BY SEATTLE SUBWAY
The Sound Transit Board is now seriously considering a larger package for the next big regional transit expansion, ST3. Our understanding is that the most likely timeline for the finance plan is at least 25 years, up from 15 years. This means at least an 84% increase in funding for North King projects. Considering the increased scope of the package, it’s essential that a Ballard to University District (Ballard/UW) line be included in ST3 – for reasons that go well beyond the line’s end points.
Seattle Subway wrote about Ballard/UW in June of 2014 in response to the first round of ST3 study work. In response Sound Transit improved their station locations, however, their analysis still lowballs the performance of the line by treating it as a standalone segment. Ballard/UW must be looked at both as an extension of Ballard-Downtown and in the context of the transit restructures it could enable.
If a Downtown to Ballard line turned east at Market Street and continued to UW, it would have several advantages including:
- 14 Minutes from Upper Fremont to Downtown and 16 Minutes from Wallingford to Downtown, both of which are highly competitive with the E-Line and Route 16 (62).
- Remove virtually all buses from crossing the Aurora bridge, a significant safety and traffic improvement. Currently over 550 buses cross every day.
- The ability to remove most buses from the Aurora corridor south of 46th, which has a limited walkshed, overly narrow lanes, antiquated infrastructure, and heavy traffic.
- Relieve pressure on downtown surface streets while still serving the same trips more reliably.
- A single line reduces costs by not requiring an inefficient standalone maintenance yard.
- A single Ballard station can adequately serve both Downtown and crosstown lines.
The importance of the bus transfer for transit users along the Aurora and Greenwood Avenue North corridor cannot be overstated. These areas have high concentrations of people who are transit dependent and adding this fast connection to the regional system will greatly improve the rider experience and reliability for the tens of thousands of E-Line and Route 44 riders.
Ballard/UW has many other advantages that have been well documented on this blog, for example, traveling from Ballard to the University District in 7 minutes across a 3.5 mile stretch that is already one of the most congested corridors in Seattle and one of the least likely to see substantial surface improvements due to severe right of way limitations.
Sound Transit has long assumed ST3 would have lines to Ballard and the West Seattle junction via Downtown Seattle, back before the likely package size was increased by 84%. An increase this large means that both Ballard/UW and an extension from West Seattle Junction to Burien must be included in the ST3 package for the November ballot. The board has the tools it needs to achieve this goal and the city needs both lines.
The region needs the Ballard/UW line to ensure that the positive energy of a broad coalition around ST3 continues. More than 200,000 people live in Seattle Districts 4 and 6 close to a proposed station in the Ballard/UW corridor. Add in improved transit access to the regional system via transfers for a large portion of the 30,700 people who ride the Aurora bridge buses every day and it becomes clear that we can’t leave this line out of ST3.
In short, Ballard/UW votes and gets people excited to make ST3 happen. If you think the Ballard to UW line is essential, as we do, it’s now or never. Speak up or prepare for this essential transit infrastructure to be punted for another generation or more.
Ballard/UW crosses districts represented by ST board member/city councilmember Rob Johnson (Rob.Johnson@Seattle.gov) and city councilmember Mike O’Brien (Mike.Obrien@Seattle.gov), whom we are sure would like to know about their constituents’ support for this extension. Also, EmailTheBoard@SoundTransit.org and let them all know how you feel.
199 Replies to “In a Big ST3 Package, a Ballard-UW Line is Essential”
I agree. As far the actual design goes, you also need a station at 8th Ave. NW, as shown here (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ballard-Spur.png). As has been discussed here (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2014/06/23/lets-build-the-ballard-spur/) and here (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2014/06/30/ballard-uw-should-be-the-next-light-rail-line-in-seattle/) the key is the bus network. Seattle will never a light rail line that will directly serve most of its residents. But it can create a top notch transit network by mixing in good rail and good bus service, as other cities have done. For that to work properly, you need stations located in places that can be easily served by a bus. 8th Ave. NW is such a place. It enables a very good transit grid for the north end. Much of the grid exists now, which means that buses wouldn’t have to alter their routes very much at all.
If money is not available to build a station right away, then ST needs to design the route of the subway to enable the addition of a station later. We need to do things right, like we did at Graham Street, not wring our hands and lament previous choices as we do with SR 520 (and the rest of U-Link).
Oh, and the subway must be designed so that it can be extended on both ends. The first extension would likely be to the west, to 24th. That would enable the same sort of grid we have for that end of town (shown quite well by Oran’s marvelous map — http://seattletransitmap.com/app/).
“Extension” is incompatible with a UW-Ballard-downtown line, unless you mean to split the 45th line and have some trains go south and others west. Converting it later to a separate north-south and an east-west line would add to the Wallingford-downtown travel time.
The way to handle all of these demands and also allow for a future branch to continue north is for the north-south alignment to swerve west of 15th, to put Ballard Station at say 17th or 18th where it’s convenient to both 15th and 24th.
An eastward extension is certainly compatible. I don’t see how a westward extension makes any sense, especially considering some sort of swerve like you mention to better-cover Ballard proper. A swerve could complicate things for southbound travelers from the Orange line trying to head east on the Green line, but that could be handled somewhat easily I suppose.
An eastward extension makes a lot of sense, I think, with stations at both U Village and Children’s hospital.
Given there is also a desire for Ballard-Downtown to serve Crown Hill perhaps the best idea would be to design the Ballard Station as an interchange station, keep the lines separate operationally, but build a non-revenue connection as part of the line.
If we’re really smart the line can be designed such that transfers are same-platform and have the operational flexibility to send Ballard-UW trains Downtown.
It should be a standalone line so you don’t have issues with extending westward. You’d pick up way more riders by going west to 24th than you would by coming east to Children’s.
I can see designing it as an extension of DT-Ballard at first, but allowing for expansion both northward and westward as separate lines eventually. That doesn’t have to mean another maintenance facility if you utilize the connections that were there for the single line in the first place.
For the most part I really wouldn’t worry about the Wallingford to downtown connection. If you are really going downtown (as in Westlake) then it would make sense to go the other way. Similarly, there just aren’t that many people who would go through Ballard.
Look at it this way. Imagine the system built out, with the SDOT set of stations for the Ballad to downtown route (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/29154032/SDOT_Ballard-DT-corrected.png) and the Seattle Subway stations for Ballard to UW (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ballard-Spur.png). Now think of this as a big circle, like so (described in clockwise order, starting in Ballard):
Now look at all the possible trips and ask yourself how many times would a trip go through Ballard. Not very many, really. The first three trips after Ballard are Dravus, Newton and Expedia, all pretty low performing stops. It isn’t until you get to 1st and Mercer (Lower Queen Anne) that you really start getting the riders. But I really doubt that many of them are headed to East Ballard, Zoo or Wallingford. What about Lower Queen Anne to UW? At that point you are better off going the other way around. There are fewer stops and it is shorter. To be fair, there might be people going from East Ballard to South Lake Union (99/Harrison or 1st and Mercer). But if you on Aurora, by the zoo, and headed 99th and Harrison, I think you just stay on the bus (I disagree with Seattle Subway on that point — we should keep the Aurora buses). That is just a huge shortcut. All in all, there just aren’t that many people who would benefit from the direct connection. This is in contrast to the number of people who would benefit greatly from a switch at the UW. From everywhere on the Ballard to UW subway it makes sense to go to downtown via the UW.
I assume that at some point, the Ballard to downtown line gets extended up to 65th (it has been on their plans for quite some time). You could do various splits, but I wouldn’t. That would just cut into frequency. Just send the east-west line farther west, and the north-south line farther north, while making the transfer as smooth as possible.
This is why it really makes more sense for Ballard – UW to come off the Spinofest Destiny line at UW: the expansion to the west would be useful to have now, let alone 20 years from now.
@kptease — Yes, exactly. You obviously want these lines to connect for maintenance purposes (although that can be done at the UW as well). But unlike the UW station, there really is very little need for through routing a passenger train south.
@Mike — The way to handle all of these demands and also allow for a future branch to continue north is for the north-south alignment to swerve west of 15th, to put Ballard Station at say 17th or 18th where it’s convenient to both 15th and 24th.
That would mean diverting all the buses onto 17th. That might work, but that would require a lot of work for the city to make it even close to acceptable. It will always be slower. It will be slower for someone north of Market, on 24th (and there are bunch of people up there). It will be a longer walk to the bus for those closer to the water in Old Ballard. The 40 goes from its current route (which is close to ideal) to something that bypasses the cultural center of Ballard. That might be the cheap way to go, but in the long run, I think it makes sense to just add two stations — they will be worth it in walk-up ridership alone, let alone bus connectivity.
@Glenn — Agreed.
Omg, i hope voters have sense enough to vote this down.
Why? It’s essentially an upgrade to the 44, one of the most overcrowded KCM routes. If you ride the 44 every day you’d be praying that the voters pass this, along with the numerous other major transit projects in ST3 that, in all likelihood, will benefit you regardless of where you live
This line serves some of the wealthiest areas in Seattle, so there are some equity issues. For example, does it make sense to put a station in Wallingford when there is little appetite for that neighborhood to grow?
Keep in mind, I think a station in Wallingford would be fantastic, it would be a great addition to the area & would be heavily used. I’m just questioning if it’s the best use of limited money – for example, would extending the line north of Ballard by multiple stations serve more people?
@aj I’m all for prioritizing lower income neighborhoods for transit, but I definitely don’t think we should scrap of limit a UW-Ballard line just because it goes through Wallingford. Just, it may be wealthier than average but that doesn’t mean the numerous middle class families that live there won’t use the line. Regardless, it makes no sense to skip Wallingford
But then, why not put a station in Wallingford, when people from other areas want to go to that neighborhood? (As well as a station on 8th, like Ross said. They’re both imperative.)
If this were the only line we were building, yes, there’d probably be social equity issues. Though even then, it’d allow people from low-income neighborhoods across North Seattle to take a north-south bus and quickly transfer to UW or Ballard. But as one of several lines – including the very first line we built, through the Rainier Valley – social equity shouldn’t mean “never give anything to the wealthy neighborhoods, no matter how much it hurts city-wide transportation.”
According to this diagram ST3 must fail. We’re talking almost 8 billion dollars for basically a single community’s transit service. 8 billion for a line that excludes a decent Fremont station, excludes a Children’s or U-village station, will require a maintenance facility and will necessitate high subsidies for the life of the line. Seattle will not vote for a Ballard centric initiative that concentrates so much capital into a single neighborhood.
The 45th corridor is the highest-volume east-west corridor in the city outside the downtown core. It connects two large urban villages with high transit/ped/bike mode share along the whole corridor. It has a high percentage of people who have been begging for a decade to vote yes on such a line and pay taxes for it. It would complement the north-south lines, which would generate additional ridership on all segments because people can go east-north and east-south and Wallingford-Bellevue with just a train-to-train transfer. So from a geography and urban perspective, the answer has to be yes regardless of the affluence of the area. Magnolia and the Lake Washington shore are even more affluent but we’re not talking about putting a subway there, because they don’t have the almost perfect transit-oriented district environment that the 45th corridor has.
les, fortunately, the $8 billion would be for this corridor, plus Crown Hill – Ballard – Downtown, plus SLU, plus West Seattle, plus maybe something else.
