On Wednesday the 20th, STB is pleased to present an open house on the Ballard to Downtown Study funded in last year’s partnership between Sound Transit and the City of Seattle. We’ll have Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and staff from both governments to talk about this first step.

And let me reiterate that this is *just* the first step – it’ll take more work from us to get this past a corridor study. This study area is wide, from Ballard through SLU/Fremont and Belltown/Interbay to the heart of downtown, and it’ll come up with alternatives in both corridors at many levels of potential investment. It will open up a process for choosing one or more of those alternatives, but there isn’t funding for design and engineering, much less construction. It’ll be our job over the coming year or two to advocate for funding sources to connect these neighborhoods, and it’s important for us to understand what’s in the study – and what isn’t – so we can be effective in that advocacy.

So join us on Wednesday the 20th at Hale’s Ales in Fremont from 5:30-7pm, for an ALL AGES meetup to talk transit to Ballard!

87 Replies to “Next Week: Learn About the Ballard to Downtown Study with Joni Earl and Mayor Mike McGinn!”

  1. So this is distinct from the event the next day at the monthly Central Ballard Residents’ Association meeting at Swedish?

      1. The email from Michael Kars only states the following:

        Just a reminder. Our general membership meeting usually held on the second Thursday has been moved to the third Thursday so that everybody who wishes to may celebrate Valentine’s day. At 7. Don’t forget, we have someone from Sound Transit and the City of Seattle here to talk about the transit study of Ballard to Downtown route.

      2. Yeah, they’ll just have a couple of staff. This event is where you’ll be able to make it clear to the leaders that we want grade separated, high speed transit. :)

  2. Fantastic.

    Once North Link opens, this corridor (specifically a version of it that includes Uptown) and First Hill are the two biggest pain points remaining in Seattle transit.

    This is everyone’s chance to say it loud and clear that we want to spend money to fix the pain, not spend less money to mess around on the edges of it and not solve anything

    We need a grade-separated line connecting downtown, Uptown, and Ballard, not “improved” buses or “rapid” streetcars that still sit in traffic.

    1. It is extremely tempting to point out that the location for this event is along the corridor served only by the latter proposal (which you rightly decry), and not by any permutation of the former.

      It would be naive to ignore such a coincidence, as chosen locations / target audiences tend to provide a window into the presumptions / expectations of those involved. We all know McGinn had drunk the Streetcar Kool-Aid. I won’t pretend to guess where Joni Earl’s biases fall, but “political expediency” and “saving money” are both integral to her job description, so this is less than encouraging.

      I am, of course, aware that Hale’s Ale’s has provided the venue for many a Democratic-leaning event in the past. This is also ironic, because prior to very recent introduction of the 40, this venue was a veritable transit black hole for 90% of the constituents of the legislative district (Ballard, Queen Anne, etc.) in which it sits. It was an interaction with Dow Constantine at Hale’s, shortly after his election, which firmly convinced me that he is useless as a progressive and as a transit ally.

      Given Hale’s history of political engagement, I am trying not to jump to conclusions about this event.

      But anyone who thinks this grand study is “wide…open” and free from politics has never seen a government-instigated study in their life.

      1. A corridor that goes through SLU and Fremont could be just as good as one going through LQA and Interbay, given equal attention to grade separation (and generally speed and reliability). For example (as you yourself regularly point out), the 40 and RR D have roughly equal attention given to grade separation, speed, and reliability (very little), and take about the same amount of time to travel between downtown Seattle and Ballard. SLU and LQA are each expensive to get through quickly; Interbay and Westlake are each cheap to get through quickly but without much ridership; each has a congested ship canal crossing that needs work.

        It’s certainly true that the “streetcar through Fremont” and “streetcar that crosses a new rail bridge around 3rd Ave NW” proposals suck. But an equally cheap proposal along the D Line’s route would be just as bad.

      2. All true.

        I was mostly referring to the fact that a real rapid transit line through Fremont had never actually been on the table, and is clearly not going to be among the studied options.

        Also, contrary to the biases of tech employees who frequent this site, Lower Fremont (as topographically isolated from Upper Fremont and elsewhere) is a much smaller neighborhood and lower-volume demand center that probably could not justify the expense of true grade separation.

