This is an open thread.

88 Replies to “News Roundup: Open in 2017”

  1. How feasible would it be to extend the First Hill streetcar up 10th Ave into the U-District and eliminate the 49 bus?

    1. When I asked the SDOT staff about this, they implied that much of 10th is too steep to run without a cable car/funicular. There might be other options that could avoid needing to do this (with some significant engineering) but I do not imagine that that would be worth doing unless we also transformed the Broadway streetcar into something with dedicated right of way to make it worth the investment.

      I don’t suspect SDOT has any interest in this, especially with light rail being around to complete the long distance connection from Capitol Hill to UW/U-District.

      We are more likely to get a cycle track (by itself) all the way to Roanoke than we are to see a streetcar go anywhere past Prospect St.

      1. 10th was a streetcar route back in the 30’s.

        Either all this fancy traction control and anti-slip technology has actually reduced the capability of rail to climb grades, or SDOT is blowing smoke up your……. And I’d bet it is the later.

        And 10th just isn’t that steep….

      2. I’d rather see a streetcar replace the 70 first (with extension to 65th) than one on 10th between Capitol Hill and the U-District.

        The real questions are:
        1. What transit corridors.need the capacity of a streetcar over buses?
        2. What corridors do we want to stimulate development in?
        3. For #2 where can we get the necessary support for rezones? NC 65′ should be considered a minimum.
        4. Which of those are practical due to terrain?

      3. What was the length of a streetcar in the 30s vs today? I am often highly suspect of SDOT’s claims about maximum grade, but it’s possible that the grade is too steep for newer rolling stock.

        It’s also possible that the old streetcars slipped on wet rails, and that’s not okay with modern regulations.

      4. @CS,

        You bring up a good point: SDOT just doesn’t have a vision for SC or an understanding of what the eventual “system” should look like.

        If SDOT had an overall vision of SC in Seattle, I doubt a 10th Ave Ext would be on it (at least not in the early phases). Extend it to Prospect, and then go to the next (city wide) priority.

      5. I am really annoyed that the heavily used northbound bus stop on Broadway, directly across from Seattle Central, was eliminated. Distance is very long between Pine and John.

  2. Kitsap really does need that extra ferry. It seemed to me when I lived there that all of the North/South transit action running between Port Orchard and Bremerton was funneled into those little foot ferries.

    This is probably because the roadway out around the Sinclair inlet (SR 3, SR16) is really narrow and drops down to one lane in some areas. SR3 is right on the water and in some places houses were built immediately west of the road, so expanding to have a bus lane in each direction would probably require some imminent domain use… I’m not sure there is enough transit demand between places in Kitsap to justify that kind of expansion anyway..

    The easy solution is just more boats.

    1. Thanks for the link.

      STB is mentioned on page 66. “Participants strongly encouraged the consideration of a new ‘Corridor #9’ as suggested by the Seattle Transit Blog.” (Two lines: grade-separated upper Queen Anne, Fremont, Ballard; and the “Ben streetcar” on Westlake, Fremont, Greenwood).

      1. Not a spur. A spur starts at some important origin (usually downtown), travels with a larger line for several stations, and then diverges. The most-discussed scenario is downtown – U-District – Ballard. This is a crosstown line or a shuttle. The Redmond – Hospital – Kirkland scenario is more like a spur, except I don’t think Redmond is an important enough origin to “have a spur”. Rather it would be a case of two lines converging on Redmond.

        Regarding the report, I’m stunned that:
        1) Elevated from U-District to Stone Way is being considered. (Watch now as the Wallingfordites dash it to pieces. “It spoils our views.” Or maybe they’ll be enlightened and won’t?)
        2) Issaquah LRT doesn’t go to Bellevue TC, only the BRT alternatives do. Why the hell would you build light rail from Issaquah and not go to downtown Bellevue? It’s the largest destination and transfer point in the Eastside. And why wouldn’t you share East Link’s track from South Bellevue to Hospital, to double the original investment in it?

      2. I did not think this had been published yet.

        Lots more discussion to be had when there is a proper post on the subject, but the cost-benefit looks great (about 3x better than a north-south line, as I’ve long suggested), even for the one full-tunnel route they’ve so far included.


        I’ve long argued (when in cost-saving-argument mode) that a 15th NW terminus is perfectly acceptable as long as it is situated west of the intersection, and ideally with a western entrance at 17th NW.

        Doing so would place the station right where the more pedestrian-friendly Old Ballard grid and skinny-business district begins, and reduce the walk to Ballard’s center-of-center from 10 minutes down to an acceptable 6½. It will still be palpably closer than RapidRide, and infinitely faster. (And I say this as someone who lives right in Ballard’s center-of-center.)

        I’m far more troubled by the tunnel’s other station plan, which fails to integrate with the north-south bus grid or to provide any reasonable-transfer access to Fremont. I’m troubled as well by the suggestion that a surface+elevated+street-following-zig-zag could make its trip in 9-11 minutes, which is the least credible number in the study.

