(Via Gutierrez)

I’d like to say a nice word about Mayor Mike McGinn. He hasn’t gotten anything like all he wanted on this project, but had he not raised a big stink and hired consultants left and right, WSDOT would not have made the simple fixes to the spans that would allow light rail in the future, should we ever want it. Good for him.

The production values of these videos continue to increase, even as the traffic level remains utterly ridiculous.

129 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: SR520”

      1. Yeah, El Quetsal is an excellent authentic taqueria—although we found out the hard way last weekend that basically the entire block on which it is located is closed on Sundays. To the north, Baja Bistro is another very good (relatively upscale) Mexican joint with homemade tortillas, cocktails, and espresso drinks. There are a few other Mexican and Asian cheap eats along Beacon, but I’ve never tried any or heard too much about them.

        Other than that, there’s a very nice looking public library to the north, and Jefferson Park and Jefferson Golf Course to the south (and the Red Apple supermarket is directly across the street from the station). There’s some more stuff on Rainier Avenue 8 or 9 blocks to the east—in particular, Mutual Fish has some of the freshest fish in town at some of the best prices in town—but then you’re actually as close or closer to Mt. Baker station.

        In short, it’s pretty residential at the moment, although I assume once the economy turns around the station-area upzoning will bring some more attractions.

      2. Thanks! It’s one of the places ‘on the list’ for when I get out of the Army and move back. I want somewhere near Link and that won’t cost me my second born son (first is already sold :p).

        Gonna just get off the train and start walking and see what I see. Trying to find some destinations to be points on the cloverleaf.

      3. No worries. Definitely a neighborhood in transition, with lots of economic and ethnic diversity.

        Now that I think about it, Beacon Hill Blog did a series on things to do around all the Central Link stations last summer. Just poked around their site, but didn’t see a central resource on their page anymore. A little creative searching should turn up some posts, though. (And I think STB either linked to the posts or ran them as guest posts—dig around the STB archives in the two or three weeks before Link opened last summer.)

  1. As you fly through the lid at Montlake going eastbound, you’ll see five lanes, plus lots of shoulders, and you’ll notice that there is no Montlake Flyer station. Westbound it looks more like six lanes once the HOV exit plus two general purpose lanes exit, but no Montlake Flyer station.

    It will be a significant failure for our region’s transit network if the highway is built through Montlake without retaining the Montlake Flyer Transit Stops.

    Montlake is an excellent transfer point for high frequency north-south service – both the 43/44 and 48 provide 15 minute all-day frequency, plus the 25. As Jarrett Walker said at his talk last week – frequency and transfers are two pillars of a well-designed transit network. If the only access to Montlake & U-District is via a dedicated bus route, this area will be relegate to hourly service to the Eastside on evenings and weekends, when instead if the service were consolidated to downtown during non-peak periods it might allow for 15 minute frequences evenings and weekends with the transfer at Montlake – which will serve more riders better.

    Truncating the Eastside routes evenings and weekends at Montlake with transfers to Link at Husky stadium is a slow, indirect solution with an inadequate transfer at Husky stadium, subject to traffic delays and bridge openings on weekends.

    The Montlake Flyer Transit Stop has served millions of riders over the last forty years. The freeway is being widened to effectively 10-12 lanes through Montlake. Transit riders deserve a portion of that width to continue to be able to transfer here. And our region’s transit NETWORK will be far better served by retaining the transfer possibility enabled by the Montlake Flyer Station. Our transit agencies should be demanding this from WSDOT.

    1. Well… there is the functional equivalent of the montlake flyer stop here, it’s just on the top of the lid instead of the bottom. This might be better, we know people are more likely to use at-grade stops then grade-separated stops (plus, this way people waiting at the stop have a better experience instead of cars always going by). The drawback is that the busses will have to pass through that traffic light right after the stop, but if you have transit priority for the light it really wouldn’t add that much time to the trip.

      1. With the current WSDOT design there is no way for a route like MT255 or ST545 to provide a Montlake stop while continuing to downtown Seattle. The ONLY Montlake access is via dedicated routes equivalent to ST540.

        Requiring separate routes forces the transit network to be more complicated and lower frequency than a network with fewer routes, having higher frequency and transfers.

        The ST540 used to run later in the evenings and on weekends. Ridership was insufficient and weekend service was canceled, and on weekdays it is hourly after 7pm and last strip is at 9pm. But riders still have the 255 on weekends and evenings. With the current WSDOT design, the transit agencies will be forced to run a route like ST540 even at times when demand is low – but it will probaly end up being an hourly route that ends early – when instead it would make a better route network to have higher 255 frequency and an easy transfer.

      2. Are you certain about that? It looks like the 2-way HOV street has thru access back onto the express lanes at Montlake (see 4:30 to 4:42 in the video). Sure, it’s a bit off-access, but that’s a controlled intersection, and couldn’t it allow for bus access back onto 520?

      3. *sigh* Homophones are playing tricks on me. I meant “off-axis,” not “off-access.”

      4. My understanding of the way that HOV exit is configured, and the way the intersections will be signalized, is that the HOV exit roadway only connects to/from the North, and that it will not be designed to make it possible to operate bus routes like the 255 and 545 via this stop, even at off-peak times.

