45 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Tunnel Extraordinaire”

  1. Wow! Even that tunnel has a much smaller diameter than what is contemplated to make sure people keep choosing SOVs as the preferred mode for going to or through downtown Seattle.

    Please don’t tell me the downtown DBT is about moving freight, or I will ask you to show me on a map how that is supposed to happen.

    1. I oppose the DBT as a stupid waste of money. I support a new or re-built viaduct, instead.

      However, I have never heard anyone claim that the DBT could not be used to move freight. Why not? Trucks use the Battery Street Tunnel. Why would those trucks not use the DBT? If you want to move freight from south of downtown Seattle to north of the boat canal, the DBT would be a good route for some of those trucks.

      1. Most of the trucks using the viaduct come from or head to Interbay. Those trucks will simply take the new Alaskan Way promenade.

        Trucks with flammable cargo will also be barred from using the DBT.

      2. Trucks will use Alaska Way because the tunnel takes them out of the way and forces them to go east/west on other streets like Mercer.

      3. Where do you get the idea that all trucks which use the viaduct are going to/from Interbay? The trucks which now use the Battery Street tunnel, will use the DBT.

        There will be a lot more trucks on the surface Alaskan Way, true. And those trucks on the surface make a lot more noise than the traffic on the viaduct makes. When you stand on the sidewalk along the waterfront and a big truck or bus is idling while stopped at a red light on Alaskan Way, the noise from that truck or bus drowns out the noise from the viaduct. People who complain about the noise from the viaduct are not going to notice much difference in noise with all the trucks and buses which will use the new surface street.

      4. The Battery Street entrance is at Denny Way. The DBT entrance is at Mercer, which is five blocks north, and unless there’s a direct entrance from the west, you’d have to be already on Aurora which means entering it further north.

      5. There was a study done in connection with the project which said that 97% of the truck traffic from the Port of Seattle and the SODO industrial area uses I-5 and I-90, and only 3% uses the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Further, that of the Alaskan Way Viaduct traffic, over 70% is headed to Interbay and Ballard, via the Western Ave ramps. The amount of truck traffic that would use the DBT is minimal.

      6. The viaduct option is dead — rebuilt or otherwise. The only choice we have is DBT+Surface, or Surface only.

        Them are the facts.

    1. Or how about through the mountains on the Oregon-California border :-) The California HSR blog had a post about a west coast HSR corridor earlier this week.

      1. I dunno if this should even be a long term goal. Seattle to San Francisco is about 750 miles, so even at the speed of CAHSR, which will average around 160mph, that would take well over four hours, which is not all that competitive with flying, even when you factor in getting to the airport from the center city and everything. HSR is perfect for Vancouver to Eugene, and I think Seattle to Eastern Washington too, but I don’t think it’s a viable option for such long-distance travel with so few intermediate destinations.

      2. [alex] Depends how long-term you’re thinking. One of the first forms of travel peak oil will decimate is air travel. We’ll still fly for important business trips and for the once-a-decade far off vacation, but the expense will remove most pleasure travel.

        Considering peak oil will absolutely come eventually, and most petroleum geologists predict it’ll be here by 2018, something like this will make sense sooner or later.

    2. GN had preliminary plans 70 or 80 years ago for a 27-mile cross-Cascades tunnel thru the Stevens Pass corridor. Obviously cost mitigated against this, but it was at least considered. The state would definitely be a different place with something like it in place today.

      1. The idea is still floating around for a long tunnel to replace the one at Stampede pass (or is it Snoqualmie along the old MILW).

        Its too bad the $$$ isnt there, you could indeed build 2 to 3 bores, one for atleast 2 tracks, and one for highway. The Rail side would probally need to be electrified which would lead to other costs though inorder to maintain capasity. Also the double track would need to be built out for quite a ways to maintain the capasity as well.

    3. There was a proposal for an airport in Moses Lake and a maglev connecting it to Seattle. It never went anywhere.

      But where are the hordes of people clamoring to commute to Eastern Washington? Does Eastern Washington want to change from an agricultural region to a metropolis? Do they want an influx of pro-tax liberals?

      There certainly needs to be a Cascades line to Spokane and speed improvements. And a line to Yakima wouldn’t hurt. But 220 mph is not necessary unless it’s continuing to Chicago.

      1. I certainly think a high-speed (at least 150mph) line across Stampede Pass to Ellensburg, Yakima, the Tri-Cities, then back up to Spokane would get a lot of ridership. The faster its top speed is, the more you can go out of the way to serve the population centers without sacrificing much time, and I think there would be plenty of demand, as there are a lot of flights on that corridor right now, and a ton of people driving. Of course, it’s a secondary priority, after Vancouver-Eugene.

      2. I think it’s worth mentioning that a new line here would require much more than just Stampede Pass and restoration of existing ROW. As just one example, to get anything approaching decent speeds the (gorgeous) Yakima River canyon would have to be bypassed as well and would likely require further tunneling.

      3. Actually, I don’t think we need a HSR line to Eastern Washington as much as we need a 79 mph daytime train on the Seattle-Spokane run. One that leaves both cities at say 8 AM in the morning and arrives at 4 PM. That would be much better than the existing Empire Builder, which leaves at 4:40 PM from Seattle and arrives in Spokane after midnight, and the westbound train leaves Spokane like at 1:30 AM and gets into Seattle at 9:40 in the morning.

