Sound Transit

Last week’s CEO Corner spilled the beans:

Following recent outreach with community members, businesses and property owners, Sound Transit staff concluded that the agency will move forward with the “Single Entrance” design option for North Link’s Brooklyn Station in the University District. The design meets long-term passenger needs with lower construction impacts, risk and cost. North Link is currently in final design and the Brooklyn Station 30 percent design will be presented to the public later this spring.

Background on the options (and possibly the best STB comment thread ever) here.

I don’t feel equipped to say whether this is good stewardship of resources or excessive risk aversion. I do feel equipped to say it’s a shame. Two entrances means a bigger walkshed, which incorporates many more people  in a dense neighborhood. There will be zero bus trips that come right up to the station entrance, and several that involve walking couple of blocks and turning the corner.

No one wants to bring down the whole project with reckless risks, but like the Mt. Baker Transit Center, this configuration will provide minor inconvenience to riders forever due to short-term considerations. Incidentally, with 12,300 projected boardings in 2030, as many people should use Brooklyn (on or off) as the entire Central Link system today.

I suppose it’s possible the board could overrule staff, but that really would be a sign of poor governance and decision making.

130 Replies to “Sound Transit Picks One Entrance for Brooklyn”

  1. I just hope that by the time North Link opens, ST has learned how to make good signage (i.e. not like downtown) and maybe has even come up with a better name than the hopelessly-nondescript “Link.”

  2. It’s all about the politics with the University of Washington. Does anyone think ST made this choice? Crappier transit connections, crappier walk-shed, crappier visibility, crappier station utilization. Yeah, it costs more to make two entrances, but in the long term of Link (which is why most of the new stuff from here on out is being designed as a heavy rail/metro system), it would have made sense. The UW made it for them. UW didn’t want ST using it’s property and UW is the only thing in the region ST cannot take eminent domain over.

    What a pity & what a waste. Maybe ST should consider having an entrance only at Neptune Theatre. At least then could there be a massive bus connection of some sort.

      1. It’s known that UW were something of an 800 lb gorilla with respect to the placement of the UW station but I doubt they had anything to do with this one.

      2. Well, consider that when the building was owned by Safeco, there wasn’t any talk of a single-entrance station. Safeco wanted to work with ST to integrate the station into their building and was going to have the 2-entrance design. Suddenly, the UW comes in and now the station design completely changes to meet some short-term goals on a long-term system. The UW is not thrilled about ST being anywhere near them, even at Husky Stadium Station.

        Tim, no need to defend your alta mater all the time. And my WSU/UW rivalry can look beyond a +$10 billion infrastructure project.

      3. I don’t get the UW’s putative angle on this. Do they own property on the 4200 block on Brooklyn? If not, where’s their leverage? If anything, their employees in the Safeco tower will be one of the big loosing groups as they’ll have to walk further and cross another intersection.

      4. I am aware that there was some drama regarding Husky Stadium Station and how Link would move under campus, however that does NOT mean there was drama regarding the entrances for Brooklyn Station.

        The fact that the two-entrance option was engineered to 2% (or whatever that was) means the UW wasn’t completely against it.

      5. I don’t get the UW’s putative angle on this. Do they own property on the 4200 block on Brooklyn? If not, where’s their leverage? If anything, their employees in the Safeco tower will be one of the big loosing groups as they’ll have to walk further and cross another intersection.

        4200 Brooklyn is 75% residential and 25% parking (roughly). If you meant 4300 Brooklyn, Safeco no longer lives there. Safeco sold it to the UW in 2006.
        According to Google Maps, it’d be about 200 feet from the station entrance to the main entrance of the UW Tower, assuming the mid-block crosswalk stays.

      6. A couple other things happened since UW bought the Safeco Tower, namely the largest recession since the Great Depression. Also, they had hardly done any engineering work on it then, whereas now they know the construction risks of each option. Just because two things happened one after another doesn’t mean one caused the other.

    1. I suspect the UW put the Ixnay on the 2 entrance option, for two reasons:
      1. They wanted to minimize the disruptions caused by construction including the likely closure of Brooklyn Ave NE between 43rd and 45th.
      2. They are extremely risk adverse and didn’t want any possible problems digging a station box right next to the UW tower might have caused.

      Remember they put a rather pricy new datacenter in the building when they took it over. So this adds to their risk aversion.

      1. The datacenter is a half block away–on the other side of the loading dock. And all of Brooklyn between 43rd and 45th will be closed regardless of which option is chosen–and this option actually closes half of 43rd between Brooklyn and The Ave = more disruption.

  3. STB recently gave an A to Toronto’s transit system. Pictured on the glowing post is the Ossington station. A station, if I am correct, has only one entrance and is non-accessible. So logically speaking, STB must give Brooklyn station an A. Or maybe this is just another case of the grass is greener?

    1. “There is a second, smaller entrance on Delaware Avenue, which can be entered using only tokens or Metropasses.”

    2. Ossington station has buses that drive up within 15 feet of the entrance. Brooklyn station’s nearest buses will be hundreds of feet away.

      1. It’s not always a good thing when subway entrances act like drive-through windows, though. It inhibits through-travel on bus routes, and it frankly takes longer for the buses to circle into their “bays” than it would to stop on Ossington and let people walk across the street.

        The hassle saved in instances where Toronto streetcars pull into fare-paid areas — the way streetcars used to in Boston, New York, and Philly — might be able to justify the detour.

        Regardless, any of the above is better than hiding the entrance halfway down an under-pedestrianized block.

      2. Reality Based:

        Walking and transit go hand-in-hand. Transit and huge question marks about your transfer do not go hand-in-hand.

        Every time you just miss a bus or a train connection as a result of ostensibly poor system planning, those question marks grow.

        (And don’t try to point to long NY, Paris, or London subway connections. While its a bit unfair, entirely underground and weather-protected train-to-train transfers — even ones that are far — don’t have the same psychological effect as long out-of-system ones.)

      3. hundreds of feet??? Whatever will we do? Walking and transit go hand in hand.

        There are lots of people who won’t or can’t walk hundreds of feet.

      4. Andrew Smith / other extreme:

        On that point Reality Based is right.

