The Times reports that a 12-member panel of legislators endorsed Option A+ (pdf) for the 520 bridge, which basically makes it a 6-lane road but eschews any sort of direct connection to the University.  The ‘+’ indicates some pedestrian and HOV/transit access enhancements not shown in the video.

This option is bad news for transit in two ways: it doesn’t provide a good connection from SR520 to the UW Light Rail station, and it’s underfunded by $2 billion.  (The more transit-friendly options are even more expensive.)  There’s much speculation that this shortfall is behind many Olympia shenanigans (by Seattle rep Frank Chopp, no less) to soak Sound Transit for the I-90 crossing.  Of course, no one is questioning $157m in lids through extremely wealthy neighborhoods on the Seattle side alone.

Yesterday’s meeting materials are online.  A video of the much less controversial East end of the bridge is here.

142 Replies to “Legislators Back SR520 Option A+”

  1. Brilliant! Flyer stops at 92nd and Evergreen Pt. but not on Bellevue Way or Montlake. And the “new” bike and pedestrian path shown by Hunts Pt. and Evergreen Pt. already exists. It could use some attention but it’s hardly new. All lids should be funded by a LID. Funny how they are at the wealthiest eastside neighborhoods as well.

    1. I like you, Bernie, even though you were pretty insulting when I had not seen a full write up of the Vision Plan. You cut to the chase.

      Gotta love that crucial 92nd Flyer Stop. Crush loads boarding there.

      1. Does anyone actually want this stop?

        If you read through Sound Transit’s Service Implementation Plan draft for 2010, it lists 92nd St/Yarrow Point as “marginal” for all routes. So clearly ST doesn’t care…

      2. But if there is no Montlake flyer stop, the Yarrow Point stop becomes crucial for all those people who will now have to transfer to the routes that go to UW.

      3. Why? Isn’t that what the Evergreen Point stop is for? That one gets pretty high ridership as it is.

      4. There is a Kiss & Ride at 92nd Ave. It is closer to access than Evergreen Point. 92nd Ave does get use – during peak periods there are normally always people boarding or alighting.

    2. I agree with the LID/lid thing. It really shows where the State’s priorities are. Tunnel through Bellevue to reduce travel times? Sorry, Bellevue, you’re on your own. But purely cosmetic improvements to rich neighborhoods in Seattle and Medina? Frank Chopp’s checkbook is open!

      1. Those “cosmetic” improvements were promised 50 years ago, long before my time, a promise that was broken and then reiterated and renewed every step of the way in the planning process for the bridge since 1997. It was a precondition for a lot of communities to even consider a highway that’s about twice as wide through parks, wetlands and neighborhoods.

        Regardless, the area is the junction of several regional trails and parks that are very popular with people from many neighborhoods, e.g. the Arboretum. It’s a fallacy to think only a few neighbors benefit. The alternative is a giant hole in the ground full of traffic that thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists negotiate daily, while they crank up the volume on their iPods attempting to drown out traffic noise while waiting for one of the buses that hasn’t had its stop removed. Is that really the future we want for our city?

        Additionally, the costs of a Montlake lid are on the order of 1% of the cost of the project, an amount often reserved for art on city projects. It’s not an inconsequential sum, but frankly, the project could experience a lot more than 1% growth in costs due to community opposition if the state doesn’t follow through on its prior commitments.

        As for a tunnel in Bellevue, I’d much prefer that over an at-grade solution there, and I’d sooner see us apply I-90 toll revenues to that tunnel versus this “A+” plan, but it’s not as if that’s the absolute cheapest possible solution there for the mobility that’s achieved.

        Fiscal responsibility is important. But what this project needs right now is some help from transit advocates on the substantive issues that would make this plan work better for transit.

      2. Jonathan,

        $157m in lids is about 3-4% of the project’s costs, not 1%. And I haven’t even counted the lids on the Eastside because I can’t find those figures.

        Sure, the Montlake lid is cheaper, but that’s not really the issue.

  2. While waiting for plan to download – I hope there will be wheelchair/stroller access at the northbound Montlake stop. I have been waiting for that to happen for the twenty years I have lived here. Those steep stairs are scary–took a serious spill there during the Big Snow of 1990.

    1. Which Montlake stop? If you’re talking about the freeway flyer stops, they won’t be replaced in this plan. The street level stops would have standard wheelchair curb ramps for ADA compliance.

  3. Gosh, underfunded by $2 billion? Sounds a lot like a use for the viaduct replacement funding…

  4. I find this insistence on lids for these neighborhoods to be kind of outrageous. The freeway’s been there for almost 50 years. These folks moved in there knowing they were living by a freeway. Deal with it, and don’t expect the rest of us to pay for a lid for you.

    1. Montlake was promised a lid; it was betrayed decades ago.

      The fact that the current situation is bad doesn’t mean it needs to be endured.

      1. Promised by who? Although, of all the proposed freeway lids on the 520 corridor I have to say the Montlake one makes the most sense. But if we’re funding a lid can’t we at least retain a Flyer Stop? I’m assuming you’re a Montlake resident? What would be you’re feelings on changing westbound access from 520 at Montlake to HOV/transit only and eliminating all access at the arboretum? I think that would eliminate the need for a second Montlake drawbridge.

      2. Read the history of 520. Mercer Island got lids because they had a powerful state representative. Montlake didn’t because it was a blue-class neighborhood that could be sliced and diced.

        I’m totally fine with a solution that benefits the neighborhood and the city and commuters. Lids aren’t critical; I’m just pointing out that part of the discussion for decades now has been putting lids in to restore the neighborhood (I live a good distance away, so I’m not disturbed by the traffic today), as well as make new greenspace and a more aesthetically appealing area for everyone, visitors, Seattleites, and Montlakers.

        I don’t use the 520 for commuting, and have always favored HOV-only options if that improved the cost and flow situation. I’m being selfish, I’m sure, as I can bike to work in Seattle, but the studies tend to show that provided good options, people will carpool/bus/etc.

        Microsoft has obviated some of the commute issues by providing their own HOV shuttle service.

      3. Glen, you should read Margaret Cary Tunks’ book about the R.H. Thomson fight and the fight over I-90. Bellevue and Seattle didn’t want I-90 without transit, and Mercer Island said they’d block it.

      4. Also, what’s the “history of 520” I should read? I’m really interested in where these lid promises are.

      5. North of 85th, and in large parts of SE Seattle (and West Seattle too, yes?). I agree that it is definitely frustrating to see lids going in for some neighborhoods, while others still wait for basic amenities like sidewalks. Different budgets, though, but still frustrating.

      6. And don’t lids violate the constitutional prohibition against spending gas tax revenue on anything other than highway purposes? If they build a lid using my gas taxes I want to be able to drive my car on it and get my money’s worth!

