My first walk across Tilikum Bridge-16
Tillikum Crossing (Jonathan Maus – Bike Portland – Flickr)

This is an open thread.

69 Replies to “News Roundup: Our Turn”

    1. So according to the 2013 SDOT ADT map there are some other interesting rechannelization opportunities.

      Denny, amazingly enough, peaks out just above 20k in the section between SLU and Capitol Hill (but it is 34k in the Lower Queen Anne area, presumably because of traffic heading for 15th). I would’ve guessed it was higher, but that gridlock doesn’t move many cars. Still I’m not sure a rechannelization would help much. Left turns are already banned at a lot of Denny intersections, so a center turn lane might not add much capacity.

      Westlake Ave N along Lake Union is just above 20k, but might work. Madison is also a little high (23k) near Pike-Pine. Market and 46th/45th are around 24k west of I-5. However, I do wonder if the 44 would fare worse or better in a 3-lane corridor vs. the 4-lane arrangement today. Sand Point Way is an obvious candidate below 20k.

      There are a few wide 2-lane streets that could be restriped. Although the lanes are sometimes useful for turning trucks and buses, they are much wider than needed for cars.

      As I’ve said before, my main concern with the “a minute for safety” argument is that there is no concept of efficiency, only the idea that slow must equal safe. Although gridlocked Denny is probably not causing fatal vehicle-pedestrian crashes, it is also useless as a street.

      1. yeah, but by all accounts, slow DOES equal safe. And of course there is a concept of efficiency – that is why they are not considering it for roads where it would have a substantial adverse effect on travel times.

      2. My understanding is that four lanes are not much better in terms of throughput over three lanes, unless there is a very long stretch without any turns. Denny is that (or maybe close to that). I think you’re breakdown is about right (Westlake could work, etc.).

        I also agree that re-striping is in order on many two lane roads. Some of these are very wide and contain a parking lane that isn’t used very often. This makes them very similar to four lane roads and thus very dangerous (people weave to avoid cars waiting for pedestrians, assuming the driver is turning). This isn’t a road diet, exactly, but simply an improvement.

  1. but Portland’s new Tillikum Bridge is 100% awesome.

    Until you read the part about buses being limited to 25 mph in the curves and MAX to 11-15 mph.

    Can’t have a light rail line unless it’s properly castrated. Otherwise it might multiply or something.

    1. If it doesn’t come to a compete stop in the middle of the bridge, it’s moving pretty fast by Portland rail standards.

      1. Thanks for calling it “Portland Rail Standards” because:

        By Portland rail standards we would have to include last night’s incident, whereupon Union Pacific shoved a 7,000 foot grain train across all of the crossings on the east side of the river simultaneously, and kept them blocked from the afternoon rush hour until 9:30 at night.

      2. It would be challenging to get from OMSI/PCC up to the bridge. That alignment would also still miss PSU. Finally, the streetcar and tram do not move people from the eastside to OHSUs South Waterfront campus; the bridge facilitates both the Orange Line and future HCT on Powell.

      3. I’m not at all convinced that it would be challenging at all. Some of the original rails at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge are still there and show a pretty nice route. It wouldn’t serve the main center of PSU but depending on the route chosen it could have served the north edge of campus, which really wouldn’t be that bad.

        The big problem I see for the future is that while a line on the Hawthorne Bridge could serve the Powell Blvd corridor, the congested routes currently on the Hawthorne Bridge would not be well served by using the new bridge.

        The #14 alone runs every 3 minutes now during peak periods. It’s great for convenience, but lousy economics. Toss in stuff like the 4 and you get an awful lot of busy routes in inner SE that can’t be helped by this bridge location.

        BUT as I said above, that’s just what I would have done, as well as a few other things that TriMet didn’t want to do.

      4. And therein lies the fundamental flaw of MAX, and the reason for its poor contributions to Portland’s transit modeshare.

        You are 5 lines in, and the system still neither serves, nor provides one second of time savings in reaching, any of the major centers of urban life and urban activity not named “downtown” or “LLoyd”.

        Meeting up with friends anywhere on the inner East Hawthorne, Belmont, Burnside, or Sandy corridors? You’ll still bus the whole way. Dinner in the Northwest? F* the streetcar; it’s might actually be easier to drive. Hot night on Mississippi? You’re barely 1500 feet from MAX, but you’re still better off on the bus.