        If you can’t, in general, walk a couple hundred feet (or travel a couple hundred feet using an assistive mobility device), then mass transit is not designed for you. At that point you need to get a ride or call Access.

        Leaving Ballard on the 44 still takes 10-15 minutes (I could walk the same distance in 20), presumably because “advocates” for the elderly complained about Metro’s proposed-and-never-implemented stop reductions.

        “The bus gets me everywhere. It takes a while, but it’s okay because I’m retired and don’t have to get anywhere fast.” That’s nice, elderly customer overheard on the bus recently, that you think mass transit exists only for you.

        But I want to get places quickly. And the 90% of the city that won’t ever bother with transit outside of express commuting wants to get places quickly too. They think mass transit exists mostly for the elderly and the indigent and the very young and for anyone whose time lacks value, and so they don’t go anywhere near it. Frankly, I don’t blame them, when every ride on Metro reinforces that notion. The last thing we need is to bring it into the Link debate.

      5. At the end of the day, an extra few hundred feet of walking makes almost no difference for anyone that isn’t disabled. A 3 mph walking speed translates to just under 2 minutes to walk 500 feet. That’s it.

        If you want to improve travel time for people making bus->train connections, the solution is NOT to make busses take 3-5 minute detours full of turns and stoplights to save people transferring to the train 2 minutes of walking. Besides the fact that it doesn’t actually save time for the people it’s meant to help, it also creates an excruciatingly slow experience for through riders, enough so that through trips under a mile or so actually become faster walking the whole way than waiting for a bus.

        The notion that a few hundred feet is a huge deal is extremely pessimistic for transit in general. It’s essentially saying that transit is unusable unless you get picked up and dropped off right at your destination and you can barely travel anywhere under your own power. This essentially limits the role of transit to trips both from and to a very specific set of destinations, which inherently makes it useful to only a very small percentage of the population, and makes almost any investment in it look very questionable.

        Fortunately, this assumption is not true. While there certainly are many people who have difficulty walking, this is not only a small percentage of the population, it’s also a group of people who will end up driving everywhere no matter how good transit is, except for those who absolutely cannot afford to do so – in other words, if transit wants to appeal to a broad group of people, the people who can barely walk is NOT the market that transit should be targeting.

        A broad-based transit system needs to be built around the notion of getting people from anywhere to anywhere as quickly as possible. It needs to focus on moving people along major corridors without trying to enumerate the set of specific destinations that you can reach. It needs to be built around the notion that walking a moderate distance is not awful and that a detour that substitutes two minutes of riding for two minutes of walking for people going to one specific destination does not justify an extra five minute of travel time for everyone else. Most importantly, it needs to treat people with respect and make its customers feel that the system actually cares about getting them to where they need to go in a reasonable amount of time.

        The map of Link indicates a corridor-focused route that should do a good job of accomplishing all of these objectives, provided that you accept the view that most people will not consider a few hundred feet of walking to be an undue hardship.

      6. While there certainly are many people who have difficulty walking, this is not only a small percentage of the population, it’s also a group of people who…

        …are served by paratransit (both publicly and privately funded).

      7. Eric:

        You’re pretty much 100% on everything you’ve written, and your implicit understanding of what makes mass transit work in knitting a city together is well-enumerated throughout.

        What I was saying a few posts up was that the psychological impact of a poorly-designed out-of-system transfer is not so much about the distance walked as about spending the entire walk with the sense that you’re just about to miss your connection as a result of the transfer’s design.

        The solution is not to send the bus in circles to meet the station entrance. It’s to design the subway station as well as humanly possible in the first place, to prevent the sense that it’s a pain in the ass to use.

        (As I’ve said before, the DSTT’s giant mezzanines are an equal psychological obstacle to the 500-foot surface walk. They both feel more laborious than they are, which magnifies the frustration of missing a connection and having to wait perhaps 15-30 minutes more.)

        Also, it is worth noting that Link stations are as much as 15,840 feet apart, which is a bit arduous of a walk even for the heartiest among us, somewhat undercutting its integrity as a unifying “corridor.”

    3. Another discovery about Ossington:

      It looks like these two duplexes — though horrifyingly ugly ’60s nightmares that stand out like a sore thumb in the surround ’20s neighborhood — have been built directly atop the station box. (The station’s secondary entrance is right behind them.),-79.426028&ie=UTF8&ll=43.662905,-79.42652&spn=0,0.002068&z=19&layer=c&cbll=43.662247,-79.427032&panoid=i4VoNdr6uYS1UKE9b5Hz2g&cbp=12,252.54,,0,3.68

      The only thing that ever seems to wind up above Link stations is… more station.

      1. There will be plenty of development above Capitol Hill Station. And eventually Beacon Hill Station as well.

      2. Actually, no. There will now be spatially-constrained development within the current construction site, but only flanking the station footprint.

        Proposals for the station-box area itself now involve large entrances, pedestrian plazas, and all manner of density-phobic “open space” b.s.

  4. Wow, it’s like the ST staff completely and totally ignored public input at the Brooklyn station design meeting!

    1. How can you say they ignored it? You don’t know they didn’t take it in to consideration.

      And recall that some public input at the meeting was in favor of this option. Your opinion ≠ everyone’s opinion

      1. With all the hand wringing going on, I suppose there was some sort of trade-off presented.
        How many daily boardings did they estimate the single entrance would cost, to save how many millions over what period?
        Just curious, as you were at the meeting.

      2. Tim, I did in fact remain and talk to some of the project staff, as well as other attendees.

        I was particularly taken aback by the staff’s reluctance to discuss the overall project cost in absolute dollar terms. They were quick to point out that Option 2 saved $10 million, but were forced to admit the overall project cost was $400 million.

        This information was withheld from the slides and only emerged during public questions.

      3. What difference does the overall cost make? They were only seeking feedback about Option 1 VS Option 2. How is saying one is $410 million and the other is $400 million any different than saying one is $10 million more than the other?

      4. Because the Option 1 vs Option 2 decision isn’t made in a vacuum. It matters whether we’re talking about a 50% increase or a 5% increase in the cost of the project.

    1. Sound Transit told them long ago they’d be buying up the property. Only just now did that deal get announced publicly.

  5. Mixed feelings. For all the reasons cited by Martin and Mike, low-visibility, mid-block, plaza-based entrances such as this are three of the worst trends in recent subway design.

