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Well what did you think I was going to write about?

Last week, when Sound Transit and SDOT presented the options for Downtown to Ballard, only one option truly fits into a vision of a completely connected city; a city where transit is just as good as owning a car, if not better; a sustainable, resilient, forward-thinking city. That option is D – the subway option. Today is the last day to get your comments in supporting it.

It serves the most people, both today and tomorrow.

When Seattle adopted its urban village strategy, it committed to growing in urban centers and urban villages. Because Fremont and Ballard are both hub urban villages rather than just residential urban villages, they’re expected to grow faster than the rest of the city’s urban villages already. The subway option is the only option that serves every urban village between downtown and Ballard – and the only grade separated option that serves both the Ballard and Fremont hubs.

Ballard
From the Seattle comprehensive plan

Rewarding neighborhoods that have accepted growth in urban villages also tells people across the city that they, too, have a path to getting transit. Providing this positive feedback will help engage people in planning for growth so that their neighborhood comes next!

Making the higher investment in a core line today also means that when we add on to both ends, we make transit competitive for many more trips. Whatever route the line takes northward, the more urban village nodes it connects them to, the more people will choose to use it. The fact that it does so at such high speed also means even the stations built farther away will have more impact. Remember, this isn’t just about Ballard – it’s about going a lot farther.

It’s exciting and commands attention – what we’ll need to win.

Remember 2011’s Proposition 1? It failed – not because it wasn’t full of good stuff, not because of any cost or benefit, but because it had no major project to make people excited. What people are voting for has a far greater impact on their vote than how much it costs.

This doesn’t just matter for the vote itself – when more people see themselves using a system, more demand funding for it in Olympia, more people volunteer for the campaign, and more people get engaged to fight for the next extension. And that gives us another reason the subway option is by far the best choice:

It puts transit on the offensive in Olympia.

Our region has twice voted decisively to spend many billions of local dollars on transit, and we asked for nothing from the state transportation budget. Municipalities don’t step up like that to fund highway projects, they ask the state to do it for them. Rather than fund Sound Transit 3 by ourselves, we should demand a state match for transit projects, just like most states provide to their transit systems – and with the Metro hostage well on its way to being rescued, we may soon have the leverage to win state funding.

Every transit agency in the state benefits from this frame – Vancouver needs light rail, even Spokane has considered a streetcar, and we desperately need a real statewide passenger rail network as an alternative to continued highway expansion. As Greyhound reduces services, intercity connections outside the Amtrak Cascades corridor are becoming an ever-higher priority as well, and local bus networks are all underfunded.

It supports West Seattle, and the rest of the city and region.

Planning from the end of this line to West Seattle and Burien is currently under way, along with many other corridors (see page 11), and we’ll likely see options for those corridors come out in the next few months. Picking the subway option for Ballard now will result in the highest ridership for any continuation of the line to West Seattle, making rail to West Seattle more competitive and likely to be funded in ST3.

Overall, the more transit we have planned and prepared to fund in Puget Sound, the stronger our ask in Olympia, and the higher the compromise position will be for the authority and funding we need. WSDOT does this well – they put projects on the map years ahead of time, building support and a sense of inevitability that helps them get funded. Sound Transit will only benefit from doing the same, so let’s help them. Please support the subway option – option D – in Sound Transit’s online tool.

193 Replies to “Build a Ballard Subway”

  1. The other day, Mike Lindblom posed a question on twitter: Is it better to build an amazing transit system at a high cost, or build a cheaper system that gets the job done?

    After thinking about it for a while, here’s my answer: We already have a transit system that gets the job done. I’d rather spend the money now to get a major upgrade in service by building a real subway. I think the rapid streetcar idea demonstrates a severe lack of ambition.

    Yesterday, I caught the 5 so I could meet my wife and daughter at the zoo for the Christmas lights. I don’t usually catch the bus at 3rd & Pine, but just standing there watching it was plain to me that we really are outgrowing our bus system. It’s time for us to be bold and build something that will serve us for the long-term.

    I should add that I’m particularly interested in what gets built to Ballard because it may someday cross through Northgate, Lake City, and make its way up in my direction. So I hope they get this one right (and that I see rail service in Kenmore before I retire).

    1. Does definition of “getting the job done” include getting you to work in bad weather and traffic on time in a job like, for instance, transit driving, where sixty-one seconds late for work puts you on track to get terminated?

      Don’t know Mike’s work rules, but doubt he has to sign in at Atlantic Base.

      Mark Dublin

  2. I dont agree with sdot and st’s process. Why are we not starting with a line from lower queen anne through belltown, downtown and sodo? We should reward the people who already live in dense areas first. Not sending a line through low density areas that will fight upzoning in thier niehborhoods? We need a second ave line first. Then worry about w. Seattle, ballard and parts even farther out.

    1. The process started withe Seattle Transit Master Plan, which identified Ballard as the highest ridership demand.

    2. Have you been to Ballard in the past 10 years? If there’s anyone fighting upzoning, they are merely a blip on the radar or that annoying voice at public hearings. Not to mention that Ballard was promised mass transit in exchange for the development that’s been going on for the past 10 years. Ballard is starving for legitimate transportation options.

      Not to mention, you can’t build a multi-billion dollar subway that terminates a mile or two from downtown, hence the extension to Fremont and Ballard.

      1. Ballard is indeed booming. Off the top of my head I can count over 600 new residences that are currently under active construction in Ballard. This doesn’t even include other developments that have been proposed but not yet started, or hundreds (thousands?) of other new residences built over the past few years.

        Generally there are many more homes than parking spaces in these developments. Additionally, Ballard is becoming more and more of a destination that attracts people from other areas of the city. Demand for transit in Ballard is very strong and getting stronger.

      2. By one moderately generous definition, the “area within walking distance to central Ballard” contains 20,000 more residents than it did in 1993, amounting to a nearly 400% population increase.

        No other area in the city has experienced anything quite so dramatic in that time.

    3. Since when is SODO considered one of our established areas of density, on the order of downtown and Belltown?

      1. There is at least one big development going into SODO/Pioneer Square (maybe just barely not SODO?):

        http://www.northlotdevelopment.com/about.html

        So long giant parking lot! (And its right in the middle of all of the downtown transit action so it should be pretty popular). Its a very significant amount of units going in, and it is much larger than basically every individual Ballard project, but there are a lot more of these going on in Ballard. There isn’t the systematic tear down and redevelopment going on here though that there is in Ballard and Capitol hill.

        Its also important to note that:
        A) Downtown at least has a solid link line that exists right now that services most of the new development.

        B) Ballard does not.

        C) The Ballard to downtown line would also end up creating a 2nd ave tunnel which would be exactly what RapidRider was asking for.

  3. While I think D is the best in isolation, I’m not a big fan of it because longer term there are actually two separate corridors here (as make popular by the Seattle Subway):
    Red corridor: Downtown -> Interbay -> Ballard -> Crown Hill -> Northgate
    Blue corridor: Downtown -> Fremont -> Phinney -> Greenwod -> Bitter Lake

    The D subway munges these two distinct corridors together. Unless they make significant engineering decisions now, it’s unlikely they will build the D corridor such that it can be extended north from Fremont to Phinney etc…, and this would permanently cut of Interbay (which, while today isn’t a great destination, I think long-term there’s a lot of TOD opportunity there).

    1. Well, there was a lot of comment on Option B (I think), which is basically the RR D, minus the LQA diversion, replaced with rail. In my opinion, and I’m sure others, I think that they could take Option B design and money and apply it to the RR D and make it a true, reliable BRT that serves Ballard>Interbay>Downtown.

      1. I knew which one you meant. :) But the point I’m trying to make is that we have to choose the option that *gets* us money.

    2. I think the SS folks advocated for building the junction for Fremont into the line from day 1, making a second line posible for DSTT#2.

      1. Why not put a junction in both places? I think a Fremont junction is more important, but I’m not denying SLU needs something grade-separated.

      2. Because then instead of just limiting Ballard to less than half of peak capacity, you’re limiting it to less than a quarter.

      3. Good point. But this line is going to have two-minute headways (it had better), which means twice the capacity of U-Link. I don’t believe Ballard-Downtown will ever need as much capacity as the U-District, Capitol Hill, Northgate, and Lynnwood together. Half of that is a much more reasonable estimate – which means we’ve room for four lines in the hypothetical new downtown tunnel.

        Besides, why not a junction for Fremont that might eventually allow ST to run Ballard-Udistrict trains? Or at least allow for non-revenue moves so we don’t need to build a whole new maintenance yard by Gasworks Park?

      4. Two minute headways will be the eventual capacity of U-Link. Currently it’ll be limited to 3, but they can put in a vent facility in the future. But even today, two minutes is not twice the capacity of U-Link. Since you based the rest of your math on that, your conclusion isn’t true either. Sorry. :(

        There are great reasons not to put a junction there. Just one stop in Fremont and one in Ballard is fine for the downtown route, but there’s a lot in between those points. A new east-west line should really have at least one stop west of downtown Ballard, one between, and stay up around 45th where it can go through the densest part of the U-district (especially after the rezone) and continue on to Children’s.

    3. When I first started advocating for a Ballard line, I assumed that the Interbay line was all that was possible. I didn’t think there would be support for a tunnel under Queen Anne. I made this argument a lot – that this is really two corridors. There are more destinations here than this line will serve, and that’s okay. There are other ways to serve the smaller destinations this doesn’t. We should still build a line up 99/Greenwood. I don’t think this would stop us by any means – in fact, I think it would help. A lot of people look at the city and assume there is less support for more transit whenever a line is built – that’s what someone has to assume when they say we have to pick one or the other choice. In reality, the more we build, the more support there is. Serving more people now gives others a taste that makes them want an even bigger system. And it’s not as if SLU isn’t going to rate a grade separated line. :)

      1. If we could get some slightly better service from metro when we rescue them from the cuts they are facing, I think 99/Greenwood can wait a bit (my corridor btw). We are growing, but not nearly on the scale Ballard/Stone way/U District are.

      2. @Ben I am not saying that we don’t need it, but I am willing to wait a bit until we get this first big fight taken care of. Getting the Ballard – downtown – West Seattle line started and getting the state to take some responsibility for transit.

      3. I don’t think anyone would argue that Greenwood is anywhere near the top of the priority list right now for rail transit. However, it will be someday. It would sure be a shame if future corridors like Greenwood weren’t at least taken into consideration when designing this line.

        For example, if we build Option D I would say it would make a great deal of sense to build a small stub track going straight north out of the station while the main track splits off to the northwest toward Ballard. That way if we decide to branch the line at Fremont in the future for a Greenwood expansion, we could do so without disrupting existing service too much.

      4. Eric, I agree with you. My proposal is build Corridor A and D, but include Upper Queen Anne in D and only build D through Fremont aimed to the north, not west. Expand A east to UW and children’s. Problems solved. Then in the same ballot measure study make sure we get to West Seattle.

      5. Eric, I generally agree, but the 5, 28, and 358 service should not be reduced. There is MASSIVE growth in new multi-family permits. I counted over 400 new units proposed from August to October. Not bad for a fairly linear neighbourhood. And, lots of new developments have opened up this summer/fall. It’s a strong area and it shouldn’t get cuts. But for a major transit investment like a subway, it’s definitely not at the top priority list right now.

    4. You know, if they stacked a single Fremont station where it’s planned on this map it could have junctions at both ends, one to head east to Wallingford and UW and the other north under Fremont and Greenwood how ever far north it makes sense to go.

      What an elegant transfer point. If you wanted to go from the Fremont/Greenwood line to the UW., a very common trip, your transfer train would be at the same platform. If you wanted to double back to Ballard you’d have to change levels, or if you wanted to go from UW/Wallingford to QA/LQA/Belltown you’d have to change levels. But that’s not the end of the world if the trains are frequent.

  4. I agree that D is exciting and that it will likely be the winner if this round of anaysis. I also agree that the state needs to step up – they pay almost nothing to fund transit – even in operations where the average state funds just north of 20% but WA funds just north of $0.

    That said, D poses some issues and its benefits are overstated because we’re looking at it in isolation.

