Angle Lake Construction in 2014 (Atomic Taco – Flickr)
Graphic by the Author (click to enlarge)

This afternoon Sound Transit released its long-awaited Sound Transit 3 (ST3) Draft System Plan, the first complete draft of what will be on your ballot this fall. We’ll have much more in the coming days and weeks, but here’s the gist.

Responding both to enormous demand for better transit and public appetite for a large package amidst a healthy local economy, Sound Transit has chosen to go big: ST3 will be a 25-year, $50 billion transit package. It would build light rail to Everett, Tacoma, Redmond, Issaquah, Ballard, and West Seattle in 5 distinct phases, alongside other projects such as I-405 BRT, SR 522 BRT, and Sounder Improvements.

When preparing yourself for the long phasing of these projects, it’s probably helpful to think of ST3 being an extension of ST2, with the agency in constant and concurrent construction between 2008-2041. Here’s what the Draft Plan offers you:

Early Wins

In an effort to show early value despite the long timelines for rail projects, ST3 would offer a number of small projects early in the life of the package. They include:

  • Implementing shoulder-running for express buses
  • Providing unspecified capital improvements to RapidRide C and D
  • Providing a capital contribution to improving Pierce Transit’s Route 1 on Pacific Avenue
  • Providing better connections to Sumner Station, including new Sounder Connectors, presumably from East Pierce County cities such as Orting
  • Parking, parking, parking. The plan would also construct new parking early in the package in Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, Kingsgate, and along North and South Sounder. It would also construct Renton’s requested new Park & Ride at I-405 and SR 167.

2024: I-405 and SR 522 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

I-405 BRT would use a modified low-capital option to run from Lynnwood to Bellevue, timed to coincide with WSDOT’s extension of HOT lanes along the full length of I-405. The NE 85th Street interchange in Kirkland would be completely rebuilt, permitting center access and dedicated exits for buses. Buses would serve the new South Renton Park and Ride and terminate in Burien after serving Tukwila Int’l Boulevard via an inline stop on SR 518.

SR 522 BRT from Woodinville to 145th Street Station would also open in 2024, one year after 145th Street Station.

2028: Redmond and Federal Way

The first ST3 capital projects to come on line would be the twin extensions from Overlake to Redmond and Kent/Des Moines to Federal Way, with 4 new stations.

2033: West Seattle and Tacoma

West Seattle: Curiously, West Seattle would be built before Ballard, with a short stub line from Alaska Junction to either Stadium or the International District opening in 2033. The line would be at grade in a presumably rail-only and quadruple-tracked Sodo transitway, transitioning to elevated over a new fixed bridge over the Duwamish River, then entering a tunnel portal for a short underground trip to Alaska Junction. Presumably, this project would be done first because Sound Transit believes it to be operable prior to a second Downtown subway tunnel, unlike a Ballard line.

Tacoma: The first portion of the spine to be complete would be Tacoma, with the extension from Federal Way opening in 2033 with stations in South Federal Way, Fife, East Tacoma, and Tacoma Dome. Trains would presumably run from Tacoma-Lynnwood as the Red Line until the Ballard line opens.

2036: North Lynnwood, Graham Street, and Boeing Access Road

3 years after West Seattle Link opens, the spine would be extended to North Lynnwood with 3 new stations (Alderwood, Ash Way, and Mariner). In addition, Graham Street and Boeing Access Road would be fully funded by ST3 and open the same year.

2038: Ballard, Queen Anne, South Lake Union

Five years after West Seattle opens, the new downtown subway would open. At this point, West Seattle trains would switch to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and run to Mariner in North Lynnwood. Tacoma and Rainier Valley trains would become the Green Line and would switch to the new tunnel, serving Downtown, South Lake Union, Queen Anne, Interbay, and Ballard. From Westlake, trains would run undergound to Queen Anne with stations at Denny Way, Harrison Street, and Seattle Center. From there trains would emerge and run at-grade through Interbay, with stations at Smith Cove, Interbay (likely at Dravus Street), and terminate at an elevated station at 15th/Market in Ballard. The train would cross the ship canal in a new drawbridge that would only open in off-peak hours, with ST working with the Coast Guard to limit openings as much as possible.

2041: Everett, Paine Field, and Issaquah

Everett: the Red and Blue lines would be extended from North Lynnwood to Everett via Paine Field, though using SR 99 from Paine Field to Everett.

Issaquah: showing that Kirkland lost its chance, a new line would be built from Bellevue to Issaquah (possibly via East Main Station)with new stations at Factoria, Eastgate, and Issaquah.


Sound Transit would have an unspecified sum to negotiate new Sounder easements, with options ranging from expanded peak service to hourly all-day service. Platforms would also be extended to 8 cars, and service would be extended to DuPont in 2036.

Future Studies

Future studies would include Ballard-UW, Sand Point-Kirkland, Bellevue-Kirkland-Bothell, West Seattle-Burien, and Sumner-Orting.

513 Replies to “Sound Transit 3: Meet Your 25-Year Transit Expansion Package”

  1. The map of proposed projects.

    I have to say that I’m kind of disappointed in the draft plan. Good thing is that it’s a draft that can be changed if the public speaks up and demands things with no compromises.

    The Paine Field diversion remains terrible, cutting North Everett makes the whole thing less palatable and the 2041 completion date (I’ll turn 44 that year…) makes it unbelievable.

    After seeing the DuPont Sounder extension, I’m also hoping that Sound Transit would try and get Marysville to join the district and extend Sounder there to boost North Line ridership. If they do annex Marysville, then I could vote on ST4 or whatever ballot measure come next (if it does).

      1. Yep, I’ll be 76 before it gets to West Seattle. It seems like there has never been a sense of urgency to Sound Transit planning, probably because they’ve always been more concerned with voters in Woodinville than addressing the current and near future high impact needs. They’ve always opted for the slowest most expensive path that prioritizes voters in the hinterlands over the crushing congestion at the core. Why can’t we in Seattle cut loose from that and pay for our own system, and stop paying for what they don’t want.