  3. As an outspoken density, transportation, and road safety advocate living in West Seattle, it bothers me to see the often dismissive tone this blog takes toward West Seattle. It’s absolutely true that West Seattle has some loud anti-density voices; I go to these community meetings and hear them personally. It’s absolutely true that the West Seattle Blog comment section is generally a cesspool of illogical reactionism; I’ve stopped reading and commenting because of it. But we must always remember that it’s the minority opinion that often yells the loudest; we should resist the urge to assume based on these loud voices that all of West Seattle agrees.

    West Seattle is making great strides: we’re actively densifying around the junction and the triangle; transit use, bicycling, foot ferry, and other alternative modes have been increasing; we have many neighbors active in real, effective transit advocacy (I’ve been blown away by what the West Seattle Transportation Coalition has accomplished in its short few months).

    The main anti-density argument I hear around the peninsula seems to stem from this: we’re “taking” all this density, yet we still don’t have any real transportation solutions. The monorail failed us. Light rail has failed us. And if Link does eventually come, it’s hard to see it happening before 2030. The state is tearing-out the viaduct, the county is cutting our bus service, the WS bridge is congested eight hours a day. No relief is in sight, and still density advocates press for more and more people to be here.

    Now, I personally support the density-first argument. I think it’s clear that density leads to the political and financial capital necessary for real, sustainable, forward-thinking transportation solutions. But that said, I have to admit that my neighbors who feel differently on this issue do make some valid points: the 100-year plan is great, what are we supposed to do between now and 2030, with more and more people moving in, current transportation infrastructure evaporating, and no real solutions on the horizon?

    They’re reasonable questions, and we shouldn’t ignore that. Vilifying these neighbors and dismissing their concerns with snarky comments does not help anybody.

    1. West Seattle should be saying put or shut up. It’s a bedroom community. Asking them to accept density now with no rapid transit is just a joke.

      1. Density is a good thing whether or not there is rapid transit. There is also a lot that can be done to make buses more rapid in the meantime, if the political will is there.

      2. The great thing about density is that it enables the one form of transportation that doesn’t require any infrastructure or equipment or carbon inputs. Walking is free, and it’s good for you, and it’s fun, and it’s an incredibly convenient to get around when you’re in a walkable neighborhood.

      3. Also…the folks who are already enjoying light rail don’t seem to be having much density forced on them.

      4. Walkable neighborhoods don’t help you get to and from downtown for work. Density without transit is not a good thing, and I am not really sure how you could support that claim.

        And I am pro density-pro transit!

      5. “Walkable neighborhoods don’t help you get to and from downtown for work. Density without transit is not a good thing, and I am not really sure how you could support that claim. ”

        I think you’re missing the point. In our current situation where many of the jobs are in downtown that’s true, to an extent. But the idea is that dense, walkable neighborhoods not only have places to live, but they have places to work as well. What if you both live and work on Capitol Hill? Then you don’t need to get to/from downtown for work every day. The most vibrant cities in the world aren’t the ones that have one central financial district where everyone works.

    2. Jake,

      Thanks for the comment, and for your advocacy. It’s great that these voices are out there and I wish I heard about them, ever, Michael Taylor-Judd excepted.

      The fact is that West Seattle’s gigantic transportation project for this generation is the Deep Bore Tunnel. It would have been great if West Seattle voters had been out front for a transit-oriented solution, but they were not.

      As for what transit advocates should do while waiting for light rail, I would suggest two things: the more density and higher transit ridership you have, the farther you move up the priority list for rail. Secondly, there’s a lot that can be done to address the problems with bus travel through and from West Seattle if you ask the City to prioritize bus travel, if you’re willing to sacrifice street parking and/or general purpose lanes. I would push the city to fund things like off-board payment at RapidRide stations and out-shout your neighbors when there are proposals to provide bus priority.

      1. The fact is that West Seattle’s gigantic transportation project for this generation is the Deep Bore Tunnel. It would have been great if West Seattle voters had been out front for a transit-oriented solution, but they were not.

        Perhaps the tunnel project’s less-than-stellar debut has changed some people’s minds? ;-)

      2. Thanks Martin!

        We’ve been doing what you suggest, bit by bit. Look at my neck of the woods, around Delridge/Genesee and Delridge/Andover. In the last couple years, we’ve given up dozens of parking spaces on the east side of Delridge and the north side of Genesee for transit: in this case, to give priority to the 120 and allow the route 50 to serve the neighborhood. The North Delridge neighborhood council fought hard for a traffic signal at Genesee and Avalon, because we were told it was a prerequisite for running a bus on the current #50 route. We’ve pushed to remove a southbound through-lane in favor of a transit-only approach to the Delridge/Andover bus stop. We’ve pushed for a greenway on 26th to encourage bicycling and walking, and secured funding to narrow the road and better connect bikes/peds to the WS bridge trail access on Delridge. We’ve welcomed the Youngstown Flats development, largely with open arms.

