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This is an open thread.

58 Replies to “News Roundup: Side By Side”

  1. It looks like SDOT has released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for firms interested in designing the two segments of missing trolley wire along the 48S. Not sure if there is construction funding yet but at least the design is proceeding.

    1. That’s interesting news. Would be great to know the cost estimate so some of us can start advocating for the wire to be built…

  2. The same objections raised against project labor agreements could be raised against contracting construction work to private contractors.

    If you’ve never been involved in a major project, you probably don’t realize that it is extremely wise for the principal (Sound Transit in this case) to limit the flexibility of a contractor in how they subcontract work. When you are drawing up a contract, it’s impossible to foresee every problem that the project will encounter. If you allow a contractor subcontract work however they please, a principal can easily find themselves powerless to correct/recoup the costs of a subcontractors shoddy work or failure to adhere to the production schedule.

  3. Metro Lost and Found

    1. No email address
    2. Phone number is general information line ( x3000 )
    3. First voice tree took 2 minutes to get through.
    4. Second voice menu took 90 seconds
    5. Last selection took me to top of voice tree again!!

    Grade: D+ (for even having an office…maybe, I think!)

    1. Oh, and I’m so glad they actually read their emails instead of sending form letters:

      From: John Bailo
      To: Comments, Customer
      Subject: Cannot reach Lost and Found office through phone

      I have tried several times to reach your Lost and Found office.

      The first voice menu goes on for several minutes.

      Then I press 4.

      Then I get another menu and press 2.

      At that point I’m taken all the way back to the top of the menu!!

      I was calling at 12:30pm at which time the office is supposed to be open.

      How can I reach the Lost and Found office?

      And they say:

      Hello and thank you for contacting King County Metro Transit.

      Inquiries regarding Lost & Found items may be made by contacting Metro Transit’s Customer Information Office at (206) 553-3000 and press “0” to speak with a Specialist. We regret the circumstances that made it necessary for you to write and apologize to you for the inconvenience that you experienced. The phone menu is confusing. Once you start to hear the “Welcome….” press “0”

      You may also claim lost items in person at Metro’s Lost & Found office located at: 201 S Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104. The hours are 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm Monday – Friday. Found items will arrive the following business day.

      Again, thank you for contacting Metro Transit.

      So, even if I press “0” I still don’t get sent to Lost and Found, I get put in the endless waiting queue.

      Didn’t they used to have separate numbers to dial these services directly?

      1. And going in person is an interesting experience. It’s a crapshoot if you will get your lost item(s) back but it’s worth a shot. The attendant may be one of those curmudgeonly types that perhaps should not be dealing with people (e.g. you’re invading their lair), but my experience was that they will help you. I was successful in retrieving a claim on one of two occasions.

  4. I believe that the yield to buses law is actually cited on a sticker on the back of Metro buses.

    1. It is – I wonder if we could get a count of how many tickets have actually been issued (and not thrown out later).

    2. This is definitely a problem of enforcement… just like the yield to pedestrians problem. Having laws is only good if the police care enough to enforce them. When stopping jaywalkers is a higher priority than stopping cars that don’t yield to people the pedestrians obviously lose. I’d say the mayor, city attorney or somebody else in charge should take up the cause and put pressure on SPD, but I doubt they’d listen.

      1. Bingo. SPD doesn’t have to listen, and they have seemingly convinced themselves that ‘jaywalking’ is the biggest problem downtown. Failure to yield? Buses cut off? Nah, those don’t matter.

    3. It’s hard to yield when you can’t tell if the bus has it’s left turn signal on, or it’s flashers are on to signal a stop. That’s the problem with not having separate turn signals on the buses.

      Kitsap Transit has a nice lighted Yield triangle on the back left-side of their buses, that comes on when they pull out from a stop.

      1. It’s not difficult to figure it out if you look at our fron wheels and the angle of the front of the bus. When I want to reenter traffic I turn the wheels and pull to the edge of my lane. It’s pretty obvious what I’m up to…

      2. @VeloBusDriver

        Yes, that would be more obvious, but most drivers don’t do that unless traffic is not stopping. Remember, the front of your bus is not where a passing driver’s eyes are supposed to be looking at. Some bus drivers have started to turn off the blinkers early, then turn on the left signal. Gives traffic a chance to adjust.

      3. “It’s hard to yield when you can’t tell if the bus has its left turn signal on, or it’s flashers are on to signal a stop.” Agreed. This is a frequent issue.

    4. My tweet: “@SeaTransitBlog I hereby offer to pay the fine of the first to reply with a current such ticket. Don’t expect to have to. #collectorsitem”

      I’ve emailed SDOT to see if they have any stats on how tickets have been issued for this.

    5. It should be noted that Yield To Bus is a statewide law. RCW.46.61.220. Not that I’ve ever seen it enforced.

      1. I’d guess that tickets are issuedb when there’s an accident involving failure to yield.

  5. “a suggestion that Sound Transit could share spaces with North Seattle Community College was dismissed out of hand”

    This is one of those things that would be possible if the pedestrian bridge were already there. I don’t know if NSCC has the interest or the capacity to absorb some of the TC’s parking, but at least the physical constraint would be gone.

