Video by Eric Jensen.

90 Replies to “News Roundup: Rail Grinding”

  1. From the Daily article:

    the city of Seattle has asked for an alternative to the pedestrian bridge, as there is a strong desire to keep pedestrians at street level to liven up the street and aid commerce

    Hookers? Drug dealers? Fake Rolex?

      1. I’ve never seen any vending in the triangle that a bridge would bypass. The station is on the same side of Montlake/Pacific as the stadium, so folks going to/from games via light rail wouldn’t be using the pedestrian bridge to begin with, and a street-level crossing would still be easiest for folks who are arriving via buses, so a bridge wouldn’t take away from any commerce those folks might engage in. There are always some folks who park a ways away and walk to the stadium via the B-G. These folks would probably take the ped bridge and miss out on any vending going on in the triangle, but as I said, I’ve never known of any vending there, and it seems unlikely that any would develop in the future if it hasn’t yet.

    1. Yeah, that’s insane. The University owns everything for blocks north of the Cut. There is no “commerce”. And everybody using those sidewalks (which are usually crowded) is trying to get somewhere in a hurry.

    2. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was a canned anti-bridge quote. He also says there’s actually a law opposing pedestrian bridges in Seattle. Who knew? Better tell Northgate Mall…

    3. City is applying downtown and urban center standards to the UW campus. Apples and Oranges. Pleeeeeeezzzze……..

  2. Vancouver BC’s Olympic streetcars arrive in Tacoma.

    One has to wonder by Vancouver’s streetcars weren’t shipped to… Vancouver? Ironic too that then these 192,000 lbs vehicles then have to be transported all the way from Tacoma by truck.

      1. I always thought they could just hook them up to a locomotive and push them up there but I don’t know if FRA regulations prohibit that.

        I saw track maps of metros in other countries that have a connection to the mainline railway network at their maintenance base. I suppose they deliver the rolling stock by rail.

      2. It’s not likely for a couple reasons: first of all, the streetcars are likely not capable of running at normal freight train speed, which means they’d have to be hauled as a special train, and second, they almost certainly don’t have air brakes. Worldwide, the common practice seems to be to haul streetcars on flatcars, but subway trains are sometimes just coupled onto regular freight trains.

  3. Great News Roundup! What’s going on in the rail grinding video, aside from the obvious that can be seen and gleaned from the title? I want to do my own KOMO voice over at home.

    The subway architecture is really sweet. The stations in Stockholm are amazing because the rock they’ve bored through is super-hard gneiss and so the tunnel walls are just rock, in some areas mural-covered and in others just bare. You feel like you’re in a mine. I have been in the Prague ones, too – very cool stuff. It’s a shame they didn’t include Mexico City – the stations there have some really cool architecture and there’s an abundance of public art. Some is subtle so it flies under the radar, and some of the rest is in disrepair.

    I took a class of 12th-grade students on a bus with a “Gang rape strictly prohibited” sign – apparently now a prank, although it could be real and be a coincidence (and I also wonder what the sources are on the King County news blog – anyone know). They were pretty appalled.

    And 6th and Union is where I get off the 522, listening to my iPod just like the guy who shot the video! Did he use the new Nano?

      1. Where’s the sign when you need it? Collecting fares at SeaTac on the 194 one, day had a homeless guy fumbling for coins at the farebox while ….
        Here’s yer sign.

      1. The biggest joke on that sign is the “video camera in use” part. I once drove a coach that supposedly had cameras on board and had an incident – when I reached for the button to mark the video – there was nothing but a jagged hole instead of the red button.

  4. The rail grinder … is this going to fix the horrible ride between MLK and the Tukwila station? or is this just to help with noise mitigation at the Mount Baker station?

    1. Grinding is just supposed to help mitigate the screeching. It shouldn’t really help the hunting issues.

  5. As usual, communication to riders during said rail grinding is inconsistent.

    The messages and fliers on the train are great. But, southbound, we sat at Mount Baker for a good 10 minutes with no announcement other than the automated “The train is delayed due to traffic ahead. We will be moving shortly.” Some visibly frustrated passengers tried to use the emergency intercom and were quickly informed that the intercom is for emergencies only. I get it, but some operators just seem unwilling to provide a basic level of information.

    Northbound, the operator had the courtesy to announce we would be stopped for 8 minutes and provided a status update or two. People seemed much more amicable given even that basic level of information.

