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.