24 Replies to “Washington Rail Plan Open House Tomorrow”

  1. I love how these events are set in places that are as difficult to get to as possible for people who actually use transit.

    1. Charles, the location is well served by Intercity Transit and the Olympia Express from Tacoma! I can think of far more inaccessible locations. Perhaps what you mean is the event is not in Seattle?

      1. And while there are transit relevant pieces to this discussion, I suspect that much of the focus of the work is on road/rail interfaces and freight mobility.

      2. I don’t care that the event is not in Seattle, its just not accessible from here unless I drive a car or spend most of my day on a bus.

        This is more of an issue of the transit system we have though than the event itself.

  2. This seems less like a vision, and more like a description.

    When I look at those maps, all I can think of is Seattle-Tacoma-Yakima-Tri-Cities high speed rail!

      1. Indeed – there are many far better and more productive ways to spend money than boring a 1520 km long tunnel under Stampede Pass.

    1. I’m just thinking in terms of what would have the greatest effect.

      A high speed East-West route to Inlands population centers would be monumental.

      Reasoning is, we already have frequent, if not fast, routes along the I-5 corridor. Making it very fast would have an effect. However, uniting Intra-Washington cities and making a Spokane-Seattle trip a regular occurrence would be completely life changing!

      What is more, we might not have to pay or fight as hard for the rights to that line as we do on the current Cascades route (less traffic I would think).

      Again, the point of a VISION is to see further ahead, not just do more of what you’re doing in dribs and drabs.

  3. Since the topic includes passenger rail, I would like to use this as an opportunity to restate my idea for re-routing North Sounder, so that once it leaves Muk Station for Everett, it bends south 1.3 miles to the Boeing Everett plant (on existing tracks historically used to haul freight), and thereafter proceeds on or immediately adjacent to HWY 526 another four miles to the I5 junction, where it again joins existing tracks for the final approach to north Everett Station (ES having already been moved to east downtown, from the old site on the waterfront which Sounder simply bypasses today). We’re essentially gapping these two sets of tracks that already exist on either end of the Boeing HWY. This would:
    -spur use at existing N. Sounder stations, particularly Everett Station which is adjacent to I5 (makes for an easy drop off point for commuting couples)
    -regenerate South Everett by increasing access to the Seattle-Everett line
    -increases the relevancy of the ferry terminals at Muk and Edmonds, and increases passenger numbers on those ferry lines without the need to increase car access and parking.
    -would be a natural connecting point with North Link, which could come up from Paine (I assume Link will follow something like an Alderwood Mall-McCollum P&R-Paine-Boeing Plant-Downtown Everett route).

    It also sets up North Sounder well for future expansion north to Marysville, or perhaps east to Monroe.

    I’m kind of taken by this idea…

    …of course I’m not a trained professional…anybody want to jump in and tell me why it wouldn’t be feasible?

    1. Seems feasible to me. Just politically difficult to invest in, given Sounder North’s performance. Boeing might get behind it, though, and they get Whatever They Want from the legislature. Draw a map! Advocate for it!

      1. No, it’s not really feasible, at least not without a megabuck expenditure.

        “and thereafter proceeds on or immediately adjacent to HWY 526 another four miles to the I-5 junction, where it again joins existing tracks for the final approach to north Everett Station”.

        WHAT “existing tracks”? There are no tracks in the vicinity of the SR526/I-5 Junction. Are you proposing re-purposing the Interurban Trail back to a rail right-of-way?????

        If so, take a good look at Google Maps around SW 41st. It’s gone! It has been subsumed into the urban fabric; you simply cannot put a train track through there. It can’t be done except in a tunnel. Not to mention that between Madison and Lowell there are several at-grade crossings and houses a few dozen feet away.

        While this idea would be most excellent were it feasible, it’s not, at least not without some major earth moving along I-5 getting down to the gradient of the trackage through Everett and there’s no surplus of space alongside the freeway through there.

        Now, you COULD make it work with a long sloping tunnel from the I-5/SR526 interchange down to the BNSF tracks along the river east of Larimer Road. But that is, again, mega bucks, and you couldn’t continue on to Marysville or Monroe because you’d be approaching Everett Station from the “wrong” direction.

      2. Not feasible at all. Ignores topography, land use, existing infrastructure, etc. etc. etc.

        A solution chasing a non-existent problem.

    2. Combine that with a stop in Ballard that connects with a future Ballard to UW line and people just might start using the sounder more.

      Unfortunately I think it may be difficult to get sound transit to give up on the usage they have purchased on the existing bnsf lines, so we might end up with both… if this came to fruition.

