ST3 Draft Draft.pdf-10

At Thursday’s Sound Transit Executive Committee meeting, the staff presented its proposal for the draft project list for Sound Transit 3.  The board will amend and approve this draft list at this month’s meeting and there will be public comment all summer. In the fall, Sound Transit will launch more detailed studies with refined cost and ridership estimates of all these projects. Next June, the Board may decide on overall package size and define its approach to subarea equity, allowing to pick from this menu of choices and determine what goes on the ballot.

Any worries that the study concepts last month limited the range of projects were unfounded. Nearly every project covered in one of last year’s long-range plan studies appears here, with some new permutations. There are five categories of project:

  1. ST2 Leftovers: anything voters approved in ST2 that ST had to defer due to the recession; most notably, Link to Star Lake.
  2. Existing system enhancements: infill stations, Sounder runs, DSTT improvements, etc.
  3. Corridors from the ST2 High Capacity Transit (HCT) studies: both the spine (North Everett/Tacoma Mall/Redmond) and “additional corridors” in Seattle and on the Eastside.
  4. Systemwide programs from the LRP: IT and access improvements, more corridor studies, financial reserves.
  5. Supporting System Expansion: vehicles, maintenance facilities, ST4 planning.

I’ve reproduced the other slides that have specific projects below. I chatted with ST bigwig Ric Ilgenfritz to clear up some points that might not be evident from the short descriptions.

  • The studies will examine nearly every potential station as a potential terminus, to provide options at various cost levels.
  • Mr. Ilgenfritz was emphatic that in all cases “at-grade” meant MLK quality: rare stops for signals and clearly separated rail right of way. It would be a higher level of service than on the Center City Connector, and certainly existing streetcars.
  • The new downtown light rail connection refers to a broad definition of downtown, from the stadiums to about Mercer St. The board could mix elevated, tunneled, and at-grade elements to Ballard, West Seattle, and through downtown in any of a number of permutations. In the meeting, Mayor Murray said Seattle had “concerns” about at-grade approaches through Downtown, and suggested Madison BRT should be on the project list.
  • Low-capital ST Express improvements will generally be programmed into the plan after the major capital elements are documented.
  • The I-405 BRT corridor now extends from Lynnwood to Seatac. Mr. Ilgenfritz clarified that from Renton to Seatac this would be along I-405, not along the proposed BRT corridor that serves the heart of Southcenter.
  • As part of the Downtown Seattle study, Sound Transit would look at a no-build option, that delivers riders to either end of the existing DSTT and requires a transfer for full access to downtown, to examine the operational issues.
  • Although the Board will select a preferred alternative for Link to Federal Way this year, the ballot measure will likely be flexible enough to authorize either an I-5 or SR99 alignment as engineering progresses.

ST3 Draft Draft.pdf-07 ST3 Draft Draft.pdf-08 ST3 Draft Draft.pdf-09 ST3 Draft Draft.pdf-11 ST3 Draft Draft.pdf-12

150 Replies to “ST Staff Submits “Draft Draft” ST3 Project List”

  1. This is extraordinarily rail-centric, as was the voiceover. The only BRT project here is I-405. Of course, that’s the major corridor for which a rail alignment just isn’t possible at all. So in every single instance where a choice is possible, staff are seeking to kill the rail option. (At least Ed Murray pushed back on Madison BRT).

    Which of the criteria ST staff have described would cause them to prefer a rail alignment from Totem Lake to Issaquah over a BRT alignment? Same ridership in their studies, not much more than half the cost. Why take BRT off the table before the public has even had an opportunity to comment?

    What happened to all of the SR 520 projects? Do cross-lake riders not count if they’re not on a train? The public might have something to say about this busy transit corridor.

    1. I agree. For Seattle you have the light rail project that most people on here want: Ballard to UW light rail (AC-4). You also have a lot of good infill work called out ES-1 through 11.

      What I don’t see here is another transit tunnel, to be used initially by buses. I don’t see this:

      Since that is, arguably, the best thing we can build for the money, I’m disappointed it isn’t on here. If that continues, then we may be in trouble. It basically means that there is nothing on there that I would support for West Seattle. If we just built the Ballard to UW rail line, and the infill stations, then I would support this package. But if we have more money left over, I don’t know how we would spend it without wasting the money or pissing off folks in West Seattle (or both).

      1. The biggest mistake with the existing DSTT was Joint Ops.

        The second biggest mistake with the existing DSTT was putting buses in it in the first place, but that was before there was any LR in the PS region so I’ll give Metro half of a pass on that one.

        But today? We have LR and there simply isn’t any way in heck that ST is going to build an extremely capital intensive piece of infrastructure and then put its lowest capacity, lowest reliability, highest cost mode in it. If a DSTT2 gets built, it will be LR only.

      2. And that would be great, Lazarus, if we had light rail to put in it. But the thing is, we don’t have light rail; what we have are buses slogging through Belltown and Downtown. Why not let them in the tunnel for several years (at least) until the rail’s built?

      3. I don’t understand how anyone can simply draw lines on a map and think that “arguably” a rail-convertible bus tunnel is *the project.* Just thinking it through, there are myriad constructability issues and the impact of figuring out what to do with all the bus passengers if and when you get the region’s voters to support another multibillion-dollar package of investments, delaying the rail investment to any of those neighborhoods in the meantime by at the very least 8 years but probably more like 15 when taking into consideration the political implications. Given that ST3 projects, and especially tunnels, cannot be expected to be complete before about 2030, and Sound Transit spent considerable time and effort studying and eliminating rail-convertible BRT to the east side, it doesn’t seem reasonable to argue that the “WSTT” existing nowhere but blog posts is even worthy of its own acronym, nevermind prioritization near the top of a regional list.

      4. @Lazurus — Nonsense. Even with all of its flaws, the transit tunnel is the best thing Seattle has built (and that includes Link). It has saved more users more time as a bus tunnel than it has as a train tunnel. If not for the expansion of Link to the UW, that would be true for the next 100 years. But even with the expansion, we probably won’t hit that point for another twenty.

        Meanwhile, buses are not any less reliable than trains. Lower capacity — certainly. But that matters little for the West Seattle line. Highest cost? Again, nonsense. It isn’t cheaper to run a train than it is a bus. You only get the savings if the train is full.

        But ultimately it comes down to service For a Ballard to downtown run, you have enough riders to justify light rail running frequently. For West Seattle you don’t. They estimate 10 minute frequency at the maximum. Even then the numbers are not great. Meanwhile, you have no stops between Delridge and SoDo. This means that you force the vast majority of West Seattle riders to switch out of their bus into a train, and they get absolutely nothing for it. Imagine this:

        Imagine you live on Delridge and you ride a bus that goes along the same old street until you get to the freeway. Then you transfer and wait for that train that is supposed to come along every ten minutes. I’m not sure how that transfer occurs exactly (elevator?) but there you have it. How is that in any way, shape or form better than if you simply stayed on the bus and it continued to SoDo (and beyond). Keep in mind the bus trip would be just as grade separated as the train.

        The answer is it that it wouldn’t be better, it would be worse. Much worse. Billions spent and the vast majority of West Seattle riders have it worse. Good plan, buddy, good plan.

      5. @James — There are a myriad of constructability issues (your words) with any project. I don’t get your point. As for “delaying the rail investment to any of those neighborhoods in the meantime by at the very least 8 years” — who cares? For the vast number of West Seattle riders, it means *better service* (see my last post). *Better!*

        For Ballard riders light rail would probably be better, but so what? They should get Ballard to UW light rail, which is clearly better overall anyway. So basically Ballard riders have to wait for their cherry on top (a second line to downtown) while they eat their pie. Boo Hoo.

        Meanwhile, folks in the Aurora corridor get much improved service now. *Now!* How long are they supposed to wait until light rail comes their way? The answer is it will never happen. Sorry, it just won’t. They get a substantial improvement over just about anything that would be built.

        As for Lower Queen Anne and South Lake Union, any rail plan gets one, but not the other. This gets both. The same is true for West Seattle, really — it is just that people happen to assume that if “West Seattle gets light rail” it means most of West Seattle will see improved transit, when (as I mentioned) that is clearly not the case. Look at the census data and you can see that unless you built multiple lines through West Seattle, you would be forcing people to take buses to a train, when it is much quicker to just stay on the train.

        The beauty of the WSTT is that it makes life much better for people from lots of different areas. All of West Seattle has substantially better service. The Aurora Corridor has substantially better service. In both cases it is better than light rail. Ballard comes out a bit weaker than light rail, but more areas along the way come out ahead (Lower Queen Anne, Belltown and South Lake Union all have stops, while Interbay/Magnolia and East Queen Anne have fast service). This would improve the lives of more riders than almost anything we could possibly build.

      6. @RossB,

        I don’t know where you get your info, but it is flat out wrong. In ~25 years of operation Metro has never been able to operate the DSTT at the originally promised capacity nor at the claimed reliability. Yes, it has been better than running on the streets, but has it really been that much better to justify the expense? Not in your life.

        And, yes, trains are cheaper to operate and maintain than buses. O&M costs are one of the major issues with buses. Trains move more people per operator and require less maintainence. In fact, usually a train system is cheaper to build and operate than BRT after about 15 to 20’years of operation. Everything after that is a net savings generated by the train.

        Per WS, ya, lower numbers, but who cares? Any DSTT2 will carry riders from both the northend and WS. Why do you so conviniently neglect to include users from Ballard and the northend when making your case against rail in the DSTT2? Maybe because your case wouldn’t hold up if you included them?

        Yes, I know there are a lot of pro bus Metro emps and alums on this blog, but we really need to look to the future when building major pieces of infrastructure in the local area. This shortsighted focus is what got us so far behind in the first place. Get of the d*mn bus and clear your head of diesel fumes – the future is not more of the same.

        And that is why we won’t build another “bus tunnel”

      7. Lasarus, the tunnel would not have been built if it couldn’t have carried buses for the first couple of decades. ST would not have been able to make subarea equity work if Seattle had to bear the cost of a new tunnel alone for the first phase of Link. The tunnel has given bus riders 20 good years, and even with Link today buses deliver most of the people and most of the travel time savings for transit users of the tunnel.

        I think you’re not thinking straight because you’re observing from an ideological position. There is no foreseeable future where a majority of transit riders in this region will have rail to get around on – we will always need to maximize use of all the modes.

      8. And meanwhile, the legislature is poised to increase my gas tax to pay for I-405 widening, SR167 and SR 509 extensions, to make sure the SOV/Transit-mode ratio resembles Los Angeles.

        No public vote needed. Only ideologes need to vote.

      9. Whee! Capacity canard! How novel!

        You know what has less capacity downtown than lots of buses heading to various directions? A single train so fucking empty for 90% of its route that the agency can’t possibly justify frequent running.

        In foamer world, “capacity” is shorthand for “if you build [trains], they will come.”

