If all goes well, by 4:30pm today we’ll know what will be considered for an ST3 package.  The Board will be deliberating the Priority Projects List that, if approved, would direct ST staff to study each project for cost, ridership, etc for inclusion in the System Plan and the eventual ballot measure. Like a cut in a round of golf, today’s motion will be exclusionary, eliminating non-listed projects from further consideration, while not revealing much about the eventual projects that will make it all the way through to ST3. With specific projects in each subarea, this list is what will kickoff what’s sure to be a an intense and earnest 1.5 years of debate, compromise, and horse trading.

Though the Priority Projects List is one of the last items on the Board’s agenda, we’ll be liveblogging throughout the meeting as other items of interest arise, including ST’s Transit Development Plan, a Tacoma Trestle Project update, approval of a small ($1.5M) cost increase for Capitol Hill Station work, and authorizing the construction contract for the Point Defiance Bypass.

Watch the video above beginning at 1:30pm, or follow along on Twitter. As soon as the meeting begins, we’ll post the Priority Project List for your perusal.

1:35 The meeting has begun. Here is the ST3 Priority Project List that the Board will be deliberating today.

1:36 ST CEO Search Update: Board Chair Constantine reports that 136 people have applied for the CEO position, and ST’s consultant will be reviewing applications in the coming weeks.

1:47 During the Research and Technology update to the Board, ST announced:

  • A new mobile website is coming, with real-time info within the site.
  • Sounder will begin rolling out real-time info in September.
  • The TVM machine interface redesign is progressing. Current average time to complete a TVM transaction is an unacceptable 2 minutes, which is big pain point for rider queues, especially for special event trains. The new interface will be rolled out at the same time as ULink.

1:56 Angle Lake project update

  • The project is trending $20M under budget, has 146 days (5 months) of schedule float remaining. The project could open shortly after ULink, but no official shortening of the timeline has been announced.
  • The Angle Lake arking garage was supposed to be done by December, but will likely be delayed until March. The P&R delay will not impact service startup or pre-revenue testing.
  • The station will be finished by late fall.

2:15 Public comment begins!

2:17 Issaquah Council President: Supports Issaquah-Totem Lake #Link with a new structured P&R, (Project E-03)

2:18 Shoreline Mayor notes that 92% of riders at 145th Street Station will not arrive by car. Service on 145th and SR 522 is critical.

2:21 Everett Mayor: “Without light rail to Paine Field, we will inhibit our ability to grow the economy” “The spine must be the first priority”

2:22 Kirkland Councilmember Jay Arnold and Asher: Open BRT on the Eastside Rail Corridor is best for Kirkland. “405 BRT will pass us by.”

2:25 Kenmore Mayor + City Manager: I-90 and SR 520 aren’t the only cross-lake corridors. Toll diversion hurts SR522. Link on 522 is the solution. We want BRT on 145th and we want rail on SR 522. We thank the board for including the SR 522 study on the PPL.

2:31 Burien City Manager: TOD is here and more on the way. You can see the Link spine from the roofs of these developments, just 2.5 miles away. We want both Link from Downtown-White Center-Burien-SeaTac. Let’s have two trains to SeaTac.

2:32 Lakewood Mayor Anderson: JBLM is the largest employer, bigger than Paine Field or any Boeing property. We support Project S-17, Sounder extension to Dupont with a station at Tillicum, serving 3 JBLM access points. We support S-08, extended Sounder hours. We are disappointed that BRT from Tacoma Dome to Tillicum via South Tacoma Way is not included.

2:35 Orting Mayor Pestinger thanks ST for including a study of a Sounder spur to Orting.

2:37  STB commenter David Whalen: build for expansion, maximize development within new project areas, fight for maximum upzoning. Full grade separation is imperative.

2:39 Doug King from the Museum of Flight thanks the Board for including Boeing Access Road station.

2:41 Your Zimmerman and Queen Pearl bathroom break.

2:49 Kenmore resident Matthew Martin presents the Board with a narrative history of Kenmore, calls out history of Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway that preceded the Burke-Gilman, says that full P&Rs and choked traffic are a poor substitute for the rails of old.

2:53 Lake Forest Park resident and council candidate: transit access is the #1 issue for voters. “Our entire city is a last-mile problem.”

3:00 Jonathan Hopkins and Jon Cracolici from Seattle Subway making the argument that ST3 needs to a be a big, expansive package. “Voters will reward your ambition. Let’s not let ST3 be an incremental solution that gets us almost to West Seattle, almost to Ballard, almost to Everett.”

3:11 Public comment over, the consent agenda passes unanimously, including items for the Tacoma Trestle project and an $1.5m increase in the Capitol Hill Station budget.

3:12 Onto business items: Board unanimously approves $53.8M to Stacy & Witbeck for the Point Defiance Bypass project.

3:17 Now onto the Priority Project List! Ric Ilgenfritz and Karen Kitsis are presenting a staff report.

3:20 ST3 Project Considerations. Does is qualify as HCT? Is it consistent with the Long Range Plan? Does it fit Board priorities? Does it run principally in exclusive ROW?

3:22 Updates to prior listed projects:

  • N-02: add 1000 space parking garage to Everett Station
  • C-01: adds Seattle Center to Ballart LRT options at the request of the city of Seattle
  • C-01c: adds a tunnel under the Ship Canal to the Ballard options
  • E-02: adds Burien as the terminus of I-405 BRT
  • E-03: adds a new Issaquah Park & Ride
  • R-01: ST Express Improvements
    • Express route from West Seattle-Burien-TIBS-Airport
    • Redmond-UW service along SR 520
    • Redmond to Kirkland
    • Redmond to I-405 BRT

3:25 New Projects

  • N-06, a second parking garage at Mountlake Terrace
  • N-07 and N-08, new I-5 crossings at SW 128th St and SW 164th St, for which ST would pay the bike/ped/transit components
  • N-09, BRT on 145th St
  • N-10, BRT on ST 522 to UW Bothell
  • C-01e, new station at SR 99/Harrison, as requested by SDOT
  • C-01f, new station at Newton Street in Interbay, to serve the Whole Foods development
  • C-01g, extension of Ballard Link to Ballard High/NW 65th St
  • C-01h, replacing the Ballard Bridge with a combined bike/ped/light rail/car bridge.
  • C-12, more parking at Tukwila Int’l Blvd Station
  • C-13, West Seattle-Burien Link
  • E-05, 300 stall parking lot in North Sammamish
  • E-06, Eastside Rail Corridor BRT
  • P-05, Downtown-SeaTac Link via West Seattle and Burien
  • P-06, Link from Burien to Renton
  • P-07, Link from Ballard-Crown Hill
  • P-08, Link on SR 522 study
  • P-09, Link from Ballard to Bothell via Greenwood
  • S-12 BRTization of Pierce Transit Route 1
  • S-13 BRT for SR 161 in Puyallup
  • S-14 BRT for SR 162 in Orting
  • S-15 more Sounder access
  • S-16, Sounder to Orting
  • S-17, Sounder to Dupont
3:55 The Priority Project List is unanimously approved.

