Surrey Downs Lady, c/o Sound Transit
Surrey Downs Lady, c/o Sound Transit

During the public comments at yesterday’s Sound Transit board meeting, there was one comment from a Surrey Downs resident.

She complained because in the new 110th Street tunnel option for Bellevue, there could be a 45 foot high station as little as two hundred feet from Surrey Downs! Oh woe, she and her neighbors might eventually have the option of walking to a light rail station!

To his credit, Chair Nickels was wonderfully understanding, asking several specific questions to understand exactly what the issue was.

This is an open thread.

167 Replies to “A Surrey Downs Resident Complains”

  1. Well, it’s pretty clear [deleted, ad-hominem]. Probably worried about pedestrians she’s going to have to wait for while driving her SUV.

    1. To soften the implication, those frames she’s wearing look like top-range Roberto Cavalli frames, so yes, on all accounts she probably drives a rather nice car absolutely everywhere.

      1. Classy… Really classy… Can we start talking about real issues and stop insulting our opponents? I thought this was a transit policy blog, not the US Congress.

      2. Lovely, except there is a direct link to the dependence upon and facilitation of the automobile and the rise in morbid obesity in the USA.

        And that should be a concern of a transit policy blog.

        I am just glad Ms. Surrey Downs can operate an SUV safely. Someday either due to her age or the price of gasoline she won’t really be able to and it sure will be nice to have that train to fall back on, won’t it!

      3. Makes me wonder how large Mayor McCheese would be if he didn’t use as much transit as he does.

    2. For the record, Ms. Blackstock and I carpooled to the Sound Transit board meeting in a Toyota Yaris. Sorry if it doesn’t fit with the stereotypes portrayed by some in this blog.

      1. After watching the video I don’t find Ms. Blackstock’s requests unreasonable, she is just making sure that the impacts of various siting and alignment decisions are considered. I know she’s been one of the more active Surrey Downs residents but she seems to be a bit more willing to work with Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue than in some of the other testimony and comments from her I’ve heard in the past.

        Big kudos to Chair Nickels for drilling down to the key issues and making sure he and the board understood what they were.

  2. I don’t get which potential East Link station she’s complaining about. Besides it isn’t as if there aren’t buildings much taller than 45 feet along the Northern and Eastern edges of Surrey Downs.

    Personally I think Bellevue should rezone the entire neighborhood for high-rises out of spite.

    1. What some people here don’t seem to realize is that the reason there are tall buildings in Bellevue is because they protected neighborhoods like Surrey Downs from development. There is no reason other than that for Surrey Downs to have not developed like the neighborhood opposite to them on the north side of Main. In 1965, like some other eastside suburbs, Surrey Downs already had a number of rental houses, that is to say, houses owned by developers waiting for market demand or zoning changes.

      Now that the policy or preserving Surrey Downs and similar neighborhoods has reaped a harvest of dense Bellevue development, some people want to change the zoning and let the downtown sprawl more. Aside from the evisceration of the policy that worked, I kinda doubt the owners of downtown Bellevue skyscrapers are that eager for a lot of competition. They might be just as happy to protect that residential land from other developers who might overbuild and drive rents down with vacancies. And the last half century shows you don’t get dense development on the eastside if you just upzone every time a developer shows up with some plans and a bulldozer.

      1. “And the last half century shows you don’t get dense development on the eastside if you just upzone every time a developer shows up with some plans and a bulldozer.”

        Isn’t it the opposite? The reason Bellevue has so much one-story development around 116th, 120th, 12th, Northup, etc, is the restrictive zoning laws.

      2. This question seems to imply that the demand is unlimited, and in the absence of the restrictive zoning there would be many more skyscrapers in Bellevue. This to me seems a little unrealistic.

        On the surface, it appears that Bellevue told developers they could build up, but not out.

        I suppose the best way to test this idea would be to look at similar communities like Factoria and Kirkland and how many skyscrapers they have built.

        To me, though, it appears the main intent of the restrictive zoning was to force high-value development at the core. This is not a new idea- it goes right back to the walled medieval city.

      3. Most of the Eastside including Kirkland and Factoria/Eastgate has had height limits of 120 ft. or so. That said downtown Kirkland has seen a huge boom of condo developments and is now quite dense. Similarly Factoria/Eastgate has seen a lot of large office buildings go in. Would any of these be larger had zoning allowed taller buildings and higher FARs? Hard to say. However I don’t doubt at least the Northern and Eastern edges of Surrey Downs would look a lot more like what is across Main or 112th if the zoning allowed it. Similarly I would expect the neighborhood to develop like the portion of downtown North of NE 8th were the zoning to allow it. That used to be a single family neighborhood, now it is condo and office towers.

  3. Have any of you been to Surrey Downs? If not, I’d recommend a trip. It’s a 50’s style suburban enclave right next to downtown Bellevue. It’s well-kept, quiet, the houses are not huge, and there are no sidewalks.

    Many of these people bought their homes with that lifestyle in mind. Right or wrong they are fearful of changes to that lifestyle. Instead of criticizing them for driving SUV’s or the wealth they may or may not have, I suggest you try to understand their position and work to address their concerns.

    For example: Noise – I sit at the Mount Baker transit center each day waiting for the light to turn. (Tangent: Metro/SDOT, how about a detector for the buses waiting for that light?) From that position, I can clearly hear the screeching sounds that light rail makes as it heads into Beacon hill – even with my window closed. As much as I like light rail, if that noise were anywhere within half a mile of my house I’d be mad as hell.

    1. I’ve been there. To be frank: if they want that lifestyle, they can move away from where our near-term development needs to go. Their 50’s style suburban enclave is causing climate change, and the only way to stop it is to replace it.

      1. Dude,

        You go off like this from time to time (remember the berm outburst?), giving opponents of transit and transit oriented development the opportunity to play the “fascist” card. This is not a good thing.

      2. On the contrary, it turns out I was right all along about the anti-berm people. Did you see their designs? There’s almost no difference between what they want and what Sound Transit is building, except that what they want stops the project.

      3. Ben,

        Yes, you are right. And you are very probably “right” about Surrey Downs from a global warming and rational development point of view. But you can’t just brush people aside. I doubt you actually want to brush them aside, but it sounds like you do.

        Hence the opportunity for anti-progressive voices to scare otherwise potentially sympathetic but possibly only lightly informed voters with “Death Panel” threats. It’s what they do.

      4. I have a soft spot for communities like Surrey Downs, having been raised in one myself. I’m not at all for leveling it, upzoning it, or condemning it for global warming, etc.

        But if I were one of the residents, I would accept the light rail for the greater good, and ask for reasonable remediation: Sound walls, plantings, etc

        Those homes – heck, my home on North Beacon Hill – are going to eventually go the way of the dodo bird. Market forces and population growth will kill them off. A hundred thousand or so in remediation – which could probably still be usable when the neighborhood changes – is not too much to ask. And ST will probably grant them, being the reasonable agency they seem to be.

      5. Great, Ben… More ammo for rail opponents in Bellevue. Just keep it up.

        I happen to live in South Bellevue too (Beaux Arts to be more precise). Most people here drive and are destroying the climate as you like to say. However, more and more people are realizing we need to for ways to reduce our impact. We may be moving too slow for you, but saying things like “Their 50’s style suburban enclave is causing climate change, and the only way to stop it is to replace it” isn’t going to win you any friends here.

