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Tonight the Kirkland City Council is planning on voting to ratify a letter that, among other things, contains the following statement.

“If light rail on the Cross Kirkland Corridor is included in the ST3 package, Kirkland would have to oppose the ballot measure.”

The Council’s opposition to light rail is a tactic to try and force Bus Rapid Transit, which is extremely unpopular among Eastsiders. To be be fair the situation isn’t helped by early Sound Transit Study work that Seattle Subway has been trying to improve since 2014. Yesterday Zach took it a step further and suggested an incredible Eastside network, which should be the starting point for any Eastside transit discussion moving forward. This is what the City Council should focus on implementing.

However, due to their opposition to light rail and pressure from anti-transit homeowners near the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC) the Kirkland City Council is planning ask Sound Transit to spend $250 million on trail improvements while completely punting on transit until ST4.

Let’s be clear, there will be no ST4. Once the spine is completed, there will be no major projects left for the suburban subareas. This is the last regional package from Sound Transit as we know it.

So the Kirkland Compromise of punting on transit until the next regional vote is no compromise, it is capitulation.

If you live, work or play on the Eastside, please show up and let the Kirkland City Council know you want a rail extension in ST3.

Kirkland City Council Meeting
Tuesday 3/15, 7:30 PM
Peter Kirk Room
123 Fifth Avenue
Kirkland, Washington 98033

Show up and be heard – the fate of ST3 could hang in the balance. If you can’t make it, please send email comments to and the Kirkland City Council and to the entire Sound Transit Board, or email Eastside Boardmembers Balducci, Butler, and Marchione. Tell them you want new rail connectivity to Kirkland, and that you don’t want intra-Eastside politics to jeopardize Link to Everett, Tacoma, Ballard, West Seattle, or a second Downtown Transit Tunnel.

104 Replies to “Action Alert: Kirkland City Council to Vote to Oppose Light Rail This Evening”

      1. I’ll paraphrase as I don’t like releasing things without permission. Essentially she said I made some good points in my email and CC’d the rest of the council. I’d expressed concern with the discourse on the matter being dominated by a very small constituency to the detriment of the other 80K residents of the city. And mentioned that engagement with existing transit users was negligible (e.g. no flyers or posters or anything at major Kirkland transit areas such as Kingsgate).

        Our subdivision actually abuts the CKC just a bit north of the Totem Lake business district and the HOA owns a significant amount of “unusable” land (due to slope/slide issues) next to it. I’ve gotten good mileage just from my location on this issue both on trail and rail issues. :-)

      2. >I’ll paraphrase as I don’t like releasing things without permission.

        By emailing you back from their account their response was automatically made a matter of public record per the Public Records Act. The WA legislature preemptively gave you permission to release the response.

    1. Just sent an email myself. I live in Kenmore, but just barely, and to get just about anywhere we need to go (including work for my husband), we pass through Kirkland. Congestion has just gotten crazy in the past few years. We can’t give up this chance to relieve it.

  1. “There will be no ST4”.

    That is a ridiculous statement. There are a lot a good projects that won’t be funded in ST3: West Seattle-Burien, UW-Ballard, maybe a lake city/522 project, Tacoma mall and Everett college extensions, heck even Issaquah.

    Seattle subway is headed in the right direction with its advocacy, but don’t use hyperbole to argue for Kirkland to wake up and join the rail network.

    1. there’s no constituency for those things. After the spine, the suburbs won’t have any reason to vote for the package because they’ve already got their airport connection.

      the only path forward after ST3 for seattle is to fund additions ourselves either via a TBD or by getting the state legislature to modify the regional transit agency enabling legislation to allow subareas to fund themselves.

      1. I live in the suburbs and in Kirkland to boot. The Airport connection has nothing do with my transit voting and doesn’t with the other thousand people who ride the bus every morning from my Park and Ride. A quick an efficient trip to downtown Seattle and Bellevue does, all things that in a properly tailored package could be used to back a package in a way to benefit both Seattle and the suburbs (e.g. HCT on 520, Sand Point Crossing, LRT on 522)

      2. There’s more to a good transit network beyond connecting the suburbs to an the airport. People are going to want more from their transit network as it grows and the overall utility increases.

        Seattle Subway has been saying “this is it” for a while, and those of us who have followed transit life for a few years know this call to action is humorously untrue. ST3 promises to solve many of today’s issues, but it cannot solve all of them*. In 2008, when we voted yes on ST2, nobody ever proclaimed ST2 as the end. We knew things would change and boy have they. In 2024 when ST2 is done and ST3 is underway, old and new issues will emerge just as they’ve done over the last 8 years, then we’ll consider the next package just as we’re doing today. While politicians will have a completed spine and “nothing” appears to be left, there’ll be much work to* as our region explodes with growth. Hard to get excited anymore when folks proclaim “this is the end” as ST3 is just the 3rd step up our giant ladder of great transit.

        *Aside from BTR’s list of projects, we’ll certainly need more than one Lake Washington rail crossing which won’t be funded in ST3. Or closing the rail gap between Bellevue and Lynnwood. Or Sounder to Marysville and Dupont. Or a ton of other projects and needs all over the place to improve bus performance. Or development of LRT systems not associated with Spine Link (thinking Everett and Tacoma LRT). Then finishing the stuff that wasn’t included for construction in ST3. There’s still a huge list of items for ST4 even as we plan for ST3 today.

      3. “In 2008, when we voted yes on ST2, nobody ever proclaimed ST2 as the end.”

