Everett’s Proposed Alignment

In the ST3 project list comments, Edmonds, Everett, Mountlake Terrace, Snohomish County, and Community Transit all sent their input. Here the key headlines:

Everyone Wants the Spine. All the letters cited extending light rail to Everett as a top priority, and both Lynnwood and Everett expressed a preference for service to the 55,000 jobs at Paine Field. The County supported Paine Field but hedged a bit, suggesting alternate options and alignments “should be retained… until funding and financing options are determined.”

Lynnwood and Everett also emphasized the extension beyond Everett Station to North Everett to access Everett Community College, Providence Regional Medical Center, and other educational institutions.

Interestingly, Lynnwood was articulate about all of these requests, suggesting perceived reverse-peak demand. It cited the jobs at Paine Field, potential commercial flights, and a plausible location for a maintenance facility as discriminators for the Paine Field alignment.

Lynnwood Embraces Urbanism. Lynnwood asked for three more stations: City Center, Alderwood, and Ash Way*. Encouragingly, for the first two the letter states that “Little or no on-site parking would be needed or even desirable” because the city prefers walkability, transit access, and to “increase development density.”

Everett Doesn’t. Everett’s letter announced it “does not support and will oppose” an SR 99 alignment because Swift already serves it, and SR 99 is a “fully developed, long-standing commercial center,” instead favoring an alignment that mostly hugs freeways. That they would consider Evergreen Way a finished product is, frankly, astounding in 2015.

Instead, Everett both suggested a hybrid of the alternatives, following I-5 the entire way except for the diversion to Paine Field between 128th St SW and SR 526.

Having already demanded a Link alignment almost certainly well beyond Snohomish County’s financial capacity, Everett went on to ask for a 1,000 space parking structure at Everett Station to service “robust ridership [that] is expected from outlying areas including Skagit County, Island County, [and] north and east Snohomish County.” Aside from equity issues in serving residents outside the taxing district, it’s not clear how 1,000 parking spaces could possibly serve a ridership described as “robust.”

In a similar vein, Mountlake Terrace focused on the 220th St SW infill station and a parking garage for 236th St SW.

North Sounder Barely Mentioned. The City of Edmonds mentioned completion of “a long term solution” for the Edmonds Sounder Station, a solution previously deferred from ST2. There was no other mention of improvements for this line, leaving it in its limbo of high costs without the scale to be economical.

Snohomish County Pushes Multimodal. The Snohomish County and Community Transit letters, refreshingly, implored Sound Transit to think hard about bus/rail integration. They advocated for stations at 128th and 164th because those would both be served by Swift lines.

Snohomish County already hired a consultant to look at access issues and asked for $90m as part of a larger funding plan for a separate bus/bike/pedestrian crossing of I-5 at these locations.

* Which the city would annex.

92 Replies to “What Snohomish County Wants in ST3”

  1. So extend Link to Ash Way.

    “a plausible location for a maintenance facility”

    In other words, to avoid the maintenance facility site at Lynnwood Station, which the Edmonds School District owns and wants to build an administrative facility.

    The sprawl jungle just north of 164th sounds like the perfect place for a maintenance base, so it could be the actual end of the line.

    ““Little or no on-site parking would be needed or even desirable” because the city prefers walkability, transit access, and to “increase development density.””

    That would be great if Lynnwood shows Seattle up. It would be a microcosm of the Seattle district primaries, where the urban-est candidates were in north and northwest Seattle rather than in east Seattle, which looked more like Surrey Downs.

    1. Infill happens in the context of the existing city that surrounds it. That existing context is, “Nobody knows where Lynnwood City Center even is.”

      Maybe it’s somewhere along 196th Street, where the city of Lynnwood very recently refused to allow CT to add some bus stops for fear of disrupting all the cars. Lynnwood wants ST investment within its borders, and it has pushed some urbanist buttons in courting it. But when the actual plans for this development come in, if we expect something that shows up Seattle, we’ll be pretty disappointed.

      1. Yeah, what I meant by, “Nobody knows where Lynnwood City Center even is,” is basically two things:

        – Nothing vaguely resembling this exists today. Development under new planning (and some new infrastructure, including, to Lynnwood’s great credit, a couple new public streets to make the overall block length similar to downtown Bellevue, if only over a small area) takes place in the context of what’s on the ground. The shadow of the freeway, the wide roads, the many driveways; the reliance of private developments on parking for customer and resident access due to limited pedestrian appeal. The “showing-up Seattle” stage is generations away in the absolute best case. It took downtown Bellevue a generation to make a similar transformation with a better location and more money; much of it is still a pedestrian nightmare and city leaders are still on the, “Let’s pack in more cars,” bandwagon because businesses still are. Again, getting there in one generation is optimistic, and that’s far short of “showing-up Seattle”. Hundreds of feet of zoning sounds impressive until you consider how concessions to auto access eat into density and limit what any developer would build.

        – Even considering the city’s plans, its idea of the “city center” hardly suggests an obvious center-of-gravity station location, or what alignment it would use to get there; this is equally true of “Alderwood”. The Lynnwood L, running over surface streets and making lots of sharp turns? Or hugging I-5, wasting half its walkshed?

        – If you asked the 3-ish million residents of greater Seattle to put a pin in a map indicating the city center of Lynnwood how many would actually put it somewhere near where this station would go?