        Even after removal of all this parking and reconfiguration of the main road, we’re still unfortunately underserved by transit. It has certainly improved a bit, but the route 120 still has horrible night and weekend hours. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat downtown late in the evening commute and watched a half dozen empty C-lines go by while waiting for a single, standing-room-only 120 to take me home. I know that advocates here and planners at metro have long recognized the importance of the 120 (and the unfortunate fact that Gregoire vetoed DBT-related mitigation funds which would have applied RapidRide treatment to the 120), and I appreciate that support.

        I must say, though, there is one point where I vehemently disagree with you. You say: “West Seattle’s gigantic transportation project for this generation is the Deep Bore Tunnel”. That’s an absolutely ridiculous notion to me: what does the DBT have to do with West Seattle? The south portal is four and a half miles away from the Junction. Calling it a West Seattle project and blaming West Seattle voters for that debacle is entirely illogical and a gigantic cop-out.

      3. Thanks for your work on this issue. I know night and weekend service is below where it ought to be, but West Seattle is not the only densifying neighborhood with inadequate night service.

        what does the DBT have to do with West Seattle

        Looking back at the precinct results in 2011, I withdraw the comment about voters. I conflated the 2011 results with the earlier viaduct advisory vote. That said, most of the financial capacity that could be used to improve transportation on the west side of the city is sucked up by that highway tunnel.

      4. I don’t buy the “West Seattle’s gigantic transportation project is the DBT” line either. My brother used to live down by Morgan Junction and said everyone on West Seattle hated the DBT idea because it took away the downtown 99 exit, their quickest access to downtown by car or bus!

        AFAICT the DBT was the dream of some politicians and port leaders.

        West Seattle has a problem that isn’t uncommon around here. Outside of the height of commute peaks it’s pure duplication to send most of its routes downtown. But outside of those same peaks service is too infrequent to make a transfer-based network work well, and the local routes that would need to be more frequent to make it work don’t perform well enough relative to others in the city to justify a frequency bump. It becomes politically easier to cut frequency, span, and in some cases coverage, than duplication.

        Without thoughtful, transit-oriented road design it can cost a lot of money to solve this problem. Our road-building projects have rarely been undertaken with long-term transit goals in mind, and I think that’s largely because our long-term transit goals aren’t clear or consistent.

      5. I agree with your comments Jake. West Seattle is simply part of Seattle (despite occasional efforts to secede). It really doesn’t matter if lots of people wanted the tunnel or not. The mayor of West Seattle and the West Seattle city council didn’t vote for it. It was a state/city thing. The closest you come to this sort of thing is when the West Seattle freeway was built. But again, there was no West Seattle city council. Even if there was, I think it is ridiculous to suggest that a city (or region) get only one thing every so often. Light rail to West Seattle should be judged on its merits, and nothing more.

        One issue, however, is whether density could come with light rail. It really doesn’t make sense to build light rail to an area like West Seattle unless the area can be made more dense. So opposition to density is a legitimate issue. But assuming that the city opposes density just because a handful of whiners standup at a meeting is rather presumptuous. The answer is obvious: if West Seattle gets offered light rail, then we should mandate that it comes with density. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made at Roosevelt, or Mount Baker for that matter. My guess is that West Seattle residents would take that deal with great enthusiasm.

        Even with the added density, though, I don’t think light rail makes sense for West Seattle. It is simply too expensive to get there, and there is nothing along the way, or after it to justify the expense. If built, there would be no stops from SoDo until the first one in West Seattle. That is a very long, expensive stretch just for that first stop. Every subsequent stop will have the same or less ridership. It wouldn’t serve most of West Seattle (no single line could) so you end up with a moderately popular, very expensive system.

        Meanwhile, because of the existing infrastructure, it is extremely well suited for bus travel. Spend a quarter of the money you would spend getting to that first stop on improvements to the bus system (HOV ramps, bus lanes, signal priority, etc.) and you could deliver faster, more efficient service to the folks in West Seattle.

        Just for kicks, compare West Seattle to Fremont. The most logical place to connect Fremont to light rail is via the UW. It is less than two miles. There are numerous possibilities for stations along the way. There are (bigger) stations beyond Fremont, of course, in Ballard. There is no “Ballard to the UW freeway”, so the buses average in the single digits (about 8 MPH during rush hour). That is for the Fremont to UW bus, things are much worse for Ballard. West Seattle is simply well suited for a good bus system, while Ballard is not. I understand the frustration that West Seattle residents feel (and it is felt throughout the city) about poor bus service. But the answer is not to try and get a super expensive, and ultimately less productive light rail line to West Seattle, but to improve the bus system.

        Building light rail to West Seattle would be like building a tunnel to replace the viaduct (with no downtown or Western exits) instead of improving I-5. Right now, my guess is that every driver in West Seattle would gladly take the I-5 improvements, especially since it would mean they could actually get on the West Seattle bridge in the morning. (For those of you who don’t live in West Seattle or know anyone there: the West Seattle freeway is essentially one huge on-ramp to I-5 north in the morning. Since traffic through there is a mess, it crawls all the way back to 35th).

