‘Auburn Station before dawn’ via Joshua Putnam

This is an open thread.

65 Replies to “News Roundup: Supply Tracks”

  1. Well, the cops are also trying to crack down on the 99.9% of bicyclists who somehow do not come to a complete stop at the intersection of the Burke and Brooklyn Ave NE despite the BLINKy stop signs. Better alternatives would be to a) close the road down, saving on the cost of maintaining it (or rebuild it under an enlightened “roads to p-patch” program) or b) point the stop signs at the cars (and maybe put in a speed table to slow the cars down).

    Bicycles will never stop at this intersection; the heavy pedestrian traffic means that cars must stop for the pedestrian, and then the long groups of bicycles heading West (due to the long lights at the previous two intersection) move across, thus training the cars to stop for all East-West traffic.

    Or we could burn taxpayer money trying to push water uphill. I suspect all it will do is generate some meager ticket revenue for the city, worsen cop/bicyclist relations (maybe post a bicycle cop, not a threatening muscle car?), and effect utterly no change in the coast-glance-glance-sprint-or-slow method cyclists use to cross.

    1. I wish Cops would ticket cyclists here in Chicago too, props to them for doing so in Seattle! (I ride my bike to almost everything I do, for the record)

      1. I’ll welcome police ticketing cyclists for not stopping completely at intersections when the following conditions are met:

        (a) The sight-lines are developed so you can actually see cross-traffic from behind the stop line.

        (b) The right-of-way rules are clear. Giving traffic on the Burke a “stop” and traffic on Brooklyn a virtual “yield” is utterly ridiculous. It’s like coming to a 4-way stop except that you don’t know whether the cross-traffic is actually going to stop or not (and even if one directions stops the other might not, which is SUPER DANGEROUS). If you want to screw cyclists, just give them a 2-way stop and tell drivers on Brooklyn to go through. Otherwise just make it a regular 4-way stop sign. Not difficult.

        (c) Drivers that roll through stop signs, fail to yield at crosswalks, drive the wrong way through roundabouts, and fail to yield to traffic already in a roundabout before entering, are targeted with the same gusto.

        Until all that happens, fuck anyone that proposes or authorizes a sting on cyclists at BGT intersections. It is utterly unconscionable to do so. If you’re such a person and you’re reading this, name a time and a place and I’ll say it to your face.

        Similarly, the sting operations along the Burke in LFP where cyclists are being ticketed for crossing during the pedestrian countdown are totally inappropriate. The pedestrian signal timings make no damn sense for cyclists and the (brand new! gold-plated!) intersections are (intentionally!) designed to make it hard for cyclists to get through. Clearly a signal is needed that’s timed for people walking slow, that’s basic accessibility. But THIS IS A GOD DAMN BIKE PATH. Put in a bike signal like they do in Europe, and allow cyclists and runners to follow it. Until that happens, fuck enforcement against cyclists there. Again, if you’re with the city of LFP, name a time and a place and I’ll come say it to your face.

        We cyclists don’t break the law because we’re crazy scofflaws by nature, or whatever shit people tell themselves to justify their irrational anger at us. We break the law because the infrastructure and laws are so tilted against us that we’re better off finding our own way. Make it practical and safe to follow the law to the letter and you’ll end up with pleasant and law-abiding cyclists.

        As it is, cyclist behavior at Brooklyn is far from perfect, and pedestrians on Brooklyn get screwed. I always try to yield to pedestrians, but I have to admit that I cut one off last week — it’s hard to juggle two opposing lanes of traffic that might or might not yield, plus a near- and far-side sidewalk that you’re supposed to yield to. CLEAR INTERSECTION DESIGN — I CAN HAZ IT?!?!?

      2. (d) the intersection is on an uphill or there’s an uphill soon after the intersection, in which case restarting after stopping completely creates a burden on bicyclists that drivers and pedestrians don’t have.

