King Street Station Hub, photo by Steven De Vight

Yesterday, the FTA announced winners of two competitive federal grant programs, the Urban Circulator program, and the Bus and Bus Livability program.  The City of Seattle won $2.4 million in grants of the latter program, which will be aimed at improving King Street Station and the Westlake Hub.  This is all in addition to existing funds and money from Bridging the Gap.

From the FTA’s website:

The City of Seattle will restore the historic King Street Station and improve the Westlake Hub,  creating two intermodal transportation hubs in downtown Seattle that connect rail, bus, streetcar, and pedestrian networks in Seattle’s Center City. Improvements to these two hubs are critical to implementation of Seattle’s Center City Access Strategy to revitalize 10 downtown neighborhoods, fight regional sprawl and build a sustainable economy and community.

Nationwide, a number of recipients will be using the money for streetcar projects and others for existing transit improvements.  Big winners include Cincinnati, New York, and Chicago.  Elsewhere in Washington State, Skagit Transit will get $2.8 million for a park and ride.  In which district?  It just so happens in Mary Margaret Haugen’s, who we know has been the darling of transit advocates.

56 Replies to “Seattle gets $2.4M in Transit Livability Grants”

  1. Ya, a big giant P&R in Haugen’s district. Me thinks that money could be better spent elsewhere.

    Too bad the study phase of the Aloha extension wasn’t underway, because then we would at least have a shot at getting some Fed dollars for the construction phase. Hopefully the Mayor gets on-board soon so we can have a shot at any future Fed dollars. We need to move that project to shovel-ready.

    But the money for KSS is welcome. That station is going to be a gem.

    1. Mary Margaret is retiring after two more sessions.

      Besides, I think it is bad juju for transit activists to take pot shots at each others’ pet projects.

      We have bigger fish to fry, like, um, that automobile tunnel that will not help freight and will accomplish little else besides getting north-end commuters to drive under downtown instead of taking Link, and diverting a billion or two away from basic needs and transit construction.

      1. Don’t forget that this project will also move traffic to surface streets because of the tolling and that we won’t be spending any money on that aspect of the project because that would admit that people hate tolls..

        (and think of it as 3 to 4 billion away from basic needs and citizen mobility ie Walk, Bike, & Ride, and the in city expansion of LINK.)

      2. Your comment confuses me Brent. North-end commuters will decide to drive under downtown instead of taking Link? Remind me again which parts of North Seattle Link serves. Oh that’s right, none until what, like 2020? Now remind me which parts of NW Seattle Link Serves(which is what 99 really serves in N Seattle)? Oh yeah, none until god knows when. And lastly, I don’t how Link is even much of an option for people taking the tunnel.

        This is obviously anecdotal data, but I live in NW Seattle and I drive 99 all the time. I always use it to get to and from the southend (ie Southcenter, Kent, Auburn, Renton, etc.). I-5 is a mess. I don’t see how Link helps me there. You might be able to make an argument for Southcenter, but that would be a very poor argument. And when I take this drive, the majority of people on the road with me are NOT getting off at DT exits. I’m guessing all the folks in N Seattle working in the Southend (aka Boeing) are doing the same as me.

      3. So just make the tunnel a downtown by-pass, if we are stuck with it. I have have alot of problems with this project, but my biggest by far is 13 and 11 lane entrances on the south and north.

      4. Last time I checked there will be no downtown exits. So you just got what you asked for! :)

        Now about this 13-lane monstrosity. I’m not sure I completely understand where 13 lanes are coming from when I look at that Stranger article/picture considering the tunnel is two lanes in each direction. I would be worried about that if that did happen. But considering nothing about this project is set in stone (and the fact that’s a Stranger article), I have a feeling that’s one of many options and they chose to cherry-pick the most “fearful” one it could. Frankly, I don’t see how you could even fit 13 lanes between the port and Qwest/Safeco. But that pic is attributed to WSDOT, so I guess I’ll have to take a look for myself.

      5. NSBill,

        Finally, someone else saying what I’ve been saying about the tunnel. That people currently use the viaduct(and future tunnel) to go THROUGH downtown, not just to get TO downtown. People are freaking out about the lack of exits for the tunnel, but basically it’s going to be the same as it is now.