      5. That sounds really silly, given that the roads look like they are built in such a way as to trivially allow access other places than just the north.

        Even if that’s the case, it’s a really easy problem to fix. Just adding one additional signal stage is nothing in the overall cost of the project.

      6. To be fair, it’s two stages. 1) Straight and right turns: HOV thru, WB HOV to NB Montlake Blvd, and EB HOV to SB Montlake Blvd; 2) Left turns: EB HOV to NB Montlake Blvd and WB HOV to SB Montlake Blvd.

      7. My expectation is that programming the signal cycles here will be complicated as there is a high volume of traffic and complex turn patterns, and there are multiple signals that need to coordinated and programmed as a system at Roanoke/24th (near the Hop-In market), then 24th/LakeWashBlvd/520-Eastbound ramps, then the HOV roadway, westbound onrapmp and westbound offramp. There are a lot of turn patterns and volume of traffic.

        When I have asked WSDOT about it, they have said that Metro and ST have stated that the Montlake station and through service was not necessary, and that the exlusive HOV ramps are designed for service to/from the University District.

        I would not assume that the signals and roadways will be designed to allow for the turns needed for a westbound bus to re-enter the freeway.

      8. While it may be harder to route, whats preventing a bus from (for WB to Seattle) turning left onto 24th from the HOV ramp, then right onto Lk WA blvd and right onto montlake and left onto 520 again. Or EB off from Seattle, straight down Lk WA, left on 24th and right onto the HOV ramps? Obviously not something that should be done during rush hour, but during late evenings/non-event weekends traffic should be light enough for something like that, and express lane HOV access wouldn’t be required either.

      9. One thing I noticed that seems very odd is the kink in the HOV roadway on the Montlake lid just west of the direct-access HOV ramps. Why not just run in a straight line to 24th NE or with a large radius curve?

  2. So I’m no rocket scientist but does it take one to observe that going from 5 lanes to 3 (2+1) under a lid and in a short span is a recipe for gridlock?

    1. The 2 on ramp lanes will likely be metered during peak hours to control the flow of traffic on to the bridge, as it currently is now. Those 2 lanes will store a lot of cars to reduce traffic backing up on to Montlake. The extra added lane for a short while is for accelerating and merging. Since there’s no more Arboretum on ramp, I don’t have worry about additional merging cars.

  3. I haven’t been following 520 much, so a couple of questions:

    1) What are those things that look like beer kegs underneath the Montlake lid?
    2) What’s the point of having two exit lanes from NB I-5 if it just funnels down to one lane that merges on to 520?
    3) Is that a dedicated HOV ramp at Lake Washington Boulevard? Wouldn’t that do essentially the same thing as the flyer stops (except for adding a few extra minutes getting off the ramp and getting back on)?

    1. 1) Ventilation fans
      2) Reduce the need for vehicles to merge into a single exit lane for 520 which would slow down traffic on I-5 by moving the merge point off the mainline. Of course if 520 is jammed everything breaks down anyway.
      3) Yes, there’s a dedicated HOV ramp but to and from the east only. I can see how it might be possible for buses to get back on the west side.

      1. Indeed, the Gulf-coast built “Island Home” which is the same design cost over 50% less and did not have this issue.

      2. The Chetzemoka (Kwa-di Tabil-class) has some significant design changes relative to the Island Home. Some changes WSF made include:
        Insertion of a mid-body “plug” to lengthen the ship and expand car capacity from 57 to 64 cars, as well as provide greater operational margin;
        Lack of the movable decks because they’re really not useful in WSF-style operations (they left provision for them in the future);
        A “pickle-fork” bow design similar to other ferries here (Island Home has an enclosed bow design);
        Changes to the heating and cooling systems, we have a much milder climate.
        Addition of safety and rescue equipment that WSF carries on all it’s ships for a variety of reasons.

        These changes all add up and can be quite expensive. What really drove the price up though is the ridiculously short timeframe to build the ship. If they had allowed a more normal build time, then the price would’ve been much closer to what the Island Home cost, even accounting for the design changes and Todd’s somewhat higher costs.

        As for the vibration issue, remember that the Jumbo Mk IIs (Tacoma, Wenatchee, and Puyallup) had a similar vibration issue when they first entered service. It took a bit of time and some work to correct. Puyallup never had the problem because they were able to fix the design before they launched it. Let’s see how they deal with Chetzemoka’s vibration issue before passing judgement, okay? Besides, there are plenty of other design issues with these ships that are much more significant (the car deck layout, and the engine selection and drive systems, for example).

    1. Strangely-worded part of that article:

      “Still ahead is training for the crew, which also must pass Coast Guard inspection.”

      Makes it sound like Todd Shipyards built a crew, too!

    2. From a letter to the editor of “The Martha’s Vineyard Times” Dec. 20. 2007.

      …We sat in standby for several hours and then became victims not of Island Home’s finicky generator, its shipyard, its designers, or its mechanics, but of the Steamship Authority management’s failure to provide a back-up boat, even though this vessel’s unpredictable performance is well known. We were also inconvenienced when Island Home’s generator failed for the 7 am run a week earlier when we had to be in Falmouth for a medical test…

  4. What software do they use to create these videos? The level of detail, down to the correct King County Metro and Sound Transit bus colors, is impressive.