      1. I don’t go this way often these days, but this used to be part of my daily commute. I just treated it like a yield. And in practice, this means that when a car is coming, I stop, and they either yield to me (as the SDOT engineer suggests should happen) and then I go, or they don’t and I go after they do. It’s never so busy that you can’t get across pretty quickly.

        If no one’s coming, there’s no harm by going across without stopping. A pedestrian wouldn’t stop before going across the crosswalk in that situation and the fact that a cyclist is coming at a right angle to the road doesn’t make a practical difference–only a legal one.

  2. The toll is the only good aspect of the tunnel. Indeed, if WSDOT can pre-toll 520, why can’t they slap tolls on the AWV right now?

    1. I’d love to see this, but I-5 is a parking lot too much of the time, and the Central Business District won’t be much of an option either come October 1.

      I’ll mention later some of the simple steps that could mitigate the CBD gridlock.

      1. The same argument was made about 520 tolls causing traffic to divert to the free alternative of I-90. Although there may have been good reason to toll both bridges, reinstating the toll on 520 was a politically feasible approach that preserved a free route while reducing traffic and increasing service quality on the other.

        The main difference between the bridges and the north-south routes is that the main free alternative, I-5, is much closer and presumably a much more attractive alternative. Additional free alternative routes in the form of city streets are even closer.

        If the street network is so fragile and the traffic flow so constant that every diverted trip from a tolled Viaduct were to become an additional vehicle degrading movement of vehicles along city streets and I-5… well, yeah, that would be a problem.

        But, if that’s such a horrifying prospect now, what’s going to happen when the tolled tunnel opens and the Viaduct closes? Exactly the same thing. Some of the thru traffic on 99 will pay the toll and enjoy a fast ride, while those who balk at the toll will crawl along I-5 or one of the surface avenues. Those who use the Viaduct to access downtown will still get downtown, they’ll just exit before the portals–just they do now, except now they can exit at Seneca or Western.

        Whatever will happen when the tunnel replaces the Viaduct will happen. Since it’s going to happen sooner or later, it may as well happen now. Put the tolls on the Viaduct and those who need the express downtown bypass will get it, and not only that, they’ll get a faster ride.

        In addition to the faster ride for thru traffic, getting the revenue stream up and running now meas that there won’t be any need to guess at the corridor’s revenue potential. This might result in some red faces if the tolling revenue for the Viaduct is way lower than what’s been estimated for the tunnel. Or, it could turn out that the utility of a quick ride between Magnolia and West Seattle is so great that tolls run huge surpluses, and all the tunnel’s financing problems will be wiped away.

        But either way, if tolling is to be a part of the tunnel’s financing, it’s better to know now what revenue can be wrung out of the corridor. Usually you do a toll study because you have no idea what users are willing to pay. With the 99 corridor, there’s no need to guess. Start charging ’em a buck and see what happens.

      2. all the tunnel’s financing problems will be wiped away.

        Ha, immediately made me think of the Stone’s tune “Far Away Eyes”

        send ten dollars
        To the church of the sacred bleeding heart of Jesus,
        Located somewhere in Los Angeles, California
        And next week they’d say my prayer on the radio
        And all my dreams would come true

  3. In the Nordic cities whose streetcars I’ve ridden the last couple of weeks, especially Gothenburg, Sweden, street rail operating speed seems to be a matter of political will, operator training, and public familiarity.

    If a city owns its streets, it also has the authority to specify what vehicles can use what lanes, and where. It can also set signals so that streetcars don’t have to stop between stations. The Route 12 in Stockholm’s Sickla Udde neighborhood- what South Lake Union will be in its dreams- has triangular signs reading “Yield signs don’t apply to streetcars.”

    But most interesting thing is how well streetcars interact with pedestrians- and bicyclists- who are used to them. You really need to relax about plazas, Martin. City Hall Plaza in Oslo has 60′ streetcars cross its whole length every few minutes, on tracks unmarked by anything but grooved rail and catenary overhead.

    Tramdrivers tell me it’s no big deal. To me, critical thing is importance of achieving that level of familarity- which could be the biggest deal we have to deal with as we build our own system with 70 years’ gap in public experience.

