When Sound Transit presented planned updates to their Long Range Plan  to the PSRC last Thursday, there was some blockbuster news for local transit advocates: Sound Transit is adding a Corridor 14, The Sand Point Crossing, to its long range plan for additional study. The Sand Point Crossing was first covered by Seattle Transit Blog here, and then Seattle Subway advocated for it during the Long Range Plan comment period. A lot of you echoed our thoughts to the board and Sound Transit Staff — and they listened.


This post is to say thank you to all of you who sent your comments to Sound Transit. Thank you to Sound Transit staff who reversed direction and decided to add this corridor to the Long Range Plan. And thank you to the Sound Transit Board for your leadership on this issue.

To those who question whether advocacy works and whether Sound Transit listens to the public, I present this as exhibit A. The Long Range Plan explicitly said that they were not going to study this corridor due to the findings of the Trans-Lake Washington Study. Seattle Subway countered that argument and, with your help, the Sand Point Crossing will now be studied.

We will now get objective answers about whether or not the Sand Point crossing is the best option for a Lake Washington Rail crossing. We think it is – but now we can be absolutely sure. When a large agency like Sound Transit is responsive to the public, we all win.

If you have a chance, please take the time to email the  Sound Transit Board and ST Long Range Plan Staff and say thanks. As advocates, we often focus on what is wrong more than what is right – lets acknowledge a job well done.

Thank you all.

91 Replies to “Sound Transit Listens to Public, Seattle Subway, Will Study Sand Point Crossing”

  1. My only hope is that they also consider a spur north from Sandpoint. The populations of the areas justify it. An East-West line from Ballard could continue through U-village/Ravenna/Sandpoint/Wedgewood/Lake City. Below are neighborhood population densities for 4 Seattle areas to be considered in ST3. Seeing how U-Ville and Children’s also make their respective areas heavier bi-directional flowing areas they should have more weight.

    2010 Populations

    Ravenna 24,187
    E Lake City Way 12,798
    W Lake City Way 14,587
    Sandpoint/Laurelhust 10,479
    Wedgewood 14,837
    76,888 (increases significantly when considering Lake
    Forest Park, Kenmore, etc)

    Wallingford 16,014
    Freemont 15,626
    Greenwood/Phinny 23,948
    Loyal Heights/Sunset Hill 13,902
    Licton Springs 8,875
    Greenlake 14,212
    Bitter Lake Broadview 13,557

    QA 35,458
    Belltown 8,601
    Ballard 6,739
    N Ballard 11,861
    N Beach/Blue Ridge 11,433
    Interbay 9,802
    Magnolia 12,383

    W. Seattle/Gennesee Hill 17,713
    Fauntleroy 13,723
    Roxhill 12,392
    Alki 10,542
    54,370 (increases significantly when considering Buriean,
    Des Moines, etc)


    1. An around the lake north line from Northgate could also address a lot of the population base you are concerned about.

      1. I guess it is matter of what monies will be available and what the priorities are. Hopefully at least these 4 areas make ST3. I’m not a big fan of a line from Everett Community College to Lynnwood. They should maybe truncate this line to be a localized Everett system with a connection to Sounder. Kind of like what Tacoma has done and then expand in ST4. Could save 1-2 billion this way.

      2. I think Wedgewood is deserving of a stop and would it matter if Lake City and points northeast extended of Wedgewood vs Northgate?

      3. Also, I think Lake City Way is deserving of more than 1 stop. A East West route would only allow for 1.

      4. les, here’s a quick reality check for you in terms of whether a neighborhood can support a train stop: Does the neighborhood fill up buses that run every 10 minutes or less at any time of day? If not, there’s absolutely no reason for a train anytime in the near term, when so many places that do overwhelm bus service still don’t have trains.

        Of the neighborhoods you named only the multifamily neighborhood north of U-Village passes even that minimal test, and only because of students making a short ride onto campus on the 68 and 372 at peak hour.

      5. You’re right, with U-ville and Children’s Hosp already served then the justification for extension north is weakened due to low population. However, anytime you have a potential of 100,000+ residents to draw from then rail is practical. A line running north from U-ville or Children’s with a stop in Wedgewood, 3 in Lake City Way, and stops in Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell will then have the numbers. However, the question is would these areas be better served by a East-West spur from Northgate? I think a East – West spur would be a slight to Lake City Way which has had a healthy growth rate lately. But is there significant demand for this area to travel to Northgate and points north?

