Sound Transit’s long range planning is starting with a little public comment. This process will update the 2005 edition and will be a primary input to Sound Transit 3.

“In the next decade Sound Transit will deliver more than 30 miles of light rail extensions, increase south line commuter rail service and continue operating popular express bus routes. Updating the Long-Range Plan will define the options for where regional transit can go beyond the projects and services voters have approved,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy…

Preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to update the plan provides an opportunity to consider questions including:

  • Which corridors should be identified or reconfirmed as priorities for potential future light rail extensions?
  • Which corridors should be designated for potential high-capacity transit/bus rapid transit?
  • Should the region make more investments in commuter rail?
  • Where should the system provide improved parking facilities and access for pedestrians and bicyclists?

I think there might be some opinions about these subjects among our readership. There is a longish survey available through November 25th that asks a lot of the right questions. There are also six public meetings:

  • Seattle: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 5:30-8 p.m. Seattle University Campion Ballroom, 914 E. Jefferson St.
  • Federal Way: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 5:30-8 p.m. Federal Way Community Center, 876 S. 333rd St.
  • Redmond: Thursday, Nov. 14, 5:30-8 p.m. Redmond Marriott, 7401 164th Ave. N.E.
  • Tacoma: Monday, Nov. 18, 5:30-8 p.m. Tacoma Convention Center, 1500 Broadway
  • Everett: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 5:30-8 p.m. Eisenhower Middle School, 10200 25th Ave. S.E.
  • Seattle daytime event: Thursday, Nov. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St.

STB will be all over this subject as it develops.

91 Replies to “Sound Transit Starts Long-Range Planning”

  1. Incredibly important for us all to stay on top of this. I took the survey and tried to limit myself to one paragraph per subarea. :) And I put my two pins in Ballard and LQA.

  2. Bellinghammer put his pins in Ballard & Lower Queen Anne. I can definitely attest to these choices. However, I put mine in Federal Way & Kent because there are much more people who are in the lower income, rely on transit and they are overdue to receive increased & revamped express service.

    Where did everyone else put their pins?

    1. While its honorable to try to serve the most needy, if we want to do the world a favor, we’ll serve the most, period. As far as an all-day demand corridor that will displace the most trips and free up bus service hours to be used elsewhere, my casually informed pins got dropped at Ballard and downtown. When choosing the top 3 corridors from Sound Transit’s list, I picked Ballard-DT, Ballard-UW, and West Seattle-DT, although West Seattle is still more of a commute-oriented community than the other two corridors.

      1. I’m right there with you, Brett, when it came to prioritizing corridors. Ballard & West Seattle got ranked as “5’s” in my survey, but so did areas in South King County.

      2. While its honorable to try to serve the most needy, if we want to do the world a favor, we’ll serve the most, period.


        I asked for (in this order) Ballard-Downtown, Ballard-UW, a corridor that wasn’t on their list (Seattle-Lynnwood via Fremont and Aurora), and Burien-West Seattle-Downtown.

        Before you yell at me for suggesting Aurora all the way to Lynnwood rather than closer in only, remember that we are dealing with subarea equity.

  3. Did my part to discourage ST3 from investing money into areas outside the city Seattle, where significant investment is needed with orders of magnitude greater severity.

      1. Sound Transit is a regional agency, I would think that to get a positive vote, each sub-area would have to see what it receives for their tax dollars.

        Which means there has to be enough pork for everyone.

        Unless the plan is to scuttle ST3.

        However, Seattle could go it alone, and work on Olympia for taxing authority, I suppose.

      2. Exactly, Jim. Sound Transit is a regional agency. Its goal is to connect communities together. This is what projects like East Link are all about. The Eastside, South County, North Sound, etc. all need decent transit service.

        Kyle, Sound Transit’s district is mostly urban and suburban, not exurban. They drew the lines so they’d have a pro-transit constituency back in the 1990s.

      3. We can get a lot work done in Seattle by making them part of regional spines… The Ballard-West Seattle rebranded could be the Burien – Seattle – Bothell line, The Ballard to UW line is also the Seattle – Kirkland line.

        There is no reason to exclude regional lines; we just have to make sure they also serve Seattle appropriately when they pass through, and that they connect appropriately to existing transit to make the network as a whole stronger. This is better not just for Seattle but for the Region as a whole.

        Not everyone just needs to get to downtown Seattle, and the better things in the city are connected and connected to the regional lines the better it serves all of us. We connect the neighborhoods and the region at the same time.

      4. Charles B, that is a fantastic idea for rebranding our in-city needs to include the regional component that might get more votes!

      5. Yes, because money grows on trees, and because every single line should be reformatted to express through the city in order to expedite distant commutes.

      6. Leaving aside the merits of building rail to West Seattle in the first place, I think it would be a huge mistake to run the line from Ballard to West Seattle.

        First of all, I don’t think there’s much demand for through-rides between the two.

        But more importantly, the best transit networks are composed of relatively straight lines, that make it possible to get between any two points with a single connection.

        Let’s say that you want to get from Ballard to Columbia City, for example. Or from West Seattle to the U-District. With a line from Ballard to West Seattle, there is no natural point at which that line intersects with the existing one! Therefore, you have to exit the subway to connect between the two points, and deal with hills, too.

        Now, imagine a slightly different network. One line runs from Northgate/Lynnwood to West Seattle. A second line runs from Northgate/Lynnwood to the airport via MLK. And a third line runs from Ballard to Bellevue. The Ballard line runs underneath 1st or 2nd, and then turns east at Jackson to go underneath ID Station and merge with East Link. The West Seattle line takes the existing Central Link track, and branches at the West Seattle Bidge.

        Now, no matter where you want to go, you can ride the train to ID, and have a seamless connection. No hills, no surface transfers.

      7. Similarly leaving aside the merits of building rail to West Seattle in the first place, and also leaving aside the unlikelihood that a new cross-downtown subway would be within our budget in the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t worry about the difference between two downtown subways running parallel versus two downtown subways crossing.

