The double tall's stairwell
CT double decker's stairwell, photo by Atomic Taco

63 Replies to “News Round-Up: Hay Producers”

  1. So, instead of doing homework, I had a little transit planning fun. With the eventual conversion of the existing Transit Tunnel to LRT-only in the future, Seattle could really use a new bus-eventually-train tunnel to provide for growth and some good grade separated transport. So, thinking of existing issues with downtown traffic, and I-5 connectivity issues, I drew some lines on Google Maps. Pipe dream of course.

    Some key features:
    -Follows some of the lines proposed in Seattle over the last 75 years
    -Gets many 3rd Avenue buses off the very crowded surface street
    -Future conversion to LRT, meeting Seattles needs on heavily-traveled corridors
    -Provides additional downtown transit capacity (considering 3rd and the DSTT are often choked with traffic)
    -Better service to poorly-served uptown areas (by this I mean slowly served with is equivalent to poor service)
    -Mercer portal allows for buses to come from Interstate 5 and Express Lane ramps (think 520 buses)
    -Assumes Eastlake bus traffic is reduced drastically with Link service at the UW and extension of Seattle Streetcar
    -Westlake Portal for buses coming down Westlake Avenue
    -Future extension to West Seattle
    -Imagine if “they” blew the Viaduct money on a tunnel that isn’t THAT tunnel

    If anyone wants to check out the concept:,-122.319374&spn=0.023902,0.066047&z=15

    Comments/questions/criticism/etc are more than welcome!

    1. Fun. Why is the Elliot line so wiggly? I’d think it would be much easier to tunnel straight. Move the Westlake Junction to Olive & 5th and stay on 5th, then keep going in a straight line when you get to Denny. You’d probably have to pass under a corner of the Key Arena, but that would be a great spot for a station anyway.

      I’d also move the Library Station to the 5th Ave Theatre. They already have an underground pedestrian tunnel that goes all the way from 1 Union to 4th Ave – just one block from Westlake Station. If we could get under the Post Office and extend this tunnel we’d have an underground pedestrian path between the two stations.

      1. [aw] The monorail piles are pretty shallow. Check out 4:05 of the “Bored tunnel underground video” here.

        The tricky part might be getting lower than the Battery St. tunnel and higher than the new highway tunnel.

      2. The Elliott line is wiggly for two reasons:
        1) To give a nice high speed turn under the Seattle Center
        2) Moved the junction to 6the and Stewart because I figured there’d be some issues constructing a wye so close to a revised-Westlake Station.

        And I have the Dicks Drive-In Station near the Arena! It’s critical that our infrastructure in the city is able to connect the Dick’s locations. Imagine someday hopping on a train at Holman Road Dick’s, eating it, then getting off and getting ANOTHER Deluxe at the Queen Anne location! Amazing what technology can do for us.

        Moving that Library Station could be a possibility, or adding another. Part of the reasoning was to create a station in between University St and Pioneer Square. I really don’t see the need to have the stations connected since the lines would have connections at Westlake and IDS. Relocating the Westlake Stating a block south could help resolve that issue. And potentially remove any Westlake Junction issues. Hmmmmm…..

      3. @Mike: I’m afraid ST’s “rules for riding” expressly ban eating on the train—no exceptions for Dick’s, believe it or not :P

    2. Thanks for the ideas. You do bring up the point that ID stn would have to be expanded to remain a transfer-to-everything station.

      I’m not sure if I favor 5th or 2nd. What are your reasons for 5th? What would happen to the SLU streetcar? (Especially the overlapping on Westlake and the proposed extensions to Ballard and UW.)

      Two advantages for 2nd is that it would serve Belltown and potentially upper Queen Anne, emerging in Fremont, Interbay, or Ballard. I’ve become convinced that QA/Boston subway stn would be a better than 15th W. Queen Anne has a large transit-friendly population, and it takes a long time to get to the top of it by bus. 15th is just automobile-ville, even the new developments like Whole Foods, and Dravus does’t have that much potential, especially with the NIMBYs.

      1. I agree with the upper QA potential (and I’m not just saying that because it would benefit me). Upper QA has few roads on and off the hill, which leads to traffic that slows down buses, and even these roads are slow moving with twists and turns and stop signs. It’s also a streetcar suburb meaning existing SF homes are dense, is very walkable, and it’s got quite a bit of potential for expanding dense development (above many single-story shops on QA ave, and potentially a block on either side).

