41 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Traffic Engineering”

  1. If we want to make Link to Ballard a priority, which is more important: getting Ballard residents to downtown, the UW, or the Eastside? I’ve been doodling fantasy maps, as I am wont to do, but being so out of touch with the actual needs of residents, I wonder what the best solution would be.

    I’d love to run the train down 15th Ave W, eliminating the bus lanes and the center turn lane to make room for center-running Link. But it seems like a streetcar/bus shared transit lane might be a much better option, particularly if it made a left at Harrison and hit up Key Arena.

    I know we all want Link over the 520 bridge, but how do you get a train from Ballard to Montlake? Would it be feasible to branch the line north of Brooklyn station, and turn it back around towards Ballard? Do you take 45th and maximize residential coverage (and avoid the nastiness of the Fremont hill), or do you follow the lake to hit downtown Fremont but miss Wallingford and Green Lake?

    Would there be revolt if we demolished the monorail and replaced it with a Link viaduct?

    1. There was supposed to be a after that last proposal, but the forum software assumed it was HTML.

      1. Ballard to UW is the glaring gap in quick bus service. The 15, 18, 28 are all decent bus routes (especially the express service) while the 44 is painfully slow, especially during rush hour, and taking the bus between Ballard and Capitol Hill can take an hour. This is coming from someone who lives in Ballard and commutes downtown but occasionally likes to take the 44 over to the U-district and has friends in Capitol Hill. Keep in mind also that there’s very little room for dedicated bus lanes on east-west corridors north of the canal, really limiting any improvement in bus travel times and making grade-separated light rail the best solution.

        I say build a grade-separated light rail line between ballard and UW, where commuters can connect with Central Link to Capitol Hill and downtown. It should be a roughly 15-minute ride including stops, making commuting even to downtown by light rail feasible, especially for people in wallingford.

      2. But where do you squeeze in grade-separated light rail? 45th/46th is pretty tight as it is.

      3. As part of the Bike Master Plan, there was a recommendation to have a bike/ped bridge at 47th. Then recently in the Slog, it mentioned that the Cascade Bike Club was concerned that the recent budget issues at the city would delay the project…why not design the bridge as a multi-use bridge? Just a Monday morning thought…

      4. The 45 doesn’t serve Ballard. It’s the QA/UW commuter bus, via Fremont & Wallingford. And only 7 of the 46’s runs go all the way to or from UW (four in the PM, three in the AM).

      5. I forgot about that. I use the 45 to get to Wallingford in the evenings, and at the time I wrote that I figured it went all the way to Ballard like the 46 does.

        By the way, I’d LOVE to see more 46 trips that go all the way to the UW.

    1. The Tukwilla development is stupid. It’s in the 100 year flood plain. The current office space glut will take at least 10 if not 15 years to fill and make any new office space price competitive. Never mind that this development is no where near the LINK line or the Sounder line, nor did any of the plans have any discussion about adding a spur over to serve the needs of the office workers here. Never mind that flood plains make excellent farm land and crumby office space.

      What really galled me was the corporate motto of “long term vision”. These guys are building for the future by looking at the 50’s. Make you wonder what insane bank is loaning them the money.

    2. I like the ‘war on cars’ piece. Pretty funny.

      As for South Tukwila, it’s a shame that more office sprawl is being created, but really, how can Tukwila say no to all that new tax revenue?

    3. I want to know, how does Segale plan to integrate public transit into his development? The article does not say one word about that. Will he build more sprawl, or will he orient his buildings and roads toward new bus lines? Has he even thought about where buses would go, or how to provide the quickest access to a Link station?

      Two routes come to mind. Southcenter Parkway to Kent, west of the 150. And 176th/180th to SeaTac station.

      1. I find it hard to imagine any developer building anything outside of downtown Seattle would even consider public transit at all in their studies. And by the way, the traffic impact studies are almost always contracted out to firms that make traffic impact anlayses (TIAs) as their core business.

        There has to have been some kind of TIA done which you could probably dig up if you tried hard enough over at City of Tukwila. In it you’d probably find a whole bunch of analysis of how many car trips are likely to be generated based on the square footage of the proposed development. These trips would then be fed into the immediately surrounding street network, or if you’re lucky a city-wide transportation model. If the intersection LOS fails at one or more of those intersections, they propose more turning lanes and whatnot until it gets better from a traffic flow standpoint.

