Produced for a real estate firm, the silent film shows the construction of the Twin Peaks Tunnel through the mountainous center of San Francisco and development of land on the west end of the tunnel.

41 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Building the Twin Peaks Tunnel”

  1. There’s a metro park and ride in auburn at West Valley Hwy & Peasly Canyon Road along route 181, but there are no bus stops. What’s up with that?

      1. Oh, interesting. I wonder why they don’t have a bus stop there, since it’s right on route 181. Seems like a waste to not have a bus stop there. It would make an OK Sounder overflow lot with a transfer from route 181. It would be even better for Green River College students.

      2. With the news this week that Sound Transit was “cracking down” on bus-rider-only use of the South Everett P&R, is there a need for lots for vanpool and carpool use? Would it increase vanpool and carpool use? If so, the lots could be in places that are not so transit-critical from the location or cost standpoint.

      3. That’s fine if every single person in the carpool or vanpool is driving there. But it does make it considerably more difficult for someone who does not own a car to join the carpool or vanpool in the first place. It also makes it more difficult for car owners to get to the carpool or vanpool when their car is in the shop.

        If the carpool/vanpool meets at a major transit hub, you can just bus there reasonably quickly and directly. If it’s somewhere out of the way, you either have to take a much longer and more circuitous bus ride, or get the carpool/vanpool (or one of the people driving there) to make a special stop just for you, which the other carpool/vanpool participants may or may not be willing to do.

      4. When looking through that Park and Ride list, I see a lot of churches that allow a certain portion of their parking lot to be used by Metro. And I doubt that the churches let Metro use their lots for free. I wonder how much Metro pays an individual church for a couple dozen spaces? Are we talking a hundreds or thousands of dollars a month? Multiply a few thousands dollars a month times a couple dozen churches, and now we’re talking some serious money. People are always saying Metro has no fat in its budget. I’d say Metro paying churches close to a million dollars a year for Park and Ride spaces is fat.

      5. Most of the church lots that allow weekday P&R parking are in areas that don’t have the greatest bus service and aren’t close enough to a freeway ramp to attract significant numbers of carpools or vanpools.

        While they probably are paying the church something for the use of their space, the amount is probably very small, in proportion to the very small benefit. Fortunately, with the opportunity cost to the church of allowing weekday commuters to use a portion of their lot being essentially zero, the church has little reason not to allow it for whatever money they can get. Especially since the contract between Metro and the church typically contains a clause allowing the church to prohibit commuter parking on isolated weekdays when there is an event going on at the church.

      6. Metro (presumably) pays St. Luke’s on Bellevue Way and NE 30th for 30 spaces, but St. Luke’s is less than 2000 feet away from the South Kirkland Park and Ride, with over 800 spaces. “But Sam, if Metro closes its St. Luke’s lot, and the Vanpoolers have to park at the S. Kirkland P&R, they might not like that.” Too bad. I would tell them to quit their whining.

      7. Sam, thank you for volunteering to contact Metro and the churches to find out how much Metro is paying for their parking lots. Because it would indeed be an outrageous use of public dollars even if they’re not paying anything. And I’m sure those drivers would whine about having to park a mile north at the South Kirkland P&R even if none of them would actually whine. Because the possibility that they might even theoretically whine is an outrage that must not pass silently!!! You can also check how many cars are in the St Luke’s lot and how many spaces are open at the P&R, because if there are more spaces open I’m sure Metro would like to know that and they can cancel the church contract. Then you’d be a hero for saving taxpayers a few dollars that could go for bus service.

      8. The parking at St. Luke’s will be going away soon for affordable housing (yes, there’s something about how Jesus prefers housing for the poor over parking).

        But I don’t know why you’d oppose having Metro use it. South Kirkland is full. The church parking lot has to be cheaper than building more multi-level structures.

