Image from Sound Transit, via CDNews

Sound Transit is currently gunning through final design for East Link. Next week, there will be two open houses: one unveiling a 60% design update for the Bel-Red segment, and the other kicking off final design for the Seattle segment (International District eastward). The last segment for which there hasn’t been any final design community outreach is Overlake, but my guess is that that will probably happen sometime soon.

Though the vast majority of our East Link coverage is about the Eastside, the Seattle segment certainly deserves its share of attention as well. For one, the city gets another new grade-separated rail station on top of what is already promised from Northgate Link. And although the land use opportunity for Rainier Station isn’t significant, there’s some hope that station construction can be used to leverage connectivity improvements in the area*.

Since the poor existing connectivity is largely attributable to the the topography and I-90 ROW, there’s obviously no silver bullet. Still, ped/bike improvements will be most welcome, particularly to the I-90 trail and connections to Rainier. I’m also optimistic that this is a chance for the City to get rolling on Bicycle Master Plan projects (.pdf), which would presumably help channel riders within the Rainier corridor’s development-prone areas to and from the station.

Of course, all of this is guesswork, so you’ll have to find out more specifics from 6 to 8pm next Thursday at the Northwest African American Museum. The 60% open house for the Bel-Red segment, on the other hand, will be held on Tuesday from 5 to 7pm at Highland Community Center in Bellevue.

*Councilmember Conlin has been keeping close tabs on Rainier Station area planning as well.

43 Replies to “East Link Final Design Summer Update”

  1. I can hardly wait.
    Only 10 years to go,
    3,650 days from now,
    or 219,000 minutes.
    Let’s start the count down timer again!

    1. Oh I wish it were only 219,000 minutes away…that’s only 5 months! Instead, it’s 5.25 million minutes. :(

  2. I’ll be at the Bel-Red meeting. I might get dinner at the nearby Kidd Valley if anyone cares to join me.

  3. So when are the Supremes going to slap down Kemper-boy’s lawsuit, and green-light the handover of the I-90 property to Sound Transit? Just because a little gas tax money was used, mostly federal dollars built the bridge so there shouldn’t be a constitutional problem.

  4. At some point even Kemper will capitulate on this one. He’s lost at every step, and even the current Bellevue City Council eventually gave up and agreed to work with ST to build LR. And now he has even lost control of the Council. Only the Mariners lose more than he does.
    Now if we could just speed up the timeline a bit.

    1. Ha…he’s probably already got dibs on all the prime land and development and will make billions from this thing.

    2. Exactly John — that’s why he brought such weak claims. If he loses he wins financially, big time. The only issue at this point is how stupid the justices are going to play — will they point out he’s a deceptive knob, or will they say he’s brought really strong claims and litigated like a champ? We’ll find out soon enough.

      1. Wright Rundstad has already locked up much of the positively impacted land around East Link. It’s called the “Spring District” and construction starts soon.

        It’s competition for KF’s holdings, so he is against that too…

      2. Wright Rundstad has already locked up much of the positively impacted land around East Link.

        Wrong. Just east of Bel-Square is the Lincoln Square area that Kemper Development Company owns and wants to build up. It is right by the Bellevue Transit Center stop planned for East Link. Also, KDC is expected to develop some properties near the Overlake station. Wallace Properties owns parcels near some of the planned stops on Bel-Red Road. Wright Rundstad is just one of the developers hoping to get rich off the massive regressive taxing Sound Transit engages in.

    3. At this point, it barely matters. The Supremes don’t seem likely to side with him,and the HOV lanes have to be built on the outer roadway before ST can take possesion anyway. In short, there’s still plenty of time.

  5. The Rainier station is really a bizarre station. It is a poster child for rules and a philosophy that I don’t necessary agree with. For example, I am very much pro-park, but it is nuts to have a station underneath a park. Likewise, I can see the value (from a fiscal standpoint) of running your trains above (or on) the freeway. While it is less than ideal, you can get big bang for your buck if you do it that way. But the devil is in the details. Generally speaking, the suburban areas have developed close to, if not adjacent to the freeway. On the other hand, the older parts of the city (like central Seattle) have not. This means that it often makes sense to have stations next to the freeway in the suburbs, while they should be away from the freeway in the city. Somehow, we did this backwards. This station is in an area that is generally densely populated (it is called the central area, after all). Some of the areas not too far away (such as Yesler Terrace) are extremely dense and would make a great stop. Unfortunately, it won’t happen with this line. Meanwhile, in Bellevue, the train leaves the freeway just as it approaches one of the biggest clusters of office towers on the east side (Factoria) so that it can visit a spot so sparsely populated it really doesn’t have a name (South Bellevue). And of course, that stop is right next to a park as well. The detour to South Bellevue also means that the train will leave the grade separated confines of the freeway, only to slow down and cruise through South Bellevue. Wow. Maybe its the weather, but I feel kind of dismal about all of this.