        Sorry. West Seattle “urbanity” is a joke. Downtown to the Junction can’t so much as half-fill a bus every 15 minutes in the off-peak. You’re flogging a failure, and ironically killing downtown “capacity” to boot.

      10. @Lazurus — I hope you enjoyed roasting those weenies on the straw man you built. In the future you might like to address the actual arguments I made, instead of making stuff up. I never said anything about capacity nor reliability — but if you are going to throw around words like “promise”, you might want to leave Sound Transit out of the discussion (cough, cough, First Hill).

        I throw out a factual statement that I’ll repeat — the bus tunnel has saved more users more time as a bus tunnel than it has as a train tunnel. I will even go as far as to claim that it has saved more time than our light rail system as it currently exists. Feel free to run the numbers and refute my claim. Otherwise, just accept it and go on.

        I never said it was perfect — in fact I clearly said otherwise (the word “flaws” appears in the first compete sentence). But if we are going to throw the baby out with the bath water, Sound Transit would have been thrown out ages ago. But my point is that like Sound Transit the bus tunnel has contributed greatly to transit mobility. The UW to downtown line is obviously flawed (two obvious stations are missing) but it is still an excellent line. The downtown bus tunnel has flaws, but it has been excellent as a bus tunnel, and will be good as a train tunnel. It has some very good stations; and Sound Transit was able to leverage those (I wonder if Sound Transit would only have a couple downtown stations if they had built the tunnel — as it is they closed a perfectly good one at the convention center). But I digress.

        I clearly said (again) that trains are cheaper to run if they carry more people. But running five trains will cost about the same as running five buses. Meanwhile, the billions you spent on those trains could pay for many more service hours in interest alone. So the savings you mention only arrive when you carry a bunch more people per vehicle. That can only be done in West Seattle if you run them infrequently, and force people to transfer (both of which, as I mentioned, become a major nuisance for the majority of West Seattle riders).

        “Per WS, ya, lower numbers, but who cares? Any DSTT2 will carry riders from both the northend and WS. Why do you so conviniently neglect to include users from Ballard and the northend when making your case against rail in the DSTT2? Maybe because your case wouldn’t hold up if you included them? ”

        Again (jeesh, this is getting tiresome) I clearly — CLEARLY — mentioned that Ballard to downtown service would justify light rail. It is in the third paragraph. As I said, this has merit.

        But “WS, ya, lower numbers, but who cares?”. Really? Really?!! We are supposed to spend billions and billions on a system that will clearly make things worse for the majority of riders in West Seattle, but WHO CARES? How can anyone think that. “Hey, guess what, we are going to build a light rail line to serve South Lake Union, then it will go under the water and connect to Discovery Park. Oh, I know, that second part doesn’t perform that well, but who cares? The rest of it will be great, so just live with the billions spent.”

        I don’t think you get it. West Seattle light rail is dead. If it is proposed as part of ST3 it will kill ST3. Tell that to all your friends at Sound Transit. Seriously — this is important. We can argue the merits (“who cares?” — good argument) but it will kill ST3. Dead. Over. Forget about it. That might then lead to the death of future proposals as well as a rethink of the agency (along with the ritual rolling of heads).

        Ballard to downtown has merit (like I said) but not as much as Ballard to UW. So basically, for Seattle, you are talking UW to Ballard first. Then you either put in another route to Ballard or build the WSTT. Putting aside value added, I would say the WSTT will get you more votes. This is pure speculation – but I don’t think the folks in West Seattle will look kindly on getting absolutely nothing while those in Ballard get two light rail lines (even if one of them is a streetcar). Again, judging on the merits it is perfectly reasonable — but politically, it is bad. Meanwhile, whoever is left out of the Ballard to downtown lottery feels cheated (is it South Lake Union or Queen Anne?). The WSTT simply serves more people. In some cases better than light rail (West Seattle and the Aurora Corridor), in some case the same (Lower Queen Anne, Belltown and South Lake Union) and in some places a little bit worse (Ballard and Interbay). All for less money than serving just Ballard to downtown. That’s why it is a solid project and bound to be more popular than most of what Sound Transit is considering.

      11. @Q,

        Nice diversion. Nobody is saying that rail will carry the bulk of regional riders. There will always be a role for buses. Too much of our county is low density sprawl that wouldn’t justify any sort of investment in rail. But that doesn’t mean that rail doesn’t have a role in more urban, denser, higher ridership part of our region.

        Per the DSTT in particular, LR usage is expected to surpass bus usage sometime in mid to late 2016. The fact that LR ridership in the tunnel can so quickly surpass bus ridership should be a cautionary tale for those proposing we repeat our decisions of the ’80’s.

        Yes, the DSTT was regional investment, but so what? It is after all a regional resource and will continue to be one. Too many people react to DSTT conversion to 100% rail as if somehow Seattle is taking over a regional resource for Seattle only use. Has everyone forgotten that East Link will run in the tunnel too?

        But the bus-only DSTT never lived up to the promises made by Metro when they sold it to the populace. This is well understood by the policy makers, which is why you don’t’ see a new bus tunnel being proposed by anyone with any sort policy role. It’s not on anyone’s list.

        Ya, there are some bus fans who still pine for the days when the DSTT was the crown jewel in Metro’s crown, but we need better reasons than nostalgia to go down that path again.

      12. Wow, lazurus, you keep building the straw man and you keep knocking them down. Bravo.

        No one on here has argued against rail from the UW to downtown or rail in general. No one is being nostalgic or suggested that Seattle is taking over a regional resource. So much straw, man.

        As for 2016, what is so special about 2016? Oh yeah, we connect the three biggest urban centers in Washington! If you think we will ever have a bigger improvement in rail service, you are crazy. We just don’t have many destinations like that (those are top three). UW to Ballard light rail and “Metro 8” light rail are maybe in the same league, but they are still below that. Nothing else comes close.

        >> But the bus-only DSTT never lived up to the promises made by Metro when they sold it to the populace

        You are joking, right? You, the constant defender of ST, are joking right? Good God, man, get a clue. Sound Transit promised us light rail from UW to the airport, including a stop at First Hill. So now, many years later, what do we have? A line serving Rainier Valley and SeaTac. Not even close to what they originally promised. If you want to talk broken promises, that is a much bigger one. Meanwhile, they failed to deliver a First Hill stop (even though they promised one) and failed to consider a 520 stop. No, they didn’t promise anything at 520, but don’t voters have a reasonable assumption that an agency trusted with billions will actually do their job?

        But enough about promises — what exactly is your complaint about the tunnel? From where I sit it has been fantastic. It has done an excellent job as a bus tunnel, and is about to do an excellent job as a train tunnel. It has done a poor job while trying to do both, but everyone at Metro and ST realizes that. But the situation is temporary, and everyone knows it. If someone asks “How about off board payments for the buses (like we used to have)?”. The answer is “just wait, the buses will be out soon”. On it goes for every enhancement that would allow them both to function properly together. As for the new tunnel, the thing would be designed from the beginning to function with both very well. Off board payments, level boarding of all the buses — the works. I think Sound Transit can do that, but I understand why you might be skeptical.

        Seriously, if you don’t think we should build a tunnel because of failed promises on the previous one or because somehow it wasn’t managed properly, then Sound Transit shouldn’t build anything. Sound Transit’s failures have been far worse than Metro’s. Even their big accomplishments (like UW to downtown light rail) came with multiple failures (the lack of a First Hill and 520 stop). Meanwhile, the most important part of it — the best part by far (the part that has decent stop spacing) — wasn’t even built by them.

      13. Most real people who have to commute and work in this area just really don’t agree with the vast majority of kool-aid drinkers and metro, ST insiders on this board. It’s time for light rail to actually serve neighborhoods that people live in. Ballard? Absolutely! West Seattle? Absolutely! Really tired of hearing a bunch of dreary wonks discussing our urban neighborhoods as though they are distant outposts. Get it done already.

      14. OK, Bander, which part of West Seattle should we spend billions serving with light rail? Or, better yet, which part do we screw over so we can serve that part? One leads to the other (don’t you know). So I’m just curious which one you would pick.

      15. Ross, apparently we have an unlimited checkbook now. Which is good, because when I was 16 I drew some lines on a Thomas Bros. street atlas that are still better than what ST’s done so far, and I’d like to get them built.

        Or perhaps ST has some sort of financial limitations that we aren’t aware of…. \snark

      16. Guys, rail to West Seattle is absolutely not dead. That’s just not true. Lots of people want rail to West Seattle, just not a ton here on STB. Lots of political want it to. There is a certain camp that sees it as the fulfillment of an old promise. Dollars spent to mobility gained is not the only consideration in political decision making.

      17. Everything requires tradeoffs. Proponents and opponents of light rail to West Seattle need to talk and come up with a common solution, and they also need to look at the concrete facts: cost, routing, where people are going from and to, etc. You can’t just wave a wand and say “Light rail for West Seattle.” On what route(s)? How much does it cost? Which other transit priorities get postponed because of the cost?

        Bander says, “Light rail in West Seattle! Absolutely!” But what does that mean? A line like ST has outlined, going east-west to the Junction(s)? A second line on Delridge? The “comprehensive” C-shaped route in an STB article somewhere. So, if we build any of those, a limited number of people will be within walking distance. A lot more people will have to transfer from buses from lower California, Admiral/Alki, 35th, and Delridge. Is that transfer experience really better than a first-rate open BRT? Why? With University Link, the highest-ridership area is the bottleneck and BRT is impossible because it already exists with the 71/72/73X and it’s hopelessly falling apart. In West Seattle, the fast part is where buses are already fast, and a few queue jumps and miles of transit lanes can eliminate the remaining bottlenecks.

        So why exactly would somebody on Delridge want to transfer to a train in West Seattle, when they can have a one-seat ride to downtown or transfer to a train downtown. Does an east-west line to the Junction really “serve West Seattle” or does it only “serve a small part of West Seattle”? The urban village at the Junction is great: I love walking around there and the atmosphere, and a lot more people will live there. But does it alone require a $5 billion train, and does serving it really help West Seattle as a whole?

      18. Well said Mike.

        Just to be clear. West Seattle light rail is not dead from an ST3 standpoint, It remains very much alive. There is a very good chance that it will be part of the proposal.

        What ‘m saying is that it will kill ST3. Voters will reject ST3 just as they rejected “Roads and Transit” if it includes West Seattle light rail. You just can’t throw away a huge number of your regular supporters (folks on this blog included). You can’t design something so easy to oppose (for the reasons we’ve mentioned) and expect to win what will obviously be a tight election. We can’t expect huge numbers of suburban voters to support ST3, because other then extending Link to Redmond (which I think most voters assume was part of East Link already) there really is nothing that people really need. Throw away a bunch of Seattle voters on a ridiculously expensive project that will only benefit a handful of voters in a small part of West Seattle (while a cheaper project would benefit all of West Seattle as well as other areas) and you can kiss ST3 goodbye.

