Priority Projects
Priority Projects

The Nickels-era “Bridging the Gap” property tax package has been building and maintaining transportation infrastructure for the last nine years, but expires in 2015. Informed by the “Move Seattle” strategy for transportation investment, Mayor Murray today unveiled a November 2015 ballot measure of the same name to replace and expand on it.

Bridging the Gap raised $365m over 9 years; the actual property tax rate fluctuated, but last year it was 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Move Seattle will initially levy 61 cents per $1,000, raising $900m over the same period thanks to higher property values and more residents – a “growth dividend.” The 70% household cost increase enables 150% more funding.

Using the numbers from last year’s report on the subject, I believe this would leave about 11 cents of capacity below the city’s reserve limit. SDOT says the annual cost to the median household would be $275, an increase of about $113. This money would unlock state and federal grants to enable billions of dollars of maintenance, transit, bicycle, freight, and pedestrian spending.

SDOT breaks out the $900m proceeds into four buckets. One emphasis of Move Seattle is an integrated plan that considers all modes and purposes holistically, so the categories are bit fuzzy. Nevertheless:

  • Safe City ($350m): 50 miles of protected bike lanes, 60 miles of greenways, 225 blocks of sidewalk repairs, the Burke-Gilman missing link, and fixing deficient bridges.
  • Affordable City ($275m): Repave or reconstruct up to 180 lane-miles of transit arterials, various access to transit projects
  • Interconnected City ($170m): 7-10 multimodal corridors, bus speed and reliability projects, some funding for a Graham Street Link station and the Northgate pedestrian bridge, 100 blocks of new sidewalks, 1,500 new bike parking spots, and new design solutions for streets without sidewalks.
  • Vibrant City ($105m): freight corridors, 20-35 projects submitted by neighborhoods.

Below are three SDOT slides that compare the scope of BtG and Move Seattle. But first, a Correction. In the March 3rd report I said that the Projects A through X were ranked in order of score according to the priority system SDOT established. My SDOT source now says he was misinformed; the projects are in no particular order save that the higher-scoring ones (A through Q) are fast-tracked for funding.




138 Replies to “Mayor Murray Proposes “Bridging the Gap” Replacement”

    1. Me too, I didn’t even realize this was on the table. This would become the new closest station to my house and I could include part of the Chief Sealth Trail on my commute. Mmmmmmm.

    2. By all means, let’s make Link slower and more cumbersome! As it stands now, the built out system will be an almost S-Bahn quality network except for a crappy city tram (SLUT) like route through Rainier Valley. The 8 does a fine job as being the “local” down MLK, IMHO. At the very middle, it can’t be much more than 0.5 miles to either CC or Othello Stations…which is nothing of a walk/bike ride (or 2 stops on the 8).

      1. FTFY:

        As it stands now, the built out system will have almost S-Bahn-useless stop spacing except for a sensible light-rail route through Rainier Valley.

      2. It’s a little over a mile to Columbia City and a little less then a mile to othello from Graham. It also has the population to support a stop with room for more

      3. I have mixed feelings about the Graham St. Station – on the one hand, Columbia City->Othello is a bit on the far side in terms of stop spacing. On the other hand, if there is any huge pile of density at the corner of MLK and Graham, I certainly don’t see it riding through on the train – just a strip mall with a giant parking lot. Travel time from downtown to the airport is also long enough as it is…

        There’s also the question of whether the extra dwell time to serve one more station would mess up signal timings (forcing the train to wait at other red lights along the way) or force headways to go up (because Sound Transit has no money in their budget to run any more trains). This is not a question out of thin air, since when Tacoma Link recently added an infill station, headways did go up.

        If we’re really talking about just an extra 30 seconds, by all means, build the station. But if we’re talking about a minute of dwell time, plus 5 additional minutes of waiting at stoplights due to messed-up signal timings, plus all-day headways rising from 10 minutes to 12 minutes along the entire line, I would argue it isn’t worth it.

        Another form of light-rail access, the city should consider that isn’t on the list is redoing the pedestrian bridge over Ranier Ave. to actually connect the platform level of the Link station to the transit center, plus ADA accessibility.

      4. There is simply no way that adding reasonably-spaced infill could or would undermine the signal-synching equipment already in place. That is not a valid concern.

        It also strikes me as quite silly that anyone would fear a 45-second slowdown to serve real passengers and make pan-urban journeys palpably easier, when Link already suffers delays of similar length at the I.D./Stadium portal that result from god-awful design benefitting no one. If we’re looking to tighten airport run times, perhaps we should start there.

        At Mt. Baker, the pedestrian bridge needs to die completely, and be replaced by one of the highly promising MLK-Rainier rechannelings that have been bandied about before. Then let the pedestrians cross, at ground level, and without waiting minutes to do so.

        That bridge is pedestrian-hating in principle, and even worse in execution.

      5. Adding a Graham St station won’t increase Central Link’s headways. Tacoma Link went from 10 to 12 minute headways because 1) there are no additional vehicles available to make up for increased running time and 2) the single track section limits how many vehicles can be on the line. Central Link headways didn’t go up when it extended to the Airport nor will it go up when it extends north. At worst, ST will have to put an extra train or two in service as often does during special events.

        As for the signal progression on MLK, I’d argue adding the Graham stop actually reduces the incidence of trains stopping between stations because that non-stop segment is much longer than the others. Graham, like the other MLK station locations, is a major arterial intersection that’s a natural breaking point for the “green waves” trains get. It frustrates me when the train gets stuck at a light at Graham but there’s no station there!

    3. Agreed. Understand cost-cutting was necessary at the time, but restoring Graham St. should be a priority. That stop spacing is absurd for anything but a commuter line, let alone that Graham is the busiest node along MLK.

      1. Dp, I used the “100 stops” example to illustrate for people mathematically why there is always a time cost for every passenger on a line when additional stops are included. One of the challenges of our current line is that we don’t have express trains so every person is impacted when the train has to start and stop at an additional space. I appreciate that some people would benefit if they owned a house close to the graham street stop but my issue is with the fact that many people, including the vast majority of current LINK riders may have an issue with adding more time to their commute for the sake of a small number of people who live closer to the potential graham street stop than they do to the other stops.

        Oran, I agree that if we add additional trains and hire more drivers that this could resolve the problem and shorten the headway but that costs additional money and we may want to prioritize whether we want to spend that money on graham street or in another area through the light rail or rapid bus service where we could increase connection for a higher number of potential passengers.

        I am not against the Graham Street stop. In fact, if the city increased the number of people who would benefit from it by adding significant amounts of affordable housing near the station or a destination where riders from all over the city would like to go (for example a South Seattle community college that could provide more Southeast seattle residents with job training skills etc.) then I think it would make sense. For example, I think the Capitol Hill and south lake Union light rail makes sense to have shorter distances between stops because of the significantly larger number of potential riders who live so close to each stop and also because of the density of employment and cultural destinations in those specific neighborhoods.

        This area of southeast Seattle is currently fairly low density with lots of single family housing that is quite affordable by seattle standards but still too expensive for many Seattle workers and nowhere near the amount that we need to resolve our current affordable housing crisis. However, if the city took significant steps to increase the number of potential riders, especially low income riders who could live near the new station then the stop could easily be worth the benefit. We should of course see if we can get an ok from the community that they would be willing to allow significant upzoning before we build the stop. Otherwise, it just doesn’t seem worth it based on the small number of people who would benefit and everyone else who uses the light rail and may be negatively impacted in a small way.

      2. Cities, not nodes.

        Cities, not nodes.

        When will people in this town get it through their heads that transit functions best when viewed in terms of complete corridors and complete cities, and not in isolated “nodes” of a few dozen or a few hundred units at most?


        Meanwhile, there is no chance that one extra 45-second stop will require “buying additional trains and hiring more drivers”. Zero. None at all.

        Only in Seattle would people bend over backward to make the transit less useful so as to avoid imagined cost increases with no basis in reality, while simultaneously endorsing billions wasted to build far-flung rail-to-sprawl that all of global precedent suggests will remain empty-running moneypits for all eternity.

    4. I hope this sets a precedent. As much as I think Sound Transit (or Seattle’s subarea if you will) should fund a station at NE 130th, I would gladly pay for it five years from now, out of some Seattle levy. To get anything (even a station someone else pays for) requires Sound Transit approval, and there is no guarantee they will allow it. So this is great news indeed.

      1. Of course ST will allow it. They’re both deferred stations like Beacon Hill was. It’s just the cost of construction that’s holding them back, and ST’s prioritizing them behind other projects.

