56 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: A Day on the Underground”

  1. Great to speculate what transit will be like in Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound region when Seattle is as old as London is now.

    Tempting to answer the question with a really embarrassing one: How many centuries of discussion and debate will it take to get ST1000 on the ballot?

    MD

    1. In a thousand years, perhaps there will be a second rail line within city limits. Maybe, but maybe not.

  2. In its current manifestation (“completing the spine” a valid metric + equal rates of taxation between subareas + no sensible options for areas that actually need them) we’re going to have trouble getting beyond ST3—if we even get there.

  3. Covington Bus Stop, outside Starbucks. Serves the 168.

    https://twitter.com/jabailo/status/594938584043364352

    I rode my bike here yesterday after a Soos Creek trip.

    I really like how the stop integrates with the Starbucks plaza, the parking lot and the rest of the retail area (there’s a Rock Wood pizza and Jersey Mike’s among other stores) of Covington.

    They’ve managed to combine their City Hall with retail, medical care areas and other services all in one complex and yet it still has a human scale to it.

      1. How about a connection to Seattle that doesn’t take nearly 2 hours off-peak? As has been suggested many times, re-routing the 578 to serve Kent instead of Federal Way would do more to address this (by saving half an hour each way) than a slow one-seat connection to Link. Of course, the connection to Link is still useful for SeaTac or Rainier Valley trips, but it’s not a panacea.

      2. Yes, well, you know my opinion. More Sounder! (And I know the answer_s).

        Here’s an old study:

        The 2009–2011 transportation budget passed by the Washington State Legislature included a proviso requesting a feasibility study of a Diesel-Multiple Unit (DMU) commuter rail service from Maple Valley/Black Diamond to Auburn via Covington on the BNSF Railway Company’s (BNSF) Stampede Pass line.

        http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/376434DB-E919-437D-B47E-ECB2F1E21C91/0/SEKingCoCommuterRailStudy_ExecSummary_08312010FINAL.pdf

  4. I was in Bellevue yesterday. The new Chick-fil-A is kitty-corner from Whole Foods, so right at Hospital Station. Why oh why is the building a standalone, one-story, single-use structure right in Bellevue’s supposed East Downtown and next to the station? I’d understand if it was a 1980s leftover but it appears to be a new building. I suppose I could blame it on southern anti-urbanism, but maybe Bellevue needs density minimums.

    Of course, the fancy new Porsche dealership two blcoks east of it doesn’t inspire confidence either. Is this what east downtown urbanism looks like? Then maybe the dealerships on 116th aren’t as much of an endangered species as I thought. :(

    1. It’s about the long play.

      The type of density that we ultimately will want there is comparable to or even greater than most of DT Bellevue, as it has better access to transit than 80% of downtown will. In order to meet such density requirements, this means a cluster of mid-and-high-rises mixed use developments.

      However, the market as it stands right now couldn’t really support such aggressive development. Instead we’d end up with 4-6 story breadboxes all along 8th street and 116th (of comparable scale to the Hospital today). Then, in 10-15 years, when the market could have supported the mid-high rises it’d be nearly impossible to knock down buildings that have that level of investment/residents etc…

      On the other hand, nobody will care when a 1 story Porche dealership or a 1 story fast-food joint are replaced in a decade. That’s why it’s great to have whole foods there. I imagine that once the Light Rail station is built the whole foods will end up looking more like the Whole foods at Westlake/Denny, which is exactly what we want.

      1. Bellevue’s tax collector might care when the Porsche dealer leaves (if it leaves Bellevue, that is).

        Auto dealers are one of the highest tax revenue producers for a city’s coffers.

        Lots of sales tax with big ticket items.

        Bothell has 1 auto dealer – Brooks Biddle (used to be Chevrolet, now KIA and Used Cars).
        Only one, and it was the second highest source of revenue for the city.

        Residents COST money, Businesses GENERATE money for a city.

    2. There are a lot of statements in your comment that I want to correct. 1) Chick-fil-A is not “next” to the future Hospital Station. You have to cross 3 street and walk 600 feet. 2) There is nothing even remotely urban about Bellevue east of 405. 3) Nobody calls that area “East Downtown.” 4) Why is the building a standalone, one-story, single-use structure? Because they bought the property and will be paying the property taxes on it. 5) 99.9% of all fast food restaurants and car dealerships in the suburbs are 1 story.

      1. Be careful what you wish for. Maybe having a few downscale fast food joints around, even if they were using land “inefficiently,” kept nearby residential prices lower.

    3. What else do you call it then? Bellevue has zoned it to be the east part of downtown.

      1970s and 80s structures will go because they’re old. But new one-story structures will not go so easily, and can end up filling the available land. Whole Foods I don’t mind as much because a large cross-section of the population go there every week, and it predates East Link plans, and the plants at least make the intersection more interesting.

