This is an open thread.

91 Replies to “News Roundup: Station Access”

  1. I’m disappointed that Rep. Pollet is pushing that bill. I’m in his district, so I think I’m going to need to write him about that.

    1. Likewise. I haven’t been to thrilled with Pollet in general, but I would still expect more out of the guy.

      1. I wonder what he’s basing his assertion that skinny houses “literally destroy the value of the houses next door” on. Is there data to support his claim?

        Since he refers to them as “monstrosities” it sounds like he has a personal vendetta against them. I don’t see anything wrong with the house pictured in the article.

  2. Small quibble on the FHSC blurb. Instead of saying it may slide opening day by a few months, shouldn’t that be it will slide opening day by a few months? Also, I’m astonished that whoever’s decision it was to pick the streetcar flooring, apparently decided to go with a floor that’s never been used before, instead of picking a flooring material that’s currently in use elsewhere, and has already been fully tested.

    1. 1. It’s worrisome that a streetcar made in Czech Republic, where they have a long and excellent history of street rail, should have a problem like wrong floor material. These cars also have a propulsion system untried in passenger service- in the name of saving an entire route of southbound wire. Anybody want to take a poll of what the mechanics in other systems think of this idea?

      However, recent visits to northern Europe aren’t very comforting either. The buses we got from Breda aren’t their worst damage to the world’s transit industry. Since 1995, the old and beautiful trackage of Oslo, Norway, has been wrecked by a whole fleet of overweight, screeching junk. And average people in Gothenburg, Sweden know and care enough about their tramway system to be enraged by their latest fleet, from same company. Whatever is wrong with manufacture and procurement certainly has gone global.

      2. Love Tukwila International station, but the pigeon world has adopted the structure as an awesome place to come and not only live, but also die. Their droppings are also corrosive. Has any progress been made on dealing with this since 2009? Possible cure: when the system staged a rolling rock concert soon after opening, I noticed that the minute the mike went on, whole Union Station area went pigeon free. Would be easier to repeat, but hard to get public support. Younger cafe patrons tell me they can’t do calculus without these tunes and decibel level.

      3. Hate to say this, but thanks for the video from Olympia. I’ve always admired Intercity Transit, and am glad to have 15-minute service a half block from my door. Personnel seem to go out of their way to help passengers, both in service and planning.

      The driver deserves some recognition for his courage and initiative in trying to protect his passengers, but I hope that upon his recovery, he and his agency and the police have the session that could have been post-mortem. The police themselves don’t get into angry face to face confrontations without backup- even with Stranger editors.

      Great list of topics, Martin.

      Mark

    2. The streetcars failed a test in which the area underneath the floor has to actively burn for 30 minutes without breaking through the floor. While it’s worrisome that the design failed to meet that standard, doesn’t that seem like an excessive standard? Streetcars could be evacuated in <1 minute, no?

      1. There are streetcars in service that have met that standard, correct? The part of this story I’m most interested in is why didn’t they simply go with the design that has been tested and approved in the past?

      2. How was the 48’s ridership in the early years? Did it jump immediately like more recent crosstown service on Denny Way and N 40th Street did? Or did it build up slowly?

      3. @Sam,

        It’s probably yet another instance of “saving money” by substituting an inferior but cheaper material. What else would it be? Inekon must have thought it would meet the burn standards or didn’t know about them. Either way it’s yet another sacrifice of quality to the Great God Profit.

      4. This standard sounds completely insane. But it might not be — is there a possibility that certain types of electrical fires could ignite underfloor and burn for long periods without being detected?

  3. ebay is offering a photo and press clipping from 1966 of the first day of service on route 48. Prior to 1966 there was no cross-town bus service on 23rd Avenue that connected the Central District with the University District. Riders from the CD would have to walk to Madison and catch the 4 MONTLAKE or ride downtown and transfer to the 7 or 8 bus.

    1. How was the 48′s ridership in the early years? Did it jump immediately like more recent crosstown service on Denny Way and N 40th Street did? Or did it build up slowly?

      1. There’s an article in the Seattle Times archive (11/3/66) that says the route was earning $875 in revenue per week against an operating cost of $2400/week. That’s about a 37% cost recovery after 2 months. The article also mentions that the 48 was diverting about $100 in weekly revenue from other routes.

        I know that the 48 used those old, slow gasoline-powered Twin coaches for years. The climb up 24th Ave from Montlake must have taken f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

  4. On Puyallup and Sumner: I’m with the spread-it-out crowd (spread out the parking, that is). Build new urban-sized blocks directly adjacent to the station (on the current parking lot), sell that land to people that will do something useful with it (zone it liberally), and use the proceeds to build a handful of small-footprint garages along the main car routes into town within a few blocks of the station. The station can have a kiss-and-ride loop and some parking for people with handicapped placards.