        I’m going off on a rant about these TIAs here, but the problem I have with these TIAs is that rarely would they cover a large enough area to truly forecast the effect on the transportation system. Especially for large residential subdivisions. In reality, a not insignificant number of people in single family homes at the fringe of development will commute on the roads and highways of downtown Seattle. But does downtown Seattle charge any traffic development fee for the developments out in the middle of nowhere? Probably not.

      2. Well, I didn’t really expect a transit outline but I was hoping they’d be enlightened. Still, this is something we should push for if the project becomes a reality. Just like Thornton Place made a concession to the community by daylighting the creek, which benefits both their business and the the neighborhood environment. In this day and age, no large development should go through without an adequate transit plan agreed to by both the government planners and the developer. Not having a transit plan should not be an option.

  2. “You can look at practically any part of anything manmade around you and think ‘some engineer was frustrated while designing this.’ It’s a little human connection.”

    Posting XKCD without mouseover text is a Class III felony in some states.

    1. This engineer agrees. The bolt design that fixes the Link’s rail to the plate and plinth was frustrating. And thats just a stupid bolt.

  3. The Port of Kingston had a christening and open house for its new POF today (Sunday). The Port also recently purchased a second POF, which it expects to use as a backup vessel. The Port expects to take possession of both boats in late September, and begin service between Kingston and Seattle by October 1.

    There’s no word yet on where the Port of Kingston’s boat will dock in Seattle. A partnership between the King County Ferry District, Kitsap Transit, and the Port of Kingston had expected to rehabilitate and expand Pier 50 for use by the three agencies, but at some point Kitsap Transit decided Pier 50 was unsuitable, and the agency is now looking at Pier 57, just south of the Seattle Aquarium.

  4. Looks as if preparatory work is happening at King Street Station for Phase II but have yet to see anyone working – maybe it is done by elves in the night.

    I still can’t make head nor tail of all of the new bridges around and between Quest and Safeco Fields. What is going where and when remain a mystery, but I do like the nice use of railing to make it aesthetically pleasing whatever the configuration of the end road!

    Took another slow Link train the other evening – only within the tunnel and it is really disheartening to hear the groans and sighs of other riders at unexplained stops between stations in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. When are the buses supposed to be evicted from the tunnel?

    1. Tim, I believe the buses will stay in the tunnel until Link opens to Husky Stadium (2016).

    2. The bridges over near the stadiums are doing a few things:

      First- from I-90, there will be a new ramp exiting I-90 connecting to Edgar Martinez Way.

      Second-Royal Brougham Way is getting an overpass over the RR which then curves 180 degrees to tie into 3rd Ave. Then, 3rd Ave turns back into RBW where it meets the signal at 4th Ave S.

  5. What’s going on with the real-time train arrival announcement system for LInk? After all those months, all that has been implemented is a message on the reader boards and over the loudspeakers that says “Next train arriving in two minutes.” If you miss that message, you have not idea when the train is coming. Why does the South Lake Union Streetcar have a more sophisticated real time arrival system than Link?

    If what we have now is as advanced as this system is going to get, it is a HUGE waste of money and effort on the part of Sound Transit.

    1. Seriously, again with this? We wasted a HUGE amount of money because one small aspect of the system isn’t fully operational? Nevermind the fact that the trains are running on time or that they’re running AT ALL. No, the fact that this tiny detail isn’t up and running in a system that’s less than a year old means it’s a complete FAILURE!

      Oh! The SLU Streetcar has it! Amazing! A system built over 2 years ago with completely different equipment owned and operated by a different agency has a different system! (Do you get that you’re comparing apples to sledgehammers here?)

      Also, before jumping on the complain train, do some research. If you did, you’ll find that other agencies that operate the same equipment have been having trouble getting their real time up and running.

      In the future, please take you comments over to the Times. I’m sick of reading these “waste” comments.

      1. I don’t believe chh said that Link is a failure; I parsed his post as saying that the real-time train arrival announcement system, as it’s being tested now, is “a HUGE waste of money and effort”, since it is, well, not very good. And he has a point, since having one announcement at two minutes and nothing else until the train arrives is not, I think, what most of us had in mind.