    But enough whining. What’s done is done (or at least, what is decided is decided). It is obvious that folks decided to cut corners in some areas (OK, most of it). This is cheap, and what I (and others) have in mind would probably have cost more money. So, the author (and Conlin) is absolutely correct, we need to make neighborhood improvements so that people can comfortably bike and walk to the area (since very few people live very close). I think it would be really nice to improve the bike route south from the station towards the Mount Baker station. It wouldn’t surprise me if bikers get off the train, leave the station and bike between the two stops (thus saving three stops). I think this would be faster, since you have to go down the escalators anyway (since there won’t be a center-platform in the ID).

    Meanwhile, the day after the election, I’m going to press the local representatives about getting some gondolas. They make sense is so many areas. For example, from Yesler Terrace to the nearest station (either ID or Pioneer Square) would be great, along with what Matt has already proposed.

    1. What’s not to like about this location, nested between 20 lanes of high speed traffic?
      ST may have to outlaw ‘Picnics on the Platform” it’s so pleasant to hang around.

    2. It’s strange, I mostly agree with you (well except for the bit about gondolas) but I can’t help thinking that the odd looking line we got had a great deal more to do with circumstance than with any sort of malice or incompetence. First, I can’t really imagine any route for East Link that failed to connect Dowtown Seattle and Downtown Bellevue non-circuitously as passing the smell test. Second, there was existing infrastructure — the Downtown Transit Tunnel and the I-90 floating bridges — that performed functions required to meet this goal that would have prohibitively expensive to provide for in any other way. These constraints alone more or less fix the route from the west portal of the Mt Baker tunnel to the east end of the East Channel Bridge, and require that a route be found from south of the International District Station to the Mt Baker tunnels.

      From the ID to Mt Baker there is already an already built grade separeted path. South of I-90 would have required tunnelling under Beacon Hill (again). Northward, it might have been possible to take a different S shaped route and put a station near 12th and Main, but you’d have to find a way to cross I-5, and anything there looks like it would be expensive: just how much of North Link would you be willing to give up to pay for it?

      The Eastside is almost as bad. Serving Factoria well probably precludes serving either of the large park and rides near I-90, which would have been unpopular in the parts of east King County not directly served by East Link. But that’s not all — you’d have to navigate your way around all of the Freeway ramps in the area to get to the South side of the Freeway for your station [there’s almost literally nothing North of the Freeway there], and then cross back over to head for Downtown. And now unless you are willing to head all the way over to 148th, you’re stuck traipsing through land even less inhabited than taht traversed by the current routing until you get downtown.

      1. Good response. Yes, I think a stop at 12th and main would have made more sense. Would I give up North Link stops for it? No, but I would delay them. I like the Northgate stop, but a stop at 12th and main would probably get more people than that in the meantime. But I guess we don’t build the most important stops first (U-Link came after the airport). More importantly, in some cases, we just don’t build the important stops at all (like the V. A., or Yesler Terrace).

        As far as the Eastside goes, I would have followed the freeway and added a stop over the freeway at Factoria. Maybe add a park and ride a few blocks south (or wait until they convert those blocks to big buildings). The South Bellevue Park and ride folks? Boo Hoo. They have to take a bus to Mercer Island. This is still a sweet commute. You drive from your home that makes most of Seattle look like Manhattan and then park at the park and ride. Then you take a bus that gets on the express lanes until it drops you off at Mercer Island. From there, you can get downtown or just about anywhere (like the UW, including the hospital) in minutes. Most people dream of a commute like that.

