Eastside Rail Corridor  (Photo by the Author)
Eastside Rail Corridor (Photo by the Author)

83 Replies to “News Roundup: Yes, No, Maybe So”

  1. “Christie Endorses Tunnel Four Years After Killing Project”

    *blink*

    When did I enter bizarro-world??

    1. Everything about Northeastern politics is bizarro-world. You think politicians here are corrupt? Politicians in NY/NJ are absolute vultures – top to bottom.

      1. Christie wad right to kill that tunnel. It was a strange NJT power grab to build a tunnel Amtrak could not use, to a new underground dead-end station. A new pair of tunnels that feeds Penn Station and is flexible is what is needed. And eventually trains from LI and CT running through to NJ

      2. Christie was in a position where he could have gotten the tunnel completely redesigned.

        Instead, he killed it *so that he could loot the money for an unfunded road project*, which he proceeded to do.

        Christie is a jackass and he was wrong in redirecting the money for the rail tunnel to an unrelated road project.

  2. Also, the TNT’s contortions to attempt to drive blame away from WSDOT and the former governor are laughable. Both are clearly incompetent—after all, who told the public that there would be no need for a plan B? Who told the public the viaduct was coming down in 2012?

    But heaven forbid the TNT lay any blame at the feet of those parties, lest they hasten the end of the free lunch. Seattle is paying for the infrastructure of inferior cities like Tacoma and Everett. Can’t greater that gravy train!

    1. How, pray tell, is Seattle paying for the infrastructure of “inferior” cities like Tacoma and Everett? In the context of ST, each subarea pays for its own shit.

      1. I’m pretty sure that Kyle is talking about statewide transportation funding as a whole (including roads). It’s well documented that King County gets back only ~52 cents per dollar of tax revenue.

  3. Electric car owners likely have higher incomes than most people in Washington. Even the Nissan Leaf starts at $29k and that gets you a pathetic ~140 mile range in “ideal” conditions. So I’m confused as to why Inslee wants to further subsidize the highest income people in the state, many of whom are driving $80k Teslas. I’m pretty sure the Tesla drivers aren’t looking for spare change for their ferry fares.

    The only good thing about this is that electric cars are kind of useless if you live in a low-density area, so I doubt we’ll see them clogging the ferries even if this does happen. 520, however, could be a Tesla freeway.

    1. Agreed. Is the savings on gas taxes not enough of a subsidy? Exempting from tolls and especially ferry fares makes zero sense.

    2. We drive a Nissan Leaf and I….completely agree. The 8500 federal tax credit and no Washington state sales tax and crazy cheap electricity already tipped the scales for us…it seems overboard to further subsidize electric vehicles.

      OTOH, I would completely support substantially raising the gas tax… :-)

    3. It’s an attempt to reach his carbon-reduction goals. But he might want to reflect on the fact that if electric cars are still causing congestion, and if people drive them more because they’re electric, then they’ll slow down the remaining petrol-cars around them and increase their emissions.

      1. Are you saying that the electric car drivers would have stayed home or taken public transit if they didn’t have their electric cars? I doubt that’s the case.

    4. I’m thinking that ol’ Jay though his heart is in the right place may be a few knives short of a full drawer. He is toast in 2016, so I hope Democrats dump him instead of the general election voters.

      1. He is toast in 2016, so I hope Democrats dump him instead of the general election voters.

        This is ridiculous. I don’t think much of him, and he’s not without vulnerabilities, but the last poll I’m aware of gave him a favorable/unfavorable rating of 54/30, with a 49/36 right direction/wrong direction for the state. These aren’t the kind of numbers that should give the GOP a whole lot of hope, especially with a presidential electorate. I don’t see any GOP candidates likely to be as strong as his 2012 opponent. The state trends Dem a little more every year. He didn’t impress me as a campaigner in 2012 and I don’t think he’s inevitable or anything, but he’s obviously a clear favorite.

