'Which direction?' by Oran

28 Replies to “News Roundup: Sounder’s Back”

  1. Vancouver spent $8 million upgrading the line to handle those streetcars and then they’re going to stop operating them after the Olympics? Can someone explain this to me?

    1. Something tells me that Bombardier might arrange to keep these cars in Canada for a while…

      One would stay in Vancouver, and one might tour North America to drum up sales?

    2. They spent a lot more than that on things that will end after the Olympics. That streetcar seems intended as a starter line that will re-start after they add more track to the north and east of the Canada Line station.

  2. First, I have to say I’m not against tolls. However, I am against these high tolls that single out West Seattle. The cost to a driver who lives in the south end would be 25% higher that if the driver lives in the north end. The “proposed” toll on the stretch of 99 from Spokane Street to the tunnel entrance was sold to West Seattle residents as our main point of entry to downtown…now there’s a cost. They do clarify that tolls could be collected north and southbound – but there’s a consideration to only count tolls on this stretch once Spokane Street is reached, north and south bound. So those people coming from the north end, using the newly rennovated street grid in the north could exit into downtown for nothing. While we who live in the south would be tolled each and every time we used the new street grid to go anywhere north of Spokane Street.

    Ok, let’s consider the “alternate routes”, 1st Ave S, 4th Ave S and Marginal Way. Without the tolling, the plans estimate between 25K – 48K additional vehicles on the street grid (through Alaskan Way). So if there’s additional vehicles added to that due to tolls, what happens? Gridlock. Add to this the lower Spokane Street bridge which opens any time, can even be during rush hour. This route will not always be accessible or convenient (it’s also a two lane roadway with lots of Port traffic, already not an ideal route).

    Ok, so let’s take a bus. Wait, RapidRide is on hold. And besides Metro did not want to even start RR until the tunnel (and street grid if I remember correctly) were complete, thus gaining no new driving converts. There are minimal dedicated bus lanes (only the existing eastbound short lane on the WS Bridge), maybe lanes on Alaskan Way between Fauntleroy & 35th (already not a high traffic area), maybe a short bus only lane down Avalon (which merges into a narrow on ramp already a pinch point even w/out construction backups), and some short bus lanes on the new exit/entry near Royal Brougham. This is less that the whole of 15th gets between Seattle/Ballard. Prediction: buses will be caught in the traffic unless ROW is given. Hopefully these buses will be routed down 4th rather than the new Alaskan Way so at least direct access to downtown can be given to commuters. There will be a test for buses coming soon enough this spring when the 1st Ave on ramp to West Seattle is closed for a couple years. Will buses be taking the lower bridge?

    Good news for me…I am a bike commuter, I will be able to get through the traffic and maintain my good commute time no matter what. But I’ll be contending with all the above traffic (frustrated drivers, detours, bad roadway) for some time. I do occasionally have to take a bus and rarer, have to drive. So believe I have some perspective on travel issues that West Seattle faces, to a much greater degree than most parts of the city.

    This is going to be a challenge. I just hope everyone has the patience and persistence to continue to ask questions and challenge the planning on the project.

    1. Can’t a West Seattle resident take Spokane to the “free”way called I-5?

      Also, is everybody in West Seattle heading to or thru the Seattle CBD each day?

      I really wish Seattle would again visit the experience of the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Sometimes you really don’t need a limited access highway.

      1. C’mon Erik, you know as well as I do that Seattle is …. unique! We have lots of density, hills and water surrounding us. Oh wait, I just decribed SF.
        Never Mind.

      2. “I really wish Seattle would again visit the experience of the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Sometimes you really don’t need a limited access highway.”

        Agreed, get rid of the viaduct, build a nice parkway (streetcar is a must), fix the seawall, and save $2 Billion dollars by not building the tunnel. Is it vital the viaduct section of 99 remain limited access? If not, why are we spending the money on a tunnel that will reduce capacity, and if they toll it, drive people to the surface streets anyway?

    2. West Seattle is not being “singled out.” I’m not sure of the exact split, but I’m sure less than have the total trips in the tunnel will be from/to West Seattle, yet everyone will pay the toll.

      On top of that, there are already tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, there will be tolls on SR520 and I-90 across the lake, and almost certainly there will be tolls on the new Cross Columbia Bridge. West Seattle residents aren’t being singled out anymore than anyone else in this state.

      Per being a “challenge”, get a “Good to Go” Pass and you can use all these facilities without even slowing down.

      Get over it. Given the tax structure in this state and the number of mega-projects we need to fund, tolls (user fees) are the wave of the future.

      1. Nah, I’m with Al. State wants to toll the tunnel then toll the tunnel. The Spokane to proposed tunnel entrance reach is not “the tunnel” and since West Seattlites going to downtown drive this reach before getting off the Viaduct, then indeed it is unfair to West Seattle and other, ahem, South Enders.