        So, yeah, two stations in Mountlake Terrace and four in Lynnwood — pretty close spacing considering the nearby infrastructure and land use. Every town wants a bunch of stations and every town wants the line along I-5 because they think that will make it fast and cheap. In reality all the stations cost time and money and the freeway robs the stations’ utility.

      2. Lynnwood has made great promises with its city center and its zoning around Swift stations? But where it the TOD? Where is even one building, or a developers’ picture of one on a land-use sign, that fulfills the promise?

        The best hope for Lynnwood urbanism I see is the row of garden apartments on 200th between Lynnwood TC and Edmonds Community College. It has 15-minute bus service via two routes. That’s the existing core it can start from.

      3. Yeah, just to reiterate what Al said, I used to live in Lynnwood, and if someone asked me where downtown Lynnwood is, I would probably say “there isn’t one — or if there is, I have no idea what it is — maybe they built something and called it downtown”. This is quite a bit different than downtown Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett or even Kent.

      4. @RossB

        Downtown Lynnwood is basically the mall. Its been that way for longer than I have been around.

      5. @Charles — You mean Alderwood Mall? Seriously? Like I said, I used to live in Lynnwood, and I never considered Alderwood Mall to be even the center of town, let alone “downtown”. If I had to pick a spot for the center of Lynnwood, I would probably pick 196th and 44th. At least that is a major crossroad. Alderwood Mall is an isolated mall — where you end up if you aren’t paying attention and miss your turn.

        But anyway, that proves my point. There is no center of Lynnwood, and there certainly is no “downtown”. Maybe someday there will be, but as of right now, it is just an idea.

  2. As to;

    Everett went on to ask for a 1,000 space parking structure at Everett Station to service “robust ridership [that] is expected from outlying areas including Skagit County, Island County, [and] north and east Snohomish County.”

    There’s already mass transit from at least Skagit County to Everett Station that takes I-5. I use Skagit Transit 90X a few times a month. No need to build a G*d damn parking garage in prime Everett Transit real estate for us Skagitonians – just give us grant funding for more frequent 90X routes to Everett…

    1. Regarding the larger issue of out-of-district riders from north Snohomish, Whidbey Island, and Thurston County, I think what’s most important is a framework of principles: how do we evaluate these issues? There doesn’t seem to be any, and perhaps the Board should work on that first. One side says we’re subsidizing out-of-district exurbanites and shouldn’t. The other side says that they’re commuters anyway and this keeps them off the roads and polluting our environment, and they are paying fares. And we could charge for parking. I don’t know that there’s enough basis to come down strongly on one side or the other.

      In the long term it makes sense for ST to partner with north Snohomish and Thurston to extend some services up there (not Link!), as ST is already piloting with the 592. I would much rather see this than extending the district, which would make the urban percentage even smaller and subject ST# measures to hostile exurban No votes.

      1. Mike Orr,

        I come down on the side of there already are transit services north of Everett Station to communities. Most of those services north use I-5.

        So the question becomes – does Sound Transit and the City of Everett congest the Skagit Transit Everett Express 90X route that is mostly full and already faces I-5 congestion? Or is there support to give Skagit Transit more money for more 90X service and more buses to link to/from 90X? Ditto Community Transit services to Marysville, Stanwood and the like?

        I just think a 1,000 car parking garage in downtown Everett would be a monstrosity, anti-urban, encourage sprawl and trap currently existing buses in congestion. I also worry too about Sound Transit’s district expanding to a point where anti-transit voices can gain even more traction and sink a major funding & project package even though those voices have no stake in Seattle or Everett’s congestion issues.

  3. As to;

    North Sounder Barely Mentioned. The City of Edmonds mentioned completion of “a long term solution” for the Edmonds Sounder Station, a solution previously deferred from ST2. There was no other mention of improvements for this line, leaving it in its limbo of high costs without the scale to be economical.

    Seems to me I was right when I said controversially 9-10 months ago there’s a license to kill Sounder North. Time some of you people down there took it and replaced it with more buses…

    1. I really doubt N Sounder is going to go away anytime soon. Isn’t WSDOT using federal funds now to increase reliability on the line north of Seattle? And, Mukilteo has a new Sounder station being built. I think Sounder N is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

      1. Sadly so subrookie. I heard about the slope stabilization efforts. G*d, I hope they work… but I doubt it.

        I feel like one of those kayaktivists (SP?!?) who said about a drilling machine as much as he hated it and knew the risk was high, he had to give it goodwill because if the drilling machine failed a lot of harm would come to innocent human & animal life. That’s kinda how I feel about the slope stabilization efforts.

  4. I really hope I’m not just being dense, but this isn’t the first time we’ve read this:

    Everett Doesn’t. Everett’s letter announced it “does not support and will oppose” an SR 99 alignment because Swift already serves it, and SR 99 is a “fully developed, long-standing commercial center…”

    The south end is also losing its mind over putting Link on highway 99. I just don’t get it. Why is running the route along freeways, where nothing exists, nothing can exist, and nothing will ever exist, preferable to actually serving riders? Is the blindingly obvious something that I am missing?

    1. Because McDonald’s franchisees and used car dealers are the people who contribute $500 to a local council race and show up at the chamber of commerce lunches. They don’t want four years of construction and disrupted traffic on their front step, and maybe rent increases after.