    Anybody who doubts value of streetcars over buses needs to spend a week of rush hours in crush standing loads on both modes. Argument makes itself.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Completely irrelevant, but has anyone seen the Norwegian movie “Trollhunter”?

      I could swear that if they were speaking English, the country side, style of dress, people..even the style of roadway signs at the scenic overlooks…would make you think it was set in Washington State!

      1. yes, John, my Scandinavian ancestors would have probably said the same thing if the movie was released in 1908.

        and by the way, as Mark Dublin can probably attest, Scandinavian folks speak as good as (or better than) English as you hear here.

  4. So the tolls on the tunnel won’t even be enough for $200 million in bonds on a $2 billion project. That shows how useless the tunnel really is. There just isn’t much traffic the really wants to go from Aurora north of Mercer to SODO and south. It’s not really much of a through route, and the $2 billion should have been better spent, whether on transit or fixing the I-5 bottlenecks

    1. “There just isn’t much traffic the really wants to go from Aurora north of Mercer to SODO and south.”

      What an ignorant comment. Almost all of the traffic entering the Battery St. tunnel comes from Aurora Ave north of Mercer, and almost all of that traffic goes to SODO or further south. THe only exit between the entrance to the Battery St. tunnel and SODO is immediatly after exiting the tunnel, and very few vehciles use that exit. There is no exit from the viaduct southbound into downtown. So ALL southbound traffic on the viaduct from the Elliott Ave onramp south is going at least to SODO. Much of it is going to W. Seattle, and much of it is going further south than that.

      If about half of all viaduct traffic is using the viaduct southbound, that means that about 55,000 vehicles per day are using the viaduct to go from north of downtown to SODO or further south, like W. Seattle or the airport.

      1. I forgot about the onramp to the southbound viaduct from downtown, which carries quite a few vehicles, so maybe about 45,000 vehicles per day use the viaduct to go from north of downtown to SODO or further south.

      2. If there are so many drivers, why can’t they recoup even 10% of the project costs? That sounds like a huge socialist subsidy to me.

      3. I don’t see how: “There just isn’t much traffic [that] really wants to go from Aurora north of Mercer to SODO and south.” is ignorant at all. If auto users REALLY want to get through then they will pay the toll. But as Carl pointed out the tolling revenue generated projects to be relatively low as compared to the total investment in the new roadway. Moreover, your counter arguments lack inherency Norman. If Carl states that cars don’t “really” want to make the trip than it is not a sufficient counter argument to state that 55,000 (i.e a lot of) cars use the roadway. You also have to state the opportunity cost facing those viaduct users. In other words, the principle issue is not the preferred mode but HOW MUCH the mode is preferred over alternatives. This is where the roadways value principally lies. And since the toll, based on its low revenue projections, is sufficient to dissuade a lot of users from using the roadway, then the roadway is not that valuable. Since most of the users value the roadway little over other modes (city streets, transit, taking a different trip) it is not a good investment, particularly compared to other alternative investments.

      4. A lot of people think they have a “right” to a downtown bypass that’s faster than I-5 traffic, especially when they’re going to the airport. Maybe not an absolute right, but a right to vote their tax dollars to this bypass rather than transit. At the same time, a large percentage of people would rather drive several miles out of the way than pay a toll. Some of them on principle (even if the toll were 1 cent), others if the price is above trivial (50 cents?). Thus, the way 40% of 520’s traffic vanished after the toll went into effect, and now the AWV is having the same problem. The only solution is not to build the bypass (the best solution), or to toll all highways including I-5 and I-90.

      5. “I don’t see how: “There just isn’t much traffic [that] really wants to go from Aurora north of Mercer to SODO and south.” is ignorant at all.”

        Frist of all, now that they have created a choke point on the viaduct by reducing it from three lanes to only two lanes in each direction just north of the stadiums, during peak hours the viaduct southbound is bumper to bumper and barely moving. If you think people who are putting up with that don’t “really” want to go from Aurora North of Mercer to SODO and south, I would say you are ignorant. Those people are not sitting in that traffic because they think it is fun.