    5. The Times has a commentary today about an initiative to establish a revenue-neutral carbon tax. That’s the same as what I recommended a week ago, except instead of sending annual rebates to residents it would reduce the state’s other taxes. It says 25c/gallon would pay for a 1% sales tax reduction, rebates to low-income households, and effectively eliminate the B&O tax on manufacturing. That sounds OK although I’m afraid people won’t notice the sales tax reduction. People are used to estimating it at “slightly less than 10%” and not thinking further about the exact amount demanded by the cashier. They’re also used to it going up and down as levies change or they shop in another city, so 1% would just get lost in the noise.

      Still, it’s enough to make me question my halfhearted support of Inslee’s cap-and-trade. Cap-and-trade is too prone to manipulation, hard for the public to understand, leaves out too many emission sources, and is invisible to consumers because they can’t distinguish actual permit costs from other price changes. Better a clearly visible tax on gas, electricity, and other products. I don’t mind an exemption for cow farts or rice paddies or other “essential” food production, but let it be a clearly visible tax exemption rather than simply left off the cap-and-trade list.

    6. As a Tesla owner, I also agree. I do not think being exempt from tolls makes any sense. (I also don’t think sales tax exemptions make sense; I paid sales tax in New York.)

      But this is the state which passed a flat yearly fee on anyone driving an electric car, which ALSO doesn’t make any sense, and should be repealed.

      http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019981088_elecriccars25.html

      Charge tolls to pay for road maintenance. Charge gas tax to pay for the bad effects of burning gasoline.

    7. I think it is a bad idea. Like a lot of bad ideas, I think it won’t go anywhere, and Inslee won’t mind. It is the sort of thing that might make sense nationally (as a way to get more electric cars produced) but makes little sense locally. The best part about it, though, is that it is “playing offense” with the issue. If politicians who don’t care about global warming are busy fighting this proposal, then they are less likely to try and replace the gas tax with a VMT tax (which is basically the flip side of the argument). The two sides can settle quite nicely in the middle, which means keeping the gas tax, which is a very smart policy.

      By the way, even from an environmental standpoint, this is a bad idea. Why should an electric car get on free, but a Prius pay the same as a Hummer? That makes no sense. That is like the guys who focus on building a 100 MPG car. That isn’t the problem. We can make more progress in reducing emissions if we get everyone with a 20 MPG car to switch to a 33 MPG car than if we get everyone in a 40 MPG car to switch to a 100 MPG car. It’s just math.

  4. I sure wish people would stop comparing our tunnel to the big dig. People in Boston wanted that tunnel and their city is better as a result. It might have been more expensive than they planned, but at this point no one in Boston regrets building it. Our tunnel is completely different not only because most of Seattle thinks its a bad idea and when (if?) it’s finished, most people won’t even use it.

    1. Actually, there was an article last week citing the Big Dig as a reason not to stop the tunnel. It said that just like nobody in Boston regrets the Big Dig in spite of its cost overruns, people in Seattle will feel the same way about the DBT.

      (To me, that underestimates the differences in the roles the two highways serve.)

      1. The Big Dig was, in theory, worth doing at some cost. It produced a far more useful infrastructure improvement than the DBT would.

      2. ↑This.↑

        I’ve seen endless Seattle pontificators, from all sides of the DBT debate, spew contorted comparisons to the Big Dig project over the past half-dozen years.

        Precisely none of them has been accurate or relevant.

      3. I agree with d. p. That is the thing about this project. Even if it went smoothly, it would be stupid. Even if you don’t care about transit, and only care about driving, it is a stupid waste of money. There are much better alternatives, from a driving standpoint, or a downtown improvement standpoint than this.

