U-Link construction, as documented by the Traylor/Frontier-Kemper joint venture.

This is an open thread.

70 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Under Construction”

  1. http://seattleparkingspot.blogspot.com/

    Current Global Averages for Parking in Seattle:
    Average Cost per Hour: $0.53
    Total Cost for Parking: $33.67
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.21 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 1.1 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 64 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 41

  2. Traylor Brothers. That name sounds familiar. Did they do work on the old I-90 bridge? Is it true that holes were cut in the pontoons to store wastewater in them, then during a storm the pontoons filled with lake water, sinking the bridge? (And I am not insinuating that storing wastewater in the pontoons is related to the sinking of the bridge, or that Traylor Bros. were the one’s who cut the holes into the pontoons, or were responsible for the bridge sinking).

    1. Traylor Brothers was the contractor doing the work on the bridge when it sank.

      But that’s not quite what happened. The pontoons on the old bridge were oversized, and so were being used to store the hazardous wastewater from the construction project. Watertight hatches were meant to be installed on all the holes, but they hadn’t been put on yet when the storm came. The bridge did take on quite a bit of a bit of water in the storm, in addition to the wastewater already in them from the construction. But the bridge didn’t sink then.

      After the storm, the worst of the flooded pontoons had been pumped out into the lake, and according to WSDOT the bridge appeared to be fine. Overnight, though, a cracked pontoon in the middle, A5, started taking on water and flooded, pulling the rest of the pontoons down one-by-one, as they all flooded through the wastewater holes.

      The biggest policy change from this was the installation of water level monitors inside every pontoon of every floating bridge. The cracked pontoon had been probably taking on water for most of a day before sinking, and if anyone at WSDOT had known when it started filling up, they could have saved the bridge.

      1. That’s my recollection too. I remember watching the first one sink (early Sun. Morning ??), then like dominoes they all followed.
        I called my boss, telling him to turn on the TV, as we were about to get a huge contract for Epoxy Coated Rebar to replace the damn thing.

  3. Any guesses as to what happens to bus service in 2016 when all this is finally done? Do we restructure things in northeast Seattle to better connect to the train, or do we just pretend the train doesn’t exist and run the same bus network we always have?

    1. I don’t know about 2016, but give Metro credit for eliminating three of the seven Rainier Valley routes that allowed passengers to bypass opportunities to transfer to Link, and get a one-seat bus ride downtown instead.

      The infamously-duplicative 42 goes away in February (but would have gone away in June if the council had followed Metro’s recommendations).

      The 39 gets replaced by the 50 on September 29. Riders on the 39 will end up having to transfer to Link at Columbia City Station, Othello Station, or transfer to the river of frequent buses at SODO Station. Riders coming from the Alaska Junction will have much quicker access to the Delridge corridor and vice versa. Both sets of riders will have much quicker access to Link at SODO Station.

      The 34 is also going away. That half-empty bus’s platform hours was mostly deadhead and duplicatehead. Riders will grouse about having to walk to Rainier Ave, where the bus stops are scarier to these mostly well-to-do riders, or get dropped off at a Link station. I doubt there were any bus-dependant riders on the 34.

      That leaves the 7, 7X, 36, and 106. I’ve heard talk of the 106 becoming part of a connection to West Seattle. The proposed 40 (which was removed from the final proposal) may have been related to this.

      The 7X’s service hours could get folded into more service on the 7. It’s purpose went away with the opening of Central Link. I suspect it survives because Metro didn’t want to chew off to much at once.

      The 156 will be extended to Normandy Park and the Des Moines waterfront September 29. It will take over the southernmost portion of the 132, south of Burien TC. (Of course, keeping the 132 going out of its way to Burien TC means there wasn’t any actual cutting. But at least the door is more open to straightening the 132 to go to TIBS.)

      There is a lot of duplicatehead left to cut, but this is a very promising start.

    2. I think a big question will be what happens with the 70 series express buses. I would think they’ll all terminate at the light rail station but I’m not sure what the plan is.