    2. I totally second that the money spent on the KSS is well spent. It’s a gateway to the city for passenger rail traffic. And we need to expand/promote rail as it’s cost efficient and in a expensive oil future, passenger rail economics (cost to move people over distance/time) are going to look very good.

      1. I am so happy the KSS is being fixed up, I took a cross country train a few years ago from NYC and King Street was the by far the worst and ugliest station on the route, it’s nice to see its going to one of the best soon

    3. Building a 300 car P&R in Burlington is bizarre. The buses that connect Bellingham and Mt. Vernon are already pretty full so serving that lot will require new bus routes. WTA is beginning to cut service–the first route cut was one that connected WWU with the route that serves Burlington/Mt. Vernon. SKAT is maintaining service but they’re a very small operator, so I don’t know what transportation market that P&R is going to serve.

  2. Sherwin, do you know if the money for King Street is in addition to the $30m that’s already been appropriated for all the updates around the station or was this money already included in that amount? If it’s in addition, do you know what it would be used for? I would guess this be a call that would be made by the city of Seattle project manager for the project.

    Any good news on King Street Station makes me happy…thank you for starting my Friday off on a bright note!!

  3. Does anyone know why that bright yellow material is still wrapped around part of the King Street Station clock tower?

    1. It’s protecting some damaged Terra Cotta that will be repaired in this phase of the renovation.

      btw, the ceiling is totally gone in the waiting room, and I hear tell that the cinderblock infill in the balcony openings is going away next week.

      The city is having a hard time identifying funds for the lighting restoration in the waiting room and on the Jackson plaza. Why they don’t do a community fundraiser like the Pike Place floor tiles is beyond me.

      1. Hey King Street Station,
        If I have a group who wants a tour of the waiting area, do you know who I would call? I’m not trying to get them above the waiting area – just where passengers wait and someone to provide or give talking points. Thanks.

      2. Trevina Wang is the city contact for the renovation. She can be reached at 206-684-3072. I’m sure she’s crazy busy, but the more interest they can drum up in the community the better. City government is broke, so if we want KSS to become what we’ve all waited so long for it to become, it’s going to take all of us getting involved.

  4. Skagit Transit will get $2.8 million for a park and ride. In which district? It just so happens in Mary Margaret Haugen’s, who we know has been the darling of transit advocates.

    I was wondering how in the hell you could spend $2.8 million on a parking lot in Mt. Vernon. WSDOT has a page on how the Federal Transit Funds in the Recovery Act are actually being spent:

    Skagit Transit Construct park and ride facility in South Mount Vernon $295,000

    But never mind the facts if you have a chance to bash someone that doesn’t write blank checks for transit.

    1. Bernie,

      It’s uncharacteristic of you to slam Sherwin for believing the FTA’s website rather than the WSDOT one, but I’m not sure these funds are ARRA funds, and therefore wouldn’t be listed on the WSDOT link. And of course, the WSDOT page, dated 6/2 at the moment, hasn’t been updated since FTA announced the new money.

      BTW, the “blank check” you refer to is the authority for local voters to tax themselves. Nothing like hyperbole when you’re slamming someone for not believing the FTA about how much money the FTA is giving out, in favor of an out-of-date WSDOT website.

    2. The WSDOT page refers to the South Mount Vernon P&R, which as Sherwin notes, is an entirely different project from the Chuckanut P&R in Burlington funded by the Livability Grants.

      The South Mount Vernon P&R didn’t cost $295,000, it cost $4.3 million.

  5. If only the streetcar plan included a stop at King Street Station, instead of blacks away.

    1. There will be a stop right outside Union and IDS Stations. Granted, it’s not right outside KSS, but it’s not blocks away either.

    2. And a waterfront street car to go from the IDS Union Street station to the Passenger cruise ship dock!

      If only we had laid tracks, owned quaint but usable street cars, and put in stations and thought about transportation for the thousands of people who arrive to ride cruise ships to Alaska…. Why one could arrive by train, or the airport, then ride LINK to the IDS station catch a street car and be at one’s destination!

