Occidental Square in August, Ming-yen Hsu (Flickr -- CC)
Occidental Square in August, Ming-yen Hsu (Flickr — CC)

This is an open thread.

98 Replies to “News Roundup: Occidental’s 4th Wall”

    1. Washington should make a play for this factory. Sound Transit will be ordering a lot of new light rail cars over the next 7 years or so.

      If not then I hope Oregon gets it.

      1. Personally, my choice would be for Seattle to get not only the assembly of the cars, but their design and manufacture as well. The cost that would have been saved on the Breda fleet alone would have financed the new company.

        Recall talking with a Metro official who told me that Metro was never designed with even the research facilities to do that. Cite me the Constitutional provision preventing this.

        Whether St. Louis or Brill streetcar building companies could ever be resurrected, why can’t the regional transit we’re creating include complete vehicle creation itself?

        Whatever the financial structure, our experience with vehicles from companies whose main qualification was the very low level of its bid proves the old saying:

        “If you want anything done right….” In the very long list of company names crossed out from this list alphabet should get order right.


      2. A lot of light rail cars is only a matter of perspective. Nippon-Sharyo / Kinkisharyo has some huge car building contracts.

        Seattle makes the most sense.

      3. Mark,
        From what I understand Kinki Sharyo and Siemens make pretty decent rail vehicles. Having the low bid probably isn’t the primary reason those two companies dominate the US LRV market.

        I’m still amazed Breda gets any contracts at all outside of Italy considering the horrible reputation they have.

        Alas getting anything more than just assembling foreign knockdown kits and having the ‘factory’ last the duration of the current contract seems to be a rare thing for transit rail vehicles in the US.

        That said both Siemens and Kinki Sharyo have made noises about wanting to build a factory for passenger rail vehicles in the US.

      4. Glenn,
        Yes the volumes are vey low. 30 cars is a ‘big’ order. Then the cars tend to last a while (30-40 years).

        The 175 vehicle LCMTA order for Kinki Sharyo is giant in the LRV world. The TTC order for Bombardier is the only other thing on the same scale.

      5. Nippon Sharyo / Kinkisharyo also have their reasons to have a significant presence in Chicago, as there are pretty big car orders that happen there too, but someone other than Siemens should be on the west coast.

        Hamilton Construction in Burlington has done a lot of work for the Alaska Railroad and seems to have a lot going for it on terms of going to the next level and being a car builder. They could probably put together knockdown kits as well as anyone.

  1. From the Crosscut Weyerhaeuser article … “The presence of Weyerhaeuser and its 800 hundred employees will have a profound impact. Property values will increase, likely raising rents and elbowing out the bars.”

    Pioneer Square without bars? Many of which have live music acts. Yes, I agree, I can’t wait for the rents to rise and we can finally be rid of those unsightly bars like The Central, J&M, and New Orleans bar and live Jazz and Blues club. Let’s replace them with Panera Bread, Starbucks, and a Chase bank.

    You people amaze me. That’s your idea or progress? That’s your idea of improving Seattle? Replacing a jazz club with an Abercrombie & Fitch store?

    1. And one more thing! If anyone deserves to benefit from “linkage fees,” it’s businesses like Pioneer Square bars that have been around since the 1800’s that will soon be run out of business by gigantic multinational corporations moving in next door!

      1. If they’ve been around *that* long, isn’t it pretty likely that they own their space?

        I admit not knowing that area well but it’s unusual for century-old business to rent

      2. Well FWIW I don’t think there is anyone left who can claim continuous operation since the 1800’s. Maybe the Central. Both Merchants and J&M had periods recently where they were closed and the fixtures sold off.

        Not sure who does and doesn’t own their buildings in Pioneer Square. I know the old owners of the J&M leased which is part of why they closed. Probably the new owners lease too though I believe the building owner is also part owner of the new J&M.

        Really not too shocking when you consider that sometimes an owner (or their kids) wants to sell the business but keep the property.

    2. The sad fact is rents are rising in Pioneer Square, some of the existing businesses are likely to get pushed out. This would happen even without Weyerhaeuser moving in.