Where did you get $8 billion? It would be $2.9-3.1 billion for the Ballard-UW segment. (ST3 corridor summaries, page 7, project C-02). $8 billion may be the total cost of UW-Ballard-downtown and DSTT2, but that serves a lot more than just “a single community’s transit service”. It’s akin to the UW-Lynnwood segment in terms of regional significance.
William & Mike Lynnwood to UW and DT cost 1.7 billion. Ballard to both is 8 billion. Ballard is not an economical with the given spine. Need to build out slowly otherwise will get nothing.
William: no Ballard then don’t vote. Now you know how LCW and others feel.
les, you must have some of those figures wrong. U Link and North Link each cost ~$1.9 billion in and of themselves. These figures are well in the same ballpark, when you consider that more than half the money is, IIRC, going south of Westlake for the new downtown tunnel (which U-Link got for free) and West Seattle.
And, I don’t live in Ballard. I live in Bellevue, and rarely go to Ballard. I’m not arguing for this for myself. But I see how necessary this line is to the network. Lake City deserves at least really good BRT, and it’s pretty likely to get that as soon as 130th Station opens. UW-Ballard can’t have BRT; there’s simply no room. That’s why I think this line is so vital.
les, I’m sorry (not really) but you’re showing yourself to be a troll. Your arguments show your ignorance/your purposeful intent to cheerlead the status quo with no useful addition to the conversation.
A dt tunnel only Ballard will use from the north end. And I’m not saying a 45th spur isn’t a good idea and I would love a Zoo station on the network. But we have is an equity issue and people from LCW, Fremont and other places aren’t going to care for a Ballard centric initiative that cost over 8 billion, especially one that is for 25 years.
Whoopee, a poorly placed 130th station for LCW; as if that will pacify them.
Why are you guys bothering to respond to les? He/she is clearly trolling.
Zach: oh your feelings hurt because i’m not going along with the status quo. You watch, if STB 3 has 8 billion for Ballard centric spurs over a 25 year initiative it will fail.
@les — A Ballard to UW line — with all of the stations mentioned (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ballard-Spur.png) — is the next thing we should build. The only thing that comes even close is the Metro 8 subway, but that isn’t even under consideration yet. It isn’t about Ballard. It isn’t about Wallingford. It is about the entire region. The entire swath of humanity that lives, works or plays north of the ship canal and west of I-5. That is it. All of them would benefit from a line like this, assuming it was done right.
You really can’t say that about most of our area, so I understand your confusion. Building a system that integrates well with buses is the only way we can build a system that works. We are just too spread out. This is obvious when you look at the census maps. There are only a handful of really dark spots (Brooklyn style spots — we don’t have any Manhattan style spots) and almost of them are about to be directly served (Belltown is being skipped for some reason). The only way you can make a proper, well functioning transit system is a with a solid mix of buses and trains that work well together. We haven’t done that. The Central Area has only one stop, and of course it doesn’t integrate well with buses. Rainier Valley, has potential, but the key station (at Mount Baker) is so poorly designed that people don’t bother to get off the bus. This would be different. This would provide for very good bus to rail integration from day one (without worrying about making 135 degree turns).
As far as equity is concerned, we already have a line down Rainier Valley. Seattle Subway proposes a line out to Burien. I think that is a crazy idea, but it sure would serve a lot of working class people along the way.
The Ballard to UW subway is what we should build next (as I said before — https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2014/06/30/ballard-uw-should-be-the-next-light-rail-line-in-seattle/). It is everything else that is silly. This is what makes sense: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/
That, plus the Metro 8 subway, along with BRT in all the right places is pretty much all the city needs. Yes, that means a lot of people take the bus — but as should be obvious, the majority of people will end up taking the bus anyway. But at least their bus ride and the connection to a subway would be fast.
With that kind of expanded funding, the Metro 8 line must be on the table and part of the package.
Do not ignore the SLU to Capitol hill and 23rd Ave corridors. We must put transit underground to eliminate congestion in these dense areas.
If the funding is being expanded as much as this article suggests, this is the last chance in the foreseeable future to get this right.
ST has not accepted the Metro 8 line as a worthwhile project and has not studied it. It’s not in ST’s long-term plan, which is the first step before ST can legally build any corridor. Then it would take a six-month study to prepare a concept for the ballot and get price and challenge estimates. But the ST3 package has to be decided by June to make the November ballot, so that’s three months away. This is the best year for a vote because it’s a presidential election so more voters turn out and they’re more pro-transit than in off-years. So there’s no time for a Metro 8 line this round.
ST has not accepted the Metro 8 line as a worthwhile project and has not studied it. It’s not in ST’s long-term plan
Amazing that an agency that’s been around now for 20 years can be so short sighted in it’s long term plans.
Re history of the Metro 8 line: In the 2014 draft of the long-range plan update, there was a candidate project going from West Seattle to Jackson Street, 23rd, and Denny Way to Uptown, and protentially extended to Interbay or Ballard. I called it the Seriously U-shaped Line. I couldn’t see why anybody would want such a detouring route, and it was not commonly expected that the Central District would have a Link line since it’s so close to downtown. When people in STB asked ST where the idea came from, a spokesman said one person had suggested it in an open house. Neither the ST board nor transit fans thought much of the corridor, and it was deleted without making it into the final plan. Just before the final amendments were decided, a movement started for the 23rd-Denny segment, saying it would bring Link to the densest city neighborhoods, give good transit access to the CD which has long been neglected (the 3/4 are extremely slow and unreliable), and address the Denny Way unreliability. But it was too late to rescue the U-Shaped Line or get that part of it into the LRP. Then in 2014, the six corridor studies occurred which formed the basis for the ST3 project menu.
I always like that story Mike. Thanks for sharing.
It shows how dysfunctional ST planning is. They are relying on public input to make even the most obvious of choices. Someone comes up with a ridiculous line, and ST gives it serious consideration. Yet they can’t even consider something as obvious as a Metro 8 subway. Keep in mind, a lot of people have independently come up with that idea, just as lot of people independently came up with Ballard to UW. It really isn’t a huge stretch, nor should it be a big “Of course, why didn’t I think of that” moment for ST planners. .
I think the problem is that the ST planners have no idea how to build a subway line. They are focused on big name destinations a long ways away. Lynnwood, the airport and someday Everett and Tacoma. These are all areas we’ve heard about. They are all areas we can imagine visiting. But they aren’t all areas that make sense for light rail. Light rail is extremely expensive and requires going through lots of nearby stations to be effective. Riders per mile is a great metric for success (since it usually translates into overall transit mobility). But ST seems oblivious to this.
Consider a couple examples. First, this one. The original plan for Ballard to UW light rail had only one stop in between there. One! I’ve heard all the excuses for why there is only one stop between the UW and downtown, but in this case, there is no excuse. There is no issue with soil. This is not part of some huge line heading out to Everett. Anyone with any sense would add the stations that Keith suggested. But it shouldn’t be up to Keith! Seattle Subway shouldn’t be doing your planning! Public input should maybe alter the location of a station here or there (e. g. the Green Lake Station moved to Roosevelt). Public input would be nice for the art, or the maybe a few additions (walkways or bridges). But basic things like station location should be obvious. Apparently it isn’t, as they still don’t have a station for 8th NW listed.
The same is true for 130th. It shouldn’t take a citizen’s committee to build that station. It should have been obvious from the very beginning. But it wasn’t, because the planning group seems disinterested in real transit mobility. They are more interested in having this go as far as possible, which is really a horrible waste of money. We may be well on our way to building the most cost inefficient transit system in North America.
I think the problem is the planners have no direction because of the rotating board of political hacks that steer the agency. Why does anyone think the mayors of Sumner and Lakewood are in anyway remotely qualified to contribute to the design of a subway in Seattle?
The good news is once all is said and done (meaning full ST2 build out) our system is probably going to look pretty good in terms of total ridership and riders per mile compared to other US light rail systems (not a high bar to be sure). In terms of inflation adjusted capital cost per rider the number isn’t likely to be spectacular but thankfully there are enough light rail systems with horrible ridership to keep Sound Transit from looking too horrible.
“I think the problem is that the ST planners have no idea how to build a subway line. They are focused on big name destinations a long ways away. Lynnwood, the airport and someday Everett and Tacoma.”
They’re following the pressure from the counties and cities regarding what to build. There has been huge public demand for Lynnwood, Federal Way, Everett, and Tacoma, but not much for Denny/CD. I’ve thought for decades that a 45th line would be a natural; that’s why I pushed for it immediately when I heard it had a chance. But an east-west subway downtown had never occurred to me, and I like to think I’m as competent as other transit fans, so it probably didn’t occur to a lot of other people either, or that it was a possibility in this regional-political environment. Again, none of the city or county leaders pushed for it, which is why ST never prioritized it. ST can’t just go throwing lines where there’s no city prioritty and no plans for an urban center.
I am seriously considering voting down any package that fails to contain a Ballard-UW line.
Yeah, I hear you. I honestly don’t know how I will vote, but avoiding the best value(s) in the area makes it hard to support. I mean, if none of these proposals are on there: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/, then it sure is hard to support it.
I’m with you. If it skips some obvious stops (like East Ballard), I’ll vote no then as well. This isn’t like a surface line where you can just go ahead and add a couple of platforms after the fact for relatively little expense. If we’re building underground, we need to get it right the first time.
If you vote no because it doesn’t have enough stations, you may get nothing better than RapidRide in your lifetime. Is that really better mobility than a light rail line plus RapidRide?
@Mike — Hard to say. First off, the city is building some interesting projects on the surface that are better than RapidRide (a lot better). They don’t have the potential of a tunnel, but they don’t cost that much, either. So while this area might be worse off, other areas might be better off. For example, I doubt there will ever be a second light rail line down Rainier Valley. Yet the 7 carries about a third of the riders of Link. The city should improve that corridor, but that will take a lot of money. If the city has a lot more money, then there could be projects like that spread out all over the place.
Second, no one has any idea what will happen if ST3 fails. But if it fails in the city, and there are a lot of people that vote against it because they think ST is incompetent, there will be a shakeup. Maybe ST will begin to focus on projects that are cost effective, instead of focusing on projects that are symbolic (involve more miles of rail). Or maybe the city takes over. Maybe the state gives the city the right to approve more expensive projects. It isn’t crazy to me to think that if ST3 fails, one of the first things the city does is this: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/
What interesting projects is the city building?
You’re right, nobody knows what would happen if ST3 fails, and I get annoyed at people who think they do because they’re walking blindly. But I tend to be risk-adverse so I’d rather take a partway step that seems more certain rather than foregoing it for a gamble that may go badly.
wow les, if the line doesn’t go to Lake City first, you won’t vote for it?