      2. Don’t be so sure, Mike. I had a chance to chat with Mike O’Brien about the possible NE 130th station. I mentioned that it was very cheap. He agreed and said the city is behind it, but the rest of the board isn’t. I mentioned this exact thing (having the city pay for it) and he said that would make it easier politically, but no slam dunk. It really isn’t the money that is holding it up. He said the rest of the board is focused on completing the spine. My guess is the rest of the board wants to trade something (otherwise it doesn’t make sense). But politics often doesn’t make sense.

      3. That’s a bad joke if so. The 130th station is far more important than Graham (not that there shouldn’t be a Graham, but even so….). It’s the only thing that would add anything to this map of projects for — once again — the giant black hole of nothingness that is what the City plans to do in NE Seattle. The only thing even on the map–a piddly amount for LCW–isn’t going to be funded. Same as it ever was. It will be very difficult for me to support this even with the other good projects elsewhere. I’ve always favored the good of the many, but there are a lot of “many” in NE Seattle that have been asked to wait…and wait…and wait…for 50+ years.

      4. I agree, Scott. It is a shame we have to push so hard for something that is obvious to many. But we can’t give up, we just have to know that it will require a lot of effort. To be clear, lots of people aren’t aware of the issue. I talked to a neighbor of mine that lives close to the station. She knew about the station, but wasn’t sure if made sense. She is aware (as many are) that there aren’t many people who live within walking distance. It is only when I talked about the bus connections that it made sense. I wrote a post about it ( but I’m not sure if summarized the issues well enough. Some other folks wrote a great article about the issue ( I’m not sure either one quite captures the importance of this station. I may write another one. As I see it, there are a lot of strong arguments for this:

        1) Dramatically improves mobility from Lake City and Bitter Lake.
        2) Provides for a much better bus grid (to lots of places north of the ship canal).
        3) Saves Metro considerable amount of service hours.
        4) Compliments bus service on 145th and Northgate. Those areas will be overrun (bus bunching) if we can’t take the load off.

        I don’t think these are obvious. The first one is if you know anything about traffic (or can read a map). But proposing a better grid isn’t obvious, nor is the service hour savings. I think one problem may be that folks are too busy arguing over whether connecting 522 to NE 130th or NE 145th makes more sense. I think this misses the point — there should be lots of buses connecting both. There are tons and tons of bus routes that go on or by 522. To send half of them to 145th and the other half to Northgate would be a mess (a huge, wasteful, slow mess). But this may be dragging things out. Maybe the folks from Bothell and Kenmore want the shortcut to 145th. Fine by me. Your choice. Either way you will have buses (lots of buses) serving Lake City itself, and those buses should go to 130th. Over time, once the 522 folks see how much faster the 130th street route is, I think they will change their mind (at least during rush hour).

      5. Lake City Way desperately needs complete streets treatment. The mess created every peak by the surge of vehicles entering/exiting I-5 interacting with the intersections at 80th and 15th should be corrected as well.

        As for 130th the biggest travesty would be allowing Sound Transit to build the line in such a way as to make adding a 130th infill station difficult to add. The best outcome of course would be to get it added in time to be part of the final design and bids for this portion of Lynnwood Link construction.

        While I would rank it lower than the Northgate pedestrian bridge I still consider it a very important addition to the line.

      6. I know LCW extremely well; not denying that Complete Streets treatment is necessary (although as usual the City disagrees with the “desperately” part as it not only isn’t funded, it’s several places down the list of unfunded projects). Intersections at 80th and 15th may be even more crucial particularly as transit uses it to access I-5 and fixing the problem would lead directly to fast connections to the Roosevelt station. Unfortunately, they aren’t even addressed in this proposal because any real fixes would likely require condemnation of existing properties on at least one side of LCW. Simply adding a turn lane would be a vast improvement but there isn’t room for that in the existing right-of-way. Providing transit lanes on Montlake would be easier and cheaper.

        Transit only lanes from 145th to 125th would have been nice as it would have connected central LC to the already existing lanes north of the city limits, which are mostly continuous to Bothell. Nope, not funded. Anything else in NE Seattle (by which I mean north of 65th)? Nope–non-existent. This is an area of the city denser than West Seattle, built on a historically existing route from somewhere to somewhere else, and once again nothing. I don’t live in the area any more, but I spent several decades there and, frankly, people start to wonder “why support this stuff” when they don’t even get tossed a bone and places like WS are under discussion for rail. Hopefully districts on the Council will help with that. We’ll see.

      7. >> While I would rank it lower than the Northgate pedestrian bridge I still consider it a very important addition to the line.

        I respectfully disagree. The Northgate bridge is really important, but to me the 130th station is huge. Without the Northgate bridge, you force lots of students (and other folks trying to get to the other side) into taking a bus that goes around. That is bad, but there are a lot more people penalized by the lack of a 130th station. Every Lake City rider would have to endure going through Northgate Way. Meanwhile, Bitter Lake riders either go through the Northgate mess as well (a crazy detour) or walk the bridge. The bridge will be great, but it is still a substantial walk from NSCC to the station. I don’t think you can treat NSCC as a bus station, and assume that a bus that goes there can forget about going to Northgate Transit Center. Even if it did, it is still much faster to go on 130th. That is all just for Lake City and Bitter Lake, two of the most populous areas in Seattle (the greater Lake City area contains the densest census block between UW and the Canadian border, and that includes Ballard — both are growing). But it extends way beyond that. Without a station, Metro won’t run a bus along 125th/130th. This kills a lot of nice connections (e. g. Sand Point to Bitter Lake) while making other connections much more tedious (Lynnwood to Wedgewood has to go via 145th, then via Lake City Way — hopefully that isn’t a four seat ride). It just becomes a lot harder to make a map like I did earlier. This costs Metro big bucks, and stifles their attempts to make a grid. Just look at the current plans and how much better they would be if the Northgate station was at Roosevelt and Northgate Way. There would be no “Pinehurst problem”. Well, 130th is better than Northgate Way, it is better than 145th, and it a hell of a lot better than the Northgate Station. I agree with Scott, it should be priority one for the north end.

        @Scott — I agree, transit lanes on 145th to 125th make a lot of sense and should be done soon. It would also make it easier to get the station at 130th.

      8. The reason why people who begin their journey north of Graham (let’s say in Columbia City) and who are traveling further north (let’s say to Capitol Hill) would be inconvenienced is because they would have to wait for the train to stop at an additional stop before they could begin their journey. If a given number of trains are departing each day this would potentially further space out/delay those trains, which must complete each spot (we don’t have express trains here). Thus, even passengers on northern trips could be negatively impacted by additional southern stops.

        (One easy way to understand this mathematically is to imagine that there are a hundred additional southern stops. For the same scheduled trains. Obviously, with such a large number it is easier to imagine the impact it would have on the northern passengers. One additional stop will have a smaller impact on northern passengers than a hundred additional southern stops. However, it will still be a measurable inconvenience, which when added to every single passenger who is neither beginning his or her journey at Graham St. or ending his or her journey there may be a greater overall inconvenience than the few minute walk that most Graham St. Riders would otherwise have to make to get to tohelp or Columbia City.)

      9. Listen, I’m sorry for the palpable frustration, but your argument makes zero sense here.

        Passengers from Columbia City to downtown or points north do not “wait longer” for their train from the south. Not with one extra stop. Not with a million hypothetical extra stops.

        The trains come just as often. That’s the definition of “headways”. What are you not understanding here?

      10. Ross B, I agree that one of the challenges with the LINK light rail was that it was a compromise between a group of people with potentially diverging interests. There is a real thirst in this city for a fast urban light rail system but there is also a thirst in federal way and suburban Seattle for a different kind of system. Unlike Chicago, New York, and many other systems, LINK was built without the possibility of running express trains, which would have provided the system with an easier way of serving both purposes.

        I think another issue that we are dealing with is the concept of scarcity, both in terms of affordable housing in this city and also in terms of fast, reliable light rail service to downtown. Walking around the Othello and Columbia City neighborhood today I got a good view of the chained up wasted spaces and boarded up businesses that could easily be converted into vibrant urban spaces if the laws, private/public funding, and pressure was there. More dense, mixed-use housing near a light rail station would provide people who have been priced out of Capitol Hill and downtown with more opportunities to live in Seattle while remaining connected to Capitol Hill and the downtown core.

        If people in the Graham St. neighborhood (or any other future area seeking a light rail stop) want a new light rail station (which will cost millions of dollars to build, manage, and maintain), I don’t think it is completely unreasonable for taxpayers to ask community members and politicians whether they are supportive of transit oriented development that will maximize the number of people (particularly low income people who cannot afford cars) who can benefit from a multimillion dollar transit investment.