      I’m also curious how many of the connections currently offered along Campus Parkway will be oriented towards the new station vs. how many will stay put until the Brooklyn station opens.

      1. I don’t know what Metro is going to do, but I can think of some things that are worth aiming for. In general, the theme should be shifting bus service hours away from U-district->downtown, which duplicates the train, in favor of more service north of the U-district to provide faster and more direct riders to both the U-district and (through the train) downtown.

        In particular, some things I would like to see happen include:
        – Increase frequency on the 65 and 75 – ideally a bus to connect with every train, if we can’t do that, maybe a bus for every train during peak and midday periods, with a bus for every other train on evenings and weekends.
        – Increase the frequency of the 372 and extend then span service to operate 7 days a week. If necessary, we can reduce the service-hour cost of this by making some off-peak trips turn around at Lake City, rather than going all the way to Woodinville, since the 522 already takes care of that.
        – Expand route 373 to operate all day, seven days a week, in both directions, replacing the 73. In the U-district, replace the campus routing with Pacific St., reducing the length of each run and bringing riders closer to the train station.
        – Add an express variant to route 65, that would follow the existing route 65 north of 55th St., then go non-stop down Montlake, dropping everybody off at the UW train station. Initially, this could be peak-only, although long-term, I think the express 65 should be the all-day 65, with the existing 65 a peak-only route, if not scrapped altogether.
        – Create a new cross-town route taking 65th St. from Sand Point to Green Lake, then 50th St. to Phinney, then west on 65th St. to 24th Ave in Ballard, then south on 24th to reach the Ballard business district. While this would have to be a route for small buses (some of the streets are just to narrow for 60-footers), it address some gaping coverage gaps in the existing network and prevents anyone who wants to get from one side of Green Lake to the other from having to take three buses.

        To pay for this:
        1) Eliminate the 71, 73, and 74 entirely and truncate the 72 to be a shuttle between the U-district and Lake City only. Maintain existing frequency on Eastlake by operating the 70 on evenings and weekends. These routes should be replacable with the routes described above.

        2) Eliminate the 64 – anyone who rides it can take the 65 express to Link instead.

      2. Why even keep the 72? The only part of the route that wouldn’t be covered by your proposed 372 and 373 would be 80th between 15th and 25th.

      3. Consider the 372, which provides service between UW and Woodinville, via Lake City, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, and Bothell. Will the 72 really serve much purpose? It’s only unique path will be winding from 15th over to 25th. I predict the 72 will go away. I also predict off-peak 522 service will go away, in favor of more peak 522 service (which has been sorely needed for many years), and the expectation that off-peak riders will switch to the 372.

        The 373, which almost reaches UW Station, can naturally take over the 73’s neighborhood service. The 73 could become the shorter off-peak version, or its service hours could be used to make the 373 an all-day or even every-day route.

        The 74, I bet, gets eliminated in favor of the 30, which duplicates most of its path north of UW. A lot of the downtown ridership may switch to catching the 65, 75, or 372, for a more direct path from the UW Station vicinity. This assumes those three routes stop close enough to UW Station that riders will put up with the transfer time on a daily basis. That may mean moving them off of Stevens Way.

        The 76 is similar enough to the 71 that its service hours would probably be rolled in there. What may keep the 71 going is that it will be a direct straight-line connection to Roosevelt Station in the future, at which point it may become something altogether different. Or not. I can see arguments for and against re-routing it to UW Station(though I hope it will be).

        I can see the 316 easily switched to terminating near UW Station, since it already spends significant time in its U-District pull-off.

        The 77 and 301, I suspect, will remain downtown routes until North Link opens, since they don’t really serve UW.

        In all cases, there will be current riders who advocate not messing with perfection, and plenty of riders who will benefit from the changes, but not be aware of them until it happens. So, I expect us to have to do some lobbying.

      4. The 372 has limited off-peak and no weekend service. If we eliminated the 312, added more peak service to the 522, and established the 372 as the weekend and off peak bus, everyone would win.

