This is an open thread.

57 Replies to “News Roundup: Public Comment Everywhere”

  1. There’s lying going on in the mayor’s race? I’m shocked! Shocked, I say.

    Ed Murray may as well be reading off of a media release from the hotel developer. Sure, the wages may be low and benefits practically nonexistent, but they’ll make up for it in volume!

    And if we don’t give them the red carpet and whatever other giveaways they ask for, they’ll just build in some other state. Oh, but wait, they’re going to build a new hotel in Portland, regardless. So, irrelevant empty threat. Why would Ed even bother regurgitating this nonsense?

    Let me be clear though: I prioritize getting a good deal for good family wage jobs with this hotel chain over stopping the development in its tracks.

  2. So I got am email saying that there were over 1,350 responses for feedback for the Ballard Transit Expansion Study Open House. Just curious if anyone can recall how this compares to other “typical” open house feedback responses.

    1. WSDOT projects I’m familiar with typically get a couple hundred comments during their ‘scoping’ periods, which is analagous to an open house like this. There are exceptions, of course. The I-90 tolling project received about 3,000 comments.

  3. So the Lynnwood DEIS is showing nearly 20,000 daily boardings at one stop in Lynnwood, whereas all three stops in Bellevue only generate 8,000 daily.
    Bellevue must really SUCK.
    I suggest they doze all the highrise buildings and start from scratch, like Lynnwood is doing.

    1. East Link ridership estimates have always underperformed relative to its high costs, but it’s a largely political animal.

      Lynnwood’s high ridership estimates probably stem from a fairly aggressive redevelopment plan, Snohomish County’s very high number of King County commuters (116k day),, and the likelihood of service truncations/eliminations at Lynnwood TC for both Downtown and UW express service. (511, 402, 412, 417, 421, 422, 425, 422, 810, 821, 855).

      1. “A Tale of Three Cities’
        Lynnwood, Issaquah and Kent-Des Moines are all nearly the same distance from Seattle, are all connected directly to Seattle by mega Freeways with HOV lanes and all have similar populations and densities.
        Only one emerges with mega station status for ridership, another has Link planned but a pittance for ridership expectations, and the third not even a Link line on the drawing boards.
        Would the Wizard of Oz step from behind the curtain to explain this please.

      2. I don’t disagree that Lynnwood projections seem a little wacky compared to other places (Bellevue and some Seattle stations in particular). However…

        – Look outbound. Lynnwood is situated to capture P&R and transfer ridership from much of Snohomish County, which isn’t very dense but is large and growing. There are lots of CT commuter routes that will turn into feeders the second there’s ST capacity between Lynnwood and Seattle. Issaquah is situated to capture P&R and transfer ridership from… err… Preston? Snoqualmie? KDM is somewhere in between… there are plenty of people within the driveshed and transfershed but not as much east-west transit and more parallel highways heading to other possible locations to jump on some fast transit vehicle heading downtown (i.e. Kent, Renton).

        – Look inbound. Specifically for centers for jobs, retail, and attractions, since none of the three are major job centers themselves (that is, within the walkshed). Lynnwood should provide somewhat faster access to downtown than KDM by virtue of making fewer stops and taking a somewhat more direct course. KDM might be a little faster to SODO and the stadiums, and it’s faster to the airport. But Lynnwood has a huge advantage: between Lynnwood and downtown stand Northgate, UW, and Cap Hill. Issaquah is more similar to KDM in this regard.

        And then the reason Link isn’t going to Issaquah has less to do with Lynnwood and KDM than it does with Bellevue and Redmond, which are considerably more attractive destinations that divert the train from I-90. I wouldn’t call myself the biggest Lynnwood Link supporter out there, but there are lots of good reasons that despite all its problems lots of people will get on the train there. They’ll just mostly do it inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening.