      7. No. Lids are an aesthetic part of the roadway. But the point is well taken that these “parks” have much less to do with the traffic flow than transit improvements. I guess the issue is the driver gets to look at a much more appealing overpass while stuck in traffic.

      8. There are

        federal mitigation requirements
        for park impacts due to highway projects that receive federal funding, like this one. This project will pave over a significant swath of parkland. Parkland taken must be mitigated per these rules. The proposed lids help to serve that purpose. We can agree or disagree with that federal policy, but it is the law of the land and it trumps whatever we decide in the state of Washington let alone amongst ourselves, just as many other federal environmental regulations also determine the limits of what we can and cannot do on this and other projects.

      9. Hey, I’m not being neighborhood-ist. I’ve been bugging politicians for years about the sidewalks north of 85th. It’s a travesty, because if when the issue started to be raised in earnest decades a tiny amount of money had been budgeted each year, most of the sidewalks would be finished by now without a massive multi-billion-dollar bill facing us.

      10. I don’t think lidding Montlake is worth reducing transit access. Sure, they should not have split neighborhoods as they did in the first place. Freeways were death to a lot of neighborhoods. But given the choice between more lids (that won’t be full of the houses and streets that were originally displaced for freeways anyway — they’ll probably end up as more park space) and better transit access, transit access wins every time for me. Transit access will serve the neighborhood and the rest of the city; lidding Montlake will, for the most part, serve only Montlake.

      11. Lidding Montlake vs. improving transit access is a false choice. There are solutions that are better for transit than this plan and provide a level lid in Montlake. The issue of the bus stops on the highway itself is separable — this is all about the ramps at the surface.

        That area is of course important to the nearby community but it also serves as a keystone in our open space system in Seattle. It’s where all the bike/ped trails come together between the Arboretum, Portage Bay, the Ship Canal and the UW. That whole area is not just a neighborhood; it’s also the gateway to the UW campus from the south. And it’s the intersection of two historic Olmsted Boulevards, a system that includes Ravenna Blvd., Rainier Vista, Mount Baker Boulevard, and many other places we cherish in Seattle.

        All those who access transit in the area are pedestrians before and after they are on the bus, and this plan is hostile to pedestrians, dumping them in the middle of a nightmarish automobile-dominated giant interchange.

        We can and must do better.

      12. “Lidding Montlake vs. improving transit access is a false choice. There are solutions that are better for transit than this plan and provide a level lid in Montlake. ”

        Well, right — they aren’t a direct dichotomy. It’s just that it tends to look as if the lids — amenities which tend to provide advantages to particular neighborhoods which — surprise! — tend to be those that are politically powerful — get prioritized while other needs (more important overall, IMHO) get neglected. In a perfect world, we get awesome transit access, lids, and everything else we might want.

    2. I’d use a lid more than the bridge.

      I know Seattle gains from being connected to the region, but the region should chip in to preserve and repair the urban areas.

  5. I think this is probably the best plan we can hope for. From what I heard at the TCC forum a couple weeks ago the tunnel idea seemed really expensive and difficult. I actually like the idea of another drawbridge–I wonder if they will copy the other one or go for a totally different modern design. Either way would be interesting. The lack of a flyer stop and direct transit link from the UW station is definitely a concern, and hopefully those are things that can get tweaked before the final design. The part of this option that most concerns me, though, is that it leaves open the question of the Lake Washington Drive ramps. Those ramps should be closed, permanently. It is a travesty that Lake Washington Drive, which was meant to be a calm sightseeing boulevard, carries so much traffic through the Arboretum. I know it means 23rd/24th will be more packed, but I think it is the right thing to close that route. Oh, and as for the lids, I totally disagree with this attitude that we shouldn’t have them because they are rich neighborhoods. Rich or poor, we are all affected by the bad decision 50 years ago to split neighborhoods in half with interstate highways. We should lid highways wherever we can.

    1. I agree that the lids are a good thing, and I think most people here would agree too. What they resent is that their benefit is reserved for a few while everyone is paying for them. Like a couple people have already said: build the lids if you want, but pay for them with an L.I.D. like with the streetcar. A L.I.D. for a lid… there you go…

      1. That’s not a good argument; perhaps the lids will only benefit a few people, but the 520 bridge in general will only benefit a couple percent of Puget Sound residents. Pretty much everything in government only benefits a small portion of the population, but since everyone gets something that benefits them, it equals out.

  6. I wonder if this is less about transit and more about how the UW has less and less pull with the State government. You’d think that a major institution like that could push the legislature into improving connectivity to its campus. Given the state’s ongoing defunding of the university, I can’t help but think that some key relationships have disintegrated.

    For comparison’s sake, look at the way the UW was able to shape the planning of U-link; they obviously have sway there. I suppose people dissatisfied with the routing of U-link and North-link could argue that the UW is just anti-transit, but option A is bad for the U in general, not just in terms of transit. It’s unfortunate.

    1. The Link alignment crossed the UW campus. 520 is not UW land so no control on the corridor it’s self. They did I believe pretty much squash any of the silly Pacific Place interchange ideas.

    2. You’re right, this plan isn’t really about transit. It’s about building as many more lanes of pavement in every direction (north, south, east and west from Montlake) as we can possibly dream up using transit as the justification, with little to no focus on what transit users actually need.

      No matter what we do regarding the Ship Canal, we need bus stops adjacent to the UW rail station, not as far away as possible which is where they are planned now. The station entrance is where it is. Buses must serve it. This plan needs to be amended.

  7. I’d rather have a tunnel to the UW too, but maybe there are other places to spend a BILLION dollars.

    1. Certainly there are other places to spend the money but keep in mind this is the “roads” budget and users are paying a good portion through gas tax, licence fees, and tolls. There’s other places we could spent the entire $4-6 billion this is going to cost and just eliminate the 520 bridge all together.

      Of course a big portion remains unfunded so the first item is coming up with the billion to spend in the first place (or the missing billions to fully fund the project for that matter). I do have to say that if you eliminate option K then I like A far more than L. And hopefully this puts an end to the stupid Union Bay Bridge idea.

  8. It’s kind of hard to tell with this video, but are they removing the left hand offramp to 520 on SB I5? I know this is a huge pain point due to traffic merging from the 45th St onramp all the way to the left hand lane to get to 520. I’m sure a right hand interchange would be more difficult, but would probably have a huge impact on I5 traffic!

    1. Also the ramp from 520 to SB I-5. People trying to get to Stewart or Denny Way from SR 520 have to cross all of those lanes. In the video and the PDF, the ramp still merges into the left lanes on I-5. So the on-ramp is not likely to be moved.

      1. Every time I drive 520 to SB I-5 to Stewart I console myself by thinking that if the 545 articulated buses can make that merge every 10-15 minutes, so can I.

        The video seems to show a (reversible?) HOV connection from the I-5 express lanes to 520 as well. It’s hard to tell what happens under the 10th/Delmar lid, though.