        Beyond that, I like what you folks have put together here.

    3. I don’t see much of a Metro service restructuring in 2016 North of the Ship Canal. There isn’t much layover space in the Triangle and both Pacific and Montlake are clogged with traffic which would make running additional buses there unattractive.

      For example if you ran the 71, 72, and 73 to UW station most of the gain in travel speed would be lost to the slog down Pacific and to the transfer at the station (1/4 mile walk plus waiting for the next bus or train)

      On the other hand Metro’s hand may be forced if the Legislature doesn’t either provide a new transit funding source or extend the CRC.

      1. I agree that the opening of U-Link by itself will not necessitate bus service restructuring. Link provides express trips between Husky Stadium, one spot on Capitol Hill, and downtown. It will not eliminate the need for any single local bus route. Perhaps 520 express service could be truncated at Husky Stadium, but the lack of a prioritized transit path from the freeway to the Link Station means that the buses will probably continue on to downtown.

        Service restructurings could be proposed in the name of efficiency, or for budgetary reasons, but not directly due to ULink.

        One restructuring I would love to see is extending Routes 65, 68, 75, etc south on Montlake to terminate at Husky Stadium, instead of travelling through the UW campus to the Hub and the Ave. To be reliable enough, transit lanes would be needed on Montlake, at least at peak times.

      2. Under then guise of “eliminating duplication and creating efficiencies,” powerful political forces will see to it that restructuring occurs in ways designed to maximize Link ridership numbers. They will stop at nothing to manufacture a “success.” You people are a bit naive.

      3. “see to it that restructuring occurs in ways designed to maximize Link ridership numbers.”

        Yeah, we’ve already seen that happen with Central Link. Not.

        And what’s wrong with maximizing the use of a multi-billion dollar investment? That’s what any sane society would do.

      4. Adding more service to give riders on 15th Ave NE a direct ride all day through the middle of the UW campus to UW Medical Center is a sinister plot, indeed.

      5. Chris,

        On the layover question, only the 44 is currently scheduled to lay over by the station, at least according to the ST spokesguy at one of the open houses.

        As for Pacific, the street engineering, post-Rainier-Vista, is designed to help buses flow from Montlake to Pacific, and vice versa. I don’t know how much priority buses will have along Pacific.

      6. Today, 15th Ave and University Way are slogs, but once buses reach Pacific St., they actually move reasonably well.

        Layover capacity by the station is limited today, to just a couple of buses, but long-term, that should be a solvable problem. For example, I believe current plans call for the areas of the UW station construction site not consumed by the station itself to revert back to the surface parking lot that was there before the construction began, parking that would sit mostly empty outside the 8 days a year when there’s a football game going on. Ideally, that parking lot real estate would be our bus layover space.

    4. There are other cuts scheduled. The 599 is going away, albeit to roll platform hours into more 590/594 service, so the savings won’t amount to much.

      I bet the 197 (Twin Lake P&R to UW) goes away, with its platform hours going to more 179 and 177 service.

      The 167 (Renton to UW) is probably doomed. If the platform hours get rolled anywhere, it will be into the 101.

      The 133 (Burien to UW) is gone September 29. I’m of the viewpoint that that was premature, but it’s a done deal. Metro should work with Burien riders to form vanpools to get them to 2016 without buying cars in the meantime.

      There is also the possibility of CT putting more hours on the 800s instead of the 400s.

      None of these really represent large chunks of saved platform hours, but they do mean more frequent service on the recipient routes.

      1. I can’t realistically see CT using Link to replace service to downtown with service to the U-district. If the bus goes all the way downtown, it can take the I-5 express lanes all the way from Northgate and it’s a pretty fast ride. But, if the bus is to stop anywhere around the U-district, it has to take the regular lanes all the way, which during the peak, subjects the bus to a lot more traffic delays. And that’s before you count the traffic congestion around the U-district itself.