    3. I think it’s interesting to look at the map of where people voted for Prop 1. West Seattle is solidly pro-transit; there are only a handful of precincts where it got less than 50% support, and a few where it got more than 70%.

      I definitely share the frustration that many people on this blog have with the political situation in West Seattle. There are some people who very loudly oppose any changes to improve transit/walkability/density/urbanism in West Seattle. But it’s important to remember that there are tons of people who will benefit from improvements there, even if they aren’t speaking up. We wouldn’t cancel East Link because of Kemper Freeman. :)

      1. It’s hard for me to agree with you jake. Whenever I visit my friends in west seattle all they do is complain about how the city is changing. They still go on and on about how the light rail is a joke because it doesn’t connect to the airport (even though it has since 2009) they claim no one rides it. Then they take me over to the window and point at some new building like 40 blocks away because it’s blocking a tiny part of their sound view. It’s pretty much every time I go to west seattle. These people aren’t even native seattleites. They moved here in the 70s and 80s and just expect everything to freeze in time for them.

      2. I think you can find people throughout the city that feel that way. Personally, I agree that our light rail system is a joke. It is a joke because we built it out of order. It should have started with a line from the UW to downtown. Then extend those lines a bit (not as far as we did) and add line to the east side and Ballard (from the UW). It should never have gone to the airport, and if it ever gets built out the way it should, the airport stop will be one of the least popular. But I digress.

        Jake’s point is that we shouldn’t let this drive our system. We should build what makes sense to build. If people in West Seattle don’t like the changes, they will vote against it. But there vote shouldn’t count anymore than anyone else’s vote.

      3. With further building out of the Light Rail system, I believe Sea Tac Airport will be a very popular stop—When Capitol Hill, with its dense population, gets Light Rail, a lot of cash strapped younger people will gladly use it to get to the airport instead of an airport van that doesn’t pick you at the time you need to be picked up and makes a hundred stops along the way to and from the airport. North Seattlites, e.g, Northgaters, I bet, will gladly use LR to get to the airport instead of having friends or family fighting I-5 southbound traffic to get there. When the eastside get light rail, a lot of people will potentially chose it to go to the airport over driving and leaving the car with airport parking for a week or two. Believe it, Seatac airport will get very popular–but this assumes a rational building out of the light rail system unimpeded by reactionary anti-transit politics.

      4. Pardon my ignorance, but in what system is the airport the most popular, or one of the most popular stops? Not just an airport, mind you, but an airport so out of the way that there is a gap several miles long before the stop. Yes, people will like it “when they go to the airport”, which is what, five times a year? It isn’t a terrible stop, it just isn’t a particularly good stop. If one of our highest performing stops is the airport, then it is a good sign that our light rail system is really, really bad. We aren’t Las Vegas, we aren’t Honolulu. Seriously, how many people do you know work at the airport? How many people do you know work downtown? How about South Lake Union? How about the UW? Hell, how about Fremont? The only guy I’ve ever met who worked at the airport lived close to the airport (big surprise). Like most of the people south of downtown, he doesn’t benefit in the least by this line going to the airport.

        If you think a bunch of well educated elders sat down and hammered out a deal that started with a line to the airport, you would be mistaken. If you think that a well educated, knowledgeable committee sat down and did the same you are wrong. Anyone with any knowledge of the area, whether they lived here for fifty years (like me) of just had access to the internet and a few brain cells would have started with a line from downtown to the UW. Really, look at a density map of Seattle, and ignore the fact that one of the more dense locations is actually a major university (the biggest north of San Francisco, west of Minnesota) and you still would go from downtown, to Capitol Hill, to the UW. But it is a major university. It is the major economic driving force of the region. Yet it comes years and years after we get a comfortable ride to the airport.

        The reason we ended up with such a system is simple: politics. Seattle can’t afford, or doesn’t want to go it alone. There is good reason for this. There are plenty of people, each every day, stuck in traffic trying to get to the east side. There is no “reverse commute”. It simply goes both ways. So Seattle really, really wants an east side line because the buses suck and maybe, just maybe, the light rail will make this commute palatable. Next thing you know (to make a long story short) we produce a system that is heavily weighted towards suburbia. Now (whoopee) you can get to the airport. Again, there is nothing terrible about that stop, its just that no one with any expertise in the area would have put that stop into our initial line. As I said, it would probably be built out as line number five or six (well after UW, Ballard, South Lake Union, Seattle U, Lake City, Bellevue, etc.). It is crazy to me that we have no plans whatsoever to build anything to Seattle U. or South Lake Union, but we have a line to the airport. That is just backwards. No transit expert in the world would build it that way, but that is what we got because of our screwed up political system.