    Is it really so hard to hit the button and make a quick announcement? These little things can either create or destroy that sense of “reliability” that is so important to the success of light rail.

    1. Perhaps the Link operators are an unhappy lot these days? Here’s an article in Locals 587’s December Newsletter by one of their officers.
      “Of critical importance is the staggering fact that at this point, with far less than a year of service, we have fourteen suspensions served or in the works. This is a rate of 35% per year. After suspension, one microscopic hiccup will result in termination. Rail has essentially no discipline less than suspension and at this rate, no one will remain in 3 years!
      http://www.atu587.com/documents/ATUDecember2009.pdf
      Once they pick a LRT assignment there considered like franchise players. It’s tough to get released.

      1. Wow, a steady, secure job with good pay and benefits and a pension? Cry me a river local 587. Now wehre’s that tiny violin?

    2. No! No! Remove the random-three-hour-wait-with-no-explanation from the American rail experience? You might just as well remove the cheese from a triple-whopper or the salt from a potato chip!

      Waiting is what builds character. As a young lad, I became bored when the teacher stopped talking. Now, as a patient riding transit to an appointment, I can put my brain in neutral and let hours flow by as I wait.

      When I think of all the times I have sat on a stopped train, with no explanation given, and glumly asked myself if walking the last 17 miles might not be faster- well, all I can say is that those are times you never forget.

      And hey, if you really wanted to know, you’d be carrying a scanner, right?

  6. A story worth reading this morning with an awesome HSR map of where Europe is headed in the future can be found at Transport Politic.
    “European High Speed Rail expands across the continents with five new line segments”
    http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2009/12/11/european-high-speed-rail-expands-across-the-continent-with-five-new-line-segments/

    A bit of Wikepedia reserch reveils the population density of 15 states is higher than Europes average of 70 persons per Km2, yet we still cling to our precious ‘Ikeways’ (not FREE)for most intercity travel.
    January will reveal where FTA is heading with HSR in America with the anouncement of a modest 8 Bn down payment.

    1. It is also of some interest to not how few true HSR routes there are currently in service in Western Europe – vast swathes of France are not served, as an example. We all need to remember that only the very highest used routes (currently by air, “free”way and rail) will get true HSR (300 KPH top speed) in the US in the next 25 years. Many more routes will get “Higher” Speed service (200 KPH top speed) as a transition until some time in the 2050s or later. Keep your fingers crossed but don’t hold your breath here in the NW – it may be decades.

  7. As much as I love Rail, I would rather they hold off on that Hiawatha line for now. IIRC the Acela Express is the only line that actually manages to turn a profit. I would rather that $1B be spent on improving the Acela and on biulding other HSR corridors that have the possibility of generating a return. This is good both economically (money can then be reinvested in other lines) but more importantly politically (showing that rail DOES work, and isn’t just pork).

    1. I’d worry about passenger rail returning a profit when the Interstate Highways ‘return a profit’, or when an airport is built using airline companies profits.

      Even if you include the capital costs along with the operating costs, the farebox recovery is greater for rail than what drivers return in ‘farebox recovery’ via the gas tax, if you allocate those taxes according to where the fuel is actually burnt.

      Why apply the ‘profit’ criteria only to passenger rail?

      Jim

      1. Even if you include the capital costs along with the operating costs, the farebox recovery is greater for rail than what drivers return in ‘farebox recovery’ via the gas tax, if you allocate those taxes according to where the fuel is actually burnt.

        What numbers are you using to come up with this?

      2. There are two sources you can use, the PRIIA study for the North Coast Hiawatha on the Amtrak website:
        http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer/Page/1241245669222/1241256467960

        and the I-405 Corridor Program’s Environmental Impact Statement.

        For the North Coast Hiawatha:

        Page 5 discusses the annual operating costs and farebox recovery percentages, and the table on page 6 shows the Capital/Implementation costs. Page 28 also shows the annual revenue and cost breakdown.

        What I did is take the $1 billion capital/implementation figure, and since that’s not an annual operating cost, I amortized it the way highway projects are calculated in their Cost/Benefit analysis. I divided $1,043,000,000 by 30 years, and came up with $34,000,000.

        Add that to the $74,000,000 annual costs and that equals $108,000,000.
        $43 million revenue is 40% of the $108 million cost.