        Tear down the viaduct, make some surface improvements, add lanes and ramps to I-5, add lots of transit. All of that would improve mobility for a lot less than this. Still want a west side freeway? Fine, build a new viaduct with the same number of lanes as the tunnel, except it would have a Western exit!. That is huge. Meanwhile, the viaduct would be a lot quieter than the current one (because it won’t be double-decker). Sick of elevated freeways? Fine, then cap part of I-5 (extend freeway park). That would do more to improve the downtown area than this will (and cost a lot less to do).

    2. Most of Seattle? You mean most of STB readers which makes up 0.0001% of the population of Seattle? I think it’s poorly designed and I didn’t support it but I’d rather have a blasted tunnel than what we have now or having that traffic pushed onto streets.

      1. I haven’t seen any recent surveys so I can only guess, but I’m gonna assume most people in Seattle would put a highway tunnel pretty far down on their list of ways to spend ~$3 Billion of infrastructure money.

      2. STB readers are far more than 0.0001% the population of Seattle. Obviously the definition of “reader” is flexible and it’s hard to tell who’s a resident of what, but an extremely conservative estimate would be it’s about 0.25% of Seattle residents, which is 2,500 times what you said. An upper bound would be about 5% of the city.

      3. There was an advisory ballot to decide what to do about the viaduct. The tunnel came in third (out of three). Most of Seattle voted for something else (surface options or a new viaduct). I don’t think the popularity of this tunnel has increased in the interim.

        Now, to be fair, a lot of folks probably had no idea what each solution would be. But if anything, that simply supports the case against the tunnel. A lot of people assume that the new tunnel will be like the old viaduct (only underground). It won’t. There will be no downtown exits. Worse yet, there will be no exit or entrance on Western. I’m sure some viaduct supporters thought the new viaduct would be like the old one. It wouldn’t either. Like the tunnel, it would have only two lanes and no downtown exits. But unlike the tunnel, it would have an exit (and entrance) at Western. Meanwhile, the surface option did not involve simply tearing down the viaduct (as some thought) but it included improvements on I-5, surface streets and transit. There is a huge difference to someone who is stuck in I-5 traffic. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone in West Seattle, for example, would have chosen that route over a tunnel (because it is I-5 traffic, more than anything, that causes the bottleneck right now, even though 99 is fully functional).

        Simply put, I think the phrase “most of Seattle think the tunnel is a bad idea” is fairly accurate, especially when they know all the details about the idea, and the alternatives.

      4. The tunnel failed then because it was the most expensive option; nobody said much else against it. That tunnel was below the viaduct so it’s different from this tunnel which is further east. But still, the state took our preference for a less expensive option and turned it into an even more expensive tunnel.

    3. Yeah and the completely unnecessary the Bertha freakout continues.

      So far burning through the project reserves and the other costs amount to <5% of the total project budget, and this is really the *first* appreciable problem the project has had. When we have the 2nd problem of this type on the project then we can talk. If I stopped the multi-year projects I managed when the first problem costing 5% of my budget occurred half of them would never finish. Problems like this are for better or worse part and parcel for large complex engineering projects.

      Looking forward to a solution that gets the cars off the surface and leaves open a nice wide space with plenty of room for transit and bikes without us having to also squeeze thousands of cars that aren't going anywhere no matter what you do in.

  5. I don’t get the space-over-greenhouse gases thing. Aren’t those two different, positive goals?

    1. Maybe I shouldn’t have set up the phrase as a binary, “the fundamental problem” etc…and I agree that emission reductions are a positive goal alongside more efficient land use. But it’s still hard for me to stomach giveaways to an invariably wealthy subset of the population to clog up already underperforming HOV/HOT lanes, give Tesla-driving commuters free access to 520, and incentivize driving onto the ferry when they might otherwise walk or bike on, because hey it’s free!

      1. It’s even worse than that, while the Pacific Northwest has significant (but finite) hydropower, due to the national power grid, electricity is more or less fungible, and in 2013, 39% of the electricity in the US was generated with coal. ( http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3 )
        Well, sure, electric cares are really efficient, so even if they(indirectly) burn coal, they don’t burn very much.