      1. Patrick says the truth.

        Remember the business owners in the Rainier Valley swearing they would lay down on the tracks if Link went down MLK? Predictions of economic doom if people couldn’t turn left midblock?

        In many cities, those business owners are the political kingmakers.

      2. “Remember the business owners in the Rainier Valley swearing they would lay down on the tracks if Link went down MLK? Predictions of economic doom if people couldn’t turn left midblock?”

        I don’t. There’s no doom along MLK Way, quite the contrary.

      3. Re Joe’s “I don’t. There’s no doom along MLK Way, quite the contrary.”

        Oh, there may not be doom now and if the 99 alignment was built I bet we’d have the same result. But the business owners and activists predicting it were there, and they were very much real. There was a $50 million dollar Rainier Valley Community Development fund created to “mitigate impacts”.

        And that was in the city, where a shift away from car centric retail wouldn’t be as much of a change post rail line. Remember that even if there is a boom and development afterwards that might not be helpful to the current set of incumbent business owners.

      4. What you don’t see is the businesses that folded during MLK’s reconstruction. Family, minority-owned businesses that were barely making ends meet anyway and couldn’t afford a significantly higher-priced location. That’s what the opposition was talking about.

      5. Because McDonald’s franchisees and used car dealers are the people who contribute…

        most of the tax revenue to the city coffers.

        Especially the car dealerships.

    2. My understanding from a high level source is the City of Mukilteo wants any alignment that is NOT I-5. Because at that point, you’re just spending a lot of money to do what bus-only lanes on I-5 would do – move commuters.

    3. The McDonald owners and porn shop kings have united to preserve the american quality of life, aka, nimbysm.

  5. I think that Paine Field is an absurd deviation from any alignment.

    1. Boeing shift workers can’t easily use transit at one end of their shifts because of the early morning or late night schedules.

    2. Boeing workers get ample, free parking.

    3. Boeing workers shift times would mean that light rail would be demanded in very small time windows so the actual usable, available capacity for shift workers is not very good.

    4. Even if passenger service is added, there won’t be much use for rail. Look at the usage of Oakland or DFW new stations (both busier than Paine Firld proposals) to see the recent cases of small daily hoardings at airports for both passengers and workers.

    I would even go as far to say that by embracing Paine Field access like some of these elected leaders do shows a view light rail as a pretty photo op more than the strategic investment it should be.

    To drive home my point: If transit is such a great idea for Paine Field, why isn’t there a 10-15 frequency bus route with good all-day demand now?

    1. As to;

      To drive home my point: If transit is such a great idea for Paine Field, why isn’t there a 10-15 frequency bus route with good all-day demand now?

      I would like that. I know the idea of a Paine Field circular run by Community Transit is being reopened and with a Prop 1 passage more likely. That’s the solution to me – more buses, maybe even Swift levels of quality, in bus-only lanes.

      You know what I think with the data I have: Light rail to Paine Field is going to end up with photo after photo used by ShiftWA and other anti-transit members of the media to stop and roll back mass transit access. More buses, not so much. There are flight schools, other manufacturing facilities, restaurants and museums all surrounding Paine Field to fill buses. Furthermore, a light rail stop or stops will require a better bus network.

      Great point.

    2. I think that the overall long term success of a Paine Field alignment depends heavily on the field converting to a commercial airport.

      I agree that a stop serving only Boeing employees does not make sense at this point in time, but I would argue that it could in the future if the area diversifies a bit (non Boeing workers, airport passengers, ect.).

      Swift II is in the works and appears that it will be serving Boeing specifically with 12 minute weekday departures. I think that it will make an excellent study to see if Paine Field area can support that level of service.

      1. Zach Brown;

        For many reasons this Paine Field advocate is against a commercial airport terminal. At the very least, the proposed terminal site is not adjacent to currently existing transit. My understanding is Everett Transit & Community Transit need more funding as-is to meet demand.

        At the very bloody least these terminal proponents – who are about to get hit in another global recession breaking out – can pay for the transit connecting services. No subsidies.

        I also think very strongly IAM 751 – the union for the Boeing workers – should be publicly chanting, rallying and demanding light rail for Paine Field if it’s so dang important. Let the worker bees have some input here…

        Yes, I support mass transit to Paine Field.

      2. Sorry I had somebody at my door.

        Yes, I support mass transit to Paine Field. But I want mass transit that works. That means Future of Flight gets first dibs on any new service, period.

        Second, get a Paine Field circular.

        Third, realize that transit for Paine Field is going to be high visibility. Empty buses and idle light rail stations are going to be used against us…. at a statewide level.

    3. “55,000 jobs at Paine Field”

      How many of those workers live in a location where they could conceivably use Link? It would have to be those who live south of 128th, or right in downtown Everett (15-minute walk to Everett Station). Everyone from southeast Everett and Lake Stevens would be coming orthogonical to Link, and everyone from southwest Everett would out-of-direction from Link. The city has talked about people from north Snohomish parking at Everett Station and taking Link to Boeing, but is that really something worth pursuing? Is it really so important to cut traffic between 30th and 128th Street even if it makes more traffic in downtown Everett? Does eliminating five miles of driving really matter? The point of P&Rs is when they eliminate 10 or 20 miles of driving.

