Via Greater Greater Washington, Infrastructurist names 11 great, demolished train stations.  No prize for guessing #1.  6 more here.

While we’re on the subject of intercity rail, Frank at OR points to this great NY Times Magazine piece on California HSR.

And on a completely unrelated note, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will be closing at 7pm each night this week.  Buses will be diverted onto the surface streets.

46 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread”

  1. Does anyone actually know how the FlexPass agreements work with the transit agencies? Is the pass provided on a per pass or a per-ride agreement? How is this changing with ORCA? I know the contracts are being renegotiated, but details would be nice.

    With the cuts down in Pierce County, I’m wondering how we might build ridership and revenue, while finding a way to reduce passenger fares.

    1. I think for those contracts, you might be best off looking for one agency at a time!

    1. I think what the Hugeasscity article fails to realize is that 99 is not just for SOVs and transit. There are trucks that use it too. Not big rigs due to the weight limit, but lighter duty trucks. And work/utility truck/vans. While they may be SOVs, I get the sense that SOV is being used to describe Joe Schmo driving to work or to see his friend that lives in Ballard.

      Also, “it is configured in a way that renders it nearly useless for transit because it provides no access to downtown Seattle”. Well duh! That’s what makes 99 great is the fact that there is limited access to downtown. It keeps people off of it, making it a great bypass. (It’s been a while since I looked at the plan so I don’t remember what kind of access there is in the tunnel plan).

      1. But if you look at the traffic counts it is clear that most of the traffic currently using the viaduct is going to/from downtown, not through downtown as the state wants you to believe.

  2. Does anyone have an update on Mercer Street reconstruction in Seattle? I have sent a few emails to the City but have not received a reply as to the current status on this project. The last I heard anything, the City had the funds to start the project if not to complete it. Mayor Nickels was optimistic for a Summer groundbreaking.

      1. I recall that a primary objection to the Seattle Commons plan was that the Pacific McKay Building and the Ford McKay Building would be demolished. (Admittedly, it seemed some of the loudest complaints came from the car dealership itself.) It seems a bit twisted that there haven’t been – for the purpose of expanding Mercer – serious objections to the demolition. Hopefully, Vulcan Real Estate’s plan to move at least one of the buildings is still on track, although Vulcan can afford to save both buildings, and should. (And I wonder where the chandelier from the Orpheum Theatre that hung in the Pacific showroom for many years ended up.)

      2. There hasn’t been serious objection to the demolition because I didn’t think anyone had proposed demolishing them. :)

        The sign on the side of the dealer says the building’s being disassembled and stored until it can be incorporated into a new structure.

      3. that pacific building is a small building to being with, cant they build around it? and its not just the facade thats worth saving, the interior is equally stunning.

        btw didnt they disassemble and store away a terra cotta building by the paramount theater a few years ago?

  3. Does anyone know if (or why) light rail testing in the DSTT seemed to be scaled back or non-existent last week? The previous several weeks in the tunnel I always saw at least a couple of Link trains every day. But all last week, I don’t recall seeing even one. I would think as the opening gets closer, they would try to test closer to full frequency. Anybody know?

    1. There have been track problems on the elevated guideway. Not sure why thats effecting the DSTT though.

    2. I don’t know why, but I seemed to notice the same thing. I saw at least 4 at IDS on Friday in about 20 minutes.

    3. I was down in the Rainier Valley on Friday and two NB trains were stuck waiting for a proceed light through the crosswalk near Walden. It took about 15 minutes to resolve.

  4. The California HSR NIMBYs mentioned in The New York Times Magazine piece are gearing up for some brutal battles.

    The objections raise the prospect that the bullet train line may not reach San Francisco, one of its key destinations.

    And Nevada Senator Harry Reid, for one, has now turned against the long-planned Los-Angeles-to-Las Vegas maglev train, and now supports a much shorter, standard HSR rail corridor.

    Reid, who no longer supports the maglev project, said during an event to publicize the rail corridor that he would try to scuttle $45 million in federal funds earmarked for the proposal.

  5. I can not find any information (other then here) on the tunnel being closed after 7:00 this week. Does anyone know why?