    1. Well, young whippersnapper. I am a transit geek, and have been all my life, and will have to admit to it here.

      This marks the second time I have ever cried (actually cried, in joy) while reading an article here. The first was an ST2 article where I first saw the names of stations in my old neighborhood being used (U-District and Roosevelt) on a map. The second was seeing today places where I live now, like Ash Way where my current commute takes me, and points north. Sure, it’s just a proposal. But it’s that much more real now.

      The only unfortunate thing is that, unlike young Bruce and others, I’ll be about 78 years old in 2041. But, you know, by gosh, I’ll be there to see it. Bring it on!

      1. In the 1990s, I thought it was horrible that I’d have to wait until I was in my fifties to see Seattle get its first light rail. And maybe it was. But in the long run, what’s most important is to build it, and an extra fifteen years doesn’t seem so long.

    2. I agree with the completion date stuff. I really don’t know why it should take 25 years to build out this package. You could plop ST3 down today and I expect it would have pretty good ridership. We need it today, and we ought to employ a sufficient number of people to get there sooner.

      1. “Optimism is not our friend” – Joni Ernst

        She may have retired, but here spirit is still there. UW was done 6 months early, Northgate seems to be years early, so it’s safe to say that these schedules are all quite pessimistic.

      2. Because this is based on a sales tax, and sales taxes don’t all accumulate at once over night. As the taxes accumulate over the year, they are spent one pile at a time, which is why its phased out over the length of the sales tax.

        Los Angeles and other cities have gone to the Feds and tried to argue that the sales tax was enough collateral for the Feds to loan them the money up front, with the city paying it back as it came in. To this point, Congress (hint: the red side of Congress) refuses to take the deal.

      3. Why aren’t they issuing bonds for the money up front then paying it back with the tax revenue over time, and just getting the stuff done? I’ll be 50 freakin’ years old when this is done and it still doesn’t include half the stuff that actually matters! This is a joke.

      4. There’s a lot of griping about completion dates, which are in the range that used to appear only in a science fiction context.

        So what can be done to speed up this package? How much faster could we do any of this if we extended it to 30 years? How much more would it cost to go as fast as possible, and just how fast is that, given the hard constraints implicit in design, engineering, construction, testing, etc.?

      5. Seriously, can those of us who are struggling to afford living in this city as it is help shovel on the weekends instead of having to pay $400 a year in taxes? I bet we could finish the project faster.

        I love mass transit but this project is way too expensive for what it is and it will take too long. If we are going to tax someone we should tax commercial real estate progressively based on square footage. Amazon has lots of money and is causing many of our transportation problems. They should contribute significantly more than middle class people who are struggling to afford this city as it is and will likely die before thie project is finished.

      6. “Why aren’t they issuing bonds for the money up front then paying it back with the tax revenue over time, and just getting the stuff done?”

        State caps on the bond:revenue ratio, and ST’s own more conservative limit. ST highly values avoiding a situation where it might have to ask for an emergency tax increase or state bailout. And the conservative model also keeps interest rates the lowest. If we want a Los Angeles style “30 in 10” program it would require state support or at least state authorization, neither of which the current legislature is interested in.

      7. Hey, this is a huge project, cut them some slack on the time frame. Afterall, it did take a whole long six years to build the transcontinental railroad from the Pacific to the Mississippi.

      8. it did take a whole long six years to build the transcontinental railroad

        Offer up free city blocks on alternate sides of the ROW and I bet a private company will build that Ballard line for you lickity split!

    3. Not much double tracking of the BNSF tracks north of the Everett Station. Don’t know how open BNSF would be to an extension that might interfere with their coal and oil trains.

  2. Am I reading this right? The Graham Street Infill Station would not be completed until the year 2036?!?

    1. yeah … nuts. thought it was part of Move Seattle Levy … should be able to do that sooner (use the savings from U Link) or something

    2. Plus, the 130th St Station is totally missing! This plan is shafting Seattle in almost every possible way.

      1. It would be a huge mistake to push 130th until after Lynnwood Link opens in 2023. If we can get the infill station before possible service disruptions, it’d be a huge win.

      2. CEO Rogoff said that they believe adding 130th before Lynnwood Link is complete jeopardizes their federal grant, so it’s a ‘provisional’ future station. It will be shovel ready but unfunded.

      3. At this point, I don’t believe anything Sound Transit says. Can we have independent confirmation on that? Maybe from another city in an analogous situation?

        Plus, assuming they’re telling the truth – how long would it be until they think they’re allowed to add 130th? Would Lynnwood Link need to be operating for a month first? A year? How about a day, and then 130th Station opens the day after Lynnwood?

      4. Agreed. Win for riders using the station (it exists), win for riders north of the station (no construction delays/service cuts), win for taxpayers (easier to build before there are trains there).

        But my letters to ST are going to be about Ballard.

      5. Can we talk to the feds about that? The whole point of these grants is to make it cheaper for cities to build public transit A measure that would make it cheaper to build a new station seems like a good thing for everybody.

      6. @ independent confirmation: how about from the former FTA Administrator, or better yet, the former Under Secretary of US DOT?

      7. I was at the meeting. Adding 130th would require restarting the grant process, going to the back of the line, in a different budget year, under a different president and administration. So the 130th foes really got us good by keeping it out of the plan until now. But they haven’t managed to stamp out 130th completely. Under this proposal it would be approved but unfunded, and could be funded if ST has money left over after the primary projects. It’s worth noting that ST2 did not intend to serve Lake City at all, and the movement to add 130th started later during the Lynnwood Link alternatives analysis. So ST is not so much taking away Lake City from Lynnwood Link as fulfilling its original promise which did not include it. It’s not clear to me what’s the earliest point it could be added, or how much the Lynnwood Link construction could do now to make it cheaper/easier to add it later, but those are questions we should press ST on.