      2. The first intent of this project was to create a pure-bus tunnel with the ability to connect it to some sort of LRT or streetcar in the far future. My concept is to discontinue freeway buses utilizing the Stewart-Olive jump/clusterf, and to get the more serious buses off the downtown streets. Queen Anne electric bendys could run down QA Ave to hit the Dicks Drive In station for a transfer. I was thinking of a deep station under Queen Anne, but tunnel boring would be rather costly.

        The reason I choose 5th is so that in two places, there are direct connections with the existing tunnel. I’ve never really liked the 2nd alignment because its a block from the existing tunnel and I believe that having the waterfront detracts from potential ridership since its an ungrowable barrier. I5 could be lidded and we could place something on top. And 1st Ave may be getting the Streetcar, which will intersect my pipe dream at the Center and IDS.

      3. I can imagine a station at upper QA being costly, since they’d have to dig down like a Beacon Hill. But tunnel boring itself isn’t that costly. I assumed that’s the technology you’d use for all of this.

    3. A separate question. What have we learned from the DSTT: how would we design a future bus-to-train tunnel similarly/differently?

      The first thing in my mind is to design ORCA readers into the walkflow. I’ve never seen a city where you had to walk out of your way when passing into the fare-paid zone, or worse, have to search all around for the reader. I got off Sounder in Kent last week, and the readers were so unobtrusive I forgot to tap out and nothing reminded me.

      Some ppl have suggested shrinking the stations or mezzanines, although that’s not a priority for me. And we’d first have to decide how long the trains would be. I think two-car trains would be sufficient for a secondary line?

      1. Mike, it’s not that difficult, honestly. Really, the only issue was the rails and platform elevation. Back when the tunnel was being constructed, the rails were sort of thrown in as an afterthought. The future hope was to use them for LRT, obviously. The rail system was never designed properly and it wasn’t properly isolated from the rest of the tunnel infrastructure. I’ve heard that they were out of gauge as well. It really seems like they just threw the rails in the wet concrete and said “ok, we’re done”. Also, the elevation difference between yesteryear LRV’s and the ones we use created a problem for level boarding. Many cities have gotten around that by blowing off the whole idea of level boarding and having people requiring level boarding to push a button to deploy a little ramp. In San Diego and Portland, this process adds only a couple seconds to each station stop and saved a huge headache in lining up platforms to train floors. The electrical work is necessary because the trains draw a massive amount of power compared to the old electric buses. I suppose installing power equipment in advanced, but in 10-20 years, that technology might not be safe or efficient.

        The odd ORCA reader placement is the damndest thing. How bloody hard is it to put two at each station entrance/exit point of the station? They REALLY need to be right next to the textured yellow strip, not hidden in some corner behind a pipe. Edmonds has/had them placed free standing next to the strip. Really easy.

        It really was smart of the past planners to utilize 400′ platforms in the DSTT. Now we can have friggin massive heavy rail-like trains utilizing the long platforms when the Link system is quasi-heavy rail once NLink and ELink opens. I would love to keep using 400′ stations to allow us to always be able to use standard issue 98′ vehicles in a train of up to 4 vehicles. Portland is sort of kicking themselves for using 200′ platforms since it’s limited their capacity in some places. But they were also limited to 200′ because of the city block lengths downtown. If they were to tunnel downtown PDX, then a LOT of platforms would have to be retrofitted. San Diego was also limited by DT block length, where they have to have custom short vehicles for triple-car, block-long trains. They’re using short versions of the Siemens Avanto S70 LRV. Portland uses the regular-sized S70 LRV. The S70 is perhaps the nicest LRV I’ve ever seen.

        Short S70:
        Long S70:

        I’m totally geeking out right now!

  2. THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE!!! Thanks IBM :)[when you say “talking trains….]

    1. Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone noticed people seem to be more talkative on the Link? I’ve never had more random conversations with people anywhere in the city than I’ve had on the train. It really seems to bring out the best in people.

      IMO, I’m happy to see the Link get a little beat up. Get the ol’ gal worn in for a century of awesome service. But I think this quote sums it up best “for me, it became a real transit line when its population—and problems—started to look more like the population and problems of the rest of the city.”

