Next week the Seattle Council budget committee will ask for community for 2015-16 budget priorities, with focus on transportation and land use priorities.

DATE/TIME: Wed., May 7, 6p – 8p

DEPARTMENTS: Transportation/Land Use

LOCATION: Garfield Community Center, 23rd and Cherry, Multipurpose Room (Central District)

After brief presentations of each department’s budget, constituents will have the opportunity to participate in small group discussions with Councilmembers, and to list their priorities for the featured departments. The summaries of those priorities will be reported to those attending the Community Budget Workshops. Each meeting will have three Councilmembers in attendance. Holding the meetings during the Spring will allow Councilmembers to take the information and encourage the Mayor to include it in the budget he proposes to the City Council in September.

The city level is where most of the interesting small-scale transportation capital projects can happen: pretty much any and all bicycle infrastructure, a new Fremont Bridge for cars, trolley wire on Yesler and 23rd, a Northgate pedestrian bridge, all the priority treatments in the transit master plan, a Westlake queue jump, off-board payment systems at busy bus stops, a downtown streetcar, Madison BRT, and all the rest. Let the city know that these projects are important to you.

12 Replies to “Give Input on Seattle’s Transportation Budget”

  1. I would say my priorities are (in order):

    1) Northgate Pedestrian Bridge
    2) Gondola from Capitol Hill to Cascade/South Lake Union
    3) Bike cages at the Husky Stadium station (which requires cooperation with Work the UW and Sound Transit)
    4) Westlake queue jump.

    If money is tight, I would get money for those projects by reducing money from:

    1) Streetcars

    1. Gondolas are great, but for ped/bike travel between Capitol Hill and Cascade/SLU, how about this as a much cheaper and easier start:

      What if we just built an elevator/skybridge from the Lakeview crossing of I-5 down to the parking lot (future Fred Hutch building site) on the west side of Eastlake, at Ward Street. It saves you 100 feet of grade climb and leverages an existing crossing of I-5.

      The east side is part of the densest residential zone in town. The west side is the fastest-growing employment zone. The skybridge would land a flat, calm 700 foot walk from the existing SLU streetcar terminus, and could potentially be coordinated with new construction there as the zoned height pretty much gets you there. This doesn’t solve the Denny corridor problem, but it would bring those urban hubs a whole lot closer together.

      1. That would be great. It would a bit cheaper than a gondola, but keep in mind, gondolas are cheap. That is one of the great things about them. They are slow (typically around 15-20 MPH) but cheap, and they have headways measured in seconds, not minutes. For the price of a typical streetcar line, you could build the gondola we are talking about.

        Plus, a gondola along Harrison puts you right in the middle of both neighborhoods. It would require a bit of a walk from the rail station, but that can be considered a good thing. It avoids crush loading, since a crowd getting off of a train will naturally spread out over a couple of blocks (again, no waiting when you get there, since each car comes often). Furthermore, while your suggestion would be a very nice improvement, a gondola on Harrison (or Republican) puts it pretty much right in the middle of the action (for both sides). It also lines it up just right if you want to continue the line west, to the Seattle Center (the purple line shown here — That could also be extended as shown, or extended further west, to a possible Ballard-Interbay-Downtown route (if the Ballard to Downtown subway goes that way). Essentially, that would make the Seattle Center and South Lake Union quickly and easily accessible from anywhere Link goes.

      2. 1. No elevators. I used to live across from the Bell St. elevator. I really don’t want to walk across SLU to be confronted with a poop-filled vertical coffin that’s broken more often than it is operational.

        2. A gondola could completely eliminate need for the 8N, saving tons of service hours that are otherwise spent sitting in I-5 traffic.

    2. Would say that reserved transit lanes and traffic signal pre-emption are second priority. First priority is a requirement that every accounting system bearing on transit have a column on every balance sheet for losses due to to inefficient operations. Ink choice would be brown, but that’s negotiable.

      Cableways, escalators, and moving walkways have their place in a city as vertical as Seattle. However, I think good first choice for the walkway would be a bridge from the huge rental car center at Sea-Tac to International Boulevard LINK station.

