Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge
Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge, photo by Gregory Taylor

[UPDATE: The bullet about light rail to Wallingford was incorrect. See the story a couple of posts down for more.]

This is an open thread.

56 Replies to “News Round Up: Light Rail Two Steps Forward…”

    1. Hey, we’re neighbors!

      I love that they’re adding retail to Post Ave – this will make a nice little pedestrian zone.

      1. I love their canopy lighting idea for Post Ave — it’s pretty dingy right now. Also, if you click through the news articles, you’ll see they have very small studio units around the garage. I’m not wild about that location — people renting small studios downtown probably don’t have cars — but I like that they’re putting in some small units.

      2. I don’t know, but we used to have parking minimums of around 120% downtown (see the story here about Brix).

      3. Some suburbs in other states have parking minimums of two spaces per house or apartment, so 200%. Seriously. :-P

    1. I like sitting down to eat outside, and the food might be good too. But I cannot stand smelly food or noisy eating in just any old place (buses, libraries, stores, etc). Let’s eat where we eat, and be polite everywhere else.

      1. This is crazy. The one thing the rest of the world has that we American’s just can’t grasp the concept of is street food. Restaurants are for when you want to hang out, street food is for when you want to eat. It allows people to congregate and include food in what they’re doing. This twisted mentality that we have to be couped up inside a building labeled restaurant is also what keeps us from experiencing one of Europe’s greatest treasures – eating outside on the terrace. If a restaurant puts tables outside someone flips out because it just isn’t right eating outside. Have a BBQ however and everyone is fine with it. Strange. How did this get beaten into our heads? The one thing I don’t want is to be paying restaurant prices for food I have to eat on a picnic table ie. Portlands Cartopia. Please, if I’m eating with the Seagulls and you don’t have a mortgage on a building don’t charge me restaurant prices.

      2. This twisted mentality that we have to be couped up inside a building

        What the hell are you talking about? America invented first the drive-in and then the drive through. It’s those silly Frogs that think it’s important to sit down and have food served to you in a restaurant (be it inside or outside). It’s the French that are stuck on the notion that you should sit and enjoy a meal when you can get ample carbohydrates, fats and protein on the go. You only have to deal with an incompetent fast food cashier for a minute; a french waiter hangs around to ruin your entire meal :=

    2. For whatever reason, eating while walking around is considered rude in Japan (at least where I was an exchange student).

      1. Yet in Shanghai on warm days it’s hard to find someone without an ice cream in their hand. My favorite was ice cream dipped in chocolate surrounded by more ice cream with crunchy candy dipped in more chocolate with nuts. Mmmmmmm…

      2. It is rude. Walking behind someone and making “smack smack smack” sounds or sitting on the bus eating stinky fried chicken are both rude behaviours.

      3. I can agree about the bus, thanks to the closed-in airspace and the need to touch surfaces. But why is walking down the street with an ice cream or giant cookie rude? Are we to all sit in air conditioned restaurants to eat our ice cream cones?

      4. Walking down the street with an ice cream cone isn’t rude. Walking down the street eating an ice cream cone is. Sit down and eat your ice cream, don’t walk all over town dripping it on everything.

        And please please don’t eat it on the bus

      5. This is ridiculous. Few people think eating on the bus is okay, but fewer still think it’s bad manners to eat an ice cream cone. Get off your high-horse.

      6. Are you serious? You get upset when someone walks down the street eating an icecream cone?!?! Of if they smack, smack smack?!?! Have you considered a move to Singapore? :)

  1. Re: Broadway TOD
    If I read this right two sites (A-1, D) have 85′, for the rest 65′ or even less (40′ for B-2). Is this big enough for critical mass? Will their little plaza work, farmers market notwithstanding? General height should be 6/7 stories with allowances for more at stations.

    1. Yeah, again, this is an area that really should be getting more density. It’s already very dense, so it doesn’t seem like there should be NIMBYs against allowing like 10 or 12 stories at the very center of this neighborhood, but I’ve never seen that on the table.

    2. Yup, you’re right. No densities here that are particularly high for the neighborhood. A lot of the low high limits are because they’re putting a lot of effort into making sure the so-called plaza doesn’t end up being in shadow. I would really love to see at least 100′ in the blocks around the station, tapering down at the edge of the 5-min walk radius. But DPD doesn’t seem to be interested.

      In the “other great ideas” section at the end, there’s a note suggesting A1 and A2 get bumped up to the 240′ – 400′ range, with a podium and setback at the mid 40’s. Thus, a single landmark tower to anchor the station.

      As a matter of fact, just about everything in the “other great ideas” section seems better than the actual recommendation. But DPD just wants to go with the status quo. How high do rents have to get in this city before they realize there’s a serious demand for apartments?

      1. Then they should skip the precious plaza. Few people will spend time there outside the farmer’s market festivities. If they want open space there’s a park nearby. Utilize Denny Way and Nagle Pl more if you want places for activities and markets.