    People in Puyallup city government claiming P&R-ers absolutely need a centralized parking garage right next to the station needs to go on a national trip visiting suburban commuter rail stations. Then they can make an informed decision about whether they’d rather their town resemble the ones that have city right up to the tracks or the ones that built big centralized parking garages. I think they’ll find the big centralized garage doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Not aesthetics, not economics, not safety, and not civics.

    1. What really needs to be done is to have outlying lots that will serve as spokes for the hub that is the station. Problem is: People don’t like to ride slow buses. The solution: Express buses that go from that Park and ride lot to connect with the train. Have one bus that leaves from a specific lot and connects with a specific train every morning. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Integrate the fare of the bus into the Sounder distance-fare system.

      1. For Puyallup, wouldn’t a simple solution be to rent more space from the fairgrounds? That doesn’t work so well for a couple of weeks in September, but it seems like there would be plenty of space for the rest of the year.

        I have heard that the Red Lot parking is about a half mile from the station, which is close enough to hoof it if you don’t want to wait for the bus. The other lots may be a bit farther away, but there’s plenty of parking available.

      2. I don’t think anything that complicated is necessary. There are suburbs all over the US with essentially useless bus service where people park in various garages and lots within walking distance of the station and walk to it without obliterating the station area with giant parking lots like the one Puyallup has today (or garages with similar footprints).

        In these suburbs the other station-area land use often pre-dated the parking. Though governments often provide the P&R parking (and much retail parking as well) they basically had to work within the constraints of a real estate market in order to do it. So even though they’ve generally acted to subsidize drivers unwilling to pay for the costs of taking up valuable space with their vehicles, market forces (and politically popular downtown businesses) have prevented them from completely wrecking their towns while doing so. This is one of those Jane Jacobs things: more market, less monolith. I’m not a market extremist and know that more market doesn’t always work out to less monolith in practice, but when a government buys out two or three solid city blocks in a potentially desirable location near a new train service to build commuter parking that should be an inherently suspicious activity — it’s preventing the market that would allow valuable land uses there from ever forming.

      3. The important thing to recognize is that a parking garage isn’t perfect land use on any block but when you have a functioning local street network supporting a number of mixed-use blocks in a nice contiguous area, losing part of one of those blocks to a parking garage doesn’t kill your urban continuity. It’s when you start losing entire blocks, or combining multiple blocks and destroying the street network, that you create big dead zones.

  5. The 3rd & Virginia / Bell St RapidRide stops have the same pigeon dropping problem. The shelters are constantly messy and you’d be wise to look up at the trees and lights before walking through the area. The city has laws against feeding rats but apparently flying rats are ok…

    1. That used to drive me insane when I lived in Belltown. That and the open air flea market that usually set up shop there.

  6. Any word on what’s happening with the Center City Connector?

    SDOT’s schedule online indicates they are to present the draft locally preferred option to the council in February, but it seems it’s been delayed. There hasn’t been an update since December.

    1. Tempting to just say that easy solution would be to give our working population wages good enough to make them gentry. Anybody with a problem with the financial calculation, clean toilets, crew a garbage truck, flip ‘burgers, drive a bus, or clean up hotel rooms recently inhabited by gentry yourself for a week before you discuss earned income.

      But term “gentry” itself carries some connotations that get to the heart of present trouble. It wasn’t disproportionate income that bothered many of our Founding Fathers. It was the idea that by reason of family lineage or Royal decree, shoulder-tap with a sword, etc., a whole class of people had ruling authority whether they worked or not.

      Worse than that, and likely the founding fury of the Spirit of ’76 was fired by these people’s downright loathing of anybody who did work for a living, believing that the more productive the worker- including and especially company owners and skilled tradespeople-the worse they smelled. Gentry either inherited their money or married it.

      Alexander Hamilton- a ship-provisioners’ clerk in the West Indies, whose job description included a small boat in close proximity to sharks – joined the Revolution out of hate for the likes of the gentlemen captains he dealt with. Whose main problem with merchants was that they their habit of trying to make gentry pay their bills.

      The generation of people moving into the older neighborhoods of every city in the world earn their money work long hours in extremely hard, in very necessary trades. Which usually require borrowing a huge amount of money for an education taking half their lives. Which is the real key to a a situation History really dislikes.

      No matter how much anyone’s character and efforts merits their living standard, their children’s place in life is inherited. Andrew Carnegie was probably working like a Scots devil when he was five, but somebody had to show him Morse code. If he had kids, their life’s chief hardship was likely their father, but they didn’t live in Five Points.

