U-District Station Under Construction
U-District Station Under Construction
  • The gondola to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver didn’t make the region’s wish list but advocates are still pushing for it.
  • The partially completed Evergreen Point Freeway Station opened Monday. An eastbound half-mile bus-only lane is providing some relief for riders.
  • “… you can double the number of people in a public place either by doubling the number of people who are drawn to the place … or by doubling the length of time that people choose to stay.”
  • Another massive backup on I-5, this time due to a knife wielding man on the Ship Canal Bridge. I look forward to the reliability and redundancy that Link will provide in the not so distant future.
  • Kate Joncas, the CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, will become the deputy mayor of operations for the City.
  • The Seattle Bike Blog has some great analysis of biking trends using data from the Fremont Bridge. Yesterday’s rainfall is almost as important as today’s rainfall when estimating daily bicycle volumes.
  • Bertha is beefing up to better deal with tunneling conditions.
  • Mayor Murray continues his impressive winning streak, removing caps on TNCs while evening the playing field. Let’s hope that he can keep up this kind of progress on the regional and state level.
  • The Washington Transportation Commission is looking more seriously at road-usage charges with three tiers. Implementation has always been the sticking point on this idea, and the three tier approach sound fairly implementable to me.
  • The state is restarting its search for the chief of Washington State Ferries
  • SDOT will construct more neighborhood greenways this summer.
  • A debrief on the First Hill Streetcar extension open house.

This is an open thread.

39 Replies to “News Roundup: Moving Along… Or Not”

  1. Copy editing nits:

    — “Downtown Seattle Associate”
    — “road-usages charge”
    — Missing link on WSF story

  2. “Although a business case analysis by CH2M Hill found that the gondola would generate substantial benefits to commuters and the region, estimated at 3.6 times its cost in dollar terms, TransLink decided against it as the upfront cost would be $12 million more than continuing to run buses to SFU’s Burnaby campus over the next 25 years.”

    Giving up $420M in gains to save $12M. And I had so much respect for Vancouver…

    1. I live in TransLink region. I think the gondola up to SFU is reasonable but is not the most important transportation project in the region since the routes do get busy but buses can still hand the loads for now. The most important projects that need to be build are: UBC Subway, extension of the Millennium or/ and Evergreen Lines, to get rid of 99 B-line, the Evergreen line, light rail in Surrey, light rail or an extension of the Expo line into Langley Centre. These projects are important and province supports those projects to meet the C02 goal, which are to low it.

  3. Brenda is getting very close to taking her first bite of dirt on the NB bore for the LR tunnel between Northgate and Roosevelt. This is good news….

    But there is a lot of work to do at Roosevelt Station before it is ready to receive her. They haven’t finished the slurry walls yet, and they’ll need to excavate, add structural support, and pour an invert before they are ready to receive Brenda.

    It’s going to be a real race…..

    1. I’ve been checking into the webcams also. Looks like Brenda is right against the wall.

      The tunneling docs under the Northgate project indicate that two will be sent out. I’ve only seen Brenda on the site. Are they going to send Brenda out first, then pull in one of the other ones (Togo/Balto?) to follow Brenda in a month or two.

      T’is a mystery.

      1. That’s the plan. I don’t know if they’re going to reuse Togo or Balto, or if the other one is new.

        I think the idea is to get the first tunnel going, get the TBM into the tunnel, then they’ll have room in the yard to put together TBM #2. The site doesn’t have huge amounts of space.

      2. Link to the webcam, please.

        I saw Brenda three or four weeks ago when I was walking just south of Northgate. Walked past that spot again on Wednesday and couldn’t see anything this time. They’d put up a big wall that blocks the view (but probably the noise, too). But I wondered if Brenda was still out in the open, enjoying the view, or if she’d gone to work yet.

      3. I just drove by the jobsite this morning, and it looks like they just took delivery of part of TBM #2. I’m sure the next ST update will give more details, but looks like they’re not delaying getting the second tunnel going.

  4. The 520 project is maddening.
    The closure of the (admittedly bad) HOV lanes has made the bus unusable for months.

    I5 to Medina was supposed to done last year.
    After massive delay, they are probably opening the new HOV lines, but still no date, and only to I405.
    Later this summer
    • New inside transit/HOV lanes open from Medina to I-405
    (3+ occupancy).