        Any new downtown subway would need to be beneath 2nd Ave, in order to allow for transfers at the Pine Street end — permitting in-system transfers only at the southern end of downtown would too heavily penalize many trips that end in Capitol Hill. Subterranean pedestrian passageways would likely wind up at Pioneer Square and at either Westlake or University Street (but not both).

        If ST showed the slightest interest in building compact stations or enabling easy vertical transfers, then two lines crossing might give us better results than two lines passing near and parallel. But we both know that any station ST builds will involve 400 feet of walking, regardless of where the lines themselves are placed. That 400 might as well be between parallel tunnels.

        Of course, we won’t have any true in-system transfers if Sound Transit insists on throwing arbitrary segments of surface-rail cost-cutting at us. It’s strange to me that anyone is seriously speaking of West Seattle tunnels when all 8 versions of Ballard transit on offer reveal that the only segment under present consideration has a maximum pricetag below what we would need to spend to get the job done right.

        [Insert obligatory coda about how the same dollar figure could get the job done right from Ballard to UW.]

      8. Aleks, I’ve been thinking along the same lines, but with different conclusions. While there should be some extensions of the current lines, like Overlake -> Redmond, N Link toward the north and S Link toward the south, it would also be important to enable branches and connections between lines. For example, if there is to be a secondary maintenance base in Bellevue along the Eastside Rail Corridor, it would be dead easy to build LR between Bellevue and Kirkland along that corridor. If that project included a wye near ID station, it could enable trips between E. Link and S. Link.

        Meanwhile, a line accross SR-520 from UW to somewhere around S. Kirkalnd P&R could enable other trips.

        For downtown -> Ballard, one of the crucial questions is whether it connects with the DSTT or does it have another path through downtown?

        For Ballard – UW it only makes sense to connect it with SR-520 LR. Ideally an underground connection with BrooklynUD station would be included. Sorry, the “Ballard spur” shouldn’t be built.

        Maybe for service to West Seattle, it makes sense to look for a Duwamish crossing further south where it’s not necessary to build so high. I have no idea how far south the navigable channel goes; would it be auto-competetive for WS residents to go south, then east, then north to join the Central Link ROW somewhere?

      9. Actually, shackling the most useful three miles of rail that could every be built in Seattle — connecting four of the densest and busiest destinations in the city, as well as every frequent north-south route that presently operates in isolation — to billions of dollars in redundant cross-lake construction with no logical Eastside demand-generator is the single dumbest notion that continues to be perpetuated on these pages.

      10. d.p., was there a link in there somewhere to expand your argument? Please inform us as to what those “most useful three miles” would be and how they would connect the region effectively.

      11. BTW d.p., I said that the Ballard Spur should not be built because no one has shown that it’s actually possible. Beyond the fact that Brooklyn Station has already been designed without taking it into account, I’m not convinced that it could both connect to N. Link while crossing under I-5.

        That said, Ballard to U District is an important corridor which should have fairly high priority in ST3. At the same time, there may be high-value, lower cost segemnts that connect into the LR system. In future, it would make a lot of sense for ST to plan for extensions when they build lines. E.g., once LR gets to Ballard from downtown, there should be plans for building north or east.

      12. It’s almost excruciatingly straightforward, AW.

        Ballard/Fremont/Wallingford/U-District cumulatively represents the single largest contiguous population and multi-purpose destination corridor in the region outside of downtown Seattle, and the one that is most poorly connected to other urban and regional destination by transit. Whether your destination is Bellevue, SeaTac, West Seattle, or Capitol Hill, reaching there from any part of this corridor or from any point further north requires an exorbitant expenditure of time, energy, and sanity.

        With every east-west arterial falling victim to the gridlock of excess demand for many hours each day, transit in the corridor — subject to the worst of said gridlock — is failing, routinely requiring 25-45 minutes to go only a couple of miles, and ensuring that elective transit usage that requires any transfer to points further is untenable.

        Thanks to the density and proximity of the destinations along this busy corridor — the precise sort of environment for which high-capacity urban transit was invented in the first place — viable, high-demand relief could be provided with a mere 3 to 3.5 miles of grade-separated rail. Not only would this connect tens of thousands of residents and myriad non-residential destinations to the very “regional” network you extol, but it would equally connect everyone and everything on the D, 28, 5, 358, and 16 corridors to one other and to regional destinations, no longer requiring dozen-mile bus slogs into our downtown bottleneck.

        [It should be noted here that while the “Ballard-downtown” corridor may have its own merits, it does essentially nothing for anyone or anything north of the Ship Canal but not within walking distance of 15th and Market.]

        So why is it bad to shackle this thriving urban area’s future “regional” connectivity to a cross-520 corridor? Because 520 rail is never, ever going to happen.

        The sole salient rationale behind an East Link rail crossing is the provision of a traffic-immune bypass to the bottlenecked cross-lake road bridges. East Link — built along existing right-of-way and costing billions nevertheless — will have achieved that stated objective, and will have connected the sole all-day high-demand corridor (Seattle-downtown Bellevue) as well as the remaining acute-demand commute node (Overlake) in the process.

        Despite that achievement, and as the unavoidable consequence of sprawling late-20th-century Eastside development patterns, East Link’s ridership estimates (fewer than 50,000 boardings by pretty much ever) barely justify the undertaking, and are too poor to have won the line a dime of federal funding.

        Any 520 rail project — exponentially costlier thanks to no existing right-of-way — would primarily serve to cannibalize the cross-lake ridership function of the first line. The cost:benefit of a second crossing makes it, by definition, nonviable.

        None of this should be taken to suggest that Eastside transit connectivity and cross-520 options cannot be improved through means other than more rail-on-bridge. But 520 rail is a logical no-go, permanently.

        Any old schlub can pull out a regional map and draw a bunch of bright-colored lines on it and think it’s an awesome way to “connect the region”. Sharpies are cheap. Actual trains are costly.

        Why anyone would suggest 15 billion dollars in nonviable sprawl rail, when existing-density trips go disastrously unserved beneath their nose, is truly beyond me.

