Bellevue Transit Center (Dan Reed – Flickr)
Bellevue Transit Center (Dan Reed – Flickr)

This is an open thread. 

45 Replies to “News Roundup: Tunnel Bid”

  1. Regarding Pronto: is anyone talking about a mixed expansion? Say 80% new neighborhoods and 20% infill? There are a lot of holes in the current Pronto network that, if filled, could make the current stations much more useful. I’m thinking in particular of Eastlake, Westlake, and the Burke-Gilman trail. Four or five new stations along the lake union loop would make current stations in the vicinity *much* more useful.

    1. For me, the highest priorities for Pronto stations would include:
      – UW Link Station (when it opens)
      – Montlake/520 (to provide connection between the UW and Montlake Freeway Station)
      – Many more stations within the U-district and surrounding neighborhood
      – Burke-Gilman corridor (Fremont, Gas Works Park, Metropolitan Market in Wedgwood)
      – Stations along Westlake and Dexter between SLU and Fremont
      – Green Lake (need multiple stations on different sides of the lake)

      1. Yes, good points! Especially regarding Montlake and UW Link station (which is optimistically a little over half a year away now!) Proactive placement of a station there would be a very good move for Pronto.

      2. Burke-Gilman corridor should and must include include Ballard. Between downtown Ballard, the Locks, Sunday Market, the brewing district and hell, even Golden Gardens, you would potentially have the largest rider jump outside of U-District Downtown; especially considering how flat and easy it is to ride between downtown/Fremont/U-District and Ballard.

        Green Lake is a good idea, but considering the grades to get there, it might deter your typical casual rider.

      3. The problem with Ballard is the missing Link. is the casual rider going to feel comfortable biking on roads with cars for the last mile or so? Otherwise, absolutely.

        The grades to get to Green Lake depends on where you’re coming from. From Phinny Ridge it’s steep. From the U-district, the route is actually pretty calm and flat. Just take the 12th Ave. Greenway to Revanna, then head west on Ravenna.

      4. I know what you meant, but capitalizing “the missing Link” gives your sentence a different meaning… which is just as correct.

    2. I liked what Jonathon Callahan said ( You can see my comment after. Basically, I would put Pronto stations by the Link Stations (and nearby destinations) and along the Burke Gilman.

      Back when my wife was a UW employee, I used to stash a bike in a UW locker. In the morning I would catch a bus from Pinehurst to the U-District, then ride the Burke into Fremont. I would use the bike share system for that exact trip if they had stations in both places.

  2. It is 1.6 miles from Columbia City Station to Othello Station. Why do we need to put another light rail stop in the middle, reducing the gaps to about 3/4 of a mile?

    1. Because people live in that area. It is the same reason that subway systems throughout the world have stops close to each other. It is why downtown has several stops much closer to that. If you are walking to the station, then the extra distance (keep in mind, this might be part of a bigger walk) is enough to make a difference. There are plenty of people who will avoid taking the train if it means walking a mile, but still do it if for a half mile. Often the issue is time (the extra walk just becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back).

      It also enables a better bus network in the area.

      1. Then why not have 1/2 to 3/4 mile stop spacing throughout the Rainier Valley?

      2. Graham Street is really the only additional station that would make sense along MLK. It’s true that there currently isn’t an E-W bus route on Graham, but there is a huge potential for development at that location.

      3. 3/4 mile stop spacing? Sounds good to me! If you live in the city, near the train tracks, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get to a station, on foot, in a reasonable amount of time.

      4. RapidRider, the travel time issue depends on what type of trip we are designing the service to serve. Do we care about serving intra-Valley trips well, or is it all about getting folks to Northgate and Lynnwood quickly via a few centers? Is Link to be an integral part of local transit services or an overlay on the existing network that serves some centers well, though that’s only where a fraction of people are and are going.

        The making-Link-travel-time-competitive-with-any-of-the-best-options-from-South-King-and-Pierce boat has already set sail, so we don’t really need to worry about ensuring the non-existent Tacoma/Federal Way – Seattle travelers on Link have the quickest trip through the Valley.