        By the time a majority of our electricity is generated by renewables, simply not having to pay $20 a gallon for gas would be plenty of incentive for using an electric car.

        As far as it being “free” to take ones electric car onto a ferry, I’m sure Inslee is expecting some of that ~$4000/yr. for a daily commuter, to be donated to his campaign fund.
        If one were to accept that cynical hypothesis, it is not much a stretch to think he is largely interested in wealthy people who may well be driving 4600lb, 300+ hp, Teslas. I wonder how the actual net environmental impact of a Tesla S and a Prius C (~2500lb, ~50mpg, but has engine, so no free tolls) compare?

        Another thing about the ferry, for daily commuters buying monthly or multi trip passes, a cross sound round trip is about $5 for walk on and about $22 to drive on, Of course the electric car driver still has to pay for herself, still, they are getting a subsidy of more than three times what a walk on pays. If the concern is the environment rather than campaign contributions, wouldn’t it make more sense to toll the cars and subsidize the pedestrians (and the buses they may ride when they leave the ferry, I mean even more of course, they are subsidized already)? Not to mention that encouraging people not to drive leaves more room on the roads for those who choose to drive anyway (and when your car can go 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, you need some room)
        Oh, wait, it’s right there in the state constitution, gasoline taxes pay for the ferry system, so it’s only fair for cars to get a break on fares :)

      2. It’s not a national grid. It’s a grid between here and northern California and British Columbia, and I doubt it crosses the Rockies. Northern and southern California have little interconnectivity unless it’s improved recently. In any case, if only 5% of our electricity at peaks comes from fossil fuels, I don’t see why we should sweat it as much as regions that are all fossil fuels. Although I am one of those who turns off lights and outlet strips all the time anyway, and I recently read that winter cold helps with weight loss so I turned off the heat again.

      3. Isn’t Washington part of the Western Interconnect? Last I looked at these things, there exists the Western and Eastern interconnects, the Texas grid (ERCOT), the Alaska interconnect, and a couple of smaller system operators. West and East have links and the whole WI is synchronized.

      4. Actually I guess the regional grid doesn’t matter either. What matters is the percent of your utility’s energy that comes from fossil fuels. The national average is just an after-the-fact calculation. You can’t buy national average electricity or a national average house or a national average gallon of gas; you can only buy what’s available in your area. If I use less electricity here it doesn’t make an east coast person’s energy more clean, it makes my utility turn down its generators.

      5. I’d like to remind people that Washington state is levying a $100/year fee on electric cars, because your government is insane.

        So, charge people to have an electric car (incentivizing gasoline cars), but then if they have an electric car, make sure that they are encouraged to drive as much as possible by exempting them from tolls.

        In what universe is this sound public policy? Bizarro World?

    2. Right, they’re two different goals.

      That means electric car drivers ought to be exempt from charges related to point emissions:
      – The carbon tax we don’t have
      – Taxes on noxious emissions we don’t have
      – Taxes on particulate emissions we don’t have
      – Periodic smog checks

      … but not from charges related to traffic congestion and the use of urban land
      – Congestion charges we don’t have in any official or systematic way
      – HOT lane tolls
      – Parking costs

      … and not from charges that are intended to fund road infrastructure
      – 520 bridge and DBT tolls (that’s their nominal purpose, at least)
      – Current gas taxes (!!!)
      – Various licensing fees

      The number of taxes collected from drivers in this country that shouldn’t be collected from drivers of electric cars is essentially nil because there are almost no fees or taxes whatsoever in this country for polluting the air.

      1. The fact that gas taxes charge for pollution is entirely accidental. They’re clearly designed to cover road maintenance, such as in the historically higher rates charged for diesel, a fuel primarily used by vehicles with higher per-axle weights that damage the road more per-gallon burned.