      1. asdf2, I completely agree. The Graham Street stop only makes sense if density were significantly increased in these areas. I regularly walk over a mile to the train. Although I live over a mile from the train, I am grateful that I live so close because I recognize that a majority of people in this city are far more than a 15 minute walk away from the nearest station. This station will significantly increase times from South Seattle to downtown and, although ridership may increase slightly in the area right around the new station, it does not appear that the stop would significantly increase ridership in that area (i.e. it seems more attuned with increasing convenience for a very specific community than increasing overall ridership and usability).

        That said, if this area became significantly more dense than it was today (i.e. if the future of this area resembled Capitol Hill instead of a sleepy suburban single home neighborhood) then this would make a lot more sense. Obviously zoning rules would have to change in this area to accommodate significantly increased density. However, the city could more easily invest in dense affordable housing in this area than many other areas along the Link route, which would provide more low income families with easy access to jobs and resources in the urban center. Unless Mayor Murray is planning to significantly upzone, and essentially transform the character of this area, to significantly increase the number of potential riders, I don’t see how a Graham St. stop is worth the increased commute time or money.

      2. >> Obviously zoning rules would have to change in this area to accommodate significantly increased density

        It was my understanding that the zoning in the area allows for fairly big buildings (but I’m not sure of that).

      3. Ross B, the question is how many people would have to live within a half mile walk of the Graham Street station in order for it to actually be worth it to build. Sure, the area may theoretically allow for more density then it currently has and developers may be more likely to build there if it is close to a rail stop. However, if you actually want to increase LINK lightrail usage by adding the Graham stop (i.e. even to get an average of 3 or 5 new riders using that stop every hour who otherwise would NOT have walked an additional half mile to the train) and make the benefit to those passengers worth the known cost of a slower commute time for every other passenger on LINK you would probably need to either have a magnet destination at the stop that would draw commuters from other stations (i.e. a new South Seattle community college, a stadium, or some major office campus) or Capitol Hill style zoning (not just 3 or 4 stories) combined with developer incentives that would ensure that thousands of new residents would live within a half mile of the station. Otherwise, the inconvenience that a few Graham St. residents might face if they had to walk a few more minutes to either the Othello or Columbia City station may not outweigh the inconvenience that EVERY other LINK rider would face if they had to wait a few extra minutes for an even longer commute.

      4. No. The comment above represents a total collapse of understanding of how mass transit works in urban areas. It is wrong. It is not a valid opinion, no matter how commonly held it may be on this coast.

        The MLK and parallel Rainier corridors, and the areas in between, are continuously-built urban places running the entire length of the valley. There is a continuous population in swaths as well as clusters. The corridor contain myriad neighborhood commercial both in pre-war form (Columbia City, Hillman City) and pedestrian-hostile areas that are nevertheless teeming with activity (the Viet Wah complex is one of the busiest places in the whole valley).

        There is also an expensive, brand new rail line running right through the valley. It is done. It is a sunk cost.

        There is no reason it should be inaccessible to people and trips in its immediate vicinity. None. One should never be forced have to “parallel feeder”, at far less frequency and reliability, to an immediately adjacent rapid transit line within an urban area. That is fragmentary transit, and that is precisely how transit fails.

        Here is the reasonable walkshed for a Graham station. Cities are about swaths, not nodes. You would have every trip that starts or ends within this area — because urban transit is not a one-way affair — relegated to a slower and less convenient mode for all eternity. And you would do so to save 35 seconds for the statistically-diminishing number of riders who will use all-day transit from the distance exurbs.

        And you would do so because you looked out the window once and you didn’t “see it”. That’s how pathetical the nodal-planning mentality is.

      5. For the record, the gap between Columbia City and Othello stations is 1.7 miles.

        That isn’t just “a few more minutes walk”. That is up to 17 minutes of walking (from the half-way point) just along the path of the train, and in addition to any lateral walk necessary to reach MLK. That is long enough for 2 or even 3 trains to pass you while you’re forced to hoof it (or wait for the excrementable 8).

        That is an insane and indefensible access penalty. ST’s outcome was demonstrative of anti-urbanism and transit ignorance then, and arguing against this amelioration is demonstrative of anti-urbanism and transit ignorance now.

      6. Hillman City is just over on Rainier. It appears to be getting some development recently. There are apartments along Rainier plus a number of lots suitable for development.

        I suspect a Graham Street Station would have at least as much ridership as Rainier Beach.

        It really is a key infill station for building an urban transit network. The BART El Norte concerns for the southern suburban stations should be ignored as the speed ship for Federal Way has already sailed.

      7. Dp, I walk over 15 minutes to the train station all the time. That is not a significant inconvenience. Many people walk as long as I do to get to the train or further. One huge benefit to keeping the stops as they are besides literally saving EVERY passenger who doesn’t live within a half mile of the Graham stop time on the train is that more limited stops also provide additional incentives for density and investment in the existing urban villages surrounding both Othello and Columbia City station. Successful light rail systems connect dense areas, which act as both vibrant neighborhoods and destinations. If the city of Seattle has a real commitment to developing the Graham Street area or bringing a new community college or UW satellite office to that stop it may make sense. But currently it seems like a bad investment if it will literally further INCONVENIENCE 99% of the people who use the system for the sake of shaving off a few minutes of walking time for the lucky few who actually live in the single family houses within a half mile of the stop.

        When it comes to light rail, stops should be strategic because more stops (or delays for every passenger who is neither getting on or off the train at that stop) is not always better.

      8. Bill, I really doubt as the system is built out that 99% of the riders will be either coming from or going to somewhere south of Graham Street. In fact, I’d guess that’s true today, even before opening U-Link, which will shift the bulk of rider on-offs toward the north.

      9. Also dp, you may have a problem with your map. The longest possible walk you cite is a 17 minute walk, which would certainly be a bigger inconvenience than a one minute walk if you loved right near the station. However, the majority of people who will benefit from a Graham St. Station will benefit anywhere from 2-10 minutes (because it will still take them some time to walk to the graham street station. Let’s say, hypothetically the average benefit is 8 minutes for 200 people every day.

        Next you said the delay of the stop would only be 35 seconds. Lets round up to a minute (the train will run slower from othello to columbia city because it will have to stop halfway in between, not to mention doors opening and closing etc.) Is shortening the commute time for 200-400 people a day by 8 minutes worth spending over 10 million on a new station and delaying everyone else’s trip (possibly up to 45,000 people in the next few years) by even a minute? Probably not. However, if you significantly developed that area and/or built a community college there or some other magnet destination then the math might make more sense.

      10. Aw, I was referring to going to or coming from any station besides Graham Street. The more stations that trains have to travel to the more time it takes to complete the route, which directy and indirectly affects every other stop on that line. Although people going to and from south of graham and north of graham will be most directly affected others will also be affected.

      11. The reason why people who begin their journey north of Graham (let’s say in Columbia City) and who are traveling further north (let’s say to Capitol Hill) would be inconvenienced is because they would have to wait for the train to stop at an additional stop before they could begin their journey. If a given number of trains are departing each day this would potentially further space out/delay those trains, which must complete each spot (we don’t have express trains here). Thus, even passengers on northern trips could be negatively impacted by additional southern stops.

        (One easy way to understand this mathematically is to imagine that there are a hundred additional southern stops. For the same scheduled trains. Obviously, with such a large number it is easier to imagine the impact it would have on the northern passengers. One additional stop will have a smaller impact on northern passengers than a hundred additional southern stops. However, it will still be a measurable inconvenience, which when added to every single passenger who is neither beginning his or her journey at Graham St. or ending his or her journey there may be a greater overall inconvenience than the few minute walk that most Graham St. Riders would otherwise have to make to get to tohelp or Columbia City.)

      12. Congratulations: Your math is nonsense and your conclusions are just crazy.

        17 minutes is the distance one might have to walk today, even if the starting point is right along MLK. So if you are 7 or 8 minutes from MLK, you are 25 minutes from the $3 billion train right through your very neighborhood.

        But really, no one is waking that far. They’re getting the hint that “this train is for million-mile commuters, and you’re stuck with the smelly 7 nightmare, because Bill doesn’t feel like stopping for 2 miles”. Nice.

        Or they’re buying a junker and giving up on transit altogether. Nicer.

        Again, this area is an urban continuum. People travel from all points to all points in cities. That’s what makes them cities. And that’s why real urban mass transit does not skip 1.7 miles between stops. At least not in a same world.

        When you pick a handful of widely-spaced nodes and pretend those are the only places anyone is coming from or going, you wind up with exponentially less useful transit and a city that remains auto-centric at its core. If that’s what you want, keep flogging this diseased horse.