      In any case, 99.9% of fast food restaurants may be one story but that’s what needs to change. It’s not the 1970s anymore.

      1. Why not at least prioritize your outrage? Start with truly urban places in like Dick’s on Capitol Hill or Chase bank on Lower Queen Anne, then, if you still have any energy left after ranting about all of the one story buildings in Seattle, then start in on auto row in Bellevue?

      2. Dick’s on Broadway is an old building. It also has a small pedestrian-friendly footprint, and the parking lots are along the sides rather than in front, so that it’s a comfortable place to walk up. It is also Seattle’s most-beloved fast-food joint for reasons I don’t understand (except that it pays the employees well), so it will be the last to go.

        Chase on Queen Anne I don’t know, but a block-sizeed hole-in-the-wall there is not enough to change Queen Anne’s urban character, whereas on 116th urban growth is like a fragile plant that has just broken out of the seed and is danger of being suffocated if a few more buildings like Chick-fil-A go up.

        The trauma of Chick-fil-A made me forget the good news, my excitement at seeing two large mixed-use buildings under construction on the western corners of Bellevue Way & Main Street. Finally more things to walk to in a neighborhood that has been ready for it for decades, and which was my own neighborhood in high school. Too bad the East Main Link station is not there, and I hope there’s a frequent bus on Main Street to it.

        So the four corners at Bellevue Way & Main will have two TOD buildings, an old Jack n the Box and strip mall which will probably be replaced, and a sporting-goods store and front shop in the parking lot which are at least minimally tolerable. Meanwhile the four corners at 116th & NE 8th will have a Whole Foods (badly shaped but a lot of people go to it, and a pretty landscape for the design), a gas station/mini mart which will probably be redeveloped, the Chick-fil-A which may remain there for fifty years, and empty open space. What a promising station area.

      1. The 2nd CFA will be opening soon in Lynnwood and it is also located within spittin’ distance of the Lynnwood Whole Foods. Coincidence? Sometimes corporations do that on purpose, believing that their customers are likely to patronize a business with similar market strategies as theirs. We’ll see if CFA shows up in Interbay.

      2. The McDonald’s in downtown Portland (6th & Main) is on the ground level floor of a structure where the next 8 floors above it are parking.

        Maybe the Lynnwood one should be on the ground floor of the parking structure?

    4. Caffe Vovito, northeast corner of 110th NE, two minute walk from Bellevue Transit Center. Excellent coffee, gelato, good snacks. Unfortunately, review reveals they’ve stopped serving crepes.

      Possibly just upstairs from EastLINK, depending where stairs end up. Also whether lack of crepes has put them out of business before the line opens.

      Meantime, lots of other Metro routes, including 550 to Seattle, and 560 to the airport.

      Mark

  5. Looks like the anti-Metro Alternative 1 campaign is underway. I was at the 71 bus stop on 85th and 35th. There was a sign attached to the bus stop post. It said “Be Aware” and went into detail about how Metro is proposing to delete the 71. It gave info about the alternative to get downtown (65, and transfer to Link). But lots of scare quotes. “Are these the ‘system improvements’ you wanted when you voted to ‘improve Seattle transportation’?” They also made a big deal about how the NE Seattle –> Link transfer at Husky Stadium will involve walking 1/4 mile and encouraged people to call or write to Metro to voice their concerns.

    1. I forgot to mention that from the bus, I could see similar signs at all the downtown-bound 71 stops North of 65th Street.

      1. Was there no mention of the 372 or 64 as an option on those signs?

        Also, I thought having the 65 live-loop and serve UW Station directly is still on the table.

      2. No mention of the 64, 76, or 372, or distinguishing between proposed rush-hour and non-rush-hour service. Also, no mention of the 65 coming twice as frequently. I can’t speak for the details of any of the other signs along the 71, or if there are posted on along the 72 or 73 routes. The gist was warning people that they will lose their 1-seat ride from Wedgwood to downtown and would need to walk to transfer at UW, and to contract Metro if they don’t like that.

        Also, the signs didn’t say who posted them. It didn’t look like an official Metro sign. But there was no signature at the bottom saying who posted them.

      3. Maybe one of us should put up a sign talking about all the benefits of Option One? I’d do it myself, but I live across the lake.

    2. Requiring a quarter-mile (4-5 minute) walk to make a common connection is a big deal and should be addressed, especially if previously there was no transfer required.

      1. For those riding the hopefully-soon-to-be-more-frequent 65 southbound, it is a downhill walk to the station, if they don’t want to ride around the live loop. Those riding northbound get on at UW Station and fly up Montlake Blvd.