        These days, of course, the gas tax doesn’t come close to covering road maintenance costs, and we’re completely failing to maintain our roads, suggesting that some sort of tax roughly tied to damage caused (gas taxes being relatively cheap to administer but increasingly inaccurate) needs to be significantly higher just to cover its original purpose. That’s before you even start accounting for any environmental costs of burning fossil fuels.

      1. I don’t know that it’s true but someone said above that a Tesla weighs 4500 lbs. And this proposal would make it free to put this vehicle on a ferry burning DIESEL. And of course, the manufacturing and decommissioning of a vehicle produces a lot of emissions. It would be helpful if you considered all of these incentives and impacts when you think about what is and isn’t environmentally sound.

      2. My other comment applies: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/01/08/yes-no-maybe/#comment-581529

        Again, it makes no sense to let an electric car on for free, but charge the same for a 40 MPH car as a 20 MPG car. By the way, switching from a 20 MPG car to a 40 MPG car saves as much fuel as switching from a 40 MPG car to a bicycle.

        In the case of an electric car, at best it is like a bicycle. At worst some of that energy comes from fossil fuels. Since, as already pointed out, energy is fungible, we can now say:

        Switching from a 20 MPG car to a 40 MPG car reduces CO2 emissions more than switching from a 40 MPG car to an electric car.

    3. I believe there’s this thing were we try to encourage good behavior. Some people don’t agree with it but let’s go with it for a moment. If we make it really really attractive to buy an electric car more people will do it and we have fewer emissions. Let’s face it, electric cars cost more than gas cars to purchase so someone going into the dealership has to think long and hard about spending the extra money now and hopefully getting some of it back later in cheap electricity. However if you don’t have to pay for tolls it may weight the decisions thus more people buying them. It’s not about how “fair” it is for people driving across a bridge or whether electric cars take up space.

      1. If you’re interested in encouraging people to buy electric cars rather than gas cars,
        eliminating the Washington State $100/year fee for having an electric car would be a good start. Way better than exemptions from tolls.

      2. Hmm, the $100 fee was supposed to compensate for the lost revenue in not paying the gas tax. That would make a hole in the road maintenance budget. What do we do about that?

      3. The gas tax is the user fee. Most people do not live near a tolled road. Normal taxes are paying for other things than road maintenance.

      4. And the sales tax paid on an electric vehicle is higher than on a combustion-engine vehicle of a similar class.

        Here, as in most places, the general coffers too pay for road maintenance.

  6. Since this is an open thread…Why doesn’t the city encourage motorcycle/scooter use by lowering the street parking rate for them? They take up much less street space than a car yet have to pay the same parking rate. About the only downside to encouraging motorcycle/scooter use is they aren’t subject to the same exhaust emissions standards as cars. But they often use less fuel than cars.

    Interesting fact: In Restricted Parking Zones (RPZs), motorcycle and scooter users may park without an RPZ permit. – Source

    1. That’s a terrible idea. One of the (many) problems with the car as a primary mode of transportation is how deadly it is. Whatever improvements motorcycle/scooter use might provide on the carbon emissions problem and the car storage problem, they give back in the injury/fatality problem several times over. Their use should be discouraged as much as possible.

      1. I don’t know that this is the case (some of the factors involved are different), but I’d expect there’s a similar effect as with biking, where injury rates go down as usage, especially urban transportation usage, goes up. Because there’s a hard core of people that do dangerous stuff like riding fast on highways, that will ride for thrill no matter what the parking policies are. But practical urban riders, that use a motorcycle because it hits a sweet spot of convenience and cost for them, are more like normal people with more conservative attitudes toward risk.

      2. I’m sure that’s true as far as it goes, but the dangers of motorcycle riding are an order of magnitude greater than biking. In the proper environment, biking isn’t any more dangerous than driving (and that’s before we get to the mortality-diminishing effects of exercise). That will never be the case for motorcycles.