      13. Also, in what sane world does adding ~17 minutes to the access penalty in order to save a minute in running time make sense to the penalized passengers?

        Also, you cannot scale your example to “100 stops”, because no sane subway system runs for the 70 miles one would need to run for “100 stops” to even become a hypothetical case.

        Oh, you mean this one is proposed to run for 70 miles? And with closer spacing along the Mountlake Terrace freeway than anywhere within the built-out city proper?

        I guess we have our answer about whether anything whatsoever about the Link “spine” qualifies as “sane”!

      14. Because of the diagonal direction of MLK, the time savings of a Graham St. station is less than it looks for people that live on nearby streets, rather than MLK itself. Let’s take the corner of Graham and 42nd St. as an example. As it is today, to access Link, you don’t walk west to MLK, then southeast to Othello Station – it is quicker to simply walk straight down 42nd St., then take Myrtle street west a mere hundred feet or so. According to Google total walking distance is 0.56 miles.

        Now, let’s suppose a Graham St. station did exist. Instead of walking south, you would now walk west on Graham to MLK, then head either north of south about 100 feet (depending on which side of Graham they put the station). Total walking distance: 0.26 miles.

        Even if the Graham St. station is 6/10 of a mile north of Othello Station, someone right on Graham actually saves only 3/10 of mile by using it.

        If you pick a point on Graham west of MLK (say, Graham and 32nd St.), the above logic doesn’t quite hold in the opposite because Graham is actually a fair bit closer to Othello Station than Columbia City Station. But because of the geography, the density and development potential is a lot less west of MLK than east of MLK, until you get all the way up to the top of Beacon Hill.

        It is true that Link is already not a time-competitive option for people going all the way Federal Way to downtown Seattle, with or without a Graham St. station, but for the closer destinations (say, the airport, or perhaps Renton, if the 101 were to get truncated someday), Link is right on the cusp of whether travel-time is within the acceptable range.

        I will not categorically say a Graham St. station isn’t worth it. The density around the station today is similar to what was around the nearby stations before Link opened, and if the station ends up spurring development so that the area reaches a population density similar to Columbia City or Othello Station, then it definitely is worth it.

        It would also make a huge difference if the extra time to serve the stop did not cause additional delays at traffic lights, due to messed-up signal timings, and if the extra travel time does not result in trains running less frequently for the entire line. Again, when Tacoma Link added a stop, the 10-minute headway became a 12-minute headway, and the 20-minute Sunday headway because a completely unacceptable 24 minutes.

        I cannot see myself endorsing a Graham St. station without a reasonable assurance from Sound Transit that signal priority and headways will not be compromised to accommodate an extra minute of stopping at an extra station.

      15. It’s official. I live in crazy town.

        There is no possible way that a Graham station could screw up ability to sync signals. None whatsoever. Not possible. Drop it.

        And Oran has already explained above why an infill stop on Link is not remotely analogous to the added stop on the Tacoma dinky. It isn’t merely the difference between a full-length mass transit line, and a short-line shuttle with just a couple of vehicles and a stretch of single-tracking. It is that Sound Transit has a mandate — backed up back actual demand, especially in the urban area — to provide service at no worse than current levels, and increasing as future demand warrants. A line with improved utility will continue that upward demand trajectory.

        (A slightly faster rail to Sprawling Nowheresville, of course, will do nothing for demand; so you should probably expect to see lower-than-promised frequency on that Federal Way bullshit. And not for technical reasons.)

        And while it is perfectly nice that someone can hypothetically cut 4 minutes off of their very long walk by turning down 42nd Ave, thereby spending a full eleven minutes on a terribly lit side street with zero pedestrian appeal and no visual landmarks whatsoever in not the safest stretch of the valley, in the actual world people don’t like to do that. Because that eleven minutes winds up feeling like forever.

        And it’s not like the majority of people are starting from your precise comparison point. Hillman City proper is currently 25 minute from either Link stop; do you think anyone really gives two shits that your “shortcut” would reduce the access penalty to 21 minutes? If they had a Graham Link stop, they’d already be pulling into downtown.

        People like to walk on identifiable and familiar streets with eyes on them. Which means going the long way around or, more likely, never using Link and remaining justifiably pissed off at those who would privilege Asberger’s-derived theories over reality.

      16. Listen, I’m sorry for going overboard, but it just strikes me as absolutely batty that we’re having this discussion at all, never mind repeatedly.

        Worry that the train “feels” slow at significant distances? Well, how about designing the downtown tunnel portal so that it doesn’t crawl at a snail’s pace for half a mile, wasting three minutes for no good reason? How about not training your drivers to keep the doors open 5x longer at every stop than in cities with 50x the passengers?

        Worry that airport access times are less than ideal? Well, how about not building your airport station a third of a mile from the f%&king airport?

        Graham Street is not the kind of destination for which you would send your line on any significant deviation. And its surrounding urbanity isn’t the level of urbanity that would demand a very expensive subway built from scratch (see: West Seattle). But if the line already exists and this place is right on the way… of course you let its people and its destinations and its permutations of trip-pairs have access!

        You don’t improve urban connectivity by forcing large percentages of potential trips back to “the old way”, i.e. to the unimproved pre-investment buses. The old way sucked so badly that you spent billions building a train! Why would you intentionally undermine that!?

      17. The arguments against the station crack me up. Let me paraphrase a bit:

        >> No one lives there — there is no density.

        Actually there is. If you look at the density maps, you can see that there are plenty of reasonably populous areas to the east and west — areas that would now be much closer to a station. These areas aren’t in the same league as UW or Belltown, but in the same range as most of Ballard.

        >> Maybe if the city changed the zoning laws and allowed more development.

        It is zoned low rise or higher throughout the area.

        >> Well, maybe if the city tried to develop it.

        They did, it is called MLK @ Holly Urban Village. It shows up on the map. They are on “stage 2”, which includes building a rail station at Graham.

        >> But it will somehow mess up the light timing.

        The train will stop the same time every day at the new station. You aren’t adding a bus stop. You will still have level boarding and off board payment. Headways don’t change, frequency doesn’t change.

        >> I can’t stand to wait for an extra 45 seconds.

        Then ask Sound Transit to speed things up by implementing the many things that d. p. recommended (any one of which would save more time then this will cost).

        >> Diagonal streets means walking to the bus isn’t so bad.

        Right. If you are Rainier and Orcas, it is only a 20 minute walk to Rainier Beach station. If you are at 31st and Graham it is only 15 minutes. Why would you want a shorter walk than that?

        Now, how about some arguments for the station that haven’t been mentioned, but only hinted at:

        1) This would save Metro money and speed up the buses.

        2) We could use that savings to build additional bus routes that would be a huge improvement for folks in the neighborhood. For example, you could run a bus along Orcas from Seward Park then dogleg to Graham and then up to Beacon Hill. This would not only provide for excellent bus to rail service, but provide much better east to west bus service.

        I really don’t get the opposition to this. This is such an obvious improvement that it makes me worried about other obvious improvements. I can’t help but think that people really don’t understand Link. I don’t blame them. They seem to be trying to do two things at once (and failing badly at both). They are trying to build an urban light rail line (a subway if you will) as well as a commuter rail line. Then they connect the two and wonder why folks in Federal Way want to keep their express buses. I get that. But that ship has sailed. This isn’t a good commuter rail line. It just isn’t. It isn’t a great urban subway either, but we can at least make it a little bit better by adding stations that will obviously be popular by those who use it the way that everyone uses an urban subway — not as a means to get just downtown, but as a means to get to places along the way.

  1. So this would provide full funding for both Northgate Ped Bridge and Graham St Link?

      1. How can we find out? Can someone who lives in Seattle (i.e. not me) contact the mayor’s office?

    1. No City Center Connector, hooray. Northgate pedestrian bridge first! Signal priority and uncongested bus lanes second!

      1. Darn it. I was surprised I didn’t see it since Murray has been talking about it. That’s the one thing that’ll make me and others waver in our support. But as long as it’s a small part of the package rather than most of it; we can’t leave the other things undone.

      2. @Mike Orr

        Aren’t both streetcar extensions basically already funded anyway? I can’t imagine the city putting those into a bridging the gap levy, its too big of a target.

      3. Gotta say the distaste around here for the CCC seems misplaced (aside from a few folks who are just never going to like a streetcar project). It’s a mere $35 million in local dollars to get fast, frequent service on dedicated ROW providing something like (IIRC) 25,000 daily trips. It also significantly increases the utility of our current streetcar lines, not only extending them but also funding trip-time improvements that are especially noteworthy on the SLUS.