139 Replies to “Sound Transit Board Meeting Liveblog: What Will Survive for ST3?”

  1. Very happy the Boeing Access Road station is back on the table. Good for Boeing Field! Major airports need major mass transit!!

    1. Boeing Access Road station would serve Boeing Field even less well than TIBS serves Sea-Tac Airport. You’d need a bus route from the station to the airport facilities, 3 miles away. You might as well bus from Rainier Beach station, if mass transit to Boeing Field is your goal.

      1. I find it odd then that the Museum of Flight is publicly championing this. I defer to them….

      2. The museum would only be a mile from the station, so maybe they are expecting visitors to walk. Or hopefully they’re thinking of a private shuttle.

      3. The museum of flight is already served by a direct bus from downtown (the 124), which would be faster than any Link->shuttle connection. The fact that the museum is pushing this is nothing but rail bias in the hands of people who don’t know what they are talking about.

      4. asdf2, Martin – you know maybe a phone call to the Museum of Flight is in order by a blog contributor…

        I support the Museum but I really think some transit journalism is in order here.

      5. Not rail bias by the museum administrators, but rail bias by their potential museum visitors.

        The City of Tukwila commissioned an independent study of a Boeing Field station that they’ve been trotting around conference rooms lately. Perhaps there’s something in that study which the Museum likes? I haven’t seen a copy, so I can only speculate.

      1. At least it has scheduled flights, which is more than certain other airports have.

        To get to Friday Harbor by air you take an expensive floatplane from Lake Union, or a less expensive flight from Boeing Field.

        Except, you have to either drive or taxi from somewhere, since the airport is inaccessible by transit.

      2. I would say the sheer amount of General Aviation parking at that airport, not to mention the Boeing & Museum of Flight facilities.

      3. Boeing field is not transit-inaccessible. It has the 124, which is more than sufficient to meet its needs.

      4. asdf2, I am well aware of Route 124 as I have used it time & again. But, but I sure wonder why the Museum has placed this request. This is a mile-long walk – granted on flat terrain, but a mile-long walk as per Google Local.

      5. Yes. I have taken the 124 to get to the Grorgetown Ppwerplant Museum. The airport is on the wrong side of the runway for access from the 124.

      6. The terminal and general aviation parking is no where *near* where a station would be, it’s almost 2 miles away on a street with no sidewalks most of the way.

        The bulk of the Boeing facilities are a mile+ up E Marginal. The East shoulder of the road there is ok for peds but has several truck yards and access points to heavy industry. Not exactly a ped friendly area. There is no bike lane. Keeping in mind though this is “study” not build. :-)

        Perhaps we might see a shuttle or something if we built a station there, but still less than ideal. However it’s inevitable that Paine Field or Boeing Field is going to get passenger traffic, potentially a lot (e.g. the airports that support LAX such as LGB ) and transit advocates should accept that and plan for it, studying options and understanding what does and does not work is good money IMO. SeaTac is approaching capacity (up something like 13% this year) and has little room to expand further cost effectively, some remodels are planned but it’s mostly reworking things within the existing footprint to be more efficient. Both Paine and Boeing field have room for facilities on land already owned by the airport.

      7. Many of the museum visitors are families with children, who can’t walk as far as single adults can.

      1. Of course, it’s not terrain, but the decision to build windy, non-gridded, non-connected streets that follow that terrain.

        LFP needs one thing from ST: a stop at LFP TC for whatever transit exists along 522.

    1. Seattle Subway’s main message was: Think Bigger.

      They want a bigger package so more projects are included and there is less in fighting.

      1. Great thinking.

        I hope though we all can agree – an Everett Station parking garage with Sound Transit funds for Skagitonians makes a lot less sense than transit grants to Skagit Transit to provide more 90X County Connector service to feed Everett Station.

        Tsk, tsk: Transit money for transit… not educational industrial complex, not parking (and more congestion on I-5 around my bus).

      2. ST did not say who the parking is for; it’s just “1000 parking spaces”. We should get ST to study or release their information on how many of the existing drivers are from within or outside the ST district. ST should clarify who the new garage is mainly for, the percentages of cars it anticipates from where, and what ST’s policy attitude is regarding parking for out-of-district residents. It should also stipulate that new garages should not be free. The Highway 522 cities and activists asked for several more garages along the route; those should not be free.

  2. Seattle Subway was well represented. Public Comment is over. Consent Calendar being read, then

    Let the food fight begin.

  3. It is interesting how Kirkland is the outlier in asking for BRT over LR. The only other real mention of BRT is on 145th, which would really end up being just more Rapid Ride.

    1. Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, and several “522 Transit Now” activists all asked for, more or less,: (1) BRT from UW Bothell to 145th Station and continuing to Aurora and Shoreline Community College, (2) planning for a Link line in ST4, and (3) structured parking in several unspecified locations.

    2. Virtually all the posts I have read seem to assume that light rail is part of the solution to Puget Sound’s traffic mess.

      However, light rail is obsolete and has been for almost 20 years. So it should not be a part of any rapid transit projects for Sound Transit, especially since the new fast buses perform the same function at 10% to 29% of the cost per passenger mile.

      But don’t take my word for it, just google or bing the key words “light rail” and “obsolete’ and you’ll find thousands of articles confirming this fact, including the following Op-Ed by Windell Cox, written in 2000.

      John Flowers

      The Public Purpose
      Number 44 – May 2001
      Light Rail: The Solution to No Problem

      By Wendell Cox
      Principal, Wendell Cox Consultancy

      This op-ed appeared in the October 2000 issue of IEEE Spectrum Magazine. An opposing op-ed was authored by Roger Snoble, President of Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

      Hoping to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, US urban areas from Los Angeles to Sioux City (Iowa) are rushing to build new surface light rail systems. But despite claims to the contrary, light rail does not reduce traffic congestion, and is a highly expensive strategy..

      US federal research indicates that quality bus systems are one-fifth the cost per passenger mile of light rail per passenger mile, can accommodate the volumes and operate as fast. Offering no speed or capacity advantage over buses, new light rail systems are simply obsolete, like the latest advancement in horse cars.

      In contrast, grade separated metros (undergrounds and elevateds) and suburban rail may offer advantages over bus systems where passenger volumes are exceedingly high and trip destinations very concentrated. These more rapid urban rail alternatives play an invaluable role in the world’s largest and most dense central business districts, such as New York, Tokyo, Paris, London and Hong Kong. But implementation of such intense rail strategies is inappropriate in the low density US urban areas. Costs are too high, at up to $300 million per mile for metros, and demand for suburban rail is scant that new riders could be leased a car more inexpensively.

      Over a decade ago, a US federal government study by Don Pickrell found that new light rail lines carried only a fraction of their projected ridership. But there is a more fundamental issue. However high the ridership projections, they never rise to significance in comparison to automobile travel volumes. Few automobile drivers are attracted to light rail systems, and traffic congestion has not been materially reduced in any corridor. This is not surprising. Planning studies that justify new light rail virtually always predict at best nominal results. This facts do not, however, deter light rail aficionados, who relentlessly mislead the public to believe that light rail reduces traffic congestion and air pollution, suggesting that up to 12 lanes of freeway traffic will be carried. This is absurd. In the United States, new light rail lines carry, on average, less than one-quarter the volume of the a single freeway lane. Misrepresentation of this magnitude would violate consumer protection laws in the commercial sector.