      6. You’re not moving too slow for me. The atmosphere doesn’t care what I think.

        Surrey Downs has a wall around it. This doesn’t affect them any more than the office buildings around them that they haven’t complained about.

      7. This type of argument isn’t helpful. Remember South and East Bellevue voted for this.

        We should argue that she is out of step with Bellevue. Most of South and East Bellevue, want cost effective and we should point out that Surrey Down’s nmbi’s are complaining about get extra services.

        If someone in those area’s moved, someone else would just replace them. Alot of the more recent residents, didn’t think that transit would effectively serve them and wanted to live closer in than North Bend. We need of offer them solutions that don’t involve razing there homes.

      8. “Many of these people bought their homes with that lifestyle in mind. Right or wrong they are fearful of changes to that lifestyle. Instead of criticizing them for driving SUV’s or the wealth they may or may not have, I suggest you try to understand their position and work to address their concerns.”

        Good point on not criticizing them. Unfortunately for their anticipation of lifestyles, they bought their homes just outside DT bellevue (either before or after the new DT bellevue planning process, regardless). That train (haha) has left the station. Regrettably, the city pandered to their interests during planning. Thankfully (for the well-functioning of the city), the future will change that. I’m not saying their homes should be razed and replaced with a 400′ tower, but SF homes adjacent to 400′ towers and DT services…it’s just not sustainable (in the reality sense, not the environmental sense…well, that too).

        One day, Bellevue will run out of room to widen their streets further to accommodate all the traffic driving in from the surrounding SF hoods stretching in all directions as far as the eye can see. Like any good hub-and-spoke city, there should be a gentle transition from the high-rise hub to the low-rise perimeters. It makes for better usage of the spokes.

        Now, I’m a going back to worrying about Seattle’s gentle transition, hub-and-spokes, and urban centers and their mini hub-and-spokes…

      9. I suspect there will be tremendous pressure to upzone the SF neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Bellevue. The fate of most of them will likely be similar to what happened to the neighborhood East of Bellevue Way between 8th and 12th. Some of the areas out toward the water might be able to hold out, but even then I’m sure we’ll see pressure to develop Maydenbauer Bay similar to Moss Bay in Kirkland.

        If nothing else over time the homeowners will be replaced by real-estate speculators who will hold the property until the political climate allows zoning more in line with downtown Bellevue. Eventually there won’t be enough owner occupied homes left to result in much screaming when the upzones happen.

      10. In all fairness, Velo, comparing Beaux-Arts to Surrey Downs is like comparing a fine locally-raised grass-fed filet mignon and a Quadruple Quarter Pounder. They’re both from dead heifer, but not even in the same league in terms of mechanics, impact, vehicular use or land use. Don’t denigrate your lovely compact well-planned neighborhood by comparing it to sprawl.

      11. An interesting comparison and you’re right, Beaux Arts pre-dates suburban sprawl, having been incorporated in 1908 (beating Bellevue by over 40 years). Still, I wouldn’t stack our vehicle use against Surrey Downs. In proximity to downtown I’d bet SD has us beat in the number of people who walk/bike to work.

        Having ridden (for years) and driven the 222 I’ve noticed that most of the people who use it are outside the village. Of course, once light rail hits South Bellevue, that may change.

      12. It’s also next to Bellevue High school and I think an elementary school, so schoolkids kids can walk from there.

      13. Wow that’s an incredibly arrogant statement. I’m not sure why “our” near-term development needs(?) trumps “their” lifestyle.

      14. I agree. And it’s not like they’re houses are automatically gonna be replaced by high rise towers because a four-story tall station is going in near their neighborhood. However, if their neighborhood is replaced by mid- or high-rises, it will be because of capitalism, which I’m sure their political ideology strongly supports.

      15. The thing is that the four-story station is right next to a much taller hotel. Heck it it right off main where the tall office and condo buildings start anyway. Not to mention all of the taller than four story buildings across 112th from Surrey Downs today.

        Hell the East Main station site has (or had) a four story hotel on it.

    2. I continue to be totally amazed by Surrey Downs. This was a borderline shabby old development when I cut lawns there in the mid-60s. One thing we can be sure of- Surrey Downs is not new sprawl. Any argument about smashing them into a denser lifestyle must apply with equal force to almost every single-family neighborhood in the northwest.

      Except, perhaps, Beaux Arts. You’ll have to park and walk into the village to understand why- there isn’t enough room there for your car. Many of the homes were built with lumber carried on the backs of the builders from the lakeshore, and are small. In fact, most of the village was built before the coming of the automobile, explaining to some extent why it is so difficult to drive there. Fortunately, they possess no vital objectives for the transit forces to capture, and will probably be spared the clanking of the all-conquering machine.

      In general, I think that treating people as disposable is probably a bad idea- even if you seem to be getting what you want.

      1. Oh how I wish it was that easy. There are times during the week where the 222 matches up with the 550 and makes it a very handy commute. Sadly, however, it almost seems like the planners made the 222 NOT convenient to use. Since much of the 222 is a replacement for long ago lost one-seat service to Seattle on the 226 and 235, you would *think* that Metro would try their best to make it work for people heading to Seattle.

        I ride it when it is convenient but otherwise I just walk or bike to South Bellevue. If Metro is going to start forcing people to transfer they have to do something to make the transfers as easy as possible. A 20 minute wait for a transfer isn’t going to cut it.

        CatOwner: You’re dead on about Beaux Arts. The neighborhood is pretty anti-development. Every time somebody pushes the envelope and builds a huge house here, the pitchforks come out and folks push for more restrictive building codes. That said, we’re definitely in the climate killing category (per Ben’s mind). No cottage or accessory dwelling unit code (yet), 10,000 sq ft building lot requirement, and a 2 car garage is required. I’m not sure how you make this area more dense without screwing up the road system. It *can* be pretty transit/walk/bike friendly but people aren’t there yet.

      2. I would think a cottage or accessory dwelling code would fit in with the neighborhood character given how small many of the historic houses are. I’m not sure how much of that character is left as it has been a while since I’ve been in Beaux Arts. But historically it was a community of small artists cottages in the woods.

      3. Oh and East Link at S. Bellevue P&R would greatly enhance your transportation options since it is likely to operate on 5 minute headways during peak periods and at worst 10 or 15 minute headways the rest of the time.

      4. There is talk about a cottage code but I haven’t heard anything lately. I’ll be more up-to-date on town council issues next year as I hope to start attending regularly.

        Many people voted for ST2 here – there were a lot of pro-transit yard signs. I don’t recall many neighbors voicing anti-transit positions – at least not publicly. We’re so close that it seems to be pretty much a no-brainer. (Max 20 minute walk from anywhere over here – thanks to a few pedestrian infrastructure improvements made by the City of Bellevue – more of which are planned in our area)

    3. Are you talking about the exit from the Mt. Baker transit center onto Rainier? There is a sensor there to trigger the signal to allow buses to exit. It’s not marked, but it’s right at the curb line as you leave the transit center.

      And I agree – the only thing more shrill than the sound of a braking train nearby are the knee-jerk reactions of rabid rail advocates to a middle aged, spectacle wearing, round in the middle woman goring their favorite ox.