        RR and the 40 experience similar trip times because both travel indirectly and with bottlenecks (the Uptown deviation and the zig-zags to and through SLU). A fully grade-separated line would likely be demonstrably straighter if built closer to a straight north-south alignment, either under Uptown and through Interbay or by tunneling straight under Queen Anne Hill so as to actually do something useful and novel (solving a grade obstacle) with all our money.

        Anyway, this is all moot, because the divination rod is pointing to more dumb streetcars, and because this “open” study isn’t bothering to study the only truly inexpensive and therefore viable subway (the east-west one).

      3. d.p.,

        If you think full traffic separation is important there is no better way to work to that than to have the group deliver that message clearly next Wednesday, as David said.

        Conspiracy theories about the venue we chose, not so much.

      4. Al Dimond,

        If there is to be a “Fremont-Ballard Streetcar”, it should cross the Ship Canal just to the east of the Aurora Bridge and land on North 35th. 35th does not have much traffic so there could be shared traffic running for that two block stretch down to Fremont Way, and it’s even conceivable to have a wye at the landing point to serve Wallingford.

        But a Fremont-Ballard Streetcar should not be a substitute for HCT in the Ballard-CBD corridor. The streetcar should travel on Dexter, not Westlake, because there’s no room for development along Westlake and the car line will be too different vertically from it’s catchment zone, which will be along Dexter. However, traveling along Dexter would mean there will need to be San Francisco LRT stop spacing (every four blocks) instead of HCT stop spacing.

        What the streetcar can do very well is support the development of the strip along the north side of the Ship Canal. There’s an enormous potential there, much more than along 15th West by the rail yard.

        The HCT should serve the Lower QA area, but not all the way north to Mercer. Doing that would miss the large cluster of development around Elliott and Republican. There needs to be a stop there, then the HCT should swing across Elliott and into the hillside below the Republican street ROW.

        A station between 1st West and 1st North would serve the entire Lower Queen Anne area as well as the cluster around Elliott and Denny.

        And here’s an audacious proposal: what about a lid over the branch of the BNSF rail yard that used to be for the NP? It would widen the Dravus Street stop catchment and improve the sound profile for northwest QA Hill.

        Also, I’d put a stop about Newton and redevelop all the way up to 12th West south of Gilman.

      5. @d.p.: A true north-south route from Ballard would require a mile-long swim to reach downtown Seattle. The most direct route is right under Queen Anne Hill. Going through Fremont and going through Interbay are about equally indirect.

        As a tech employee working in lower Fremont, if there isn’t a better Fremont proposal than what we’ve seen (specifically: if there isn’t a Fremont proposal that’s grade-separated from downtown through SLU, and over the Ship Canal) then Fremont is totally out of the question. I’m not sure why achieving grade separation in those places is any harder or more expensive than LQA and the Ballard Bridge.

      6. (The thing is, grade separation in Fremont isn’t for the benefit of Fremont any more than grade separation of Sounder is for the benefit of Belltown… OK, maybe a little more, but not much. For trips starting or ending in Fremont speed in Fremont doesn’t matter much as long as headways are reliably short. Similarly with SLU, where the speed of the streetcar isn’t that important but if it’s to be extended and more people are riding it all the way through the speed is unacceptable.)

      7. Interbay is about a full mile shorter than Fremont/SLU, presuming you don’t follow the dumb RapidRide detour inch-for-inch, and instead tunnel along a relatively smooth arc from Belltown to the Interbay portal.

        As I said before, though, there’s something perverse about insisting on a new downtown tunnel (likely to cost four times what the first DSTT cost 30 years ago, or roughly $2), and then not at least exploring the option of tunneling straight under Queen Anne. Once you’re multiplying the billions, it’s dumb skimp elsewhere and wind up with a line through Nothingsville. At least study the thing.

        (Of course, I still believe an east-west line, with no new Ship Canal crossing and a mere 3 miles of trackage, could be built without compromise and still come in at a fraction of the cost of just the new downtown tunnel. I also believe the new downtown tunnel will make voters balk, and we’ll be stuck with McGinn’s Magic Streetcars if we put our eggs in its basket.)

        I’m not sure why achieving grade separation in those places is any harder or more expensive than LQA and the Ballard Bridge.