      Since light rail does not reduce traffic congestion, it cannot reduce air pollution. The great advances in clean air have resulted almost completed from improved on -board automobile technology.

      Advocates also claim that light rail is less costly than new highways, This is alleged by comparing the cost of a light rail line per mile to that of a six or eight lane freeway. This is an invalid, because the freeway carries such an enormously greater number of people. An eight lane freeway carries, on average, 16 times the volume of a new light rail line. In fact, total costs, public and private, per passenger mile of light rail averages seven times that of new urban freeways. This does not mean that new freeways should be cut through American cities. It is, however, testimony to the fact that light rail and traffic congestion are wholly unrelated subjects. It should be added that new light rail’s failure to impact traffic congestion does not provide an argument for tearing down the systems that exist.

      Light rail’s shortcomings are part of a larger transit problem. No form of transit can replace the automobile for most trips in American urban areas. Automobile competitive transit — service that is quick, frequent and operates throughout the day — is simply not available, except for a small fraction of trips. Typically that is limited to central business district (CBD) destinations. Transit carries a sizeable work trip market share only to the largest such downtown areas. For example, 75 percent of commuters to New York’s CBD travel by transit, while transit shares exceed that of the automobile in six other CBDs. Elsewhere, however, CBD transit market shares are much smaller. Worse, CBDs have fallen sharply in recent decades, as new employment growth has been in the suburbs. Now, CBD’s represent, on average, less than 10 percent of metropolitan employment. Thus, for more than 90 percent of work trips, and an even larger percentage of other trips, transit simply provides no product in the market., Transit’s impact on traffic congestion is limited to corridors leading to the largest CBDs, where its market share has been high, though stagnant or declining, for decades. Overall, public transit’s work trip market share is under four percent and its share of urban travel is two percent.

      To significantly increase the percentage of the travel market for which public transit competes would take massive service increases and budgets that are simply beyond comprehension. For example, European urban areas provide 15 times higher service intensities (vehicle miles per square mile) to produce market shares ten times greater. Asian cities provide 70 times higher service intensities, while attracting 20 times the market share.

      There are two reasons that transit cannot compete in the US. First; urban population densities are too low — approximately one-fifth that of European and one-fifteenth that of Asian urban areas. For example, Portland (Oregon), with 1.5 million residents, strains to claim (wrongly) success for its densification policies. Yet, at Hong Kong densities, Portland would house 45 million people, at Tokyo densities 10 million and at Paris densities five million.

      Second; and just as important, US urban areas are too decentralized. European CBDs tend to have regional employment market shares more than double that of those in the US. Lower densities and greater decentralization make automobile competitive transit all the more difficult.

      Why, then, is light rail being built in the United States? First and foremost, the federal government has made billions of dollars available and cities have great incentives to obtain the money. They would wrestle as quickly to build monoliths, were federal funds available. Then there is the perception that light rail, like large convention centers and domed or retro athletic stadia, qualifies a city as “world class.” Former Harvard Economist John Kain characterizes it as boosterism. Seattle bicycle commuter and anti-rail activist Emory Bundy has likened it to cigarette advertising strategies that seek association with a macho image (read” “world class city”).

      Despite their transit unfriendly environments, US cities are blessed with effective transportation systems. Traffic moves 50 percent faster than in Europe and double that of Asia. Work trips are 15 percent shorter than in Europe and a third less than in Asia. Traffic densities are a third less than Europe and half that of Asia. In consequence, air pollution is 20 percent to 80 percent lower. Australian cities, with similar characteristics and very low densities exhihbit the same characteristics. These higher quality of life characteristics result from dispering traffic over a wide, less dense area. With this performance, the so-called “smart growth” that would increase densities could not be more wrong-headed.

      The situation may be little better for new light rail outside the US. It is likely to cost more than bus strategies, while providing no advantages. Every day, Curitiba, Sao Paulo and Porto Allegre carry busway volumes comparable to the best surface light rail lines. Where transit officials are maximizing ridership and the good transit can do in the community, there will likely be no role for new light rail.

      (c) 2001 http://www.publicpurpose.com — Wendell Cox Consultancy — Permission granted to use with attribution.

  4. I still struggle to understand why completing the “spine” is a “core priority”. Link south of FW, North of Lynnwood, East of Overlake/Eastgate is way overkill for the demand and displaces popular, fast freeway buses.

    1. Some people believe it’s the main reason ST was founded and implicitly promised in the ST 1 and 2 tax votes: to connect the largest cities in the subareas, meaning Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma. It’s a popualr belief especially among Pierce and Snohomish boardmembers and activists, because their areas benefit directly by this reasoning.

      Downtown Redmond is only a short distance from Overlake, and it would have been included in ST2 if the budget had been slightly higher, so it makes sense to complete it.

      Issaquah is not part of the spine and has never been. Issaquah wants light rail, just cuz. Unlike Everett and Tacoma, it can’t plausably claim that ST has a fundamental responsibility to bring light rail to it. In Issqauah’s defense, it’s the largest city on I-90 east of Lake Sammamish, and the ST boundary was intentionally drawn to include Issaquah. So Issaquah needs some level of service, and it’s saying it should be part of the Eastside light rail network.It remains to be seen whether Kirkland-Issaquah Link survives next year or a BRT alternative rules the day.

    2. Neither the 545’s slog through downtown Redmond, nor the 554’s slog through downtown Issaquah are fast or on a freeway. They are relatively frequent, so you got that one right.

      1. You have a point about Redmond and Issaquah, but I still think an improved sounder serves Everett and Tacoma better. A new corridor/RoW for sounder north would be a worth while investment that I would fully support but I worry that will never happen…

    3. Politics. That’s really what it boils down to. Couple the “need” for the “spine” with a decision to go with freeway alignments, and you get what’s basically a glorified express bus network (aka BART North). We can only hope other suburban cities try to redesign the areas around the stations to support more people an all-day activities, otherwise…

    1. No

      Corridors C-01a, C-01b, and C-01c all include Uptown, just as they did before these final revisions.

  5. Based on the tweets, sounds like SDOT’s letter was influential (99 Harrison stop, Ballard HS stop, ship canal bridge will be looked at as multipurpose)

  6. They want to use ST3 for GP lanes to replace Ballard Bridge along with more parking? Call me reactionary but this is not looking good. At what point does 20k per rider make it worth it to remove cars off? I see Frequent connections to Link being a better use of funds than more parking.

    1. +1. Had my last haircut today at the Northgate Great Clips (I’m a big spender, I know). They are closing Sunday, the strip of useful businesses on 1st Ave NE (teriyaki joint, record store, shoe store, etc) will be razed for the ST parking garage. It feels dumb.

      1. You mean the one-story strip mall with Silver Platters? That has got to go; it’s the worst kind of unwalkable anti-urbanism. As far as I know that block will be TOD; the ST garage will be north of the current transit center where there’s already a garage. ST has to replace a certain number of parking spaces it displaces because of the mall’s contractual obligations to its tenants. The neighborhoods west and east of the station did not ask for a large garage; they asked for bus/bike/ped access to the station instead.