    1. Fremont will will be served by the Ballard/UW line. We don’t need D to get to Fremont.
    2. D is very expensive. If a lower cost grade seperated line were selected – there would be more money to build downtown/West Seattle and UW/Ballard. Sub Issue: is it really worth $500M to build a 400 foot deep station in UQA? Could that money be better spent elsewhere?
    3. Almost no lip service on this one, but D will take a lot longer to build than B. Guestimate: 2x or more. Thats several extra years Ballard would have to wait for service.
    4. D means Magnolia/Interbay on the never. All the hoods could be connected with a combo of A/Ballard UW (or all but UQA if we go with a modified B to save cash.)

    1. I’m concerned that I’ve addressed each one of these things one at a time but I see them repeated here almost verbatim, ignoring my points.

      1) Running a Ballard-UW line through downtown Fremont seems like a waste. Downtown Fremont is 20 blocks south of Market, and it would be very difficult to serve both that and Wallingford on the way to UW. Draw a straight line from Market to 45th and Fremont doesn’t look like such a hot route. We would cover more people by building D, then pushing subway coverage northward with a more straight east-west line.

      2) Where’s this $500m you’re coming up with? The way we get money is by advocating for something that gets us that money. There’s never any ‘leftover’ to be ‘spent elsewhere’. If we need something else too, we advocate for it.

      3) I’m not sure that’s true. Looking at the complexity of the project, my guess is that the Belltown/downtown tunnel will set the timeframe for the whole thing regardless of what will be built outside downtown.

      4) As I noted in the piece, putting pressure on Magnolia and Interbay to become urban villages will help them get great transit. I would love to advocate for a Magnolia-Interbay-Uptown-SLU-CH-CD line in the future.

      1. The entire frame of this argument is wrong. It’s never an either-or with the close-in Seattle Neighborhoods getting grade-separated transit. NEVER. The final option for the very next ballot measure must serve all of them with grade-separated transit, that includes West Seattle and Interbay and Queen Anne and Fremont and SoDo and Georgetown and SLU and the CD and wherever else. If the closest-in Seattle neighborhood that is as dense and blue-collar job-rich as Interbay can’t be served in the next Sound Transit ballot measure, we’re not thinking clearly, just as if West Seattle construction isn’t funded in the next ballot measure we’re not thinking clearly. No one, absolutely no one should be talking about skipping any Seattle neighborhood anywhere near the study corridors in the next ballot measure, at least not AT THIS POINT. We can figure exact alignments out later.

        We want the most money we can get (DUH). We want to serve every neighborhood on the way to Ballard, on the way to West Seattle, and everywhere else with grade-separated transit. And we want to build all three segments of this overall study… but why not fight for 12 segments for 3 new lines in the next ballot measure?

        Here’s the thing, we’re so busy nitpicking this one tree we forgot about the forest. Why aren’t we asking for the Seattle Subway “Red” and “Blue” lines NOW? That’s the real “fight”. They gave us A and D already and that’s great, now let’s get SR 99 corridor from Shoreline to Georgetown and on to SeaTac Airport. Let’s get it now.

        Let’s not be the guys that in 100 years they will say planted a tree when we could have planted a forest.

      2. Getting that SR99 corridor means getting it into the long range plan:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/11/25/key-additions-to-the-long-range-plan/

        This Ballard-Downtown study has constraints that it serves the corridor already in the LRP – it’s outside the scope of these comments to ask for SR-99. I wrote Option 9 specifically to get the idea of two lines out there so people can talk about it, and so the professionals working on the study heard it. They did. It’s still outside the scope of this study.

        Please, if you see something and say “what is he thinking about?” – just email me, don’t write things like “the entire frame of this argument is wrong.” It’s not, but this opportunity today is about Ballard to Downtown.

      3. Ok, actually the correct answer isn’t fighting with the question: it lies in broadening your vision and advocating for Corridor A and Corridor D through Fremont to the north.

      4. Ben – I hear your arguments, I just don’t agree with some of them.

        1. The most populous part of Fremont is north Fremont. A corridor could easily be made to run through the best part of Fremont on the way to Wallingford.

        2. $500M is a guesstimate based on the delta between plans that include vs plans that do not include UQA. Regarding the “pot of money” – no, we’re dealing with ST. There is a logical project scope at the regional level (Everett/Tacoma/Issaquah) that leaves Seattle with x in funding. I got that idea from you, actually.

        3. This is inarguable. Elevated is way faster than full TBM tunnels to build – regardless of administrative project overhead.

        4. Pure political double speak. This will not incite magnolia to do anything… Other than maybe vote against the package.

      5. Oops… What I meant to say for point #3 (time to build) was: Option B would be defined by how long it takes to build the downtown section. Option D add engineering time and would be defined by how long it takes to build the 400 foot deep UQA station. I think my guestimate plays: approximately twice as long to build.

      6. I see your points about time, but cost has flipped. We’ve been successful enough that Seattle’s share of ST3 will likely be setting the size of the package now, not the other way around.

        I think I misunderstood what you were saying about E-W and Fremont. Yes, it should go through north Fremont! :)

      7. Ben,

        It’s just not that much longer to go through Fremont. Honestly. Let’s assume a 35 mph average speed between stations. It’s 4.7 miles from 24th NW and Leary to NE 45th and University Way NE via Fremont, assuming that the tunnel from Fremont to central Wallingford diagonals under Bridge Way North and continues on the same heading to 45th and Wallingford where it curves under 45th to the Ave.

        The direct route is 3.9 miles following 45th and Market all the way. You’ve added only eight-tenths of a mile to serve the Ballard-Fremont ridership and the Fremont-UW ridership. A minute and three-quarters at 35 miles per hour.

        I call that a big win.

        You’d have to spend money planning for the to make this happe: a stacked curve at 15th and Leary to handle the junction between the Ballard-Downtown line and the line heading on north on 15th; the Fremont station stacked with stub tunnels to connect to UW-Fremont and Fremont-North. Maybe just having one Ballard station at 17th is sufficient.

        But IT’S.NOT.THAT.MUCH.FURTHER to go through Fremont because, although it is “20 blocks south of Market” (in Ballard), 45th is only 10 blocks south of Market in Ballard so the difference is only twice those ten blocks and not even that because of the hypotenuses the route would follow.

      8. It’s actually even shorter than that!

        When I first hypothesized a “short as possible, cheap as possible, but still 100% grade-separated” east-west routing, I found that with a terminus just west of 15th (with station entrances at 15th and 17th), the “direct” option proved to be a flat 3 miles of tunneling from Brooklyn.

        24th is only ½ mile further — still only 3.5 miles from Brooklyn.

        Swinging south to add a Lower Fremont station adds just under a mile to the route, for a total length of 3.9 miles to 15th/17th or 4.4 miles to 24th.

        I do think that swinging south would add significantly to the cost of the tunnel. But any way you slice it, an east-west line is one to two miles shorter than any possible north-south line, while avoiding Belltown/downtown tunneling logistics, and would thus cost significantly less without compromising an inch of grade separation.

      9. d.p.

        If done stand-alone going through Fremont would add to the cost of the tunnel, sure. It’s an extra mile of boring (or, yes, along Leary, C&C). But if you’ve done 40% of the distance for the Purple line — I guess that’s the official name now — even with the extra cost of the deep stacked station in Fremont and running through Wallingford deeply enough not to mess up the houses, the UW-Fremont add-on would probably be less additional cost than going straight across.

        There’s no denying that the straight across line does a better job of intercepting the Phinney/Greenwood and Aurora buses. That’s a concern that would have to be weighed against the value of serving Fremont.

    2. Exactly. I don’t think you should think of these lines in isolation, nor should even concentrate on these lines as the only choices. When the first round of proposals came out, Ben was very clear to everyone on this blog that you didn’t have to choose one of the proposals. You could make your own path. Now, we have five proposals, and many have said “this is the best one”. I’ll admit, if we only build one line to Ballard, ever, and we have to choose between these five, then I would definitely pick this one.

      But we aren’t doing that. That isn’t what Sound Transit wants out of this process. They want ideas. They want to know why this proposal is better than other proposals. Ben lays out some excellent reasons why, but he only looks at this in isolation. Saying you want to connect urban villages is a good thing. I want to connect them as well. But I don’t think this does a great job of connecting them. This is great for Queen Anne and Belltown, but mediocre for Fremont and Ballard. This would spend oodles of money, and not connect Fremont and Ballard to the UW. If you don’t connect them to the UW, then you aren’t connecting very well to every station north of the UW (Roosevelt, Northgate, 125th, Shoreline, Lynnwood, etc.). If you don’t connect them to those stations, then you don’t connect them with buses that feed other neighborhoods (Lake City, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, people coming from 520, and lots of people in smaller neighborhoods too numerous to mention). An extra fifteen minutes (if you are lucky) to go around Lake Union the long way might not seem like that much, but when added onto the rest of the trip, it is often the difference between taking transit or driving. Given all that, I think a line from Ballard to the UW (via Fremont) is more important than a line from Ballard to downtown. I realize Sound Transit won’t let us build a line from Ballard to the UW without first building a line from Ballard to downtown. This is a shame since a line from Ballard to downtown via the UW would be just as fast as any of the proposals that go through or skirt Queen Anne.

      Be that as it may, Sound Transit wants ideas. They want opinions on various aspects of the proposals. Some ideas (like a huge bridge) are out. Fair enough — I think a 70 foot bridge is a much better value and a good compromise. As far as ideas go — here are mine:

      1) Connecting Ballard to the UW via Fremont is more important than connecting Ballard to downtown via Queen Anne or Interbay. This could easily sway the decision making. I don’t want to see us spend all of our money on Corridor D, only to come up short with a line from Fremont to the UW.
      2) If money is short, we should try and get the most bang for the buck. This means tunneling where the the alternative is very slow. For example:

      Downtown — To propose anything that goes along the surface through downtown is ridiculous

      U-District to Ballard — The UW is congested. Fremont is congested and Ballard is congested. There are parts in between that aren’t, but I can’t imagine it makes financial sense to go underground and then back to the surface over and over. Elevated might work, and might be cheaper.

      Belltown to Ballard — Using the west side corridor could save us money but still provide plenty of speed. Bruce Nourish’s proposal (https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/12/06/some-thoughts-on-ballard-option-c/) could prove to be very cheap, and just as fast as Corridor D.

      In general, I think we need to explore elevated rail as well as cut and cover to get as much value out of the system as possible. I still don’t understand why the estimate for an elevated line on the west side is now so much more expensive, and so far no one from Sound Transit does either. I don’t see why we should assume that the new estimate is more accurate than the previous one, since they don’t believe it is either. With that in mind, I will continue to suggest that if we can save substantial money by going with Corridor B, or save even more money with Bruce’s proposal, then I think we should do so, and put the money into building a line from Ballard to the UW.

      1. Ross, the idea that connecting Ballard to UW is more important than Ballard to Downtown makes very little sense to me. Can you expand on that? Then what do we say to people in West Seattle?

      2. Sure Ben. Basically if you connect Ballard to the UW you connect it with downtown as well. It is essentially as fast to go around that way. Basically, I do the math here:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/12/08/sunday-open-thread-the-detroit-bus-company/#comment-394272

        As well as here:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/12/08/sunday-open-thread-the-detroit-bus-company/#comment-394659

        Basically I would ask everyone South of the UW to go to Ballard via the U-District. This would actually be a net benefit for the folks in Capitol Hill (one of the top three places in the state) and be of little to no cost (in time) for everyone else. In other words, if you build a line from from the UW to Ballard, then people don’t lose anything (or at worst a minute or two) coming from south of Capitol Hill, but people from north of Capitol Hill save fifteen minutes.

        The big loss is Belltown and Queen Anne (if Corridor D isn’t built). But Sound Transit is going to build something, so a cheap (but still fast) route makes sense. This leaves Queen Anne out of the picture, and this is a significant loss, but not as important as the gain found by everyone north of Capitol Hill. That is, assuming that it is actually a trade-off. It might not be. The politics of ST 3 are hard to predict. But if we could get Bruce’s proposal along with a line from Ballard to the UW (via Fremont) for the cost of Corridor D, then I would support that trade with great enthusiasm. But again, it is hard to predict what will actually happen — I can only pass on these suggestions to Sound Transit and hope for the best.