        It’s not any harder or more expensive. Fremont just happens to be tiny compared to those other places, with an extremely hemmed-in catchment area and few opportunities for time-competitive transfers.

      8. [And I’m referring to Lower Fremont as small and hemmed-in. Fremont as a whole is much larger, but Greater Fremont is topographically and functionally divorced from Lower Fremont, with a band of low-density Homes With Views between 39th and 42nd that isn’t going to get replaced anytime soon.]

      9. [By comparison, Ballard is “contiguous city” from the bridge to 85th. Even if the density varies along the way, there is no barrier the way Fremont has. Queen Anne is built-up all the way up to the crest of its southern slope. Even Wallingford has a contiguous catchment area in a way that Lower Fremont lacks.

        The tech jobs and to a lesser degree the nightlife make Lower Fremont a two-way demand center. Just not as prominent of a two-way demand center as many Google employees might be led to believe.]

      10. d.p., now that you’ve had a chance to wear yourself out, I’d like to remind you (and everyone else) that this study is developing sets of alternatives for *both corridors*. Belltown/Interbay is the corridor Sound Transit is interested in, and SLU/Fremont/Westlake is the corridor Seattle is interested in. We’ll build lines in both.

      11. We’ll build lines in both.

        Everything about this process screams “that’s not going to happen”.

        Shame if you can’t see that from the inside. Bigger shame if people are lying to your face to keep your support.

        But “either/or” is exactly how this looks to any reasonable observer.

      12. And since grade separation will likely be labeled the gold-plated “either”, we’re looking at getting stuck with the streetcar “or”. I, for one, will be sad.

  3. Will there be adequate bike storage at each of the stations? Because I really can’t get onboard with this process until I’m assured that it will be “bike friendly.”

    (just kidding)

    My only input is that this corridor should be served by full, Link-caliber LR. “Rapid Streetcar” (isn’t that just “Streetcar”?), or Max style LR won’t cut it. But hopefully the study will show that.

    1. ““Rapid Streetcar” (isn’t that just “Streetcar”?)”

      Thought the same thing when I first read the TMP. To me, “rapid streetcar” just means “streetcars done right.” But I understand why the consultant would find it beneficial to brand their proposals as distinct from the SLUS.

      Anyhow, I’ll be there.

      1. “Rapid Streetcar” is to streetcar as “Rapid Ride” is to buses. It’s just rebranding for the political purposes of the McGinn admin.

        Don’t get me wrong, I support streetcar, but streetcar is not a substitute for light rail anymore than BRT is.

      2. Don’t feed the rail fetishist.

        Who apparently believes the city and transit agency will agree to “compare” two options, one cheapskate and the other wildly expensive… and then build both.

        You may be dumber than even I suspected.

      3. That’s eight options, of which they’re clearly looking to pick just one.

        Can you possibly be this naive? Really?

      4. “It’s just rebranding for the political purposes of the McGinn admin.”

        Sorry, but that’s a stretch, to say the least.

  4. Unlike the rest of you, I don’t have the years left to wait for Link to come to Ballard. That would take more years than I have. A streetcar line to Ballard via Westlake and Fremont could be up an running in, say, five years. I know, I’m selfish. But in my lifetime I want to take rail between Ballard and downtown.

    1. I spent 15 minutes today waiting on the 40 for the Fremont Bridge to clear. I was far enough from Fremont Ave itself that no “queue jump” in the world would have been able to do me an ounce of good. My Ballard-downtown trip took 40 minutes.

      A good 40 trip can take as little as 22-25 minutes. This is the fastest your preferred streetcar can ever be.

      A lousy 40 trip can take 35-40 minutes. This would happen all the time to the streetcar as well.

      The 40 has useless frequencies after 10.

      Seattle’s streetcars, like Portland’s mythical streetcars, shut down even earlier than that.

      Do you love rail THAT MUCH that you want to build us a permanent noose that is no better than what we have now?

      1. “My Ballard-downtown trip took 40 minutes.”

        That’s crazy. I did it in 20 this morning in my car with NPR going and a nice latte from Peets.

      2. You get screwed if the bridge goes up too, Trolly.

        And the endless merging single-occupancy cars like you are why the bridge backup takes forever to clear, too.