      13. [Looks like we both hit simultaneous “post”. Please don’t take my reply as combative; it simply must be understood that 520 rail will not happen financially, and so tethering other necessities to it is supremely unwise.]

        As you know, many people before me, and surely many after me, have drawn this intentionally cautious map, using the cost of Sound Transit’s U-Link bore as well as the price estimates on their partial-bore north-south Ballard proposals to estimate that the minimum viable east-west segment could be built for well under 2 billion.

        I join you in finding Sound Transit’s resistance to planning for future possible connections in its initial designs infuriating, as it runs counter to literally 150 years of best practices, refined since the first phases of the London Underground were excavated. That said, it seems absurd to write off design alterations for stations formally only “60% designed” and in reality “0% dug”. Here is just one possible way of working in a track connection, whether for revenue service or merely for maintenance.

      14. Didn’t hizzoner your mayor assure us that SR-520 LR would be possible with on a few more pontoons? Isn’t that the ROW that would be needed to cross the lake?

        I don’t argue for 15 gigabucks of spending, just smart investment where it makes sense (but keeping in mind that ST needs to balance investments according to sub-area equity(.

      15. As you might have guessed from my statements on his Pursuit of Streetcars, I think the mayor means well but has a limited real-work transit understanding, and often expresses his transit desires based on little more than the fashions being discussed around him.

        I’m sure that 520 rail would be “technically viable” with a dozens of supplementary pontoons tacked on. That’s a whole lot more expensive than the I-90 conversion, which is happening with alterations to (but no additions to) today’s floating structures.

        So if the first rail crossing is barely financially viable, and accomplishes all of the primary tasks to be accomplished by putting rail over the lake, how would a second ever make fiduciary sense?

      16. We don’t have to rebrand the lines to make them extension-friendly. ST is already thinking about that when it considers any city lines. It’s a given that a Ballard-downtown line could be extended to Northgate, Lake City, and Bothell. A Ballard-UW line could be extended to Sand Point, Kirkland, and Redmond (and/or Bellevue and Issaquah). Or Ballard-south could turn into Ballard-east, but that would leave Ballard-north out. It’s pretty certain that a West Seattle line would extend to Burien to meet RapidRide F and a future east-west line.

        What we can do to make them more urban-friendly is ask for more stations than Central/East Link has. Central/East Link has to haul ass to reach Lynnwood and SeaTac with competitive travel times, But these other lines won’t be the main trunks so they can have more stations. If anybody thinks they’re too slow, they can transfer to Central Link instead.

      17. Seattle has and will continue to foot drag on fast transit access to its job base.

        Of course it would, because if you can get a high paying job and a low rent apartment in a low tax area, Seattle isn’t going to be able to tax, get revenue from your income, and so on.

        Why in the world would it allow this?

        If we had a truly regional approach — which we do not under Dow Constantine — this 30 year program would be moving ahead right now…this is why I voted for Alan Lobdell, a planner with no ties to existing powers that be. A fresh approach to let the whole region act as one, not just a handmaiden to Seattle!

      18. A Ballard-UW line could be extended to Sand Point, Kirkland, and Redmond (and/or Bellevue and Issaquah).

        Really. No. It won’t.

      19. John, we’re already building empty trains that express to the hinterlands. Empty trains that will remain empty. Forever.

        Because nowhere on this planet or any other does abject sprawl support all-day high-capacity anything.

        You’ve gotten your wish: a proven-failure approach to our one shot at transit in Seattle. You should feel very, very proud.

      20. We don’t need to worry about termini vs interlining at this stage. For passengers it would be best to have a single line from UW to Ballard to downtown to West Seattle to Burien, because it allows the maximum one-seat origin/destination pairs. (And contrary to what Alex says, a Ballard – West Seattle line would have direct transfers to Central Link at Westlake and Intl Dist, if not adjacent then at worst a block apart.) But if ST decides to force a transfer in Ballard and again downtown, it’s not the end of the world, and it would still be less waiting than the existing bus service.

        Fundamentally, ST will have to decide what to do when Ballard-downtown reaches Ballard. Will it turn east, or terminate pointing north, or just terminate? There are valid arguments for either of the first two, so I’m not going to say ST must do one or the other. I’m more inclined to terminate pointing north, because that’s best for our long-term north-south and east-west grids.

      21. John, do you really think there are no jobs in Seattle? Some people have to commute to the suburbs but a lot of others don’t. Seattle’s jobs have been increasing over the past few years.

      22. “Really. No. It won’t.”

        If people think the Lake Washington/Eastside extension is not worth it or too expensive, they can axe it from the alternatives at a later stage. We don’t have to worry about that now.

        (And I’m assuming any Lake Washington connection would be on a new bridge or tunnel, not 520. 520 is not near any urban center west of 124th, and east of 124th it’s redundant with East Link. A new crossing could go straight into Kirkland, the largest Eastside city that’s not in ST2 Link, and with the most walkable center.)

      23. (And yes, I know allergies are not pathological. Though they can be psychosomatic.

        Seriously, though. Math is vital in understanding and funding transit. Geometry is key to understand what will succeed and what will fail. Has the dumb luck by which Seattle has succeeded in its chosen industry over the past two decades turned it into a faith-based society? That never, ever works out in the long run.)

      24. You’re not, as far as I know, a transit engineer, or a finance expert, or have ever run a large public agency or been a local politician, and you’re certainly not (as a single person) a majority of the public. So I get bothered by your “can’ts” and “will never happens” and “I unilaterally decree this is not worthwhile”. You can’t just expect people to take your word over everyone else, even if you think you have all the transit successes in the world on your side. Some of these are objective issues, but some of them are judgment issue about legitimate tradeoffs, and some are values issues about what people want. People may not always want the most “efficient” system, and people may think that some issues are important enough that it’s worth possibly empty trains in off-hours.