      3. Good analysis Al. Yes, the routing, speed and activity centers all favor Lynnwood, so let’s look at the practicality of having 20,000 daily boarding at one station. Currently, there are about 10,000 daily transit trips between Lynnwood and Seattle along the I-5 corridor (DEIS pg S-16). Only 500 additional parking spaces are planned for LTC, so the vast majority will be truncated from buses originating north of Lynnwood.
        20,000 daily boardings, most of whom arrive by bus, will also mostly arrive during the morning peak hours, 6am to 9am, say 3/4 of them, or about 15,000. Takeaway 2,000 of those for cars parking and another 1,000 for peds/bikes, leaves us to accommodate 12,000 bus transferees in 3 hours, or 4,000 per hour (envelope math here).
        At an average load factor of 40 per bus, that’s 100 buses per hour. In theory, this is all very doable, given proper bus bays for arriving buses, adequate platform areas for queuing passengers at both rail and bus bays, and people moving capacity for walkways, escalators, etc. In practice, I submit that because LTC is considered an interim terminal on a line destined for Everett, that most of the above will not be built – instead opting for a much smaller facility in scale with Lynnwoods emerging CBD.
        Given that reality, I doubt LTC will ever see anything approaching 20,000 daily boardings. The DEIS should be required to explain how those estimates are justified.

      4. Even South Everett is too far north for a lot of the Lynnwood feeders that will be in place.

        I haven’t been to Lynnwood TC in a couple years (I used to go through during rush hour most days), but if there are 10,000 daily boardings today, I can easily imagine twice that many people making it through in the future. A lot of local feeder type routes that go there today aren’t especially full today. Lynnwood TC is a huge station with so many bays it actually feels empty for minutes at a time even during peak hours. Then a pulse of buses hits the station and it’s full of life.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if transit vehicle capacity was less of a problem than pedestrian flow across the loop roads, as commuters riding through are turned into transfers.

      5. I didn’t mean to imply that all 10,000 daily boardings occur at the current LTC; only that using Lynnwood as a screenline on the I-5 corridor would yield 10,000 transit riders going to Seattle daily. Actually, far fewer trips originate at the LTC today, than 10,000, but I don’t have the data source to prove that. I’m guessing 2,000 daily boardings today, which is why a 10 fold increase is pretty hard to pass the giggle test.
        Another way to put the 100 buses per hour in perspective is this: that’s twice the number of buses passing a point in the DSTT today. Now look at all the bus queueing lanes, platforms and mezzanines required for such operations. 100 per hour is daunting, because they all don’t magically arrive 40 seconds apart.

      1. Ah, so that’s the problem with our lackluster long-term ridership forecasts: not enough termini!

      2. True, but extending a line further out doesn’t actually create more terminal stations – it only moves them.

  4. Pierce Co. not cutting bus service because sales tax revenue up 11%, should we expect Community Transit to be increasing service now also? Sales tax revenue in Snohomish Co. should be up too, as well as King Co.

    1. King County forecast revenue is up, but not nearly as much as Pierce County forecast revenue (on the order of 2% vs. 11%). I don’t know about Snohomish County.

      Pierce County fell in a much deeper hole during the recession, so the recovery is benefiting it more.

    1. Thanks, FRA, for your 1920s era safety rules that don’t actually make anyone safer, annoy the crap out of neighborhoods at 3 AM (Horn Rule), and drive up the cost of rail service in the US.

      1. Nathanael…

        Rest easy… If you did some research, FRA was established in 1966. The Locomotive Horn Usage regulation was established in the 90s…modified again in 2000 and again in 2006!

        Believe it or not, most freight corridors are privately held. Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX, Tacoma Rail, etc. To maintain marked gated crossing costs, money (think energy costs, risk of copper theft, etc), therefore, given the profits rail companies make, the big giant freight companies accept the risk and press on. Most RR crossings do not contain active warning systems. Many are just on small dirt roads, logging roads, etc.

        Believe it or not, a report published by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (FHWA and State of Texas) stated over half of the collisions at railroad crossings with active warning systems. BNSF published in a 2012 report 58% of collisions at their crossings with active warning systems.

        How do train horns increase the cost of service? I see people with train horns on their vehicles all the time! So…. I don’t get your rationale. My motorcycle came stock with an obnoxious horn for my safety should someone drift into my lane. I like having a loud horn to remind folks to stay in their lane if they are gabbing on the phone, putting on makeup, or pecking away on their GPS unit.