        Is it technically still being tested or is this what we’re going to get?

        Anyway, I love Link to death, but I’m still irritated that we don’t have a consistent indicator of next-train times. I don’t find it unreasonable that people complain about it a bit. I think you might be overreacting.

        Incidentally, I really hope they put next-train notices at Beacon Hill Station upstairs, outside the elevators, so we can look and see if we have time to run over to Red Apple before the next train. ;) I don’t know if the two minute announcements are playing on the upstairs announcement screen or not — I haven’t seen one there.

      2. The other annoying thing about the next train announcements is that they say “The next train northbound…” or “The next train southbound…”. This is not useful to out-of-towners or the directionally-challenged. They should reference the final destination of the train: “The next train to SeaTac/Airport…”, “The next train to Downtown Seattle/Westlake…”

      3. Whoa there, Tim. All I’m saying is that the money and effort spent on the train arrival announcement system is a waste if all we end up getting for that investment is an announcement telling us that a train is arriving in two minutes.

        I did not say, nor imply, that Link is a waste of money. But if I HAD said that, would it really be so inappropriate? You really only want people to comment here who agree with you? Otherwise they should be banished from the blog, and sent to the purgatory of the Seattle Times website?

        Sound Transit originally promised that the train arrival system would be up and running last fall. That deadline was changed several times. Is it really so terrible to be disappointed that, several months after ST’s own project timeline, the system they have developed is completely inferior to other train arrival systems, including that of the SLU streetcar?

        My real question is this: Are the pathetic “train arriving in two minutes” announcements the culmination of ST’s announcement system, or are they a first step toward creating a useful system, such as that on the SLU streetcar line?

      4. My appologies. I don’t recognize you as one of the regular commentors, and the phrase “HUGE waste of money” (especially with huge being huge) just screams idiot Times commentor.

        I don’t agree that Link’s system is inferior to the SLU streetcar’s; it’s just different equipment that hasn’t been fully set up. There was a time when the SLU realtime didn’t work. One of the big differences is that when we bought those streetcars, they stuck a Czech mechanic inside the car when they shipped it over.

  6. Have there been issues with some of the Link station ORCA readers lately? 5 out of the last 8 station stops I’ve made have had a problem — I go to one ORCA reader, and it doesn’t respond to my card at all. No error, no beep, nothing. Then I walk over to the other reader and it works beautifully and instantly, no problems whatsoever.

    When this has happened I haven’t seen anyone else attempt to use the reader, so I don’t know if it’s a problem with my card, but since the card works fine at the other reader…

    It just started this week for me, but one of my friends had the same problem at Beacon Hill Station on Saturday. But on both Saturday and Sunday, it worked later in the day after not working for me earlier.

    Is this likely to be a card problem or a reader problem? It’s probably not user error since I’ve been using ORCA just fine for months now. ;)

    1. I’ve experienced this same thing at 3 or 4 different Link stations over the past two weeks. Sound Transit is losing money because of it. I could not pay for my train ride, despite attempting to do so.

      1. Or they’re making money off of every rider who can tap in but not tap out and automatically gets charged the max fare.

    2. I have also had problems getting the reader to respond at multiple locations on multiple days.

      One reader starting making a continuous alarm sound a few minutes later.

      A different one elsewhere came back up a couple minutes later.

      It may not be the readers, but something else more central.

      I got a little concerned that I may face a $124 ticket if I didn’t find a working card reader.

  7. Trip Report: I rode the Las Vegas monorail, end to end this weekend, and made all the stops.
    What a crappy system. Rough ride, jerky operation, small cars with few seats (18 per car), and high fare ($5.00 for a system with 7 stations going 4 miles)
    The line snakes all over the backside of the casino’s, convention center and doesn’t go to old town or the airport.
    Lots of twists and turns, so it’s really slow.
    Long walks to the casinos, alongside the parking garages in some cases, so bar hopping isn’t real fun either.
    The private operator declared bankrupcy this Jan, and are operating under chapter 11, reorg.
    Other than that, it was pretty nice!

  8. I’m still getting dead silence from Metro on trying to get any route revisions for the island formally known as South Park.

    Am I required to volunteer for a winning candidate in an open-seat race in order to get even a small route adjustment?

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