    Where did the music come from?

    1. Before light rail can run on 520, a new non-bascule bridge would have to be built, presumably from UW Station. Plus, more floating blocks would have to be inserted under 520 to make it able to support the weight of LRTs. These are the other two elements of light-rail readiness that the mayor’s consultant study identified.

      The rail line would then take over the HOV lanes.

    2. They designed in an extra space between the WB and EB lanes just east of the Montlake interchange so that a guideway from UW Station could come down into the middle of the freeway and run on the center HOV lanes. But as Brent says, there are other things that need to be done before LRT can run on it, too. At least we now have the ability to run LRT on it in the future, whereas without that gap between the WB and EB lanes it would be much harder to do so.

      1. so thats “accommodates future light rail”?!? wow.

        thats sort of like saying the DSTT accommodates future HSR service

      2. Ummmm not at all. Right now they have absolutely no money to build light rail over 520, but they know that we’ll almost certainly want it sometime so they made it possible to build it. What did you want them to do, put in tracks that wouldn’t be used for years like with DSTT, making it harder for them to put in light rail if they wanted to do it to a different specification than they put it in now?

      3. i’m not saying tracks laid but at least build the bridge with the right number of floating blocks and other such improvements. its not just the physical requirements for LRT but also the political ones at I-90 shows.

      4. That would cost probably $200-300 million just for the extra pontoons necessary to support light rail, and there’s zero chance light rail crosses 520 in the next 15 years. And besides, we don’t even know if we want light rail over 520. Nobody has done any kind of detailed route analysis at all, so for all we know a Sand Point-Kirkland alignment might be better, or it might not (I’m just throwing that out as an example). Nobody knows, and that’s the problem. Allowing for the possibility of light rail on 520 is prudent (and it is good McGinn went to bat for that), but spending hundreds of millions of dollars that we might never take advantage of is silly, especially since the state isn’t exactly awash in cash.

        If you want to talk about political requirements, how much do you want to bet the Points Communities go nuts at the thought of light rail through their towns? I don’t want to have that fight if I don’t have to, and if I have to I want to have the route studies that show it is the best idea.

      5. The only way rail will ever cross 520 is if we build a proper bridge where there is an upper and lower deck. Can’t get there with a floating (until it’s not) structure. There are only six lanes. That’s existing capacity plus HOV. Losing any of those lanes; not going to happen. Anyone serious about light rail and forward thinking investment would be saying no bridge unless it’s a real bridge. Core of Engineers temporary invasion structures don’t count.

      6. Disagree. The problem isn’t the bridge. The problem is a lack of destinations worthy of rail east of the bridge.

      7. No, we don’t know if light rail will happen over 520. But we do know buses use 520 now, and that we want those buses to have quick, dependable access to UW Station.

        It will be much more expensive to build the transit high bridge to Husky Stadium later than to build it now. 520 does have a funding supply that makes it happen the same way the rest of 520 will happen: future tolls.

        I guess it bears pointing out that WSDOT is still $2 billion short in the financing plan for 520, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping them.

      8. I think (hope) that the Union Bay Bridge idea was deemed too ugly to ever see the light of day. The Montlake Bridge has four lanes. Make two of them HOV/Transit only. The way to improve the quality of life in Montlake and the UW campus is to reduce the number of vehicles. We have ample capacity to move enough people through the corridor. We just have to be smart about using it.

  5. Is there really a need for this replacement bridge, or did they gather a group of highway engineers together and ask them if there is a need? Thats how it is down on the OR/WA border with the Columbia River Crossing. Why do highway bridges apparently have so little life spans? There are plenty of local road bridges (like over the Ship Canal) and railroad bridges that are much older and have no plans for replacement.

    Theres an interesting project outside NYC, the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. The new bridge will have just about the same road capacity. The planners made a conscious decision with this bridge that if they try to build their way out of congestion it will still be clogged with traffic. So they are building the bridge knowing that it will be congested with traffic from the day it opens (I think they said it would be at category ‘F’ or something like that). But they are adding dedicated bus lanes (for cross-region service) and Metro North rail service (for Manhattan bound service) as quality options in the corridor.

    Presentation with audio about the project…
    May 7 – Tappan Zee Bridge – I 287 Corridor Project. A Bridge to the Next Century – Michael Anderson, NYSDOT -***Stream***

    1. Floating bridges are very different than more traditional bridges. They are in constant contact with the environment (water) and that is really hard on the materials. Especially with old structures which have rebar that corrodes, or cement that isn’t water resistant. Throw in old and inadequate structural design standards and you certainly have to replace it.