      2. @Charlotte: It shouldn’t be surprising that most collisions occur where there are active warning systems, because places where lots of traffic crosses the railroad tracks tend to get active warning systems.

        I don’t think the claim was that train horns increase the cost of service, they just annoy people living close to tracks. What increases cost are other FRA standards about how passenger train cars are constructed; different standards used in Europe and Asia are considered better and cheaper by many (I’m personally neither qualified nor well enough read to have an opinion on this), and supposedly FRA is considering a reform along these lines, though it’s of course too late to help with the equipment pictured.

      3. Case and point is what happened in Spain. Germany back in 1998 on the ICE. The train cars folded up like cheap lawn chairs. In the case of the Talgo cars, they split in half! I don’t recall seeing the derailments resulting in completely split cars. I have seen dented and smashed cars. …but a complete split? That is unreal.

        The FRA wants manufacturers to take the Soviet approach to manufacturing trains. Metal and heavy. Fiberglass and carbon fiber, while light, are great for speed and aerodynamics, but do little for passenger safety in crashes. While faster trains are great, you have to grade separate all the crossings. Take the ICE. There are no at-grade crossings on the high-speed sections of travel. The tracks are placed on cast-in-place concrete foundations and precast concrete lag. We cannot force private enterprise to make those changes as they are responsible to pay for them.

        I’ll give you an example of publicly funded high-speed rail and grade crossings. On a slow section of the ICE route between Mainz and Koblenz, there is one at-grade crossing. One of very, very few due to geographic constraints. Wine growing and the Rhein River. Where the ICE does cross, the gates come down 5 minutes in advance of the train’s arrival. Go to Rüdesheim am Rhein and check it out!

      4. the Spanish train that crashed appears to also be a Talgo…

        Was it? I looked at the TV coverage with that question in mind and it seemed to me these were not the tilt technology Talgo cars. From what I’ve heard today though it wouldn’t really matter. The driver saw a warning light that said he was going into the curve way too fast and all he had to do (and did) was push a “Crash now” button “OK”. Driving that train, high on Cocaine, Casey Jones you’d better watch your speed

    1. I’d sign it, but only for the part of the bridge that is actually in the river.

  5. Man this Bicycle Master Plan is truly disturbing for transit. Let’s see how much slower the bicyclists can make the buses if their cycle track dream network comes true! Who’s going to pay for all those extra service hours? Why should the public give bicycle riders who have multiple paths more priority then they do for transit-dependent people (including those with mobility issues)?

    1. Notice the latest draft removed major bike facilities from Pine, Madison, Boren, Jefferson, Jackson, 45th, 50th, 23rd, etc. I think the new BMP draft is exceptionally complementary to a network of high-frequency, arterial transit.

      Consider: If trolleys move to 2-way on Pine, the 2 and 12 are consolidated on Madison, and the 3/4 eventually move to Yesler, there is suddenly no problem with cycle tracks on Pike/Union/Seneca/Spring and a bike lane on Cherry. For N-S travel, 1st gets a streetcar, 3rd remains dedicated to transit, 2nd and 4th lose parking lanes for cycle tracks but total vehicle capacity likely remains the same, and 5th gets a cycle track only on the little-used southern half while cars/transit dominate the northern half. I think they’ve done their homework this time.

      1. The idea of a cycle track on Rainier is pretty aggressive and will slow down Route 7 substantially. The corridor is often bogged down with loads of traffic in the midday, and that slows both buses and cars. As far as “homework” goes, I never saw any announcement on the Route 7 buses that things were going to be slower if this plan is implemented. The “homework” seems to be reserved for neighborhood leaders and elected officials — not the bus riding public.

      2. @Al S: The BMP is not a concrete list of facilities that will be built on a specific time frame. It’s mostly a conceptual idea of the comprehensive cycling network we will build over the next generation or so, with a few exceptions (in some cases the plan avoids drawing lines on streets where there’s serious contention for space… in some cases, probably, to too great a degree).

        When an actual project is suggested on that stretch of Rainier there will surely be much public discussion on it.