        The numbers for the highway contribution come from 2 sources, the I-405 analysis, and SR-520 analysis.

        So, how to break that down into managable chunks? If you delve into the FEIS for I-405, it becomes a confusing mass of screenlines, trip counts, etc.

        What I did is simply take 1 mile of freeway, cost it out based on the I-405 analysis, and then see what the maximum revenue would be from each user’s gas tax contribution for that 1 mile.

        How many people use one mile of freeway?

        This is where the SR-520 analysis is useful. Since 99.99% of the people who get on the Evergreen Point floating bridge go from one end to the other, their analysis showing the current usage of 130,000 cars a day would seem appropriate.

        Why combine the two? To make roads look better! Highest usage (SR-520) and lower per mile cost (I-405).

        Using the BUDGET dollar amount for the GP lanes only of the I-405 project of $4,500,000,000 and dividing that by the 30 year lifespan (used in the C/B analysis) means the yearly costs are $150,000,000.

        By the way, the $4.5 Billion includes the yearly operating costs. (yes roads have operating costs, and it averages about 1/3 of that of light rail).

        To get to what 1 mile of road ‘costs’ per year, divide the $150 million figure by 31 and you come up with $4,838,709.

        If 130,000 drivers are paying $.02 per mile in gas tax (combining state and federal), then per day they are burning $2600 worth of tax on that 1 mile stretch. Multiply that by 365, and that equals $949,000.

        $949,000 is 19% of $4,838,709.

        If I’m paying $240 year in gas tax, and all that money isn’t being spent on MY ROADS, then I’m subsidizing someone else’s driving habits.

        Jim

      3. 30 year lifespan? I’ve lived here for 42 years and can’t think of any stretch of freeway that has gone 30 years without additional capital investment. I’m not talking about repaving, which I would consider operational costs. 520 is pretty close but even that has had HOV lanes shoehorned in – not to mention all of the investments made to the east of I-405.

        Thanks for this analysis, Jim.

      4. Regardless, 30 years is what is used by WDOT for any cost/benefit analysis. It’s assumed that the specific lanes being constructed would have worn out by then, and have to be rebuilt at roughly the same dollar amount.

        In other words, if it currently costs the $4.5 billion (budget) to build the 4 new lanes on I-405, then in 30 years, adding in inflation, but subracting the fact that no ROW needs to be acquired, nor rebuilding of the subgrade, it should cost $4.5 billion to ‘re-pave’ those 4 lanes down to the subgrade.

        Of course, you are saying the cost situation is worse than that.

        Jim

      5. I amortized it the way highway projects are calculated in their Cost/Benefit analysis. I divided $1,043,000,000 by 30 years, and came up with $34,000,000.

        That’s not how you amortize costs over 30 years. You have to look at the cost of repaying the debt (interest) which makes it more like $70 million a year. 520 and 405 are very expensive sections of the entire highway system. National the highways are funded by the Highway Fund. It’s true that $7 billion gets diverted from the general fund to the Highway Fund but that matches the amount spent by the Mass Transit portion of the Highway Fund. What you’ve done is taken some of the most expensive lane miles in the entire system for your analysis. It appears that you’ve taken 405 in total to cost $4.5 billion and divided by it’s length, 31 miles to get a cost per mile? That puts the lane mile cost at around 24 million. Typical costs for a 4 lane freeway in urban areas are a small fraction of that. But you don’t have to do any mathematical gymnastics to see how it’s funded. WSDOT itemizes per project. The 405 widening through Bellevue for example was a $200 million project and 99% came from gas taxes. And of course drives pay 100% of their operating costs (gas, insurance, maintenance, purchase) so there’s really no comparison to the Amtrak 52% average fare recovery which covers only operational costs. In the anaylsis of the North Coast Hiawatha the amortized cost of capital is almost equal to the operational costs. And they don’t even start to figure in the retirement benefits.

      6. “That puts the lane mile cost at around 24 million. Typical costs for a 4 lane freeway in urban areas are a small fraction of that. ”

        $24 million is the correct extrapolation, but how do you justify the second statement? Are you saying the analysis done by WSDOT, Sound Transit, and all the municipalities is flawed.

        Okay, here’s the breakdown. A freeway lane at grade on land not having to be purchased averages $11 million per lane-mile, elevated is approximately $40 million per lane-mile, and tunnelled is around $80 million per lane-mile, with Mercer Island style lidding and landscaping at $200 million per lane-mile.