        Meanwhile, what about the folks that live south or east of there? With the current alignment, they have to cross I-90 or 405 (or both). Lovely. Seriously, that is a nasty bit of driving. This is bottleneck city. There is a huge park in the way. My guess is that the South Bellevue Park and Ride will only serve that little peninsula (west of the slough and north of I-90). For everyone else, it is just too much of a hassle. If there was a Park and Ride in Factoria, then it would at least serve the folks coming in from the southeast. It could also serve folks from Eastgate (since the road from Factoria to Eastgate is really good). So, basically, it would be a better park and ride, be walking distance to really big buildings, have better bus service to other big building and be faster to downtown Bellevue.

        But your right, it might (might!) cost more money. Actually, I’m not sure if the Bellevue piece would cost more money, but the Seattle piece would. But I guess that is my main complaint. I would rather we build this system slowly, rather than cheaply. I like U-Link (of course) and I like North LInk. But I think we should spend the money to make sure it is built right. I would rather wait a couple years and build the right system than build something that is insufficient and inadequate and hope that someday we correct it.

        No, I don’t think there is any malice at all. A bit of incompetence, but mainly, as you suggested, a lot of cheapness. I really wish the big Eastside business leaders weren’t so much in love with cars. This is one of those cases where we need a big cigar smoking honcho to say “Hey, put the train next to the big buildings — I own a couple”.

      2. I had to laugh when I came across this on the ST website.(E.Link Plans/Projects)
        “Rainier Station
        Located in the center roadway of I-90, riders will enter the station from Rainier Avenue South and 23rd Avenue South. This station meets the City of Seattle’s goals of promoting urban villages and linking employment centers.”
        Apparently, the City of Seattle has a low threshold for meeting goals, as I can’t fathom where the urban village or employment center is near the station.

      3. South Bellevue station is actually a fine location for serving Factoria. The I-90 on-ramps between Factoria Boulevard and Bellevue Way are long enough that you don’t have to actually get on the interstate to go between the two. Back when I lived in that area, routes 222 and 240 did a good, frequent job of going between two. Those don’t exist anymore, but a shuttle to serve South Bellevue, Factoria, and Eastgate could run at high frequency for not too much money.

        A light rail station in Factoria would have to go over Mercer Slough, the giant highway interchange, and 405 to get to Factoria from Seattle. Then, the tracks would have to go back over I-90 and 405 again to get to downtown Bellevue. I’m not sure how much that would cost, but it definitely wouldn’t be cheap. As is, since the current South Bellevue routing has wetlands on one side, I think that it only has a couple crossings despite running at grade for a few miles—as a result, it should travel at a reasonable speed.

      4. Well, if the shuttle actually moves between those two stops at a decent clip, then I feel much better about the project. I can tell that is is rather easy to get from Factoria to Eastgate, but I assumed that a bus would get bogged down in traffic (just getting on and off the freeway between South Bellevue and Factoria). I’ll admit is that has been a long time since I’ve worked in the area. I remember traffic problems (while riding buses and cars) but I haven’t kept up with car pool lanes, car pool lights, etc.

        As far as crossing back and forth is concerned, I should have explained myself better. I would stay over 405 until north of the slough, then cross over. I believe that was the original plan, if I’m not mistaken. Basically follow I-90 to 405 until the downtown Bellevue tunnel, then head towards it. It might cost a bit more to build a Factoria station (as it would span the freeway) but that is about it. You could keep the other stations the same (East Main) or move it a few blocks either way (I don’t think this station is that important). I think this would have been every bit as cheap as what is now planned, but faster (it would have roughly the same amount of zig-zag, but complete grade separation until past downtown Bellevue). I am basing my assumption of cost on the idea that elevated is roughly the same cost as surface transit, and that there would be no big difficulty in running the line above the freeway. If that isn’t the case, then the current line would be cheaper.

        If the lines are roughly the same cost and the same speed, then I still prefer the Factoria solution. The shuttle idea definitely has promise, but a direct connection would be better. I believe it is more important than a park and ride that isn’t especially convenient (since it serves a peninsula isolated by roads that are often clogged). As I might have mentioned, if folks in the area really want a Park and Ride, or an area transit center, then I think the area south of Factoria just makes more sense for that, since it could draw from a much bigger area (everyone south of 405 and east of I-90).

    3. Bellevue’s a legitimate complaint, but if you’re coming out of the bus tunnel and going to the I-90 bridge I don’t really see any better routing or station location even if cost wasn’t an object. And while there won’t be any TOD springing up adjacent to it the connectivity with the 7 and 48 should provide great 1 transfer mobility from central/south Seattle to Bellevue and eventually Redmond. It’s not perfect but it’s a hell of a lot better than the only other realistic option which would be no station between the DSTT and Mercer Island.