      Two children. Becoming two high school kids until one drops out- the one in the school that deserves to be dropped out of. The first child’s children will be able to buy at a very low price the home the second’ child’s parents had to move out of. First child and his descendents will all believe they deserve to keep everything they’ve got. Second, opposite take on their own deserts.

      We’ll be lucky if we get the American Revolution and not the French or the Russian one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K1q9Ntcr5g Link to La Marseillaise, Sam.

      Mark

      1. Carnegie, for reference, had one child, a daughter. Because of the sexism of the times, Carnegie’s belief in “self made men” didn’t apply to his *daughter*. Furthermore, since her husband was supposed to take care of her, this didn’t conflict with his belief that wealth should be given away rather than inherited. She did become a trustee of his foundation (though well after his death).

        So he sort of avoided having to live up to his beliefs in meritocracy. Would have been harder for him if he’d had a son.

    2. Where is Spike Lee allowed to live with his millions? Apparently in an Upper East Side townhouse. He sounds a lot like white people in the 60’s complaining about integration in their neighborhoods.

      150 years ago Brooklyn and Queens were full of farm land. How’s that for gentrification…

    3. The Bed Stuy and Bushwick of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s that he longs for was far worse for its infestation of crime, filthy streets, and bad schools. Just because a dude can’t play his bongos very late in the evening he’s going to have a conniption? Sure the prices are a little higher, but you can still get jerk chicken with a biscotti

      1. It’s not about a place, it’s about people.

        The fact that the neighborhoods were worse back then is part of the point — one of the major accusations he levels is that these neighborhoods received ineffective policing and other services before rich white people moved in. This is an accusation that the powers in NYC don’t care about whether a neighborhood is any good if its inhabitants are poor and black — if that’s true, I’m inclined to say someone like Spike Lee is entitled to place his concern with black people and poor people, wherever they live (increasingly not in these places), rather than with whether the neighborhood is better for its current group of inhabitants.

        And if it’s true that the default perspective in stories told of some city or some neighborhood (or some generation?) is the perspective of money (money “rediscovers” a neighborhood people have been living in all along), then it’s necessary and good that someone tell the story from a different perspective, because the story of money misses a lot of people. That’s part of what Spike Lee does. If you want to come into Bushwick (or the Mission, or First Hill, or Pilsen) with money, it’s not really any great threat that he does this — money will probably still get its way.

  7. Will California’s Hydrogen Highway Survive This Time Around?

    “I pull into a gasoline station with a hydrogen pump and I turn off the car. I punch in my codes [required until the 2015 market opens] and wait briefly while the pump prepares to dispense. I attach the nozzle and lock it. I press the fueling button and the fill begins,” Malone says. “The fill can take about three to seven minutes, depending on how many kilograms of hydrogen I need. I return the nozzle to the holder, close my gas cap, and leave.”

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/alternative-fuel/cells/will-californias-hydrogen-highway-survive-this-time-around-16528881?click=pm_latest

  8. As Kirkland flirts with gondolas, Israel builds them

    JGM to bring SkyTran to Tel Aviv in 2014

    The world’s first SkyTran network, in the Israeli financial centre of Tel Aviv, is scheduled for completion in mid-2014.

    International project management firm Jenkins Gales & Martinez (JGM) will provide planning, civil engineering, and construction management for the groundbreaking city transport scheme.SkyTran, first proposed in 1990 by the inventor Douglas Malewicki, is a metropolitan rapid transport system consisting of lightweight two-passenger vehicles suspended from elevated tracks.

    Making use of electric motors and passive magnetic levitation technology, the vehicles will be capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour while maintaining an impressive fuel economy equating to over 200 miles per US gallon.

    http://www.wantoday.com/wia_blog/2013/11/20/jgm-to-bring-skytran-to-tel-aviv-in-2014/

  9. That bury I-5 thing isn’t very well thought out. I-5 isn’t built right on top of the earth in most of those places, but is rather a kind of two-level viaduct. It would be really hard to even build right on top of the free way even if you got rid of the cars. Forget about building on top of a superstructure put over the free way.

    1. Much of I-5 in Seattle is dug into the hill on the east side. Quite a bit of it is at-grade. And just because you build a cap, doesn’t mean you need to build skyscrapers on top of it. Turning it into an urban park is a great use. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s a better use of $2 billion dollars than the giant money pit they are boring under Seattle right now.

      I-405 through Portland is another good candidate. Urban freeways do more harm than good.

