’s talking about and chooses to purposely mislead.

  3. No, if you’ve followed his writings over the years it is very clear that he is a transit opponent. He only cares about reducing road congestion and shaping policy to benefit auto users. His measure for transit effectiveness is how much does it reduce congestion. He works under the guise of “improving mobility” but only if that mobility is in a car.

      1. If you post it under Sam’s I can remove this one for you, let me know. :)

  4. There are always going to be the “doubters”. The people have weighed in on this and they support these projects. Great to see that Seattle is moving forward. Our geography (North South limitations and the Lake) makes it essential. We are 20 years behind Portland, so they are a good model to see how the system is ultimately accepted used and most importantly… continuously expanded. They are working on their 5th line. A major problem in Portland was not building enough Park & Rides in the suburbs, they are filled up by 6:30 or 7: 00 every work day.

    1. I dunno, I wouldn’t even call that a problem. We don’t want to use this to subsidize low density living – I think a full park and ride is a great wake-up call to developers that there’s demand to build around the station.

  5. His post smacks of more of this “Seattle is screwing us over” rhetoric. It sounds like what he’s advocating is an Eastside exclusive rail system to the benefit of the Eastside, probably SeaTac to Redmond, bypassing Tukwila and such.

    1. This is why it’s so amusing that they were totally silent during all the East Link scoping meetings. They were perfectly aware of what was going on – and they didn’t actually push for that, because then it wouldn’t be such a great distraction today!

    2. Because there’s absolutely no benefit to the Eastside in being able to get to downtown Seattle. Nope, none at all!


  6. I’m not a fan of the LINK on I-90 and I agree, that piece in the Times was crap. It’s almost so bad to make one wonder if it was a plant to be easily shot down to “prove” we actually had a discussion on it.

    1. So, I really don’t understand that. Where else would you have Link go? I mean, sure, we’re going to end up with downtime when we replace the floating bridge in the future, and when we do, we’ll build a bridge that can handle Link for another hundred years.

      1. Except even WSDOT only projects a 75 year design life from the new 520 bridge. Those projections never really materialize because as time marches on design standards get stricter. It’s unknown how I90 will react to the modifications and additional stress of rail but remember, as it says in all of the documents, a floating bridge is a marine structure. This isn’t the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s a series ferocement rafts moored across the lake. 60 years tops for Homer and as we know replacement planning has to grind through the process for at least ten years. Light rail crosses I90 in 2027; talk of replacement starts in 2039. The entire eastside rail system is paralyzed during replacement at exactly the time it’s needed most. Everyone will be asking, “what were they thinking when they built the new 520 sans rail and ran Link across the old bridge?”

      2. Light rail crosses I-90 in 2020, not 2027.

        That’s 40 years before we start talking about replacement. If we built rail across 520 in 1970, I think we would have had a plan worked out for that service by now.

      3. Light rail crosses I-90 in 2020. Roads and Transit failed, Mass Transit Now passed. :)

        I don’t see any reason to think that during discussion for I-90 replacement we’ll have any problem running trains. I think we’ll have 20 years of operations, and be well under way planning 520 rail, before we have any threat of halting I-90 Link service.

        My educated guess is that I-90 replacement will require 520 rail to be in place and operational (like R8A is required before we can build East Link), and then the downtime to install a new I-90 bridge will be in the range of a month or two at the most.

      4. I’d like to believe a 520 rail alternative could be in place by the time I90 needs to be replaced. I’d have a little more confidence if there was one single plan on paper in the WSDOT 520 replacement alternatives and if there was even a hint from ST of how a 520 rail connection would tie into the sytem both logistically and with some pie in the sky time frame.

        If it were a mediocre world R8A would have been completed before the expansion joints needed replacing. As it is we have on floating bridge completely out of service. One that’s crippled and one that’s unsafe.

        It’s interesting that the right solution is on one of ST’s early reports; the double deck rail/highway bridge in Portugal.