      5. The in-train ride time is only part of the travel time equation. You also need to consider how long it takes people to get to the station, and how long they have to wait for a train once at the station.

        If adding a station means the average person who uses that station needs to walk a half mile less than they did before, that’s at least ten minutes gained for everyone using that station, at the expense of a minute or less for everyone riding through. Whether or not that’s a worthwhile trade depends on how many people are using the station compared to how many people are riding through.

        My gut tells me a Graham Street station or an additional station or two in Capitol Hill would likely be wins under this metric, but someone with actual data should run the numbers.

        Also if an additional station generates enough net new riders, that could lead to increased frequency on the line, which would decrease the average wait time and help negate the in-train travel time increase.

      6. To say that adding a Graham St. Station saves users 3/4 of a mile of walking is actually quite simplistic. The residential streets in the Ranier Valley from pretty much due north-south and east-west, While the arterials – Ranier Ave. and MLK run diagonal.

        So, if you live somewhere like Graham and 42nd and are trying to get to Link, you will not walk west to MLK, then south to Othello Station. Instead, you will walk due south on 42nd Ave. until it runs right into Othello Station and not need to walk west at all. Crunching the numbers on Google Maps, 42nd and Graham is about 0.25 miles to a potential Graham St. Station or 0.6 miles to the existing Othello Station – a difference of just 0.35 miles or about 7 minutes of walking. It’s something, but it’s not as big as it first looks. Granted, the calculations may figure a bit differently if you live on MLK or west of MLK, but a quick look at areal photos of the area suggests that most of the residential population is east of MLK.

        Assuming the new stop adds about 1 minute of travel time (which is about right, considering the mandatory 39 seconds of dwell time per stop dictated by the traffic signals), the break even point for a Graham St. Station reducing the average commute time would be 1 in 7 riders on the train just north of Graham St. getting on at Graham St. station itself. In practice, barring a lot of new density at Graham and MLK (which, to be fair, may be more likely to happen if the station does get built), I don’t see this happening.

      7. You’ve used this 42nd example before, which is notable because contrary to your attempted extrapolation, 42nd is the only right-angle-triangle cutoff in the Valley that is shaped like this.

        And you ignore, again, that normal people do not like to cutoff down 2/3 of a mile of landmark-free, pedestrian-hostile, rote and psychologically droning side street. Much less at night in an area where visibility equals safety. Or that 2/3 of a mile is still a stupidly long access penalty from even your arbitrary sample point. Or that anyone coming from Hillman City proper is still a mile-plus from the existing stations via your secret shortcut.

        TL;DR, your argument is not an argument.

      8. My real world experience: 42nd & Graham is the address of Aki Kurose MS, where I was at a meeting Thursday morning. I had another meeting scheduled in downtown Seattle about an hour later. Aki is within walking distance of my home, but because I had to go to back-to-back meetings, I drove to Aki, then drove to Beacon Hill, parked my car on the street and caught a 36 to downtown. Had there been a station stop at Graham Street, I would have walked and Linked my entire trip.

    2. We have to because SDOT is really good at spending money in ways that make no sense. Did you actually expect them to repave streets, provide actual grade separated streetcars, or true BRT? Nope you get another station along one of the slowest urban rail lines in the world!

  3. The basketball/hockey location is interesting. It is actually closer to the SoDo stop then it is the Stadium stop. It’s not great for walking though (from what I can tell). The city might have to spruce up Holgate if they add the arena there. I think this would be a good thing and just what that stop needs. If the city gets both hockey and basketball, you would see a lot more people using that stop (and the businesses that surround that area). Most of it is industrial, but there are a few bars and restaurants as well.

    1. The transit and transportation analysis is in Appendix E. The nice weather scheduled for this weekend will prevent me from digging too deeply into details, but from skimming, I noticed something very strange. Sounder isn’t considered in the analysis because there aren’t any outbound trips scheduled after 615p, so using Sounder isn’t included in the FEIS. With a capacity of about 1,900 passengers per train, it would seem like a good idea to analyze a post-event Sounder trip as part of the transportation package. One Sounder train could carry ~10% of the event attendees and alleviate a considerable portion of the traffic congestion. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to look into the idea of a post-event Sounder train?