I think almost everyone here wants a split to Lake City in the line, most of us have also pushed for the 130th station to get Lake City access to the spine before the rest of this all gets built. We’ve had to fight ST to get it but it looks like it might actually happen now. At least its on Seattle’s top priority projects for early deliverables in ST3.
I can still see two viable ways to get light rail to Lake City with the current proposed structure:
1) Extend Ballard to downtown through Through Northgate or 130th towards Lake City (this has long been on Seattle Subway’s map)
2) Send half the line that would be going to Lynnwood on what is now Central/East Link out through Lake City and out towards Kenmore and Bothell. The routing might be a bit tricky finding the right arterial to run the elevated line on, but splitting somewhere north of the 92nd St bridge should be possible since the rails are elevated and accessible for modification without new tunneling.
Failing that… the monorail initiative process still exists and we could always run a ballot measure after ST3 passes to run an “exclusive elevated transit guideway” of some sort from Lake City directly to one of the central link stations… even if ST seems to think Lake City isn’t their concern many of us here think its is our concern.
I’m from Lake City and I support this. I often want to go to Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, UW west, even near Childrens’ as it is close to U Village. Even if I have to take a bus to access a LR stop, the fact that I can then use this as part of the regional network is worthwhile to me.
If you don’t build LR to replace the most heavily used route in Metro, when do you build LR?
I would tho still have buses cross Aurora, again as part of the regional network.
I really don’t see how the spine itself will ever justify full capacity operation north of Northgate. It will eventually need to have a branch or two, and Lake City is the obvious one.
Part of the problem with light rail arm chair planning (which is what I do all the time) is that people tend to think in terms of neighborhoods. For example, Northgate has their station, so Lake City should as well. To be fair, it is much better than thinking in terms of cities (as ST does). But it still isn’t granular enough. There is a station in Northgate, but most of the people in Northgate won’t walk to it. From Northgate Way it is just too far. Thus the vast majority of riders will have to take a bus to the station. It won’t be a long bus ride, but it will be a bus ride.
So, Lake City, join the club. Most of Queen Anne is in that boat, as is Eastlake. I would personally benefit from Lake City rail (since I live in between Lake City and Northgate) but I don’t see it making much sense for a long time.
Which is not to say that Lake City light rail doesn’t have potential. Some of it is obvious. For example, three stops on Lake City Way (at 125th, 135th and 145th). But after that, it gets very tricky. The big problem with Lake City is that it is isolated. There isn’t enough density to the south to justify running a line that direction. Extending the UW to Ballard line to U-Village, then turning north to Lake City would be great once it got close to Lake City, but you are talking about miles of miles of tunneling without a decent station. Even splitting at Roosevelt means spending quite a bit before you start getting good stations.
Splitting in general is very problematic. Snohomish County folks don’t want a split at the UW, so it is hard to imagine them wanting one at Roosevelt or Northgate. The UW spur would certainly carry more riders and provide more benefit for Snohomish County riders (as well as the region overall), so if they don’t want that, a Lake City spur is dead.
So now you are talking about an east west line, perhaps as part of the north route to Ballard (Ballard, Northgate, Lake City). This would not only provide good service for Lake City, but also add to a grid. The biggest problem with that idea is the location of the Northgate station. It is next to the freeway, and there is no cross street there. How exactly do get to it from the west? Above ground means a huge, very high structure that would take a sudden turn after it reaches the other station. Which leaves underground. Now you are talking about spending a huge amount of money for relatively weak stations again. But worse yet, you are creating a really bad transfer, from a deep bore tunnel to an elevated station. Whatever time you saved by digging those billion dollar tunnels was just lost on the escalators.
That is also true for a short line from Bitter Lake to Lake City. That is probably the most cost effective line, but it is based upon a transfer that would be much worse than one involving BRT. I really don’t see Lake City rail ever making much sense. There are just too many problems with what we have built already. If the system was designed from the beginning to work with it (e. g. if a tunnel was dug to a station at Northgate Way and Roosevelt Way) then it would be expensive, but I could see it. But the station at Northgate is just in the wrong spot, and there isn’t enough density to justify any other route.
Lake City needs that station at NE 130th, and it needs BRT along that route as well. If done right, it could provide very fast, very frequent service which would enable connections to the west as well.
”For example, three stops on Lake City Way (at 125th, 135th and 145th). But after that, it gets very tricky. The big problem with Lake City is that it is isolated. There isn’t enough density to the south to justify running a line that direction. ”
This is the case today but it’s important to remember that these lines are being planned for 10, 15, even 20 years into the future. While there isn’t much density along Lake City Way south of NE 120th street right now, there have been ongoing conversations between the majority property owners (car dealerships?) and the city about redevelopment of this stretch. Of course this requires development and planning coordination but that is why there is a city planning department. It is a relatively safe bet that by the time a rail line would be going in, say after 2025, this corridor will be a very different place, one that would likely support additional stations in the corridor.
I lived in Lake City in the early 80s. The areas in question haven’t changed in the last 30 years. Why gamble a couple billion on the idea that for some reason they might change in the next 10-20 years out pacing other areas where actual growth is permitted and being built? There’s already a line through RV waiting for this magical transformation to happen.
Because the property owners have said they are getting ready to move soon. One has floated the idea of apartments on top of car showrooms. That sounds silly but at least it’s a step toward density, and an affirmation that they’re not anti-density. (Unlike, cough, the Des Moines and Everett governments that want to preserve their one-story sprawl forever.)
Well, I guess that’s a start towards looking more like Rainier Valley.
It’s great to see that transit advocacy groups like STB and Seattle subway have the power to get the board to make meaningful changes!
Thanks! We appreciate the support!
Yes, but it is sad that they need to.
Don’t get me wrong, groups like Seattle Subway should be tweaking the location a bit (moving it over a few blocks here and there) but they shouldn’t have to argue for an adequate number of stations on the Ballard to UW line, or the NE 130th station. They shouldn’t be the ones pushing for a Metro 8 subway (which ST still hasn’t considered) — the ST planning department should be smart enough to do all of that.
The 45th Avenue corridor is one of the few projects in our region in which anything except a subway will not make a difference. With the level of funding provided in Move Seattle, there isn’t enough money and right-of-way available to make the improves necessary for east-west travel. With the geographic constraints provided by Green Lake and the Ship Canal, tunnels are the only answer to make east-west travel in this corridor work. Unlike Ballard/Downtown, there is no middle ground; a workable plan B or surface alternative.
However, I would mirror the RapidRide corridor as shown in the latest TMP and extend this line east to U Village and Children’s Hospital. The UW’s camups is additional geographic constraint limiting good east-west transportation and Montlake Blvd won’t get any better with a wider 520. Additionally, there are sites for a small, reasonably-sized Operations & Maintenance Facility (OMF) east of the campus so a disruptive, complex tie-in to the spine or expensive subterranean OMF isn’t required.
“Unlike Ballard/Downtown, there is no middle ground; a workable plan B or surface alternative.”
There is no workable surface alternative on Ballard/Downtown. It’s irresponsible attempts at cost reductions that will lead to ridiculous delays while passengers are stuck in trains waiting for bridges that open and close every hour in the summer. Maybe you have some room for a surface alternative in Interbay but once it gets near the ship canal it has to go underground.
I disagree. Ballard to UW subway IS the workable alternative to an Interbay subway. It is only two minutes longer to go that way (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/08/14/fast-train-to-ballard/). That, combined with the WSTT means that just about every trip you would take would be roughly the same as an Interbay subway. The exception are trips like Queen Anne to Ballard, which would benefit from a brand new, taller bridge. But if you compare the time savings and the number of trips, the combination explained here just saves way more people way more time. I make a very wonky comparison here as well: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/08/28/seattle-projects-for-st3/
Do you cross the Ballard or University bridges ten or more times a week? How many of those times is the bridge up? Maybe 1% for me.
In the summertime, the Ballard bridge is up 40% of the time for me (coming home from work on the 15X) because the bridge goes up at 6pm, usually for some guy in a sailboat)
In the summer it’s close to 30%, mostly during evening commutes.
The “rush hour ends at 6 pm” idea is very 20th century for sure.
A new bridge would have to be built, and the new bridge would be much higher, and thus open a lot less. You wouldn’t have congestion surrounding the train, either, which is a bigger problem than the bridge actually opening. The bridge doesn’t usually go up that long — it isn’t that bad if you are at the front of the line, and just miss the cut. It is terrible if you arrive five minutes later, just as the bridge closes. You have to wait as traffic starts moving again, with lots of people entering every second.
But anyway, that is all beside the point, as I just said up above (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2016/03/01/ballard-uw-essential-st3/#comment-697059). Ballard to UW subway is the workable alternative to an Interbay subway.. As Mike has said many times, the beauty of a Ballard to UW subway is that it does double duty. It works for Ballard to downtown as well as Ballard to the UW. It connects to way more buses, which means that it would provide a much bigger benefit. That, plus the WSTT is simply a much better value than Ballard to West Seattle rail.
There is no reason the OMF needs to be located in the 45th street corridor. The OMF can easily be either in interbay or in SODO. Regardless of how Ballard-UW is handled operationally.
As Sound Transit wants to send trains from Tacoma to Ballard and trains from Everett to West Seattle presumably there will be a non-revenue connection allowing access to the existing OMF from all lines for heavy maintenance. The new OMF would just need to provide space for storage, cleaning, and an operator base.
No question the system needs this line- clincher is that unless we level every streetside building between Stone Way and I-5, there’s never going to be enough street space for the level for transit to move any faster than it does now.
But I think the public will accept this project better the more we’re told about what’s involved technically: soils, geology, groundwater etc. I think general public shares my negative reaction to lines and dots.
These mean to many people that either the project is covering up important and expensive about elements of the work. Or worse, that project leaders don’t know themselves. From the get-go, let’s get some plans (maps looking straight into the ground) and sections (the ground sliced open like a pie, and a side view of the filling.)
Line and dots no problem for Public Art grant after completion. All that’s needed is to find one of few motels left on 99. Only objection could be from real public artists, who can be chained to a motel radiator ’til the work is done.
“A single line reduces costs by not requiring an inefficient standalone maintenance yard.”
That is not usually how it works, though, so I would hesitate to call it an advantage. Unless the tracks were physically separate, which would be staggeringly bad planning, trains could be routed from the main Ballard-DT line to serve the Ballard-UW corridor before and after service, even if they went back and forth Ballard-UW during the day.
NYC does that with the 42nd Street Shuttle. The trains are based at another yard (not in Midtown Manhattan) and are operated out of service to reach the shuttle tracks in the morning and at night.
The design of Market station will be important. A flying junction is essential to allow WB UW-Ballard trains to turn south without obstructing NB DT-Ballard trains. A level junction there would severely limit capacity.
The way it was studied was for a standalone maintenance yard — one that has an underground connection to Ballard UW. Those costs are in the Ballard/UW estimate.
It’s why we brought it up as a bullet point.
That strikes me as a bad design. :)
Would the interconnection cost less money than a standalone maintenance base? If so, then you have same outlays, but increased flexibility in your operations.
“Would the interconnection cost less money than a standalone maintenance base”
Yes, you also wouldn’t need to build two stations – just one expensive one.