      9. I don’t know exactly how ADA works for this sort of thing, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it isn’t legal these days to open a new bus stop without at least a short stretch of curb-height sidewalk for accessible boarding. That increases the cost over just sticking a bus stop pole in the road. With no connecting service and essentially no pedestrian/bike access to any home or business from the intersection it would be essentially a P&R/K&R-only stop, for a bus route that doesn’t really serve any traditional P&R destinations (places where people really want to P&R to save money on parking, or where there’s a public interest in intercepting vehicles to avoid traffic congestion). K&R dropoffs can be done anywhere along the line; there are some homes located such that this would be a better K&R than any place the 181 actually stops, but not a huge number.

        I think I’d put this intersection and the roads that connect to it in the category of ones that need pedestrian and possibly bike improvements next time they’re repaved; those improvements should include sidewalks sufficient to support a bus stop and possibly pull-outs. It’s probably not a super high-priority location right now, but it’s not my part of town, so that’s someone else’s call.

      10. They stared at the cyclist. He was shaking so much he looked slightly out of focus.
        “Bigmac?”
        “Ur-ur-ur—” shuddered Bigmac.
        “How many fingers an I holding up?” said Kirsty.
        “Ur-ur-ur-n-n-ninteteen? H-h-hide the bike?”
        “Why?” said Kirsty.
        “I didn’t do anything!”
        “Ah,” said Yo-less knowingly. “It’s like that, is it?”
        He picked up the bike and wheeled it into the sooty shrubs.
        “Like what?” said Kirsty, looking bewildered.
        “Bigmac always never does nothing,” siad Johnny.
        “That’s right,” said Yo-less. “There can’t be anyone in the whole universe who’s got into so much trouble for things he didn’t do in places he wasn’t at that weren’t his fault.”
        According to Sergent Comely of Blackbury police station, Bigmac was guilty of every unsolved crime in the town, whereas in real life he was probably only guilty of ten per cent, maximum.

        (Third quote from “Johnny and the Bomb”.)

  2. Can’t decide which is better: Watching those monsters. Which even look like dinosaurs, for structurally the same reasons. Or imagining Ed Murray walking around in one of those suits. Great if it was still prerequisite for getting elected.

    Interesting exercise to compare the machinery of those days and ours. Is it fair to say that main difference is that one human now uses electronic signals to tell a machine to do what many more people used to personally make it do?

    Old way definitely gave work to many more people. Though our way kills and disables a lot fewer. And if invented in 1910, would burn less wood, which would by now definitely mean fewer coal and oil trains Also, it’s not computers’ fault that their results are only as smart as the dumbest thing the worst idiot told the keyboard before sitting on the “Enter” key.

    A Maryland farmer once told me that from experience, a mule was many times smarter than a horse- but no matter how many times you hit it with a board, would not pull one pound past its capacity. So Nature had also long invented machine “governors”

    1914 trucks not attached to mules had a chain drive for a transmission. Read “American Road”, by Peter Davies, about the first time an Army convoy tried to cross the US, convincing office Dwight Eisenhower that the Interstates were key to national defense.

    Even better, a PBS video called “Horatio’s Drive”, about the first transcontinental Road Trip in a brand new 1903 Winton (one headlight, like a locomotive) featuring an eccentric millionaire, a bicycle mechanic, and a bulldog, all three wearing goggles ’cause no windshield. On a fifty dollar bet.

    Every single piece of metal on the car broke at least once. But the last thing to break was the chain- as Horatio drove into his garage in Connecticut.

    It was true that electric streetcars had been invented many years before, as well as trolleybuses with hard rubber tires and both contacts on the same pole. But so had automobiles and airplanes, and the Germans had scheduled airline service with Zeppelins. So TS, light rail and streetcar critics.

    All these machines are equally of the past, present, and future. And every aggravated motorist needs to remember that the numerous bicycle community had started demanding and achieving pavement while the bike chains were still being fitted on Horatio’s car and Dwight’s trucks.