      6. Lake City is a much larger issue that goes beyond this study. There are several ways to connect Lake City: at 130th, Northgate, or Roosevelt, or the spur you suggested. All of these are about equal in usefulness. ST already has a Lake City line in its long-range plan. I think it terminates at Northgate but we’ll see what the LRP revision says in December. The only way it’s relevant to this study is to make sure the design doesn’t preclude a Y junction either initially or later. That’s the problem we’re having at U-District station, where ST has not designed a junction or transfer station for a spur or cross line, which makes people worry about the highest-volume transfer in north Seattle.

      7. I guess I should mention the context of this study. A few years ago ST chose six or so corridors to study for ST3. Three are in Seattle: Ballard-downtown, downtown-West Seattle(-Burien), Ballard-UW(-Redmond). Before ST can build anything, it has to (1) put it in the long-range regional plan, (2) select it from the plan for study, (3) get it voter-approved, (4) build it. Those corridors were step 2. This new study is an alternative for one of those corridors.

        Lake City was not among the corridors, so it’s not being considered for ST3. So your concern would best be directed toward the long-range plan. Unfortunately, the LRP just had a major revision and comment period this summer, and the next one won’t be until ST4. The final LRP revision will probably be available by the end of the year, but as I said I expect it will have a Northgate-Lake City-Bothell line because that was the status quo and I don’t think it has been overridden.

        There is something to be said for the Ballard-east “Y” concept, however. It would avoid a three-seat ride between Ballard and Lake City, which the status quo seems to lead to. I think it would make all directions one-seat or two-seat; I can’t think of any three-seat trips. And it would put double-frequency between Ballard and UW where it belongs. However, remember that the U-District – Northgate segment will be the most frequent, with trains every 4-5 minutes daytime, 7 minutes late evening. So even a three-seat ride would not be horrible, and several times better than the existing buses.

        There have been other alternatives suggested, such as extending the downtown-Ballard line to Greenwood, Northgate, and on to Lake City. However, ST does not seem convinced by them because the LRP has a line east of Northgate but not west of it.

  2. I hope this potential crossing displaces the idea of a 520 crossing. It would hit a much more useful place on the north end of the lake and would not duplicate the 90 crossing.

    1. A suspension bridge was already rejected for the new 520 bridge due to resident objections. I really don’t think they’ll be able to get a light rail bridge past the same objectors.

      Since the lake is too deep for a conventional bridge, that would leave us with what would probably be the longest floating bridge in the world, car or rail. I have the sinking suspicion (pun intended), that Sound Transit will conclude that the $1-4 billion to build a bridge would be best spent building actual LRT lines through dense areas.

      1. I think you’re probably right, but it’s at least worth a proper study make sure, rather than dismiss the idea out of hand.

      2. RR, ever think that a light-rail suspension bridge can be built to a much lighter “caliber” than a truck-and-car bridge- and be designed so that it becomes an attraction rather than a repulsion to the community?

        Also notice over time that possibility of not getting a station when some other neighborhood will is a great changer of residential and commercial minds? Unfortunate that this facility is not going to be built anytime soon. But upside is time to work on routing and design.

        Also, nothing against neighborhoods having something to say about what goes through them, but would you argue against question of exactly how many neighborhood people might want the line as opposed to those who don’t?

        Also, how populace and its age and outlook might change over planning and construction time we’re discussing?

        Mark Dublin

      3. A suspension bridge was rejected because the span would need to be twice the length of the Golden Gate, because the towers would need to be submerged in fathomlessly deep waters, and because the landings on either side are relatively close to water level.

        But let’s not let facts get in our way…

      4. And do not doubt the ability of the Laurelhurst Community Club to really effectively block anything that might bring people to their neighborhood, or mess with their views.

      5. @d.p. And the fact that it’s a curved corridor, and curved corridors don’t work well with suspension bridges.

        But if you think that the lake people will allow a suspension bridge, you’re in for a surprise. And the amount of influence they have over public spaces is insane (have you seen 520 on the east side recently)?

      6. There’s no way they will be a suspension bridge. The lake is too deep, and too wide.

        It would have to be a tunnel or another floating bridge.

  3. This seems likely to be a pretty inefficient use of scarce transit resources to me. But I guess a study will help clarify that if I’m right.

    1. Compared to the 520 alignment options they studied? I really don’t think so.
      That said – this has always been our point. Study it and lets find out.

    2. I agree, djw. And I expect that ST’s study will conclusively say so. But, it’s definitely worth studying.

    3. Agreed. It’s worth a study, because it’s the only other train crossing of Lake Washington that remotely makes sense, but I’d bet a lot of money on the study showing it’s a poor use of funds.

      Unfortunately, most potential rail investments on the Eastside other than East Link and its Redmond extension fall into that category for the moment.