      3. Ross, we have planning and maybe even preliminary engineering for Ballard to Downtown. We have elected support for Ballard to Downtown. We got that support by engaging people all the way between those points, including Belltown and Uptown. If you want to advocate for Ballard to UW, do it. Don’t advocate against transit that we worked hard to get support for because it isn’t your perfect solution. All you’ll do is marginalize yourself.

      4. “This is great for Queen Anne and Belltown, but mediocre for Fremont and Ballard.”

        It’s great for Fremont and Ballard. People in Ballard go to Fremont and they also go to downtown. They don’t just go to UW and “points north”.

        “An extra fifteen minutes (if you are lucky) to go around Lake Union the long way might not seem like that much, but when added onto the rest of the trip, it is often the difference between taking transit or driving.”

        We’re not saying that nothing ever will be built between Ballard and UW if we choose this line. Even if it doesn’t, Ballard-downtown-UW on Link will be at least as fast as the 44, but more frequent and more reliable. Fremont has the 31/32 to get to UW. Ballardites would also have the option of taking Link to Fremont and the 31/32 to UW.

        “Given all that, I think a line from Ballard to the UW (via Fremont) is more important than a line from Ballard to downtown.”

        It’s more cost effective because it can more easily kill two birds with one stone. If it has a good transfer station at Brooklyn, which is sounding doubtful. But this Ballard-downtown line is not bad, and it’s pretty good, so it’s not worth opposing because it’s “not 45th”.

        “I realize Sound Transit won’t let us build a line from Ballard to the UW without first building a line from Ballard to downtown.”

        ST is not even close to deciding which lines will be next. That’s at least a year off and probably two. The reason Ballard-downtown is getting so much attention now is that Seattle put money into it, which allowed it to be a faster, larger, and more public process. The mayor and ST boardmember who spearheaded it is leaving. So just because Ballard-downtown was the first study doesn’t mean it’s an automatic slam dunk to ST3 above other lines.

      5. @Ben — Explain to me where I “advocated against transit”. It’s a long post — so it must be in there somewhere, but I can’t find it. On the other and, it looks to me like I advocated for transit in several places — Ballard to downtown via Interbay as well as Ballard to the UW. Now it seems you haven’t questioned the merits of that idea, but the politics of it. Fair enough. But I think that is a misread of the situation — no one knows what will be in ST3. Ballard to the UW could easily be part of it. What is wrong with saying I think we should have a fast, cheap way to get from Ballard to downtown (via Interbay) along with a fast way to get from Ballard to the UW (via Fremont). That is less than ideal (since it chooses Interbay over Queen Anne) but a pretty good compromise. I think this would be better than Corridor D alone, and probably easier to pass (as I stated earlier).

      6. Advocating for an option not really on the table as an alternative to an option that’s got momentum is, unfortunately, advocating against transit. It’s great to say in addition, but you keep saying instead. It creates the UD in FUD.

      7. I don’t see why Ballard-UW is “not really on the table” for a project focused on connecting Ballard and Fremont to UW. When comparing Ballard-UW to “Option D”, it seems that their advantages/disadvantages are quite comparable, so I don’t see why one should be dismissed without even conducting an alternatives analysis. Remember that a trip from Ballard-Downtown with the “Ballard spur” would still only take around 15 minutes (compared to 12-14 min for option D), so it is still very competitive for trips to downtown.

        Advantages of Ballard-UW
        1. ~$1.5 BILLION cheaper, which is a lot of money that could be used for more rapid transit, such as a West Seattle line.
        2. Much faster trip (~13 minutes faster!) for Ballard-UW, as well as Fremont-UW and from Ballard to any point north of UW
        3. Serves Wallingford with rapid transit

        Advantages of Option D:
        1. Serves Belltown, Uptown, and Queen Anne with rapid transit (probably the largest advantage)
        2. Slightly faster (~2-3 minutes) from Ballard to Downtown and Fremont to Downtown
        3. Potential for automation and extremely high frequency service (every 2 minutes, as opposed to every 4 minutes with Ballard spur)
        4. No need to build an actual track interchange to the main Link line

        Again, I am not necessarily advocating for Ballard-UW instead of Ballard-DT, but I believe that it is a legitimate option that should be seriously considered: it might even be more cost-effective (although we will never know unless the option is seriously studied!)

      8. Ben is basically saying “your with me or your against me”. Even if you have a better idea, my “Seattle Subway” is an unstoppable, runaway train. Don’t get run over by suggesting that his initial doodles may have serious flaws.

      9. Did you guys notice that this is the Ballard to Downtown study? Yeah, trying to hijack it to Ballard to UW is being against it.

      10. Did you forget that “a study of UW-Ballard-downtown” — i.e. the entire swath of east-west and north-south possibilities — is what voters directed Sound Transit to study when it approved ST2?

    3. Regarding the 4th point about Interbay and Magnolia, it’s important to consider the indirect impacts of each potential Ballard to Downtown corridor choice. Taking this perspective I believe Corridor D also provides strong (indirect) transit benefits to Interbay, Magnolia, and Crown Hill. While these neighborhoods may not have direct access to the new light rail line, they could each benefit from significant improvements to Rapid Ride D.

      Corridor D, through its service to the Uptown and Queen Anne neighborhoods could eliminate the need for Rapid Ride D to be routed through Uptown. Avoiding that bottleneck would probably shave 5+ minutes off each rider’s trip between Interbay, Magnolia, Crown Hill, and Downtown. Add in a few other smart and relatively low-cost improvements to Rapid Ride D, and these communities would also enjoy truly impactful transit improvements.

      In the longer-term, a line to Ballard could be extended north toward Crown Hill, while Interbay and Magnolia could be served by true bus rapid transit that improves significantly on their current connectivity while encouraging their future densification.

      From a political perspective, I assume you could still generate support in Magnolia and Interbay for an alignment like Corridor D. The pitch being that Rapid Ride D could be improved as mentioned above in addition to a reduction of traffic between 15th Ave NW and downtown as a result of fewer people who live in Ballard clogging up this route by driving their cars to/from work.

      1. You got it – I expect RR D to get routed out of Uptown if D was built, and we should be ensuring those improvements happen, as part of the Transit Master Plan.

  5. This all really great news for my grandchildren but within the next five years we are going to have thousands of new rental units in Ballard popping up far West of 15th street and the D line.

    Anyone riding on the 17x or 18x already knows demand far exceeds capacity and it’s getting worse every day.

    I think we need a new and innovative solution. Metro has no clue and no funds to run an adequate express bus service so turn it over to a private company. I would bet Stagecoach or First Group could provide a much better service with higher frequencies at a lower price and at a fraction of the cost of metro.

    1. In the meantime, I hope they do something for the downtown bottleneck during the evening commute (no cars on 3rd and the crossstreet to get onto 1st)

    2. I like this comment, and I hope everyone reads it, because it’s a microcosm of the entire thinking that got us into this unconnected mess today:

      1) “great news for my grandchildren” – dampens support by exaggerating timeline.

      2) “thousands of new rental units … far West of 15th” – misstates routing and exaggerates growth to create despair.

      3) “Metro has no clue … turn it over to a private company” – misdirects from Sound Transit and tries to frame government as a boogeyman.

      4) “new and innovative solution” – magic can work, ooh shiny thing! Hyperloop!

      It’s these lines of thinking that keep people from engaging to create change. Don’t be taken in by them. We can build transit faster, when we engage enough people to support it. We can serve all the new housing and jobs in the city.

      Comment in favor of the subway option (or really any of them – part of the point is to show community support for transit in general, I’m just hoping comments focus on D to give us ammo in Olympia) and you’ll see that organizing is magic that actually exists.

      1. The redundancy of discussing the Ballard to west Seattle route is astonishing to me. We had a mass consensus for the route when the city approved the monorail 3 times. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater in the sound transit political blood lust to kill a different idea was the worst mistake made by transit advocates in the last decade.

        No wonder opponents cant take any of these proposals seriously.

      2. 1) “great news for my grandchildren” – dampens support by exaggerating timeline.

        Ben you must be new to Seattle. Many of us have waited generations just to see a comprehensive light rail network in Seattle…It’s 2013 and we have one line!

        2) “thousands of new rental units … far West of 15th” – misstates routing and exaggerates growth to create despair.

        So the D line doesn’t currently travel on 15th, and the Ballard Subway isn’t planned for just off 15th on your map? I guess all those construction sites on 24th are just part of my imagination.

        3) “Metro has no clue … turn it over to a private company” – misdirects from Sound Transit and tries to frame government as a boogeyman.

        Absolutely correct. You must be new to Seattle. In Washington the government is absolutely the boogeyman to a majority of voters which is exactly why we can’t get adequate funding for government services.

        4) “new and innovative solution” – magic can work, ooh shiny thing! Hyperloop!

        Improved bus service and alternative financing is hardly calling a Hyperloop.

        I don’t disagree with your subway proposal but you completely ignore the FACT that the people like me who actually live in Ballard now need transit options to downtown TODAY and until your shiny new subway is built.

      3. @Southeasterner as someone living on 24th in Ballard and paying close attention to the ongoing densification of our neighborhood, I agree that maintaining the transit status quo for 10+ years until a new light rail line reaches us would be painful.

        Let’s fight for both long and “shorter” term solutions. Over the next 5 years I don’t see why we couldn’t make improvements to lines such as the 40, D, 17X and 18X. But we should also not let these efforts distract us from much more effective long term solutions such as corridor D.

    3. Before you feel so confident about turning over service to contractors, ask Community Transit riders how well having First Transit provide the service has worked out for them.

      1. Or ST riders to Snohomish County. Yeah, routinely delayed and never reprimanded. ST should be punishing CT for its lack of reliability when drivers are asleep on the job or decide to fuck off for a wee mid-route because they were asleep and late to start with!!!

      2. Also look at some ferry, because they also are experiencing some rough times:
        – WSF was born out of a private company, the Black Ball Line, which had a monopoly over much of Puget Sound and was menacing to pass skyrocketing fare increases.
        – BC Ferries was semi-privatized in 2003, and since then all it has seen is fare increases over fare increases and service cuts over service cuts.

        If you privatize a whole bus system – not run them by a private company, but sell the routes to a private company – there will be no government subsidy for that company (or at least less) and fares will rise and service cuts will be made.
        That’s why public transit is public, otherwise you’d be expected to pay the cost per boarding, which for some routes can be up to dozens of dollars.

  6. Going on the offensive? Now we’re talking.

    If there is one complaint I have heard more than any other its that this whole process of waiting for ST3 is taking too long. Going to the state and demanding action now is exactly the right thing to do.

    I am glad we are finally going here.

    I am 100% behind this.

  7. CORRIDOR “D” WILL CONNECT A DENSELY-POPULATED AREA WHERE SURFACE TRANSIT WILL ALWAYS BE SLOW AND PRONE TO BLOCKAGE WITH THE REST OF SEATTLE, AND THE REST OF THE REGION.

    NOT FLATLY OPPOSED TO AUTOMATION, BUT SPEAKING AS A FORMER TRANSIT DRIVER AND A WIDELY-TRAVELED PASSENGER, SKEPTICAL THAT A TRAINED HUMAN OPERATOR CANNOT OUTDRIVE IT.

    ESPECIALLY IN SITUATIONS INVOLVING HEAT, DIRT, FLOODING, EQUIPMENT FAILURE, AND ANYTHING ELSE WHERE FAST, RIGHT DECISIONS HAVE TO BE MADE IN ABNORMAL AND RAPIDLY CHANGING CONDITIONS.

    I’LL APPROVE AUTOMATION AFTER I DRIVE THE LINE ONE YEAR.

    MARK DUBLIN

    Just left this message in last window of the survey. Thanks for reminder, Ben.

    Mark Dublin

  8. I’m hearing two different things from many on this blog. One is that light rail, wherever it is plopped down, will sprout growth along its corridor. They proudly boast, “Look at the Spring District, MLK and SLU! They wouldn’t have happened without rail!” Development, they confidently assure, will grow up along light rail corridors as surely as cities have grown up along rivers.