      However there have been new bars opening in Pioneer Square. Furthermore there are bars in Seattle even in neighborhoods with very high retail rents.

      So the future of Pioneer Square won’t be as a clone of Mill Creek Town Center.

      The bars that probably will have the hardest time are those that primarily use DJs and attract a young and rowdy crowd.

    3. Capitol Hill still has bars, Sam. A few were pushed out (including the Vogue which I miss), a few moved a couple blocks away, but most are still there. The comment about Weyerhauser’s impact is a speculation-in-passing, not research. Maybe Weyerhauser’s employees who settle there will want to go to bars, especially bars with “Pioneer Square character”. Maybe the bars will move a few blocks to the ID and Little Saigon, or down to SODO. People want to drink, they want to give bars lots of money, and they want bars with an atmosphere. So you don’t have to worry about bars drying up. Even if Pioneer Square becomes like SLU I won’t shed a tear for it because it’s pretty slummy now (in a way that the CD and Rainier Valley never were). Just please make the new buildings look like the old buildings and put pedestrians first.

      1. The sports stadiums will ensure at least a few bars will stay no matter what happens.

        The trend is probably toward high-end joints of the sort people going to the new high-end eateries might favor.

        I don’t think Pioneer Square is in any danger of becoming as sterile as SLU currently is. That would take massive urban renewal of the sort the historic district prevents.

      2. History works both directions. When Pioneer Square was South Lake Union’s age, connections between the tides and the average toilet were considerations never present in South Lake Union.

        Nor is it likely that SLU is anywhere near done building, or filling residences. Everything Pioneer Square has, South Lake Union will get. Also, with luck, both neighborhoods might feature new branches of Elliott Bay Books.

        One feature that should be restored to Pioneer Square is the beautiful brass fountain that converted to a drinking fountain by a hand placed over the spout.

        Artist was Ilze Jones herself. She could also give South Lake Union a near relative, if not a twin.

        Good idea to google her husband, Grant Jones, as well. Also “Paris Pike.” Grant Jones proved that the highway design patterns dictated by the high speed military supply traffic of the Interstate system were not the last word in road design.

        His ideas dealt with roads designed for easy and pleasurable driving, and which could also control traffic spacing and speed by the grades and curves of the road itself.

        Which might make for an interesting wing of a complete ground transit museum in Pioneer Square, possibly somewhere Occidental Park.

        With a street car line to the Waterfront running right through it on Occidental between Jackson and Yesler.


      3. >> Just please make the new buildings look like the old buildings and put pedestrians first.

        Whoa, you freaked me out with that sentence. The rest of it I agree with completely. Bars and restaurants come and go. Remember the Dog House? Now people will wax nostalgic about the place that replaced it, the Hurricane Cafe. But the building itself really wasn’t that special, which is why I certainly won’t miss it.

        That isn’t the case with most of the Pioneer Square buildings. Those buildings, generally speaking, are special, and probably won’t go down without a fight (if at all). But the bars may change hands, even if the name stays the same. I really doubt a place like the J & M is going to change its name. Too much history to just throw that away. Besides, as you said, drinkers love that stuff. It’s not like the L. D. S. just bought up the whole block — they are simply adding another bunch of regular folks, many of whom like to drink.

        The neighborhood could get really popular, really quickly. Meanwhile, the Washington State Public Stadium Authority (the folks who own the stadiums) are sitting on lots of potentially valuable land. They make money off of parking (of course) but I could easily see them expanding the development area, without building additional parking. I would expect them to do this by the time Link reaches Bellevue, if not sooner. This would be a most welcome development, and fitting for one of the few areas in Seattle that is older than the motor car.

      4. I didn’t mean exactly identical or tearing down historic buildings. I just mean we need to get closer to prewar architectural styles and stop making everything so modern and geometric and plain. I’ve heard it’s too expensive nowadays but I don’t believe it. You don’t have to make twenty intricately gargoyles and their perches; you just have to put a few more corners and curves and stripes on things. If they were mainstream and mass produced they probably wouldn’t cost more than current construction. because it costs the same to turn the cutter left as to turn it right.