      2. The live-loop is not proposed for the 75 or 372 however, so in any case the transfer situation at Rainier Vista to Link still needs to be addressed. Although I don’t see an easy way to decrease the physical walking distance now (why didn’t they build the station on Rainier Vista?), there are still improvements that can be made. At a minimum, the bus stops should be moved slightly east to Rainier Vista to reduce the walk, (I believe this is already planned), and there must be a covered, lighted, and well-signed walkway from the station to the bus stops on Stevens Way. Moving sidewalks would also be helpful.

      3. There will definitely not be moving sidewalks, and the walkway will not be covered. But from what I see walking by the triangle, it should at least be well-marked, gently sloped, and well-lit. It will also be a walk that surrounded by green space, not speeding cars.

  6. Why Oh why do the 71 and the 76 come at the same time in the morning? Why don’t they stagger them?

    1. None of the official Alternatives I’ve seen keep the 71. Staggering problem solved.

    2. If you’re going downtown, the 76 is so much faster than than the 71 that staggering them doesn’t really provide the effect of a high-frequency “combined” route. It would still be faster to let the 71 go by and wait for another 76.

      1. I lived in Wedgwood for ten years and always thought the 71 had the weirdest, most impractical routing ever. Commuters will still have the 76, so I don’t see what the fuss is all about.

  7. China Builds 57-Story Skyscraper In 19 Days

    A Chinese construction company says it built a 57-story skyscraper — and it only took 19 days.

    Broad Sustainable Building said the Mini Sky City building, located in the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha, has 800 apartments and office space for 4,000 workers.

    The company used a “modular method,” piecing together the structure at the rapid pace of three floors per day, they said.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/01/china-skyscraper-19-days_n_7189332.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000022

      1. It’s a different article, but same technology.

        In this one, not only do they create an entire building complex (see the video) that mixes residential, commercial and retail space, but they go on to build many of them in a veritable over night city.

        Even just one building like this, on a fast regional rail line station , would go a long way to relieving the housing shortage and provide local business space in a near TOD format.

    1. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/10/22/boss-rail and some great Google images along with other takes on same subject:

      No question a country without either union, legal protection, or building codes can do a lot of things really fast. Which then crash at really high speed.

      Any chance STB can get John a monthly pass on Chinese rail, and send him on a fact-finding mission? With overnights in a variety of brand new hotels?

      Mark

      1. One vision of my future is me inhabiting a Chinese ghost city…by myself with a few proprietors for food and drink…other necessities.

        I would drive around all day like Will Smith, blasting music from my hydrogen fcev.

      2. By the way, it might be a better strategy if some of you sticks-in-the-mud Mossbacks decided to leave Lesser Seattle for a while and see how the great big world works.

        You might not react so harshly when it’s put in front of your faces. And you might be used to seeing that outside of paradise, a dime is consider a dime and a dollar a dollar.

  8. From the looks of Chambers Bay the set UK for the big golf game appears to be moving along. There are four tower cranes, two tents the size of the Tacoma Dome, and it looks like BNSF is installing sidings for the delivery of large objects for further construction.

    1. So wait… we can install sidings for the delivery of “large objects for further construction”, but not for the delivery of passengers/spectators??

      1. Not sure. The new siding BNSF appears to be installing may be something else. It’s kinda hard to tell when you just see this going by on the train.

        Maybe someone that lives closer and goes to the park regularly is able to provide more?

    1. “I’m even a sugar-free vegan”

      If d.p. summoned every ounce of his Boston breeding, I don’t think he could be a tenth as grating as this guy managed to be in one sentence.

  9. Question. Mike Orr says he was traumatized by a fast food restaurant being built just 600 feet away from the future site of East Link’s Hospital Station. If land near rail stations is so valuable and precious, then why didn’t Sound Transit make Hospital Station a mixed-use property? Is ST legally prohibited from building non-transit related projects? Or could they have leased or sold the development rights, so something could be built on top of the station? And let’s forget about zoning for a second. If the zoning permitted it, and ST wanted to, could Hospital Station have been something more than just a light rail station?

    1. As to why SoundTransit doesn’t do this, that is a question that you would have to ask them.

      I can tell you that the redevelopment TriMet did at the Gateway transit center / park and ride (convert the flat parking lot to multi-use development + parking structure) seems to have worked reasonably well, and has made that horribly desolate station at least slightly less desolate.

      i think part of the problem is that, while transit agencies in the USA like to go on and on about “transit oriented development” for the most part the transit agency people have their hands full trying to manage the workings of a transit agency. They don’t necessarily do too good when it comes to dealing with actual development.

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