[UPDATE: The Post-Globe has Mallahan’s response.  It’s pretty weak sauce.  Click over and read it; they need the hits.]

To add to what Ben said, let no one say that Mike McGinn isn’t bold.  From McGinn’s information handout:

  • Develop plan during first two years as Mayor, submitting all taxes and choice to proceed to city voters.
  • Connect high density neighborhoods – Wallingford, Fremont, Ballard, Queen Anne, Belltown, West Seattle –to regional light rail system.
  • Use existing city and/or Transportation Benefit District taxing authority.
  • Leverage existing city assets to lower costs, but develop dedicated right of way so that trains won’t get stuck in traffic.
  • Build light rail expansion that is materially similar/compatible with Link.
  • Work with Sound Transit and King County Metro to design, build, and operate light rail expansion without creating a new transit agency.

I don’t see a way to interpret #4 other than at-grade in (former) bus lanes, probably with 2-car-length stations instead of 4.

Publicola does a pretty good job outlining the obvious concerns and limitations.    However, Erica is incorrect that Subarea equity requires even expenditure between subareas.  It requires that revenues collected in each subarea be spent there, which shouldn’t be an obstacle to a plan like this one.  We’ll try to gather some facts on the other concerns over the next few weeks.

Contra Ben, McGinn’s handout shows that Seattle votes for transit whether it’s a presidential election year or not.  It’s in the Sound Transit district where off-year measures are risky.

There are basically no details at this point, but if McGinn can pull off anything like the Central Link level of service, all this Streetcar business ceases to be of any significance.

148 Replies to “More on the McGinn Proposal”

  1. It’s got to be at least the Central Link level of service, with full 4-car length trains possible. And, there really has to be at least some tunneling to do it right.

    I think this is a great start.

    What do you STB folks think is the probability of federal dollars a la University Link, given the large ridership that the line would have?

    1. I don’t think we have good enough ridership or cost estimates to know how competitive it is. Furthermore, federal dollars substantially extend the completion time.

      1. The ridership is there with estimates on such a line running at about 15-20,000 for the Ballard portion, 25-30,000 with a spur east to the UW. West Seattle is hard to gauge since I can’t find really specific ridership reports on similar bus routes, except to say that it’s probably somewhere in the 10,000 range just based on eyeballing the info. For the entire alignment, that’s about 30-40k if capturing most or all of existing bus ridership (which is how you get ridership estimates, typically!).

        Cost shouldn’t be too terribly bad since the service level need isn’t as high as one would think and there’s a lot of existing ROW that could be used to speed up service in transitional areas like, say, if it ran through Interbay.

        This isn’t a regional trunk line and never will be, so having a different level of service is wholly appropriate. 2 car 200-person trains running in reserved ROW through downtown at a moderate speed works fine enough considering the distance covered (less than 10 miles) and the relative density along the line.

      2. The ridership numbers were higher for Green Line, weren’t they? I’d imagine they’re higher than that given all the development that’s happened in the meantime, too.

      3. One of the many astute criticisms of Green Line on this blog and elsewhere was that it wasn’t an expandable system, because of the platform lengths (and single tracking).

        That’s why I think we’d need to plan for the future, even if Ballard and West Seattle have a lot of single family houses now. At a minimum, one could build at grade stations that are 2-car length now, but design them to be easily lengthened in the future. I don’t know if that’s feasible to do with elevated stations, but maybe.

        But the most important thing is for a west side line to get approved and built as soon as possible. Like, before I retire in 35 years.

      4. I think what McGinn is talking about is a good start, and we’ll end up seeing the line evolve in planning to being expandable later.

      5. Like I said, I’m missing a few bus routes in my estimate so I took a stab at West Seattle, which would explain the discrepancy.

        It’s important to stay mindful of the federal guidelines in estimating ridership if you’re after federal money, so that’s what I did. It’s probable that we’d end up with muuuuuuuch higher ridership, but that’s a transit wonk’s big secret ;)

      6. I would caution against underestimating the demand on the West Side of Seattle. Both Ballard and West Seattle commuters are forced through bottlenecks in order to cross the ship canal and duwamish respectively, meaning that vehicle capacity is limited and congestion very high. Also, once you connect Ballard and West Seattle to downtown, commuters can easily transfer to the existing system for easy access to Bellevue, Redmond, and UW, all major regional employment centers. Throw in some park-and-ride capacity, a lot of TOD and $10 gasoline and you could easily fill four link trains at rush hour. A lot more people live in Ballard and West Seattle than live in Lynnwood and Federal Way, and a much higher percentage of downtown commuters live in the city (see the gravity model) This disparity is only going to grow as Seattle aggressively infills, and for those of you who think that won’t happen because of single-family nimby-ism, think about this: Seattle just crossed the 50% mark in terms of population living in multifamily housing. ALL new development in Seattle will be multifamily, so as seattle grows, the percentage of people living in multifamily housing will increase. Eventually, we will reach a tipping point in which the majority is tired of putting up with the artificial housing scarcity imposed on them by the single family minority. When that happens, the TOD floodgates will open and Ballard to West Seattle will have demand that matches or exceeds the regional truck line.

      7. I don’t think anyone’s building park and rides. These areas will go higher density, though.

      8. This seems like a no brainer to me to cover west seattle, ballard and fremont with connections to link downtown at at the UW. The 44 already clogs up the east west corridor so I doubt a train is going to do much worse, plus if planned right I bet many would use a train/tram/etc when they might not a bus.

        But it seems to me you have to do it with metro because you are talking about eliminating some of the busiest metro bus lines that I imagine compensate revenue wise for many suburban and rural routes that definitely don’t cover costs. Imagine removing a big chunk of the 15, 17, 18, 44 and 70s revenue once UW Link and then these lines were running.

      9. BWill,

        No Metro line is profitable. Anytime you get rid of Metro service you save Metro money.

      10. Can someone back this up? I have heard many times that the big full lines (43/44, etc.) are money makers for Metro…

      11. Ben,

        I know Seattle has a principled opposition to building park-and-rides in the city, and McGinn is not excited about it, but I believe this is a misguided policy. There are a number of people who live in northwest or southwest seattle who are simply not within walking distance of a light rail line and never will be. These thousands of individuals would no doubt love to avoid the congestion of driving downtown by catching light rail at a park-and-ride lot, but if not given that option, they will drive the whole way. That represents a huge missed opportunity from a traffic congestion, downtown quality of life, environmental and political perspective. It is a classic example of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        Key point: park-and-rides should not be free. In order to line up the incentives correctly, it has to be cheaper for a person to walk or take a feeder bus, thus creating the incentive. All parking should cover 100% of its cost of construction whether it be downtown or at a park-and-ride lot. This will prevent overuse but provides an option for those who truly cannot access the train any other way. McGinn does not want to subsidize cars and he doesn’t have to if the park-and-rides cover their full cost.