        ST2 did not fund Link to Tacoma Dome and Everett Station. Those are the milestones that Pierce and Snohomish are panting over and jumping around in circles until they get approved, and threatening to oppose any measure that doesn’t include them. South King is panting about Federal Way. East King is panting about a tiny extension to Redmond, and beyond that can’t find anything to pant about (although the Issaquah mayor is panting about an Issaquah line). Even though Tacoma and Everett say they want the termini at Tacoma Mall and Everett CC, if they get it to Tacoma Dome and Everett Station they’ll probably look at the further extensions differently, as nice to have rather than “MUST HAVE COOKIES!!!” If they think their remaining projects are just “nice to have”, it will be harder to put together a coalition for what Seattle still critically needs (45th and Lake City).

      4. @ Zach– Don’t forget after ST3, ST will have a lot of revenue coming in and no capital program. There won’t be a need for TBDs or the like because all ST will have to do is propose an extension vote similar to a levy renewal.

      5. Snohomish County: Line to Marysville, Everett to Bothell
        Eastside: Lake City Way, and Bothell to Kirkland
        Seattle: lines to Lake City, Denny Way, White Center & Burien
        South King: Ultra-frequent South Sounder, Auburn Valley to I-5 corridor, Burien to Renton
        Tacoma: Tacoma Link to University Place and Lakewood, light rail rail to PLU & Spanaway, more sounder to JBLM

        So, yeah, there is plenty for a future ST4, for everyone to get excited about

      6. railcan: The extension vote is what we’re talking about; it will be harder to get when Tacoma and Everett are secured. They may want to spend a little more but not billyuns and billyuns.

        Donde: We may be excited about those things, but are the subareas? Also, Marysville is outside the ST district and would require external funding.

    2. Yes. Of course there will be an ST4. What, you think after ST3 the network will be finished and the regional light rail network will be complete forever?

      Yes, saying there will be no ST4 is hyperbolic and very dishonest.

      My prediction is that the ST3 vote will go similarly to ST2, that is, it will fail in November 2016, and after reducing it somewhat (Since Kirkland doesn’t want light rail, Kirkland light rail will be the first to go), they will put out an ST3.1 vote probably next year. But that one will be at a disadvantage because it’s not a general election year.

      When ST4 comes around in 2020-2024 (possibly after East Link Blue Line launches), they will have a better idea of whether they want light rail or not. It will also give ST the chance to do this thing right and get light rail joined at the Mercer Slough, so the Issaquah-Seattle transfer can happen at South Bellevue.

      1. I bet it won’t. The first ST2 vote in 2007 was tied to billions in road construction, and primary reason voters gave for their no vote was the large road component. ST3 has near-zero roads and will be voted upon during a presidential election; both should help passability.

        For a refresher, here’s the old 2007 measure and map of projects. A reminder green = roads and blue = Link LRT. The blue lines sure look familar.

      2. Remember odd numbered years tend to have low turnout and a more conservative electorate. Especially in years the Seattle mayor’s office and King county executive aren’t up for a vote.

        2016 is a presidential election and therefore will have the most turnout and most transit friendly electorate.

        From a demographic perspective it is the best chance until 2020.

      3. If ST3 is large, I can’t see another vote until we’ve had time to absorb it, so 2024 or 2028 at the earliest. And if the legislature grants no more tax authority, it would have to wait until the ST3 bonds are substantially paid down, which will happen after ST3 finishes, which for a 25-year plan would be 2041. If ST3 is small, then there might be more appetite for ST3 sooner, perhaps 2024 or less likely 2020. But two small packages would just be the size of one big package, not more, and they’d be worse because they’d postpone the starting point of projects and studies by several years.

      4. As background, ST was structured for the immediate problem at the time, which was perceived as transit between Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma. The suburbs asked for a joint-voting mechanism to ensure that it wouldn’t build Seattle first and leave the others behind (or leave the others without if construction did not continue past the first phase). Subarea equity obliges ST to disclose how much of each subarea’s revenues benefit that subarea (where ST can define what “benefit” means), and ST1 and 2 went further to require all money from a subarea to benefit that subarea. The equal tax rate across all subareas is not just because of that, but based on an “equal representation” principle: that it’s illegal to tax different parts of a taxing district at different rates. This all works fine if everyone agrees that Seattle-Redmond-Everett-Tacoma is the goal and largest-cost chunk, and the powers that be do even if some transit fans don’t. But it breaks down when that all-subarea goal is met because each subarea wants a different amount of things and has different levels of enthusiasm for them, so it leads to an imbalance, but ST# only succeeds if all subareas are gung-ho about it and agree on the tax rate. So after ST3 it may be time to restructure ST into multiple tax districts with multiple boardlets so that each subarea can do its own thing on its own schedule and tax rate. But that depends on the legislature allowing such a restructure. And asking the legislature to change the structure runs the risk that it’ll disband ST, rob the tax authority for highways, impose free P&Rs for all, etc.

      5. ST4 is unlikely to happen because lots of people on the board would have no reason to make it happen. If ST3 is small, Snohomish and Pierce borrow money to get what they want. In order for them to want to advance ST4 out of committee death they would have to want to tax themselves purely to pay for stuff in Seattle and Bellevue, when they already have what they want. Also bear in mind that whatever deals get made, the electeds that made them will likely be gone by the time these decisions are made. So handshakes wont mean a lot.

    3. I predict that ST4 and subsequent referenda will be done differently if the legislature enables that. Either the vote will be by subarea so that North King would pass ST4 for its own internal projects, or ST4 will be part of a larger transit strategy involving all the transit operating agencies rather than just ST by itself. Frankly, I wish ST3 was done in one of these two ways.