      1. Is it closer to the SoDo stop than Stadium? Looks to be pretty much equidistant from what I can tell, which is unfortunate.

        Re: Sounder, obviously I’d be in favor of anything that means additional Sounder trains. But there may be another reason Sounder isn’t included in the analysis. The arena would be sited south of the existing stadiums, so an even longer walk (approximately a mile?) back up to King Street. I’m sure a bunch of event-goers would be willing to make that hike, but maybe not as many as you might think.

        And while I’m betting most people on this blog (self included) think it would still be a good idea to at least “look into” a post-event Sounder train, I’d hope that if it were feasible, they’d already be doing it for Mariner night games.

      2. @Kacie — OK, you’re right. It is about half way in between. I was looking at the bus stops on Holgate (there is no train stop there). Yes, that is unfortunate — it is a bit of schlep from either stop. It would be way better if the thing could be moved to the north (basically take over the parking lot or WaMu theater). I would think the latter approach would make a lot of sense (nestle all the sports stadiums next to each other).

      3. @RossB. Wouldn’t you lose the parking lot too it you tried to put in a basketball arena there? Would it even be legal to do that before 2021 since the Public Stadium Authority issued bonds backed by taxes on the parking revenue?

      4. @William — Wow, that was a great idea. Put a huge parking lot on the edge of downtown and then require it to be used for the next so many years. Brilliant, just brilliant. Sigh.

        I think the best bet would be take over the WaMu theater. It is a similar building, really, it just hasn’t been tailored for basketball or hockey. There aren’t that many events there, so those can move to some other place (like the Key Arena) or just be handled by the basketball/hockey stadium.

      5. Integrating the arena in to the north lot redevelopment would have been the best plan.

      6. I always wondered why Stadium wasn’t designed with an entrance from the south.

  4. Sustainable agrarian urbanism: The low-density cities of the Mayas and Aztecs

    Maya and Aztec cities exhibited a distinctive kind of low-density urbanism common in ancient Meso-america.Thenon-monumentalcomponentsofthesecitiesdifferedfromthehigh-densityancientandhis-torical cities in the Old World that are often considered the norm for pre-modern urbanism.

  5. …some notable deletions, such as Yesler trolley wire.

    Hey, where’d the wire go? Anybody have insight into why it was removed from the project? That’s really important to have.

    1. On the First Hill Line, the main idea is to avoid having to hang three wires each direction, one for the streetcars and two for trolleybuses.

      There’s also the idea that since the southbound run is mostly downhill, along with the battery package, the car really won’t need much electric power.

      For years, on Market Street, San Francisco has had trolleybuses share the positive wire (the left one, closest to the center of the lane, with streetcars with poles for power collectors.

      Ample proof that poles and shoes, or wheels, can handle street speeds. The hundred mile an hour Electroliner ran on poles from Milwaukee to the Chicago city limits, before bringing down the poles and taking the “third rail” into the city.

      I personally suspect that one-way wire is an experiment to see what batteries can handle. My bet is that we’ll have a southbound wire- though at least an office pool could provide side bets on how before they’re demanded.


      1. I think Wes was talking about reroute of the 3&4 onto Yesler instead of James.

        Dallas just opened their battery and pantograph streetcar a few weeks ago.

  6. I am going to Lynnwood on Sunday, and of course the color run has no other place to do their run than downtown freaking Seattle. I will need to transfer from the 578 to the 512, which is already a dice roll because the transfer wait is 4 minutes.

    But of course Sound Transit is taking the SB 578 and NB 512, which are normally both on 4th Ave, and shifting them in opposite directions (578 to third, 512 to sixth), because keeping them on the same street would make too much sense.

    Does anyone know a good 30 minute circular walking route around downtown Seattle that you’d recommend in case my transfer goes south (or North)?