      2. The report even says there will be more than 9,000 units of demand by the time the station opens.

  2. So, how has sub-area equity not to be blamed for the South Link extension delay? From ST’s own statements, South King Co revenues are down, which delays the project, and they cannot move money around from other sub-areas to save the project. The project has not been delayed for engineering, environmental, political, or social reasons; only a lack of money. As of now, there appears to be no delays in North, North North, and East Link projects because those sub-areas are not nearly as hard hit. I’m curious as to how you (Andrew) draw your opinion that there are other forces to blame for the delaybecause to this reader, the conclusion is that the inability for ST to move money around (sub-area equity rules) is the issue. And if sub-area equity is not the issue, then what is?

    1. Shifting money to South Link would delay North Link or East Link. Why is that better?

    2. More infuriatingly, the idiots at the Stranger don’t seem to get that if suburban interests got to choose how to spend the money (and that’s what would happen if all the money were pooled), Seattle almost certainly wouldn’t be getting a subway: we’d be getting Denver-style light rail heading straight up I-5 and down Marginal way headed for the county lines. Federal Way would be getting their light rail — paid for by Seattle.

  3. I was called by a company doing advertising research for Amtrak. They asked a lot of questions about my last train trip, and if I had seen certain Amtrak commercials on TV or seen them in magazines or on the internet. A number of the questions were related to Acela and other northeastern trains. They also asked if I had heard Spanish language ads (no, I don’t speak the language) and ads in some black publications which I don’t read. Overall it was interesting what they were trying to find out. It seem skewed towards east coast trains. The Coast Starlight was the only non-eastern train mentioned. So overall Amtrak is trying to gauge the effectiveness of their marketing.

    1. I heard an Amtrak ad on the radio about $40 RT tickets to Vancouver BC a week ago. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen/heard Amtrak ads.

    2. Amtrak’s been trying a lot of experimental marketing techniques (my favorite are the ads around O’Hare in Chicago — to be fair, airlines are advertising in Union Station). It’s no wonder they’re trying to figure out what worked. I actually got one of those calls a few months ago myself.

  4. Not a fan of that KIRO story about South Link being scaled back – it takes the tack that “people will continue to pay for light rail but won’t get any of it!” as though sub-area equity were a myth, or as though they were willfully ignoring their own quotes showing that the whole problem is that the taxpayers aren’t paying enough…

  5. You might want to change Stadium Station to read UW Station. My first thought WAS [the existing] Stadium Station on the current Central Link route.

  6. Question for all you bus enthusiasts: What is that piece of plastic running vertically on the left side of Metro’s Gillig buses? It’s the piece that also has a bus number on it? I’ve been trying to figure it out for some time. Thanks.

  7. “City Study recommends LRT to Wallingford, Lake Union.” I wish. It designated corridors through those areas as high-priority corridors, but that could mean anything from peak bus lanes to underground light rail when the plan actually comes out. We’ll see what it recommends; I’m there at every meeting rooting for higher investment!

    1. I’ve been a fan of a Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford line, as an initial segment of a Ballard, Sandpoint, Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah line for a while now.

    2. It looks like the usual game of telephone and natural exaggeration, originating with the Stranger’s use of “light rail” in the headline.

    3. What I want to know is how come they felt it ok to run LINK at grade through Rainier Valley but had to build a subway station in the University District.

      Is it ok to run over S. Seattlites, but not the Lil Darlings of UW?

      1. For the extremely obvious reason that there’s no suitable ROW available on the corridor from Downtown to Northgate.

  8. Lots of comments recently of the vein STB has “lost it” regarding tunnel posts. Just want to say I still think the crew provides a diverse viewpoint and keeps important issues front and center. I’m often at odds with the conclusion/viewpoint but keep up the good work. My only suggestion is that in the spirit of “fair and balanced” you enlist or sponsor some guest posts in favor of the DBT. Perhaps Ron Sims if those bridges haven’t been burned.

    1. Some of us are objecting to the tone and lack of substance in some tunnel posts. If STB wishes to carry into future (winnable) pro-transit campaigns its current technical credibility and wonkish reputation, those posts undermine that goal.

    2. Yes, STB should invite someone to write a post in favor of the DBT. Ideally someone who has been friendly in the past. Perhaps Richard Conlin, Greg Nickels, or Dow Constantine?

      1. I’d support that. If only to throw fresh meat to us wolves. ;-)

      2. If someone could actually come up with a credible, fact-based argument in favor of the deep bore tunnel (not the shallow-bore tunnel, which actually has valid arguments for it, but the deep bore tunnel), that would be a first.

        And therefore it would be a real coup for STB. Sadly, I don’t think Conlin, Nickels, or Constantine will come up with such an argument, or they would have already.

      3. I can’t imagine any official wanting to write a pro-tunnel statement on this blog. I am pro-tunnel myself, and every time I write, I get slammed by immature, innane people who have nothing better to do than to pounce on any misspelling, any mistake of fact, etc.