      1. I’ve resorted to turning right on red there – I’ve got good visibility and have yet to lose my poles so I figure it’s Ok, provided the light to the south on Rainier has cars stopped. If I wait for that signal to turn green, sometimes I swear I can watch my hair turn grayer… But maybe that’s just me.

  4. Who is the voice of Link (announcements on board)?

    My friends and I were debating the difference in tone and demeanor of the SLUT, Link, and Sounder guy’s voices; we agree that the Link lady is very enjoyable and calm, the SLUT lady is very perky (too perky, says one of my friends), and Sounder guy is not playing around / means business (I mean, it IS a commuter train).

    Link lady gets really excited about International District/Chinatown station, by the way; she can barely contain herself…

    1. I’m not sure about this but I think the voice of Sounder is of a guy working at Sound Transit. Unless ST contracted a voice actor to record the announcements, I think it’s all done in-house.

    2. Glad to hear someone else agrees with me about her happiness over Intl Dist / Chinatown Station. I always imagine a full grown woman beaming with excitement to have finally arrived at such a magical destination.

    3. How about
      -The nasty sound the SLUT makes when the doors are closing. No where near as soothing as the Link door closing sound (binggggg bonggggg).
      -That god-awful, loud as hell, digital bell on the Link, especially in the DSTT.
      -The wimpy digital/electric horn on the Link.
      -Any sound the Link makes on a curve.
      -The REAL bells the F59PHI’s and Bombs. have. Another wonderful ST sound.
      -Or the lovely K5’s. So LOUD! :-)

      The most useful piece of automatic information, from Sound Transit’s first album “The Sounder”:
      Watch your heads on the luggage rack!

      1. The wimpy digital/electric horn on the Link.

        Try standing on the sidewalk near a grade crossing. That horn is annoying. It seems they’ve started honking at every intersection now.

      2. I really don’t get all the honking. Why must they do it at EVERY SINGLE STATION. The buses don’t honk when entering a tunnel station … why do the trains make the obnoxious noise? I mean let’s be safe, but this is just overkill.

      3. There seem to be a small # of operators that are really, really, REALLY bell-happy. The other day I was waiting at Pioneer Square and at some point in the SB tube a train started dinging about every 5 seconds all the way between University street and Pioneer square. Once entering the station, about a dozen more rings. Another dozen or so upon leaving. And you could hear it dinging away again in the tube between Pioneer Square and IDS/Chinatown. Presumably this would be the same type of operator that dings 5 times entering a totally empty Beacon Hill station.

      4. Waaaay to much bell ringing in the tunnel stations and klaxon honking on MLK. Time to quiet things down, ST, please?

      5. I agree. The other day I was the only person waiting at Mt. Baker and the operator rang the bell for the entire length of the platform. I was even sitting on the bench, nowhere near the tracks. I don’t remember using any other transit system where the trains gave an audible warning as they approached. It seems like the sound of the train is enough, especially in the tunnel.

      6. The bells in non-street level stations are stupid and potentially dangerous themselves.

        I was in Beacon Hill station and an old lady had to cover her ears because the bells were so loud. As if the wind pushed through the tunnel and noise of the train wasn’t enough warning. That tiny tube of a station amplifies the noise and makes it louder.

        Someone should get noise measuring equipment and measure how many decibels those things are. It’s only a matter of time before someone sues Sound Transit for causing hearing loss due to excessively loud bells/horns.

        I like what the Canada Line does when a train is about to enter the station. It says something like “the next train to arrive on the outbound platform is for Richmond-Brighouse.” Although the main reason they do that is because of the two branches of the line. Of course Sound Transit can’t do that, they can’t get the readerboards to even display next train arrivals! Once they do, I want the bells to go away.

      7. The speed and stopping distance of the Link trains is greater than that of buses. The warning bells are supposed to be sounded when they are – the idea is to prevent people from getting killed. No driver wants to have their train involved in causing a death, and if ringing the bell will prevent soemeone from going splat because they can’t hear a large electric vehicle approaching (happens with trolley buses a lot), then I say let ’em ring the bell as much as makes them happy.

      8. Well then now you know. Not only are the warnings to keep clear of the roadway/trackway – but to back off from the edge of the platform lest ye get smacked. As a driver I see folks “hanging ten” over curb lines all day long, and people do the same thing in the transit tunnel. Those vehicles – buses and trains both – come right up to the platform’s edge.

    4. I’ve noticed that the Link recorded announcements seem to have glitches near the bus tunnel. Parts of words will cut out, the tone changes like the playback is speeding up or slowing down, and sometimes the announcement for the wrong station will play. It’s mystifying; this is a brand-new system. What is the deal?

      Also, the Beacon Hill station announcements are a special pet peeve of mine. When the elevator message plays, it sounds like she’s saying, “Please allow passengers to exit the EleVADers before boarding.” It’s bizarre.

      1. “EleVADers…”

        Reminds me of the female Steve Hawking voice that reads the marine weather forecasts on NOAA weather radio these days. She seems to have some kind of pronunciation glitch that creates an extra syllable everytime she says “cloudy.” “Conditions for the Grays Harbor bar are calm and cl-OWW-dy.”

      2. I’ve not heard the breaking up announcements before today. I was in the second car of a NB train, and none of the stop announcements were understandable. It was like there was a loose connection from the first car or a lot of radio interference. SOMETIMES the displays inside changed, but not always, like that was also lost in the connection.

  5. What’s the status of South Link?

    I read in the updated Seattle Times article that the 200th station could come online sooner? Is the EIS / design work started?

    1. I believe the EIS for it was part of the Central Link EIS. I have no idea how much of the design work is done.

    2. Actually, I asked about that at yesterday’s briefing. I believe they said the EIS is complete, although I could be mistaken. The board could choose to break it off from the rest of the southern line (in terms of project planning) and move ahead with it much sooner.

    3. BTW one of the Seattle Times articles on the ST revenue shortfall mentioned the design work for S. 200th is about 1/3 complete. So assuming ST can get the money to build it I could see S. 200th opening by 2013.

      One other interesting take-away from the revenue shortfall news is apparently one of ST’s strategies for keeping costs down may be to speed up some projects. I assume to take advantage of low construction costs before the economy picks up again.

  6. NIMBYs love freeways (so long as they don’t come too close) but they hate light rail. Because light rail means urban density and more traffic (of course, wider freeways don’t affect major arterials like Bellevue Way).

    It’s a weird deal. Maybe Sound Transit can just make the big wall around their neighborhood even bigger. And electrify it. And offer 24×7 armed guard service to protect the lady with the glasses from the people who might get off at that station.

    1. I live 1/2 mile from 405 on a hill and I don’t mind the noise or traffic. It’s a tradeoff for having excellent transit and freeway access in the suburbs. I want urban density and light rail; more of the eastside needs to be built up.

      1. Sigh, more of the Eastside does not need to be built up. Building these boom-burbs is a major source of Seattle’s traffic problems.

        Seattle is the urban centre of this region and it should do a much better job at absorbing the growth. There is so much wasted space in Seattle I can’t imagine why Bellevue would need another high rise. 4th Ave south of the stadiums looks like Puyallup. Capitol Hill, Seattle’s ‘densest’ neighbourhood, has surface parking galore.

        Not to mention the fact that Seattle, geographically, ishuge. Northgate to Tukwilla? That’s monstrous space that has so much room for densification that people in Surrey Downs shouldn’t have to worry about skyscrapers in their backyards if they don’t want them.