      5. But that would require forethought on WSDOT’s part! The sad fact is that WSDOT just draws up whatever plans the politicians and community groups tell them to. They would never go out on a limb and actually plan an integrated solution like that on their own. Until we get some progressive and forward-thinking politicians around here WSDOT won’t change. Integrating light rail into the new 520 plans should have been a requirement from the get-go, it’s just logical.

      6. I hate to break this to you Zed, but the state government, of which WSDOT is a part, is run by politicians we elect, and is supposed to answer to the community.

      7. Right, which is why I said “Until we get some progressive and forward-thinking politicians around here WSDOT won’t change.”

      8. WSDOT is a government agency just like Metro. WSDOT should not be making policy. That’s one of the issues I have with ST. Although, in the case of ST they have done a superb job of securing federal money that should not be the job of a government agency charged with building infrastructure. Funding political groups like Transportation Choices is not the purview of a publicly funded agency.

      9. Bernie, I don’t really think Sound Transit makes policy as much as it executes policy. It was created by our representatives in local government to forward pro-transit policy. And that’s why legally speaking, it can fund outreach groups like TCC.

        Look, let me put it this way. Microsoft has some interests, and the Microsoft PAC actually acts on them, but the PAC has different rules. TCC has some interests, and they have an arm to forward them, and they keep those budgets separate, as their PDC filings show.

      10. With my allocation of money for tracks, I’d have gotten to Everett to the North and Tacoma to the South before I’d have gone East over those boats they call bridges. I’d have run a Bothell spur, an entirely elevated Ballard then North back to Lynnwood. I’d have run a West Seattle Line, and down to White Center, a dedicated trunk line South along Airport way to skip the whole MLK route for people going South on the Express. I’d have run a line from Renton to Bothell with stops in Factoria, Bellevue, Kirkland.

        And I’d have spent less money and gotten more riders.

        Why wasn’t this the plan? Because of Sub Equity financing, which requires that a spur be run to the Eastside so that the excess tax revenue collected on the Eastside can go into the general LINK funds. Without that connection, no Eastside money gets spent on LINK.

      11. Gary, Bellevue ridership is better than North of Northgate or South of S. 200th.

      12. But at what cost? My point is that for less money/passenger we could have gone elsewhere except for the funding constraints.

      13. And my point is that isn’t true. Bellevue’s got better cost per passenger than north of Northgate or south of S. 200th.

        And subarea equity will be the best thing that happened to Seattle in ST3. It means we won’t have pressure to use our money to build to Woodinville and Issaquah.

      14. Bellevue’s got better cost per passenger than north of Northgate or south of S. 200th

        Based on the initial estimate maybe. We’re still at the DEIS phase. It’s been after final route selection and the actual engineering gets done that we can expect a 30-100% escalation in cost. In another week we’ll find out more about Bellevue’s Billion Dollar Baby. In November (or did they switch it back to December) what the flap over air rights brings. I think there’s some in the legislature that don’t care who or how the money can be spent but simple want to see a $1-2B figure on the assumption that it will kill the project. At this point I don’t think ST has a dime in the budget for it although they do have a bullet point along the lines of make WSDOT whole for the use of the center roadway.

      15. Bernie… you didn’t see a 30-100% escalation in cost at that point for either Central Link or for U Link.

        ST won’t have to pay a dime for the center roadway. Just watch. :)

  7. “Too bad he missed the election, kind of like how he missed our falling construction costs, not to mention all those East Link public meetings”

    Paid-to-lie right wing think tank hacks don’t pay attention to reality…or civic involvment. Their job is to say NO to everything the public sector wants to achieve.

    Andrew is right. Stray current = Will Knedlik = John Niles = batsh!t crazy…

  8. “It’s almost so bad to make one wonder if it was a plant to be easily shot down”

    Gary, if it wasn’t for the Times’ long-standing obsession with killing light rail (since the alignment was diverted around their hq) you might have a point there.

  9. For the benefit of anyone who thinks Ennis is a “transit watchdog” or perhaps sincerely mistaken, I’m going to post the comment I left at the Seattle Times here as well-

    What is the purpose of printing these lies by Michael Ennis?