        A sensible public policy approach to motorcycle-riding should treat it like cigarette smoking–something to be discouraged in a variety of ways, even as a commitment to individual freedom precludes actually banning. Incentivizing motorcycle use would be grossly irresponsible.

  7. I have a question about the post photo. Where was this shot taken? I’m an expert in all things having to do with the eastside, and this looks to me like it’s in Kirkland. And if it was taken in Kirkland, it’s not called the Eastsdie Rail Corridor. It’s called the Cross Kirkland Corridor, a walking path and greenbelt. There are no rail tracks there anymore. In fact, a train hasn’t traveled there in over a decade, and no train shall ever blight this green space again. This is our Burke-Gilman. So, if I am correct, and this pic was taking in Kirkland, please correct its name.

    Sam, Eastside Expert and Historian.

  8. The usual suspects out of Bellevue are re-litigating the Link alignment through South Bellevue, via a request to the Shoreline Hearings Board. This time, the issues are about environmental impacts to Mercer Slough. They’re claiming there are construction impacts that were unanticipated, and a loss of viewsheds and slough access due to noise walls.

    (The physics of blocking noise without blocking views are left as an exercise for the reader).

    An interesting twist is that the briefing makes a lot of noise about future impacts from an Issaquah service that would connect through the slough to South Bellevue. It will be interesting to hear what ST has to say in response about their intentions in the area. ST’s corridor studies did not anticipate Issaquah rail going into South Bellevue, but rather connecting in Central Bellevue.

    http://www.bellevuereporter.com/news/287863501.html

    1. There’s process, then there’s too much process for moneyed interests to gum up the works. It’s clearly the latter here.

    2. That appears to be why ST didn’t offer a rail alternative on the Issquah – South Bellevue – Bellevue alignment, even though it offered both rail and bus alternatives on the other alignments.

      The LRT alternative that crosses East Link at Hospital and bypasses downtown Bellevue sounds especially weak, and many of us told ST to reconsider a South Bellevue LRT alignment because it’s better than any of the other alternatives. I can’t believe ST staff never “thought of” routing light rail there; they just rejected it before it got out of committee. But it must have a serious study and at least a public evaluation of its advantages/disadvantages, otherwise it will like like ST didn’t consider the public’s most favorite alignment. Downtown Bellevue is the highest-ridership destination for both Issaquah and Kirkland. But the biggest obstacle to that alignment is wetland impact, and how it can be avoided or mitigated.

      1. Weren’t some of those folks (I’m thinking specifically about Build a Better Bellevue) that are in the lawsuit also ones that were favoring the BNSF alignment? That would have had to cross the slough to get to the ERC.

        These people are not really concerned about the environment, they just are grasping onto another opportunity to stall East Link.

        Mike, in the context of a Kirkland – Issaquah line by itself, it makes sense to continue south from Hospital station on the ERC, then Lake Hills Connector and Richards road to get toward Factoria. Only if there is a Seattle – Issaquah line that tackles the problem of crossing the slough does it make sense to look at trade off the interline through downtown Bellevue and South Bellevue against the Richards Road alignment.

      2. Reading the petition, I see that part of their argument is that the environmental costs of crossing the slough weighed against the B7 and B7R alignments, but ST didn’t consider that a Seattle – Issaquah line would have to cross the slough. But that’s of course because the DEIS and the DSEIS were considering only the East Link project. When (if) Seattle-Issaquah is built it will have to go through its own EIS process and the alternative alignments and their impacts will be studied.

      3. I agree, transit opponents are simply looking for any pretext to file a lawsuit against Sound Transit in order to stop East Link.

        It is absolutely insane the amount of fighting Sound Transit has had to go through over East Link.

        Something tells me the lawsuits won’t stop even once East Link opens.

      4. There is no Issaquah-Seattle line. All DSTT capacity is reserved for ST2 growth and Tacoma/Everett/Redmond extensions. Going from Issaquah to Seattle will require transferring to East Link. Sharing the track between South Bellevue and 120th would double the frequency right where short trips are the most common.