        And TriMet clearly has zero interest in improving its role in urban access, ever. So you’re stuck in mediocrity.

    2. Ouch. That isn’t so good…..

      I generally like Max for coverage, but it does lack a bit in design. I generally give it a pass though as it is a legacy system and they didn’t have much of an established design to follow when they chose this path.

      But why the restriction on such an major piece of new infrastructure? There probably is a good reason, but you’d probably have to get down in the weeds to know it.

      1. It’s because they want to maximize the amount of developable real estate on each end of the bridge.
        The sharp curve allows them to put more stuff along the valuable land along the waterfront. If it were a broader curve it would cut into the available building footprint.

      2. Yes, but if they had moved the west landing of the new bridge to the SE corner of the parking lot on the north side of the Collaboration Building they would have increased the radius of the curves on both sides of the bridge. There is more than one way to skin a cat…

        But I suppose parking is golden…..?

      3. The placement of the bridge has struck me as odd. It would seem easy to straighten and shorten it. The current placement is nearly parallel with the Marquam Bridge. Was that it?

      4. OHSU (Oregon Health and Sciences University) is the largest employer in the area. They demanded a MAX station in the middle of their development, so they had to run the line south to hit that spot.

        If it were me I would have used the (at the time this process started) already existing rail brackets on the Hawthorne Bridge. They didn’t remove those when the rails were removed from the bridge in 1958 and could have just put the rails down again, until the deck replacement project a few years ago.

      5. (Continued) the speed-restricted curves lie just east of the west side stop where trains will already be slowing, and will this have only a marginal impact on speed.

        The Hawthorne option would likely have been cheaper, but would also 1) have suffered advice interruptions due to bridge lifts, and 2) have missed the area around OMSI–an area the city has wisely targeted for redevelopment–the OHSU buildings at the South Waterfront, and PSU.

      6. Yes, but OHSU already got significant transit improvements when the streetcar went there, and when the areal tram got built. OMSI could have been better served from the Hawthorne Bridge by placing a station between OMSI and the CLIMB facility of Portland Community College.

    1. Another bit of Amtrak news: The US and Canada have agreed to allow pre-clearance for train passengers travelling between Canada and the US. Pre-clearance saves a lot of time for travelers and is already used at some airports. Once approved, Amtrak riders will be able to clear Customs at the train station in Vancouver and the train won’t have to stop for formalities in Blaine. The bad news is that the agreement has to be ratified by Congress before it takes effect. Hopefully this agreement won’t become part of partisan bickering.

      1. That would be great. I would love it if they actually did that while passengers are on the train. It seems crazy that they don’t. Run the sniffing dogs through the luggage while it is moving. A few minutes later ask for passports (or other I. D.). If border patrol is suspicious, spend some time with the folks in Vancouver. This would be similar to the border crossing while driving, where most drivers answer a few questions and keep going, while a few unlucky folks get the shakedown.

      2. Congress, or just the Senate? Given that this is a borders issue, and the current fight over immigration, it’s hard to see either house approving this; but Senate approval doesn’t sound completely impossible.

      3. Under congressional Republican logic, any agreement that helps Amtrak is inherently bad because it weakens the case for getting rid of Amtrak.

      4. Was this something that was cancelled previously? They used to have pre-clearance at the Vancouver station, although it’s been a few years since I was up there. I know there was some issues with staffing as there were only two trains per day at the time (now one), and it was relatively expensive to staff.

        That said, pre-clearance makes sense where you’re not stopping again in the country. If there was ever demand for a station at, say, White Rock, you wouldn’t do pre-clearance, but much of the work could be done between there and a stop at, say, Blaine. Otherwise the train has to be stopped completely at the border to avoid CBP staff having to be shuttled between the border and Vancouver/Bellingham.

  2. I believe that living miles aways from work does more harm to the environment and the economy than the mode one chooses to travel. For example, a guy who drives alone from Bellevue to Kirkland everyday in his Hummer is demonized. But the guy living on Bainbridge Island, biking to the ferry, taking the ferry to Seattle, then taking Link to Seatac is a hero; someone to be admired because he’s not driving a car, and he’s relying solely on his bike and public transit.

    My question is this … When you remove the legitimate reasons for having to live more than a dozen or so miles away from work, like the lower cost of housing, and the only reason someone is living a long way from work is they like the “vibe” of the town where they chose to live, or some superficial reason like that, while I’m not saying we should be able to prevent people living where they want to live, why aren’t we heaping just as much scorn and judgement on those people as we are the person who commutes 5 miles in his SUV? It seems like the is no stigma attached to the Bainbridge bike/ferry/Link guy, but loads of stigma for the guy who just drives 5 miles to work. Why is that?