      As a resident of Kirkland who would benefit hugely from a Sand Point crossing I wish it were otherwise, but the numbers are what they are.

      1. As a resident of Kirkland also, I’d love to be able to get excited about this, but I can’t. Unless the costs come in very low indeed, it’s hard to imagine this going anywhere. I think Sound Transit is going through the motions here.

        It was interesting to watch the representatives of the cities at the PSRC meeting. In particular, the questions asked showed rather clearly that none of the cities have any idea what Sound Transit is considering in their areas. Very obvious that the LRP update process isn’t engaging with regional leaders yet. (That alone makes me pessimistic that we’ll even have a ballot in 2016).

        That said, this will have come as news to the City of Kirkland. Kirkland’s been telling everybody who will listen that transit isn’t happening on the corridor and that the only realistic solution is BRT on the 405. Their interpretation of the studies presented back in May/June is that 405-BRT has the best ridership/cost ratio of anything in this neighborhood. (I think they’re too pessimistic; the 405 BRT corridor builds ridership by being long. It does a lousy job of providing service at any particular point).

        Kirkland is fixated with getting service to Totem Lake as an economic development tool for their urban center there. This doesn’t go to Totem Lake. For that reason alone, they’ll oppose it.

        At the same time, the politics of running rail up the ERC to downtown are not great. Not quite Surrey Downs, but there’s a lot of concern in the single family neighborhoods between downtown and the Bellevue city line about rail. Noise, landslides, you name it. The City has also built a trail on the corridor. In principle, that shouldn’t be a problem. The corridor is big enough for both a trail and a rail line. But the City has hogged the best real estate by building the trail down the center of the corridor, and would like ST to make do with an envelope on the edge of the corridor. If ST were to agree to this, it would drive a lot of additional cost. The engineering gets harder and the neighbor impacts get bigger.

        What about the other cities involved? Seattle won’t get behind it. They have too many better projects on their list. Redmond is focussed on getting the last leg of East Link built, and will see this as a distraction. Bellevue won’t oppose, but I don’t see this as their priority. Issaquah’s take will be interesting. On one hand, it’ll suck up money that could go to a Bellevue-Issaquah link. On the other hand, it increases the value of a Kirkland-Issaquah line if it has onward service to North Seattle.

      2. >> Not quite Surrey Downs, but there’s a lot of concern in the single family neighborhoods between downtown and the Bellevue city line about rail

        Dan, it wasn’t the single family neighborhoods that won the fights in Bellevue. It was the business interests: Bellevue Square Mall, the Bellevue Club, etc. Don’t forget: homes are being torn down in Surrey Downs to accommodate the train.

        I’m not claiming that the sacrifice these people are being told to make for the greater good is worthwhile or not. I’m just saying that your allegation that it’s “not quite Surrey Downs” rings hollow until you actually threaten some 80-year olds who’ve lived in their homes for 50 years with eviction.

    4. This very well may look like a horrible inefficient use of funds right up until that day the I-90 bridge is closed for some reason (wind & waves, blue angels, tanker collision…) and no trains from the east side can make it to downtown Seattle or UW. What is the value of redundancy and resilience preventing failure (regional gridlock) in your system? The lake is too wide to bridge, too deep to tunnel under so ST should study a floating bridge and a floating tunnel (one that is submerged low enough that no boats will run into it). As a sailor I prefer the latter. Let’s see what they find out before judging it. If this crossing turns out to be feasible, but not the highest priority for ST3, we can still use that information to design in a way that doesn’t preclude, and maybe even sets up, future construction when another E-W link becomes necessary.

    5. “This seems likely to be a pretty inefficient use of scarce transit resources to me”

      The context is what the Eastside wants to spend its ST3 money on. Four corridors were studied: UW-Redmond, Kirkland-Issaquah, 405, and extending East Link to downtown Redmond. I assume the lake crossing will be rejected as too much money for too little benefit. But we should study it to get a cost and ridership estimate. We definitely shouldn’t build light rail on 520 without studying a Sand Point-Kirkland alternative first.

      Kirkland is the largest Eastside city left out of Link so far. A Sand Point – Kirkland route would be brilliant, both because it’s straight (no 520 detours), and because it would open up a brand-new travel corridor across north Seattle and the northern Eastside that would actually be faster than driving. (Because drivers inevitably get caught in Montlake congestion, I-5 convestion, and/or U-District congestion.) But as David Lawson says, it’s probably too expensive to do. And, interestingly, Kirkland is not playing a band for it or insisting on it. Kirkland seems content with a low-cost Eastside BRT, or light rail to Bellevue. So if the primary beneficiary is not demanding Link to Seattle now, that makes it much less priority and less likely.