        But you’re clearly a shitty driver, since when I do it in a car (and don’t hit crazy traffic) it takes about 12.

        Which is why transit that takes 40 minutes ever is unacceptable.

        Has your sockpuppet account been banned yet?

    2. Selfish? No. Ill-advised, yes.

      If you’re not going to grade separate, you may as well stick to improving arterial bus service. Frequency could be increased almost immediately after getting the needed revenue; capital improvements could be completed in months, if you’re doing minor work like bus bulbs and signal priority, or a couple of years if you’re going to do something more ambitious, like build an exclusive transit pathway up Westlake and Leary, or electrify the 40.

      Either you’re interested in improving mobility, or you’re interested in building trains for the hell of it. I’m interested in the former.

      1. Exactly. Yes, streetcars give a somewhat-smoother ride than normal buses – but I don’t think that’s important enough to spend huge sums of money, tear up the street surface for month after month building it, and get nothing more in the end.

      2. You get a lot more with streetcar – higher ridership, better operatting economics, higher local investment, better quality all around.

      3. No. You might get those things from a dinky short showpiece line (SLU, Pearl District).
        Over long distances, people want actual speed and actual mobility or GTFO).

        How’s Portland’s undersold and generally uninteresting South Waterfront coming along? (Read: Even pro-streetcar developer types often don’t get this until it’s too late.)

        People might gloat about their shiny new streetcar. But then they get in their cars and drive.

      4. Also, northwest Seattle is doing just fine on the development-demand front.

        What’s lacking is transit that works. Your streetcar contributes literally nothing.

      5. Laz: I wish more trolls like d.p. thought thier way through the issues on what makes for good transit investments. I appreciate someone trolling for the truth – heck, they may even catch something big.
        Short-line streetcars that meander all over the place, do not generate ridership in the numbers needed to offset the much higher investment and operating cost that come with them. A trolley bus down Yesler was the correct choice: Ignored, as politically incorrect.
        One station on an HCT line, like Broadway, does not constitute ‘serving’ an area as large as Capitol Hill, which is less dense and vibrant than Westlake, yet is penciled in to generate many times the riders upon opening.
        Wasting dollars on capital & operations on rail lines that ‘flunked out’, like N. Sounder, are not reasons to double down on your sunk cost hoping things get better. Each rider is costing $100/day now.
        Doubling the operating cost on a decent bus route (174) to get a 50% gain in ridership on shiny new buses (RR-A) is just making the system less efficient.
        Seattle Transit needs more trolls.

      6. lazarus, d.p. is not a troll.

        Sometimes wrong? Oh my yes.

        Sometimes counterproductive in style of argument? Probably.

        But he has a pro-transit agenda and means it. He’s not just coming here to rile people up the way BigDonLives, Sam, or Kenny/Lenny/Jenny do.

      7. David, let me know when d.p. likes a rail proposal. Until then, he’s anti transit, because he’s anti all the transit on the table.

        It’s just like how the Vision Line and the PRT people are “pro transit”.

      8. Ben, d.p. has repeatedly said he is in favor of either of the Link proposals that have been floated to reach Ballard (although he is skeptical of the second downtown tunnel).

        Mostly, it seems to me that where you and he disagree is on whether, if we can’t have fully grade-separated Link, the streetcar proposal to Fremont is worth doing. I have to confess I’m also ambivalent about this. The corridor is longer than corridors where streetcars typically work well. The potential is there, if it’s built as haphazardly as the SLU streetcar, for the line to be a slower replacement for the 40 bus. That would be a plain old waste of money.

      9. David L,

        Please don’t be fooled, d.p. is not pro-transit.

        When he talks up some other transit option or another, he is just following the standard tactic of trying to stop doing “A” by talking about how great option “Z” is, and usually “Z” isn’t even on the table.

        You see this a lot in regards to rail: People who are ideologically against rail will often talk about how great and how cost effective BRT is, but talk about actually implementing “BRT” and they will switch the topic to how great vanpools are. If you propose having ST assist in building a streetcar, then they will switch the topic to the gadgetbahn of the hour, or to how North Sounder is underperforming.

        Why is this important and topical? Because their opinions have no effect and we can ignore them with impunity. Ultimately the people studying transportation are professionals and professionals will follow the data. The data is real and will lead us to the right conclusion, regardless of the views of “data deniers.” This is as true of the Ballard corridor as it is of any corridor.