    1. At the two second following distance that is widely regarded as safe, the SUV takes up 200 or so feet of freeway space. None of the other modes consume so much land and so much energy for a single person.

      The ferry commute is down in the Link range for energy consumption per passenger mile and for cost.

    2. Oh, and please explain how “Some countries that have good transit have 50%+ trips on transit. If we had good transit maybe fewer people would drive” turns into demonizing drivers?

      1. What countries have > 50% transit mode share? That sounds too good to be true.

      2. A German transit geek living in Berlin showed me statistics once that showed Switzerland achieved this. He said in Germany, Switzerland is the gold standard for really doing things right. They may only have token amounts of high speed rail, but the lower speed rail of all sorts they do have is well organized. The fact the buses move slower than auto traffic is made up by faster train services, so there is usually little time penalty for using transit.

        However, not having been there I have no firsthand experience.

        I can tell you that generally speaking, the more something sucks the less people tend to use it.

        Therefore, if you want people to use something, you make it so it doesn’t suck.

        So the issue really isn’t demonization of drivers, but making sure we demonize those that plan systems that suck.

    3. I don’t think we should be heaping scorn and judgment on either of your hypothetical commuters. For the most part, people make rational decisions. If driving is the most cost effective and convenient option people will choose it and there is nothing wrong with that.

      The problem arises when too many people decide that driving a single-occupancy vehicle is their best option. They aren’t bad people for that choice, they are making a rational decision based on our existing infrastructure.

      The solution to the problem is to create better infrastructure so that a greater percentage of commuters have convenient, safe, affordable options that do not rely solely on single-occupancy vehicles.

      There will always be some who cannot use bicycle and transit options for whatever reason – strange schedules, contractors that work onsite, handicapped people, elderly, parents that have three kids to shuttle to various after school activities every afternoon, etc. These people, more than anyone else, would benefit from greater bicycle and transit infrastructure investment as more people choose those options freeing up additional road capacity.

      1. Transportation CHOICES make the most sense, not the “My Way or the High Way” mindset so often encountered.

      2. Transportation choices are important, but we mustn’t forget that city-dwellers are subsidizing these exurban lifestyles. Not just commuting, but the roads and utilities to their house, the energy to heat it, and the gas to go to the store and take the kids to school activities, and to get food to the store. Those cost more per person in exurban areas, and some of the costs are spread equally statewide, countywide, or utility-district wide. So just saying transportation CHOICE misses a factor: some choices have larger impacts on those who did not choose.

    4. Glenn said it. That Bainbridge guy is still the more efficient commuter in terms of fuel burned and space used. I wouldn’t call him a hero though, I reserve that term for sandwiches in New York.

    5. Well, it is true that a person who drives 2 miles to train is responsible for more CO2 emissions than someone who drives 2 miles all the way to work.

      However, transit is not just about reducing CO2. It’s also about managing road congestion in the middle of the city. A person who drives from Queen Anne to downtown contributes to such congestion – a person who drives 2 miles to a Sounder Station and rides the train into downtown does not.

  3. Question. Does anyone here believe it would be beneficial to at least explore the possibility of developing part of the Mercer Slough Nature Park, which is next to the future South Bellevue Station? Some say that some urbanists may be calling for turning park land near rail stations into housing. Is that something that needs to be seriously considered, especially if the park is lightly used, like that nature park is? If part of all of the nature park could be paved over in an environmentally sensitive way, should we be looking into that?

    1. To add to Straphangers reply, Mercer Slough, like all estuarine environments is a significant contributor to overall water quality which is something that Lake Washington needs all of it can get.
      Planning a station near this natural area might not have been the best idea but filling in parts of the park for density is a worse one. Redevelop the business “parks”adjacent to the Slough sounds like the best solution to increasing the density near this particular stop.

  4. Will STB interview someone from SDOT to explain a bit more about yesterday’s proposal? We seemed to have a bunch of questions when it came out (e.g are there plans for a 44 express bus or rapid ride?)

    1. Expect to see a slightly faster and slightly more frequent #44 bus, but nothing earth-shattering.

    1. Welcome back. I was wondering if you were all right. I have a book to recommend to you. “Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism”, by Benjamin Ross. I’m going to write a book report about it when I’m finished.