        I also don’t believe that this region can only afford one line or one more line. There is obviously a limit to what the region can afford and will support, but we’re operating under severe artificial constraints that have little to do with that. Let the process go through, and see what does get decided, and if something very bad is about to be chosen we can deal with that then. That Lake Washington crossing you’re so worried about and are convinced will never happen — it also happens to have a high price tag that the Eastside would have to foot. So they’ll have to decide whether it’s that important to them, more important than some north-south service or Issaquah service or streetcars or RapidRides or whatever. There’s a good chance they’ll decide against it anyway, or postpone it till after that other stuff, and your worry will be for nothing. As for the 45th line getting sabotaged if the lake crossing gets nixed, I don’t think the board is that unintelligent to couple them together so tightly.

  4. West Seattle to Downtown all the way. West Seattle’s peninsula (including White Center & North Highline) has 105,000~ people in it. If you tally up all trips from SDOT data on the upper/lower West Seattle Bridges, it’s about a 1:1 ratio. Nearly everyone has to leave the peninsula, so having Light Rail there–plus acting as a bridge to the south and Tacoma–is invaluable. If it’s done right it will free up a ton of capacity for more buses and free up action on the upper bridge and the omnipresent 509/1st Ave S Bridge logjam.

    1. Those are one-way trips. As in 1:2 actual users per your generous population boundary. Which isn’t surprising as vast portions of the lower peninsula have much better (car, not transit) access to the city and surrounding region via 509 rather than via the bottleneck bridges. Meanwhile, the bridge acts as a funnel for traffic and transit from all across the peninsula’s northern half, giving lie to the suggestion that one exorbitant rail corridor would offer any hope of relief to the majority.

      Listen, if West Seattle were remotely set up to support high-capacity transit, or populated by people who desired to participate in this growing city beyond commuting and then heading home for barbecues and sunsets, I’d be a supporter of this expansion.

      But that’s just not the way the place is, now or for the forseeable future. A billion-dollar train would serve less than 5% of your overly-broad population statistic, and those able to use it would not be served any better than they are with a RapidRide that eliminated all remaining bottlenecks (100% of which sit between the bridge bus lanes and 3rd Avenue downtown) and found a solution for the passive-restraint/hill problem.

      I would support a Lake City spur before I would endorse a subway to West Seattle. The latter is a political folly that just won’t be worth it.

      1. Rather than I spur, I would favor extending the Ballard line up to Lake City way, hitting a few other dense parts of Northern Seattle on the way (like what they have on the Seattle Subway map). ST could justify it regionally by calling it the Seattle to Bothell line… and maybe even extend it out that far if Bothell in the future if it gets a dense enough core or big enough park and ride to make it worthwhile. This has the nice bonus to giving us an east-west transfer between the central line without having to search for an additional maintenance yard for an additional spur line (well other than the Ballard to UW line, which is also very high priority).

      2. An east-west subway replacing the 44 would serve far more destinations/mile and trip-pairs/dollar than a long, winding line up Holman and across 105th, while enabling more and easier through trips to other parts of the rail network. There’s no way this city is getting both an inner-cross-Seattle subway and the line you suggest, so it’s detrimental to push for the latter at the risk of the former.

      3. A train from Roosevelt Station to Bothell via Lake City Way, center-running at-grade, after popping out of the earth around 80th, except going elevated through Lake City urban core, would be a relatively cheap no-brainer. Hit high density, very few crossings, drop it into a massive park and ride in Bothell which alleviates the 522 traffic jams.

        It makes so much sense, it will certainly never be done. Cross-town triple-transfers to the balemic spine is the more academic solution.

      4. A Roosevelt – Bothell train is another possibility. But a Ballard – Bothell train would also improve east-west transit in the city, which is abysmally worse than north-south transit.

      5. …Not if you sent it via a low-destination 105th route, as suggested above, harming both access and transfers between east-west and north-south.

        That would be a deeply poor compromise route. And while it could be built elevated, the 3x longer right-of-way would likely yield no savings for all the additional trouble it would cause.

      6. @d.p. I am not talking about putting the Lake City Way expansion before the cross city line (Ballard to UW). Obviously that would have to come first.

        You make it sound like we only have one more chance to build anything ever in the city. I agree with you that the UW – Ballard line would be super useful but I also feel that the Lake City way line would be a very useful line AFTER the Ballard – UW line was built. I don’t see why we couldn’t get both Ballard to downtown and Ballard to UW in ST3. The segment extending Ballard – Downtown north across to Lake City way would have to come in the next vote… how ever long in the future that is (hopefully not another decade).

        btw, my thoughts on the Ballard to Bothell line are less about “what we should build right now” and more about “where we should put the dotted lines on the map for *planned expansion*”. It gives people in the region a good idea of where these things are going to go when they are voting on the package so it doesn’t just look like a Seattle only package they are voting on. We would eventually put the line out that far (voters willing) but it would take some time, and we would put down the parts useful to Seattle first with Seattle money.

      7. Charles, I was less frustrated by your open musings than I was by Mike’s baseless presumption that infinite transit is somehow guaranteed.

        When all is said and done, we’re still a medium-density city with a history of regressively-hobbled tax policy, which combine to limit both the number of high-capacity grade-separated lines we can truly fill with riders, as well as our ability to pay for gold-plated transit to everywhere.

        As I’ve said a number of times before, we should be pursuing a holistic network, and drawing carefully-plotted dotted lines with the understanding that completing the map priority-segment by priority-segment will earn the city and its environs life-changing results.

        This is how good subway systems have always been fleshed out — from Paris in the early 20th century to Prague after the fall of the Iron Curtain to Shanghai of the near future. They’ve been built progressively, sometimes adding each successive station one-at-a-time, but always according to a long-term holistic vision.

        But that is very different from drawing a ridiculous fantasy map in MS Paint and promising everyone everywhere that it will be justified, funded, and imminently carrying swarms of people 75 miles between TOD Jetsons-skyscraper nodes twenty-four hours a day. That sort of hyperbole actually distracts from the ability to plan well and build correctly; the overreach winds up encouraging deleterious compromises and botched segments, because everybody starts to believe that quantity is more important than quality or access. Even though the quantity being chased (second lake crossing, SoDo industrial route, Everett, Fife) is never going to get built, and wouldn’t support remotely worthwhile service levels if it did.