    Great video, Oran. Many thanks.

    Mark

    1. Not sure that intercity zeppelin service has a place in the future, but I bet a scenic trip from Vancouver BC to Calgaary would be popular.

    2. I find it interesting that horse or mule and wagon were used so much. However, that would have been during World War 1. There may have actually been an equipment shortage and that is why we see so much horse labor.

      Usually, even on road projects up into the 1930s, you see a huge number of very narrow gauge trains doing the jobs taken on by horses in this movie. A huge number of those were sent to France as part of building and supplying the trenches. You see some of them arrive from the USA around 4:40 in this movie:
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F3s01i3aa7w

  3. Oregonlive transportation columnist Joseph Rose recently asked someone at SoundTransit about what speed limits Link and Sounder trains have in hot weather. After all, her, when weather is above 90 deg the train speeds are reduced by 10 mph, and 95 deg and above results in a speed limit of 30 mph.

    SoundTransit apparently replied with a collective “huh? We don’t do that here.”

    Sadly, I can’t find the online version of the column from a few days ago to provide you with a link.

    1. I’ve heard the same thing in the past. Apparently Portland saves some money on Max by building a cheaper cantanary system that can’t take the heat. ST apparently spent more and built a more resilient cantanary system. Hence Max has the hot weather speed restriction and Link does not.

      Or at least that is what I remember.

      1. The thing is that constant tension catenary is supposed to be resistant to these issues. I know it can be a problem, as can track kinks, but to me it seems like TriMet has just set the temperature bar extremely low.

        Denver and Calgary have far greater temperature swings than we do. What are their temperature limits for slow running?

        I just don’t see a New Jersey Transit user being able to tolerate a 30 mph restriction every time the temperature is above 95 deg F. Summer temperatures that hot aren’t that unusual there.

        The 30 mph speed limit on WES, which was rebuilt to be a “79 mph railroad” (take a look at the actual track construction and to me it looks closer to what Amtrak has on its 110 mph section in Michigan than northwest 79 mph track quality) seems particularly restrictive. I know places that do this type of speed limits, but not as low as 95 deg F.

    2. “However, if longitudinal and lateral restraint are insufficient, the track could become distorted in hot weather and cause a derailment.” -Wikipedia

      Glenn, I don’t know if this is the whole story, but would explain relationship between speed and safety. Also recall an announcement aboard the Starlight northbound through Oregon that there was a slow order due to heated track- even though trackbed is much different than LINK.

      The picture regarding Zeppelins (named after the founder of the program, whose title was “Graf”) in pre-WWI passenger service was that just after 1900, no other aircraft could carry as many as ten passengers. View and general ride experience had to be fantastic. But doubt the German language contained “Expedia.”

      Probably only benefit to humanity of The Great War was German experience with giant lighter-than-aircraft. Which unfortunately, included bombing English cities. Few civilian casualties by modern standards, but much terror from enemy aircraft that no friendly fighter plane or anti-aircraft round could reach. ‘Til biplane engines supercharged a year or so later.

      Between the wars, Germany developed some awesome intercontinental dirigible service. Again, luxury liners except with tiny passenger loads. The end of the Hindenburg wasn’t really what killed the program. The older Graf Zeppelin peacefully retired. But by the ’30’s, planes we’d consider small could carry many more passengers faster, safer, and much closer to schedule.

      The ships were really cloth covered metal box kites with several engines, surrounding a line of huge balloons filled with hydrogen. Which had a bad reputation, though in war or peace, airplane fuel causes worse problems in a crash. A 747 jetliner crash killing 36 people would class as bloodless.

      “Dirigible” means “steerable.” Large sailing vessels were good training, because however many engines, airmanship meant ability to use the atmosphere itself for propulsion and steerage.

      On regular scheduled service from Europe to South America, exactly like the helmsmen of the giant clipper ships the Germans still sailed, Zeppelin crews learned to use the outer winds of a hurricane for a powerful assist.