      2. In my experience, merging a bus is easier than merging your car. When driving the 545 I simply turn on my right signal and slow to 5mph slower than traffic and a space “magically” opens up. Do the same thing in a car and you get passed on the right and honked at from behind.

        That merge is responsible for a good portion of the daily jam on I-5 – it’s sad that they won’t be fixing it.

  9. Is the Montlake Flyer station really removed? Doesn’t that totally destroy the transit interchange hub at 520/Montlake Blvd?

    And why does the bascule get replaced?

    1. Yes Virgina, there is no Montlake Flyer stop. The basucle bridge doesn’t get replaced (although it needs it). They are adding another one. Anyone have figures on what it takes to man the draw bridge and maintain it?

    2. The flyer customers will all have better options with Sound Transit route 542 and U Link. I don’t think it’s actually a bad call.

      1. Coming from the Central District and everything east of Capitol Hill, those flyer stops are the only way to connect to east-bound buses without going downtown. I transfer from the 48 to the 545 all the freaking time there.

      2. It’s a rare 48 trip that doesn’t have folks getting on and off there for transfers. I think losing those stops is a bad idea, and as Jonathan says the primary focus of this plan is on adding pavement, not making connections. Olympia is truly stuck in the past.

  10. The new bridge needs to include Montlake Flyer stops in both directions

    Agree 520 bridge is a better use of limited money than Alaskan Way replacement tunnel, which studies show motorists will divert for even $1 toll, showing limited value

    1. Diversion when I-90 isn’t tolled is a big issue as well. Far more freight traffic is I believe associated with the viaduct than 520. The 520 project as it’s evolved has become a $2 billion dollar roadway with a $4 billion dollar give-away. AWV is a $2 billion dollar roadway (over priced in my book) but the “adders” like the seawall are essential infrastructure rather than mega buck parks for wealthy communities that can afford to buy political influence. And the City of Seattle is kicking in the lions share of those costs. When Medina and Hunts Pt kick in the cost of the lids I’ll be a lot more supportive. Those lids don’t even address the major areas where noise issues are a concern. Especially with Evergreen Pt. that section is already in a cut.

      1. AWV carries less traffic than 520 bridge. 60% of the traffic is destined for or originates in downtown Seattle, and has viable alternate routes. Surveys showed that with a $1 toll, AWV tunnel users would choose to use surface streets instead – so the tunnel has little value for them. It’s a boondoggle.

        There is no viable alternative for most 520 traffic. I-90 is at capacity much of the day. Agree that both bridges will end up being tolled. But the AWV is an inefficient project – that’s the giveaway. With both bridges tolled, tolls will generate most of the revenue needed.

        But they must add back the flyer stops at Montlake – they add connectivity to many destinations via 43/44, 48, and 25.

      2. A $1 toll had something like a 20% diversion rate. That’s nothing like “choose to use surface streets instead”. The new tolling study with $4-ish tolls has a 40% diversion rate.

        I oppose the tunnel too, but you have to get your facts right if you’re going to argue this.

    2. It looks like this option has HOV ramps at Montlake, so it may yet be possible to include a flyer stop there.

      1. There isn’t. There will be buses that go downtown, and buses that go to Montlake. This is why Sound Transit is starting the 542 – UW/Roosevelt to Redmond.

  11. Someone needs to challenge the DEIS in regards to the loss of the Montlake Freeway Station. Both Metro and ST cannot afford to operate a bunch of separate UW and Seattle CBD bus routes. UW will be the loser in this one, and since they are the highest traffic generator, they should be called on this one, for squashing the other options. I don’t blame Montlake community since they will continue to get the blunt of the traffic, and the other options (K and L) would have diverted much of the traffic away from the neighborhood.

    1. K is great. I’d be willing to support the tolls, gas tax, even dropping the AWV tunnel to support it. L is just an abomination. This is a beautiful piece of shoreline and priceless as far as I’m concerned. UW doesn’t want more cars in Montlake. That shouldn’t be too hard to comprehend. Want to go to the UW or work for them? Radical idea, live there. UW has no incentive to become the cut through transit center for Childrens Hospital, Lake City, connections to Ballard, business in the “U-District”, etc.

    2. Well I suspect if “Option A” is chosen and no flyer stop is built then Metro and ST will simply terminate all 520 service in the U District except for a few peak hour routes where there is enough demand to fill a bus to/from downtown Seattle.

    3. Both Metro and ST cannot afford to operate a bunch of separate UW and Seattle CBD bus routes

      Actually, they might. First of all you have a poorly-defined promise of “BRT” as part of the ST2 package. Secondly, by State Law 1 cent of the new property tax authority is going to go to 520 bridge service. That’s about $3m or 24,000 service hours.

      Which isn’t to say that ditching the flyer stop is a good idea.

      1. I don’t see how it is fair to transit riders to take away a facility that has been available to them for 40 years. The Montlake flyer stops must serve 1000 riders per day on weekdays. It is not just the UW, but connections to Capitol Hill and the Central District, as well as towards Ravenna, Greenlake, Wallingford, etc.

        Without the Montlake Flyer, it is possible to provide good service to both the UW & Seattle during peak periods, but it won’t be possible during evening and weekend periods. At present on weekends the only direct UW service is 271 to Bellevue (only hourly on Sundays). Redmond and Kirkland service is only to downtown with connections at Montlake Flyer stop. Route 255 (Kirkland frequency is only hourly after 9pm.

        It creates so many more options to be able to have a downtown Seattle route offer transfers at Montlake that it is a significant loss to transit users to take away this transfer facility. With all the money being spent and the increase in roadway, isn’t it fair to expect that transit users not suffer a loss in facilities?

      2. You seem to be completely missing where those riders come from. Going from downtown Seattle to UW? Take University Link, two years before the 520 project is even done. Going from the UW to Microsoft? Take bus 542. Same with transfers from elsewhere on the 44 and 48 – use the 540 to Kirkland, 271 to Bellevue, and 542 to Redmond. The transfer is still there, and the service for people who live near the stop is still there.

        And on top of that, because Montlake riders won’t be shoehorning onto already full buses, they’ll actually get seats.

        Find me an actual example of a rider who will be inconvenienced.

      3. My senior year at the U I was living in Redmond. It was easy to just hop any bus going downtown. Which was pretty much the only place the bus went way back then. And then just walk to class. That’s the convenience that’s lost. Maybe they’re just going to terminate all downtown routes at UW and expect a transfer to Link for people going downtown which would be OK except I don’t see how Montlake can handle that volume of traffic with the currently proposed design.

        Of course that was way back then so just for fun I typed into the Metro Trip Planner Redmond TC to the UW with a walk distance of 1 mile. A 545 DT Express gets me to Montlake in 31 minutes. To go the UW I’d have to take a 248 into Kirkland and transfer to the 540. Trip time goes up to 48 minutes so even with a 10 minute walk it’s faster to take the 545 plus I’d much rather spend my time walking than sitting on a bus or waiting around for a transfer. Change the time from early afternoon to 9PM and the only option is the Flyer Stop.