      1. I would punch another tunnel from the Pioneer Square station directly east, to 12th and Main (as William Aitken suggested). From there, head south and pick up the express lanes. Other variations (such as directly east from the ID station) would work fine as well. Basically, I would build something of value for Seattle, since Seattle is paying for this. Or I would just say forget it — no station in Seattle on the East Link, and we build another station somewhere else. Yes, a lost opportunity (I guess) but if we aren’t willing (we being Seattle residents) to pay for something important, then forget it.

        All of this suggests that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I admit I don’t know the legal or political ramifications. But I guess that is my point. The legal constraints (or whatever constraints we live under) are ridiculous. We pay huge amounts of money for rail, and then are told we can’t have a center platform in the biggest transfer station in the system because we can’t afford it. Insane! If Seattle residents had the chance, they would vote for a bit of tunneling to build a really good stop next to Yesler Terrace, and they would pay for a center platform (Oh, and they would have built Central Link so it picked up the most important stop on Beacon Hill, if not all of South Seattle — the V. A.). It is just crazy that we don’t get the chance to do that.

        With the exception of our stadiums, we are consistent. We are cheap, cheap, cheap, even when paying a bit more money would make things a lot better. God, I miss the Kingdome. It symbolized this city so well.

      2. (Oh, and they would have built Central Link so it picked up the most important stop on Beacon Hill, if not all of South Seattle — the V. A.)

        You speak a lot of truth and logic in some of your comments, Ross, which is why you really have to knock off insanity of your new “subway to the V.A.” routine. Just because someone close to you commuted to the V.A. from North Seattle, and found it difficult, does not allow you to throw situational facts out the window.

        The V.A. may be a major employer, but it is an isolated one. As in, literally nothing else around. No other demand generators whatsoever.

        Similarly, the facility is a crucial service provider to a valued — but static — segment of the population. Nearly all visits occur during business hours on weekdays. The span of demand is therefore quite short, and surges in need uncommon and gentle. Again, because there’s nothing else around to modulate the predictable demand arc of the V.A. facility. A demand arc so low that the preponderance of buses detoured through the driveway make their 7-minute loop without dropping off or receiving a single passenger.

        Isolated, single-use facilities are the textbook examples of where you shouldn’t focus your high-capacity transit investments.

        To the extent that subway needed to pass through Beacon Hill in order to reach the Rainier Valley, the station was built in the right place. The business district surrounding it, small as it may be, is the only one on the entire Beacon ridge that exists in three dimensions. All other activity on this long, skinny landform directly abuts Beacon Ave S, which already has both the most frequent single-corridor bus service in the entire city and an uncharacteristically easy transfer to Link. Even better, almost the entire residential population is within walking distance of this bus, even though density decreases as you head south.

        The V.A. would be ridiculously easy to access if it would just construct a primary entrance to the complex that faces toward the 36. No subway required. Which is good, because no subway could ever be justified.


        The correct Rainier Link routing, FYI, would have involved a fully segregated Rainier subway at least as far as Hillman City, before shifting back to MLK to head further south. Rainier is where the highest and most multi-faceted demand and the greatest contiguous walkshed are. A better Mt. Baker station could have provided good transfers to MLK and to the Central District.

        Service to and connections through the Valley are infinitely more important than anything that happens or will ever happen in the southern 2/3 of Beacon Hill.

      3. @RossB:

        I wasn’t really suggesting a station at 12th and Main, much less a tunnel there from Pioneer Square. 12th and Main was a rough guess at a maximum northward swing for a route that continued to use the Mt Baker tunnel bores and the current ID station. It also seems to be about the only possible useful position for a station given those constraints.

      4. @dp — OK, we are probably just not going to agree on this one. Fair enough. I’ll add a few comments to strengthen my argument — some of this you (and other readers) know, some are less obvious.