      12. Given those constraints, the P&R facilities should probably be privately built and financed. Maybe in extreme cases do a public/private partnership that allows the private parking developer to use City Muni bonds to finance the project.

      13. The 44 takes, oh, 44 minutes from central ballard to husky stadium. Light rail would be MUCH quicker and would not be subject to the horrible congestion on 45th.

      14. But that’s in part what the two-year study will look at, and I believe the Obama administration is loosening up the cost-effectiveness requirements for the New Starts program. If you think about it though, a downtown – belltown – lower queen anne – interbay – ballard line could have extremely high ridership if done right. Belltown and LQA are already very dense residential neighborhoods, interbay has a growing employment base, and Ballard is ripe for some high-capacity rapid transit and better connections to downtown and capitol hill (and it may be that light rail through downtown would be faster to the University than taking the 44)

        It would likely be underground from downtown to elliot/15th then at-grade until it reaches the shipping canal.

        One big (and expensive) question is whether to build a new bridge or to tunnel under the canal. Ballard bridge is already at capacity so a dedicated lane is out of the question, and I’m not sure how high a light rail bridge would need to be in order to avoid drawing the span for all but the largest boats.

        Also worth considering is whether an at-grade alignment would work in Ballard and how to best serve the largest number of residents.

      15. “One big (and expensive) question is whether to build a new bridge or to tunnel under the canal.”

        That was one of the most expensive single pieces of the Green Line. They were going over the canal with a cable stayed suspension bridge, IIRC.

        I have no idea whether this is a good idea, but: could a drawbridge work, for less? Portland uses the Steel Bridge drawbridge for MAX. Maybe the Ballard Bridge opens more often… maybe Portland’s setup works but kind of sucks… maybe it would be no cheaper. I dunno.

      16. A drawbridge would permanently limit your capacity. Steel Bridge doesn’t open the top portion of the span very often at all.

      17. If we’re serious about the future of transit in this city, Ballard to West Seattle needs to be grade separated the whole way. We can run it along the surface once you get past West Seattle Junction or north of 65th St, but building a at-grade line along that corridor is something we will regret. I have long thought we should be using heavy rail here. 30 years from now, people will look back at our at-grade light rail system and think we were as short-sighted as our ancestors who opted to abandon rail for a bus-only system.

      18. But remember you have to be able to afford it. If you can’t build it because it is too expensive what is the good?

      19. I’d have to check some old records, but I seem to recall around 140 feet for a fixed bridge, and around 120 feet for a drawbridge that would have limited openings. The numbers should be in the old SMP plans somewhere for the Ballard crossing… We had some beautiful renderings of possible bridge styles for the crossing, too.

  2. Seeing all we have is a “back of the envelope” plan I am not sure we would be in line for Fed dollars anytime soon

  3. Light rail doesn’t negate a need for streetcars. They serve different functions. A comprehensive transit network would take LRT, bus and streetcar into consideration as a whole.

    1. But a LRT plan at this point would suck away capacity to fund new investments in the streetcars. There is only so much you can tax…

    2. I’m happy to accept some light rail instead of a streetcar. We will see – we do need to build all of it eventually, it’s just a matter of priority.

      1. You are correct that we will need them both eventually, but I agree with Martin, Light Rail should be the priority. My reasoning here is primarily political: light rail reaches a wider geography, and can build a broader base of support. Streetcars really only make sense (for now) in the dense central city. As such, the current network plan (even with the proposed freemont-ballard line) is rightly seen by many more taxpayer subsidy for the downtown elite. Of course we know that a lot of lower income people live in the central city, but perception is what matters.

        Secondly, light rail is the big enabler. I will grant that a streetcar provides a better rider experience than a bus, but when you are only going a mile or two, as is the case with most of the center city lines, the difference is not that big. The bus is less comfortable, but you’re only on it for a couple miles. But when you start talking about 5-mile and 10-mile trips, then the difference is huge. Riding a bus for 40 minutes to get from Crown Hill to Downtown is absolutely miserable. I’m amazed that anyone does it at all. Those are the trips that Light Rail makes possible, and thus light rail has a lot more ability to attract “choice riders”, because the marginal benefit of light rail over bus is much bigger than the marginal benefit of streetcar over bus.

        Finally light rail can take you far and wide. Streetcars only take you a very short distance. Light Rail can truly replace the car. Streetcars only fill in the gaps, but until the light rail system is built, the entire city is one giant “gap”, too big for streetcars to fill.

      2. I also think McGinn is talking about something between what ST has been building with Link, which is essentially a lite metro, and what we have with the SLUT or Portland with it’s streetcar. Maybe something along the lines of that Paris tram.

  4. Also, streetcars are relatively cheap and fast to build, and could in substantial part be funded by local improvement districts if individual neighborhoods want them (ie. neighborhoods that want to be linked by a streetcar to regional Link).

    Obviously the already-funded, making-up-for-a-canceled-Link-station First Hill streetcar should go forward regardless.

    1. Streetcars make all sorts of sense for linking neighborhoods like Eastlake or South Lake Union or Wallingford to the regional Light Rail system, essentially neighborhoods that are 1 to 2 miles away from a link station. That does not apply to Ballard or West Seattle. It would take 40 minutes on a streetcar just to get the regional system before you then have to transfer to get to your final destination. That is just not good enough to attract choice riders.

  5. I really do not get why everybody says the tunnel is maxed out. I get that with 6 minute headways and all the ST lines in place it would be… but wouldnt’ the whole region benefit by weaving in a 10-15 minute headway line from west seattle to ballard and lengthening the headways on the others by just one minute?

    I really do not think street cars are the answer as they are stuck on the streets of downtown and will be crawling along at 7mph.

    I would love to see a 10-15minute ballard to fremont ST tunnel compatible line.

    Could somebody explain to my why this does not work and why it would not benefit the entire region… ie: people in ballard could transfer in the tunnel to get to work in MSFT!!!

    1. Opps
      I would love to see a 10-15minute ballard to fremont ST tunnel compatible line.
      I meant ballard to west seattle

    2. Keep in mind that long term we’re probably going to have a third north-south light rail corredor through downtown, likely via the 99 right of way (especially if McGinn manages to kill the tunnel). This would grab Greenlak, Freemont, South Lake Union (finally it’s own light rail stop!) and then south through SODO, Georgetown and White Center. There are over 80,000 jobs in SODO (and the Link Sodo Stop doesn’t get nearly all of them). That’s as many as Downtown Bellevue and Overlake combined. You might potentially be able to squeeze the far west line into the existing tunnel (though I bet ben would disagree), but you definitely can’t squeeze a third corridor in there. Eventually we will need more ROW in downtown.