      1. Sound Transit’s plans for Kirkland came up at a meeting this evening (the Mayor and City Manager were giving a State of the City address).

        City Manager Kurt Triplett repeated his earlier contention that Sound Transit will not run rail on the corridor. He is, apparently, enthusiastic about a gondola from Totem Lake to Bellevue (Cross Kirkland Skyway). I didn’t hear whether he expects Sound Transit to pick up the tab.

        One more reason to be skeptical that Sound Transit is adequately engaged with the cities, I think.

      2. City Manager Kurt Triplett… a gondola from Totem Lake to Bellevue

        Oh, cracker-borne christ.

        That is eight and a half miles.

        Isn’t there a single elected official in this part of the country who considers it part of their job description to know what the hell they’re talking about!!?

      3. Or maybe the City Manager isn’t elected. That would be even worse. That would imply that some litany of education institutions, accreditors, and employers have conspired to bestow upon this guy the airs of being a “professional”. Yeesh.

  4. I can’t read the detail on that map (resolution).

    Is it saying they want to convert Sounder to light rail?

    1. I think folks have asked either for a conversion or an LRT addition to this area… maybe they are thinking that the sounder would act as an express and the LRT would be a local train?

      1. I don’t see any link to the slideshow in the post. I see two links to STB posts, a link to the image and two links to mail URLs. Where is the Sound Transit slideshow?

    1. Its there, its just under all of those north/south lines crossing over the top of it. Its a very light grey dotted line so it doesn’t really show up. This map emphasizes the new potential corridors recommended by citizens.

  5. If the study shows it is feasible, would this increase the chances of ST3 getting on the ballot of 2016?

    1. Reverse that. ST3 getting on the ballot in 2016 increases the chances of this happening. This route alone will not decide whether a ballot measure is put forward. But it just might create better service as a result of that ballot measure passing.

    2. It would create a better service. However, the main issue is, how strongly does the Eastside want these three lines (trans-lake, Kirkland-Issaquah, 405)? Does it strongly want one, two, or all three of them? What do all the cities want, both the governments and residents, and where do multiple cities’ desires reinforce each other or cancel them out? Do Eastsiders care more about transit or low taxes? The city governments recognize the need for transit, while some of their libertarian residents disagree.

      1. I’d think that if Kirkland-Issaquah happened (or even a portion of that alignment), then that would be the end of the road for a 405 alignment. Arguably you could build a BRT that connected to the rail at Kirkland and Factoria/Eastgate to serve points further north and south?

      2. They serve different purposes even if they’re parallel in the middle. If both were built, LR would be the primary mode between Bellevue and Kirkland because it’s more frequent and probably faster. But 405 also addresses Renton and Bothell (and maybe Lynnwood; I don’t remember where the northern terminus is). I can’t see building 405 BRT and terminating it in Bellevue and Kirkland; and it probably wouldn’t save much money.

    1. This is basically a map of stupid shit suggested by crazy people at open houses. Pin The Fantasy On The Poster Board.

      Thankfully, it is not a list of serious considerations.

      Though as the body of this article reminds us, Sound Transit is hardly averse to wasting money investigating stupid shit.

      1. D.P., I haven’t quite made up my mind, but since your ideas seem to me to be the best: do you think a Sand Point crossing is as stupidly shitty as a 520 crossing? Why/why not?

      2. I’m not d.p., but I’ll answer: a Sand Point crossing isn’t shitty at all — it’s a much better idea than a 520 crossing — but it’s way too expensive for the number of people it can possibly serve, even if both Kirkland and Redmond exceed all growth expectations.

      3. D.P.’s opinion interests me, I can’t tell if he knows of a better idea or not.

        David, how expensive is too expensive? If subarea equity remains in place, who cares? Is there a better project for the Eastside that could *potentially* carry more people, faster?

      4. Basically, what he said.

        But this is illustrative of why same-rate taxation across subareas is a doomed policy. When you start struggling to conjure very expensive, low-usefulness projects to meet your expected level of whopping taxation, rather than seeking right-sized projects (and funding) to solve actual needs well, you’re setting your entire constituency up for failure.

      5. I would argue messing with Subarea equity is a bad idea. But changing the rules on subarea ADDITIONAL taxation wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

      6. These are just my rantings, needing study to be proven right or wrong, but here’s where I’d like to see Eastside money go:

        – Stop messing around with the piecemeal 405 bus corridor and finally, really, get it right. This is a billion-dollar project and could use up most of the money. HOV ramps and center stops everywhere from Kennydale to Houghton, dedicated bus lanes with aggressive TSP to places too far from the freeway to serve with freeway stops (i.e., the downtowns of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Bothell); HOV 3 where necessary to keep the buses moving, particularly between 520 and I-90.