      4. Maybe I’m missing something in your argument, but every bus coming over 520 from the Eastside to downtown stops at the Montlake flyer stop. No transfer needed. Same thing in reverse in the afternoon.

        All those students, UW workers, etc., who previously could go directly to Montlake will have to transfer. That’s an inconvenience.

      5. Ben:
        I understand this has nothing to do with UW to downtown. It’s about providing more choices to Eastsiders crossing the bridge.

        540 to Kirkland? It doesn’t run on Sat & Sun at all. I don’t remember how late Mon-Fri. With 255 I can use the Montlake Flyer station. Plus that also lets me go south on 24th/23rd (43/48).

        542 to Redmond? How late will it run? Sat & Sun? 545 has great frequency & span of service, let me keep that option – and it’s more efficient use of limited resources too, esp. outside of peaks.

        Again – no problem during peak periods. But during non-peaks, the additional connectivity provided by the Flyer stop has great value. On football Saturdays too.

      6. The key to making this work is the 542, which doesn’t currently exist (which is why you can’t find it on the trip planner :D). Starting in September 2010, the 542 will provide 15-minute peak service between UW and Redmond. It will make all of the usual stops along 15th as well, so your commute would probably be even easier than before.

        The issue with the Montlake flyer stop is that very few people actually want to go to Montlake. The stop primarily serves people who are transferring either to the U-District or points north, or to east Capitol Hill. The U-District riders will be accommodated by the 542, while the Capitol Hill riders will use some combination of U-Link and the First Hill Streetcar.

        I don’t know how this will affect Capitol Hill riders, but the 542 will definitely make my commute much easier.

        (Of course, after 7pm, I’m back to 545 + U-Link… but by then ST will hopefully be able to afford to extend the 542 to off-peak hours.)

      7. I totally agree with you Eastsider. That’s my problem with eliminating the freeway stop.

        I currently commute to the UW from Brickyard with the 255 (and 252, 257, and 311 during peak). I have the option of staying on campus up to midnight and walking down to catch the last 255 of the day at Montlake. Otherwise, I have to spend at least half an hour getting to Downtown, less with U-Link open but still more than just walking to 520 from campus.

        Unless Metro or Sound Transit terminates all 520 routes at UW Link Station or adds more service and extends the hours to the 540 (which actually was cut recently), Kirkland-UW commuters will suffer.

      8. …or Oran, you might have to take the 271 to Evergreen Point. But you still wouldn’t have service until midnight.

      9. Whoa, guys. bigyaz – the people AT the montlake flyer stop almost all come from other buses. They’ll still transfer there, they’ll just transfer to UW-Eastside routes, not Downtown-Eastside routes.

        They’re not going to simply cut the 255 connection. There will be other routes increased and added to mitigate this, just like the 542.

        Yes, in the next NINE YEARS, we’ll improve the UW-Eastside buses. This isn’t happening suddenly. The new 520 is $2 billion short, and scheduled for 2018. North Link may be open before this is over.

      10. Yes, service will be increased to mitigate the loss of the flyer stop which is currently scheduled for 2012. As long as they follow through with the SR 520 BRT concept as outlined in the SR 520 High Capacity Transit Plan I’m satisfied. It’s better service than I already have. I mean, think route 311 running all-day frequently, that’s way better than driving! Then, I think I’d be living in Seattle before any of this will affect me.

      11. the people AT the montlake flyer stop almost all come from other buses.

        No they don’t. Way more people offload at Montlake and hike over to the UW. Hard to know where folks are coming from when you walk down to the stop but you have to expect most are the reverse of how they got there. Even if you can make similar connections at a transfer north of the cut the highway design is inadequate to handle this. More traffic over the Montlake cut is not a solution, it’s a bigger problem.

      12. Riders that will be inconvenienced: Me, and everyone else approaching from the south

        I ride the northbound 48 to the Montlake stop, where I transfer to the 545 (or any number of eastbound buses). If it’s eliminated that leaves me either a) Going downtown to make the same transfer or b) Riding further into the U-district to transfer to different, UW-specific route.

        Either way is one hell of an added time-sink. A direct transfer onto 520 buses is incomparably quicker and easier for riders coming from neighborhoods south of montlake.

        But, you know, no one cares about the CD anyway.

      13. Lack, you seem to have some misconceptions.

        You’ll get off the 48 at exactly the same place, and you’ll get on the 542 instead of the 545. Better, in fact, you’ll get a seat because you won’t be packing on after all the downtown people.

        There is still a direct transfer onto 520 buses. The buses just originate at UW instead of downtown. PLEASE look at the option A design and video, you can see the stops right there.

      14. Ben is correct on this point, as are those who say that maintaining (or more precisely, rebuilding) some kind of stops on the highway itself for downtown-Eastside buses would add additional options, particularly during off-peak hours when headways are greater, or for destinations which have infrequent service (e.g. Duvall, Issaquah).

        I’m for more transit options, all else being equal. Until recently it appeared that all else was far from equal, that the only way to get those stops back was to add another 2 lanes (for bus acceleration / deceleration) all the way up to I-5. While this seems excessive, WSDOT maintained it was necessary in the new highway design to provide a safe merge back into a fast-flowing HOV lane on a 5% grade with a loaded bus.

        Recently it occurred to me that we can get the stops back if we convert the HOV lanes on Portage Bay to transit-only use. Carpools are better than SOV’s, but in my view, transit is the most important, so I’d like to see that concept explored.

        The general purpose lanes on 520 are allegedly going to be flowing better with modern highway geometry and tolling. If that’s true, the carpools and vanpools would not be so inconvenienced by getting kicked out of an HOV lane for maybe 1500 feet. So maybe everybody can win on this one.

      15. I don’t think that would work. You’d have basically the same situation you do know where the HOV lane just ends and three lanes get funneled down to two creating miles of backups. Why not just lower the speed limit west of Montlake to whatever speed the buses can safely merge at?

      16. Bernie, every morning when I ride the 48 to Garfield HS, at least 5 people get off at 520 to go to the flyer station. I’m not sure where these people specifically are coming from, but I know a lot of people do ride a bus that will get them down there then transfer at the Montlake Flyer Stop. The stop is about a mile from Campus Parkway and a mile and half from 45th & the Ave, so pretty much everyone from campus up there and from the heart of the U District who’s trying to get to the flyer stop takes the bus.

      17. Bernie’s concern is legitimate. The traffic needs to be modeled. But it’s a very different situation here from the Eastside where the HOV just ends. This is the segment of 520 after the traffic heading to the UW has gotten off, and before additional traffic has gotten on. About a third of the traffic gets off in the Montlake area. So the volume on the mainline underneath Montlake Blvd. isn’t nearly as high as it is across the lake for that stretch. So maybe it will work.