      2. I am pleased to hear it! Perhaps the person cutting my hair was misinformed.

        It wasn’t actually too bad to walk, as far as strip malls go. You could walk under the awning for the length of it.

        I was mourning the loss of useful business immediately adjacent to the station. I’m all smiles if it’s going to be TOD, all frowns if it’s parking.

      3. Here’s a map from 2011. It shows the station in the northwest corner of the current TC, with the south end in the TC and the north end in the mall parking lot. So I imagine any new parking will go between the station and the existing garage. The strip mall is a block south of it. The guideway comes over the corner of the sidewalk, so they may have to demolish the strip mall to build it. There may be a better map somewhere showing the disposition of that block.

      4. ST bought the property and is paying to help the stores move because they cpuldn’t feasibly keep access to the parking lot open during construction.

        The are going to raize the lot and use for staging. When complete they will probably sell the lot off for TOD.

    2. Ballard Bridge in ST3 will undoubtedly be a joint project between SDOT and ST. No one would possibly accept ST paying for the full bridge project.

      This is just laying the groundwork for cost-sharing on a cooperative project, which will be cheaper for both SDOT and ST than each building their own parallel bridges on their own timelines.

    1. The three expected light rail alternatives are there. No other news about that, and no BRT. The news is south of there: studying an extension to Burien (C-13), to Burien and SeaTac (P-05), and the Burien-Renton line (P-06). It would just study these in ST3; not build them until later. There was also talk of BRT from SeaTac to Burien and West Seattle (route 360 enhancement) but I don’t see it on the list; maybe it was just a Burien request with no project yet.

  7. C-13, West Seattle-Burien Link
    P-05, Downtown-SeaTac Link via West Seattle and Burien

    Anyone got revised map links to these?

  8. So, basically anything a city government wanted, it got. If not supported by a city government, a project had no chance.

      1. Is there any reason to raise a red flag regarding the fact that a 1st and Mercer station wasn’t mentioned but SR 99/Harrison was?

      2. Seattle Center was explicitly added to the downtown-Ballard projects (C-01a, b, c) to correct a mistake in SDOT’s original letter. I assume Seattle Center means 1st & Mercer or thereabouts, although I always envisioned it at 1st N & Republican or Queen Anne & Mercer. C-01e is a separate project to add a Harrison station to C-01b and c.

    1. I wouldn’t say everything the cities asked for got in. (Which is not to say that everything on the list is equally credible. Some of this is just punting an inevitable decision to say no to a pet project).

      But if it didn’t have Council members and city staff to go to the meetings, it didn’t get a look in.

      Lesson for next (!) time. Advocates need to do groundwork and work with cities.

      1. It can be argued that the cities are the best democratic representatives of what the people want, because that’s what they were elected to do. ST just takes it to an extreme; tt defers to cities’ wishes as much as it can. Activists can get ST to include an alternative, but not to make a final decision for it, unless the cities endorse it too. Or at least I can’t think of any case where it has. We got ST to consider the grade-separated downtown-Ballard alternative with Queen Anne and Fremont, and we got ST to prioritize the Ballard-UW study. The first one didn’t make it to the project list, and the second one remains for now but has a less than 50% chance of approval. If we had been able to convince Murray and McGinn and the city council to put these top priority, we probably would have gotten them.

      2. I think one problem Mike Orr we transit advocates have are the city governments are pawns and knights and bishops of the local business community. They think they know best – and I swear there is much money in running an opponent to the Incumbent Everett Mayor.

        Unless it’s the ranting “STANDUP – AMERICA” guy who sounds like somebody who spends 17 hours a day watching this: http://www.rt.com/shows/

  9. It should be noted that all those P-## projects that were added were just studies for the corridors listed, not concrete plans for them.

    1. Right. Do you happen to know how much wiggle room there is with the studies? For example, if you study “BRT on ST 522 to UW Bothell” could that include BRT from Bothell to Lake City to NE 130th (and on to Bitter Lake)?

    2. Or go down LCW to Roosevelt, or convert the 522 to BRT? I’m guessing that if the 85th/LCW stop is piloted, ST is going to use the results.

      Personally, methinks ST considers Hwy 522 to stop at 145th when LCW takes over. Maybe there is a force-field there.

  10. Since West Seattle BRT (a la Ross) isn’t anywhere on the list, can we finally stop discussing it and instead focus on how to make that segment as affordable and as useful as possible?

    1. If you can find a way. that light rail to west Seattle doesn’t use the majority of North King’s budget, I would urge STB to serve as your reference when you apply for a job at Sound Transit

    2. as affordable and useful as possible

      If there’s any magic way to change either of those from their current “not particularly” status, please do share.

    3. The best value in a light rail line to West Seattle is one that goes over a (relatively) low (movable) bridge to Delridge. If you want to push for that, be my guest. I have trouble supporting any project that is inappropriate for the particular needs of the neighborhood, especially when alternatives are cheaper, and obviously better. I will have a tough time supporting ST3 if it includes West Seattle light rail because it will cost so much, and deliver so little to West Seattle. But if you want to trumpet such a plan, good luck.

      As far as West Seattle BRT (or West Seattle Busway BRT) many of the changes I proposed are obviously not going to be done by Sound Transit (at least with ST3). But is the WSTT dead? That isn’t clear to me. If not, we could have a strong step in the right direction by implementing many of my proposals along with the WSTT. The ramps are (probably) out as well as the addition to the Alaskan Way freeway, but we could add ramp metering and surface improvements (similar to what is being done on Madison). Just doing that (along with the WSTT) would probably result in a better outcome for riders than a new light rail line. The difference would be small, though. In the morning during rush hour, even with the ramp meters there could be some backups that make the bus substantially slower than a train (even with the transfer). The rest of the day, though, the bus would be faster for most riders (no transfer).

      I don’t think West Seattle rail is a given, although it sure looks likely right now. I believe it will sink ST3. I believe that it will cost so much and deliver so little that support in Seattle will erode. I think there will be a division even in West Seattle itself. If light rail goes via Delridge, those on top of the hill will feel shafted (as they believe they are closer to the heart of West Seattle, and by golly, they have accepted all these big buildings, so they deserve light rail closer to their house). If you build to the junction, then you risk alienating those on Delridge — folks who can rightly claim that a Delridge route simply performs better. There will be (justifiable) claims of class preference (trains for the rich folks, buses for the poor ones). Without big support in Seattle, I think ST3 will fail, and fail miserably.

      We’ll see, of course, but I think the best thing for Sound Transit to do is simply reject all the West Seattle rail proposals and claim they don’t have enough money to do an adequate job. The changes I suggested would help lessen the sting, but some of those (obviously) will not be part of ST3. Still, WSTT remains a possibility (I think) while the others could be done by the city.

      1. “I believe it will sink ST3. I believe that it will cost so much and deliver so little that support in Seattle will erode.”