        So just don’t feed the troll – it’s better for everyone and for it is better for *real* transportation discussion

      10. @Ben and Lazarus – I remember hearing d.p. loudly and repeatedly praising the Ballard Spur. So, that’s one rail proposal he’s definitely favored. IIRC, he’s also supported running a separate crosstown line there even if it can’t be interlined with North Link. (And, frankly, I think either of those proposals would be better than either of the options being discussed now… but that’s probably off-topic.)

      11. David L:

        I’m not skeptical of the second downtown tunnel due to any matter of principle. I’m simply skeptical that it will ever get funded in our lifetimes. That’s my only objection, but it’s a doozy.

        And no matter what Ben says, the streetcar proposal cannot be perceived as existing in a vacuum. Why in god’s name would Sound Transit and the city “team up” for this study unless all concerned were expecting that only one thing will actually wind up getting built?

        Wouldn’t it be quite a load off for ST to take that promised Ballard corridor off its books by downgrading it to a streetcar project? How convenient that the mayor is all giddy about streetcars anyway!

        This a strategic calculation, plain as day. You’re all crazy to ignore this unfolding before your eyes.


        I’m not anti-transit. I don’t argue in bad faith. I’m not a bait-and-switch shill. (If anything that’s what this streetcar proposal is.)

        I know that U.S. BRT is bullshit. And if anything, I retain a very strong rail bias from growing up in a city where rail was all you even needed and used.

        And “trying to stop doing ‘A’ by talking about how great option ‘Z’ is” is not a negative if ‘A’ is awful.

        We only have two plans on the table. The streetcar plan is awful. The new downtown tunnel plan is prohibitively expensive.

        If you only have things that don’t work on the table, it’s time to rearrange the table!

      12. DP is right about the level of service we need. He’s right about why Boston, NY, DC, and Philadelphia’s mobility is light years ahead of what Seattle has or is getting, and how that’s the only way to make not having a car a viable alternative for a significant percentage of the population. He’s about the only one saying this.

        Where he and I disagree is, as David L said, what to do if you don’t have enough money or public support to achieve the whole thing. The only viable choices are those with a real path from here to there, where all the intermediate points are viable. We can only build the least common denominator between the activists, the politicians, the and public — unless you have a few billion dollars you can donate to it. So if the politicians and public are ready to move on something, we need to support it, and look at it as “at least it’s better than the status quo”. Incremental improvements add up over time. I learned this from the Amtrak Cascades experience, when somebody pointed out that its incremental improvements over the past two decades have made a significant improvement, whereas Florida who put all its eggs into “high-speed rail or nothing” ended up with nothing.

      13. “Why in god’s name would Sound Transit and the city “team up” for this study unless all concerned were expecting that only one thing will actually wind up getting built?”

        There are two obvious other answers. (1) Having one contract to study two levels of service in the same neighborhoods at the same time saves money, and also allows them to show how the two levels can complement each other. (2) ST is the local expert at designing rail lines, so who not have them do it?

        “Wouldn’t it be quite a load off for ST to take that promised Ballard corridor off its books by downgrading it to a streetcar project?”

        That would be against ST’s mandate, and would not be an appropriate alternative for ST3’s “downtown – Ballard corridor”. If ST could do that, it could just as easily make some upgrades to RapidRide D and call that its solution for Ballard. But somewhere it says that ST’s lines have to be mostly dedicated-lane (MLK) or better grade separation, and the “SLU-Fremont-Ballard streetcar” is not that. Of course, a true Link line could be built in the Westlake’ish corridor, but that would probably kill the streetcar proposal because they’d be too close together.

      14. somewhere it says that ST’s lines have to be mostly dedicated-lane (MLK) or better grade separation
        It does? Where? Show me; if you’re right, that would be a great load off my mind and d.p.’s too.

      15. “I still believe an east-west line, with no new Ship Canal crossing and a mere 3 miles of trackage, could be built without compromise and still come in at a fraction of the cost of just the new downtown tunnel.”