      8. This ship has sailed, but I can’t see any reason we’re building a station at 145th other than the fact that Shoreline has surplus property there. 145th is the worst possible location for a station in that area given the awful I-5 interchange that isn’t going anywhere, the narrow ROW and traffic on the arterial approach, and the adjacent golf course that nobody will take a train to. The I-5 interchange isn’t where people will ever want to be, it’s where large volumes of cars will always have to be. The stations should have been planned at 130th and 155th. What a huge mistake.

      9. “I can’t see any reason we’re building a station at 145th other than the fact that Shoreline has surplus property there”

        145th is on an existing highway with an existing P&R and a straight shot for cars/buses from Bothell-lands. That viewpoint prevailed more strongly in the 1990s when the corridor was originally drawn up, and is the same reason we got Northgate Station next to the freeway with a P&R. Also, 145th “serves” two cities with one asset.

      10. Another problem with 145th and 185th in Shoreline is that the city has pissed off all the people who live in those areas with zoning changes. It began with moderate density increases within the half mile walk-shed, which most everyone supported. Then at the end of the process, they upzoned twice as much area and tripled the height and density. There’s also a big chunk near 185th within the half-mile walk zone which was left unchanged, an area where a few of the citizen’s committee volunteers involved with the station area planning reside. The whole process was/is pretty shady and I’ve heard that the people the station areas aren’t planning on leaving and selling to developers anytime soon. Talk about a hot mess… all the more reason to push for a station at 130th!

      11. “Then at the end of the process, they upzoned twice as much area and tripled the height and density.”

        Kudos to Shoreline for being bold and thinking about its long-term future. Shoreline has been an example to Seattle in some ways, such as its full transit lanes on Aurora and upzones at all RapidRide stations.

        “I’ve heard that the people the station areas aren’t planning on leaving and selling to developers anytime soon.”

        That was always their right, and people shouldn’t have expected that everybody would sell right away. Lifting the zoning just gives homeowners more choices, it doesn’t compel them to develop. The most likely outcome is a quarter or less of homeowners selling or developing in the first twenty years. Most likely maybe those nearest the stations rather than a block or two back.

    3. Totally insane timeline. 20 more years for an infill station at Graham? Ballard 25 years from now? We needed this stuff 25 yeas ago, not 25 years from now. I know there are financing constraints, but this timeline is way too far in the future.

      1. Forward Thrust in 1968 had a 25-year timeline (with 90% federal funding). If people had voted for that, then, we would already have our 108-mile system that goes many of the same places this does. They had their reasons to oppose, and they took action, undermining our region for a half-century to come.

        This plan gets us to a somewhat complete regional in 25 years with the Feds spending less than 50%. We can hate how long it takes, but we have to find a way to 1) make it better and 2) support it or else we will screw our region the same way voters in 1968 and 1970 did. We have to find a way to “yes.”

      2. It’s a false dichotomy to say we’re either stuck with a shit sandwich now or no sandwich later. This plan has backward priorities (West Seattle half a decade before Ballard, no 45th St Link or Denny Way Link at all, Spine Manifest Destiny Über Alles) and a ridiculous timeline. We can kill it and build something actually worth building.

      3. yes….KILL THIS. Make them come back with something better, or force the legislature to allow for differential taxation and the ability for cities/sub-areas to spend what they want when they want to.

  3. Seattle Subway (through Keith) has indicated here that an at grade line in Seattle in ST3 would be unacceptable. I await their response (and hopefully, their plan to use the monorail authority to build Ballard to UW or the WSTT)

    1. It depends on what exactly it means. At-grade on 15th Ave W might be acceptable, because the road already has exits rather than intersections so it could be better and faster than MLK. I can’t speak for SS or Keith, but for myself, an “at-grade line” referred to an entire line and particularly segments in Belltown and Westlake Avenue. This line is grade-separated through the biggest bottlenecks, and is surface only on quasi-highway ROW, which is the best place to be surface.

      We’ll have to look at how high the bridge is, since a higher bridge means fewer openings. The studies looked at a 70′ bridge that would open not very often, and a 130′ bridge that would never open. Later SDOT asked for a lower bridge (between 70′ and the current bridge which I think is 35′) that could be multimodal, but a lower bridge means more openings.However, this project says “rail-only” bridge so it’s not multimodal.

      1. Wow, so many things to dislike about these projects. To be fair, this is still a draft, but still.

        I really could care less about surface rail — it is appropriate for that line (what is inappropriate is building it years before Ballard to UW — which I suppose will be built in 2050). I also don’t mind a high bridge. 70 feet is very high, and would rarely open. A drawbridge is also less of a big deal for a train than a stream of cars (traffic doesn’t build up behind the bridge). But holy cow, a lower bridge (meaning more openings) and it is rail only? That means you are building a bridge that is more appropriate than ever for bike and pedestrian traffic, but not serving either. Wow.

      2. So you are suggesting a ferry? Actually, that isn’t a crazy idea — it might be cheaper than making the Ballard bridge work for bikes (

        But anyway, my point is that every biker has to go up and down. The higher the bridge, the more they have to go up and down. So a 70 foot bridge means a lot of up and down (16 more feet than a 44 foot one, like the existing Ballard bridge). But now you have a brand new bridge that won’t quite be 70 feet (so it won’t be quite 16 feet higher) yet it still won’t be designed to handle bikes or pedestrians. Lovely.

      3. In ST2, Bellevue and ST found $300 million in cost “savings” and additional cash to take street running into a tunnel. If there’s not enough money in the package now, then in the next 5-6 years of EIS we need to find the funding to remove any at-grade crossings. Much of the corridor can be “at grade” while still being separated from any intersections with cars, like Mike Orr said. The cost to remove car-train interaction: $140 million. We can do this, in the package or during EIS/scoping process by fighting for it.

      4. There’s nothing wrong with doing at-grade north of the “Whole Foods” station. Use Armory Way to diagonal out to the edge of the rail yard and just run north there. The Dravus Street Bridge would probably need to be rebuilt, at least at the east end, in order to widen the span, but it’s only a block farther from West QA (which is all SFH) and a block closer to East Magnolia where there are already several apartments.