    2. Based purely on my personal experience driving across the bridge and watching the state keep it bound together seemingly with duct tape and chewing gum I’d respond with an emphatic “Yes”. Driving a bus across that span in a windstorm is a *much* scarier experience than driving across I-90 because of the rock and roll caused by the waves. Then there are the dangers caused by failing equipment, like the draw span that magically raised during a morning commute and killed a driver, it’s a pretty easy decision to make. (I commuted to work in Redmond from Seattle that morning and missed that drawspan by a matter of minutes. Scary thought to say the least. Oh, and then there’s the hollow columns holding up the non-floating sections. But hey, what are the chances we’re going to have a big Earthquake in the area anytime soon? Oh wait…

  6. Does anyone happen to know if ORCA youth cards actually expire upon the registered users 19th birthday? My oldest son turned 19 and got an adult ORCA card, but still has his youth one as well (which is still showing up on his account on the ORCA website). Is it possible to load more money on it and let his younger brother use it?

    1. No, the card is registered with his birthday on it. You did not need to buy a new card as his old card would automatically convert to an adult card. I don’t think there’s a way to re-register the card under a new name. From the ORCA Privacy Statement:

      4.0 Information Related to ORCA Card Issuance and Optional Registration

      4.1 When an ORCA Card is first issued, issuance information is created both in the ORCA central system and in the card’s electronic memory. This issuance information includes: the card’s serial number; the type of card; for a youth card, the qualifying date of birth to enable automatic conversion to adult card upon the expiration of youth status upon end of qualifying age;

      1. Except it doesn’t appear to have converted to an adult card…It’s still showing up on his account as a youth card, even though he turned 19 in May.

    2. Simply get an adult card and set it up as a monthly pass with a value of .75 cents. Yes, ORCA, idiotically, will allow passengers to do this. So one should take full advantage of this, as they are almost begging people to scam their system. If questioned, have your now adult son simply explain to the driver that he’s a youth. The driver is instructed to drop the matter for fear of a fare dispute.

      1. … and then push the fare non-payment button if we are relatively sure they aren’t youth. Sound Transit *can*, in theory, match up reoccurring non-payment with a particular card and block that card. That said, I sincerely doubt we will see this any time soon.

        I get a few of these from time to time – so far it’s just noise. Frankly, I’m pleasantly surprised with how little ORCA “scamming” I’ve seen. Well over 95% of the passengers I have with ORCA seem to be paying the correct fare. For the remaining 5%, the explanations at least sound plausible – just one driver’s gut feel, take it for what it’s worth. Most of the non and underpayment I deal with are with paper transfers and the old, “Hey man, I just got out of Jail” trick…

      2. Also, you could not get an ORCA card and tell the driver you don’t have any money to pay, and if they feel like it wouldn’t be a good idea to argue with you they will let you on for free. You can always scam any system if you don’t follow its rules, so we shouldn’t say a system is bad because you can scam it by breaking the law.

  7. One issue I see is the two lanes that exit for 520 from NB I-5 go to 1 lane before merging instead of the two merging in with the SB I-5 ramp. This is a recipie for gridlock as I don’t believe SB I-5 ramp is heavily used during rush hour.

    1. On your first point, the existing interchange is like that. As for the second, the SB ramp certainly is congested in the morning rush hour. The bottleneck is the bridge, not the interchange, and I don’t think that will change under this desing.

  8. Martin: yes, McGinn got the state to shift the design in a positive direction.

    Carl is also correct: Jarrett Walker was critical of the design in that it still deletes the Montlake freeway stops. The state is insisting that SR-520 have six through lanes, even though a significant portion of the traffic is oriented to and from the east at Montlake. the criticism is valid.
    ST and Metro officials agreed to losing the Montlake freeway stops IF there was sufficient service subsidy to make the Evergreen Point freeway stops work well. but as other posters have noted, without the additional service subsidy, off-peak waits for transfers will be long and inconvenient. The state needs all its toll revenues to pay for its mega project, so they have not agreed to subsidize transit service with tolls. ST2 is building east link and Route 542 will be a part-time route.

    perhaps the state should consider yet another Montlake design. the middle two lanes could be transit only for ramps to and from Montlake Boulevard. the middle two lanes could rise up to a signalized intersection with Montlake Boulevard. the Montlake freeway stops could be just east of Montlake Boulevard cantilevered over the general purpose lanes. this would require the state compromise on the six lane requirement. HOV traffic would have to merge out to the outside general purpose lanes. both the downtown Seattle and U District oriented routes would use the new transit interchange.

    Montlake seems the correct place for the interchange and transfer point as long as the agencies intend to have frequent service oriented to and from downtown Seattle (e.g., routes 255 and 545). Routes 43 and 48 provide pretty frequent north-south service.

    1. Sounds like ST and Metro gave up the Montlake Freeway stops and did NOT get the transit service subsidy from tolls.

      Does your comment about Evergreen Point mean that the transit planners expect off-peak riders from Montlake/U-Dist to Redmond or Kirkland to take the 271 to Evergreen Pt and then transfer to 255 or 545 (and vice-versa)? 271 – hourly on Sundays and after 8pm weekdays.

    2. Even with reasonably smoothe pickups and dropoffs at the Montlake Lid, there will be significant wait time for transfers. People will just want a one-seat ride to UW.

      So, we’ll have two sets of routes going between the north eastside and Seattle: routes going to UW, and routes going downtown. The downtown routes are essentially duplicate-head with U-Link, and much slower than U-Link. The only thing keeping them competitive and in existence is the several minutes it will take buses getting off at Montlake to crawl to UW Station, and the occasional long wait at the bascule bridge.

