Several Eastside cities (Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah, Kirkland, Renton, Sammamish) submitted a joint interest statement to Sound Transit that lays out a shared vision for the ST3 project list. Each city also submitted comments with respect to their particular interests. The joint interest statement was developed in response to concerns that the draft PPL would serve the Eastside poorly, and that the relatively compact central Eastside needed a more comprehensive vision for regional mobility.
A plan for ST3, the Eastside cities argue, must do the following:
“Fund Eastside needs”: ST3 must fully fund investments necessary to meet Eastside transit needs. This is, of course, a shot across the bow of other regional leaders who have looked at the Eastside’s tax revenues as a funding source for spine expansion. Concerns about subarea equity were loudly voiced in several of the City Council meetings where letters to ST3 were approved.
“Connect regional growth centers within the Eastside”: Two projects are called out here; East Link to Redmond, and light rail from Totem Lake to Issaquah. Obviously, extension of East Link is the Eastside’s highest priority, and quite uncontroversial. BRT should be built between Totem Lake and Issaquah if light rail is beyond the financial capacity of the Eastside. Investments in Regional Express within the Eastside are also called for.
“Connect the Eastside with the region”: Here the cities advocate for strengthened connections with the neighboring subareas, including I-405 BRT and Regional Express. The statement is careful to call out how these are multi-subarea investments, implying that East King should not bear the entire cost of I-405 BRT. With the BRT corridor likely to extend from Lynnwood to Seatac, a large portion now lies outside the East King subarea.
“Provide an integrated regional transit system with access enhancements”: The cities are looking for a regional network that integrates ST rail, BRT, express bus and Metro bus services. They also call for TOD and non-motorized access planning as part of ST3. Performance-based initiatives for more efficient use of parking are supported, adding capacity as needed.
“Support system expansion”: This is a call for planning and studies for future system upgrades (and for ST to plan facilities like OMSF early in the process).
The individual cities submitted their own comments, describing their particular needs in greater detail:
Bellevue‘s comments were the most detailed, endorsing East Link to Redmond and BRT on I-405. Several interesting modifications to I-405 are suggested. These include an alternative routing that exits at I-90 to Bellevue Way SE, serving South Bellevue station, East Main station, and Bellevue Downtown along arterial streets before returning to I-405 via the NE 6th St ramp. Bellevue also seeks HOV ramps between I-405 and SR 520.
Another Bellevue goal is a robust intra-eastside transit network, suggesting the Bellevue Transit Master Plan as a model for ST/Metro integration. Bellevue endorses “cost-effective high capacity transit” connecting Kirkland to Bellevue to Issaquah, but without otherwise taking a position on BRT vs. LRT in this corridor. They do state that Kirkland should be served via the ERC, that the Bellevue College Connector (more below) should be a component, and that there should be stations at Totem Lake, Kirkland Downtown, South Kirkland, Eastgate and Issaquah.
Bellevue also makes several suggestions for all-day frequent bus service including Redmond-Crossroads, Kirkland-Factoria, Eastgate-UW, and Issaquah-Mercer Island.
Bellevue College’s needs are highlighted, and the City asks that the Bellevue College Regional Connector project be a priority in the system plan. The suggested routing runs from 142nd Pl SE via Snoqualmie River Rd to SE 24th St. The connector should be a part of the Totem Lake to Issaquah transit connection.
Redmond‘s obvious priority is completion of East Link from Overlake to downtown Redmond. Redmond wants this completed early in the ST3 program, recognizing that a record of decision has already been issued for this project.
A second priority is enhanced Regional Express service along SR 520 to UW and Brooklyn stations. The City is asking for facilities to improve bus-rail integration at UW station, and enhancements to bus access in Redmond to improve reliability and decrease travel times. Redmond also seeks expanded bus service in several key corridors within Eastern King County: Downtown Redmond to Downtown Kirkland; Overlake to Downtown Kirkland; and Downtown Redmond, Overlake and Eastgate.
Redmond supports a NE 85th St stop on I-405 BRT, arguing it would expand access to I-405 BRT for Redmond and Kirkland residents, as well as commuters from north King and Snohomish County who are traveling to jobs on the Eastside.
Kirkland wants Sound Transit to connect Downtown Kirkland, Google, and the 6th St corridor to regional transit on I-405. Kirkland’s support for I-405 BRT is contingent on a NE 85th St station with a high quality connection to downtown. Fixed guideway connections or people movers are suggested.