    1. It is absolutely asinine that a pedestrian bridge between NSCC and Northgate transit center isn’t part of the plan for lightrail. Without it you cut off a huge portion of the potential ridership including a school which obviously serves a population that is more likely to ride.

      1. My impression is that the City, County, and ST all want the bridge. The question is about getting the money to pay for it. The City did a feasibility study and found that building the bridge is feasible, but would cost about $16 million – $20 million, which nobody has laying around at the moment.

      2. $20 million for a pedestrian bridge!? That’s enough doe to raise a 500 stall parking garage. The new 36th Street Overpass in Overlake only cost $10 million ($21.4 million for the entire project, traffic circle, landscaping, connecting roadways). Maybe they could scale back and only use 18 karat gold.

      3. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

        The bridge was redesigned in 2004 after the lowest bid for the project was $44 million. In May 2006, a final cable-stayed bridge design by Kansas City engineering and architectural firm HNTB was selected for the bridge. The $22 million bid included two 200-foot (61 m) towers and a clearance of 52 feet (16 m) above the river.

      4. That particular stretch of freeway is difficult to get pedestrians across. The northbound freeway lanes are already up on a berm several stories high, which means any bridge needs to be super-tall, and will either need an elevator or an insane amount of stairs. Digging a pedestrian tunnel under it is no easier because the express lanes have a sunken cut & cover exit ramp right there.

      5. Gondola! Crystal’s gondola is gold-plated compared to what we need, and it was only $8M. Of course we’d have to staff the thing, unlike a bridge. But the $8M in savings would sure buy a lot of operator hours…

      6. Mike o., I wasn’t arguing it’s unfeasible, just justifying the unusually high cost.

        I doubt it will ever get built. It’ll be one of those things that gets tossed around at public meetings, but is ultimately cut due to budget constraints.

      7. This lovely bridge in my adopted hometown cost $4.5 million and is 355 feet long (I know the I-5 crossing is much longer; I actually think something like this would look nice crossing to the UW campus from the Husky Stadium station.)

        http://www.fallspark.com/

    2. At the Northgate Station meeting last night, ST folks said that they had done a survey of the NSCC parking and found that it was almost completely full on weekdays. They said there were spaces “here and there” around the north end of the lots (where a bridge would connect) and a few more “tucked away” at the south end by 92nd street. The impression that they gave was that existing usage is high enough that there wouldn’t be enough spaces available to make any available to transit users.

      Of course, I’d hope that with a pedestrian bridge available some of the existing drivers at NSCC would switch to rail, thus making space available. The same logic implies that spaces would also open up at the mall, making replacing lost parking there questionable.

      1. That’s easy enough to solve. Pay to gravel over somewhere on campus for parking, with the intent to replant later. There are vast brown lawns all over campus. How about that giant brown patch at 92nd and College Way with just a tennis court on it? You could fit 300 right there. Add another 200 on that triangle between I-5 and N 100th, and you’re done.

        The only trick now would be finding the money for a pedestrian bridge.

      2. Not only do they need more parking, they need to widen Northgate Way to highway standard.

        They need to extend that highway East and West to either end.

        In fact what Seattle really needs is a North Beltway that goes all around the edge of the isthmus on both Puget Sound and Lake Washington side. These could then connect to the Northgate Highway and head back into I-5.

      3. That e/w highway you speak of was, I believe, part of the mid-century WSDOT vision for the 1985 Seattle 1-mile freeway grid. Thankfully saner heads prevailed.

        We’ve since figured out that the local connectivity provided by a local arterial trumps the through-traffic connectivity of a freeway, in terms of neighborhood benefit. Of course, you can build both, but then there’s no neighborhood left to benefit from it.

    3. I find it interesting that the ped bridge across I-5 is seen as a no-brainer, yet when the Vision Line station was being discussed for I-405 on the eastside, it was rejected like a virus. The parallels between the two situations are noteworthy.
      Now ST is considering moving the Bellevue station closer to I-405 in a shallow cut/cover to save money. Where’s the chorus of outrage in moving the station near I-405 and away from BTC’s bus bays? More hypocracy?
      Now that the BNSF row is off the table, the agency can go back to business as usual.
      That’s why we have a UW station on the fringe of pedestrian shed, and commuter rail lines that move riders at 10 times the bus costs.

      1. Northgate Station has a mall next to it, plus other businesses and apartments, and the bus routes. The bridge to NSCC is a secondary amenity.

        For the Vision Line, everything is on the other side of the bridge. The mall and apartments are even further away.

      2. The parallels between the two situations are noteworthy

        Please enlighten us on how putting the Bellevue station on the east side of I-405, away from all of the business, is like putting the Northgate station on the (suprise) Northgate side of I-5?

        That’s why we have a UW station on the fringe of pedestrian shed

        You mean right next to that large employer, UW Medical Center? 3,982 employees, 1,829 Physicians, 950 medical students, and 323,000 yearly clinic visits, kind of makes it a good location. Throw in the direct access to the sporting facilities and walking/bus access to the rest of the campus and it’s an even better location.