        The V. A. is a major employer, and is highly likely to be a major employer for the next forty years (which is more than I can say for companies like Microsoft, Boeing, etc.). There are several reasons for this: aging vets from the last couple of major conflicts; the Seattle VA is a regional center (for several Northwest states); Patty Murray; the UW and its relationship with the V. A.. It would not surprise me at all if the entire parking lot (shown in that picture) is replaced by buildings. I have no idea how old that picture is — it my be out of date as we speak (they replaced lots of parking with new buildings, now they are building a new 1000 car parking lot to replace the parking). I could also see the V. A. expanding to the north, and taking over that section of parkland (which I assume is owned by the city and thus would require a bit of trading). In forty years (or less than that) we could see the entire area transformed, and become enormous. Not only filled with a medical center, but also temporary housing related to veteran care (which is similar to Ronald McDonald house). A station there would give (or would have given) the city and the feds an opportunity to push changes like that. Even without the rail station, I expect the center to get much bigger in the coming years.

        There are several subtle reasons while rail is especially beneficial for the V. A. While the bulk of people work there during regular business hours, there are plenty of staff that work odd hours (such is the nature of hospitals). Frequent, all night service is really handy for that. As mentioned, there is a strong connection between the V. A. and the UW (making a one stop ride especially convenient). Not only are there plenty of people who work late, but a large proportion of these people are women, many of whom feel uncomfortable with the lack of security found with buses and downtown street transfers. On the other hand, it is fairly cheap and easy to secure a train. One cop can easily walk back and forth amongst hundreds of passengers. Likewise, security guards can much more easily manage a subway station versus a stretch of street. All of this suggests that there are plenty of workers who will never ride a bus to work at the V. A., but will happily ride a train. This is less true of workers at other places (e. g. Microsoft).

        What is true for the employee is very much true for the patient. As good as our buses are for helping the infirmed, very few vets will want to ride a couple buses (with a downtown transfer) when they have an alternative (such as driving). It is also relatively complicated, which will discourage many patients. On the other hand, if they are told that they can drive to Tukwila or Northgate, park, and then walk (or roll) right onto a train (that arrives every five minutes) then you have a different story.

        Just to be clear, I am suggesting that they could have replaced the Mount Baker station with a V. A. station. You are absolutely right — as an area, the Rainier Valley (or central area) is far more important than one employment center (even if the employment center turns out to be huge). The problem is, our system doesn’t serve broad areas very well. At best it serves spots. The Mount Baker station is simply not that good of a spot. It has a green belt on one side, lots of strip malls or big stores (e. g. Lowe’s), plenty of single family housing and only a few apartments (to be fair, we may see plenty of new ones added in a few years). On top of all of it, you have some very tough streets to cross. So tough that it really isn’t a great transfer station.

        Which leads me to back up a bit. As I see it, there are three things you want to look for in a station:

        1) Large, concentrated residential center (e. g. Ballard).
        2) Concentrated, popular destination (for employment, service, entertainment, etc.)
        3) Feeder station (for buses in the area)

        The Mount Baker station is surprisingly bad in the first category, and fairly weak in the second (as much as I like Franklin High School). It makes a lot of sense for the third. There are lots of people in that area, even if a lot of them don’t want to walk directly to that station. The problem is, at that point, most of those people (I would guess) just wait until the bus gets downtown. It is helpful for those going the other direction, but basically, there aren’t many “destination” spots in the other direction (except the airport).

        Interestingly enough, if there were no Mount Baker station, then all of a sudden, the Rainier station makes a lot of sense as a transfer station. Given that we aren’t going to space train stations as frequently as we probably should (in that area) it makes sense to have an express bus travel Rainier Ave (and areas nearby). It wouldn’t work as elegantly as Mount Baker could (but doesn’t) because the Mount Baker station sits at the intersection of Rainier Ave and MLK way, but it could still do a very good job, especially for folks coming in from the north. Getting rid of the Mount Baker station would be a loss — but a loss mitigated by the addition of good service to Rainier station. Mount Baker station is a fairly mediocre performer now, and will look even more mediocre if really good bus service is added to Rainier station.

        Losing the station would be bad, but with a station to the north and south, I don’t think it would be a terrible loss. I believe the loss in this case would be more than made up for by the addition of the V. A. stop.

    4. The only reason the station is there is because it’s a transfer point. It never claimed to be an urban station or the best station for Rainier Valley. Its predecessor flyer stop is long-established and popular, so omitting the station would degrade service. If you’re coming from the valley, it avoids backtracking downtown if you’re going to the Eastside, and it bypasses three Central Link stations if you’re going to downtown. The station can become better if TOD is built around it, but it’s still worthwhile as a transfer station even if not. If it’s not built, people would say it’s a lost opportunity.