      19. West Seattle light rail killing st3 is a bold bold claim. It might be a deal breaker for you, but it is not something that would sink st3 at the polls.
        I would caution against people making the perfect the enemy of the good. St3 might not have the most efficient projects in it, but if the projects are good then I’m going to vote for it

      20. Mike,
        Great points mike. But one thing, the choice you pose will never be on the ballot. There will not be ST3 Option 1 and ST3 Option 2. People won’t have the ability to vote no on a bus tunnel and yes on light rail. They just get to vote on whatever is presented. All the routing decisions get made in advance. That’s a lobbying thing, not a voter thing

      21. Jon, I don’t understand what you mean. I’m talking about how we should form our public input and get to something that more people will support together. As opposed to one person saying something, another person saying the opposite, and they cancel each other out and are ineffective. Nothing about ST3 option 1 and ST3 option 2.

      22. “Voters will reject ST3 just as they rejected “Roads and Transit” if it includes West Seattle light rail.”

        Let’s remember that most voters know little about the projects they’re voting on, and they vote for a lot of reasons that have little to do with the issues we argue most about. There’s one kind of person who thinks $5 billion light rail to West Seattle is too much, another who thinks any kind of rail is bad, another who thinks any kind of transit is bad. These are small minority positions. Another kind thinks, “Light rail in West Seattle and everywhere. Absolutely!” The “magic wand will solve everything” approach. They are a larger number of people, and they know that they strongly want better transit, but they’re vague on what impact any particular project would actually have. Then there’s the large contingent of people in transit-ready urban areas — meaning the 35th-to-65th area primarily — that want a high-quality project in that area. Many of them don’t care if West Seattle gets something or not as long as the most transit-ready area in Seattle gets something high quality. Then there’s the people who just want something to their house no matter where they live, and they don’t think anything else is important. This is probably the largest group. So many people want something for nothing, and they don’t think about how it affects anybody except them. This happens vote after vote, and it explains why people vote for tax caps simultaneously with reduced class sizes — it’s because one group turns out for low taxes and another group turns out for more services, and the result is that both measures pass even though few people voted for both of them.

        So all these arguments that “Light rail to West Seattle will bomb because it’s unjustifiably expensive” or “Light rail to West Seattle will pass because everybody wants it” are too simplistic. Those are both small minority positions, and the majority of voters have other reasons for their positions.

        RossB is right in a different sense though. Outside transit fandom circles, a significant coalition will form pro ST3, and a significant coalition against ST3. Who knows whether one side will be larger than the other; let’s assume they’re both 40%. Then the question becomes, will transit fans and casual transit supporters vote overhwhelmingly pro or con, or will they be split? If we vote decisively pro, we’d probably swing it to yes since there’s no majority opposition to ST. But if we go half and half, it would likely swing it to no because most suburban precincts are already no. Then there’s the influence of the transit-fan position. If people see we like it, that will sway some people to yes. If they see we’re half-and-half on it — if they see that even transit fans aren’t fully supporting it — that will sway them to no.

      23. Ross, I think you have this exactly backwards. Not having some sort of rail to West Seattle is what will kill ST3. I have no real gripe with serving West Seattle with bona fide BRT, but I really don’t think the voters will support it in large enough numbers to pass. It’s too easy to mess up bus-based transit, and we don’t have any examples of local agencies providing anything approximating BRT, so I think it’ll be very tough to convince voters to trust ST to get this right. West Seattle covers a large area, and a lot of people live there, so it’s crucial that ST present a package West Seattle voters will support. Even a line with only two stops (say, Delridge and the Triangle) would also likely help get votes down in Burien and other outlying areas that might be served down the road. Ridership estimates and cost certainly factor in to the decision-making process at ST, but even the most economically-rational ST3 (such as your preferred alternatively of Ballard-UW and the WSTT) package will fail at the ballot if it isn’t carefully designed to get votes.

      24. I think you — and more crucially, the arbiters of common political “wisdom” — grossly overestimate how much interest the other 6/7 of this town has in visiting West Seattle on a regular basis, especially of asked to contribute 75% of all the transit funds this city will see for decades in order to do so.

        Never mind that the result won’t actually help them in the slightest to get to Alki, Admiral, Fauntleroy, the Comm College, or any of their friends who have moved out to the W.S. sprawl and who will be 100% inaccessible from this $3 billion boondoggle.

        Symmetry may look cute on a map, but this air of inevitability and false equivalency in priority-setting needs to stop.

  2. Will the possibility of a dual use tunnel be studied? What about using DMUs on Sounder lines?

      1. Definitely. Unfortunately the FRA’s “build ’em like a tank” requirements, requiring lots of unnecessary dead weight, make it hard to use BEMUs on FRA-regulated lines.

  3. It looks like a wish list of all the hopeful proposals although it’s going to be unfundable. It’s the list I would expect — and I’m generally satisfied with it. I would suggest a few lower-cost tweaks.

    1. I’m a little surprised that there isn’t a line item to improve International District Station to make it easier to transfer to out-of-direction trains, since it will be the major transfer point in the system in 2023 and after. I realize that it would be covered in ES-11, but specifically calling it out seems to have strategic value as the entire region would see a benefit from making station improvements here. It could fit nicely in ES-7 in addition to the Westlake reference.

    2. I remain disappointed that Renton doesn’t get anything specific except the HOV access and potentially the 405 BRT (although it seems that this will stay in the median through Renton). A Seattle-Renton-Kent HCT planning study would seem to be a good strategic addition.

    3. I think that the list should add a South Lake Union/First Hill/Central District HCT planning study. It’s been often pointed out how dense this area is and how it contains many important regional destinations, and yet it seems that the ST Board has little interest for even making early plans on how to better serve this area with high-capacity, fast service. Madison BRT misses much of this area’s transit needs.

    1. I agree especially with your third point. After Ballard to UW light rail, I would put that area next in line for rail. To be clear, in the meantime, I would build a transit tunnel downtown. So basically, my order (for Seattle) for major projects would be:

      1) Ballard to UW light rail.
      2) Second transit tunnel (the WSTT).
      3) Metro 8 light rail.
      4) Ballard to downtown light rail (using WSTT).

      After that, I’m not sure what else makes sense. The big issue becomes making sure the various pieced fit together well. That should happen along the way (of course) as we build this out. For example, we want to make sure we do a bunch of work in West Seattle (including work on the freeway) to make sure buses from the top of the hill don’t get stuck in traffic before they hit the HOV lanes (as they do now).

      1. I agree with the the idea of the pieces fitting together well, Ross. I almost added a fourth “System Optimization and Productivity Study” as a fourth bullet, but it seems so abstract that I wasn’t sure how to present it in a strategic manner. Plus, I kind of feel like I should keep my suggestions to only a few.

      2. @Al — That might fall under “ES-11” (“enhance system performance”). I wish they had specifically called out “interoperability with the bus network” as well, but I would definitely put that in the same category (that might be considered a subcategory). Or maybe if they include “system” to not be just Sound Transit, but Metro and other local bus service.

    2. One of the added value items to a Seattle-Renton-Kent study is maybe we can find out what is the best way and the cost to remove the grade crossings on MLK.

      1. There is no “best” way to remove the grade crossings. There’s only one basic way, and that’s to grade separate the cross-roads. There are two ways to do that, so there is a better way and a worse way.

        The guideway can NOT be elevated on MLK. There is no room between the existing tracks for the supports, and there is no sufficient room to build the supports to the side of the existing tracks.

        Now it would be possible to repeat San Francisco’s decade of Market Street Madness and dig a cut-and-cover tunnel underneath the guideway. They did it directly underneath the operating streetcars; it was way cool to walk across one of the crosswalks and look down into the fifty foot deep trench. It’s not easy, but Seattle could manage it.

        But whether or not Seattle wants to manage it is another question. Especially when there is a great option for high speed bypass along Airport Way for less than half a billion dollars. If — and only if — and when — and only when — the area south of the airport densifies along the SR99 corridor and Link has a direct service collector-distributor zone, turning the MLK line east to Renton and eventually possibly Kent makes a lot of sense if the concomitant rezoning to make it worthwhile occurs. There could then be a few “local” trains which run Downtown – Rainier Valley – Airport while deep south Federal Way-Tacoma expresses use the bypass. Other trains along MLK would go to Renton and eventually Kent, I suppose via Skyway.

        It’s a little unfortunate that ROW from the west side of central Renton across the city to the start of the eastern hills is scarce and highly used. It might be expensive to get through Renton.

      2. As you see, there is a need to know what we can do and there isn’t an easy answer here. Almost weekly, STB posters mention MLK problems — slow speeds, collisions, traffic delays with increased service frequencies. I think that it’s clear that the issue needs better study.

        So, let’s push to study this and get some options with costs on the table!

      3. I’ll admit, I always thought the bypass idea was crazy — or at least, something we should consider years and years from now. But the idea of sending the existing Link trains to Renton and running a bypass to SeaTac (and Kent) makes a lot of sense. You would probably save a ton of time if coming from SeaTac — enough time to make getting people out of their buses acceptable. Meanwhile, Renton would connect really well with the rest of Rainier Valley, which makes loads of sense. I don’t think we have the density in any of the areas to justify any of that now, but I think it might make sense for future (and would be better than lots of other projects being considered). I sure wouldn’t mind studying it.

      4. The bypass solution may prove to be a cheaper option than designing a grade separation for MLK. My suggestion here is just that since it has been a major topic and that’s not going away, we should find out what the pros and cons of either option are rather than speculate for years to come.

      5. I agree Al. Studying it makes sense. I think they may come to the same conclusion I hope they would (that the bypass solution is better). In my opinion, the biggest problem with the surface line is that it constrains frequency (the headways are huge, to avoid snarling traffic). Accidents happen rarely and the speed difference is really not that big (especially as we add infill stations). The big speed difference from a bypass would be due to eliminating stops and avoiding a big detour. I would love to know how much time it would save. My guess is it would be substantial. Of course, shrinking our dwell times would help quite a bit, too.

  4. I only see three Eastside projects on there:

    1. Light rail from Overlake to Redmond
    2. Light rail from Totem Lake to Issaquah via ERC (I presume) and Bellevue
    3. 405 BRT

    If they’re committed to rail on the ERC, that probably means the phased 405 BRT approach, and no diversion into downtown Kirkland. They’re going to have to really prove that this is the best use of funds. If a lot of people interested in transit disagree on whether 2 is a good idea, then the general population is going to be opposed. Particularly if 405 BRT provides no advantages to the commutes of most people and people who live/walk/bike on the ERC protest.

    1. @David, it certainly means the phased I-405 approach, because they’re hostage to WSDOT infrastructure. They are doing something different in the Renton-Seatac area, but I don’t think that’s sufficiently different to change the numbers much.

      Those three projects put them at $3.9-4.5B in capital on the Eastside (mid-point estimate, high-end estimate). That puts them between “somewhat over the budget” and “blowing way over the budget” even before ST Express investments and other overhead.