        An Issaquah – Kirkland line in Richards Road implies that most Issaquah riders not headed to Seattle or Overlake are going to Kirkland or 116th, when they’re more likely to be going to downtown Bellevue, and for that they’ll have to transfer just to go one more station. And vice-versa for Kirklandites. Transferring because you’re one station off is more annoying than other transfers, especially if it’s the majority of your trips. Even worse if you’re transferring again to a bus at Bellevue Transit Center; that’s two transfers within a mile. A “transit center” means all lines and modes should meet there.

      5. There’s a fairly brief discussion of an Issaquah rail alignment to South Bellevue station in the corridor report. It’s alignment A8, but was rejected in the Level 1 evaluation. It failed three of the eight screening questions, all apparently for reasons related to Mercer Slough.

        Question 2: Could the concept avoid or minimize significant impacts to known designated critically sensitive environmental and/or parks or 4(f) resources where another prudent and feasible alternative has been identified?

        Question 7: Is it feasible for the concept (mode, corridor) to be constructed to HCT standards, given the known topographic, geometric, and other engineering-related constraints of the corridor and within reasonable costs for expected benefits?

        Question 8: Could the concept be constructed in a manner so as to avoid substantial regulatory hurdles and/or avoid or mitigate substantial impacts to the natural environment and/or the built environment?

        Question 8: Could the concept be constructed in a manner so as to avoid substantial regulatory hurdles and/or avoid or mitigate substantial impacts to the natural environment and/or the built environment?

    3. Thick glass walls, Dan, thick glass walls.

      It is the viewer’s responsibility to clean the glass periodically if she or he wishes to preserve the quality of the preserved view.

      1. Thick walls with the name of every asshole in the lawsuit chiseled into it. And lookout towers on top stocked with maps of their houses and buckets of rotting fruit.

  9. There actually should be at least one extra Talgo set for the SEA-PDX section of the Coast Starlight. If the trains aren’t running south of Portland, than there should be at least one of the (not so great interior design) Oregon trains available as the daily Portland – Eugene – Portland train won’t be running. (train 503 & 508).

  10. The Dallas “boondoggle” that Bertha beat out is the Trinity River Parkway. If that thing ever gets built, I’ll eat a stack of Post-it notes because it’s looking pretty unlikely. Only people with a vested interest–and those folks are rapidly losing political credibility and authority down there–are still pushing the paperwork for it. Heck, the tolling agency (North Texas Tollway Authority*) has said they have no money to actually build it even if the contract does go through and the contract to build it is only with the NTTA.

    * Washington-related fun fact: The NTTA spun off its billing and collections department some years ago into a private company known as Electronic Transaction Consultants of Texas, or ETC TX. ETC is the entity that runs the “revenue” side of the Hwy 520 bridge. (Compare mygoodtogo.com to csc.ntta.org) It’s perversely funny to read the same stories in the Seattle Times about crappy service, lost bills, and incorrect accounting that Dallas residents have put up with for more than a decade.

    1. The Trinity River Parkway is, indeed, thankfully looking dead. It was kind of astounding that it was ever proposed; it’s a spectacularly awful idea.

    2. Are other people having 520 tolling errors? My relatives are reporting double charges, and charges on days when the car was home all day.

  11. Comparing the DBT to light rail is like comparing commercial airline travel to the space shuttle. Big Bertha is an experimental TBM. The light rail TBM’s are proven technology that operate regularly all over the world, including 2 of them drilling happily in Seattle right now.

    They’re saying to ST, if I can’t make this half court shot the ball won’t go into that hole, so you’re not allowed to attempt layups.

