Tacoma Link Car 1001
Tacoma Link Photo by flickr User Atomic Taco

This is an open thread.

62 Replies to “News Round Up: Tacoma Link Construction Update!”

  1. Does anyone know why southbound South Bellevue Way was closed south of 112th yesterday around 4:30pm? I wasn’t too thrilled about the unexpected, without-explanation bus tour of Bellevue aboard the 556’s 4:25pm departure from BTC that went past BTC again on NE 4th a half-hour after leaving the first time, and I can’t find anything in the news about the closure (which wasn’t a complete closure because Bellevue Police let 550s continue south on Bellevue Way even though all other SB traffic was being redirected onto 112th — but they refused to let our bus through).

      1. Thanks for the explanation, EB Op. Our operator didn’t bother to relay any of dispatch’s announcement about going onto re-route or the cause; I was sitting over the center axle and could only pick out occasional words from the transmission, but nowhere near enough to understand the whole story.

  2. Per the Two Takes on Roosevelt: This is frustrating. I think light rail, particularly an expensive, high capacity implementation such as Link, should bypass currently low-density neighborhoods who’s primary goal is “preserving the present character of and views within the neighborhood.” High capacity transit improvements should only be built to currently dense neighborhoods and neighborhoods which are willing to significantly densify. 400 new units amongst single family housing is not densifying.

      1. Bruce, I’m largely expressing my irritation rather than making practical suggestions. Roosevelt lobbied to get the station in their “urban center”, but then doesn’t want to substantively increase density in the name of preserving neighborhood feel. I don’t think a neighborhood can demand both large public investment in high capacity transit infrastructure but not take their share of regional population growth.

        I realize what I’ve suggested won’t happen. Roosevelt will get a subway station and will get a lukewarm upzone, remaining a largely single family neighborhood, just like my neighborhood (Beacon Hill – shame on us).

        I guess I’m just pessimistic this morning.

      2. You’ve got to take the long view on any of these up zones. Once a station is built its pretty much permanent. The zoning can be changed at any time through the normal processes. If demand builds up, the zoning determined today before the stations even exist will most likely change. This is not even considering the fact that zones are only potential vs. actual construction.

        I’ve seen an series of posts all to the effect of “neighborhood X doesn’t agree with my long term vision, we shouldn’t even try to serve it with transit”. This type of frustration is short-sighted unless your goal is to never build anything.


      3. @benleis

        It’s not inevitable that zoning will serve demand. Lots of existing neighborhoods not too far from downtown Seattle have high housing prices, which is pretty clear evidence of high housing demand, and still aren’t zoned for many large buildings.

        Existing homeowners that want to stick around will always have the reason of self-interest to fight an upzone. It increases land values (per-acre), but if more housing units are built that decreases housing values (per-unit). The pressures on individual homeowners vary depending on the exact circumstances, but generally they’re under more pressure to sell to developers, and if they want a similar home, to move to some new, less convenient place where they don’t know anyone. That’s pretty much how it’s supposed to work if you want density, but the only people that will fight for it out of self-interest are developers, who rarely look good in political battles.

      4. After looking at the history a bit and reviewing the city growth targets for residential urban villages (such as Roosevelt), I think those of us advocating higher density should tone it down a bit.

        In RNA’s favor they’ve been very proactive. They fought to get the light rail station moved from next to the highway to the center of the urban village. They agreed at the time that they would take on somewhat higher density than was required for a residential urban village in exchange. Later they asked DPD for an update to the neighborhood plan both because of the light rail station and because of the contract rezone RDG was asking for. DPD just wanted to consider the narrow question of the contract rezone. Furthermore with the proposed update they’re adding a fair chunk of housing units compared to the 1,200 or so currently in the neighborhood.

        Contrast this to what has happened so far in North Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach. In those cases the Mount Baker and Columbia City neighborhood groups have joined with NIMBYs in the neighborhood and outsiders like John Fox to block any zoning changes. At least in the case of Beacon Hill and Othello I don’t believe the NIMBYs reflected the views of the neighborhood but it doesn’t seem like those who were willing to accept a bit more density were very well organized.

        Furthermore you’ll note most of the more vocal neighborhood advocates have left the door open to more density than the current plan. There doesn’t seem to be any big objection to zoning the station blocks for 85′ or for pressing Sound Transit for TOD on the station site itself. They’ve also said “tell us how many units we should accept and we’ll figure out where to put them”.

        Sounds like there is room still for some comprimise there.

        BTW before anyone says Roosevelt should try to accommodate another Belltown remember the 2024 target for all hub and residential urban villages is only about 11,500 units. Ask RNA to find room for a couple hundred more units and call it good.

    1. Yes, finally. The goals of density and transit are antithetic, not sympathetic! If I have good transit, or mobility, to get me quickly to a number of different places that I shop/work/play at, then I don’t need for them to all be in one place!