    4. I think a lot of this is Paine Field is going to handle commercial flights sooner or later if Everett and Snohomish has its way, this is just another thing that they can point to as a selling point to make this happen ” See! Light Rail already goes to it! A perfect place for a new airline terminal!”

      1. Even Paine Field proponents say that commercial service would be handful of flights a day, out of two or three gates. There is no scenario where it becomes a full-fledged second regional airport.

      2. Martin;

        My fear and that of most opponents of a terminal is not the two gate proposal. A few flights is not the issue to 90% and more of opponents.

        It’s the absolute inability to veto a proposal to build another bunch of gates and another bunch of gates after that. Then the subsidies galore to incentive sprawl… and out of control congestion both on the ground and the air.

        That kinda congestion will chase Boeing away… and destroy quality of life for Mukilteo & vicinity. If Paine Field was a neighbor of downtown Everett, I suspect downtown Everett politicians of both the City of Everett & Snohomish County Government would sing a different tune.

      3. As someone who cares about climate change, I want to see places like Pane field not succeed as airports.

        Trips to Portland would be much more energy efficent by bus or train.

  6. 55,000 jobs at Paine Field…..

    Which is about 2 miles north to south and 1 mile east to west, with the airport (which really doesn’t have that much in the way of employment at it) and Boeing (where most of those jobs are actually located) are included.

    This corresponds to slightly larger than downtown Seattle, or UW + Wallingford + Fremont.

    …..Just for the sake of comparing land mass and the amount of activity within that land mass.

  7. So forget Federal Way’s 3 levels of service with light rail, Everett wants 4 levels:

    -Real express service (512/513/511/510)
    -Light rail less express but with more stops
    -Swift with even slower service but more stops
    -Local routes (CT 101 and ET 7) for when Swift stations are too far apart.

    Personally, if Swift is supposed to be kind of like a light rail line and has stops so far apart that we need local routes on the same road to keep things accessible, then I think we should just replace Swift with light rail. Or just space Swift stops closer together for crying out loud.

    1. Where did you get the “Real express service (512/513/511/510)” from? They would be deleted if Link goes to Everett. Link’s travel time would be the same as them, so the Federal Way/Tacoma issue doesn’t arise.

    2. Also, Everett earlier asked for more stations than north Seattle/Capitol Hill has (!), so it’s apparently not too concerned about travel time.

  8. Sounder North isn’t going away anytime soon. The equipment may eventually change (speculative) but the line itself is here to stay for another 80 some odd years…. In short, the system cannot be killed.

    The system needs to be improved, helpful suggestions (not killing it) will be more helpful than detracting it. WSDOT, BNSF, Amtrak, ST, etc are all working on the mudslide issue but it IS mother nature, plain and simple.

    Mukilteo will be the first major improvement when the new multimodal station/ferry terminal is completed now that construction is finally underway.

    I would rather see parking on the island side and have passengers ferry over, train into Seattle = less cars/congestion on the freeway. Build a station between Broad Street and Wall Street and it would help dramatically with the “backtracking” issue a lot of the commuters have.

    Ballard is honestly too much out of the way to justify having a station, nor will it have the space stuff it anywhere.

    The waterfront itself needs to have a streetcar system entirely and a bus that runs from the station into SLU via Broad Street and down 5th Ave. A short route? Yes, but it would be invaluable..

    1. I agree. It makes sense to fix Sounder North. It will be expensive, but compared to light rail, fairly cheap. Ultimately, it would provide greater value, since a trip from Everett to Seattle would be faster. It is hard to see how spending billions of money on light rail to Everett is justified, but then turn around and say that connecting Everett to Seattle with a train line isn’t.

      1. I don’t think it would be that expensive. I don’t know how keen people would be to leaving their cars at Kingston for example and walking on then taking the train into Downtown.

        I’d be real curious to find out those that do take the ferry, if they actually work in Downtown, Boeing, or Microsoft to figure out the real justification for it.

        One of these days I’ll write up a post about this. The route itself is great, just getting the people there is the challenge.

        Personally, I’d change the vehicles over to the Stadler GTW DMU’s with an extra coach, run 2 more trains daily, use the DMU’s for mid-day South end Sounder service…

      2. Since sounder north only has three stations for Seattle commuters to originate (and only two for the Amtrak trips), I think it makes sense to focus on feeder routes into sounder stations like are prevalent all over Sounder south. But Community transit seems more focused on express buses. I think that it would make sense, for example, to make the 422 from Stanwood a feeder into Everett station. The shorter route would also allow more trips without extra cost.

      3. @AlexKven: A couple years ago CT proposed restructuring many express routes into feeders with timed connections to somewhat fewer trips downtown. There were a few difficulties here:

        1. On the bus side of things, it only saved a modest number of trips downtown. ST’s peak-direction trips and CT’s are both pretty full.

        2. The restructure, though it was good for coverage and span in Snohomish County and offered timed transfers, was unpopular with riders.

        3. Sounder may have plenty of seats left, but there are a lot more places to get on I-5 than to connect to Sounder, and more people live near the I-5 connections.

        4. Sounder isn’t all that fast, its coverage of downtown isn’t great (with out-of-direction transfers to most of downtown), and no north-waterfront stop can really change that. It’s a three-seat ride for a lot of users accustomed to a one-seat ride.