    But the actual commitment from the project plan is
    HOV lanes from Medina to SR 202 interchange.
    The Eastside Transit and HOV Project will complete and improve the 8.8-mile HOV system from Evergreen Point Road to the SR 202 interchange.
    Inside transit/HOV lane through the entire Eastside corridor.

    At this point, it isn’t clear if they ever plan to move the HOV to the inside lane- and the PM backup from 148th to I405 is the worst slowdown.

    Sound transit isn’t perfect, but at least they keep their schedule commitments, and don’t secretly move the goalposts on each – slipped – deadline.

    1. Inside HOV lanes from I-405 to SR-202 should just be striping and signage, right? They should be able to do the striping in a weekend or a couple of overnights. Signage would be a bit more of an issue.

    2. At a time of transit budget crisis, it’s deplorable that projects of another government agency (the WSDOT) have added so much inefficiency and cost to transit in the 520 corridor for over a year. The saving grace I guess is that the massive over-engineering of the project (building freeway lids in low density Medina) are done in the name of transit, pedestrian and bike commuting. It seems like WSDOT should have been able to better arrange their construction equipment to preserve an HOV lane through much of this construction, and a shame they have not.

      For most buses continuing on 520 past I-405 (e.g., ST route 545), the next stop isn’t until NE 40th (at Microsoft campus). There’s no lid reconstruction funded or yet planned (to my knowledge) at the 40th overpass. The inside transit/HOV lanes all the way out to Redmond’s SR 202 would not make much sense when the buses would still need to cross to outside lanes at 40th, but it would make good sense to extend inside HOVE lanes past the I405 interchange out nearly to the 40th overpass when the Medina to I 405 HOV lane is put in.

      1. The fact that Yarrow Point is important enough to justify a fancy bus stop along the freeway, yet not important enough to justify a one-mile extension of the 246 to connect there – or even keep the existing bus stop open consistently throughout the construction – is hypocrisy I don’t have words to describe.

        Given the extremely pathetic ridership Yarrow Point does get (it doesn’t even meet Sound Transit’s standards for a basic bus stop, let alone a $50 million fancy bus stop), it is obvious that proper choice would have been to just close that stop when the HOV lanes move to the inside and not replace it.

        On the other hand, the lid and bus stop at 92nd Ave. could have actually done a lot of good at NE 40th., a few miles up the highway. Besides getting large amounts of actual use, a median bus stop there would eliminate the need for the time-consuming route 545 deviation. It would have also eliminated the need for a $30 million ped bridge for the future light rail station.

    1. Apparently, these were mothballed because they were on fire.

      As tourist-oriented heritage trolleys go, Memphis’s actually does better than most (e.g. at least it has relatively efficient service patterns, draws more riders than the SLUT). Not the worst thing ever, in a town with… err… not so much going on that would cause traffic congestion.

      But being on fire is an issue that should probably be addressed.

      1. They haven’t yet determined the cause of these fires. Certainly it is an issue, though it is usually a good idea to replace older electrical wiring in cars once they get past 40 years or so on age. The vibration and age will have taken its toll on the much less stable insulation of the era.

        At the same time, it is interesting to note that while mode isn’t supposed to matter if the service is the same, the fact is it apparently does.

  5. Sticky Streets…

    I recently stayed in Vancouver’s Yaletown, a very urban dense part of town. Reality is I did not see the kind of pedestrian only streets there, just the standard regular small streets, with cars and traffic (quite a bit of it). I stayed quite close to the waterfront and it’s exquisite bicycle/pedestrian path — but it was somewhat removed from the areas of commerce (although bounded by very expensive high rise apartment buildings).

    So what is the answer. This type of thinking completely excludes say an open air mall area like Kent Station, or even a closed area mall like Southcenter. Both offer walkable, shopable spaces — but, and here’s the diff — you basically drive to them or bus to them.

    So there is the idea of the street in a city being walkable, which I don’t really see much of. In fact, Portland, OR has it’s urban mall (as does Vancouver) and these are both rather dingy bus corridors. Then there are the busy, and well used but car-based streets like in Yaletown, which are quite nice. But also there is the idea of pedestrian “islands” — spaces you go to like a Disneyworld and get to walk and shop in… fed by transit and cars. Are these so wrong?