Interlining is also important because it makes the bus transfers fly and gives Fremont/Wallingford a 1 seat ride to DT.
I don’t know what you mean by “make the bus transfers fly”.
But as far as interlining is concerned, at some point you would want to extend this to 24th NW. So allowing trains to go every which way could be pretty expensive. Plus there isn’t the obvious advantage that you would have with UW to Ballard. For example, Wallingford to Westlake would involve going through the UW, even if there is a transfer. It is just a lot faster (3 stops in between instead of 9). There are some trips that would make sense (Wallingford to Dravus) but not enough to warrant losing out on a future 24th NW station (or even limiting its frequency). All you need is one end or the other to have a maintenance connection (although a spur at the UW would have very big benefits).
Chicago has a lot of train traffic on the L lines, and a shop complex on most every line.
Even they do not isolate any of their lines. Any car can be moved to any line using the various junctions.
Only one of those is a flying junction. If Link ever gets to the point it really needs a flying junction it would be quite amazing, considering how much more traffic the CTA has.
Let’s stop speculating whether ST would build a stupid standalone maintenance base when there’s a transfer nearby, until we find out whether it is actually planning to do so. The reason ST won’t do it at U-District station is it’s afraid of overcrowding the north-south tunnel. That may be an excessive fear but it’s a rational position. This problem will not occur on the Ballard-downtown line because Central Link will already exist so the Ballard-downtown line won’t be at capacity. In that scenario, I’m sure ST will install a turn track for maintenance and flexibility, and it’s premature to assume it wouldn’t.
I agree with the substance of the article, so I’m going to nitpick the diagram. If “green” and “orange” are interlined, doesn’t that imply 12-minute peak frequencies due to the 6-minute limitation on the RV end?
Could have one turn back at Stadium.
What Seattleite said — though we suspect that the Orange extension north will not be in ST3.
If the line extends both west of Ballard (24th NW) and east of UW station (UW Village Shopping Center, Children’s museum, Sandpoint, etc. ) – could the line just be an East West service? The diagrams assume the line heads downtown at Ballard, but I don’t think that is a given. A perpendicular transfer at Ballard & UW would allow the line to serve more neighborhoods in both directions.
The only downside is the need for a maintenance facility, but it seems like they could design the Ballard station for the trains to access the main line there.
Ah, I think Alex made the same point about the standalone maintenance yard
I agree about this being a stand alone line. it gets complicated, but imagine this as one big loop (Ballard to UW to Westlake to Ballard again). How many trips would going through the Ballard station? Not that many, really. The stations south of there (Dravus, Expedia, Newton) are just not that good. They are only added because the cost of stations like that are minimal. The stations east of their are OK, but not that great (East Ballard, Zoo and Wallingford). To be fair, the zoo station is very good, but it is a feeder station for buses on Aurora or about to be on Aurora. This is where I disagree with Keith — buses on Aurora still make sense. It is too much of a shortcut to abandon it (and the folks on the east side of Queen Anne). So with buses still going down Aurora, taking the train from the Zoo Station to South Lake Union really doesn’t make sense. You take the bus and walk, or transfer to another bus that will cross Aurora on Thomas long before this ever gets done (Bertha is slow, but eventually someone is going to finish the 99 project).
So with very few people going that way (and plenty going the other way) it isn’t worth worrying about interlining in Ballard.
> The ability to remove most buses from the Aurora corridor south of 46th, which has a limited walkshed, overly narrow lanes, antiquated infrastructure, and heavy traffic.
I live in this corridor and you’re telling me it’s essential that all my bus service be removed because up in Fremont they will have light rail? I don’t live in Ballard, Fremond, Wallingford, or UW, so I’m just getting the short end of the stick?
> Relieve pressure on downtown surface streets while still serving the same trips more reliably.
It would if your plan didn’t just remove all buses south of 46th, I would start driving downtown again.
> … will greatly improve their the rider experience and reliability for the tens of thousands of E-Line and Route 44 riders.
Except you just claimed that all bus service south of 46th should be cut on Aurora. So how is that making the E-line better? Are you suggesting that we keep the E-Line? Make that clear up front. If you plan to truncate the route at 46th then you can look forward to a lot of resistance. I would probably campaign against your plan if I’m reading this correctly.
I was thinking along the same lines. A Ballard->UW line will do a lot of great things, but allowing the 5 and the E-line to be truncated is not one of them. There are actual apartments along Aurora through Queen Anne, and you can’t just simply yank their bus service out from under them.
Yes, there would definitely need to be some bus service along Aurora.
My plan would be to extend the 5 to Lower Fremont, finally reconnecting Upper and Lower Fremont, and connecting Lower Fremont to the station. Then, it’d proceed south along either Dexter or Westlake; riders who’d prefer a faster trip would’ve already gotten off at the station. Meanwhile, Aurora would be served by the 26/28 (which would turn into locals, like the current 5) and E.
Thank you. I’m not opposed to the line at all but I don’t think it should be floated as a way to cut bus service across the Aurora bridge. If anything they could widen and remove one lane and provide other safety improvements that benefit everybody including the buses.
Most of the Apartments along Aurora are accessible to Dexter where there are 2 bus lines that provide frequent service to downtown.
I don’t understand this Aurora thing. The E is supposed to somehow turn around on Aurora after terminating at 46th? How will it do that? The side streets it would have to traverse are narrow and not designed for major bus turnarounds.
I don’t think we’re talking about deleting bus service from folks who live along these lines, but reducing the number of lines that bottleneck at the canal. Fewer routes will run on the same street, but each major arterial should keep a minimum of 15 minute or better service.
This also reduces bus bunching and crowding along these routes. The drop in crowding will be particularly helpful as many E-Line buses are already pretty full by the time they cross the canal.
Re: terminating routes.
I don’t think E-line will terminate at 45th. Some routes might re-route to other bridges or split from their downtown segments though.
Think of what is about to happen to the U-District routes or what Metro is talking about doing to the 7 and 48 with their new proposed rapid ride route. Your bus route may or may not go downtown anymore, it might not even cross the canal anymore, but it will connect you fairly quickly to one or more rail stations and most likely to multiple neighborhoods that are not downtown.
Its too early to guess what the actual restructure would look like, but I would expect that we will keep to the standard going forward that most of the city would move towards 15 minute or better service on most major streets.
Those other routes would be the 5, 26, and 28. That’s four buses an hour for the 5, two for the 26, and two for the 28. If they’re doubled peak hours that’s 16 buses/hour, or one bus every 3.75 minutes. Is that really significant congestion on Aurora?
Its more about those routes being stuck in traffic. I can’t imagine there won’t be a restructure when ST3 comes online, but its probably a bit too early to try and predict those changes.
Though, for what it is worth, when MAX green line started operation, ridership on the somewhat parallel route 72 may have increased slightly, and certainly didn’t go down.
So, don’t underestimate network effects making an increase in service quality cause overall ridership increases on routes that may seem duplicitous.
I agree. That really is the only big problem with this article. As Glenn said, ridership along Aurora should increase not decrease. East Queen Anne to the UW gets a lot faster. East Queen Anne to Ballard gets a lot faster.
Besides, Aurora is still a shortcut. Let’s say you are headed from Greenwood to South Lake Union. Do you really want to get off the bus, go way down deep into a tunnel, then take a train through several stops (East Ballard, Ballard, Dravus, Newton, Expedia and 1st/Mercer) before getting off the train and getting back to the surface, right by SR 99? Of course not. You stay on the bus. Keep in mind, when Bertha (or some other boring machine) finishes the job, the grid will be connected over Aurora. This means that you could stay on the bus and get off above Aurora, and take another bus that would take you to the heart of South Lake Union (get you closer to work than the either of the two stations). Such a bus would travel fairly quickly, since it could run in bus only lanes. This is all for a trip to South Lake Union. Now imagine a trip to Belltown. Again, why would you want to take a bus, then a train, then a bus when you can just stay on the same bus? These aren’t trivial locations.
The train will have plenty of customers — there is no need to force everyone off to take it. This would greatly speed up the time it takes to get from Greenwood to the UW, or Greenwood to Ballard. There would be some changes to the bus service, but nothing drastic, which is really a major selling point. This intersects major corridors that are in use today. The bus feeder system is already in place, and this will simple enhance it. The one exception, of course, is the 44, which gets put out to pasture.
I think it’s important to design the split in the tracks in Ballard even if ST3 does not include this line. Branching capabilities should be designed from the start so we won’t have a mess when the line is finally funded!
In sum, we need the Ballard Branching in ST3 no matter what.
The branching should be at the UW, though, not in Ballard. But all of that is really bonus. The main thing ST needs is to keep in mind that there is a real possibility that an east-west train will run through. Don’t box yourself in the corner (as we have in the past). Make sure that the station in Ballard can handle an east-west train, and make sure that a maintenance connection can be made.
Good thing Sound Transit was forward thinking enough to accommodate a transfer station at U Dist!
Fixing this screw up really should be in the engineering study budget for any new tax increase. But I question the “go big” approach. ST is already raking in more money than Metro but has yet to deliver anything close to the level of service. I don’t see a lot of vote getting potential if people read the fine print and realize it’s a tax me until I’m dead and then maybe build something approach.
1) Most of ST2 is not open yet, so no wonder it hasn’t reached its full ridership.
2) A few regional routes are not directly comparable to the dozens of neighborhood routes like the 27 and 28. One does not replace the other.
Metro doesn’t have to actually build anything before driving. Obviously.
Metro built the DSTT, not ST. Metro’s also built plenty of P&R lots. Eastgate for example didn’t come cheap. Buses are all capital expenses as are the numerous bases required before they “can just drive”. And of course Metro maintains all of the trolley infrastructure. The difference is Metro is actually expected to provide service rather than having the luxury of spending millions dreaming up ways to spend money. ST has been around for decades now yet has very little to show for the billions it’s gobbled up.
I don’t know, ST’s express bus routes have been running for some time, and they seem quite popular to me…
As far as I can tell, ST is actually more popular than metro in most of the suburbs…
ST Express has done all the heavy lifting while Link has gobbled up most of the money. The billion dollar underground art museum for Beacon Hill gets what percentage of the number of people that get on the 550 at Bellevue TC every day? But ST doesn’t actually operate ST Express; it’s all contracted out (they don’t even operate Link for that matter). The 550 for example is just a Metro bus with a different color of paint. And that’s why I think it makes more sense to be talking about any additional taxing authority to be granted to Metro rather than ST.
The one advantage ST has is that they can easily fund routes that cross county lines. From a King County perspective, so what? From a Seattle perspective even more so. Sorry First Hill, no subway for you until light rail reaches Paine Field.
“ST Express has done all the heavy lifting while Link has gobbled up most of the money.”
ST Express has been a stopgap. It’s not a complete quality transit network no matter how you look at it. People voted for ST to eventually get high-capacity transit lines. And those are busily under construction. And the fact that ST won’t directly serve Leschi Park or Broadview doesn’t mean it’s not as effective as Metro; it just means it’s serving a different aspect of the mobility need — an aspect that has been neglected in Pugetopolis for way, way too long.