    1. Just to tick people off, along with, personal experience of how long it can take a northbound express bus to get from Fifth and Olive to I-5, I think that the 512 should have been put in the DSTT a long time ago.

      My own pet scheme for phasing out joint use is to give whole tunnel bus fleet ST colors, and use them on routes that will eventually be put to rail. Would definitely take care of transfer problem noted here.

      Will also serve as a confidence builder for CT drivers, who think that the DSTT has monsters like the one that poor reporter in The Night Stalker keeps finding, and his editor never believes in.

      It was aired before the DSTT existed, but one episode featured a mad civil war doctor living in the Seattle Underground in Pioneer Square, and woke up every ten years for an injection of human blood to keep him alive.

      So maybe that’s what the Community Transit workforce is afraid of. Almost as bad as being asked to hold a connection at Ash Way park and ride for a local bus run by another agency.

      Good thing Night Stalker never had to deal with the horror of that happening.


      1. The tunnel only really helps getting to I-5 if the bus is using the express lanes. The 512 cannot use the express lanes, even when they are open, because of the stop at 45th St.

        One thing that would help somewhat is to shorten the light cycles at 5th and Olive and at 6th and Olive. It seems as though buses are always waiting a long time at these two lights.

      2. The 355 uses the express lanes and stops at 45th. (As does the 64 I think?) Northbound is easy, but southbound requires diverting to Roosevelt Way between 45th and 42nd.

      3. Routes cannot efficiently use the express lanes and stop at 45th since there’s no exit there. They can take the 40th but that takes a lot of time which the 512 can’t afford. Also the dstt only services meto operated services (central link is operated by metro) and the 512 is operated by first transit by way of community transit.

        It would require they use the same radio as metro and that’s a big problem.

      4. I’m not saying it’s the most brilliant idea ever, but it’s definitely possible, given that at least 1 1/2 Metro routes do it (the 64 doesn’t make the diversion SB, since it’s already on the express lanes at Ravenna). Northbound, buses would lose at most a minute or two, since all they have to do is sneak up 7th Avenue from the express lanes off-ramp to the mainline on-ramp. Following the 355 routing southbound… yeah, you’re right, “efficient” certainly wouldn’t describe that. (Although, we’re talking about the 512, so at least we’re not talking about trying to navigate five blocks of 45th Street during rush hour.)

        But remember also, we’re not talking about that one change in a vacuum, we’d be trading that inefficiency for taking it off the surface and into the tunnel. That doesn’t necessarily mean the math works out… but you say it’s impossible to do it efficiently, I say things are rarely so black and white.

      5. I’m strongly against moving the 512 into the tunnel. It should stay on Fourth Avenue downtown to be consistent with all the other Snohomish County routes; anything else would mean confusion at the shoulders of peak about where to wait.

        Yes, Olive Way can be slow… but that means we should improve Olive Way, which would also help the 545 for the next year. (And even worse, in my mind, is the need to improve Stewart Street, which is used by every Snohomish County and SR 520 bus, both off-peak and on, together with the reverse-peak tunnel routes.)

      6. Is there a reason the 510/511/512 can’t take the Pike/Union St. exits into downtown like the 522 does? It is faster and less congested that Stewart St. I have never figured out why people coming from Lake City/Kenmore/Bothell deserve a quicker route into and out of downtown than everyone else.

      7. Myself, I’d prefer for the 545 to do that, too. I guess the reasons for the current routing are to sort of pretend to serve South Lake Union, and to stop right in front of Westlake Station.

  7. Where is the Yesler thing? So this means that moving the 3/4 to Yesler is put off again?

  8. Don’t Rehab La Guardia Airport. Close It.

    think of what the 680 acres of city-owned land on which La Guardia sits could be used for. If built at the density of Co-Op City in the Bronx — which has around 15,000 housing units on 338 acres — it could accommodate over 30,000 homes. Even more could be built in nearby areas, where growth is currently restricted because of La Guardia’s flight paths. This would contribute significantly toward Mr. de Blasio’s plan to develop 200,000 units of affordable housing.