      5. Actually I’m glad the Interior Department discourages faux historic architecture for new buildings in historic districts. The imitation buildings tend to have a rather annoying Disney-Potemkin quality to them.

        It is entirely possible to do contemporary architecture that respects the surrounding architecture without imitating it.

      6. It’s not “faux historic”; it’s a return to time-tested aesthetics whose popularity are enduring even as later styles have waned (and in many cases deteriorated and fallen apart). Would you rather have three-story skinny buildings with sensible windows and shutters and trim on your block, or a 1990s block structure, or a 1960s strip mall, or a 1970s big-box store (the KMart-turned-Albertson’s and the one across the street at 130th & Aurora)? People flock to the prewar buildings on Summit and University Way and complain there aren’t more of them. So build more of them! Blocks and neighborhoods of them!

      7. Suppose Paul Allen had not built the Leaning Office Building of Pisa but instead built something to complement Union Station, with the same FAR, in whatever box shape or multitower shape they might come up with. Then it would look like a contemporary extension of the station rather than an iconic inclined thing that is already starting to look half-ugly and will be tiresome in a couple decades. For instance, his own library is a reasonably good step. (The low section reflects the original Collegiate Gothic library in a lower-cost way. The high section with the plain geometric circle and boxy entrance is a bit modern for me, but better than entire buildings like that as most of them are now.)

      8. The only new buildings that should go up in Pioneer Square are replacements for parking lots (can we start with the sinking ship) and some postwar lowrise (see SW corner of Main and 3rd). The simple fact is that with modern code standards it is not possible to replicate the ‘classic’ PS building.

      9. I watched what Chris (and Mike and Ross) are referencing play out in a really interesting way a few months ago, during an especially contentious Ballard Ave Landmark District design review for one of the last-ever infill projects on the street.

        As Chris says, it is verboten to construct a building in a historically-protected district that feigns age. The internal debate — one that is not easily resolved — is whether that prohibits borrowing any basic design elements (e.g. window, archway, or cornice proportions) from eras past, even when the final composition does not reek of plagiarism or Disneyfication and could not be mistaken for one of its older neighbors by anyone with an ounce of intelligence.

        In my opinion, the board was too circumspect. The developer (name escaping me, but its the same one that just renovated the Sanborn building) presented what seemed to me a clean, modern, non-attention-hogging update of a classically-dimensioned building full of those proportional relationships that have been proven to be pleasing to the human eye. And the board’s slim majority sent them back to the drawing board, with instructions to make a potentially-less-pleasing collection of shapes whose non-age would be more eye-grabbingly apparent.

        Never forget that this is the same board that allowed The Sore Thumb of Old Ballard to squeeze through its content filters.

        It shouldn’t be too hard to find the aesthetically appropriate ground between gimmicky faux-historicism and full-on Miami Beach. But Seattle has a special knack for bad architecture worsened by clueless design reviewers lately.

      10. Matthew,
        Due to the historic district and individual historic designation of many buildings, one would hope there is no danger of any of the historic structures being replaced.

        There are plenty of parking lots/garages and nondescript crappy low rise to provide a fair number of redevelopment sites.

      11. “with modern code standards it is not possible to replicate the ‘classic’ PS building.”

        Why not? Obviously it can’t be unreinforced brick, and it has to have ADA-sized entrances/halls/stairs/elevators/bathrooms. But how does that impede the building’s shape or look? Again, it didn’t prevent the Allen Library from being built.

    4. And there is an underused underground city right in Pioneer Square that they could make into a bar-and-loud-things district.

      1. This. When I was exiled to Fayetteville for 3 years, we’d often go to Chapel Hill for some R&R. It seemed every building there had a bar underneath, sometimes a bar underneath a bar with another bar on the roof.

        Right now the only PS place I know that uses their underground for revenue service is Merchants and that is only for game days and special events. Temple’s underground is used for storage and for ECS workspace and a couple others are part of the underground tour, but overall the belowground levels of PS are very underutilized.