      Having a second transit tunnel is also a good backup in case there is an accident that blocks up the first one even temporarily. Right now, Link has very little redundancy. A single accident could bring the region to a standstill.

      1. I think a future Highway 99 route could just share the Ballard-West Seattle route through downtown. My personal planned out route would start in Downtown Edmonds then go down Aurora until it got into Seattle, then go into a tunnel with stops at Greenwood, Phinney, Wallingford, Fremont, and Queen Anne, before joining up with the Ballard-West Seattle tunnel at Seattle Center. Once it got out of downtown it would go down through SODO and Georgetown then hook over to Skyway and Renton.
        I’m always fantasizing about routes, I have a huge fantasy map here.

    3. With 5 minute peak headways on Central Link and 5 minute peak headways on East Link, you would be at 2.5 minute headways, which is the limit according to ST. Therefore any lines other than those would need to be in a separate tunnel.
      Streetcars are the answer for getting people around close in neighborhoods, but not distances of more than a couple miles.

  6. A lot of the studies for the monorail can be used as a baseline for this. Getting high enough to avoid getting stuck behind a draw span at the ship canal is expensive. Monorail used a concrete box beam bridge, like the West Seattle Bridge only skinnier. I think cable stayed had cost and FAA height/flight issues. If I recall the soils under the ship canal suck so tunneling might be prohibitive.

    Along 15th/Elliot the recently completed bus lanes could be re-purposed. Downtown the transit tunnel should be used. Makes transfers simple and is least cost. Getting into the north end of the tunnel will be tricky. South of downtown using Link stations and alignment is a no brainer. Will need to access the Maintenance base anyways. Getting over Harbor Island and shipping lanes will be expensive. I doubt two light rail tracks would fit on top of the existing bridge without taking multiple lanes. A single lane might be elevated above the roadway similar to what Monorail did, but that would restrict throughput. Otherwise a second high bridge pushes the price up.

    1. There is no doubt that building this thing is not going to be cheap, and we need to stop pretending it can be. It will cost literally billions of dollars. It will be more expensive than any other light rail system in the country and will rival the cost of heavy rail systems. University Link cost over $500 million per mile. That’s more than some cities spend on their entire lines. Despite that, University Link has a better cost-benefit breakdown than almost any other light rail line. The cost will be huge, but the benefits will be even greater if we do it right.

      Among other things, on of the key mistakes the monorail project made was promising they could build the green line cheaply. That is simply not possible short of cutting so many corners as to hardly be worth doing at all. The good news is, we have a lot of money in this city and the people are willing to spend it if we do it right.

      1. The problem with the Green Line wasn’t cost. We were offered a “fixed price” contract (make of that what you will) for about $2 billion dollars. The problem was we couldn’t afford to finance that using only the Seattle-based tax options we were given.

        That will continue to be a problem for ST, unless we can access other taxing sources.

      2. That’s just a fancy way of saying that the problem WAS cost. Financing is part of the cost and you’re just playing smoke and mirrors to say the contractor would only get $2 billion and the bank would get $8 billion. What matters is how much the taxpayers have to pay in total. Putting aside the fact that the monorail had 8 million other problems with it, if SMP had had more taxing authority, it would not have had to spread the cost over 50 years and drive the financing through the roof. The larger your payments, the faster you pay down your bonds and thus the less you spend overall.

        You are correct though, the taxing authority that the city is currently granted may be too limited for a project of this magnitude. That however, is a political problem, not an economic one. Seattle easily has the economic base to fund this. If we need to ask olympia for permission to tax ourselves even more, I think that’s a case we can make.

    2. Assuming it’s a surface alignment, a center-running alignment would likely be preferred for the 15th/elliot corridor, and a solution similar to what we have in the Rainier Valley would probably be the best choice due to the nature of the corridor, with a future cut-and-cover conversion being a possibility in the future as the corridor sees more development.

      That was a long sentence but I believe it is grammatically correct.

    3. “Getting high enough to avoid getting stuck behind a draw span at the ship canal is expensive.”

      Gawd knows. I tried for years and never did achieve it, no matter how much I spent.

  7. Clever move. The election is obviously coming down to average voter age. Being a single-issue candidate defined by his opposition to the tunnel was not going to get enough voters out. McGinn needed to wrap himself in something big, sexy, progressive, and tangible to get younger voters to the polls, and this could be it.

    1. I disagree. McGinn has been very successful prior to this statement at getting out the youth vote. It helped him a lot during the primaries.

      1. He was successful enough to get through, but the average voter age in the primary was something like 59.6—an age that heavily favors Mallahan.

        Whatever the facts, the general perception is that fighting the tunnel is an uphill battle. A one-issue candidate whose one issue is opposing a project that most see as inevitable is going to have trouble generating turnout—especially on a ballot not tied to a presidential election.

        Don’t get me wrong. I’m voting McGinn and may start volunteering for him, but he needed to be “for” something exciting that gave voters a sense of his vision for the city and energized his base, not just against the tunnel.

    2. I agree, plus some. This energizes his base, but it also is a tangible policy proposal that gives the undecideds something to consider other than a nebulous specter of a spiral-eyed greenie. For now, this puts the other guy on his heels.

      1. Right. Plus, this will definitely chip away at some of the older Mallahan vote in West Seattle. If I recall correctly, the support for ST2 out of West Seattle and Magnolia was surprisingly strong last fall, and that was for light rail that wasn’t going anywhere near their neighborhoods.

    3. Politically clever, yes, but it’s not a gimmick. McGinn’s opposition to the tunnel has always been about bringing Seattle’s long standing roads-vs-transit debate to a head. He has consistently said that spending $4 billion on the tunnel means we can’t fund other priorities, now he has shown us what those other priorities are. It’s about a different vision of the future based on a different set of values, values that I think most people on this blog, and most people in this city, support, but that we have never been given a chance to express. The power-brokers have been pushing the asphalt agenda for generations and the people have been fighting them for generations. Transportation engineers once envisioned four north-south freeways comparable to i-5 running through Seattle. It took a popular movement to stop them. The people of Seattle passed forward thrust, it was the suburban vote that brought it down. McGinn is the first candidate who wants to give the people of Seattle the chance to decide what they want to build their future city on: roads or rails. Mallahan prefers to let the powerbrokers continue to decide for us.

  8. Leverage existing city assets to lower costs, but develop dedicated right of way so that trains won’t get stuck in traffic.

    What about the Battery Street Tunnel?

    1. I agree that it should be used for SOMETHING but I’m not sure it’s right for this proposal due to the direction of travel and the location of the Western entrance. Future light rail or streetcar up Aurora? Maybe…

    2. That was one strong point of the propose 6th Ave (aka Seattle Tube) deep bore tunnel. It used the Battery Street Tunnel to access Ballard.