        (From an earlier subthread, but my response is based on my comments in this thread.) I would support that, and a Ballard – U District – Westlake trip would still be faster than the D/40 even with a transfer. (By my estimate, it would be just 2-3 minutes slower than the 15X assuming a 5-minute transfer.) But there’s no way you’ll be able to overcome the public’s/politician’s bias for a direct Ballard – downtown line. The reason for that is that the public has been so jaded by substandard transit for so many years, that they’re not going to settle for anything less than a direct line to downtown. They just won’t believe you no matter how solid your facts.

        There’s also a flip side to the routing. By the same token that a grade-separated Ballard – U District – Westlake trip is competitive with an all-day 15X, a grade-separated Ballard – Westlake – U District trip is competitive with a (nonexistent) 44X. There’s nothing wrong with turning the triangle on its side if it makes the difference in getting the politicians/public to agree to it.

      16. I should also mention, downtown will always be a far larger destination than the U District. Both because of the large number of jobs and businesses downtown, its proximity to Seattle Center and the stadiums, and the fact that it’s the transit gateway to Bellevue, SeaTac, Amtrak, Greyhound, the ferries, and a lot of other places.

      17. There’s nothing wrong with the triangle on its side…

        Only the problem that it will likely never get built.

        And that the streetcar that gets built instead won’t do one shred of good for trips involving transfers.

        And that’s why our current path is evil.

      18. And just to be perfectly clear, the streetcar plan doesn’t fail transfer trips because of some missing downtown portion or some “need” to build an Eastlake branch. It fails transfer trips because it’s long and slow, and because frequency will mostly be inadequate thanks to suppressed demand because it’s long and slow.

        You want to overcome “downtown bias”? Try building someone that actually works when taken anywhere.

  5. ST is not interested in building slow streetcar rail. The mayor is in love with Portland MAX-type rail. He is in love with Interstate MAX which was built cheap because it travels down the hugely overbuilt Hwy 99 corridor which saw no traffic after I-5 opened.

    ST is focused on grade separated rail that can accommodate four car trains. That is far more likely in Interbay or through Wallingford along Market/45th. Mayor-style streetcar rail is more likely in Fremont. You should only build that if you are interested in economic development because it will be no faster than a bus.

    1. I wish I could believe that.

      But ST is extremely interested in cost-cutting and political go-along-get-along.

      Remember, ST has already given us one head-explodingly contorted streetcar where there should have a been a real subway.

      But the hills and the soil and the

      …the pols say, as they head off to build a giant highway through that very same soil.

      1. Instead of “believing” something, come join the group of people who are advocating for grade separation.

      2. But ST has also given us a Link line. The head-explodingly contorted streetcar is a replacement for one station that was deemed non-viable. That’s not what University Link is, or East Link, or South Link, or the Lynnwood Extension. So assuming that the FHS is a precedent for the HCT lines in ST’s long-term plan is quite a stretch.

      3. If ST can’t build more Link lines/extensions due to lack of money, it will undoubtedly fall back to ST Express expansions, not to building streetcars.

      4. ST already has an obligation to “the Ballard corridor”.

        What a fantastic way to dump that off their books.

      5. You’re expecting neutrality where there is only politics.

        You made the same mistake with the mindblowingly cooked numbers in the TMP streetcar document.

        Our trust in the upcoming process has not been earned, and should not be presumed.

      6. Again, ignoring the elephant in the room. You’ll get what you organize for. Help or go away.

      7. Not if the results are predetermined.

        See: Deep Bore Tunnel, SoDo Arena, Le Corbusian Yesler Terrace, and so on, and so on, and so on.

        You’re not remotely as influential as you think, Ben.

      8. p.s. Your friend the mayor might just be the worst offender of the Streetcars Will Solve All Our Problems crowd. You haven’t awakened him one single bit to the need for speed, grade separation, or connectivity in transit.

        With allies like that, you expect to convince a Sound Transit board that is fully prepared to throw the city under the “Rapid Streetcar”, how?

    2. “ST is focused on grade separated rail that can accommodate four car trains.”

      I haven’t heard that 4-car trains is a requirement for the other Seattle lines. If 4 cars are needed for SeaTac – downtown – U District – Lynnwood where the majority of transit demand is, it’s hard to see how a Burien – downtown – Ballard – Northgate – Bothell line would generate the same number of riders. If ST limits itself to a downtown – Ballard – U District shuttle, I could see 2-car trains being adequate. Which means that a Burien – Ballard – Bothell line might need anywhere from 2- to 4-car trains.