      This simple way of thinking seems to escape all transportation pundits and planners in the Puget Sound?!

  3. The glitches also caused tolls to be missed on the Highway 167 high-occupancy toll lanes and led to a delay in the start of electronic tolling on the Highway 520 floating bridge.

    Q13 Fox this morning reported that August is the new target date for 520 tolling. Starting the middle of July the contractor will be hit with fines of ~$300,000 a week.

    1. The same thing was on King 5. Sounds like a pretty bad situation with the contractor not doing a very good job.

    1. People like John Fox would claim the new development is what is driving rents up and if we just freeze all market rate development the city will magically become more affordable.

      No thought that the increasing rents might be what is driving more development.

    2. You can see this in our own backyard. Maple Valley is full of signs offering new homes for sale, practically begging you to buy. There may be lots of people who want to live in the exurbs, but apparently not enough to fill those houses. Meanwhile rents in central Seattle have started going back up, and forget about buying a house there unless you have a six-figure income.

    3. Part of the boom is driven by the REITs (real estate investment trusts) having to do something with all the cash they have (like AvalonBay & Equity Residential).

      From Barron’s on March 11:
      In total, REIT dedicated mutual funds have now seen $2.7 billion of inflows this year alone, closing in on last year’s $3.4 billion of inflows.

  4. I like Sound Transit’s use of the pavers around the rails in the photo above … looks alot better than the ROW for the SLUT … hope the first hill streetcar resembles Tacoma Link’s track

    1. The First Hill line will run in traffic, unlike most of Tacome Link, so no, it will look like the SLUT.

      1. Almost the entire commerce st. section of TLink runs in traffic, with mostly large busses, so why couldn’t it then be used on the first hill line?

    2. I think it’s actually textured concrete, not bricks. Even if you don’t do that, you can always add color to the streetcar lanes.

    3. Some of the visualizations for the First Hill streetcar have shown some very nice street treatments. There is really no reason other than cost we can’t ask that those or something similar be carried forward in the final design.

  5. On Tuesday evening, I attended a meeting of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association that discussed the new station and the upzone that everyone on the entire internet is talking about. The part about the station didn’t reveal much that would be new to anyone on STB, but a lot of people pushed for ST to release the economic analysis that resulted in the decision not to design the station with a podium for overbuilding.

    I learned a lot from the discussion of the upzone. The politics (and advocacy) of this upzone are bound up with the highly controversial contract rezone from RDG south of the high school. I don’t have time to explain the details — we spent more than an hour talking about it — but it’s not as simple as everyone on here thinks it is. Similarly, DPD’s assessment of the number of additional units was very likely lowballed in order to avoid triggering a state EIS which would cost a fortune, and would kill the entire rezone.

    I am very optimistic of the outcome of this rezone. The people at the meeting ranged from very unhappy about any new density to people who were quite supportive of 85′ heights in a “wedding cake” arrangement stepping down from the station. Regardless, in a show of hands, the vast majority supported 85′ heights away from the high school as part of a compromise. The people I spoke to individually after the meeting were very receptive to my arguments for moderately increasing density in a way compatible with the neighborhood aesthetic.

    As I’ve said in other STB comment threads, it would be very helpful of some of the regulars here would get off their duff and go out into the neighborhoods and go to meetings and listen to people about their concerns and explain your position to them. You’ll probably find them sympathetic and willing to look for common ground if you’re willing to do the same. And, just like with Metro planning, you’ll find that many things (not all, but most) which from afar appear to by attributable to stupidity or intransigence, are in fact more complex. The internet selects for cranks and blowhards; real life generally selects for competence.

    1. Thanks for the update Bruce – I meant to go to the meeting but was unable to that day. I live about a block away from Sisleyville, so the rezone is an important issue for me. The 85′ wedding cake arrangement seems like a good one – the current upzone plan is a little timid and some increases would help. One thing I (and presumably others in the neighborhood) am concerned about is to have a wedding cake arrangement with a big bump on the fruit stand block – simply because it is wholly owned by Sisley/RDG. The 2 blocks West of it should be higher (or as high) as the fruit stand block since they are closer to the station, but the RDG’s focus has been on the fruit stand block. Even though they own most of the two blocks West of it, they don’t own the entire blocks.

      I wonder if they want to do a large unbroken building on that block (since they own it entirely) which I find aesthetically unpleasing – I’d rather have multiple buildings (which look different) over the block, though obviously from the developer’s perspective it is cheaper to build it in one go. I don’t know if the zoning/land use code can have on impact on this.

      Overall the neighborhood will benefit from the increased density, and I can’t wait for the light rail station to open…

      1. I also live near the Sisley blocks. My gut feeling is given the past intransigence and behavior of Sisley and while everyone should make an effort to compromise, make logical arguments etc. we’re going to be looking at broken down buildings for a long time. He’s really not operating on good faith (regardless of zoning).