        5. The only route to Mukilteo Station from anywhere in CT’s service area is out-of-direction.

        It may be that CT could get more out of Sounder by offering a few timed-transfer routes to Edmonds, but it will be running lots of buses downtown at least until Lynnwood Link is built, even from Edmonds and Mukilteo.

      4. I checked the schedule. Wow, you’re right, Sounder North isn’t all that fast. The 510 beats it from Everett. Now I’m curious how Sounder North even got off the ground. Sounder only saves time if you ride from Edmonds or Mukilteo, unless it’s one of those “140 minutes Everett-Seattle” days, and that’s assuming there’s no mudslide.

        It makes sense for buses from Tacoma to beat Sounder South because it has a diversion to Puyallup, in which it actually gets farther from Seattle. But at least Sounder South has lots of stations to collect riders, as well as a few other lesser-used commuter destinations (Tacoma and Boeing field via the 154).

    2. Okay let’s fix Sounder North by making the slopes safe. IF we can’t do that, end it. I hope we can.

      Beyond that, I’m all for marketing the route specifically and maximizing revenue from the route. Maximizing revenue means putting WiFi on ALL the train cars. Putting a vending machine – coffee in the morning, water in the evening – on the trains. Also tell people you can get to Seattle, take a good brisk walk for some exercise and get on the light rail or a bus pretty quickly from the Seattle train station.

      There you go.

      1. The route has been around for 100+ years, mudslides are a way of life on any coastal route around the world. Should we pull passenger trains off all of them? No, but we should mitigate as much as possible, even if it means removing the homes from the slopes that contribute to the issue and refuse to fix the problem(s)

        Regardless, mudslides will never go away from the route and there is no reason or justification to do it.

      2. “we should mitigate as much as possible, even if it means removing the homes from the slopes that contribute to the issue and refuse to fix the problem(s)”

        I agree.

        I think we just need to do a serious risk-benefit assessment here Brian. But that’s me…

    3. If memory serves, Brian, the Waterfront streetcar system you mentioned actually operated between International District Station, through Pioneer Square, and the whole length of the waterfront to Broad Street.

      However really important thing to remember: It wasn’t MacDonald franchise owners and pawn and gun shop operators who murdered the George Benson Line.

      Like many other ideas, working people, especially in small business will generally come around if you can show them the benefit your new elevated line will do them.

      But even better, ’til they settle, they’ll at least fight you to your face.


      1. Mark,

        I believe Brian is referring to a new Sounder station in that area. There are a lot of SLU area commuters who are dissuaded from using Sounder North because of fighting the downtown traffic mess… which affects everyone, including transit and pedestrians…

        You almost have to be a pro-athlete to get to KSS in time for the NB departure.

  9. Wow. What a disconnect between what the folks in the eastern suburbs are proposing versus what the folks in the northern suburbs want. This has failure written all over it. First off, the folks in Everett want to follow the freeway most of the way, but they still want to divert over to Paine Field. That is crazy to me. People in Federal Way (and Tacoma) are just waking up to the fact that Link will not be very fast to their suburb (or city) because it is simply too far away, and Link bothers to deviate from a straight line to pick up riders. Now Everett wants to do the same thing but for Paine Field. An express bus from Everett to Lynnwood would be much faster than a train. Not only would it avoid all the stops, but it would avoid the huge detour. To be fair, to cut over to 99 is a reasonable idea. This would allow for a better Swift to Link connection. There are also a fair number of people along the way. The thing is, the proposal doesn’t serve them. The people who live along that corridor don’t live close to the intersection of 99 and Airport Road. They live close to both streets — just not close to the intersection (you can see this clearly from the census maps). So either you add a bunch of stops (thus slowing down the Everett trip some more) or you are building a line that is a poor substitute for what should be built. BRT (with a lot more stops) makes sense along both corridors. Link would be a shadow line, with no real benefit (other than the connection to 99). Ending it at 99 would be reasonable (with a stop in between). That would mean that Swift riders would transfer at Airport Way, while Airport Way residents get an additional stop. Extending it up 99 as far as 526 is also reasonable. It isn’t Rainier Valley (in terms of density) but it is quite dense for Snohomish County. But cutting over to the sprawling employment centers of Everett is silly. There simply aren’t enough riders there to expect direct service. Folks will have to take circulator buses. It really isn’t worth spending billions of dollars so that your circulator bus starts in one spot versus another (the money can be much better spent making sure the bus ride is fast and frequent).

    To be clear, there is obvious value in connecting Everett with the Boeing area. But does anyone think that Everett (a city of about 100,000 people) would build a light rail line to do that on its own? Of course not. That is simply way out of scale with the demand as well as the available money in the region.

    There is a disconnect between completing the spine and serving valuable places along the way. Light rail is terrible at serving far away locations like Everett and Tacoma. Commuter rail (which has far fewer stops) is reasonable, as is express bus service (with HOV lanes and a lot fewer stops). To try and shoe horn in a few decent stops along the way is laudable, but is not achieved by this proposal, and simply makes the light rail to Everett idea even more of a failure. Cutting over to 99 is a good idea — going further is not.