      5. It goes to the airport for the same reason it goes downtown, to the stadiums, universites, and malls: that’s where large concentrations of pedestrians go to, which is what transit does best. The airport is not “more important” than UW (the reason it went south first was technical limitations, not desire or policy), but it’s important enough to warrant a station, even with the 9-mile gap you’re so concerned about. As to whether Ballard and Fremont should have been before the airport, yeah, maybe ideally, but this is a north-south line and Ballard and Fremont are west. The airport is the gateway to the primary form of intercity transport, and the line facilitates tourism (commerce) and gives visitors a good impression of the city. (Not the best impression — the distance from the terminal and the $5 ORCA fee — but a much better impression than if the line didn’t exist.) That benefits Seattle indirectly in several different ways, because it’s a factor in former airport visitors later deciding to move here, work here and eventually start companies here, and go to university here. (The fact that the line also goes directly from the airport to UW is also positive, and will become increasingly so over the years.)

      6. SeaTac airport facilitates roughly 95,000 passenger movements daily. Tet fewer than 4,000 people, including airport-area employees, board daily at the SeaTac Link station.

        Rail services to relatively distant airports, while sometimes nice to have, are very much “symbolic transit” when you compare their often-exorbitant construction costs (and their opportunity costs elsewhere) to their actual systemic benefits.

    4. Jake: I think people are watching closely to the densification of Ballard (and other like neighborhoods), where true mass transit following density has been nothing more than a carrot on a stick since the early days of the monorail. Eventually, even the more hardcore density advocates begin to waver as not only does the promised mass transit come, but the existing transit doesn’t even come close to growing to meet the demand.

      I’m not saying that this is what drives the anti-density people, but when the pro-density people begin to lose enthusiasm, the anti-density people’s voice, which has unwavered, suddenly becomes the louder voice.

    5. Other than the ST2 corridors nobody is likely to see much new light rail open prior to 2030. Given the current density and transit ridership West Seattle is a much lower priority than Ballard, Belltown, Queen Anne, Fremont, or Wallingford. Given the astronomical cost per rider of even just serving the Junction I’d prioritize West Seattle below serving Crown Hill, Greenwood, Lake City or the Central District.

      What can West Seattle do? As others have pointed out support various improvements for bus service. This would include removing parking and general purpose lanes for transit, bus bulbs, signal priority and access ramps. Advocate turning the 120 into a Rapid Ride route. Be willing to sacrifice other service to make it happen if necessary. Another help would be to support greatly increased density. While there seems to be a lot of resistance to increasing density in the Junction, the Avalon triangle or along California perhaps your neighbors would support a massive up zone along Delridge, around Westwood, or in the Seattle side of White Center?

      1. Well said. I completely agree. I made a lot of the same points above (but it took me a lot more words).

        I think your point about White Center is also a very good one. My guess is that increased density in this area would be most welcome.

      2. If we stop short of Light Rail for West Seattle, transit improvements must include bus only access ramps, bus only lanes along 99 and I-5 (good luck expanding horizontally on that Hwy) for long stretches, e.g., West Seattle directly to downtown, or maybe even the U-District, and dependable arrival headways in on and off peak hours so that more commuters will not only use the buses, but can more easily hook up with the light rail mode.

        Bus bulbs, signal priority, taking some parking out, tends to be more of the status quo.

      3. @ East Coast Cynic — I agree. We should definitely spend the money on bus infrastructure to make this happen. In some cases, like HOV on-ramps and exits, it will be expensive. But it pails in comparison to building light rail to the area. The good news is that the state will soon complete their work on I-5 HOV lanes from Tacoma to Seattle.

        As for buses from West Seattle, I would build ramps to SoDo, and make SoDo a major transit center. Someone coming from Lake City will have to take a bus either to 130th (if we get our act together) or Northgate (if we don’t). Either way, it will be a major improvement, even though it will require a transfer. I could easily see someone from West Seattle doing the same. If you can get from some random spot on West Seattle to SoDo in ten minutes (during rush hour), the six minute wait (at most) will be a small price to pay. Unlike Northgate, there will be a much better chance that SoDo will actually be your final destination. All it takes is a transit center and a little bit of zoning and SoDo will look like South Lake Union. As it is, Starbucks is already there. My guess is that Northgate will never contain the headquarters of a fortune five hundred company (although it does have a college and a fair number of medical offices).

      4. That “little bit of zoning” will not come soon. If Seattle wanted to make SODO a huge urban center, it would have done so already. That would have avoided all those controversies about rezoning in Mt Baker, Roosevelt, and West Seattle. But Seattle seems determined to keep industrial zones in SODO and Fremont-Ballard, even though it whittles them down here and there with stadiums, stadium-adjacent housing, and horrid frestanding big-box stores in Ballard. (Glaring at Office Maxx and Big 5, not Fred Meyer. Although I wish Fred Meyer were mixed use and pedestrian-friendly.) Vancouver and San Francisco have thoroughly replaced their industrial districts, but that dangerously narrows the cities’ job base and manufacturing capacity. Seattle has not been willing to do that yet, to its credit.