      1. So much for the theory of light rail attracting “choice” riders, or people who would not consider riding a bus. According to Erica, the people riding Link light rail are exactly the same people who ride buses. This is the same thing I have observed.

        Along with the things Erica lists, I would add:

        There is often someone on Link who reeks of cigarettes.
        There are often people on Link eating.
        There are often people on Link playing music with headphones loud enough so half the car can hear it.
        There are often crying babies on Link.
        There are often teenagers on Link having very loud conversations.
        There are often drunks on Link.
        I have seen people being pahhandled on Link.
        There is often garbage on the floors and seats of Link.
        Luggage, wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes often clog the aisles on Link.

        In short: Link is just like riding a Metro bus.

      2. Wow Norman, this sounds like every mass transit system I have ever been on anywhere on this planet.

      3. I’d be surprised, in fact absolutely shocked, to see Link last a century. My first ride on it last year and all I could think of was I thought ST was supposed to know how to have this line designed and built properly?! I didn’t even know about the squealing issues, etc., but I knew that something wasn’t right the first time I rode it.

        This has all the hallmarks of not lasting, hopefully I’m wrong. I have to ride the stupid thing tomorrow, btw.

      4. “Wow Norman, this sounds like every mass transit system I have ever been on anywhere on this planet.”

        But, we were told that light rail was going to be “better” than buses! That was just a joke, huh? Now, we get the truth, which is that people who don’t like to ride buses because of the “undesirables” on them are not going to like riding Link light rail, either.

        In other words, the public was sold a bill of goods. An extraordinarily expensive bill of goods, at that.

      5. If course its like riding a Metro bus! Except its quiet, smooth, can carry 800 people with one operator, doesn’t get stuck in traffic, takes a few seconds at each station to stop, is electric, has fully-functioning heating and cooling, and has already caused a huge influx of private transit-orientated development around the line. Yep, exactly like a Metro bus.

        A rather good study from the Free Congress Foundation (FCF) showed that trains do attract choice riders. They concluded that anywhere between 50% and 80% of riders on LRT are users who would have otherwise driven their private vehicles depending on demographics. (Weyrich, et al., “Moving Minds; Conservatives and Public Transportation”, 2009). BTW, Paul Weyrich is also a co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, so he’s not just some random guy writing some random book.

        Oh, this thing will last a century. It’s built s**t for stout. It’s anther reason why it cost so dang much to build. If something as jerry-rigged as the New York Subway system can last 100+ years, the Link can too. It is designed properly. Hundreds, if not thousands of engineers, from a wide range of companies that specialize in transit and railroads worked on the design. Now construction and implementation are different stories! Frankly, the wheel squeal has been a mystery to most of the people who are experts in the field. But I’m curious, why do you not think the system is designed properly?

      6. I haven’t seen Link go to the depths of the 7, 358, or 3 & 4 yet.

        Twice in the past week I’ve encountered a marijuana plume on the bus. Once on the 101 northbound, and once on the 70s? on an intra-tunnel trip. The latter was so strong I transferred to the 550 at the next station. But of course Murphy’s law struck and the bus was delayed between stations before I could get off it.

      7. The 1-4 & 13 are actually very well behaved through Belltown and Queen Anne during the day. Not quite so much during the evening, but not at all bad. I assume you’re talking about the south section…

      8. Yes, the 3 & 4 problem is mainly from 3rd to Harborview. It may extend beyond that into the CD but I don’t remember in particular.

  3. Trolley trivia question. You know how, when there’s a switch to make a left turn, the wire that’s going straight is to the right, and (I think) is generally the default position, and a driver who wants to turn has to activate the switch to get on the left wire. Why is it backwards on the southbound 3rd & Seneca wire for the 2? This seems to have two bad effects: it adds an extra dead spot, as the turn wire crosses the forward wire, and means the trolley poles are crossed, so that southbound trolleys are held up waiting for the 2 to make the unprotected left.

    Any ideas?

    1. Having trouble visualizing what you are talking about. This is the type of question where pictures would help.

      1. Bruce –

        That’s a nice diagram, except, you know, it does not even remotely resemble the overhead at that intersection.

        I walked through there today and took a look at the wire. The wire is set up identically to your “typical left turn” drawing.

        There is a switch for the left turn wire to Seneca just south of Spring Street. It is a normal switch, set for straight. If a trolley signals or uses the override, the switch will set for a left turn. The insulator is on the straight wire, which means the lane changing #2 has power through the intersection.