    The region has not spent “decades” dealing with the Viaduct and the 520 Bridge. In fact, not even one decade has passed since the quake in 2001 revealed the need to rebuild the Viaduct and Bridge.

    There is no reason to think the Eastside segment will exceed the budget. The segment from downtown to the airport will be $138 million under budget when it opens.

    Stray electrical currents are NOT common with light-rail, and it has been over a hundred years since this problem was recognized and corrected.

    There are no “technical or funding obstacles” to running light-rail across the floating bridge. In fact, that’s the easiest part of the route to build- the public already owns the bridge, and the state committed to building light-rail there (and designed the bridge so it could be done) as part of the agreement by which the bridge was built.

    The rest of what Ennis says is just deranged with no connection to reality. It’s not until we get to the last paragraph that we see his real agenda- more roads and more cars.

    Michael Ennis and the Washington Policy Center- mark those names in your memory, as people who are willing to just flat-out lie when the truth won’t serve their agenda.

  10. So newspapers shouldn’t print oped pieces that you personally disagree with? Why not write your own piece, rebutting his arguments as you have here, and submit it to the Times, rather than railing against the messenger?

    It’s not as if the Times hasn’t printed plenty of pro-transit oped pieces as well.

    1. Hi!

      When I submit an op-ed to the Times, they edit, fact check, and ask me to source my claims. I have to justify my arguments to them. It’s very clear that they did not do that here, as some of the things Ennis has written are demonstrably false. I don’t think newspapers should print things that are false, even in opinion. There are plenty of anti-transit opinions that aren’t false.

      So why don’t I write a rebuttal in the Times? Because I know it would be edited down to a meek set of complaints, when I can already get a lot of readers right here, including policymakers. Also, they’ve simply ignored my last couple of op-ed submissions.

      The Times really hasn’t printed plenty of pro-transit op-ed pieces. They reserved their front page for nearly a week last October to scare the crap out of people regarding Prop 1. A pro-transit op-ed buried in the paper here and there doesn’t excuse them for their consistent anti-transit position. Lance Dickie is a notable exception, but he has carte blanche to write what he pleases – he doesn’t represent the norm.

      1. Well, Ben, then perhaps you should get some help to place a pro-transit op-ed in the Times.

        Bitching here might feel good (and the echo chamber will certainly applaud whatever you write), but it’s not really going to accomplish very much, is it?

        More importantly, it’s not an adequate response to the Ennis piece. He just spoke to all those suburban folks who read the Times. You aren’t.

      2. Given our readership, I don’t really think this is an echo chamber. The comments are an echo chamber, but most readers don’t even read them, much less weigh in.

  11. In regards to the claim that vehicle delay will jump a third, perhaps he was quoting this study: http://www.dksassociates.com/admin/paperfile/I-90_Center_Roadway_Corridor_Study.pdf

    However, just this past week I saw a presentation about a highway microsimulation project of I-90 (performed and funded by different firms) that showed increases in person-throughput along I-90 and decreases in travel time with LINK. This was true especially since LINK had a much higher capacity in the EB direction during the morning than the center roadway and vice versa in the afternoon.

    Not quite sure who is right.

    1. Wait, nobody’s talking about light rail CAUSING that increase in delay. That increase in delay is due to an increase in people living here in the next twenty years – it occurs even with the no-build alternative.

  12. Hopefully running light rail over the I-90 bridge will screw the lives of eastsiders as much as it has negatively impacted the brothers and sisters who live in the Rainier Valley. Whose idea was it ro run the track at street level? Traffic flow is now a joke and everytime a train hits a car or pedestrian nothing moves. I can’t wait for a train accident on the bridge and watching all of the rich folk standing in line to board a bus should be very entertaining.

    1. Right. Because light-rail running across the Floating Bridge is exactly like light rail running on a Seattle arterial. Say, if you’ve never been to Seattle, you might want to find a picture of the I-90 bridge before commenting.

      Oh, and shouldn’t that be “every time a car or pedestrian hits the train? Still waiting for that “train hits car” accident.

    2. Follow the $$$ to the unions and developers who got to completely rebuild an entire street for blocks and blocks, and the folks who get to demolish old buildings and replace them with new ones.