    On the other hand, when they presented the two final options (with diagrams) a few weeks back, the 2-entrance plan was horribly-arranged below ground. The chosen plan had a much less severe descent-to-platform time penalty.

    I would have preferred they choose the other option and fix what was wrong with it. But maybe the owner of one of the retail buildings between the site and the Ave (the one with Big 5 in it, ideally) will be smart enough to redevelop with an arcade-style pass-through.

      1. That’s why I said “owner.” That building’s in lousy shape and ripe for a redevelopment, and how much business can a Big 5 possibly be doing in that location?

      2. During winter quarter break, there was almost always a customer at the register between 11 and 1 whenever I walked in (3-4 times a week). I was working for a major package delivery company at the time.

      3. A walk-through arcade to access the station from the Ave, in that location would be a natural — it could only benefit the building’s owner. Has anyone called the owner, the tenant, or Sound Transit about it?

  6. My letter to

    Mr. Hall,

    It is very distressing to learn that the North Link staff has chosen
    to proceed with the demonstrably inferior single-midblock-entrance
    design option for Brooklyn Station. Tucked on a side street, it has
    drastically lower visibility, will encourage dangerous jaywalking and
    cutting through alleys, only marginally improves circulation at the
    expense of drastically inferior entrance/egress, and makes no
    significant cost savings. It was universally panned by attendees at
    the Brooklyn Station Design Options open house, who resisted the
    staff’s obvious preference for the single-entrance option.

    I can only hope the Sound Transit board has the foresight to overrule
    the North Link staff on this mistake. Hopefully they see the
    importance of a highly-visible flagship Brooklyn station, just like
    the public did when they rejected Option 2 at the outreach meeting. A
    savings of a few million dollars out of a total project cost of
    hundreds of millions (figures which, I must stress, were evidently
    left off the slides in order to deceive the attendees about the
    absolute cost savings and instead allow staff to speak only to
    relative numbers, and were only divulged during direct questioning
    after much hemming and hawing) is not worth sacrificing the usability
    and visibility of one of the most important stations in the entire
    Link system.

    1. If it is true, I wonder why the staff are so in favor of the single-entrance design? What stake do they have? Why do they view it as the best design? Are they low-risk above all else, or are they truly concerned about interior flow?

  7. Sound Transit, if you are reading this, please install wide awnings running from the station’s entrance to 45th street. Thank you.

    1. Sure, if they can get permission from Neptune and whoever builds TOD around the station entrance. They only own the station entrance and can only install things on that.

    2. Still, he’s right. If ST is going to put the entrance mid-block, there should be a covered promenade from 43rd to 45th that makes it look like part of the station complex or an amenity. Then people will be less irritated about the walk.

  8. There will be zero bus trips that come right up to the station entrance

    Not necessarily. In a perfect world, Metro would have the current 71/72/73/74 routes terminate in the 4300 block of Brooklyn Ave NE. It’s not impossible for SDOT to zone the parking spaces on that block (and maybe some adjacent blocks) for bus zones/layovers only. Or have buses layover at the existing Campus Parkway. Or have them terminate at Campus Parkway, but detour through 4300 Brooklyn? Dunno if I like that last option.

    1. How would you get the buses between Brooklyn and the Ave? Route them completely off the Ave? Or have them zig over at some point?

      1. Regular route to southbound on The Ave to 45th, right on 45th, left on Brooklyn, continue to zone. Reverse for northbound.
        You’d have to change the intersection at 45th/The Ave to allow left turns on to The Ave, and I’d be OK with it being bus-only left turns.

        If you wanted them to continue south, you’d probably have to have them cut back over to The Ave, upgrade Brooklyn’s pavement, or maybe have routes like 75 and 372 shoot up The Ave to 4300 Brooklyn.

      2. I don’t think there’s any way in hell artics could do that zig-zag on 45th. Hang out on 45th & 15th during the PM rush hour and watch the artics sit through 4 or 5 light cycles trying to turn onto 45th. There’s a protected left-turn, but 45th is so backed up with I-5 traffic that there’s rarely enough space for them to turn into. Your SB buses trying to turn right onto 45th would face the exact same traffic, except they’d also be trying to get over to the left-turn lane to turn onto Brooklyn. They’d completely stop up the Ave and 45th. Other than maybe extending Cowen Place to Brooklyn at Ravenna (and hopefully adding traffic signals), I don’t think there’s any reasonable way to get (many) buses onto Brooklyn.

      3. If there were an arcade through the Big-5 Building as d.p. suggests, a couplet–SB on the Ave, NB on Brooklyn–might be doable. Since EB traffic on 45th doesn’t get backed up by folks trying to get onto I-5, the NB zig-zag might not be too problematic (I still think it’d be bad, but it’s the SB one that seems truly impossible to me). And buses could make their turnaround easily on Campus Pkwy. But without some sort of easy access to the Ave from the station, a couplet wouldn’t make much.

      4. Zig-zaging buses through congested neighborhoods is exactly the kind of nonsense that leads to slow transit.

        I don’t think looping around the station is worth the cost in time. This is an urban station area not a suburban P&R

    2. It makes a lot of sense for them to loop through this neighborhood. In all likelihood, most of the 70-series routes will be truncated at or near this station, rather than continuing downtown. With the driveways for the Chase parking structure gone, there’ll be a ton of layover space.

      43rd or 47th are much more reasonable places than 45th to get the bus over to Brooklyn; crossing 45th at a light is a lot easier than merging onto it.

      They /could/ be routed completely off of the ave, just Brooklyn all the way. It would be a faster trip in all likelihood, even with the handful of stop signs. But it would add another block to the walk to campus. Of course, you could add a turnaround loop through the campus, which would allow the 70 series to serve as a both high-frequency shuttle between campus and the station, and well as a relatively direction connection from the station to neighborhoods north.

      You guys have to realize that with the exception of route 70 itself, the 70-series south of brooklyn station will be completely redundant once u-link opens. The 70 series will also yield, most likely, the most transfers to u-link. Open up to the possibilities.