        “And since the toll, based on its low revenue projections, is sufficient to dissuade a lot of users from using the roadway, then the roadway is not that valuable. Since most of the users value the roadway little over other modes (city streets, transit, taking a different trip) it is not a good investment, particularly compared to other alternative investments.”

        Let’s use that reasoning for transit, shall we? What if the riders on Link light rail were charged just the OPERATING cost of Link, which is about 75 cents per passenger-mile. How many people would ride Link between downtown and SeaTac for example if they had to pay the actual operating cost of about $12 each way? How many people do you think value LInk lighr rail enough to pay $12 each way between downtown and SeaTac? Since most Link riders would likely choose a different mode rather than pay the actual cost of their trips, then Link is not a good investment, per your argument.

        And, the rest of the cost of the tunnel is being paid for with gas taxes, which motorists pay, and transit riders do NOT pay. So, motorists are paying the full cost of the tunnel. Link riders, with their fares, are paying only a small fraction of the OPERATING cost of their trips and zero of the capital costs of Link.

    2. I would block all the Seattle exits except Mercer off. Turn the Seneca Street lane back into a through lane.

      Then shunt traffic that wants to go to Seattle from I5 off onto 99 further north and south of downtown.

    3. It’s sort of amusing, but the (il)logic of it seems to be.

      1. It’s hard to get past downtown.

      2. So we’ll built a tunnel under it, to alleviate traffic.

      3. But it’s expensive, so we have to toll it.

      4. But then, since we’re removing something free that does the same thing, the tolls will make people not want to use it as much.

      5. So, it’ll increase congestion.

      Now, you may also say that well, that’s good because people will use transit. But this project is supposed to speed traffic around Seattle! So I’m not sure how transit figures into it.

      It’s the sort of thing where they either need to build it much much bigger, instead of the two narrow tunnels they plan now, or not build it at all!

  5. The traffic cops at Dexter and Mercer were effective for the one day they were out there, although all they were doing was acting as extra signals and stopping traffic from entering the intersection if the queue was full. Now that they’re gone, it’s back to the same mess with five or six cars stuck in the intersection, blocking northbound traffic and pedestrians every time the light changes. There needs to either be some temporary red light cameras installed, or a officer sitting there permanently with pre-filled tickets ready to go, until people finally stop blocking the box (or until we run out of oil, whichever comes first.)

    1. I watched the intersection of Mercer and Dexter Tuesday during the afternoon peak, and for about 30 minutes, not one vehicle was able to make a left turn onto Mercer from southbound Dexter on a green light without blocking the intersection. And eastbound traffic on Mercer was backed up west of 4th Ave.

      What the traffic cops wound up accomplishing was causing much worse backups on Mercer west of Dexter.

      Mercer and Dexter is now a completely dysfunctional intersection. If you reduce backups on one street, you increase the backups on other streets. By reducing Mercer from 4 lanes to only 3 lanes just east of Dexter, they have reduced the capacity of Mercer, so all the vehicles which want to use Mercer, including all those wanting to turn onto Mercer from cross streets like Dexter, have to wait longer, in longer backups. This includes traffic on 5th Ave., which at times now is backed up solid south of Broad street, and ofter blocks the intersection of Broad and 5th.

      So far the Mercer Mess “solution” has been an abject failure. Hopefully it will get better when Fairview and Valley reopen fully to traffic. But, those two things will cause other problems of their own.

      1. If nothing else, you won’t have to worry about Mercer after the DBT opens. Every traffic analysis so far shows it will have a ton of unused capacity, so undoubtedly a good number of southbound drivers will decide to pay the toll and go that way instead of slogging it to I-5. And there’s going to be a whole new set of changes associated with that project that’ll have impacts far more profound than reopening Valley.