        You might have to knock down a couple of small businesses north of Dravus, but having the Dravus Station somewhere other than the middle of 15th West would be worth it. It’s a much nicer environment.

      5. @Anandakos — Oops. Yeah, I was obviously tired last night. That wasn’t my only arithmetic mistake. I almost majored in mathematics, too. Guess it is a good thing I didn’t.

      6. “In ST2, Bellevue and ST found $300 million in cost “savings” and additional cash to take street running into a tunnel.”

        That savings came out of adding add-grade segments with intersections in Bel-Red.

        “There’s nothing wrong with doing at-grade north of the “Whole Foods” station.”

        The Whole Foods plaza needs to be redeveloped: it’s a suburban space-wasting eyesore. Build a mini U-Village there.

      7. You might be better off doing elevated above Dravus as an approach to the bridge. That also means less land taking. Put it above the BNSF and you don’t have to take much at all. Eastern Magnolia actually has a couple of apartment buildings that could be the start of higher density.

    2. ST will fight monorail quietly and effectively to its bitter end.
      Here is why:

      * Too low cost: (look at monorail projects in Brazil, very effective and cheaper),
      * Project gets done too fast: (again, look at Brazil),
      * Too safe for the community: (count the dead in Rainer valley, that have been hit by at-grade trains),
      * Moves passengers too fast: (Monorail averages about 70mph, and tops at 90mph, light rail about 20mph average, tops at 54mph),
      * Moves people safer: (ST light rails cars cant let security officers walk from car to car, a 3 car train needs 3 armed police officers, cost is $8K/per-40hour week/per officer, stations tend to be above ground, and with less crime),
      * Dose not damage near by properties: (ST light rail single overhead catenary, with return current in the tracks, leaks current in nearby ground and pipes. When the first earth wake happens, there will be so many ground current leaks, ST wont be able find or fix, and it will take years and years of spending and shut down system, and so costly, that “another” voter bill will be needed),
      * Too able to handle bridges: (monorail tires can easily traverse the I-90 and other bridge types),
      * Too quiet: (monorail can handle the I-90 bridge junctions without track or train wheel damage. ST wants to pay U-of-W lots of $$$10K/noise incident fines, from noisy wheels, chipped and dented by the I-90 crossing)

  4. So how many Seattle dollars does this ship to the suburbs to pay for the Paine Field detour? If Snohomish can afford to pay for that on its own, I refuse to believe Seattle can’t afford anything more than a poor-quality West Seattle – Ballard line.

    (Instead, if anything, the suburbs should be paying for the new downtown tunnel. Seattle paid for the existing one, but the suburbs are going to get to use it on their Link lines.)

    This package might be marginally better than nothing thirty years down the line, but it is not worth the cost. Voting it down and spending a tenth of the money on buses would probably get at least as good results. What’s more, voting it down would change the political constraints significantly. Just like defeating Roads And Transit got us a much better ST2, defeating ST3: Mirages of Grandchildren’s Transit might get us a much better package next year.

    And as for hopes of improving this current package… changing the Board’s mind when they’ve put forward such a travesty is so unrealistic that we’d be far better served putting our energy into a monorail initiative.

    1. Staff indicated that subarea equity will mostly hold, but there may be subarea loans rather than outright transfers.

      1. How much? According to this blog’s past cost estimates, it’d have to be several million. And when will the loans be paid back – in a hypothetical ST4? What if there’s never any ST4? At absolute minimum, I’d want a list of Seattle projects ready to go as soon as the money’s paid back without the need for any future votes, and then a schedule of when it would be paid back.

        (And why is Seattle loaning money to the suburbs rather than visa versa, when lots of the more cost-effective projects are in Seattle?)

      2. East King looks like it’s getting shafted here. I see at most $5B given 405 BRT is the low capital version + 85th St (say $1B 405 plus $0.5B 522/145th, $2.3B Issaquah and $1.3 Billion Redmond). Meanwhile, Snohomish needs at least $4.5 B for link to Everett. The math doesn’t add up to me somehow.

        I’d love to see a per-subarea breakdown.

      3. Interesting. At what interest rates? Martin said, in the “Early Wins” discussion that spending one dollar now deprives two dollars later, as a rule of thumb. Depending on interest rates, loans could be used either as a way to help timing or as a way to shift funds around without looking like it.

      4. “(And why is Seattle loaning money to the suburbs rather than visa versa, when lots of the more cost-effective projects are in Seattle?)”

        We don’t know who’s lending to whom or if anybody is lending until the subarea breakouts come out.

      5. I’m drawing conclusions from ST’s cost estimates on the different lines in their past studies, as reported here in the past. I’d be glad to see if Sound Transit has reversed themselves now, though.

      6. There’s never been a public estimate of a tunnel in the West Seattle Junction, nor of a downtown tunnel that serves SLU. Those have certainly raised the cost.

      7. I can only imagine what the cost of the transfer stations will be! I hope that these have been thought through carefully because it could be a real deal breaker for the whole program. It may be the plan’s greatest cost risk (along with the Downtown tunnel).

      8. William,

        I think that North King absolutely must “loan” the other sub-areas funds during the engineering phase. The won’t start on the new tunnel for at least twelve to fifteen years, during which time North King will accumulate a huge surplus, since no construction will happen for eight of it.

        So yes, North King money will build the Federal Way extension and probably most of the extension on to Tacoma Dome; that’s almost a certainty. However, the tax revenues for South King and Pierce will be in surplus once Link gets to Tacoma Dome, so the loans will be paid back during the end of the schedule, when North King construction will be very expensive. Sub-area equity will return to balance by the end of the twenty-five year period.

        This is obviously speculation, but I’ll bet that when the detailed financing plan is released we’ll see that exact pattern. And that make the “go big” package more palatable. If they had stayed with the fifteen year project plan, Ballard would have gotten the “Rapid Streetcar”. Think back to late last year when the plans for the “$15 billion” plan were afoot and it was clear that we could not squeeze both West Seattle and Ballard full LRT into North King’s revenues. If you’ll recall, everyone’s hair was burning because West Seattle was going to get Link but Ballard would have the Streetcar.