      If we take Dow C. at his word that I-405 is a priority (he said so in the meeting), and recognize that EastLink is certain, then they can’t go to Issaquah AND Kirkland by rail. They’ll have to pick one.

      If the Board is willing to add back a BRT solution at this month’s meeting, they can get to both cities. And still fund enhancements in the SR 520 corridor which is higher ridership than any other East King corridor other than Eastlink.

      1. @Dan: Based on your comments here, the eastside would get only a connection between Bellevue and a single city, plus improvements to 405 BRT and the extension into Redmond. That doesn’t sound like something even 50% of the east side would support.

  5. How could Westlake Station be expanded without major disruption on the level of rebuilding the tracks?

    1. Westlake platforms do get a bit crowded during peak, although its more of a problem for people catching buses than the train. As far as expanding the platforms, they might be able to expand the station box without touching the rails. Depends on what is behind the station box walls.

      1. Dirt. Dirt is what’s behind the station box walls.

        And building foundations.

      2. IIRC, both of the orginal tunnel boring machines used on the 3rd Avenue segment of the DSTT are buried near the west end of the station. As useful as a western extension would be (to better connect to Pike Place), the easiest option is probably to expand east.

      3. Westlake Station platform width shouldn’t be a problem long-term, if the tunnel serves trains only, and four-car consists will spread the awaiting passengers along the entire length of the station. Given the $20b or so rail investment regionally, a crowded station would be a great problem to have! Could be some escalator rage, though….

      4. Ha — escalator rage — I’ve been there. I used to get tired of yelling “excuse me” as folks stood blocking the entire path, so I just pushed on through. A couple of young women that probably could have used the exercise complained because I got too close to their personal space so I had to explain that it is customary to step to the right if you are just going to stand on an escalator. I’m not sure if they quite understood — it never quite got to “rage” — maybe annoyance.

      5. @Bruce That’s the first I’ve heard that any equipment to build the DSTT was left in place. They were built with shield excavators not TBMs.

  6. Are these just “prioritised projects lists” with no priorities? Or does a project’s existence on this list indicate it has been “prioritised”?

    1. If it’s on this list then it’s a potential priority from the long range plan. There’s no ranking on this list.

  7. MLK quality is *not sufficent*, Ric. That shows that he still doesn’t get it. We need true, grade separated rail to and from Ballard.

    What the hell is going on at sound transit?

    1. As a former Ballard resident I think right now there isn’t sufficient study to take options off the table, especially when West Seattle also wants a project, Mayor Murray has his heart set on Madison BRT, and MLK is functioning better than the existing downtown tunnel. If spending several billion on Ballard alone means Seattle only gets one project, shouldn’t they study a variety of options if they can be done with lower cost, and see what the travel times really are?

    2. MLK quality is not acceptable between Jackson Street and Mercer Street. It may be tolerable north of Mercer Street; we can let the studies go through and see what they say.

      Having Madison BRT cut into funding for Ballard-UW or Ballard-downtown or the WSTT doesn’t sound like a good idea. Let the city find its own funding for Madison BRT.

      1. We have to build for the future, not the present. Saying it’s acceptable now is not acceptable when we’re planning for a century of transportation in the area.

        Madison BRT will be funded by the city, not ST. Different sources.

      2. If it makes the difference between getting it built now or not getting it built, and several more miles of track now, then yes, surface on Interbay and Leary Way should be considered. It all depends on travel time. If you’re going from Ballard all over the county frequently (say Bellevue and Renton), then the travel time between downtown and Ballard can add up. So what is a reasonable travel time? Central Link is 12 minutes Westlake – U-District. So 10 minutes would be great, 15 OK, 20 (same as 15X) tolerable, 30 (same as D) unacceptable. The estimates put grade-separataed at 10-11 minutes. Mercer Street to Market Street is a short distance, 15th W has no intersections, and I’m assuming the 70′ moveable bridge is still planned (which would open less often than the Ballard Bridge). So surface north of Mercer may be 15-20 minutes; we’ll know when the studies come in and we can compare the time and cost. If we’re building it for a century, then we can assume that in thirty or forty years people might be more transit-happy and willing to pay for high-quality infrastructure, so they can grade-separate it then.

      3. Central Link is 12 minutes Westlake – U-District.

        “We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

      4. “We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

        We’ll know when it’s running. I never took these estimates as absolute because you never know until you dig a tunnel and actually run a train there, and we don’t have a train to time it with. The estimate I’m going by is 3 minutes Westlake-Capitol Hill, 5 minutes Capitol Hill UW, 4 minutes UW-UDistrict. ST has since revised it to 4 minutes Westlake-Capitol Hill, 4 minutes Capitol Hill-UW. That looks very much like moving 1 minute from the north side to the south side of Capitol Hill, and could just be due to rounding fractional minutes if it was 0.40/0/60. I don’t understand how it could take 4 minutes to get from Westlake to Capitol Hill underground when it takes 4 minutes from Columbia City to Othello on the surface, so I’m optimistic, but I’m not too worried about it if it does. You think 12 minutes Westlake-UDistrict will get revised to, what, 15 minutes? 20 minutes? 30 minutes? There’s only so slowly that an underground train can possibly go, and it’s gotta be faster than the 73X on Eastlake or stuck in Denny Way or 45th traffic. So if it doesn’t make 12 minutes, it may be 15, boo hoo, let’s sell our shares in ST.

        You pointed to some brochure that had a significantly lower estimate. I don’t know what to make of that since I don’t read ST’s brochures; I read their project updates. So I don’t know whether it’s just that one brochure, or a part of widespread discrepencies between ST’s brochures and its technical updates, or what.

      5. The speed at which trains move in a subway tunnel built to proper specifications is no mystery. The only way 6 minutes become 8 minutes become 12 minutes is if you fuck something up royally.

        I guess when U-Link opens we will very quickly discover at which point in the tunnel that fuckup lies.

      6. The basics of railway design is to figure out the timetable first and then build the infrastructure. It’s not hard to figure out the speed/acceleration profile of each train. If ST didn’t do that, then yes, they f’d up real bad. The train shouldn’t have to spend more than 2 minutes travelling between those stations.

      7. But wait, where does it say 12 minutes? I remember it should have been 6…

      8. Here’s the 2012 brochure that says 6 minutes from UW to Westlake. Where is this 12-minute figure coming from?

      9. (Also, look how massive that UW station is. I hope the elevators/escalators are fast otherwise it’s going to take as long to get from upper station level to platform as it should take to get between UW and Capitol hill. I hope ST is proud.)

      10. I don’t think the size of the station itself is the problem. It’s the fact that you have to not only get to street level, but one more level above that (pedestrian overpass) to get to anywhere useful.

        No idea why they bothered with a mezzanine level if they didn’t plan on using it to connect to other sides of the Montlake Triangle.

      11. Indeed, there are countless post-finalized-routing documents citing U-Link as 6 minutes. That’s why it was so galling when Mike started citing ST’s retroactively-revised 8-minute standard as if that had always been the expectation.

        Mike’s same recent doc put the 45th stop at 12 minutes from Westlake. Again, galling. 13 minutes all the way to Northgate was the well-publicized pledge!

        If ST thinks it can wait until billions of dollars are sunk into this already-kneecapped-by-stop-stupidity line to reveal a 50% margin of error, and then expect the public continue to throw money at its shit-for-brains next plans, it is in for a seriously rude awakening.

        I’m still hoping the 12 minute thing is a typo. But who knows? Maybe they really will cruise under UW campus at sub-Segway speed. They already crawl down Pine Street like that.

        Also, Shane is right. If 4 stories underground to 2.5 stories in the air is your primary station access route, then you have screwed up in more ways than can possibly be tallied.

        And lastly, this article assuages nothing. ST has thrown a list-shaped bone to those of us who freaked out last week. Unfortunately, the bone is all filler and byproduct. Last week’s crapsteak is the main course, and we would be foolish to expect anything better from this agency. Words=marked.

      12. +1 to everything d.p. says. ST is walking back on promises without explanation and designing the stations in almost the worst possible way. And, finally, this list explains nothing about why the Board listened in silence last week to a presentation full of horrible ideas. Last week’s bad ideas must have more support inside ST than the good ideas which are seen on this list; otherwise, why would they be presented?

        What this list shows is that ST has not yet finalized the bad ideas and committed itself to them. There’s still a chance for recovery. However, the signs are not promising. Save for the MLK half-separation, and not sending Link straight down I-5, when has Sound Transit ever made a single transit-friendly design decision for Link?

      13. I wish I could remember where that chart was so I could link to it. It was a Lynnwood Link document, and the subsequent documents I saw all had the same numbers until the change I mentioned. I memorized the chart because travel times are one of my highest interests and concerns, as I think about how it would impact me living in various areas and how it would impact people generally. I didn’t see the “6 minute” brochures or didn’t pay attention to them because a one-off estimate for one trip pair is no good to me: I think in terms of longer trips and how long it takes to get across the entire city and fractions of it, not random trip pairs here and there. As for what I saw or thought in 1996, I don’t remember at all. I voted for ST1 of course but I don’t remember the context. STB either didn’t exist or I didn’t know about it until long after, so I didn’t have exposure to the planning documents or public hearings like I do now. I certainly didn’t vote based on a “6 minute” promise, because at the time i was afraid light rail would be watered down to mostly-surface as it had been in other cities. Because of that I heavily supported the monorail project throughout its life, which I now consider a mistake. Link turned out to be significantly better than I feared, and ST2 improved significantly on most of the shortcomings I saw in ST1 (by being almost fully grade-separated), so that’s why I’m optimistic now.

        In any case, the numbers I saw repeatedly were Westlake-Capitol Hill 3 minutes, Westlake-UW 8 minutes, Westlake-UDistrict 12 minutes, Westlake-Northgate 15 minutes, Westlake-Lynnwood 28 minutes. The latest version a month or two ago moved 1 minute from north Capitol Hill to south Capitol Hill but didn’t change the total Westlake-UW time. As far as I know the UDistrict, Northgate, and Lynnwood predictions haven’t changed. So if DP is correct that Westlake-UW as originally 6 minutes and Westlake-Northgate 13 minutes, that means that UW has slipped by 2 minutes and Northgate a third minute. Boo hoo, I say. If it gets to 10 minutes overhead then it’ll be a big deal. As for Jason Lu’s “12 minutes Westlake-UW”, that’s purely DP’s rhetorical speculation; I have not seen that anywhere else.

        The times don’t include escalators or platform walking; they’re pure travel times so you can add up the segments for a longer one-seat ride. I don’t know which segments include platform dwell times on the boundary; that could explain why 1 minute shifted between two adjacent segments, if a 32-second dwell time was rounded up in one case and rounded down in the other.

      14. that means that UW has slipped by 2 minutes and Northgate a third minute [No, there is no third minute, just the first two propagating down the line.]