      3. You’re confused. The “Vision Line” had the downtown station on the west side of I-405 around 114th Ave. NE. For MIke, that’s substantially farther away from downtown Bellevue that a station a little way downhill from NE 6th and 110th NE.

      4. The pedestrian bridge will connect NSCC, the surrounding neighborhood, and the bike lanes to the North Link station. The Vision Line pushed the transit line further away from downtown Bellevue extending the walk for everybody who would use Eastlink to reach DT Bellevue. One improves the walkshed, the other deteriorates it. It’s a big difference.

      5. The original problem in Bellevue was not putting the transit center on Bellevue Way, where it would have been adjacent to the mall like Northgate is. None of the tall buildings existed at the time, so City Hall could have located there too, and the library, which have both moved from their earlier locations on Main Street. With the existing Safeway and later-built park, Bellevue Way could have become even more of a main street than it already is, with all the most common transit destinations right next next to the transit center. Instead the transit center is a four-block walk from the mall, which never made sense.

  6. Sure, it’s a law, but how to we get to the point where it actually matters to drivers? How many people do you see on cell phone while barreling down the street? How many times do you see pedestrians attempting to cross at an unmarked crosswalk while hundreds of drivers break the law and pass them?

    We need driver’s license suspension, and at some point revocation.

    1. Are drivers even required to yield to pedestrians waiting at unmarked crosswalks? I’m from Chicago (and I’m a runner, so I cross a wide variety of streets on foot very often) and I’m amazed people around here yield to pedestrians as much as they do. There are so many places that are legally unmarked crosswalks, and at almost all of them the traffic on an arterial road has the right-of-way over all other cross traffic. If you try to get drivers to yield to pedestrians at every unmarked crosswalk you’re working against the physical layout of the road as it exists. This is even true at a lot of marked crosswalks.

      Check out many arterial roads in southern Kirkland. There are marked crosswalks everywhere and “Crosswalk Laws Strictly Enforced” signs. Presumably that means you’re supposed to yield if people are waiting to cross. But they’re just too far out of your line of sight. What might work? Narrow the roadway, build crosswalk bulbs, and clear out parking around them for better sight lines. Design the roadway so it’s natural to use it the way you want (i.e. with lots of yielding to pedestrians). Don’t design it like a speedway and then ticket people for using it like one. (Kirkland is a bit of a punching bag for me — it has more carelessly-designed bike and pedestrian infrastructure than any place I’ve seen. On a bike map it looks like cycling paradise, but the devil’s in the details.)

      Yielding to buses is sort of similar. Want buses to not get stuck merging back into traffic? Design the road like Dexter, so they don’t pull out at all. Or like the Ave, which is a better pedestrian environment, too.

      1. All intersections are legal crosswalks except where it says “Illegal to cross 18-inch barrier line”. I believe that applies to Aurora too even though the line isn’t 18 inches. I can’t comment on whether Kirkland should improve its intersections: it seems to be in a bind because the only way to close intersections would be to cut off cross streets, and that would create superblocks rather than the historical closer spacing Kirkland enjoys. In my opinion, there are a lot of things wrong with Kirkland’s single-family zones, but intersections is not near the top of the list.

    1. Sounds like some PR firm is tossing out an idea to see if anyone bites.

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  7. Unfortunately to many drivers, a bus signalling to enter traffic means “speed up so you don’t get caught behind a bus”.

  8. Speaking of 1973, I am just watching the movie Harry in Your Pocket…which has scads of Seattle DT location shooting.

    Includes a long monorail ride, and a brief shot of one of those red buses you’re showing in this post…with what looks like the label Seattle Tram.

    Here are some clips:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9hOz1Z3iAQ

    The full film is on Netflix.

      1. Hah..yes, long for a movie scene.

        The opening scene is King Street Station so they have all sorts of transit featured, as well as lots of walking on the downtown streets (they’re picpockets!)

  9. This morning was my first ever where I woke up in Seattle (traveling/taking the long way home). It’s amazing how (and how well) riding King Co. Metro works for travelers when one has the time to get the hang of it!
    I really want to yack back at the auto mechanic mentioned in the Seattle Times article this morning (as well as the writer themselves) about reducing parking in the city that I’d like to see where in the U.S. and Washington Constitutions it mentions driving single-occupancy-vehicles for single-trip purposes is expressly covered or where it says autos should be the primary mode of transportation.
    They could get back to me on the answer. :)

  10. Have you been following the news about the Smith Tower.

    After a failed redevelopment to condos, it sits at 80% vacant!

    And it’s such a White Elephant that no one wants to buy it even a discount prices.

    Wait a minute — isn’t this building the ne plus ultra of Seattle “urban dense” environments?

    Close to the new stadiums? Right on a bus tunnel station?

    If they can’t make it here…

    1. Dang…when my MegaMillions ticket comes in, I’m buying that sucker and turning it into my secret headquarters.

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