      1. If we’re going to tear out a Portland freeway, let’s tear out I-5 on the Inner Eastside and redesignate I-405 as I-5. :)

      2. While anything is better than a trench, a lid with capacity to support at least low-rise buildings is infinitely preferable to a park.

      3. The biggest harm that I-5 has done to Seattle is not the noise or the smog; it’s the dead space and the lack of pedestrian/transit mobility.

        A lid just wouldn’t fix that problem. The worst part is between Denny and Aloha, and along there, I-5 has two decks. A lid would abruptly end at Eastlake, and it wouldn’t add any connectivity.

        If you wanted to reconnect the grid, you’d have to get rid of the upper level, and rechannel the at-grade portion to be the regular lanes (instead of express lanes). Which I think is worth doing, but it’s probably not going to happen any time soon.

      4. It’s not worth the expense to bury it, given that you can’t build much over it. What should happen, though it is politically and financially impossible, is to dismantle I-5 through downtown, stopping at say Northgate in the north and I-90 in the south. Redesignate 405 as I-5. The big hit to transit would be the loss of the express lanes, though with Link along the same corridor they might no longer be needed. You could do it in sections, developing the reclaimed land with liberal zoning (focusing on housing for populations that are currently underserved).

      5. As always, I am in favor of solutions that repair and improve the pedestrian experience without requiring gigafucktons of money, like this one:

        https://sites.google.com/site/freewaycaps/what-portland-cn-learn-from-florence-italy-and-columbus-ohio

        Denny is a little steep, but Pine and northside Pike both seem like places this could work. Some non-load bearing greenscreening on either side of Boren, and some decent, walkable development at the site of the current Convention Place station could bridge the gap between downtown and Capitol Hill.

        North of Denny, I’d love to build a ped/bike bridge/elevator around Harrison St, and to rebuild Belmont/Roy with pavement that could support Metro bus service. Those two things would do three quarters as much for car-free mobility as a bazillion dollar lid at a fraction of the price.

      6. Earlier I said it would confuse too many people to renumber 405 to 5. But it could work if you numbered it as both 5 and 405 for ten or twenty years. Then it would just look like DC’s 95/395 or Minnesota’s 90/94.

      7. Nitpick: In DC, 95 is multiplexed with the east half of the 495 beltway, not with 395, which is a spur into the city.

        If your plan goes through and 405 is multiplexed with 5, that’d be the first instance I’m aware of where a three-digit interstate shares its entire route with its parent interstate. Instead, I’d advocate keeping I-5 north into downtown and then having it cross the I-90 floating bridge to continue on 405. Through traffic, of course, would be directed to 405.

      8. Much of I-5 in Seattle is dug into the hill on the east side. Quite a bit of it is at-grade.

        Not downtown. It’s a viaduct from where it rises next to Beacon hill until it settles north of the ship canal. If you don’t believe me, think about the express lanes and where they are. Are they above the freeway or below it? There’s no place there where you could put a single building on the existing freeway.

        While anything is better than a trench, a lid with capacity to support at least low-rise buildings is infinitely preferable to a park.

        Infinitely preferable and basically impossible.

      9. That would retain the most destructive part of the freeway and remove the benign part, when it should be the other way around. North Seattle and downtown have street grids on both immediate sides, and pedestrians who want to cross, and buses that are bottlenecked. But in South Seattle it’s all along Beacon Ridge adjacent to the industrial district. You can’t realistically build much else there. Steep hillside houses like San Francisco went out of fashion a hundred years ago, and would be seen as a gross underscaling of our housing needs (which require multifamily). Apartments/condos would have a view of the industrial district. Warehouses would find the hillside too inconvenient. Environmentalists would clamor to turn it into a greenbelt.

      10. I agree with Bruce. I love these big, grand ideas, but sometimes it makes sense to start small and grow. Freeway park is a great idea, and it should be expanded. Adding some buildings along the way (if practical) makes sense as well. It would help generate a bit of money for the project. But I would start by extending the cap up to Pine and then Olive. If done right (lots of diagonal paths) you could make pedestrian routes that not are only quiet (not next to a busy street) but save time as well (e. g. if you are going from East Pike to the Paramount you could go directly there). You could easily design a park (or extend freeway park) to do this, but you could also mix in retail along with pedestrian streets to accomplish the same thing (if you mandated the paths then you would automatically prevent the “big-box” look). A good time to consider building these things is when we expand the convention center, which is coming up soon.