    1. There were lots of signs downtown. But that is strange, I can’t find anything about it online either.

      1. If by “strange” you mean “typical”, then I’d have to agree. Metro is horrible at putting basic info like this online, even when they have the time to put tons of signs up. If you know what and where to google, though, you’ll eventually find this:

        Shortened hours for transit tunnel July 6-10

        The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) will be closing early Monday through Friday, July 6-10.

        On each of those nights, the tunnel will close at 7 p.m. for drills and testing leading up to the July 18 startup of Link light rail. The tunnel will also be closed to bus service the weekend of July 18 and 19.

        During some of the drills, you may notice fire department and other emergency vehicles parked outside tunnel entrances.

    2. They had A-boards placed on the platform exits in the tunnel stations. Rider Alerts were also posted at each bay, in addition to the I-90 stuff. I saw them yesterday. I use the tunnel everyday and saw the signs.

      Metro seems to be more focused on the I-90 closure impacts than the early tunnel closure, as that’s the only notice found on the buses.

      1. I noticed this too even on buses that are not effected by the work being done on I-90. I don’t think I have noticed any notices about the tunnel being closed at 7:00 on route 41.

    1. The one about noise in Tukwila was really annoying. If you want to live someplace quiet why would you buy a house between two freeways and two airports? Hopefully they can fix the problem with flange lubricators and not have to give some huge handout to these people. It’s almost as annoying as people who buy houses at the end of the Seatac runways and then complain about airplanes flying over.

      1. I this quote was funny:

        …spokesman Bruce Gray says it might be bothering residents because they aren’t used to it yet.

        “It’s not a noise we wanted to get used to,” said Jennifer Haynes, who lives on South 116th Street.

        Also, their infographic comparing the decibel levels of different sounds was misleading, because it showed it on a linear scale.

      2. The other one is amusing. Mike Lindblom is obviously trying to write a piece against the light rail, but none of the people he quotes seem to be terribly troubled by the bells.

        Of course, if the bells weren’t there, the headline would be “Silent Death Train Speeds Through Rainier Valley” or something like that.

  6. The Infrastructurist articles on demolished train stations forgot to mention Spokane’s grand Union Station, sacrificed for Expo ’74, and and the Great Northern Railway depot, which the fair’s planners mostly obliterated. The Union Station was a masonry and limestone Beaux Arts design, with an elegant and richly-detailed interior of various marbles, oak and bronze. (The beautiful bronze station clock was salvaged, and supposedly is on display in a museum.)

    The Great Northern clock tower was saved, although the entire building could easily have been retained and used for office and meeting space. Anybody still have their plastic Expo ’74 tower banks? The huge aluminum fountain on the right in the Historic Spokane photo was designed by sculptor George Tsutakawa for Expo ’74. It sits at the southwest corner of the opera house and convention center, which replaced Union Station’s gigantic freighhouse.

    Spokane’s remaining train station – an intermodal facility for Amtrak, Greyhound, and Trailways – used to be a depressing institutional-grade building. In 1994 it was substantially renovated, but is still somewhat institutional, and doesn’t come close to what the city lost.

    1. How very sad. I imagine both depots could have been retained and made part of the Expo site (much like the clock tower was).

      At least the old NP depot was kept even if renovations over the years have diminished it from it’s heyday.

    2. Here are photos of Spokane’s Northern Pacific depot back in the day and now. (Thankfully, the pastel-colored paint that had covered the building for decades was removed during the renovation.)

      And Chris, you’re absolutely correct. The NP depot was saved, and that’s the important thing.

      If anybody’s interested in reading about the construction of the infrastructure supporting Spokane’s Union Station, it’s fascinating.

  7. No, the stories in the Seattle Times are a good thing. What would make me angry if they become a mouthpiece and cheerleader for light rail. I like that they are getting both sides of the story out.

    1. I think this is a good point. It’s been a while since there was an article that wasn’t a station overview. Regardless of my personal opinion of the sound issue or the people involved, it’s important to give good coverage.