    3. Wouldn’t a better idea be to just have a DMU run up and down the Japanese Gulch Rail Line carrying passengers back and forth?

      The track is there already but it’s a spur line from near Mukilteo up the gulch to the Boeing Plant. See on Google Maps.

      https://maps.google.com/maps?q=everett&hl=en&ll=47.936788,-122.274055&spn=0.025445,0.055747&sll=47.272986,-120.882277&sspn=6.597353,14.27124&t=m&hnear=Everett,+Snohomish+County,+Washington&z=15

      Keep Sounder running the full length, just have passengers transfer from Mukilteo Station to the DMU line.

      1. Hello Brian, that’s what I’m talking about, I just didn’t use the name “Japanese Gulch” because I doubted most people would be familiar with it. And instead of forcing riders to transfer, I would just have commuter go up (or in this case down) JG on existing tracks until it reaches the Boeing plant. There would be a station on Seaway BLVD, and then the line would continue east alongside/on/over/under 526 until it reaches an existing set of tracks near I-5, a short distance away from the final destination at Everett Station.

        Judging from one of the comments above, I may have not been clear about the underlying need here. The problem statement is A) North Sounder lacks the usage of South Sounder because it has too few stations and those stations hug the waterfront, and meanwhile B) you have a high-volume-at-shift change Boeing Everett plant marooned from any transit. This solution would drag the Sounder line inward so it would run by the Boeing plant. Problem, meet Opportunity.

        It makes the existing stations at Edmonds, Mukilteo, and downtown Everett far more relevant…particularly the ferry terminals at Edmonds and Mukilteo, as currently a ferry passenger would have to ride Sounder all the way in to downtown Everett, and then travel by bus to the Boeing plant.

        It’s an obvious transfer point for Link as well…

        ….which would nicely tighten the interaction between lite rail, commuter rail, and ferry along the whole Edmonds-Lynwood-Mukilteo corridor…(imagine North Link first with, then without, a Sounder station at the Boeing plant. I think the difference is obvious)…would really spark that whole area.

        Of course, as Anandakos states, it may not be feasible in terms of cost…I don’t know what the price is of a shallow trench running immediately underneath a long series of 526 on-ramps.

        Thanks all for taking a look at it.

        (Interestingly, in another life I used to track part shortages up and down the West Coast on that same spur, and lived near Beverly Lake).

  4. As long as BNSF retains total control of its ROW around the state, under the protection of the Federal Courts, the state plan will always be a poor hand maiden to them when it comes to passenger rail. I see nothing in the plan that even addresses that reality – to begin either the eventual divorce settlement or Federal regulation giving the state true partnerships in use of those ROW’s.
    ST got disemboweled when they struggled for years to hammer out a reasonable contract with the ‘big boys’, and ended up paying about $50 million for every time slot north and south of seattle for Sounder.
    Amtrak fares better, but now that the Feds are walking away from Cascades funding, leaving it to the state to support I wonder how enthusiastic our Leges will be to do that. Even worse, how enthusiastic will Oregon be for being a partner, after we stuck it to them on CRC in a big way. Everyone has long memories. Canada isn’t falling over backwards to make Cascades better either.
    It’s a great plan when viewed through the rose colored glasses, and very discouraging for replacing I-5 SOV’s and regional jets for modern HSR along the corridor.
    Maybe being conquered by the Chinese isn’t such a bad deal after all. At least they get things done!

    1. BNSF has total control over its ROW because the ROW is private property. When you say protection by the Federal Courts, you mean the Court’s interpreting the Constitution in a way that protects those rights enumerated.

      This is why Sound Transit buys use easements on their tracks. Sound is purchasing property…a right to use BNSF’s property. Sound now owns something that BNSF can’t take back without returning a chunk of change.

      You’ll be waiting a long time for a Court, Federal or State, that’s going to compel a landowner, in this case BNSF, to give up their land without paying the market price. There is always condemnation – which of course triggers payment of the market price of what’s condemned.

      1. BNSF may own the land but it didn’t purchase it (or rather its predecessor didn’t purchase it); it got the land free from a railroad land grant. So saying it’s private property like how someone owns a house is a bit misleading. It can’t sell the land, it can only abandon it. And maybe the courts shouldn’t treat it so heavily as private property as the do.

  5. I read this and my reaction was “extremely vague”.

    There are other states with much more down-to-earth, detailed State Rail Plans, describing specific corridors to improve and specific bottlenecks to improve. I’m not sure why this one consists of platitudes.

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