BeaconHillsation!, by litlnemo
"BeaconHillsation!", by litlnemo

Once U-Link construction gets a little further along, Link will accommodate 4-car trains, carrying up to 800 people each.

The are four stations in the Downtown Seattle tunnel.

The local media is in overdrive:

  • KING 5 news reports Sound Transit is scrambling to finish testing and get the elevators and escalators certified by the State.  On three separate occasions in the report, Mt. Baker Station is inexplicably identified as “Rainier Station.”  ST is confident they’ll finish on time.
  • The Sunday Seattle Times had a fantastic introductory graphic.  Use it to explain Link to your grandparents.
  • Mayor Nickels takes ownership of the Link project, for better or worse.
  • Lindblom has a nice capsule history of rail in Seattle.
  • The Times also looks at some public art at the stations.
  • It turns out that elevated section in Tukwila is too loud.  Sound Transit’s going to fix it.
  • The cities of Tukwila and Seatac start to realize they have a big asset there.  Better late than never, Tukwila.
  • The US High Speed Rail Association launches a website.
  • The Tahoe Regional Transit Agency asks STB readers to provide feedback on their new website.  Please send comments and suggestions to

17 Replies to “News Roundup: 4 Days”

  1. Screw Tukwila. The city leadership gacked up a huge furball while Link was still in the NEPA process by fighting the alignment that would have best served their community. Instead of a people-moving and community-connecting International Blvd alignment, they were hard over on a rail line to the Mall, which makes no common sense. Now, instead, you have an alignment whose stations mysteriously end between the Valley and 154th Street as it wends through a no-person’s land along SR599, back over to I-5, and up the hill along SR518. No stops, no stations, no neighborhoods served; just a straight shot to the airport. And they made the stupidest series of arguments against the IB alignment without ever really explaining the utility of a Mall alignment. As you can tell, it still pisses me off, and I lived in West Seattle at the time.

    1. Oh but it’s much much worse than that.

      Cost: For every million that the Tukwila freeway alignment added to the budget, there has been one fewer million available for reaching the originally intended terminus, S. 200th. Tukwila’s tantrum helped cost SeaTac a station.

      Long Term Travel Times: The added minute or two of travel time that the freeway alignment has imposed compounds with other time adds (such as surface operation in the Rainier Valley) to help erode long-term travel times savings for points south of Tukwila.

      Expansion: Last but not least, the Tukwila freeway route leaves us with two awful choices for future inclusion of an east-west line from Burien to Renton. 1) We build two junctions, one near the International Boulevard Station and a second near I-5 and have trains share the track on 518. 2) We build a separate line on the OTHER side of the freeway for east-west trains. Either option would require riders from Seattle to Southcenter to travel all the way up to International Boulevard, to change trains (and levels), wait for an eastbound train, and travel back down the hill all over again to reach Southcenter. Travel time from Downtown would be at least 45 minutes considering that travel time from Downtown to International Boulevard is 35.

      Brilliant Tukwila. In the end, the city probably made the prospect of a decent connection to Southcenter far less likely.

  2. Would have to agree — no stops, means no riders. Link gets within a 3 Iron shot of the mall and sails right by. On the positive side, future riders from Seatac and points south have a quicker ride to downtown at the expense of Tukwila riders. Opps, I forgot, there aren’t any Tukwila riders, except 154th.

    1. Uh, a single owner, single use property isn’t really a great place to serve. In 30 years, Tukwila station will be getting more riders than Southcenter ever would.

  3. I’m hoping they get the T in STATION put in place before the opening. Every day when I go by Beacon Hill Station it makes it look like it’s been there for years and is a relic of some old system, now in disuse.

    1. I just drove by there, and the T was in place. It’s like the sign at the Garfield Teen Life Center, which reads TEEN LIFE NTER.

    2. There’s a lot of signage yet to be finished. I’ve mainly noticed some of the “Regional T” signs on the stations downtown have a “T” on only one side, and they’re still missing the two smaller circular bus and rail symbols . Also there are a lot of overhead informational signs in the DSTT that need their lights replaced. And some of the smaller signs listing the tunnel hours (the ones by the gates, not on the streetside pylons) have yet to be updated to the new hours.

      And does anyone know if the two analog clocks at either end of Pioneer Square station and the GIANT clock at Westlake station are ever going to be operational again? They’ve all been stuck at 12:00 since the tunnel reopened to buses almost 2 years ago!

      1. Add the water fountain at Convention Place Station to the list of public artwork in the DSTT that needs repair.

        I wonder what the artists think of the condition of their work.

  4. They also called International District Station Union Station, which is very close (geographically) to being correct. And they called the L&I person an “investigator,” whereas I’m guessing what they mean is inspector.

    But today I got a ticket for the inaugural train at Union Station, and while loitering around the reception area eavesdropped an investigator from ST staff explaining that he had documented ST buses jumping red lights eastbound on Olive Way at 8th Avenue in order to merge into the left, freeway-bound lane. He said ST should look into it and that the next (I think he meant after ST looks into it) step would be to have the police start issuing tickets.

    If cops are staking out these buses for running red lights, maybe they could be plainclothes officers aboard the buses so it can keep going without delaying all the passengers. Just curious, but does anyone know how police handle stopping buses? Seems like a good place to upgrade the signal priority from DIY to real.

    1. Sorry, I mistyped. The investigator was from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, and was speaking to two (I think) Sound Transit employees.

    2. Same way they pull over a normal car: lights and sirens. Buses aren’t immune to the “move right for sirens and lights” law.

      If it was really an issue, however, they’d probably just put a supervisor at the intersection. All they would have to do is note the coach number and time, and disciplinary action can be taken from there.

      If there’s an issue on board requiring police assistance, the operator will be in radio contact with the coordinator, who in turn will be in contact with the dispatcher of the police department that’s responding.

  5. Looks like they’ve still got some bugs to work out of the signaling system on MLK. I just witnessed a SB train stopped at S Dakota St waiting for a go (white | symbol), then waiting again at S Adams St, about 400 feet to the south, and yet again another 600 feet south at S Columbian Way. Total wait time for all three lights was about 8 minutes. During that wait another train caught up and was waiting behind the first one, and a third train was already leaving Mt Baker Station.

    I’m hoping they make that top priority over the next 3 days. Not a good way to sell the fast new “gets you out of traffic” way to travel while waiting at a faulty signal.

    1. Ugh. I hope this doesn’t turn out like Baltimore or Toronto, where the transit authority simply could not get the streetlight authority to turn on the signal priority system, despite laws and so forth.

  6. The mall, and its surrounding area, is a major regional employment center. Why is a line going to Microsoft, another regional employment center, smart, but a line to the southcenter “makes no common sense?”

  7. Regarding the Tukwila noise, I wonder if they have flange greasers installed? They appear to be standard for systems with sharp curves — and the people in Tukwila are reporting high-pitched “squealing”, which usually is dealt with by flange greasing.

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