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A few followups to my report on the new S. 200th station plan:

  • The staff report about the changes is here.
  • In addition to the pocket track, the project includes a “tail track” that is essentially a $5m down payment on the next station in the line.
  • Increases the overall project budget from $365m to $383m (year of expenditure dollars).
  • Firms up a delivery date of September 2016, instead of 2020 as suggested in ST2.

58 Replies to “S. 200th Update”

  1. I wonder what the logic of the tail track is. Will it save costs down the road with less disruption or mitigation at the time the Highline extension is made? Is it just that today is a great bid environment for construction? Surely it must be one of those things, as otherwise the money would be better spent on other projects.

    1. Probably those reasons, plus an effort to show the South King community that ST is going to expand LINK further south in the future. Many in the area feel like they’ve been abandoned by ST with the recent talk about budget shortfalls and the like. Putting in the tail track gives people a warm-n-fuzzy about future expansion.

    2. It may be all about the grant. Folding this work into the 200th Street phase means it’ll be part of the TIGER grant application, which would lessen the amount that South King is short by.

      It also says the tail track is pursuant to ST’s “design guidelines and operation plans” for Link, whatever those are. That sounds like it means ST will be able to check a few more boxes on its performance metrics.

    3. It doesn’t say how long the tail would be. Would it go all the way to KDM Road? How much would that constrain the future alignment? (Given that Federal Way is trying to convince ST to move the remainder of the line to I-5 to save money, and that it doesn’t really matter where the track goes between stations as long as it doesn’t add significantly to the travel time.)

      1. Federal way may be trying to get them to move to I-5 to save money, but I don’t think ST will do it. There’s a really narrow ribbon of density between Seatac and Des Moines that Sound Transit is targeting, and they can’t afford to stray from it.

    4. Generally speaking, a tail track in the context of a terminus station is similar to a pocket track, in that it is usually the length of a full (4-car, in our case) train or possibly two full trains, and is used for turnbacks, car storage (ie of a gap train or to supplement yard storage), and also for an added safety margin for stopping distance when approaching the station; you can approach at higher speed because you have additional runout space should your brakes not work properly.

      Having the tail tracks will bring operational advantages now in turning back trains and maintaining service quality, and will minimize disruption in the future when Link is extended further south; you can just move the stop posts up a bit ala the Pine Street Stub Tunnel and continue operations unimpeded.

    5. What is the purpose of having both a tail track and a pocket track? Just curious.

      I will be delighted to see trains start north from 200th as soon as the lines are charged each morning. As it stands now, Link misses a big chunk of morning commuters, including me, if I were to move next to a rail station south of SODO.

      1. From the descriptions provided, the pocket track would be located just south of Seatac/Airport station and could be used to short-turn trains there in the future after Link is extended beyond S. 200th St. The tail tracks would be just south of S. 200th St. and are presumably there to make it a better interim terminus and, as others have pointed out, cut a tiny bit off the cost of getting to Federal Way later. So the pocket and tail tracks are intended for different purposes.

      2. I’d love to see the pocket tracks in operation sooner rather than later! I’ll die waiting for early-morning Link service before Brian C dies waiting to ride from Capitol Hill. Brian, have you thought of trying to walk that distance?

      3. Actually I walk it all the time, unless I’m on the 49, or the 60, or any one of a number of other buses. I seriously think I’m going to need a rubber room by the time University link opens though. I check that damned webcam every fifteen minutes like a mental patient to see how much further along they are.

      4. How early do you guys need a train? It looks like regular service starts at 5am in all directions, with partial service starting at 4:20 to preposition the trains. I can’t see “a lot” of commuters before 5. On the other hand, it’s inconceivable that North Link would start after 5, so the first train northbound would have to leave earlier than it does now. (Unless perhaps it stays all night at Lynnwood.)

    1. In your eyes, whatever the projection is will be insufficient to justify the capital expenditure. Its just an extension of a ‘stupid little train’, right? I mean seriously Norman, please don’t try to sound interested.

      Clearly you’re out of touch with the interests of this blog’s readership and for that matter a majority of the citizens of puget sound. Remember, this was voted on and the people said YES.

      Take your anti-public transit sentiments elsewhere. To suburban hell, preferably.

    2. So everyone is too embarassed by the tiny ridership projections to even say what they are?

      Or, nobody knows, and you just think it is a good idea to extend Link to S. 200th, no matter how many people will ride it?

      1. It’s 4,500 a day, although I’m not sure why you care because you think projecting ridership is pointless unless it turns out to be exactly correct.

      2. So, $383 million for 1.6 miles that will average 4,500 riders per day, if ST’s projections are correct.

        Each lane of I-5 carries about 45,000 people per day, or ten times what both tracks combined of Link light rail between SeaTac and S 200th St are projected to carry per day.

        $240 million per mile of light rail which will carry about one-tenth as many people per day as one freeway lane.

        Would anyone care to justify that cost per passenger?

      3. Sure Norman! For fun and games, let’s assume that maintenance costs of both roads and trains are covered by usage fees.

        4500 riders/day * 365 days * 50 years + 12 leap days = 82.2MM rides
        $383MM / 82.1MM rides = $4.66 per ride.

        Not bad considering the train doesn’t pollute or get stuck in congestion in a lane that any day now will carry 45,000 people. Now go away or I will taunt you a second time.

      4. You forgot to factor in ridership growth and people who will eventually travel over that stretch of track from points south.

      5. “Would anyone care to justify that cost per passenger?”

        B/c I want it and you don’t.

      6. Looking at that area though, its one that has quite a bit of already build “density” and office space.

        It could be a big draw away from downtown Seattle…a “Eastside-style campus” but in South Seattle…essentially a Jobs Center.