      The high bridge that WSDOT ought to be building of they were serious about building 520 right would virtually eliminate the crawl time to UW Station, eliminate any reason for buses to head downtown via 520, and thereby more than double the frequency of bus routes that will get north eastside riders to both UW and downtown.

  9. Tri-Met in Portland has a new Bike & Ride with 74 secure bike parking spots in the space of 8 car spots. The racks are in a locked cage with video surveillance, similar to the Bike Port near Pioneer Square. There is a nominal fee, which sort of grates on me since cars park for “free”. However, the fee is mainly to discourage use of the racks for long-term storage so I could live with it. Especially if the fees encouraged Metro/ST to create some of these here. I’d sign up for parking like this at Mercer Island or South Bellevue in a heartbeat, any other Park & Ride’s where people think this might work? Redmond seems like a natural – BTC already has it – without the fees.

    1. A few of the car parking spaces closest to the platform at Sunset Transit Center do require payment, but you’re right that most of it is “free”. In Seattle I’d also like to see Bike and Ride at a lot of Link Stations. Husky Stadium will be an obvious one since it’s very close to the Burke-Gilman.

    2. However, Tri-Met really ought to be charging auto-parkers at least a modest fee for that rather large car-park.

    3. Do the cars get a cage and video cameras? If not, then the fee could be seen as a fee for extra services.

  10. The lack of a high bridge as a transit exit to Husky Stadium is a serious deficiency, not just for the possibility of light rail, but for the nondependability and slower travel time resulting from sending buses over the bascule bridge and having to navigate the Montlake Mess general traffic. The failure to consolidate bus routes into all going to UW Station quickly and dependably, with a two-minute wait and six-minute ride to downtown, is a blown opportunity ST should be pushing hard against. ST ought to be offering to go in half-and-half to get WSDOT to build the high bridge.

    The Seattle City Council isn’t just letting us down over the tunnel. They are blowing this opportunity to build 520 to be transit-friendly. I wish they would start listening.

    1. That would cost probably hundreds of millions of dollars at least, so while it’s a good idea, it’ll have to wait until anyone has any extra money.

  11. Those wide, high-radius turns (soft curves) at the 10th & Delmar intersection (2:21) are terribly more car-centric than what we already have. Hopefully that will be tidied up if they want to make those green spaces at all safe and attractive for pedestrians. Not to mention, that is a major thoroughfare for bikers travelling between Capitol Hill and University Bridge.

    1. True statement, archie. The existing intersection is already frightening as a pedestrian and cyclist.

  12. So what’s the westbound “managed shoulder” across Portage Bay for? This section is not a bottleneck. And it looks like there is an exit from a managed shoulder to Montlake as well, are we getting a 7 lane bridge now?

    1. Yeah it would be a lot nicer to have a bike path along the Portage Bay Bridge instead of a pointless extra lane.

      1. To Capitol Hill. As it is, you would have to bike up the long and windy Interlaken Blvd to get from the path to Capitol Hill, while a path along the Portage Bay Bridge could end at 10th & Roanoke and you could shoot up 10th.

      2. Get off at Montlake and ride through the Arboretum. If those ramps aren’t closed and that cut through route shut off then the 520 rebuild is a failure. Add decent bike lanes to Madison and done.

      3. Don’t forget you could connect to Eastlake via Roanoke. The neighborhoods would probably scream bloody murder if you put bike lanes in there but I’m sure something could be figured out for those 2 or 3 blocks.

        Bernie, you’re too used to being treated like a 2nd class citizen because you ride a bike. You need to ask for a little more. Extending the bike path along the Portage bay section would be an added cost, but since it’s only for bikes & Peds, it wouldn’t be terribly expensive.

      4. I’d just rather push for a low traffic bike route through the Arboritum and bike lanes on Madison. Riding along side the freeway on I-90 isn’t very pleasant. If it connected all the way through to Eastlake I might be more excited about it. Of course “low traffic bike route through the Arboritum” means eliminating the on off ramps to/through the park. I’d also like to see improvements to the bike route around the north side of Portage Bay connecting Montlake with Gas Works. The Burke Gillman through there is pretty cut up by major intersections and it’s very pedestrian heavy. Maybe a new cycle path along Boat Street? The Portage Bay Bridge would end up being a good 8′ wider just to put in a 6′ bike path (bike lane plus extra Jersey barrier. And I don’t think current standards even allow for a bike path that narrow so it would be more like 10-14′ wider meaning at some point there will be pressure to re-stripe and use that space to squeeze in an extra lane.

    2. I think it’s mainly a break down lane so that a stalled car can pull over and not back up the entire bridge. It also provides access for emergency vehicles when there’s an accident.

  13. I just got my Primary Voter’s Pamphlet (when can we expect STB’s endorsements?). I can’t believe Frank Chopp is STILL getting the same token Republican opposition he got two years ago, and nothing from leftists who think he’s too much of a BIAW sellout. I may try to see if there’s a write-in candidate I can vote for…

    1. The thing is, even if we disagree with a lot of the things he does, being the Speaker he gets so many benefits for our district that we keep voting him in. I think the best thing to do would be to convince him to be more transit-friendly.