Recognizing the difficulties in serving the sprawling Totem Lake neighborhood, Kirkland argues I-405 BRT must serve multiple stops within the neighborhood including the vicinity of NE 116th St. Kirkland suggests that a trunk-and-branch service model might resolve some of the access issues, particularly for downtown.
Kirkland also asks that BRT be considered along the ERC, insisting that either BRT or LRT should be funded in a final ST3 package (BRT being advanced as a lower cost alternative to rail). As either concept is developed, routing through downtown Kirkland should be included.
Issaquah‘s brief letter described the recently adopted Central Issaquah plan and the designation of a regional growth center within the central area. Based on this, they argued the case for Light rail to Issaquah. Issaquah also seeks a park-and-ride facility and more ST Express service.
Woodinville seeks a HCT connection to Totem Lake, endorsing both I-405 BRT and the ERC. They argue that ERC transit could connect two urban centers at Totem Lake and Canyon Park, and eventually connect other communities in eastern King and Snohomish Counties.
Renton seeks a HOV direct access ramp at North 8th St which could serve Renton Landing. Renton is supportive of I-405 BRT, of ST Express service, and system access improvements for parking, pedestrians and bicyclists.
All of the City comments and the joint interest statement are here.
45 Replies to “What the Eastside Wants in ST3”
With the exception of Issaquah light rail, all of these sound like solid, affordable, great “bang for your buck” projects. Most of these work really well with each other. Leverage the ERC, the freeways, and East Link and it should work well for the entire region.
It is interesting to see Bellevue push for more ST/Metro integration. I agree and think this is nice to see.
I assume that when you say “Concerns about subarea equity” that the concerns being expressed are concerns about watering down sub-area equity.
I.e., the Eastside wishes to maintain a strong commitment to subarea equity (as do I).
But it is nice to see a reasoned and coordinated response. This is such a contrast with what came out of South King (is it any wonder that the Eastside is dong so much better than South King???)
SCATBd (South County Area Transportation Board) is made up of cities, county, port, and WSDOT members.
Where’s their letter of interest?
Oh, there wasn’t any.
Of the all the east-subarea comunities, Renton is especially difficult to serve, and should probably have been included in South King, rather than East King. The big problem is that the existing street layout and traffic patterns makes it impossible for any bus passing through Renton to serve even a single stop within Renton without adding huge amounts of travel time, due to turns, stoplights, and traffic jams getting on and off the freeway.
And it’s not helped by the fact that most of the people who live in Renton don’t even live in the “real Renton” (the part north of 405), but the sprawl southeast of it.
Oh boy, asdf, you just said a mouthful. I couldn’t agree more.
“The big problem is that the existing street layout and traffic patterns makes it impossible for any bus passing through Renton to serve even a single stop within Renton without adding huge amounts of travel time, due to turns, stoplights, and traffic jams getting on and off the freeway.”
I used to commute on the 564/565/566 corridor routes and that was a frustrating run of stop-go-stop-go-stop-go in the middle of a primarily freeway bus route. Even the parking lot that is I-405 would have been better than the routing through Renton. Their ask for an HOV ramp adjacent to the vacant land (former Boeing stuff) south of the Landing (i.e. NE 8th) would be a good move for the city and would likely result in some good TOD.
Is that off-ramp ahead of the curve, near the curve or does it miss it completely?
ST3 is shaping up as the Christmas tree getting ready to adorn as many ornaments as can be conjured up by local politicians trying to juice up their local credentials as transit advocates.
HCT from Totem Lake to Issaquah??? Where’s the solid data of frequent buses making that trip today, with overloaded artics, just begging for relief from higher capacity trains making the same trip.
An offramp in Renton to serve a few hundred more apartment units at the Landing?? Let the fucking developer build one if it’s such a great idea.
On and on., but Merry Christmas Seattle.
That ramp Renton is asking for is included in the ST2 Plan, but has been on hold pending WSDOT getting funding for adding HOT lanes to the southern half of 405. Those have been funded in the state transportation package, so it’s fair to assume ST will advance the N. 8th ramp with WSDOT whether ST3 passes or not.
I too was very disappointed by the Renton response. t reads as though they don’t have the amount of contemplation about transit that they should have given their current population and mode share.
I was particularly amazed that they didn’t even mention the Boeing Access Road station, as this station is less than two miles from the South Renton park-and-ride. It will be a popular park-ride location for Renton residents if a large amount of parking is made available.