      18. Even 2/3 of the traffic trying to merge back into two GP lanes isn’t a winner. Merging three lanes into two is a bad deal. It might not be as bad as the current situation but just dropping the speed limit seems like a much better solution. WSDOT freely admits that a lower speed limit actually increases the throughput so what’s the downside? Plus restricting the HOV lane at Montlake would encourage more cars to exit there and the goal needs to be less cars at Montlake. Either we pay for the tunnel (option K+) or we limit traffic to what the current roadway can support. Bulldozing houses at Mountlake is not an acceptable option in my book. The problem is too many cars; more cars is not the solution.

    4. The 2006 DEIS included WSDOT’s original 6-lane design, which maintained the flyer stop at Montlake. However, my understanding is the local neighborhoods complained that the design was much too wide and demanded that it be narrowed. I don’t think WSDOT has presented a design that includes the Montlake flyer stop since then. The 2006 DEIS covered a variation of the 6-lane alternative that included the 2nd drawbridge across the cut, which is similar to the current A+ option.

    1. I was hoping somebody else would comment on the music, it was fantastic!! And yes, it was definitely Sim City that’s for sure!

    2. That “Welcome to the future” music makes my skin crawl. They should have gone for more of a “welcome to an updated version of the past” emotion instead. I kid of course.

  12. I’ve been constructively engaged as a citizen on this project for the last twelve years. This plan is deeply, deeply flawed for transit. It would be a travesty for us to build this. If this is the best we can do for a six lane bridge, we need to revisit the assumptions on this project.

    — This plan simply eliminates the Montlake Flyer stops, which are the only access point in Seattle for all the buses between downtown and the Eastside on 520. Does it make any sense at all to spend $4.65 billion (including about $2 billion we have yet to raise) making buses go faster across the lake and then prevent you from boarding them? What does that tell you about the state’s apparent priorities for the project?

    — There is a 1200 foot walk in the weather across two busy streets (carrying 60,000 vehicles per day) exiting the UW station and transferring to a bus to the Eastside or Capitol Hill. We need bus stops in front of the station.

    — The second bascule bridge is capacity constrained by the intersections on either side and buses are getting stuck in a lot of congestion. We’re going to have over 500 buses per day through that corridor. We need to prioritize transit, but when you get into the details, this bridge doesn’t actually solve that problem. It only looks like it does when you put it on a map.

    — This plan does not allow us to effectively serve the 25th Ave. corridor reliably via bus, connecting the UW rail station to major employers and destinations such as University Village, Children’s Hospital and various NE Seattle neighborhoods. So many of those folks will still be driving an SOV down Montlake Blvd., because transit has no advantage through there.

    In addition, this plan is not just 6, but 7 lanes across Portage Bay, twice a wide as what’s there now. It has 14 lanes of ramps (just ramps) in Montlake, takes out historic homes, widens city arterials for cars, decimates two historic Olmsted Boulevards with a giant interchange, permanently damages one of the city’s great landscapes with a new bridge that doesn’t solve the problem, and has a footprint that is way too big in the Arboretum. The lid in Montlake is totally carved up by ramps and almost useless. The greenbelt we have been working years to restore between the Arboretum and Portage Bay is covered over by a giant interchange.

    It is a 1950’s solution for a 21st century city.

    We need to replace the bridge, make transit fast and reliable, treat oily stormwater runoff, provide bicycle access, etc. and we need to do so in a way we can afford, but this plan is a total failure. This was the “backup plan” that gives up on trying to fix the problems; it was developed with zero input from adjacent communities. Even the proponents of the original Plan A are disappointed that it has ramps to the Arboretum. Every community organization along the highway strongly opposes this plan as it is designed.

    We need to unite and get this plan redesigned to match our regional priorities, and be the best it can possibly be for the modes of transit we care the most about — peds, bikes and transit.

    1. Given the large number of lawyers living in Montlake one hopes the lawsuits will keep anything this stupid from being built for a long time. The other good news is there is no money to build this currently.

      If we really have to do this on the cheap I’d say make 520 access from Montlake be HOV only. SOV can just suck it up or ride transit. Heck, I’d be for making the entire bridge HOV only but that probably wouldn’t fly.

    2. Jonathan, as a fellow Montlaker, I’ve appreciated your constructive and engaged approach to this issue. In many ways, you’ve saved me (and a lot of neighbors) a lot of time by proxying our dislike of the plans being suggested, and having the energy to try to make a change.

      So with this horrible plan moving to a fait accompli, how do we make it stop?

      The lack of a Montlake Flyer station coupled with a lack of integration with light rail makes this a band-aid fix instead of a 50-year solution. What’s next?

      1. We are $2 billion short of the money to fund this plan. The only way to close that gap is to toll all vehicles on I-90 (a federal interstate highway) and apply essentially 100% of those funds to expand SR 520. Everyone on the legislative workgroup fully understands this but the group has collectively lacked the political courage to admit it, saying there are “too many unknowns.”

        Tolling I-90 to fund a 520 project that is opposed by every community along it while causing major and entirely avoidable environmental damage in the process is a very vulnerable approach, like trying to build a third runway in the Arboretum using airport fees from Sea-Tac.

        The most important thing to do is to raise awareness of the issues with this plan (e.g. transit deficiencies many are pointing out here) and to convey to the City Council and legislature both that the project needs to be redesigned to support the values of the City of Seattle.

        There’s a SR 520 Committee of the Whole meeting on this at the City Hall next Tuesday the 24th, 9:30 AM.

        The legislative group is also hosting a public town hall meeting on the 24th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

        It’s Thanksgiving week, so the timing could hardly be worse, but the underlying issues are critical for sustainability and livability in the City of Seattle for the next 50 years and beyond. Those we’ve entrusted with the power to make decisions need to hear from us.

  13. Oh, I forgot. The new floating bridge no longer on the water; it’s now a visual wall 30 feet high all the way across the lake, on columns big enough to drive a semi underneath all the way across. (But no, that space cannot be used for light rail in the current design.) It makes it so they don’t have to close one of the six lanes at a time in order to inspect the pontoons; they can inspect them from the lower level and drive maintenance vehicles there.

    So while are taking down a viaduct on one waterfront, we’re building a new one across Lake Washington.

    Obviously it’s possible to build a floating bridge that sits on the water. To wit: all the bridges that are there now.

    This is what has been cooked up while folks have been busy arguing about SR 99. Seriously, it’s time for Seattle to wake up and start paying attention to this project. Things tend to run amok when the public is not engaged.

    1. Yep, that new pass through design is obnoxious and is certainly more expensive than a “normal” pontoon style floating bridge. Go back to a normal bridge design with maybe some appropriately designed cantilevers to help control spray and the State would probably save enough money to retain a Montlake Freeway stop for transit.