        North of Denny what is needed there (first) is some pedestrian bridges. There wasn’t much demand for that sort of thing twenty years ago, because before REI moved into the neighborhood, there just wasn’t much there. But times have changed (obviously) and I’ve seen plenty of people walk the unpleasant routes from the Cascade neighborhood to Capitol Hill (via Lakeview or Denny). To make matters worse, you have to “go around” quite a long ways at times (e. g. crossing the single block from one side of Mercer to the other takes 0.6 miles according to Google). A bridge over Republican or Mercer would be really nice. It might be hard to build if it had to be ALA compliant, because the west side of it would be really steep. But I think you could use Eastlake to solve that problem, by taking a sharp turn and then sloping down towards the street (much as the West Thomas Street overpass does). I think a bridge like this would see way more pedestrian traffic than the Thomas Street one.

        Bridges are expensive, but not that expensive. I prefer that the city build bridges rather than more streetcars.

      11. I-5 downtown is now over 45 years old and will need a rebuild in the next decade or two. That will cost huge tons of money and create huge traffic jams… which might start people thinking more favorably about alternatives.

        In major cities the subways function like quasi-freeways, as people consider them the fastest way to get around. It would be interesting if central I-5 were demolished and Link became the primary trunk. However, it’s a but underbuilt for that occasion. But Westlake to Lynnwood is expected to be about as fast as an express bus on I-5, so that’s something to start with.

      12. Considering that historically (1910 – ~1960) Cascade and Capitol Hill were linked by the Republican Street Hill Climb, I say we should build a bridge reconnecting Republican and have it connect to the still-existing top third of the staircase. Both Repulican and Harrison are at about the halfway point between Denny and Lakeview (when you take into account the large slope and turn of Lakeview), so how about we just go ahead and build Republic Street Hill Climb 2.0.

      13. If I-5 is removed and I-405 is redesignated as I-5, imagine the construction savings from having all the basements for the new buildings already excavated!

        There would be a frenzy of infill construction.

    2. Why not also drain Lake Washington, or say, reduce it’s surface area by half?

      It’s artificial anyway right? And the principal beneficiaries compared to the average public are very few relatively.

      How about filling in everything north of the 520 bridge?

      1. It’s a natural lake. The water level’s already been artificially lowered once; I hear Lake Washington Boulevard was built on the reclaimed land from that. And I wouldn’t object to studying how to fill in parts of it, or building causeways… though considering that both 520 and 90 are floating bridges, I’d expect it to be prohibitively expensive.

      2. Well like I said I’d only fill in everything north of the ship canal.

        Although at the point the north end of Lake Washington is covered and its continuous from Seattle to the Eastside, you might question the need for a floating bridge as you could build a standard highway across the filled in land.

        This would keep enough of the Lake for UW boating and hydroplane races and make acres and acres of reclaimed land for development. Plus, as I said, we’d alleviate the traffic problems of having to cram on to a couple of relatively narrow bridges instead of having multiple streets crossing East-West.

      3. How will you convince the rich people in Kirkland and Juanita and Lake Forest Park and Bothell and Laurelhurst that they should lose their water views and sailboat docks? What about Kirkland’s waterfront park and maritime history and Argosy cruises? You’d probably have better luck getting them to approve a 30-story building in those areas.

    3. The convention center is mulling an expansion over the current CPS. Maybe they will propose an extension of freeway park between Pine and Pike to connect the two sections of the convention center?

  10. Improving the Grid in Capitol Hill

    16th through 24th: Road diet: “…one travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and significantly wider sidewalks, with street parking punctuated by bus bulbs.”

    Sounds like a reasonable suggestion.

    12th through 16th: Madison Street Park: “…would be recreated as a ‘woonerf’…” and “…some of Madison’s wide right-of-way can be vacated, and given or sold to a private developer…”

    Ok, that’s enough internet for today. I’m starting to see things, like suggesting the city GIVE right-of-way to developers.

    1. If the city gives right-of-way to developers, and makes money off of it in property tax revenue, then is it really a giveaway?

      1. Yes, because they aren’t making ROW anymore. Once you give it away, it’s gone. I think it’s more valuable in the hands of the public than it ever would be as private property.

    2. Alley vacations are actually surprisingly common.

      The city never gives up right-of-way for free. But sometimes, rather than asking for money, the city asks for something else, such as affordable housing, or certain infrastructure improvements.

      In such a situation, you could say that the city is selling the ROW in exchange for a non-cash benefit. But that seemed just as confusing.

      Perhaps I should have said “… right-of-way can be vacated, in exchange for cash, or for other benefits (such as affordable housing or infrastructure improvements)”.

    3. The city would only vacate it if they decide it won’t be needed long term.

      Aleks’ suggestion for bus routes — Madison BRT on Madison-Union, keeping the 11 and 8 more or less intact, and no route between 12th and 16th — could be done even without the controversial street modifications.