    3. Al, are you serious? They really propose to toll the whole corridor north of Spokane St., not just the tunnel itself?

      1. Yes, that is correct. On 99 only. The street routes are not tolled. Jeez guys. I am advocating that I’m not in disagreement with the tolls per se just how they are implemented. Someone coming from the southwest would pay $7.25 per day if they travel peak hours. Someone coming from the northend would pay $6.50 per day if they travel peak hours. Why? They are both using the tunnel. If the SR99 is tolled at the south end only, then drivers coming from the southwest could be charged an additional $1.50 each way while a driver coming from the north and using the new SR99 on the north end wouldn’t be charged anything. Why?

        I am advocating for much stronger transit service here – otherwise tolls won’t work. If there’s no fast alternative way to get around, people will stay in their cars. ROW for buses, bus lanes, etc…of which we will be in a crunch in about, oh, 2 months.

      2. This really is the time to talk congestion pricing for Seattle south of Roy, west of the I-5 “Free”way and north of Spokane.

  3. It’s amazing how much of a cliff-function my commute is.

    If I get up in time, I can make the Sounder from Kent (last train 8:32am).

    It takes me 23 minute to get to Seattle.

    If not, I take the 150 — 60 minutes! Nearly 3 times the travel time!

    1. Even when there’s no train involved, and it’s just a choice between buses, it’s not unusual for daytime service to be slower than commute-time service. If I leave Federal Way by 8:45 am, I can make it downtown in 32 minutes; any later and it takes over an hour. The difference in actual practice is even more pronounced, since the express bus is often ahead of schedule while it is not uncommon for the daytime bus to run behind. No surprise that there aren’t enough riders during the day to justify express service.

      1. I have a similar choice. If I make the last 77 in I can get to work in 10 minutes. If I make the last 312 I can make it to work in 20. After that the trip takes 30-50 minutes depending on the exact mix of routes and how long transfers take.

  4. That “America’s 75 worst commutes” link is great. From much further down the list:

    //“There’s simply not enough road surface to be had,”// Allentown, PA #57, 22 weekly hours of congestion

    //“I’m just glad to see that [the Missouri Department of Transportation] is doing a common sense project, widening I-70 to three lanes all the way through, which should ease the flow of traffic,”// Kansas City, #58, 47 weekly hours of congestion

    //“A lot of people I knew were having a time of it trying to get to work on the congested roads,” John Harris told the Manteca Bulletin, referring to a half cent sales tax that has provided millions to improve San Joaquin County roads// Stockton, CA, #68, 28 weekly hours of congestion

    //“[You’re] lucky in rush hour if you do 45,”// Syracuse, NY, #71, 9 weekly hours of congestion

    (for comparison, I-5 in Seattle has 256 weekly hours of congestion)

    Everyone feels like if only there was more of the “free” resource called roads, their lives would be better. Never mind the fact that the more roads they build, the further everyone drives.

  5. I think it’s a great idea for the users of the tunnel take ownership of their infrastructure and help pay for it. Open road tolling really is a great idea. Congestion tolling will help prevent the tunnel from clogging up. So tolling is good. Expensive tunnel with no downtown exits combined with the City of Seattle having to pay the cost overrun is pretty bad deal for the city. Unfortunately, too much infrastructure for Seattle has come up for renewal at the same time.

    1. Sam, I totally agree with you. I am against the tunnel idea in the first place and think that the traffic that will result on the streets will be not much different than if they had planned for no tunnel, no viaduct replacement and instead funneled the money into an upgraded street grid with lots of transit alternatives. THAT is what I personally wanted to see, and perhaps many others since the “vote” of the infrastructure came out both “no” for tunnel and for new viaduct.

  6. That car-less household thing tracks both poverty and transit/walkability to a large extent.

  7. Car-free is only an option in a few neighborhoods – grocery stores are few and far between in large parts of the city, so it doesn’t surprise me that Seattle ranks relatively low in that respect. Plus, this is a relatively wealthy area. More money = more cars.

    I think part of the problem also has to do with how the housing “establishment” considers incomes for buying/renting. All things being equal, not owning a car should allow a higher monthly rent/mortgage payment. Even if you are realizing half of the potential $11k year in savings, that is well over $400/month that could be devoted to housing.

    Unfortunately, it is the rare property manager/loan officer who sees it that way. Most seem to have a hard limit of 25%-33% of income to spend on the rent/mortgage – car, or no car. As a result, buying/renting a close-in, car-optional home that consumes a higher percentage of your income is less feasible than living in a more distant, car-dependent home.

    1. You can change the route number but at the end of the day it is still the 124.

      Oops meant to say “… it is still the 174”

    2. You don’t have to put a transit cop on every bus – just some buses, some of the time, and some of them in plain clothes. Start with a visible presence that isn’t having a marked car following a bus or a uniformed officer waving “hi” from a bus stop. Have some visible examples of on-board fare enforcement and get the word out there that security may be aboard any bus at any time. Make sure these incidents of enforcement are well-publicized.

      Also I’m in favor of allowing drivers to carry defensive weapons such as pepper spray – currently a firing offense.

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