      1. I know the 7x’s won’t (or shouldn’t) continue south of the UD once Link opens, which is why it’s confounding to me that they would situate the station and its entrances in a way that makes transfers from those routes difficult. The talk of loops and zig-zags makes me worry that any route designed to connect to Link will just become another painfully slow Metro local, at least toward the beginning/end of the route, and any enthusiasm I have for Link is quickly dampened if I have to ride a Metro local to get to it. While I generally think ST is right to expect Metro to adjust its routes to serve Link, not the other way around, in this situation it seems like there was little consideration given to transfers, despite the fact that many folks getting on/off at this station will be making them there.

      2. There’s still a part of me that thinks that even after Brooklyn Station opens the best route for the 70-series would serve UW station, if only to serve the south part of the Ave while still having an obvious end point (Campus Parkway is iffy and increasingly random).

      3. What’s your definition of “the south part of the Ave”? After 40th there’s not much on The Ave, and it’s literally one block away from 15th, which is served by a dozen routes that continue directly to Husky Stadium.

      4. “After 40th there’s not much on The Ave, and it’s literally one block away from 15th, which is served by a dozen routes that continue directly to Husky Stadium.”

        Most of which are either long-haul routes that would need to be reconfigured for shorter-haul uses, or are in-city routes that should probably be truncated, re-routed, or cut once the university stations open (or the 70, which doesn’t go to Husky Stadium). (I’m starting to tease the idea of having the 48 bypass the U-District entirely and continue straight up Montlake to 25th, allowing the cutting of the 68 and 72. The 48, 70, and 271 are the only routes on 15th that continue north of 45th, and I don’t think the 271 even does that anymore.)

        If the purpose of keeping the 70-series on the Ave is to deliver people from up and down the Ave to Brooklyn Station, not going anywhere south of 43rd isn’t good enough. The Ave is pretty much a unitary whole from 40th/Campus Parkway to 50th, and I suspect the next-biggest chunk of 70-series ridership beyond U-District to Downtown is intra-Ave trips. (And yes, despite this, Campus Parkway is STILL arbitrary because it’ll become of less importance as a transfer point.) Otherwise, by your logic there’s no point in keeping the 70-series on the Ave at all, and certainly no point in diverting them off the Ave to Brooklyn since it’s “literally one block away” from the station on Brooklyn. (But then, you’ve been defending Option 2, so…) On the other hand, the last thing we need to stoke ridership at Brooklyn Station is to make people go two blocks.

        (I could send the 70-series through the campus, but that poses even more of a traffic problem than Pacific St, since it requires heading down a two-lane road.)

  9. Two entrances would probably have been better, and minimizing short-term costs at the expense of long-term benefits is a bad idea. BUT once the station is built we can expect to develop the area so it’s not so “tucked away” and “invisible.” Isn’t the idea to make transit stations into places people go? More people WILL go there if there’s a station there and if we’re intentional about how we develop around it even MORE people will go. And Metro will probably work to modify bus routes around the station, too.

    1. I’m skeptical, that street doesn’t look undeveloped (except the parking lot that’s going to be replaced by the station + TOD. It looks like pretty nice residential and I doubt the apartment owners will want to sell up to make way for mixed use high(er)-rises any time soon, nor would the people who live on Brooklyn want a bunch of noisy news bars or restaurants there.

      I think the best we can hope for is that SDOT and Metro work together to make Brooklyn the best transfer point possible. Take most of the parking, put in big shelters, decent benches, a ped crossing.

      1. nor would the people who live on Brooklyn want a bunch of noisy news bars or restaurants there.

        They’re only a block away from The Ave. If I could hear noise from The Ave in my place on 12th, or chanting from 15th at my place on 11th, Brooklyn can hear The Ave noise.

  10. This is incredibly disappointing. An entrance on 45th street would be huge not just for bus transfers but for general visibility, I think a lot of people figure where subway stations are by passing by them (be it on car, bus or foot), and who would be passing by this?

    1. The entrance on 45th would have also been smaller, and required 1 extra street crossing from the 44’s bus stop compared to Brooklyn. The larger single entrance on Brooklyn can be made more obvious to the eye than a small entrance on 45th, if designed properly.

      Also, there’s no reason the 44 needs to stay on 45th. This is nearly the of the 44’s route. Instead of turning south on 15th, turn south on Brooklyn. Boom, you’ve got a stop right in front of the station. Take it down to Campus Parkway, and shuffle back over to 15th to hit the transfers there.

      This whole area’s gonna have a lot of changes to routes once U-Link opens, and the single-entrance Brooklyn station faces what can be a very nice bus transfer point, much nicer than the current stops on 45th, 15th, and the Ave.

  11. The silver lining here is that the only downside is to the ridership projections, and the public has been desensitized to those. “They are only projections!”

  12. Here was the discussion about the two options from ST’s Capital Committee meeting prior to the open house:

    Mr. Adams detailed the Modified PE Option. JA’s work has focused on increasing the detail of the PE completed five years ago. The Modified PE Option requires staging that surrounds the UW Tower, special shoring systems along existing buildings to prevent settlement, and temporary access for five to six years when the 80-foot hole is exposed. The temporary access is required for Seattle Fire Department (SFD), pedestrian, office, emergency exit, retail, and residential access. A temporary bridge (deck) would be built on Brooklyn Avenue NE, and then the station site would be excavated beneath the deck. Construction of the Modified PE Option will require removal of an abandoned shoring system and the relocation of utilities. The final structure would be less than five feet from the UW Tower and requires breaking out foundation footings from the Neptune Theatre. Four to six months of additional work needs to be identified in the project schedule for the Modified PE Option.

    The Single Entrance Option requires construction staging that extends further west on NE 43rd Street, but no staging at the UW Tower plaza. The 80-foot excavation is between the University Manor Apartments and the Neptune Theatre, with the station entrance on Brooklyn Avenue NE between NE 43rd Street and NE 45th Street. The Single Entrance Option requires half the special shoring system of the Modified PE Option. The temporary access concerns are primarily for the University Manor Apartments and retail, and requires a similar but less complex deck that would be built on NE 43rd Street. The Single Entrance Option is less than seven feet from the University Manor Apartments, does not touch the Neptune Theatre, and does not require relocating utilities. The two design options are less than 20% designed.
    Ahmad Fazel, DECM Executive Director, stated that both options face similar risks. Sound Transit will be meeting with UW and other stakeholders to seek public input on the two options. The Single Entrance Option has implications to the environmental process.