      That said however, I’d certainly support this plan over any of the plans that include tunnels and/or new drawbridges to the U. Those designs are even worse, in addition to being totally unaffordable.

      So I’m generally supportive of this option. Improve the transit connections and I’d be even more supportive.

      1. This plan has a new drawbridge to the U, which costs $81 million and actually reduces the capacity across the cut because it overloads the intersections on either side. The second bridge lets more cars pile up that compete with transit. In the end we have less mobility across the cut than doing nothing at all, while spending money we don’t have and causing permanent environmental damage. The parallel bridge is not the right answer.

      2. Yeah, I’ve always thought that the problem wasn’t the current bridge, or the lack of direct fly-overs from SR520 into the parking lots at the U, but rather the problem was that Montlake Blvd doesn’t flow well due to local access issues and the interchange just north of the existing bridge. Make Montlake Blvd free-flowing by solving those two problems, and the need for new mega interchanges/bridges/tunnels go away.

        Of course if this was England they would just replace the existing interchange with a 2-lane round-about and nobody would bat an eye, but it would be pure carnage in this city.

      3. That is a very insightful comment concerning the “two problems”. Keep thinking along those lines and I’d be very interested to hear what you come up with.

        …other than a giant roundabout. (We did look at that and it didn’t work.)

    2. Putting the lanes on a structure above the pontoons keeps waves from crashing onto the highway during storms like they do today and provide more flexibility for modifying the bridge deck in the future.

      With the lanes raised above the pontoons, it will be easier to either widen the bridge to add light rail or convert lanes by attaching the rails and OCS to the bridge deck.

      From land, I doubt the extra height will be very noticeable given the distance.

  14. Wow, 12 lanes through the arboretum is the “friendly” plan? All of them include increased traffic pretty much everywhere?

    I live on capitol hill but bike through the Montlake intersection over the highway every day, and of course enjoy the arboretum as one of the prettiest spots in Seattle. It’s got interrupted sidewalks, no bike lanes, and steel grate on the bascule bridges (unsafe for bike wheels, forcing me to the crowded sidewalk). Add in frustrated freeway drivers stuck in an hour of traffic and it’s easily the most dangerous intersection on my route. None of these plans make it much safer or prettier, just higher traffic.

      1. I was surprised too. I believe 12 includes onramps and offramps running parallel to the road, so by this count today’s bridge has more than 4 lanes. The alternatives discussed have from 9 to 12 lanes at Marsh Island according to Page 3 of

        (That’s the “Comparison of Westside Options” pdf from the Nov 10 meeting at the UW Waterfront Activities Center at the link in the main post)

        I really love that area of the arboretum and union bay, both of which are blemished by the existing freeway. Even the lid in Option K doesn’t look much better.

      2. Thanks, that’s great. I notice that A has the lowest wetlands impact other than the no-build.

  15. Need clarification:

    One, will surface stops replace Flyer Stops?

    Two: will I-5 Express Lane connection still be one-direction? Meaning- is present I-5 one-directional express lane setup going to be there forever?

    Mark Dublin

    1. 1. In this plan, the buses between downtown and the Eastside on 520 do not make a stop anywhere in the Montlake area. The surface stops would serve a similar purpose as they do now, for those buses that serve the UW.

      2. The proposed I-5 Express lane connection is one direction at a time, like the express lanes themselves are proposed to remain — inbound towards downtown in the A.M., outbound in the P.M. The new connection would be HOV-only.

      Building this connection requires removing one of the I-5 express lanes in that section (so we go from 4 to 3) as the ramp needs a place to land. This may have an impact on transit reliability to Northgate and Snohomish county at least until Link reaches that far. Whether it ends up being a net gain for transit or not in the short term, I’m frankly not sure yet. I’d like to see all of this quantified.

  16. Yeah, it’s amazingly 1950s. I couldn’t believe the cloverleaf interchange at Montlake. I suppose it’s not much bigger than the current interchange, but it looks a lot bigger.

      1. Please, let’s be fact-based whenever possible here. It isn’t even close to the same. The interchange gets completely rebuilt and expanded in all four directions on the surface, and both directions on the highway below. There isn’t a single surface street or ramp that gets rebuilt the same as what’s there now. There are two new signalized ped crossings on the east side of Montlake Blvd. and one new one on the west. Homes are removed. Montlake Blvd. is completely reconfigured and widened to accomodate more cars all the way south to McGraw Street (Montlake business district.) The use of the existing Montlake Bridge is changed. Ramps that were formerly one lane are now two, with ramp meters added.

        It’s not clear that the NOAA Fisheries Science facility on Portage Bay can continue to operate in that location because much of its property and several of its research buildings are displaced. The remanant meadow east of Montlake Blvd. (UW Botanic Gardens property) is largely replaced by an off-ramp. There is a property zoned neighborhood commercial with redevelopment potential that is displaced next to the loop ramp.

        You can like it, or dislike it, but one thing it is not is the same as what’s there now.

      2. and we believe WSDOT because…

        Seriously, Jonathan’s been working on this thing for 12 years. I’m going to give his analysis a long hard look before taking WSDOT’s word for it, and I would think given STB’s well-deserved reputation for factual, detailed explanations you all would too.

      3. John, there are other places in this thread where Jonathan’s been corrected. WSDOT’s design is public – look at the diagrams. It’s the same size.

      4. I thought Ben was referring to the entire interchange, but it turned out he was actually just referring to the cloverleaf. That is largely the same as what’s there, but not quite. The free right turn lane to southbound Montlake is extended quite a ways back and a commercial property is impacted.

        In the final revision to A+ before it went public, a HOV direct access ramp (providing eastbound HOV direct access to 520 from the north only) was added on the east side of Montlake Blvd. which removes it from the loop ramp; the HOV lane would be deleted from the loop ramp, thus eliminating HOV bypass access from the south.

        In either case, it’s not quite the same, but fairly close to what’s there, compared to the rest of the interchange, which is indeed quite different (and much bigger.)

      5. Yes, it looks like the HOV access is from the north only, as it is today. I think that’s fine, we won’t have high bus traffic there.

      6. Huh? What do you mean “won’t have high bus traffic”? There are already a number of routes going from the UW to the Eastside through this corridor. If you are going to have a Northend route mirroring the 545 and the 255 so the flyer stop can go away you will almost certainly increase the transit traffic using the Montlake exits.

  17. I really prefer the secondary UW Bridge in plan L. That pretty much cured the Montlake traffic issue, as well as providing connectivity to UW and the UW Link Station. How much extra is that bridge/lid supposed to cost?