      1. The problem though is that even with the most benign rezoning and TOD friendly developers imaginable, there’s a limit to what you can do: about half the walkshed is parkland.

      2. Let’s not fret that the site doesn’t have TOD. It’s important to have stations that are a variety of land uses and not every station has to be a high density residential TOD from Year 1!

        With the park land, there is an eventual opportunity to do everything from provide a site for a new museum to a gathering ground for a large farmer’s market or public assembly space to a nationally-significant monument to an enclosed botanical garden to all sorts of semi-public land uses. This will be an opportunity site for future citizens to embellish!

        The station will not only get transferring passengers but it will be walkable (maybe not close but it will be walkable) for much of the CD south of Jackson Street.

    5. While we are on the subject of gondolas, how about restoring the counterbalance on Queen Anne? With modern funicular technology it could probably be a reasonably quick ride up the hill. I think it would be a useful alternative to consider if upper Queen Anne does end up getting skipped for Interbay.

      The tunnels and counterbalance cars are still under the street… and it would be a fun tourist draw to bring people up out of downtown. I can already imagine the “I rode the counterbalance” t-shirts.

      This is one of those “what if money was infinite” discussions though. Realistically I still put priority on the Light rail corridors.

      1. A counterbalance would be popular, but it wouldn’t be fast. I like gondolas because they would be fast and popular. The big drawback is that they can’t move huge numbers of people as fast as a train. But they can still move way more people than buses do, and far more quickly. This is why they make sense for going short distances over highly congested areas (like downtown, South Lake Union or anywhere near Mercer/Denny).

        I agree, though; counterbalances work for San Fransisco, so they could work for us. Unfortunately, we don’t have the history they do (nor are our trolleys as famous).

      2. @Ross Its famous enough locally that everyone still calls that part of town the counterbalance. Putting a funicular back in there would attach the place back with its history and provide a fun ride up the hill. I think you’ll find that tourists will flock to anything old and famous sounding.

        By the way, funicular + cable cars usually make pretty good combos in Europe.

        In reference to speed, funiculars are just elevators on rails. If they can make high speed elevators, I don’t see why we can’t make a funicular on Queen Anne that can go at road speeds…. again though, this not something likely to happen in the next few decades, if at all.

      3. Yeah, locally famous, but not nationally famous. You say “counterbalance” to half the people in Seattle and they don’t know what you are talking about (since they didn’t grow up around here). Having said that, in general, I think it is a worthy goal, and someone like Paul Allen could sink a few million into it and we could all gain from it. But I don’t think it would ever be as popular as those in San Francisco. It reminds me of the streetcars we had on the waterfront (although I think the cable cars would be more popular).

        They are as fast as buses are cars, to be sure. But a Gondola is faster. Much faster, depending on the location. One of the best examples is Denny, where a half mile ride could take twenty minutes, but a tram could take two.

  6. The park thing always gets me because if we had built the city on sound urbanist principles in the first place, there would be significantly more room for public open space.

    1. But, Ryan, people don’t move here for the parks, and the mountains, and the bike trails, and the good-paying jobs, and the beautiful summer weather, and all the cultural events. They move here because they want to spill seven figures on a single-family home.

  7. It’s kind of too late to question major things like planned station locations. The critical issue I would hope that someone considers is making sure that the track design does not preclude possible infill stations any time in the future! Once the track is laid, it’s hard to move things for a possible infill station without lots of cost and disruption. A future station platform probably not only needs to be on a straight alignment but on a level one. This is going to be a 50 or 100 year investment!

    How about us making a list of all possible infill station locations and an assessment of whether or not they could be provided in a future date on the engineered track? I mention this not because I think that stations should be built or are politically feasible now, but only because if there is a minor possibility to put one in it should be considered in the track laying. It’s kind of like the “speak now or forever hold your peace” time.

    Just a few infill station locations that could be desired in the future:
    1. Under the 12th Avenue Bridge.
    2. Leschi/East Portal Area
    3. East Mercer Way on Mercer Island
    4. 112th Avenue SE/SE 8th

    One other advanced planning topic is whether a new line near South Bellevue (perhaps a short tail track on the elevated portion?) is enabled or prevented with the design. Regardless if the track would run to Eastgate, Factoria or south towards Renton, some sort of advance tail track planning could be very detrimental for future extensions.