If the line is a bored tunnel, wouldn’t be easier to bore all the way to a portal near U Village, rather than to pull a boring machine in the middle of the U District? I’m not an expert on tunneling but it would also seem that going to U Village with the bores would be easier than boring an extension later.
That could be one of the suggestions to ST if the base project terminates at U-District.
1) Include a U-Village alternative in the EIS and investigate whether its cost would be comparable to extracting the TBM at U-District (which has little space and the public won’t be eager to extend the construction closure for several more years). North Link was originally going to surface at 63rd but they extended the tunnel to 95th because it was cheaper than going up-and-down weaving through freeway interchanges and pilings.
2) Complete the design to Children’s even if construction stops short this phase. This is analogous to the Federal Way situation and makes it shovel-ready in case funding for the extension is found.
My experience with hospitals, Overlake and Evergreen, is that the transit ridership generated is low to non-existent. UWHMC obviously being the exception but I wonder how much of the ridership on Pacific is actually a hospital rather than it being a University. Children’s provides free parking and it’s surrounded pretty much by single family housing. I’ve never seen hoards of people waiting along Sandpoint Way even with the Navy Station turned park. U-Village is also an automobile haven. When Metro gets off the dime and reroutes 520 buses like the 255 to transfer at Montlake for DT the plan is for them to continue north to turn around at Childrens. Seems like that will more than cover the transit needs for that area. If Magnuson Park ever becomes “a place” then it would make a wonderful turn around point.
Take a look at Harborview, Swedish, and UWMC sometime. Tons of staff, patients, visitors, volunteers, and med students take transit to them. Overlake and Evergreen may have low ridership because they’re in car-dependent areas, and the communties around them are used to driving everywhere. Overlake has so-called frequent buses but they give only a limited realistic transitshed north, east, and west. That leaves vast parts of the Eastside where taking a bus to these hospitals would be a 1+ hour 2-seat ride with sometimes half-hourly connections.
The surrounding density is much higher at both Evergreen and Overlake than Childrens. Very little area is served by a one seat ride to Childrens. I specifically said UWHMC is an exception but it’s hard to know how much of that would exist if it wasn’t a teaching hospital connected to the UW. All of the hospitals on Pill Hill are clustered in one of the densest areas of the City. Harborview is also part of UW and serves a large low income clientele. My wife has worked at Childrens and really, nobody rides the bus. Explain why it makes sense to tunnel and end a subway line there. Sounds a lot like a solution looking for a problem that you’re going to have to share with the folks grasping for a reason that Pronto should exist.
PS. I agree that U-Village is higher-need than Children’s. A U-Village terminus would solve the bottleneck problem it has with the U-District and west to Ballard. It would extend the high-volume travelling-all-the-time-but-not-in-my-car mobility west of 22nd to east of it. It would be a great boon to northeast Seattle riders, And if people have to transfer at 25th to a bus to Children’s, that will affect fewer people than anywhere else on 45th/Market.
Regarding hospital and transit use, here’s a Bellingham perspective – the city’s hospital, St Joseph, is tucked away, located near low density residential, a large park, and large open space stream buffers, with no major commercial areas nearby. The WTA up there has struggled for a long time with running buses to the hospital that aren’t empty, and have never ran them at more than 30 minute frequency.
Seattle Children’s is not nearly as bad a location as St Joseph in Bellingham, but there isn’t much nearby to fill trains, and the hospital itself won’t either.
The thing about Children’s is that they’ve signed an agreement with the city and the neighborhood to have no increase in parking spots while they more than double their staff over the next 20 years. They have a very aggressive program of getting workers out of their cars, including making parking on surface streets a firing offense if they catch you.
This is why they’re funding bus improvements and tons of bike improvements in the neighborhood. They have shuttles that run from satellite parking lots in other neighborhoods.
The demand from Children’s is not about patients, it’s about staff. They have nearly 6000 employees now (not all at this site), and they’ll be growing more. I think the potential demand from the hospital actually greatly exceeds that from U Village, which doesn’t have nearly enough density around it, and is only open certain hours of the day. If Children’s and U Village were close enough together for a single stop, that might work in terms of demand.
(Full disclosure: I live across the street from Children’s, and while I’d love a subway stop outside my door, I don’t think the demand comes close to justifying it.)
And, it just makes way more sense to run the 255 up to Childrens rather than fight it’s way DT when a transfer to U Link is a far better option. The Laurelhurst campus is 250 beds so I’m not sure how many of the 6,000 employees work there. And the nature of shift work, often with rotating schedules isn’t very conducive to taking transit. IIRC the Health Sciences Express doesn’t even loop up to Childrens.
It’s a really big complex, currently planned to go to 600 beds well before any subway line could get there (that’s from memory from all the outreach meetings they had before phase 1 of their expansion). They do have an administrative complex down the road on sandpoint, and I think a research campus in SLU and a much smaller clinic in Bellevue.
I don’t know about the 255, but with the NE restructure that Metro is doing later this month, there’s two different routes (75 & 65) that go every 15 minutes all day, right past Childrens and right past Husky Station. There’s another bus (the 78?) that will be more local service that the Laurelhurst Community Council demanded. All those buses will also go right by U Village, btw.
That’s in addition to being very close to the BG Trail and to the 39th Ave Greenway, and other pedestrian improvements that Children’s has funded in the nhd as part of their expansion agreement.
This is from the Master Plan document filed with the City in 2011. It was slated for completion in 2013 but I don’t know if it’s completed or not. The plan added 60-80 beds while removing twice that many residential units. Given the number of staff required per bed I’d bet this increases traffic demand but probably not much in excess of the parking being added. Whether it increases transit use vs the condos I hesitate to guess given that I don’t see Laurelhurst as being a transit dependent population.
Anyhow, it seems they’ve got pretty decent transit options that are already on track to improve dramatically with U Link. I’m willing to bet that a good percentage of the employees live on the eastside and with traffic and bridge tolls the 255 addition would probably generate some additionnal ridership.
That area near Children’s is ripe for increased development and density. Transit stops themselves don’t always have to be in the middle of a dense neighborhood initially or sometimes ever. If they offer a convenient focal point for transfers I think it’s perfectly fine for a transit station to exist in a less dense area.
For example, the Boeing Access Road station would have a major impact on our transit grid but will never see development in proximity. Stations near U Village and Children’s could provide a transfer point for bus lines coming off of 25th, 35th and Sandpoint. I’d even favor running the line up to the former Sandpoint Naval Station property which could be a gold mine for a super dense development and with a train, you reduce the need for massive additional street infrastructure. [And for all the handwringing about a OM base, you have acres of un-developed land]
Phase 1 is finished, but a lot of it is sitting empty. They’ll do phase 2 when they raise the money and/or see the need.
The area seems ripe for redevelopment, but do not put your money on it. The LCC is a powerful constituency, and they’re quite happy with the current SF zoning. The non SF zoned land around it is being filled in, so we’ll get some. But, a lot of the coming density is closer to U Village than to Children’s. There are no proposals to upzone anything, and the LCC is all in on preventing any real density at the former Talaris site.
And yes, you’d think that Sandpoint would be perfect for a wonderful mixed new neighborhood. But, it’s been 20 years, and they’ve managed maybe a few hundred low income units. No market rate, I don’t think. Still mostly empty and/or boarded up buildings.
The people in those low income units, btw, have to either own a car or get on transit if they want to go grocery shopping at anything other than the 7-11. It’s a long way out. The NE restructure will help a lot with that.
Magnuson Park is well, you know, a park. Gasworks would also be a great place for a trendy new development but don’t hold your breath. Magnuson like Discovery Park has made some limited use of existing infrastructure but for the most part it’s forever going to be public space. Most of the buildings were about ready to fall down, or burn down, by the time the Navy moved out.
It’s a park that has dramatically expanded in size since the Navy said we don’t want it any more. I like birds a lot, but the area where the commissary and PX were is now duck ponds. The world would be a more equitable place for both birds and people if we had sold that lot to private developers, built a neighborhood, and used the proceeds to buy wetlands elsewhere.
All that being said, remember the density of this hood when someone proposes extending this line out sandpoint and across the water to Kirkland: it’s a profoundly misguided idea.
Maybe but I’m pretty sure the deal was the land would be deeded to the City only if it was kept as public space. I doubt there will ever be any building close to the water. What might fly (certainly not the Corsairs dumped in Lk Washington) would be a large VA facility along Sandpoint Way. But most uses are restricted to trying to rehab the existing buildings.
But yeah, no matter what the Seattle Cubists want nothing along Sandpoint Way is going to see much in the way of up zoning in the foreseeable future. Nice views == big money.
Regardless of the affluent single family residential zoning just off of the corridor, the reality is very different than the perception along Sandpoint Way. The only single family housing actually on sandpoint way is the old “gated” Windermere development along the east side of the road. That runs from 60th street NE to 50th AV NE mear City Peoples.
From the north end of Magnuson Park all the way down to u village there is a is of commercial, institutional and multi family residential along Sandpoint way itself. Duplexes, triplexes, Condominiums, student housing,multiple affordable housing areas (MagnusonPark and another just north of the main Children’s Hospital campus), some scattered commercial use, and the Center for Spiritual Living. The federal archives facility just north of the Center is a large chunk of land that has potential for development.
Part of the misperception of this being a wealthy single family residential corridor is the roadway itself with little in the way of pedestrian amenities, two lanes in each direction with a planted median and limited parking. Redevelop the commercial, multi family, and some of the institutional facilities, run rail up the road median to Magnuson and you will have a corridor transformed with a wonderful regional park anchoring the end of it and transformative transportation access for the students, low income single parent families, and the multi family residential properties along the corridor and to the park.
Right, as long as you don’t count the major portion of Sandpoint Way from Magnuson all the way to Lake City. And ignore the sections that are unbuildable because of the slope and the fact that it’s the Burke Gillman ROW. As you’ve actually pointed out there’s precious little there and once you get one block either side there is nothing but single family housing.. Next I suppose we’re going to hear what a great connection there could be at Magnuson Park between light rail and foot ferries to Kenmore and Kirkland.
Besides explicitly talking only about the section of Sandpoint way from Magnuson south, I should have been clearer and explicitly said “the only single family residential from the north end of Magnuson Park south to U village”. That is where a potential line would run, I doubt that anyone would consider a line running north of Magnuson because of the issues you mention and I don’t believe anyone in these comments or elsewhere ever has suggested anything north beyond Magnuson.
Regarding foot ferries, I’ll rest easy knowing you will be quick to gnaw on the ankle of whoever does post anything about that.
I would have to look at the costs, but my guess is that ending at U-Village might make a lot of sense. As Mike said, it solves the congestion problem that is a problem getting to the Husky Stadium station. But more importantly, as Al said, it might be cheaper. If not, then I think you could probably improve things along Montlake Boulevard so that getting to Husky Stadium Station is really easy. It is a very wide road, just begging for a bus lane. With a little bit of work by the UW, you could easily get a bus to the Husky Stadium station very quickly.
