SDOT_Ballard-DT-corrected
Map by Oran. Station names are his.

Take it away, Michael James of SDOT:

In the Seattle letter, dated July 15, from Director Kubly, we referenced a station “serving Uptown and the Seattle Center”, to be more clear, this is a station in the vicinity of Mercer St. and 1st Avenue N. This station location has been considered in the previous Ballard to Downtown Transit Expansion Study, and in no way did Seattle mean to omit it.

All emphasis mine. For the record, here’s the original paragraph:

In the Ballard to Downtown segment of this corridor, we request Sound Transit analyze and alignment that includes a below grade station with pedestrian connections to the existing Westlake Station platforms, a station serving South Lake Union in the area of Westlake Ave N and Denny Way, a station at State Route 99 and Harrison Street, serving Uptown and the Seattle Center, a station in close proximity to the Elliott Trail bridge (near the future Expedia site), a station in the vicinity of 15th Avenue and Newton (near Whole Foods), a station in the vicinity of 15th Avenue and Dravus Street, a station in the vicinity of 15th Avenue and Market Street, and a station at 15th Avenue and 65th Street.

The words “a station” in front of “serving Uptown” would have greatly improved the plainest interpretation of this sentence, but in any case it would have been good for me to ask. So 350+ comments later the prime objection turns out to be essentially a typo. Those of you expecting betrayal at every corner will have to look elsewhere.

I’ve updated the original post.

******

Those two words greatly improve the overall coverage of the line. Not only does the core of Uptown get excellent service, but now virtually all of Belltown is within a half mile of one of three stations. That’s not as great as a proper Belltown station, but as I said earlier there’s no real way for a reasonably direct line to Ballard to serve both SLU and Belltown directly. Put another way, I don’t see this is being of much use for Belltown residents for trips of a mile or less, but they would be genuinely connected to the regional rail system.

The SLU routing has the interesting benefit of mitigating the Denny problem that I and many others have sought to solve with a “Route 8” subway. Although there’s a transfer at Westlake, which may or may not be well-implemented, in principle a ride from Uptown or South Lake Union to Broadway & John should take around 10-15 minutes no matter how disastrous the traffic on Denny.

The last thing I’d say is that I like how Mr. Kubly was extra-specific on the highest priority elements of the plan. Downtown has to be a tunnel with short stop spacing, but if the tendrils to Ballard and West Seattle have to be at-grade (meaning MLK quality) to pay for it, then so be it. In my view, that’s the correct hierarchy. Close, tunneled stations in the core exponentially increase the value of the system to virtually all its users. Surface running, while not ideal, has limited consequences for mobility further out.

220 Replies to “CORRECTION: SDOT Wants a Stop in Uptown Proper”

  1. While I’m relieved that SDOT actually does want to put a station where the people are, color me suspicious of the official explanation for its initial omission.

      1. If I’m feeling charitable, I suspect the real answer is “we developed a proposal that omitted the LQA station, but decided late in the game to go for 2 stops. Then we sent the wrong proposal to ST.”

    1. Having seen numerous City of Seattle press releases over my lifetime, I’m perfectly willing to blame this on bad proofreading.

  2. Alright – this changes my opinion of this route considerably. I still wish they would serve Belltown and think that would be a better choice than SLU, but I would support this route with a proper LQA station.

    1. I should say – I will support this route (if it is what ST chooses) now that I know it has a proper LQA station.

  3. OK, now they just have to explain how a lower than 70 foot bridge over the Ship Canal won’t affect reliability.

    1. Here’s the most interesting data I’ve found on that. This refers to two bridges in Maine, but is instructive.

      http://www.maine.gov/mdot/menhconstudy/documents/pdf/NavigationalTechMemo.pdf

      Pages 5 and 6 show the heights of marine traffic headed through the bridges in question. Only about 13% -16% of vessels wouldn’t fit under a 70′ span. Given the peak hour opening restrictions we’ve got, I personally don’t see the value in paying hundreds of millions extra for a tunnel, especially given the issues that arose when ST was planning a Portage Bay tunnel.

      1. Ron, I’m worried about a bridge (say, one that is 60 feet) that would open as much as the Ballard Bridge– which opens frequently around 6pm every day when the weather is nice (I know, having been on the 15X as it fights its way through traffic and gets to the bridge at 6pm)

      2. The current bridge has a 44′ clearance, that’s too low for many sailboats, although better than the Fremont span’s 30′ clearance which leaves it the most frequently opened drawbridge in the country. Even adding another 15′ to the new bridge would eliminate a substantial amount of openings.

        I think the tension here is that a multimodal bridge is going to require pretty substantial approach structures to tie into 15th, and if the span is too high these will be impractical to build.

      3. The logic somewhat runs that the water was there first. Surface commuters have options. Vessels are stuck with the ship canal.

      4. And it’s not like vessels get priority. They’re frequently held for up to 10-minutes for the cars to clear. It often feels like bridge operators stretch this pretty long too, letting traffic to stack up. In which case, the opening still takes but five minutes or so.

        (This is mostly related to Fremont, which I cross a bunch, on bike/foot/bus, and is the only bridge I need to raise for the boat I typically sail)

      5. I have never waited ten minutes in my sailboat, but I am polite and try to go off peak.

      6. SDOT wants a new bridge for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately they don’t have the money in their own budget for a replacement. So this new “multi-modal” replacement bridge is nothing more than SDOT trying to tie their needs to the ST revenue stream.

        ST should do what is right for LR and go with a tunneled crossing, leaving SDOT to figure out how to fund their own needs.

        ST can fund the ship canal tunnel by straightening the route between DT and LQA. Going up 4th is a straighter, faster, cheaper route that would allow for funding a tunnel under the ship canal.

      7. so was the water really here first? afterall this is a constructed ship canal. seems like an outdated law from back when almost all vessels were working vessels or carried lots of people. now most water traffic is pleasure boats

      8. Salmon Bay certainly was, though at sea level. As for the rest of the bridges over the cut, Montlake was a golf course, university crosses the lake, so that leaves Fremont as the sole bridge that doesn’t span previously existing water.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Union#/media/File:1907_Lake_Union_pano.jpg

        As to the pleasure boaters vs working boats, the funseekers may win in the summer months, but those working boats transit the ship canal all year, and there are a bunch of them. Most though, are nowhere near the height that would require lifting a span with 70-foot clearance.

        We don’t discriminate between commercial vs pleasure traffic on our roads, and we don’t do so on our waters either. The former would do much much more to ease traffic concerns for transit than the latter.

      9. “Salmon Bay certainly was, though at sea level. As for the rest of the bridges over the cut, Montlake was a golf course, university crosses the lake, so that leaves Fremont as the sole bridge that doesn’t span previously existing water.”

        Huh? As for Montlake, why do you think it’s called the Montlake Cut? Prior to that existing, Lake Washington drained from the south end. After the Cut went in, the level of the lake dropped to the same level as Lake Union.

      10. It’s not a question of whether the water or the road was there “first.”

        Federal Law is pretty clear on this point: maritime traffic, under nearly all circumstances, has the right-of-way over vehicular traffic when it comes to drawbridges.

        More generally, the priority for right of way is air, maritime, rail, vehicle, in that order.

      11. http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?displaypage=output.cfm&file_id=3133

        There used to be a golf course on and around the isthmus (closed when UW build the Health Sciences complex). There was a log sluice between the lakes, I believe to serve the mill on portage bay(which became the dump, and now UBNA). I didn’t realize that University Boulevard had been severed (c1913). As the bridge went up(1925) so much later than the ship canal, it hadn’t occurred to me that a dozen years would pass before reconnecting a severed road, especially with the timelines of the other bridges.

    2. Ballard Bridge clearance is but 44-feet. Even a 60-foot span would seldom lift. Not sure about the commercial fleet, but sailboats that would need to lift this* would largely be over 50-feet in length, compared with the Ballard Bridge which goes up for anything over about 33-feet long.

      *Based on napking math from known mast heights of vessels I’ve sailed on that lift bridges spanning the ship canal.

      1. They need to implement the Montlake Bridge’s opening restriction hours to the other three bridges. 6 PM is too early to start opening the bridges.

    3. ST will have to study the # of ships that enter the ship canal over 70′ and how frequent they enter. Perhaps they can work with the Port ppl (assuming they have power) to ensure really tall ships only enter the canal at night or on weekends.

      1. Ships have the ROW under Federal law. ST can’t do anything to change that.

        But ST won’t do anything so stupid as to put LR on a draw span. This is nothing more than the city trying to tap into the ST revenue stream to fund a replacement bridge for cars. ST won’t fall for it.

      2. Not ideal, but as long as:
        1) Openings are infrequent and not allowed at all during rush hour
        2) The train can start moving immediately after the bridge goes down, without waiting in line with a bunch of cars
        3) The bridge operators give appropriate priority to trains by having boats wait an extra minute when a train is approaching
        4) Whatever components of the bridge over anything other than light rail is paid for by SDOT, not Sound Transit

        I think it’s something I can live with. Especially since this may be the only way to get a safe bike crossing over the ship canal around that area for the forseeable future.

      3. Lazarus, a tunnel under the ship canal is much more expensive. Is there enough money in the North King budget for that tunnel and light rail to West Seattle?

      4. Considering we shouldn’t even build light rail to West Seattle, this isn’t a discussion worth having.

      5. Kyle S., just stating what appears to be the political realities. If you read my comment history, I am in the Ross B./D.P. camp.

      6. I’m with Lazarus on this one. This is no more than SDOT trying to siphon off ST funds to replace the Ballard Bridge. They may only be asking for design funds, but replacing the bridge to accommodate ped/bike improvements, LR, vehicle lanes will undoubtedly require substantial changes to the intersections at Nickerson, Emerson and Leary. This is not a small ask. SDOT needs to replace that bridge on their own dime.

        I’d rather they dig a LR tunnel from around Ruffner or Dravus going north and daylight somewhere around the first station north of the ship canal.

    4. It’s not less than 70 feet. It’s 70 feet or lower. Build it at 70 feet, or an elevated structure 26 feet above the existing road height. Make it multilevel so the auto deck gets to wait more often than the transit deck. You’ve got nearly 1,000 feet between the navigation channel and Emerson, so a station there to transfer between this line and the 31/32 (they go places in Fremont the 44 doedn’t) isn’t out of the question.

      1. I used to live along 15th between Emerson and Dravus, and still frequent the vicinity. While there is a smattering of apartments/condos along this north tip of Queen Anne, the intermodal connections are more interesting than the probably not so great walkshed.

        The ship canal bicycle trail passes under 15th at Emerson, and that is a notoriously noxious place to cross for pedestrians and cyclists.

        The Seattle Bike Blog has been agitating for ages to address pedestrian and cyclist concerns at this intersection and the bridge in general.

        Nice tidy 0.4-mile urban stop spacing between Dravus and Emerson as well.

        That said, I used to take a usually empty 31 at the stop here a bunch. And I was almost always the lonely passenger getting off the 17

  4. As much as I think Ballard-UW makes so much more sense, and an Interbay routing is a mistake, at least the line isn’t completely idiotic anymore.

    1. I still am worried about going bargain basement on the Ship Canal bridge crossing (which is why I supported Ballard to UW).

      1. I still think people are underestimating the need to open the span given the industrial traffic that goes through the area. Also what happens once you get to 65th Ave? I am not in favor of any at-grade alignment. Why should we continue to accept mediocrity just to reach a destination? That would be two major fail points waiting to happen with at grade crossings and the bridge. As soon as one opening happens where it gets stuck in place, then what.

        Everyone continues to downplay the bridge. Question will be if the USCG will allow restrictions for opening times? That is quite an assumption.

      2. The openings will be infrequent, and the time spent open, short. The typical opening of the Fremont Bridge is around 4-minutes in duration. There’s already a precedent for a 10-minute hold for traffic-clearing. It’s really not a big deal. Every once in a while a vessel will signal to lift the bridge. The bridge operator will check to see if a train is en route, and if so let it first pass. The bridge will then lift, the vessel will transit, and the bridge will close, all within the headway expected for this line.

        The sporadic odd delay would be at most a minute or two.

      3. I don’t think we need to worry too much about industry as far as bridge openings go. As long as the bridge is kept reasonably high, we’re only talking about sailboats here. Even if we weren’t, it is reasonably easy to restrict industrial shipping to midnight to 4 AM or the like.

      4. Yes, trivialex nailed it. We keep going over this, and it really is a side issue. Just to repeat:

        1) 70 feet is very high. Very few boats that go through the canal are that tall.
        2) It doesn’t take long for a boat to go through.
        3) The bridge operator will simply wait for a train to pass, then let a boat through. By the time the next train arrives, the boat has passed.