        “And of course drives pay 100% of their operating costs (gas, insurance, maintenance, purchase)”

        What’s your point? You categorize each cost, and then pick and choose the ones with ratios in favor of roads?

        I’ll tell you what, why don’t you come up with plan for congestion relief for the region by adding lanes, and then explain how it works (that is, explain how the lane actually reduces congestion), put the price tag on it.

        Maybe even include a little sub-area equity in the package, and

        put it up for a vote!

        Jim

      7. Bernie,
        I’m not so sure your link to the I-405 widening project is a good example.$200 million for 1 lane in each direction, for a total of 6 lane-miles, means that each lane-mile would cost $33 million.

        Also, using the calculations for how much gas tax is burnt on that segment means that it’s even more of a subsidy for those drivers. It might be all gas tax money paying for the project, but it’s not the users of those new lanes paying for the bulk of it.

        Jim

      8. Why Jim? B/c the American people don’t grasp that their roads are subsidized and most seem to think that Amtrak is a black hole pork project.

        Education and Advocacy can help change that, but we are a long way off from that day. In the mean time we need to work within the system we have instead of just the one we want. With the limited funds we currently have it is best IMO to put them into projects that won’t be a drain, or at least as much as a drain.

        To my thinking the Vision for HSR is a pretty good compromise. Focuses on lines that will very high ridership, yet goes to enough states that it has the possibility of getting Congressional Funding.

      9. “Why Jim? B/c the American people don’t grasp that their roads are subsidized and most seem to think that Amtrak is a black hole pork project. ”

        Then anyone who calls themselves a libertarian or fiscal conservative should be screaming out loud to stop spending money on pork barrel projects that don’t have a better rate of return than what is currently happening with the road system.

        Stop OVER-TAXING me on roads, and please stop telling me that the gas tax is a user fee.

        If funds are limited, then they should be spent more wisely.

        Stop wasting them on highway expansion.

        Even the playing field.

        Jim

      10. Hey arguement there. But you gotta realize that are not at that point yet. Until we are we gotta work within the constraints of reality. And with that in mind, I don’t this Hiawatha Line is a good investment at this time.

      11. Did you mean “no argument there” ?

        My point is, push harder. The “we must have congestion relief at all cost” argument should never go unchallenged.

        And from the PRIIA studies, I’d argue that the NCH route is the best candidate, although if you read the comments on the Pioneer study, many municipalities would argue with that.

        Also, another point is that spending on Amtrak is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other money we’re spending on other modes.

        Jim

      12. Yep, supposed to be a ‘no’ in there. We gotta keep fighting the fight and educating the public but in the mean time we play the game and get the best results we can with what we got.

        The Acela Express has been a smashing success and actually has generated POSITIVE press for Amtrak, which has been in short supply for oh…. it’s entire existence. I say we build on that. Hiawatha seems same old same to me. *shrug*

      13. True, as far as High Speed Rail is concerned, but in the big picture of rail connectivity, any of the long-distance routes has merit.

        Although I would admit I’m partial to at least having Cascades service extended OVER the Cascades.

        With the tunnel at Steven’s Pass at capacity, Stampede pass (where the Spokane-Seattle segment of the NCH would run) is a viable solution. Granted, Wenatchee and Ephrata might not be destination spots, but the addition of Leavenworth to the EB’s schedule is providing a spike in ridership.

        Maybe a shorter ‘loop’ section of both trains, cycling between Seattle and Spokane.

        I’ll have to think about that!

        Jim

      14. Jim,

        I’m confused with your statement “Granted, Wenatchee and Ephrata…spike in ridership”. The only way to Wenatchee, Ephrata and Leavenworth is via Stevens Pass. The Stampede line leads to Ellensburg, Yakima, and Tri-Cities on its way to Spokane.

        There’s probably a market for Cascades type service as far as Tri-Cities twice a day, but from what another poster said, there’s a lot of trackwork required west of Ellensburg. It’s still jointed rail between there and Auburn so you wouldn’t want to run Talgos over it.

        There’s not much point in turning left at Pasco. The commuter airlines have Seattle-Spokane tied up tighter than the Gordian knot. Especially with the new service in and out of Boeing Field there is no way for rail to be competitive on that trip, especially via Tri-Cites. There are no towns big enough to matter between Spokane and Pasco.