    Mr. Davis provided comparisons of the two options. The Modified PE Option costs $10 million more than the Single Entrance Option. The two options require similar property acquisitions; however, the Modified PE Option requires acquisition of the UW Tower plaza. Both options would provide a center platform that would adequately serve 2030 ridership projections. Ridership at this station is project to be 12,000 daily passengers, but would be approximately one percent less with a single entrance. The Modified PE Option has better pedestrian and bus access, but the Single Entrance Option has better passenger circulation within the station. Both options provide similar potential for TOD.

    1. Oran, thank you for injecting facts into this discussion.

      The two options require similar property acquisitions; however, the Modified PE Option requires acquisition of the UW Tower plaza.

      Given that ST can’t eminent domain UW, this gives UW a veto over the two-entrance option. Which is NOT to say that they did so, but I see now why they have skin in the game.

      1. And that UW had already informally agreed to grant an easement for the plaza, or else the modified PE option wouldn’t even have been on the table.

  13. I think this station placement is horrible. Brooklyn has narrow sidewalks, and everyone entering/exiting this station to get to 45th and the UW are going to be jamming up those sidewalks. Then, add in any sidewalk seating areas for the restaurants, or signs, and it is going to get worse.

    1. The entire street is going to be torn up, so expect new sidewalks to be installed once the station box is covered.

    2. Looking at the quarter-section maps, it appears the Brooklyn street right-of-way is actually 10 feet wider than that of University Way. So it certainly shouldn’t be a problem to rebuild Brooklyn with facilities that can handle the increased ped traffic. We’ll see whether that happens or not.

    3. I agree, seems like 90 percent of the eventual crowd will be UW students, not U Ave shoppers. They should have put the station right on the campus itself where there would be plenty of room around the exit for people to spread out or filter in either from classes, events or shopping.

      1. They should have put the station right on the campus itself…

        Sound Transit is not retarded. They considered that. Read through this (especially Chapter 2) to find out why.

      2. John, you’re very wrong on this. While a large number of the transit riders in the U-District are assoiciated with the UW, commuting to/from campus is hardly the only or even the primary source of transit ridership in the neighborhood. The U District has a large residential population who use transit to go to work, shopping, errands, entertainment, visiting friends, or any of the other reasons someone might want to take a trip away from home. Beyond that a large number of students use transit in the afternoons and evenings to do the same sort of things. The U District is also a major destination for shopping and entertainment in its own right.

      3. Or, if you work in Lake City and live in Lynnwood, you might end up transferring in the U-District to get between home and work.

    4. Instead of just widening the sidewalk, they should narrow this stretch of Brooklyn down to 1 or zero car lanes or apply some other treatment to discourage car through traffic in front of the entrance, along with lots of park-like additions like trees and benches and food trucks or whatever, all making it a pedestrian-centric safe haven. At least this could help with the station visibility concerns and possibly even make it a new focal point in the area. If we’re “stuck” with the single entrance let’s make it an awesome entrance.

      1. It would be nice to make that two-or-three blocks of Brooklyn Avenue into some sort of pedestrian park. Maybe something like what San Jose did for their light rail in the heart of downtown. Its close to their University, next to restaurants/retail, and it looks nice with great benches, trees, fountains, etc…and NO CARS.

      2. Maybe. Turning Brooklyn into a pedestrian plaza would make it impossible to reroute buses in front of the station and have a future streetcar go through there. Given the hand-wringing about transfers, I’d suggest moving the 70/71/72/73 to Brooklyn from Campus Parkway to at least 50th, and move the 44 to Brooklyn between 45th and Pacific St. Traffic signals, lanes and sidewalks can all be upgraded to accommodate it. Brooklyn could be made into a transit-priority street like 3rd Ave.

      3. Oh, god. Not this Great Well-Intentioned Canard(tm) again.
        (read pages 2 and 3 especially)

        “The wide sidewalks looked empty, even when they were crowded. The Loop reportedly had one of the lowest crime rates in the city, but without crowds, people thought State Street was unsafe.”

        “It did not help that the vast walkway of the mall gave State an empty look, which, together with the absence of cars, ‘gave it a deadened feel, like a ghost town,’ said Craig Wolf, a spokesman for [Chicago’s] Department of Transportation.”

        A sense of density begets actual density begets a sense of density, people!

      4. How does a sense of density beget density? Interesting concept I’d like to hear more about. My intuition would think otherwise, especially in a place like Seattle where alack of open space would be more of a deterrent to density.

      5. I could definitely see density begetting density (more people draw more services which draw more people, etc) but what I’m curious about is how a sense of density begets density.

      6. d.p., Your articles are talking about major, multi-block, commercial, streets…Brooklyn between 43rd and 45th is a single block, 500ft stretch on the shared porch of a light rail station and the tallest building in the neighborhood. Hardly comparable.

      7. 1. Archie, the point is that multi-use streets beget a feeling of all-purpose, all-hour activity. Isolate and segregate your uses and you kill the very thing that makes cities exciting.

        2. Seattle has no shortage of “open space.” Pocket plazas and parking lots and a total dearth of consistent street frontage: this city is nothing but open space.

        3. “The tallest building the neighborhood” doesn’t put eyes on the street. Passing cars, commercial vehicles unloading, and pedestrians coming in and out of street-level shops — those are the things that put eyes on the street. More eyes beget a feeling of safety beget actual safety.

        4. Boston pedestrianized a single major intersection in the 70s, when it was trendy. It is located directly above one of the busiest subway junctions in America. It is sketchy, abandoned, and willfully avoided after sundown (while busy multi-modal and pedestrian activity exists 1 block away in all directions).

        5. If you lose critical pedestrian mass by pedestrianizing a major street, would it not be even worse to pedestrianize a less-used side street?

        6. Most importantly, none of this is conjecture. Between the ’50s and ’80s, in an attempt to make dying cities feel more like shopping malls, hundreds of North American cities tried this. All but nine have been abject failures. (Of those nine, seven are located in small college towns with 100% captive demand — no, the U-District doesn’t meet this criteria — and the other two are located immediately adjacent to major tourist destinations.)