  9. Has anyone created some sort of map that shows the likely route a line like this would take through the various neighborhoods? Would the line McGinn is talking about likely take the same route as was planned for the green line? If it were to link up with LINK at UW, would it most likely do so at the stadium station or the Brooklyn station?

    1. Brooklyn, I’d hope. Mainly because it’s only slightly further from the center of campus but right smack dab in the middle of the U District.

      1. I think it should link up with Brooklyn then continue to U Village and Children’s Hospital. It should have a huge elevated station there at Children’s to piss all the Laurelhurst people off.

      2. And it should to go Magnuson Park… high-capacity transit access to recreation is sorely needed by those who recreate.

      3. Don’t forget a stop at Children’s Hospital, wait a minute isn’t there a rail Right-of-Way along that route already?

        Time to check out the Burke Gilman from the railbank

      4. Actually it should follow Roosevelt-Lake City with possible extensions to Kenmore/Bothell/Woodinville if funded by non-City sources. I still believe that the 1968 Forward Thrust routes made more sense, where the UW line followed the route above and Northgate was served via lower QA, Dravus, Ballard and Wallingford. Lake City is already fairly high density and with a relatively large flat topography and no views to block could be a great location for TOD.

    2. Roughly what it would/could look like. From 1970! Like looking into some sort of creepy future.

      See the lines to West Sea and Ballard on the Phase II map. its a BIG image so beware.

      Also, the original Green Line for the monorail might be a clue. Or who knows. They could even come out of the Transit Tunnel at Convention Place, go up the west side of Lake Union and to to Fremont. Sadly, the TT lacks capacity once Link will be in full swing. First Ave Subway!!!

      1. I pushed them to look at Dexter Ave as a route option for the Green Line (based on my own and public comments), but the consultants didn’t like my idea much.

        While I think Dexter is an even stronger candidate now for a streetcar, I would imagine at-grade light rail could be made to work there as well…

    3. I’d think the Brooklyn station would probably make more sense since it’s central to a pretty large population, and the 44, which travels along market and 45th through central wallingford, is one of the highest ridership routes in the system (almost 6,000 per day in 2007) and serves a ton of UW students and would be the most direct line between ballard and U Link.

      This could be supplemented with a Ballard-Fremont-UW streetcar line to serve people closer to the canal, with a potential connecting branch to wallingford and east green lake via Stone Way or fremont avenue (they want a zoo line anyway), as well as a connection to SLUT via the fremont bridge and Westlake.

      The main issue with this line is the steep grade from ballard to phinney ridge, which would probably require a bored tunnel between roughly 8th ave and Wallingford, whereas the waterfront route would be fairly flat. The advantage is that you could serve both of these corridors in this case, whereas a streetcar along market/45th wouldn’t be feasible due to slope and traffic.

      Of course I could be wrong though – maybe a ballard-fremont-wallingford-UW link line would be fast enough and have ridership I didn’t think about.

      1. I think any Ballard-Wallingford-U District Line should be completely underground anyways. That corridor is very dense and the streets are very narrow.

      2. I really like this route. At least from Ballard to Wallingford this could easily be done on the surface (though it gets a little tricky in downtown Fremont and the bike lanes on Stone would have to be moved somewhere).

      3. I’d have to agree. Staying on the north side of the Ship Canal would be cheaper and I think more effective. Travel time from UW to downtown is only 9 minutes via Link. Your route picks up a much larger residential base and of the people it servers I’m sure a large percentage are destined to areas other than downtown (University, Northgate, Eastside via 520).

      4. Stick it out to Golden Gardens and Sand Point. Those ends could be single-tracked, at-grade, but at least getting some rail out to some of the city’s recreational gems would be a huge plus. Also, while traveling all the way between two parks is not likely something hardly anyone would do, having both termini at parks would generate a lot of attention for the line and for access to some great recreational opportunities.

      5. Not light rail related but both are connected by the Burke-Gilman Trail. If McGinn does get elected I’m sure he’ll push to complete the “missing link” through Ballard.

      6. Wasn’t the “missing link” recently completed? I thought that’s what Cascade was making a big deal over. The Burke-Gilman will get you almost to Shilsole. It’s a pretty steep climb over to Golden Gardens. Likewise for Sand Point the RR grade is a couple blocks over and up a steep hill from the park. Not a big deal on a bike but not really beach blanket and cooler access.

      7. It might be a different missing link. It’s the section between the Fred Meyer and the Ballard Locks where the trail ends and cyclists continue on a narrow industrial street littered with gravel, tracks and lots of truck traffic and then through downtown Ballard. I did a quick search and found that local businesses sued the city in July about the trail’s environmental review process. I also found that Mayor Nickels committed Bridging the Gap funding to complete it by 2010.

        I’ve biked to Golden Gardens Park and the beach a couple times. It’s really easy. There’s a new trail from the Locks all the way to the park entrance. For faster cyclists, Seaview Ave is wide, low traffic and flat. But yeah, Sand Point and Matthews Beach is steep.

      8. That’s a cool route. Do you think it should be underground for parts of it and if so which parts?

      9. At first I had it completely underground. Then I had it run underground from UW to Fremont under 45th and Stone Way (notice the large curve radii). Then surface running (either at-grade, elevated, or mixed) along Leary Way from Fremont to Ballard. I would like it to be able to complete a one-way trip in 15 minutes or less. A station may be added at 15th for easy connections to a N-S Ballard West Seattle line.

    4. I think that’s a good question. ST’s (very) preliminary work is looking at studying Brooklyn and eastward expansion to Children’s makes some sense, but there is also a clear value in continuing the same east-west Ballard to UW line right over the 520 bridge to the Eastside. There are a lot of people who live along that corridor that work on the Eastside, and if that is the case, Stadium may make more sense.

      Given the expense, we may have to wait for ST3 to do the Ballard to UW segment, but if we can get the initial segment (basically the green line) built, then we open up a lot more possibilities with ST3.

    5. A rectangular route going Ballard – downtown – West Seattle – Burien – Tukwila I.B. – Southcenter – Renton – Bellevue – 520 – UW – Ballard would make a lot of sense and leverage existing proposals. (Burien-Southcenter-Renton has been widely proposed for ST3. Ballard-Burien has gotten some notice, and Ballard-UW-Kirkland has been suggested.)

      Even if it can only be built piecemeal, it would be good to not build something incompatible with that, so that it can be extended later.

      I’m not sure about going north from Ballard, but clearly Ballard – Northgate would be logical.

  10. Metro doesn’t have the cash, it’s redundant in ST’s god-knows-how-long-until-they-commit-year plan, and the people of Seattle both want it, benefit from it, and voted for it before they voted against it (John Kerry?).

    Seems like another case where having our 800 different transit agencies and municipalities, each with its own plan, will hurt regional progress yet again…

    1. The McGinn certainly gives ammo to those at the State level advocating “governance” reforms in the form of a unified agency.