      15. When the Leavenworth station opened there has been a significant jump in ridership. Now traffic to Ephrata and Wenatchee is and has been generally light, so it has the same characteristics as you say for service to the Tri Cities, but not really beyond.

        With Spokane being a current diverging point, the logical ‘loop’ would be Spokane, just for the equipment exchanges. By the way, a Cascades service doesn’t require Talgo equipment, it could be done with heritage equipment. (The stuff you see on the snow train and turkey trains)

        A lot more people would take the trip east if the schedule was more centered around the daylight hours.

        The PRIIA study has roughly the same schedule for the NCH as is now for the Builder.

        I personally think that should be massaged a bit.

        So, along with taking on the road lobby, now you suggest we take on the airline lobby?

        Sure!! Sounds like a deal!

        Jim

    2. Last year, I went to a high speed rail convention with the Federal Rail Administration. The FRA was asking WSDOT officials what they want. After the meeting, I asked Amtrak’s chief PR representative this exact same question, throwing money at the NEC to boost speeds for the Acela. He made a very good point, in summary:

      -Much money has been put into the Acela program already
      -Additional money would only have marginal speed and service improvements since most of the cheap and easiest improvements were already complete
      -Improvements left, such as expanding ROW and replacing bridges and straightening curves would be costly as it would require land acquisition and moving the alignment.
      -Many of the things that need to be improved are very expensive to fix.
      -After a cost/benefit analysis, the time saved would be 10-15 minutes at an extremely high cost (billions).

      Aside from that, HSR lines are very expensive to build. The LA to San Fran line is going to cost $20 billion.

      1. To upgrade the Blaine to Eugene Cascades corridor to 110 MPH operation with 13 trains per day each direction between Seattle and Portland would cost only a few billion. Not to say that Amtrak and the Federal Government shouldn’t continue to invest in the NEC, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of investments elsewhere in the country.

      2. You’ll be saving up for a long time. If California’s plan is any indication, building the Cascades route with entirely new ‘true HSR’ ROW would be astronomical. Pretty much every HSR line in Europe was built by upgrading the existing line. That’s because it makes sense.

        Anyway, we’re already well into the Cascades plan and less than a billion dollars of improvements are left. After that, we’ll have service that’s faster than driving, more comfortable than a bus, and frequent enough to be convenient for most corridor travel. Why would you want to wait any longer for that?

      3. Real, 220mph Vancouver to Portland HSR would probably be, say, eight to ten billion dollars. If a new federal transportation bill gets passed with $50b for HSR, our prospects for HSR are lookin pretty good.

      4. OMFG! Two hundred twenty mile and hour service between Vancouver BC and Eugene? What a colossal waste of money! Not only would you have to tunnel through the entirety of Chuckanut Mountain, you’d have to tunnel or elevate from Everett to Renton!

        Oh yeah, the NIMBY’s are gonna love that!

      5. For a lot of it you could put it in the I-5 median, and then in the Seattle Metro area you could elevate it for parts of it and use existing rail ROW for parts of it. I don’t understand why everyone acts like this is impossible, they’re doing it in California, so we can do it here.

      6. 220-mph trains in the I-5 median? Ummmmmmm, maybe we should think of the effects(!) that would have on I-5 traffic operating 20 feet away??????

    3. Acela has probably never “turned a profit” though Amtrak certainly cooks the books to indicate that it does. More importantly, as others have indicated here and elsewhere, the airlines and highways and canals and ports seldom “turn a profit” either – they are public services and ought to measured by how well the serve. Is the Hiawatha the best use of Amtrak’s/our money at this time? Perhaps not, but the company ought to have been expanding every year and ought to be providing better on board service year after year as well. Instead the company has wallowed in a “poor me” state for decades due to a weak board of directors, ineffective management, and too much political input into operations and routes from meddlesome Members of Congress. It has never been (or allowed/encouraged to be) and entreprenurial business – that must change before we’ll see any improvement in schedules, services and routes.

    4. I’d rather see the Hiawatha and other lines like the Pioneer recreated. Amtrak has never brought back a route that it discontinued, and to bring back one or more would be a positive improvement. Amtrak also relies on Congress, and expanding service would give it more Congressional support for new equipment and the like.