    4. If there is no ST4 then my guess is Seattle voters will have a hard time voting for it. Folks are tired of things being built out of order. First a line to the airport before the UW. Now it is likely that West Seattle light rail will be built before UW to Ballard. It most certainly will be built before a Metro 8 subway. But if you are basically saying “we are done’, then you are taking away the strongest argument for ST3. It is one thing to say “sure, it is out of order, but eventually we get all that”. It is another thing to say “that is probably all we will get”.


        it’s easier to get *region-wide* support for a line which goes to a *mixed-use* district which has jobs, shops, and homes, than for a line which goes to an all-residential district.

        It should be obvious why. Even if you live in Tacoma, you might want to go to shops or restaurants in Ballard, and so you might vote for a Ballard rail extension.

        On the other hand, you’ll never go to an all-residential neighborhood unless you personally have friends there. And the shopowners and factory owners don’t consider any particular residential neighborhood important enough to vote for a rail connection there.

        So if you want a VIRTUOUS CYCLE where each rail expansion leads to calls for additional rail expansion… you need MIXED-USE DISTRICTS.

        That is an important political point, I think.

      2. Precisely right, Ross. To get out ahead of this, ST should have a set of plans stating this is what we envision over time, incrementally, so those who feel they get nothing out of ST3 still have a reason to vote for it (we’re next, and that won’t happen until this first thing is done, so let’s support it). They have not done that, and so if you live in Lake City, or the CD, or Bothell, or any one of a number of other places worthy of service in time but not on the “what’s next” map for now, you aren’t wrong to believe that you will never get that service.

        ST’s grab-bag list of study options is just that, not a statement of intent. They really should come out with a proposed system plan (with the caveat that it is subject to tweaking so that certain people don’t shout “but you promised a station RIGHT HERE and now it’s 10 blocks away!). Tell us what we can expect next, even if it’s in a fairly generic way. People will respond to that at the ballot box. Right now it is so nebulous that if you’re not right on that ST3 map who knows when they might get to you.

        Once people see what is to come, you may even see pressure to get things done faster. Anecdotally, groups of people whom I work or advocate with, who would not seem to be transit people, are already complaining that they want their train and ST is going too slow. While they rarely understand why that is, put the carrot out there and see the support grow. Otherwise you run the serious risk of getting “meh, I won’t use this and it’s not coming here, so why do I want to pay for it?” Unfortunately not everyone is a big-picture transit wonk who knows these things.

    5. BTR,

      But here’s the thing, only Ballard-UW on your list is really “a good project”. As Ross makes clear, the others end up in places where the residents moved there because they don’t like “urban villages”. They will not permit their pretty little suburban mall downtowns to become urban centers. It just isn’t going to happen.

  2. ST should simply allot each district 2-3 billion and say spend it wisely. 3 billion for Ballard, 3 for WS/Burien, 3 for Eastside, North and South, 3 for Bothell/LCW and etc. As long as the funds are for HOC and designs don’t screw up future connectivity to Link so be it. Otherwise a district like Kirkland can wreck havoc on a ST3 or a Ballard can be over indulged with excessive funds.

  3. This notion that the Kirkland City Council is anti-transit will come as news to anybody who’s paid attention over the last year. They are more interested in looking for something that works than something to pad the subarea math.

    I’ll note too that the Council never caved to the aggressive rhetoric of the homeowners, which is precisely why you saw the homeowners taking their case directly to the Board.

    1. Agree, the city’s suggestion of BRT is quite reasonable given the geography and likely ridership.

      1. Yeah, Kirkland is showing great leadership in proposing something that their transit experts (and my guess is most transit experts) believe make sense. Does anyone on here believe that BRT can’t handle the job? The estimates are for only around 5,000 people a day (Madison BRT will likely carry three times that). Is this suddenly going to be hugely popular, and carry 50,000 once it switches over to rail (and has fewer stops). That is absurd. Kirkland is a very low population density area. The leaders of Kirkland know this, and they want to propose something appropriate, that leverages the existing (cheap) pathway. Even if the pathway magically picked up every popular place in Kirkland it still wouldn’t make sense to add rail there.

      2. I don’t think anyone is actually arguing the utility of BRT here, but more the political ramifications of a voting electorate that won’t have its transit appetite satiated by anything less than rail.

      3. Chris,

        The problem is that the property owners would be even more foaming-at-the-mouth if diesel buses were to be running down “their” trail. Yes, hybrids are quieter than simple diesels, but they’re not silent.

        And buses are inherently somewhat more dangerous for trail users. Perhaps self-guiding ones can be obtained for use in the corridor but that increases the price significantly.

      4. I think by the time the bus lanes go into service, KCM and ST will have all-electric buses that can handle those routes.

    1. You clearly live in some kind of bizarre alternate reality that is nothing like our own.

      Unless that comment was sarcastic.

      1. No, he’s a troll. He says contrarian things just to annoy us. It’s hard to believe that anyone would seriously hold such knee-jerk, overgeneralizing, inconsistent positions, so therefore he can’t be serious and we can’t tell what he really believes. Sometimes he does ask honest questions or make reasonable observations, but not most of the time.

      2. Sam is most definitely a troll. He’s one of the most mild-mannered examples of the species I’ve ever encountered, which is, I suppose, why he hasn’t been banned (most trolls are banned as soon as they are identified).

    2. Well, Sam, glad to see ST has finally put in enough tracks that the Sounder won’t get stuck behind oil trains anymore. Though the accountants really need to look at all that real estate the Agency has cleared and leveled. Nobody knows what the market will do.

      Either that, or the picture is showing that ST has now brought Ellensburg into its service area. Though I’m a little steamed that now LINK is getting preference over all those Russian trolleybuses I just bought from Crimea, and all the attractive Russian stewardesses too!

      Thanks for cluing us in, because now I can get with immigration so ST can hire drivers- bet some of them really can drive trolleybuses to Ellnsburg!- and passenger information people who speak a language quite common on the East Side.