      Could save the Port of Seattle a lot of money by letting it sell or re-assign its fleet of shuttle buses- which now get stuck with all the rest of the stalled traffic around the terminal.

      One question that needs to be researched about gondola systems: what is their maintenance record? No question that around the world these systems function in harsh conditions- but in places with long operating experience. We also want to check the number of bulletins constantly posted on elevators out of service along LINK.

      Consideration regarding streetcars and buses: both need some surface, concrete or steel, for the wheels to roll on. It’s worth investigating which mode is most economical for maintaining ride quality. Many Seattle streets, and some stretches of freeway, undoubtedly do long-term mechanical damage to transit vehicles, as well as to passengers’ nerves.

      Also, I can think of one place where bus service could take positive advantage of a streetcar line and its signal pre-emption: South Lake Union. Southbound, a bus-only lane past the pool hall on Westlake could feed directly into the lane with the streetcar track in it- from the seaplane dock all the way Downtown.

      Northbound, buses could swing over to Terry at the so-called Terry Thomas Building- the silver modern one on the streetcar’s right as it turns north onto Terry (all of their meeting rooms are named after movies with the famous British actor). Or more likely, if the carline is extended to Fremont and Ballard, track can be added to the northbound right lane all the way across Denny.

      Nothing is “either-or” here. Every tool in the kit has its use.

      Mark Dublin

      1. I definitely agree that something else should be done at the SeaTac car rental facility. That huge fleet of buses could probably be replaced by an automated people mover, and have an intermediate stop at the airport Link station. Even a staffed train should be less expensive than the bus fleet, and could make use of the Link line part of the way.

        However, that isn’t the city of Seattle.

        What are the chances of getting the SLUT to do something useful? Say, extend the line to the carbarn up the hill a ways so it reaches one of the ST express bus stops?

  2. My highest priority here (as I will tell the councilmembers by email, since I can’t make it to the meeting) is more speed and reliability improvements for buses. There are a million places where these could make a difference. Full-time bus lanes instead of on-street parking where there is lots of off-street parking, peak bus lanes where there are peak-only bottlenecks, bus bulbs, queue jumps, trolley wire routing improvements, the list goes on and on. This is one area where SDOT has recently shined (after many years of hopelessness), and I hope that under the new administration they can continue doing the same things.

    My second priority is sidewalks on any and all arterials that don’t have them.

    In the longer term, let’s have that Northgate bridge and let’s chip in to make the 130th station possible.

    1. +1 THIS!

      Its nice to have new toys, but improving the bus system now (especially to cushion the cuts coming) by providing speed improvements and dedicated lanes is the best thing we can do with transit related transportation money.

      In addition, making some down payments on the bicycle master plan would be a good investment.

    2. This is a tremendous list of stuff. Many of these don’t even cost all that much (though I suppose bus bulbs aren’t that cheap).

    3. I think bus lanes (or elimination of parking) is the cheapest way to improve bus service. The cost is minimal although you might get a bit of resistance from shop owners. At worse you could spend a little money to placate shop owners. There are a few places (like Aurora) which have peak only bus lanes, and those could be made full time.

      I would imagine queue jumps are pretty cheap, too.

      I don’t know how much it would cost to improve trolley wiring, but I don’t think it is trivial. As mentioned, bus bulbs are surprisingly expensive.

      Which brings me to sidewalks. I live in a neighborhood (in Seattle) without sidewalks. I hate it. We would love to have sidewalks. We would write letters, march and otherwise beg for sidewalks. But they are surprisingly expensive. When I’ve seen the costs I understood why it has taken so long to add them. Still, I would rather have miles of sidewalks versus more streetcars. But given the choice of a few blocks of sidewalks versus a bridge over I-5 at Northgate, I would pick the bridge every time.

  3. Is it crazy to try to get the city to budget some money to preserve the Battery Street Tunnel for a future street car connection from a north-extended CCC to lower QA/SLU? (Assuming the DBT gets built, anyway.)

    1. Totally crazy.

      1. The CCC is going to the Westlake area. “North-extended CCC” means “Through-route with SLU Streetcar”.
      2. Entrances to the tunnel won’t be readily accessible.
      3. The tunnel isn’t long enough to bother reworking existing plans around sending trains through it.

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