        Holistic planning means making wise choices at every step of the long-term process. It’s the exact opposite of overpromising and underdelivering.

      8. Ballard is not that much of destination that it deserves 3 lines, and the whole NE gets one… through Ballard. That makes no sense.

        I do go to Ballard a couple times a year. It ain’t all that. Mainly low-density SFH and town homes and a few restaurants that think far too much of themselves. Yeah, they’ve built a few yuppy palaces lately, but that’s not a good reason to route 3 lines out in dead-end land.

      9. The Ballard – Lake City line would be after the 45th line is guaranteed, not before. If we can only have one east-west line it must be 45th, but we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more lines if we think they’ll improve the city’s functioning. When we reach a definitive “No”, that we’ll be the end of it, but let’s not foreclose our opportunities prematurely or we may end up self-censoring something that could have happened.

      10. I would hope it would occur before the Ballard-UW line. I had assumed that.

        It would also not make any sense to discuss it before we see a line from the NE to an actual destination people would want to go. UW and downtown come to mind. That’s why a spur from Roosevelt Station to Bothell would make much more sense.

        Sure than routing NE through to Ballard might be something vaguely useful, but it comes in far behind the relevance of a line from Bothell to downtown.

        For better or worse, Ballard is essentially a peninsula. A peninsula deserves one line. Maybe 2 lines of you are being generous. It doesn’t deserve 3, when other parts of town have none.

      11. For better or worse, Ballard is essentially a peninsula. A peninsula deserves one line. Maybe 2 lines of you are being generous. It doesn’t deserve 3, when other parts of town have none.

        Sorry, what?

        First of all, don’t fall prey to the terminus problem. A 45th St subway would be extensively useful for pretty much everyone in North Seattle. It just so happens that it ends in Ballard, but it would also serve people going to and from Wallingford, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, Greenwood, and more.

        Second, Ballard is a lot more “on the way” than you give it credit for. If the Ballard-to-downtown line follows 15th W, then it would be nearly impossible *not* to serve Ballard, at least at 15th/Market. Similarly, if the line first goes to Fremont and then continues north, the most logical place for the line to go is along Leary up to Market.

        The only logical routing for a N-S line that doesn’t serve Ballard at all would be a line that goes up Aurora, or somewhere in between Aurora and Greenwood. If we had infinite money, then sure, I think it would be great to have a line like that. In practice, I think that the Ballard-side line (i.e. around 15th NW) is a much higher priority — partly because it has higher demand, and partly because the marginal benefit of rail compared to RapidRide E is much smaller than the marginal benefit of rail compared to RapidRide D and/or the 40, and partly because a “west side” line has a much higher number of interesting intermediate destinations than an Aurora line.

        Finally, I’m not sure what you mean when you say “three lines”. As far as Lake City goes, a line between Ballard and Lake City would be an extension of the line from Ballard to downtown. It would continue north up to Holman, crossing Northgate Station, and continuing up to Lake City. Ballard just so happens to be perfectly placed as a midpoint on this line. I don’t think it’s fair to call the north and south portions two separate lines, any more than it’s fair to say that UW Station is on two separate lines because the north segment is going to open later than the south segment.

      12. You lost me at: Ballard is the midpoint between Lake City and Downtown.

        It sounds like we need to make one of those myopic mocking maps of New York, where Jersey City is larger than California, except this one will be for Ballard. The locks, the Matador and the Walrus and Carpenter massively imposing in the forefront, and the SAM, Columbia tower and Olive 8 made of of Legos in the distance.

        Find the 3 people who will take a train from Bothell to downtown via Ballard, and you have a right to call it something other than what it is: 3-spur dead-ends at the end of a low-density peninsula.

        I agree with you the Ballard UW line would be ideal for East-West travel in north end. Totally support it.

        Making the only line in the northeast meander through Little Scandinavia? Not so much.

      13. Biliruben, you’re missing the point of the proposed Ballard-Lake City(-Bothell) extension.

        The idea is not that anyone would ride it from Lake City to downtown, although the trip wouldn’t be that slow (about as fast as today’s 41). Downtown riders would transfer at Northgate, and even with the transfer their trip would be about as fast as today’s 522 in the peak direction, or significantly faster at reverse-peak. The idea is that the Lake City extension would serve as an east-west line in far North Seattle, connecting Lake City, Northgate, Greenwood, and Crown Hill — all of which are very painful to travel between today by transit or even by car — and connecting all those places to Ballard. With the Ballard-Lake City extension, the Ballard-UW line, North Link, and an Aurora/Greenwood line, you’d actually have a fantastic, fast, frequent gridded network throughout North Seattle.

      14. 45th and 40th are the same corridor as far as Link planning is concerned, because an underground line could zigzag to both Fremont and Wallingford without degrading travel time. The highest-ridership east-west routes in North Seattle are the 43, 31/32, and 48, and at least one of the first two would be covered by the Link line (acting as a limited-stop express). The 40/75 corridor north of Market is not particularly high volume: it’s main attraction as a Link line is to address the atrociously bad east-west transit hole between 85th and… Vancouver BC actually. That’s why it should come after 45th.

        45th and 40th are the same corridor as far as Link planning goes, because an underground line could zigzag to both Fremont and Wallingford without degrading travel time (DP showed me this), and that would be a powerhouse of a line. Even if ST chooses only one of Wallingford or Fremont, it would still be the most productive east-west line in North Seattle.

        The Lake City – Bothell corridor is more significant than Ballard to Lake City, and I could see that happening after the 45th line, leaving the Ballard – Lake City segment for the following round.

        This illustrated why we mustn’t think of lines as unsplittable at this stage. It doesn’t matter whether ST’s early planning is one segment or two or three, because they can be split and the most productive parts built first.

      15. yep, lake city should be included / attached /appended to some sort of connection into the link system (have you seen the density they’ve added in just the last 5 years??), but whether from UW or northgate, that line ought to stop there.

        when you speak of Bothell, etc. –and you should, especially given the growing UW campus there– it should be as part of a corridor which begins in Edmonds, roughly follows state route 104, and then along state route 522 to bothell.

        there are lots of urban hubs along this route, and potential connections to the SR99 corridor and the main-line Link-“spine” (not an easy connection, but don’t get me started about sub-area-equity-induced awkwardness), Lake forest Park, Kenmore, etc.