  14. Can anyone elaborate on what the ‘second bascule bridge’ means at the current Montlake Bridge?

    Does this impact the current historic Montlake Bridge or make Montlake Blvd even more of a traffic sewer?

    1. Definitely way more of a traffic sewer. Current bridge won’t be affected except of course the view of it from one side will be gone and the cut will start to look like an industrial area. Several homes will be destroyed and the ones that remain significantly impacted. Basically, the neighborhood is toast.

      1. Once U-link is completed, the Montlake neighborhood should be transformed to highrises, or else the Link will forever be underutilized. So yeah, the neighborhood is toast.

      2. Would require walking across the Montlake Bridge, which could be harrowing, and possibly across 520 as well, which is less so but still inconvenient. There’s not much developable area in the station’s walkshed anyway. UW station’s biggest future will always be as a “node” in the transit network (and to serve UW students of course), which is why it’s so important to get the access across Montlake and to campus right.

      3. walking across the Montlake Bridge, which could be harrowing

        Why? There’s a wide sidewalk and for the most part bicyclists are pretty good about sharing. I guess maybe if you’re afraid of heights…

    1. This is an exciting project, the Transbay Terminal is straight up scary sometimes.

  15. There needs to be a light-rail route starting in Ballard through Freemont and UW Station, and then swerve to the right to cross the 520 bridge. Then the line needs to make a hard right through Medina and intersect the East Link in Downtown Bellevue and have its terminus in Issaquah. This second Lk.Wash. LRT crossing should be running as soon as the replacement 520 bridge is completed.

      1. Yeah, I’m sure Medina will be super positive about a rail line from Ballard to Issaquah running through town. Besides, the bridge is only six lanes and HOV lanes are about a 1000 times more useful than light rail would be. Not to mention several billion dollars cheaper; billions nobody has right now.

      2. Once we get the money and install light rail on the 520 bridge (something that I admit probably won’t happen for many years) that light rail will almost certainly carry far more people each day than the HOV lane, even with all its buses and carpools.

      3. It doesn’t have to make a hard right in Medina. It could use Bellevue Way instead. Or it could serve S. Kirkland P&R, then BN ROW south, and then a common section on East Link route through Bellevue and then turn left just past S. Bellevue P&R, with a stop at Factoria, then Eastgate/BCC and on to Issaquah.

      4. S. Kirkland P&R, BNSF ROW to SE 8th, transfer station at Hospital, from SE 8th, Lake Hills Blvd to Richards Road and Factoria or Eastgate, then east along I-90 or Newport Drive. Next stop, Issaquah TC, then Newport/Sunset, downtown Issaquah stop, then Issaquah Highland P&R. In the future, extend north through Sammamish and meet up with East Link again at the SE Redmond station and MF.

      5. Issaquah to Seattle via SR-520 and Redmond to Seattle via I-90 and split East Link ridership in half.

      6. Bernie,
        Not really since the endpoints are rather different and you serve a much wider area. The nice thing is such a line can be built in stages. First you do S. Bellevue to Issaquah via Eastgate. Then you do Ballard to UW. Then if demand is there you can link the two lines via 520 (and East Link). Perhaps by then there will be a Burien-TIB-Southcenter-Longacres-Renton-Factoria-Bellevue-Kirkland-Totem Lake line as well to provide additional riders and destinations.

    1. Medina eh? I think there are enough “powerful” people there that that is not likely to happen. But if you want to tell Bill Gates that we’re going to run a LRV down his street, be my guest.

      I’d like to see it make a hard left at 405 and go up towards totem lake area.

      1. Not necessary. I now work in Totem Lake. The TC is a good 15 minute walk for most of the jobs. Demand isn’t even close to levels required to support light rail and even though Kirkland has designated this as a grow zone and is annexing a big chunk there’s nothing envisioned in the next 20+ years that would create anything close to DT Bellevue; they have their own DT to think about first. And if you put in a light rail station you totally screw the bus connections from North King and Snohomish County.

        FWIW I found out recently that Curt Triplett is the new City Manager for City of Kirkland. I think they scored big time landing him to that job. One of his big challenges is redevelopment of Totem Lake Mall. This development will be in direct competition to areas like Bel-Red and Factoria/Wilburton. It’s further out but land is cheaper. The classic answer is autocentric development. But Kirkland has proven to be more forward thinking than Bellevue and I think Mr. Triplett is a great fit for that. It’s going to be a tough sell but bus service paired with smart residential redevelopment is key.

      2. I was thinking in terms of reducing the congestion on that corridor. I know there’s a sizable hospital up that way and some office complexes as well as all the bedroom communities adjacent to 405. Maybe this is a case of “if you build it they will come” in terms of spurring the kind of dense development that modern cities should have.

        That mall has seen better days. I remember driving there back in the day because it had the area’s only computer specialty box store. Long before Fry’s or Computer City (Kent).