      2. Matthew, there’s also Tiki Bob’s and the pizza place next door on King St. I don’t know if that building dates from the time of the fire, but given that McRory’s is up above gound level, the original ground level could have been about a half story lower.

    5. Pioneer Square without bars? Many of which have live music acts. Yes, I agree, I can’t wait for the rents to rise and we can finally be rid of those unsightly bars like The Central, J&M, and New Orleans bar and live Jazz and Blues club. Let’s replace them with Panera Bread, Starbucks, and a Chase bank.

      You people amaze me. That’s your idea or progress? That’s your idea of improving Seattle? Replacing a jazz club with an Abercrombie & Fitch store?

      I acutally agree with this sentiment. I started this blog because I like walkability and car-free living. Martin has told me here he puts walkability about twelfth on his priority list. Here it’s “density uber alles”.

      1. Andrew,
        Walkability and density are joined at the the hip. That said it certainly is possible to do density in a way that doesn’t encourage walking or car-free living.

        To expand it further good transit geometry depends on walkability as much or more so than density.

      2. LOL! You got Sam’ed! No one at STB actually said getting rid of Pioneer Square bars would be a good thing. Posting an article in the News Roundup doesn’t imply endorsement of the piece much less every single line of the piece.

        You’d think you’d remember that.

      3. LOL! You got Sam’ed! No one at STB actually said getting rid of Pioneer Square bars would be a good thing. Posting an article in the News Roundup doesn’t imply endorsement of the piece much less every single line of the piece.

        You’d think you’d remember that.

        You’d think you’d have better reading comprehension skills. I wasn’t saying that anyone said that, I was noting that Martin has said here before that density is more important than walkability.

      4. Andrew as absolutely correct. Arguing for density and transit without giving walkability equal weight, or without paying attention to the distribution pattern and the form that the density takes, is just begging to be a permanent auto-default congestion cauldron like Los Angeles or Beijing.

        Both cities are nominally quite dense, and both are working on their transit woes, but their current built forms are such affronts to pedestrianism that non-automotive motion will be forever seen as less desirable and less prestigious, the mobility of last resort. Thus future design will continue to prioritize car access and car storage. Thus the cycle repeats.

        I simply cannot fathom being an urban advocate but remaining agnostic on how that urbanity functions at human scale.

    6. The article didn’t get it quite right: it’s the seedy bars that may get pushed out, or at least upgrade their clientele. Also the pawn shop and potentially the liquor store. It will also only happen in the immediate vicinity, not more than 2 blocks away (at least as a direct effect of this building). I used to work on the very next block, and those low-rent businesses really did contribute to the unsafe feeling in the neighborhood, making the area much less walkable.

    7. Aw, Sam, I thought everybody in the Northwest was required to read “Sometimes a Great Notion” for the WASL test! It contains the unquestioned historical accuracy of the fact that logging towns always contained bars.

      However, Weyerhauser’s permit should contain language requiring a solid minimum of bar fights every weekend night, with at least yearly commemoration of the one where Hank Stamper wiped the floor with Biggie Newton, after Hank allowing him to hit Hank first.

      With, as noted in the book, all women present wearing red sweaters as was customary on nights featuring a “sure fight!” I’m sure that similar history of many places in Pioneer Square besides bars should also be observed.


    8. 1) No one here said Pioneer Square without bars was a good thing. As usual you are creating strawmen to be inflammatory.

      2) In late 2009 Guy (owner of the Central) decided to drop it’s rock crowd and cut out the live music instead going with the younger skater crowd and hiring DJs. He also fired all the old bartenders. The experiment has not been a success. Last couple of years they’ve dropped the DJs and will have some live acts now and again, but they haven’t gone back to the way they were before. Hopefully they go back to their roots as I proposed to my wife onstage there when she was singing in a Late September Dogs show. From Sep 07-Mar 09 we were there most weekend nights and a weekday here and there (Pioneer Square used to be the hub of the rock scene). J&M does a bit of Kareoki and Fuel will have some live bands on Weds, but unfortunately the live music scene in PS is a shadow of it’s former self, just going back 5 years ago. Hopefully the revitalization of square will help bring it back.