        –truly, the first East–West opportunity without Lake Washington in the way–

        but the real advantage to reaching to Edmonds are the intermodal connections there: WA state ferry, Sounder, Amtrak.

        connecting link to the ferry system up north could open up lots of ridership possibilities for folks on the peninsula (quick: describe how someone currently gets from Kingston to UW main campus by transit… answer: they don’t)

        connecting link to ‘heavy’ rail (Sounder, Amtrak) up north opens up ridership for people wanting transit from the “far” north into north seattle/uw/capitol hill — but don’t want to ride all the way to King St Station to make a transfer and backtrack.

        so yeah, “spur’ your ballard–UW line into lake city; or make some Holman/105th/Northgate/lake city corridor…..

        ..and then next on the list add a Edmonds–>Bothell route.
        (lots for the Snohomish county sub-area !)

        (maybe even all the way to Monroe? the streetcar historians should appreciate terminating at the evergreen state fairgrounds….)

    2. Hi David –

      I understand the point.

      I think your missing my point that if it’s a trade off between that line and a direct line from NE Seattle that far more people want to go to the. Ballard, such as downtown or UW, it’s no contest.

      The downtown to Ballard plus the UW to Ballard lines (not to mention the proposed streetcar). Is plenty of billions for Ballard infrastructure.

      Just give the NE something fast we will use. If I want to go to Ballard once in a blue moon, I can transfer at 45th.

      My wife works In Ballard so we probably would be one of the few to benefit from a line one this, but it’s still far inferior to getting people in the NE quickly to where the go far more often.

      Run a line to Roosevelt. Cheaper. Quicker. More sensible.

      1. What is the point of running it to Roosevelt rather than Northgate? You’d still be transferring, and the trip wouldn’t be any faster (well, maybe 1 minute) with a transfer at Roosevelt rather than Northgate. And if you run it to Northgate there is the possibility for it to connect to a useful crosstown service; there is no such possibility at Roosevelt.

      2. I don’t care whether 522 Link meets Central Link at 130th, Northgate, Roosevelt, or U-District as long as it’s one of them. I think 130th or Northgate would be most feasable. Roosevelt would probably have difficulties building an underground transfer station, and U-District would have even more difficulties because of the building foundations around the station box and potentially three lines transferring there.

      3. David- I’m no engineer, but I would assume center- running at-grade would be much cheaper than elevated up that steep bluff. More direct, faster, more TOD potential.

        Frankly I assumed that was why I haven’t heard anyone mention rail from lake city to northgate. So many better options.

        Now I don’t know about the underground connection at Roosevelt. If someone does no how that would work, I’d love to hear. We should be designing the station right now with interlining a LCW line right now.

      4. You meant interlining? I didn’t get that until now, because it is so implausible. First, Roosevelt Station is already mostly designed. Second, that would be a vastly uneven interline — ridership to Northgate and Lynnwood will be vastly higher than ridership to Lake City and Bothell under any imaginable scenario. That gives you two undesirable choices — improper allocation of capacity between the lines or poor frequency to Lake City.

        Frankly, if we’re talking about pie-in-the-sky interlines, d.p.’s Brooklyn Station interline makes a whole lot more sense.

        Also, all sorts of people have at least been talking about rail from Lake City to Northgate (and on to Ballard). Sound Transit itself has considered the idea in its long-range planning process. The line is a core piece of the Seattle Subway vision. There are a variety of ways to deal with the elevation change, not all horrendously expensive. (Personally, I’d expect the line would be elevated above the LCW and Northgate Way rights-of-way, turning southwest around 8th. It can easily climb that hill.)

      5. If interlining is unreasonable, a spur would be second best. Much better than Northgate, for the reasons I stated.

      6. Of course, this is getting a bit off topic. The main point was that there are dozens of better options than essentially dead-ending 3 lines into Ballard.

        There just isn’t much reason to build dedicated rail between I-5 and Ballard.

        Maybe if it jumped the locks, got a running start through interbay, then soared to Alki…

      7. We don’t need to figure out the transfer interface at this point. We just need to tell ST all the corridors where we *might possibly* want Link in the future. Later when it gets around to focusing that corridor and starts the alternative analysis, we’ll have to make sure it studies all transfer stations that we *might possibly* want. Then ST will preengineer them and give us a price estimate, and then we can decide whether the cost of a Roosevelt transfer station is worth it, or whether climbing up Northgate Hill elevated is a better tradeoff.

        ST should have designed U-District station to be expandable for a cross-line because it’s highly likely there would be one in the next decade or two after it opens. We need to know whether it *can* expand the station or whether the constrained space precludes it (the surrounding buildings and underground utilities). If it can, we need to know which side the new platforms would be on and whether there’s a wall that could be opened to access them. If we can’t build a transfer station there, I don’t know how we’d ensure adequate N-S to E-W mobility. Coming up to the surface and walking to another station a block away would not be good for a junction as critical and high-volume as this.

        Roosevelt station is a different beast because a decision on 522 Link is further off and it’s less clear what its alignment would be.

      8. @Mike Orr

        I don’t think they have started the digging at the Brooklyn site yet, maybe its not too late to ask for an add on to the work order?

        Maybe we can ask them to build an extra “unfinished basement” in U-District station with enough room for a full transfer station with the anticipation that the tunnel machines will pass through it on the way to and from stations further to the east and west (because you can’t very well lower a boring machine through an existing station). If they are forward thinking enough they could have unfinished escalator wells and elevator shafts that would just need to be fitted when the station is put through.

        I am not sure how expensive it is to construct an additional station below a currently in use station, but I have seen it accomplished before in Tokyo.