        When this concept was first pitched a few years ago, the understandable skepticism (mine very much included) was that the city would never have the intestinal fortitude to take a lane and push through meaningful signal prioritization in the heart of downtown. This does both, providing five-minute frequencies and seven-minute trips from Westlake to King Street.

      4. @Jason

        The folks who dislike CCC are basically unchanged. My view has always been that if its going to be built it ought to have dedicated lanes. Since that appears to be the case I have very little else to say about it.

        My previous “big target” comment was entirely about the politics about building streetcars. Whatever benefits they provide downtown, folks don’t like to seem to vote for these unless its in their own neighborhood… especially in an off election year. I can’t imagine that the city (council, mayor, etc) would risk putting something like this on a ballot on an off election year and have it sour the BtG bill that otherwise seems to have a little bit of everything for most interest groups.

        The movers and shakers downtown really seem to want this project, so I suspect they will find ways to fund this that do not require a public vote.

      5. @Charles. It’s in the proposal now and seems to have council support: hard to see the CCC not being part of the measure that goes to ballot. Besides, it’s roughly 1/30th of a $900 million package; seems an unlikely tipping point with the electorate. Not to mention that—despite what Licata would have us believe—South Lake Union, Belltown, downtown, Pioneer Square, First Hill, and Capitol Hill are indeed neighborhoods full of residents, workers, and votes, not just bogeyman developers.

      6. As long as buses can travel along the same corridor, I’ll support it. I still think it is a waste of money to lay rail when you don’t need the capacity, but if that is what it takes to get (reasonably) fast transit, then so be it. I do wonder how often it will exceed what a bus can carry. How often does the SLUT do that?

      7. Not even at rush hour.

        50-60 people can make the toy trolley feel “crowded”. (Not real-world crowded, but definitely Seattle crowded.) And remember that only 4 to 6 trips per day even remotely see such “crowds”.

        A 60-foot Metro bus, meanwhile, will have an equal number of butts just in the seats, more if anyone at all is standing, and even more if ever revised to an urban-amenable open floor plan.

        The talking point of modern streetcars as inherently capacious is quite simply a lie.

      8. Yeah, that’s what I assumed d. p. (about the general level of crowding). But you’re telling me that our streetcars don’t have more capacity? Seriously? I mean if you cleared out all the seats in one of 60 foot buses and one of our streetcars that they would be roughly the same? I could be wrong, but I assume that the Toronto streetcars are roomier, but I would be happy to hear more details (I didn’t get a solid answer by searching).

        If it doesn’t have increased capacity, what in heaven’s name is the logic behind building them? I suppose operating costs might be cheaper, but I think you wouldn’t be able to make up for the increased cost in a very long time (if ever).

      9. Any claims you might hear of “lower operating costs” are predicated upon prior claims about improved capacity and attracting more riders/operator. There is no other source of significant savings.

        So if it isn’t really more capacious, it ain’t cheaper either!

        Toronto’s old high-floor, wide-bodied streetcars are indeed much roomier inside, lending credence to capacity considerations for their flawed yet eminently busy system. TTC’s new multiply-articulated vehicles will be much, much longer than our dinkymobiles.

        Have you never been on the SLUT or the (occasionally useful) Tacoma shuttle? If you’ve been reading balloons-and-fairy-dust recitations about the “inherent” modal advantages for too long, your first ride will be quite a revelation!

        SLUT cars are 66 feet long, but about 8 of that is lost to the dual cabs, with another couple lost to the stair/articulation pinchpoints. There are precisely 29 seats, 24 of which occupy the “upper” sections at either end of the car. These upper sections would provide reasonably comfortable standing capacity if the open middle section ever overflowed, but as the egress from the ends is significantly worse, rarely does anyone stand there.

        I will admit that it is lovely to step onto a vehicle with the middle section entirely devoted to standing passengers. But this section is barely 20 feet long by 8 feet wide, still has a couple of seat obstructions, a ticket machine, a wheelchair space, and egress routes to all four of the primary wide/level doors. 25-30 people fill this space up nicely. Not crowded, but “crowded”.

        So to review: effectively shorter than a 60-foot bus. Can feel “busy” at 55-60 passengers (less than half the advertised load, and fewer than an articulated Metro bus with zero people standing). Single-digit usage at all non-peak hours.

        No “logic” at all.

      10. Jason: If you ask people what are the top ten most critical gaps in Seattle’s transit network, 1st Avenue is not among them. Ballard takes too long to get to. The 44 collapses to a practical standstill. It takes an hour to get from northeast Seattle to northwest Seattle. Northgate is a black hole that causes time dialation on the surrounding routes. People live in Chicago for years without a car then move to Greenwood and try to do the same, but end up getting a car because they don’t feel they can get around adequately otherwise. These are the kinds of things Seattle should be working on first.

        The problem with the streetcars isn’t streetcars per se, it’s the mismatch between the streetcars’ routes and where the transit needs are.SLU already had two north-south routes within two blocks of the streetcar on both sides. OK, but that was Paul Allen’s backyard. The problem is that the streetcar costs more to operate than buses, so it diverted Metro’s service-hour money away from 1-2 of those other higher-priority needs. Likewise, lower Broadway needed better transit, but a more effective streetcar would have gone on Jackson-Rainier to Mt Baker, or Broadway-Rainier to Mt Baker. Instead we got Broadway-Jackson, which helps a little bit but again misses the priorities. None of the buses that parallel it — 7, 9, 60, 36, or 14 — can be deleted because the line is too short when it turns.

        I am glad 1st Avenue will get dedicated lanes and set a precedent, and I hope the prediction of doubling ridership comes true. I have less hope of giving the SLU segment the overhaul upgrade it needs because where are the projects for that? Where’s the plan for SLU transit lanes, signal priority, and getting rid of half the stations that are two blocks apart? I hate to see Metro’s money that it desperately needs for service hours going into streetcar hours.

      11. The First Hill Street Car was built because First Hill was promised a Link station in Sound Move which was later cut because of engineering concerns, the FHSC was their concession for that. It was designed by Sound Transit to bridge two Link stations, not to replace any currently running service, and building it out any longer would have blown the budget.

      12. @d. p. — Wow, the arguments for a streetcar are just so weak. I’m trying to defend the idea, but I’m grasping at straws. The only other argument I’ve heard is that rail can be maintained at a cheaper cost than roadways. Buses take their toll on the streets, but rail distributes the load better. I still don’t think that would save money in the long run (it doesn’t make sense to spend a thousand bucks to save 2 cents a year in maintenance) but that is my understanding. I guess the streetcar fans only have the “it will revitalize the neighborhood” argument, which I don’t by for a second, but which (conveniently for proponents) is very difficult to prove or disprove. But in this case, that argument is crap. Very little (if any) of this line needs to be revitalized. Very little of the city does, for that matter. Maybe the only area is Rainier Valley, which, as luck would have it, already has a streetcar which connects to a subway.

        Mike’s post is absolutely correct. Building a streetcar is just a waste of money that could otherwise be spent on better buses (or other improvements).

        I can’t wait until the Madison BRT is built. Even if isn’t “true BRT” it will be just as optimized as the streetcar, and folks will see that spending lots of money on a choo-choo was silly.

      13. I don’t believe the Central City Connector is part of the Mayor’s proposed levy. I can’t find it mentioned in the four-page list of projects.

        I think the confusion regarding CCC stems from the map accompanying this article, which includes CCC as Project F. But the map is actually from the Mayor’s Move Seattle plan, not the levy itself.

      14. People live in Chicago for years without a car then move to Greenwood and try to do the same, but end up getting a car because they don’t feel they can get around adequately otherwise. These are the kinds of things Seattle should be working on first.

        Yes, yes, yes!

        Mike, this is exactly what I’ve been trying to force through the skulls of the “piecemeal project”-ists all of these years. Fundamentally, either transit life in and around your urban sphere is easy and reliable and a worthy trade-off for ditching the hassles of car ownership, or it isn’t.

        In a town where the dominant paradigm remains “isn’t”, you cannot justify expensive projects that fail to solve any real-world needs, no matter how many lanes they have, because they simply don’t go anywhere useful.

      15. The streetcars in Portland can get pretty crowded, but as d.p. points out this is still likely a similar or lower capacity than a 60′ bus.

        Streetcars can carry more than a bus, but that requires a different tram design than the Skoda/Inkeon/OIW trams used in Seattle, Portland, and Tacoma. You can also increase capacity by coupling cars together but the current trams don’t support that. If longer trams or coupled trains are used there may be an issue with platform lengths as well.

        It hasn’t really been an issue yet in any of the cities that have put in modern streetcars in the US, but if one does happen on to a high demand corridor they may find the Skoda design seriously lacking.