      3. Many of the roads you just listed are in terrible shape for road bicycles. The way articulated buses apply loads onto road surfaces wear them out faster than any car, truck or motorcycle, primarily due to the pivoting rear articulated section of the bus. Don’t believe me? The driving wheels and engine are located at the shorter rear-section of the bus. …let alone bus experience.

        As for 23rd, 23rd Ave just received LEAP Grant funding per the recent Transportation Budget, please refer to to Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5024 that was signed by Gov Inslee. Within the budget documents, you will find that the 23rd Ave Transit Corridor Project received funding approval from the legislature.

        Many of the roads you described are just in terrible shape. Not to mention, my experience with bicyclists coming down the hill have been anything but pleasant. When I’m at a red signal on my motorcycle, for example Pine and 11th, there is nothing more aggravating than to be buzzed by a high-speed bicycle zipping down the hill not stopping for the red light. Disregard of traffic control devices since the Revised Code of Washington explicitly states bicyclists traveling on roadways are classified as vehicles, is a safety concern. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the reason why the City struck Madison, Pine and Jackson off the list. These are not only risks for drivers, but also pedestrians should the bicyclist decide to make a turn.

        The bicyclist recently plead guilty to manslaughter charges. I believe the City of Seattle is erring on the side of caution by excluding those routes in favor of more level routes and wants to avoid similar incidents here in Seattle given the grades and knowing that there have been a number of highspeed collisions with cars on Pine, Pike and Madison. Additionally, ped traffic walking up and down the hill along Boren, Pine, Olive, Denny, Yesler, and all the other routes heading up and down 1st / CapHill, would be at risk if bicyclists were given an exclusive facility. Bicyclists would be less likely to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks even though they are legally obligated to do so. Earlier this year, a bicyclist flying down Market Street in the Castro (SF) crashed into an elderly pedestrian killing the person.

        I have other opinions about the design of the Broadway streetcar…i.e. track placement. …and the risk to motorcycles and scooters, especially during the wet months.

  6. There are three items I want my readers and fans to take note of.

    1) I am instituting a new policy directive regarding STB’s comment section. From now on, all deleted comments will need to be initialed by the deleter.

    2) A couple of months ago I suggested a new blog feature where each month a public transit rider is interviewed and profiled. Sound Transit’s Rider Stories is almost exactly what I was suggesting. Hmmm.

    3) Despite the title, STB is essentially a train blog. I personally believe this blog loses credibility when it ignores negative train stories and news. If a story isn’t written about the disaster in Spain, I am seriously considering boycotting the comment section for one week.

    1. You actually take yourself as seriously as you seem to, don’t you? I bet it’s exhausting.

  7. Fremont residents and workers up in arms over 67 unit apt building that only has 16 parking spaces.

    15 year old girl takes video of man sitting across from her on the route 128. He looking at her and masturbating and asks her if she has any lotion and if he could call her later. $1000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

    1. As a Fremont resident and worker I’m seriously in favor of more residences without much more parking.

      It doesn’t appear the project is up for public comment at the moment or I’d register my anti-disapproval with DPD officially.

      1. I agree. I imagine that will be a pretty ideal living location for someone who wants to get by without a car, given that two bus routes (the 28 and 40) go right by the building site, and several others (5, 16, 26, 31, and 32) can be accessed in a 5-8 minute walk.

        Due to the location within the Fremont urban village boundaries and proximity to frequent transit service, the linked PDF plans point out that there is no requirement for any parking at the site.

        By proposing 16 parking spaces, the developer is assuming that about a quarter of their residents will be willing to pay enough for a parking spot to make the construction of that spot profitable. Why should they have to build any more than that?

    2. Let me walk you both through this. I am an expert in parking issues.

      Neighborhood residents are mad. But why? Why would they be mad if no more than 16 tenants will have cars? Because they know that more than 16 tenants will have cars, and those tenants will have to park on street, making it even tougher for customers to patronize local businesses, and make residential street parking more crowded. Some believe reduced apt parking spaces is a tactic the city uses to make money under the guise of going green. More chaotic and crowded street parking means more tickets and revenue. If cars have parking spaces in apt buildings, there’s no opportunity to write those cars tickets. By forcing tenants to park on the street, the number of cars they can ticket increases.