        Since the boats and trains travel infrequently, it really isn’t an issue. It does point out one advantage of a light rail bridge over a new BRT bridge. With light rail, you have bigger vehicles, but they come less often. This means that it is trivial to time the opening. With a stream of buses, there would be delays. This doesn’t mean there would be a traffic backup. Once the bridge went down, the buses would disperse very quickly (unlike car traffic). I still think light rail through here is a very low priority, but this is an interesting advantage of it over a similar BRT improvement. Light rail would be a lot less frequent, but more consistent. That being said, if the bridge opens two or three times a month, I would prefer frequency.

      5. 70′ is very high. That would make it the highest drawbridge in all of Seattle. Even the Spokane Street Swing Bridge over the Duwamish is only 55′ high. The highest bridge on the Ship Canal right now is Montlake, and that’s just 46′.

        We looked at bridge heights back in 2013. A 60-70′ bridge over the ship canal would open extremely rarely. NYC and Chicago’s rail transit systems have movable bridges that are much lower, and they tolerate occasional bridge openings with minimal (~2-3 minute) delays.

        And let me remind everyone of SDOT’s official policy on ship canal bridge openings:

        Bridges remain closed to boaters weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., except national holidays. During closed periods, bridge openings will not be made unless a vessel is 1,000 gross tons or more, or is towing a vessel exceeding 1,000 gross tons (Federal Regulation).

      6. Ross B. et al– I agree a 70 foot bridge won’t open much, but given the grading issues (5%) how will it get back down to flat ground at 15th and Market? See also Ron Swanson’s comment about finding the right balance on bridge height.

      7. Well, at 5%, the line can descend 70 feet in 1400 feet – which puts you around 52nd St, several blocks south of Market. (Of course, cross-streets complicate the equation, but this shows there’s plenty of space.)

      8. > The highest bridge on the Ship Canal right now is Montlake, and that’s just 46′.

        Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the Salmon Bay rail bridge taller than that? How is it doing in terms of safety and lifespan? Does anyone wish it were higher? Would there be any point to exploring a joint freight/light rail bridge instead?

        What if the route veered left onto W Armory Way just north the Newton stop, flew across the rail yard to an elevated Dravus station on the east side of 20th, then continued up Gilman taking advantage of its natural incline, generous width, adjacent open space and the lower water level outside the locks to create a de facto taller bridge? It could then swing around to 54th and sneak up the back side of Market. Plop stops at 24th, 14th and 8th and it’s already pointed in the right direction for a tunnel to UW. Leaves the northerners hanging a bit, but if Belltown can take it….

        Maybe even north Magnolia could get a station at some point.

        It would be longer and more technical but maybe the benefits are worth considering.

  5. Well, there we go. You’d think they’d have more of a rapid response PR operation for this sort of thing, but I guess not.

    As revised, this looks good to me. As others have said, Belltown has excellent bus service now, and would be a logical extension of the 1st ave streetcar someday. SLU needs the service more, and with a proper stub put in east of Harrison, this is the first phase of the #8 subway everyone loves so much.

    At grade is really not a problem in Interbay. Add a flyover for Mercer and you’ve eliminated the one problematic intersection. 1950s SDOT already built you a grade separated interchange at Dravus for the northwest freeway.

    1. This is still a bitter pill to swallow.

      No subway stop in Belltown. No subway stop at the top of Queen Anne. Ballard to UW is only going to be “studied” (didn’t we study it already?).

      A CCC connection through Belltown (not even in the cards yet) feels a bit like a First Hill trade, though admittedly not quite that bad. What about Upper Queen Anne then? Gondola? Funicular? or should they expect electric buses for the next 50 years?

      This still feels like a line trying to bring people into the city just for jobs, avoiding population centers. Even the Ballard segment goes straight up 15th, presumably for that new office building going in at Market and 15th.

      We need to serve population centers too.

      1. A top of Queen Anne would not happen without maybe a 200-300 foot shaft into the ground. As much as I would like it, engineering wise, it wouldn’t work out.

        Question becomes do you serve Ballard via Belltown and then build an Aurora Corridor later?

      2. @Dan H

        There may be ways to serve Queen Anne without a subway station, but they are less popular ideas. They would be a lot cheaper for sure though.

      3. Charles,

        A CCC extension down First Avenue with reservation will perform much better that SLU with its crossing of the cockeyed grid. It will perform much better than First Hill with all its turns and crookedness.

        Belltown is a premier entertainment district. What does San Francisco have to serve its “premier entertainment district, Fisherman’s Wharf? Vintage streetcars and cable cars that go four miles per hour. A streetcar is a natural adjunct to a pedestrian district with its frequent stops and reliable waykeeping. With reservation to keep things moving, it will be fine.

      4. What I could see in ST4 is a version of corridor D that crosses the QA/Mercer station and goes on to serve Fremont and Phinney Ridge or the Aurora corridor. Bus service isn’t awful going downtown from QA, but what QA is lacking is decent service North of the shipping canal. It takes a long transfer to the 31 or 32 or a 15 walk to get to Fremont. And getting to Ballard takes another transfer in Fremont or backtracking to LQA. What Upper Queen Anne needs is an all day 29 and an extension of the 13’s trolleywires to Fremont. These are vastly cheaper than corridor D, and would do wonders for mobility.

      5. A bit of a tangent here – but I’d argue North Beach and Polk Street are the main entertainment districts in SF’s downtown area (Fisherman’s Wharf is more like the tourist district). The southern edge of North Beach is finally getting a subway stop after far too long and Polk street is a short walk to a BART and Muni light rail station. That said, I do think rapid streetcar can work for Belltown, although I’d still prefer Link goes through there with this alignment.

      6. Google: Washington Park Station Portland

        Deep station accessed by elevators

        There are some significant differences between how that station was built and how ST built the station at Beacon Hill.

        The biggest difference I think is that the Washington Park station has an elevator shaft at each end of the station. This gives a bit of separation between the elevator banks, so that if one surface shaft is impacted by, say, a car accident or some other crisis the other shaft remains open.

        This also means that one set of elevators is close to the zoo entrance, while the other set of elevators is close to the forestry center entrance. It’s not a huge difference but it does help a bit. With four car trains you have nearly 400 feet from one end to the other, so it may be worth seeing if that type of station arrangement may be useful anywhere.

        The Beacon Hill station strikes me as odd, because they have two shafts from the surface, but one of those serves only as a second ventilation shaft. It seems to me that if you are going to go through the expense of having two shafts anyway, you might as well have both of them be useful access points and each serve as a backup access point for the other.

        However, except for federal grant money none of this involves spending my money, so that’s up to those whose money is being spent.

      7. Isn’t Beacon Hill Station about as deep as an Upper Queen Anne Station would have to be? If ST can build it in one place, why not the other?

      8. asdf,

        No, Beacon Hill Station is not nearly as deep as would be Upper Queen Anne. The trackway rises from the tunnel portals until flattening out for the station and then drops downgrade to the other portal. That would certainly happen with Upper Queen Anne as well, but Queen Anne Hill is a lot higher than Beacon Hill, and a subway under QA has to dip down below sea level to underpass the Ship Canal to the north. Otherwise there’s no point in having a subway under the hill.

        I agree strongly that hanging wire for the 13 to Lower Fremont would be a very good thing. I doubt anyone along Nickerson would care and it would make direct connection with the 40 possible. Even just extending it to a turn around at Florentia and Fremont would help a lot. It’s a short walk across the bridge and the 40 transfer becomes possible.

      9. Here here to an all-day 29 and extending the 13. Can we start lobbying for the 3rd Ave W bridge again too? These three improvements would be such a huge boon for QA transit that I’d live without a subway stop.

      10. The upper Queen Anne station would be good station, but losing it is not tragic. I don’t know how long it takes to get from the surface to the station, and whether the elevator can handle a full train load or not. If the elevator and trains are timed, then I would imagine it would be pretty fast. But if not, it is a slow process.

        Meanwhile, the next station is not very far away. Imagine you are right outside the station (at Galer) but it is closed for repairs. You take a bus down to the other station. That takes what, two minutes? If there are traffic problems, they can be overcome by removing the parking lanes and turning them into bus only lanes. If you are already on the bus, then it is likely it would go there, which means the delay is trivial (around a minute).

        An upper Queen Anne stop would be essential if we built a “Corridor D” route, but the best part of that route is that it serves Fremont. But Fremont would be served with UW to Ballard light rail. Meanwhile, the “Corridor D” route only adds one more station for Queen Anne. There would be no stop on the other side of the hill. This is unfortunate, but just the way things line up. A stop close to SPU, for example would be a very good stop. This has a population density as high as any census block in West Seattle, while also being a decent destination. But trying to serve SPU and Fremont would take a lot of swerving back and forth. Meanwhile, the train would go under the northeast end of Queen Anne, which has very few people, and no major destinations. So this means a lot of tunneling, and no stations between upper Queen Anne and Fremont. This is not at all efficient.

        This is another way to look at things, and again it shows that a “Metro 8 Subway” and a UW to Ballard subway are much better values. It just doesn’t make sense to build miles of light rail with stations very far apart, or poorly performing ones. The Newton station on this map is simply there because you might as well add it. Ridership there will be the lowest in our system (and we have some pretty low ridership stations). Expedia won’t be that much better. Office buildings make up maybe one third of the walk share — the rest is warehouses, railway lines and parking lots. Meanwhile, from a bus feeder standpoint, that station has nothing. The only buses that would interact with it are already on that corridor.

        Compare that to a Metro 8 or UW to Ballard subway. For both lines, there would be stations close to each other (no big gaps). The worst station on either line is on Market and 8th NW. But this is a fairly dense area. More importantly, it is part of a corridor (8th NW) that makes sense for buses. The 28 quickly connects Fremont with that entire area, all of which is fairly dense. In other words, a station there would perform better than Newton or Expedia. To think that the absolute worst station on two complete light rail lines performs better than the only stations in between two miles of track just shows that the other subway lines are better. Much better.

      11. I question the assumption that we don’t have the technology to do it, considering King County’s recent experience with VSM. Article here.

        Regarding whether it’s a large loss to not have a station on the upper hill, I guess that depends on how optimistic you are. If we think that in the 50-100 (and beyond) year timespan we can convince QA to significantly upzone, it could be an excellent transit community. The absolute best place to put residential towers would be on the top of our hills, as you aren’t blocking anyone’s view.

      12. Ross,

        No parking on the Counterbalance, and it’s a good thing…..

        James,

        Yes, you’re right. But how many folks in Pugetopolis have heard of Polk Street. North Beach? Maybe, if you’re into G-strings. But in fact one of the cable car lines serves North Beach; and it is getting the Central City Subway as you said.

        And Matt is right about top of hill towers, if the ground is stable enough for them. Ring QA Hill with them a half block back from the crest and you’ve created thousands of new view properties. Thousands.

      13. Calling Belltown an “entertainment district” is a fundamental misreading of the city.

        Ditty the large area of San Francisco north of Market and east/northeast of Nob Hill.

        Intentionally slow transit is never defensible.

      14. d.p.

        At the risk of getting into yet another never ending battle complete with creative insults, I will say that Europe shows clearly that there are places where “intentionally slow” transit is heavily used, fits the neighborhood well, and is a good value. Trips need to be short, obviously, they need to be spread out around the usage clock and oftentimes spontaneous rather than scheduled, and the transit providing them needs to come close to peoples’ most common origins and destinations so that the slow travel speed is made up for by less walking. .

        I think that First Avenue through Belltown meets those criteria. Most of the trips people who live there take for work will be short, headed for Uptown, Downtown or SLU.

        Of course Belltown is more than an “entertainment district”; thousands of people live within four blocks of First and Vine. And there is plenty of employment on the “back side” of the neighborhood from Third to Seventh. But it certainly is also a place people go for dining and drinking, and it is growing in popularity vis-a-vis Pioneer Square.

        If the City prefers that a new transit tunnel — whether bus-only, convertible, or LRT from the get-go — approaches the DSTT from the south on Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Avenue as shown in the illustration, and the first station north of Westlake is to be Denny Way and Westlake Avenue, there is no choice for rail in Belltown that enters the high-rise core directly other than surface. A tunnel on Second Avenue as was the original Sound Transit idea seems not to work because of underground congestion in the south end of downtown.

        The City hasn’t said why it doesn’t like the idea of transitioning “across the grid” between Second and Fourth as projected in the WSTT proposal from Seattle Subway, but I expect they’re hoping to replace the low- and middle- rise buildings between Stewart and Union through there with something more substantial and want the ability to dig deep foundations (probably including parking garages) under them. You can argue against having more parking, but I expect that’s part of the decision.