        In Seattle this is somewhat concerning for the CCC as the exclusive ROW, signal priority, and service to a high demand corridor may find the current cars quite lacking in terms of capacity.

        Hopefully if Seattle is forced to re-think which cars they use they will also buy something with better acceleration. The Skoda design is very underpowered and has low gearing limiting speed between stops. It is very noticeable especially when transferring between streetcars and Link or MAX. 100% low floor would be nice too.

      16. Don’t worry.

        The abject redundancy of the CCC corridor — it won’t get you anywhere that wasn’t within walking distance of the bus you were already on; the transfer penalty and the zig-zags at either end of downtown will ensure that switching is never worthwhile — will prevent the dinky’s capacity from becoming an issue.

        But it is hilarious to note that the “inherent capacity” canard remains ubiquitous in a country where every single newly built project is using this tiny p.o.s. model. It’s almost as if internet-arguing foamers might be out of touch with reality!

      17. I’m perhaps more optimistic about the prospects for the CCC because of the connections to west Pioneer Square, Coleman Dock, Pike Place Market and SLU it provides. Don’t forget the corridor has short trip demand within itself as well.

        I can easily see the cars filling to crush load on nice summer afternoons.

        I know you don’t like the CCC, but it is a better project than any other modern streetcar line in the US so far. Hell, I’ll dare say it is better than your average US downtown surface light rail line. I admit that is damming with faint praise, but it isn’t a total disaster from a transit planning standpoint and likely actually has the ridership to justify rail.

      18. Wow. This is amazing. I always opposed a streetcar because I figured you would never get the increased ridership to justify the capital costs. In other words, maybe the train will eventually be popular enough to hold more people, but I figured the (financial) math would never add up. To me that is like this conversation:

        >> Honey, I traded our station wagon for a mini-van, in case we get more kids.

        But you got a vasectomy, and I got my tubes tied.

        >> Well, you never know.

        But now basically you are telling me that simply doesn’t have more capacity. So now the conversation goes like this:

        >> Honey, I traded our station wagon for a mini-van, in case we get more kids.

        But it has the same number of seats. It can’t carry any more people. It costs a lot more money and won’t be any cheaper to maintain. It is hard to park and a lot harder to maneuver.

        >> Yeah, but doesn’t it look pretty!

        Seriously, the city should have saved itself a lot more money by carving out some of the same streets to be used for BRT. This is just crazy.

      19. @Chris — I don’t understand your last sentence. How can you say this has enough ridership to justify rail when there is no advantage to rail. None. I think you just proved that. These trains can’t carry more people than a 60 foot bus. They cost the same, or more to operate. They suffer from inflexible routing, both in the short term and long term (I’ve been on the Toronto streetcar and I’ve seen them get stuck behind a fender bender — I only rode it once). This will get stuck by cars and delivery vehicles all the time.

        I agree with the rest of your statements. This is a decent route. It is probably a bus route that has made sense for years. I’m not thrilled with the particulars. Maybe we can modify it a bit and extend it north a ways and remove that little hook and … oops, I forgot this wasn’t a bus route.

  2. I wonder why the sidewalk work is being concentrated in those two particular neighborhoods. Does the safe routes to school work also include sidewalk work around schools/along school access routes, regardless of whether they’re in those neighborhoods?

    1. That’s interesting Drew. I assumed that it was the other way around (the hydrological work followed the sidewalks, since that is what contributes a great deal to the cost of sidewalks). But what you are saying makes sense, and I’ve seen it before. Pinehurst got a chunk of sidewalks following some drainage work. I think it you looked at the sidewalks you would say they don’t make sense (a few blocks willy/nilly, as opposed to trying to create a sidewalk corridor) but if you knew what they were doing, it made perfect sense.

      I hope that isn’t the only sidewalks, and my guess is it isn’t. I think the “safe routes to school” often has sidewalks money, and this is a good thing (for sidewalk fans). It tends to build good corridors in frequented areas.

  3. I also wonder about the remaining room under the property tax cap – it seems like there isn’t a lot of potential funding left for Seattle possibly going it alone on additional rail corridors (ie, raising money for a corridor that is below ST’s cut line, and handing that money to ST in order to implement that line outside of subarea equity restrictions).

    1. There are other sources of funding for major transit projects such as a WSTT or Ballard/UW subway.

  4. What about the excess levy authority allowed by RCW 84.52.052 and Article VII, section 2(a) of the state constitution?

  5. A few things I don’t see in there, which also seemed unfortunately absent from Move Seattle:

    * Funding for 23rd Ave wire. Seattle is on the contingency list for a PSRC grant to do this, and it will probably get funded by PSRC or TIGER/TIGGER eventually, but building this wire should really be done while 23rd is being hacked up over the next year, so we don’t have to impact the neighborhood a second time.

    * Funding for the Rainier Beach trolley wire connection. Connecting the south end of Rainier Ave to RBS is a blatantly obvious Link integration project that was supposed to happen with Transit Now. It hits every transit/intermodal/connectivity/social justice goal of this levy out the park.

    * Some consideration for improving connectivity near Fremont. A new bridge at 3rd? Trolley wire extension? Spot improvements at the central fremont stops (RTIS, rebuilt sidewalk, close the eastern alley, move utility poles?).

    1. My understanding is that the poles for trolley wire on 23rd will be included in the rebuild, though the wire itself is not. Putting in the wire later would be inconvenient but probably trivial in comparison to the rebuild.

      I haven’t read the comment threads on the Alternative 1 changes yet so this might be dredging up old arguments, but one of my concerns was that through-routing the 48 to the 67 seems to preclude converting it to a trolley. I suppose SDOT could convince Metro not to go ahead with that through route (with some Prop 1 money?), but then we’re back to the issue of layover space. I’m torn on whether I’d prefer a trolley over a direct N-S corridor from Mt. Baker to Northgate.

      1. I really doubt Metro would let a through-route stand in the way of electrifying the 48S. I think it has been on Metro’s wishlist for years. And by the time it’s done, North Link will be running or close to opening so the one-seat ride won’t be as critical. Right now it’s critical because the slow buses combined with transfer time and unreliability is just too much, but in the future people will be transferring at UW Station to go north, or taking Link at Rainier Station or Mt Baker Station to go to north Seattle.

    2. With the new off-wire-capable buses, perhaps trolley wire is less urgent in some places?

      1. Off wire capability is for emergencies and use in the yard. There is no intent currently to have its use be a normal part of revenue service.

        Effectively it is a way to eliminate push trucks.

      2. Chris Stefan – Metro is exploring use of the batteries for normal revenue service. That was the whole point in buying them (to prevent dieselizations), and SDOT really wants Metro to use them during routine outages caused by construction projects. Nothing is firm yet, but there is intent.

      3. The batteries are meant as a substitute for push trucks and subbing diesel coaches not for regular running of route segments without wire. There is a big difference.

      4. “Subbing diesel coaches” and “Routine outages caused by construction projects” is the same thing.

  6. I look forward to seeing more detail, but first impression is that this is a generally reasonable set of priorities with the ability to both build consensus and have real on-the-ground impacts.

    The mayor appears to be listening to the saner voices among his advisors and stakeholder representatives this time.

  7. Doesn’t this project list (and the necessary bonding authority) preclude a ballard spur line w/o Sound Transit?

    1. No – There are other options for a Seattle only mass transit measure. WSTT is probably priority 1 though.

      1. I assume that the first priority is ST3, and that WSTT and the Ballard spur are part of that. If that fails, then we start talking about going it alone.

      2. I think we should push both ST3 and then another Seattle-only measure a year later (so voters see it as a complement rather than competition). We need as much transit as we can get.

  8. Does anyone know if the bridge retrofits include fixing the bike crossing on the Ballard Bridge?

  9. I’m pretty confused by this. I have to assume the general public is really confused. What is actually getting funded?
    -center city connector?
    -aloha extension?
    -Graham st?
    -Northgate ped bridge?

    -Why broadview for ped improvements? I would have assumed Greenwood and other parts of n Seattle would have been higher priority.

    What do they mean by “light rail connections”?

      1. 44 BRT was my impression too from the bad. I hate to say it, but I have my doubts that it will happen. SDOT tried to make very minor BRT improvements to the 44 back in 2007 with BtG (BAT lanes in Wallingford) and Wallingford Chamber of Commerce hit the roof because a few businesses would lose free parking in front of their stores. Maybe we can hope for off-board payment, but that’s about it.