      3. Excellent opportunity to increase utilization of the 535 here and hopefully get to 15 minute or less headways. I also see some potential there for a few relatively small bike lane projects to connect up the existing bike lanes and make it really easy to get around by bike. That said, I don’t know the area too well – I’m just armchair quarterbacking with Google Maps with “cycling” turned on :)

      4. One really big “bike lane” project, the BNSF ROW. I ride up to work from the south (reverse commute). !32nd is pretty darn good (at least once you get north of the Bellevue City Limit sign) but there are a few places where the bike lane north bound is missing in action. There’s also Slater which works great going southbound for most of the stretch. West of 405 there is no north/south connection until the BNSF trail is completed. Going north east of 405 isn’t bad except right around the 124th exit. I rode out to Woodinville Friday. You’ve got lots of choices through Kingsgate. Again the west side of 405 is lacking.

      5. I think a better idea for a 520 light rail line is to turn toward Bellevue on the old BNSF ROW. Have it join with East Link where that line joins the BNSF ROW from the Bel-Red corridor. Have it split from East-Link again at S. Bellevue P&R and head out to Factoria, Eastgate, and Issaquah.

        On the other end the line should continue through the U-District on to Ballard (via Wallingford or Freemont or both).

        Sure a lot of potential trips wouldn’t be one-seat rides, but people around here need to get over their fear of transfers especially for rail to rail.

  16. the most disturbing thing about this that i can tell from the video, is that THEY PLAN ON TEARING DOWN HALF THE CITY AND REPLACING IT WITH TREES!!!

  17. $15.5 million for the 103,442-square-foot Pike Plaza commercial building and parking garage

    Target provides cheap stuff at a low price by keeping costs down. This doesn’t seem to fit the mold. When I think DT Seattle shopping I think high end crap you can’t find anywhere else. DT Bellevue has tried to compete (and done reasonable well) but DT Seattle trying to draw in the Lynnwood crowd? Yes, there are a lot of people in Seattle living on budgets that don’t allow shopping for sheets at Macy’s but there are also a lot of really good inexpensive but really good place to shop in Seattle.

    “This will be a great addition to the downtown retail environment and will undoubtedly enhance its position as a 24-hour city,”

    huh? Target didn’t exactly make DT Woodinville a 24 hour city, ditto Redmond/Bear Creek.

    The site is close to the Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Hall, Pike Place Market and the University Street light rail station.

    And that’s the “target” market for Target?? Sorry, I just don’t see SAM donors making trips at 3 AM to the DT Seattle Target store. My biggest question, will this be the very first Target with valet parking?

    1. Downtowns traditionally always had a 5-and-dime store (infact several), it was one of the key ingredients to a retail core. They have been missing for about 15 years since the Woolworths chain closed. Target is just a modern day and bigger 5-and-dime, just as its competitor K-Mart grew out of the 5-and-dime Kresge’s.

      Last I checked SAM donors use items like toothpaste, DVDs and clothes hangers, you can’t exactly buy those items at Gucci.

      As for parking I saw in some article that there will be 250 spaces included with the deal. Definitely above typical urban retail (~1 space/1000 sq ft) but below typical suburban retail (~3.3 spaces/1000 sq ft)… this Target location at 103,000 sq ft works out to 2.4 spaces/1000 sq ft (assuming my math is correct). I cant imagine too many suburbanites or urban residents conjoined to their car shopping here, they will continue to travel to suburban Target stores with free abundant oceans of parking as far as the eye can see. These people will come here and complain about traffic, parking (even if its free because theyll have to open their window and press a button to get a ticket) and that its in a dark garage with a finite supply of parking. This store is clearly intended for die hard urbanite residents, office workers, tourists and transit riders. I have to believe the parking situation comes from the fact its an existing building built 20 years ago and that Target, being very much a suburban oriented retailer, has teams of location scouts all wedded to their suburban model requirements.

    2. This appears to be a national trend for this company of building urban stores. And they have plenty of experience at it starting with their home town of Minneapolis.

      They’ve just opened a new store about 2 miles from where I live in Chicago on a major transit corridor. It is about 1.5 blocks from a Red Line L station and has bus stops for 3 routes within 2 blocks. When I visited yesterday, the store was quite crowded and while the site has parking, it appears that significant numbers of people had arrived without car.

      This store is in addition to the store Target opened in the South Loop area just south of downtown in the cities newest high density development area.

      1. Well, I see the just openned a store in East Harlem too.

        “This is the (company’s) largest single investment on any single project,” John Griffith, executive vice president of property development for Target Corp., said during a press tour Wednesday.

        The urban stores are downsized from the cookie cutter suburban model (except NY). Looks like they intend on making each one unique to the demands of the neighborhood. Low mark up grocery type items are a draw just to bring people into the store. Target does well on cloths, linens and decor. I’m a bit surprised they’d locate so far from the retail core nearer to Westlake or out in more of a neighborhood like Belltown or the ID (East Harlem isn’t Midtown). But I guess there’s enough condos in the DT core to have enough people within walking distance (more than Westlake?). Target and other discount retailers like Wal-Mart have benefited by the down economy. I wonder how well the model will work when things recover. Does Target move up scale and go toe to toe with Macy’s when rents in DT start to soar?