      8. “What I’m curious about is how a sense of density begets density.”

        People want to go places that are popular. The more active a place seems, the more people will be drawn to it, and the more active it will get.

        Good planning can make a moderately-active place feel electric, jump-starting the cycle.

        Bad planning can make the same moderately-active place seem dead, killing the cycle and the place.

      9. Interesting points, thanks. How do you feel about SDOT’s plan to shut Denny off to cars between Broadway and 10th right in front of the Capitol Hill station, connecting pedestrians with the new Nagle place?

      10. I feel the same way. You need to emerge from the station and be in the city, not in a bubble.

        Go ahead and traffic-calm Denny if you want. But blocking it off is just a bad “urban renewal” idea rearing its stubborn head. SDOT is 40 years behind the times.

        It’s funny how “connecting” really means “isolating.”

      11. What about Duesseldorf and Liege other cities in Europe where several blocks of the “old town” is pedestrianized? It’s successful there.

      12. Mike,

        The key there is the words “old town.” Some re-pedestrianization schemes have succeeded in Europe, but these have generally been limited to areas where the width of the rights-of-way and the scale of the architecture preceded automobiles in the first place. They are also cities that have never experienced reductions in pedestrian critical mass, and they tend to have large swaths of walkable city (i.e. further sources of demand) extending in all directions.

        Simply put, the streets themselves are much busier than the Ave, and are located in areas much denser than the U-District.

        England actually contains both paradigms: historic cores that have reverted to pedestrian space (and succeeded); as well as attempts to force unnatural pedestrian zones in modern space (as disastrous as their U.S. cousins).

      13. d.p., I definitely see your points and they are important ones, although I’m not convinced they apply in these two cases. For one, the Denny closure is very small and borders a very active, traffic-heavy Broadway and an extremely successful urban park. I see it as a permanent crosswalk more than anything. In my original suggestion for Brooklyn station, note I said 1 or zero lanes. I could definitely see a 1 lane config kind of like the new Bell St. (How do you feel about that project, btw?) The single lane could be set up northbound to allow “kiss & ride” type of parking pockets.

      14. “For one, the Denny closure is very small…”

        It’s not about the length of the closure. It’s about “through” versus “not through” streets. Unless you are dealing with 24-hour active space (think New York or Tokyo, not Broadway), a sense of available throughput is very import to sustain a sense of used (and therefore vibrant and safe) urban space.

        “…and borders a very active, traffic-heavy Broadway and an extremely successful urban park.”

        All the more reason that additional pedestrian-only space is unnecessary and interruptive.

        My basic belief is that humans do a pretty lousy job with overthought, overstructured, and overdesigned “placemaking.” They have a 100-year track record of trying too hard and mostly failing. Few of the places you’d ever want to spend time were planned in any formal manner. (Even the worthwhile ones, among those that were, have generally taken on a life beyond what the planners could imagine.)

        The Bell Street diet is meaningless. They were able to “justify” it because it’s so underused (literally the opposite of the critical density you’d actually want as your rationale). Almost no businesses directly face it. Every corner has a resident drug dealer. Now the drug dealers will have more room, because the neighborhood certainly won’t be using the space. You can’t wish “healthy” space into existence.

        So I guess I feel the same way about a one-way, one-lane Brooklyn Ave with “kiss-n’rides” that tell people exactly how to use the space — namely, to get dropped off directly at the station entrance. Don’t force such uses: a normal street has ample room to walk to the station and ample room to get dropped off. The same people will take different routes at different times and under different circumstances. Leave the possibilities of the space open in their minds.

      15. “All but nine have been abject failures. (Of those nine, seven are located in small college towns with 100% captive demand —”

        Untrue. I live in one of those seven towns — Ithaca. We most certainly do not have 100% captive demand. Car ownership is high (no rail system!), walking straight up and down the hills is rather unpopular, and have you heard of the summer when all the students are gone? Furthermore there are other parts of town — the Commons is not really next to either college’s dorms.

        The crucial aspects are this:
        (1) The pedestrianized section is really very small. A T-shape of three blocks, and the blocks are *short*.
        (2) It’s the restaurant (particularly important) and “tourist trap” district, with significant efforts made by the city to keep the arthouse movie theater, bookstores, coffeehouses, etc., located there. The block which has nothing but banks fronting on it is the least successful of the three, and the city eventually started encouraging food carts to set up there.
        (3) There are three multistory parking garages within one block.
        (4) Public events and fairs are routinely held at the pavilions constructed along the Commons, and there’s a playground in the middle of it. As well as *gobs* of trees.

        In other words, it already had the characteristics of a mall before it was pedestrianized, and the pedestrianization was largely used to add the characteristics of a park to it.

        The same formula does not seem to have been used in most larger cities which tried this in the 70s — the Boston failure is a blistering expanse of concrete which doesn’t feel like a park at all, and which is surrounded by government buildings, not restaurants.

        It worked when Broadway was pedestrianized in Manhattan recently, because the situation was similar: there were already lots of pedestrians, there wasn’t much room for them, and there was a lack of park-style land immediately adjacent to the restaurants — and pedestrianization didn’t make it any harder for anyone to get there.

        Rule of thumb: if there are masses of restaurants fronting the block and they are itching to expand outdoor seating, you can probably do well with pedestrianization!

        Seattle has many parks and squares adjacent to its commercial areas, so the recipe doesn’t seem to apply to most of Seattle. It *certainly* doesn’t seem to apply to the area around the proposed Brooklyn station.

  14. Aren’t there multiple state and federal safety regulations that forbid building an enclosed facility like this with only one exit.

    Does the phrase “fire trap” ring a bell?

    1. There are fire exits. Go back and look at the designs, there’s emergency staircases at both ends, Plus the massive dual escalators in the middle.

  15. Is it just me or does it seem like ST already had their minds made up on the lowest cost option before the public hearing? A couple of minutes (each way) walking on a night like this might very well be the tipping point between driving or just not going there at all. Just having a restaurant on the wrong corner or other side of the street can be a make or break difference. For students and commuters it might not be a big deal. But for discretionary trips, especially after dark and in the rain it is. It’s the off peak ridership that will make or break the system. Link is far too expensive to every be a success just as a commuter line. The DT tunnel is arguably ideally located with numerous stops but it’s still not bringing a lot of people into DT in the evenings. In fact my observation was that more people are leaving DT Seattle at 9PM on a Friday than coming in.