    2. King County taxpayers paid for the DSTT, not just Seattle. And it has served King County buses for 26 years, and a King County light rail line for 14 years until a small portion of the line reaches Lynnwood. ST3 proposes a second tunnel which basically doubles capacity, and it’s as much about relieving a capacity crisis downtown which will benefit Seattle and Ballard and West Seattle and U-District riders as much as it helps suburban riders.

    3. On subarea lending, Seattle used all its money building Seattle stuff. The new tunnel actually gets funding from other subareas. Paine Field is paid for by federal loans and by taking 25 years. No Seattle money is leaving Seattle.

    4. Based on the project estimates released today, cost of Everett Link is around $700 million more than Redmond Link, Issaquah Link and I-405 BRT (which is shared between Snoho, East King and South King) added up together. Martin’s article last year forecasted East King revenue to be about 1.8 times that of Snohomish County. Unless those forecast have changed dramatically in the last year, I don’t see how subarea equity is being maintained.

    1. Here here. I fear we’ll choke ourselves in congestion and/or entrench unfavorable habits if we wait this long for these projects to be built.

      I have a separate question: why is it going to take five years from now for the next three stations to Northgate to open? I see 40-story buildings with layers of underground parking rise in less than half the time, and what, about 80-85% (?) of the tunneling and excavation for north Link is already complete. This just seems like an incredibly long timeline for completion. I get that the CEO is all about “under-promise, over-deliver,” but is this not excessive?

      1. Digging and laying rail underground does take time. So does building cut and cover stations. But the main problem is that folks don’t want to spend a bunch of money now to do things, but wait until money dribbles in. That is what happens when you stretch things out (literally and figuratively).

      2. No Seattleyo, not at all. Tunneling, despite how well it’s gone relatively speaking is still the riskiest part of construction here. Put that with all the existing in tunnel works still outstanding and smallish construction sites and you have to stage certain operations to keep congestion from impacting your operation. There’s about six to eight months of float currently. If they can maintain that it’ll be the difference in when the extension opens.

    2. Is there any chance that Seattle / Metro Transit could separately fund a Children’s Hospital to Ballard line? It seems to be a relatively Seattle-centric line, and that would help to relieve some congestion in the meantime.

    1. One of the Snohomish boardmembers said it’s still an open question whether the Paine “loop” (his words) would be light rail or BRT. That sounds like it leaves an opening for light rail to go straight to Everett Station (or terminate at Mariner (128th) we could argue), and a BRT line on Everett Station – Paine Field – Mariner. That might be a compromise out of this Paine Field detour dilemma.

      1. But, for Snoco, BRT is basically the same as nothing at all. CT is already planning Swift 2 to open in a couple years with there own money, going that exact same route. Not a good way to get Snohomish County to feel they’re getting something for their money.

      2. Donde;

        I’m of the view an express double tall racing from Everett Station to Seaway Station so as to drop off passengers to go via bus to all of Paine Field’s diverse destinations is a quick touchdown that gets the job done.

      3. How BRT is different from Swift is unspecified. If ST simply pays for part of the Swift line, that’s actually a good deal for us and for Community Transit taxpayers. CT could simply shorten its tax period, build that unfunded Bothell extension, or apply it to Swift 3 or 4 (Edmonds-Mill Creek, or Marysville). If Snohomish County and Everett and Mukilteo go along with Swift enhancements as fulfilling the Paine Field HCT goal, then halleluja, that or ST Express was what I was trying to recommend in the first place. A Mariner-Paine-Everett line would overlap Swift 1 probably too much, but maybe the officials will realize that a one-seat ride is not necessary in this case, and will just enhance Swift 1 and 2 instead.

      4. Mike;

        I think the idea could be a one seat ride from Everett Station to Seaway Transit Center which is the NE corner of the Boeing Factory. CT is studying a bus route via the Future of Flight to the Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal.

        I really think once the Seaway Transit Center comes into play, the Paine Field transit convo will change. Big time.

    2. Speaking of Everett Link (my term, not theirs). Did anyone notice that the biggest argument for extending rail farther north from Lynnwood is a “provisional” station? Really. The main connection with SR 99, the connection to Swift, one of the rare places in Snohomish County with even moderate density — will only have a station if we magically come up with the money for this. So Snohomish County, after paying an enormous amount for a system very few will use, have to buck up again for the most important station north of Lynnwood.

      Good lord, this is like a levy to buy deluxe swimming pools for every school in town. Good look paying your teachers in a few years. Seriously, I fear that if this passes, every person in Snohomish County will reject any proposal for anything involving transit, and way too many people will be left high and dry.

      1. The biggest argument in their minds is Everett Station and its parking garage, not a midway Swift connection.

  5. Why does Boeing Access Road get funding and 130th doesn’t? There absolutely nothing at BAR, very little potential to redevelop, and it doesn’t connect to the bus network.

    1. Because Tukwila asked for it.

      Of course, Seattle also asked for 130th… but Sound Transit doesn’t care about Seattle. (See also: how cross-referencing this plan with the blog’s past cost estimates shows this plan would ship millions of Seattle dollars north to Snohomish.)

      1. @William C: Seattle does not ship any money north to Snohomish. Seattle is a net recipient of cash from the region, not the reverse. We are getting a bunch of tunneled stations. That’s expensive. We need more grade separation, but again, we are already a net recipient of regional cash in this plan.

      2. Do you have a source for that? Yes, it’s expensive, but didn’t this blog figure last year that it still doesn’t use up Seattle’s portion of any authorization that goes to Paine Field?

      3. ST told Zach that the plan maintains subarea equity.

        I wrote the piece that worked it out, but that assumed a line via Belltown instead of SLU. The SLU diversion plus two stations, which is probably well over $1 billion.

    2. It was the only thing Tukwila asked for, and there’s potential for a large-scale bus truncation there if built properly. Sabey owns a lot of adjacent land and would like to develop it as well.