    1. Why would we want to put a station under the 12th Avenue Bridge. There’s nothing there, and itt’s not exactluy ripe for development, surrounded mostly by parkland, and the underutilized PacMed building.

      Leschi, looks hard to thread a station in there between the bridge/tuinnel issues, but even if it’s possible,. why bother, half the walkshed is underwater, and much of the rest is a steep climb away.

      E Mercer Way. Not really a whole lot there — the J, a Synagogue, the French American School, City Hall, a retirement community, a handfull of small (sketchily occupied) ofice buildings and (basically) a single street’s worth of large lot homes on the level. Everything else is suburban residential and up a huge hill. About 2/3 of the walkshed is underwater. Hard to imagine this ever being worthwhile. [If it existed today, I’d try to use it — realistically, to use it on any kind of a regular basis, there’d have to be a P&R there (202 to downtown MI, one stop east on Link, drop the kids off at the J, Link into Seattle sounds like a two hour commute in the making) but that isn’t a good reason to build a station]

      112 & SE 8th: this is the best of a bad lot, but so much of the area around here ought to be underwater — it is right by the office park on stilts — that that’s more a reflection on the other suggestions than it is an endorsement.

      S bellevue P&R is far enough from the Freeway that it shouldn’t be difficult to fit tail tracks in there if they become needed.

      1. Thanks for responding William.

        The reason for my post isn’t to propose a station now — it’s to recognize that we may need one in 2025 or 2040 without having to dig up the whole track and disrupt service for a year. The track is only the top of a very expensive project with several feet of concrete underneath. I’m merely saying that once the track is laid, it’s very expensive and hard to move. Having infill station “insurance” is a very good strategy for future generations — that’s all.

      2. I agree, up to a point, but those sites all share the property that there’s nothing there now, and there never will be.

  8. With the center platform at IDS effectively dead, the relative attractiveness of using Ranier Station to access East Link for Ranier Valley residents increases, which begs the question of how they are going to get there.

    The 7 is an obvious option, but notoriously unreliable. I do not think it is reasonable to expect people in the Mt. Baker area to, one out of every 5 times, stand at a bus stop for over 15 minutes to go one mile.

    Vastly preferable to this would be bikes. The one-mile ride from Mt. Baker Station to Ranier Station is flat and could be traversed by a bike in as little as 5 minute if the roadway is designed to make biking a viable option. Even if the bus warped from Mt. Baker to Ranier Freeway Station at light speed (in reality, the 7 moves at about bike speed, once it finally comes), the wait time alone would still make the bike the faster option most days. Time to build a cycletrack along Ranier. It would be quite useful now, even without Link.

    1. THe IDS center platform is not dead yet. With enough political will and enough money (even if it has to be included in ST3), the center platform can still be done.

      It bothers me that ST held very minimal public process on the IDS conversion, when the design of that station, post-conversion, may be the decisive factor on eventual maximum peak frequency. I’ve heard nothing from ST to suggest that they are paying any attention to the dwell-time/headway issue, except for getting a disabled vehicle out of the way, which could be done more quickly by getting it to Convention Place and onto a storage track.

      1. I agree that it’s truly horrible that the effect on paraplegic lesbians hasn’t been considered.

        I think there are good arguments for putting in a center platform here, but enabling a Spanish solution really isn’t one of them. As long as a Sound Transit isn’t trying to push headways below 2 1/2 minutes [that’s 5 minute headways on each of the Southbound branches 12 trains per hour] it simply isn’t needed. Even then, it’s only really needed if there’s significant turnover at the station. Any platform you could fit into the center area would be awafully small to deal with the sorts of passenger volumes that would require a Spanish solution.

        I wonder if it would be possible to get the turnback siding installed with a passenger rated signalling system, and run trains in service reversing there.

    2. I like bikes too. They can be quite quick. They’re fun to ride. With a well-run bike-share system, they can be exceedingly convenient for certain trips and under certain conditions.

      But they’re not convenient under all circumstances. Or at all times of day. Or in all weather. Personal bikes have even more finite limits to their situational appropriateness; they have a “vehicle burden” just as cars do.

      This is true even for the most able-bodied traveler.

      So please, give this flogging a rest.

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