        – Create a couple of quality new transfer points between local and express service. Right now, the difficulty of such transfers creates some bizarre problems and compromises in the bus network, including horribly inefficient and indirect service on the core Bellevue-Kirkland corridor and networks all over East Bellevue that make little sense. I’d suggest I-90/Richards Road (served badly by S Bellevue P&R) and SR-520/108th (served badly by S Kirkland P&R) as places where efficient transfer points would improve the whole network.

        – Beef up express bus lines to frequent levels. All-day, 7-day frequency on about six core ST and Metro lines would make the Eastside much more accessible.

      7. “this is illustrative of why same-rate taxation across subareas is a doomed policy.”

        It has nothing to do with same-rate taxation. That affects the projects selected for a round of construction, not the long-range plan.

        Same-rate taxation should go away. However, whether that will inevitably happen (“doomed”) is another question.

      8. If that policy isn’t doomed, then the entire Sound Transit experiment — and all future needs that it intended to facilitate — are doomed.

        So yes. “Doomed.” No one is building $3 billion trains and bridges to nowhere on 50 years of whoppingly-high levy credit just because their subarea “had” to be taxed at the same rate as a different one. “No” votes galore.

      9. Too many on this blog, from the “trains cure climate change even if no one rides them” Cruickshank to his in-almost-every-way diametrical political opposite Martin, keep envisioning so much excess money rolling in that we’ll need to be shopping around for ways to blow it all. That’s the single craziest thing about STB and the Seattle advocacy world.

        Because seriously, when in the history of the modern era has that ever happened?

      10. Your tendency towards hyperbole and absolutes is showing again DP.

        ST did study Lake Washington crossings and I think we agree that the Sand Point Crossing is superior to what they studied.

        To claim there is no value in this crossing or that its a bridge to nowhere doesnt bolster your argument. There is a very large contingent of tech workers north of the ship canal and in Kirkland who would love better connections to Eastside employers and vice versa.

        We want to see the numbers so we can have an informed opinion on what does or doesnt make sense. I personally think that a Sand Point crossing that interlines with East Link and terminates at Eastgate would beat anything studied so far and be a high value long term investment for the East Side.

      11. Here’s how the study is going to work:

        1) Researchers explore downtown Kirkland. They note the charming, but limited, nature of its transit-amenable urban scape. They note the vast distance between it and anything resembling the “next” cross-lake demand generator. They also note that, despite protestations of urban proclivities, downtown Kirkland’s suburban NIMBYism is starting to shine through, as pressure mounts to push all future growth to the unfixable cloverleaf/big-box wasteland known as Totem Lake.

        2) Researchers explore Sand Point. They note that it is a handful of houses, a gigantic park, and literally nothing else. They shrug their shoulders and leave.

        3) Researchers rent a kayak, row to the middle of Lake Washington, and light a pile of money on fire in order to accurately model the engineering and construction process for this proposal.

      12. Haha… Very Funny DP.

        Regardless of your misgivings, there most definitely is a value in a northern Lake Washington Crossing. If you think Eastlink is a sufficient connection, you are just flashing how myopic your view is.

      13. Really? East Link connects Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond. Not perfectly, but quickly. Nevertheless, its ridership projections are aggressively mediocre and it qualified for precisely $zero in federal funding.

        It does all of that cross-lake heavy lifting for just a couple of billion dollars, because the actual floating supports for the bridge itself have been in place since 1989. A second crossing would need to be built from scratch, including every inch of approach on both ends. And its sole exclusive coverage area is Kirkland, with a downtown housing and employing a low-5-digits number of people, transitioning to extreme sprawl faster than you can say “cloverleaf”.

        The geometry of sprawl being, of course, the very reason East Link estimates are so poor, or, say why BART only nets trips equivalent to a 3.6% modeshare from the 220,000 people who live in the glorious city of Fremont, CA.

        And are you really going to try to argue that an insignificant percentage of Seattle-Kirkland-Bellevue ridership wouldn’t merely be cannibalized from the already-achieved Seattle-Bellevue connection, rendering that first line’s cost:benefit even worse than before?

        I’ve challenged the “let’s light money on fire and hope riders magically materialize” faction about a dozen times to riddle me this one, and no one has even attempted. I would honestly, truly love it if you would try.

      14. Don’t worry DP, I have a response.

        First up, I can’t believe that I have to tell you speed matters. It does, a lot. Even after the spur is built, that trip + transfer from Ballard would be over an hour to MSFT vs about 30 minutes. You tell me if that would pick up riders in both directions.