      1. Your sarcasm is appropriate, but it hurts my soul. That whole debacle is such a waste.

      2. What’s killing me is that the only thing missing is a BARN to work on the cars. A little track to get there off the main line and we could be up and running. No need for a sophisticated building, just some steel girders, steel siding, lights and maybe a chain haul lift.

        Even if the tracks have to be moved/ripped up for the viaduct whatever project, the train could be running while we wait, and have waited. And at the rate Seattle does anything it could be another 10 years before that happens.

      3. Which could have been incorporated into the sculpture garden, because if memory serves, the garden itself is located above the RR tracks, so there’s atleast 25 or so feet of vertical clearance between the tracks and the lowest point of the park below, thats used for paid parking now… could have made for a nice hidden away carhouse. Theres also that empty parking lot at 2nd and S. main that could easily have a carhouse built on it…

  6. Are there any plans to better integrate Sounder to KSS? It seems a shame to spend all this money making it a Place and then not fully integrate the largest user.

    1. I would like to see the KSS, Sounder, and the Transit Tunnel better integrated, making it easy and safe to transfer from one to another without having to cross any streets.

      1. But how would that be done? Can’t cross active mainline tracks at track level.

        I suppose you could put the streets at-grade, but then there would be an Auto RR xing. However, you could just keep 4th ave at grade until just after Weller St, and before Jackson St. and climb to the elevated portion.
        But then, Terry would have to sell.

      2. I’m not sure I understand what you are proposing. Are you talking about getting Sounder to KSS or getting KSS to the DSTT?

        Personally, I think the best strategy would be to integrate Sounder to KSS if possible and then once demand picks up enough to keep it safe just dig a pedestrian tunnel to the DSTT.

      3. Why does Sounder need to integrate with KSS? Aren’t the street level accesses on S Jackson and the Weller Street bridge the best solution for Sounder riders? I wouldn’t expect that many of them would need to transfer to Amtrak trains.

        Perhaps an underground pedestrian connection to ID Station would be useful.

      4. B/c millions of dollars are being spent making KSS a place but most users won’t have convenient access to it. Most train stations in Europe have multiple shops located inside.

        And you’d need them justify the underground ped tunnel.

  7. @Anc – Sadly, given our checkered history in “transport integration” it seems unlikely to me. This is Seattle – why would we have the streetcar, Sounder and Amtrak all use the same entry to the same station??
    The SLUTram stop atop Westlake station? Not a chance!
    Keep the Flyer stops on 520? Of course not!
    That Cedar River Water leads us the the oddest of decisions, too often.

    1. Give it time, I think all these things will happen someday. We have all the pieces, we just need to put them all together.

  8. What about a Sounder station on the waterfront north of the tunnel portal? Better yet where that pseudo-park is with all the rusty metal objects.

    1. There’s a provisional station at Broad Street included in the plan Sound Transit sent to the voters in 2008. Not sure when or if it would happen.

  9. I would add a ramp off of the Jackson street level of King Street, connecting to 4th Avenue South from over the tracks, and use that as a pull through for buses, with a bus waiting room on that level of the station, and use that for the Thruway stuff (i.e. no Greyhound). This idea of a “plaza” on Jackson sounds nice, but it’s going to turn into a Courthouse Park or Occidental Park if that Jackson Level office space stays empty.

    1. It’ll have a restaurant and/or some kinds of shops there, plus lots of people walking through it to go down the stairs to the station, so it’ll end up having plenty of people in it. Occidental Park is a bad example, it’s pretty vibrant a lot of the time.

      1. As far as I know they are not planning on developing the 2nd and 3rd stories of the building – they are just making them “code ready” for future development.

        There will be an elevator put in between all three floors, so maybe that will be open for people coming in from Jackson Street, but I think it will continue to be a relatively deserted part of the station. That’s what worries me.

      2. I think they’re planning to have it be office space. I think it’d be awesome if ST put some offices in there too. Wouldn’t that be cool for ST to have its offices in the city’s two historic train stations?

      3. With the glut of available office and retail space downtown, government offices are probably the most likely tenant – particularly since it’s now a government facility.

      4. Get the traffic through there and the shops will come. Coffee/news stand, florist, mini mart, donner shop, etc.

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