      1. Not at all. McGinn is clearly looking only to raise the money and contract with ST, not create a new agency (which is one of the major mistakes SMP made). This would ensure that whatever gets built is compatible and integrated with ST’s long range plan. This is not really about coming up with a new plan, just about putting the peddle to the metal on the ones we already have.

  11. Is there any plan for light rail or streetcar in Lake City under any plan? The potential ridership would be high. I would think that if a station were built at Lake City way and 125th there would be a minimum of 3,000 people using that station on the day it opens.

    1. The ST long-range plan has high capacity transit to Lake City and Bothell. It doesn’t specify rail but I think it will be rail.

      1. I can not find anything that says under the current ST2 plan any high capacity transit for Lake City and Bothell. I do remember there being such a plan (I think it called for BRT style service) but I think that was under the roads and transit package. The only thing that I can find is additional bus service from the 100,000 additional bus service hours.

      2. There’s nothing but more frequent bus service for Lake City/Bothell in ST2, but various long-term planning documents identify 522 as a potential HCT corridor. In the 2004-2005 period ST studied several corridors including HCT along SR-522.

        This study included light rail, monorail, and BRT options for 522. The projected ridership was relatively low, which is why the current long-term assumption is BRT (though the studies I linked to don’t come down decisively either way). However, the route they analyzed was a spur from I-5 along 145th across to 522 on the city line, and then up Bothell Way from that point, rather than along Lake City Way. I’d be curious to see ridership studies from Northgate along Northgate Way and then north or all along LCW from Roosevelt station (with a shared portion along a short bit of north I-5). I don’t know if long-term frequencies on North Link would prohibit that kind of connection, though with only a small shared portion it should be possible eventually.

        I live in Bothell so I’d like to see rail along this corridor (even though my commute is on the Eastside.) But we need better ridership numbers or an acceleration of routes that are likely to have more riders so that we can get to 522 faster. The route did project to more riders than either Bellevue-Overlake or Bellevue-Issaquah, and Overlake is already funded for ST2, so it’s not completely unreasonable to hope for rail here. On the other hand, West Seattle, Ballard, and Ballard-UW are higher ridership priorities.

        It’s a shame because if Forward Thrust had passed we’d probably be nearing 20 years of heavy rail service from Seattle to Bothell.

      3. I, too, have softspot for this corridor. I think the issue is clearer if Ballard goes on to Northgate rather than UW. Then it’s a no-brainer for 522 trains to continue on to Ballard.

        If you really want to go far out Lake City Northgate/Ballard/DT/West Seattle could be the Seattle leg of a 405/Lake Washington line.

      4. A fully-built regional system really needs to connect north and south of Lake Washington, and connecting two lines on either side of the Central Line is the way to do it.

        Any way you look at other planned lines it starts to look like the eventual next step. If you’re in Ballard, a connection with the Central Line at Northgate (as imagined in the old monorail expansion plans post-Green Line) is a clear next step. Once there, Lake City’s a station away (then Lake Forest Park/Kenmore/Bothell). To the south, after West Seattle you see Burien, which in turn is close to Seatac (possibly) and Tukwila (connecting with Central Link), and then Renton. From East Link, Bellevue to Renton makes sense, as does Bellevue-Kirkland, then to Bothell. In my mind the two lines would meet at UW Bothell with the Northshore segment continuing on to a terminus in Woodinville and the 405 line continuing on to Canyon Park and then Lynnwood where it would connect with North Link.

      5. That would make sense–there was a station there in both the Monorail and Forward Thrust plans. Running from the UW to U Village and Sandpoint does not make sense as Sandpoint is a dead-end effectively, whereas a route to LC could continue as far as Woodinville if desire and funding materialized.

        Actually, a streetcar extension of the SLUT-UW line from Husky Stadium Link station to U Village and Sandpoint would make some sense. I just don’t think it is a better route to the NE for high-capacity transit.

      6. I think maybe some of us are fantasizing about two different lines; i.e., the McGinn Line continuing northeast via Northgate and Lake City and far beyond, and an east-west canal line that does in fact dead end.

      7. Oran’s Canal Line could interline through Brooklyn and Roosevelt stations with the Northgate line, then split and follow the Forward Thrust line through Lake City and onward, eventually becoming a Ballard-Bothell/Woodinville line. You’d have to transfer to get downtown from LC at either Brooklyn or Roosevelt, but the frequency on the Northgate line would be high enough that it would be a very short wait at most times. This transfer would exist from LC and points north anyway at either Roosevelt or Northgate, whether existing bus or HCT.

        I do think N’gate should have been served from the Ballard-Greenwood direction, and Lake City from the UW–with decent crosstown bus service this would have given two rail options to much of the North End. Ah, well.

      8. As with the DSTT, there is simply no room for more trains in the Brooklyn-Northgate segment. After ST2 is built out the downtown trains will fill it to capacity.

  12. This is really exciting! I just reallllly hope that most of it ends up being grade separated. It should be in a Second Ave Tunnel downtown that would continue under Seattle Center and Uptown then pop out onto Elliot. It could be at-grade in the middle of 15th in Interbay but before the Ship Canal it needs to go underground through Ballard. If it continues to the U District it needs to be underground for that entire segment too; if it continues up north then hooks over to Northgate like the Green Line extension was going to do, it could be elevated once it gets north of 65th or so in Ballard.

      1. That’s not a dilemma but it’s worth discussing.

        I don’t think we should get hung up on it being “ballard to west seattle.” What’s important is Ballard to Downtown and West Seattle to Downtown. And Ballard to SeaTac. And West Seattle to the University. A waterfront route wouldn’t serve those trips nearly as well as a 2nd or 3rd avenue alignment, both of which are closer to the core of downtown.

      2. A different dictionary, apparently: (1) An argument necessitating a choice between equally unfavorable or disagreeable alternatives; (2) any alternative in wchich one must choose between unpleasant alternatives; (3) any serious problem.

        Given, light rail through downtown is not disagreeable or unpleasant, but the cost of a tunnel may be. A relatively inexpensive option on the viaduct leaves the viaduct in place, definitely disagreeable or unpleasant.

        But … feel free to argue “predicament” (syn.) is more apropros :-)

    1. I think a MAX-style, at-grade part along the waterfront, meeting Undotted Link at International District/Chinatown, interlining (if possible) through Stadium and Sodo, and then hanging a right to West Seattle. I bet I can read McGinn’s mind.

      1. I think if the citizens come up with the cash to build a train from Ballard to West Seattle, McGinn might be able to convince downtown to foot the bill to bury the line through the city center. They certainly don’t want to put a train on the surface streets (see Kemper Freeman’s position on East Link).