      1. Where do the funds come from for this? if it’s designed to improve bus reliability from south king and pierce subareas into the north king subarea, it seems like there could be a lot of ways to justify it.

        Also, I presume we’re talking ST Express busses from southern suburbs? Aren’t many of those going away as link extends to Tacoma?

        Does it make sense to run buses from Kent to BAR rather than to the Des Moines station on Link?

      2. Presumably the same place the funds come from for the gold-plated Paine Field detour, which previous threads had concluded Snohomish can’t afford on its own: shipped out from Seattle and East King.

    3. I thought this made sense only if sounder has a station there. But I don’t see that so who is this serving? If we wanted busses could terminate at Ranier Beach today but we dont — the relative time savings for BAR compared to RB is negligible.

      1. The BAR Sounder station is the least productive part. Tukwila’s mayor said it would serve a planned urban village centered on 144th, an extension of RapidRide A (which he’s also asking for), and also be closer to the Museum of Flight and Aviation High School. There are two or three articles about Tukwila in the STB archive.

    4. Boeing Access Road infill station comes out of the revenue generated in the South King subarea. 130th would come out of the revenue generated in the Seattle/North subarea. South King likely had capacity, yet Seattle is using the revenue generated in their subarea for priorities other than 130th. And, funding 130th now puts the federal funding for Lynwood at serious risk, according to comments from the Director today.

      1. South King is relatively poor and has many transit needs because it’s a huge area and high population (800,000; higher than Seattle). So South King is maxed out, and that’s why there’s not more attention to a Burien-Renton line or Renton-Kent service or all-day Kent-Seattle express.

      2. I didn’t understand the discrepancy in how South King is maxed out and therefore can have a line from Kent to Renton or etc

        That’s exactly what this area needs. Connecting Kent to Renton is huge and Connecting Renton to the planned Factoria station and the Spine would help traffic along 405

      3. ST2 in South King had Link to 272nd. South King was the hardest hit in the recession because it doesn’t have many high-paying employers. That forced ST to defer the segment south of Angle Lake (200th). Later in the recovery ST found enough money to restart 240th but not 272nd. When it deferred the tail it made an agreement with Federal Way to accelerate the studies to 320th to make it “shovel ready” in case federal stimulus funding or other came along. So if South King could just barely afford its ST2 projects (and ST3 is partly backfilling them), then it’s logical it can’t have much money for ST3 projects.

    5. I don’t see how BAR makes sense without the Sounder station, which I didn’t see on the list. (maybe it’s implied?)

  6. Grudgingly, I acknowledge that Ballard needs the downtown tunnel to operate, and that for planning and construction, that’s by far the hardest thing in the whole package. But it’s also the most needed thing in the whole package. We have to find a way to get it sooner.

    1. Some folks here (Ross B. et. al) would suggest a Ballard to UW line (even with a transfer to downtown as opposed to interlining) could be built without the tunnel.

      1. Which is why we need to get an initiative under the monorail authority ready tomorrow. If this doesn’t warrant organizing that, what would?

      2. Besides the question of whether monorail authority is just the wet-dream rumor of the transit community that will never die (which I honestly don’t know the answer to), how would such a project integrate with Sound Transit?

        I think the ideal, but messy structure would be to have a ballot initiative to fund ST to build and operate such a line, paid for by Seattle. It could be contingent on ST3 passing, or not.

        But we don’t want to do it without sound transit, because it would work much better as an integrated system, in terms of stations, rolling stock, etc.

      3. ST would build it, if IIRC under the monorail authority. In an open thread awhile ago, I suggested running this in 2016 as the backup plan if ST3 fails (e.g, this plan only becomes operational if ST3 loses). .

      4. “ST seems to have no interest in building such a line.”

        ST has moderate interest, but after the Ballard-downtown and downtown-West Seattle lines.

      5. @William C: Monorail authority raises about $1-2 Billion only. That’s 1/10 of what Seattle is already getting in ST3 on Ballard – DT – WS

    2. The tunnel is undoubtedly monstrously complex, but I think we could shave a few years off the proposed 22-year timeline. Let’s all work to expedite and streamline as much as we can.

      1. Agreed, but given this plan’s lack of good Seattle projects, and shipping Seattle money up to the suburbs, wouldn’t it be more effective to expedite and streamline as a separate organization working through the monorail initiative?

        If now isn’t the time to go for the monorail initiative, then when would be?

      2. “Grudgingly, I acknowledge that Ballard needs the downtown tunnel to operate”

        Not exactly. ST chose to connect Ballard to the new tunnel and Tacoma. It could connect Ballard to the existing tunnel and West Seattle to the new tunnel, and the other segments wherever. It could connect Ballard to East Link. But it chose to connect it to the new tunnel and that makes it dependent on the new tunnel. The number of current/former boardmembers/councilmembers in West Seattle may have something to do with that. But the flip side is that the new tunnel stations may be better than the old tunnel stations, as Capitol Hill and UW Stations are.

      3. I was stunned that Ben is against this realization of a regional network. A monorail-authority plan could complement ST3 by taking on that Ballard-UW line, or it could accelerate Ballard-West Seattle in a Prop 1 kind of way, or it could replace ST’s plans. I’m not willing to vote against ST3 and run the risk of getting nothing or a 20-year longer timeline. But if ST3 fails anyway and ST doesn’t move on a “reformed” package, then Seattle would have to do something and that could be a monorail-authority plan. But we can’t expect ST to consider building it until ST3’s fate is known. Trying to develop a contingency/replacement plan — and especially putting it before voters — before that point would have a variety of political consequences I can’t really predict but not necessarily good. But there is a silver lining. If everything fails and we get nothing but ST2, that at least addresses the biggest needs and puts us in a far better situation than we were in 2008.

      4. If London could design and build the 73-mile Crossrail in 10 years, I think we can do 7-mile Ballard-downtown in fewer than 22. Hopefully this is about financing, which can be fixed, and not overly padded project schedules.