        So, if a surface “mid-capacity transit” facility is to be provided It makes sense to put it on First Avenue through Belltown itself, because the large majority of housing is west of Second Avenue and First is the farthest west “through” street. Extending the Central City Connector, if it is built (which still seems likely though November may change that), is the easiest and most efficient way to do it, although see the caveat in the last paragraph below. The case for reservation on First through the core has been made, so a precedent that transit not cars has first priority on First Avenue has been established.

        I believe that an extension of the Central City Connector, in reservation, north through Belltown to just south of Denny where Warren Place joins it is possible both from traffic engineering and political perspectives. I have an idea how to deal with the fustercluck at Denny and Queen Anne/First North as well.

        The short block of Warren Place just south of Denny could be used to dip under Denny Way in a short cut-and-cover bridge/tunnel (“brunnel”?) then the west side of Warren Place up to a bit north of the parking garage entrance would be used for the ramp back to the surface. The tracks would continue two blocks north to Thomas to join the potential cross-SLU circulator about which Ross has spoken. There is enough room to make the turn from Warren to Thomas for trams by cutting close to the corner of the parking garage. It would require the removal of two trees though, sadly. They would use Thomas to get to First North and Queen Anne North to run in mixed traffic in the leftmost driving lane of both streets, with a couple of spots of parking removed just before the intersections of Harrison and Republican to allow left turn pockets so the cars aren’t delayed by left-turners waiting for pedestrians. The line would go north to Roy which is now less of an arterial with a layover between First North and .Queen Anne North.

        Ross has proposed a cross-SLU circulator on Thomas and admitted that running buses through the Seattle Center grounds might not be acceptable to people because of their uncontrolled way-keeping. If that came to pass it would share the tracks north and west of Warren Place and Thomas.

        But all that’s speculation. The point is that even without a CCC extension Belltown is well-served with surface transit linking to the high-rise core on Third today, and that’s not going away until and unless the E line and Queen Anne ETB’s are replaced by rail lines too. A Vine Street station for the monorail would serve the cluster of offices around there. What’s missing is something running up and down First for more local trips, because that runs right through the center of the residences.

        But I certainly agree that’s not “regional” transit. To meet regional transportation needs, the “Metro 8” should terminate at a station under Vine or Cedar at Western with an entrance on First to connect directly with the “MCT”. Eventually it will connect with all five of the radial lines from downtown Seattle, so it will be one transfer away from access to them. Riders to or from the neighborhood needing regional connections would take the subway to the appropriate station and change to a train to their destination. A close-in “arc line” like this is a common occurrence in established subway systems. Both Paris and London have them, and of course London’s is a complete ring.

        Now, before you get out the Insults Thesaurus, let me say that I would be fine with Seattle tearing up the newly laid rails for the SLU and First Hill streetcars in an anti-tram jihad if it chooses instead to run frequent low-floor ETB’s where today’s streetcars go. But such a replacement of the SLU/First Hill/CCC system with frequent “liveried” ETB’s should include this proposed extension through Belltown to the LQA station and Ross’s idea for a line across Seattle Center and SLU up to Broadway, as long as there were reservations and at least some signal priority on the major arterials. This doesn’t have to be done with streetcars — and if it is, they need to kick the Inekons to the curb and get some “real” trams from a reputable manufacturer like Siemens. But the city is investing in them now and if it chooses against your vociferous advice to continue doing so, it’s only a bit more than a mile from First and Stewart to Queen Anne and Roy. That’s not much track to lay; I will concede that the “brunnel” wouldn’t be cheap, but it’s one of those “point” investments that gets you great value in reliability.

      15. At the risk of getting into yet another never ending battle complete with creative insults, I will say that Europe shows clearly that there are places where “intentionally slow” transit is heavily used, fits the neighborhood well, and is a good value.

        I can’t even make it past this to read the rest.

        The “Europe = charm transit” canard needs to die.</b

        The only lethargic transit in Europe is where it predates modernity, and has only gotten slower and less effective through the years as other uses have come to compete. In the bigger cities, urban-spaced grade-separated transit invariably exists to render the slowpoke transit even more clearly vestigial, and in the better cities, concerted recent efforts have been made to reclaim tight spaces in order to shepherd the slowpokes through.

        Even in the smaller/less-wealthy "Strasbourg" cities with their MAX-level downtown running and shared-space town squares, the modus operandi is to move assertively through the area so as to move passengers efficiently toward the higher-standard running in outer areas.

        The only major European capital I’ve seen in which all transit seems intentionally batshit-inefficient is Rome. Not coincidentally, Rome has the highest rate of urban car ownership on the continent.

        Anyway, I’ve lived in my current neighborhood long enough to have deep memories of the 15/18 running on First Ave across Belltown. Reaching the “entertainment” areas on any hypothetical streetcar is going to suuuuuuuccccck.

      16. Having reservation and signal priority isn’t “making concerted effort” to “shepherd the slowpokes through”?

        I’m sorry, but you sound rather like the freeway guys: the only good road is an elevated road! Not everyone wants to go twenty miles, especially people who deliberately choose to buy a very expensive condominium in a dense neighborhood. They clearly have the money to buy a pretty nice house in the ‘burbs, but they chose a less auto-dominated life.

        Sure, the 15 and 18 were slow on First, but it wasn’t the part north of Virginia so much as the fustercluck to the south. And you were riding though the neighborhood, which was pretty much nothing when the lines were moved to Third. With the west end of a future Metro 8 ending right in the heart of their neighborhood, those folks living there who want or need to leave it or those from outside coming to work there regularly could do so, with direct connections to the trunk lines throughout the region.

        There is a place for urban collector/distributor transit on the dense edges of city cores whether you like it or not. I said clearly that it can be done with low-floor ETB’s, including tearing up the existing streetcars. What more do you want?

        The city is obviously NOT prioritizing Belltown for the through Ballard-West Seattle HCT route. Deal with it; you’re not the Mayor. Instead, participate in the effort to make lemonade out of what is admittedly a big jar of lemon juice for this neighborhood.

        The alternative to a street-level north/south circulator and a stub end Metro 8 is “PRT” capsules buzzing around on elevated guideways. There will be no tunnel on Second Avenue, bus, convertible or otherwise.

      17. When those who have chosen to live in (or visit) centrally-located, walkable places wish to move around slowly… they walk!!

        If they are bothering to wait for a vehicle with any inherent waiting penalty — i.e. anything that doesn’t come every 60 seconds — then they are guaranteed to be headed enough of a distance that speed will matter and intentional pokiness is not a desirable attribute.

        This is true even if the intended trip is only 1 mile.

        “Charm transit” is a bullshit concept, here and everywhere.

        And if you think First Ave was only bad south of Belltown, then you clearly never came through the area any time the so-called “entertainment zone” was hopping. It could take 20 minutes to go two blocks.

        There will be cabs and Ubers sitting on the “exclusive” tracks, guaranteed.

        Belltown’s boulevards aren’t the kind of charming environments where people linger outside in shared spaces, anyway, so you can stop dreaming of the Strasbourg-plaza vibe.

      18. What more do you want?

        I want transit fans to start thinking like people who want to get to and enjoy places, rather than people for whom the ride (and the visible artifacts that enable the ride) are everything.

        I don’t even particularly think this SDOT routing is the end of the world for Belltown, as long as 3rd remains a very-frequent-bus thoroughfare, and as long as attention is paid to amelioriating its existing signal-cycle and grid-connectivity quirks.

        I just want to stop arguing obscene falsehoods like “slow transit = placemaking”!

      19. d.p.

        Pure bait and switch argument. You said you hated riding the 15 and 18 before they were switched to Third Avenue. That was when? The late 1990’s? Maybe even the early 1990’s. Belltown was waking up then, but it wasn’t anything like today. There was much more congestion south of Virginia than north. Just admit it and stop having to be right about every little point. It’s unbecoming.

        So far as the Uber’s, you’re probably right, at least initially. It will take some tough enforcement to keep the tracks clear throughout the CCC’s extent. But given sufficient commitment eventually the tracks will mostly stay clear.

        So WHAT IS YOUR solution? You hate anybody else’s, but you never get specific about YOU think is right. That last time I can remember is about going straight on Fremont for the Five. What would YOU do about Belltown?

        The Second-Avenue-All-The-Way-Subway has been ruled out. You may not agree with the ruling, but again, you’re not The Mayor. SDOT apparently doesn’t like the wiggle from Second to Fourth. So you just going stub end a Second Avenue tunnel at James? It would work with the south of Yesler problems.

        But if so, say so.

      20. Oh, OK, I see your solution: frequent bus service on Third Avenue. Fine. I doubt folks living on Western or Elliott will be happy, but it’s only one block farther than what they have now.

      21. I moved to Ballard in 2007, dude. The buses were on 1st up until a year before the RapidRide reorg and the unveiling of Bertha. So, like, 2011? 2012 even?

        And the bus corridor is presently on 3rd, so I have no idea what “block further” you’re talking about.

        This, Anandakos, is precisely where it begins to be a problem that you live 160 miles away, have your facts warped by receding memory, and yet still opine away with absolute conviction on an inch-by-inch basis about where the people and the transit and the freaking maintenance bases go. Your writings are packed with “you can’t”s and “you must”s with billion-dollar implications, on the basis of absolutely nothing.

        It is borderline pathological.

      22. That recently? I’m surprised any time in this century. Things do seem longer ago all the time; it seems like forever that people were celebrating getting the buses off First through the Market district. In that case, you care certainly right to complain about the entertainment blocking the buses. But they didn’t have exclusive lanes; it’s possible that the City would enforce them. Perhaps not to the degree we’d all like, but enough to make things work.

        But, if you are happy with FS bus on Third Avenue, then I have no disagreement with you. I’m trying to find some solution for the people who are bemoaning the “loss” of the Second and Bell, Battery or Vine station.

        “A block further” than Second Avenue, where the train tunnel was supposed to go.

        By the way, I am happy to wear the “pathological” badge if you apply it.

      23. The Ballard buses moved to 3rd with the February 2011 service change.

        I lived in Belltown starting in 2009, and 1st was often a disaster for the buses. I recall boarding a southbound bus at 1st & Bell on the way to Safeco Field. Fifteen minutes later we were still north of Stewart, and the operator suggested anyone who wanted to see the opening pitch get out and walk. This was a regular occurrence when the Mariners had an evening game. First was often a madhouse on Friday and Saturday nights as well.

        The move to 3rd, signal timing notwithstanding, was a boon for reliability.

    2. @Dan H – Have you ever ridden the Red Line in DC? Those stations in upper NW / MD are DEEP.

      1. husky,

        Do you know why they’re deep? Because the Red Line crosses the Rock Creek Gorge, underneath it! Bottomless Federal pockets built the Red Line.

      2. Yes I have ridden the Red line in DC. I have also ridden the tube and went in the station only accessible by elevator or the couple thousand steps down or up.

    3. “At grade is really not a problem in Interbay.”

      Except for SDOT lowered the speed limit to 30 MPH, so they could pat themselves on the back and pretend that would make Elliot/15th safer (fun fact: almost no one goes 30 MPH). An at grade LRT will now have to match that speed. Compare the slightly under 4 miles from Mercer/Elliot to 15th/65th with the slightly over 4 miles from Beacon Hill Station to Rainier Beach Station (which is allow to run 35 MPH).

      Unless they can get the speed limit to 50 MPH+, at-grade is a non-starter.

      1. The length of this track is less than two miles. Even if there were no stops, the time difference between running at 30mph and 50mph is on the order of less than two minutes. There are stops. You could make a case for including three of them, but SDOT’s already proposed two. I’m not going to do the acceleration/deceleration calculations, as its pointless. For all practical purposes, the time a train would spend at 50mph on this stretch with stations approximates zero.

  6. This mitigates some of the problem, but still leaves a concerning gap in Belltown.

    I should also like to point out that this version gives Fremont nothing.

    If they are “considering” a future Ballard to UW line, we need to identify funding for that in the next year or two, not wait another decade.

    1. Just out of curiosity, if both projects started at the same time, which would be built first, Ballard to UW or Ballard to downtown (assuming this is the plan)

      1. Ballard Downtown. You need an operations and maintenance facility, and Interbay or the Duwamish area are the candidates. Plus the transfer traffic of Ballard to Downtown folks at UW would create crush loads south of there. Certain folks will rush into say what a pile of Donkey Poop that is, but those are ST’s projections.

      2. @Ron Swanson

        Its not settled that the crush loads would happen in any time frame where it would matter which one was built first (assuming that they both happen within a decade of each other). It is true that an O/M facility in Interbay would be cheaper to build than trying to buy up land in Ballard for this purpose though.

      3. Even if you accept ST’s base presumptions, many of which are based on ludicrous PSRC projections of magic-development-derived demand, there is no evidence that ST ever so much as attempted to estimate the effect of Ballard-UW-line transfers upon train loads in the peak-demand segment of U-Link.