      Reason I keep bringing airships and sailing freighters into transit discussions: machines designed and people skilled to use natural forces instead of fighting them save fortunes.

      Mark

  4. My plane last night arrived 90 minutes late into SeaTac, landing at midnight. I checked the website for Light Rail and saw that the trains are running until 1 a.m. on Saturdays, so I felt great about it. However, the trains from 12:15 onward only go to Beacon Hill. Then, you catch a 36 into downtown.

    All kinds of interesting wrinkles were highlighted:

    A nice couple on the train figured out to get off at the Mount Baker station and catch the NB 48 at 1:00 a.m. I didn’t see how this would benefit me, since I would still be stuck in the U District, so I didn’t follow their lead.

    I got off at Beacon Hill at little before 1 a.m. I was floundering a bit, asking questions of total strangers. They showed me how to go upstairs on the elevator and walk onto the street (there is no signage that explains this, by the way). There was a man out there who said, “the bus just went by!” and I did see a departing 36, and then the man ran off. Why in the world aren’t the buses timed to the arrival of Light Rail in the hours when Light Rail only goes to Beacon Hill?

    I forgot to tap-out, whatever you call it. I don’t know if that will create an extra charge. I just forgot, in the midst of all this. There were no verification officers on the midnight runs.

    A Sound Transit employee was present that at the Beacon Hill station. Way to go, ST! I imagine she doesn’t have a lot to do at 1 a.m., but her presence was invaluable to me. She couldn’t do anything for me about the half-hour wait, but she was kind and received my complaints. “How am I supposed to …..!!!”

    As i was kvetching, I thought about Car2Go, and – lo and behold – I turned around and there was a Car2Go sitting there across the street. Oh my goodness … as much as I have issues with Car2Go (minor issues), everything was redeemed at that instant. I had my keycard with me. I was on the road within minutes.

    I don’t know Beacon Hill very well, and there is not good signage about getting to I-5 or getting anywhere. I ended up circling around and found myself in front of the Mt Baker station again, and saw about 10 people standing there, so maybe another train had arrived.

    Why do Car2Gos have automatic blasting music? This is a feature that I don’t like … And it’s pitch dark in there, so I couldn’t find the control button to turn it off, but I figured this out at one of the long stoplights that are so routine in Seattle nowadays.

    I intuitively followed main roads and got onto I-5. I was home (Eastlake) within 20 minutes. The drive cost me $10. So well worth it.

    If I had waited 30 minutes to catch the next 36 (that was basically the main option before I saw the Car2Go), I would have ended up downtown when the Tunnel is closed. The Sound Transit lady suggested the Night Owl lines, but I’m not sure they go up Eastlake. I know buses DO go up Eastlake about once an hour, but I was not prepared for this whole unfolding event, so wasn’t sure about details.

    I figured I would hop on a Pronto Bike Share bike – the one at the Westin, maybe – and ride home. It was a beautiful evening, and I honestly wasn’t that afraid of being out by myself. The 2 miles would be totally flat, and I know where I can switch out bikes if I ended up taking nearly 30 minutes. That was very workable, although unimaginable 4 hours prior.

    Overall, it was quite an experience. I am SO GRATEFUL for Car2Go and Pronto. I can see why people drive to the Airport, no matter what.

    1. It would have refunded 25 cents if you had tapped out, the distance from Beacon Hill to Westlake. I’ve forgotten to tap out at Beacon Hill too because the readers aren’t visible to remind you, they’re off to the side. I thought the transfer to the 36 was timed to allow people to transfer, but that probably doesn’t include time to find your way around if you don’t know the way. A bunch of little things about usability haven’t quite made it up to the transit agencies’ heads yet. The unified monthly pass is about as far as it’s gotten. Eastlake and University Way is one of the few areas of the city that has 24 hour transit, although it’s 1 1/4 hours between buses. The night owls all leave downtown at 2:15 and 3:30am.