        Another thing I just realized. Was the 6 minutes based on the earlier ship canal crossing on the west side of the U-District? That would be a shorter distance, and thus a shorter travel time.

      15. if DP is correct—Dec-2013—University-Link-AugSept-13

        And literally hundreds of additional hits on Google.

        6 minute was not a one-off estimation. It was a primary claim to bolster the purpose of the line (and to obfuscate the stupidness of its access penalties)

      16. Yes, I’ve consistently said 12 minutes to 45th. That’s not the same as 12 minutes to Husky Stadium, which is the phantom number floating about.

      17. So how do we reconcile 6 minutes to travel the 3 miles from Westlake to Husky Stadium and then a further 6 minutes to travel the >1 mile from Husky Stadium to 45th?

    3. I’m not sure how exactly you can deliver “MLK” quality anyway. For all of its faults (headway being the big one) the train moves pretty fast through there. So folks are saying you are going to run a train through downtown and then through South Lake Union and onto Ballard at that kind of speed? I don’t see it. Maybe for the Westlake section (north of South Lake Union) but that is about it.

    4. MLK quality wouldn’t be all that bad along interlake, though how much more would elevated be, anyway?

      Any where else, it’s not sufficient.

  8. If I’m reading this right, there is a lot of at grade for the in new Seattle light rail- which is a big mistake

    1. I don’t think you’re reading it right, then. There’s an at-grade option and a grade-separated option for just about every in-city line. We can certainly fault ST for not eliminating the at-grade options, but we can’t say they’ve settled on them either.

  9. Issaquah Highlands to Overlake via Sammamish HCT? This reminds me of Interstate 605. Seems like studying the best way to connect Renton to the HCT network should be a higher priority.

    1. +1. The 269 needs to run all day – and I think that and better travel times through Issaquah would be enough for Sammamish – but Renton is a higher priority.

  10. @ Jon. That one is just a study. When they adopted the Long Range Plan back in December, they decided that they would study some options for future rounds. This was one of those. An alternate lake crossing was another.

    It’s definitely not getting built in ST3 because it’s not an adopted corridor in the plan. Legally, it’s not even possible. But theoretically it could happen in some future round, so they’re putting some money aside to take a look.

  11. From a research perspective, I am a bit bothered by PR-5 (HCT Study to examine access and connection on NE 145th from State Route 522 to Link Light Rail). Why call out NE 145th? Why not leave it open ended. It isn’t clear to me why you would skip the most densely populated, most vibrant part of that corridor (Lake City). It is still growing as well.

    There is also the possibility that areas to the south will also grow, which means that going to Northgate or Roosevelt might make a lot more sense. It seems to me that if you are going to study it, then you should study all the options, and not assume that NE 145th is the best one (especially since, as I just mentioned, it clearly isn’t).

    Maybe I’m reading too much into the title and they will research all of that anyway.

    1. Yes, I agree. Perhaps it should just say “Far North Seattle”? Directing a specific street seems odd at such an early stage — especially if it appears to skip Lake City.

      1. Just to be clear, I have no objection to using the phrase “highway 522”. But that goes all the way into Roosevelt (or pretty close anyway) with Lake City (from 145th to around 120th) being the most densely populated section (by far). NE 145th is nothing special, really (other than being the first logical spot to cut over).

      2. @Baselle — Yes, but highway 522 ends at the freeway. A technicality, to be sure.

        Again, I would certainly study a connection at Roosevelt.

        The study says “HCT’. which does not imply light rail. Given the makeup of the area, I don’t think we should assume light rail. Connecting to light rail in all the places would be problematic. Surface travel wouldn’t get you much (over BRT) and elevated might be unpopular (although maybe not). Underground would probably not be a good value (except inside the city) especially since the alternative is pretty good (dedicated bus lanes). In general that is the argument for BRT along here — the volumes don’t push for light rail, and building a tunnel would mean spending a lot of money for a fairly small improvement (I like my tunnels where they make a huge difference).

        Connecting to the various spots via a bus is also tricky. Heading to Roosevelt gets bogged down with traffic close to the freeway. This is actually worse in the evening. The city could eliminate the left turn lanes, but then traffic would back up onto the freeway (a no-no). As it is there are backups that often extend beyond the Roosevelt turnoff in the morning on many occasions. Northbound (via 15th) it is a lot better, but overall, Roosevelt is problematic. Northgate is a mess (too many turns) and the city has already done about as much as they can do (they would now have to “take general purpose lanes” which is really hard to do). That leaves 145th or 130th. I think it makes sense to focus on the section between 145th and 125th, as opposed to 145th itself. That allows you to connect that area (a very robust area).

        My choice would be to clean up the corridor and run a BRT line from UW Bothell to Greenwood and 130th. That would provide a great cross connection between Greenwood and Aurora buses and Link (along with 522). There are a surprising number of decent stops along the way as well (like Ingraham). Mixing in regular buses and BRT would be tricky — it would mean this route map here ( would be very difficult. You don’t want a regular bus slowing down a BRT. But you could easily reserve that section for BRT. 30th is an alternative, which means that buses coming from the southeast (Wedgewood, Sand Point, etc.) could cut over to 30th before heading west on 145th (as the 78 does on my map). That would get you plenty of service on 145th.

        But, like I said, they need to study that.

    2. @Ross. This is about one of the projects listed for future study in the LRP. Here’s the LRP language:

      Access and connection on NE 145th from State Route 522 to Link Light Rail: This study should look at HCT options to provide connections for communities and jurisdictions along State Route 522 to Link Light Rail at the planned station at 145th and Interstate 5 identified in the Lynnwood Link Preferred Alternative.

      So I guess it predates the recent discussion around 130th?

      1. Fair enough. The plans for the study happened before they considered a station at 125th. One would have to wonder, though, if those in charge of studying things know how to read a map. Not a light rail schematic, but a road map of Seattle, or maybe a topographic map, or a satellite image or maybe even a census data map. If so, they wouldn’t be so eager to assume that connecting SR 522 at NE 145th is the way to go.

        It is not as if the idea around NE 130th station is mind blowing. It isn’t like some genius came up with the idea. It is really obvious, which is why folks got so frustrated in having to fight for it. Besides, as I said, the best route my be to continue on 522 all the way to Roosevelt. Or maybe to cut over at Northgate. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, but that is the point. Again, that is just the title, but it sure doesn’t inspire confidence for a team that has made many mistakes before.

        I’m sure someone in ST is asking someone else why they didn’t study a station where SR 520 intersects Link. I’m sure the answer is, essentially, “You didn’t ask me to study that.”.

      2. Can we just start calling “ST” what it is, “Suburban Transit”? Who in her or his right mind would build a Kenmore/Bothell “spur” — or whatever they have in mind — and deliberately bypass Lake City?

        Not to mention, where do they make a junction? Both north and south of 145th, Link will be hemmed in by Fifth NE.

        I realize that, like a “Ballard Spur”, the tunnels around Roosevelt have pretty convincingly eliminated the possibility of a connection to a Bothell/Kenmore line which diverges there and follows Lake City Way through the valley. Perhaps the tail track at Northgate can be turned into a single-track junction, though it would have to be built with the beginnings of a grade separation from the beginning, and Sound Transit just doesn’t seem to believe in possibilities.

      3. “So I guess it predates the recent discussion around 130th?”

        No, it’s concurrent with it. 130th was originally in an ST alternative as an extra station on the Aurora alignment. A lot of people asked for ST to put it in the I-5 alternatives because if it’s feasable in one alignment it’s feasable in the other. That was several years ago now, and the calls for 130th have continued ever since then, every time ST releases an update or asks for input.

  12. I’m glad that a second “bus” tunnel isn’t included. As shown in posts a few days back, the original tunnel was built for buses and light rail… and we’re now stuck with a “regional” light rail line that doesn’t particularly serve Seattle or the suburbs all that well. A second “bus” tunnel virtually guarantees being stuck with the same undesirable technology in Ballard and West Seattle. Why not instead build a smaller tunnel that can be used for more frequent automated transit service, similar to the Copenhagen metro?

    1. Um, because we aren’t Copenhagen. Feel free to argue against the WSTT on the merits, but if you use the argument that “we are just like Copenhagen”, then be prepared to have a few decent rebuttals.

    2. We can build a second bus tunnel now. We can’t afford to build rail everywhere in ST3 no matter how much people may wish for it.

      Ballard-Westlake, or getting to the Junction even just from SODO will take most of the North King funds for ST3.

      There is room though for a WSTT and UW-Ballard.

  13. So do the proposed Ballard lines only go as far west as 15th? It looks like that on the map. If so, they’re going to fall far short of really servicing Ballard.

    1. If it’s the only subway line we build (and that seems reasonable for this round) then it would make sense to consider extending to 24th. It is all about the money and WSTT. If money is short, then we may only be able to do one thing, and light rail from the UW to Ballard will be it. With a little bit more, we could go to 24th. If we have a lot more, then we can build WSTT. So far, WSTT isn’t even on here, which is not good. It means that the chances of passing ST3 are pretty slim. With a small package, we could get UW to Ballard and that might go as far as 24th and go along with lots of infill. That would work for Seattle.

      But light rail to West Seattle would kill ST3. Light rail to Ballard from downtown might as well. You would either build something cheap or leave someone out (or both). Either way you piss people off, along with pissing off West Seattle. Two lines to Ballard and no improvement to West Seattle — that is an angry peninsula. Meanwhile, you leave out one part of the city between Ballard and downtown — so you can have a streetcar. Imagine all those folks that wanted Corridor D — sorry, we are running a slow line via Westlake instead. The opposite could easily happen (Interbay? You went with freakin’ Interbay?!). Maybe, but with a close vote already, I just don’t see it passing.

      There are only two clear winners in Seattle — UW to Ballard and the WSTT. The first is cheap and is clearly the best light rail project in the region. The second makes life a lot better for a lot of people (Belltown, Queen Anne, West Seattle, South Lake Union, Aurora Corridor) and a little better for some (Ballard). Either can stand alone and be spruced up a bit to deliver something even better (24th for UW to Ballard and First Hill for WSTT). But start throwing in other big projects and I think you can kiss ST3 good bye.

      1. @RossB I think you are overselling the politics of WSTT for West Seattle. The opposition will sell a WSTT and fixes on the West Seattle Bridge as a broken promise (Why vote yes for a new on-ramp, that the DOT or SDOT should have built 30 years ago and 3 minutes downtown?). I think the case for Getting to the Junction is stronger political case: Promise kept, once your across the Duwamish you could feasibly add a second line up Delridge to White Center and Extend the Junction line down California. Yes you would miss Admiral but I don’t think people outside of that area would like at the map and go these people are incompetent and Admiral is not big enough to sway the vote.

      2. Oh, I know many in West Seattle want light rail. But two lines to West Seattle is ridiculous, really (and it still leaves out Alki). It just won’t happen (just as light rail to View Ridge isn’t going to happen).