      1. Why? Who rides from Orlando to Los Angeles? Disney cast characters?

        Yes, Mobile and New Orleans should be linked, but that would be better done by rerouting the Crescent via Montgomery and Mobile. Amtrak has a proposal to link Dallas and Meridian via the KCS line through Vicksburg, so why not establish twice a day service from New York to Atlanta and have one train go west to Dallas on the Speedway and the other to New Orleans via Mobile? Atlanta and the Piedmont can certainly support two trains, especially once the new (relatively) high-speed line via the old Seabord ROW is rebuilt.

        Birmingham would not lose its link to Atlanta and the Carolinas, and if the schedules were well well-coordinated with the City, it would not lose travelers to and from New Orleans either. It’s not that much farther to The Big Easy from Birmingham via Jackson than it is on NS. It might be worthwhile to drop a car there westbound for the City and pick one up eastbound.

        Pensacola, Tallahassee, and even Jacksonville are I expect pretty minor contributors to New Orleans’ prosperity.

        If you really want to rev up the southeast and get some major network synergies, revive the old KC-Florida Special, but don’t use the Frisco routing. Instead use the Missiouri Mule hours of service to get to St. Louis and Carbondale, then go CSX through Nashville and Chattanooga to a co-ordinated stop at Atlanta with the Dallas-New York train. Then on to Jacksonville and Orlando via Macon and Savannah. That would be a winner of a train.

      2. As someone who went to college in and lived in Mobile for 5 years, train service would have been freakin awesome… If you were to advertise it in the Spring Hill and USA papers you’d have hundreds of takers a weekend (forget UMobile, Baptist college)… :D

      3. From Wikipedia:

        1972 brought the return of the Vancouver service, with the inauguration of the Pacific International. It always was a small train, though for a time it had one of the most unusual consists in the Amtrak system, carrying one of the few observation cars that Amtrak operated.[6]

        The corridor grew in 1980 with Oregon sponsoring two daily round trips between Portland and Eugene. Named the Willamette Valley, these trains were ultimately unsuccessful and were discontinued in April 1982. This was on the heels of the Pacific International’s discontinuance in September 1981.[5]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak_Cascades#History

      4. Same article:

        And, in 1995 the Vancouver connection was brought back (originally called the Mount Baker International),

      5. My recollection is that this route was not part of the original system in May 1971, was reinstated sometime in the early 1970s w/ a dome coach and 3 or 4 regular coaches, was suspended in the Carter administration, came back w/ a couple of Superliner coaches, one with a downstairs snack car, about 1980, and went away again for a few years until the 2nd demonstration Talgo came along in the mid-1990s. In the earlier incarnations it traveled south in the morning and north in the evening to connect to/from the Coast Starlight. Amtrak wisely (gasp!) ran the Talgo north in the morning and south in the late afternoon, as 510 and 517 still operate. Somewhere I have an almost complete run of Amtrak National Timetables from the 1970s and 1980s which would answer this question, but they are buried deep in a storage unit.

      6. I have schedules from the early 70’s here. I’ll pull them out later. It was terrible timing for pretty much anyone. It got in around 11pm into Vancouver and left about 6 in the morning back to Seattle.

  8. So if the tunnel guards decide to unionize themselves, does that mean they’ll actually have to work instead of standing around talking to each other (and their friends who walk by) all while bums sleep/yell at things in the stations? And then come bug me for taking pictures with my huge, conspicuous camera.

    Does that mean we can hold them more accountable for their inaction?

    1. I’ve commented on this previously – until they are held accountable for “making the rounds” every 15-30 minutes of every nook and cranny of their post, there should be norewards, union salaries, or even a holiday bonus. These people are no replacement for sworn police officers, one of which should be in each station when the system is in service. The “Securitas” goons should be talking to people who need assistance and questions answered, NOT to each other on the Mezzanine level of the stations.

  9. check this out!
    http://fwix.com/share/8_848dc4bba0
    I know an Elliot Bay bridge proposal has been looked at a while back, but this new bridge design has great potential, thats if this new bridge technology can be proven first. Most importantly, light rail is included in the plans as well. I would easily vote for this over the Alaskan way tunnel if put on a ballot in the future.

      1. Well, actually 4. The original Lacey V. Murrow which is at the bottom of the lake, it’s replacement, the Homer Hadley, and the Albert Rossilini (Evergreen Point) bridge.