    You know, it has always puzzled me.

    Despite expensive urban land valuations, and sky high real estate, and apartment shortages we still cede large swaths of land to uses that seem less than optimal. We would rather subdivide livable units into closet space (a.k.a.) than make best use of existing space.

    Why is it that in all our cities, the most valuable parts are often surrounded (despite hipster colonization) by blocks and blocks of either decrepit neighborhoods full of drug dealers, or decaying light industrial areas. Not to mention factory areas that have long past their day or their profitability. Seattle, too, is surrounded by these.

    Am I suggesting we close Boeing Field, or any number of acres in South Seattle, so we can build 40 story apartment buildings — spaced out with green areas — for the middle class?

    Who me?

    1. I liked that LaGuardia proposal a lot. I think the author should have advocated improvements to the Amtrak NE Corridor as well. That’s what’s really needed to shut down LGA. NY/DC elites will demand a fast way to get back and forth between those cities and LGA’s location provides that.

    2. Because of historical housing patterns. In the early 1900s most American cities were industrial, and factory workers worked near downtown and lived nearby. The lived “uptown”, downtown, or in fringe areas, but not in the industrial areas or working-class neighborhoods. In the mid 20th century rising overall affluence, white flight, the closure of inner-city industrial plants, federal subsidies/regulations favoring suburbia, and worsening schools and city-services neglect, and freeways through inner-city neighborhoods, all caused a huge exodus to the suburbs and fringe greenfield developments. That turned the industrial estates into ghost towns, and dramatically lowered the population in inner “streetcar suburb” neighborhoods both working-class and middle-class. In San Francisco, the hippies were essentially thousands of quasi-homeless people, and that scared the bejeezus out of longtime residents and they sold their Victorians for a song and skedaddled.

      The people who remained in these inner-city areas were the poor, non-moving middle-classers (like in Mt Baker), mixed-race families (also like Mt Baker), and urban pioneers (“Jane Jacobs types”). The population was now low in these areas, including Capitol Hill and the U-District, so everybody who wanted to live there could find a cheap apartment or house. That lasted in Seattle until the late 1990s, and maybe parts of New York gentrified earlier.

      Now the rich and upper middle class are returning to inner-city areas — which was their home throughout most of history — and crowding into “streetcar suburb” neighborhoods and pushing housing costs up. But the areas that remain frozen because of drug dealers and shootings… are frozen because of drug dealers and shootings. Drug dealers don’t always prevent an area from gentrifying, but at the same time the drug dealers don’t automatically go away (as in 3rd & Pine, and University Way).

      I know little about La Guardia and its area so I can’t comment on that. But maybe a little-used, obsolete, isolated airport should be converted to housing. (Except how would you get the housing onto HCT if the airport isn’t?)

      In Pugetopolis we can talk about specific industrial blocks and what could be replaced with. You mentioned Boeing field, or too-vague references in south Seattle. I would not object in principle to replacing Boeing Field or certain TBD parcels with 40-story apartments. But, our biggest employer uses the namesake field for test flights. And general aviation needs a place somewhere. As for other blocks, we need to talk about what specifically is there now, what other industrial potential it has, and how good it would be for housing/urban villages. I’ve said before I’m opposed to completely converting the industrial districts to housing and losing the productive businesses and potentiall-productive future businesses. Our industrial districts are not like some that are hopelessly obsolete, unwanted, and unmodernizable ghost towns. The closest to that is the Ballard Fred Meyer lot, which sat for ten years with no willing buyer until Fred Meyer took it. In that case there was no better use anybody could find. Are there other lots like this? Which ones? And can we preserve the productive industrial lots?

      1. LGA is obsolete and not connected to the subway, but it is still the 20th busiest airport in the US. That’s a lot of traffic to relocate, and it’s not like JFK and EWR have much in the way of spare capacity. It will likely take a significant investment in HSR for closing LGA to make sense. Oh, the irony if the subway finally reaches that area only to serve the development which replaces LaGuardia!

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