        I can maybe see CT truncating commuter routes when Link extends to Northgate, but realistically, not sooner.

      2. The 424 (Snohomish, via Monroe) comes by way of SR 520. I think that route is at least worth looking at and crunching the numbers to see if switching it to UW Station would be viable.

      3. I doubt CT is going to do any major truncation of their express routes until LINK reaches Lynnwood unless budget problems force them to. I’m guessing they will feed riders to the ST express service in the same corridor if they have to cut back.

        Lynnwood is supposed to open in 2023 which is only 2 years after Northgate is supposed to open, also Northgate has horrible access to the I-5 to/from the North.

    5. The 71/72/73X are unlikely to be eliminated until 2021 because of the congestion on Pacific Street. But half their passengers may switch to Link because from central campus it’s the same distance walk and people are fed up to here with having to squeeze onto buses or being left behind. The remaining 71/72/73 passengers will be those going to the Ave or further north, or transferring at Campus Parkway. That would allow Metro to delete the relief runs (the 73s that only go to 65th) and lower the frequency to 15 minutes, which would free up some hours for other routes.

      I have heard musings that Metro is considering deleting the 72 and 73 in favor of all-day 372 and 373. I hadn’t thought of deleting the off-peak 522, but that would make Bothell’s and Lake City’s closest Link transfer UW station — that’s an extra half-hour slog. I’d rather see the 522 terminate at 130th or 145th.

      “Under then guise of “eliminating duplication and creating efficiencies,” powerful political forces will see to it that restructuring occurs in ways designed to maximize Link ridership numbers.”

      That’s what they should be doing. We’re not making this huge investment in a rail freeway not to use it.

      1. So I don’t know if this has yet come up on the blog as I have only been reading for about a year, but I keep seeing the massive changes/deletions in terms of bus routes, as mentioned above, which for the most part make sense. However, the greater issue I see is the massive amount of clout being transferred from Metro (and to a lesser extent PT and CT) to ST. It seems the whole public transportation ‘pie’ is getting bigger but if all these riders are moving to the LINK (again, as they should , especially with the great capital investment), does Metro start eliminating drivers and administrators? How does the union feel about this? How does the upper management feel? Will we be left with the administrators that aren’t dynamic enough to move to ST? And, coming from a huge supporter of public transport, are the budgets going to be reworked to make them accountable to the tax payers – will Metro’s budget decrease to account for the deletions of routes or will service hours increase on the ‘cross-town’ service lines and their budget increase? It just seems like this is a situation ripe for power grabs…Metro vs. ST. Thoughts?

      2. In terms of travel time I’m not sure there is much difference from 125th/Lake City Way to 130th & I-5 vs. Roosevelt station. Given how fast the 522 is between Downtown and Lake City I’m not even sure ST is planning on terminating the route at a LINK station.

        If the 522 was made peak-only a crosstown route to Bitter Lake with a stop at the 130th station would provide an off-peak LINK connection (although with two transfers). But not until NCT opens in 2023.

      3. Doug,
        Building out LINK, Sounder, and ST Express service allows CT, MT, and PT to move platform hours elsewhere in their systems.

        While all transit agencies in Washington are facing budget pressures (including ST) this is due to the recession and not ST. To the extent that CT, MT, and PT platform hours and driver head count are reduced it will be because of those revenue issues.

        Since ST currently has CT, MT, and PT operate LINK and ST Express they may see an increase in the number of employees while cutting their own branded services.

        Now ST has talked about possibly building its own bases and contracting directly with someone like First Transit to operate ST Express service, but AFAIK nothing has come of it yet. There has been a shift of some ST routes from Metro to PT because PT charges ST less for operating the same route.

      4. Each transit agency has a separate budget and funding sources. Most are county-based, but ST is a 3-county entity with a mission to run regional (not local) transit across this area. When an ST route replaces a Metro route, ST assumes the financial burden for it, and Metro can redeploy the service hours to other routes. A few ST Express routes replaced similar Metro routes but most are completely new. (E.g., there was no all-day Seattle-Redmond, Seattle-Issaquah, or Seattle-Lynnwood express before ST.) ST does not operate bus routes but instead contracts them to the county agencies. Metro and PT operate their own buses, but Community Transit contracts its routes to First Transit, a private company that also runs school buses.