    1. That L bridge by itself is on the order of $300 million, which doesn’t include mitigation the UW would surely demand for associated permanent land use impacts to the campus. UW sees the Husky Stadium parking lots as potential buildable land. The L Bridge is a drawbridge that I believe would set a world record for span length as it crosses the cut diagonally to make the grades work. Plan L is still a drawbridge that would open between 10 and 90 times a day. One of the problems with L is that the bridge openings would have to be coordinated and the Montlake Bridge would take approximately 50% longer to go up and down. L has zero active proponents at this time.

      One of many hidden factors here is that the plans that have a new bypass of the Montlake Bridge further east (e.g. K, L, M) actually move about 2000 more vehicles per peak hour through the system across the ship canal in this location. In the extensive traffic modeling WSDOT has done, those vehicles are not new trips; they are shifted from the University Bridge, I-5, 45th St. and other streets in the area, routes that are commonly used to avoid the congestion on Montlake Blvd. Those are all major transit corridors which would see a measurable benefit from fixing the bottleneck.

      Meanwhile, the Montlake Blvd. arterial next to the Burke-Gilman Trail heading southbound from U Village would continue to be very congested with the A+ plan.

      There are other pros and cons to those plans besides these. L in particular is unpopular for reasons that have less to do with traffic than with impacts to the Arboretum and other parks, Montlake and the UW. Plan L includes big elevated ramps into the Arboretum that are unique to that plan.

      1. WSDOT has done, those vehicles are not new trips; they are shifted from the University Bridge, I-5, 45th St. and other streets in the area, routes that are commonly used to avoid the congestion on Montlake

        This is so backwards. The 520 plan should be working on improving the alternate routes to decrease the traffic through Montlake. HOV only exits at Montlake from 7AM to 7PM would be a darned good start.

      2. I think Bernie was suggesting eliminating non-HOV access at Montlake during certain hours, i.e. HOV-only access.

        That has been suggested before, and some analysis was done. It totally overloaded I-5, 45th, Olive Way, etc. If that is an acceptable outcome, then indeed, we could fix a whole lot of problems by constraining access at Montlake. Now that would be prioritizing transit… except those other roads are used by transit too, so it’s a conundrum.

      3. Where was that analysis done? I’m seeing a lot of assertions from you without any data.

      4. HOV-only access… totally overloaded I-5, 45th, Olive Way, etc.

        But what portion of the $6 billion dollar budget was put toward increasing capacity on those arterials? I’ve opined before that 520 should not connect to I-5 southbound. 520 is a major contributor to the “Mercer Mess”. The disconnect with the entire 520 corridor planning seems to be the idea that increasing the capacity of the roadway is a fix when in fact it just creates a bigger problem.

      5. The analysis I’ve been referring to was done by WSDOT which has about a decade worth of it. I don’t have it all online but I do have some of it in my head after hearing it explained enough times.

        In a couple of months we’ll have a whole lot of new information to pore over, in the form of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) and related appendices, and we’ll have an opportunity to comment.

        There’s quite a lot posted now on WSDOT’s site for the SR 520 project, and there’s about 3000 pages of technical appendices from the last DEIS round for the die-hards like us. All that stuff is available in printed form at the Central Library and online.

      6. WSDOT presents the “conclusion” they are commanded to by the legislature which controls their jobs. It doesn’t matter if the depth of the lake or the length of the span are completely in error. And if called out on the facts they just redirect to another story. The only level at which public engagement can make a difference is the Governor. We’re already building a bridge on stilts prior to a FEIS for the 520 corridor and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

  18. I’ve been thinking about this plan all day and I’m not sure in the long run how problematic the lack of a flyer station would be. Assuming north link is in place and that express buses to the eastside stop at one of the UW stations or nearby, I don’t think the connection would be that much longer for most folks who do use the montlake stop currently. For instance, the new 542 is supposed to stop somewhere in the u-district and could be a replacement for the 545 transfers. In the long run, I would assume most north side folks could take link down and transfer to it while the montlake folks would go over to the husky station via bus etc. Thinking farther forward, if a 520 rail link is ever built, the need for the flyer station is further reduced. That said I’d guess it would add 10 minutes or so longer to take the bus from the surface streets through to 520.

    1. 542 would stop at Montlake, then head up all the way to the NE 65th Street park and ride via surface in the U-district. It’ll take pressure off the 242, 48, and 545.

      If you look at where people commuting across the bridge actually originate, they’ll all have good options.

  19. How would future 520 Link work in this plan? I guess they would have to build an all new bridge/tunnel just for Link from the 520 to Husky Stadium…

    1. That is correct. The assumption has been that at some point east of Montlake, any light rail line would diverge from the mainline of the highway and then presumably use a bridge or tunnel that does not exist today to get to the UW.

      Having been immersed (so to speak) in tunnel issues in the area for years now, I can tell you that will not be an easy feat. The soil conditions are good only in the middle of Montlake, where Sound Transit will soon bore a new tunnel. Grades and curves are a real challenge. The approach Link will use to get under the cut has an extended grade on either side and bored tunnels must be very deep. You can do an immersed tube, but the environmental permitting issues are, in a word, profound.

      A bridge, meanwhile, would have to provide 110 feet of clearance, unless an exemption were granted from the Coast Guard for as little as 70 feet of clearance. Of course there would be noise and view impacts to the Arboretum. You then have construction impacts to the UW and some kind of impacts to the UW Link station after it’s already in operation. Maybe you could start a tunnel bore from the UW parking lot.

      If the line terminated at UW, a significant majority would have to transfer. If it continued past Montlake Blvd., we then have the challenge of getting up Pacific, or through the campus somehow, which has proved to be problematic when planning Link due to highly sensitive and expensive UW research facilities.

      If someone figures out an alignment that could conceivably work, I’m sure a lot of people would be interested. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’ve never seen a proposal. ST2 has some planning funds to explore the question. In the meantime, we need to figure out how to make the buses as reliable as possible and optimize the bus-rail transfer experience at UW.

  20. For whatever it’s worth (perhaps not much :-)) … I intend to work on refining this project within the design strategy we’re recommending (A+), dealing with the sub-issues, like the width of lanes, length of ingress/egress lanes, treatment of the flyer stop, and etc., issues that we could not deal with as long as we were arguing about A, K, L or M. I’m sorry to see some of the conclusory statements made here, but that’s a luxury you guys have. I’m committed to seeing a reasonable project planned, built and funded as soon as practicable. This project is critically important to me and to this region’s citizens for two reasons: (1) safety, both floating portion and Portage Bay viaduct are at risk in an earthquake; and (2) transit in the corridor has to work better than it does now, and that won’t happen without a rebuild w/HOV lanes. I wish the damned connection between ST/UW was better, have been worrying about it since 2003, but the ST/UW/METRO have been in charge of that connection … and neither you guys nor I were consulted (and I’m not sure we could’ve done better in mediating all the different interests). Oh well. I don’t like it either, but it is what it is. /deb

    1. I intend to work on refining this project

      That’s the thinking that’s gotten us to a $6 billion dollar failure. This project needs leadership that redefines every aspect of it.