        In the meantime, I think some parking removal on Dexter would be appropriate, to make room for a left-turn queueing lane, and improve transit flow on Dexter. I can think of several other places in the city where left-turn queues are similarly allowed to block through traffic, in the name of saving a handful of city-subsidized parking spaces.

        And generally speaking, if through traffic is not box-blocking when their light hits red, there will still be enough room for a left-turn to get through on their cycle (and vice-versa). SDOT can massage how much room each direction gets by adjusting the light timing. But box-blockers on one cycle always screw up the next.

        The project is not about freeway access. It’s about local access in SLU. The old mercer/valley/broad bow-tie couplet was royally screwing up local navigation in SLU for traffic that had nothing to do with the freeway or freeway access. In the end, freeway access will never be quick and easy – too many vehicles are trying to use it at once. Congestion there is a thing that will always be, just get in line and wait your turn, or find an alternate mode/route.

      2. Yesterday around 10 AM there was an SPD car parked at Mecer and Terry, and the officer was out of his car and watching and waiting for cars on Mercer to get stuck in the intersection in order to ticket them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Streetcar has been getting blocked, and that’s why he was there.

      3. “I can think of several other places in the city where left-turn queues are similarly allowed to block through traffic, in the name of saving a handful of city-subsidized parking spaces.”

        Is parking on city asphalt a subsidy? Any different then for bike lanes? Or cross-walks? What’s a non-subsidised use of city asphalt?

        Seems like an ill-considered comment.

      4. Parking on city asphalt is a subsidy. So is driving on it, biking on it, riding transit over it, or walking on it.

        The difference is that there are plenty of private-sector alternatives to storing your car on city asphalt, while there are few/none for walking/biking/driving.

        Car storage is the lowest and worst use of city asphalt, and should only be there if there is no other competing need for that real estate.

      5. “If nothing else, you won’t have to worry about Mercer after the DBT opens. Every traffic analysis so far shows it will have a ton of unused capacity, so undoubtedly a good number of southbound drivers will decide to pay the toll and go that way instead of slogging it to I-5. ”

        The tunnel will have no “onramp” from Elliott AVe as the viaduct currently does. Many thousands of vehicles per day now use the Elliott Ave onramp to access the viaduct. Many of those vehicles will want to use the tunnel, once the viaduct is closed. The only way they can access the tunnel is by taking Mercer Place up to Mercer and taking Mercder to the tunnel portal by the Gates Foundaion Headquarters. This is going to add many thousands of vehicles to Mercer St. daily, most during the pm peak period.

        Or, if there is a toll, a lot of those vehicles will take Mercer all the way to I-5.

        People have had the choice of the viaduct instead of I-5 for decades. And Mercer ST. has been a mess all those decades. What makes you think that drivers who now take Mercer to I-5, instead of using the viaduct, will start using the deep bore tunnel? Pretty much all projections are for fewer cars using the tunnel than now use the viaduct. Don’t you think that some of those people who now use the viaduct but won’t use the tunnel, will be using Mercer to get to I-5 instead of using the tunnel?

        And you think that Mercer St. will be LESS congested when the tunnel opens? Your “reasoning” is laughable.

  6. Question for clarity:

    The signs downtown say the free ride zone ends on 9/29. Does this mean that it will end at 7pm on 9/29? Or will 9/29 be the first day of no free ride area?

  7. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the DBT article. State politicians, the port, construction interests, and local politicians were cheerleaders for this thing, and the mainstream media utterly failed in its responsibility to report on the actual consequences of the design on the budget, and on surface-level projects. McGinn was pretty much the only public figure that told the truth about it, and because the public was so misinformed they hated him for it. And now the state publishes a report saying, “Oh, wait, McGinn and all the tunnel opponents were right on this stuff all along.”

    If the state, the port, and the media had been honest about what we were really getting on the surface and on the balance books and the people still wanted the tunnel, well, sometimes in a democracy the will of the people is stupid and we have to go along with it. But that’s not what happened. Tunnel cheerleaders lied, and their impossible projections went unchallenged in the Times, on TV, and on the radio.