At some point, Renton elected officials will realize that they have more leverage than they do — and that their impending loss of DSTT bus service is going to trigger a local outrage. Renton badly needs to put some energy into better transit visioning so they can develop a consensus about what transit they are entitled to have in the future and not take the backseat to what smaller cities like Issaquah, Redmond and Kirkland want to do.
The potential Boeing Access Rd station is five miles from the South Renton Park & Ride, not two. It is a fairly straight shot along SR900 though, but how buses would approach it from the Access Rd is unknown.
You are right, Peter. I was mistaken.
The speed on SR 900 is so fast between the two locations that it feels shorter.
Every time I drive the corridor, it is clear to me that an MLK-style light rail segment would be easy to implement between the two destinations. There are also several existing apartment complexes on the corridor and some really good sites that could become TODs. There would certainly be some major design challenges around the Boeing Access Road station as well as around Downtown Renton — but constructability looks less problematic than getting rail to a less populous Issaquah or Totem Lake.
If there were going to be a bus going between Renton and Boeing Access Road Station, you may as well just run the bus to Ranier Beach Station. There is really no point in building a Boeing Access Road Station.
If they want a train to Seattle that they can drive to and park, they already have it – it’s called Sounder. And the Tukwila Sounder Station is much closer to Renton than Boeing Access Road Station.
“real Renton” you mean downtown Renton. It’s true, Renton is a difficult area to serve If there ever is a BRT or LRT, it should have a few stops in the downtown area. The other parts of Renton would obviously use feeder buses to the LRT. Which those routes would need to be improved.
Real Renton – you mean downtown Renton. It’s true, Renton is a difficult area to serve If there ever is a BRT or LRT, it should have a few stops in the downtown area. The other parts of Renton would obviously use feeder buses to the LRT. Which those routes would need to be improved.
I’m in with this. I’m disappointed to see Renton not fighting harder for multi-modal solutions. It certainly isn’t helped by the obvious layout issues Renton has, but there’s a feeling of a lacking commitment to a center-city approach in downtown Renton. Also no creative asks for improving connections between Tukwila light rail and downtown.
I still think that what Renton really needs is a frequent shuttle bus to Ranier Beach to hop on Link. But that would probably be King County Metro’s department, not Sound Transit’s.
Hooray Eastside cities! This is the most constructive response from suburbs that I think I’ve seen in all of ST’s planning. They aren’t just saying “Link or bust!” but are looking at a variety of options at several price points in several corridors. This means they’re starting to look more realistically at what people need to get around effectively without driving, and not just one corridor.
Issaquah’s response was the least enlightened, but understandable given the city’s small size and peripheral location — it can’t ask for much else within ST’s scope. But its regional growth center is dubious given the city’s out-of-the-way location. I’d suggest that Issaquah needs to start with shuttles to the main Eastside network (East Link, 405 BRT, downtown Bellevue and Redmond) and grow from there, rather than an Issaquah-Kirkland trunk line. Issaquah should also specify more what “more ST Express” service means. Going where and how often? That would be the most effective way to get it, rather than leaving ST to think about it someday.
As for Renton, my first idea was an elevator station like we’ve talked about for Aurora in Fremont. But 405 skirts the edge of downtown in a hilly area, so there’s no place to put it within walking distance of anything. That then suggests a gondola or something. It’s hard to see Renton affording a gondola, but physically it could go west to downtown and east to the Highlands. And a second gondola could go to the Tukwila Sounder station. :)
Issaquah’s response was disappointing to me too. I expect they’ll be patient about LRT; everybody recognizes that the conditions aren’t quite there.
But I don’t know how they can say that they need rail in, say, 2040, and be so indifferent to transit services in 2039. There’s no path from here to there. Shouldn’t they be thinking about interim solutions at least? A busway through their RGC and downtown would preserve ROW and build transit mode share.
Maybe they approached this letter from the “Ask for the stars, settle for the moon” point of view. They ask for LRT, but they are willing to settle for BRT, and in the process they are hoping to get routing and infrastructure that allows future upgrade to LRT.
It seems to me that many of the readers here wish that Seattle approached things from a similar point of view regarding the various options Ballard.
I wouldn’t be so fast to dismiss LR on the Totem Lake/Kirkland to Issaquah route.
Such a route could potentially have relatively low cost compared to other LR projects in the region. Utilizing the Eastside Rail Corridor between Totem Lake/Kirkland and Wilburton would be relatively low cost, and interlining between Wilburton and SBTC would be virtually free since that is “pre-existing” ST2 trackage.