        Much less gone on record with any emphatic statement to that effect.

        The concern trolling that you are repeating here has only been espoused by opining bloggers who already had it in for the idea of non-radial (or non-suburban-oriented) projects.

        Of course, since demand south of Brooklyn will be exponentially higher than demand north of Brooklyn under any permutation of operational plan, one could still choose to ignore the fantasies of Lynnwood skyscrapers and millions of suburban riders appearing from the ether, and interline the Ballard trains all the way through Capitol Hill and downtown, thereby providing a frequency and capacity on both the branches and the combined segment that is genuinely proportional to demand.

      4. [Directed at Ron. Though not blaming Ron for repeating the concern trolling he has heard, and whose reiterators have falsely attempted to credit ST for their wrongness.]

      5. Ballard UW would need maybe 6 trains on it to provide good frequency. Even at 15 mph, a train can travel one end to the other in 20 minutes. Even if you give the operator a 10 minute break at the end of theone way trip, 6 trains gets you 10 minute headways.

        Therefore, I don’t see a new shop complex as being required for Ballard – UW. The junction UW would just require careful construction. It would be cheaper than a new shop complex though.

      6. I knew that bit of trolling would summon you, dp!

        Don’t get me wrong, I support the Ballard/UW line. I got in a huge argument with a former frequent commenter about whether sending East Link west north of Brooklyn would work. I still believe it would.

        That said, I’ve bowed to the reality ST is never ever going to build a level junction anywhere along there. In that case, attaching it to a radial line on the west side makes sense. Frankly, seeing a junction proposed at all based on ST’s request here makes me feel good.

      7. That junction is the only real bright spot I see in this proposal. On its own merits, this Ballard-DT routing isn’t terrible, but when considered against expansion, and other more valuable options, that a study (the first one for ST??) of a junction on a LRT line is a small, but not entirely insignificant bone.

      8. Level Junctions are all over the place, so why is ST so afraid of them? They have one now east of Westlake merging trains and buses and I’ve not heard any metal crunching since that started.
        Bostons Green line branches off of the mainline 4 times (B,C,D & E lines) where combined headways in the am peak are less than 2 minutes.
        Why everyone just gives up around here is beyond me. Signal systems, lockouts, backed up by eyeballs in the head-end work pretty well.
        Give the DSTT a chance to operate at its design of 90 second headways with 20 second or less dwells at stations.

      9. Glenn, stop opining from ignorance.

        The freaking 44 bus can “travel one end to the other” in 15 minutes at the rare times of day when there is little traffic.

        It is 3 freaking miles even. We are talking about a subway here.

        8 minutes. Tops. You could do it with 2 trains and a single reliever operator if you had to.

      10. Indeed, Ron. But neither ST’s resistance to interlining nor the prevalence of STB concern trolling negates that ST has never attempted to insist that east-west transferers would “overload” the core segment in the decades to come.

        Even they aren’t that delusional. At least not on record.

      11. “The freaking 44 bus can “travel one end to the other” in 15 minutes at the rare times of day when there is little traffic.”

        Actually, it can’t, because the schedule is ridiculously padded, and the bus drivers are required to wait at every time point. I learned this the hard way once, riding the 44 from Ballard to the U-district on Christmas. The roads were completely empty, and there were never more than about 5-10 people on the bus. Yet, the trip still took over 20 minutes, which was still a good 5 minutes less than the scheduled time.

      12. Still scheduled for 17 minutes from Brooklyn to Ballard Ave in the late evening. Drivers at that hour, at least in the westbound direction, universally disregard the schedule and blow through the route in 14-15.

        Even with the zig-zagging Aurora underpasses, the hills, and all the traffic lights. It just isn’t very far.

      13. mic,

        Will you lay off? It’s not STB commenters who don’t want level crossings. We know about interlockings [not “lockouts”].

        It’s Sound Transit which apparently cares. The only route deviation that involves a facing movement is northbound trains leaving service at the Maintenance Facility. And I’m certain that is allowed only because the flying junction for trains entering service in the northbound direction blocks the opportunity for a flying junction for the exiting trains. And I believe that the connections to the Bellevue MF for eastbound trains will involve facing movements, but those happen relatively rarely and can almost always wait for operational trains.

        That “level crossing” at CPS you’re talking about works fine because buses are embargoed from leaving the bus station when a train is ready to leave the stub and buses and trains IN THE SAME DIRECTION are separated by an entire station. So it’s not like they are turning in front of the train.

      14. OK, I’ve beat that dead horse enough.
        3 minutes between trains is good enough, which requires an extra 2 billion to add another tunnel, requiring multitudes of long walks to transfer between the tubes forever.
        I quit.

      15. >> [UW to Ballard] in 8 minutes. Tops.

        Yes, that is why this would be such a radical change. One of the many reasons to support this over anything else the city is considering building. It is really striking, which is why I don’t blame Glenn for making the mistake. I think most people, without looking at a map, would make the same mistake. It reminds me of those geographic quizzes, where they ask things like “which is further north, Seattle or Toronto”. Most people get it wrong.

        The same is true here. Most people forget that Market is north of 45th, and only three miles away from the U-District. They are used to driving or taking the bus, which takes forever. If you walk long distances in this town (and I do) you quickly get a different perspective on things. You realize that east-west distances like that aren’t that far, but north-south distances (e. g. Roosevelt to downtown) are really long.

        All of this means that if we were building a light rail line to Ballard from scratch (not having built anything else) it would go to the UW first. Of course it would. Look on a map. It has way less curves than, say, the Vancouver trains (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Vancouver_SkyTrain_stations#/media/File:Vancouver_Transit_Network_Map.png) but manages to go through most of the city. The fact that we’ve built the first part (downtown to UW) but are hesitating on the next part (UW to Ballard) just shows how backwards we are.

        But back to timings. A Ballard line to the UW would be an eye opener in many ways. Up until now, the only thing comparable is the Capitol Hill station. Just imagine the conversation:

        >> I’m excited about light rail to the U-District. It will take less than ten minutes to get downtown.

        >>> You mean like driving in the middle of the day?

        >> I’m excited about Ballard to downtown light rail. It will only take about ten minutes to get downtown.

        >>> You mean like driving in the middle of the day?

        >> I’m excited about Ballard to UW light rail. It will only take about five minutes to get to the UW.

        >>> You mean like … like … like driving in the middle of the night and blowing through all the red lights?

        >> Yes, exactly. Oh, and there will be stops along the way.

        If we really want to get people out of their cars we should build things like this. When transit from point to point is much faster than driving, folks take it. They take it even if it involves a transfer. Because when you add it all up, it is just faster. But there are only a handful of places where a train (making a bunch of stops) is much faster than a car, and yet still has big demand. UW to Ballard is one — the Metro 8 route is the other.

      16. The only place for a maintenance facility for the new Ballard-West Seattle line is in Interbay, the only parcel of land big enough is the golf course. If the golf course is to be sacrificed then it should be sacrificed immediately and an at-grade (though with no street crossings) alignment along the railroad tracks should be chosen, using Armory Way to get over to it from 15th elevated at the south end by the tunnel portal.

        It’s cheap and it puts the light rail tracks on the west side of a new combined bridge, at least allowing access closer to Central Ballard though not cheaply. And it preserves general traffic capacity to and from Ballard.

        However, I do think that by building this corridor as LRT ST would eliminate much of the need for Metro’s diesel Central Base. The North, South and East bases provide the vast majority of the coaches for suburban diesel runs, and these lines will eliminate a significant number of diesel runs within the City. So it might be possible to convert Central Base to LRT. That would definitely be popular with the golfing community, who are in danger of losing the course at Jackson Park.

      17. The post about maintenance facilities should have started with a “If”. “If the only place for a maintenance facility for the new Ballard-West Seattle line is in Interbay…”

      18. Fine. Even more to the point: with teo trains you certainly don’t need a separate shop for Ballard – UW.

        I was thinking you might want to run it all the way to the end of the 44 at the Ballard Locks and/or dip down a bit to hit lower Fremont and/or actually serve parts of the UW campus and maybe slightly beyond. It’s a bit premature to give a mileage for something that exists only as a sketch line.

      19. Okay, but even if extending to just past 24th (there is simply no reason to go further), and orchestrating the widest arc possible to put a station in the locus of Lower Fremont, you’re still looking at barely over 4 miles. Even making the (highly dubious) case for tunneling to the small apartment node just to the west of U Village, you’re still at only 4.7 miles.

        Do you not understand how calling that “20 minutes end-to-end” — and then performing a whole bunch of napkin math to tell us what our operator and maintenance “needs” are based on your insanely off-the-mark distance and time estimate — goes beyond being unhelpful to injecting palpably deleterious non-facts into a planning conversation already politically sensitive and rife with misinformation and poor planning assumptions?

      20. Given that I potentially see doing Ballard-UW with the monorail tax authority having a separate o&m allows use of heavy rail and automated trains.

        The O&m wouldn’t need to be very big even with short head ways.

  7. Though, I still want to clarify why in the letter they only refer to tunneling under 4th, 5th, and 6th. Is it possible they are suggesting a portal at around 6th?

    1. I don’t understand your question. What SDOT is talking about is the second downtown tunnel south of Westlake, marked in thin lines on the map here. They’re assuming that ST prefers building it under 4th, 5th, or 6th, and they apparently don’t have a strong preference themselves.

      A 6th alignment would be rather interesting. It’s on the edge of “downtown,” and in the shadow of the freeway, which would normally be a strong negative. However, it’s also significantly more accessible from First Hill. I’m not sure if that would counterbalance the negatives, but it might.

      1. I like Fifth. It has some ability to attract across I-5, though certainly less than Sixth does, but it gets you much closer to the skyscrapers between Fifth and Second. Remember that the idea of this tunnel is that it would have a station at Madison instead of ones at James and University. That means Madison has to do a lot of work in the office core. Putting it on Sixth is kinda far, IMO.

        Because of the grades on Madison and Marion.

  8. The Interbay alignment is pure garbage. Why are people so myopically focused on Ballard and willing to accept ridership and reliability tradeoffs to reach a specific part of town that is already well served by bus and can wait a few more years for light rail? We’ve got one shot to build this thing the right way, yet otherwise rational actors continue to make decisions that will screw over future generations (see: Federal Way, Tukwila, Rainier, Mt Baker). Crazy idea here – create a true master light rail plan and deliver it in smaller, more useful, albeit more costly, segments.

    ST3 is already FUBAR.

      1. @Jon – Both! I’d like to associate myself with Keith Kyle’s post below. Don’t accept permanent trade-offs for short term gains. We should be opposed sacrificing Queen Anne. At the very least include it in the conversation…

      2. @Zach L – huskytbone is probsbly referencing Upper Queen Anne. While I would love an Upper Queen Anne station, I think that it’s ok to sacrifice a little so that West Seattle can also get a line.

        One of the positives of Interbay is that Metro can reroute Magnolia bus routes to serve the Dravus station. The truncating of some local Magnolia routes to not serve Downtown could be a positive for metro as far as service hours and reliability.

        What I think should be done is to make sure that the Lower Queen Anne station can support another platform below it. In ST4, we could talk about building corridor D to serve Belltown, UQA, and Fremont.

      3. We have been urging consideration of an upper Queen Anne station, and it was transit fans’ support that got corridor D added to the alternatives. But that still has to be weighted against the cost and ridership potential. Uptown and Seattle Center have much more trips than upper Queen Anne or Interbay, and a Queen Anne station would be at least twice as expensive as any other station on the line. So a station there has to be weighed against a station elsewhere, and even going down the hill and transfering is better than taking one of Seattle’s slowest bus routes all the way downtown. As I said in the article, it would also help if Queen Anne pushed for it, but they’re not pushing for it, instead they’re trying to limit density on the top of the hill.

  9. Hmm, this still has so many problems, but it might barely nudge this into the category of “grudging yes vote.” It would still be better to plan one line as part of a network rather than having one line do the partial work of two or three (and do it comparatively poorly). This would probably forever kill the idea of a Metro 8 subway (and the WSTT for that matter), and just begs for the gondola to connect the Denny and Capitol Hill stations (to beat the transfer penalty at Westlake). We’d also want to future-proof the Harrison station (and maybe also the LQA station?) to allow the possibility of a Queen Anne and/or 99 corridor branch in the future.

    I don’t know.

  10. Seattle Subway will oppose a Sound Transit plan with any at-grade crossings in Seattle. We need to make long term decisions that scale with our city. A system that makes permanent compromises to reliability and speed is not acceptable. While adding the LQA stop greatly improves the SDOT concept, we contend that two lines are needed to serve these critically important neighborhoods and for future expansion. A subway that permanently skips the second densest residential neighborhood in the state is a bargain that Seattle should not seek.