      1. “A bunch of little things about usability…” Add up to BIG things for those who are not transit literate. KCM and ST higher ups (including boasrd membere, mayors and councilcritters) need to be riding the trains an buses regularly and alone without staff and sycophants to see what people face on a routine basis.

    2. This is a situation where taking Shuttle Express would be worth the extra cost (for me, anyway). Living in North Seattle, I often take the 48 to/from Mt Baker Link stop, mostly to avoid the downtown tunnel and 3rd and Pine unpleasantness.

    3. If you had a smartphone and Waze, you would have had no issues after finding Car2Go.

  5. I think it would be interesting to see how badly the new Amtrak Cascades schedules have screwed up ridership by city pair figures reported on STB a while back.

    At this end of things at least, the State of Oregon forcing one train a day into a Portland to Eugene day trip also means that there is now no evening through service at Portland. It used to be possible to get on an evening train in Kelso (or Seattle for that matter) and continue south to Salem or Eugene. Not now. The thruway bus funded by the state of Oregon now leaves Portland 15 minutes before the train from Seattle is scheduled to arrive.

    Other troubles with the schedule change abound.

    I’m pretty sure a Cascades Rideship by city pair look at the corridor with the current state of Oregon timetable will show some glaring holes that impede ridership.

    1. I thought the OR legislature had agreed to fund the Cascades trains for another 2 years. Did something change this week?

      1. They have funded the trains.

        The ridership on the southbound 6 am departure from Portland is still pretty bad though. Funding the trains and getting people to ride them are a different matter.

        The goofy thing is that frequently (today for example) the northbound train is frequently sold out.

        So, there must be a lot of people taking Bolt Bus to the Willamette Valley and coming back on the afternoon train or something. There’s no way there’s that much one-way demand without something else going the other way.

      2. I should say that the afternoon train today is complete sold out (including business class seats) between Salem and Portland. I’m not sure what it is like between Eugene and Salem.

    2. A quick follow up: I checked again today and the bus schedule for connecting the last southbound train to Sslem and points south now shows a connection as being possible. It’s a bit annoying that the bus winds up going through about an hour after the through train did previously (back when train 509 went all the way through to Eugene).

  6. I’m surprised no comments yet about developments out of Olympia.

    Looks like Sound Transit will get the full tax authority for voters to authorize.

    In return, Governor Inslee cannot impose a low-carbon fuel standard by executive fiat.

    I think Gov’r Inslee correctly blinked on this one.

    Monday evening are to be some votes so you guys down below in STB better be crankin’!

    1. So the legislature will help the climate by allowing Sound Transit to build mass transit, but harm the climate by hindering a carbon tax, As if the climate is just a commodity rather than a matter of public health and safety.

      1. if enviro groups feel that raising taxes is such a great idea, take it to the voters. Make the better argument. Otherwise, forgetaboutit.

        Great, so let me know when the raft of taxes to pay for sprawl-inducing pavement expansion go to the voters. No hurry, I’ll be here all evening.

        (According to two separate news reports, if it passes, Sound Transit’s funding would be unrelated to the “poison pill” language or any other funding authority granted to local taxing districts. The provision would only redirect state-funded grants to public transit, so, really, Gov. Inslee would only really be annoying the areas of the state that don’t pay for their own transit.)

        At the risk of continuing to snark, it’s like you didn’t even read Mike Orr’s central thesis: climate change isn’t a bargaining chip, it’s a here-and-now public safety issue. Tying it to a tangentially-related measure–public transit, spending which demonstrably reduces the problem–only introduces the kind of Hobson’s choice that politicians really seem to love these days.

      2. LakeCityRider, here’s my position on any and all state & local general taxes: Let the voters decide.

        Period.

        Low fuel standard, general per-gallon gas tax, sales tax, you name it. Want to tax? Voter approval.