        Second, we are talking long range plan. I personally think this crossing would be at least ST4. Applying current conditions to lines that wont be built for over two decades is pretty short sighted.

        Finally – I’ll bring it up again: ST just studied the 520 crossing and it was both not so good AND better than anything else they studied for the eastside. That isnt because there arent lines that would be good for the eastside. Some portion of the lines from our better eastside rail article would be a very nice addition.

        But none of that matters in the context of our base contention: Study the best crossing if you are studying crossings.

      15. That’s not really a rebuttal.

        Better for trips from the north and northwest of Seattle to Bellevue than the I-90 crossing? Absolutely.

        Significantly faster than a Montlake transfer to a 520 built with uninterrupted bus lanes and well-designed transfers on the East Side? Not necessarily.

        Able to pick up more than a tiny percentage of the new trips that the first Seattle-Bellevue crossing picks up, despite costing significantly more? Absolutely not.

        The “future conditions” in Kirkland are highly unlikely to be any more massive-rail-expenditure-amenable than today’s, especially with Kirkland’s increasing focus on the awful Totem Lake area. And don’t forget that you’re presuming 2-3 miles of track through Laurelhurst and Windermere, which aren’t going to so much as change their shades of paint in the next few decades.

        You’re still “magical rail thinking”. Rail can’t overcome inconvenient geometry just by existing.

        And it doesn’t hurt to study the “least worst” crossing… unless the study itself is expensive. Or more importantly, if it wastes time that could be spent future-proofing underway projects for connections to future ones that actually make sense. While you’ve been focusing on this buffoonery — sorry, but it is buffoonery — North Link proceeds every day with a designs that make all future expansions and connections harder than they need to be.

        Maybe it’s time to focus some energies on stuff that will actually matter in reality.

      16. DP —

        The frustrating thing about this discussion is that we don’t disagree by that much. I think you are overselling people’s willingness to bus across 520 in significantly larger numbers than do now. Rail bias is real and capacity and operating efficiency gains are also real. How many times does it need to be proven for you to boil it into your analysis?

        Adding a corridor to the LRP and having consultants study it is not a significant distraction to doing other things. Its an essential part of the process. My basic contention has not changed — Sand Point is a better crossing for rail than 520. If they are seriously considering rail — they MUST consider Sand Point.

        Re: Northgate. What part of that design are you referring to?

      17. I’m increasingly convinced that “rail bias is real” is the last defense of those in denial of “get where I’m actually going” bias.

        You’re overselling people’s willingness to ride a train that really, truly doesn’t go anywhere particularly well-suited for it and doesn’t serve any needs particularly well.

        East Link is train. East Link goes some places well, some places moderately well, some places poorly. It’s metrics are middling — 47,000 boardings at most into the foreseeable future. The feds think its overpriced, even on its already-bought-and-paid-for bridge.

        And why doesn’t it do better? Because “get where I’m actually going” bias is real, and most of Bellevue is still sprawl.

        Your proposal would be lucky to get 20% of East Link’s numbers. At a higher cost. Because “get where I’m actually going” bias is real.

        So fine. Waste money studying it. But do not treat it as some inevitable, vital piece of a network whole, because that is baloney.


        Lastly, I said that North Link in general is poorly future-proofed. That means a design at Brooklyn that doesn’t future-proof (supports) for a lower level, or for any kind of track connection (revenue or non-revenue) to a connecting line.

        That’s insane — crossings and stub connections and false walls have been built at points of anticipated expansion for the entire 150 years of subway-building, up until ST started reinventing wheels. There will no doubt be hundreds of engineering and architectural revisions between now and the station’s completion, so anyone who tells you that such elements can’t be added at this stage is lying to your face.

        And that’s just Brooklyn. At Husky Stadium, ST is busying itself with the dumbest and hardest-to-access subway station in the universe. When your main route of egress goes from hundreds of feet underground directly to a 3-story flying ramp, any idiot can see you’ve done something wrong. The transfer access will, of course, be even worse, and nobody ST seems to give half a crap about 520 access problem.

        Further up the planned line, we’ve got 130th station still languishing in “we didn’t actually promise anything” land (shades of Graham), reminding us that when it comes to designing a system that actual people can access from actual places via actual non-stuck transit, ST still doesn’t have a fucking clue what it’s doing. Or doesn’t care.

        And those are just the “inevitable” gaffes on what hasn’t been built to completion yet. Capitol Hill West Slopers just got a rude awakening about how useless Link will be to them, and First Hillers will be getting theirs soon.