      2. An issue with downtown Seattle would be to find a suitable site anywhere near Westlake or in the ID. Except for the wedge of parking lots on the West edge of the Denny Triangle there really isn’t a good spot for a large retail space in Belltown either.

        The Newmark has a large amount of office-retail space in its base and it really hasn’t been all that well utilized since the mall thing with the movie theater they had when it opened didn’t really work out.

        Besides it is right between the retail core and Pike Place Market which aren’t all that far apart.

    3. More to the point, people living in central Seattle need things that supermarkets and drugstores don’t have. Right now our only choices are Fred Meyer in Ballard, Lake City, or Renton, or Target in Northgate. Actually, that’s fine with me, I’ve been living with it for 25 years, and I only go to those places a few times a year. It’s amazing what you can learn to live without when there aren’t any department stores (as we used to call the big-box stores) nearby.

      1. In this case, I don’t think you would need to be a “precision driver.” It looks like the wheels of the bus would be situated on the outside of a guardrail on either side of the roadway, so no chance of a car crashing into a bus.

      2. “…the wheels of the bus would be situated on the outside of a guardrail on either side of the roadway, so no chance of a car crashing into a bus”

        Because cars never crash through a guardrail? Based on that picture, I’m not seeing anything strong enough to keep the cars away from the bus “wheels”. Never mind the fact that the vehicle in the picture would have a hell of a time navigating *any* sort of turn – You’ll need a lot of articulated sections to make that work.

    1. given that an old lady’s burning car in a drive thru caused $1 million worth of damage to a mcdonalds, i cant see this working, on that issue alone. nevermind the incompetence of most motorists to drive carefully or even to follow a portion of the already relaxed unenforced rules. plus people will just freak out at the concept of driving through a moving tunnel, just look at all the accidents you see in stationary tunnels.

    1. I almost took that train Sunday but I opted for the last Cascades of the day instead. They had a 5 MPH slow order through the area around the accident and we got to pass poor train 516 just sitting there while the accident investigation went on.

      1. Why do they need to hold the train and passengers hostage when it is fairly obvious what happened. It’s not like the train left the tracks to hit someone.

  18. I’m *very* disappointed that the HOV lanes are reversible and only connected to the I-5 express lanes. Looks like the 545 passengers doing the reverse commute will still be stuck in traffic. Things may improve a bit with tolls and elimination of the extra on-ramps, but there’s sure to be continued congestion for reverse commuters.

    Does anybody know if there are plans for 2-way HOV lanes on I-5? I assume the answer is no, but a man can dream, can’t he?

    1. I’d like to see SR-520 to DT Seattle completely isolated from I-5. South of DT from the eastside should be via I-90. Yes, I know a big part of the reason people try to use 520 instead is because of the Bellevue bottleneck but WSDOT hopefully has that sorted out with the current project. If that doesn’t help then the 405 HOV lanes need to be changed to 3+.

      1. Hey, if I won dictator of the year award, I’d finish the *ENTIRE* HOV system, in *ALL* directions, with dedicated on/off ramps and switch the entire thing over to HOV 3+/HOT before I’d even consider any improvements that benefit general purpose lanes. Slap tolls on the entire system and have every ounce of that revenue pushed into Rail, TRUE BRT, or Vanpools (whatever is appropriate for each area) and call it a day. Put a price on congestion and let the revenue work to solve the problem.

      2. Much of our HOV “system” is congested during the peak. Try I-405 NB from 520 to Mill Creek. The HOV is just as congested as the mainline. Much of I-5 is the same story.

      3. Part of the issue is related to the patchwork nature of the HOV “system”. I’m talking about a *complete* build-out of the HOV system wherever there is a threshold of congestion. In addition, reserving the system for 3+ drivers would mean that vanpools, cars with 3 people, and buses would keep moving – focusing that lane (or 2) on moving the most people, yielding the biggest bang for buck.

        You only need to drive 520 Westbound in the afternoons to figure out that this system would work wonders. HOT would strictly be on an “as available” option and only where it made some level of sense – HOT lanes aren’t a large portion of my idea but I’m open to them if they make sense and add a little revenue to the system. Don’t make sense? The 3+ HOV only it is.

      4. Could not agree more – 3+ just makes so much more sense than pandering to the two in a car crowd. Clear those twosomes out and let the buses and vanpools roar!

  19. It is not clear that Mayor McGinn had anything to do with the improvements to the design of 520 – the Council would appear to deserve the credit for improving the project.

    1. It most certainly would not have happened unless Mayor McGinn raised the issue. The majority of the city council was content with the way 520 already was.

      The council gets credit for agreeing that the ideas in the last-minute consultant studies were good ideas.

  20. The 520 bridge is dangerous and unnecessary. An expanded 520 would cause ever more traffic problems at the 405 and 5 interchanges.

    It should be removed and all traffic routed to I-90 or I-405.

  21. Any hope that by the time Link opens on I-90 we’ll be rid of the Blue Devils over Lake WA?

  22. WSDOT is $2 billion short for the mega project. it would be expanded to include a few addtional projects: center access to and from the west at NE 40th Street; a northbound transit lane on the outside of the I-5 general purpose lanes between Olive Way and SR-520.

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