        I believe in urbanisation and densification and all that, but I’m also pragmatic enough to realise that the Eastside is there only as a response to Seattle’s failure to absorb that growth where they should have.

      2. I totally agree with you that Seattle has a lot of wasted infill potential and I want to see more densification in Seattle. The reality is that not everyone can or wants to live in Seattle for whatever reason. I’m not talking about skyscrapers in my or anyone’s backyard but we can benefit from at least some urban form in the suburbs. I don’t see how transforming neighborhood strip malls into real town centers make Seattle’s traffic worse.

      3. Would you rather have a denser Bellevue, or more develpment in Woodenville and Snoqualmie Ridge?

        Surrey Downs is next to downtown Bellevue.

      4. Seattle isn’t huge. Maybe compared to the suburbs but, with 80 square miles, it’s very small compared to most other major cities.
        I think it’s great that all these suburbs are thinking big. They definitely should still keep plenty of single family homes (in Seattle at higher densities and in the suburbs at lower densities) but it is great to build periodic nodes of dense development all around the region to provide people the opportunity to work near where their house is or to provide space for people to live near where they work. All this talk about increased traffic always drives me crazy. Whenever anyone proposes any project, the first thing anyone things about is parking and traffic. If they increase HCT along with these dense nodes, you won’t have to wait in traffic.

      5. Bellevue is a close-in burb, with huge employment figures. It’s ripe for more density. Fremont, Ballard, and South Seattle used to all be “suburban” in the 50s as well (well, at least much more than they are today). I don’t think the changes are a bad thing.

      6. As compared to Santa Monica to Beaumont, Chatsworth to San Juan Capistrano and Palmdale to Riverside? Bah!

      7. The Duwamish industrial area may not look all that dense, but it is actually fairly dense for what it is. This area is actually quite important as a source of well paying jobs and the synergy with the port and the Pacific fishing fleet. I’d hate to drive these businesses out to Sumner or Woodinville in the name of building a bunch of condo towers South of the stadiums. Besides a lot of land is taken up by Boeing Field and the rail yards, again these are important to the economy of the region and it would be foolish to push them out.

      8. As Chris Stefan said, SODO, Interbay, and Ballard are the last remnants of industrial jobs and Seattle’s history. The landowners would make several times more if these areas were upzoned to residential and retail, but the warehouses would move to Woodinville/Issaquah, out of the region, or shut down. Other cities have eliminated their industrial base, but you can’t run an economy on paper-pushers. As the cost of oil rises, the dollar falls, the deficit becomes a bigger burden, and climate change accelerates, we’ll need to manufacture more of our products in the region (and grow our own food too). It’s vital that these land uses remain in Seattle.

        The suburbs did not appear because Seattle pushed those people out or had too low density. The suburbs grew because of white flight after desegregational busing, the desire for “local control” (a small suburban government), and the desire for a house with a yard.

        There is plenty of space for infill housing in Seattle, true. The single-family houses on the border of multifamily development are going to have to give way (and already are with townhouses). But there’s a long way to go before a transit rider would want to live in Magnolia or Sand Point.

        Which “parking lots galore” do you see on Capitol Hill? There are a few small pay lots, which residents generally disdain, but are useful when you have an out-of-town guest and don’t want to spend half an hour looking for a parking space. The People’s Parking Lot, of course, was a failed development.

    1. I bet the Metrolink engineers had a fit over that. The unions were upset enough when the Class I’s started installing forward facing cameras outside w/ exterior mics (to listen for horns, bells, and such) on their road locos. There aren’t any cameras or mics inside the cabs. Hard to justify NOT having them.

  7. Ben,
    Your definitely right about the anti-berm folks in Tacoma. The two designs look very similar, and the berm actually looks the best to me. The post and beam really looks like a great place for graffiti too. As a Tacoman who wants better transit sooner rather than later, hopefully it will come to a resolution soon. I have called and emailed my city council members many times on this issue alone.

  8. Maybe someone here can answer this question for me. Why isn’t there a direct bus from Bellevue Transit Center that runs express (via the 405 HOV ramps and I90) to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel? It gets a little old when half the 550’s time is spent on Bellevue Way and Mercer Island. There seem to be plenty of riders who do city core to city core. Anyone know?

    1. The 550 replaced the 226 which went on Bellevue Way (and earlier on 108th) and had three Mercer Island stops. So it was a net improvement in speed. The Bellevue community was asked whether to keep some Bellevue Way stops or have faster Bellevue-Seattle service on 405, and they chose to keep the stops. It’s not that bad given that lower Bellevue Way is 40 mph.

      The Mercer Island TC will never be skipped because it’s a regional transfer point.

    2. Given how slow 405 south is anytime around rush hour, such a super express bus probably wouldn’t be much faster than the 550.

  9. Ok, nobody’s brought up the SLUT yet in this open thread, so will.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and again recently because of the general expression of distaste/ambivalence for streetcars from the city council and mayoral candidates.

    Many, if not most, of the arguments I hear about streetcar implementation in Seattle are along the lines of “it’s too slow”, “it gets stuck in traffic”, and “I can walk faster.” While I agree with much of that sentiment, it seems to me that behind those statements is a feeling of “well, that’s the way they are…can’t do anything about it…they aren’t really a valid form of public transport.” I certainly don’t hear too much discussion over how to make them more efficient.

    Compare our streetcar “network” with that of Zurich. When I was there a couple of years ago I found them to be fast, frequent, and reliable. Yet, their streetcars run on the streets in the same rights of way as cars. Sure, there are sections where the streetcars are grade separated, much like sections of MAX in downtown PDX, but for the most part they aren’t. Streetcars don’t have to be slow, I realized. So, what’s the difference?

    In Zurich, streetcars are fast because they have priority. In general, I think that we in Seattle equate priority with signal priority. In Zurich, priority does mean signal priority, but it also means right of way priority. If you’re driving on the tracks and a tram comes up behind you…you best get out of the way. I don’t actually know what the law is, but I did observe the behavior. Motorists got out of the way of the trams (and buses, for that matter).

    Could we not do the same here? Was ROW priority studied during the planning phases of SLU? From an engineering standpoint, it seems that not much would be required to make SLU a much faster line. It’s probably much more difficult from a behavioral standpoint, though.

    People here get out the way of a big a** truck barelling down the road. Why can’t they learn to do the same for a streetcar?

    1. I must be driving on different roads than you do because I rarely see anyone get out of anyone else’s way. Trucks and buses get cut off just as much as anyone else.

    2. Here in Amsterdam the trams have right of way at all times … and they take it. Typically they are in their own ROW, but occasionally share lanes with cars. In cases where there’s a merge (from separate ROW to shared), the car always has a yield sign and the tram has priority. You best pay attention to the yield and use your mirrors – or you’ll get plowed right over.

      1. This illustrates exactly what I meant by my last statement. If I see a truck coming up on my and I don’t think it’ll stop, I get outta the way. If you knew that the tram had ROW and wasn’t inclined to stop, you would get out of the way, too.