    But then when it comes to getting to Ballard, that argument disappears. “There isn’t the density to support a line through Interbay.” “We must go out of our way to tunnel through Queen Anne and deviate to Fremont because that’s where the density is.”

    I could very easily go back and find past comments where people here thought East Link going up the low density Bel-Red corridor was the correct decision because it is going to spur development and change the area. Why don’t you feel a 15th Ave W aligned route would transform Interbay?

    1. I think you’re mischaracterizing my post and comments. I didn’t use the word density at all. It’s just silly to trade Fremont for Interbay if you have the choice. Fremont *has* density, and is willing to accept more. Why is potential-future-density better than that?

      To answer your question: Bel-Red is industrial and, as it isn’t an existing neighborhood, doesn’t organize against upzoning. In Seattle, it’s much more difficult to do that politically, so rewarding the urban village strategy helps show neighborhoods that transit and land use are linked.

      1. Sorry, I wasn’t meaning to mischaracterize your post and comments. I was asking the question in general to people who have made the rail spurs growth argument in the past. And I’ve always just thought of Interbay area as having an incredible amount of potential for growth.

      2. No worries. :)

        Interbay has a little capacity, but because of the severe seismic and flooding concerns, it won’t go that far. The city’s climate action plan pays close attention to this. In 40 years, Queen Anne and Fremont will be growing much more.

    2. I think one reason is the zoning. But zoning can change. And the zoning here is not as restrictive as some might assume (but it isn’t as flexible as it should be if you want to spur growth).

    3. It probably would transform Interbay, but all of these corridors are currently transit deficient. Let’s solve that first.

    4. Fifteenth West is as close to a freeway as you can get without an Interstate sign. To the east of it is a steep hill with pretty nice homes on it, zoned SF. Three blocks to the west is an oily, noisy, smelly railroad yard.

      You demonstrate your ignorance of the basics of transportation planning over, and Over, and OVER, and OVER and OVER and OVER again. You are just a snotty troll. I bet you were one of those a*_*^%@ at the back of the room snickering at the other kids trying to learn.

      1. Anandakos, there are plenty of other comment sections where you can flame others and call names with impunity. But here, we like to discuss transit issues in serious and respectful manner. If you can’t abide by that, perhaps this isn’t the blog for you.

      2. Sam, Anandakos has be an excellent contributor to the blog. While it probably wasn’t nice of her to call you out, she’s actually right in this case.

      3. BTW, it’s courageous people like me, people who are more watchdog than lapdog, who ask questions and challenge ideas, who stand up and say the king isn’t wearing any clothes, we are the real heroes. And when someone like Anandakos gets angry at me for merely asking questions, I know I have hit on a nerve of truth.

        BTW again, speaking transportation planning, I am widely regarded as one of the top three transportation planners in the world. Top three. Let that sink in.

      4. Sam, you made a typo. I know you meant to type “troll,” but somehow you left out one of the “l”s and added a bunch of extraneous characters.

      5. Stephen,

        Thank you, but I am a guy.

        Sam,

        I do apologize for the last two sentences. But I stand by the whole first paragraph and all of the second except those two. You don’t know much about city planning, and I’d say your little eruption below about people jacking off to pictures of Bertha pretty much identifies your level of expertise.

        Interbay is a lousy place for development of anything except light manufacturing, drive up big-box retail and maybe some office buildings at the north end by the Ship Canal. I have no idea why it has been a target for “TOD”. Look at the freaking map; it’s not any kind of “urban” anything. It’s a “Manufacturing/Industrial Center”. Those uses are terrible targets for rail transit; they have no all-day demand and little density.

        Not only that, it’s the major auto access to downtown Ballard so taking two lanes permanently out of the middle of it won’t be good.

  9. I disagree with a few items on your post, especially the idea that the voters support “big ideas” over value. If anything, we’ve voted the opposite way. We rejected the first Sound Transit proposal and came back with a very scaled down version (that was said to be based on value). The Kingdome was way more popular than the two fancy stadiums (the only reason we built those was because we were afraid of losing the sports teams). We rejected various proposals for a big park in downtown Seattle (Westlake, the Seattle Commons, etc.) in large part because they were too grand. I could point to several school levy losses, but those would be considered ancient history given the current makeup of Seattle voters. Generally speaking though, we are cheap. This is why losing the Kingdome was such a shame. It symbolized our political spirit quite well — cheap, but effective.

    If we propose something that is a very good value, I think ST will pass. But having Corridor D be part of that is going to make that job very difficult. As I said above, it does nothing for people in the U-District or places to the north (who want to visit Fremont or Ballard). The voters from the U-District will probably go along with anything that is proposed, but the voters from the north end might not. To balance it out, you could add a line from Fremont to the UW. That would be a lot more popular with those in the north. But then you need to deliver something to people in West Seattle. That leaves you with two tough choices — either support BRT to West Seattle or light rail. Light rail to West Seattle would be very popular with people in West Seattle, but might send the entire proposal into the range that makes frugal voters reject the entire package. BRT, on the other hand, might make West Seattle feel slighted, especially since RapidRide is so poor, and has been called BRT.

    Trying to guess what voters will approve is very difficult. But I believe we should try and aim for something that can be sold as being not only really good, but a really good value.

    1. The difference in vote between the 1995/1996 ST proposal, as well as the 2007/2008 vote, when looked at demographically, can be explained entirely by turnout. The people who voted against ST in 1995 still voted against it in 1996.

      Compare, however, 1995 Sound Transit to 2011 Proposition 1 (both off years without mayoral races), and you get a good comparison which I believe illustrates my point.

      I don’t understand why you think a 2016 vote needs to “do something” for people in the U-district. 2008 didn’t “do something” for people in Ballard, but Ballard residents voted for it at 80-90%. People get that growing the network helps everyone.

      You’re making up a “tough choice” where none exists. What amount of money are you counting back from to claim West Seattle is unaffordable if we build Ballard well? Why are you making up a number? It hurts us for you to do that – we can always scale back Ballard if we really can’t afford both, but doing that *now*, before we go to the legislature, makes the compromise more likely to prevent us from accomplishing anything at all.

      1. I’m just saying that there are voters out there who will question the wisdom of a line that provides no connection from the north end to Ballard (or Fremont) while costing a lot of money. This should be obvious to anyone who has spent any time on this blog. Many, many people have independently said the following:

        “Hey, wouldn’t it make sense and be a lot cheaper if we just build a line from the UW to Ballard?”

        A lot of these people will vote, and unless you build out the rest of the system (as I suggested) then those people may vote no. I won’t be one of them. I will support as much fast rail as possible, but I’ll have a tough time answering that question when my friends ask me about it. Nothing in the previous votes had that problem. There were plenty of folks here who said we should focus on the city, not the suburbs, but no one questioned whether there was an obvious alternative route to serving those suburbs.

        But it sounds to me like that doesn’t matter. We should go whole hog, and ask for as much as possible. So, we should fight for Corridor D, along with a connection from Fremont to the UW along with light rail to West Seattle. Then, if we have to scale back, Corridor D gets replaced with a route via Interbay (but is still just as fast). If we have to scale back further, then we replace light rail to West Seattle with BRT. That works for me.

      2. Re replacing Light Rail with BRT for West Seattle. Does that mean West Seattle gets a two way bridge from the peninsula to Seattle proper strictly for buses? Or does that mean the status quo of Bogus BRT via Rapid Ride?

      3. When your friends ask you, say “this is part of a bigger network – help me build it.” I have a really hard time with you attacking Ballard to Downtown again, and again, and again, with concern trolling like this. Just support it.

      4. All of this is exactly why we have to fight for the Downtown-to-West Seattle Corridor (and beyond) and the Ballard-to-UW Corridor, so that we at least have construction started in through funding from the next ballot measure. I believe that is something Ben Schiendelman has said repeatedly and we should all at least try to help with it. “RossB”, it sounds like you’re supportive, generally. And I (at least) think you’re being heard on the value choice to make all the corridors happen in the context of a regional ballot measure with sub-area equity, but perhaps more authority for Seattle to tax itself as well. The final EIS can figure out the exact value engineering as long as all three grade-separated corridors are still on the books. In the meantime, it’s our job over the next 2 years to fight for the most money possible or authority to get the most money possible for UW -> Ballard -> Downtown -> West Seattle. After all, compared to most voters, we’re the informed ones. We should be arguing for everything we can get.

    2. “The Kingdome was way more popular than the two fancy stadiums (the only reason we built those was because we were afraid of losing the sports teams).”

      Safeco Field prevailed after voters rejected it because the state passed an emergency measure falsely claiming it was essential to our economy. CenturyLink Field prevailed because Paul Allen bought a short-notice election in August when the most people were away on vacation. People miss the Kingdome because it was adequate and frugal and could accommodate a wider variety of events than these sport-specific stadiums.

      Transit is an entirely different issue. It affects people every day, and it’s a basic need. That’s why people are supporting corridor D while simultaneously opposing the decisions that got Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field built.

      1. I agree about the stadiums, but I have less confidence in the voters. Transit was just as much a basic need a few years back, when everything we are now building (or planning on building) was proposed and rejected (in every area but Seattle). I think we need to be careful about the strategy we employ in trying to build out the system. If it looks too lopsided, I’m afraid it will be rejected.

      2. If you are talking about Forward Thrust, remember that had a 60% supermajority requirement along with a turnout requirement. IIRC both attempts at the ballot got over 50% of the vote, they just didn’t make the 60% requirement. Sound Transit has no such supermajority requirement. As long as “yes” gets 1 more vote than “no” the measure is considered passed.

    3. People seem to forget just how fast grade-separated transit can be. With D Market Street to 2nd & Pine is 14 minutes. To get the times to Capitol Hill, U District, or Northgate simply add the time between Westlake and the respective stop plus roughly 5 minutes for the transfer. The travel time between say the UW and Ballard is still much better than current buses. Grade separated rail is reliable and if it is frequent enough people don’t really mind the transfer.

      It really is rather silly to make major routing decisions to facilitate a set of destination pairs that don’t make up the majority of trips. The biggest destination pair with any neighborhood in Seattle is always going to be downtown.

      Furthermore Belltown, Lower Queen Anne, and Upper Queen Anne are all huge ridership generators. Exchanging those stops for Wallingford at best maybe replaces the UQA ridership. A Ballard-UW line is still going to be down on the order of 12,000 to 15,000 riders per day over option D.

  10. I have a question that is going to require some of you to be soul-searchingly honest. How many of you secretly just think tunnel rail routes are sexier and make you feel “more European” than above ground lines, and that’s your main reason for preferring them? But rather than admit that embarrassing and irrational reason for preferring tunnel alignments, you hide behind the acceptable density and speed reasons?

    #tunnelsnobs #tunnelfetish #masturbatestoberthapics

    1. I’m watching them trying to dig down to the mystery obstruction in grin of bertha out my office window right now. Not very glamorous. The most glamorous option would be to bring back the 140′ bridge over Salmon Bay.

    2. Tunnels are more direct in dense urban areas, don’t require extensive, complex bridging, and quite frankly people don’t object to them much. Elevated rail in the city is practical only in a case-by-case basis. This leaves you otherwise acquiring lots of right-of-way over people’s properties and neighbourhood pissiness, undergrounding, or fucking your system with at-grade. Europeanwannabism has nothing to do with it. Pragmatism does.

      1. I agree to a certain point, but one of the reasons these tunnels are so freaking expensive is because there are generations of utilities down there that may or may not be well documented.

        I’m sure there are many in Chicago that would prefer not having thousands of people grind and screech past their office windows on 100 year old elevated structure. However, there is such a tangle under their streets only two subway lines were built.

        There is such a huge difference in elevation through downtown Seattle elevated lines make no sense in most places.

        What the current transit tunnel lacks, IMNSHO, is access through horizontal shafts from the lower parts of downtown (Alaskan Way, 1st, etc.).

    3. You forgot about travel time. The shorter travel time of a subway allows people to do more things in a day, and makes it less burdensome to go to a place. This is the most effective way to make people willing to take transit rather than driving, and to accept lower parking minimums in buildings.