        ST has taken over all the inter-county express routes except CT’s extensive downtown-commuter and UW-commuter network. But in-county regional routes are a patchwork. ST does Seattle-Bothell, Seattle-Bellevue and Seattle-Redmond; Metro does Seattle-Kirkland; both do Seattle-Issaquah. Metro’s Seattle-Issaquah routes are peak-only and go to different neighborhood endpoints. STB entertainment is debating how soon these should be folded into the 554 (they’re full), where ST would find the money to run them if it did, how angry the residents would be at transferring, how much it would actually increase their travel time, and whether they should just suck it up and transfer anyway.

      5. To be clear, folding Metro’s Issaquah routes into the 554 would require additional runs on the 554; the question is how to pay for them, since Metro can’t just give ST the money to do it when Metro has so many other unmet route needs.

  4. Dear Metro. It defeats the purpose of RapidRide when you fail to properly educate people on how RR is different than a regular Metro bus in terms of how to pay. Yes, some riders have figured out how the payment system works, but from the looks of it, many people still have not. I was on the B Line the other day, and it amazed me to see rider were lining up at the front door to show the driver their paper transfer ticket (which they do not have to do). As well as witnessing rider after rider walk past the off-board ORCA reader next to the open back door, only to wait in the line at the front door to tap their ORCA card at the on-board reader, then walk to the back of the bus.

    A small explanation in the RR brochure isn’t cutting it. You need to do a massive, multi-media, multi-language ad campaign if you want people to understand how to RR payment works, and get boarding times reduced to where they should be.

    1. Sometimes, I’ve seen drivers help out with this by not only opening the back door when they stop to let people on, but also pulling the bus up a bit further than normal so the passengers who want to get on are standing next to the back door, rather than the front door. Usually, this is sufficient to get most people to enter through the back door.

    1. This one is actually pretty cool. Shame the article is so short on details about the bus itself. What’s the range on this thing, where’d they put the fuel cells and gas storage, how much room is left over for seating, etc.

      Also how much does a fuel cell that size cost?

      1. The bus is a Proterra…and it gets better because all the hydrogen is created from wastewater:

        Proterra’s Hydrogen Hybrid Bus represents the leading edge of alternative fuel transit technology. A 35-foot, composite-bodied transit bus powered by lithium titanate batteries and two
        16-kilowatt Hydrogenics hydrogen fuel cells, the bus runs on clean electric power – with water vapor as its only emission – in a lighter, quieter, and more aerodynamic design that is better suited for today’s transportation demands.

        This innovative hybrid electric fuel cell bus will be demonstrated at U.S. Army’s Forces Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The bus is part of a project that includes all of the elements of a clean hydrogen energy cycle including local hydrogen generation via renewable recovered wastewater treatment plant digester gas. The project is the third in a series of Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) pilot projects to demonstrate the economic, operational and environmental benefits of powering material handling equipment with fuel cells.


        Here is the website for the Proterra buses:


        Here’s a page showing a cutaway diagram of the bus:


        It looks like JBLM is building a complete sustainable hydrogen system that extends not just to this bus, but to forklifts and other industrial applications:


        If they are not already, I hope that Metro and Sound Transit are liaising with this project.

    2. It makes sense for the US military to get invest big in alternative fuels. They are the world’s largest single consumer of oil, after all.

      If they can make something that’ll push a bus, it’ll can push a tank. This is an ideal testbed for them.

      1. It’s ideal for them in many ways.

        Take a battlefield situation.

        Roll in a moble solar-hydrogen unit, and start generating “gas” anywhere there is sunshine…no need to haul or process liquid fuel.