As for Children’s, it is a decent station, but not a great one. It would definitely be worth serving with a stop, but not worth extending a line for (again, unless it was really cheap). Link doesn’t deviate to serve the V. A., even though it is obviously a major destination (and growing). With either a bit of work on Montlake Boulevard, or a new station by U-Village, a connection to Children’s would be great. Even without that, it will be very good (as good as bus service to the V. A.).
Extending a line even farther east is just silly (it is one of the least populated parts of the city).
Only in Seattle is putting a subway station where people actually want to go a “problem”.
“As Mike said, it solves the congestion problem that is a problem getting to the Husky Stadium station.”
I was mainly talking about the gap between U-Village and the U-District. Trips from 45th & University Way to U-Village, U-Village to Wallingford, U-Village to the E, U-Village to Ballard, etc. The hill, bottleneck, and lack of frequent buses cause people to avoid going to U-Village or to conversely avoid going to “the walkable neighborhoods”. It’s also hard for cars to get through that area sometimes, so even if you’re driving the relationship between the two areas is not as much as their proximity suggests it should. And that may be partly why northeast Seattle was built up so much later and missed the small-lot-and-bungalow-and-walkable-commercial-district wave, which is a lingering problem for us all, and contributed to University Village’s car-oriented suburban nature in its expansion.
If there was a way to link this to the 520 corridor to the Eastside, it could be a powerful linkage. I’m not sure how this could be done, but crossing 520 would complete a transit loop between Downtown Seattle and Downtown Bellevue using both I-90 and 520.
So you’d have two expensive lake crossings each with half the pathetic ridership? The chance to use the 520 bridge for rail has come and gone.
I could see how a rubber tired train could work with the 520 bridge, then turn north at Montlake to U Village and enter a tunnel that ends at Ballard or continues further west or north, for example.
Frankly, I don’t see how there would be many through riders at Ballard. SLU riders will transfer at Westlake rather than take a circuitous ride to the U District through Ballard for example.
Better idea, at UW, it then joins the existing tracks to downtown, and then the train continues on the East Link tracks to Redmond. A similar Redmond-Ballard idea was suggested on this blog a couple weeks ago. Same connection without the expensive bridge.
Grand idea except ST neglected to plan for it and now claims “can’t be done”. Of course that can be fixed but it’s unclear if ST refuses to acknowledge that because they don’t want to admit what a monumental screw-up it was or because they’re afraid of a UW/Ballard light rail project because it’s something that hasn’t been on their radar for 20+ years. It’s not spine destiny so forget about it.
As mistakes go, it was a big one, but probably not top ten for ST. A transfer really shouldn’t be a big deal: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/03/23/ballard-uw-downtown-link/
The bigger mistake related to this was not thinking about how the 520 buses are supposed to interact with Link. There is a brand new stretch of roadway that goes right over a brand new light rail tunnel, and there is no station. Oops. Now folks are getting creative, and suggesting we should build the Ballard to UW as a bus tunnel. I love me some BRT, but if there is one route in town that really should be a train, it is this one. I think you would quickly get to capacity with a BRT line, and wish it was rail.
Someone please tell me what the buses (255, 540, 542, 545, 556) are going to do after stopping for this deep dive station at the Montlake Exit and why that’s worth the hundreds of millions this station would have cost. It’s less than a 1/2 mile, 7 minutes walking, from Husky Stadium and the buses are exiting the freeway anyway. Is there something magical about the walkshed here that I’m missing?
The buses would exit on a new HOV exit to Roanoke, 10th, or somewhere around there, lay over, and head back via that same exit. Sure, it’s less than half a mile to Husky Stadium, but that half-mile is over a drawbridge with frequent huge traffic backups – so it isn’t so easy for the buses to head over there to let their riders make the same transfer.
So in addition to the hundreds of thousands for an underground station that does nothing but intercept buses, mostly peak only, add in another couple hundred thousand for direct HOV access ramps to a bus layover zone. And instead of ST buses (540, 542, 545, 556) taking people to stops between Montlake and the U District they’d layover and riders would instead walk down to catch Link, go .4 miles, walk back up to the surface and then either hike across campus or wait for another bus. Y’all are on board with this being worth the 1/2 billion or so it would have cost?
FWIW Vessel clearance for the Montlake Bridge is 46′, the most of any of the draw bridges between Lake Washington and the Locks. It’s not like the damn Freemont Bridge that is only 30′. Only a pretty damn big sailboat (like J35 or bigger) requires an opening and most boats of that size live out on the Sound. And an opening takes all of 4 minutes.
If buses could have a separated pathway to Husky Stadium, and a stop next to the station where people don’t have to cross a busy intersection, I’d be totally fine with it. As it is, though… how long does it take the 271 or 542 to slog through traffic on Montlake? And how long does it take people to get between the bus and the train?
It’s really an annoying situation. Really, its too short a distance to be really good as an additional station, but it’s also too far to be a really good transfer.
Just having the buses turn around at Montlake is one option I suppose, but there is also the possibility of having them run through there and down to SLU and maybe Lower Queen Anne. It gives another whole set of destination combinations possible that can’t happen with the existing arrangement.
Only other thing I came up with was a small diameter pedestrian tunnel running from the existing Husky Stadium station under the Ship Canal in a small diameter bore, and probably with a set of moving walkways to carry people the distance from the 520 Freeway bus stop to the Husky Stadium station. However, since the Husky Stadium station is awfully far from the majority of stuff on campus, that doesn’t really work that well either.
I’ve had the chance to play the Montlake game many times over the last couple of years as I’ve had Dr. appointments at the UW Medical facility on Roosevelt. Since it’s a teaching hospital my appointments have been anywhere from 8AM to 7PM. Not once has the bridge been a problem. There’s a bus lane on the right going north with a cue jump at the light. It’s more of a problem when the light is green. I’ve done it both on the 540 and using the 255. Using the 255 I’ve both transferred to 40 series buses at the flyer stop and hiked across the bridge. It’s not a big deal. I’d also add that those expensive flyer stops on the east side are a great place to transfer from a 255 to a UW bound ST bus (that seems to be about all they’re good for).
They are totally rebuilding that interchange so if they don’t make it even better for transit then that’s a huge design fail. But it’s hard to imagine a situation where it would be worse than being forced from up on the lid to a deep underground tunnel, wait for a train, get off the train before you even have time to find a seat, climb back up to daylight, still have to cross the street then go back down to the surface and wait for another bus. it sure seems like the best thing to do with those buses exiting 520 is to provide “star” service to/from Husky Station and use the 1/2 billion somewhere else.
It seems the consensus is that people will be excited to encumber the region with a sales tax increase for twenty-five years in order to complete Spine Destiny AND titillate the proles in Seattle with more subways.
Is that realistic?
While I agree wholeheartedly that ST should be told sternly to build for expansion lines where they are likely to be connected, fixing a plan which is like the thick mayonnaise on Halibut San Juan is foolish. The “No’s” are going to be howling about a $30 billion final cost. Can SoundTransit survive the rejection of a plan of this magnitude? It seems like putting all one’s eggs in a single basket.
“fixating on” not “fixing”.
Is it realistic to let Seattle’s transit problems fester? Employers want workers and customers to be able to get to their businesses in a timely manner.
I doubt you’re going to have issues getting support for a big plan in Seattle. There are so many low hanging fruit there that you can argue over what to prioritize. The problem is the rest of the ST sub-areas. Let’s look at East King (but other subareas are not that much different from what I know) – the only project that everyone likes is the East Link extension to Redmond. East King can probably chip in for the 522 route as well, but that’s cheap. What else will you build here that a majority is sure to support?
East King will pay for the 522 route because it benefits their subarea. North King would not build a BRT line from 145th to the Lake Forest Park/Kenmore border; it has too many larger transit needs. As for everything the suburban subareas are considering, that has been in a series of STB articles over past couple weeks.
I know what the suburban areas are considering. The problem is nothing there has much support – East King is the richest area outside of Seattle and, as I said, apart from the Redmond extension and 522, there’s no other project with solid support.Some (CKC) have active groups campaigning against it.
My point is that if you expand the package, you need to make sure it benefits as many people as possible.
There’s plenty of support on the eastside for 405 improvements. But the reading of the tea leaves says ST would rather build light rail from Totem Lake to Issaquah because their “mandate” is to build high capacity transit. Seems it doesn’t matter if nobody rides it as long as it has high capacity. Of course bus routes where people would be expecting actually results in a 3-5 year time frame are a lot more difficult than buying up exclusive ROW and plunking down stations with fictitious ridership that nobody can call you out on for 20+ years.
522 “BRT” is on the list because it will boost ridership on Link. If ST3 fails at the ballot box ST will at a minimum reroute buses anyway. Metro may have no choice given the capacity limitations of DT. Extending East Link to Redmond will also happen with just an extension of the ST2 tax authority. Once that “little secret” gets out there will be even less reason for eastside voters to double the tax take for the rest of their lives.
It will be interesting to see how many people at S. Kirkland try to squeeze onto the 540 instead of the 255 after U-Link opens. Both routes are standing room only at peak.
Well, there is the concept of a 520 Montlake infill station. When BART looked at something like that it looked like it would run $500 million. An awful lot of people on the east side would benefit from that.
I notice that the First Hill Streetcar has a number of non-level stations. So, the concept that the station must be absolutely level doesn’t seem to be true, even in Seattle.
“522 “BRT” is on the list because it will boost ridership on Link.”
522 BRT is on the list because ST has an obligation to provide regional transit to northeast King County. It’s not ready to build light rail there, so BRT is the next best step.
I applaud the fact no one (yet) has said this has to be light rail. But if ST was really all about it’s obligation to the people at the north end of the Lake BRT on 522 be a complete bidirectional line all the way to UW Bothell with a seamless connection to Express buses on 405. Since the majority of the ST taxing district will never have their primary need, which is commuting, served by light rail wouldn’t it at least be equitable to put 50% of the capital expenses into bus service even though it’s not as sexy as rail?
Bernie, up to now, East King has put most of its capital expenditures, and all of its operational expenditures into buses. Even before starting construction on East Link ST needed to upgrade I-90 with R8A and fixing the HOV ramps between I-90 and Bellevue Way.
I’m not in love with the idea of I-405 BRT. I don’t think it will be effective, nor well used. The direct access ramps at Eastgate, Totem Lake and NE 6th were worthwhile projects. Parking structures at Issaquah Highlands, Issaquah and Mercer Island were worthwhile (even though the MI project was botched). Are there any other bus projects on the Eastside that can get big gains for a reasonable price?