  5. In the comment section, I asked why Sound Transit’s long range plan calls for North Sounder to continue to operate in perpetuity, even after Link is extended to Lynnwood and possibly beyond. The long range plan should call for north Sounder to be replaced fast, frequent shuttle buses between Lynnwood and the current Sounder stops. Since this is Snohomish County sub-area money, using the cost difference to extend Link partway to Everett would be a much better use of the money than operating Sounder trains at $32 per boarding that offer no time savings of a shuttle to Link.

    1. I didn’t ask, I just said to cancel Sounder North and put the money into accelerating Link to Ash Way and possibly Everett. They asked what I wanted, so I told them.

  6. I said first priority is a Ballard – UW (- Children’s) line. Second priority (or second choice) is a Ballard – downtown line. In either case they must be grade-separated to achieve 10-12 minute travel time. The Board has seen how dramatically downtown – UW ridership will increase when travel time goes down from 20-30 minutes to 8 minutes, so the same is true for Ballard – UW and Ballard – downtown if only the grade-separated transit is there. The demand is pent up and waiting.

    In the suburbs, I said the biggest need is a Kent – Seattle express bus, which ST could do inexpensively by moving the 578 from Federal Way to Kent, and adding a Federal Way stop to the 594 to compensate.

    Extending Link to Ash Way and Redmond makes a lot of sense, but ST should take a second look before extending it to Tacoma and Everett. Perhaps Tacoma would get more benefit from more streetcar lines instead, and extend RapidRide A to Tacoma. In Snohomish County, frequent express buses from Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Everett to Lynnwood may be just as effective as Link, and another Swift line or two would also be worthwhile.

    And I added a plug for the Graham Street infill station.

    1. See, this is progress!

      You’re carefully weighing priorities, adjudicating methods for achieving the greatest mobility gains for the most riders with steady or gradually increasing resources, and making a coherent case for why the priorities should be ranked in a given way.

      For what it’s worth, I find your list and your arguments generally solid and compelling. And for the record, I don’t have a problem with Ash Way, seeing as it would situate the a terminus beyond the delay-prone I-5/405 bottleneck and provide a “no excuses” option for commuters to avail themselves of a traffic-evading trip. (South 200th serves the same function on the south end.)

      1. d.p.,

        What I think these arguments sometimes lose is that Mike Orr (if I can speak for him) and I largely agree with you on what the optimal transit system looks like. What’s different is our approach to suboptimal projects, which we tend to see as somewhat useful and you dismiss as worthless.

        Furthermore, there’s a certain disposition that is infuriated when a transit project is built a little nicer than it strictly needed to be based on demand (see: North Sounder). I tend to see transit budgets in many cases as non-zero-sum, projects like that as a reasonable lubricant for regional deals to get things built, and in any case an overbuilt project something that will eventually (over many decades) draw the demand to it if local governments can get out of the way.

      2. While Link to Everett may not be super-high on the overall priority list, we do have sub-area equity. Once Link has already made it to Ash Way, it’s hard to come up with something better to do with whatever Snohomish County money is left – especially if you consider the huge sums currently used to operate North Sounder as money that could be available for other Snohomish County transit projects.

        Link to Tacoma, on the other hand, would be a complete waste of money. Almost anything, for example, more trips on the 594, the creation of a Seattle->Olympia express bus that is actually useful for people commuting to Olympia, or even more trips on the South Sounder, would be better than this.

    2. BTW, I have not changed my stance on Tacoma and Everett (although I did change it a year or so ago). The most critical extent of Link is SeaTac and Northgate. The second-most is Bellevue, Lynnwood, and Redmond, which are strategically productive. Beyond that, we don’t have to worry either way. If the subareas support extensions to Everett and Tacoma, it’ll mean more seamless mobility across the metropolis. If they don’t, ST should institute full-time frequent (15 minute) ST Express from the termini to the cities. Either way would position us better than the status quo, and make transit more competitive with driving.

      What’s interesting about Ash Way is it would put an (existing) collector P&R away from Lynnwood city center. I have recently concluded that P&Rs and city centers don’t mix and should be at separate stations, even if it means a P&R only station. Bellevue TC and South Bellevue P&R is a better model than the combined ones in Burien and Renton. I’d like to move the Lynnwood P&R to Ash Way and convert the Lynnwood parcels to TOD. Then people in Everett, Mukilteo, Lake Stevens, Marysville, and Mount Vernon can just drive to Ash Way and be happy, and they won’t get in the way of pedestrians in downtown Lynnwood.

      1. (I still don’t have the faith in Chia Downtown Lynnwood that you do, but that’s corollary to your main point.)

      2. And I don’t care whether Lynnwood rises to its downtown opportunity in the next decade. The point is that the fixed infrastructure (Link station) will be there so that they *can* rise to it in a current or future council. The big hurdle is to get the station there, and that will be behind us rather than in front of us. So if Lynnwood does densify it’ll be better for me as a visitor or potential resident. If it doesn’t, it’s no worse than the status quo, and actually better because I can get to Lynnwood easier when I have occasion to. The hordes commuting at peak hours is just part of the background.

  7. I know many people here won’t like this, but I suggested that they build some of the suburban corridors (such as I-405, SR-99 north, SR-522, and SR-520) as bus rapid transit because most of the right-of-way already exists as roads, and building BRT here will allow rapid transit to serve more corridors. I did emphasize that grade-separated light rail is important in the city, where there is not enough space for effective surface right-of-way, and I prioritized the Ballard-UW corridor because it provides the most mobility for the least amount of money (8 minutes from Ballard to UW, and 14 minutes from Ballard to Downtown, all with only 5km of subway) but I also stated that Ballard-DT and DT-West Seattle were important. I do live in the suburbs and I’m aware that this isn’t what a suburbanite would advocate :P, but judging from the metric of increasing mobility I think it is the most rational.

    1. [♥]

      It is worth noting that the one potential advantage of those regrettably pedestrian-hostile mega-arterials the suburbs have accumulated is that they too have space to provide quality right-of-way for frequent, legible, semi-segregated bus-based transit, and that they tend to hew to the places people are trying to reach better than the freeways do. The suburbs simply have to be willing to acknowledge and give to transit this excess space, while those who implement the services have to be committed to getting them right (i.e. not this).