    4. Aleks is right. The ROW vacation is VERY common. The City is very careful about this of course. And, ROW acquisition is also very common. It’s actually easy to get ROW back. The City merely needs to show a need for it and when a property redevelops, *dedication* of ROW is required (that’s how we got most of it in the first place). If the City were committed to a plan like Alek’s, then it seems reasonable to consider vacation.

      1. But ROW dedication on a major arterial like this? I just seems like something the city would regret in the future when they have to buy it back at 10 times the cost they sold it for (or infinite if they give(?) it away).

        Broad street makes sense, since they are restoring a grid. But the article was not so much suggesting restoring the grid, rather keeping the diagonal Madison, shrinking it and selling off the ROW. Since there’s too much new construction that’s been done along this stretch, restoring the grid doesn’t make sense. I would rather just see a linear park in that area before shrinking the road and giving away the excess.

      2. And that’s the trouble with groupthink and local political meme-repetition.

        McGilvra Place Park. It was recently, expensively redone — in the process absorbing an underused section of street — as an adjunct to the Bullitt Center project.

        There is never anyone using the park. Ever! And you would extend it to 1/3 of a mile in length!?

        Seattle doesn’t need more “open space”. Seattle is drowning in “open space”. Seattle needs more stuff, near other stuff, and on the way to even more stuff. And any human-scaled micro-parcels created along the underused peripheries of a slimmed-down Madison would be the perfect place to put it.

      3. @ RipidRider.Why would they need to buy it back? I have an extremely hard term believing that the situation would be so regrettable that the city would feel compelled to buy back the land at 10 times the cost of selling it. There is no way Madison is going to be found to be that essential to the roadway network when many viable alternatives exist. So even if selling the ROW isn’t optimal (though I think it would be), hedging against that doomsday scenario is unfounded because said doomsday scenario has no chance of occurring.

        I will state that implementing this plan for Madison would require careful thought about how to use the space, and how said uses would integrate with the neighboring buildings. I do not think there is the pedestrian demand here that would make just putting some chairs and tables out (like the did on Broadway in New York) worthwhile. Adding food trucks might work though.

      4. I completely agree with d.p. The problem with Madison is that it’s too wide and too open, which is especially problematic because both of the blocks on either side are too small, awkwardly shaped, and underused. I think that making Madison narrower, and using some of the extra space to build stuff (i.e. not parks), would do much more for the neighborhood than turning the whole super-wide ROW into a super-wide park.

        I do like trees. (Who doesn’t?) But you can put trees along the edges of a much narrower street than Madison currently is.

      5. The city council hasn’t even said it would consider this yet. It’s just an idea. So no need to get freaked out about losing valuable ROW. If this is officially proposed the #1 opposition will be, “But we need this thoroughfare now.” (Regardless of whether they really need it or just think they do.) So that will be a large hurdle, and possible future need will be another high hurdle. The city would only do it if it’s soundly convinced on both of those.

        It’s similar to Broad Street in some ways but different in others. Madison Street has adjacent apartments and small businesses and pedestrians on both sides. Broad Street has none of that because it was all destroyed when I-5 was built. It’s all just decaying warehouses and road interchanges next to it. So restructuring Broad Street means bringing the neighborhood back, and nobody will object to losing decayed warehouses and unwalkable interchanges. But in Madison Street’s case the neighborhood is already there, and restructuring it would impact them, and they’d rightly be hesitant about downgrading the main street without a thorough study of the impacts.

      6. Agree with d.p. It would be much more pleasant as a pedestrian to walk along a street that FEELS narrow because there are businesses/apartments lining it. Cars also tend to slow down on those kind of streets.

  11. From the Seattle Times – The Deeply Boring Tunnel might stay on budget after all, even if it’s delayed. But –

    Judy Clibborn, chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, said she’s heartened by that prediction, and will strive to prevent “scope creep” — that is, the adding of features or sub-projects that would drain some of the $2 billion tunnel fund. For instance, Clibborn said she will resist any attempts to spend tunnel funds to continue supplemental Metro Transit buses on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, even though Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson directed her staff to find perhaps $20 million to keep the popular service going after the current $32 million in bus aid expires this summer.

    About $78 million in contingency money remains in the $2 billion tunnel portion of the overall $3.1 billion Viaduct replacement budget, based on a state Department of Transportation (DOT) report to the federal government last summer.

    1. What a bunch of crap. The “scope” was to improve transportation. Spending money on buses improves transportation (which can be proven). She would have a point if they wanted to spend the money on additional parkland or pretty art, or any other public amenity not related to transportation, but additional bus service is about transportation.