    1. McGinn and his allies were dead wrong — the “surface/transit” “solution” wouuld have been an epic disaster. Anyone who thinks the Mercer “solution” is not working particularly well would see things exponentially worse in all of downtown Seattle if the viaduct were taken down and not replace with anything but surface streets. You would see just about every intersection in downtown blocked, and it would take forever to get through downtown on any surface street.

      The people who were correct were the supporters of rebuilding the viaduct. That would have cost less than the tunnel, and would not have caused any adverse changes in traffic.

      The tunnel is an expensive boondoggle. The “surface/transit” plan would have been an even worse boondoggle. The only intelligent solution was a rebuilt viaduct. But, a lot of people think the viaduct is “ugly”, so now we are going to get a traffic disaster throughout downtown at an exhorbiant price.

      1. I don’t want to live in a world where the right “solution” is to build a monstrous stacked freeway on top of the most valuable real estate in a city, blocking views and spewing noise and pollution in all directions. Please take your outdated ideas to another region.

      2. Comparing the Mercer Corridor project to the Surface/Transit proposal to the SR-99 is not an apples to apples comparison. First, the Mercer corridor is hardly complete, and can’t really be remotely judged until both Mercer West is completed, the SR-99 project is complete and the E/W street grid is reconnected. Moreover the Mercer Corridor project lacked substantial transit investments, which are essential to combating auto dependency. Finally, the project never intended to “fix” the Mercer Mess, it just was meant to effectively “repaint” the mess so that the area would be more pedestrian friendly and possibly in the long term make the problems of the Mercer Mess more manageable.

        In contrast, the Surface/Transit alternative was substantially different. First it was cost-neutral. The freeway was going to be replaced regardless and it came out as the cheapest alternative, whereas the mercer project cost money over keeping the status quo. Second the Surface/Transit alternative provided substantial transit investments, unlike the mercer project. Third the traffic issues involved are very different. Mercer is a mess largely because the E/W grid is broken through that area. All E/W traffic is funneled down two roads, Mercer or Denny, because of the geography of the area (the next E/W corridors are through downtown or north of the ship canal). In other words, mercer is a mess not because its too narrow, but because there aren’t other alternative roads, particularly for local trips (and the lack of good east/west transit alternatives). In contrast SR-99 corridor has a plethora of alternative N/S roads to absorb the demand as well as extensive regional transit infrastructure, and the ready capacity for more.

        All this is not to say that Surface/Transit would have been smooth sailing, but the pieces where there to make it work very well. And it certainly far better than the largely pointless tunnel.

    2. I love Mayor McGinn. But I’m at a loss as to why Metro and SDOT haven’t cooperated more to maximize the rapidity of RapidRide. I get it that there is a conspiracy among politicians and corporate-sponsored media to ostracize the mayor. But that, in and of itself, doesn’t explain why Metro wouldn’t have asked for more continuous dedicated laneage or more complete signal priority. Nor does it explain why SDOT wouldn’t have offered it up without being asked. Okay, the storage of a handful of cars in a bus lane is primarily the fault of some brazen businesses that will not have my business, but the politicians could have held their ground and explained the stupidity of putting parking there.

      Please boycott the businesses that have parking in a RapidRide lane in front of them, until they start begging SDOT to remove that parking.

    3. “All this is not to say that Surface/Transit would have been smooth sailing, but the pieces where there to make it work very well. And it certainly far better than the largely pointless tunnel.”

      Allowing up to 90,000 vehicles per day carrying up to 150,000 passengers to travel between Mercer St. and SODO in about 2 minutes is “pointless”?

      What, exactly, then, is the “point” of U-Link, or any part of Link?

      1. Well, sure, Norman… if we’re going to talk about “up to” 90,000 vehicles and “up to” 150,000 passengers, i don’t see any other way to accommodate that all traveling along one very narrow corridor.

        Unfortunately, only a little more than half of that are likely to use the tunnel. Everyone else will be on the street anyway. Only, now, there won’t be any transit investment or significant road improvement to help mitigate them.