      1. The truly ironic thing is that the Katy Freeway is named after Katy, TX, which is named after the “M-K-T” or the Missouri-Kansas-Texas RAILROAD.

        All those commuters could have been on the railroad which already existed, and was *demolished with the freeway built on top of it*. Four tracks would have moved the same number of people and goods as the 26 lanes.

  4. Is full light rail (which, in the case of Sound Transit, is anything but “light”) really necessary for Kirkland? It’s really a last-mile problem. Wouldn’t something like a Kirkland Streetcar or something suffice, with partial mixed traffic and partial dedicated ROW, which can feed into light rail at Bellevue?

    1. Alex, I think the streetcar idea is pretty much what Zach has in mind for Kirkland itself. Next “click” I’ll ask Zach if that’s right. I hope so.


      1. A Kirkland streetcar would be stuck in traffic for most of its trip. If you want anything useful in Kirkland, you’d either need to expand one of the streets (and basically raze a whole row of (very expensive) houses to add transit lanes or build a tunnel. Kirkland waited too long to want transit in DT Kirkland, so now it’ll be expensive.

  5. I have a modest suggestion for anybody from out of town who is visiting Kirkland this evening.

    Take the 255. But not to the nearest stop on Market St. Or the downtown TC.

    Get off the 255 at 6th St S and 5th Ave S. You’re about a hundred feet from where the rail station would be. (Yes, it’s not Zach’s proposal, it is ST’s proposal. That’s what Kirkland City Council needs to respond to, so deal with it).

    Walk said 100 feet north, and look around.

    Then walk to City Hall. Note as you go how separated your stop is from downtown by single family homes, mostly new and not going anywhere for a generation.

    And when you’re done explaining how Kirkland needs a train, walk back so you get the full uphill experience. Then let us know how transformative you think this transit access will be.

    1. Modest suggestion Dan – stop being disingenous about features of a rail line no one is advocating for.

      Both the Subway article and Zach’s article advocate for rail directly to DT Kirkland.

      1. But ST would only do LRT on the CKC with no deviation. And it’s not like Zach’s idea is perfect or supported by everyone either.

      2. Dan is just stating the facts. He makes a great point.

        The City needs to deal with what ST is proposing, not some last minute proposal that completely ignores geography, ridership numbers and an incredible high cost (this project already is the highest per user and now you want to add a tunnel?).

      3. If I’m understanding Zach correctly, and if he’s reading this I’m asking him, the equipment he’s proposing are the size of the South Lake Union Streetcar, except several sections longer. A very different presence than the LINK cars.

        One way to handle the Downtown Kirkland connection would be to send, depending on headway, maybe every fifth car on a loop through the Transit Center and back up the hill. For distance in question, reserved lane and signal pre-empt might do the job.

        But if not, recalling Kirkland when I had classes at Lake Washington Tech couple of years ago, tunnel might get more support than you think. The “not-your-father’s” thing about Kirkland is that nothing can get into or out of Downtown Kirkland at rush hour.

        Especially buses using the Transit Center. Downtown was already raising some taller buildings near the library, which is at the transit center. Bringing in a younger population with, to live there at all, more income than average.

        Would like personally go to my favorite cafe and check out how long that tunnel would have to be. If it’s do-able at all, I think the car-line with or without a tunnel will be well worth doing and very popular.


    2. Well it is worth mentioning this project about to start at the east end of Downtown Kirkland, its massive and urban even by Seattle standards.

      Granted its only one project but it is on top of probably the most vibrant walkable place outside Seattle.

  6. While I agree with Kirkland City Council on the merits of BRT, punting the issue to ST4 and adding no transit this time means ST3 will surely lose votes on the Eastside.

  7. I’m with the Kirkland City Council on this one!

    C’mon, I think ST3 has a great shot of passing even without Kirkland supporting E-03.

    Eastsiders throughout the I405 corridor need and want E-02 – that’s a lot of votes.

  8. This post highlights for me the probability that ST3 will fail. If there is this much opposition in a place like Kirkland, which is planned to get light rail, then ST3 sure isn’t going to get many votes in places like Bothell and Renton, which are paying the tax increase, but getting no new light rail and not much in the way of new service. Let’s face it – the “complete the spine” trick is really, really weak and delivers very few benefits to most voters. But I guess that’s what ST set themselves up for by trying to use city-wide transit technology for a 70 mile line.

    Speaking as a resident of Seattle/North King, if ST3 fails, I hope the city’s state legislators push to permit subareas to use the taxing authority themselves rather than try again on a plan similar to ST3. Seattle desperately needs to be building additional lines, and not just the West Seattle and Ballard lines. We also badly need Ballard/UW, a “Metro 8”-type subway and possibly other lines. We don’t have time to wait for the ‘burbs, and, frankly, due to subarea equity, there’s no benefit to waiting for them. As I understand it, Seattle/North King tax dollars were already paying for the entirety of the West Seattle and Ballard lines. (As an aside, it’s absurd that ST’s enabling legislation doesn’t permit a portion of out-of-subarea tax dollars to be spent in the location the commuters are going, but that’s for another day.) In fact, I’m confident that the votes would be there in Seattle if a more comprehensive solution were proposed. If ST3 fails, the suburbs and the state legislature need to get out of the way and let Seattle fix its own issues. The ‘burbs can squabble among themselves and pay for whatever system they settle for on their own timeline.

    1. @OG: Yes, Bothell and Renton are not getting light rail in ST3 but what they’re getting in E-02 & E-04 is a sizeable chunk. The list below totals $2.3B which is a good percentage for the subareas listed (if you assume it’s a $15B ballot measure). I believe the projects below will equate to a lot of votes from the eastside population.