Not much if you discount incremental improvements on 405; something I can’t understand. I-405 is the transcontinental railroad of the eastside. Not exactly a project but way more service on routes that are already packed to the gills. I don’t know Renton well enough to give a “concrete” plan but the ask to move the TC seems reasonable. The entire HOV structure south of Bellevue needs a ton of work before HOT lanes can be implemented without the peasants revolting. Closer to home finishing the center HOV lane from 405 to Overlake. Not cheap would be HOV direct access 520 to 405. Flyer Stop at Houghton to make that P&R useful although that’s probably way down on the list in terms of bang for the buck. Direct access or flyer stop at 85th. I’m leaning toward direct access half diamond. Center access stop for Brickyard. Higher than Houghton but still maybe down the list. Big money needs to be spend north of 522 but I can’t give you specifics there either other than to say a Totem Lake style station is probably overdue at Beardslee. Then of course there’s the 522 projects. Have I spent my allowance yet?
It is a problem either way. The problem is the set of priorities. Extending the spine is a priority. It is actually one of the check box items on each report (up there with ridership, equity, etc.). This, along with other dubious or low performing projects (West Seattle to Ballard rail) puts us in a bind. We either slowly build things out of order, or quickly build things out of order. It is hard to say which is worse.
For example, if we only build Ballard to West Seattle light rail, we will spend a huge amount of money for something that doesn’t benefit the region that much. We will still need Ballard to UW rail, and the Metro 8 subway. What if neither of those are ever built? We will have one of the worst value systems in North America.
But if you add in one of those high value projects (like this) then overall the system isn’t such a loser. Yes, you have spent way more than necessary, but it is a pretty decent system. You still need the Metro 8 subway, but at least that is all you need, and it really shouldn’t be that expensive, as it could leverage part of this (and it could be built piece by piece). But the main thing is, even if that line isn’t built, this is probably still a better value overall.
From a political standpoint, I think you would come out ahead. Yes, the price tag will be shocking, but at least a lot of people will look at this and see how well it could work. Ballard to UW rail mean an improvement in transit mobility for the city north of the ship canal and west of I-5. That is a huge area with lots of people. That stands in contrast with West Seattle to Ballard rail, which will only benefit a sliver of the population (and only those headed along that sliver).
So, yeah, I don’t know if this will pass, but I doubt this will pass no matter how big it is. I think the suburbs will reject the spine. Seattle will likely pass anything, and maybe adding high value projects to an otherwise low value set is the key. Think of it like this:
Five bucks for French Fries? Hell, they aren’t even that good. What, oh, OK, I can get yummy onion rings thrown in for only fifty cents more? Why not — I’m hungry (really hungry).
It’s not widely discussed, but ST2 studies show that the heaviest rider loads are between Capitol Hill and Westlake. Having this line as a transfer relief line could be useful if the North Seattle passenger loads ever reach the demand shown in the forecasts. On the other hand, it could make overcrowding worse. More study of this issue is needed.
I just had a conversation with a coworker yesterday that illustrates this potential line’s utility. We work downtown and she just finished moving from Ballard to Shoreline – I asked what it meant for her commute and she said it actually got shorter. She can make it in ~20 minutes on a good day from Shoreline on I-5 (carpooling.) Ballard to Downtown was 30 minutes minimum. She also cited the difficulty in traveling to see family in south Seattle from Ballard. Again, the trip from Shoreline is faster and more reliable. The conversation got me thinking about some dear friends I have in Ballard that I rarely see since I moved to Beacon Hill. We may live in the same city but the route between our homes is so daunting we rarely see each other.
Or how about this conversation:
“Headed to the slopes tomorrow.”
“Ooh! Can I catch a ride?”
“Can you pick me up?”
“… err where do you live again?”
I definitely like the bullet point regarding removing buses from the Aurora corridor. This needs to be front and center of any promotions for ST3 to help sway the reflexively anti-transit SOV ostriches who can’t understand anything that doesn’t directly benefit their commute.
It is going to be extremely difficult for ST just to fit Ballard-DT-WS in a “Big” ST3 package. There simply isn’t going to be any room for Ballard-UW too, even if it made sense (and it doesn’t)
This is DOA
Can you explain, using numbers? To me, at least, it seems rather easy.
Plus, I’m seriously considering campaigning against any “Big” package that does not contain this line.
… so a “big” package without this might be just as dead at the polls.
Oh, so upthread you were criticizing UW-Ballard-Downtown-WS for costing too much, and now you’re supporting a comment saying that Ballard-Downtown-WS alone will cost that much?
This makes me think you’re either trolling, or grasping for any shred of excuse to oppose transit projects.
I’ve been consistent, ~8 billion for Ballard is too much. Whether WS is included is irrelevant. “There simply isn’t going to be any room for Ballard-UW too”.
As far as I’m concerned 4-5 billion for Ballard to DT is too much. I doubt it would pass muster on its on merits.
That’s for the ST board to study and give us price comparisons. We can’t exclude a line just because an amateur thinks it won’t fit into the budget. Let ST show how easily it can fit into the budget. Hint: there is no budget yet, or a definitive list of what projects will be in ST3, and if there’s no projects there’s no total cost, much less any idea how much spare capacity is available. Patience, there will be a system plan draft in March 24th, and it may or may not include Ballard-UW, or such oddities as Paine Field. Then we’ll be in a better position to say what’s in it, how much it will cost, and how much spare capacity there is to add a Ballard-UW line if it’s not there.
Beyond the fact the likely budget is much bigger than originally imagined, the total budget hasn’t even been decided yet… how can you already be sure this is outside of it?
Regarding the utility of it. I have no idea how you are still on the side of this not being an important line. You have clearly dug in on a position and can’t figure out how to dig out. Hint: Stop digging.
Voters are not going to say $20 billion is just peachy but $28 billion is too much. They’re going to look at how many populous areas it gives access to, how many of the region’s transit bottlenecks it alleviates, and whether it covers as many ridership markets as three freeways because that’s the approximate cost. That’s assuming the $8 billion figure is accurate, which it’s not. $8 billion is the approximate cost of UW-Ballard-downtown-DSTT2, not UW-Ballard alone. And the numbers floated so far are around a billion per year, so the 25-year scope the board is considering would be $25 billion, not $238 billion. And remember that the tax amount isn’t exactly the same as ST’s spending budget. ST also has the money it has saved up, carried over from ST2, federal grants, etc.
The UW line is a must-have. I would not hesitate to vote against a package that puts style over substance —even as someone who has worked hard for years to fight for ST3.
It happened with Roads & Transit and unless Dow Constantine and ST board get their act together it will happen with ST3, and they will have blown the chance of a lifetime to transform this region.
It will only be because of Constantine and the board’s inability to accurately scope budget and plan for the future and give their biggest supporters what they need.
By need you mean foot ferries? :=
I agree except for the “once in a lifetime” thing. I expect such talk if ST proposes crap (as I expect them to do) for ST3. “It is better than nothing — don’t let this fail like Forward Thrust — the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Nonsense. If it is crap, it should be rejected, and we should ask again (in a couple years) for something better. ST has had two failures, and both have happened fairly recently. I will vote for or against the ST3 package on the merits (and I expect it to be a very difficult decision) but if it fails miserably, one of the big possibilities is that the planning department will get their act together, and stop proposing (and chasing) crap. When they can’t figure out how many stations to put on a Ballard to UW line, or have trouble justifying a station at NE 130th, they have some serious problems, and a shake up is due.
“They” won’t change unless there is a fundamental change in the way the agency is run. That is to say, the appointed/anointed ST Board system is replaced.
@Bernie Nothing in the history of mankind suggests that elected officials are more responsive or smarter than appointed officials. Often, they are worse. Dow Constantine is case-in-point – King County Exec is an elected “accountable” role leading the ST Board, and yet … still seems content to run against the obviously winning “go big’ political move.
Electing the ST Board is just a ruse by Kemper Freeman to dismantle the future.
I don’t know that electing the ST board is the best solution; WSDOT is headed by appointed managers and despite the Republican lynch mob I think does a credible job given who they are accountable to. What we have no is broken and I’m open to suggestions on how to improve it. I whole heatedly oppose electing a representative board based on a number of small districts. There are too many cooks in the kitchen already and most of them couldn’t boil water. The Port of Seattle isn’t perfect but it does OK and when there’s a screw-up, if people care, it’s addressed in the next election. That’s a commission of five members overseeing a much greater range of projects and issues than ST. Of course the Port actually is their day job which is another problem with the hack job we currently employ.
I’ll throw this out for a starting point. ST board is five elected commissioners, one each from each of the three counties and two at large. If you think the current system is superior then articulate why. If you’ve got a better idea, “I’m all ears”.
A Ballard-UW line needs to go all the way to U-Village and Chidren’s Hospital. It would be stupid to stop it in the U-District. And I actually don’t think it needs to go downtown either. I’d rather it continue further west of Ballard.
A service yard would be the only issue of not interlining, which is a pretty big issue
It only needs to interline at one of the intersections, Ballard or UW. Or again, the trains on this line simply need to be able to access the main line to get to the service yard – the actual service routes doesn’t need to interline.
Agreed! But I think service west of Ballard & east of UW might be out of scope of the package. As long as the new stations are designed with further extensions in mind.
This line would be beautiful. Not only would we take a ton of surface vehicle traffic off the road, this would be great for pedestrians who are currently stuck walking up and down the hills on N 45th St and N 50th St every day.
Question out of curiosity. Has anyone considered what an elevated junction might look like here? Assuming that full undergrounding may not be possible for either Ballard line, would anyone here be against an idea like this? If any savings from daylighting the tail of Ballard-UW line for example could be used to extend tunneling say to U Village or make the additional stop at 8th Ave NW more likely, would that make it more useful overall? A bridge into Ballard may not be ideal for many folks here but the possibility is real. I doubt most folks though, would want to transition from underground to elevated stops though either, seems burdensome. Anyway, just curious.
Maybe I’m wrong but I’d bet Ballard would finally secede if elevated rail was proposed
A lot of people in Ballard want good transit connections to the rest of the region and don’t care as much if it’s elevated. The monorail passed the ballot several times and it was elevated. And now even more people have moved into the new apartments and condos and want to walk to high-capacity transit even if’s elevated.
Secession seems a bit extreme to me SeaStrap. I would think the connections would be more important as Mike suggests. I do think though that perhaps an option like this should be floated to ST for study especially if the potential for expansion can be better accomplished.
I’m hoping both of you are correct, and Ballard nimbys don’t take up all the space in the planning
I agree SeaStrap. You will always have NIMBYs though. So long as the solution isn’t at grade I would think Ballardites would be ready for a robust discussion about all their options.
At-grade is impossible because 45th isn’t wide enough for center tracks and two car lanes, not to mention the hills such as the west side of Phinney Ridge. I can’t see elevated as likely because of the limited space and a lot of actvities filling it. If the Chicago El had been built here a century ago, then yes, but it’s not likely on 45th now. This alignment is about the best argument for underground anyway. Especially since it could zigzag under the streets and reach both Fremont and Ballard while maintaining respectable travel time. (Not that this option seems to include downtown Fremont, but it could.)
I agree Mike. I’m not talking about a full on elevated option, just at the tail as its coming out of Phinney Ridge. There is no way any solution other than underground works for the vast majority of that alignment. I’m speaking strictly for the Ballard end and that a surface tail is an obvious nonstarter.