    That said, we agree with Mr. Kubly that dense stations in the core are critically important and look forward to working with his office and Sound Transit in the coming months. It is our opinion that Seattle should look for a big win in ST3 and, further, that it is an attainable goal.

    1. Keith, is there enough money in the North King budget to support grade separated options to Ballard and West Seattle?

      1. That is the million (or billion) dollar question. I suspect the answer is yes, but there will need to be some trade-offs and compromises beyond the ones we’re already aware of.

      2. The concept of a fixed budget is false. The package will be as big as what there is support for.

        ST has ways to make that happen.

  11. We already have a great solution, outlined by this blog, to serve both Belltown and SLU – just make the Ballard and WS lines bi-polar! We need to start ringing the bell on this one (no pun intended), because under this plan Belltown is blocked from getting light rail forever and ever.

    1. I wouldn’t say that this makes it impossible for Belltown to get light rail. A Belltown stop would still make sense for a “Metro 8” subway. Such a subway would include the Capitol Hill station, a stop in the heart of South Lake Union (which this lacks) then the Denny stop. After that, the next logical stop would be Belltown, before regaining the main line.

      Admittedly, the curves and such are a bit awkward. Here is what it looks like on a very sketchy map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z-ZcpzpzqRA0.kyyy4CTs7Avg&usp=sharing
      If you ignore the Capitol Hill/C. D. stations for second, you can see that the subway swings way of its way to pick up a little corner of Belltown. the more deeply it goes into Belltown, the more it has to turn sharply to get back to Westlake (the obvious next stop).

      So, you raise a very good point. With something like the WSTT, I can see a “Metro 8 subway” working quite well. With this, not so much. It can still be done, but it just isn’t as good. I really think we need to think about the future lines, and remember that the Central Area and South Lake Union remain largely unserved. One stop next to the college and stops at Denny/Westlake and Aurora/Harrison (as good as the are) are not sufficient. It should be obvious that after Ballard to UW, a Metro 8 subway is the next logical subway line — a line that simply can’t be served by a bus tunnel (unlike Ballard to downtown).

      1. Ross,

        A “Metro 8” DOESN”T NEED TO GO ANYWHERE except between its northwest terminal and its southeast terminal. It doesn’t need to be an extension of anything. Just like Ballard-UW it’s a cross-town connector good on its own.

        And, indeed, how the heck are you going to make that fishhook and have a junction with the Ballard-WS line somewhere north of Pine? It will be necessary for the north-south line to be quite deep in order to underrun the station box of Westlake, and while it’s possible to stack the tunnels there to accommodate such a route diversion just to the north, doing so would make the lower one REALLY deep. And in any case, the thing is going to deviate to Westlake Avenue’s footprint immediately north of the DSTT box, angling away from First Avenue and Belltown in general. So where are you going to put that junction? As you say, the curves would be pretty gruesome.

        And, that would be some extremely tricky deep tunnelling and really, for what? Folks in Belltown are almost at their desks if they work downtown. On a nice day they’re going to walk most of the time.

        I used to live a 621 West Galer in Upper Queen Anne and worked at the Employment Security regional office at Fifth and Stewart. I only made $472/month and had a family so bus fare was not an option. I walked, both ways, nearly every day, including the big hill climb on Second West. From First and Battery to Fourth and Madison is less of a distance than that and it’s mostly flat if you choose your route wisely.

        I’m not saying “Well I did so they have to.” I’m saying “they’ll want to”.

        Now that the western tail and northwest SLU would be handled by the Ballard-Downtown line, it makes sense for the Metro 8 to dip into Belltown as you show it. But that fishhook is just silly; just end the damn thing with a station between First and Western somewhere around Battery and call it “Good!”.

        That gives people living in the densest part of Belltown and working somewhere other than downtown an “out”. If they want to go to somewhere on North Link they ride the M8 to CHS and change. If they’re going to First Hill they change to BRT on Boren at Fairview. If they’re going to the East Side they ride it to Judkins Park. If they’re going to the airport they’ll ride around to Mt. Baker.

        Or for either of those trips they’ll take the CCC to IDS (it will be extended, bank on it) and change there. If the CCC has reservation all along First Avenue, it’ll be tolerably quick. Belltown will not be forgotten, but the “fishhook” should be.

      2. I agree, the fishhook is pretty gruesome. It wasn’t until I started drawing the lines that I realized how bad it was. But there is an advantage of having the lines interline. I’ve been playing around with a “Metro 8 Subway” map that does just that, and is based on the WSTT. The idea being that the WSTT is built first and initially handles nothing but buses, but is equipped to handle trains. Then the Metro 8 subway comes in, and interlines with it. The train would go through downtown (of course) and end at Soho. So something like this: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zq-vQCJbvN5w.kvjui0NlQ-Jw&usp=sharing
        There are a lot of variations on that page east of the freeway, so just ignore that right now (and sorry about the crude renderings). It should be obvious that this isn’t as screwy as the other map. Here are a few advantages to making the lines interline:

        1) One seat ride from other downtown stops to Belltown. This is huge, in my opinion. Intra-downtown trips make up a large portion of light rail trips now, and that doesn’t include folks that just grab the first bus in the tunnel. A quick ride from Pioneer Square to Belltown would be quite popular, for example.

        2) Better transfer to Belltown. A train coming from the east or south will head north at Westlake to CHS. To get to Belltown, you would transfer there, instead of sooner. This isn’t horrible, but is still an extra three stops.

        3) One seat ride to Belltown from West Seattle, Ballard, Interbay, lower Queen Anne and the Aurora corridor. This is due to the advantage of the WSTT over this line — not the advantage of interlining in itself.

        This light rail plan does have one advantage, though, over something like what I sketched out. It eliminates the “hole” at around 9th and Lenora. With the light rail plan, the South Lake Union station is a bit further east. This is all good, and clearly an advantage to this routing, but overall, I don’t think it makes up for the other shortcomings. If I’m in Pioneer Square and want to get to Belltown, I think it is faster to just get off at Westlake and walk on 3rd, instead of going all the way to CHS, then making the transfer and going through the extra stops. In short, the WSTT puts Belltown in the center of the action — a worthy place for it. This light rail proposal would (eventually) do two things. Either it is the end of line for a Metro 8 subway, or it makes a fishhook and keeps going. The first would greatly reduce ridership for a Belltown station, and the second would be expensive and still not as good as the combination of a Metro 8 Subway and the WSTT I outlined.

      3. Why do you have this loop back around to westlake, rather than terminate at something like Western and Vine? If you want to get to somewhere on the Ballard/WS line, you’ll transfer at Denny/Westlake, and if you want to get somewhere on the Central/U-link line, you’ll transfer at CHS. No need to hit Westlake.

      4. I appreciate that you’ve turned south to Madison before heading off southeast. The 23rd Avenue business is a non-starter. The trolleys which serve the eastern CD move very rapidly east of Broadway, so getting to and from a subway somewhere between Broadway and 14th is quite quick. And the people who live along 23rd won’t want the upzone necessary to make a wide swing worthwhile.

        However, I think the City has made it clear that they don’t like the “cross-grid” Second-to-Fourth alignment of the WSTT which makes it so good for Belltown. In any case Fourth Avenue is pretty problematic because it’s so close to Third and the blocks aren’t nearly as long as the “blocks” between the numbered Avenues in Manhattan half of which each has its “own” subway. So Fifth or Sixth stretches the effective walkshed better.

        Unfortunately Fifth Avenue isn’t a good option for a cut and cover tunnel (which anything north of Stewart should be). The monorail supports nix that immediately. So Fifth is only useful if the tunnel follows Westlake Avenue north from Westlake Station where it will be deep enough that the monorail supports don’t mean anything. So that means Sixth Avenue, at least through Belltown; Sixth works because the tunnel could follow Westlake for a block and then curve into theSixth Avenue ROW and rise to C&C depth.

        But that puts it a LONG way from the entertainment/residential district between Elliott and First Avenues.

        When the proposal was for a Second-Avenue-All-The-Way tunnel, it worked for Belltown to be served by it, of course. But way over on Sixth it would be a pretty useless station for Belltown.

        Maybe ST can convince the City that the cross-grid tunnel is deep enough to preserve building foundations because it has to under-run the DSTT at about Pike and then Belltown can be served directly on Second Avenue. But if the City is asking for a Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Avenue Tunnel which implicitly under-runs Westlake Station according to the map, the the “wiggle” between Second and Fourth is probably dead.

    2. Is a tunnel on 2nd Ave feasible? If it is, then I would vouch for a corridor D from Belltown to Fremont that criss-crosses the Ballard line.

      1. OMG! Seattle is not going to become Manhattan. Of that you may be 100.0000000000% certain.

        Besides, the engineering is in: a Second Avenue tunnel runs into to many underground things down around Pioneer Square. That’s why the SDOT map shows vague lines on Fourth, Fifth and Sixty, but not on Second.

      2. Yeah, it is (oddly enough) in the South King County HCT Study (http://www.soundtransit.org/Projects-and-Plans/High-Capacity-Transit-Corridor-Studies/High-Capacity-Transit-Studies-document-archive/HCT-documents/South-King-County-HCT-Study). You’ll have to dig through there (sorry) to find it. Anyway, that is where they look into the idea of a new tunnel, and it has to be on 4th, 5th or 6th. That is why all these tunnels (including the WSTT) go up east of the existing tunnel (initially). But north of Westlake it is OK to head northwest (on 2nd or 3rd) as the map implies (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/WSTT-Initial-Service-Pattern.jpg).

        In my opinion (and the opinion of others) the best route for a new tunnel would be to swing out even more to the east. If would include Westlake and I. D., but in between those stops the tunnel would go east, towards First Hill. A station at Boren and Madison, for example, would be huge. Not only would it be far enough up the hill to serve First Hill, but it would connect to buses on Madison as well as a bus on Boren (both of which would deserve BRT treatment).

      3. But north of Westlake it is OK to head northwest (on 2nd or 3rd) as the [Seattle Transit] map implies”

        But, Ross, the map clearly shows the proposed WSTT under-running the DSTT at Pike, while the SDOT’s map shows the the tunnels headed under the Westlake Station without deviating. And then of course they do deviate, but it’s toward due north rather than farther west.

        I think the City has implicitly said “No” to the routing of the WSTT in Seattle Subway’s maps. It is a VERY good idea in the abstract, but I expect the City wants to keep the blocks between Fourth and Union and Second and Stewart available for development. A tunnel diagonaling across them would limit any foundation work that could be accomplished for new buildings.

        You can run “across the grid” in residential neighborhoods using TBM’s as they’ve done willy-nilly on Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill and are right now doing in Roosevelt and Maple Leaf. But not in a part of the CBD that might have major construction soon; even under-running the DSTT, a diagonal WSTT would be considerably shallower than Bertha or the deep sewer. If such a tunnel came it would have to have sharp turns at Second and Pike or Union and then again at Fourth. That could work for buses, though it would be fairly slow, but for LRT’s it would be difficult to stay within the grid boundaries. It works at Third and Pine because there was a six-story mid-rise with a Nothingburger above it under which the tunnel could pass. Because of the tunnel there never will be anything bigger.

  12. I guess I wasn’t that concerned with the lack of a Queen Anne station since a line on the map may have stations added or deleted to suit the needs. It’s what these studies are about.

    Now, the fact this thing only touches Ballard is a different matter.

    Any chance of getting the people responsible for the quadruple S curve Federal Way Thunderf**k to design this line, and have these people design Federal Way?

    An S curve on the bridge to actually serve Ballard would actually be kind of nice here.

    1. Not if the tunnel is on a grade. Stations must be flat for ADA access.

      That’s why there will never be infill stations in Capitol Hill; Link is on a grade both directions from CHS. And it’s why ST ponied up $10 million for a “flat spot” at 130th so a station can be added there later.

      1. Lazarus,

        I can see why you think that: the part of the station above ground sits on a gradient. But you can be sure that the bottom of the station box is dead level.

      2. I still find it extremely irritating that ST chose not to provide underpasses to the “farsides” of 12th, NE 65th and Roosevelt for bus transfers. The high school occupies the NE quadrant; NIMBY’s are screaming to the south and Roosevelt is a walk barrier to the west. This thing is going to live and die on bus transfers, and ST screwed them up to save a few million dollars.

        “Meh” as a certain someone would say.

        Oh, and UNDERGROUND the freaking power lines unless Roosevelt BRT is going to be ETB.

      3. Several of the MAX statins have grades, but I think Maywood Park / Parkrose / Summer has the most pronounced.

        If even slight grades were not allowed then most of downtown Portland would have had to be regarded, and quite a number of issues at intersections and street curbs would have been introduced.