    3. I’ve brought up the Zurich tram system before on this blog. They have a great system and manage to have one of the highest transit mode splits with a system based on trams and buses. Riding the trams there is great, they’re fast and extremely punctual (of course). I think a delay of anything over a minute is considered officially late. Another thing I like about the Zurich system is their online time-table. It allows you to print out a schedule for any stop in the system with arrival times for that stop and travel times to every other stop on the route. I wish Metro had something like that.

      I was really disappointed with the implementation of the Seattle Streetcar when I first rode it, I expected it to be like in ZUrich where the streetcar only stops at stops, and nowhere in between. I was really annoyed when I rode the Seattle Streetcar and learned that it stopped at nearly every intersection and that the operator had to manually call for a proceed signal. It doesn’t have to be that way. They could have used automatic signals with true signal priority and made the line a real demonstration of streetcar technology. I think the streetcar would have found a lot more fans if the city had done a better job with the implementation and considerably shortened the travel time.

    4. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the street cars in Philadelphia are the same way… or at least that was my experience after living there for 10 years. You don’t see the effect as much on the traffic-dense streets the “Green Line” trolleys run on (and then transition into the subway tunnel) but out in the burbs you do.

      There’s not much I’d like to model from SEPTA system to here… but that’s just general grumpiness stemming from the organization’s relationship with the city more than anything else.

      In other news, I was in Vancouver last weekend and rode the newish Canada Line. I hadn’t been to Vancouver since 2004… all I can say is wow. It is amazing how radically different (and easy) it is to get around greater Vancouver now.

    5. Paul,
      I think we really have to look at what Zurich (or any number of other European cities) do for their tram systems before any more streetcar or at-grade light rail is built around here.

      The trains need to have real honest to god signal priority and shouldn’t stop for anything other than actual stops or drawbridges.

      I think if rail were run that way a light-rail line to Fremont and Ballard via the Fremont bridge becomes much more practical and would function much better than the current bus service.

      Though it would help if the trains had really loud air horns for letting cars know to get the heck out of the way. For that matter the buses should have air horns rather than the rather wimpy sounding horns they have now.

    6. Exactly. Streetcars with their own right of way or traffic priority would be a big improvement. But it’s almost impossible to build around here, mainly because of the anti-tax crowd.

      1. The anti-tax crowd is a problem when trying to pass things statewide. However they are less of a consideration when trying to pass measures on a county or city wide basis. In Seattle we don’t really have an anti-tax crowd unless the money is going for something just stupid (bag tax, latte tax).

    1. I was pleased when the other day in my Latin class at Garfield High School we were talking in Latin about our transportation. The teacher asked (in Latin) who liked planes best, boats best, trains best, and cars best, and several people raised their hands for the first three but no one for cars.

      1. This is Garfield we’re talking about. It turns out geniuses like Boeing turns out airplanes, though i think it turns out geniuses on schedule far more often…

  10. And, in more open thread news, closer to home… from WSF:

    64-Car Ferries Bid Opening
    On Thursday, we took the next step in the process to build new ferries. We opened bids on a contract to construct up to three new 64-car vessels. WSF received one bid from Todd Pacific Shipyards. Todd’s proposed bid was below the WSF engineer’s estimate. This is a great step forward in rebuilding our aging fleet to meet the growing needs of our ferry system. For more information on the 64-car ferry program, visit

    Can someone reimnd us again how we know we as taxpayers and transport users are getting the best deal when there is only one local bidder?

    1. While it would be great if there was more than one large shipyard you have to consider how much the state might lose if all WSF construction and maintenance contracts were bid out nationwide.

      First of all consider all of the local workers employed on ferry construction, maintenance, and annual inspection work. How much money would the state lose if that money went out of state? Second consider that without the work from the ferry system the Todd Shipyards here might very well close which means loosing all of the associated jobs and economic activity for good. It might also cause Seattle to loose some chunks of the fishing industry.

      It sounds good to say “lets save the taxpayers money by building and repairing ferries in Missippi” but think about what you are saying. Should the state really send $200 million out of state to save maybe 5% on a ferry construction contract?

    2. There is only one local bidder because there is only one local customer. Shipyards in America exist primarily for the US Navy. Todd hardly builds new ships these days; if it weren’t for the State Ferry System, they would be completely out of the new construction business.

      New ships are built in Asia, mostly in Korea.

    3. Long live the Jones Act!

      Say, are the fleets of Horizon Air or Kenmore Air built in Washington State or at least the USA? No? What?

      1. And what does BC Ferries get to do that WSF can’t? Oh, that’s right, open the bid to the world market!

        Where is the free trade?

        What did we in Seattle endure WTO’99 for; Pat Davis’ ego alone?

        How come WSF cannot purchase the plethora of good used ferries available for sale right now?

        Because of 19th century protectionism! Bravo America!

        You talk the talk, now walk the walk, OK?

      2. Are you guys serious? This is government creating and supporting high-quality private jobs at its finest. I expect the state to continue pushing for all major projects to be conceived, designed, and built right here locally. There’s nothing wrong with that.

        It’s the same reason Portland built their Skoda factory for their streetcar network and it’s the same reason the United States should build their own high speed trains when the time comes to order the train sets.

        19th century protectionism? Give me a break…

      3. I suspect the added cost (if any) of building and maintaining state ferries locally is more than offset by the convenience, reduced out of state travel, and taxes collected by promoting local economic activity.

      4. Let’s be honest, who else is going to purchase large quantities of ferries, streetcars and trains other than the government? Private enterprises have always benefited from publicly funded projects. I thought this is the one thing that we could all agree on – if the government is going to spend millions of our tax dollars, at least make sure it’s spent locally.

        You guys are nuts.

      5. Even though BC bids its ferry contracts out on the world market it still has had fiasco with new vessel classes costing much more than was estimated.

      6. If you are looking at the Flensborg built ferries, you may have a point, but then we have not seen how they hold up yet given their short length of service. But BC Ferries has been able to add to their fleet a number of fine used vessels when needed even if they happen to have been built in another country:

        The Queen of Chilliwack
        The Northern Adventure
        The Queen of the North (which was originally the Queen of Surrey in keeping with today’s thread title)

        All of these vessels have had long safe careers with BCFerries, and provided a unique service that might have been unfulfillable with North American products. Indeed it was the sinking of the Queen of the North (any ship can sink if the crew are stoned and sailing the Inside Passage) that led to the need for a replacement vessel, which was The Northern Adventure and she could not have obtained as quickly if BC Ferreis did not have access to the used ferry market which WSF is prohibited from using.

        I certainly hope that Jones Act supporters are all driving 100% US built cars made by Ford, GM or Chrysler with no Canadian content.

        The local transit agencies can use “radical” bus-design ideas built in Germany (the Metro MAN Artics) or Britan (the CT Dennis Alexandar Double Tall), or even Italy (the Metro Breda duo-…uh, never mind!). Our light-rail cars were designed and built in Japan while the Commuter rail cars were designed by Toronto and built in Thunder Bay, ON.

        Yes, I am aware of the temporary screw-tightening jobs these products are requireed to create here in God’s country-like the nearly minimum wages AnsaldoBreda paid in Issaquah; What’s that factory up to these days? And why isn’t every agency in the USA forced to buy from Gillig or Colorado Rail Car?

        We can fly in Canadian designed and built airplanes within Washington State; in fact, unless you are going to GEG, and sometimes BOI, it is impossible to fly within the state and to Idaho, Montana, Oregon and British Columbia on a USA-built aircraft. Some of those flights act as alternates to WSF. How can this be allowed? Doesn’t Boeing or Cessna have a product for these routes?