      Speaking of which, the logic behind ending the bus service once the project is complete is nuts. There are people who will never ride a bus. There are also people who will ride a bus, then if it becomes too much of a pain, will switch to driving (and I’m one of those people). But if bus service is good, then you will continue to ride the bus. It takes a while to figure out the bus service, and once you do, and once you are confident that it works for you, then you’ll stick with it (unless something changes). But you aren’t going to start driving just because driving all of the sudden got a little bit better — mainly because it won’t. I-90 was a mess about six months after they added the new lanes. 520 is back to where it was before they added tolls (slow). The cut in service becomes a self fulfilling system (more people will drive because buses will suck again). At a minimum, I would love to see them continue the extra bus service just as an experiment. My guess is that they would get an embarrassingly low number of drivers through the tunnel and wonder if it was all worth it (hint: it wasn’t).

    2. We really need to get rid of her. She’s just as horrible in person. I sat in lecture for Rail~Volution where her and King spoke. King was clearly the worst, but she was making me want to cry almost as much.

    1. Any shots of the interior, Tim? Curious if the seating configuration is as hostile as the existing buses.

  12. I notice a lot of tall cranes throughout the SLU area. Question. Is all this new growth and density going to cause nearby apartment rents and condo prices to lower a little bit?

    1. Very few of those cranes are for new condos and apartments. It’s almost entirely office space. How do you suppose new office space would lower apartment rents?

      1. I was on a bus on I-5, and I glanced over toward SLU and in about 5 seconds I counted 12 cranes. And there were still more cranes to be counted, but the neighborhood then went out of view. But okay, Andrew, let’s say for the sake of argument that 100% of those new buildings in SLU are office buildings. All I’m asking is what affect, if any, will those new buildings/employees have on apt. rents and condo prices in the SLU neighborhood? I’m just curious and want to learn, that’s all.

      2. If you’re just curious, we’re curious too. Why did you write here that you wanted to see an American astronaut walk on the surface of the sun – are you unaware that the sun has no solid surface? And why did you say in this link that you live in Ballard when you said just above it that you lived in Bellevue?

        But to answer this question:
        More residences = more supply.
        More offices ~= more demand.
        More demand = more desirable city.

        Econ 101 will take it from there.

      3. It’s not just “more desirable city”, but more offices also means more jobs and lower unemployment, and more options to work near good transit lines, and more indirect jobs because all those workers will be spending money.

    2. First off, I think I meant effect, not affect. Secondly, I have never said I’ve lived in Ballard. That was some other Sam or sock puppetry or something. And William, if more offices means more residential demand, doesn’t more residential demand mean higher rents? Again, I’m just trying to learn. PS, if the sun doesn’t have a solid surface, and the astronauts can’t walk on it, could they bring a boat and sail on its surface?

      1. BTW, I’m not an idiot. I realize that NASA would have to build a special boat or kayak with heat shields that the astronaut would use to explore the sun.

  13. Kudos for Kirkland for considering lots of options, including gondolas, then picking the appropriate one (busway). I would love it if Seattle did the same thing. In that case, I think they would conclude that could use a gondola (more than we could use additional streetcars). I would love it if the editorial board of this blog reconsidered the question of gondolas, especially for the one that was proposed (Capitol Hill station to South Lake Union). If the editorial board supported it, we could start a letter writing campaign to the new mayor and the new (or somewhat new) city council. The Seattle Times is behind it (or at least considers the idea quite reasonable) and I’m sure the Stranger would support it, so it is likely to be viewed favorably by the local press. The old mayor probably wouldn’t touch this issue because it reinforced the idea that he was flaky (or hated cars, or loved bikes, or something of that nature). I don’t think the new mayor has that problem.

    As the Seattle Times said, most North American cities don’t want to be the first to do this. To me, jumping on this technology makes way more sense than trying to set the record for the biggest drill (which hasn’t worked out that well so far). There are a lot of reasons why a gondola makes sense for us, including:

    1) Challenging terrain (in this case made worse by freeways).
    2) A pretty city. Riding over Newark would be interesting, but I doubt many tourists would sign up.
    3) We are not that big. This means more expensive and more robust solutions (like light rail from Capitol Hill to South Lake Union) will take a long time to build.
    4) We are growing, which means we have some money and lots of demand. There are a lot of bigger cities that wouldn’t dream of spending money on this because they can’t afford it (even though it would be tiny compared to what we spend on other transportation projects).
    5) Transportation is a major issue in this town.

  14. Do peeps from STB or other pro-transit places ever go on the radio to explain current transit matters?

    Occasionally I find myself listening to cringe-inducing Dori Monson on KIRO radio and this week he’s been yelling up a storm about the upcoming KC transit ballot measure. Yes, I think he eventually spoke with one of the KC council members who was for the ballot, but it would be nice to hear well-versed non-politician sources explain the current state of transit issues around here.