        I’m not saying the WSTT is an easy sell, but if you are on Delridge, it is much better than light rail to the Junction and much better than bus service today, especially if you trying to get to the north end of downtown. It is pretty much as good as light rail, really (some slowdowns on Delridge itself, but nothing like downtown). These slowdowns can be dealt with (and we would have a ton of money to deal with them).

        The tougher part is the junction. The WSTT is better than nothing, but it is not as good as light rail into the hill. But extending the HOV lane up to 35th is still much cheaper than new light rail and it probably would be more frequent.

        Ultimately, though, even without all that, the WSTT would at least deliver something to West Seattle riders trying to get from their house to downtown. For most it would be better than any light rail line that would be built. For a handful it wouldn’t be as good. But once the dust settled, and the numbers are run, I think people would like it and accept it. On the other hand, with nothing at all, you run the risk of simply pissing off everyone in West Seattle. Not to say this is fatal (there aren’t that many people in West Seattle) but if that can be avoided, it would be nice.

        Oh, and if you do propose West Seattle light rail for ST3 then ST3 will fail. There will be too much general opposition from transit supporters. If West Seattle light rail was cheap (like the streetcar) then lots of people would accept it (“it’s stupid, but it didn’t cost much”). But West Seattle light rail (any West Seattle light rail) is extremely expensive, which means it would dominate the next package and garner major opposition (“it’s stupid and makes no sense to blow our budget on that”).

      3. Oh, I should mention that one of the selling points is that it could eventually be turned into light rail. As you can tell, I don’t think that will ever make sense, but who knows? That part of Seattle could become a lot more dense (which would take more than a few cranes but a major overhaul of the areas that have houses). In the mean time, we would probably deliver something great:

        “I want a cookie! I want a cookie!”

        “You can’t have a cookie right now, how about an apple?”

        “Waaa… OK. Hey, this is pretty good [nom, nom, nom]”

        [much later]

        “So dear, you’ve been great — want that cookie now?”

        “No thank you, more apple please”.

      4. “Why vote yes for a new on-ramp, that the DOT or SDOT should have built 30 years ago and 3 minutes downtown?”

        That’s the fear about BRT projects everywhere. But the reason that happens is that it’s easier for politicians to water down bus projects and cut corners without people noticing. But if you start with a respectable budget, then you can do a lot. Light rail to West Seattle $3-5 billion. We could take a fraction of that, say $800 million or even $400 million, and make a lot of incremental improvements that would significantly improve several West Seattle routes. It could even buy more buses for more frequency. It’s the 80/20 rule. 20% of the effort often solves 80% of problems, and the remaining problems are far more expensive to address and may not be worth it.

      5. Staff, and Dow C, and at least one other member, tried to make the argument yesterday that they don’t want to load up the list with more options. The draft list is already at $25B chasing <$15B in capital funding. Precisely why it's so absurd that so many inexpensive, but perfectly workable, options are being taken off the table. West Seattle (and Eastside) BRT are exactly how we can fit resources to the budget. If all the West Seattle options are really expensive, and we *have* to go to West Seattle, other Seattle options will get cut or compromised. If all the low- or moderate- cost Eastside options are off the table, the public will be asked to choose "Totem Lake trains or nothing", "Issaquah Trains or nothing". This isn't as lousy as the conceptual scenario exercise, but the same bad choices getting keyed up.

      6. But many of the options are mutually exclusive. And some of our alternatives are lower cost. And some could be built in phases like BRISK. And in any case, the menu must have all the potentially best ideas on it, or the only choices are worse ideas.

      7. I take the statement about “$25 billion into $15 billion” to be the cost after backing out any duplicates.

        Remember, this (Scenario 4) is a fully-funded package.

        Add anything more expensive to this, and you have to take something away. Yes, it ignores subarea equity. If Sound Transit respects subarea equity, and we get the full revenue authorization, you can get a better North King outcome.

        But if an affordable way to get to West Seattle isn’t in the mix, you’re still looking at lousy North King options.

        Yesterday was a step forward from the conceptual scenarios in one sense. We now have some good Ballard options on the table. But having good options for Ballard isn’t enough if West Seattle has already eaten the budget.

      8. Precisely. Unfortunately, from where I sit, the Seattle nomenklatura seem to have decided that West Seattle and Ballard are equally important, and that anything less than identical treatment for both Alaska Junction and 15th and Market is unacceptable. Perhaps I’m misreading the situation.

      9. Yep, and like I said, having West Seattle light rail eating such a big piece of the pie will end with ST3 failing.

        West Seattle light rail is really a misnomer — it should be “One part of West Seattle light rail — other parts of West Seattle get nothing”. I know there are folks around Northgate who will miss the 41. But you can just tell them that in exchange for an express ride to downtown they have more frequency, a much better connection with Roosevelt, UW and Capitol Hill and riders in the evening have a much, much better trip to downtown. But run light rail to the junction and folks in Delridge get nothing. Its not about urbanity, its not about adequate density, it is about geography. Billions for a light rail line that only improves the lives of one little corner of West Seattle? No way I’m voting for that. Based on the projects outside the city, you will need my vote, too. I’m not alone in feeling that way — I hope ST is listening.

      10. Our read is that West Seattle is considered a must due to the politics. I don’t think there single Seattle ST board member interested in countering that logic.

        Having a $3.5B line to West Seattle considered a “must” could make the planning process a challenge but its possible there are versions of systems that reach West Seattle that arent terrible.

        We’re still trying to work out what our recommendations will be. We know that we will not support any option that contain grade crossings in Seattle.

        We’re hoping to see the upadated PSRC population numbers soon. They will likely intensify the argument for grade separation through neighborhoods north of the ship canal.

      11. I’m glad you’re working on your recommendations, but if you both accept rail to even a few parts of West Seattle rail and forbid grade crossings, I think you’ve set yourself an impossible challenge.

      12. Keith,

        The road ST is going down now would get a big NO vote from me. If they blow the whole North King wad on West Seattle and give Ballard a streetcar I gladly join the opposition to ST3.

        Sure people in the north end including Ballard might be willing to accept a streetcar, but I suspect there will be quite a bit of WTF? from voters if the lions share of North King funds are blown on a low-ridership line to the Junction.

        A WSTT would greatly improve service for West Seattle, Delridge, White Center, Burien, Ballard, Aurora, Greenwood, and possibly Federal Way and Tacoma (assuming ST express is allowed in the new tunnel.). It also keeps the same service level for the 101, 106, and 150.

        Even if at some future date you add a bunch of rail to the WSTT it still potentially could be used by buses, especially with off-board payment.

      13. William – it certainly presents a challenge.

        1). We’re not sure that we will accept West Seattle rail as a given – we definitely won’t if it means grade crossings elsewhere.

        2) C5 really isn’t all that bad, ignoring the over-generous ridership estimates. All the way to Delridge is $3.5B – but it doesnt have to go all the way to Delridge.

        3) Martin’s estimates for Nortg King is a budget of $5.1B + federal money if a $15B plan passes. I think his numbers are solid and that Seattle is very likely to get Federal money. Part of the fight we be making sure we keep it.

      14. But if I understand correctly, a large portion of the cost is spent in just getting to West Seattle. And if we don’t extend the line all the way to Delridge, the vast majority of riders are going to have to transfer, making their trips longer than they are currently. But if it does go to Delridge, more than half the North King budget would be spent in West Seattle – making a package that even I would seriously consider voting against.

      15. I heard several current and former councilmembers live in West Seattle, and there are some twenty candidates for the council district. So that’s why the politicians have West Seattle myopia.

      16. All – There is a lot to consider here. You have $5.5-6.0B to spend in Seattle, what do you do?

        There are ideal technical options that we will have trouble getting support for with ST and politicians, acceptable options that are driven by politics, and options we will deem unacceptable.

        For $6B you could build Delridge to Ballard elevated outside of DT w/a tunnel through it. If the real number is $5.1B you could defer part of the WS line. Among the options we are discussing at Seattle Subway – we label that one “political.”

        Its an option we look at as the least attractive of the potentially acceptable options.

        I’m still of the strong opinion that this next ST package should not just be for ST3. It should determine what ST plans to build over the next 30 years.

        Right now we’re talking and thinking and planning. The state legislature will determine the timing of our next move. You guys should come out to our happy hour meetup on Monday.

        Getting better results for Seattle will require a lot of work and will require us to get very loud and on (or at least very near) the same page.

      17. $3.5 billion for fewer than 20,000 riders will not earn federal money.

        Frankly, the radial Ballard lines might be too poor ROI to earn a single federal cent as well.

      18. We can’t budget based on uncertain grants. We have to plan ST3 assuming only local money, and then if a grant comes through it’ll just make it easier. If anything in ST3 would be unachievable without a grant, it should be an optional add-on, not a core necessity.

      19. What William said, I just don’t see it as being possible ( Too much for too little for me to support.

        I think that would obviously put an organization like Seattle Subway in a tough bind. I’m reminded of “Roads and Transit”. The Sierra Club was in a pickle. Do they support a project that is road heavy but contains a huge investment in transit? Tough call.

        But for me (and a lot of other people) the answer is no. If this was Sound Transit’s first major mistake, I might let it slide. But I am convinced that the organization has some serious problems. I’ve come to that conclusion reluctantly. I’m not one to bash government (my mom was on the school board — I tend to give our reps a little slack). But they have just made mistake after mistake. First Hill was at least understandable (sacrifices had to be made — a “Bertha” like delay and we could lose everything). But to not even consider a flat spot for 520 suggests that they really don’t understand the big picture here. Your goal is not to just build something — your goal is to help people get around. Putting in a station — or just a spot where a station could be added later — would have cost peanuts, but made all the difference for the thousands and thousands of people who cross 520 every day. Then, to top it all off, we have to fight and scream to include NE 130th? That’s messed up.

        So while I can certainly understand the argument that a Ballard to West Seattle run is worth supporting (it certainly would be an improvement) I can’t support it because it is just too much money for too little. Better to lose, shake things up, and try again later. Lots of people (including myself) thought voting against “Roads and Transit” was a mistake, but the following year we had ST2 (a much better package for everyone).

      1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — ridership per dollar is not a very good metric. Paint all your buses pink and call your new system “Pink Transit” and you will have amazing ridership per dollar (above almost all of our proposals). But you haven’t done a thing to improve the system.

        *New rider* per dollar is a much better metric. I want to know how many riders who drive will now say “Hey, that bus/train is fast — I’ll think I’ll ride that”. Ten years ago, when Lynnwood started running express buses to Seattle on the HOV lanes that is exactly what happened. It made such a difference that word got around — if you want to get downtown, take the bus. But with West Seattle light rail you only get a handful of new riders. With Ballard to UW light rail, you get a ton. With the WSTT you get a ton. Suddenly riding a bus downtown is ridiculously fast, which means the transfer (and there almost always is a transfer) is really good. Lower Queen Anne to Capitol Hill — screw the 8, just take a bus to Westlake and the train one stop. Lower Queen Anne to First Hill — again, go downtown and take the BRT up the hill. If it works for those trips — trips where the distance is short and the system isn’t exactly the direction you are going — then it will work for dozens more.