That is a lot of coverage for the dollar and would help mitigate somewhat lower ridership. And from SBTC to Issaquah would be mainly freeway running, which is also relatively inexpensive compared to other lines.
Additionally, the East Link extension from Overlake to Redmond isn’t likely to soak up all the budget either.
So, ya, it *might* be possible to build at least part of a LR line between Kirkland and Issaquah in ST3, and it is certainly true that both Kirkland and Issaquah want LR.
So it is at least worth a look. Then let the data decide.
“Wilburton and SBTC would be virtually free since that is “pre-existing” ST2 trackage”
That’s the routing that ST rejected in its corridor study. LRT or BRT east of South Bellevue, but only BRT to South Bellevue. They mumbled something vague about wetland impacts and the cost of mitigation. (Never mind that I-90 and car pollution and noise is a bigger impact than Link.)
It’s more than that, there is no currently viable way to get rail branching off from South Bellevue east through the I-90/I-405 interchange and then up the hill to Eastgate. The wetland impacts in Mercer Slough are just icing on the cake.
If the interlining extended south beyond SBTC before splitting and following I-90 most of the wetland impacts *could* be mitigated.
Sure, the wetland impacts could be mitigated. But that still doesn’t get you to Factoria. You can’t go over I-405 (its too high in the air), I don’t see a viable location for a tunnel portal without significant property acquisition (and then you’d have to tunnel under Factoria all the way up to Eastgate), and I don’t see a way to squeeze into the I-90 ROW (either median or side-running) without rebuilding half the freeway and the entire interchange.
You would go right down the center median of I-90 — there is plenty of space.
As far as serving Factoria goes, ST’s LR alignments basically don’t go there at all. The main goal is Issaquah, Bellevue College, and the Eastgate P&R.
Not that it couldn’t be done of course, but it just isn’t the goal….
How do you get into the I-90 median in the first place, much less get further east? The SB I-405 to WB I-90 HOV ramp occupies roughly half of the median between I-405 and Bellevue Way, then you have to get under the old BNSF rail bridge to get to ground level. The distance between the HOV ramp and the BNSF bridge is roughly 900 feet; there’s no way you can come in from the south over EB I-90, curve into the median, and drop under the BNSF bridge in that distance. And even if you did manage to do so, the columns supporting the BNSF rail bridge and the I-405 overpasses and ramps are in the median, and the median narrows a bit going under I-405.
I stand by my assertion that you’d have to rebuild half the freeway and the entire I-90/I-405 interchange.
Dude, the ramp from SB Bellevue Way to EB I-90 already solves all the problems you reference and has been doing it for years — and it does it with even more constraints.
For LR all you would need to do is mimic something like that ramp and land in the center median instead of on the RH shoulder. and LR could actually go higher and land further east since it isn’t trying to serve traffic going to I-405. It’s really pretty easy.
As for the BNSF overpass, it isn’t even close to being a constraint. And that rail line was abandoned anyhow when WSDOT severed the line by removing the Wilburton tunnel. If it was a constraint it would just be removed at no impact to anybody.
That’s a good point about the Wilberton tunnel, Lazarus. But don’t forget the 405S-90W HOV ramp (which could be moved) and the pillars for the 405 bridge (which would need to be rebuilt), both of which are also in the median. I think the median of 90 is probably the best place for rail in this corridor, but let’s not pretend it’ll be easier than it is.
The I-90 corridor linkage question is one of those things that remains unresolved — because clarifying it will take ST3 support away.
– If Mercer Slough is declared un-crossable, the Eastgate and Issaquah folk will not care much for LRT that makes the go up to Downtown Bellevue before going to Seattle. Who wants to add 10 minutes to their current transit trip?
– If LRT from Eastgate/Issaquah crosses the Slough and uses East Link tracks to go north to South Bellevue before running up to Bellevue and maybe Kirkland, there will be not much enthusiasm as the I-90 connections at Mercer Island are going to be perceived as more direct for Eastgate and Issaquah. Seattle commuters in the corridor will fear worse transit travel time.
– If LRT from Eastgate/Issaquah crosses the Slough and becomes a second line across I-90 into Seattle, that pretty much dooms a line from Kirkland from having much direct utility. The line would have to stop at Wilburton and not even reach Downtown Bellevue so that’s going to disappoint some Kirkland people.
It’s one of those things where ST can play up broad hopes — but if the “no” campaign forces specific constructability and operations issues, Eastside enthusiasm will be tough to maintain.