    1. The DT tunnel is arguably ideally located with numerous stops but it’s still not bringing a lot of people into DT in the evenings.

      Maybe because there isn’t much open Downtown on evenings? Westlake is open somewhat late, and Westlake Station always has people in it.

      And at the UW–no two people have the same schedule. There are plenty of students that commute during off-peak hours. A full time student is only in class for an average of 3 hours a day, which may or may not have significant breaks between and may or may not be every day. I’ve had days with only an hour of classes mid-day. I lived within walking distance, but if I had to commute, I definitely wouldn’t have been on campus from 9 to 5.

      1. Maybe because there isn’t much open Downtown on evenings?

        Chicken and the egg. Build transit and they will come? Doesn’t really seem to work that way. The tunnel has been open for decades. There is no “all day every day” demand in Seattle like there is in say London or New York or Paris. So a miss by a block may truly be a miss by a mile.

      2. Downtown is still very office heavy, which is changing slowly, but even so, much of the entertainment people think of as “Downtown” is actually in Belltown. You could change at University St and take one of the Belltown locals, but that’s an option most people who can afford to party in Belltown aren’t going to bother with — they’ll just drive. Parking lots on the weekend in Belltown are packed to bursting. Also, consider where the train runs — to the Ranier Valley. How many people from the RV are coming to party downtown?

        Between non-9-to-5 schedules in the U-District, and entertainment traffic between Downtown, Capitol Hill and the U-District, Link will do just fine. It won’t pack four-car trains anytime soon, but the cost per boarding should be less than busses at least until 10 pm Mon-Thur and later on Friday and Saturday.

      3. You’re both right.

        Tim’s right that the U-District is already in better shape for all-hour demand (both in the types of services it offers as a destination and in its easy perpendicular transfers) than downtown.

        Bernie’s right that the psychology of access is paramount, and that little changes in perception beget huge changes in habit. (The “restaurant on the wrong corner” is a great example.) So try a little harder to get this right, Sound Transit!

    2. “more people are leaving DT Seattle at 9PM on a Friday than coming in.”

      I go to evening movies downtown, and Pine Street’s wide sidewalks are packed full of pedestrians around 7-9pm. I’m not sure when exactly they thin out, maybe before 9, maybe after 9. But it really surprises me to see so many people out as if it’s a weekday afternoon or Saturday afternoon. So the midtown retail district is definitely attracting the crowds, plus the street violinists and do-nothings.

      The office district south of University empties out in the evening, but that’s because there’s nothing to go to there. Just the Art Museum making a little inroad.

  16. I’m still not convinced that finding the station is the biggest hurdle to ridership at this station. I’ll explain this based on my knowledge of living in the area and riding the bus routes (most often the Downtown Express routes) in the area.

    The majority of people moving around in the region are either affiliated with the UW or live in the immediate vicinity. If you can make transit work for you AND you don’t have a preconceived notion about transit being bad, you use it. By “work for you” I mean that your origin and destination are accessible enough by transit for the times you need to use it. For example, a trip downtown to Macy’s is easily accessible–transit runs the entire time the store is open. But a trip to hike to the top of West Tiger 3 isn’t accessible by transit at any time of day. So you’d be likely to drive to that one.

    So for those living or working near the station will use it if they want to. The location of the entrance probably would have little to do with this adoption.

    Not everyone that’s in the U-District lives, works, or goes to school there. There’s a significant population that is there for a few days out of the year. Guest speakers, potential students, and football fanatics are a couple of personas that I’ll address, starting with the latter.
    Football fanatics swarm to campus a few days a year. When it’s legal and profitable, both public and private bus companies run shuttles to and from the game. Others drive or carpool. Some walk. Most arrive shortly before kickoff, and if arriving by rail would be using Husky Stadium station. However there’s another significant portion of alumni that like to show up a few hours beforehand. This population likes to take up the street parking that some of us full-time residents depend on, and likes to frequent our fine establishments throughout the U-District. The Bookstore is one of the more popular locations; the terrible Chinese restaurants across the street from each other are much less popular.
    Assuming this population has done enough research to know that Brooklyn Station will be the closest station to these fine retail establishments, they’ll take the train to this station and disembark there. After patronizing their choice of establishments, they’ll then make their way to the stadium. The two most obvious choices would be to walk (currently the most popular choice as I’ve seen droves of them walking across campus towards the stadium, and the reverse after the game) or to take the train. Station access is of little importance since the station itself does not move. Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention will remember how they got from the station to the business they visited, and it’s simply a matter of re-tracing steps to find the station again. In fact, the single entrance makes it easier, because you’ll never inadvertently pass one entrance in search of the one you exited from.

    Guest speakers, potential students, and other types of visitors will essentially be in the same boat–their initial experience will be coming out of the station. It’s simply a matter of remembering where it is. Landmarks–such as the UW Tower–help immensely. Once you’re headed in the general direction of the Tower, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the entrance that you’ve already used.

    I had this same thing happen to me in another city–Los Angeles. My plan was to catch the Green Line to the Red Line to its northern terminus. Once on board the Red Line, I eventually got hungry, and decided to hop off the train in Hollywood. I hopped off at Hollywood/Vine for cell reception and did a quick search for nearby restaurants. Deciding on In-N-Out, I noticed that Hollywood/Highland station was actually closer, so I went back underground (having not left the station yet) and rode one stop. Hopped out and had a general idea of where the restaurant was. Went there (Dick’s is better), and without consulting a map, walked back and managed to find the station with little difficulty. It was in the same place, and landmarks such as Hollywood High School guided the way. If there was any signage pointing towards the station, I didn’t notice it. I was simply looking for the large, sweeping stainless steel.

    Back to Brooklyn Station, the only two personas that I can think of that I haven’t discussed are residents and transferring passengers. For residents, I would assume that finding the station would be no more difficult than finding a bus stop. There is the initial hurdle of learning the correct line/route you need and where to catch it. From there, your familiarity of the area should make it easy to find the station.