      Somehow, planners managed to sell the argument that a tunnel through the Valley would be “racist” and just trying to build a system for white folks to avoid a multicultural neighborhood. Running at-grade meant that riders would see all the wonderful restaurants and businesses to frequent. !!! I don’t know how that argument worked here vs. every other city that seems to run transit in tunnels in downtown business districts but at-grade through low-income neighborhoods, but it did.

      Luckily, the community at least secured some money from ST to compensate during all the construction. Of course, you don’t hear folks in the U-District or Roosevelt demanding that Link run at-grade so riders don’t “bypass” their local businesses, do you? But maybe we should try that argument to Bellevue businesses right now…

  13. Hey serial!

    In case you didn’t know it the Rainier Valley is in Seattle! When was the last time you were down here to see what is happening? I bet you don’t ever come down here. [deleted, ad-hominem]

    And it sounds like you might work for Metro. Wow!

  14. Serial

    How many lawsuits will result, eh? Here is a link to a law firm that contains the following quote form KOMO News

    “The train collided with the car Wednesday during rush hour at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South Dawson Street, sending the car’s driver to the hospital.

    The accident happened despite a safety education campaign – one that not all drivers seem to be getting.

    Trains and cars are now rubbing elbows along the light rail route, as Sound Transit launches intensive testing in preparation for its July grand opening. But there are no special barriers in place – just no-turn signs – which didn’t work to stop Sound Transit’s first accident.

    Neighbors say the crossings are dangerous”

    Is your point that the residents are just to stupid to have a train running down the middle of our neighborhood?

    The problem was that people like you were to cheap to build an elevated right a way
    through a minority neighborhood.


    1. Here’s the problem.

      Politics is real. You can’t get things that politicians won’t agree to. You can’t get a city to build something the leadership opposes. I don’t think we disagree about that.

      At the time that the Link alignment was chosen, it was this way or nothing. We had to serve the Valley, but we couldn’t afford to do it with a tunnel or an elevated structure. And if we could have done it with an elevated structure, it would have been insane anyway – you’d kill the neighborhood, a big concrete wall is not exactly conducive to neighborhood quality.

      So we had a choice. Nothing, or at-grade. If we built nothing, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion today – we’d still be trying to figure out how to build transit in Seattle. ST2 certainly wouldn’t have passed.

      If you want this rail to be grade separated, start a campaign to grade separate it. Complaining will get you nowhere. Take action, get grade separations constructed, make pedestrian overpasses, see if you can get the money to build cut-and-cover. Figure it out, don’t just yell at people.

      1. you’d kill the neighborhood, a big concrete wall is not exactly conducive to neighborhood quality.
        Huh? The elevated portion I’ve seen driving to the airport looks nothing like a big concrete wall. Neither does the elevated section at end of MLK Way.

        I hope to see a documented decrease in vehicle and pedestrian accidents over the next year. Then we’ll know if all of the engineering done with respect to link to improve what was already a very dangerous roadway have succeeded.

      2. You already know it has. When was the last time you heard about Tacoma Link killing someone? We used that as a testbed for the design standards.

    2. As someone who’s also a resident of the Rainier Valley, let me just say that I don’t much care for Howard’s attitude. As Ben points out, it was surface or nothing.

      Furthermore, the leadership went out of its way to make sure light rail served the Valley, instead of a more direct route to the airport. If they’d gone to West Seatle first, or whatever, no doubt people like Howard would be whining about how, yet again, the minority neighborhood was last in line to get the good rail service, in spite of extremely high transit ridership.

      And again, as a minority resident of the Valley, I’ll come out and say that anyone who runs into the train because they’re ignored the massive, multilingual safety campaign, and lack the common sense to obey the traffic laws and cross tracks without making sure that a train isn’t coming, is too stupid to have a train run down the middle of their neighborhood.

      1. The trouble isn’t stupid people running into the trains, Martin…

        The problem is the delays you will have in the system every time the stupid people run into the trains. What is ST going to do for commuters stuck waiting on a platform during rush hour, because their trains can’t through the Valley? Will we just put them on bus shuttles?