        19th century protectionism? When you close off the rest of the world’s products new and used to certain modes of domestic transport? Yup, it is, you betcha! Especially when the same government that creates and enforces these rules goes around the world demanding that other nations open their markets to U.S. goods.

      7. The European shipyards that the new BC ferries are being built in exist and prospered because of government protectionism and investment. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I think it’s vital to our economy and national security that our industrial infrastructure and know-how are maintained. The small cost of maintaining it through preferential bidding is nothing compared to the cost if we had to rebuild those industries from scratch in the event of war or economic downturn.

      8. The state can’t do a damn thing about the Jones Act. The only question for the State is should it keep ferry construction and maintenance work in-state or solicit bids from out-of-state shipyards.

        Perhaps the best approach would be to solicit bids nationwide but award the bid to an in-state shipyard if it is within the low bid plus whatever the state would get from tax revenue and any savings in travel from having the yard in-state.

  11. Does anyone know why Metro doesn’t put the schedules for each stop on that stop, just the time-point schedules? I used to think that it was because they didn’t want to print a different schedule for each stop, but then I realized they already do that because they have the stop IDs printed at the top of each bus stop schedule.

    1. The driver’s run card only lists the timepoints not the times for every stop. Some timepoints are “estimated”, typically for routes that take the freeway. Everything else that’s not a timepoint is estimated. Because there are so many stops and the bus doesn’t always stop at every stop, they cannot give you a specific time that the bus is supposed to be at that stop because it can vary by a few minutes. One Bus Away’s stop-specific schedules are estimated and it can be wrong in many cases.

      I think what they should add is how long it usually takes for a bus to get to that stop after leaving the timepoint. A range should be fine.

  12. I think it is because only the time-points ‘count’, so to speak. Buses are not supposed to leave the time-points early, but there is no scheduled time for any other stops. That is why buses that are running early will at times wait for a minute or two at certain points.

    1. I wish they actually obeyed this. I transfer from a shuttle at International District station and can usually make it to the stop by 6:28 for the bus I take to leave. However, it irks me to no end when they leave the first stop(!!) early.

      I’ve seen the 49 arrive at its second stop 4 minutes before it was even supposed to begin the route, causing me to miss it. If you want people to take transit (and I do), then Metro should stop this.

  13. Anyone else notice the BIG new round “station symbol” signs (e.g. tiara for Westlake, opera glasses for University Street, etc.) next to the station ID signs on the platform in the DSTT? I noticed them on the way home tonight, but didn’t remember seeing them this morning, though I can’t think they would have done the work while the tunnel was open. Maybe I just hadn’t woken up yet this morning.

    1. They began to appear earlier this week. I first spotted them in University Street station on Monday. Then they appeared in Pioneer Square, Westlake and International District in the next few days.

      They’re the nice metal enamel signs like the standard Sound Transit station signs.

      Here’s a picture of one in Pioneer Square station. Sorry it’s a cell phone pic, I haven’t been carrying my G9 with me this week.

      1. These icons are kind of nice for now, but how will it work when there’s a couple dozen more stations? That map’s going to look awfully cluttered.

  14. Is there any particular pattern to why some metro buses have blue/gold paint and others have green/gold paint?

      1. I think it had to do mainly with the neighbourhoods-at least that’s what I first heard. One colour was North/Seattle, one was South, one was the Eastside. I don’t know which was which, though-I need to pay closer attention.

    1. The current Metro paint scheme, introduced in 1996, is blue, green, or teal on top and yellow on the bottom, divided by a black reflective stripe. Those are Metro’s colors (notice their new bus stop signs, printed material, driver’s uniform, all have those colors). The colors are distributed evenly among the fleet so 1/3 of the fleet has one color and so on. As to the pattern, I don’t know. It could be randomly assigned.

      This information comes from a page titled ‘The many shades of Metro’ on Metro’s website.

      1. Exactly. I think that when bus shelters get a new paint job, it’s a similar pattern.

        One thing I read once is that Metro is one of the only bus fleets in the country to not have white as the base color, and I really like that. It sets us apart, but in a good way (I think).

      2. I like it, too. And soon we’ll be seeing red/yellow buses for RapidRide.

        Long Beach Transit in California unveiled new buses that look like 40-ft RapidRide coaches with a similar paint scheme but it still has a white wavy stripe in the middle. SF Muni’s new buses are base grey with a red trim.

    2. I read something about the color scheme once. They split every fleet into 3s. If they get 30 new buses, 10 will be blue, 10 green, and 10 teal. Other than that I don’t think there’s really a pattern to it.

    3. when metro redesigned their look … the three colors were just one aspect of it. Makes things more interesting and has nothing to do with anything else

  15. Looking over the East Link maps and documents… inspired by the sales tax revenue shortfall…

    Has anyone considered an elevated Bellevue route that hugs 405 north of the East Main station, then has a short in-and-out spur along NE 6th to a station directly above the Bellevue Transit Center? From there it would return to 405 and have a station spanning 405 similar to the Ashwood Station to the north.

    It would be faster than a surface route, cheaper than a tunnel, and would be a nicer ride and nicer station experience given the views from the train and open air at the station. It would breeze by the Convention Center which doesn’t have much in the way of windows anyway.

    Cheap, fast ride, safe, nice, easy to build — what’s not to like?

    The potentially slightly squeaky curves are out near 405 where nobody really cares about noise.

    I think this concept would actually represent a view upgrade for the area, animating the landscape, and making it very clear to everyone — including the zillions of people on 405 – where the train goes.

    The deafening, steel, 19th century, elevated Loop in Chicago doesn’t seem to have hindered the economy there. This wouldn’t look anything like that!

    1. Let me ask for a clarification. Are you proposing a stub end station above the BTC with a wye to connect to what is essentially a through routing along I-405? Sort of like the BART SFO station?

      If so, it would require the operator to change ends during the station stop and be a big time waster. Link has three car trains which is a non-trivial walk. For each train passing through the BTC, the operator would have to unlock the door, step out, lock the door, pass between the seats in front of the bogies which may have standees, go out the door to the platform, walk to the other end of the train, enter the train, pass between the seats at the other end of the train sometimes with other standees, unlock the door, go in, and then lock the door. It would take at least two minutes per stop, and longer if there were crowds slowing the operator’s progress. The scheduled dwell would have to be at least three minutes.

      It also requires that the non-revenue “through” tracks along I-405 be stacked so that paths don’t cross in the wye and you’d need two tracks in the station so you’d have a pair of stacked wyes and presumably the station level midway between the two directional tracks.

      To image this assume that the northbound through track is stacked above the southbound. Also, assume that the north stub track is “outbound to Redmond” which would make the most sense to people. A Redmond-bound train would go left, over the tracks connecting the southbound track to the south platform and drop down to the north platform. After leaving the train would climb back up to the upper level and continue on its way. A Seattle-bound train would do the reverse only it would be climbing up toward its platform and on departure dropping down.

      This would be quite the interesting visual and not the light airy look you’re envisioning. It would be remarkably similar to the Alaskan Way Viaduct, actually. The BART station certainly is.

      I don’t think ST is going to go for it.