    Transferring passengers will undoubtedly have the most trouble locating a new station. We cannot assume that they will have any familiarity with the area thus making finding the station difficult. However I am not so sure that the amount of passengers transferring to Link at this station will be as big of a chunk as some commenters make it out to be. The location of this station and spacing between stations limit the reasonableness of how far away one would transfer to get here. Anyone north of Ravenna Blvd would likely transfer instead to Roosevelt or Northgate stations, and anyone further south could probably use Husky Stadium station. From the west, I question how much time would be saved by travelling east and then transferring to Link to get, say, Downtown. Brooklyn to Downtown would be about 8 minutes, and transferring from Latona would equal about a five minute ride on the 44. A direct trip from 45th & Latona to Downtown on the 26 takes just 20 minutes. Factor in walking to the platform, and Link only beats this by about five minutes, assuming no time is spent waiting for a train. If you wait five minutes or more, you would have been better off taking the 26 downtown. This wait time tradeoff increases the further away from 45th/Latona you get–I doubt anyone would be taking Link to get to Ballard. As slow and meandering as they are, the 15, 18, and various other routes would still be faster.
    East of the station is not quite as simple. Routes 64 and 74 are the only downtown routes I can think of, and would likely be truncated (as would the 243 once East Link finally opens). Transferring to Link will likely be the best option for accessing any area near a Link station.

    To summarize:
    1. A majority of the riders using this station will not have trips originating from this station. How visible the statation entrance is from the street is irrelavant when you’re walking out of it.
    2. Once you know, you know. Once you’ve located the station, and heaven forbid you have to ask a passerby for directions, you know where it is and visibility is unimportant.

    1. Tim, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head for the most part, but I want to challenge one of your points:

      “Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention will remember how they got from the station to the business they visited, and it’s simply a matter of re-tracing steps to find the station again. In fact, the single entrance makes it easier, because you’ll never inadvertently pass one entrance in search of the one you exited from.”

      If there are two entrances, it’s not a fatal error for the rider to miss a closer entrance if he knows where the other entrance is. He may have to walk a bit farther, but he may discover the location of the other entrance in his wanderings on the surface and save some walking.

      In either case, good wayfinding information, both in the station, and on the surface can help the riders save some walking.

      1. It’s not a fatal error for the rider to miss a closer entrance if he knows where the other entrance is.

        True, but if these entrances are so hard to find (as some readers are implying) I wouldn’t be surprised if you walked right by it. The entrance to University Street Station at 3rd & Seneca seems like an entrance that would fit that situation.
        And while I’m comparing apples to blueberries here, even I don’t know where all the entrances to Westlake are.

    2. The downtown-to-Northgate segment will be a massive benefit to the region even if the entrances are a couple blocks less than ideal. What’s a couple blocks to avoid the crowding/slowness/aggrevation of the 71/72/73? Or the slowness of the 48 and 66? It won’t do much for Latona, but Latona has fewer residents and regional businesses than the surrounding neighborhoods. Link will do more for Wallingford because some people will find it more pleasant than the 16 or 358, even if the trip takes a bit longer. Especially with the 358’s ugly highway stop that’s also a couple blocks from the 44. (How much Wallingfordites and Ballardites will ride Link depends on whether the street improvements for the 44 get done.)

  17. Re your LA story, cities should show their restaurant districts on the subway map. I had two mediocre experiences in LA and NYC. I was in the city for a day and wanted to eat. So I looked on the subway map and guessed which stations would be central or retail or have a mall, but I was totally wrong. In LA, I chose one of the Vermont stations but everything was closed except a couple taco stands. (it was Sunday afternoon.) I walked for an hour and finally went back to a taco stand. In NYC, I chose something in the midtown East Side, but it was all offices and nothing else. I finally found a pizza hole-in-the-wall. I knew there was Chinatown and retail/pedestrian areas like the U-district somewhere, but I didn’t know where they were. It would be nice if the maps indicated this.

    1. This is the first I’ve heard of “restaurant districts”. You may as well highlight the entire U-District. The Ave is chock full of restaurants, but what about Agua Verde? There are no other restaurants around it, so what do you do, highlight it? Then when a restaurant closes (for good), you have to change your map. And if you don’t highlight a certain restaurant, they sue the transportation agency in accusations of “favoring” other restaurants over theirs.

    2. I mean places like the U-district or Broadway or a mall. Large concentrations of restaurants/retail/pedestrians. Not individual restaurants.

      1. Then non-restaurant retail establishments would complain about preferential treatment.

        Landmarks are fine; unofficial “districts” have no reason to be there.

      2. Tourist maps, privately produced, traditionally mark such districts, the restaurant districts. They include a fairly arbitrary list of restaurants usually; since they’re privately produced nobody can complain about their arbitrary choices.

  18. Official reason:

    Sound Transit had considered two design options – Option 1 (Modified Preliminary Engineering) and Option 2 (Single Entrance).

    Sound Transit believes Option 2 meets long-term passenger needs with lower construction impacts, risk, and cost compared to Option 1.

    To help inform the decision, Sound Transit hosted a Brooklyn Station public open house on Jan. 27. More than 150 people attended the open house, providing feedback verbally and in written comments. Sound Transit also received comments via e-mail.

    Overall, there was strong support for transit improvements and constructing the Link light rail station in the U-District. Few of the open house attendees, community stakeholders, or e-mail correspondents expressed a strong preference between the design options at Brooklyn Station. Among those who did, opinion was roughly split evenly between the two options.

    In general, people who supported Option 2 cited the cost and schedule benefits as well as easier, more direct access to the station platform, especially for disabled patrons.

    Those who favored Option 1 preferred two station entrances, citing easier pedestrian access to the entrances, easier connections to buses, and better pedestrian security.

    As final design proceeds, Sound Transit will explore ways to improve station entrance visibility, pedestrian connections and way-finding tools for the Single Entrance option.

    More details about the Brooklyn Station design will be presented and discussed at a public open house this spring once 30 percent design is complete.

    While commentors on this blog seemed to have favored Option 1, I’m not sure how many of them submitted comments. Blog comments are not an official way to submit comments to any transit agency.

  19. A stupid decision.

    Eventually, they will have to create more entrances. This will cost more in the long run, but it won’t be the “fault” of folks working at ST now.

    Penny wise; pound foolish.

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