      2. A 44 express wouldn’t get very without getting stuck behind a 44 local. More likely, the city is just going to fund more trips on the existing route 44. (All other things equal, more frequency means fewers ons and offs per bus, which means faster trips). There may be some incremental improvements, such as TSP at an intersection or two. For the most part, the bus bulbs and easy-to-implement queue jumps are already there.

        What the Ballard->UW really needs is an underground subway.

    1. It could be that they are being ambiguous on purpose? I am not sure myself.

      It seems like the streetcars are not mentioned directly so… they’re not included? Or are they just not mentioned because they are not popular things on an off year ballot measure.

      I remember when we last heard of this project list, the mayor said something about modifications to prepare some corridors (like Ballard to Downtown) for LRT. Whether this means they are going to build street running LRT at some time in the future or are just increasing bus throughput with some “reusable parts” or just doing things to grow corridor ridership has not been made clear.

      Hopefully what is being done does not preclude grade separation…

      1. Yeah, if they want people to vote for it, they need to make the benefits crystal clear.

        Md native: I do get the impression that a 44/RR would be part of this. But yeah, I’m in no way clear on what, exactly, is in or out.

        It was a different time (bad economy/anti-tax hysteria), but Seattle did vote no on something very simular to this package a few years back.

  10. I don’t like that people who don’t pay property taxes will be able to vote on this. A person who doesn’t pay property taxes shouldn’t be able to vote to increase other people’s property taxes.

    Also, I’ve been ranting about ST and KC preferring to sell their properties to non-profits for low-income housing instead of for-profits developers, who would pay property taxes, whereas the non-profits won’t. And this levy is one of the reasons why I complain about this practice. Property taxes are vital to the funding of government. Take enough parcels off of the tax rolls, and we’re placing too much of the burden on fewer and fewer property owners.

    1. A lot of property owners complain of this all across the country. I don’t believe it would be constitutional to limit voting on tax measures to just those who would pay the tax.

      The best bet for those opposed to raising property taxes is to replace the people running whatever level of government are proposing the tax. For this proposal it would be the Mayor and city council. However this being Seattle it is unlikely any replacements would satisfy the anti-tax crowd.

    2. I’m not sure who you are referring too. Those who live in homeless shelters? Don’t worry your little head about that, Sam — generally they don’t vote. Those in prison? Again, they don’t vote (they can’t). I’m really wondering how many people live in property that isn’t taxed. Not many (a few clergy, maybe, but I think most of them live in their own home).

      1. Ross, I’m not going to list all the groups who can vote who don’t pay property taxes, but it’s more than just a smattering of clergy and people living under bridges. University on-campus housing and frats and sororities are tax-exempt and don’t pay property taxes, but can still vote to raise other people’s property taxes. Low-income housing complexes are property tax-exempt, yet everyone living there can vote on property tax levies. The elderly and disabled often are either exempt or pay a reduced property tax, and anyone making under $35k/yr are exempt from special levies, but can still vote to raise taxes on others. And the list goes on and on. So in King County (Is the C in county capitalized? I apologize, but english is my sixth language), I’m sure there there are tens of thousands, if not over a hundred thousand people who are exempt from paying property taxes, but can still vote to raise property taxes.

        If I ran things, when it came to property tax levies, only those who actually received property tax bills in the mail would be able to vote on property tax levies.

      2. Good point about the students, Sam, that probably increases the numbers considerably. But I’m not sure how many who live in the dorms are registered to vote here. I know I wasn’t, when I lived in Bellingham. My guess is ten thousand (all together) is stretching it. There just aren’t that many people who live in low income housing projects.

        Besides, so what? So now only smokers can vote to increase the tax on cigarettes? What about taxes on booze, or for that matter weed? I’m sure the cannabis taxes will drop pretty quickly now that only stoners can vote on that. Unlike those other taxes, a property tax eventually (fairly quickly) trickles down to the rest of us. Raise property taxes, and the local grocery store might have to raise their prices. Same with other stores. A property tax is way more wide spread than just about any tax we have, while being less regressive than a sales tax.

    3. Property is wealth and equity. It’s a way of taxing the rich, or if you prefer, those who can most afford to pay. It’s a longstanding tradition in this country. And it gets diffused throughout the economy into rents and prices, which non-property-owners also pay.

      1. Not to defend Sam’s argument, but he mentions that some renters live in property that isn’t taxed. That is a different argument than the old (and obviously incorrect) argument that renters don’t pay this tax. But as you mentioned (and I did above) it diffuses to other areas as well (for any local shopping, including food).

      2. Mike Orr, let’s say I own an apartment building which is 100% occupied and am charging $1500 a month in rent for my 1 bedroom apartments. And my property tax bill is $50,000 a year. Then let’s say you own a similar apartment building across the street, but you don’t have to pay property tax at all. Question. How much rent are you going to charge for your 1 bedroom apartments? Are you going to charge $1500? Or $1100/mo because you pass along your property tax saving along to your renters?

      3. My building charges $900 or whatever the tenants can afford; that’s why it’s tax exempt.

    1. Wow, that’s a lot of money. I’m sure some folks in the city hope that the bridge is damaged in a quake (without people getting hurt) so that maybe the feds or the state can chip in. I don’t think closing it would be a total disaster, either. There are other ways out of Magnolia (although they would get really crowded).

      1. There are only two other ways out of Magnolia. Emerson fails miserably as it is during peak hours or bridge openings. Dravus is fine currently, but I doubt it has any room for additional traffic.

        I think even saying “really crowded” is a vast understatement.

      2. Well, you also have the locks :)

        But yeah, traffic would be terrible at rush hour on Dravus (where most people would go). It is borderline right now.

        If Link builds a Ballard to downtown light rail line that includes Interbay (which is quite possible) than folks could take a bus across to Dravus. But that still would probably be a mess, unless you could convince enough people to give up on their cars. Either way this is a tough situation. That is a lot of money for an area without that many people (about $13,000 per resident of Magnolia). ($262,000,000/20,000 = $13,100).

        I wonder though, how much of this has to be rebuilt for the port, which makes this a totally different thing. I have a feeling the “no build” option won’t work, even if you told every driver in Magnolia to tough it out.

      3. You might be right :)

        But why didn’t the city go after the Great Recession money (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) when the Federal Gov’t was handing it out?

        Perhaps because the project wasn’t/isn’t shovel ready?

        Seems like they should be continuing to fund some level of design as they wait for full funding?

        Maybe the city doesn’t like the design it ended up with, after trying to juggle conflicting requirements from the Port and residents.

        As a reminder: this is what the bridge looked like after the 2001 Nisqually quake:

        The bridge was closed for 6 months after the quake; Dravus and Emerson were a mess. Now, 14 years later, those two arterials are a mess on a regular basis.

        If the bridge is damaged again, or goes down, it’ll take years to replace.

        My guess is that the locals would blaze a path across Port property, near the bike path :)

    2. Any replacement bridge needs to have much wider sidewalks than the existing bridge. It also should provide some sort of walking connection (even if it’s just a switchbacking trail through the forest) up the hill to Queen Anne, on the other side.

      1. The whole pedestrian routing needs to be reworked. On the west end you can get to the north sidewalk from the neighborhood but that just ends on the other end of the bridge. Getting to the sidewalk on the south side, which actually connects to stuff on the east end, is not easy to do without getting run over.

        It’d be nice to have a link to the Port of Seattle bike path too. The current loop at the east end for doing that isn’t great. The space used by a now long abandoned wooden pedestrian bridge over the BNSF could be used as a location.

  11. I like the idea of finding design options for residential streets without sidewalks. It’ll take roughly 150 years to actually build out the sidewalk network if we use the traditional method and pace. How about restriping streets with a buffered, painted pedestrian zone on the side? Or a small raised curb that could give pedestrians a dedicated area in the existing streets and be significantly cheaper than building a new sidewalk – see figure C-3.3.14:

    1. Instead of building additional sidewalks, wouldn’t it be something if in every location without sidewalks, they simply took a lane of travel or parking away from the motorized vehicular traffic and provided space for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles?

    2. This has been (partially) done on NE 95th street between Sand Point Way and 35th Ave NE:,-122.283103,3a,75y,100.81h,67.09t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1siH4vI2765DCzYdBZWsp43w!2e0

      but you can’t do it between 35th Ave NE and LCW since there is no shoulder and the “sidewalk” , essentially a combination of an erosional trail and gravel that switches sides, is inadequate. I was disheartened to see that segment off the project map…

    3. I like that idea a lot. But I think there are a couple of potential problems. One is that the high cost of sidewalks is due in part to the high cost of additional pavement, and the hydrological studies that go along with ti (at least that is my understanding). You can’t just carve out a section and pave it (like the old days). So whether it is raised or not probably doesn’t have a lot do to with the cost. There are lots of places where there are “sidewalk like” paths ( — it might be hard to see, but that is gravel) and these obviously drain quite well, and are probably a lot cheaper to build. But I wonder if those are ADA compliant (since they suck for wheelchairs).