        We the voters have rightfully or wrongfully sought to take that power away from the legislature and I, for one, am pissed my party has gone wobbly on this. Voters will not easily forget the gas tax hike my party should have demanded a voter referendum on. Oh that’s right, voters would learn many of the roads projects are of questionable value and do not reduce congestion as much as transit on a per dollar basis.

        We could have and should have demanded a referendum on the gas tax – instead now environmental groups and anti-tax conservatives will have to set aside differences and work together to try to repeal the tax at the ballot box next year. Oh that’s right, legislators of both parties & the Executive Branch will see as much of the gas tax authority bonded as possible if we get close….

        What a rigged game.

      3. LakeCityRider, here’s my position on any and all state & local general taxes: Let the voters decide. Period. Low fuel standard, general per-gallon gas tax, sales tax, you name it. Want to tax? Voter approval.

        We the voters have rightfully or wrongfully sought to take that power away from the legislature and I, for one, am pissed my party has gone wobbly on this.

        Here’s the thing: I vehemently disagree and the current showdown in Olympia shows why. I am not at all willing to put the continued funding of government services in the hands of people who only need say “no” to have all of their objectives met. It is very, very easy to convince someone to vote against taxes with nothing more than a soundbite and a willingness to damn the consequences (witness Tim Eyman’s overwhelming success in that area and the damage it has done to transit and education funding as well as tax equity between property owners and the non-landed). This is one reason, in particular, I voted in favor of Seattle’s Metropolitan Park District. I didn’t so much care about the list of projects, but I explicitly wanted the City Council to have the power to tax in whatever amount it deemed necessary for parks. Going back to voters all of the time is inefficient and not a representative form of government.

        We elect our representatives to do the hard, difficult job of running government in the face of factions almost completely opposite each other on everything beyond having a functioning fire department. The people are, I’m going to say it, wantonly, almost intentionally stupid when it comes to taxes on an up-or-down vote, in regards to “niche” services in particular.

        Major projects? Sure, put it to the voters. Large amounts of one-time debt to be paid over decades? OK, perhaps. General government or sustaining funding for existing, voter-approved services? No way; do your job, representatives.

      4. The thing is, different voters mobilize for different things. One group is passionate about small class sizes so they mandate them. Another group is passionate about low taxes and votes to cap revenue. The result is “Something for Nothing”: unfunded mandates. We elect representatives precisely to understand the broad picture and make decisions on what the state needs.

      5. +1 lakecityrider(Wes) and Mike Orr.

        This is supposed to be a representative democracy, not a town meeting. Direct democracy works poorly, if at all, once you pass the several-hundred mark. It certainly does not work for 7 million, and the framers of the Constitution understood that explicitly.

    2. This is how it seems to me. STBers aren’t particularly enthused about what a fully funded ST3 would include. For one, they have made clear they plan to construct rail which won’t be competitive with current buses. Two, even if sound transit would actually live up to their purpose of regional transit, say maybe by building high speed commuter rail which would make Everett to Tacoma by car the slow option even with no traffic, STBers prefers local over regional. What STBers really want is 15b$ of Seattle transit spent on projects that make transit faster.

      1. SoundTransit is just getting started on what it want’s to put on the ballot.

        The first blush would have spent quite a lot of money getting a light rail line to Issaquah, when pretty much all of the transit problems happen elsewhere.

        To put it in highway congestion terms, it would have been a bit like solving the Ballard Bridge congestion issues by building an immense and spectacular new bridge across the Snoqualmie River at Falls City: kind of nifty, but hardly an actual solution to the real transportation problems and really not where limited transportation funds should go at this point.

        Don’t you think that transportation investments should go where they would do the most good? In the case of SoundTransit, a bit of investment in, say, the Ballard to UW light rail line could reduce the costs to Metro of operating the 44, which could then invest the money saved into services where light rail makes no sense.

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