        If Sound Transit doesn’t see that, then I’ve lost all faith in the agency. If they build something that is obviously less valuable, then I can’t support it, or them.

      2. Haha – Ross, be careful of the metric you wish for. Prioritizing new riders gets you lines to transit hostile environs.

        $/rider is as good a start as any (but you have to trust both sides of that equation.). Did you check out the spreadsheet. Speed improvement/trip in MPH vs current is very meaningful too. It gets you those urban choice riders.

        You are correct that we are in a tough spot. We fought hard to speed up the ST3 timeline and now we’re in a spot where we might have to oppose the first draft of ST3. Its our worst nightmare.
        That said, there are a lot of ways out of this problem. I’m working on what I think is the best option right now. Stay tuned.

      3. Agree with Keith.

        Focusing on new riders solely is how places that already make do with terrible transit get shafted forever.

        See: First Hill, Central District.

        The best metrics will be the ones that show the most dramatic improvements for the greatest numbers of trips. Only those will offer unbiased apples-to-apples comparisons, irrationally favoring neither distance nor mode, neither choice users nor the transit-dependent.

      1. Has any thought been given to going one stop further east, to University Village or thereabouts?

        The area isn’t is dense as the U-District itself, and it’s a bit counter-intuitive since it raises the seat-count per trip, but this idea keeps coming back to me. Even if Metro’s Alternative 1 goes into effect, Montlake is going to remain a huge deterrent to using Link during rush hour. It seems possible with a good transfer at Brooklyn, scads of people from Northeast Seattle would be more willing to get to at U-Village, hop one stop west, and then go North or (more likely) South on Link than they would be to sit on a bus in Montlake traffic to get on Link at Husky Stadium. By all accounts, UW-Ballard is efficient and affordable, and I wonder if anyone’s calculations include the possible extra benefit of feeding into Link a bit further east to circumvent the Montlake Mess. It seems like low-hanging fruit.

      2. I haven’t heard it mentioned ever, but I think it should at least be extended to U-Village and really Children’s in the first round of 45th Link. Transit to that area is pretty disappointing considering how much commerce tends to take place there. It’s a 25 minute walk from much of the dense residential zoning west of the Ave.

      3. Tiny hospital is tiny.

        Mall is built for cars.

        It isn’t worth adding 50% to the asking price for such paltry additional demand.

      4. Give me a list of what you want out of ST3, personally. I feel like I’m not getting the true picture when every comment I read is that people need to stop being foolish.

      5. I agree, adding 50% to the cost ISN’T worth it for paltry demand. But I strongly doubt it would cost 50% more to get U-Village, and I’m not so sure the demand would be “paltry”.

        There are miles and miles of under-served people north and east of there, who either have to navigate the UW or Montlake to get to transit that doesn’t suck. If we pushed “real transit” past those two barriers, their transit picture would get quite a bit rosier. If adding one stop to an affordable & efficient line can make it that much more effective, great. If not, then we’ve got better places to spend that money.

        That brings up a point that comes to mind most every time I read discussions here. Is there a set of concrete metrics that everyone uses? I see our biggest problem as being that transit decisions are made politically, not based on data (and we already know that the PSRC model is flawed). Much of what gets posted here (including my post above) seems to be based on feelings or hunches, rather than real data. If those metrics exist, could they be more public? If they don’t exist, we should come up with some to help cut through the politics and make better decisions.

      6. 1. Since we are talking about a mostly deep-bored route, it is fair to estimate that adding >50% length to the route, plus an additional 2 stations, is likely to add 50% to the cost. And that’s before you invite the additional NIMBY fights and get differently-visioned stakeholders pushing for suburban ameliorations on what had previously represented Seattle’s sole contiguously urbanized cross-town corridor for the purposes of high-capacity transit.

        2. The mall/Children’s/Sand Point Way corridor could certainly use a better connection to the high-capacity network than exists today. If Metro and SDOT have any brains at all, they will revise those routes to run in a straight line past UW’s front gate and on to Brooklyn the moment North Link opens. No one deserves that slog down Campus Way in their lives every day, with or without a cross-town subway on the table.

        3. From Ravenna and points northeast, Link is most easily accessed via high-quality gridded transit to Roosevelt. No matter what you built out to Children’s, it will never be frequent enough to be worth an additional transfer from the north. If ST insists on insane overservice from Lynnwood, let us at least enable Seattle neighborhoods to access that “spine”, rather than further detouring them to the south.

        3. It’s true that the mall and the hospital are “destinations”. But half the reason you think of them that way is that they are outside of the contiguous urban framework. You may be succumbing to the same “nodal” thinking that has hobbled existing plans and, ironically, allowed the bypassing of most of Capitol Hill and of the entire primary hospital district.

        I strongly encourage you to pull out the objective, census-derived density map, and to see where the contiguous urbanity lies. It will become quite obvious why Ballard-Fremont-Greenwood-Wallingford-UW creates the aggregate, multi-purpose demand to warrant high-capacity connectivity, and why outliers a mile and a half further to the east simply do not.

      7. d.p.:

        1. I haven’t been talking about two stops, or Children’s. I think we’d get the network effect benefits as soon as we’re east of the viaduct.

        2. Yes, Metro and SDOT could and should be running buses to Brooklyn station from the east once North Link opens, and that’s way better than the Campus Parkway situation today. But they’re going to stay stuck in traffic on 45th at the bottom of the viaduct during rush hour. And they’re not likely to run as frequently as people here discuss trains running from UW-Ballard.

        3. I agree about north and east of Ravenna: Roosevelt makes more sense. But that doesn’t help the area south and east of Ravenna.

        3(2). I’m not so interested in U-Village and Chlldrens as destinations. They’re not compelling enough by themselves. What I am interested in is enabling people who live in a historically under-served area to have a better option than having to navigate the Montlake mess, 45th, or the UW campus to get to real transit. And there are more of those people than you seem to think.

        Before I decided to post, I spent some time at . The area around University Village is as densely populated as much of Ballard, and most of Lower Fremont. There are multiple sections with north of 12,000 people per square mile. The area south of Market looks a lot like the area south of 45th near U-Village.

        If there is a better map to be using, I’m certainly open to it. But seriously: Is there a threshold for “dense enough to warrant rail”, or “dense enough to be contiguously urbanized”? If so, what is it? And if we can articulate it, are we using that definition to sway decision-makers?

      8. I am aware of the populated-and-growing area along 25th, mostly to the northwest of the mall, and I have said before that I am certainly open to the idea of costing out that ~1 additional mile.

        I do think it needs to be approached with extreme skepticism, though, so as not to dilute the slam-dunk ROI on the precise 3-mile core of this corridor, and so as not to encourage stop deletions and too-wide spacing elsewhere. I also continue to believe that interlining the east-west corridor through to Capitol Hill and downtown is such a potentially high-value proposition that it needs to remain in the discussion up until the time that a route is decided upon.

        The unfortunate fact of Seattle, ignored by many money-from-the-sky activists, is that the vast majority of the city falls well below the threshold that should have us tunneling full-fledged subways. (Were it not for our topography, we would hardly justify the cost of going underground anywhere.) And since high-capacity transit lives or dies on interconnectivity, the paucity of places that provide the kind of critical-mass of demand that high-capacity transit requires will lead to a lot of disappointment in the outcome of overreached investments.

        This is why I am so focused on the handful of areas where aggregate density comes in swaths, rather than nodes, and where urban uses are vibrant and varying rather than segregated and regimented. See your downtown Ballard example: there’s a reason the residential density is high-ish south of Market but not as high as next door: that’s all the other stuff happening in the skinny buildings on the tiny blocks of the exact kind of urbanity that Seattle is elsewhere bereft.

        Zooming out, it is impressive and important to observe the contiguous medium-high residential density that stretches through Wallingford, Fremont, and Green Lake, and all the way north to Greenwood, especially in light of the quantity of single-family contained therein. That these houses are on small lots, have grandfathered mother-in-laws or multi-unit conversions, are interspersed with duplexes and triplexes and older small apartment buildings as well as anything new in the “urban villages” demonstrates an aggregate effect on density. That effect is critical to transit demand, which responds geometrically rather than linearly to density increases and to places with needs and destinations in multiple directions.

        The residential areas at the bottom of the U-District bluff are limited in scope, younger, and to my eye neither as integrated with surrounding areas nor as multi-faceted. I am open to being shown otherwise, but for now I’ll hold onto my skepticism. We really can’t afford to dilute the advocacy conversation by propos asking class-A transit lines to class-C locations.

      9. Bang for the buck is important, and I have little interest in diluting the effectiveness of the money we do spend. If we waste money now, future projects are dead in the water. But I’d never seen this idea discussed, and it would be a shame if it were just dismissed without actually being evaluated.

        Driving downtown from just east of U-Village takes 15 minutes if there’s no traffic, and 45-60 during rush hour. Riding Metro right now takes 50+ minutes. U-Link and Metro’s related changes will probably pull that down to the 30-minute range (roughly comparable to driving most of the day, better during rush hour). Skipping Montlake/UW/45th would probably pull that down close to 20 minutes, which would make transit faster than driving at all hours of the day. This is an area where driving up to 65th to go west is not unheard of, and my hunch is that would be compelling enough to get a few thousand people per day out of their cars. But that’s a hunch, and not borne out by data. So I think there’s an opportunity there, and would like to see it studied.

        How do we define class-A, class-B and class-C (in general, not for purposes of this specific discussion)? Obviously there’s a density component, and you’ve mentioned contiguous density. Obviously cost needs to factor in as well. It seems like a lot of emotional arguments get made (hell, mine might be one of them), and if we had a common language and set of standards, it would be easier to filter out the wheat from the chaff, for transparent reasons rather than subjective/instinctive ones.

      10. Hey, Chris,

        I do believe that eastward extensions to U Village and/or Children’s have been debated nearly every prior time the Ballard-UW line/spur has been blogged about in the past.

        And I do also find it unfortunate that those prior discussions have become overrun by the napkin-mapping of “subways to everywhere” enthusiasts who can’t understand why View Ridge isn’t perfectly primed for a subway extension. And then there are the “floating tunnels to Kirkland” types. [Oy!] These people detract from, as you say, a logical case for studying how to, at the very least, expedite transit past the chokepoints of the UW bluff.

        I don’t know how to navigate the path to the financially responsible, politically countenance-able, and mobility-effective solution. As you know, the UW-Ballard subway has shown the slam-dunk ROI priority in ST’s own studies — despite metrics intentionally designed to undervalue it — and somehow we’re still getting Junction shuttles and Westlake streetcars shoved down our throats.

        But I do hope you stick around to shape the discussion. You are clearly a curious mind and reasonable voice, so your perspective on the “inner Northeast” will be valuable as a counterpoint to many of the unhelpful overreachers.