      And don’t bring up the 194. One line can’t do everything. Sometimes it has to do some things worse in order to do other things better.

  11. $3.5 billion for 30,000 riders is going to have a hard time passing the laugh test. U-link is half that cost and twice the ridership.

    1. U-Link doesn’t go to 45th, it only reaches to the far opposite corner of campus. So add the cost of UW station to U-District station to your comparison.

      1. Mike,

        Actually, add the cost of three U-District stations to his comparison. There are five stations in Option D but only two on U-Link.

    2. Also, the issue is not how much it costs per passenger, but what kind of transit is appropriate for northwest Seattle’s size and urbanness, both now and in 2040. What’s a reasonable travel time for this (or any) corridor, and what kind of transit meets it? The cost per passenger is mostly due to the geographic barriers and congestion bottlenecks in between. In some places there are a lot of obstacles so the cost is high; in other places there are few obstacles so the cost is low. That doesn’t mean the first place should have worse transit than the second.

      1. U-Link adds 60K riders to the existing system, without 45th, for $1.9B. If 45th was never built, it would be 71K by 2030. Seems like an awfully heavy lift to imagine the politicans spending twice that money for half the riders for a subway to QA & Ballard. Not sayin it’s right or wrong. Just sayin.

      2. It’s not twice the money for half the riders. It’s a similar number of riders as if U-Link were built without the DSTT. When a new tunnel goes through downtown, the Ballard line ridership would be much, much higher, just like U-Link.

      3. While I don’t think it will make too much difference in the long-term, Railcan, you should probably prepare yourself to be disappointed with U-Link’s ridership numbers prior to the opening of the station at Brooklyn.

        The location of UW station is simply so awful, and the transfer possibilities so negligible, that in isolation it will fail to capture any demand beyond those headed from downtown to its immediate vicinity (the central UW campus, and the medical complex).

        The siting of Capitol Hill isn’t quite so bad, but the transfer situation is. Here too, you will be surprised how few trips beyond the station’s immediate 10-minute walkshed will be captured by the opening of the line, at least until Link is able to take you to and from more places. You will see little mode-shift away from the 10, 11, 47, and northern 49. The choice of many to remain on the bus will be rational — with the downtown tunnel still bogged down by joint operations, the average trip time to places not immediately adjacent to Broadway and Olive will take years to improve.

        Don’t count on Link’s ridership tripling or quadrupling until quite a bit later.

    3. To be honest, the current ridership projection seems to be too low Just for fun I recorded all the bus routes that will be partially replaced by this rail line and approximately how many of hose bus users will also use this rail line instead or in addition to that bus line. Ridership numbers are from 2013, from this link (Appendix K: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/planning/pdf/2011-21/2013/metro-2013-service-guidelines-report.pdf). The first # is the ridership in 2013, and the second number is a VERY ROUGH estimate of how many of those rides would have used this line, if it had existed (I don’t know how accurate these are, but hopefully they give an idea). Of course, this assumes that many of these lines will be redirected to feed into train stations for a faster ride overall:

      1: 2,300 >>> ~2,000
      2: 5,700 (how much is N part?) >>> ~2,000
      3: 6,700 (how much is N part?) >>> ~2,000
      4: 5,300 (how much is N part?) >>> ~2,000
      5: 8,000 >>> ~4,000
      13: 3,200 >>> ~2,500
      15X: 1,000 >>> ~1,000
      16: 5,200 >>> ~3,000
      17X: 700 >>> ~700
      18X: 1,000 >>> ~1,000
      19: 300 >>> ~300
      24*: 2,300 >>> ~2,000
      26: 2,700 >>> ~2,000
      28: 2,800 >>> ~2,000
      28X: 1,200 >>> ~1,200
      29: 1,300 >>> ~1,000
      32: 2,600 >>> ~1,500
      33: 1,800 >>> ~1,500
      40: 7,900 >>> ~5,000
      62: 300 >>> ~300
      358: 12,000 >>> ~6,000
      D (674): 8,800 >>> ~5,000

      TOTAL: ~48,000

      Even if the only people riding this were former bus users, this line should receive about 48,000 riders per day! Of course given redevelopment, and the fact that this line will be a LOT more convenient than buses, ridership will actually be much higher than that. Perhaps my extrapolations were a bit high, but still I have difficultly believing the 30,000 figure.

      1. I doubt anyone will divert from the 1. The routes serving the top of Queen Anne? Perhaps, particularly the 13 because it will go right by the station. But why would anyone from Northeast QA transfer from the 3/4? They’d have to go uphill to get to the station.

        Besides, the 4’s going away.

      2. Anandakos, I’ll be presenting another bus proposal in the near future. One of the (many) elements of it is an idea to combine the 1, the West Queen Anne part of the 2, and the 3/4N into what would effectively be a single frequent route. Among other good effects, that would allow people from all over Queen Anne to access a Queen Anne Avenue station easily.

      3. The current ridership projection is very low, because the line isn’t considered going through downtown. Add that on and you get a lot more – I spent some of today getting those numbers.

      4. Ben,
        I have to think those numbers are still very low considering there will be a relatively easy transfer to the DSTT. A lot of people would still rather transfer to a train in NW Seattle and transfer to another train in Downtown Seattle than take the slow, crowded one-seat ride they have today.

      5. Also, Sound Transit has been burned on their ridership numbers before. My understanding is that the Central Link ridership numbers were predicated on the assumption that Metro would restructure bus services (such as the 101 and 150) to connect with Link, rather than running parallel to it. Of course, Metro didn’t do that, and so my understanding is that Sound Transit’s new ridership studies essentially assume that no bus service will be changed.

        As an example, the 5 has 8,000 daily riders; the 16 has 5,200; the 26 has 2,700; the 26X has 800; the 28 has 2,800; the 28X has 1,200. In total, that’s 20,700 riders. Now, not all of those riders are on the bus north of Fremont, especially on the 26/28 locals. But still, some of them are, and given how much faster the subway will be from Fremont to downtown, you would think that at least some subset of those riders would transfer to the subway in Fremont, if they have the opportunity. But I’m guessing that the ridership estimate presented assumes that none of these riders will transfer, possibly except for the tiny number of riders on the 26/28 (since they already pass through Fremont).

        Of course, I’m sure that Sound Transit has a long internal document that explains the whole thing, and it might completely contradict what I’m saying. But if such a document exists, I certainly don’t have access to it. ;)

    4. U-Link has that ridership because it’s connected to the DSTT. This would be nearly the same once the tunnel goes through downtown.

      1. While I don’t think it will make too much difference in the long-term, you should probably prepare yourself to be disappointed with U-Link’s ridership numbers prior to the opening of the station at Brooklyn.

        The location of UW station is simply so awful, and the transfer possibilities so negligible, that in isolation it will fail to capture any demand beyond those headed from downtown to its immediate vicinity (the central UW campus, and the medical complex).

        The siting of Capitol Hill isn’t quite so bad, but the transfer situation is. Here too, you will be surprised how few trips beyond the station’s immediate 10-minute walkshed will be captured by the opening of the line, at least until Link is able to take you to and from more places. You will see little mode-shift away from the 10, 11, 47, and northern 49. The choice of many to remain on the bus will be rational — with the downtown tunnel still bogged down by joint operations, the average trip time to places not immediately adjacent to Broadway and Olive will take years to improve.

        Don’t count on Link’s ridership tripling or quadrupling until quite a bit later.

  12. I’m intrigued by the idea of a station serving the top of Queen Anne Hill. Given the topographic realities of the area, however, that would have to be a mined station — like Beacon Hill — the single most costly method of constructing a rail station.

    And it would serve a low-density and very well-established neighborhood, one that would likely resist calls for major upzoning around the station. The City designates it as a Residential Urban Village, the smallest unit in the density hierarchy. I’d like to see the cost estimates and ridership projections for the QA hilltop alternative.

    Would appreciate the thoughts of others here, who are following this whole thing closer than I.

    1. And it would serve a low-density and very well-established neighborhood, one that would likely resist calls for major upzoning around the station.

      The Corridor D proposal calls for the station to be put in right around the intersection of Galer St and Queen Anne Ave. The area south of there is already relatively high density, with quite a bit of midrise (60-ft residential), “neighborhood commercial” (30-40 foot buildings with commercial uses at street level), and LR1/2/3 (30′ townhouses) zoning. To the north of the station, there’s still quite a bit of single-family zoning in the walkshed.

      I do think the area around the station should be zoned higher if this proposal goes through (at least 30 feet throughout the walkshed, increasing as you get closer to the station), but the current state of affairs is much denser than plopping a station right in the middle of Magnolia, for example.

    2. It’s a very good station, but not a great one, by my estimation. It is way more dense than central Magnolia, but not as dense as Ballard, Lake City or the UW. It is hard to compare to other locations, really. It is very dense right by the proposed stop, but then fades out from there. That is why it doesn’t show up as anything special on the density maps. Generally speaking, it looks pretty good. One of the best parts is that a station at Galer and Queen Anne Ave would be great for buses and density. This is in sharp contrast with the Mount Baker station, which managed to place itself in one of the few spots in the area without many people.

      You can’t ignore the geography, either. A station on top would be a draw because alternatives are slow. It is also fairly flat up there, so people will walk further than they would if it was on the side of a hill. All in all, it is a very good station.

      Changing the zoning might increase density, but I think it would take a while to do so. Most of the houses are worth a lot as houses. It isn’t like Interbay, where the houses were pretty cheap because they were close to the railroad tracks. Or South Lake Union, which had warehouses and empty lots a while back. Much of the growth will likely occur along the busy streets, since they have less popular houses. But much of that growth has occurred already. All in all, this is good news, because it means that a station isn’t dependent on new zoning to become a popular station.

      1. It’s an urban village with multistory multifamily buildings being built right now and more to come. It’ll get plenty more.

    3. The argument for a Queen Anne station is based on its current density, not some implausable future where it’s like the U District. Queen Anne has a long neighborhood identity, and the upper plateau is entirely walkable, which makes it a good place for a station. Queen Anne Avenue and Galer Street have densified over the past decade, and the surrounding lots are small. There’s a generational shift toward pro-density and pro-walkability, so we can assume NIMBY resistance will decrease over time. It solves a major problem in the bus network, in that it’s hard for buses to get quickly up and down Queen Anne. However, it’s not a must-have like Uptown is, because of the lower density and greater cost. That’s why I support corridor D first, B second, and Bruce’s modification of C third.

  13. Could we save a billion or so by just pointing the TBM for SR99 north when it’s done with that awful project? Might as well get something useful out of it. Sure the tunnel would be massive (and maybe too big to fit) but hey, it makes room for expansion and possibly Express tracks! If we are thinking a decades ahead, let’s learn from the fuckups of BART and put in some damn express tracks.

    1. Unfortunately, as has been mentioned before, TBMs are pretty much used up when the project is complete. Often they are just left underground in place rather than bothering to remove them.

      I like the express track idea in general… but our stations outside of downtown are pretty far apart as it is…

    2. Hah, I would love to use that TBM and build four-track tunnels like NYC. But the TBM isn’t Sound Transit’s to make that choice with (it’s not even WSDOT’s) – it’s a contractor’s.

      1. Oh man… having express lines would be awesome if we could manage the foresight to build them. Its hard enough getting quality lines going through downtown though…

    3. If you build a 53′ bore instead of twin 20′ bores, you would have about 7 times the tunnel spoils to haul away and you would have to use much larger tunnel segments. I doubt there would be any cost savings.

      1. Actually, I got the math wrong. The factor for the tunnel spoils is 3.5, not 7. Then there will be some additional mining for cross-passages.

  14. These thoughts came to mind.
    1. It’s great to have transit that will give folks a way off of Queen Anne that’s safer.
    2. How deep is the tunnel going to be under Queen Anne?
    3. Is this then a new, separate tunnel under downtown?
    4. I like the idea of there being later options, such as for Aurora, but to the UW would be better given that the “red and yellow 358,” a.k.a. the so-called “Rapid Ride E,” will be plying Aurora.
    5. I think it’s great to connect Fremont and Ballard.
    6. I think it’s wonderful that there’s thoughts of building out to West Seattle (and hopefully further, such as to Burien and the Tukwila Link station). The segment to West Seattle should give those residents and option that doesn’t involve a poorly-deiced bridge!

