2015 has been a terrific year for us at STB. We made Zach Shaner (previously a longtime staff writer) our first-ever paid part-time reporter, and the move has tremendously improved our range of coverage. We added two fantastic volunteer writers to our team, Seattle’s Erica C. Barnett and Kirkland’s Dan Ryan. You, our readership, have grown in number–and continued to provide one of the most substantive and interesting comment sections to be found anywhere on the internet. We’ve had plenty of news to cover, between University Link restructures, Move Seattle, landmark legislative elections, increases to Metro bus service, and Sound Transit’s preparations for next year’s big vote.
Even in such a news-packed year, one topic clearly dominated the conversation: Sound Transit 3. In order, these are our most-read and most-commented posts of 2015.
1. A Transportation Solution for Today and Tomorrow, by guest poster Seattle Subway (July 14). This is an exhortation to Sound Transit to think big for ST3, in terms of both dollars and years. It appears to have worked, with ST expanding its preliminary 15-year time horizon to 25 or even 30 years in some scenarios put forth in the latest ST3 planning materials.
2. Dear Mercer Island: Public Space is for Public Use (Sept. 29). Zach’s on-the-scene report covering Mercer Islanders’ numerous requests for special treatment by Sound Transit — in exchange for locating the south Eastside’s best transit facility in a non-residential area of the island — struck a huge nerve. The report was cited in several local news outlets, and sparked a fascinating debate regionwide.
3. Seattle Subway’s Recommendations for the Sound Transit 3 Survey, by Seattle Subway (June 8). This feedback was reflected in a number of Sound Transit’s proposed options for ST3.
4. ST3 – Once in a Lifetime, by Seattle Subway (Dec. 1). Following up on the #1 post above, this post introduced Seattle Subway’s “STComplete” vision for a large ST3 proposal, with lines connecting essentially every transit-favorable community in the region.
5. Westside Seattle Transit Tunnel, by Seattle Subway (Feb. 18). This February post presented Seattle Subway’s vision for a two-headed downtown tunnel serving both Uptown and South Lake Union. Sound Transit ultimately did propose a second downtown tunnel as a core element of their ST3 vision, although the concept is somewhat different.
6. Sound Transit’s Conceptual Study: Should You Be Worried? (Apr. 24) Martin’s careful look at Sound Transit’s tentative, suburban-heavy batch of initial ST3 concepts triggered an outpouring of angst and of support for bigger, bolder, more urban projects. The agency’s later ST3 concepts turned out to be much closer to what we and many of our readers would like to see.
7. New Metro Buses Coming, by guest poster Ricky Courtney (June 22). A quick update on Metro’s fleet plans, as the agency scrambled to convert options and get more buses quickly in light of Seattle Prop 1 and a strong economy.
9. Seattle Should Demand High-Quality Rail (Aug. 18), by Seattle Subway. Following up on Martin’s post above, Seattle Subway also covered SDOT’s input. The group continued to argue for a two-headed WSTT and, less controversially, complete grade separation.
10. The Full $15 Billion (June 29). In this post Martin celebrated the successful inclusion of the full amount of requested taxing authority for ST3 in the state Legislature’s final transportation bill.
1. Sound Transit’s Conceptual Study: Should You Be Worried? (Apr. 24) See #6 above. 529 comments.
2. Seattle’s ST3 Input (July 28). See #8 above. 364 comments.
3. Metro Presents U-Link Restructures (Mar. 6). This was the first of a series of five posts in which I presented Metro’s original, deeply ambitious “Alternative 1” restructure proposal for U-Link. Alternative 1 mostly survived in Northeast Seattle, but was defeated in Capitol Hill and never got off the ground in the SR-520 corridor. 340 comments.
4. Ballard to Tacoma? Sound Transit Looks to Split the Spine (Dec. 5). Zach described one of the bigger news items to come out of Sound Transit’s staff work on ST3: a proposal to split the Everett-Tacoma “spine,” long seen as the central element of ST’s system, into two parts to address a substantial number of operational issues. The resulting network map is, in my opinion, a thing of beauty. 324 comments.
5. Metro Sends Final U-Link Plan to Council (Aug. 26). I thought when I wrote this post that I would be finished with what turned out to be a long, dramatic year of U-Link coverage. As it turned out, in Capitol Hill, this plan was far from “final” — administrative changes have since modified all three of the major east-west routes serving central Capitol Hill. 290 comments.
6. Alternative 1: Capitol Hill and First Hill (Mar. 10). In an early preview of the tinderbox of controversy to come, readers became enmeshed in long arguments about Metro’s Alternative 1 proposals to combine routes 8 and 11 and to remove route 43. Neither proposal survived, although elements of both informed the final result. 278 comments.
7. Sound Transit Chooses I-5 for Federal Way Link (July 24). Zach reported here on a disappointing development, in my opinion, in what was generally a positive year for transit in greater Seattle. With this decision, Sound Transit permanently took away the possibility of developing long-underused Highway 99 through South King County into a corridor with real regional mobility and development potential. 265 comments.
8. Westside Seattle Transit Tunnel, by Seattle Subway (Feb. 18). See #5 above. 262 comments.
9. News Roundup: Spite Votes (July 11). Commenters found plenty to chew on in a week of big news. Zach included Vancouver’s badly failed Translink expansion vote; hardball tactics by Mercer Island (which he covered later in much more detail); Madison BRT citizen feedback; and lots of discussion about density and development. 249 comments.
10. A Transportation Solution for Today and Tomorrow, by Seattle Subway (July 14). See #1 above. 244 comments.