      2. Yes, we’ll put them on bus shuttles.

        If you’re arguing that grade separation > at-grade, I agree with you. If someone had run an initiative giving ST money to elevate the segment, or whatever, I would have supported it.

        But failing that, what would you have given up to elevate or bury it? U-Link? Another 5 years of delay?


      3. This discussion never ends. :) But the arguments sound sillier every year!

    3. Maybe Sound Transit should file lawsuits against people who illegally turn left in front of the train or jaywalk. They could claim compensation for all the time lost by people on the train. That would make careless drivers pay attention real quick. I don’t see how anyone can logically argue that it is Sound Transit’s fault if someone acts illegally and has a collision with a train. Should we all start running across I-5 and then sue WSDOT for building an unsafe highway?

      1. Instead of a bell or train whistle, the driver of Link should have the option to play a track of D-DAY from Animal House yelling “RAMMING SPEED!!!”. That may make people think twice about stopping on the tracks or turning at the wrong time…

        Seriously though, does BNSF get sued every time one of their trains ram into a vehicle stuck on their tracks? I really doubt it unless the crossing was designed incorrectly…

      2. BNSF does get sued constantly for that kind of thing. But the suits are often thrown out.

  15. Howard-

    Collisions are inevitable in any new transit system no matter how much safety-related information the agency puts outs.

    Having said that, you can understand that with a brand new system, the first handful of accidents are going to be responded to in a very thoughtful, and perhaps, slow manner. Case in point, there will be accidents during these inaugural runs, and for that matter, the first 12 months of actual service.

    Eventually both drivers and pedestrians will get accustomed to the trains rolling through Rainier Vally and it will become second nature to interact with them.

    I can understand the frustration, but this is merely and adjustment period.

  16. So what other neighborhoods are going to have trains at street level? Capitol Hill? U District? Mercer island? Bellevue? Tukwila?

      1. Yes, Bellevue and Redmond want it elevated through most of Bel-Red (planning for future development) and then drop down to grade in Overlake on NE 24th between 148th and 156 Ave NE. Go figure?

      2. Actually a good chunk of the Bel-Red alignment is at-grade along a new NE 16th St. Both stations in Bel-Red will be at-grade as well. I guess Sound Transit is really stickin’ it those poor people in Overlake and South Bellevue. I don’t care if it’s elevated, at-grade, in a hole, whatever as long as it’s fast and reliable. I don’t think an elevated line will necessarily make or break a neighborhood. Just look at the Red Line versus the Orange Line in Chicago. I do, however, think that building at-grade can make people feel more connected to the neighborhood and the visibility can help draw people to transit when they are stuck in traffic in their car being passed by a train.

      3. “Surface” can mean grade-separated, shared intersections, or shared traffic lanes. Sharing anything means the train will be as slow as a car, so it won’t be passing anybody. Surface trains in Chicago (end of brown line), San Francisco (MUNI), and our own beloved SLUT are slower than a trolleybus because they remain stopped longer for some reason.

      4. building at-grade can make people feel more connected to the neighborhood and the visibility can help draw people to transit when they are stuck in traffic in their car being passed by a train.

        This isn’t a streetcar we’re talking about; although that would be a much better solution to serve the planned future development. It’s also not running up the middle of whats already a major arterial. That would have been Bel-Red Road. I can’t see anybody believing that a double track mainline through their neighborhood makes them feel more connected. The phrase “from the other side of the tracks” comes to mind. As far as people waiting in cars being passed by the train driving up ridership might be true if the route followed Bel-Red Road and probably would be true if it followed SR520 alternative but with the proposed alignment it can’t happen.

      5. Yeah Bernie, I know the difference between a streetcar and light rail. It’s not exactly a double-track freight line running through the neighborhood. Have you been to a modern neighborhood built around a light rail line? Visibility can have a huge impact on drawing people to transit, especially when they have the choice between car and transit. Not to mention how much cheaper it is to build a surface station. No escalators, no elevators, no stairs. The at-grade Bel-Red alternative is estimated to cost $90-$150 million less than the elevated alternative with a travel time difference of 1 minute.