    1. I will answer your questions as best I can.. from what I’ve come to understand reading this blog and various ST documents:

      2) Quite deep. Instead of ascending much into the hill they are going to need to dive immediately under the canal. Not sure how this compares to Beacon Hill.

      3) Yes, according to ST staff, the current tunnel will be completely at capacity when North and East link come online. The estimate for this tunnel is apparently not included in this design… I believe they are going to include it in the West Seattle study.

  15. I just had a thought. Westlake is a pretty darn deep station, and University is even deeper. I notice that the purple line terminates right at the curve in the DSTT. Hear me out here, I know this is expensive, but there’s some value to it.

    What if the tunnel through the Denny Regrade were under Third Avenue (yes, I know it’s a little bit away from the highest buildings over on First, but who knows what will happen after the Amazon towers go up) and pass OVER the DSTT (which is pretty deep because of the big station boxes) down to Pike. It could even be cut and covered to make d.p. happy; in fact, it would probably need to be because it would be in the utility zone but Third is already a busway so the disruption wouldn’t be as great as C&C’in on Second. The station at Third and Pine would have to be much less grand than usual ST efforts because of the shallow depth. There would probalby have to be undercrossings between the platforms to access southbound trains from Westlake and the east. But people only need 7.5 feet plus some ceiling, say 10′ from platform level to walk below the tracks.

    There’s a block between Pike and Union, Third and Fourth which hasn’t been redeveloped that the tunnel could use to wiggle over to Fourth Avenue, while descending to a station between Seneca and Spring then on south to one between Cherry and James for Martin’s Tower and the Government complex. Because the DSTT is getting close by then it would swing east again south of Jefferson and under some really old stuff on the east side of the block and the “Flatiron” building to Fifth right at Yesler, then join Central Link south of the junction with East Link.

    It puts the service right at the biggest buildings and most notably serves the part of Fourth which is most separated from Third vertically. If the Downtown Connector actually gets a reservation and some signal pre-emption, it would serve to bring people back up the hill to Westlake and The Bon Marche station from Second and First. The can usually walk down when debarking.

    If we have a station at Third and Pine/Stewart we really should call it “Bon Marche”.

    1. Is westlake really that deep? It doesn’t seem like it is that far below the surface, because they were worried about damaging the weatherproofing of the DTTS in the downtown connector. This is the reason they gave for avoiding cutting across before Stuart St.

      Why would we call it Bon Marche when that store no longer exists? Might as well use Fredric & Nelson’s to name a station at that point. To be fair though F&N actually went out of business, the Bon was bought out by Macy’s.

    2. Ben’s incessant protestations of omniscience about what is and isn’t possible/fated aside, Anandakos, I too have wondered if there would be some way for a future downtown line — when actually needed enough to be financially justified — to cross over the DSTT in order to rectify the error of skipping First Hill the first time around.

      Without wading into all of your details, though, I want to take issue with your reference to “a block between Pike and Union, Third and Fourth which hasn’t been redeveloped.” This block has 5 intensive-use buildings on it, exactly the kind of buildings that downtown needs to retain at all costs, and to care for better than it has. Especially in the commercial core, blocks like this are indispensable life-givers. The last thing we need is more “Rainier Squares” replacing them.

      (Wouldn’t the easiest place to cross Westlake station be directly below 4th Ave anyway?)

      1. d.p.

        Well, it has to be really deep there because the tubes have to run underneath the station box. I was thinking that going avoiding the mezzanine might give enough room for a shallow subway.

        But if there is concern about damaging the tunnel by surface trackwork, then it clearly wouldn’t work.

        Ben,

        The Purple line goes down Second because nobody has been bold enough to question why one would have two subway lines a block apart in a metropolis of less than 3 million people. Especially a metropolis with 20 degree hills. Of course you ask the same about my thought for using Fourth.

        There is a lot to be said for using Fifth if it can be gotten to but to do so would be undercrossing the Westlake station box the bottom of which must be at least 50 feet below street level.

        And d.p.’s idea of swinging east to serve First Hill is fantastic if the geological problems can be overcome and I-5 can be underrun.

      2. Anandakos, 5th as well as many other corridors have been considered. Why wouldn’t the downtown lines be a block apart? We want people to be able to pick either one, without a transfer, from our job center. Extending any of these options to Jackson sees an 8-12,000 rider boost which you don’t get from a transfer.

    3. I would think a better plan for the downtown tunnel (south of Westlake) ST4 would be to have a junction south of Westlake station with one line remaining on 2nd to West Seattle and the other slant West to serve the Ferry Building and Waterfront than turn East at Yesler and serve the coming Yesler Terrance redevelopment, Harborview, Swedish, Seattle U and Central District. These two lines combined will better match the high ridership to Belltown, Uptown, Fremont, Ballard and points north.

      1. That idea has merit, but it would be a nosebleed grade from the Ferry Building to Yesler Terrace. I doubt that steel wheeled transit could climb it. The station of Yesler Terrace/Harborview would be nearly as deep as the Upper Queen Anne one I expect. It might not be reasonable to make the high loads from that area use elevators.

      2. I don’t get the difference between a stop at Yesler and a stop at Upper Queen Anne. If it works for Queen Anne, then it should work for Yesler. It if doesn’t work for Queen Anne, why are we even talking about it? I’m not being critical — I’m ignorant — what’s the difference?

      3. Ross,

        It seems to me that the peak loads at a deep station under First Hill would be much greater than those at one on Upper Queen Anne Hill. You’d need several elevators to meet the demand I’d imagine.

        Not saying it couldn’t be done, but I’m not sure most people wouldn’t just stick with the 3 down James.

      4. Thanks Anandakos. That makes sense. A bit disappointing though. It means an Upper Queen Anne spot will never be that popular unless they build a lot of elevators, which seems unlikely.

    4. The reason Beacon Hill Station has elevators is it’s too deep for escalators. So no, Westlake and University Street stations are not deep. Queen Anne station would be similar to Beacon Hill.

      Some cities have really long escalators that take five minutes to get from one end to the other. DC has one at Woodley Park,and Moscow has some like that. I’m not sure if they’d reach Beacon Hill Station or not, but in any case they’re not being considered here.

      1. The Rosslyn metro escalator and, I believe, friendship heights metro escalators are deeper than Woodley Park. Metro has had huge problems with escalator maintenance over the years

      2. I may be remembering Woodley Park because I’ve used it more than Rosslyn. I don’t remember the Rosslyn escalator at all. What struck me about Rosslyn was the overhead walkways outside the entrance, and I think there was a Costco buried in the middle floor of a building next to the station. Both of these seemed like great ideas.

  16. Granted, I live on Portland so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. However, it seems to me that the proposed Interbay route with its elevated track is the wrong way of economically serving this corridor.

    So far, the only city in the USA that really does “light rail” the way it is really done in Europe (and 80 years ago here in the USA) is Austin, Texas. There, Stadler GTW cars trundle down the middle of the street like you would expect in the downtown area, but once outside the city they switch over to a freight railroad main line.

    Interbay and Magnolia and even the western end of Ballard could be served by a similar light rail on mainline track system for part of the way, so long as the Federal Railroad Administration can be convinced it is being done in a safe manner. Once downtown it would have to plunge into its own tunnel, maybe cross under Seattle Center and connect to various bus lines there, and then join the Ballard Subway. A branch line should be constructed that would take the old route of the Benson Waterfront Streetcar so that the occasional train could serve the waterfront, including the ferry terminal. Or, have the waterfront trains originate at the U district, so they cross everything else and allow good transfer connections to everywhere else on their way there.

    1. I’m genuine confused by your comparison.

      The Austin line serves nothing, goes nowhere, and is a monumental failure.

      At the core of European transit logic is the correct use of tools from the transit toolbox where they make the most sense, whether that means tram-trains connecting minor industrial cities to their satellite villages or pre-metro tunnels beneath congested medieval centers, or something more elaborate where density and demand dictate.

      Austin’s useless rail-to-nowhere disaster would never have happened in Europe.

      1. Be that as it may, why hasn’t Sound Transit talked much about running the west side line on the existing railroad line. I can make a guess:

        They can’t get approval from the railroad to run trains there all day and all night. Basically you would have to buy a line from the railroad, and they aren’t selling. If they did sell a line, it wouldn’t save any money. Then again, maybe they are considering it, but it would cost just as much money, so it is lumped in with the elevated lines. They are vague about specific stations and bridge locations, so if they do strike a deal with the railroad, then it really doesn’t deviate from the plans. There may be other technical reasons as well.

      2. Sure Austin’s line does’t go anywhere, but they are the only ones so far to get FRA approval for mixed use of non FRA approved cars (every other city would operate them on their own right of way at far greater expense and call it light rail). The result is their 30 mile line cost a pittance to build.
        For the lesser traveled corridors it makes a huge amount of sense, and Austin proved it can actually be done even under USA regulations.
        That problem about not going anywhere is something I would expect Seattle to solve by building such a line somewhere appropriate, such as those places that don’t demand a full new line.

      3. In the urban context, freight lines rarely go anywhere useful, because people have spent 100 years going out of their way not to live or work or play near freight lines.

        Austin’s 2000-riders-on-a-good-day commuter blip isn’t worth the concrete used to pour the platforms.

        Of course, neither is your slower-than-walking-backwards-on-your-hands Portland loop streetcar to nowhere.

      4. Short version: “high-capacity” transit investments should be directed at places where the need for high capacity actually exists.

        Not at random lines on a map that represent either political wishful thinking (Portland loop) or the delusion that cheap-but-useless is morally superior to spending enough money to do something demonstrably worthwhile (Austin).

        Is that really so hard to understand?

  17. “only one option truly fits into a vision of a completely connected city; a city where transit is just as good as owning a car, if not better; a sustainable, resilient, forward-thinking city. ”

    1. if you really mean to say “transit just as good as [mode of personal transportation using vast, interconnected system of public rights of way open & accessible 24/7/365]”, then you’re smoking something only recently legalized because that truly IS a pipe-dream;

    2. “a completely-connected, better, sustainable, resilient, forward-thinking city” — there you go again, Ben, flapping your lips with vacuous meaningless, unmeasurable platitudes and campaign slogans. You’d fit right into the hucksters parodied in the ‘monorail’ Simpson’s episode.

    1. Taking the subway from Downtown to Ballard during rush hour would be better than driving that same route at the same time. By a lot. I think that’s what Ben was getting at. When there is a certain level of congestion present, subways are faster than driving. This is why cities have been building them for so long.

      1. You’re not seeing the forest for the trees — and don’t grasp the ‘open & accessible 24/7/365’ and ‘vast, interconnected system’ points I raised.

        You pick one O-D pair when there are 100×100 of them across the region. You’re being rather subjective (“it’d be great for me!”), don’t you think? How is spending 30% of the region’s money on just one pair of 10,000 ‘smart’? Or justified?

      2. You’re making the same mistake. We aren’t limited in money. We’re only limited by the people claiming we’re limited in money before we even go ask for it.

      3. “We aren’t limited in money.”

        What a remarkable statement! If so, then you have every right to spend it; go ahead.

        Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. Money IS finite. Your dreams, however, apparently aren’t.

        Fellow-dreamer Mr. Conlin is now gone; whatcha gonna do now?

      4. ummmmmm I feel totally comfortable making the subjective judgement that this specific subway line would be a vast improvement over our current circumstances. Im even comfortable portraying that view as objective reality, since literally every person I’ve done outreach to(except one couple. not hyperbole) has agreed and thinks a real subway is the best-case solution.

        Also, your language confuses me. How are we supposed to divide this “transit budget”, which as Ben has pointed out, doesn’t even exist today, 12-14-13, and must be fought for at the polls? Are we supposed to spend 1/ 10,000 of it on Ballard to Downtown? And 1/10,000th of it on West Seattle to Burien? What does that mean? How do you build a system that allows all those 10,000 pair trips without actually building the actual lines people will use to get around? Im very confused by your objection to building this line on those grounds.