        Over time improvements could be made to improve the route, to include new tunnels, etc, but that will take a lot of money. This is of course secondary to the Cascades route, which is part of a Federal HSR corridor and eligible for Federal money to improve the route.

      4. Amtrak’s North Coast Hiawatha report for PRIIA suggested running the train via the Stampede and Yakima Valley subs. It showed a proposed timetable with 396 route-miles and a running time of nine hours. They estimated a capital cost of $95.3M for the Seattle-Pasco segment, plus another $96M for Pasco-Spokane (for a passing siding as near as I can tell).

        I’m sure BNSF gave some inflated numbers on the capital cost estimates, but still there would probably need to be significant investments made to restore passenger service to that line. There’s something to be said for restoring passenger service to a couple of sizable cities along the way, though.

      5. As a born Seattleite living in Chicago I’d take a train to Seattle in a heartbeat from here if it was under 12 hours.

        I wanted to take the 2-day empire builder home last year, but my parents wouldn’t let me (they control the travel budget) They didn’t want to wait 2 days to see me following the close of semester.

        I think a train running somewhere between 220-270 would capture a significant chunk of people out of the air-corridor, and I know it’s one of Sea-Tac’s top ten domestic lines. If they got the travel time down to say 8:30, which I think is conceivable, its only twice as long as the actual air-flight + the 2.5 hours of extra time, its not that much longer than a flight, and you get to be on a comfy train seeing the surroundings.

        It could stop in a few important places on the way, Spokane, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, (Billings if the tracks go there?)

      6. “I wanted to take the 2-day empire builder home last year, but my parents … didn’t want to wait 2 days to see me following the close of semester.”

        Tell them it’s an Experience, and that there has been talk in the past about cancelling the Empire Builder [1] so you need to take it now while you can.

        [1] The argument is that the E.B. has the highest unrecovered costs per passenger of Amtrak’s lines. The thinking may be different now that the E.R. has the highest ridership and best on-time performance, but it’s still worth booking your trip sooner rather than later just in case.

      7. I like Dan’s comment about how even an 80 mph train that ran on a regular daily basis would be worthwhile. Students going to college? And vacationers who don’t want to do the long drive to the wineries (which could pick them up, give them a loaner car…) 80 mph is basically the point at which the average “lead foot” driver going full speed point to point can drive, so its a milestone for a car person to even consider rail.

        Empire Builder: I took the Empire Builder a while back. I didn’t get a sleeping birth and while one day of sleeping in one of the (very comfortable) recliner seats was okay, after the second it felt a bit grungy. Getting the speed up to a single day would be a breakthrough, especially if they could upgrade the standards in the coaches — more walking/playing room, exercise car (?) and so on…

  2. One must realize that the B2F-E grade alignment, as per the DEIS, factoring in the damage that culdesacs, Kemper Freeman, and Surrey Downs has, the grade-separation configuration, excluding the mitigating walkshed issues, TOD must be primary correlated to high density.

  3. Nice music, I’m waiting for Darth Vader and his stormtroopers to enter and start blasting the place. =)

  4. I’m a youth leader of Tacoma’s Walk the Waterfront committee, and we’re working to provide access along Tacoma’s waterfront and to complete our shoreline walkway.
    The best way to help complete Tacoma’s waterfront into a 7 mile continuous publicly accessible walkway -bikeway is for the community to send in lots of short comments this month to Steve Atkinson, Associate Planner at the City of Tacoma. Comment period ends Nov 3rd. Please help by explaining why Tacoma’s shoreline is special to you and/or why you feel Tacoma’s waterfront should be connected. Here is a website that explains the project and has links to emails.
    Thank you!

  5. Does anyone know the story behind the realtime bus arrival information screen at Northgate Transit Center? It’s pretty cool (although not as useful now that OBA is around), but I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.

    1. It has been there for several years. It’s often not working. That’s all I know about it.

    2. There is one at Bellevue TC but it no longer works. There’s also one inside a cafe near the UW HUB bus stop (also out of service due to the HUB remodel). I think those were installed around the same time MyBus was developed, likely with grant money.

  6. Disbar ever get a reason why the 44 has been dieselized lately? Every one I’ve seen in the past week has been a diesel.

  7. Now that former champion Arlington TX has had some skeletal commuter bus service to Fort Worth for a couple years now, what’s the largest city in the U.S. without any public transportation?

    1. Colorado Springs might be taking that title soon. I do know that they’ve already “won” the title for largest US city with no weekend service, and I think evening service as well. Considering the budget situation the city has been facing, it may just be a matter of time.

  8. One question–

    The Gilligs are up for retirement once Metro gets more Orion 7’s. I asked someone from MEHVA about Gillig preservation on the night trolley tour and he said that one bus from the three different body length varieties– a 30 ft “Baby Gillig”, a 35-footer (3180-3199) a diesel 40-footer and a trolley should be preserved. Doesn’t anyone agree?

  9. Inventor hopes rail idea gets noticed

    Nanaimo man says his monorail design would pick up passengers without stopping

    Nanaimo inventor Frank Illguth designed a hydrogen-powered monorail system he said would make high-speed train service proposed between Vancouver and Portland faster and greener.

    Address :

      1. I’m not going to hold my breath for that one. Reminds me of that screwball idea out of Michigan.

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