      4. Slope of a platform can’t exceed 2% (sidewalk cross-slope rule) and even that is discouraged.

      5. OK. It sounds like slight grades are permitted, at least for at-grade surface stations. I’m curious then why the zoo station on MAX has such an obvious flattening. Stand on the platform and you can see that the tracks to the east turn downward and those to the west turn upward at the ends of the platform. Those vertical curves mean that the station can never be lengthened, forever limiting MAX main line trains to two cars. Why would Tri-Met have done that were it not required?

      6. So what is the grade for U-Link when it passes underneath 520? I assumed that there could never be a station there, because they never planned for it. Is this not the case? Adding a station there would change things considerably (for a lot of riders).

      7. There are a couple of reasons they probably made the Portland zoo station flat. However, at 5% grade they would have had to transition to something more flat anyway.

        The parallel Sunset Highesy is around 6.5% so it was going to be a climb no matter what.

    2. Glenn,

      Three will HAVE to be an “S-curve” on the new bridge. It can’t be built “around” the existing bridge; it will have to go to the east or west of the existing span. Since there’s a bit less development on the Ballard end to the west, I expect that will be what happens.

      This would be the broad construction plan if it were to the west:

      1) Build the span.
      2) Build the southbound ramps
      3) Shift southbound traffic to the new bridge.
      4) Build the northbound ramps, which must obliterate the old southbound approaches
      5) Shift the northbound traffic to the bridge
      6) Demolish the old bridge.

      1. That’s the process that would have to happen for the near ground level road section. The light rail section should be elevated at least 24 feet above that at the navigation channel. What happens up there could be a straight line as it could be built directly over street level.

      2. Glenn,

        Explain your reply more clearly. The LRT tracks will be at the same level as the cars; the whole thing will be 70′ or as nearly that high as geometry will allow. If the tracks are in the middle of 15th West to the south and 15th NW to the north, they’ll be in the middle on the bridge. If the alignment is elevated or at-grade alongside the railroad tracks to the south, or 17th NW is to become a transit way or tunnel to the north, then the tracks will be on one side of the bridge.

        No double deckers, please. You’re not going to get away with discriminating against highway users in bridge openings like you’ve been fantasizing. If there is a double decker, the train will end up on the bottom and IT will be the one stopping for more frequent openings. Bank on it.

      3. Until they design the sucker, you can’t say one wY or the other that they will or won’t do something.

        It would be desirable to have the auto lanesower due to the interchange at the north end particularly. I think that is one reason that SDOT wants the bridge below 70 feet.

        The rail line can exchange passengers by elevator on the south end and on the north end there isn’t anything worth stopping for until it gets back down to ground level.

        Why would it need to be at ground level through there? To do that you would have to take land as 15th doesn’t have lanes to spare. It would be better as an elevated.

  13. I have no idea how feasible this is, but is there any chance of an underground connection between the 2 downtown tunnels? NYC has a tunnel linking Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal and that’s a pretty long distance. And this way, people switching tunnels wouldn’t have to spend as much time climbing up and down.

    1. I’m pretty sure the answer is No. Too avoid excessive delays, a sky-bridge across streets would be built (funding is pending), and provide some much needed vitamin D for the hordes of Seattle Tunnel Rats.

    2. Well, if the new tunnel goes down Fourth, Fifth or Sixth you will at a minimum be able to make a Mezzanine level transfer between them without leaving the station.

      If the new tunnel lies below the DSTT track level it would be possible to have direct platform-to-platform escalators or stairs from at least the DSTT platform on the side of the station from which the new platforms will extend. They will likely lie to the south of Pine so it would be the northbound DSTT platform. Whether or not ST wants to puncture the waterproof wall of the station box to go down to the new tunnel is not known. They’ll probably say, “Use the Mezzanine”.

      But if there is enough height in Westlake between the Mezzanine and track level, perhaps the north-south tunnel could punch through above the existing operating floor, allowing direct platform to platform transfers like in DC at Metro Center, Gallery Place and L’Enfant Plaza. The DSTT stations except for CPS are all pretty deep so there might be enough clearance.

      But again, it would require puncturing the waterproofing.

      Those are very cool stations!

      1. And its very likely that the new tunnel will have a station directly adjacent to IDS, either directly under Fifth South south of Jackson like IDS or under Fifth South just north of Jackson. There really isn’t a formal Mezzanine at IDS, so transfers there might have to leave one station and enter the other.

    3. Chicago has a couple of these in various locations too, mostly connecting the red and blue line subway stations. I think there are one or two others linking Metra stations to CTA lines or something like that.

    4. I am wrong thinking that the platforms would lie south of Pine. According to the map the circle for the Westlake Station on the new line is north of the existing one. That doesn’t change the ability to make a Mezzanine level transfer, but it changes the “handedness” of the post above.

  14. If there is to be a station at First North and Mercer that almost guarantees that the tunnel portal will be just below the curve onto Mercer Place. YAHOO! That is by far the best location because of the high elevation and the lack of development along the little stub of Mercer at the bottom of the hill. ST should grab the northwest corner of Mercer and Elliott as soon as this alignment is official for the curve onto Elliott. It also gives the opportunity to build a bus bypass for the D-Line to avoid the left turn at Mercer Place as a part of the same structure.

    I have a concern, though about at-grade south of the Newton stop. There is a LOT of traffic that joins from the Magnolia Bridge and the activities along Elliott itself. While I think that it’s reasonable — though only just — to grab a pair of lanes north of the Magnolia Bridge, south of there to the tunnel portal the line needs to be elevated.

    And that means it needs to skirt around “behind” the Magnolia Bridge interchange at the base of the hill. It certainly can’t fit under the interchange without being at-grade and going over would be fifty feet in the air! I would have the Newton Street station be elevated because there’s no “escape” from the center of that horrible roadway for users like there is at Dravus (the existing bridge would provide access across the high-speed roadway).

    But the thing at Newton doesn’t need to be a multi-level palace with a formal Mezzanine like TIB and Mt. Baker. People cross the Light Rail tracks on MLK and the SoDo busway every day. There’s no reason that the Newton station can’t be elevated with a narrow center platform to save road space and have the exits be pedestrian grade crossings of the LRT tracks leading to a pedestrian causeway between both sides of the street.

    With a little extra “spend” the causeway can continue to the east and terminate about 14th West level with the platform. Sort of like the causeway from the Ferry Terminal to First Avenue. It would have stairs down to the east side of the street of course, and an ADA elevator on both sides.

    1. First off, I think Newton would be a very cheap station, corresponding to its value. It really is a “why not” station. I think it will have the lowest ridership of any station in our system (and that is saying something).

      As for the Magnolia Bridge (formally known as Garfield Street Bridge) I guess I don’t understand your concern. There is a lot of traffic that enters, but it is all handled with ramps. There is a light there, but it is green 90% of the time (signal priority is no problem). To be clear, there are no northbound ramps, but very rarely do people go that way (e. g. from Magnolia to Whole Foods). They go the other way (via Dravus). I’m not sure which side of the street the trains run, but it seems to me like you pick a side, redo one of the ramps and call it a day. Not cheap, but still cheaper than running elevated (I’m guessing). Elevated means you have to go over the bridge overpass, which seems a lot more expensive.

      Interestingly enough, there was a big jump in cost for the west side run from the first estimate to the second. I asked (repeatedly) but never got an answer as to why. My guess it was because of issues like this.

  15. So what if instead of 99/Harrison there was a station around Denny/3rd? Still have the Westlake/Denny and 1st/Mercer stations.

    What do we gain with 99/Harrison station? Is it just Dexter and the Gates Foundation? I’d rather serve the north end of Belltown and have more of a Denny line.

    1. I doubt Denny and Third would be possible given Denny and Westlake – trains don’t like tight corners. Then you’d have to bend back north to hit LQA, and then back west to go towards Interbay. No matter how you slice it, you can’t do SLU and Belltown on one (north-south) line.

      The solution, I think, is to extend the 1st ave streetcar through Belltown to the LQA link station, with an exclusive lane and a good amount of signal priority. And eventually a #8 subway.

      (incidentally, I think the 99/Harrison stop is a better stop. Right now the heart of SLU is between Fairview or I-5 and 99, but as space becomes more constrained and 99 goes underground, the western boundary will be Seattle Center. 99/Harrison has good walkshed in all directions, then, whereas Denny/3rd abuts Seattle Center, which is a bit of a hole. And lastly, 99 makes for great connections to Rapidride E. It’s not an obvious choice like LQA or SLU, but it’s kind of like the 520 station we didn’t build on U-link – a heck of a lot better than it looks.)

      1. Agree on all particulars. If Ross’s cross-SLU circulator zigs up to Harrison, maybe on Broad because diagonal?, there will be frequent access to farther east SLU for E Line riders too. The whole neighborhood starts to fit closer together.

        I’m modifying my proposal for the D Line to continue on Mercer to Fairview to switch down to Harrison at Fifth in order to pass over this station, connect directly with the E Line and provide more frequent service on a Harrison busway, at least as far as Fairview.

    2. “What do we gain with 99/Harrison station?”

      That’s what we want to hear from WSDOT. What’s so great about 99/Harrison?

      1. Oh I forgot to mention this location around 99/Harrison is pretty much the only on/off ramp on 99 between Phinney Ridge and SoDo. Yeah that’s not going to be a car clogged nightmare

      2. You guys probably started typing at the same time, but the answer is what EHS said. It is a decent (although not outstanding) stop from a walking standpoint, along with a very good bus connection. Of course, WSTT would be better. The stop would still be there (in all its glory) while the bus connection would mean a one stop ride. Building another portal here would not be cheap, but overall, the WSTT would be cheaper (and a lot more effective).

    3. What we gain is access to all the redevelopment happening on the east side of Aurora, with a station location that probably won’t require knocking any valuable buildings down. There are a lot of new buildings going up on Dexter and 8th… if that development keeps spreading westward it will eventually meet the station. It also adds a bunch of hotels to the walkshed.

      It’s also a station that gives central/west SLU commuters the opportunity to simply get out and walk, rather than riding in to Westlake and then transferring to the SLUT. Or it could be a bone thrown to the LQA -> SLU commuters who today choose to walk rather than wait for the 8.

  16. Do we really know Option D is definitely out especially if UW-Ballard is likely out? If somehow we manage to not blow all the North King ST3 money on West Seattle LRT, perhaps Option D can still be in play. Its by far my favorite of anything proposed to date though with UW-Ballard close behind.

    1. Nothing is out yet, but ST’s corridor-choice survey was heavily biased toward Interbay or less for Ballard, and all higher-level choices for West Seattle, and didn’t have a place for freeform comments (or at least I couldn’t find it), so I couldn’t list all the other things I wanted ST to add to the menu. Officially it’s a menu of corridors to consider, and there will be system plan alternatives around the end of the year or early next year. That’s when ST will start to specify what’s in and what’s out. (system plan = concrete network for a ballot measure)

  17. This is great news. Sure, it isn’t my dream alignment, but we’ve got tunnel with short stop spacing in the dense areas, the least offensive place for at grade/elevated anywhere in the city, and some thinking ahead for Ballard to UW.

    Also, it is evidence that either our officials are not inept, STBers and our urbanist brethren have actual influence (a position confirmed by the progress on infill stations), or both. We sadly don’t have the influence of a bad Danny Westneat column, but the ability to move the needle is what matters.

    Of course, it’s also evidence that STB could improve its fact checking. This isn’t the first time, by any means, that we’ve all gotten up in arms about something only to have various officials tell us that we weren’t reading the documents properly. I hugely appreciate Martin, not just for doing the piles of work that he does for this blog, but for being the voice of level-headed reason, smart and committed to good design, but practical about compromise and not uselessly angry. But Martin, call the people to clarify next time they seem to be insane. As stated above, they appear to be either quite sane or responsive to rage here, either of which means that a call from STB asking “you aren’t really considering skipping station x, are you?” leads to good results.

    1. “Also, it is evidence that either our officials are not inept, STBers and our urbanist brethren have actual influence (a position confirmed by the progress on infill stations), or both. We sadly don’t have the influence of a bad Danny Westneat column, but the ability to move the needle is what matters”

      Or it could be evidence that STB commenters go bonkers at even the hint of flaw or two in a potential alignment.

      1. When that “flaw or two in a potential alignment” is in an official letter from one of the municipalities to the Sound Transit Board, it deserves high dudgeon. You simply don’t know if the ST Board would ask the right questions.

    2. If you read the original text you’ll see that SDOT’s letter was sloppily written. The correction issued by SDOT changes the meaning of what they original wrote.

      1. +1

        Letters recommending spending billions should be carefully written — and carefully edited.

        Who really wrote this? Why was City staff so sloppy?