      1. Nice try. I cringe because he often uses poor logic and misleading information. He also deceives his listeners.

      2. Dori, and most media outlets are driven by ratings. Now being electronically monitored.

        Facts don’t matter, and the more inflammatory the opinion, the better.

        Have you ever listened to Dori being called on misleading facts?

        Don’t forget, he has the master switch, and when he’s confronted by someone with obvious credentials, he’s not so quick to turn them off, and he does back down.

        Doesn’t make for entertaining radio, but the truth is usually more boring than what gets passed around the media nowadays.

        Confront him in a live broadcast in a public place.

    1. transfer person, if you’re angry that a talk radio show is not more like a judicial inquiry, you only have yourself to blame. Most talk radio is a combination of entertainment and opinion. I suggest you go to some other medium if you want to learn about the issues. CSPAN, perhaps.

      1. Maybe Sam could have a TV show and talk about his profound thoughts and philosophies. The public access station is a good place to start.

  15. Mike (and others),

    Here’s a preview of my Kent-Renton restructure proposal. Hopefully, maps speak louder than words. :)

    I’m still getting used to MapBox; I haven’t yet figured out how to put in labels, for example. The routes are classified as follows:

    Frequent (think RapidRide): 101, 106, 150, 164/168 (shared segment)

    Local (30 min base, better during peak if needed): 107, 156, 164, 166, 168

    Frequent Seattle: 8, 36, 60. These routes aren’t really part of the restructure (even though I am proposing to restructure them) — they’re just shown for context.

    I haven’t costed it out yet (that’s part of why it’s a preview). Suffice it to say that it’s probably more expensive than what we have now, since it’s extending frequent service to Auburn, to Kent East Hill, to Renton Highlands, and between Kent and Sea-Tac. Skipping the I-5 segment should save some money, but probably not that much money. I’m hoping this won’t represent more than a 33% increase in service hours.

    My favorite parts of the restructure:

    – There are 8 buses per hour connecting Kent and Renton to some Link station.
    – Buses no longer have to loop around to serve both Renton TC and South Renton P&R; separate buses make each trip.
    – Several routes become surprisingly simple — the 101 and 168 are particularly notable.
    – There are now *two* frequent N-S corridors in Renton-Kent-Auburn, where previously there were none. (Three, if you count the shared segment of the 164/168.)

    Other notes:

    – The 156 is the milk run to end all milk runs. The 107 isn’t much better. I wish there were a simpler way.
    – To the east of Kent, there’s a weird triangle between SR-515 and SR-516. I can’t figure out any way to provide frequent service to all three legs of the triangle without forcing most routes to backtrack (which is what Metro already does).
    – South of Auburn Station, the 150 gets really wiggly. It would be nice to straighten it out, but I don’t know the area well enough to know which of these deviations are important.
    – The new 150 is a very, very long route. It’s about as long as the 5/21 combined. Unclear if that will be too long.
    – The 168 should clearly be an E-W route that crosses Link at Kent/Des Moines Station. Alas, no such station exists.
    – There’s a part of me that wants to extend the 106 south to Green River CC, instead of going to Kent. But that would clearly be a stupid idea, since Kent is a way more important destination.
    – The 166 loop in Burien is a bit weird, but I couldn’t figure out any other way to connect the 166 to Link while still serving Burien TC.

    1. It reveals another transit center opportunity in Renton where all the lines cross at Rainier & Sunset. Metro could install bays at the intersection like at Southcenter. And Renton could put the 2 1/2 blocks between Rainier and Shattuck on a parking diet, and restore the historical small-block urban village from Rainer the river.

      It partly untangles the routes around Bailoville (515 & 516), which is nice. Reassigning the “extra” single-family segment (256th and 132nd) to the 164 makes sense since it’s going south anyway.

      It also restores the middle part of the 8 by making it a Queen Anne – Madison – Jackson route, and deftly sitesteps the controversy of the 23rd/Jackson detour by making it a terminal loop.

    1. Packing my bags now. Apartments just slightly higher than Seattle, and a hundred times better transit. But there’s those hot humid summers, and changing jobs, and being far from family….

  16. That freight photo. Looks to me like there needs to be a hell of a lot more on-dock direct transfer of containers from ships to rail. And one of the commenters on the photo said the exact same thing.

    Is nobody thinking about this? This is why I tend to laugh at people who use “freight” as an excuse for road projects: they are generally ignoring huge and important gaps in our freight network which don’t involve roads at all.

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