        This would fit well with a 21st century Aeropolis style concept for Seattle (from now on I want to use “Seattle” for the entire metro region from Everett to Olympia…I dislike the turgid “Puget Sound” as it sounds like the symptom of a respiratory disease).

        So, people could reverse commute all the way from the Northside, or South Seattle on LINK.

      7. Look at which kinds of developments are keeping their real estate value, and which are gradually being neglected. The office parks have become the cheap throwaway office space, just as the low-density suburbs are gradually becoming the slums of the future. There are acres of one- and two-story strip malls that can’t attract anything except payday lenders and the like. Of course there are a few exceptions, as when Microsoft or Boeing builds a shiny new office park. But by and large it’s the low-density areas that are deteriorating, and “successful” suburban areas are densifying (thus imitating the city).

        If S 200th Street in its current form is considered a vibrant jobs center, an even bigger one is the Gateway Corporate Center, less than a quarter-mile walk from the proposed S 133rd Street station. The Green River trail runs next to it too.

      8. I thought Kent was Seattle.

        “…from now on I want to use “Seattle” for the entire metro region from Everett to Olympia”

      9. Jack: I can’t resist.

        You wrote: “For fun and games, let’s assume that maintenance costs of both roads and trains are covered by usage fees.”

        Of course, for trains that is absolutely false, since Link fares cover only 18% of operating costs. Of course for highways, usage fees (gas tax) covers the entire cost of both construction and maintenance.

        Jack wrote: “4500 riders/day * 365 days * 50 years + 12 leap days = 82.2MM rides
        $383MM / 82.1MM rides = $4.66 per ride.”

        1.6 miles of 1-lane highway would cost around $56 million. 45,000 riders/day * 365 days * 50 years + 12 leap days = 822 million rides = $0.07 per ride.

        In other words, that stretch of Link cost about $4.66 per ride, by your calculations, but one highway lane of 1.6 miles would carry ten times as many people and cost only about 7 CENTS per ride, paid for out of gas taxes.

        And, of course, Link’s operating costs are currently about $7.45 per boarding, of which fares cover only 18%, while drivers pay the entire operating cost of their trips, including gas, maintenance, tires, et. al.

    3. I don’t particularly care how it does as the south terminus, because this is the northernmost segment in a future corridor through a dense area.

      I would care about projections for how this station will do once the line extends to Federal Way or Fife. However, I don’t see how anyone can project that far into the future.

      My personal projection? It’ll get used by some people. The number of people who use it when the line is complete will be greater than the number of people who use it when the line is incomplete. That’s about as specific as I’m willing to go.

  2. B/C the timing is now Sept. 2016, should this now be the lead countdown timer on the right hand side of this site, displacing University Link? Maybe simultaneous countdowns!

    1. Actually we also need a ticker for the First Hill Streetcar. Won’t that be complete in December 2013? It beats both the U-Link and S. 200th extension.

  3. Does 200th St Station stand a chance of getting a TIGER grant? I realize it took a distant back seat to my neighborhood’s bridge replacement in the last round, and the Mercer Street beautification project in the previous round. What projects would be competing for local support?

    1. hahaha. I would like to call it “angle lake station” I prefer community names over street names for station name anytime.

    2. The name won’t be finalized until later. They’re still debating whether to rename Brooklyn station, and it’s further along. Henderson station was renamed to Rainier Beach station around a year before it opened.

  4. According to the route maps I looked at, the S. 200th St. Link station will be almost exactly one block from the RapidRide A station on S. 200th St. Of course, RapidRide A also goes to SeaTac Airport, just like the Link extension will.

    So, this Link extension will merely paralle the existing RaidRide A line, at a cost of $240 million per mile.

    I thought the writers on this blog did not believe in redundant transit routes. There is already a new bus route between S. 200th St. and SeaTac Airport. Why not just build the new parking one block away from the RapidRide station and save hundreds of millions of dollars by not extending Link? People can walk one block from the new parking to the RapidRide station.

    What is the point of having a light rail extension which merely parallels an existing RapidRide bus route?

    1. “Of course, RapidRide A also goes to SeaTac Airport, just like the Link extension will.”

      I didn’t realize that you’ll only be able to take the train to the airport from S. 200th.

    2. You know the answer to that.

      The RR A route is complete and the Link route isn’t. At this point, it isn’t completely redundant, but it obviously overlaps. Some cost-cutting purists would want to truncate A and force a transfer at the southernmost available Link station (or vice versa). I’m willing to accept overlapping service here to keep 1-seat rides possible in this corridor until the permanent system is ready.

      RR A on it’s current alignment obviously would be redundant when South Corridor is completed. For purposes of local infill, a standard non-RR Metro route would be more effective. RR A would have it’s service hours shifted to a corridor outside of the Link walkshed… which corridor really depends on how the surrounding areas grow over the next couple decades.

      Which corridor do you think should get it?

      1. I think it’s perfectly appropriate to have “overlapping” service or parallel service because there are usually long distances between LR stations and it is reasonable that people should be able to catch a bus to the closest LR embarkation point.

      2. The A won’t be truncated; it has to connect to the 124. Some ST Express buses might be truncated at a Link station, but the A won’t be.

    3. For a fast one-seat ride to the UW, Bellevue, downtown, and elsewhere. Link is regional transit; RapidRide is local transit.

  5. Why can’t they do a partnership with commercial developers to create a station with highrise housing, shopping and restaurants (to get an end result like Metrotown in Vancouver, BC)? I’m amazed that ST couldn’t get the owners of Southcenter to contribute to a Link light rail station there instead of the one in the middle of nowhere that was built outside the airport.

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