      1. Yes, I envisioned the wye. I see I did not consider the driver in this scheme, so that isn’t going to work.

        I did not envision grade separating tracks; the trains aren’t all that frequent and don’t have to be going that fast at such a point. Can’t tracks just cross at grade with some signaling?

      2. University Link is supposed to run at 2 minute peak headways in 2030 or something like that. Every other train is supposed to go East or South at the ID station. That implies a four minute peak headway across the lake.

        There would be no conflict for northbound deadhead runs on the “outside” of the wye. The train would simply continue ahead into the through track of the wye. And since one is definitely going to have a cross-over both to the north and south of such a junction, the through route could be single-track, eliminating two level crossings in the wye. Southbound deadhead runs could use such a single-track bypass route by waiting for any in-service train leaving BTC station before crossing-over and using the through track. That might delay a southbound in-service train once in a while, but if it became a problem a siding allowing an in-service train running close behind a train going out of service might be provided somewhere between NE 116th and the BTC station, but it probably would not be needed often enough to make it worthwhile.

        However, if you have an at-grade crossing in the station throat you would definitely have a conflict with a four minute headway. Every train would pass through that active crossing, or on average one every two minutes. Since trains would be crossing at grade it’s unlikely that one could have speeds faster than 10 mph through it; they have to be able to stop on sight. A three-car train is about 400 feet long, or nearly a 12th of a mile. At 60 miles an hour it would take such a train five seconds to clear a level crossing. At ten miles an hour it would take six times as long, or thirty seconds at a minimum. If time-keeping were to the minute that would mean that a few times an hour one or the other train would be delayed because of random arrival at the crossing. It wouldn’t be delayed by long, but it would mean stopping and restarting, which would block the crossing for quite a bit longer than the optimum 30 seconds.

        Tri-Met has this very problem at the two level crossings at the ends of the Burnside Bridge. And it has an average headway of five minutes on the Red/Blue/Green trunk line but only 15 minutes on the diverging Yellow line. Yellow line trains from the north are frequently delayed for up to three minutes.

      3. Of course, the same problem will occur at the between ID and Stadium when East Link goes into service, so I guess that the ST planners don’t think it’s an issue.

      4. If I remember the I-90 ramp layout correctly it is already configured such that the South to East ramp is to the West of the Southbound Central Link track. This means in effect there is already a flying junction there. The only real problem is if two trains arrive at the same time from the South and the East. But this is an issue any place you have two transit lines join.

      5. Chris,

        Thanks for the clarification. And the more I think about this the clearer it becomes that although it’s possible to have just one level crossing, northbound trains both entering and leaving the station would have to cross the entering southbound track. There could be a single level crossing used both entering and leaving with the station throat northbound wye switch just outside of the crossing of the entering southbound track.

        But having the northbound trains crossing twice would really jimmy up the scheduling. The southbound train would have to tuck by while the operator of the northbound train was talking that three car walk. I doubt it can be done with a level crossing; the tracks would have to be stacked, at least in the station throat.

      6. I don’t think a wye is at all practical a solution for serving downtown Bellevue, there are just too many operational problems with the idea.

        If SFO had been a through station on BART ridership there and at Millbrae station would likely be far higher. Also it wouldn’t be necessary to do an awkward transfer from Caltrain to the airport. Heck the SFO BART station should have been a joint station with Caltrain. The airport people mover should have been extended across the freeway rather than running BART over on the awkward wye.

      7. Chris,

        Completely agree.

        So far as the people mover idea, if KF gets his way and pushes the Link alignment to the BNSF ROW, a people mover loop like the one in Miami would be a great idea. Kemper could probably even get the Bellevue City Council to approve issuance of ID cards for the people mover, so only the “right” kind of people could use it.

        The question is, are Nisei the “right” people yet?

      8. I don’t think Kemper is going to succeed in getting Link pushed out to the BNSF ROW. It is pretty late in the process to make that major a change and Sound Transit will be able to reject any serious study of that alignment on ridership grounds.

        But if KF gets his way then yes a peoplemover or streetcar connector would make sense, though in that case I think East Link just doesn’t get build and Sound Transit does some mix of the HOV, busway, and rail convertible BRT instead.

        Kemper could probably even get the Bellevue City Council to approve issuance of ID cards for the people mover, so only the “right” kind of people could use it.

        The question is, are Nisei the “right” people yet?

        Honestly I don’t think Kemper really cares as long as you have a high enough credit limit.

      9. Does a wye mean a main track on 405, and a spur or loop to the Bellevue TC? There’s not enough demand for multiple branches yet. Otherwise, can I please have an express to Sea-Tac and Tacoma too?

  16. And one more open thread topic:

    From this ST Photo of the Week, it appears they are using wood (???!!!???) ties south of Tacoma – and is there perhaps only a single track? Please could we join the 21st century with double track on concrete ties?

    1. Sound Transit is doing single track for the M Street to Lakewood project, except at grade crossings where a second track will be installed. WSDOT’s Point Defiance Bypass project will add a second track from Tacoma Dome station to Lakewood.

      Are concrete ties so much better that thaey’re always preferred for new construction?

      1. There is no higher-speed rail line outside of North America that uses wood anymore. This is a new line that will be part of Washington State’s HSR???

        Even the Benson Waterfront Streetcar was upgraded to Concrete ties when it was rebuilt.

        Wood ties will wear out and will have their rail fasteners come loose much sooner than concrete ties.

        In fact, much of the modern world (is the USA still a part of it?) is going with slab track:

        (Hey, we might even get the AGC to begin to like rail!)

  17. East Link will be traveling up 112th Ave, near Bellefield Office Park and the Mercer Slough, a well-known duck and geese-crossing area. Cars are used to the frequent crossings, and stop for the birds. Link won’t be able to stop in time, slaughtering dozens, if not hundreds of bird families a year.

    1. Really; are you sure?

      How many cars do not stop and hit the birds?

      How has the increase in auto emissions in the Mercer Slough area effected egg shell and bird lung development?

      House cats kill far more birds in the region each year. Let’s be sure to ban them too!

      1. “Canada Geese are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 . This Act makes it illegal to harm or injure a goose and damage or move its eggs and nest, without a Federal permit. Not complying with the Federal Act can result in fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.”

        Given the probable numerous Link-caused geese fatalities, I’m beginning to wonder if Link’s proposed 112th routing is violating federal law.

      2. You’re right Sam, I am in favor of removing Bellefield Office Park and all the roads to restore the goose habitat. In fact, we probably should play it safe and remove the entire Eastside and both bridges across Lake Washington. It’s the only safe way to deal with the issue.

      3. I’m pretty sure the US Fish & Wildlife service has seen a copy of the East Link DEIS. If they had any concerns I suspect they passed them on to Sound Transit.

  18. Living in a downtown neighborhood (multifamily or single family homes) means that people walk. They live work and play in that downtown area and that cuts down on the transportation stresses in all kinds of way.

    I have followed the ST Eastlink process from the beginning. The Surrey Downs folks are not being nimbies, they are working to hold ST accountable. The Surrey Downs team has made it very clear that they are not agains mass transit but rather for transit that makes sense. Sount Transit refuses to look at the B7 alignment that would make use of existing rail lines on the eastside. Using the rail lines would cut the costs of the Eastlink project. Eventually the transit line will need to go across the Mercer Slough to access Issaquah and parts East. Doing that now would save tax payers $125,000.00 (Sound Transit’s figure) yet ST refuses to look at that fact and plan for the future.