  8. I agree with Sam, and chose not to demonize The Times. It just happens that they are not as rail crazy as this blog or its readers. We need to hear the other sides and not be self deluded. While I support increases in public transport, rail included, it is the critics that keep projects honest, reasonable and trully worth the public’s money and support. This benefits transit’s growth.

  9. New York city has just agreed to sell the naming rights of one the subway stations to Barclays Bank of UK. Would Sound Transit consider doing such a thing as well?

    1. Argh, I hope not. The SLUT has these. At best they give visitors the impression that the Pan Pacific Hotel is the most important hotel in Seattle (as its sponsors intended). At worst, the station is a significant distance from the building, as in the UW Physicians station.

      Worst is the Pacific Place station, which should have been called the Westlake Station because it’s next to Westlake Mall and the tunnel/monorail stations, with a whole block between it and the Pacific Place building.

      There’s also an inconsistency between some of the maps, which list the sponsor as the station name, and the onboard announcements which say ” and station, sponsored by “. And one does not want to hear the names of the same sponsors every two minutes over and over if one rides the streetcar frequently.

    1. I don’t think it’ll work very well. The reason why those bikes worked so well in France (It started in Lyon, then Paris, now they’re everywhere) is because people’s apartments are too small to easy and securely store a bike – especially for the occasional user. I don’t think people in American cities have such an issue…

      But I guess Montréal’s bikes are working well so maybe I’m wrong.

      1. it should be set up like the smarte carte at the airport and i understand that that is the case. place them all over downtown and in major neighborhoods. it wouldnt really work in seattle with all the hills but portland is flat. credit card to use, obviously have to return them to bike rental kiosk (as opposed to the smarte carts that you leave anywhere) and the bike racks need to be enclosed somewhat like a bike locker to prevent damage, theft or vandalism to the un-rented bikes.

        they should be popular with tourists and people downtown who use one sort of impulsively to go to a fairly close destination. these will be of no use to the hardcore cyclist crowd. but it will get more people biking and increase demand for quality bike infrastructure. theyd also be great in small resort or college towns that cant support a quality transit system.

      2. No need for bike lockers. Portland’s system will be like the Velib’ in Paris – stations all over the place. You can pay with credit card at the station for a short term rental (1 day or 1 week) or pay online for long term (1 month to 1 year). You pay a nominal fee for the inscription and then you pay by the hour. The bikes are even tied into the Navigo system (Paris ORCA) so you can tap a bike and go. It’s remarkable and I use it all the time.

        Maybe you’re in a hurry for work so you take the metro. Then you want to take a leisurely bike ride home, so you take a bike. One-Way bike trips! Come to think of it, I think Portland will have enough success with it. More bike riders are always good.

        They’ve been a huge success in cities all over France. Paris is even considering adding small electric vehicles to the system for short term rental, and tying it all into the same payment system as the rest of public transport. This is the future.

      3. the reason i was thinking they need to be covered in something like a bike locker is so that people dont steal parts off the un-rented bikes

  10. Train hits car near Detroit, killing 5 in sedan

    It doesn’t matter how many bells, lights and even gates they put up on MLK if people chose to ignore them. I really hope the ST train safety message gets through to people. The fact that accidents involving Link are going to get played up in the media is a good thing from the perspective that it might make a few more people take the safety warnings seriously.

  11. I know everyone is very excited about Link Rail opening weekend – me included. But I looked at the calendar of events and noticed that Sea fair Torchlight parade is the following Saturday – July 25.

    As a link Rail operator who loves a challenge – this provides Link with a good real world test. There is no mention in any material I have access to of bus removal from DSTT or any other changes to transit service that weekend. So tell your friends and neighbors to flock downtown for the festivities – and see if we really are ready for prime time!

    I only wish Link would still be free!

    I will be the operator with a larger than normal grin!

  12. Old post, but it’s been a while since there was an open thread or viaduct/tunnel post, and I thought this was worth sharing:

    The Battery St. Tunnel is closed in both directions due to water flooding the roadway. Fire Dept. responding.

    Will this give pause to bored tunnel supporters? (I’m on the fence, myself.)

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