        As for the spat between you and Ben over money, I think you’re misinterpreting his attitude. Its not “we will totally be able to pass a measure that calls for $1 trillion in transit funding!”, its that the budget for these projects will only be limited by what the voters want to pass. Also, there is the outside chance of getting some federal funds. Patty Murray is in the perfect position to do the region a solid about this *fingers-crossed*. So its not “infinite money!” its ” lets ask for the best system, and organize the voters to pass it!”

      5. “You’re not seeing the forest for the trees — and don’t grasp the ‘open & accessible 24/7/365′ and ‘vast, interconnected system’ points I raised.

        You pick one O-D pair when there are 100×100 of them across the region. You’re being rather subjective (“it’d be great for me!”), don’t you think? How is spending 30% of the region’s money on just one pair of 10,000 ‘smart’? Or justified?”

        Lots of problems with that statement, but to begin with, a subway between downtown and Ballard is not about serving one specific origin->destination pair. There are tons of homes and businesses within walking distance of the center of Ballard and tons more homes and businesses downtown. And, if we go with option D, we also add in all the destinations in Queen Anne and Fremont as well. The number or actual origin and destination pair directly connecting by the line would be far, far, greater than one.

        Second, a subway between Ballard and downtown is not even just about connecting two points near the line itself – once you get downtown, you can hop on the existing Link line to Columbia City or the airport, or EastLink to Bellevue or Redmond, the 554 to Issaquah, etc. Getting to any of these places from Ballard starts with the trip downtown so, really, a subway downtown is about connecting Ballard, Queen Anne, and Fremont, by transit, to much of the entire region. Just as the private car transportation system does not have a separate road between every origin and destination point, a transit system cannot have a separate line between every origin and destination point either. But build enough lines and connect them, and you can get to a ton of places quickly and efficiently.

        Third, “as good as owning a car” does not necessarily mean that door to door travel times between every conceivable pair of origin->destination points in the entire region need to be as fast by transit as by car. The value of the time used to earn the money to pay for the car, plus insurance, gas, parking, etc., is worth something too. Plus, for many transit trips, a good portion of the total travel time is spent walking, reading, texting friends, or napping, rather than having to sit behind a steering wheel and concentrate on the road.

        Finally, for those occasional oddball trips at places and times when transit isn’t up to the task, not owning a car does not mean you will never ride in one, or even drive one occasionally. Between Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, and Car2Go, and, of course, plain, old-fashioned rental cars, there are numerous 27x7x365 late-night transportation opportunities that don’t require car ownership. It is not necessary for transit to handle every single trip you could possibly want to make. It only needs to be able to handle enough trips so that the stuff it can’t handle (that isn’t within reasonable walking or biking distance) can be done with a car service or rental car, while keeping the total financial expenditure considerably less than car payments, gas, and insurance would cost.

      6. Here is another case where tram-train could make sense. The current proposal shows the line ending in Ballard pointing west. In the future, with proper planning, that could be extended and brought to the surface. An appropriate tram-train car could then be used to connect with the Ballard terminal railroad, and west to a transfer station from Sounder. This would give Sounder passengers an alternate route to various parts of downtown.

        As it would not be worth the cost to build an entirely new line for just 4 trains a day, using as much of Ballard Terminal’s existing line as possible makes the most sense, if the decision is made to do this.

        Then there’s all the stuff up on Crown Hill that currently has a long slow slog of a bus service and could connect to this new Ballard subway.

        So, you don’t necessarily have to view this line as serving just Ballard.

      7. Yay, more random opining from out-of-towners with little-to-no sense of our geography, never mind the slightest clue about Ballard Terminal’s less-than-amenable political proclivities!

        Here’s a clue, Portland: there is a bus that runs immediately adjacent to the only portion of the rail segment you describe that contains anything resembling a population. This bus runs every 10-15 minutes for one of the longest spans of any bus service in Seattle, and it hits little traffic on this first ½-mile. There is no reason to build a “tram-train” next to it.

        No one will ever backtrack to reach the most useless commuter rail line on the West Coast.

      8. “Lots of problems with that statement”

        It wasn’t a statement, it was a question (two, in fact). Neither has been answered, at least not forthrightly.

        ———–
        “Getting to any of these places from Ballard starts with the trip downtown”

        Oh, really? That’s quite a curious perspective, isn’t it?

        ———–
        “It is not necessary for transit to handle every single trip you could possibly want to make”

        Correct, but not terribly relevant to ‘Build a Ballard subway’, so why raise it? It does, however, help reveal some of the limitations of fixed transit lines with limited frequency, hours of frequency and days of service vs. 24/7/365 ‘instant-on’ personal mobility to *anywhere* one may wish to go (btw, I never used the word ‘car’.)

      9. Turned out~

        Well thats true, you didn’t use the word “car”. Which is why I assumed you were talking about the personal jetpacks DARPA will roll out next year ;)

        Also, if youre going to the airport from Ballard, and you don’t want to go Downtown, you must drive crosstown to UW, then north to Lake City, then around the lake to Kenmore and Kirkland (or take the toll bridge), then hop on I405 South to Southcenter, etc…. All of those other Ds have similarly strange routes to avoid Downtown. Soooo yeah, if you’re going from Ballard to the airport you go downtown. Im sure you’re aware of our geography. Almost any trip N/S, and most to the eastside, goes through what can be called Downtown(SLU,Cap Hill, etc…)

        I believe I tried to address your 100×100 O-D statement/question. I also expressed that I had trouble understanding the point you were trying to make, as it pertains to which line to build. asdf also tried to address it, but you say no one has. I think the trouble is that know one understands your point. Could you please rephrase it, or make it in a different way?

      10. It’s not really worth engaging the ideology-troll on his details. But it is worth addressing his premise:

        transit just as good as [mode of personal transportation using vast, interconnected system of public rights of way open & accessible 24/7/365]

        Yes it is, troll, yes it is. There on hundreds of cities around the globe — including a handful in North America — where the hassle of owning a “mode of personal transportation” unequivocally negates any hypothetical benefits. Fortunately, each of these hundreds of cities provides an interconnected web of multi-modal transit services that work in concert to allow citizens to make 90% of trips within the urbanized area just as quickly and far more easily than they ever could in your hallowed “personal vehicle”.

        Seattle, in the present day, is emphatically not one of those cities. And anyone who claims it is — even remotely — is either lying to you or lying to themselves.

        But traffic is only going to get worse here. In all directions (not just downtown) and at more times of day. This process is already well underway.

        It is thus crucial to plan for transit that serves the myriad trips one needs to take in and across the busy urbanized area, and that serves them well.

        The architects of these plans must think comprehensively and interconnectedly. They must not obsess over any one destination or a handful of disparate “nodes” at the expense of all the important in-betweens, and they must not screw over high-quality cross-connections for the sake of a map full of long, colorful lines of questionable individual or cumulative utility. They must make it work, and they must do it on a practicable long-term-financed budget.

        Unless you relocate to Detroit, there are no “public rights of way open & accessible 24/7/365”. And you probably wouldn’t want to be on many of those Detroit streets. Your trolling rests on a fallacy. But you’re not wrong to be suspicious of Grand Transit Plans™ that appear to offer no help for the vast majority of trips. In the long-term, a transit-enabled city either works for most trips to most places, or it doesn’t work at all.

  18. If you want State funding, then implement a SIIT — State Investment Income Tax, which taxes things like interest on assets, or what is called passive income.

    Right now the federal NIIT of 3.8% (imposed only above certain very reasonable limits) funds Medicare and Obamacare.

    A simple 1% SIIT could get around the problems of increasing the real estate tax rates, or imposing a regular income tax on everyone.

    Because the NIIT already exists, there would be a minimum of additional paperwork to figure out the amount owed to the state, it would be based on the same exact things as the NIIT.

    Questions and Answers on the Net Investment Income Tax
    http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Net-Investment-Income-Tax-FAQs

  19. In my final comments, I noted that this study area covers both the “Seattle Subway Red” and “Seattle Subway Blue” lines and long term it would be best to treat it as such by either designing and constructing expansion options for “Corridor D” initially *OR* constructing “Corridor A/B” with expansion points for “Corridor D” just north of Downtown Seattle to be the SR 99 corridor expansion through Fremont via SLU and UQA.

    That’s still asking for all the money we can get, still within scope, and still connecting as many neighborhoods as possible. Whining about missing urban villages and whatnot is kind of beside the point, we should be demanding for every neighborhood to be connected with priority given to getting Ballard and West Seattle–in that order. *Dead horse beating.*

  20. Ballard? Seriously? What about first starting with a line from West Seattle. West Seattle has by far the longest commutes to DT……..and would be best served by rail transit to DT.

    1. You have less than 1/3 of the population density of Ballard, and you have about 1/10 as many people and destinations within walking distance of any possible rail pathway as Ballard does.

      Meanwhile, the massive zero-demand empty industrial space between you your nearest neighbors leaves your cost-benefit ratio far worse off. Your isolation is a liability, not the selling point you seem to believe it is.

      1. Oh, and you fight tooth-and-nail against any new residents and new buildings that even remotely resemble an urban form.

        Meanwhile, Ballard has grown exponentially and gleefully over the last 20 years, yet received only the most middling, token, insufficient transit investments. Your RapidRide is fast and direct; Ballard’s is neither. And Ballard’s represented a per-capita cut in service hours.

        So, yes. Ballard. Seriously.

      2. I think you overstate the growth in Ballard, particularly in comparison to other areas in Seattle, including West Seattle.

        Yes, a few thousand new folks have chosen Lutefisk as their adopted choice of vile food or the last decade, but so too has West Seattle shown significant growth, rivaling Ballard. West Seattle is also similarly dense, compared to old-town Ballard.

        Ballard definitely deserves at least one line, though probably nothing too far beyond the old-town core, given the significant lack of both density and growth northward.

        Truth be told, there is really no qualitative difference between Ballard and many other neighborhoods in Seattle. They may have shown marginally more growth and density than The Junction, or First Hill or Bitter Lake or Lake City, but nothing approaching the bizarre idea that we should be building 3-prongs out of that lovely hipster dead-end. I’ll begrudgingly agree to support 1 or 2, but other neighborhoods need to be served before the 2nd one is built.

        Check the growth and density maps for yourselves…
        http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cityplanning/populationdemographics/geographicfilesmaps/2010census/default.htm

      3. We’ve been over this before, and this is what happened:

        At the same scale: Ballard. Junction.

        That first map is filled to every corner with various forms of multi-family housing and mixed-use buildings.

        The West Seattle map is 85% single-family on post-war-minimum-sized lots, none of which appears to be going anywhere.

        Density is not about one intersection. It’s about how many people and how many places exist in the walkshed. And in Ballard, that figure is an order of magnitude greater.

        West Seattle has a long ways to go, both physically and culturally.

      4. The 1993-2013 comparison above is not fictional. The area within a 15-minute walk of central Ballard housed roughly 5000 twenty years ago. Today it is at 23,000, with many hundreds of units still under construction.

        And that doesn’t even begin to count connecting walksheds, which extend unimpeded in every direction.

        There aren’t that many people in the entirety of 98116 (never mine within shouting distance of the Junction!).

      5. The major qualitative difference I see from your pics is the industrial area in Ballard. I suppose that could be thought of as a positive, but it could also be thought of as a constraint. Half the walk-shed runs up against manufacturing and Salmon Bay.

        If core Ballard really grew 15000 in the 90s and only about 3000 in the aughts (from the population growth maps), that’s the opposite of exponential growth. That looks like stalling out.

      6. You’re stilling flogging false equivalencies, easily disproven by ten minutes of walking or biking around each neighborhood.

        For 3/4 mile to the north, northwest, northeast, and (increasingly) east of central Ballard, I wish you luck finding any block that doesn’t contain some form(s) of higher-density living — duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, subdivided-lot cottages, apartment buildings small, large, or massive… This kind of thriving mixed urbanity fills nearly the entire frame of the above map (with the sole exception of the industrial zone over which you keep strawmanning).