      3) If the Central is anything to go buy, there is A LOT of underutilized space in Pioneer Square. My wife worked there for a minute and apart from Guy’s office, all the upper floors and the basement are vacant. No need to kick out the bar on the ground level, just renovate and lease out the upper and basements levels.

  2. I have an idea for a blog post. A few days ago I posted a link to a WSJ article titled “Transit Agencies Fast-Track Rail-Hub Properties.” “(Rent-Producing Developments Become Major Focus in Search for Revenue Sources).”

    First, read that article. Then do research into if and how KC Metro and Sound Transit are benefiting from renting-out their properties. (One of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority properties throws-off $750,000 in rent payments to the transit agency annually).

    My gut tells me our two big transit agencies aren’t doing much to turn their properties into income-producing one’s. And when they do do something with them, the practically give them away for social service reasons.

    Anyway, this is something I’d be interested in reading about. Where do Metro and ST stack-up in terms of rent-producing transit properties?

  3. Hello all-

    I’ve been wondering this for a little bit now: When Metro gets a new series of buses like the Orions or the first Rapid Ride bus, it seems that the first bus (i.e. 7000 or 6000) seems to disappear and never become operational. is this just something that happened by chance for those bus series or do they actually still run them and I haven’t been lucky to see them in operation?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. I am pretty sure that 7000 and 6000 are both at South Base, but many of the low number Orions have migrated to East *Shakes her fist at 7005*

      1. Bailo will just post about his hydrogen cars instead. I’m surprised he hasn’t done so on this thread already.

    1. Major omission in this article is also one of the most likely problems to occur when aircraft designers try to do streetcars- like the Boeing Vertol cars.

      Mechanic on the Boston “T” once told me that “This card would work all right if it could run at 30,000 feet. And be taken apart by the mechanical team after every run.”

      Forget computer troubles and advancements. There’s not one work in this article about how and where mechanical maintenance will be handled. Pick any mile of rush-hour traffic on I-5 through Seattle and envision maintenance, standards, inspection, and enforcement.

      One tire, one sparkplug, and a freeway full of cars does- what? Killing how many people? So by this reality alone, the only conceivable way to set up this system is a single entity owning and maintaining the whole fleet and every road it runs on.

      But I’m not really worried about either rocker arms or gigabytes. The whole treasury of the world couldn’t by an insurance policy on a single automated car.

      Mark Dublin

    2. The maps problem is a bit silly. Before Google Street view existed, no one could have imagined such a thing. This is the same thing. Gathering data will be the easy part.
      (Full disclosure, I work at Google in part on transportation projects).

      1. Except, people have been imagining self driving cars since maybe the 1930s. Sure, the first imagined expedition to the moon happened around the 1880s, and it eventually happened.

        However, automatic trains first happened in 1904. Outside fully grade separated lines they are still never implemented. The technology to make a rail equivalent of the Google car has been around for quite some time as a train needs no steering, just something to blow the horn and do an emergency brake application when something runs out in front of it. So far, no takers.

      2. Yep, and the so were the 1904 London postal trains.

        110 years of progress unencumbered by progress.

  4. One more idea for a blog post. There was a Take Pics of Transit post here not too long ago. What about an STB transit photo contest?

      1. A few rules should be, no old pics. They have to be pics taken at a start-of-the-contest date or later. Photogs and transit buffs can’t reach back and pull-up an old pic they’ve taken and use that for the contest. Also, there should be different categories. Maybe have a best train pic, then a separate best bus pic. Maybe exterior vs interior category. Etc. A prize suggestion would be a $3000 gift card to an Apple store.

  5. Yay! Pioneer Square might finally clean up.

    Honestly, I’ve never understood why all the out of towners love the place. It seems like the other extreme of SLU’s soullessness. It’s generally dirty, dark, damp and not very inviting compared to CapHill/U-Dist/45th-Wallingford/Fremont(even with the google drones)/or the ID. Like, why does anyone want to deal with piss and shady maybe-drug-dealers, maybe-just-homeless, maybe-aggressive people?