      5. London has a strong tradition of high-capacity transit. Crossrail is of national significance because it’s in the capital, London’s mobility melts down if a tube train is more than five minutes late or if it doesn’t build more lines every year, and the national public and government is willing to give top priority to HCT lines and is willing to accept congestion charges. The US is indifferent or hostile to transit, chokes on tax increases or tolls, puts highway first, and has a lot of regulations that get in the way of building transit quickly.

      6. or how about our friends across the border in Vancouver who can built a Skytrain line in a relatively short amount of time

      7. @Frank — My guess would be that the long delay has everything to do with financing. But spending around $20,000 for every person in King, Pierce and Snohomish County (combined) for a system that, when it is all done, still doesn’t include Ballard to UW light rail, a cheap station at NE 130th, or even study a Metro 8 subway is kind of nuts.

      8. I think Ben wanted “Build all the things!” but that included Seattle getting plenty of high quality lines, not the el cheapo version Seattle got out of this.

        For me, the only way i’d vote for ST3 (given the amount of taxes we are going to have to pay) is to get Ballard to UW built (not studied) and built first. Ballard built up a lot with the tacit understanding they were next on the list for light rail. To have to wait 22 years (and behind the more politically powerful/poor value West Seattle line) is going to be a hard sell politically– I could see Murray losing badly in Ballard in the next election (the NIMBYs hate his guts over the homeless camps/property crime issues) and anyone who is somewhat urbanist isn’t happy over this.

        Again, I think we all could imagine DP railing against this. But Ben S? When are these two on the same side of anything?

      9. Oops. Not $20,000 (forgot to carry a one). More like $14,000. Just to round it off, and account for huge growth, that is around $12,500.

      10. And RossB, that $12,500 number is assuming each person in the region pays which clearly isn’t the case… kids, bums, etc

      11. @Frank: financing (waiting for enough cash flow) delays Ballard about 4 years. The rest of the 22 years is all study and engineering timeline. Can shave time off financing somehow, and can shave a couple years off EIS process—but ST will never promise the latter in a timeline because it’s dependent upon the cities and the Feds to agree to assessing fewer alternatives (vs the 19 they assessed in Bellevue). Can’t promise that because the Feds who would agree aren’t even seated yet–they would be part of the NEXT administration.

      12. As @Jonathan says the biggest difference is in finance. Once the bill passed, the money was there: no waiting for revenue streams.

        That said, the 10 year delivery of Crossrail is misleading. First, while it’s true that there’s a lot going on outside the central tunnel and stations, it’s mostly either large but well understood projects (e.g. electrify the GWML from Heathrow junction to Maidenhead) or smallish incremental change (e.g.extend a platform, add crossovers). In particular, barring the central tunnel and the new Thames tunnel, it’s mostly existing right of way, often with existing track. Second, essentially all the planning had been done before the bill passed in 2008, and much of it had been done before it was introduced in 2005. What this means is that some of the minor preliminary works could be done essentially at once, and that construction was going full speed ahead by 2010.

  7. Awesome vision…. terrible time table…. I am sorry, but waiting 20+ years for a (mostly) COMPLETE line is a tough pill to swallow…

    Right or wrong, that giant wait period may sway discourage voters.

    Without disregarding safety standards, we must develop a streamlined planning/construction/completion plan that delivers results while we are all still young (literally).

    1. Not in the final request. They requested funding for the trail + 85th St station if I remember correctly. Sounds like ST3 will include 85th St Station + BAT lanes to DT Kirkland but no trail.

    2. One of the officials mentioned a late proposal in the works that was too late to get on this map, to extend the Issaquah-Bellevue line to the South Kirkland P&R. It partly depends on which direction ST goes with the CKC. I assume that means the SKP&R extension would be less likely if going further is foreclosed. I don’t know, should ST consider a SKP&R extension? It’s in the middle of nowhere but it does get it closer to Kirkland, where somebody could theoretically the 255 as well as 234/235, which would be greater frequency for them and more destinations.

      But I worry that a SKP&R extension would foreclose the possibility of an Issaquah-Bellevue-Redmond line, which is actually more sensible than any of the Kirkland proposals. It would get Issaquahites to Microsoft and Redmond and Overlake, and Redmondites to Bellevue College, which is significant ridership and not something to sneeze at.

      1. Yes, Zach’s “C” line is a fantastic proposal. That’s where the ridership will be, not in Kirkland.

  8. I have to say, I was excited for the Ballard line but it seems ridiculous to prioritize link to Tacoma before that. Tacoma isn’t even paying for this, and the Ballard line has far higher ridership. I’d still vote for ST3 but it just got a lot more discouraging. I think ST3 is going to lose a lot of Seattle votes when people realize that Seattle’s crucial Ballard and West Seattle lines are quite literally at the back of the line.

    1. Subarea equity. It’s not that Ballard wouldn’t start until Tacoma is finished, since they’re in different subareas so different pots of money. It’s just that they would overlap in a way that Tacoma finishes sooner. Tacoma will be much faster to build because it’s elevated along a highway (whether I-5 or 99 it’ll take 3-5 years to build). Ballard includes a tunnel which takes 7-10 years, and it depends on the DSTT2 which is also a tunnel, and it has a bridge.

  9. That gif is great but could we get it as a slideshow. I can’t process it at that pace.

  10. Kirkland gets what they want, no Light Rail, but a BRT station & widening of 85th. That’s going to be expensive, so my guess is that got added back into 405 BRT when the LT segment got pulled. I just hope & pray Kirkland builds their fancy trail w/ the transit ROW intact … I think the city manager is sharp enough to do that, b/c he knows the city is eventually going to need it. If ST doesn’t think an open bus line is within their vision/mandate of HCT*, then maybe it becomes a good City/County infrastructure project in a few years … if congestion in Kirkland gets bad enough, the city can work with KCM to tee it up as a capital project.

    *During the meeting, one of the board members asked ST to define HCT, and their word choice of “BRT if it resembles rail in ROW & service” seemed like a direct shot at Kirkland’s BRT vision.