    I just can’t see a majority of Snohomish County residents supporting this. Despite what folks in Lynnwood said in their letter, the reverse commute to Everett is practically non-existent. I drive that way all the time (when I hike during the week). At worst there is a little congestion on the main line, but the HOV lanes always cruise along just fine. I just don’t see why anyone in Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace or Edmonds would support this. Even in Everett this doesn’t look very good. To think that a tax adverse area like this would embrace a project like this is ridiculous. This is not the same as Lynnwood Link (which will help everyone in Snohomish County). This will be (rightly) criticized as being extravagant, which means it will fail and fail badly in Snohomish County. I would guess that a 40% yes vote is likely there.

    1. I agree with you about the Paine Field deviation, Ross.

      Another truly tragic thing is the lack of operational vision on the part of both ST and Snohomish County elected officials. Given that ST is proposing both the red and blue lines going to Lynnwood, there should be a push to have two lines (one red and one blue) rather than one meandering one that has lots of extra travel time.

      That time-consuming deviation to Paine Field is pretty needless. Operationally, having one line to Paine Field and maybe end at the Mukilteo Ferry and having the other one directly go into Everett would seem operationally doable and more strategic as one option.

      Of course, it would probably make more sense to create two branches south of Lynnwood. A branch in North Seattle or Shoreline to the west (99) or the east (522) would likely serve more riders.

      1. I agree that two lines would make a lot more sense. Unfortunately, it would also make it a lot more expensive. I think some of the ideas (like the ones we have proposed) are better than what the city officials are proposing, but I doubt any proposal beyond what is going to be built will ever make financial sense. Light rail is just too expensive. It only makes sense when you can pick up huge numbers of people. None of the areas we mention have huge density, and they are a long ways away from their expected destination. Almost all of the riders will be headed to somewhere in Seattle, not someplace along the way. This makes express bus service or commuter rail a lot more attractive, and light rail a lot less attractive. A good terminus was needed — and we got one. Northgate would have been a terrible place for north end buses to connect, but Lynnwood Transit Center is great.

        I think at this point, folks in the area should take a page out of Bellevue and other east side communities and focus on how to best get the buses to the train station(s). Doing so would be far more useful than simply running the train farther north. For example, let’s assume a station is added at Ash Way. How do I get there? Drive on 164th? That is a mess. Take the bus along 164th? Same problem. But add bus lanes along 164th and things get a lot easier. Once you do that, add HOV lane access as well and you don’t really need the train station. At this point, these are the problems that Snohomish County should be trying to solve.

      2. “An express bus from Everett to Lynnwood would be much faster than a train.”

        There’s a triangle here so it should actually be three bus lines: Ash Way/Lynnwood to Everett, Ash Way/Lynnwood to Boeing, and Everett to Boeing. One of these can be extended to the Mukilteo ferry, and they can be interlined for operational efficiency. They could even serve other streets in south Everett along the way if that makes sense.

      3. @Mike — Yes, and I addressed all three. Basically the first (Everett to Seattle) would be very slow (much slower than a bus). The second is only a little bit better — you still need to get on a bus to get where you need to go (since jobs are spread out threw the area). The third is like the second, but with even lower ridership. Again, how many cities of 100,000 build a light rail line to a sprawling employment center?

        This is just ridiculously out of scale for the potential ridership. “Cheap” light rail (that follows the freeway) is still not that cheap.

    2. Yet we have all the politicians lining up along with SS saying get it so we can get Seattle transit.

      The underestimated value is how are the voters thinking. A Paine Field diversion just to serve a few flights a day is a giant waste and can easily be spun as a boondoggle. An SR 99 alignment sure it duplicates Swift but if operations are then shifted to LRT then you can spend service hours on connecting bus service to Link. You could then shorten Swift to Lynnwood TC if needing to travel down Aurora.

      If you want service to Paine Field, the Mukilteo Ferry, and Boeing, then make some BRT investments first before we put up $150 million/mile for a deviation costing 10 minutes.

      The case needs to be made that the short-term pain will bring much more tax revenue to the area through upzoning and having the corridor become a place for people to live rather than seas of parking. I would look at learning from MLK where businesses had to shut the doors as a lesson on what to do differently because some will not be able to make new leases easily.

  10. My beef with ST3 just gets bigger and bigger. I can handle the rural stretches to Paine and Tacoma Dome, but what bothers me most is running along I5 and not using Link to revitalize 99 and better serve neighborhoods with potential for higher riderships. Sure park and rides do good volume, but serve the freakn neighborhoods first. Throw all this in with STs exclusive focus on WS and Ballard to DT for North Seattle and ST3 is becoming a worst case nightmare.

    1. I agree. I think part of the problem is the ridiculous focus on downtown Everett. There really aren’t that many people there. Show someone a census map of Snohomish County (without any other labels) and have them pick out downtown Everett. Most people would pick out South Everett. This is where the people are. Cutting over on 128th is not a bad idea, you could serve those people well. Maybe it is too far (too disconnected) from the rest of the area, but there are still plenty of people there. Add stations by the freeway and 99 (for connecting buses on both) along with a station about half way in between. At that point, you are pretty much done — that is the best value. Run connecting buses to the sprawling employment by Paine Field. But if you insist on going farther, then take a right and head up SR 99 and then Evergreen Way. There are diminishing returns there (and Swift serves that area well), but still decent population density. But you certainly wouldn’t go any further than SR 526 — there is a huge dead zone from there to downtown Everett (which again, doesn’t have that many people).

      I think this will fail and fail badly in Snohomish County.