        I don’t think so. People will vote based on how well it serves their own part of the city. They won’t look at the total budget; they’ll look at how much Ballard was skimped on. And they may look at how places like Lake City and Greenwood aren’t served at all. If they live in northwest Seattle, they’ll vote based on Ballard. If they live in the unserved parts of Seattle, they’ll vote based on whether it looks like a substantial step toward a citywide network, and a good precedent for ST4 (i.e., not skimpy with streetcars, and BRT only if well justified).

        “I think there will be a division even in West Seattle itself.”

        That’s why I asked whether Dow would have to take a bus to Link. That’s our card in the hole: are the politicians pushing West Seattle light rail willing to eat their own dog food? If Dow happens to live right near one of the proposed stations, then he’s not a typical West Seattlite. The same for the other councilmembers/candidates. It’s not so much a question of whether they actually take transit much, but whether they’re being myopic that what’s convenient for them is not convenient for everybody.

  11. P-09 is interesting to me. “This study would examine a future extension of a Ballard to Downtown light rail line from Market St. to destinations north and east, and the potential future operational configurations that could feasibly connect these smaller centers.”

    Might this be represented by the 15th NW -> Holman -> Northgate -> Lake City line drawn on all the Seattle Subway maps?

    1. The title makes it clearer. “Study: LRT from Ballard to Bothell via Greenwood, North Seattle, and Lake City”.

    2. Yes indeed. This is one of the reasons why Ballard-DT is so highly favored over Ballard-UW. Because Ballard-UW doesn’t build towards anything and Ballard-DT does.

      1. Right, because the whole point of our system is to build more and more miles of rail, and not worry about whether anyone will ride it. No sense building things that add more functionality for less cost.

    3. Nah. Ballard-downtown is because “most people want to go downtown” and “it would be more cost-effective to build a single line centered on downtown with the expected downtown tunnel, than two separated lines”. If extending it to Greenwood and Lake City were really a major factor, it would have been in the corridor studies last year.

    4. Can someone explain why Seattle Subway’s vision for this line avoids the walkshed of downtown Greenwood? It seems to be replicating the strange decision to skip Greenwood for Holman on both the 40 and the D. But why?

      1. Maybe they acknowledge that it’s easier to build along a car sewer, and avoid the business district scolds.

        To your point about the 40, Holman -> 105th -> points east is a well-travelled corridor, and it makes sense to serve it as frequently as the 40 does.

        I think the D terminating at QFC has more to do with it’s being open 24 hours, so Metro users can use the restroom all hours.

      2. To your point about the 40, Holman -> 105th -> points east is a well-travelled corridor, and it makes sense to serve it as frequently as the 40 does.

        What makes the 40 such a brilliant route (in addition to providing as-fast-as-“rapid”ride service to downtown from Central Ballard, rather than the far edge of it) is that it connects urban villages to each other–SLU, Fremont, Ballard, and Northgate. This is where the growth is, and convenient service between urban villages is an important and in-demand feature of a useable transit network. For the cost of–maybe a 1-2 minutes of service time per run* it could connect a 5th urban village to that network. And we wouldn’t really have to worry about depriving the QFC area of Holman because they still have Rapidride. I’ve never heard a compelling argument for not connecting Greenwood and Ballard directly. I know lots of people who make that trip regularly and would like direct service. It would double down on what makes the 40 such a great bus.

        * I’m not even convinced of that. I often take the 40 from Ballard to 85th and 15th NW. The traffic there is bad. I often notice that the car in front of or behind the 40 (or, sometimes, the 48) makes it through the light cycle 1, 2 or even 3 lights sooner than the 40, as the left turn signal doesn’t last long. And that’s a long cycle. So even if trip through Greenwood took some time, we’d start with some time savings by avoiding the left turn on 15th.

  12. P-08, Link on SR 522 study

    Nice!

    And build a wall of 5-7 story apartments all along either side!

  13. Still not sure who will use boeing access road station. What’s the projected demand? And is it worth adding extra minutes to thousands of commuters on both link and sounder forever?

    1. Oh wait. I just thought of something. Maybe northbound link riders can bypass rainier valley and try to connect with sounder at BAR? Will that be faster? Will people want to do that? Minus transfer penalty, but I wonder what that would be like.

      1. BNSF fought this idea last time it was proposed. I don’t really think its worth building a transfer point there. Sounder trains are too infrequent to make it convenient enough and there would not be a big enough speed boost to make it worthwhile.

    2. Tukwila’s mayor wants a BAR station, and extending RapidRide A to it. He said a few months ago that it would be useful for a planned urban village at 144th, the Museum of Flight, and Aviation High School. The speakers from the Museum of Flight said that there’s a Boys & Girls Club across the street from the station, so people going there could take Link, and schoolchildren from all over could take Link to the Museum of Flight.

      Transferring from Link to Sounder to avoid the Rainier Valley overhead, you can’t be serious. Transferring would swallow up most of the difference. If the Link station is on Tukwila Intl Blvd as it should be for pedestrian and bus access, it would be a long walk to the Sounder platform.

      1. I really think when it comes to major tourist destinations that bring in tens of thousands or more; it’s a good idea to have high capacity, reliable transit close by. Notice I said major.

        Remember: Tourists pay sales tax.

    3. City of Tukwila commissioned an independent study on it, and used that study to claim the station would have “higher ridership than some existing stations” (read: higher than SODO). I’m not horribly opposed, but I’d like to see the study results.

  14. An interesting question for folks in Ballard:

    Would you be willing to accept something like a MLK style street running link north of the Ballard Bridge if they also built the Ballard to UW subway?

    I can’t imagine street running through Ballard being acceptable in any other scenario…

    1. It would be better to build Ballard-DT as a subway or grade separated line, then wait 10 years to see if there is even any residual demand for Ballard-UW. If so, then it might be that all that a streetcar would be adequate.

      1. I’m afraid the Ballard to downtown line to fall victim to West Seattle light rail– non grade separated on 15th, cheap on the bridge (no tunnel) resulting in the bridge opening often due to ships.

      2. It would be instructive to look at the effects of the Steel Bridge in Portland opening, and how it affects Portland’s MAX. Then multiply that by many more times per day.

      3. I see you’ve never attended UW. Lots of students live in Ballard and Wallingford. The 44 is choked in traffic and overcrowded, the street is too narrow for full transit lanes, and cars back up at the I-5 entrance. Lots of people live in northwest Seattle and work in northeast Seattle. The single most important place for east-west HCT in north Seattle is the 45th corridor.

      4. @Mike Orr,

        When I was attending the U and living in Wallingford, I walked to campus.

        I can attest from personal experience that building LR just to support students going from Wallingford to campus is overkill of the first order — akin to going nuclear during an invasion of Grenada. It’s not required.

      5. It’s the totality of passengers. not just students. Students are just the largest single source. You may walk from Wallingford, and when I lived in the U-District I occasionally walked to Wallingford, but if you look around at your fellow students, they don’t all walk, especially across the unpleasant freeway. There’s certainly more people taking transit for a larger precentage of their trips between the U-District, Wallingford, and Ballard than between Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and 145th.

      6. Fun fact: which east-west street in Seattle, that’s not between Denny and Jackson, looks most like a San Francisco or Vancouver or northeastern urban neighborhood, were rapid transit would typically be placed?