        So given that SODO will not change much (although I’m worried about horrid big-box stores), it’s not that attractive as a transit center, and a much lesser destination than the emerging Northgate urban center.

      5. Oh, and SODO is also becoming a dumping ground for car dealerships. That worries me. I didn’t want to protect the land for that, But on the other hand, I’m glad the new dealerships are multistory, and they’re getting out of more-urban neighborhoods.

      6. Car dealerships are a massive tax base. Keeping them in the city is beneficial because the fund stuff.

        But yeah, I hate them too.

    6. Welcome to Seattle, Jake. It’s a provincial city of little neighborhoods that love to argue about who’s best. West Seattle and North Seattle aren’t part of the city. Bainbridge Island and Mercer Island try their best to be part of the city. The Eastside is just a hopeless expanse of single family mansions, Range Rovers and malls. But we’re becoming a world-class city, gosh darn it!

  4. According to this link on WS-DOT website, major changes are coming to SR-520 next Monday June 16.

    It says that the new median transit stop will open at Evergreen Point on June 16. I think that means that center carpool lanes will also have to open, and it almost certainly means that MT 271 will no longer be able to stop at Evergreen Point, which is used by some people as a transfer station between buses headed downtown or to the University District.

    It also says that the stops at 92nd Ave/Yarrow Point will close temporarily until some indeterminate date in July, and that new HOV ramps at 108th Ave should open around that time. If that truly means there will be center HOV lanes from 108th all the way to the bridge, that will be a major improvement for the 545 and 255 in the afternoon commute.

    I haven’t seen any service change announcements regarding the 271, although it has been speculated that the 271 will be re-routed away from Medina and to use the new 108th ramps.

    1. It still kills me that we’re spending millions of dollars on a new Yarrow Point Freeway Station, and yet we couldn’t manage to find the money for a freeway station at 108th that would have been 100x more useful.

      1. I would have thought Bellevue Way, with a direct transfer from what becomes in effect BRT from Seattle to Redmond on 520 to some sort of frequent Juanita-Kirkland-Bellevue route there …but your point stands. Those neighborhoods got some pretty nice park lids and transit stations and an actual traffic corridor didn’t get so much as a transfer point.

      2. It seems like we got the ramps and stops that WS-DOT in its wisdom decided to build. The 108th HOV half-interchange would have been more useful as a full interchange if it allowed the 545 to serve it. Even better if it also delivered an HOV ramp to NB I-405. I guess it was WS-DOT’s money so they decided what to build. I still think it’s incredibly shortsighted not to provide for Montlake Flyer stops when that part of the project gets built as neither relying on U-District dedicated buses nor sending through buses onto the lid and through multiple traffic lights is efficient and increases operating costs long term.

      3. Like. Every time a bus leaves the highway to detour to a Park & Ride it’s 10+ minutes out of the lives of people going further down the line. Renton Transit Center is the most egregious example of this idiocy.

  5. There was supposed to be a meet-up of some STB readers who were going to ride the new F Line on June 8th. I’m still expecting a report from your ride.

  6. About transit construction costs: I wonder how much this has to do with the the length of time that most of the United States has not had any public transit at all.

    Most projects in most European systems are continuations of systems more than a century old. A huge amount of our expense must simply be having to buy suitable real estate at current prices.

    I other words, every project is a positive operation on a conscious, healthy patient. We’re trying to revive a patient from a decades-long coma.


    1. One hears the same sort of concerns about construction costs in Britain. I’ve seen it suggested that common law legal systems are a significant part of the problem.

      New York City has had lots of transit for over a 100 years. Its costs are still sky high.

      In many cases, the continuations of existing systems to which you refer are endeavors comparable in scope and difficulty to what pass for complerte transit systems in this country.

  7. There was an article in the Seattle Times yesterday called Debate over tall buildings splits neighbors near Mount Baker rail station. I like this quote from the article. “Our city planners use terms like walkable, transit-friendly, town center,” Harrell said about the plans for a Mounty Baker urban village. “Who would object to that? But the concern with a rezone is the auto-dependent businesses … that will no longer be a part of the neighborhood. Lowe’s may not be here, McDonald’s won’t, Wendy’s won’t. That community did not occur.”

    Excellent point!

    1. Here in Portland we have Fred Meyer at 39th & Hawthorne. Easily accessible by walking to the street entrances. If you want to drive they also have a parking lot – just located in a way that makes the front entrance easy to get to by transit as well.

      There is also the New Seasons Market at 43rd & Hawthorne that is arranged the same way.

      The Safeway at 31st & Hawthorne is set up the same way. So is the Safeway at 39th & Powell.

      The Burgerville (local fast food chain) at 12th & Hawthorne has street sidewalk entrances for walk-up service, as well as a parking lot for those that drive, and even a drive-through window.