  18. All this talk about Interbay and LQA but what about Ballard? The traffic sewer 15th Ave NW is the best we can do in Ballard?!? Ballard is a place and not a pass-through zone.

    They show a route splitting off at Market, I don’t see how something could be at-grade east on Market. If we are talking a tunnel then, then swing it through the heart of Downtown Ballard, if you swing it through downtown Ballard swing it under the Ship Canal. It could then emerge around 15th/Dravus if it has to run on 15th.

    If we want to improve bike-ped facilities on the Ballard Bridge lets cantilever out wider sidewalk/paths with ST money for station access. Lets not pick a suboptimal rapid transit route just to get a new bridge for better bike-ped conditions.

    1. According to the SDOT folks I talked to, they seemed to have their eye on the 7-11 at Market and 17th as the Market Street stop for Option D, but it would work for this line as well. If the Ballard spur was ever built, would also have the same stop, but there was talk of having a future station around 24th and Market.

      1. mdnative,

        You can’t get to 17th and Market from a mid-height “multi-modal” bridge shared with cars in the 15th Avenue corridor. Oh, you could physically, but to do so you’d have to turn 17th Avenue into a transit only street, and suffer a pretty monstrous elevated structure probably above Leary Way. Now maybe the City is planning to do that, and if so, “OK”, but the neighborhood is in for a shock!

        And anyway that’s not what the wording in their letter said: “and a station at 15th Avenue and 65th Street.”. You can’t have that and one at 17th and Market without an expensive tunnel. I think they want to be on the surface in Ballard, and that’s entirely acceptable. When LRT lines are in their prime catchment areas, the closer they are to people, the better they perform.

        No, we don’t need BART del Norte, SeattleSubway.

      2. Although the commercial heart of Ballard is west of 15th and 15th itself is pretty unpleasant, I think it’s the right street for this line to follow. There’s a heck of a lot of population density to the east of 15th, it allows for a straight and uncomplicated routing to points further north, and 15th is a bit of a pedestrian barrier, meaning that with the ped improvements we can expect for the station, it will be easily accessible from the east and the west. A parallel alignment would reduce the effective walk shed, because crossing 15th is so unpleasant and slow.

        The desire to push west towards old Ballard would ideally be solved by an eventual Ballard/UW line, with a station at Market and 22nd or 24th, in addition to Market and 15th.

      3. Yes, absolutely. This is one more reason why the UW to Ballard line makes sense. It is trivial to extend it west, to 24th and Market. That is another excellent stop. Meanwhile, we build good bus service on the north-south lines. Build the WSTT and you eliminate 90% of the backups, so now buses cruise on 15th (and 24th, 8th, Aurora and Wallingford).

        Eventually a line like this might make sense. But for now, the other projects just add a lot more mobility for the money.

      4. Ross,

        You are absolutely correct in everything you say from a theoretical point of view, but the City and ST are signaling with very little restraint that they aren’t going to build Ballard-UW first. I’m sorry. It’s a great idea, but it’s not going to fly; the politicians know what people want, and they want to get downtown. The vast majority of voters in North Seattle do not ride the 44 because they do not go to the U-District, or if they do, they drive.

        Few people are going to vote for a “three-seat-ride” from Greenwood to downtown Seattle, either, no matter how fast the subways. All of the buses from north central Seattle (the four lines from Latona to Eighth NW) have express options except the new 16, and you can double damn betcha that agitation will result in a “16X” from Green Lake center to downtown via Aurora at the peaks within a few shakeups. Folks will love the multiple connectivity it gives them for rides around north Seattle, but to get to work? “I wanna go on Aurora!”

        So, there will be no citizen uprising that will force SDOT and ST to build Ballard-UW first. It just is not going to happen. We transit geeks do not have a large enough stage from which to explain the benefits.

  19. OK, this is much better. This is pretty much what I thought it was. Basically it was an arts and crafts project, and they dropped the little sticker for 1st and Mercer, but didn’t notice until later. So, given that, a few thoughts:

    First, kudos to SDOT for putting the station there, instead of inside the Seattle Center (as Sound Transit was suggesting, if memory serves). This is a much better spot.

    From a value standpoint, this is a decent route from downtown to Ballard. This makes sense in ST4 or ST5. But until then, we have much better, much more valuable things to build.

    UW to Ballard light rail simply performs better, and as luck would have it, is cheaper. UW to Ballard changes the transit dynamic — changes the transportation dynamic — of every place north of the ship canal and west of I-5. UW to Ballard light rail is all about the buses moving fast in one direction, while the train moves fast in a perpendicular direction. Cities that have very successful transit systems — like Vancouver — do this. It works (ask Vancouver).

    As good as this line is, the WSTT is better. Here is how I break it down:

    Westlake and Denny versus 2nd and Bell — This is a toss up. The more I look at it, the more I feel like these are almost identical in terms of the number of people nearby as well as the proximity to other stations.

    Aurora and Harrison — At first glance this looks identical. After all, the station is the same either way. But one of the great values of this station, is that it connects to the buses along Aurora. In this case, the major advantage goes to the WSTT, since those buses can just keep going into the tunnel. With the WSTT, you have a one seat ride anywhere along the Aurora Corridor to downtown (and West Seattle). With this bus route you don’t.

    Every other station is identical. Except, of course, that the WSTT allows more stations. The WSTT would serve the 15, 17 and 18 and D (according to the map). This means serving 24th as well as 15th. You basically double the coverage in Ballard. Then you have the fact that it is a lot more flexible. I see nothing wrong with the choices or the existing routes, but we may decide to have the buses take a different route through Ballard (or send different buses through the bus tunnel). The WSTT allows that, but light rail wouldn’t.

    So, basically, the WSTT is simply better. It is also cheaper.

    Just to be clear, this is not meant as a criticism of what is a perfectly good light rail route from downtown to Ballard. It is just like all such routes, it can only do so much, and the combination of WSTT and Ballard to UW light rail can do a lot more.

    1. If only there was an organization that would push for a WSTT and Ballard Spur……. (snark)

  20. Once operating, this rail corridor will pull away riders on many bus routes. This is especially true if it extends through Downtown or to First Hill.

    It’s too early to speculate too much on a Downtown restructure and maybe a reconfigured streetcar network. Let’s see what happens with ST3 and revisit access to Belltown and First Hill if it passes.

    In 20 years, it may be that many buses in Downtown will go away as riders shift to using faster subways rather than stay on slower buses. We are moving towards a transit system where rail will naturally predominate if ST3 passes.

    1. I should clarify a bit on this point on why I put it in this post. This particular alignment with the LQA stop added will set up a situation where almost all north bus routes will pass by a rail station when headed downtown — Elliott, Queen Anne/First, 99, and Westlake (and of course Broadway and Montlake with U-Link and I-5 with North Link/Lynnwood Link). Several east routes and south routes also pass by rail stations on the way into Downtown Seattle, with West Seattle and the CD being the last remaining major areas without rail to get through Downtown — and a West Seattle line and a Boeing Access Road station at I-5 on the table. Meanwhile, speeds will become slower on area freeways — even on HOV lanes — in years to come and the tentacles of ST lines will stretch out far enough to reduce the demand for Express buses except for perhaps the 520 corridor.

      If this is the objective of ST and Seattle and STB commenters, let’s be frank and all embrace this — and plan unfunded West Seattle and CD strategies with this conceptual structure understanding. It is this basic systems objective which is often the approached piece-meal — yet many don’t seem able to either realize or directly state it as the core objective.

      Are we all ready to deliberately agree that people want rail access as the preferred way to reach Downtown Seattle?

      1. No.

        Most of the people will never be served directly by rail. We just don’t have enough money for rail everywhere. For example, consider the area close to SPU. This is an area that is more densely populated than most areas in Seattle. it also contains a college. So obviously it makes sense as a future light rail stop. Except that it will never happen. It is just in the wrong place. There are tons of places like this in Seattle.

        So, if a successful transit system — like Vancouver (which is extremely successful) — requires a lot of bus usage — and Vancouver bus usage greatly exceeds its light rail usage — then we need to focus on really good bus to rail interaction, along with improvements to the bus system. There are some areas where light rail makes sense, and other areas where bus tunnels (or bus improvements) make sense. The combination of a Metro 8 subway, a UW to Ballard subway, the WSTT, along with improvements on the West Seattle Freeway make for a very Vancouver like system. Buses and trains move very fast, and interact quite well with trains that move fast, and follow routes that are not necessarily a convergent zone, but a very popular route (with stop spacing demands that logically follow).

        A line like this might someday make sense, but until then, we should build the most valuable, most cost efficient projects first.

      2. Ross, I agree with you that this line is OK but what we really need is UW-Ballard, WSTT, and Metro 8/Denny subway.

        But what’s the political strategy to get that? If this SDOT line or something like it is built, I don’t see how those other elements can happen. Are you suggesting that at this late stage there is time to get the powers-that-be to shift to supporting our agenda? Or are we just starting to set up for the inevitable No vote on ST3? If I thought it was possible to live with an inferior line but eventually add the stuff that would make a difference, I could see voting Yes just to get something. But I don’t think that’s realistic. It’s either SDOT, or WSTT+Metro 8, and never both. (Ballard-UW is still viable either way, but should be built first.)

      3. Ross, I’m not saying that we should eliminate buses. I’m not saying that bus boardings won’t occur.

        I’m just saying that the City is now recommending an alignment that meets all the major north bus route corridors in and out of Downtown and riders will get on/off buses at the rail stations and not Downtown. Consider how many riders will vacate the local buses in Downtown in favor of this using line to get to connecting buses — and that if it opens, the bus route structure will eventually have to face this behavioral change!

        San Francisco continued to operate some bus routes into Downtown for several years after BART and Muni Metro opened (just one corridor through Downtown) — and eventually realized that they were a horrible waste of money and dropped some one by one. In Boston, most bus lines terminate at a light rail line and riders use trains to get into Downtown. Downtown Seattle streets and the cross streets will get inevitably more congested and many of these stations are at the edge of the core, so it’s only natural to expect Metro will have a strong incentive to restructure the bus lines if this rail line is put into operation and particularly if it goes through Downtown to at least Madison.

      4. Cascadian,

        I think you’re wrong about the Metro 8. It’s still viable, but instead of heading out west to Uptown and “Expediaville” it would swing southwest after the Westlake/Denny station and terminate in Belltown. Yes, it’s a stub subway that requires a transfer to one of the regional lines to get anywhere very far, though it would be GREAT for people living in Belltown and working in central SLU. It would be much like — wait for it — the western extension of the 7 Line in Manhattan or the Central Subway in San Francisco. Not every subway has to “go somewhere far away” to be useful. Sometimes one station more makes a huge difference.

  21. Why can’t it just use the existing transit tunnel and save hundreds of millions (1 billion+) dollars that could be better spent elsewhere?

    If Central Link, East Link, and “Ballard-West Seattle Link” each run every 6 minutes, that’s a combined headway of 2 minutes. Seattle’s short light rail trains should be able to handle that. Vancouver’s SkyTrain runs like every 90 seconds.

    1. Because, with the possible exception of the wide spot at CPS, there’s no way to get into the DSTT from the north end. West Seattle? Absolutely; there’s already a nicely situated flying junction at the MF. But at the north end there was no “stub” left for a connection.

      1. It’s actually very tedious to build a branch in an existing tunnel which lacks the bellmouths; you’d have to shut the existing tunnel down for a year. Add the things necessary to build the grade-separated junction, and it starts to be much cheaper to build a completely new tunnel.

    2. I think many of us see the shortcomings of not being able to have a branch on Link at the north end of Downtown. All it would have taken is funding two siding tracks in the U-Link project — one for each direction — to allow system branching or connectivity in the future. Not only does this decision make system branching impossible, but it would mean that there will be no way to easily switch out-of-service light rail cars between a Ballard line and the main Link lines and facilities unless this complete second Downtown tunnel links them around the International District Station.

      What amazes me is that this lack of possible branches pervades the next system projects. Had ST put in a branch at 45th to go to Ballard, at Northgate to go to Lake City/522 and/or Aurora or near South Bellevue to go Eastgate, the ST3 discussion would be entirely different. Tragically, even though the projects are currently under construction, these next few years is the last time we can easily add some siding for future branches. Again, no decision-maker seems to want to put this into the ST3 mix.

      Consider that even with the flood of 522 corridor letters that accompanied the City of Seattle’s comment letter this past month, no one is asking ST fund sidings for the 522 corridor in ST3! These sidings could be designed and constructed by 2023 (at least the switches) and then someday used for a branch line. Instead, the letters only ask to study the corridor for HCT which of course results in no sidings getting built We’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past!.