        Does ST care that billions and billions of dollars for a few thousand riders here and there, and a whole lot of fucked-up geometries and missed opportunities, is not going to cut it? Because I’m not sure they do.

      18. I’m a huge rail fanboy an I simply don’t see anything other than extending East Link to Downtown Redmond as being terribly practical or cost effective.

        A second lake crossing has some potential if:
        1. It continues on West as part of a UW-Ballard line, and
        2. It directly serves Overlake

        Even then the ridership is relatively weak and mostly relies on Microsoft commuters from the Ship Canal on North. There are better ways to serve the same transit riders for less money.

      19. I suspect the 520 crossing will still show better numbers unless the Sand Point line takes a rather direct route to Overlake.

        As d.p. says building a real transfer point for 520 buses is a better use of money.

        As for Brooklyn station I don’t see anything in the design that would prevent a station under 45th for a E/W line. I’ll grant you ST should be designing the mezzanine to easily allow a level connection to another station. But I think that can be fixed when the time comes. It isn’t the most optimal connection possible, but it isn’t bad.

        I agree 100% on Husky Stadium. To be fair my understanding is the UW is to blame for most of the stupid here. The UW pushed the station into the stadium parking lot (ST wanted Rainier Vista with entrances near the current bus stops on Stevens Way and Pacific), refused to give up any more of the parking lot for bus layovers or stops, and nixed the idea of any pedestrian tunnels across Montlake or Pacific. Hopefully some lemonade can still be made given the design decisions we’re stuck with.

        At this point I’m not too worried about 130th, there is still quite a bit of time before anything is truly final. I do expect if Seattle wants 130th though we’re going to have to provide at least 50% of the cost which is sad because there really is no need for the useless 145th station.

    2. If I remember correctly, that was included in the last long range plan. They did a study showing it wouldn’t have any riders. Maybe they can’t take things out after they’ve been added?

      1. Actually, 33 miles of trunk and branch BRT as studied by Sound Transit would have up to 25,000 riders per day for $1.2 to $1.7 billion. That’s fairly significant ridership for BRT. I think the RapidRide lines only have about 15,000 on their best lines (though as significantly less build-out costs, which is why they aren’t the truest of BRT, but are an improvement for many of what came before).


    3. The long-range plan is resource-unconstrained. It’s everything that they might possibly consider in the future. Remember that in 20 or 30 years the population will have increased and those suburban urban villages will have been built up, so things that seem crazy now may not seem crazy then. It’s better to have some bad things in the LRP than not to have good things in it, because the LRP matters in 10 or 20 years when we’re choosing a new set of projects. The fact that Lake City has been in the LRP for two revisions makes it more likely in ST4, than if it hadn’t been, because it shows that two generations of boardmembers supported it.

      1. See, that’s the central fallacy of the entire Puget Sound Regional Council premise. “Spreading the people around” to a bunch of remote quasi-villages would be little better than spreading sprawl to the hinterlands, but it doesn’t matter because that’s not how demand works!

        Any influx of relocating-for-opportunities residents will wish to be in or as near as possible to already-functioning places. The vast majority will not flock to a demonstrably-addled and really-really-really-far-away Everett, or to a smoke-and-mirrors “downtown” that someone attempts to force the glorified cloverleaf known as Totem Lake.

        Those who are interested in urban or urban-esque living are going to press the lever of demand on places that are already places. They’re not going to miraculously desire Nothingvilles like “downtowns” Lynnwood and Federal Way just because the PSRC assigns those places numbers. They’ve already pressed that demand lever hard on Ballard. Lake City Way is likely to be remade. More settled commuter-types might be keen to revive places like downtown Kent and Auburn, each of which has some older bones (but aren’t as far as Everett or Tacoma).

        But the real challenge will be for Seattle to figure out how to build some moderately dense urban continuity — with transit to match — because showing everything and everybody new into a few dozen blocks in half a dozen locations is really not going to cut it: more relocators than not will want to be here. Not Lynnwood. Not Issaquah. Not Duvall. Not fucking Orting. Here.

        No matter what numbers the PSRC “assigns” in their coffee-shop get-togethers.

        And guess what? We’re borrowing in, like, 40 year debt blocks. For everything we do. So you better fucking believe the long-term is “resource constrained”.

      2. Oh, and I know that you’re picturing the quaint European archtype of very dense little towns dotting the countryside, easily connected and thoroughly served by myriad rails because nothing sits between them and the city (or each other) except for fields, forests, and preserves.

        The problem is that we sprawl. Already. We sprawl so far that our “inner ring” of sprawl vastly exceed what would be the urban boundary in any of your images. The “neo-villages” you imagine jumpstarting, oases in the sprawl, would already be twice as from anywhere than even the remotest villages connected by rail to a megacity like Berlin.