      1. Well, Bernie, if that’s how you really feel … what legislative district do you live in and, as part of your campaign to provide that leadership on this project, when will I see your first written proposal for how to “redefine every aspect of it”? Please ensure that your proposal is within the $4.6B budget, revenue matches necessary cash flow (a not inconsiderable issue), is permittable by the major resource agencies (EPA, DOE, the Tribes) and respectful of our aquatic resources, accommodates increased FUNCTIONAL transit service now and in the future and has some chance of actually being built. Now, convince everyone else. :-) I’ll be right behind you, ready to sign on when you make that happen …

      2. Deb, you don’t have the $4.6 billion now, and apparently there is no plan to get it, short of perhaps tolling I-90 and 520 and using all those funds to get you there – so I’m really not sure that holding Bernie to that standard is particularly reasonable. Sounds like you folks in Olympia can’t figure out how to do this either – and you’re already proposing alternatives that are outside the amount of money you have to spend

      3. I live in the 48th (Bridle Trails) and you and Ross Hunter are my Representatives. I’ve sent letters when the legislature was in session regarding bills related to the 520 project and corresponded with project engineers at WSDOT. The decisions that led to “some chance of actually being built” are things like a lid over the roadway for Medina and Hunts Pt. The cost estimates are more like $6 billion than $4.6 billion and for what the region gets for that money we’d be better off dismantling the bridge and learning to live without it.

    2. Rep. Eddy,

      Upon further reflection, given the four options currently on the table, I think you may have done well by picking the A+ option. The transit connections are terrible, but the fact is I’d rather the State not raid non-gas tax transportation funds any more than necessary.

      On the other hand, I agree with Bernie that the existing alternatives are pretty poor. Someone that has fully bought into our values would probably just go with a four-lane rebuild. All that said, I recognize you have to balance interest groups besides STB. :-)

    3. Treatment of the flyer stop seems fine to me as long as all day UW-Kirkland and UW-Redmond service is provided. That won’t be cheap, but without funding that mitigation, you’ll probably be dragged down in a lawsuit.

      1. How about reinstating the Kirkland-UW POF but as an all day service once the economy gets better?

  21. Ross and I made sure that there was some small portion of the re-directed ferry district money that was committed to transit on SR520. I would have preferred more of that tax capacity directed to this project, of course, but at the same time, it’s frustrating that we have to engage in that level of micromanagement.

    We all have a commitment to figuring out how the hell to adequately fund effective transit … and I really believe that the current revenue crisis will help us to get past the damned sacred cows. After about two years of thinking the whole situation was/is hopeless, I’m beginning to see potential progress. Having Dow and Fred in the exec’s suite will help keep the conversation creative and moving forward.

    1. I saw the funding, and it’s great! There may need to be more money – 24,000 hours isn’t that much bus service for the corridor when split between two or three routes, but it’s a good start on top of what Sound Transit already provides.

      If there’s one thing I’d like to see out of the funding crisis – if you were to move Viaduct money to SR-520, you might get local approval.

  22. Martin – I’ve asked my legislative assistant to get in touch with you and figure out some time we sit down, talk through the transit implications of A+. If you don’t receive her email, let me know through Ben — let’s talk through the viaduct/SR520 implications. Everything is in flux right now, and our better selves should prevail. /deb

  23. I think the best hope for a rail alignment on 520 would be to exit the highway as soon as possible after coming off the west end of the floating bridge, rise above the navigation channel and head northwest towards the North Link stop at 45th where a joint station could be developed. The line could continue towards Ballard and downtown via Wallingford and maybe the zoo.

    UW seems like it would be a brick wall for any Pacific St alignment continuing west from Husky Stadium and terminating at the stadium doesn’t make much sense.

    Maybe some sort of convertible transit-only bridge could be built earlier to get buses from 520 to the heart of the U District more easily and quickly? A 30-35 ft wide bridge across Union Bay would be a daunting permitting challenge, but much easier than the tunnels proposed under the cut (which ST and Metro do not appear to be enthusiastic about). Such a structure could possibly also facilitate service to the U Village vicinity, which would probably be a better place to collect riders from the Ravenna/Wedgewood/Laurelhurst/Sand Point area.

    A bus only structure would probably need to merge into the 45th St viaduct, while a rail line would tunnel into the hillside next to it.

    In the meantime, I think A/A+ or some variation seems like the only reasonable and feasible option. If you don’t like it, start working on Option N.

  24. Don’t like paying for a park to keep a freeway-or a transit line- from destroying somebody else’s neighborhood? How do you know where the next one is going to go? Could just close enough to your own house to put your property value in the dumpster, and just far enough away you don’t get any compensation. Deal with that.

    Think trees and plants are “amenities”? What about breathable air? We’re not talking about scenery here, we’re talking about the natural machinery we need to make life possible, let alone bearable. There’s an old sci fi short story where aliens are buying up real estate to sell to non-air-breathing species, speculating that Earth will soon be oxygen-free. Can’t fault the business-plan, but us eartlings still deserve a few rights.

    Sorry, Ben- you don’t put a major transit corridor through a neighborhood like Montlake and not give it a station, route 542 or not.Public transportation is for serving and improving the neighborhoods it goes through. Replace the current shabby platforms with a station people will enjoy using, built into the park. Lane problems- like the man said, deal with them.

    Underneath it all, though, I-5 reversible express lane setup really should take this whole project back to the boards. Idea of crippling a twenty-first-century corridor with an old twentieth century freeway, and a bad one at that, sucks like a black hole. We can’t fix one without fixing them both. Call it stimulus, homeland security, and national security and fund accordingly.

    Mark Dublin

    1. 1) The current 520 certainly hasn’t put property values in Montlake in the dumpster. I know I couldn’t afford a house there, even one next to the freeway.

      2) Just want to point out again that the flyer stop at Montlake was removed in response to the neighborhood’s desire to make the highway smaller. WSDOT was going to integrate the flyer stop with the lid at Montlake Blvd. Go take a look at the Draft EIS.

      1. Paul.

        Thanks. Wasn’t clear from video that there’d be a street level stop for 520 service. My main concern was that through two-way service on 520 not miss Montlake entirely. Only thought is that when we do put real rapid transit on 520, a flyer-type station would work better.

        As for property values, truth is noplace is bad enough for housing to be reasonable- price we pay for this really being a nice place to live, even though us Easterners are born and bred to complain and agitate.

        Shouldn’t have brought up property values in any case, since in current usage the two words contradict each other, and also common sense. Am dealing with neighbors who think a beautiful pine tree is lowering the value of their homes because it partially blocks a clear view of two miles of roofs with some water behind it.

        Point about machinery versus scenery is for real, though. Ought to be a tax on every car- paid not in money but in trees.

        Mark Dublin

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