      1. Be sure to use blue construction paper, and paste some cotton on the cover to make it look like clouds. They love that in Kindergarten.

  5. Is Metro storing the new ETBs at South Base? Yesterday morning I followed coach 4301 as it headed northbound on MLK towards Henderson Street and the Rainier Beach terminal. It was running off-wire and didn’t have any trouble keeping up with traffic.

  6. Signed yesterday, 19 March 2015

    Executive Order — Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade

    Sec. 19. Definitions

    (c) “alternative energy” means energy generated from technologies and approaches that advance renewable heat sources, including biomass, solar thermal, geothermal, waste heat, and renewable combined heat and power processes; combined heat and power; small modular nuclear reactor technologies; fuel cell energy systems; and energy generation, where active capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions associated with that energy generation is verified;

    (d) “alternative fuel vehicle” means vehicles defined by section 301 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, as amended (42 U.S.C. 13211), and otherwise includes electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, dedicated alternative fuel vehicles, dual fueled alternative fuel vehicles, qualified fuel cell motor vehicles, advanced lean burn technology motor vehicles, low greenhouse gas vehicles, compressed natural gas powered vehicles, self-propelled vehicles such as bicycles, and any other alternative fuel vehicles that are defined by statute;

  7. “Brenda and Pamela are much smaller, about 22 feet in diameter, as compared to Bertha’s 57 feet. They are working on a 1.5 mile stretch between the future Maple Leaf light rail station, located just south of Northgate, and the new Roosevelt station.”

    Has the Northgate station name changed to Maple Leaf?

  8. All, I have confirmation from SDOT that “a Ship Canal crossing study is in the works and is funded this year”.

    1. To be clear, you’re saying that the study is funded, not an actual crossing, correct?

    2. Is this for a crossing at Ballard, Fremont, montlake?

      I remember hearing talk of Fremont, and Ballard could solve the bike/led crossing as well as get transit through a major choke point faster than cars – the key to making transit faster than cars on the cheap. And we all know how bad the 520/link connection will be!

  9. The comments in the Shoreline Area News are overwhelmingly angry. The reasons are the usual. Ostensibly about destruction of “culture”, creation of “six story big boxs” (does anyone even know what that means? I’m always hoping that someone will use that term in person so I can ask them), subjecting people to harassment by developers, and the general us verses them, we didn’t go to ballard and try putting up SFHs sort of sentiment.

    One comment stuck out to me,

    “these rezones are known around the US as being an engine of economic injustice as they serve only the upper and upper middle class, the economically disadvantaged are forced to live in the outer suburbs.

    It makes me wonder, is this the notion of a narrow person with little experience outside of the small economy of their birthplace, or is this a person who is simply blinded by self interest? In countries that take social justice seriously, they build subsidized housing for the working class. Almost invariably, such housing is 3-6 floors. The government makes sure to build playgrounds for the kids, and provide transit. Maybe if he would have traveled and seen families on small incomes raising children in apartments, he wouldn’t have this idea that density, something that alleviates the need for energy intensive transport options, is somehow unjust.

    But then again, maybe not. I’m not even sure if I follow his argument. Because rich are interested in living in condos, no should get condos? Maybe? What does it even mean “engine of economic injustice”? Engine? like, without this, such movement wouldn’t happen? As in, the only reason there is economic injustice in the States is “these rezones”? If someone can have such a clearly not thought through argument, could it be attributable to lack of experience? Maybe he is a knowledgeable, but is simply upset the place he chose to live isn’t going to stay the way he wants.

    The real question is can we help his concerns. Density and transit advocacy on STB is rather nerdy and technical. Is there a way to advocate for transit and density in such a way that such commenters will be convinced?

    1. Did you read the commenter who accused the mayor of homophobia because increasing density destroys gay neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill, and leads to gay bashing? Kshama Sawant has made that argument lately. Very irresponsible, in my opinion. How can anyone take that argument seriously?

      I don’t know that the expressions of outrage can be analytically engaged. People’s preferences are what they are. I include myself in that. I prefer continuous density and walkable neighborhoods. I feel my preference is easy to defend given the harm of sprawl, but I like what I like innately. I wasn’t convinced by a logical string of arguments.