        Note that insulators can be set up to give power to either direction. In most cases, the insulator is set up to give power to a movement that is uphill (notable exception – Broadway and Madison westbound).

        The overhead at this intersection has never looked as you described in your drawing. Before this current arrangement, the switch was much closer to the intersection, and trolleys served the zone (including the 2) southbound on 3rd Ave nearside of Spring.

      1. You’re right, and now I can’t find this anywhere on google maps. But I swear I saw this in real life! I’m not crazy! I’ll go out there today and track it down.

      2. Would’ve been niftier if had access to AutoCAD at home. Trying to draw something like this in Illustrator is a pain. I miss fillet, offset, typing exact length and radii for lines and arcs.

    1. My guess is that it’s up to negotiation with with the ORCA partnership to what the colleges want to do. Moving to ORCA-enabled student IDs is likely a complex and time-consuming task (see UW delays) so only a few would do that.

      EdPass was a sticker affixed to the student ID card, much like UW’s U-Pass. Bellevue College always sold a bus pass separate from their IDs. Cascadia was using the same UW U-Pass sticker on their ID but has since moved to plain ORCA cards separate from ID.

      Since most UW students and 71% of Edmonds CC use the pass, I suppose it’s “worth the effort”. Although I don’t know how many buy a pass at Bellevue or Seattle Central.

      1. Although I don’t know how many buy a pass at Bellevue or Seattle Central.

        Doesn’t Bellevue offer free parking? It’s got good transit service, but free parking will keep people from taking the bus, especially in the suburban part of Bellevue

  4. Too bad about the Westlake Center construction! I’d noticed all the stores moving but didn’t realize some like Daiso would be gone forever.

    1. I know, right? First, why does it take that long? And second, how is that station access not going to be a disaster with a nordstrom rack chaos machine occupying the entire floor?!?

    2. When I shopped on Daiso Westlake’s last day they said they are moving to the 2nd floor of Westlake Center. It was likely a last minute decision so that’s why it wasn’t mentioned in the article.

    3. I found out they were closing up the GameStop there, but I always thought it was because there was a redundant location two blocks away at Pacific Place anyway (one they got from the merger with EB Games).

  5. At these press conferences, like the one shown on Seattle Channel and linked to above, why does everyone stand around clasping their hands tightly in front of their bodies? Are they told to keep their hands “where we can see them” by some security goon?

    And boy does Gregoire look tired.

    1. Reminds me of the freakonomics thing where they say leaded gasoline caused crime.

    2. There was a study a few years back looking at cancer rates in the Seattle area. There was a corridor of them that followed I-5.

      I won’t shed a tear when internal combustion engines are only something found in history books (mostly because I’ll be dead by then, but still…).

      1. Various studies point to cancer, asthma, allergies, heart disease, stroke, autism, etc, etc, etc from what I call “carfug.” What is the minimum safe dose for carfug? Is there a minimum safe dose? How can vulnerable groups best avoid the carfug, based on the minimum safe levels for their risk group?

    3. I’ve come to think of Madrone trees as being like a canary in a coal mine. In Viewpoint Park which is right next to SR-520 all the Madrones are sickly and dieing. As you go north on 134th the the trees steadily get healthier. It’s a dramatic difference in the space of about a 1/2 mile.

      1. Madrones are sensitive to pollution, but they’re also sensitive to dozens of other factors that are certainly at play. The soil could be more compacted or be of a different texture closer to the highway. The trees by the highway could also be managed differently, or have more competition. At the very least, the trees by the highway are certainly less shaded, and sun exposure leads to thinned bark in madrones, which leads to more canker diseases. They probably get sun scald in the winter too.

        Unlike a canary in a coalmine, the madrones aren’t really telling you anything useful. And even if they were, do you need a canary to tell you that air pollution is worse near a six-lane highway than on a two-lane suburban road?

      2. Actually the trees in Viewpoint Park are if anything more shaded being mostly under second growth cedar and Douglas fir. The lots that were purchased to create the park are the same soil conditions as the R-1 zoning up the road. It is of course intuitive that the pollution near a six lane freeway would be greater than on a two lane road but what’s dramatic is the proximity effect. That is, how many blocks away you need to be before it seems the pollutants are indistinguishable from background levels and the rate at which it diminishes.