      6. Do you know what the Bel-Red corridor looks like today? There is no reason to put stations there now or ten years from now. The whole scam is to run the line through there so that a few developers can come in and make a fortune after light rail goes through. Elevated would likely be cheaper because of the decreased cost of land acquisition. Nobody with a muffler shop really cares if there’s a light rail line across the roof. The supposed benefits (save the salmon, daylight stream that never had a salmon run)would be better served by an elevated line. With 12 story development most of the “neighborhood” will still be below the train and second story stations are cheaper because they don’t tie up the street level retail that draws a premium price.

      7. Yes, I’ve spent plenty of time there. So we should build expensive elevated stations that nobody will use?

      8. Yes, sometimes my posts are merely to be contrary to “the good book” according to ST as preached here. TOD is a scam when it’s used to promote new development rather than first serve the people paying for the rail being put in (which in this case is all of the eastside subarea).

        STB covered the Bellevue preferred alternative back in February. The route jumps back and forth from elevated to grade and wanders through a milk run in the Bel-Red corridor simple to kowtow to big developers interests. There is no reason for any stations here. Bellevue is not in need of a stimulus to reinvigorate a neighborhood the way the Ranier Valley is.

        Look, by the time East Link makes it to Overlake U-Link will be operational and the new 520 will have inside HOV lanes all the way to Montlake. Overlake to downtown will be faster via bus and transfer at UW. In fact if you’re remotely fit you can beat the train to downtown Seattle on a bike. Two stations in Bel-Red instead of Redmond is ludicrous.

      9. Did you bring this up to the Bellevue city council when they were debating the alignment? Or the Sound Transit board when they were taking public testimony? You can debate it all you want to with me, it doesn’t change anything. I was simply trying to clarify what the city’s preferred alignment is and I added what my opinion is on at-grade alignments in general. I frankly couldn’t care less what they build in Bel-Red because I’ll never live there again.

      10. Yes I did (testimony should be on record) because I do live there and I plan to live here for the rest of my life. Family bought the property in the ’50s and have been very active in neighborhood politics ever since (largely responsible for Viewpoint Park). “In general” is fine but specifically the Bel-Red alignment is bogus and the hop scotch up/down at grade/elevated proposal is bogus. East Link is already taking the long route to downtown Seattle and every minute that can be shaved off the transit time is critical. Likewise every stop north of Overlake is critical to the entire investment making cents (not a misspelling).

      11. Being in the corridor since the 50s is ‘street cred’ for sure.

        That said, Bernie, you’re seeing the trees and missing the forest. The meteor is coming and we’re the dinosaurs.

        They say that over the next 30 years a million people will be added to our population. One way or ‘tother, a lot of those people are going to end up in the Bel-Red corridor. When the dust settles, ten or twelve blocks difference in the alignment of the LINK won’t even be noticeable.

        I spent 15 years in Bellevue, old and new, most of it walking and bicycling, like you did before you got a car and there was nothing on tv. When I go back today, I get lost. The built environment has completely overwhelmed the natural landforms and what went before.

        These comments are a great place to winnow the chaff from the grain of your arguments. I for one will pay more attention now that I know you live out there. As the Platypus of Platitudes, I will close by saying, ‘don’t sweat the little stuff’ and ‘keep your powder dry’.

      12. Bernie, Bellevue actually endorsed a Bel-Red surface option, didn’t they?

      13. The preferred route is a mishmash. Their presentation to ST claimed a cost saving in dropping one portion to ground level but I’m thinking it’s going to be a wash vs just sticking with elevated. The stations would be cheaper to build at grade obviously but they don’t need any stations in the Bel-Red Corridor until it gets developed (no stations would be a real savings). At that point it seems incorporating the station into the second level of the proposed 12 story development (make the developer pay for it) or as part of the multilevel parking structure planned eventually for 130th would be pretty simple.