  8. Just passed what appears to be another awful bike + left-turning auto collision at Dexter and Thomas. Anybody have more info?

    Everyone be careful, especially at that intersection.

    1. from KING:

      A bicyclist was critically injured Thursday after he collided with a car on Dexter Avenue North at Harrison Street in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
      Witnesses say the car ran a red light. The cyclist was unable to stop and slammed into the side of the vehicle.
      Paramedics rushed the helmeted cyclist, a man in his 30s, to Harborview Medical Center where he was treated for head trauma. He was listed in critical condition Thursday around 5:15 p.m.

      First sentence seems to blame the cyclist, but all the subsequent information seems to point to another ignorant driver not paying attention to bikes.

    2. If it occurred as reported, this accident is just infuriating.

      How numb-brained do you have to be not to look for bikes on Dexter, the street in the entire city with the heaviest volume of bikes, and one that has held that title for many years?

      1. That is an intersection with no left-turn signal phase, and the car and bike approached the intersection from opposite directions. If the car ran the red light, then the bike ran it too. I think it’s more likely that both the car and the bike had the green light and the car just failed to yield as it turned left.

      2. Yeah given no left turn phase there seem to be only 3 possibilities?:

        Red Light: joint fault as both ran the light
        Yellow Light: driver at fault for failure to yield
        Green Light: driver at fault for failure to yield

      3. I was driving Dexter the other day wondering how bicyclists navigate through the maze of cars trying to turn right onto Mercer, as I approached the said intersection after overtaking a bicyclist. I think the young lady on a bicycle was relieved when she saw me looking over my shoulder, yielded right-of-way allowing her to pass before I crossed over the bicycle lane to make the right turn onto Mercer.

        Drivers are frustrated Mercer traffic, so they hemorrhage into SLU’s roadways. Using Dexter they hook a left onto parallel routes like Thomas, Harrison and Republican Streets. Then, drivers use Terry and Fairview Avenues to link back to Mercer and access I-5. I’m sure with the reopening of Fairview, if SDOT performed turning movement counts, before/after construction, the figures have probably ballooned.

        There is also a lot not to like about Dexter. From Denny to Mercer, the roadway cross section is huge! There is little buffer for cyclists (flying doors from parked cars). …and one could make an argument to provide bicyclists a cycle track along Dexter given the extra capacity. How often is Dexter able to warrant four lanes of thru traffic?

      4. I had thought this looked like the exact location where Michael Wang was killed
        , but apparently that happened at Thomas and this happened at Harrison.

        Frankly, I’d be happy to bar all southbound left turns between Republican and Denny, while changing Republican to a protected left to disperse Mercer-bound and SLU-grid-bound traffic.

  9. $500,000 grant to Puget Sound Bike Share. The grant will provide adult helmets at future bike-share stations in the Seattle area. Seattle Children’s is the first major Seattle-area employer to invest in the program, which has received $1.75 million in state and federal grants.

    Give 1/2 a mil and get $1.75 in return. Federal grants are a no brainer investment. Jimenez Cricket, I’m a big fan of “adult” bike helmets but don’t Children’s employees make enough money to afford their own helmet??? Seriously, are they going to put this 1/2 million into a slush fund so doctors can buy up from that $30 helmet that is perfectly adequate for commuting to the $130 model that they saw on the Tour de France that’s less safe but is 3 grams lighter?

    1. And for the thousandth time: The slim spectrum of accidents against which helmets are effective do not happen on utility bikes.

      You can’t go fast enough to plow head-first into an obstruction (the way you can on a lightweight road bike). And a speeding vehicle that takes you takes you out sideways (which can happen no matter what kind of bike you’re on) will do damage to you that no helmet is designed to mitigate.

      As a place of science, one might expect Children’s to do some actual research rather than going on faith-based impulse and a discredited local study from 30 years ago. Apparently, that is too much to ask. They’d rather work to impose a spontaneous-usage penalty on the bike share program, for zero safety benefit.

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