    1. My wife and I were down there last weekend and enjoyed ourselves very much. There are some really nice art galleries as well as a great toy store. It is a bit dingy and industrial, but that simply limits the wandering a bit. When you consider that it contains something that is very rare in Seattle (really old buildings) I’m not surprised it is popular. There are plenty of nice streets to walk on, even if the number of undesirables, if you will, is higher than the other neighborhoods you mentioned. I’m really not sure it is, actually. I have seen plenty of pan-handlers and folks with likely psychiatric/substance abuse problems in the other neighborhoods you mentioned (Capitol Hill, U-District, etc.).

      1. Yeah — literally every attractive building in Seattle is in Pioneer Square save two: St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Pac Med building. And even those two look best from a distance.

        Whenever I bike into downtown from the south I ride straight up 1st Avenue, damn the traffic, because it’s literally the only beautiful street in Seattle.

      2. I like what has been done with the laundry building near Republican and Westlake. Both structures in Portland they managed to preserve that way have been short walls used as part of parking sheds. What they have done in several Seattle developments has been a huge improvement over the demolition and development that always replaces our historic structures.

    2. Easy one, Andrew K. Just have joint squad of SPD and the Historical Society dress everybody in categories you mention in the clothes and condition they would have been in during mid 19th century. And give them whiskey in amounts they would have consumed back then.

      And then put an Arts Commission plaque on the wall or lamp-post closest to each one describing his contributions to the Seattle of the old days.

      Bet visitors would come to Pioneer Square just to be photographed beside plaques and their subjects. Especially if they also got some of the whiskey.


    3. Totally disagree. The square has plenty of soul, you just have to avoid the tourist places. And only someone who never lived outside ‘the PNW bubble’ would think that PS was rough! Not every neighborhood has to be lily white and spitshine clean.

      1. Nah, just short memories. There were times not so long ago that places like Tacoma or northern Portland were mostly boarded up and far more rough looking than what Seattle’s Pioneer Square looks like now.

  6. We probably shouldn’t let the monorail proponents get wind that Africa’s first light rail is going to be… a monorail. But hey, maybe if we get China to fund and build it for us, it’ll actually get done in the next 10 years and cost less than 5 billion dollars!

    1. I don’t think that it is a monorail. Certainly does not look like one. Have a feeling that the Guardian writer is confused about the difference.

      1. yvrlutyens, I think I remember seeing a historic picture of a monorail for carrying sugar cane out of the fields in “Old German East”- meaning land then called Tanganyika, now Tanzania.

        As typical for the Germans, idea was excellent and economical for local conditions like need to get track installed quickly across very large swamp.

        Present monorail proponents in Seattle would do well to imitate the Germans’ approach, especially south of Jackson Street where soil conditions would make African sugar country look like the Gobi Desert.

        Track runs on series of triangles made of wood poles. Not only cheap and functional, but a lot more aesthetically appealing than aerial bomb-proof fortifications now envisioned.

        Would be even funnier if Siemens got the contract.

        Mark Dublin


  7. Very disappointed that Tacoma Amtrak post doesn’t have many pictures of the design. Anyone have a link?

  8. So the big brouhaha of the week was this supposed inexplicable “discovery” that traffic has gotten much worse even though VMT is supposedly holding steady. I followed some of the discussion between the talking heads, but didn’t hear any satisfactory explanation.

    My explanation? It’s the tolls on SR-520. When 520 got tolled a small number of people switched to transit to avoid the tolls, and small number of people decided to drive around to avoid the tolls. Net effect? VMT held roughly constant.

    But where are those people driving when they drive around to avoid the toll? To a large extent they are driving on I-5 through Seattle, I-405 through Bellevue, and I-90 across the lake. These are exactly the problem areas called out in the report on skyrocketing congestion.

    So in my mind the solution is easy: Toll I-90 and toll it now.

    Tolling I-90 would cut down on “drive around” traffic on I-5, I-405, and on I-90. Tolling I-90 would restore balance to the cross lake commute and improve traffic flow on all 3 major freeways, and it would do it at low cost..

    Reduced congestion and a little revenue too. What’s not to like?