    3. The hydrogen bus at JBLM is old news. If Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, my question is what is the energy source that will produce all of this hydrogen? Just a simple chem major here bringing up those nasty laws of thermodynamics… Maybe Congress will repeal them :=

      1. So, like most hydrogen produced today, JBLM is essentially getting its hydrogen from natural gas. While the use of waste gas from the sewage treatment plant is innovative there isn’t exactly enough of it out there to replace other motor fuels on a large scale basis.

        From a net energy and greenhouse gas standpoint it is probably better just to take natural gas, compress it, and use it to run CNG vehicles. Natural gas already has a nationwide distribution infrastructure and so there is no need to build a special hydrogen distribution infrastructure.

      2. What Chris said. Every time you and another step in the process you loose efficiency; always. Besides just burning the methane it can also be used as an energy source for a stationary fuel cell to generate electricity which is far better from an efficiency standpoint. Hydrogen powered vehicles are a solution in search of a problem. But if you really want to put fuel cells ins cars:

        The Remarkably Efficient Natural Gas Fuel Cell Car

        The hydrogen initiative is stalled. The hydrogen fuel cell cars work fine but no good solutions have been found to the problems of where to get the hydrogen, how to deliver it and how to store it.

      3. Unfortunately your understand of the chemistry is nil or miniscule.

        Start by trying read about the current technology — which changes daily…not with something some troll posted five years ago.

        Bottom line: unlike a battery, the process of hydrogen extraction from water is catalytic. It’s not simply 1 in and 1xpercent_loss out.

        Brookhaven National Lab Solves Hydrogen Fuel Puzzle With Nanotech

        A team of researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, has opened the door to a future of clean, cheap hydrogen fuel by ditching a popular platinum catalyst in favor of one based on two low cost alternatives, nickel and molybdenum.


      4. John, I have a degree in chemistry from the UW. What you’re posting is pure BS and I’m growing increasingly tired of the perpetual spam. The laws of thermodynamics don’t change daily; only your rotation of the same psuedo science. Catalysts lower the potential energy barrier to a reaction. They can’t turn lead into gold or sea water into energy. When energy is produced from hydrogen and oxygen you get water. To get back to hydrogen and oxygen you have to put in that same amount of energy if you had a reaction that was 100% efficient. Other wise you’d have created a perpetual motion machine. Get back to us when they discover huge underground pockets of hydrogen gas.

    1. Lo, I hear the thundering stampede as hundreds of thousands flee Seattle for the fresher pasrtures of Kent, Yakima and Toppenish.

  5. Nice video. Let’s give these guys more rail tunnels to work on. We need more than just U-link to make this city’s transportation system work in the future.

    1. Alas, if we only spent half as much on infrastructure at home as we did in foreign wars…

      1. I wish we could take the monthly budget for the freakin’ wars and apply them to various cities. “January, the war budget goes to Portland for MAX. February, the war budget goes to Denver. March, the war budget goes to Seattle”…etc.

    1. SDOT is better than many other city or even state DOTs (looking at you WSDOT) when it comes to thinking of non-automobile road users, but they also have a legacy of auto-centric development and configuration to deal with. I’d be willing to bet this light’s timing was a result of that.

      That said, this intersection would make a great candidate for a Leading Pedestrian Interval, at least during the hours school is beginning or ending.

      1. That’s what I had thought about SDOT, thanks for the clarification, and for the link.

  6. I don’t think the UW station will have as much of an impact as the U-district/Brooklyn station for non-students, or for metro buses. I wish they’d included that one additional station in the U-link project for 2016.

  7. Had an opportunity to drive the new NE 125th road diet section in Lake City. Snoozer. My wife thought it had always been this way and we live there for many years. It doesn’t go all the way to I-5 (which would be 130th) so my take was, what’s the point. Looks nice, useless as currently implemented.

    1. It is useful for traveling between 15th NE and Lake City and makes the ride from Lake City to Northgate slightly more pleasant. I’ll agree that it doesn’t really connect to anything and should be extended to 130th as part of building LINK.

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