      » Lynnwood Transit Center (existing) BRT station
      » Bothell – Canyon Park BRT station
      » Bothell – UW Bothell/NE 195th BRT station
      » Bothell – Brickyard BRT station
      » Kirkland – Totem Lake/Kingsgate (new) parking garage and
      (existing) inline BRT station
      » Bellevue Transit Center (existing) BRT station
      » Renton – N 8th Street direct access ramps (E-04), parking
      garage and BRT station
      » Tukwila – Tukwila International Boulevard Link Station
      (existing) BRT station
      » Segment D1: SeaTac/Airport Link Station (existing) BRT station
      » Segment D1: Angle Lake Link Station (existing) BRT station
      » Segment D2: Burien Transit Center (existing) BRT station
      » Lynnwood – I-5/I-405 HOV-to-HOV direct connector ramps
      (SE quadrant only)
      » Bothell – Canyon Park parking garage and BRT station
      » Bothell – UW Bothell/NE 195th BRT station
      » Bothell – Brickyard direct access ramps, parking garage and
      BRT station
      » Kirkland – NE 112th Street inline BRT station
      » Kirkland – NE 85th Street inline BRT station and bus-only lanes
      » Bellevue Transit Center (existing) BRT station and NE 6th Street
      Extension contribution
      » Bellevue – 112th Avenue SE inline BRT station
      » Renton – NE 44th Street inline BRT station and parking lot
      » Renton – Oakesdale direct access ramps
      » Renton to Tukwila – Business Access Transit Lanes
      » Tukwila – Tukwila Sounder Station (existing) BRT station
      » Tukwila – Southcenter (existing) BRT station
      »Segment D2: Tukwila to Burien – Business Access Transit Lanes

      1. So lets break the cheap BRT line into as many components as possible so as to make it look like Bothell is getting lots of somethings when in fact it is just getting a single bus line which will be conducive to putting double wides next to.

      2. Plus don’t forget E-03b (Bellevue to Issahqa) and E-01 (completing the link to Redmond). Over 6 billion invested in the Eastside. The Eastside is getting more than its share.

      3. @William S

        Great point! In my opinion, $6B is a lot to be excited about and translates into a lot of ‘yes’ votes. $6B is 40% of the assumed $15B package. These Seattle-centric rail advocates need to stop freaking out about the little Kirkland Choo choo train.

      4. 6 Billion East side
        8 Billion Ballard-DT and Ballard-UW
        3 Billion WS
        4.5B for Everett
        1-2 Billion Tacoma.
        at least 1-2 billion Sounder & BRT stuff

        24+ billion for ST3. Rough figures so don’t freak out you anal folk, but something has got to give.
        This just isn’t happening.

      5. If there is no guarantee of an ST4 then I see Kirkland, Bothell, LCW, Fremont and some others that already have ST2 investments or don’t care for public transit as pulling ST3 down.

      6. @ les It’s happening. The costs are spread out over several decades, so per year we’re not actually paying that much.

      7. “If there is no guarantee of an ST4 then I see Kirkland, Bothell, LCW, Fremont and some others that already have ST2 investments or don’t care for public transit as pulling ST3 down.”

        Neighborhoods are not monolithic. There are people who will vote yes only if it has Everett and Tacoma, and others who will vote yes only if it doesn’t have Everett and Tacoma. Fremont and Wallingford definitely want Link but they won’t all vote against ST3 if it’s not there. Likewise, some in Lake City would vote for it because of the overall city transit or because they might use it occasionally, or simply because they don’t think it’s realistic to expect a line this round because they’re not a city or one of the major neighborhoods. The suburbs are more iffy because they’re generally more pro-highway, pro-P&R, pro freeway lines, and pro expensive “symbolic” lines that may not be as useful but hit the right political spots. So the suburbs are less reliable on average, but again they’re not monolithic. Some people prefer a sensible line but will vote for any line, others will vote for only a sensible line, others will only vote for a non-sensible line, others will only vote if it goes to their city, etc. It’s hard to predict how all that will add up. and beware of simplistic answers that “everyone will vote for X”. Many voters don’t even understand the transit issues or not aware of them, they’re just aware that it goes from X to Y, and they compare that to the closest freeway drive.

      8. @Mike — Sure, neighborhoods aren’t monolithic. There are plenty of people in Seattle who will vote for any light rail proposal, regardless of how silly it is. But if someone in Wallingford “does the math”, so to speak, they will wonder why Interbay got rail, and they didn’t. They will wonder why an area like West Seattle — an area that is a textbook example for bus, not rail service — got a very expensive light rail line, but the city didn’t bother to the build the most cost effective projects in the area. If, on top of all that, they are being told by the biggest proponents of light rail around — (folks who think this is a great idea) that this is it — there will be no ST4 — why the hell would they vote for ST3? Maybe the sooner we dismantle Sound Transit the better. The author of this piece suggests that will happen the day after the vote, so why vote for something that obviously doesn’t serve the needs of the region in a cost effective manner?

        It’s not like the city is sitting on its ass doing nothing. Look at the set of projects for the city, and they make a hell of a lot of sense. They will save more people more time than anything Link has built so far. The biggest hole is Lake City and the obvious reason it is left out is because of Sound Transit. Seattle is waiting to see if ST will get a sudden wave of competence, and put in a station at NE 130th. Meanwhile, Sound Transit is busy designing BRT that will conveniently skip the most populous place on 522. Lovely. It is obvious that ST doesn’t care about serving densely populated areas, or even moderately popular destinations — they are simply trying to build miles and miles of rail. They are building a commuter rail network at light rail cost. They aren’t interested in building a transit network that serves every area, only on completing a spine to areas that make Lake City look like Belltown. Oh, that is another area conveniently left out, isn’t it.