      So, making an urban neighborhood walkable does not necessarily exclude auto use. It just means better building design so that those that do arrive by transit don’t have to walk across 200 acres of dangerous parking lot habituated by distracted cell phone using drivers in order to get to an entrance.

      1. Hi Glen,

        Question. Are there any good Portland Transit blogs or Twitter follows you’d recommend – a la our STB?

  8. I have an honest question. Once everyone has gotten rid of their cars in order to be 100% transit-dependent, how are we supposed to flee the city in case of a Lahar or Katrina-sized natural disaster? Let’s say there’s a radio broadcast saying run for the hills! All of King County will be under 50 feet of lava in an hour! If I don’t have a car, what am I supposed to do?

    1. I have an honest answer: the elite of the city have already built lava proof bunkers and are merely waiting for the inevitable eruption to repave the city for their urban bike paradise. They know that the only thing to do in a disaster is to just cram everyone in cars driving away and are planning all of our demise.

    2. You pray, just like all those people who are sitting in their get-away cars that are going nowhere because of the colossal traffic jams. Did you miss the 5 hour shutdown on Tuesday? Only 2 cars involved.

    3. If this (extremely unlikely) event were to occur in a transit-dependent city, the transit authority would immediately dedicate every single bus and train to evacuating everyone. If the city was actually 100% transit-dependent, there should be enough transit vehicles to do this. Also, even the most transit-dependent cities still have cars–I can’t think of a single large city in which there are absolutely no cars.

    4. Would you rather pile into your car along with everybody else in your car-dependent city and die while sitting in gridlock traffic trying to get out?

      As has been said, a true transit dependent city would quickly allocate all modes to getting as far from the affected location as possible.

  9. During the big traffic meltdown fo Tuesday afternoon, why did SPD decide to close SR99 at the Battery St Tunnel instead of closing it at the West Seattle Bridge? Given that the accident was south of the WSB, it seems like closing it at the WSB would still allow M’s fans to access the stadiums and WSea residents to get home. And there is an additional exit at Harbor Island that some people could probably still make use of….

    So why did the close SR99 so far north?

  10. Kent City Council prefers light rail station along Pacific Highway South over Highline CC campus

    Council members discussed light rail as part of an information workshop on June 3. Sound Transit plans to pick a preferred route along Kent’s West Hill by early 2015 with a final decision in 2016 about an extension from South 200th Street to South 240th Street. The extension is scheduled to open in 2023.

    In any case, the connectivity between Kent Station and the new station is key.

    It could be a re-routed 164 or 180.

    Fantasy: Build an East-West LINK line…that runs from the new valley LINK station to Kent Station…and continues on…up Canyon Drive? Up Kent-Kangley? To Covington and Black Diamond?

    1. This actually sounds like a good idea–it would definitely help tie South King County together. However, within the South King area there are probably higher priorities such as Burien-Renton, improving Sounder to all-day service, and extending Link (or I-5 BRT) to Federal Way. Once Metro gets enough money to expand (which probably won’t be soon unfortunately), a potentially good idea would be to start by putting a RapidRide line on the Des Moines-Highline CC-Kent Station-Kent East Hill-Covington corridor, and upgrade to light rail when necessary.

      This line would really depend on connections to the Central Link line and all-day Sounder, so those lines would need to be expanded first in order for this east-west corridor to work.

    2. The first thing is for Kent to designate “KDM Station – Kent Station – Covington” as a priority corridor in its transit master plan. Then they can get into the secondary issue of what mode is appropriate (RapidRide, BRT, light rail, streetcar) and who would pay for it. The eastern terminus could be 132nd, Wax Road, or even Maple Valley, depending on how much those cities are willing to participate.

      If any bus mode is chosen, it must have transit lanes or at least BAT lanes, so it won’t be a joke.

  11. The Cap Hill Station webcam still isn’t up and running.

    What do we have to do? File a Public Disclosure Request just to see what ST is hiding behind that big red wall?

    This is getting bad.

  12. I’m very glad that Bellevue is considering adding bus lanes to extremely-congested segments such as the southern part of Bellevue Way, the connection between South Bellevue Station and Factoria, and the Bellevue College/Eastgate area (a complete map can be found on page 149 here: Many of these corridors are chronically congested during peak hours and bus priority in those places would definitely improve mobility and make transit more competitive with driving.

    It’s also great that they are using the future frequent network to prioritize investments. Overall, it’s exciting that Bellevue has managed to come up with a competent transit plan! Even though I would prefer more emphasis on coverage, improving high-frequency buses through chokepoints is also very important. Let’s hope that this isn’t derailed by the political process…

    1. I’m only familiar with one of the proposed bus lanes–the one on Main St. between Bellevue Way and 112th Ave SE. While it seems like a great idea to speed up transit on this perpetually congested street, I don’t think it’s the right idea for two reasons.

      First, the bus lane won’t work unless the bus lane is also given a priority right turn to 112th Ave SE (much like the bus lane by the UW from Pacific eastbound to Montlake southbound.) Otherwise the traffic will just block the busses.