    1. In theory, perhaps, but when it comes time to do a capital investment cost analysis, this sort of thing becomes much harder to justify both to planners and voters. How do you build ridership to a place where everything closes up shop in the evening? It’s true that urbanism and walkability are indeed separate things, but I’m not sure that one can function without the other, except in very special “destination” cases. Disneyworld can pull off this sort of this as a destination, but we’re not planning to build Disneyworld at Kent Station. (Are we??)

      Consider the Las Vegas Strip — it’s the ultimate macro version of what you suggest, and to me, the only scale at which something like what you suggest can exist. Sure, every road has 5 lanes in every direction, but the pedestrian facilities — escalators! overpasses! monorails! — are easy enough to use, if not necessarily designed with the traditional urbanist motives in mind. It certainly is a destination to walk and shop, but I still don’t need a car to get around a place originally designed for cars. (I don’t even need a car to get there — an air ticket and a cab ride are entirely sufficient.)

      1. I guess if they ever fix Bertha we’ll see what an outdoor plaza-mall looks like in Seattle.

      2. They should have put in light rail there. It’s a shame they didn’t. The monorail is expensive and it only serves the east end of the strip. Light rail on Las Vegas boulevard would have been so much better. It would have only cost one lane in each direction and it would carry a lot more people than the vehicles it replaces.

    2. I used to visit friends in Yaletown frequently in the early 00’s. The mixed-use buildings and condos are working just as intended: my friend owned a video store, lived a couple blocks away, his employee lived in the building above the store, and people in the neighborhood patronized it. His partner worked five blocks away at another small business. They and other people drove only when going outside the downtown penninsula. which wasn’t often. There are full-sized supermarkets, drugstores, and natural-food stores in the neighboring buildings.

      However, one minor flaw is the Yaletown streets don’t have as many pedestrians as you might expect. Off Granville it’s just a couple people every few minutes. More Friday and Saturday evenings of course, but not like our Broadway where several people are always visible. I think it was “too much concrete” and not enough of the right amenities. So the area is not as sticky as it could be. But still very successful, and a model for SLU, Wallingford, Rainier Valley, West Seattle, etc.

      Stickiness is not about pedestrian-only streets, it’s about making the ground level interesting and worthwhile for pedestrians, beyond just generic mixed-use buildings. It’s probably true that true pedestrian-only streets only succeed in a few limited situations.

      So what about that Kent Station and Southcenter. A pedestrian area that people drive to is better than no pedestrian area. But I’d argue that University Village is more pedestrian friendly than either of those, meaning more sticky. Southcenter is just plain and boring. That design was exciting fifty years ago but now it’s like purgatory. Kent Station is more pleasantly designed, more sticky, but you still don’t see pedestrians lingering outside there. I think that’s because there’s a pretty narrow range of businesses and little to do outside. It’s a shame those buildings are one-story because there’s so much potential above them. Even one or two more stories of shops, offices, or housing would be better than the one-story buildings.

      1. “Southcenter is just plain and boring…”

        They did just do an extensive remodeling and they added several ground level, outside facing restaurants like Joey’s. And on any given day the volume of people using all of Southcenter is gargantuan!

        “Kent Station is more pleasantly designed, more sticky, but you still don’t see pedestrians lingering outside there.”

        Depends on the weather and activities. On a sunny summer evening it can be packed in the plaza outside of Dilettante, or at one of the noon-time concerts. At night Mama Sortini’s, RAM, Duke’s, Cal’s are all very busy. They recognize many of the shops are somewhat matronly and are doing something about it. With the Green River College Extension housed there, over the years I’ve noticed a bigger and bigger 20-something crowd hanging and utilizing the features there (like live theater).

      2. So what about … Kent Station and Southcenter.

        Kent Station is likely a more sustainable model for New Suburbanism than Southcenter. Even with Tukwila’s plans for new, walkable development around Southcenter, Kent Station will be more appealing and accessible for the community. Southcenter is indeed plain and boring; even with the new restaurants and movie theaters, it’s still a single use diversion–an afternoon at the mall (shop/eat/see a movie/go home). Parking is free, but your car is costly and almost mandatory. Some people ride transit to Southcenter, a few folks may walk to the mall but nobody rides a bike to Southcenter.