        The set of corridors that Seattle decided to focus on are not perfect. There are some holes. But it is obvious that it is far more comprehensive and far more sensible than most of what ST is considering for ST3. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to figure out why we shouldn’t just do what OG said. Give up on ST proposals, but let the cities build what they want to build.

      9. ST would not make a RapidRide line dependent on whether ST builds 130th Station; it would be ridiculous to depend on something as iffy as that, and city policies would not depend on such iffy things. The need tor a Northgate-Lake City RapidRide is the same whether 130th is built or not: yes, for the same reason that Roosevelt BRT is needed in parallel with Link, and the D with a downtown-Ballard line. It serves the in-between stations and it has a different midpoint that Link doesn’t go to. Or if it duplicates it too much they could move it to a different midpoint. If the city defines a RapidRide line and then ST definitively decides to build the station, the city would reevaluate the line to see if its route could be moved through the station without losing its primary transit markets.

        So the reason there’s no Lake City RapidRide can’t be because of 130th station; it must be for other reasons. The two reasons I can think of is it wanted to cap the Move Seattle budget and the other lines were higher priority, or it didn’t think Lake City needed it. I don’t know which is the case; you’d have to ask the city. As for a 125th/130th RapidRide, the way priorities go around here, that would be after Lake City-Northgate. And it may not happen without 130th Station, you’re right in that sense. But for the city to hold up a Norfthgate-Lake City line because of 130th’s uncertainty doesn’t sound plausable.

      10. I agree. SDOT would not make a RapidRide+ corridor on something as iffy as the NE 130th Station. That is precisely my point. ST is making the station iffy. If they would simply commit to the station, SDOT could commit to a corridor (or at least start discussing it).

        Are you saying that the city is just ignoring Link? Don’t be ridiculous. Why the hell does Corridor 6 curve around and go to an obscure part of Northgate. That would make no sense at all if it wasn’t for the transit center there, which will soon be a Link station. You would just keep going on the main arterial (where most of the people are) and then onto Lake City (where more people are). If you really wanted to connect to the Roosevelt area, then you would turn on Roosevelt or 5th. You sure as hell wouldn’t continue to make another turn to a dead end next to the freeway. But just imagine, for a second, if they did that — just imagine if the line ignored Link. Do you really think that would make sense? People would think that SDOT is nuts. Run a line down Roosevelt or 5th, but skip the Link Station? That is crazy.

        Likewise with Lake City. Imagine the city spends 50 million improving the connection to Northgate. Of course it goes to the Link station there. So then what? We spent fifty billion so that folks in Lake City can take a BRT bus that takes several turns before ending at transit center. Great. Now imagine the following day that Link opens a station at NE 130th. Suddenly the plain old regular bus is a faster way (by far) to get to downtown, or anywhere else that Link goes. Who the hell takes this BRT to Northgate? Hardly anyone. Sorry, but neither Northgate, nor Lake City is anything close to the destinations that are covered by Link (or for that matter, Corridor 7). Ride the 41 and you can see. Hardly anyone gets off at Northgate coming from Lake City, or the opposite. It would be handy, I suppose, as a fast way to connect Lake City to Ballard (via Northgate Way and Holman Road) except, of course, for the fact that it goes to the transit center! That little detour costs you all the time you saved with BRT, and then some. Without Link, a line to the Northgate Transit Center really is unappealing to all but a handful of people.

        You can’t ignore a multi-billion dollar, grade separated light rail line. None of the areas do. Corridor 7 is not a “shadow” line, it is serving a connection that Link will never serve, even though some of it overlaps. It overlaps in Roosevelt, which means that it connects to it (the way buses and light rail should) then gradually diverges to serve one of the most densely populated areas in all of Seattle (the U-District). Yes, I know that Link has a station, but it is just one, and it is quite a ways from the other street (more complementary than redundant). Then it is on to Eastlake, a relatively dense area that is nowhere near any Link service. Then South Lake Union, which is really the main thing here. After spending oodles of money on silly streetcars, if we do things right, we can get very fast, frequent service to the north end of downtown (an on to every place between there and Roosevelt).

      11. I don’t get how people are mad at going big in ST3, and also saying they want a guarantee of ST4 taking place. The idea of going big in ST3 is so that you build two rounds worth of projects at once.

      12. There’s no evidence that the city would have added a RapidRide corridor on 125th/130th if the station was guaranteed, or that it ever considered a RapidRide there. It doesn’t need it; a regular Metro bus would be fine if it’s frequent. The street is short and wide and uncongested, and an end-to-end line would be too short so it would have to be attached to something else. The advantage of a Ballard-Northgate corridor is it connects in a straightish direction to more of the north Seattle bus network and is the natural way to go to Pinehurst, Maple Leaf, Northgate, Greenwood, Crown Hill, Ballard. Trying to get to Greenwood or Ballard on a 125th/130th line would be 3-seat ride: 125th + E + 40 or 45. Some people might take Link at 130th for these but not everyone because it’s still a double-L shape and a 3-seat ride. Whereas a corridor like the 41 or 74 connecting to the 40 would be more southwesterly and reach more places directly. As to Metro refusing to put a route there if there was a station, that contradicts what Metro is about to do in north Seattle and tried to do in Capitol Hill. (And Capitol Hill’s failure was due to its particular geography and having so many contradictory high-ridership trip patterns in every direction, which would not apply to 125th.)