      I really like the idea, though. Half ass sidewalks are better than none, just as sidewalks on only one side of the street are better than none. I also prefer quiet corridors, where someone in a neighborhood can walk to another neighborhood using a sidewalk, while avoiding the busy streets. Most of the city is like this, but much of it is not. Unfortunately, we tend to get sidewalks in response to drainage issues, which means that they cover an entire block, as opposed to making a corridor.

      Building curbs and paths would probably be the cheapest thing to do. That forces people to park on the street (not the edge of the street) and allows people to walk on the outside of the parked cars. Again, if that is OK from an ADA standpoint, I would definitely want that. I think much of Greenwood has the curbs, but not the pathway (forcing pedestrians into the street).

  12. I voted last year to raise Seattle sales tax by 0.1% to save the 73 and 71 buses. The latest Metro proposal kills them both. Why should I vote to raise taxes again when there seems to be no connection between my vote and the result?

    1. Two reasons:

      1. The BtG replacement money funds largely capital projects. Running buses is operating funding.

      2. Metro explicitly did not include any Prop 1 money in either Alt 1 or Alt 2. The city may very well backfill portions of those routes with that money.

      Remember also that lt 1 gives serious frequency boosts, which might give equivalent choices with a transfer.

      1. There is no way the proposed “replacements” for the 71 and 73 are equivalent, let alone better. Both routes currently are one-bus rides to UW and downtown from NE Seattle. The replacements are two-bus-plus-train rides that involve a bus transfer at a busy intersection and a relatively long walk from the 2nd bus to the train. Not to mention the routes go far out of their way simply to connect to the train at Husky stadium. I will never support these proposed replacements–they aren’t even replacements. There aren’t any “frequency boosts” either.

        What’s worse is that Prop. 1 was sold as a way to maintain existing bus service to NE Seattle, yet this new plan resurrects the exact same cuts and tries to sell them as “connections to Link.” Now the mayor wants to double the levy on my property to pay for more “improvements.” Well, pardon me for not being thrilled. I would like to know what NE Seattle has done to be singled out for this punishment. And please, stop telling me that some future plan will restore my bus. How about not cutting it in the first place?

      2. Every 10-15 minutes tends to qualify as a frequency boost versus 30-60. My math may be a bit rusty these days, but I’m pretty sure about that one.

        Such a boost is no joke.

        FWIW, I tend to agree with you that the Pacific/Link transfer is flawed enough that a 2016-2021 plan dependent so heavily upon it cannot lay claim to inherent beneficence. The proof will be in how bus lanes and station access are handled on the ground. Authorities cannot pretend it will magically work; they must be forced to make it work.

      3. My bus already goes downtown every 15 minutes. There is no frequency boost. I appreciate that you agree there is no “inherent beneficence.” Perhaps soon you will go all the way to agreeing that it is a positively bad change.

      4. I cannot fathom where you’re claiming to live. The 71 and 73 tails are, as far as I know, never better than 30 minutes outside of the height of rush hour, and they force you to wait a full hour in the evenings and on weekends.

        So 15 minutes marks a serious and unarguable boost.

        If rush hour is all you care about, then lucky for you, peak expresses to downtown are expected to remain after the change.

      5. I live in near Jackson Park. There are 4 buses per hour going down 15th Ave NE comprising the 73, 347, and 348. Saturdays too. The proposal gives far longer rides with multiple transfers. I would be very happy to take a bus to Northgate once the light rail reaches there, but going the long way via Husky Stadium in the meantime is a transit killer.

      6. The 347 and 348 are unchanged. The 73 is gone; the 67 runs a lot more frequently, but not where you (or I) want it to run. It is a trade-off, and one that is reasonable, but I don’t think it is worth it. In this case, I think folks like you are simply being asked to sacrifice a bit (an extra transfer) for the good of the system.

        You are not alone in criticizing this part of the proposal. Overall, I think it is a step in the right direction, but I think there are some rough edges with this idea, and I think you hit on one that was mentioned a lot (by a lot of different people). I came up with a few suggestions that I believe will be better for you and better for everyone overall:

        I suggest you look it over and let Metro know about your concerns. Feel free to come up with other ideas as well. But I think Metro will be a lot more amenable to altering the routes if we come up with concrete suggestions (as I did) as opposed to simply saying “this sucks for me”.

      7. Ross obviously knows the far north of town better than I do. I’m just confused to discover that you’re so much farther north than I was expecting from the rest of the conversation.

        Isn’t your best bet for downtown to switch to the exponentially faster 41, which too stands to get even more frequent and thus more useful after the change?

      8. Not to speak for him, but I think the answer is maybe. Really, there are couple things going on with the stock “alternative one” proposal, outside of rush hour:

        1) No one-stop ride to downtown (via the 73).
        2) No one-stop ride to the UW (via the 73).

        The second one is the killer for me. During rush hour, the 77 is faster (much faster) than the 73. Outside of rush hour, the 73 may be faster than a transfer. But if it is, then a transfer to the light rail at Husky Stadium will be faster than the 73. In other words, you have three potential ways of getting downtown:

        1) Ride a 347/348 to Northgate and transfer to the 41. The first part of this is never fast. The second part isn’t fast when the express lanes are going the wrong way.
        2) Take a bus (like the current 73) that goes down 15th to the U-District, then goes directly to downtown. The first part is fairly fast, but the second part (like the 41) is only fast when the express lanes are in your favor.
        3) Take a bus (like the current 373) to Husky Stadium. The first part is identical to the previous route (riding along 15th/Roosevelt to the U-District). From there, it is about as fast to go via light rail when the express lanes are going with you, and much faster when they aren’t. Getting from Campus Parkway to Husky Stadium is only horrible during rush hour. Thus the express bus is only significantly faster during rush hour (heading with the express lanes) and you would take the 77 instead. So, when this run makes sense as a way to downtown, it is either about the same, or much faster to go via Link.

        Which is why my suggestion would be an improvement over the current approach, and an improvement (at least for this area) over the unaltered alternative one proposal in that it would:

        1) Be about the same or significantly faster to go downtown.
        2) Provide more frequency to the U-District as well as Link. My favorite option is the one that would involve 20 minute frequency (as opposed to thirty minutes now).
        3) Much better service to Capitol Hill.
        4) Better overall network. Not everyone is going downtown.
        5) Provide a better connection to Maple Leaf. The 15th routing is fast, but there is very little there. Maple Leaf isn’t very dense, but there are some nice amenities there (really good Chinese noodles, a very good park, a good hardware store, etc.). This routing was used before, by the way (when the bridge over 15th needed repairs). The time difference was minimal.

        The only loss (over today) is an infrequent one seat ride to downtown. This is really no loss in speed, just convenience (having to get out of your seat and get on the train).

      9. Part of me thinks a lot of the interim trouble could be fixed by simply allowing the 41 to stay the hell off I-5 when traffic conditions are terrible, just as the southbound 70-series expresses do by design today.

        If running non-stop all the way down Roosevelt/Eastlake is going to be faster — and for a few hours each afternoon it absolutely is — just give the drivers permission to do it!

        (I can’t tell you how thankful I was one time when a 5 driver, seeing an unscheduled-viaduct-closure-related Aurora jam rushing up the hill towards us, evasively maneuvered onto Dexter. No radio permissions, no apologies. We shouldn’t need that kind of rogue behavior, but around here it seems we do. Likely saved a bus full of people half an hour each.)

      10. I think in general they do give the 41 that freedom. That is what they do when the express lanes go the wrong way. The driver typically drives down 5th and gets on the freeway (using the regular lanes). But if Eastlake is faster (if there is a midday accident) then the driver will drive that way.

        It’s not so much how the 41 gets from the station to downtown, it is how one gets to the station. I may be exaggerating the hell hole that is the Northgate area (from a traffic perspective) but it is a hell hole. Then there is the transfer. If you are standing at 125th and 15th, then the 41 is probably faster all the time. But if you are at 135th and 15th, or 115th and 15th, then it is a tough call. The 41 is fairly frequent, but it isn’t *that* frequent. It isn’t as frequent as Link will be. Fifteen minutes is nice, but not if your bus just misses the connection. That’s why a lot of people stuck with their one seat ride, even though it wasn’t an express. But that is the thing. We can talk people into getting off their butt if there wait, at worst, is a few minutes. If not, I think you will get a lot of people complaining about “the good old days”.

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