The HOV on-ramp is WB only which makes things a lot easier. Just go to the south of it before landing in the center median.
Per the I-405 support columns, there is actually a lot more room there than you might anticipate.
Additionally, the WB I-90 freeway lane configuration is actually very wasteful of space under I-405. *IF* it was required, reconfiguring the gore-point for the Richards Rd on-ramp would gain almost a full lane by itself.
And, *IF* even that was not enough, then moving the Richards Rd on-ramp to the north side of the columns on its RH side (between the columns and I-405 north abutment) would free up about 20 ft of space – more than enough for LR. This is a more expensive option than just restriping the gore-point, but it is still way cheaper than dealing with the I-405 support columns. And it results in a better on-ramp anyhow…..
Is there any reason why Eastside LINK has to wait for the I-90 connector to be built? Can they start laying track for Eastside-only destinations?
I would say there’s a case to do the the “easy stuff” first — unlike Seattle where everything was held up for two decades by tunnel building.
Utilize the dormant rail corridors, build elevated or surface routes and then hook it up to the main system once they get their act together.
+1, as I contemplate sitting in traffic on the RR-B.
Parochialism will smother ST3 in the crib. The notion of restricting expenditures to within arbitrary geographic or jurisdictional boundaries that are invisible to real travel patterns is absurd. ST3 investments need to prioritize serving corridors where the highest travel demand exists today and in the future; these are pretty obvious because there aren’t that many of them.
The whole point of expanding the rail network is to bring higher capacity to the most densely crowded travel corridors. This does two things: it improves the quality of travel in those corridors, and allows the lower capacity mode(s) to increasea/improve/expand the overall network by deploying further afield in greater frequency than is the case absent rail. It also delivers a third benefit: catayzing the land use policy vision underlying GMA.
A regional — not parochial — view is needed to accomplish the right things in ST3. ST and KCM need to sit down and figure out which corridors are ripe for rail in King County and which aren’t, and then demonstrate how the two modes will complement each other in a network that provide intuitive connectivity.
Unfortunately, parochialism is so embedded in ST’s DNA that without subarea equity the most likely outcome is extending Link to Everett and Tacoma while doing nothing on the Eastside other than Link to downtown Redmond and shafting Ballard with a glorified Westlake streetcar and nothing else in Seattle.
I don’t think it’s imbedded in ST’s DNA at all. More like a ball & chain. It comes from the local politicans far more than ST. “We want ours and screw everyone else” seems to be the mantra eminating from sub-area transportation forums, with local council types leading the charge. It’s certainly ST’s problem to solve, tho. The basic problem seems to be an inability within this metropolitan area among local pols to view things through the lens of trips people are taking every day rather than brick & mortar facilities located in their boundaries.
The problem is that the Sound Transit Board IS those local politicans. The vice-chairs are Paul Roberts of Everett, and Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma. Add in the Snohomish and Pierce County Executives, and council members from Lakewood, Sumner, and Issaquah, and you have a sizable portion of the board who doesn’t have a vested interest in the person who’s attempting to live without a car in Ballard, or the person who’s 3-mile commute up Denny takes an hour. Sub Area Equity was originally set up FOR those far flung politicians who were afraid that Seattle would get everything and they’d get nothing. Now that Seattle has received some Light Rail on both ST ballot measures, I’m sure they’d love to say, “That’s enough. Seattle has had their share.”
I have to note that there is often a lack of more direct link between rail transit and an interest in absorbing regional growth through higher-density development. The comments are very much about how to spend money — but not how spending the money will benefit their citizens in terms of reduced travel time, better accessibility or potential to create higher-density land uses.
The messaging is more as if each city doesn’t want to change much and they just want ST to spend money in them. I’d respect the responses more if these cities had actually committed to something if they go their investment (like “our city will commit to a high-density station area up-zoning for 5,000 more affordable housing units if you give us a rail station” or “our city will establish parking regulations and parking pricing strategies to raise our local mode share for employees to 20 percent on transit”). Just saying that they conceptually want something just doesn’t make a convincing argument. What will a city do for ST to leverage the investment of expensive light rail?