      Second, I think Bellevue would be far better served by allowing the rest of downtown Main St. become a walkable commercial district like Old Bellevue Main Street. One way to help encourage that growth is zoning for streetfront businesses–this is already taking place. But another way to help encourage it is to turn that bus lane into street parking. Yes, cars are evil yadda yadda but having street parking allows people to actually walk from one business to another as opposed to business parking lots which require you to take your car from the shop to the restaurant.

      I think Balducci is being short sighted here. I get that she’s on Sound Transit’s payroll but I’d like her to actually look at the city holistically once in a while.

  13. Re: trail easements:

    Presumably, the federal government could simply legislate that rail-to-trail corridor conversions reasonably follow from the corridors’ defined transportation purpose, and that existing easements must therefore be transferable and extendable in perpetuity, with no additional compensation required.

    Politically, though, it might be easier to legislatively declare the rail-to-trail conversion of an existing easement to be a legitimate adaptive purpose, non-contestable, and compensated at a predetermined rate.

    Individual easements negotiations, and expensive after-the-fact judgments and payouts, seem about the least efficient and most unnecessary way to go about achieving this relatively uncontroversial public purpose.

    1. Yeah, that makes sense. I also think that the politicians could be tougher on the home owners. The law says you can use the land for a railroad line. So, run a railroad line. Run old fashioned coal fired locomotives just for kicks. GIve the neighbors a fun, old time view of days gone by. See kids, look at how the smoke billows out and just hangs in the air during cold, clear days. Now blow the horn “Choo, Choo!” so everyone in the neighborhood can hear it. Run it a various times in the evening, or better yet, late at night.

      Then ask the neighbors if they want to convert the trail line to a trail. My guess is they would accept such a deal really quickly.

      Of course, no politician in King County wants to be a tough, no holds barred, dick of a politician. But they are quite comfortable reaching a settlement that costs the taxpayers a bunch of money.

  14. The SR99 Corridor needs to be upgraded from Halladay st. to 46th street .

    The interchanges on the south and north sides of the Aurora bridge needs to be rebuilt and brought to current safety standards. The side walks on the the bridge need to be removed so the bridge can have 6 full width lanes. A ped/cycle track could be added to the outside of the bridge. The overpasses at 38th and 46th need to be replaced and enlarged. I’m still intrigued with putting in a Rapid ride stop on the bridge for Fremont. Elevators to NB and SB Aurora to n 34th st. could be used.

    This section of SR99 is completely sub standard from a safety standpoint.

      1. Ross, the outside lanes on the aurora bridge are so narrow that rapid ride straddles two lanes. All of the on and off ramps are too short. The underpass at 46th street needs to be widened for westbound bus and auto traffic as well as needed bike lanes. The overpass at 38th needs to be widened so rapid ride can use the outside lanes. Traffic often backs up going from sb 99 to queen anne. None of these things have been really changed since the bridge was made and model T’s drove on it.

  15. Metro complaint of they day: they need to figure out a better way of charging the fare for peak travel. I needed to go from Belltown to NE Ballard on Tuesday around 7:30. Virtually every bus, including my first choice, the 28, was running horrifically and absurdly late some reason. The D and the 15X arrived simultaneously. Becuase the D had been running ahead of it, it was packed and the 15X empty (its target riders had probably long since abandoned hope and taken another bus), so I hopped on. Because it was probably originally scheduled to run before 6:00, I was charged peak fare. This is nonsense. I am not travelling during peak times, it’s not my fault your damn buses are running 90 minutes late.

    1. Agree. This has happened to me, also, on a more ordinary weeknight when the bus was delayed out of downtown (not on a day with a horrific car-accident backup).

  16. Hydrogen cars, hydrogen stations…chicken and egg right?

    Not any more! Hydrogen-XT has a new technology so that stations can add a hydrogen pump at 100x cheaper the cost. But their real innovation is a smart app that will direct cars to the nearest refueling station when done.

    Hydrogen-XT uses software that locates stations and displays fuel availability, reserves the amount a customer wants, routes them to the selected station and then completes the transaction. Early H2 adopters can have confidence that they will be able to locate, reserve and purchase fuel whenever it is needed because Hydrogen-XT includes a small, inexpensive fueling station that reforms hydrogen from natural gas.

    Hydrogen-XT’s station is designed to be cost effective and they estimate it is 100 times less expensive than conventional H2 stations available today. The station is modular, so they say it is easily upgraded.

    People make a big deal out of hydrogen technology. In reality it will be as easy to refuel as putting air in your tires with the pressure hose.

  17. Summer Parkways in Spokane

    Spokane Summer Parkways is an idea inspired by an event in Bogota, Colombia called Ciclovia (meaning “bike path” in Spanish) and similar events in other parts of the world. The focus is on recreation, fitness, and community when we close 4 miles of roadway to automobiles and open up the streets to bikes, pedestrians, skaters, and other human-powered transportation.

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