  6. 1) Regarding the tale of two stations: Portland has been trying harder in the mass transit arena for decades longer than Seattle, and being successful at it.

    2) They deserve the funds at Union Station. At King, many times I’ve gone into the station to inquire about something. More often than not I get a total loser who acts like I’m wasting his/her time. I wish I could use my Amtrak Guest Rewards points to kick out the sloths and take away their pensions. Lazy bunch. I’ve always had excellent service in Portland.

    Nice part on the bike and transit combination.

    1. Portland has been trying harder in the mass transit arena for decades longer than Seattle, and being successful at it.

      The first part of that is certainly not true. We had rail votes in the 1960s, and a lot of people worked really hard on those. The only difference is the “success” party.

      1. Not to be rude, seriously. Andrew, what happened then? They may have worked hard, but in the end it all came to nothing. I have respect for those individuals who in that pre-Amtrak era were trying to think ahead.

        From my perspective, albeit a short one, I’ve only seen half-baked plans and lame attempts at putting together a comprehensive transit policy for the Sound over the past two decades, more or less.

        The saga continues, or so it seems with the latest controversy over the tunnel. Whereas in Portland it seems their transit teams come up with a solution, and then actually implement it.

      2. I wrote a post a month or so ago about how Portland managed to get the feds to pay for most of their rail, something impossible here.

        Whatever you think of the system itself, it is obvious Portland has had huge success building light rail. In 25 years, they’ve manage to build 84 stations and lay 52 miles of track with a relatively small tax base. What may be a fairly under appreciated fact is that Portland residents have paid a small fraction of the cost of their light rail system. All told, Portland has spent just under $600 million on the six completed projects in their area, with the feds chipping in $1.7 billion, or nearly 74%. How has Portland been able to gain so much advantage from the Federal Transit Administration?

        I think one of the reasons it’s been harder here is because it costs so much more. If Sound Transit went to voters and said “$200 million for a 15 mile lrt line? yes/no?” We’d have built dozens of them. But instead they come to voters and ask “$2.4 billion for a 15 mile lrt line?” and it takes a lot longer to raise $2.4 billion than it does $200 million.

        No, on this I really disagree. Portland has managed to build more LRT because it’s much cheaper for them (We pay 80% for ours, they pay 20% and their 100% is much less), so it looks like they just have it all together.

    2. I’ve always had a good experience with Amtrak ticket agents and conductors. I can’t say that about Greyhound.

      1. Mike, Greyhound is another story altogether. I won’t take them unless its literally the only option. My experiences with conductors and tix agents has varied over the years. The last five years there seems to be a decline in customer service whether on-board or at the station.

        In fairness to Amtrak though, this seems to be a rising trend, and newer, younger generations don’t seem as concerned as with this as I am.

      2. Greyhound’s agent (and I say agent, because I keep seeing the same guy there) seems to be the kind of guy who doesn’t want to be there serving the “stupid people” that come and go on Greyhound. Like everyone is wasting his time. The baggage staff, meanwhile, despite their scruffy exteriors, are awesome guys who give a care. Even if they’re less than delicate with your bags.

        Amtrak’s staff are hit-or-miss. Either way, they don’t like people who actually like trains, and they especially hate people who know their way around discounts.

      3. Really weird. Travelling Amtrak across the country from upstate New York to the Midwest and the West Coast, the one consistent thing about Amtrak employees was that they *liked trains and liked people who liked trains*. You must have a few really weird people employed at Seattle.

    3. The Portland station is quite a bit nicer than King Street Station, but then they have had a head start. King Street Station has come a good ways in the last nine years.

      I’ve had decent service there, though I usually use the ticket kiosk to print my tickets out.

  7. “In other words, the public was sold a bill of goods. An extraordinarily expensive bill of goods, at that.”

    The public voted for expensive, high-quality light rail. And that’s what we’re getting.

  8. Good transit experience. Had to get from South Seattle Georgetown area to Safeco for opening day.

    Used to find nearby buses. Took the 23. The real time worked flawlessly…matched real world arrivals exactly. Was even able to see myself on the screen moving on the map as it happened!

    Using transit let me stay parked for free in Georgetown and spend only the bus fare there and back. The station at Safeco for the ride back was nicely situated just outside the stadium…closer than having to hike up Royal Brougham for the 150 like I normally do…and would be good in rain as its umbrella-ed by on of the new overhead ramps.

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