    Toll I-90.

    1. Well, I agree with I-90 tolling, but I think the congestion was also due to reduced capacity on 99.

      1. Reduced capacity on Hwy 99 wouldn’t explain the increased congestion on I-405 or on I-90. And it wouldn’t necessarily explain why VMT is holding roughly constant locally. Ya, it might be a contributing factor to congestion on I-5, but it certainly doesn’t explain the big picture.

        But the bottom line is that tolls on I-90 are a must.

      2. My hypothesis is that population and employment increased, this caused increased congestion. With increased congestion average velocity decreased and hours of delay increased. People are encouraged to live closer to work or ride transit, and are less inclined (or have less time) to drive for non-work reasons. VMT per capita declines and total VMT is flat.

        Some other factors might be an increase in stay-cations and optional driving discouraged by high gas prices.

    2. Surely by now you know that I-90 can not be tolled. The bridge is a Federal Interstate Facility which is neither being replaced nor having capacity added to it.

      There is a national congestion tolling pilot project with twenty “slots”, all of which have been applied for an assigned. Now there are several assigned projects which have never begun construction, so it’s not out of the question that Washington DOT could apply to have one of the moribund projects reassigned to it. But getting the ear of the folks at the FTA and convincing them that taking the political flack that would inevitably result from such a reassignment both seem rather unlikely.

      In any case, WADOT can’t simply “Toll I-90”.

      1. The Feds have already signaled their interest in the idea of tolling I-90. It seems like the more trouble they have passing a transportation bill back in the other Washington the more amenable to tolls they become.

        And remember, the Feds actually gave us the money necessary to put the tolls on SR529. That was as part of an urban congestion management experiment. And they haven’t given up on that. It seems like it has become clear even to the road warriors that tolling is a cheaper and more effective path to congestion relief than endless construction.

        Putting tolls on I90’would restore balance to the cross lake commute and reduce congestion on all three of the regions interstates: I90, I405 and I5. It’s a no-brainier.

        And it is simply untrue that it can’t be done because it is “federal”.

    3. If the HOT lanes on SR167 weren’t “making a profit”, and the toll on the Evergreen Pt. bridge is causing congestion on the other routes due to people avoiding them, then wouldn’t that suggest that we don’t have a
      congestion PROBLEM?

      People are voting with their wallets, (or as they perceive the costs to be) and are in effect saying they would rather suffer the time penalty than pay for a faster commute.

      Makes you wonder why traffic congestion makes the headlines.

      1. “They” are diverting and causing congestion for others who never went near 520 in the first place.

        Although I don’t really buy this “520 tolling is causing congestion on the other highways. They were already congested long before the tolling.

      2. Actually, WSDOT took into account during their corridor study in 2001 that diversion does take place, although at that time it was more of a congestion-avoidance rather than a toll-avoidance issue.

        That’s why I-405 through Bellevue won’t be widened, since they know that both bridges would be uncongested for a good time into the future – (I’m not sure if the 520 project’s HOV lanes were included, because the 520 study went into limbo when the funding dried up), – if they can evenly distribute traffic over them.

        Which sounds like a good argument to toll both bridges.
        Or just ignore complaints about congestion.

      3. In other words, the segment of 405 through Bellevue wouldn’t be so crappy if the ‘bridgers’ would stay on their own bridges!

      4. Given that 520 is now just as backed up as it was before the tolling, it’s hard to see how tolling I-90 to get more drivers to take 520 would help matters.

        My guess is that most of the diversion probably happens off-peak, when the time and gas cost of the diversion is minimal. During the peak, most of the money saved by toll avoidance simply gets squandered on extra gas, and whatever savings is left is a pittance compared to the value of the time spent to earn it.

      5. I’ll have to scrounge around and see if WSDOT has the data for what has happened to the commute times.

        When congestion is relieved via an extra lane/toll/train, the initial response has congestion disappearing for a few weeks, and then as the commuters who have off-shifted their times see the hour that they really want to commute in become free flowing, they flock back… and clog it up again.

        The end result being that the congested commute hours get shorter.
        From 3 to 2 to 1 and a half? That’s what a good traffic flow diagram would show.

