The Green Line subway that Sound Transit seems certain to propose next year has one stop between Westlake and International District/Chinatown, on Madison Street. Falling between two existing DSTT stations, it would greatly improve integration of Madison BRT into the rail system.
The Sound Transit concept places the stop at about Madison & 5th Avenue, right in front of the Central Library and a block from the I-5 trench. But what if we could use this opportunity to correct one of the most regrettable outcomes of Sound Transit 1, the deletion of First Hill Station?
Moving a station away from 5th takes the line away from the region’s tallest buildings, but these buildings are well-served by existing Link Stations. Nudging the line up to Madison and 8th Avenue has negligible impact on tunnel length (
0.05 0.09 miles according to Oran’s software)*, and places all three hospitals within easy walking distance of Link (see walkshed map below). Reaching Boren would be much harder, adding a quarter mile and in practice forcing transfers for many Green Line riders headed downtown, but locates the station very near the hospitals and credibly serves Seattle University and the entirety of First Hill.
Although the 8th Avenue option isn’t a huge change in linear feet, the surface of 8th Avenue is 65 feet above 5th, and Boren is another 52 feet above that. That implies either an even steeper climb for the trains (before dropping down again to Westlake), a more expensive deep station, or both. And it involves tunneling under I-5 twice.
When I asked ST spokesman Geoff Patrick about these possibilities, he didn’t dismiss them, but I got the impression that the question was definitely outside the box. However, “it would be a board policy decision,” so if local officials understand that is feasible, desired, and very much needed, they can bring it onto the agenda. It’s certainly worth a look from ST planners.
* If tunneling costs $600m/mile, that’d be
$30m $54m in additional expenditure on a multibillion dollar project.