      It’s what happens when a bunch of elected officials and senior staff don’t have years of experience commuting regularly on rail transit. They don’t personally understand the long-term operational problems with rail corridor design — and they don’t listen to people who do understand because those people are considered outsiders to the Seattle political decision process. Hence, the general skeptical sentiment here on STB about ST planning decisions. I do have hope that elected officials/staff in 12-15 years will be approaching things differently once the operational mistakes of the elected officials/staff today become painfully obvious.

  22. but if the tendrils to Ballard and West Seattle have to be at-grade (meaning MLK quality) to pay for it, then so be it.”

    I agree with this fully with the caveat I mentioned above: I think Ballard has to be on stilts from the tunnel portal until just past the Magnolia Bridge and it would behoove ST to put the Newton stop on pegs too, because it would be pretty brutal hell to access a station in that car sewer. Of course, people do it every day on MLK so there’s that. But it has lots more lights; 15th West is a mini-freeway.

    Another thing; I have no idea how they expect to “interline to a future Ballard-UW line” at grade just north of Market. Talk about a traffic jam up! Wow. Other than those two quibbles I’m good with the idea.

    I tried to find viable right of way by stepping down off the elevated just north of the Newton station and running out Armory to alongside the railroad tracks. However, it sure seemed that the golf course would have been squeezed pretty tightly; duffers with a bad slice might find a lie in a difficult rough made of ballast and ties. So I’m not going out a limb to propose and get jeered at. Plus once the alignment is north of Dravus it’s pretty tightly hemmed in by buildings and the BNSF engine servicing facility. Matt Rose is not going to want to move that.

    However, if the City was good with knocking down a few business buildings there and repurposing the golf course running alongside the railroad tracks would be the best way to preserve decent auto capacity in the corridor and not have to pay for elevated structures. And a station right there would serve the eastern edge of Magnolia around Dravus quite well.

    1. It’s subtle, but I can see there is a need to make a general linguistic reminder: There is a difference between at-grade and grade-separated. It’s possible to have an at-grade segment like 15th Ave with full grade separations. You and most of the experienced posters understand the difference. I guess it’s also technically possible to have an aerial or subway segment with grade crossings if they too are on the same elevation.

      1. I’ve seen a few of those (grade crossings of elevated or underground lines) — mostly pedestrian or small-truck crossings intended for employees only.

    2. MLK is not a car sewer. It reminds me of those boulevards with center streetcar lanes in Europe. 15th Ave W is worse, but it’s still not as bad as the Montlake flyer station which is really depressing.

      1. Yes, 15th West is more of a car sewer than is MLK, but there is a distinct aroma when driving MLK (exhaust fumes). How many bikes do you see in those bike lanes? Not very many; the cars pass them going too fast.

        The problem with an at-grade access at Newton is that it would require a light but no cars would use the intersection. Therefore SDOT will make people wait foreverrrrr to get to the station.

        Trains will approach, people will “run for it”, and bodies will be mangled.

  23. Plain and simple… the Denny and 99/Harrison stations have no business in a Ballard line that runs along 15th. They should just be planned for a future line that serves SLU and then roughly follows Aurora North. There is a ton of density along the East side of Queen Anne, Lower and upper Fremont, Phinney, Greenwood, and then on to Shoreline and Edmonds. It makes no sense to leave Seattle’s Second densest neighborhood (Belltown) out of the mix in perpetuity just to serve the more immediate need that is SLU. I don’t see how folks on this blog can constantly rail against the lack of having a First Hill Link stop and then suggest that it is somehow ok to skip over Belltown. Yes, SLU needs rapid HCT, but you can’t have everything you want all at once and we shouldn’t sacrifice the future to serve the present. I agree with those that say SLU should be propped up in the meantime by improving the SLUT to the extent possible to increase its reliability.

  24. I am disappointed, no in the decision to have a line through Interbay, but in our inability to think outside of the box. Instead of doing the normal “Seattle Development Process” where we build up an area without adequate public transit, force everyone into an auto dependent lifestyle and then a decade later begin building a transit network through people’s backyards, we could do things the right way in Interbay. That area should be nothing but high rise, dense development. There is no neighborhood “character” to destroy or any NIMBYs to get in the way. This area could truly be affordable as well–I’m not sure how much of the “1%” want to have the freight lines so close. This area is a stone throw away from downtown and many other neighborhoods and could easily support a car-free lifestyle. Maybe I’m naive, but I just wish we could try to learn from our past mistakes in nearly every neighborhood and do something right. Can we at least have the discussion?

    1. correction: …*not* in the decision to have a line through Interbay…

      I also realize I should have been more clear that I’m disappointed in the negativity of the comments here about Interbay. If things stay as is and that area is not developed then I agree that it is wasteful. I am just surprised I did not see one mention of making that area “developed” in order to justify the cost of 3 stations. Like we have seen in places like Ravenna and Mercer Island, it is very difficult to build train lines in single family neighborhoods and then ask them to suddenly become more dense. We do not have that problem in Interbay. It would be such a wasted opportunity if we left that area completely industrial.

    2. The freight railyard in the middle of interbay isn’t going anywhere and is not going to get any development on top of it, which is rather a problem for development in Interbay. Your walkshed dies shortly to the west of 15th Avenue. I doubt you’ll even get rid of the golf course.

      This is why a good route would run further east. Even 14th or 13th Avenue would be better. 3rd Avenue West is actually perfect, geographically speaking, except it’s not a commercial street.

      1. According to the new construction map Seattle just released (http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/shapingseattle/map.aspx), there are 3 new high rises going up around the QFC on Dravus. I have full faith in developers ability to find small pieces of land to build up into high rises where you would least expect to see them.. Again maybe I’m naive and completely wrong, but it seems like most people just write-off that area as industrial and should never be touched. If this much of our tax money is going to poured into an “industrial wasteland”, then isn’t it in our interest to least ask how we can get the most bang for our buck out of it?

      2. Never underestimate the power of NIMBYs to see merit in lowrises, open space, and historical buildings everywhere, even in Interbay. They just quashed the duplex zoning in single-family areas that would have allowed more people to live in Seattle. Or at least the mayor has turned against it for now. Which makes me start to wonder if he’ll have a good opponent in the next election, which I never thought about for McGinn, Nickels, or Schell.

      3. I agree. Obviously the tracks limit the amount of developable area, and the golf course and armory are big challenges. But we’ve seen how hard it is to get zoning for density in existing residential neighborhoods (eg. Roosevelt) and how easy it is in industrial areas (SLU, Bel-Red).

        I’m not saying that the Interbay stops are on par with LQA, Ballard, or Belltown. But they’re on the way, cheap to build, and in one of very, very few places where we could hope for a rezone to 80 or 120 feet. If we’re really lucky we could get it to SLU heights, because people would rather look at skyscrapers than a decaying industrial wasteland.

      4. Third West is Option D without Fremont. Digging that deep tunnel without serving Fremont is a non-started.

      5. Nathanael, I just realized you mean “Thirteenth West”, not Third West.

        But there are serious elevation changed along 13th. It roller-coasters all along the west side of the hill. It’s not a good choice.

  25. What is this “Metro 8” that is being referred to?

    I generally support this line now that I figured out that Most of belltown is within 10 minute walking distance to one of these stations…even though they’d have to walk in the opposite direction of downtown to get to one. If central streetcar with dedicated ROW makes its way to belltown, that’d be awesome and a good option.

    I also wish Queen anne hill had a subway stop (like Beacon Hill). As previous commenters noted, we need to serve dense population centers – not just jobs centers. Belltown and Queen Anne are those.

    1. Metro 8 is a light rail subway that roughly follows the current Metro 8 bus. It would connect LQA, SLU, and Capitol Hill in a west-east line along the Denny corridor, and then possibly curve to hit parts of the CD (the 8 bus goes down MLK to Mt. Baker station). it’s a dense corridor connecting multiple neighborhoods that currently (particularly along Denny) is a traffic nightmare.

      The tunnel portion of this line from LQA to Denny/Westlake is similar to part the Metro 8 subway, but further north. I think it’s so close that the idea that we’ll then build another tunnel for Metro 8 nearby is just not going to happen, even though it would be superior.

    2. I’d have to agree on your comment about Belltown distances. It’s between 1/4 and 1/3 of a mile from any of the proposed station entrances to most of Belltown and very little is further than 1/2 mile.

      The question will become whether the final tunnel alignment and station locations will make Belltown access easier or harder. If the Denny is the north edge of a subway station, the station could have an entrance on Lenora, for example. I don’t see missing Belltown as a fatal flaw as much as a mere inconvenience that final station planning will need to improve.. .

    3. “Metro 8” is one of the names for an east-west subway connecting Uptown to Capitol Hill, and possibly continuing to the CD and Mt Baker Station. Opinions vary as to where it would go straight east crossing Broadway at John Street, or diagonally southeast crossing Broadway around Swedish hospital. I prefer to call it the “Denny Way subway” rather than the “Metro 8 subway”.

      One of Seattle Subway’s maps shows the West Seattle line turning east to incorporate this segment. (It would not be interlined with the Ballard line, but instead overlap it downtown.)

    4. For those that have had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand Metro’s bus route 8. this looks like a good candidate for subway conversion due to the sheer difficult of finding any suction to all the problems of the 8 on the surface.

      It’s crowded. It’s stuck on traffic. It connects a buch of other routes.

  26. To all on SeattleTransitBlog I apologize for not currently living in Seattle so I don’t see the changes occurring day to day. dyspeptic pontificator is probably correct that on some things I am not as current as I should be. However, my wife has a neice who lives in Seward Park whom we visit regularly and I have two sets of old friends we see several times a year for a couple of days at a time, one in Ballard and the other in Maple Leaf.

    So I do get to see the broad scale changes in the city pretty regularly, except for West Seattle which I have no reason to visit.

    So I will attempt to be more moderate and not write with such conviction. I promise to include the caveatIf I lived in Seattle and knew anything about the City I might suggest …” in at least one post per week.

    Is that a deal, dyspeptic? May I still participate?

    1. I honestly can’t tell what percentage of the above is snark, so I’ll reply as if it were written completely in earnestness.

      I want you to know, Anandakos, that my giving you a hard time and calling you out on your sometimes-absurd insistences/declaratives should not be interpreted as evidence of dislike. I give you a hard time because you are engaged, because you do contribute, because you clearly care about outcomes and have a stake in the place.

      Just like I give Mike O. a hard time when he slips into the role of Explainer for the Seattle Department of Special Snowflakes and Wheel Reinventions. Just like I give Keith a hard time when his rational-investment side gets subsumed by his OMGAUTOMATICTRAINSEVERYWHERE side. I like you all well enough to bother taking on your problematic framing.

      I would much have a debate (or beer) with you than have to incessantly correct the transit spewings of perennial internet thorns like Nathanael N. That’s someone who honestly cares neither for real-world outcomes nor for the places he insists on inserting himself (and generally has never been). His insertions are so compulsive and agenda-driven that it doesn’t even matter that he’s occasionally right — unreliable witnesses are categorically unhelpful to any cause.

      That guy is full-on pathological. Thankfully, you do not own such a badge, nor should you desire to claim one.

      So again, it’s not really about pleasing me or “making a deal” with me. It is about contributing in a less distractingly inaccuracy-prone manner. Your recent declarative convictions have included the (supposedly) widespread practice of building brand new subway isolates with neither maintenance facilities nor non-revenue track connections. At the same time, you insisted on the precise location where any Ballard-line maintenance base would have to be, and decided to reverse-engineer our transit priorities from that conviction (cart-before-horse, almost literally).

      You have insisted that the world is full of redundant mile-long block-apart downtown subways, because all lines must reach every inch of the financial district, and ignoring the coverage value of perpendicularity that has guided 99% of multi-line subway networks in existence. Mere days later, you’re insisting that Belltown should be the terminus on a future stub subway that doesn’t even allow for connections at Westlake, 2/3 of a mile away.

      And you have approached every one of those insistences as inarguable absolutes. Can you not see why that might come across as unhelpful? Perhaps even frustrating? And then you go into loquacious details on every inch of what “logically follows” from your false premises. Can you not see why that might be distracting?

      I certainly know that I too could improve my discourse. More patience, fewer F-bombs. But let’s not pretend that my frustration with both the argumentative process, and the resulting advocacy/transit outcomes in this town, is not born of a genuine problem. That problem is a lack of reality checks, so I intend to remain one of those.

  27. While I’m certainly not ready to throw in the towel on Option D and UW-Ballard for ST3, I wonder if this proposal for ST3 and Option D + UW-Ballard for ST4? Is that just complete overkill for this area or is it getting the complete criss-crossing network that is needed?

    1. Taking that area in isolation, it would probably be useful (though I’d redirect the end of Option D to point at Greenwood.) But when many other regions of the city don’t have a single line, it’s definitely comparative overkill.

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