    1. Nobody official is questioning ST’s potential future tunnels.ST can point to its track record of two tunnels completed and two under construction. The worst mishap of all those was Beacon Hill sinkholes. ST can also point to its conservatism in rejecting risky tunnels: the Portage Bay tunnel and First Hill Station. The politicians will be smart enough to recognize the difference — except those who are anti-transit anyway. It’s just speculation that politicians and the people might oppose ST’s tunnels because of Bertha. No need to worry unless you see more concrete evidence of it. What really matters is when ST actually proposes a tunnel. Right now it’s just sketching out potential ideas.

      1. First Hill station wasn’t risky.

        It was maybe-sorta-kinda-potentially incongruous with the Bush-era federal funding algorithm, so the ST Board decided to be cowards and thereby ensure a permanently weaker transportation outcome.

        Stop repeating lies on this topic.

      2. First Hill was risky simply for being a mined station. Mined stations were part of the reason the Portage Bay alignment was dropped.

        I don’t remember if there were any further engineering risks with the First Hill Station. The increase in travel time jeopardizing federal funding was another factor. Due to sharp curves the increase in time was more than just the couple of minutes an additional station usually adds.

      3. Some dumb regionalist-commenter opining aside, I’ve never read anything to suggest the Board’s decision was about saving time either. The federal algorithm here applied only to U-Link, which was going to be 10x faster than any existing transit no matter where you put the stations.

        (And I don’t think First Hill’s curves were especially acute, as the station was barely further south than the southernmost point of what was actually built in the end.)

        No, First Hill’s deletion was about cost, cost, cost, and cost. Nothing more complicated than that. And given the very strong case for First Hill’s necessity that could’ve been made had the Board bothered to try, never mind some of the dumb shit at which ST seems willing to waste money elsewhere (e.g. $500 million Bellevue tunnels that actually make passenger access worse), there was zero excuse for cutting that particular corner.

        (Funny how it also never occured to ST to design a less grandiose Capitol Hill station, or a UW station that had fewer than 7 levels and made a lick of access sense. Could probalby have saved enough on those two monstrosities to have built First Hill outright.)

      4. I can not believe there is only 1 station serving Capitol Hill and no First Hill station, that is just nuts especially when the tunnel passes under so much of Capitol Hill and all of it has tremendous population. The loss of the Convention Place station further reduces coverage too. Yes and the University of Washington station is in the absolute worst location. And of course no Montlake Station for 520 service transfer!!!

      5. ST agrees with you on First Hill Station, it was a very unfortunate loss.

        Convention Place never had as much potential; it only has a small walkshed because it’s across the freeway from its ridership base. The original belief was that conventioneers would use it and Capitol Hill riders would transfer at it or walk down to it, but that has not happened much. And I say this as somebody who does live in Convention Place’s walkshed and does walk to it, and will have to walk further (or take a bus) to Westlake or Capitol Hill Station. What I see is few people on the Convention Place platforms, and hardly any of those walking alongside me up Pine Street to the hill. There are always people walking up and down Pine Street between the hill and downtown, or skateboarding or biking, but they aren’t going to Convention Place Station.

        As for Montlake/520 Station, I haven’t heard anyone ask ST why it’s not there or why it wasn’t considered.

        As for UW Station, that was sited by the university and ST had no say in it. The university is a state institution so its authority is higher than ST’s. It’s the same reason why UW Laundry is still next to Mt Baker Station; ST couldn’t force it to move for a transit center or more pedestrian uses. And the station is there because that’s where Rainier and MLK cross and major bus routes transfer and Franklin High School is; you can’t move all of those.

      6. I hear you that its the reality but that’s absolutely ridiculous that UW has been given more authority than Sound Transit. This is no way to build infrastructure that lasts centuries based the opinion of a person or two representing the institution that probably is long gone. The one time people who rarely walk or take transit, do so, is going to a sporting event and yet the station was located next to a facility used 8 times a year, with no walkshed, at the far end of the UW campus across practically a highway. Sure there is a hospital there, but the station could have been located on the other side of the hospital (if I’m not mistaken this was the original plan until UW messed it up) and actually served way more. Wow.

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