    4. Why the blame on “the media”? Of the region’s major print/text media, only the Seattle Times was rabidly pro-tunnel. Crosscut certainly leaned pro-tunnel. The Stranger and Publicola were rather forcefully anti-tunnel. I don’t know what the TV stations were saying or showing, but I suspect that any given story on the tunnel received far less coverage than the Huskies or the Mariners.

  8. If early tolling works so well for SR520, it will work just as well for the viaduct.

    Put the tolls on the viaduct now and get down to the business of actually figuring out how to make tolling work. Early tolls would provide real data on this issue AND provide additional revenue for the DBT project and for mitigation of toll diversion.

    And if the State still can’t figure out how to make tolling work, then the State will have to make up the revenue shortfall. This is hardly an issue that should worry Seattleites.

    1. Well, early tolling on 520 isn’t working nearly as well as had been hoped. Yes, traffic is free flowing on the bridge most of the time but revenue is well below expectations and overall time of people stuck in traffic has increased. It increases a lot for people diverting over I-90 and it adds to everyone’s commute that originally used that route. Of course all of the projections that actually met the budget goal included tolling on I-90. I’ll agree the State should start early tolling on the viaduct. It’s already a given that alternate routes will have to be tolled so might as well start getting people used to the idea now.

      1. Actually, WSDOT factored in a pretty high level of diversion into their revenue projections for SR520.

        But the solution is easy and obvious — toll I-90 too.

      2. Beware of WSDOT whitewashing the side of the barn at night. Original study projections were for only 30% diversion with only 520 tolled so 41% isn’t really making expectations. Tolling was expected to cover $2B in costs. Right now the funding deficit is around $2.6B. In other words the tolls aren’t even keeping up with the cost overruns. The original study pegged net revenue of tolling both bridges at 3X tolling only 520. Everyone knows it’s got to happen and it’s already too late to keep the project on schedule; which means even more cost overruns.

      3. Tolling projects are what you predict before the fact; sort of like Link ridership. Moving the goal post once you have the answer isn’t a projection.

      4. Can you cite your sources on revenue being well below expectations and how the overall time of people stuck in traffic? I’ve heard exactly the opposite from WSDOT and the media.

      5. WSDOT website says commute travel times on I-90 are 3-5 minutes extra each way. Far more people crossed I-90 than 520 before tolling almost cut traffic on 520 in half. I-90 traffic increased ~10% per WSDOT.

        Predictions on tolling revenue are in a WSDOT study done in 2007. Saved the PDF but not the link, a google search will turn it up with little effort if you really want to read it. The bottom line on funding is tolls were supposed to fund bonds that would cover half of the cost of the corridor rebuild or $2B dollars. The latest funding shortfall on the project is ~$2.6B (easy to find on line from multiple sources). That means not only hasn’t tolling come close to filling the gap the gap is getting wider. How do you spin that to come up with “tolling is meeting expectations”? The only explanation is that expectations were that tolling only 520 wasn’t going to work and “meeting expectations” proves it.

  9. As I promised in a response to Eric H above, here are a few simple steps, none of them involving infrastructure investment, for restoring some speed to downtown buses after October 1:

    1. Incentivize ORCA use by
    a) Removing the $5 charge for getting a card (or, at the very least, make an unlimited supply of free cards available at the downtown Bartell’s, City Target, and Uwajumaya, “for a limited time”);
    b) Eliminating Metro paper transfers (though reducing their time value to 1-1.5 hours will help a little, but much less);
    c) Charging higher fares for cash and lower fares on ORCA; and
    d) Deploying a lot more “loaders”, armed only with ORCA readers, to stand at the rear doors of buses at every major downtown bus stop, which gives ORCA users the better seats.

    2. Truncate more bus routes outside of downtown at train stations, and increase capacity on Link and Sounder to compensate. This list has been gone over extensively, and I’ve suggested various routes that terminate in Renton that ought to through-route up to Rainier Beach Station. Though we have debated the math for travel time on those individual routes, after October 1, the math of how these routes continuing to go through downtown or the DSTT impact other routes changes the game.