      Governments can compromise; limit upzones to areas immediately adjacent to stations, require step-downs to undetached housing neighborhoods, and the like, but ultimately some people will not like it because they do not like multi-family housing, period, either to live in or be surrounded by.

      I hope Sound Transit, when considering future Link extensions, makes it a policy to require upzones as a condition of station placement. I don’t think we should force upzones on unwilling neighborhoods, but we also should not spend billions of dollars to site stations in places unwilling to absorb new housing.

      1. Wow. I realize there has been an outbreak of gay bashing and violence against LGBT people. It’s horrible, unacceptable and needs to stop, and it’s shocking that this kind of thing is still going on in 2015. And I do realize that some of the people doing this are people who have just moved into the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I don’t know what the solution is, but it needs to be stopped.

        But I don’t think keeping new people out is the answer. There’s no reason to think that all or even most new people are going to be homophobic idiots. That kind of thinking isn’t going to help things any.

        And accusing our mayor, himself a gay man, of being homophobic is beyond ridiculous! I realize there are self-hating LGBT people, but Ed Murray hasn’t seemed to be that kind of person. Of course, as a straight, cis-gendered woman, maybe I’m missing something?

      2. To be clear, the commenter was calling Shoreline’s mayor homophobic, not Mayor Murray. Click on the link above to the article about Shoreline’s up zone vote, and scroll down to the comments. Yeah, calling Ed Murray homophobic would be very odd.

    2. These remind me of some of the comments I read on the West Seattle Blog. They keep mentioning boxes on there too. And one person the other day said something to the effect that all the new apartment buildings being built were driving rents up. Of course I guess I can see where they’re coming from, since the rents in the new buildings are high and rents are going up everywhere, but the fact that there are new apartment buildings being built isn’t what’s driving the rents up.

      Of course if you mention that a lot of people are moving here, then these people might start complaining about newcomers in general. One person the other day mentioned on an article about historic preservation that they’d be happy with “no more construction and no more transplants”.

      1. The belief new development causes high rents is simply the common problem of assuming correlation equals causation.

        The xenophobia in times of rapid change is unfortunately yet another common human trait. Seattle was until very recently a small, sleepy, provincial, and isolated city. The attitudes you find when you scratch the surface reflect that.

        Though much like religious converts, some of the most ardent practitioners of the “Seattle Freeze” and advocates for keeping transplants out are relative newcomers themselves.

    3. When people say boxes they mean the 6 story, entire block developments going up everywhere. There’s nothing unique about these buildings… They are the McMansions of the urban environment and they are being built everywhere. From Ballard to West Seattle, to Denver, to Austin and so on.

      Seems to me we should be removing barriers to small lot development. I don’t know if that’s what’s causing this but there’s plenty of room to grow without whitewashing our entire city. Filling in downtown surface lots is one thing but whiping out entire neighborhood blocks, even sad dirty commercial ones, can be too much at once when it turns into yet another Chase bank topped with 300 studio apartments (no one is raising a family in these).

      1. We need both. Not everyone is raising families. If there is a glut of studio apartments in town, why haven’t the rents gone down?

      2. The people of Seattle are to blame for the whole and half block boxes. The built form of multi family developments is as much a creature of the Seattle land use code as are 4 pack townhouses.

        To some extent you aren’t going to see a return to really small apartment buildings as requirements for elevators and sprinklers mean you need to spread the costs over more units. However a look at other cities shows it is possible to get better results in built form that still pencil out for developers.

      3. Because there is no glut of studio apartments. If there were, the vacancy rate would be going up, and that would make rents stabilize and come down, and developers would stop building.

  10. From the Edmonds Beacon article: ” implementing the next generation of ORCA”

    Does anyone know what this is?

    Will I be able to use my contactless credit card on the bus?
    Will I be able to use my NFC phone as my ORCA?

  11. Time to email your thanks to the shoreline city council! Great news, and courageous of the council members, voting for the common good on a controversial measure. Let’s do it again for the 145th at station!

  12. Well, if we can’t find a place to live near Roosevelt Station, at least we’ll be able to find one near Shoreline Station. Thanks Shoreline.

  13. I live in the area that would be rezoned for light rail in Shoreline-and I’m quite happy about the rezone. It’s a smart rezone-keeping it to the area around where the station would be-and it’s also entirely up to the property owners themselves on what they want to do with their property. I, selfishly, would love to see some mixed-use development on the site of the lawnmower shop because a little cafe or two would be nice.

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