        Anyway, I am actually out of the country right now, and I have promised myself a little break from the STB fray (though it has been all to easy to get sucked back in at times of jetlag and wi-fi access). So I should let this sub-thread drop for now. No doubt this won’t be the last time the topic will prove relevant.


  14. PR-5: “HCT … on NE 145th from SR 522 to Link Light Rail”

    Can this mean anything other than rerouting the 522? Does it mean having the 522 in Lake City is an endangered species?

    PR-6: “Northern Lake Washington HCT Crossing Study”

    I assume “crossing” means the 520/Sand Point line, not the Lake City – Bothell – Kirkland line. I think the latter should probably be higher priority, although it should be truncated at Bothell because a U-shaped line would only make sense if most people were going to the center. (Maybe UW Bothell will become as big as UW? It wishes.)

    1. I had the same concern about PR-5 above. I think it is foolish to not consider other ways of connecting 522 to Link. NE 145th, NE 130th, Northgate and Roosevelt should all be studied.

      But ST may have always wanted to screw over — sorry, pretend that — Lake City doesn’t exist and isn’t the most densely populated section of 522. It is also the second biggest destination, after the university.

  15. ST just rebuilt the Edmonds Station.
    Why would they continue to want funds for a “permanent” station?
    Nobody knows when BNSF will double-track, or WSF will decide what to do with the Ferry Terminal. Amtrak Cascades and Empire Builder visit the station too. ST should have some $ for planning coordination, but not construction. The money would be better spent on the 220th Link Station. It could also be used to study through-routing Sounder North and South lines or getting good cost/benefit estimates for Sounder infill stations at N. Downtown, Interbay, Ballard or west downtown Everett.
    Other things that should be on this list for SnoCo:
    -Study a spur, in addition to the mainline diversion, to serve South Everett Industrial Center and potential O&M sites.
    -A freeway station at SR525 & 164th (Swamp Creek P&R). and study extending some I-405BRT service north to Boeing Everett. Perhaps a large private aerospace employer would be interested in partnering to fund something like a Renton-S.Everett STExpress route?
    -Interim rail-convertible freeway bus station and/or HOV access at Mariner P&R.
    -Study future annexation and ST Express or Sounder service potential for regional growth areas in Snohomish County outside the current district.
    -Study SR104 Edmonds to Eastside (Bothell/Woodinville?) BRT
    -Ask KCM to Study RR extension to MLT 236th Station.

    1. The funds for Edmonds Station would be used on the west platform, which was deferred from the 2011 project.

    2. Look at that street view link.

      The second track is going in the asphalt area, with the concrete portion of the platform becoming the new edge. Yes, that means that concrete wheelchair ramp is coming out.

      Down at the Amtrak station, that puts the track 9 ft. away from the building, and means that bay window on the station is in the way (it, and the planter, takes up the platform space in that area).

      “Nobody knows when BNSF will double-track,… which is a good reason to get it done before they decide to, because it would only take them a few weeks to complete that type of project. ” or WSF will decide what to do with the Ferry Terminal….” but at least that’s controlled by the legislature, with a whole lot more visibility and time to plan around. “Amtrak Cascades and Empire Builder visit the station too. ST should have some $ for planning coordination, but not construction” Amtrak used (in the Sounder section), and still uses the old (section of the) platform just fine. It was Sounder North that required all the changes, including the Amtrak Station modifications.

      It’s part of the original agreement, ST just got a reprieve on the last part because BNSF lived up to their part of the agreement (provide 4 round trips a day, + sporting events on weekends), but freight traffic fell off enough to lower the double tracking of that section’s priority.

      1. Jim, thanks for your response.
        The station was built so the double tracking could happen at any time and the wheelchair ramp could be replaced. AFAIK they have plans to shave the roof of the Amtrak building back. What I’m saying is: rather than building that westside platform, wait for a bigger project to leverage the other investments needed there and make sure we coordinate. The previous ferry proposal was quite a distance away from the current station. I didn’t particularly like that, but I think it offers justification for a wait and see approach.
        It’s a choice, We can invest those dollars to meet a literal interpretation of the votes and the standard of having platforms on both sides (which has operational efficiencies, but is not necessary) OR, We can invest those dollars somewhere else to meet demands that Sounder currently isn’t capturing. Any of the additional stations I mentioned could be ostensibly the same platform to be built in Edmonds, for roughly similar price, but would serve a different group of *NEW* riders. For instance, letting N&S Sounder through route to serve both a N. downtown station and King St. would remove a transfer and improve travel time for many riders. That would attract more of them out of cars and off overcrowded I-5 buses. It could also free up some peak capacity and improve speed on downtown surface and tunnel transit for other riders.
        In this report: the first recommendation is to develop ridership and the first suggestion is to use marketing. That’s going to provide marginal benefit and shows the dearth of understanding in our region for how rail transport and transit systems in general actually work. Telling me how great the train is won’t make me ride it if it doesn’t stop where I want to get on and off. The other recommended changes are to land use and parking. ST has much less control over those things than whether or when or where they put a new boarding platform in. Age old wisdom says, concentrate on simple and when you master that, move on to bigger challenges. To attract more riders the service needs to become more USEFUL by adding desirable and competitive origins and destinations. I’m not suggesting stations at meadowdale, richmond beach or golden gardens which would be possible but not very productive. I’m suggesting a few spots with either growing density or regional connectivity. Remember that even after Link opens Sounder will be the best trip (less transfers, faster travel time) for anyone coming over the ferries and anyone in Downtown Edmonds or Mukilteo or even the west side of downtown Everett. Through routing N & S Sounder would provide trips directly to the Kent Valley and Tacoma that won’t be available on Link or ST Express even after the whole ST3 wishlist is built. The west Everett station should be a no-brainer with hundreds of apartment units soon opening around there and room for thousands more. Making those people go east to EvSta, to get on a train that goes right back where they just came from, destroys travel time competitiveness, which would actually be good for Sounder in this neighborhood set away from I-5. The platform still exists there and could be used with minimal maintenance upgrades. It was the Amtrak Station before Everett Station opened in 2002. From wikipedia: “The Bond Street Station, originally built by the Great Northern Railway in 1910, was originally planned to be kept as a secondary commuter rail station without parking or major bus connections until it was removed from Sound Transit’s plans in 2001.” I can’t fault ST for removing it, because the potential was very low back then, but underlying conditions have changed and there is now a renewed opportunity in that location. The building is being used by BNSF but isn’t needed for Sounder service. All they need is a few TVM’s, ORCA readers, an ADA ramp, and 1 minute in the schedule to stop and pick up more people.
        If the goal is to carry more people, we should be taking actions likely to achieve that goal, by making service more useful, not pouring more resources into existing station locations or marketing a service with, currently, very limited utility.

      2. It surprises me how little coordination has been mentioned in past or future plans on connecting Link and Sounder stations. I agree that Sounder should be the long route hauler and link a potential feeder where fruitful. But I think the only pair of current or future stations with any proximity is in the International District.

      3. The reason why the connection from Mukilteo Ferry to Lynnwood is so time-consuming is that routing taken by Community Transit buses is so circuitous.

        The operating costs of north Sounder are truly eggregious for the number of riders they carry, especially at Edmonds and Mukilteo (the bulk of the riders it does get come from Everett Station). You could run nonstop shuttle buses from both Edmonds and Mukilteo to the nearest Link Station for much less than running Sounder would cost.

        The problem is it would make the $250 million sunk cost for the perpetual easement look even worse than it is now.

  16. So in the draft document … in the “Enhancements to Existing System” section.

    I see that they have listed Boeing Access Road Link and Sounder stations that were deferred from the beginning.

    Are they including them here to be complete? or are they actually considering them? other than connecting Sounder pax and Link pax … I cannot see ANY benefit from a station there … it’s certainly not near anything else to be useful and I was under the impression that BNSF or UP (whomever owns the rail yard there) was completely against having a passenger station sited there.

    1. Officially they haven’t made a decision yet and won’t until next year. Unofficially, who knows what each boardmember is thinking. The Mayor of Tukwila is pushing for the Boeing Access Road Link station, and ST listens to mayors more than they listen to us. I don’t know what BNSF thinks of it. I can’t see a BAR Sounder Station because Tukwila has been investing in Tukwila Sounder Station which is really too close to it for another station. There are tradeoffs and other benefits for the Link station, although most of them are minor.

      133rd Station seems to have less going for it. The only argument I’ve heard for it is to truncate the 150, because nobody is going to live next to a bus barn. (Unless they’re in the Spring District, of course! But this is in the middle of a heavy-industry area.) But that’s a lot of money for a station for just one bus route and nothing else.

    2. The Boeing Access Road Station’s utility could be enhanced through a better connection if it was designed to be a regional bus hub. Unfortunately, the site plan from 1999 (apparently used in the 2001 Record of Decision) doesn’t show any regional bus connections. Metro route 101 and 150 could easily be linked into this station, and maybe even terminated there. Some or many of the ST 57X and 59X routes could also be linked through a freeway bus stop like the one at Montlake.

  17. I like the idea of a grade separated line from SODO to Fremont, serving SLU.

    1. I think ST needs to run a line in parallel to Market Street from Ballard to Zoo station, then veer south to 45th and Stone Way with a stop. From there double back a wee bit to Freemont and on to SLU. At Stone Way and 45th could be a junction for Ballard to UW.

  18. IF there is a second tunnel in Seattle, will there be downtown transfers between routes? The University street station has an underground tunnel operating below street level, could that be replicated between light rail stations?

    If I understand this, we are looking at a multilevel underground system like something on the east coast. I’d like to see some transfer points outside of the downtown tunnel. I’d like to see the primary backbone broken into separate legs. I love technology, but something that runs from Everett to the airport using surface streets in the south, doesn’t sound like a high percentage of success.

    South Lake Union already has the SLUT and its reaching capacity or over already, maybe its time to replace with a link compatible system that heads to Ballard. Moving the trolley system up to Eastlake from SLU to UW.

    In the 522 discussion, lets remember there is also a Metro 372 that will be swinging in the breeze. Sending it into Lake City and sending it out 125th to Sandpoint Way, past Childrens, into the UW Stadium area would be an interesting alternative.

    I’m trying to find out what happens to the Metro buses serving 145th and 5th when construction starts. The plans are clear the park and rides are shuttered, but not the actual runs 308, 348, 242.


  19. Just finishing up a train riders vacation through Europe and wanted to point out a couple of observations.
    1. Getting from one track to another is almost universally done in a pedestrian corridor running under multiple tracks for good reason. People are shorter than trains, so building mezzanines at every station adds to cost and time to transfer for everyone.
    2. I can’t remember passing through any 1000 car park and rides flanked by multiple freeway lanes. I did stop in hundreds of towns and villages, large and small to pick up pedestrians along the way.
    just sayin.

Comments are closed.