      1. I was invited by someone from the neighborhood who I met at the official ST Roosevelt open house and who wanted someone with my perspective to be at this meeting. However, RNA meetings are open to anyone and this issue is being covered by Roosiehood and Ravenna Blog who announce the meeting dates in advance.

        If the legislative rezone proceeds as expected, there will be a public hearing (of the whole council, I believe) in July, probably in the Roosevelt HS itself, where anybody will be able to sign up and speak their piece. If you have an opinion about this rezone (preferably an informed one) and you only have time to make it out there once, that is the one to watch for and attend.

    2. Bruce,
      See my comment above.

      I believe those of us who’d like to see a bit more density could benefit from toning down the rhetoric a bit. RNA isn’t the bad guy here.

      As an aside I think everyone would benefit if the city would declare the Sisley properties “blighted” and use any number of tools at their disposal to either force a sale or simply take the properties over. I suspect the neighborhood would be relieved if SHA was redeveloping the Sisley properties rather than RDG.

    1. I haven’t decided whether I’m disappointed or whether I respect the evil genius of a plan to exhaust oil reserves before the 2016 election cycle.

      1. Actually, the only reason I can think of is “they” know the price of oil is due to crash and they want to sell it and make money before that happens.

        Remember, pre 9/11 the price of oil was $8 per barrel. Unless you really think that Peak Oil is happening (it’s not) then it could end up there again…

  6. Has anyone else seen this video?

    I was surprised that it’s kind of old and hasn’t received the media attention that other onboard violence has seen.

  7. Those so-called Rapid Ride buses–really just 5 star express buses in the absence of ROW bus lanes–will be very comfortable to lounge in while sitting in RH traffic on I5, waiting in traffic in West Seattle on Avalon Way to get on the bridge, and waiting in Downtown Traffic once the new tunnel is up and all those toll avoiding cars are clogging the streets.

  8. “More freeway lanes are required to prevent more air pollution.” — “Madness” article


    1. I can’t really figure out what that guy is on about, he seems to:
      * Hate urban growth boundary
      * Like to post pictures of ugly developments (blaming the uglyness on “smart growth”)
      * Love Kemper Freeman
      * Hate transit, especially rail
      * Love roads

      At the same time he claims to be ‘green’ and ‘an environmentalist’.

      1. He’s a crank. That’s all. Cranks never make sense. The only difference between him and Lyndon LaRouche is that people have heard of LaRouche.

      2. Not only does he say that more freeway lanes are the solution to air pollution, but he posts a picture of an ugly freeway to show that we need even more freeway. Even car-lovers think freeways look ugly (well, most of them do), and the asphalt comes from oil tar which is greasy and smelly. A light rail car and guideway looks totally clean in comparison.

  9. Open Thread question:

    Okay, I just went back a couple months and apparently it wasn’t a Thread Title Photo, but at one time someone must have posted a link to photo of a metro bus coming up a hill at dawn. Anyone have a clue what I’m talking about and/or know where to find it? My google/flikr skills must be wanting.

    1. I sure wouldn’t call it a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is a deliberate scam. We may seriously regret big parts of our built environment within our lifetimes, but it didn’t take a conspiracy to build it. It almost never takes a conspiracy.

    1. On pg. 4: “At one point a young resident attempts to bluff his way onto the bus with some manner of bogus pass. The driver methodically tears it to shreds in his face.”

      It sure ain’t Seattle down there.

      At least they didn’t call the police and hold the bus for 5 minutes at the next stop waiting for them to come haul the kid away. That happened on a Metra train I was on heading out of Chicago. It was… surreal. Not least because he dodged the conductors from car to car while simultaneously panhandling. He actually made his fare in the end, which didn’t help him a bit.

    1. That post pretty much confirmed that the proper name for the Brooklyn station should be NE 45th/Brooklyn.

  10. Returning from NYC to Seatac 7/7 at 9:50 pm.

    Using Metro trip planner, Seatac to Kent East Hill, leave at 10:15pm to arrive at 104th Avenue and 256nd SE, result is:

    #20007–Trip not possible

    I try.

    1. Why not move to some place that does have late evening transit to the airport and other places? It’s doubtful that Kent will get much better transit for a decade or two. (Although it would only take a little bit of money to extend the evening 180 to SeaTac station like the daytime 180.) It’s clear that the best place to live in south King County for transit is along 99, and it probably will be that way for a long time. (Unless people are willing to pay $100 car tabs instead of $20 for comprehensive transit in some parallel universe.) You could find a place in say Des Moines and be right between two malls. You could take the A and 140 (soon F) to your beloved Southcenter with its excellent bourbon chicken on stylish plastic plates, our you could take the A south to SeaTac mall and maybe find just as excellent bourbon chicken.

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