      7. @lazerarus

        Building for students is overkill? Seriously?! They’re the single most reliable set of transit riders in the city and one of the major reasons we need U-Link.

        Who do you think fills the 70 series buses? The 44 is also overflowing with students, which is only one of many reasons why Ballard to UW is a good idea.

        By that logic we should have just skipped UW altogether. They can walk! We could use the money to go to Orting instead!

      8. I’ve taken the 70 and 44 a few times, and the mix of everyone just trying to get somewhere seemed pretty complete across society. There’s a lot of activity through that area.

      9. I grew up in Wallingford and my parents would take the 44 to the UW for their studies. That was in the late 80s. Fast forward to the mid-2000s, when I attended the UW. I’ve walked a few times between campus and Wallingford on 45th. It’s not a great street to walk on, especially between Roosevelt and I-5. I’d catch the 44 when it shows up but it’s often overloaded (pay-as-you-leave didn’t help) and unreliable.

        So people going to Ballard are screwed because their bus is full of people traveling shorter distances. A higher speed, higher capacity and more reliable option would really help. One that takes a logical and linear path that doesn’t require backtracking to downtown. No freeways to compete with, either.

      10. @Charles,

        That is not what I said at all. I said that LR on the Wallingford to UW line is overkill, and it certainly is.

        Keep in mind that a lot of people who travel that corridor now will vacate it when Ballard-DT LR opens. Anyone traveling from Ballard to the U-Dist or campus will be better served by taking LR to DT and transferring to U-Link. It will be faster, more frequent, and more reliable than the 44.

        Ballard-DT LR will open well before anything of significance happens in this corridor. We need to make planning decisions around what the travel patterns look like with a 2nd N-S LR line active, and not base our decisions on what things look like today.

      11. @Lazarus — How in heaven’s name is a single line down the west side of Queen Anne supposed to reduce the demand for UW to Ballard? The reverse could easily happen, because:

        1) Most of the demand on that corridor is Ballard to downtown.
        2) From Ballard to the UW to downtown is only a couple minutes longer than Ballard to Interbay to downtown (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/08/14/fast-train-to-ballard/).

        But Ballard to the UW is not improved by a Ballard to Interbay to downtown line. It takes an extra fifteen minutes to “go around”.

        What is true for trips from Ballard to the UW is also true for trips from the north end (Lynnwood, Shoreline, Roosevelt, Lake City, etc.) to Ballard. What is true for Ballard is also true for connecting bus routes (e. g. Greenwood) or areas along the way (Wallingford, Phinney Ridge).

        So demand for transportation in the area might go away — the UW and U-District might burn down, Ballard might sink into the sea and Phinney Ridge might disappear. But building a west side line will do nothing to make the demand go away.

      12. I’m not sure why people keep mentioning students as if the only people that go to the U District are students. This area is a major employment center, and growing. It is a major population center. It is a major entertainment center. It is also a major crossroad. If I want to go from Northgate to Ballard then of course I’ll go via the U-District.

        I really don’t get your thinking Lazarus. Is Ballard a minor destination? If so, why the hell are we building light rail to serve it? Is the north end (everything north of the UW) a minor destination? If so, why the hell are we building light rail to serve it? Yet there is no value whatsoever in connecting the two? That makes no sense. Even if the UW area wasn’t such a major destination, it would make sense to build light rail connecting from there. Sometimes I think people have trouble reading a map, and understanding how light rail works (hint — you gain no speed advantage by following the freeway).

      13. As a grad student, I lived in Wallingford just 1 block from I-5 and walked to campus also in the mid/late 80s.

        As a woman, good enough during the day (got my exercise), but I found it rather dangerous at night. I came close to getting run over a couple of times. (Bad Seattle driving is not new.)

        In addition, it was horrible if I wanted to grocery shop. 45th/44th had the advantage of having actual places in between along the way that people want to go.

      14. Just to kill the streetcar idea, it would run into the same problems as BRT: the street is too narrow for full transit lanes, and the only way to widen it is to knock down the buildings that make it one of the best-functioning urban villages in Seattle. The hill between Phinney Ridge and Ballard is three lanes. If you take two lanes for transit, that leaves only one car lane! That’s clearly insufficient for the area, and doesn’t address how cars would go the other direction. (There’s no parallel street for a one-way couplet.) All the streets in that area are narrow so there’s no other place for a surface line. There are also several hills along the way, which modern streetcars may not be able to negotiate.

      15. Lazarus: you keep dismissing the UW-Ballard as non-sense that won’t be sufficiently useful if/when a second North/South line is built, but your analysis consistently ignores several factors.

        First, UW/Ballard has far higher ROI (about 40% higher as I recall) as demonstrated by the respective studies on Ballard/Downtown and Ballard/UW. That should matter greatly in a paradigm of limited funds and strong political support for expensive rail to West Seattle. Building crappy Downtown to Ballard rail performs worse than good UW to Ballard regardless of dollar values, which also pegs crappy Downtown to Ballard rail as more expensive.

        Two, you greatly underestimate the usefulness of a Ballard/UW line with a Ballard/Downtown line. Especially if it is built correctly with 4-6 stations instead of the proposed 3, there will a lot of trips (like Ballard/Capitol Hill and Wallingford to Bellevue) that the line will still be extremely useful even with a Ballard/Downtown line and a great improvement over the status quo.

        But by far the biggest gap in you analysis is your faulty assumption that a second north/south line must go through Ballard. With Ballard connected to the HCT system via the Ballard/UW line there is simply no pressing need to get the second North/South line that far west. Indeed, with Ballard/UW built the (likely) higher ROI line would be a Corridor D style route that instead of hiking all the way over to Ballard from Fremont instead goes straight north to a transfer station along Ballard/UW. With that system, the Ballard/UW segment would remain an essential component of the entire rail system and would certainly have very high ridership, light years away from being useless as you repeatedly contend.

      16. And to be clear by “crappy Downtown to Ballard rail” I mean the cheaper at-grade, bridge over ship canal versions. I don’t mean it in a derogatory sense.

      17. @Alex — I agree, Lazarus has often failed to look at the big picture when it comes to these routes. A Ballard to UW subway is better than a Ballard/Interbay/downtown subway because there are a lot more trips that are made substantially faster. Just to repeat what I said in a lot more detail here (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/08/28/seattle-projects-for-st3/), anyone in the area north of the ship canal and west of I-5 would have a substantially faster transit ride to just about everywhere. This includes downtown (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/08/14/fast-train-to-ballard/). Or, to put it another way:

        Ballard to UW — 10 minutes
        UW to Westlake — 8 minutes
        Ballard to Westlake via Interbay — 16 minutes

        I think it is obvious which one is essential, and should be built first. As to your other point (building another north south line through downtown) that is a very good point. You wouldn’t have to build the line along the west side (serving Interbay). You could, at that point, just go through Queen Anne to serve Upper Queen Anne and Fremont. I think the big drawback to that is that it is very costly for only a couple of stations. To be fair, they are great stations, but that is a lot of money per station. One of the advantages of the Interbay route is that it is relatively cheap. By serving Interbay, it also serves Magnolia and West Queen Anne (via feeder bus service). This is something that the Corridor D route does not do that well, because getting from Elliot to Mercer is very difficult. This is another reason why I like the WSTT. It serves two corridors at once — the Aurora corridor and that corridor.