        Jogging back to SR520 and then using 24th is going to require a large elevated section because of the steep hill from 140th up to 148th and the fact they are crossing 148th elevated (instead of staying along 520 and following the underpass route Redmond wants to preserve for a slip ramp to 152nd (bleck!). If they were really to follow an at grade alignment they would have stayed on Bel-Red road. BTW, I’ve looked in the preliminary proposals where that was an option and at the DEIS where it wasn’t studied and still have never found out why that alignment was never presented in the DEIS for the public to comment on.

      14. Okay, thanks for adding to that. I’m trying to make time to write about this. I’ll try to have it up soon.

      15. Here’s a link to the letter from the City of Bellevue to Sound Transit detailing their preferred route.


        and a map of the redevelopment plans for Bel-Red


        If Bel-Red gets redeveloped according to the city’s TOD goals the Bel-Red stations could end up being the most valuable stations on the entire line. The city, in it’s briefing to ST, has implied that they would absorb some of the cost of the alignment by building it concurrently with a new NE 16th St.

      16. Go ride a bike through there and see what “a new NE 16th St” really is. Redmond is distancing themselves from the whole BROT agreement as fast as they can. The whole thing is a scam to enrich a few developers. Auto Row would the the next natural place to push high density adjacent to downtown. Especially now that auto dealers are going to be closing their doors. North and south of the Bel-Red triangle are pure single family residential. Pushing high rise development out into this sliver makes no sense; unless of course you’re a developer able to by up large parcels zoned light industrial and the get it rezoned.

  17. How about the other neighborhoods I mentioned? And did those areas pony up for the additional cost of tunnels or bridges or were those costs absorbed by all of the taxpayers?

    1. Hey, first, use the ‘reply here’ link, or the conversation gets very hard to manage.

      Second, cut it out. You’ve been responded to. Don’t pretend you haven’t been. Yes, Bellevue will see at-grade alignments unless they pony up money to buy a tunnel. Northgate to Downtown Seattle is not POSSIBLE to build at-grade because of the train frequencies that will run through that corridor.

  18. So there won’t be any problems with serious accidents after a few months? How come they are still having serious car/train/pedestrian accidents in Portland years after the trains began running. It seems that Fireman can’t even keep their trucks from being hit.

    1. Can you click on “Reply to this comment” to keep things nested so others can follow the conversation? Thanks! :)

      Howard, this decision was made years ago and there’s nothing that we can do about it now. Fight for improvements where they can be made, and stop searching for apologies. Every transit system has major trade-offs and the fact is that it’s better than Rainer Valley has light rail than if it didn’t. No one here was responsible for the decision on how to build light rail in the RV, so just chill out about it.

    2. What kind of question is that? “So there won’t be any problems after a few months?” Nobody said that to you, don’t create a straw man, it will only serve to make people mad at you, and will get you nothing. Accidents will slowly decrease over years, and in a few decades as people grow up around the train, you’ll see very few.

      “How come they’re having serious problems in Portland?” They’re not. The news sensationalizes accidents involving the train. If the train wasn’t there, they’d be car accidents with other cars, or hitting phone poles, or buses.

      And this brings me to the real problem. People don’t understand how to reduce risk. Let’s say we just didn’t build the train – which was our other choice, and I’m going to keep reminding you of that until you get it. A lot of people would run into each other in cars and a lot of people would die. That’s something cars do.

      Building the train reduces that risk, because it means all these people who ride the train suddenly aren’t at risk of being in an injury accident. As well, because we rebuilt the street around the train to higher safety standards, vehicle on vehicle accidents will probably reduce as well.

      Now, I want to see the way you discuss this rise to that level. If you keep parroting the same comments, you’re quickly going to be moderated, because it gets really annoying. If you stop, learn from the information people are graciously providing you, and figure out how to move forward, I’m happy to keep conversing with you.

  19. Of course Kemper Freeman is paying Michael Ennis. That’s what the Washington Policy Center is all about and Freeman has been paying for it since it started.

    Kemper Freeman’s views on light rail are the same as the Publisher of the Seattle Times. Does Frank Blethen ever wonder why his paper is on the ropes? FRank has been consistently out of step with the rest of the community.

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