    3. Roll back Link frequency to 10 minutes in the PM peak. Yes, that increases average wait time by up to 1.25 minutes, but it will actually be less than that due to the congestion relief such a move would enable. For riders boarding north of ID Station, they would probably lose that minute advantage by the time they get to ID Station if the trains retain their current frequency in the PM peak.

    There is a question of whether the stub tunnel could hold 3- or 4-car trains in the near future. If it can, it is time to not let frequency become the enemy of speed.

  10. The whole process of actually picking an alignment and technology should be finished by next April.

    Seriously??? They need a “process” for picking the technology! Cut me a check for $600M and I’ll write up a study that says it would make the most sense to use the technology currently being used. Make the check out for $800M and I’ll include an option for hydrogen power fuel cells on each tram :=

    1. It is required, that’s why ST went through a rail-vs-bus alternatives analysis for the then North Corridor (now Lynnwood Extension).

  11. As much as I hate to say it, a higher toll on SR-99 means drivers will shift run a route that no transit bus will ever take to neighboring streets at tons of transit buses will take.

    Unless we can find the political will to get more exclusive bus lanes in and around downtown (good luck on that ever happening), the reality is that a higher toll on the tunnel directly correlates with slower buses on the surface.

  12. Made one of my journeys Kent to Seattle for symphony concert.

    Always a toss up between driving to Tukwila LINK station and taking Sounder in from Kent with the downside the backwards journey on the 150.

    I was really surprised getting off the Sounder and walking all the way uptown to my favorite calzone place, Bambino’s. Maybe it’s the warm weather, but the streets of downtown seem a little less grungy and less infested by crazies. Even the Union Gospel Mission on 2nd seemed on good behavior.

    I walked up 2nd and then side stepped up to 3rd and then 4th. Usually these streets can get a bit barren, but today there was a fair amount of normals walking around. Coming back to the hall was the most surprising. There were actually people, lots of them, at all the sidewalk bars along the street! I could see Belltown taking on a UES flavor.

    The biggest surprise was the 150 back. It was a newer bus. Clean well lit. And…the back wasn’t packed with thugs. I guess all the Oxy rings the police have been busting in South King must have had an effect, because it’s the first time I felt like riding the 150 at night was actually safe. Same thing getting off and walking to my car at Kent Station. No crowds of shady people milling about.

    Has this Metro area turned a corner? Or was it just a nice day and the kids are back in school.

    I’ll find out next time I take transit in…

  13. It’s high time to plan the September 29th RapidRide group ride. It’s two routes, so riding them both round trip will take 3-4 hours. There’s also the 40 and 50 to try out, but that may be too much to squeeze into one day. The traditional starting time is 10am. Shall we start at Pine Street and go north and then south? Or south and then north? Or we could start at Westwood Village (120 or 60) to be less redundant. The Crown Hill terminus is not a good place to start because it’s an isolated residential neighborhood. But it’s a good place to finish because it overlaps with the 40.

    I guess I’m leaning toward, start at Westwood Village, take the C and D north to Crown Hill, then the 40 back to downtown. Then for extra credit, take Link to Othello and the 50 to Alki and party.

    Morning runs to Westwood Village Sept 29:
    #120 (from 3rd & Pike): 9:28 – 9:52
    #120 (from Burien TC): 9:22 – 9:43
    #60 (from Broadway & Republican): 8:44 – 9:41
    #60 (from Beacon Hill station): 9:05 – 9:41

    1. Oh.

      “Residents can learn more about [RapidRide C] and its amenities from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday (Sept 29) at Westwood Village. A RapidRide coach, Metro staff and RapidRide Man will be located in the parking lot in front of Barnes and Noble bookstore to share information about the new C Line and provide trip planning advice.” (link)

      I don’t see anything about the D.

      So maybe we could start at Westwood Village at 11:30?

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