        But your greater point remains the same. Once we build the Ballard to UW subway, we have great flexibility when it comes to building the next thing. Personally I would build the WSTT along with it, then shift gears and build the Metro 8 subway. With such a system, I don’t think there is any place in the city that would be terrible. Places like Fremont* and Upper Queen Anne would be connected to the system via buses, but those buses would travel fairly quickly and connect to very fast subways. That combination (Metro 8 subway, WSTT, Ballard to UW subway, lots of bus lanes with good bus service) would pretty much do it for Seattle. We would be similar to cities like Vancouver BC — you can get anywhere in the city via transit in a reasonable amount of time (often times faster than driving). A whole different world than what we live in now.

        But at that point, a Corridor D type routing (but not going to Ballard) would be a possibility, especially if you could squeeze two stops out of it on Queen Anne. That second stop could connect really well with buses (to serve areas like SPU) meaning all of Queen Anne would be connected quite well — west via Interbay, east via Aurora, south, north and central via the train (directly or indirectly).

        * I would also add this for Fremont — https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/04/04/connecting-fremont-to-rapidride-e/. That way some of the folks in Fremont could just walk up the stairs and be downtown very quickly.

    2. To answer your question, I would be thrilled with a Ballard to UW subway, even if nothing went north of Westlake (towards Ballard). In other words, no streetcar. A combination of West Seattle light rail plus a Ballard to UW subway would be a very strange combination. It is completely out of proportion, but I would probably end up supporting it. Ballard to UW light rail is the most important thing we can build right now (the only thing that comes close is a “Metro 8” subway that simply won’t be built now). So I would accept lots of under performing projects along with it (like a West Seattle “starter line” and a subway to Discovery Park and a gondola from the UW to Kirkland).

      All snark aside, I’m not sure if this could be done, but I would support it. So basically a light rail line from West Seattle to SoDo, along with a Ballard to UW subway would get my vote. Once you build a tunnel, though, I think it does exceed the available money, even if you don’t go any farther than Queen Anne.

      1. Mike O’Brien suggested this a few months ago in a Publicola article, and it does fulfill the promise of light rail to Ballard and west Seattle

  15. I wish they would give a better vision for ST Express, it would help solidify my support for the project. I will say that they are going Capital heavy, when they should be going Operationally heavy. There is a demand for service they cannot meet right now, We need more and higher capacity buses everywhere. Not to mention some P&R lots are 100% full, while other nearby lots are nearly empty. More service and better utilization of existing facilities before building more new ones!

    1. ST is specifically set up by the enabeling legislation to be more capital investment oriented as opposed to operational oriented. Their sole purpose is to design and build HCT in the appropriate cooridors. They are not supposed to be an operational agency like Metro.

      1. Trains need operating too. I think the choice to contract out operations is just ST’s preference. The legislation issue is more about ST Express itself: STEX is supposed to be a stopgap until rail can be built in those corridors or enough ridership for rail emerges. It’s unclear that ST can run ST Express where HCT exists (Tacoma-Seattle now, 522-downtown and Redmond-downtown in ST2, Federal Way-downtown in ST3). It probably comes down to a judgment call and whether a judge accepts ST’s judgment: how much slower does Link have to be to justify parallel ST Express?

        ST has a list of current and future capacity issues on ST Express routes. ST2 includes more ST Express runs which will be rolled out over time to address capacity issues. But it doesn’t have an unlimited budget for lots more STEX, or to buy lots of buses that will be obviated when ST2 Link is complete. The 550 is the most crowded bus, and its runs are constrained by the DSTT which has more buses than it can fit. Putting so much money into buses that it cuts into capital improvements is a fool’s errand: buses will always be expensive to run and increasingly expensive, because of fuel costs, increasing traffic congestion, and the number of passengers per driver. Trains become less expensive per passenger as ridership grows, and they eventually reach a point where they’re cheaper than buses to operate. MAX in Portland is cheaper than buses, and Link in Seattle is almost there. (Of course, Link in Redmond and Federal Way may take a long time to reach that point if ever.) You can buy mint and basil for $4 week after week at the store, or you can spend $20 for mint and basil plants and have them all summer for just the cost of watering and fertilizing.

      2. “It’s unclear that ST can run ST Express where HCT exists”

        Except that they do. Look no further than the 510 and 590-series directly competing with Sounder, in the exact same direction and times of day that Sounder is running.

        I also don’t buy the argument about how it’s pointless to buy more buses for a route that will soon be replaced by Link. Buses that are used for the 550 today can easily be re-purposed to some other route in the future, once EastLink gets built. And, as long as sprawl continues its inevitable march outward, there will be no shortage of under-served routes with which to assign those buses.

      3. That’s what I said: the peak 59x may be on shaky legal grounds. Or at least some people have raised the issue.

  16. It’s a real damn shame this year Mukilteo Mayor Gregerson is tied up w/ the Community Transit fight and the Paine Field defense… we sure could have used a good hitter – certainly better than the Mariners’ batting average – ready to go.

    Just a thought.

  17. So many bad ideas on this list. So many small town mayors and politians trying to get re-elected by steering ST $ to thier area. If this is how the sausage is made, its hard to feel good about the future of transit in seattle. Has Mayor Murray stated what he wants in ST3? Waiting to see the S storm W. Seattle throws when ballard gets mid grade LR and they only get improved Rapid Ride….

    The only way ST3 offers an acceptable package to both ballard and w. Seattle is with the WSTT… That also includes a spur to SR99, and its not even on the list….. Expect a lot more churn.

    1. That is what it sounded like was just a way to do pork barrel spending and this package seems to be going that way. Pierce cannot have LRT and a Sounder extension without borrowing from other subareas. LRT to Paine Field cannot happen without borrowing against subareas either.

      Seattle is wanting to use ST 3 to replace the Ballard Bridge which while useful, that is not the point of this package. HOV lanes are one thing but for GP lanes, I think they are seriously underestimating the tax sentiment, especially with a .5% sales tax. Car tabs and MVET aren’t as bad but the sales tax might be the thing that sends this downhill.

      I am curious about how Sounder to Dupont would help JBLM. If JBLM is more localized to Tacoma and Olympia, Pierce Transit and Intercity Transit probably need to look at what they are currently doing and talk to Kitsap Transit about how it works. I am not sure if JBLM staggers release times but I have a hard time putting down $1 billion for either a parking lot or full utilization for one hour per day.

    2. How much wiggle room is there within these projects? It seems to me if you build a WSTT, then you can decide where to put the stations and where to put the portals, which could includes a spur to 99. From where I sit the WSTT (as designed by Seattle Subway) is not dead, but other things (like a Metro 8 subway) will not be part of ST3.

      1. I’m not sold on the “metro 8 subway” and never have been. The 8 is only there because that’s where the road is. The pedestrian demand for transit is not actually ON Denny… people are walking a long way to board the 8.