        Though the old Lacey V. probably would have been fine had it not had holes punched in it right at the waterline and then had the flotation cells filled with water.

    1. This guy and his floating pier proposal has been around for a while. I don’t see traffic patterns or the waterfront being improved by this. As far as “floating” pier supports in sediment, that’s been done. A terrific example that has conditions similar to Lake Washington is the Rio–Antirrio Bridge in Greece. Sediment doesn’t move up and down. Wave energy does extend all the way to the bottom so structures that rely on buoyancy are constantly being stressed. The sad thing is this bridge in Greece was completed in 2004 for about half the projected cost of the new sinking bridge on stilts we’re building in Grays Harbor for the SR-520 replacement. Time to overhaul WSDOT which means time for a new Governor and the politicians that have focused on lids instead of basic infrastructure. Of the last eight Marvels of Engineering, how many have been built or even designed in the US?

      1. Well even a “buoyant pier” isn’t all that new, they’ve been building all kinds of crazy structures for offshore oil production for years. There are proposals to use the same technology to build deep-water wind farms. It won’t be long before someone has a bright idea to use similar structures for bridge piers.

        Still nothing so exotic would be needed for Lake Washington, something like the Greek design would likely work. But at this point another floating bridge is what we’re most likely going to get.

    2. This is ridiculous. It would ruin our great skyline and have the same problems as the tunnel. I don’t care if light rail would go on it, because no one would take that light rail because it wouldn’t go anywhere.

      1. You nailed it Alex. A light rail line that bypasses the CBD?!?!?! Did this guy get his Architecture degree on the web?

      2. One issue the Elliott Bay Bride folks often fail to account for is the interaction of the height of bridge towers with airspace clearances into Boeing Field.

      3. To continue to pile on… this thing hopefully would fail any environmental reviews, given that Elliot Bay, despite its incredibly developed appearance, is still a productive ecosystem for salmon, bottom fish, and shrip. Moreover, it’s the offical usual and accustomed fishing grounds for the Muckleshoot Tribe, and is certainly the historic and still a present food source for the Duwamish.

        While it could actually potentially be done carefully in environmental terms, it’s a monument to the car built atop our beloved Puget Sound.

        Plus, who builds bridges parallel to the land, anyway?

    3. Now that’s an impressive idea. I can’t believe it would be any cheaper than the tunnel, but it could definitely be an attractive landmark for the city.

  10. Oh boy, if the transit security unionizes will I still be allowed in the tunnel? SEIU and I have a little history. I work for a security that is not union. SEIU tried to get us. they failed. They got a couple on indviduals to join, but no accounts in the area. Now I admit that I have no love for unions in general and SEIU specificly. When the recurter for SEIU showed up to try and get me to join it did not go well. I called him and his originization a bunch of marxists-heathons. (Heathon is in my mind the worst insult I can lay at someones feet. Adding something like marxist or facist just makes it that much worse.) I told him that if he did not leave I will have him arrested for tresspassing. Now the few unionized guards with my company will not talk or work with me. SEIU really does not like me. I must admit that part of me was disapointed. I heard how agressive SEIU was. I heard that they really fight to unionize. I was pumped up for the fight. I fizzled as quickly as it started.

    1. Yes, indeed; let’s fight those unions. Heaven forbid those security guards, those low-lifes, should actually get a living wage and benefits.

      1. As someone who earns more than a decent living working for the government and is NOT Unionized I’ve never understood the arguement that unions are necessary for living wages and benefits. In fact, I don’t believe that anyone that works for the public sector, even as contractors should be allowed to ‘unionize’.

        I pay my dues to the VFW to lobby on my behalf, with no need to hold the people hostage by threatening to go on strike or any other kind of BS.

        *I’ve no problem with Free Association, let them form a club and tack ‘Union’ on the end, but no special protections under the law like the government currently gives unions.

  11. Maybe with a raise the middle age African American “supervisor want to be” at the Westlake Tunnel Station would stop asking young ladies in tunnel for candy and try to pick them up for dates. And maybe the dudes with Spanish or Eastern European accents would stop trying to talk to all the ladies and ask them out on a date at the Westlake Tunnel location and stop creeping out all the lady passengers waiting for their bus after work. Or how about all the overweight security goons walk around a little more and maybe they can lose weight and not just sit on their asses all day on the steel benches meant for passengers waiting for the bus.

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