      13. IMHO, you’re correct, OG. (You as well, Ross.)

        ST’s placement of the Northgate station should have been proof positive that they do not care about interacting with local transit services (and apparently Metro and Seattle did not care enough to raise holy hell about it). The station should have been at the north side of the mall, near or over Northgate Way. Instead it was sited apparently because that’s where the transit center was, ignoring the fact that the reason the transit center was even sited there in the first place was because it had immediate peak-hour access to the express lanes. Makes sense, for a bus, because the downtown buses had to go there anyway. For a train? Dumb as hell, and completely ignores that cross-town corridor you’re speaking of, Mike. Now we have buses that forever more will take that long, long slog through the mall area just to get to a station. It’s a 5-10 minute penalty, especially in November/December, that shouldn’t even be there…and it’s just going to get worse as the area develops. The easily developable land is more west of the mall on Northgate Way–completely opposite the station. I rode the 41 and 75 for many, many years and I eventually gave up and drove to the transit center at 7am just to avoid that bus ride. I don’t think that’s what we want to encourage with our multi-billion dollar investment.

        Here’s a test as to whether something is a reasonable corridor: if you had a car, would you drive that way? I lived in/near Lake City for decades, and one of my sisters has lived in Ballard for years. I almost never–never–went through Northgate to get there or back even though it was a bit shorter, except maybe on a Sunday morning or late at night. 125th/130th to Greenwood/Holman was ALWAYS faster otherwise; I’d sometimes even consider 85th/80th before attempting Northgate. Unless there are serious and permanent attempts at dedicated bus-only lanes and priority for crosstown transit travel on Northgate Way, it’s just not a good corridor–and it’s even worse because there is no station on it. 130th changes that dynamic with a direct bus/rail transfer and I would bet quite a lot that bus service to it would be immediate. I do wish Metro would step up and say so.

  9. Dude, it’s Bothell. Population of 35,000 and not a huge mecca for employment (relatively speaking). What do you expect?

      1. Ballard is 42k (in 2013, will probably be well over 50k by 2020 if not already with all the construction) over 4 sq miles and is built with a perfect grid. Bothell is 35k over 12 sq miles and is geographically a nightmare. Plus people both work and want to go out in Ballard.

      2. You can throw petty stats back and forth all you want but Ballard is never going to be an 8 billion greater investment than Bothell.

      3. It isn’t 8 billion for Ballard, it’s that for a new tunnel through downtown, which serves West Seattle too, plus service for slu, lqa, Fremont, Wallingford, UW, Interbay and Ballard. Ballard is just the end destination for two potential lines. Ballard on its own is at least 3 times a bothell investment given density alone.

      4. No, it’s not $8 billion on Ballard. It’s $8 billion on a bunch of stuff, one of several of which happens to include Ballard.

      5. Yes, Westlake-Ballard alone is $2.4 – 3.6 billion according to ST’s 2014 study. The minimum gets you “15th Avenue Elevated”. The maximum gets you “Queen Anne tunnel”, which means fully underground with a deep station at QA & Galer and a ship canal tunnel an underground station in Fremont.

      6. This is what you get when you focus on labels. Ballard, Bothell, Lake City, West Seattle. Where do they begin and where do they end? It is a pretty pointless discussion.

        Put away the labels and start with population density. Now imagine a rail line connecting a few of those areas. Generally speaking the closer the areas, the more cost effective the transit system (to both build and operate). Consider a set of stations somewhere between a half mile or a mile apart. Now look at the density in surrounding areas, and consider how effective connecting bus service would be. Look at destinations (high employment areas, or big universities, etc.).

        Sorry, but Bothell fails on just every count. It is a long ways away from popular destinations. It is low density, and in the middle of a low density region, stretching miles and miles. About all you have is UW Bothell, which is really a minor destination (unlike the main campus).

        On the other hand, a UW to Ballard line passes on all counts. It is pretty easy to find stops every mile or so along the way that have decent population density. Better yet, the buses connect really well, to an area that is much higher density than the area north of Lake Washington. Destinations include both ends of the line (as well as areas in between) but also a very fast connection to Capitol Hill and downtown.

        I’m not saying I would build a line from downtown to Interbay to Ballard, but Ballard to UW is one of the most cost effective subway lines we could build (along with the Metro 8 subway).

  10. It’s really comical to read how more buses (essentially more vehicles on the road) are considered the answer to congestion. How many lanes will be enough for every road in the Puget Sound? I assume the people who proposed “these alternatives to rail” have never lived with a true light rail system. Sound Transit is so far behind in their population growth estimates it’s ridiculous. They should be sounding the alarms just based on the growth of Seattle alone. I work for the city, and the just based on the number of issued permits and permit applications, we can project a growth of approx. 1 million people in the city of Seattle alone within the next 5 years. Based on those growth models the ST region should gain the same number of people as well. So imagine the possibility of 2 million additional people within the region in the next 5 years and just guess what that will do for traffic. Those who oppose light rail might as well stand at the state border with guns to try and prevent growth. To think BRT is a long term solution are just as delusional.

    1. Adding 1 million people would more than double the city’s population; that’s not happening in five years. Especially with 75% of the residential land locked up in single-family zoning. If construction continues at the current level we’ll reach 850,000 (San Francisco) in the next decade or two, and maybe 1,000,000 sometime after that. The Puget Sound Regional Council is expecting 1 million people in the region in its target timeframe, like it always seems to.

    2. Or maybe 1 million in King County and another million in Pierce and Snohomish. But not 1 million in Seattle, unless it means 1 million total and not 1 million added.