      1. I think this will fail and fail badly in Snohomish County.

        You might be right, but I think you’re projecting your technical objections onto un-technical voters. If it fails it’ll be because there’s no appetite for a tax increase for new transit projects. I actually think Snohomish County politicians are hearing that this is a critical project from the area’s business elites, and are trying to craft a package with the maximum chance of electoral success (which is not the same thing as saying it will get more than 50% of the vote).

      2. I think the technical objections are obvious enough that non-technical people can understand it. Again, from what I can tell, folks in Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace get nothing out of this. That is about as many people as all of Everett. Meanwhile, those in Everett might think a light rail line to Seattle is just peachy, but my guess is that some of them will ask how long it will take to get to Seattle and whether it will be substantially faster than a bus (and they won’t like the answer).

        There is a definite anti-tax sentiment (and anti-transit sentiment if you will) in the suburbs, but there has also been a “what does this mean to me” attitude. The last vote had that. ST2 was fabulous for all of Snohomish County. It added stations north of Northgate, which means that all of Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Edmonds benefited greatly. So too did Everett. The worst part of the trip from Everett to Seattle is the last half (from roughly Lynnwood to Seattle). This is especially true in the evening, when heading to Seattle. Those in Snohomish County that wanted to see a sporting event or visit someone in Seattle are stuck in absolutely horrible traffic when they go that way. This will be made much, much better. Meanwhile, Pierce County didn’t get that much out of ST2. Extending Link south of SeaTac is nice, but similar to extending Link north of Northgate — you just get diminishing returns. The extra bus service and Sounder runs are great (and where they actually spent the money) but extending Link (which was expensive) is enough for people to take a second look, and say “enough already”.

        So, King County was hugely in favor, as was Snohomish County, while Pierce County barely approved it (http://old.seattletimes.com/flatpages/nationworld/politics/election2008completeresultsballotmeasures.html). To me, this makes ST2 for those areas look like a bargain, which is why I think Snohomish County will vote against this by a fairly big margin. Unlike ST2 for Pierce County, the money for Link would dominate the Snohomish County project, and thus be unpopular by a huge portion of the voting district (those in south Snohomish County).

      3. You might be right that people don’t think it’s worth it. But I don’t think you’re making the case that people will instead support a large-scale BRT project.

      4. For areas that have lower density, the chant should be:
        Show me the station area plan density!

        If SnoCo communities could demonstrate 100,000 new residents within walking distance of these stations, the extension would have more credibility. Otherwise, it’s merely shortening the distance that people have to drive to a large park-and-ride lot or garage. It would be cheaper to just build bigger parking garages and less track if the intent is to serve those folk driving to light rail.

      5. I think there is a decent case for BRT in Snohomish County, because unlike the rest of Puget Sound, they’ve seen it. But I think in general there is a strong case for express buses, as that is what ST1 was all about (for the suburbs). I think you can make a strong case for investing in bus infrastructure, and not worry too much about what types of vehicles can ride in it. I really don’t buy the “Yes, that is probably the best thing for the area — the thing that will benefit more people than anything else — but people won’t vote for it” argument. Voting against a light rail plan because it is obviously bloated and inappropriate for your area is easy. Voting against a bunch of improvements to roadways and buses is a bit harder. I’m not saying it will be an easy sell, but generally speaking, it is easier to sell something that is a better value.

      6. Ross never said anything about an equally boondoggle-y single marquee $billion BRT corridor. You’re the only one fighting a modal war here, and to the extent that you’ve started painting everyone who agrees with you as some John Niles “likes buses until it’s time to vote for buses” false flagger, your biases are turning the discourse a bit rancid.

        How sad is political situation in the Puget Sound, that to dare argue for funding stuff that works, where it works, and doing other stuff in other places that is better suited for their respective situations is considered a fringe position, while brainstorming ways to blow oodles of money while remaining ambivalent to abject failure is considered politically expedient?

        Because that is seriously the position now being advocated from within a blog that was supposedly founded to help inform sound planning.

        This place has become pathetic. Truly pathetic.

    2. “Meanwhile, Pierce County didn’t get that much out of ST2. ”

      They got four more Sounder South round trips, multimodal access studies at Sounder stations and some PE work for a Tacoma Link extension. And operating money for ST Express, I suppose. I can’t remmember if the Sounder extension to Lakewood used ST2 money or whether it was mostly funded by SoundMove. It did have a funding gap that got filled in with some money from the Feds.

      1. I found the wrong reply link; that was in reply to https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/08/24/what-snohomish-county-wants-in-st3/#comment-641561

        In any case, to add to what I said above, what they got in ST2 was probably what fit within the budget. I think Pierce leaders should have asked for similar things in ST3, rather than pie-in-the-sky things like LRT to Tacoma and Sounder to Orting. Oh, and actual implementation of findings in the multimodal station access studies.

  11. For most SnoCo voters, the electoral argument for Everett/Paine Field rail may be that those OTHER people will live over there, and those OTHER people will take the train, and those OTHER people’s cars won’t be in my way when I’m driving across the Mill Creek sprawl.

    Whether or not this is a useful transit service may have very little to do with its electoral prospects. Very few voters in Snohomish live or work in places where they would find this thing to be of much use personally. Which is why SnoCo transit mode share is so lousy. Not many of them have the experience of using transit that would tell them whether it would be of use to anybody else.