      1. To be fair, giving RapidRide B dedicated right-of-way would have required widening the roads, which are mostly only 2 lanes in each direction, or leaving only 1 lane for cars, which would be really difficult given the paucity of east-west roads across Bellevue (at least for NE 8th St), so I’m not really sure you can blame Metro for this.

    2. Amen. In the comment section, I stated if we don’t get Light rail from Ballard to downtown and Ballard to UW, at least give us Ballard to UW.

    3. “I know many people here won’t like this, but I suggested that they build some of the suburban corridors (such as I-405, SR-99 north, SR-522, and SR-520) as bus rapid transit because most of the right-of-way already exists as roads, and building BRT here will allow rapid transit to serve more corridors.”

      What you think doesn’t matter.

      What matters is what the voters in each sub-area think.

      1. Maybe I’m misinterpreting the political environment here, but I would think that voters would prefer rapid transit on many corridors (such as I-5 north, I-405, SR-520, SR-522, SR-99 north, I-90 east, etc.) than on just one corridor (Link extension to Everett, for example), even though the former may be BRT and the latter LRT. Both alternatives would cost about the same (at least according to my unscientific estimation) and would offer similar quality of service, so I don’t see why voters wouldn’t pick the one that would build more rapid transit for the same cost.

      2. Here’s a graphic that illustrates my point (although it’s from a different city, Kuala Lumpur). While the exact numbers may have been exaggerated in favor of BRT, it seems that building far more rapid transit of similar quality* for the same cost than a Link extension that doesn’t even bring about much more mobility would be popular, unless “rail bias” is that strong.

        *Assuming that ST, WSDOT, and other agencies are willing to work together to provide quality BRT with exclusive lanes, nice stations, off-board payment, and frequent service.

      3. LRT, grade separated or in an exclusive ROW, will be more expensive that BRT, especially freeway BRT.

        The payback is beyond the typical 30 year horizon.

        Since experts have proclaimed TOD is non-existant, the public will have to decide on this emotionally.

    4. I tend to agree with you. For suburb->suburb trips, BRT is what we should be looking at, as there simply isn’t the demand to justify rail.

  8. You can email opinions to:

    I just sent them this:

    I would like the plan to take into consideration Kent East Hill, which, at the Kent-Kanley/104th Avenue Se crossroads in among the densest in the Puget Sound…and all of Washington State.

    All over my neighborhood, I see transit commuters day and night, waiting for and taking buses. Locally, to Renton, to Southcenter, to businesses up and down the corridors of 104th, 108th, and Kent-Kangley Road. People going to work, to shop, to school.

    I also see extreme traffic on our local roads, with rush hour numbers approaching that of a major highway!

    If any route needs high speed transit, maybe even rail, it is that along Kent East Hill!

    We have the need, and the density, to justify an expansion of high frequency transit in our neighborhood even if it is just a RapidRide to get us to Kent Station in the Valley or to LINK at Rainer Beach station.

    We can use a streetcar running along Benson-108th-104th as well.

    1. I did think about asking for a Seattle – Kent express that stops once at Kent Station and then at East Hill. That would serve the center of that community without giving an extrodinary benefit to certain peripheral apartments/houses. But I thought it’s too ambitious to request at this time, plus it would require a separate route from the 578. I’d also like the route to run every 30 or 15 minutes rather than 60, but again I thought that was too ambitious to ask at this time. Once the route is established, then we can ask for a frequency upgrade.

      I do think South King Countians should think about what incremental improvements like this ST could provide, and to recommend them to ST. Basically when Sounder was first considered, ST told Kent, “This is going to cost a lot of money. If you get this, you won’t be getting much else from us.” And Kentians said yes, we want Sounder! But now in an expansion scenario, we can review the priorities. Sounder South won’t be downgraded — it’s too popular for that — but if you don’t ask for Sounder upgrades then you’ll have more money for other things, like potentially a separate Seattle – Kent express, or BRT on 104th.

      1. Kent being a major Sounder station is like the person who has the highest priced Tesla, but can’t afford the electricity to drive it (note how I updated the old gasoline bon mot).

        Yes, if we ran Sounder every day and all night, we would handle our needs, but from everything I’m told it’s very expensive because of the high leasing rights.

        What is more there’s a lot of pure South King only traffic that Sounder wouldn’t handle that goes up and down the Hill corridor from Covington to Renton, and now traffic is building up going even further to Black Diamond!

      1. Yes, southeast Seattle is suboptimal, as I noted myself in my comment on that post.

        And still, that image contains a fraction of the asphalt and dead space that exists in and around your home sweet home.

        So, did you happen to have a point? At any point? In your entire life thus far?

      2. “the densest crossroads in Puget Sound”

        This is hyperbole, but Kent does have the highest ridership in South King County and a lot of low-income riders. They are making do with the slow 150 and infrequent 169 and 164 (the latter which doesn’t even run Sundays, causing people to walk to the 168 — like those who used to walk from the White Center night owl to Burien before the 120 appeared. The 164/168/168 are frequent between Kent Station and East Hill — fortunately — but in a Queen Anne sort of way, meaning they go in the same direction on alternating sides of the street. That’s why I would extend a Seattle – Kent express with a stop on East Hill, for that large pool of passengers who would benefit from it. It’s not dense but it gets ridership. And it would allow those on the 164, 168, and 169 to take them only as far as East Hill and transfer there to the express bus, rather than trudging down to Kent Station. And then I would hope (but JB disagrees) that 104th would densify into a mini-Crossroads.

      3. “104th would densify into a mini-Crossroads”

        Oops, did I just say that 104th and KK Road is less dense than Crossroads? Sorry to burst John’s bubble. But Crossroads is of course outside Washington State, so he is correct after all. There is no Crossroads in Puget Sound, it’s just your imagination, and this is not a pipe.

      4. I guess by “density” JB means the volume of cars that pass through that intersection, not the number of people who live/work/shop alongside the street. He may be right about the car backups, I don’t know. But car volume is not density, just like parking lots are not density (which he once claimed), because a car is not a home or a destination.

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