      1. Mike,
        Internally City of Seattle estimates total population of 2.5 million within the next decade. This again is based on current active building permits and applications for permits. You may be right but unless there’s another major downturn chances are you might be wrong.
        2 more points – 1) San Francisco is even more landlocked than Seattle with less square miles and less potential for horizontal construction. 2) I know you’ve seen the multi unit and condensed single family development occurring all throughout West Seattle and Ballard. I think either the zoning definition of single family housing is being stretched or some serious re-zoning is occurring. Hint-it’s the latter. And with the city’s push for more affordable housing… You guessed it….

      2. A million additional people? In five years? I’m not certain that is even physically possible. Even if there were permits in hand and construction underway, the workforce cannot possibly build 650,000–700,000 living units in that period of time, nor would construction materials be available (we are already dealing with workforce issues and unavailability of certain items in a timely manner. I work in the design and construction profession and our staff (and that of every other firm in town) would have to be about four times the size we are to accomplish that. You’re talking numbers in a brief time period that only has its equivalent in forced migrations such as that taking place in Syria or after various wars. If you were talking regionally over a longer period of time, and all economic conditions were favorable over that length of time, possibly–but even then those are numbers exceeding even this boom.

        Most developers we work with, and our internal estimates, have this boom slowing in about two years. We’ll see. Obviously I’m hoping not as I like to get my paycheck, but that’s what we see.

        What is the 2.5 million number–that can’t be Seattle, which is some 650,000 today; it’s not the CMSA, which is somewhere around 4.1 million already–and if it’s King County that’s hardly a million additional people, since KC already has 2.1 million people– growth of 140,000 over the past four years, which is quite the boom but scarcely a million over five. Your reasonable statement, assuming you’re talking about King County, of approximately 400,000 additional people over the next decade is possible (although at a higher growth rate than we even see today), but that’s hardly a million people over five years; it’s a fifth of that.

    3. What Mike said. Growth is happening much faster in Seattle than the surrounding suburbs. In absolute number, growth in Seattle actually exceeds the suburbs. But even so, it is growing less than 3%. If it grew at three percent for the next 20 years, it would be truly amazing growth, and the city still wouldn’t quite double. There are a less than a million people in it now, so, yeah, what Mike said.

      Here is a nice chart: The thing to keep in mind is that this is percentages, which make it look like Seattle isn’t growing that much faster than the other cities. But Seattle is much bigger to begin with. Add all those suburban cites up and they are bigger than Seattle, but most of them aren’t growing that fast. I’ve done the math on a spreadsheet before, but the long and short of it is that growth is happening faster in absolute numbers in Seattle than in the surrounding areas.

      Besides, what is your point? That Kirkland is going to suddenly grow like crazy, and look like South Lake Union? I doubt it. I doubt they would let it. I don’t think Kirkland will ever have the density of, say, Lake City, which is not exactly Brooklyn.

      1. Ross,
        Hey I’m with you, if Kirkland wants a pass then I say skip’em but if that’s ST’s thoroughfare and their planned route to the communities to the north then it’s extremely selfish and short sighted. You said it yourself, add all those little suburbs up and they’re bigger than Seattle, just like every other Metropolitan area in the world. No one expects the surrounding suburbs to grow at the exact same rate as the core city, but I’m not making up the numbers on projected Seattle growth and so we can expect decent growth in the surrounding areas. My point… Bad cases of NIMBY-itis usually start with a vocal few and are extremely contagious.

  11. Argument about cost of the Ballard tunnel is one of the reasons I’d like to see the public get more technical information earlier than now, in a form average person can understand, but definitely containing everything that is known from a tunnel engineering point of view, and also the project still has to learn.

    Starting with soils, rocks, water, underground utilities, and moving on to whatever else is pertinent. And how the project evaluates costs in relation to these things. One reason I keep saying that for tunneling top views, called “Plan” views are most useful as guides to “Section” views, looking into the ground from the side.

    Incidentally, does anybody have figures on the cost of the northbound tunnel to date? And what are the real world (literally) comparison between cost and difficulty of the two tunnels. From PR point of view, I think that the working people we need to convince will come away with the sense that the project is at least being honest with the public.

    In other words, I think deep down and unspoken, many voters make their decisions as much on the competence of the people doing the digging, and even more their bosses, as on the cost of the project by itself.

    Mark Dublin

    1. > In other words, I think deep down and unspoken, many voters make their decisions as much on the
      > competence of the people doing the digging, and even more their bosses, as on the cost of the project
      > by itself.

      This x 100. If the public perceives incompetence and bed decision making, they get *very* reluctant to hand over their wallet.

    1. As expected. The Kirkland City Council agreed to send the letter to Sound Transit.

      I thought Councilmember Toby Nixon had a great idea of avoiding the CKC entirely and instead, extend the Eastlink line past downtown Redmond, up Willows Road to Totem Lake. If you look into the future, the growth in Kirkland is going to come from Totem Lake – not DT Kirkland. I could see Kirkland residents really supporting this idea and you wouldn’t have to deal with the issues related to the CKC.

    2. Imagine this: Three wise people from Kirkland attend the city of Seattle council meeting and tell them they need to add rail to the Burke Gilman trail because it will help reduce their carbon footprint. What a hoot!

      1. This is actually one of the Ballard/UW concepts, although everyone seems to prefer a tunnel.

  12. They want BRT because transit is for poors and should be as cheap as possible. It’s a mindset born in the 50s-80s and is immune to change, evidence, etc. They aren’t talking details of dedicated lanes, they aren’t proposing exactly how the system would be designed, nor how it would interface with everything else already established in the system, nor are they discussing the costs associated with wanting something nobody in the real world is saying they want.

    Because it’s not a proposal meant to produce effective, good, or sustained, long-term transit. It’s meant to produce cheap transit.

  13. If Kirkland gets its way the Eastside rail corridor will be lost to any transit use and will be nothing but a trail that does nothing to improve traffic or mobility on the Eastside.

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