        If the Ballard line has stations on Harrison around Aurora and around Queen Anne Ave, and a transfer at Westlake can be made painless *without ever walking above ground*, I think we’ve satisfied that need pretty darn well. Demand for the 8 tube evaporates. We’ll find out if I’m wrong when they build it.

      2. It doesn’t have to be exactly on Denny. It just has to connect lower Queen Anne, SLU, and Capitol Hill, and optionally other areas like the CD and First Hill. The 8 is ridiculously unreliable so nobody rides it, right? No, they do ride it so they don’t have to walk up the hill. And they ride it the other way too because it takes 45 minutes to walk from Broadway to Seattle Center.

  18. Suppose cost becomes an issue as the ST3 ballot measure is assembled. Could the ST board select a less costly version of a project on the list approved for study. Suppose Link between Totem Lake and Issaquah is on the list; could the board include trolleybus BRT in the ballot measure after study? Or, suppose Link between Ballard and Alaskan Junction is studied via a new downtown Seattle tunnel is studied, but proves prohibitively costly; could the board include trolleybus BRT through a tunnel per the Seattle subway discussion?

    Please note that every garage to be studied takes funds that would be more cost effectively used on improved service. The ST access policy suggests they measure the cost effectiveness of alternative projects.

    1. If taking 25 years to get from downtown to Northgate is any indication, I’m guessing golden geese are the only thing being hatched at the funny farm – One egg at a time.

    2. The EIS process requires all reasonable alternatives and modes to be studied, so “light rail” corridors will have BRT alternatives as Lynnwood Link did. Otherwise they won’t be eligible for federal grants because not all lower-cost alternatives were studied. So far we haven’t gotten to the EIS stage; we’re just comparing high-level concepts. If a line is approved by voters, the first step in the EIS process is an “Alternatives Analysis”, which is these studies: more detailed than the concepts so far have been

      “Light rail” in this project list essentially means ST believes light rail is plausable in this corridor, so the AA will include LR in several possible alignments and BRT if plausable. “BRT” in this list means ST doesn’t believe LR is plausable so the alternatives will be just BRT. “HCT” means ST isn’t sure whether LR is plausable or doesn’t want to say for political reasons.

      The issue of trolleybuses is more a question of what kind of BRT. In ST 1 and 2 most of the BRT alternatives were on freeways so trolleybuses weren’t possible. But in the Eastside Rail Corridor maybe BRT could be an option.

      A downtown bus tunnel is a bigger issue than trolleybuses on the surface. It’s a question of whether ST will ever build a rail-convertable bus tunnel after its horrible experience with joint operations the DSTT. I think it’s unlikely. If it were likely, ST would have acknowledged the WSTT idea and added a project to the list for it. However, what happens when this hits the Alternatives Analysis? ST hopefully agrees with us that surface light rail downtown is absolutely unacceptable due to travel time imapacts, so surface BRT would be unacceptable for the same reason. But what about underground BRT? Lynnwood Link BRT would not have gone downtown (it would have transferred to Link at Northgate), so this issue didn’t arise. But for a Ballard-downtown line or a West Seattle-downtown line the issue would be unavoidable.

      ST will have more details about each of the projects around October, and I think the board will vote again on which ones to continue studying in December. So in that timeframe we’ll have more information. Maybe that will help to answer how possible a bus tunnel is.

      1. The supposed “requirement” to study reasonable alternatives is generally disregarded, and agencies routinely get away with that.

        For instance, often rail is cheaper than buses (particularly where a disused rail line is sitting right there) and an agency will fail to study it.

    3. I have the same question. These are areas to be studied — how much wiggle room is there for implementation? If they look at West Seattle light rail (along with a downtown tunnel) and find that it performs really poorly and costs a lot, can they then just build the tunnel and put buses in it (just build the WSTT)? It seems like this isn’t a stretch and well within their mandate, but I have no idea.

      1. My understanding is that the priority list authorizes staff to proceed to the next stage of study. So they shouldn’t be studying other projects any more. But if the outcome of the study is that X is crazy unless it’s modified in a particular way, there’s no particular problem with their saying so.

        In other words, this is not like the Long Range Plan which is locked in place under the legislation. It’s more like a political/bureaucratic step which can be modified by the Board if the will exists. But that’s not a small hurdle. Now that decisions have been made to move forward in a particular way, they’ll want to stick to the plan and keep the process moving.

        But a cost-saving modification might have an easier time than a cost-increasing modification. It would make room for somebody else’s project to get into the system plan.

      2. Thanks, I appreciate the comments. I think there are things (like the Metro 8 subway) that simply won’t be a part of this go round (ST3). But I assume anything that serves Ballard and West Seattle is still possible. That being said, I could easily see the following:

        1) ST does the studies, does the math and floats the idea of a line from the West Seattle junction to Ballard, with surface running on the latter and lots of short cuts (fewer stops).

        2) People object, and say it doesn’t work for most people.

        3) ST proposes UW to Ballard light rail along with a “starter line” from SoDo to West Seattle. It does not include a tunnel for downtown (or Queen Anne).

        4) (Greater) Ballard likes it, since it would take care of most of their needs, but West Seattle objects to the transfer in SoDo while folks in Queen Anne object strongly to nothing being done for them.

        5) ST proposes the WSTT along with the Ballard to UW light rail line. Some in West Seattle complain, but the city says they will do things to help the buses run more smoothly (such as metering the ramps and adding bus lanes on the surface). Folks overall consider this a winner.

        I am not sure if all these steps will be followed, but I think something like this will happen. Hopefully this will all happen before ST3. If not, then I think the same process will happen, but the first step will be played out at the ballot box (i. e. voters reject the combination of West Seattle light rail and Ballard streetcar).

  19. This is the worst sort of planning. In most cities, the Metropolitan Planning Organization was set up specifically to avoid this sort of poorly-thought-out pork-barrel excuse for “planning”. But your MPO appears to suck massively.

    1. It would appear so. But at the same time, I’m not sure how much they can deviate from these sets of plans. This is just a list of areas that will be looked at — it doesn’t mean they will be built. I assume there are some that could be modified a bit.

      1. Or a good reason to say “hey, it’s not on the list, so we’re not even going to waste time looking at other things.
        And remember, ST2 won’t be finished until 2023, so this pretty much locks in transits fruture until about 2035.
        Many of us will be resting in peace by then.

      2. ST3 can begin immediately in parallel, so its 15-year timeframe would be finished in 2031, and smaller projects would be finished earlier. As the ST1&2 bonds are gradually paid down, it would allow additional money to slightly accelerate the projects (if ST chooses to use it rather than lowering the tax rate immediately).

  20. speaking of bus to rail conversions, with East Link, between now and 2023, we are about to see how ST and its partner agencies mitigates the destruction of the Overlake Transit Center and parking, South Bellevue parking, I-90 center roadway, and the I-90 D-2 roadway.

    1. QED, Jack. It’s all for a good cause – Light Rail (the equivalent of an 11 lane freeway in inch direction)

      1. ‘each’ (light grey font for input causes lot’s of typos – then when posted, it goes to black font and jumps off the page) Rant over.

  21. Why is everyone saying the new downtown Seattle tunnel (the WSTT) is dead when it’s still on the project list?

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