    1. Those other people will use the train but I will pay for it is a very tough sell. I don’t think people will buy the “it will cut traffic” argument, in part because studies show it isn’t true. So you are basically left arguing for something that isn’t true or something that is not of value to most of the people in an area that has hardly been generous with their support for transit. Thus my fear that it will go down in flames there.

      On the other hand, ST2 was a huge winner for folks in Snohomish County. Everyone who wants to go to Seattle (for work or play) will soon have a much better alternative than being stuck in traffic. A lot of them will drive to the park and ride and commute to Seattle. Those who want to attend a sporting event or other activity will do the same. These are people from all over Snohomish County, including Everett. You are just getting diminishing returns with the efforts at completing the spine, and I think most of the people will figure that out.

      1. ST2 was a huge winner for folks in Snohomish County.

        You say that now, but of course there were plenty of arguments in 2008 you could do it all with buses. After all, there are two-way HOV lanes beyond Northgate.

      2. Northgate would be a terrible terminus. There are no HOV ramps to it. So a bus would have to leave the HOV lanes, then move several lanes over (to the exit) and then exit (in traffic). Then go on Northgate Way (in traffic) before getting to 5th, and finally to the station. The reverse would happen in the evening. I’m guessing that buses will spend an extra five to ten minutes getting to the station.

        Now Mountlake Terrace is a different story. I think you can make a great case that Mountlake Terrace (with its dedicated bus ramps) would be an outstanding terminus. That would be my choice. But given the choice between the crap that would be Northgate versus Lynnwood (which is basically Mountlake Terrace and then some) I’m not surprised that folks choose Lynnwood.

        But that is just one point. No one in Snohomish County lives south of Northgate. But plenty of people live south of Lynnwood. Those people will get very little from extending the line. There are diminishing returns with North Link, which is why I think extending it will not be popular. Put the money into solving the real problems (getting to the freeway) and you might stand a chance. But a plan that extends light rail to Everett will get a lot of people asking why bother.

  12. A benefit to deviating to Paine Field will be to make it slow enough to justify of other services, like Sounder North and maybe even a few ‘High Roller Non Stop’ luxury buses from Everett to SLU.
    Every cloud has its silver lining.

  13. Fun fact: Lynnwood to Everett is a similar distance as Westlake to Mountlake Terrace, Westlake to Angle Lake, and Westlake to somewhere in Redmond.

    1. Wow, that is a long leg. Really, you could almost could ask for another faster rail technology to be put in place north of 145th in King County. Something that can do 120 km/h like this — http://www.railway-technology.com/news/newsmi09-double-decker-emus-enter-paris-rer-line-a-service/

      I would like to know more about future land use in the areas around the proposed stations. Seems odd to serve Paine Field with a station then have such spread out employers. Maybe some bike share stations distributed around the field?

  14. Would everybody agree that no matter how much a bus looks like a rocket ship, hitting every stoplight while running in the curb lane of SR99 is not faster than an elevated train?

    However Swift and its local cohorts are a lot faster than the same number of passengers in their own cars on I-5 between Everett and Olympia every single rush hour.

    Along “5”, every ST Express bus is just as fast as the two-or-three passenger-carloads and the motorcycles ahead of it.

    With equal structure and complete lane reservation, an individual bus can race nose-to-nose with a single rail car.

    Difference is that a four car train is same length at any speed, and huge amount of its length carries passengers.

    While att 60 miles an hour, a line of 4 buses measures out to about to a third of a mile front bumper first coach to rear bumper of the last one. With most of the platoon’s space carrying air and fumes.

    Look at it this way: LINK is the first step in building the electric rail system our region’s growth is already starting to force. Which will not hapen without LINK.

    But the process will not be constantly either-or. More like possible-now making more things possible-later.

    More “possible now” and “possible later”.

    Is there any engineering reason we absolutely can’t send a Central LINK line past Boeing Field to meet the MLK line to Sea-Tac? Just an example of a possibility.

    It’s also possible to add express track past most stations on an SR99 line, north or south end. Removing many justified complaints about speed.

    Meantime, like I keep saying from experience: best electoral strategy is increasing numbers of grade-school field trips on however much LINK exists.

    Look at the billions corporations make from kids’ demands directing their parents’ money.

    “Aw, Mom, we NEVER go ANYWHERE on LINK!” In
    same sentence with “Are we THERE yet?!!!!!”

    Signed: A Former Chicago Child from near Howard Street

  15. Everyone wants fast regional rail.

    Lynnwood is basically screaming that it will be an Urban Island if you can provide the fast, regional, transit on an interconnected regional train line.

    This is why I always thought we built LINK ass-backward. Spinning our wheels with tunnels when we could have laid cheap track to every Lynnwood within 50 miles of downtown.

    1. The problem would be connecting that track to downtown and the U-District without a tunnel, let alone connecting it to every other place (e.g. Ballard, Capitol Hill, Fremont, Bellevue) that people want to go.

      1. The old Interurban Route would have worked just fine.

        Could have turned Alaskan into a surface street with light rail.

        Parallel connectors to street cars to get people up the hills into the city.

    2. Yeah, but what good is a system of at-grade rail all over the suburbs when the city center (the largest destination, by far) is starved?

      1. Could have done a surface route into city, and then built the tunnels, etc in parallel while deploying super quickly to all regions using elevated, surface.

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