        That same-distance walkshed near the Junction contains… single family, and single family, and single family, and single family.

        That’s where the order-of-magnitude discrepancy comes from.

        And I have no idea how you’re managing to misread the census-tract data so badly, but I assure you that Ballard’s population has increased by far, far more than 3,000 just in the 5 years that I’ve been living here.

      7. Note: Of the dozen-plus Exceptionally Large New Buildings™ in Ballard — which may symbolize terrible architecture/urbanism, but which also contain a non-negligible percentage of new residents and stand as barometers of the explosion of demand across all levels of Ballard housing stock — only one or two had (barely) opened at the time of the 2010 census.

        When individual buildings can house 500 residents and those buildings just keep coming…

      8. Whatever, DP. I’ve been riding, walking and transiting around Ballard, as well as the other areas I’ve been discussing regularly for the last 20 years. I know Ballard like the back of my hand. Yes, there are a lot of townhouses that replaced 1000 sq/ft SFH. Yes, there are some new yuppie-monstrosities.

        But when you start throwing around actual numbers without showing the proof, and using terms like “strawman” and “false-equivalences”, which insult me as well as the readers of this blog’s intelligence, you better back that up with hard numbers and links, not anecdote. Show me the link to the 2300 number. Count up the population growth number on the map and tell me how it adds up to much more than 3000 from 1990 to 2000.

        Most importantly, show me what Ballard is going to do for it’s next trick. The infill is already infilled in the walkshed. Show me the new permits for more boxes to jam another 20,000 yuppies in the next 10 years to justify 3-prongs of subway.

        I fully support a line or 2 to Ballard. I just think you over-estimate both what has gone on as well as what will go on in Ballard. Show me the numbers.

      9. Let’s see if we can put some numbers to your hyperbole:

        http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2019765632_apartments26.html

        And few neighborhoods, say industry analysts, are more likely to get overbuilt.

        About 1,200 market-rate apartments are under construction in this old Scandinavian enclave, now probably better known for its nightlife than for its Norwegians.

        Developers from Chicago and Virginia are building big complexes where Jacobsen’s Marine, Sunset Bowl, the Jetsons-style Denny’s and other longtime Ballard businesses once stood.

        When all those projects are finished, sometime in mid-2014, the number of units in complexes of 20 or more apartments in Ballard will increase by 70 percent — more than any other Seattle neighborhood.

        And there’s still more in the pipeline. Projects with another 750 or so units that haven’t broken ground yet likely will be completed before the end of 2015, according to research firm Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors.

      10. As I have pointed out myself, some of the most mis-financed, poorly sited, and thus overpriced examples of pedestrian-hostile urbanism have been under-rented. I have been no fan of the way megaprojects are planned and financed in this city. The building where Sunset Bowl used to be is an excellent example of a megaproject whose failure to understand organic placemaking will likely send it underwater.

        You don’t need the Seattle Times to “prove” this to me — and you shouldn’t cite that article, which contradicts itself about eight ways from Sunday.

        But the vacancy rate in well-located and better-constructed projects up and down the size scale (from duplexes to larger apartment buildings) remains quite low.

        What the success of Ballard over the last generation demonstrates is that growth begets growth, especially when it is allowed to spread gradually over a wider area. Ballard’s “next trick” is not to declare five square blocks upzoned and then call that “final density” (like Roosevelt), and not to scream and whine about each new resident as if they were invading hordes coming to steal our souls (like West Seattle).

        As I’ve said before (and you hate), the difference is that West Seattle is clinging to its suburban soul, while Ballard has finally (and not without growing pains) joined the city-parts of the city. But now the demand is here, the destination establishments are here, the cachet is here, and it’s not going anywhere. Fortunately, there’s plenty more room to grow. Hey, it’s a lot easier to replace some of the more underused blocks in the industrial areas you keep pointing to than it is to get one single West Seattle homeowner to give up their water view!

        For what it’s worth, Biliruben, I happen to agree with you that there isn’t enough demand or congestion in the Ballard-Holman-105th-Northgate corridor to warrant a rail extension. So it’s not like I’m arguing Ballard needs to be the “all rails lead to” destination that some are. But that doesn’t change the fact that rail to West Seattle would cost an awful lot to serve an awfully slim sliver of an awfully distant place, and to not serve them much better than they’re being served today.

        It’s very tempting to see Seattle as a big “X”, and to want to build fancy, shiny rail in that same “X” shape. But that doesn’t make it financially prudent, or even fair — the baseline density in the Central District is about twice the West Seattle baseline, so when is the Central District’s abjectly horrible bus service going to see a proposed rail replacement? Never? How fair is that?

      11. Not fair at all. Oddly, we seem to have reached some sort of agreement. Let’s see if we can get decent, direct service to the parts of the city that have density and are growing. Subways are expensive, and we shouldn’t build them based on flourishes and dreams. We should build them between places that lots of people want to travel.

        Ballard to downtown.
        Central District to downtown.
        NE to downtown.

        As long as you understand that very few who don’t already live in Ballard want to take any but the very, very rare trip to Ballard, we can be on the same page.

      12. I think we can agree that we agree more than we disagree. ;-)

        I still have to take issue with your last statement. In just the 5 years I’ve been in central Ballard, I’ve watched it evolve from a place of moderate interest to the northwest ¼ of the city (plus occasional weekend drinkers) into a far more major activity hub whose magnetic pull for routine visits encompasses the entire northern ½ of the city proper (including Capitol Hill), plus two or three inner-northern suburbs. At all hours of the day and every day of the week.

        It’s still not a regular draw from West Seattle — that trip is a far, no matter what mode of conveyence you use — but the change in regional importance has been real. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those arriving in Ballard for business or pleasure are doing so in cars, because the reverse-transit is pretty horrible in the east and southeast directions, especially any time in the evening.

        I also want to reiterate that I still think the Ballard-Fremont-Wallingford-U-Dist subway is essential, regardless of what does or doesn’t get built from downtown. This has nothing to do with Ballard or the U-District as “endpoints” — it’s the entire corridor in the east-west swath between these places where demand is high all day and transit connectivity is hobbled at all times. I think you’re still hung up on the idea that these ideas are both about “service Ballard”, and that’s really not the case. The purpose that would be served by an east-west line through the busiest swath of North Seattle is mutually exclusive from the places and purposes that would be served by anything headed north-south. (And as I’ve said many times, the east-west might actually perform more benefit for far less money.)

        Despite hours of brainstorming on the problem, I still don’t know how best to fix the Central District’s woes. That the C.D.’s density is consistent across a large rectangle, but that it has no obvious focal point to reach in fast, consolidated east-west hop from downtown, makes it an exceedingly difficult route to strategize. Still, with U-Link and highway-hugging East Link doing essentially nothing for the populated parts of the C.D., we have to come up with something exponentially better than the worst-in-town buses they have today.

      13. Oh, and let no one think that I think transit to or within the various parts of West Seattle is adequate today.

        There’s a lot that can be done with more frequency and better connections, with targeted queue jumps and even some 100%-exclusive new infrastructure in the future. Thinking a subway is not cost-justified does not mean that I accept mediocrity to the demand-ier parts of your neighborhood.

      14. As I said before, I agree with you about the 45th St crosstown, though looking back that wasn’t clear in my latest post. Ballard should get either that or the route to downtown (not both) as the next priority for ST. Then get the other route after other neighborhoods like the Northeast or West Seattle or the CD are taken care of.

        I live in the NE, not West Seattle, and I know very few people around here who go much further than Maple Leaf, or maybe Greenwood for their nightlife. Maybe I’d go to Ballard if it wasn’t a half hour each way. Dunno.

        My wife works in Ballard, yet I still find very little to draw me there to meet her after work. I love beer, and you’ve gotten a lot of new breweries, but I still find myself staying local or heading to SODO if I’m looking for a fresh beer.

        I am pretty much the exact person who might just go from the NE to Ballard, yet I find myself only over there a handful of times a year, and find little reason to return, since I’ve moved from Fremont. Probably just getting old.

      15. Accessibility absolutely makes a difference.

        I almost can’t believe how infrequently I used to go to Fremont, in the years before the 40 existed. And it’s still rare that I take advantage of Fremont in the evenings, when the 40’s infrequency makes the 2.2-mile return seem far more hassle than it’s worth.

        As long as Ballard is able to grow without become mono-form (i.e. a place with nothing to do but eat or drink), I don’t see it’s presently-snowballing drawing power running out of snow anytime soon.

    2. Alki~

      Don’t fight against a subway to Ballard because you want a subway to West Seattle. Help us fight FOR a subway to both! There will be a study about the West Seattle corridor soon, and the transit community has the chance to come together and get that area the service it deserves. Then when all these lines come to a vote in 2016, we can get Link to all these neighborhoods.
      If the transit community fights together, instead of against each other, we can really make the most of this opportunity.

  21. Given the broad breadth and uneven civility of this site, I’ve gone back and forth as to whether I want to post… but I’m starting to wonder if we’re going to miss out on a very worthwhile prize by greasing only the squeakiest wheels. After looking at the Ballard study options, and watching Ballard traffic (yes, I do own a motor vehicle, though I don’t use it for my peak-period commute), and watching Seattle development, I’ve reached the conclusion that yes, we need to be prepared to spend money, and if we spend serious money, we need to go where the largest population densities will be.

    I like everything about the D option *except* the deep, expensive station at Galer Street. Yes, that is a cute little walkable neighborhood, with a mixture of neighborhood commercial, old apartment buildings, and expensive single-family residences occupied by well-educated people who will comment on transit studies. It’s a nice little neighborhood village. It would take very dramatic redevelopment to turn it into an area with a really large density of residences and jobs within the station walkshed.

    That station should be moved to the vicinity of Dexter Avenue and Aloha Street, at the northwest corner of South Lake Union. There are already several huge apartment buildings there, with more under construction. Even if the new apartments have average unit sizes much larger than the charming old apartment buildings, you’re still going to have more bodies per block in big six-story buildings than in small three-story buildings.As far as employment density of South Lake Union compared to upper Queen Anne… anyone been through those neighborhoods recently?

    A fully grade-separated line from Ballard to Fremont to South Lake Union, Belltown, and Downtown would be expensive. It would also serve the quantity and density of residents and jobs to make it worth every penny.

    1. I think everyone agrees that South Lake Union is worthy of a subway station. In a perfect world, we would have three north-south lines, and one of them would stop at SLU. (This is the Seattle Subway “Blue Line”.)

      Having said that, I think you’re understating the case for serving Upper Queen Anne. There are two reasons to build a stop there. First, there’s already very high ridership. And second, it enables a lot of trips that are not easy today, and can never be easy by bus, due to the topography and the street grid.

      Regarding the ridership, consider that UQA is currently the main destination of the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 13. With the possible exception of the 1, these are among the most productive of all Metro services. I believe the 3 is Metro’s single highest-performing route during the off-peak, as measured by passengers per revenue hour. UQA is a classic “streetcar suburb”; it grew up in a time when transit was common and private cars were not. Despite the fact that the 3 takes 20 minutes to travel 2 miles, it still has huge ridership. It’s reasonable to expect that a subway station would capture a large portion of that ridership, and that it would also attract new riders, who are currently turned off by the slow speed of current service.

      Regarding the routing, consider the two most direct routes from downtown to Upper Queen Anne. You can take Queen Anne Ave (the 13), or you can take Taylor (the 3). Both of them are busy for most of the day, especially the segment in “Uptown”. The steep terrain necessitates frequent stops, which slows service further. Because of these issues, there are no buses which stop in UQA on the way to somewhere else in the north; the time penalty would simply be too high. If you want to get from UQA to anywhere in North Seattle, even the U-District, you have to transfer downtown, or be prepared to walk.

      The routing is why a UQA stop is more important than an SLU stop. You can easily get from SLU to just about anywhere, by taking the 5, or 8, or 16, or 26, or 28, or 66, or 70, or other routes. SLU has a great grid, and it’s very easy to serve effectively by bus from all directions. (And for what it’s worth, getting between SLU and downtown is very easy and fast as well.) But if you want to have a sane trip between UQA and anywhere other than downtown, you need to build something.

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