        The retail mix at Kent Station is also rather bland, but there is room for growth and sustainable economic revitalization in the area around Kent Station. There’s also the potential for diversity of activities near Kent Station that isn’t possible at Southcenter. The changes in the macro-economic structure of America and the world will also impact the businesses at Southcenter more negatively than the businesses in downtown Kent (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). Issues like globalism, increased economic rights for retail workers plus transportation issues will negatively affect the economic model of the suburban mall and lead to a more sustainable New Suburbanism in places like downtown Kent. Southcenter won’t become a ghost town, but its business model is going to have to change.

      3. Kent Station has the added benefit of 36+ Seattle Thunderbirds games across the street at ShoWare Center. There are always fans sitting in the plaza pre- and post-game which is somewhat impressive considering how observant the parking enforcement is at Kent Station.

      4. You park your car by kent station eat there drive somewhere else and enjoy the games.

      5. Why would you do that when all parking in Kent is free? It’s not unusual for a 7pm Saturday game to have the arena parking lot 1/2 full well before 6. You see a steady stream of hockey fans walking over to Kent Station before the game for dinner and/or drinks and then walking back.

  6. For the second time in just over a week, police investigations of fatalities have closed major highways through Seattle for several hours.

    Last week’s incident packed Seattle with stuck cars four hours, including pm rush. I don’t question the right and duty of the authorities to investigate such incidents.

    But I wonder if these agencies are giving any thought to how vulnerable these long blockages render thousands of people to large scale death and destruction by industrial accident or deliberate terrorism?

    When the 99 incident left the Seattle CBD packed and paralyzed, how much fire and ambulance equipment was rendered useless. What would have happened if someone either deliberately caused a strategically place wreck- or just waited for one to happen?

    Every day since 9/11/2001, we the American people have been asked to give up increasing amounts of our personal freedom and privacy in the name of security.

    So if the length and destructiveness of these investigations owes to nothing more than rules about what police always have to do, it’s certainly thirteen years past time for a rules change.

    If I’m off base on this, will someone in emergency response at any level set me straight?

    Mark Dublin

    1. It all comes down to how we can prevent these things from happening again. Of course we can’t fix stupid but maybe there’s something we could have done?

  7. Did they just finish the slurry walls at the Roosevelt Station? If so, then it is a major milestone.


    Title: Hydrogen Fueling for Current and Anticipated Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)
    Date: June 24, 2014
    Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EDT

    The Energy Department will present at live webinar titled “Hydrogen Fueling for Current and Anticipated Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles” on Tuesday, June 24, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight time (EDT). The webinar will feature representatives from the California Energy Commission discussing their recently announced Notice of Proposed Award for 28 hydrogen fueling stations, the evaluation criteria, and the variety of competitions. In addition, representatives from Argonne National Laboratory will discuss a new tool for estimating the economic impacts of hydrogen infrastructure for early market fuel cell electric vehicles. The tool, titled JOBS and economic impacts of Hydrogen (JOBS H2), estimates the jobs, earnings, and economic output created by deploying hydrogen fueling stations.


  9. Something I haven’t heard anything about is adjustments to bus routes after U-link opens. Has there been any discussion of that recently? I regularly ride the 41 from Northgate, and my hope is there will be some change to funnel people down to UW to catch the train. It looks like the 67 gets me kinda close to the Link station, but I’m still at least half a mile away.

    I hope Metro is able to come up with a good solution that leverages the capacity of U-link. It’s unfortunate that the end of the line is going to be in such a difficult traffic situation for 5 years.

    1. Metro’s been pretty tight-lipped for the moment on plans for U-Link reorganizations. My impression is that the real reorganization north of the Ship Canal will come when North Link opens, exactly because it’s so impossible to get buses from the north to UW Station.

      Any attempt to replace the 41 with a UW Station bus would be far, far slower than the 41 itself (except possibly inbound at PM peak on bad days). If the June 2015 reorg goes through, your 67 will also be gone, replaced by the new 73 which is much more frequent but won’t get as close to the station.

      1. But the buses will be kicked from the tunnel when U-link opens, right? Or are they going to wait until North Link to make the tunnel Link-only?

        Hard to believe that U-Link might actually slow down commutes for some people in the short term.

      2. ST has said that the buses will be kicked out of the DSTT when ID station is modified for East Link. I forget now whether that is in 2018 or 2019.

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