That’s what the regional growth centers are, but they’re focused more on being job centers rather than housing or low-income housing. The cities promise upzones in a certain area to accommodate a certain number of jobs and secondarily housing, and that helps their case for justifying a HCT line. Since none of the cities want to impact their single-family areas, they “sacrifice” an industrial area or commercial district instead. The problem of course is that these plans are focused on jobs and thus commuting and peak-hour trips, and not enough on housing or a job-housing mix, and these centers are scattered away from downtowns and each other, which reinforces the “urban village islands” rather than a 2-dimensional area of continuous urbanity (for instance, upzoning the entire area from downtown Kirkland to Totem Lake). But the problem goes beyond ST itself, to the Puget Sound Regional Council with its emphasis on these regional growth centers.
I think we’re on the same page on this one, Mike.
I think that the tragic thing is that getting a PSRC regional growth center designation seems to be where the “promise” ends for elected officials — and it lets them use a “one size fits all” term that has confused economic development with smart growth. That’s wrong! For transit, that designation is where the promise BEGINS! Cities need to go much further and put some thinking, vision and sacrifices on the table in terms of density, parking policies including pricing, pedestrian investments, supporting community activity centers and even station-related funding assistance. The regional growth center designation merely requires a threshold of size (not even a minimum density) and that by itself is simply not enough of a commitment to justify rail transit.
I really don’t get the obsession with the 405 BRT. Especially for communities like Kirkland and Woodenville that will be poorly / not served with the 405 BRT option. IMHO, a ERC BRT (upgradable to LRT) is infinitely more valuable than 405 BRT. Unlike 405 ERC actually hits the core parts of Krikland, Woodenville, and Renton.
The ERC doesn’t exactly hit the core parts of Kirkland; it’s separated from downtown Kirkland by hills as much as distance. To the extent it goes through the core of Renton it does so on a narrow surface street a few blocks from the transit center; any ERC-based bus route would surely take other surface streets and go directly to the transit center instead. Woodinville is surely a less important connection than places 405 BRT would serve (and that existing ST routes on 405 serve): UWB, Canyon Park, Lynnwood, Everett. The ERC is currently broken where it crosses 405 between Bellevue and Renton. An LRT upgrade would not easily serve downtown Bellevue. The ERC case, especially for light rail, is not a slam dunk.
Still, the way the ERC misses Kirkland’s core is much better than the way 405 misses it — not only in distance, but in what actually does immediately surround it, what could immediately surround it, and in station access (present and future). It should be possible to give most of the bus routes into Kirkland TC a direct transfer to an ERC-based station. While 405 BRT is navigating the 405/520 interchange, ERC BRT is making a quick, direct stop at South Kirkland P&R, a moderately important transfer point. There’s little question a 405 BRT would use surface streets in Bellevue and Renton; it could similarly use the ERC to get closer to important Kirkland destinations. I think that’s really the best of both worlds, a route combining the strengths of existing 405 routes and addressing some of their weaknesses, providing a worthy north-south eastside spine.
I don’t think 405 BRT would be so popular if the 520 bus stations had not been implemented and HOV direct connectors to 405 at Bellevue and Totem Lake had not been built. There is some political level of acceptability about it that those of us living in Seattle don’t directly experience.
“Woodinville is surely a less important connection than places 405 BRT would serve”
I think it’s assuming the multi-line BRT alternative. The trunk would go north to Lynnwood but a branch line would split at Bothell and go to Woodinville.
“is it any wonder that the Eastside is dong so much better than South King???”
The Eastside’s prosperity is due to long-term issues. Every American metropolitan area has a “favored quarter” where the rich live and where since 1980 most new jobs and companies have appeared, and an unfavored quarter where the poor live. The Eastside’s upward mobility probably go back to the the waterfront view land around the lakes. Basically, the business leaders choose houses near a radial freeway in the favored quarter, and build their businesses further out along that same freeway so that they can reverse-commute without traffic. That’s what happened with Microsoft. In the past decade of course there has been more job growth in downtown Seattle and Fremont that doesn’t follow this paradigm, but that’s a later trend.
The south end was disfavored because of all the industries and highways crisscrossing it. There was middle-class growth in the postwar years but it was overtaken by the Eastside in the 1970s, and it became the expansion area for poor and minorities being priced out of Seattle.
The Eastside’s transit attitudes are more an effect of this difference than a cause. For some reason middle-class and upper-middle-class areas are now more open to transit and density than working-class areas are. This is the American paradox. Plus the Eastside has more money to improve the infrastructure with. So we see Bellevue and Redmond growing more into traditional cities and thinking about crosstown transit, whereas south King County cities still see themselves more as bedroom communities. They don’t take the opportunities that are available, and they don’t have the means to improve their infrastructure as much.
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