  9. So, just to let everyone know, I planning on having the first part of the history behind the Seattle Metro project I’m working on up by Sunday.

      1. My plan is to have updates once a week in the Sunday thread. (Maybe more often if things allow it). The first couple posts will talk about some of the background, before getting to the actual nitty-gritty of the metro system itself. And just to give a heads up, the order in which the lines are numbers reflect a typical American practice in this world: Numbering Metro Lines based solely on the order they opened.

      2. Would this be appropriate for Page Two? The Sunday threads would be much better than nothing, but it’s easy to lose track of individual comments there. At the least, perhaps you could link your previous comments in each post?

      3. Yes, Page 2 would be a good place, if you don’t have your own website to keep the articles together in one place with an index page. It will have lasting value as a series when it’s done, but if it’s scattered among comments that’ll be lost. You can always link to it in the open thread comments if you don’t think it has enoug visibility. (Although I check Page 2 several times a week now; doesn’t everybody.)

      4. I wasn’t sure if Page Two was alright for what I’m going to be doing, given that it’s fictional and all. But sure, I’ll place it there. I’m also going to be placing the articles on another site that I go to, which I’ll provide a link for when I do the first update. (Which I’m going to push to Monday)

  10. Why is there a TriMet S70 in the Seattle Transit Blog photo collection on the left side of the home page?

    Not that I’m complaining too much, but I thought that was against Standards of Seattle Decency or something like that.

    In any event, TriMet has now officially unveiled the new version of the S70 that will be used on the Portland – Milwaukie line:



    1. From the Railway Age article:

      “Siemens is also installing the first regenerative energy storage unit in the U.S. on the Portland-Milwaukie line. The technology allows for energy created during braking to be stored and then re-used in one of two forms, energy savings or voltage stabilization during peak demand times. TriMet will utilize the system in voltage stabilization mode.”

      Didn’t ST do some tests with a couple of LRVs modified for regenerative braking. I don’t recall whether they stored the energy or fed it back into the OCS.

      1. Yes – There are a couple (four?) LRVs – they are the ones with the lightning bolt next to the number.

      2. Line-side units built into the substation have a lot more capacity to reduce operating costs though.

        Metro desperately needs some for the trolley buses.

      3. I believe ST was awarded a grant to test them – But I agree. It would seem that installing a similar system in the substations would be better since all the ST LRVs regenerate back into the system during braking when there is a load present. It seems riskier to store energy on board each LRV instead of in the substations. As an operator I want to know there is no high voltage present on the train when the pantographs are lowered.

      4. I’m not sure you can even guarantee that safety now. The electronic static converters that provide your 208 volt AC power for the air conditioning have a mixture of power transistors and capacitors in them. On the DC HVAC systems our company builds, we put a pile of diodes in a number of places to keep the HVAC system power supply and related electronics capacitors from feeding into the main car power supply. I’m not sure how they manage with this system since it obviously does need to feed the car.

        Line side storage can provide some 20% savings, as proven by a number of metro operators in a number of cities:

        On-car storage alone is simply too limited to provide that level of energy savings. On-bus storage alone certainly would not be enough to deal with the type of energy generated and required from the trolley buses going up and down Queen Anne Hill.

    1. Interesting article, but the devil is in the comments. According to some of the commenters, there are 2 different garages in the building. The upper garage ($139/mo) is reserved for residents 24/7/365. It has only 3 vacant spots. The “totally empty” lower garage ($110/mo) is actually controlled by a nearby church for 6 hours on Sundays, which means that residents who are not church members but park in the lower garage must move their cars for 6 hours every Sunday. That is probably so inconvenient that they would rather just park on the street. Church control of the lower garage is apparently the result of a land use decision when the building was being developed.

      So, the story is not quite what it seems. The strong bike demand is definitely there, but the parking situation is much more complex.

      1. It wasn’t that long ago that street parking in Portland was free on Sundays. This building arrangement might have worked better then. Today even Sundays have enough parking troubles they charge from 1 pm to 7 pm on Sundays.

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