      2. I just don’t think a waterfront alignment would serve enough people to be worth the money saved. Third avenue is central to the financial district and has easy access to Westlake Center, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, etc., whereas the waterfront has easy access to… steep staircases to 1st avenue.

      3. I was talking to a City Council candidate about streetcars, and the candidate asked if a Western Ave alignment might split the difference, and keep down opposition from 1st Ave business owners…

      4. A nice thing about parts of Western is that downtown streets don’t bisect it at every single block where the hill is really steep; four-car stations could fit at the surface of that station.

  13. Based on my completely unscientific analysis based on per-mile costs of ST2 projects, an entire almost completely traffic-separated and mostly grade-separated Downtown Ballard to West Seattle Junction line could cost about $3.5 billion. Here’s my math:
    A tunnel from King Street under Second Ave to the Seattle Center to Uptown popping out at Kinnear Park would be 2.72 miles. At the same cost per mile as U-Link it would be less, but because it would have 6 or 7 stations instead of two it would probably end up costing a little bit more than U-Link, so about $2 billion. Through Interbay it could be at-grade, which, at say $75 million per mile, would $150 million. From the northern edge of Interbay to downtown Ballard is about one mile. A tunnel for that segment would add another $600 million. South of Downtown it could share ROW with Central Link because East Link will have gone off by then so there will be room for the “West Link.” If it continued south along there to the West Seattle Bridge then went along the middle of the West Seattle bridge until that turns into Fauntleroy, that would be $375 million. A mile of elevated along Fauntleroy then a short tunnel to the middle of the Junction would add another $300 million.

  14. I for one would like to ride on something other than a slow 15 to Ballard in my lifetime. McGinn is our guy: less talk, more rock.

  15. I would like to see a Ballard-West Seattle Light Rail built, but because the bus lines that serve those areas do good on ridership, it might be a challenge. Depends on how fast the FTA can change the rules. Although the FTA people that said the First Hill Station had to go, I wondered if they ever tried to catch the buses that they said already served. They were often late, and sometimes it can be faster to walk down Madison St.(This is based on personal experience, but it was years ago).

    One reason I would like to see Ballard LRT is because it would use it’s own Canal Crossing, giving more commuter redundancy. Remember during the heat wave last month, the University Bridge got locked in place because of heat expansion. Except for the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge(which was built in the 1950s and 60s) and the George Washington Bridge(Aurora Bridge, built in the 1930s), the rest of the Canal crossings(Ballard, Fremont, University and Montlake) date back to the Nineteen-teens, in the case of the Fremont, when there were traffic jams of streetcars instead of automobiles.

    I have had a few temp jobs in the Ballard-Interbay area, and the bridge can hold up the bus.

  16. Several comments:

    ## Finally a candidate for some office who can actually spell the word “Transit” — what a refreshing change from the past.

    ## A positive proposal that can be discussed, tweaked in the best Seattle process, and hopefully acted upon in some manner or else.

    ## Many commentators are insistent on grade separation as the only way to fly. How come the most successful light rail systems (Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Muni) are NOT grade separated entirely? That’s light rail’s distinct advantage — in can use the most efficient means to get from A to B and isn’t stuck on one method or another.

    ## Crossing the ship canal is a problem. The Ballard Bridge charts at 46′ clearance — in order not have an opening span a bridge would have to be at the height of the Freeway Bridge (138′ at mid channel) — A huge difference. Choices — suffer the occasional opening and rebuild Ballard to accommodate rail (and bicycles!) OR build a new high level bridge and its associated approaches. One hard decision point.

    ## Make the downtown portion part of the surface transit option including possibly in the street on the 2/4 couplet OR on 3rd. Have a connection at Stadium to Link (and offer a Ballard to Airport option.)

    ## Ballard end could terminate at the Ballard Sounder Station. (Dream, can’t I)

    ## A Northlake Streetcar, sharing light rail tracks from Ballard Sounder to the Ballard Bridge and then running through Fremont to the UW link station would make an excellent addition. How about using those glorious French trams with 8 connected units? Some private ROW is available in the form of the Ballard Terminal Railway.

    ##F Finally — governance. The Balkanized state of our present transit system(s) (and I use the word loosely) needs to be addresses. A mega-agency covering all transit in the Cascadia Region (Canadian border to Vancouver, WA) including the state rail system and the ferry system with an elected governing body and with the right to have a voice in cities land use planning and in the future planning for roads and airports would be the idea way of cementing the region’s future. Sub area equity is just another way of blocking real progress — out transit dollars need to go to the betterment of the region NOT one particular piece of it or another.

    Go McGinn!

    1. Yes, light rail does offer you the ability to do things in the most efficient way possible. In this case that means being grade separated through Uptown and Downtown and under the Ship Canal.
      The successful systems that you listed are mostly successful because of the sheer size of their network. Once Link has a few years under its belt and more and more people ride it, I can assure you that it will have far more riders per mile. However, SF Muni gets a huge amount of its ridership just on the underground spine from the Embarcadero to West Portal.

      1. Actually Muni gets a huge number of riders on the surface of the Market street spine as well — F Line is over capacity, as fast as cars can be put on the tracks they are filled. Market is a true 3 layer cake — long distance heavy rail (BART), medium distance light rail (Metro) and short distance frequent stop streetcar (F line).

        The other systems, BTW, are not at critical density but are successful because they are either well designed (Portland) or have historical transit density links (SF Muni). Point is still on the table — to be successful a system doesn’t have to be 100% grade separated even in the downtown core, especially not in the downtown core because of the “in your face factor”.

        The biggest $$ drain on a Ballard to West Seattle line will be the ship canal crossing – maybe by offering a surface option through downtown the numbers will work. My own money is on a left lane (with bike lane inboard?) down Second and Fourth — very pedestrian friendly and safer than a right lane because of turns. This would be an option to the tunnel which may be at capacity when North Link opens.

      2. With the F-line, and the E-Line(Embarcadero, almost ready to go, just a shortage of double-enders), MUNI is so desperate for vehicles to run on them, they are pulling 16 mothballed PCCs out of storage and sending them off to be restored. They finally found the money, already at Brookville Equipment in Pennsylvania is Car No.1, built in 1912. The renovation contract on this streetcar alone is almost as much as the bond measure that built MUNI. Inflation sure is a lot.

        Your option for Downtown seems reasonable, but in Portland and San Francisco, usually it is a maximum of 2-car trains. In Portland because of space factors in Downtown. I often do some brainstorming to see what options can be created, if we had the money, but no they would never happen. I was thinking of possibly once U-LINK and East LINK come on line, re-routing the 7 away from Downtown and bypass it. There are trade-offs on it, so I know it would not happen, but the wire is still there for it to happen. The 9-Trolleybus ran this routing I was thinking of. Although a Ranier Ave. Streetcar tying into the First Hill line was something I was thinking of too, but it would be too long, and too expensive, but would connect with LINK at three locations, Mt. Baker Station(Counting East LINK), Ranier Ave and Interstate 90, and Capitol Hill.