      4. It’s a blog, not a public hearing, which requires a bit of a thick skin. One problem is that this is a transit blog and the DBT provides nothing (at least nothing supporters have pointed out) for transit. In fact it’s the very opposite being that it’s huge expense precludes any funds for transit. Still, there are plenty of people voicing there opinion in support of the tunnel but all of it is along the lines of “get over it, it’s done, you’re wasting money fighting a decision made for you that’s not going to change”. Nobody has yet been able to explain why, other than it’s a done [backroom]deal. Not surprising since it was “decided” with zero public information on a virtually zero time frame (we don’t need no stinking EIS).

    3. On the subject of tunnel posts:

      1) We are always and forever open to guest posts from major public figures about transportation issues. I will not knowingly print anything demonstrably untrue, but aside from that it’s always of interest to know where officials stand on important issues, regardless of whether the position is pro-transit, anti-transit, or whatever. As an added bonus, I’ll rigorously enforce the comment policy in any such post to avoid truly extraneous attacks.

      2) We have not actively solicited pro- or anti-tunnel guest posts from anyone.

      3) It happens that Andrew, Ben, Adam, and I all have reservations about the tunnel that are all somewhat different, and we’ve posted about them. A couple of other staff have reservations but didn’t have much to add, and I honestly don’t know what the others think. STB staff are free to advocate for whatever position they wish on the DBT, but at the moment it seems to be a landslide.

      4) STB has always been an advocacy site, and though we’re concerned about accuracy, we’re not particularly concerned about a “balance” of opinion on any issue, whether it’s ST2, Metro funding, or the tunnel. No one who likes or liked STB at any point in time is really concerned about “balance”, they’re concerned that the staff disagrees with them on this particular issue. Anyone concerned about balance at STB fell off the wagon in 2007 when we shilled for Roads & Transit nonstop.

      And Bernie, thanks for the kind comments. You’re one of my favorite two or three commenters for a reason.

  9. Not really sure why you found the blog post about future transit “hilarious”.

    I added my own comment:

    Google has already demonstated auto-pilot cars and an auto-pilot Audi TTS climbed Pike’s Peak under its own guidance.

    This week Toyota opened a pipeline fed hydrogen station.

    Fuel cell cars are slated for production in 2015.

    So by 2030 we may have a Personal Transit System of auto-pilot taxis fed by renewably generated hydrogen.


  10. Metro’s being sued by a patent troll who defrauded the patent office.

    The “patents” are on things which are blatantly obvious, which the patent office should never have allowed to be patented in the first place.

    Hopefully Metro not only fights this, but gets the patents thrown out and gets punitive damages. Sadly I doubt they will. In the software industry, companies have finally started to figure out that invalid and illegal patents need to be fought aggressively, but I doubt a transit agency will figure this out.

    (The patents at issue do in fact seem to be software patents, and so were illegally issued in more ways than one — dozens of illegalities are typically involved in the issuance of software patents, most of which are invalid on their face.)

  11. This makes no sense, do not blame sub-area equity on the lack of light rail in South King County.

    So Goldy posits that without sub-area equity Seattle would gladly have delayed North Link in order to fund light rail to Federal Way? Not only is that a preposterously false supposition it would be silly to do. And nobody but Goldy is attempting to “blame” the broken promise on sub-area equity. It’s not like the elimination of which would suddenly leave ST in a position where they can go back to lighting cigars with $100 bills.

    “sub-area equity” was originally billed… as a way to protect the rest of the Sound Transit taxing district from evil/greedy Seattle

    Maybe because that’s exactly what Metro does funding Seattle bus service with eastside subsides.

  12. rejuvenating the International District? I think the point is good, though I dislike the way this was written.

    You mean gems like, “the preferred mode of moving people has changed from rails to wheels and back to rails again”. Ignoring the fact that VMT by rubber tired vehicle remains vastly higher than passenger rail service… last time I checked railroads still relied on the invention of the wheel. Or maybe it’s:

    A community characterized by … , significant low-income households,

    As opposed to insignificant low-income households?

    while the [Asian Pacific Islander] population represents about 4.8 percent of the U.S. population, the API population is much higher in the Seattle area. More than 13 percent of the areas population is API with the Chinese population being the largest part of that growth, increasing by 67 percent.

    This statistic surprised me since I had the perception that the Chinese influence in “Chinatown” was being outpaced by immigrants from places like Vietnam and Korea. On closer reading you notice that “Seattle area” has been substituted for the ID. I suspect the increase in Chinese population as a percentage is due in large part to the “area of Seattle” called Bellevue.

    So instead of being the death knell of the Chinatown-International District, transit can be just the opposite, bringing in a new generation of Asian immigrants into the heart of the city and, at the same time, increasing access and mobility to existing residents of the neighborhood.

    This part is spot on. But the concluding sentence again falls short, “Transit Oriented Development is actually a preservation strategy.” No, the take away lesson should be that transit should serve development; TOD puts the cart ahead of the horse. Then the article goes off the reservation talking about transfer of development rights which is pretty much the opposite of TOD.

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