    The station at East Main is the station that Surrey Downs is taking a critical look at. It is in a location that will not be utilized as it is in an area that does not have the density to support it and never will. What sense does it make to spend the money on this station? Density increases in Belleve are carefully being planned for success and putting stations in areas that they will be heavily utilized and make use of Transit Oriented Development opportunities is part of that success story.

    The current plan by Sound Transit for the Eastlink line will effect 5 out of 6 neighborhoods while the B7 line will effect only 1 out of 6 neighborhoods and come in at a lower cost. This is simple math and ST’s math does not add up. In yesterday’s news it was reported that Sound Transit will come in another 3.1 billion dollars in shortfall. This is in addition to the shortfalls already in place.

    These are only a few of the facts surrounding the Eastlink project. Folks if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. Instead of being critical of a neighborhood that you may or may not know anything about how about some support for the fact that the Surrey Downs people are trying to be part of the solution by holding Sound Transit accountable for their actions which is something ST has been reluctant to be in the past.

    1. “Sount Transit refuses to look at the B7 alignment that would make use of existing rail lines on the eastside.”

      B7 was evaluated in the DEIS. It was not part of the City of Bellevue’s preferred alignment, so it was not picked to be included in the final EIS. It’s not a matter of Sound Transit “refusing” to look at it.

      “The station at East Main is the station that Surrey Downs is taking a critical look at. It is in a location that will not be utilized as it is in an area that does not have the density to support it and never will.”

      So you’re worried about having adequate density around the East Main station, but you’re advocating pushing the alignment out to the old BNSF ROW next to the freeway where there is no density whatsoever. Don’t you see the contradiction here? Using the old BNSF ROW might be cheaper, but being cheap doesn’t make a light rail line successful. Serving neighborhoods and having connections with other transit modes is what will make it successful. Skipping the South Bellevue Park and Ride and pushing the line out to the fringes of the city would be a huge mistake.

      “The current plan by Sound Transit for the Eastlink line will effect 5 out of 6 neighborhoods while the B7 line will effect only 1 out of 6 neighborhoods and come in at a lower cost.”

      Another way to phrase that would be “The current plan by Sound Transit for the Eastlink line will serve 5 out of 6 neighborhoods.” It depends on how you see things and whether you are a transit advocate or opponent. It is transit opponents who want the line pushed out to the BNSF ROW so that they don’t have to see it or hear it or even know that it exists, and they advocate for this under the guise of “cost effectiveness.”

    2. Cindy has raised some good points here. For starters, most of us agree that TOD works great where there is stuff to be developed, that is to say, land available at less than the top of the market prices. Whether TOD works as well where the land is already developed is another question.

      And it’s particularly another question when we know already that Bellevue is looking for major TOD in the Bel-Red alignment. It could be more attractive to develop along Bel-Red than to buy and demolish pricey homes in Surrey Downs, especially if Bellevue continues to protect single family dwellings.

      And, incidentally, could anything be less attractive than the thought that happy prosperous neighborhoods should be bulldozed and replaced with apartments to provide ridership for the transit system? When the Highway Dept. started acting this way, the people clipped their horns.

      I’ve heard all the arguments about how the buses go to the BTC and the park’n’ride and that can never change (what happened to the ‘flexibility’ of buses?) to which I say “bah!”. Go east to the intersection of 90 and 405 and turn north. When the Bellevue businesses want transit access they can build a people-mover like those used at the airport.

      At the present time, of course, deals have been struck. ST obviously has a strong institutional bias towards the route they’ve chosen and only the firmest resolve by some equal and opposite power will deflect that. Bellevue and ST share one overriding goal, maximizing ridership. The 112th SE alignment doesn’t seem to offer much in that regard (relative to the big picture) and might well be sacrificed to loop the train in on Main and out on NE 8th to serve downtown Bellevue. Hard to tell.

      1. To some extent you want to build rail transit where the riders already are. In the case of East Link that means serving S. Bellevue P&R and the Downtown Bellevue core. If you run East Link in along the BNSF alignment between I-90 and the Bel-Red corridor you might save a bit of money but you cut the ridership so much you risk not getting any Federal funding which means East Link doesn’t get built.

        Even a combination of the B7 and C7E (elevated along 112th) alignments is hardly optimal and I think the Bellevue City Council has made it pretty clear it doesn’t support any elevated alignment through Downtown Bellevue.

      2. “And, incidentally, could anything be less attractive than the thought that happy prosperous neighborhoods should be bulldozed and replaced with apartments to provide ridership for the transit system? When the Highway Dept. started acting this way, the people clipped their horns.”

        Whose talking about bulldozing Surrey Downs? People on this blog have made off-hand comments about it, but that hardly makes it Sound Transit’s official policy.

        The complaints of the Surrey Downs and other South Bellevue neighborhoods have always centered on noise and visual blight. Now all of a sudden they care about the effectiveness of the alignment and future TOD. Yeah right, I don’t buy it. They’ve pushed for the BNSF ROW from the beginning because it puts the line as far away from their neighborhoods as possible. It has zero to do with them wanting the line to be successful. The preferred alignment selected by ST to go forward is almost exactly the preferred alignment selected by the Bellevue City Council. The South Bellevue NIMBYs are annoyed that the city didn’t listen to them so now they’re going after Sound Transit.

        Skipping the South Bellevue P&R would be a huge mistake. Not only would it effect people who drive to the P&R, but it would make light rail completely inaccessible to South Bellevue residents who would walk or bike to the station. The South Bellevue P&R has great access to the I-90 bike trail, and easy access for buses coming from farther east on I-90. It’s just about the most logical location for a station on the entire line.

    3. Sound Transit is looking at the B7 alignment. This is why it is in the DEIS. In fact it is second only to the B3 alignment and “modified B3” (as proposed by the City of Bellevue) in getting consideration.

      You say you prefer the B7 alignment, fine, but where would you put the P&R lot? Do you think it is a good idea to have bus riders from Eastgate and Issaquah either fight traffic on 405 or go all the way to Mercer Island to transfer to Link?

      You say you don’t like the East Main station. Where do you think the Downtown Bellevue stations should be?

      Keep in mind that the DEIS shows East Main having 1,500 to 2,000 daily boardings in 2020 and 2,500 to 3,500 daily boardings in 2030. The higher number is when combined with the B7 alignment (which you say you favor). This is hardly a station that isn’t being utilized. In fact it would be one of the top 4 or 5 stations in the entire East Link project in terms of ridership.

  19. They really should just run Eastlink up 108th, have a station at Main and 108, and flip Surrey the bird. Having to wind East and back just to avoid Surrey is crazy. We are building this line for the next few generations and a ‘hood of dumpy 50’s houses will make our line slow forever. If this was being built 50 years ago they would never cave to a group like this.

  20. Would putting East Link rail in the BNSF corridor make it impossible to have future heavy rail there? What about a future 405 Link for Renton – Bellevue – Kirkland; I suppose that could share the track with East Link?

  21. I have done work in that neighborhood. They are the biggest bunch of whinning PITA NIMBYs I have seen in a LONG time. I hear Surry Downs and automatically my brain goes – well, doesn’t matter what that person says, it will be gloom, doom, and WRONG.

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