    2. Two responses:

      Re: grade separation. Portland, Sacramento and San Diago are NOT the most successful transit systems. NYC, DC, Chicago, Boston, London, Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Vancouver BC are successful transit systems, and every one of them has a grade-separated heavy rail system. Muni in SanFran sits on top of BART, yet another grade separated system. Surface rail is great for filling in the gaps, but every city that is really serious about making transit more than a marginal mode of tranportation builds a core of grade separated high capacity rail transit. You may say that Seattle does not have the density of these other cities I mentioned. To which I respond: you are transposing cause and effect. These cities have density because they built rail systems, not the other way around. If you wait until you have hyper-density before you build rail you’ll be waiting forever. Rail is the cause, density is the effect.

      Re: governance. Integration is good, but politics is more important. We have an unhealthy obsession with regionalism here and that has been what has killed serious transit expansion in the past. Seattle voted overwhelmingly for forward thrust back in the 70s, it was the suburban vote that brought it down. Seattle passed the first, more aggressive ST package proposed in 1995, it was the suburbs that brought it down (before supporting the watered down Sound Move in 1996). The wider you make the district, the more conservative and anti-transit it becomes. The key is draw a tight distict around a dense, progressive, pro-transit constituency in order to get the system started. Then, once it has demonstrated success, slowly expand the district as you add extentions to the system. Your cascade corridor idea makes great sense if we had Ben Schiendelman as our benevolent dictator, but in a populist democracy like Washington State, we need to think politically.

      1. Most successful? Don’t forget Moscow, Mexico City and Vienna. Vienna has every conceivable type of rail.

      2. Depends on how you define successful. Zurich has one of the most successful transit systems in the world with a higher modal split than any of the cities you mention, and the core of their system is streetcars and trolleybuses. They achieved the high modal split not by burying trains, but by giving priority to transit over cars on city streets. City life in Zurich is built around easy, street-level access to fast, frequent, and reliable transit lines.

      3. Applause to Tony the Economist. Your first paragraph said what I was going to say only better.

        Garrison Bromwell: “How come the most successful light rail systems (Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Muni) are NOT grade separated entirely?”

        Those are examples of what not to do. Downtown Portland takes forever to cross, both because of surface streets and too many stations. Rapid transit is supposed to be rapid. A few surface segments may be acceptable, but not most of the system, and definitely not in the central part. Otherwise you end up with a light rail that’s little more than a streetcar.

        The problem is these systems are voted for by people who don’t ride transit: they expect other people to ride transit, and have no concept of what it would really be like to not have a car and use that transit system exclusively.If you’re making several trips a day, a fast efficient system makes a big difference over a slow surface route.

      4. SF Muni also has a lot of Decidated ROW and grade separation (Long subway form West Portal to Embarcadero).

  17. So … McGinn wins, Ballard-downtown-West Seattle light rail gets approved with the necessary revenue adjustments (read: tax increases).
    What happens with ST3? Will Seattle residents be asked to tax themselves again for a proposal that holds little for them, except better access to areas out of the city? Or will ST3 excise the city of Seattle in the next vote and hope that the expansions in the suburbs and Everett/Tacoma will carry it? The 2008 vote indicates it could still pass without Seattle, but it would be tight. ST3 conceiveably could include a Ballard-U District line or toss some other such bone to make it palatable.

    1. If McGinn’s plan passes, my guess is ST3 would probably still proceed, perhaps later than 2016 (maybe 2018 or 2020). Because of sub-area equity, it would have to include stuff for Seattle as well as out to Everett, Tacoma, Downtown Redmond, and Issaquah. Perhaps this would include extending the Ballard-West Seattle line (let’s just call that West Link) through Wallingford to the U District and south from Alaska Junction through West Seattle and White Center to Burien. Maybe it would even include a line between Central Link and West Link along the general Aurora corridor (with deviations off Aurora to serve major centers).

      1. I think we might find that McGinn’s plan can’t link all of the neighborhoods he want. So perhaps ST3 would extend the spine that McGinn’s plan creates. But ST3 does have a serious taxing authority issue that is more difficult to reconcile than a lot of transit wonks here are willing to believe, imo.

    2. There won’t be any shortage of Seattle projects to be done anytime in the next century. But of course there are only so many tax-sources.

      1. I wonder, could they create a shadow agency, perhaps Tound Sransit, with the same boundaries as Sound Transit that taxes up to the .9% limit but “contracts out” everything to ST?

  18. I still say using the Aurora bridge would be the best/cheapest way across the ship canal. Removing the Viaduct will lessen car demand there anyway. We can save a lane in each direction for drivers (for now) and turn 99 from a highway into a boulevard. Hang a left at Fremont to get to Ballard from there. Downtown build a pedestrian tunnel between the waterfront and the transit tunnel to connect both systems.

    1. If you are going to cross at the Aurora Bridge you might as well just continue all the way up 99 to 145th. Along with the rail construction give it the MLK treatment to make the street more pedestrian and bike friendly. You gain a huge linear strip with Pearl District or SLU like TOD possibilities. Note that I still favor median running and stations in the middle of the street. I can see the attraction of using the old Interurban ROW but one danger is the TOD will stay on the side of 99 the ROW is on. Worse comes to worse the stations could include a pedestrian bridge over Aurora.

      1. I’d probably leave that as an (easy, cheap) extension line. Branching off to Ballard will really give a boost to ridership, and there isn’t much density up north.

      1. I still think that a waterfront alignment would poorly serve most of its ridership. Like I’ve said, the point of the ballard-west seattle line is not to get people from ballard to west seattle. It’s to get people from ballard to downtown jobs and shopping, and to get west seattle people to downtown jobs and shopping. And to get west seattle people to UW and Seattle University. And to get fremont and belltown residents to the airport. This alignment doesn’t do any of those very well compared to a 2nd or 4th avenue alignment, even though it’s cheaper.

      2. But that’s what the pedestrian tunnel would be for. It’s just 1100 ft long, which would take around 6 minutes on an escalator or travelator if standing still (about half that if you walk – which most will do on the way down). If that’s not fast enough we can change this to a funicular. From the top you’d have full access to Link, buses, or the rest of downtown.

        When I worked downtown I’d walk from the freeway down to the waterfront and back almost daily, and it took around 8 minutes. Downtown is really small enough to be walkable, but we’ll add an escalator (or funicular) for those that can’t be bothered.

      3. Another way to do it would be to make a streetcar that can run on Link voltage running in a loop along the waterfront, north end of downtown, through downtown, Pioneer Square, etc. Makes heading downtown a two seat ride, but have center platforms and tranfers are easy. Total fantasyland, but it would help.