I think it’s important for folks to push both for Ballard to UW, in whatever fashion you prefer, AND improvements to the 44 corridor. Both are needed, and the RR+ improvements will save some time for everyone in the interim
I saw in earlier drafts (by Sound Transit) of a Ballard-UW Line that included Fremont. Should a subway along NE 45th be included in ST3, Fremont is definitely worth the deviation. Additionally, an ideal line would include these stops:
EB: 15th Ave NW, 8th Ave NW, Aurora, Fremont, Wallingford, U-District, U-Village, Children’s
You want to add 24th Ave NW long before you add U-Village or Children’s.
As for the Fremont deviation, that is really the only controversial part of this line. I can see it both ways. Upper Fremont (the Zoo station) is much better for connecting buses. Lower Fremont is better for walk up passengers. I personally favor the Zoo, just because I think it would lead to more time savings (more people will get there via those buses than the buses and walk up passengers to Fremont). Lower Fremont is good, but has its weaknesses. Partly it is the water, and partly it is the hill. You just won’t have the kind of ridership that you will in say, parts of Ballard (such as 15th or 24th). The key is provide good bus service from Fremont to rail, and there are a number of ways of doing so. All you really need to add is a bus run up Fremont Avenue. Then you have buses going west (to 8th), east (up Stone to Wallingford) and north (straight up Fremont). Since lower Fremont is spreading outward quite a bit, I could see a lot of people taking each variation.
‘Currently over 550 buses cross every day.’
over 12 hours, that’s less than one a minute.
Right now I can walk down Sunset Hill, hop on one bus and end up the the U District. It ain’t perfect, but it sort of works.
Am I really better off if this turns into a walk to a bus, wait to transfer to a train and then go the the U District? Of course, this only after a decade of tearing up the roads and screwing up traffic and probably staggering cost overuns.
Not to mention the huge, billion-dollar plus infrastructure that can never be modified to accommodate shifting populations.
Bus routes can be, and are, shifted by a phone call.
“Am I really better off if this turns into a walk to a bus, wait to transfer to a train and then go the the U District?”
Yes. Depending on what bus you are taking (48? 44?) I’d bet you’ll save anywhere from 15-40 minutes on your journey. Less time is a good thing. Less time is a good thing. Less time is a good thing.
“Not to mention the huge, billion-dollar plus infrastructure that can never be modified to accommodate shifting populations.”
That’s what we’re trying to do, here, by building the train. You saw field of dreams, right? If you build it, they will come.
“Bus routes can be, and are, shifted by a phone call.”
That is a problem.
Sounds like the perfect campaign slogan for ST3. Much catchier than we don’t have a clue who’d use it but someday someone might. And besides, we’ve got all this taxing authority and every other transit need is already covered.
Flexibility is a problem for buses?
Routes and stations are so very 19th century, as is light rail. In a few years, transit will be random access and on demand. Probably just after we bury ten billion dollars in the ground.
It’s not for you on Sunset Hill in particular. It’s for the tens of thousands of people who travel east-west between around 40th and 60th every day. You in Sunset Hill will still have the 45 to the U-District (as the 48 will be split to in three weeks). If you choose you can go down to Market Street and take Link, but you won’t have to. The 44 may be deleted if the line has enough stations (the map above doesn’t), but the 45 will certainly remain, and doubtless the 31/32 on 40th.
Depending on where you are, it could be much faster. For example, it takes about a half hour for the 48 to get from 15th and 85th to the U-District. It is less than ten minutes from there to Market. The train ride would be ten minutes at most, which means that even counting a transfer, you will save a considerable amount of time. But more importantly, it extends your range. You happen to be close to 85th, so you take the 48. Great — but that is the only bus north of the 44 that gets to the U-District. Meanwhile, there are a ton of buses that go east-west. For example, if you are at Ballard High School and want to get to the UW, you have to take the D Line anyway. If you are anywhere between 85th and Market, you are in the same boat. So while the 48 wouldn’t go away, and still might be the bus of choice for some (like you) way more people would head south, then over, to get to the UW.
It isn’t just about going to the UW, either. Capitol Hill is much faster and even downtown is faster. The D-Line is pretty fast, but it still takes about a half hour to get downtown, whereas going via the train takes less than twenty. Even with the transfer (and even with another transfer in the U-District) it makes sense, especially if you are going to another part of downtown (or any other part of Link). The only place where the fast bus might beat a train transfer is if you are headed from Phinney Ridge to South Lake Union or Belltown. The E Line would probably beat any combination of trains. Likewise with a trip from Ballard to Lower Queen Anne — you are better off taking the D Line. but for most trips, the Ballard to UW subway would save a considerable amount of time (often it would be faster than driving).
“The D-Line is pretty fast”
That’s the first time I’ve ever heard somebody say that.
The fact that Totem Lake to Issaquah with no stop in downtown Bellevue is on the table and Ballard to UW is such an uphill fight is nuts. Ballard to UW has been in the long term plan for decades. Improving bus service is a fine thing to do, but 45th is always going to be a crawl. The growth happening in the U District and Ballard combined with the network effects of intersecting lines in the busiest, most congested region outside of downtown make this a slam dunk of a route. If not now, when, and why not now?
Of course ST sound be planning for a world-class transfer at U District Station. ST’s unwillingness to spend even minimal effort enabling their own long term plan is mind-boggling.
Would Wallingford be willing to upzone to help justify the investment? I rather like Wallingford as it is, but some growth is already in the pipeline and a lot more may be necessary for a subway to pencil out. A few towers might be a good thing if they were sufficiently transit-oriented. The views would sure be great up on the unnamed “Wallingford Hill”.
The only way to construct such a line is as a subway, and subway stations are expensive and pretty disruptive to construct. Realistically, there wouldn’t be enough stations to eliminate the 44 or any future BRT in that route. And, therefore, the investments we are already planning in that corridor would not be a waste.
Children’s Hospital would make a logical eastern terminus, but routing an elevated line through Laurelhurst doesn’t sound easy and wouldn’t be super cheap, and U Village is sufficient to get past the biggest bottlenecks. U Village has a huge number of employees, and connects to a lot of bus routes heading north as well as east. And UW is currently envisioning massive expansion in this area of campus, by the time such a line would be constructed: https://pm.uw.edu/cmp/news
I’m willing to entertain a transfer in Ballard or through-routing to downtown. Anything that gets us a Ballard-UW line we so’ve desperately needed for decades already.
I’d be willing to sacrifice the lower-priority line to West Seattle (which does also deserve better transit) to get it, but that isn’t happening.
What is this going to take? Is there any active opposition?
I agree with most of your statements. A couple things, though. If you want to talk extension, then we should talk extending to the west before east (24th NW).
>> Realistically, there wouldn’t be enough stations to eliminate the 44 or any future BRT in that route.
I disagree. Put in the stations as proposed (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ballard-Spur.png) and you don’t need the 44. Which doesn’t mean that buses don’t travel on that corridor, its just that they don’t travel very far. The funny thing about the current routing is that it really needs very little in the way of tweaking. Every major bus route goes right by a station. Just eliminate the 44. The 16 goes on 45th, connecting Stone Way with Meridian, thus filling in the biggest hole.
“Would Wallingford be willing to upzone to help justify the investment?”
Do you have to ask? The answer is no. Wallingford is still concerned about its one-story buildings, single-family lots one block from 45th, and parking lanes. It recognizes that some upzoning and reconfiguration is inevitable, but it’s not inclined to accept more than minimal. There are residents who want more density, and some who might be swayed to support density for a subway, but not the majority of the neighborhood. It’s the same way all over Seattle, which is precisely why we don’t have Vancouver-like station areas. That could change in the future as residents get more enlightened, but Wallingford won’t necessarily be the first neighborhood to change its mind.
What is essential is a line to West Seattle, White Center and further south. These areas are anemic in terms of transit offerings. West Seattle is the fastest growing neighborhood IN THE NATION. And yet it still gets only a passing mention in transit/transportation planning in favor of neighborhoods to the north.
By what metric? In terms of both percentage and absolute growth it’s dwarfed by South Lake Union and Belltown and that’s just Seattle. But growth is far less important that actual density at which West Seattle is pretty much on par with the rest of Seattle’s single family oriented neighborhoods. Add in that it’s on an isolated peninsula (maybe that has something to do with the anemic transit offerings?) and “essential” seems to be a real stretch.
Inner southeast Division Street in Portland is replacing great gobs of single family homes and single level businesses with four floor retail + residential mixed use buildings.
Places along Highway 99 in Shoreline are doing similar developments, though with more space devoted to parking lots.
West Seattle is changing, but I just don’t see that level of change happening there.
Just FYI, people, add up the ST money spent for what we have, money committed for what they have planned and the money they are looking for future planning and the total is closing in on SIXTY BILLION DOLLARS. Now go back to what was promised in 1997 for a little over TWO billion. We have a little more than HALF of the proposed line and LESS than 60% of the projected ridership. People buying into big promises and then paying WAY WAY WAY more for foolish decisions and fools-paradise dreams — and then voting again and again. ZERO accountability. Absolutely amazing.
I wholeheartedly agree! The board should be using this kind of criteria for making their decision: (1) Existing demand; (2) What can the route do for customers; (3) Capital cost per estimated riders served (caveat: ridership estimates are the softest of all); (4) Annual operating & maintenance costs.
Let’s apply this criteria to two project proposals, Ballard/UW (C-02) and Everett/Paine Field (1A).
1. Ballard: buses have been backed between these two destinations for at least 4 decades. Paine Field: mass transit services were drastically cut in 2003 from the south, never restored, and significantly reduced from the north around 2010, very little brought back.
2. Ballard: is a fast-growing residential *and* employment center. This line would offer Ballard residents a fast way to go north on light rail, i.e. Ballard to U District to points north, as well as those working in Ballard who live in the north a way to commute there via light rail, i.e. points north to U District to Ballard. Paine Field: the south leg will duplicate existing BRT service. The entire line will tack on an extra 26 minutes per day of commute time for riders from central Everett and points north.
3. Ballard: $2.9-$3.1 billion. Paine Field: $4.6-$4.9 billion. Cost in one year per estimated rider: Ballard $649.12; Paine Field $453.17. Ballard is higher due to a tunnel being involved, but it clears significant vehicular traffic on the surface streets, e.g. 45th. The Paine Field diversion has no such benefits.
4. Ballard: $17.16 million. Paine Field: $83.42 million. Comparatively speaking, Ballard is a bargain.
5. Completes the spine: Sound Transit will claim that the Paine Field extension does, which is stretching it, for it does so in an indirect way and at a huge additional capital cost that keeps money from other projects, duplicates other transit service-some of which is “high capacity” and significantly less expensive (BRT), and inconveniences thousands of people from central Everett north whose commutes take them south of 128th while disenfranchising residents who live closer to I-5 north of there.
For #1, I meant to write “packed,” not “backed”!
Your price comparisons aren’t quite right, since the price estimate include Paine Field, Lynnwood & Everett, and not just Paine. A better cost to use would be the difference between Everett via 99 versus Everett via Paine, since that’s how much Paine service would really cost.
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