      1. His statement is wishful thinking. ST is focused only on what is most politically convenient at any given moment.

  6. d.p.– I don’t know what the hell you are talking about and apparently neither do you. If you are referring to the First Hill Streetcar, that was a political compromise forced on them by Seattle board members when they were forced to abandon the First Hill stop on Link.

    The First Hill stop was killed by the board due to both high cost and high risk. The depth of the station would have required untested technology at an unprecedented depth in a very constrained construction site. Even the Seattle board members had to agree the risk and cost weren’t worth it.

    1. I’m sorry, but that entire last paragraph is a line of shit you’ve been fed.

      It is a matter of public record that the First Hill Link station was killed as a matter of political cowardice — it had more to do with fearing a federal algorithm and an arbitrary timeline than with any insurmountable engineering challenge.

      I’m baffled why you think “political compromises” won’t yield us more streetcars in place of real transit in the future. The precedent has been set, and now they’re being studied simultaneous as if they can accomplish similar goals.

      This is all very, very bad news.

      1. Bullshit. Show me what you refer to. My accounting is more accurate of what happened. I was at the board meetings that this was discussed over several months at great pain to the agency and the board.

      2. Oooh… The board meetings!

        Unless an engineer swore under oath that the station was unfeasible (which didn’t happen, because it would have been perjury), all you heard for months and months was spin.

        There’s a P-I article in their archives that spells the issues out more thoroughly than most. But even that article gives way too much deference to ST’s idea that delaying the federal application was a dealbreaker, that the FTA was bound to reject the station for “serving too many people who already use transit”.

        It also ridiculously low-balled the estimated station usage, which it estimated as barely higher than Beacon Hill, which was either an ST tactic to make the station seem unimportant. (This from the agency that insists tens upon tens of thousands will board every day at Lynnwood.)

      3. “Unless an engineer swore under oath that the station was unfeasible”

        The issue is guaranteeing that it will be low-risk within the budget parameters. That’s what they couldn’t do. Raising the budget would mean asking for more taxes or truncating an extension. I know you’d gladly trade an extension for a First Hill station, but the people promised or expecting the extension wouldn’t. The essential, cannot-be-dropped stations are Capitol Hill, U District, and Northgate, not First Hill.

        The deep-bore tunnel was approved on a “it’s essential no matter what the cost” basis, so that’s not at all equivalent to Link. Link is constrained by the amount voters are willing to approve in ST-N, and it’s ST’s responsibility to predict what that number is, based on talking with mayors and public outreach. I have no reason to believe ST is estimating wrong.

      4. Again, politics.

        The 99 tunnel was approved as “essential” even though it is demonstrably no such thing.

        First Hill was deemed “inessential” because the number-crunchers freaked out, and because transit people in Seattle have no fucking idea what a proper result looks like.

        Each labeling is a suspect as the other.

        The essential, cannot-be-dropped stations…

        The essential thing is to not build permanently hobbled, middling crap that’s so useless for so many trips that people continue to drive by default.

        Death by 1000 cuts. Just as dead.

    2. No matter whether it was due to engineering risk or fearing a federal algorithm, it comes down to the same thing: dropping the station was a viable choice. Remember that some of us have been suffering for thirty years with the current crappy bus service that takes twice as long as Link for many trip pairs. We don’t want to postpone the line for another few years just for one First Hill station. It’s not like First Hill is the single most important location in eastern Seattle.

      1. People who need access to First Hill or to the area of the C.D. immediately beyond will instead get to suffer transit that takes 20 times as long as having the subway!



      2. Boo hoo. Even they will benefit from Link’s speed as soon as they get to a station. That’s a helluva lot better than the 71/72/73 or 41 or 550 or 511 that they’re putting up with now.

      3. Well, we wouldn’t want the McMansion dweller from Mill Creek to lose 30 seconds on the 20-minute train ride that they spent 20 more minutes driving to.

        Because that would be a travesty.

      4. And way to mock First Hill’s pain by reminding them that they might spend 12 minutes going their first five miles and 16 minutes going their last 3500 feet.

        That’s some totally sustainable urbanism you’re advocating there!

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