      4. Seattle could really use some way of moving people up and down the hill. A streetcar would be nice, as would a funicular. Hey, maybe just a ski lift?

  19. I will admit this is one of the more *unusual* threads I have read, which probably shows I don’t get out often enough. Having read his ‘Ideas for Seattle’ site, McGinn notices transit is more popular than his own candidacy for Mayor, so, hey presto!, in two weeks McGinn, who previously had no plan at all for transit, produces a ‘plan’ and says in two years voters will get a chance to approve it.

    Kinda makes you wonder why nobody else had done that, if it’s so easy. It also makes me wonder if the Mayor can simply put items on the ballot. I don’t remember that ever happening before, and I’m pretty sure it would be a bad idea.

    It does not seem impossible that an oil price spike coupled with a very realistic worry about AGW could spur a crash effort similar to the American involvement in WW II, when every resource was bent to one end, and, yes, the streetcars came back! I personally expect this storm to hit around 2020, maybe 2015, but am very dubious it will hit as early as 2011.

    I’ll admit to a very jaundiced view of McGinn. I see a guy who wants a career in politics, and has based a campaign for Mayor on some very deceptive claims about the tunnel proposal. It has not escaped my notice that Mallahan equals McGinn in downside.

    It also makes me wonder about downside. For example, what if a plan were put to the voters and they turned it down? Alternately, what if voters pass a plan that is flawed? McGinn is depending on voters who think that if the tunnel is stopped, the state will give Seattle $2.4 million to spend on alternatives. What if he can sustain this state of merry befuddlement to the point where a plan wins at the ballot box, and then is discovered to be totally unworkable?

    And, for that matter, what if the election becomes a contest of pro- and anti- transit, with McGinn and Mallahan as proxies, and McGinn wins, and then is unable to actually do anything about transit?

    So, color me skeptical. I’m not excited about his ‘plan’ because I don’t think he actually has a plan. It might be a little premature to be discussing where the stops in Ballard should be on the new light rail line.

    1. Contrary to the impression you seem to have gleaned, McGinn is not an idiot. Any transit plan that he proposes will be thouroughly vetted by professionals with cost and ridership estimates. McGinn can’t do all that research now as a candidate. It costs money. As mayor, he can request a line item as part of the city’s $4 billion budget to fund a study of light rail for the western half of the city. Sound Transit already plans to fund such a study and build light rail in this corridor eventually. McGinn is simply suggesting that we increase our local taxes in order to accelerate plans that are essentially already on the books.

      Regarding the power of the mayor: of course it is within the power of the mayor to commission a study, propose a project and put the question before the voters. How do you think Sound Transit got formed in the first place? It was spearheaded by an ambitious King County council member who later became an ambitious mayor of Seattle. That’s what visionary elected officials do.

      Regarding why no one has done this before: simple answer, lack of courage and vision. Again, contrary to your assessment, it isn’t “that easy”. Proposing a multi-billion dollar mega-project that moves the city in a radically different direction is an incredibly risky thing to do politically. McGinn can afford to take a political risk here because he has nothing to lose. Any incumbent would be terrified to propose such a plan even if it makes all kinds of sense. Politicians are not always rational. Emotion plays into their decision and often they prefer to play it safe rather than risk a visionary idea.

      Finally, McGinn does not imagine that the state will just hand over the money it was going to spend on the tunnel to city to build light rail, but if the city can avoid the $900 million that the state has committed the city to in order to fund a state project, that gets you a third of the way there, but moreso this is about a clash of values and visions. Regardless of how the money is sequestered into various pots, it all comes ultimately from the same place: the people of the state of washington. McGinn is saying that as a people, we should spend less on roads and more on transit. That’s a values proposition that people in this city can get behind.

      1. Dealing with this is like trying to catch a jellyfish with a hammer and a nail. To start with, only two days ago on of the dailies reported McGinn as saying he could get the $2.4 billion from the state. I’m absolutely certain, him being a lawyer and all,that he qualified that statement so it isn’t *technically* a lie- and equally certain that the effect produced was the effect intended.

        Secondly, I never said it was “easy” to create such a plan, and even McGinn admits he doesn’t have a plan.

        Where do I think Sound Transit came from? Decades of study by planning and zoning offices throughout the region, in conjunction with committees of elected officials studying future traffic needs and visiting other parts of the world to see how similarly sized cities had handled growth needs. Call the first decade 1985-1995, when elected officials and planning departments in three counties coalesced around the idea of building a rail spine. Call me old-fashioned, but I suspect much of the future rail development will come from the same framework. And, speaking of that, how does Nickel’s support for ST, and the actual building of a streetcar on his watch, square with McGinn’s desire to replace him as Mayor?

        As for McGinn being some bold visionary- baloney. The process is proceeding daily, entirely as a result of those politicians you think can’t do it, and what you’re really proposing is that McGinn put his name on whatever the existing establishment can work up- the functional equivalent of putting a postage stamp on the envelope.

        Naturally I would like to see less car use. I planned my entire working life, and choice of career, on the basic proposition of never needing a car to get to work. My prediction of the remaining lifespan of the private automobile is much less than most readers of this blog.

        However, I have learned that politicians who hold out glittering bags of goodness at election time don’t always deliver- and I’m quite suspicious when the bag obviously contains nothing. The road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions…

    2. It’s definitely premature, because all he’s announced is that he wants a plan in two years. I do think that McGinn, like virtually all politicians, is an opportunist. What I like about him is that he seems to be looking for the opportunities in a future-facing direction.

    3. Wait, was he supposed to read voters’ minds instead of asking them for ideas? I always like my own ideas better than the candidates’ ones.

    4. It’s not a question of McGinn vs a more experienced pro-transit candidate. It’s a question of McGinn vs a solidly anti-transit candidate (if I read Mallahan right). Even if McGinn muddles along and fails, it’s better than somebody who would definitively turn the switch off and prioritize automobiles and set us back years. The viaduct tunnel we can live with if we have to; it just means money down the drain like the stadiums were. What’s more important is somebody who prioritizes transit overall, even if he’s just doing it in reaction to the polls.

  20. As NJL said, there is no shortage of Seattle projects. I can’t imagine McGinn pulling off something bigger than just the basic downtown Ballard to West Seattle Junction line with this “city only” initiative he is discussing. That still leaves the entire 99 corridor, the Ballard to UW line (which won’t be cheap), a northward extension from Ballard to Northgate, a spur to lake city, and southward extension from West Seattle Junction to Burien and about a dozen streetcar lines to fill in the gaps. That’s more than enough to fill ST3 thru ST5 even if we build the initial segment of West Link on our own.

    1. Whoops, that was supposed to be a reply to alexjonlin’s comment about ST3. Blasted technology.

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