        And you could never serve them with comprehensive transit, because the sprawl hasn’t gone anywhere, and the majority of both their daily and occasional destinations will be outside of the reasonably transit-serviceable. So when you pursue you’re (and the PSRC) essentially-identical-to-a-Bailo-mantra approach, you’re basically just putting more people in cars and worsening the congestion and environmental impact.

        Big fucking whoops!

        Again, most transplants will desire to be in desireable places, not to be “spread around”. And that’s a good thing.

  6. I’m not sure what’s been examined as far as Ballard to UW. Would an elevated station at NE 47th and Brooklyn be considered and then proceed over U-District tunnel followed by the start of a tunnel to U-Village?

      1. A direct, in-system transfer is non-negotiable. If this city only gets one transfer right in its entire arc of existence, it has to be this one.

        And frankly, there’s no way this is getting built above the surface in Wallingford, so it’s unlikely to have any reason to be elevated at any other point.

      2. I would be curious to know how an in-system transfer would work? E-W line has to get by U-dist tunnels somehow. Would East-West lines break into existing tunnels north of 47th then proceed south to Brooklyn station and then resume in existing tunnel with a east breakout tunnel toward U-ville under UW? Is this possible?

      3. If they get to the point where they want high capacity through the junction, you wind up with something like this:
        only at this station it would be built underground.
        This prevents crossing trains from interfering with each other.

        If you look at it from above:

        you will notice that this entire up and over move takes all of about 300 feet. Rail transit can climb reasonably steep hills when it needs to. This will be especially the case underground as the rails will never be soaked with wet leaf debris. They might get a bit damp from time to time, but in general adhesion is pretty good underground.

      4. I don’t see what is wrong with putting a station under 45th and connecting them at the mezzanines.

        Remember the North Link tunnels are pretty deep so there is room for a station box. Even if not you can start the station box to one side or the other of the tunnels while still providing a mezzanine level connection.

        Sure it isn’t quite as ideal as a cross-platform transfer or an up/down the stairs one, but it certainly is better than making passengers surface then walk a couple of blocks.

    1. Why in the Hell would you build a station for UW/Ballard so far from the station at 43rd and Brooklyn?

      A 4 block walk with a crossing of 45th does not a good transfer make.

      1. from what was posted below it doesn’t sound like they’ll need a station. but if they did there isn’t much space around brooklyn for a new station, unless you want to tear down some tall apartment structures.

      2. Or, like, prepare your structural supports properly so as to allow you to build it directly freaking below the first one.

        You know, like normal subway systems have for 150 years now.

  7. This is very clever on the part of ST. They know this won’t pencil out, but by studying it then can both silence the proponents and lay the groundwork for something else that will show better economics.

    I suspect their real goal by studying this now is to boost the prospects of an Eastside only line. A line from Totem Lake – Kirkland – Bellevue (interlined) – Eastgate – Issaquah would show better economics and fit better into a sub-area equity based version of ST3. The interlining would probably lead ST to want to run East Link at 6 min headways, which also fits nicely into the work that ST is doing now to move Central Link to 6 min headways.

    1. An eastside only line makes a lot of sense for ST3. Kirkland to Isaaquah, for example. Keep in mind our comments to ST are in the context of the long range plan. Also keep in mind the comparison – the 520 crossing options are really pretty bad – we think this is a better option.

  8. It seems a SR522 connection from Roosevelt Station to Kenmore is a cost effective East side Light Rail connection. Kenmore and part of Woodinville are in the East KC sub area. although the Seattle neighborhoods that would be served along the route would benefit, the real benefit would be to connect the east of KC to Seattle. It is buildable and would take a lot of cars off the road.

    1. Most likely such a line if ever built would connect to the rest of the system at Northgate, 145th, or 130th.

  9. I am excited to see this being studied. It provides more direct or closer access to high capacity transit while addressing a multiple-decades-long logjam of riders on the Ballard to University segment.

    Now if ST adds the Ballard to West Seattle – or even on to Tukwila Station – light rail to the plan, voters will have a solid network of possibilities to vote on…a Bellevue to Tukwila line would enhance a potential ST3 plan even more and would complete the circle.

  10. Question: Anyone know what the NE Seattle bus route changes will be when the UW Stadium LRT station opens in 12 months or so? I emailed the county last year and got a form letter reply saying nothing.

    I ride the 75, 30, 74 to downtown (and bike often too), I guess getting off the 75 on Stevens Way and rolling downhill on a go-ped scooter to the light rail station will be my future.

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