    Also – slick visual of the phases, kudos to whomever put that together.

    1. Even with the cost of the 85th/405 interchange and new garage at Totem Lake it is likely Kirkland is going to get far less back from ST3 than what they pay in due to the councils lack of cooperation and vision. I’m curious to see if that will become an issue in the next council elections. “not getting your fair share” tends to resonate with voters.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. For example (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong) but this doesn’t seem to offer folks in Juanita anything. This means the most densely populated area north of 520 and west of 405 is chipping in for everyone else (congratulations Issaquah, you get a shiny new rail line to Bellevue).

      2. Issaquah is a community that, like Redmond and Bel-Red, have embraced an urbanist vision of their community with their land use planning. We have learned from previous fights that matters a lot. Choosing Issaquah over Kirkland is choosing a faithful partner over a bad one to build this thing. These tea leaves will be read for decades as communities make sure they don’t screw themselves for an eternity like Kirkland just did. It’s a smart move.

      3. “Issaquah is a community that, like Redmond and Bel-Red, have embraced an urbanist vision of their community”.

        Whatever are you talking about? Have you been to Issaquah?

        Issaquah is getting a rail station in an uninhabited strip mall zone by the freeway, barely accessible from the places where people live in Issaquah.

        Sure, they have a master plan with pretty pictures. A lot of said pretty pictures are of actually existing Kirkland.

        Meanwhile, Kirkland asked for transit that would serve places where real-world transit riders actually exist. They got a take-it-or-leave-it offer on a rail station so poorly located as to be irrelevant.

      4. Whatever are you talking about? Have you been to Issaquah?

        My though exactly; must be something in the Kool-Aid :=

      5. East King, especially Kirkland have got the shaft here. Kirkland paid the price for being reasonable and wanting transit to go to places where people live and want to visit.

        405 BRT benefits South Snoho and South King as much as East King. The only project of value I see is Downtown Redmond extension. Even with all these projects, I would be surprised if all the money generated in Eastside is spent in that subarea.

        It may in fact be preferable if Sound Transit just transfers additional funds to Metro for capital improvements and additional bus service that Eastside actually needs.

      6. Well said Dan. It is worth considering what the folks in most of Issaquah would get: A three seat ride to downtown Seattle. Just consider the progression:

        Now — A one seat ride to downtown. This can certainly be congested as it gets close to the bridge (after Mercer Island).

        A few years from now — A two seat ride to a frequent train. It isn’t the ridership from Issaquah (and Eastgate) that will enable the high frequency, but the ridership from Bellevue. The transfer should be smooth, assuming Mercer Island residents don’t stand in the way. While this transfer will be annoying for many, it will eliminate the worst part of the trip; since the train will run fairly often, it won’t be the end of the world if the timing is off (and the rider has to wait for the next train). It might be a wash (or better) for the average rider, but the service savings should be substantial.

        2041 — A three seat ride to downtown Seattle. The first seat will be on a bus from a typical Issaquah neighborhood to the Issaquah station. Sine the station will be next to the freeway, riders will be able to experience the slow part of the trip as they do today (getting to the freeway) without enjoying the fast part (being on the freeway). Once they get to the station, they will have to wait for the train. Since this is a train that serves an area many miles away from a busy area, it won’t run that often. Since getting to the train won’t be easy, my guess is the buses will enable a lot of padding (better to arrive ten minutes early, then just miss the train and have to wait 20 minutes). So, the folks in Issaquah will wait for a train. Then they will take a train to Bellevue, where they will transfer to a train headed the other direction. This will be farther away (less direct) then Mercer Island, but fortunately, the transfer will be similar to Mercer Island. Ultimately, for almost everyone, it will mean a much longer, less frequent trip to downtown Seattle.

        Careful what you ask for, Issaquah.

      7. “Kirkland paid the price for being reasonable and wanting transit to go to places where people live and want to visit.”

        Kirkland has a significant handicap in geography, not being on the way between Seattle and Bellevue and Redmond, being too small to be must-serve, Bothell not being large enough to make a line essential, and downtown Kirkland not being on the CKC or 405. (Actually, not being on 405 is an advantage in some ways. :) Kirkland exacerbated the problem by refusing to upzone downtown or in south Kirkland. If Link had a clear right of way with TOD-ready zoning around it and Kirkland’s help to get directly into downtown, it would strengthen the case for Link significantly. But if the CKC is a no-TOD zone and Kirkland refuses to upzone 108th except right around Google, then that opportunity doesn’t exist.

      8. “Since this is a train that serves an area many miles away from a busy area, it won’t run that often.”

        All of Link’s lines so far have been 10 minutes minimum before 10pm, and ST also stated 10 minutes as the standard for 405 BRT and 522 BRT. So you’re assuming something without evidence at this point. Even if it is 15 minutes, that’s better than the 554 which is 30-60 minutes. And a funny thing about that 554 truncated at Mercer Island: it’s the same number of seat-rides to Seattle as the proposed Link line would be. The Link trip might be a couple minutes slower because it goes north and then south, but the frequency would make up for a lot of that, and frequency also makes people psychologically more satisfied even if it doesn’t save time.

      9. “Bothell not being large enough to make a line essential”

        I don’t think it’s this exactly. I think there are two bigger issues:

        1. Any route north of Kirkland basically has to follow 405. From west to east, you basically have Lake Washington, then Finn Hill, then 100th Ave NE, then Norway Hill, then 405, and then the Sammamish river valley. You might be able to squeeze something in along 100th Ave, but I wouldn’t call that area a big destination or high density in any way whatsoever. But basically any route to Kirkland is a route specifically built for Kirkland and nowhere else, because all other places are better served some other way.

        2. All cities north of Kirkland are focused more on transit to Seattle than on transit south. That’s the larger market and 405 BRT is fine for trips south. When you have five cities all agreeing on a single project, of course ST will fund it. And by 2024, 405 BRT will connect directly to Link in Bellevue, making it the fastest way into Bellevue and Redmond. It might have been nice to push for direct access ramps, but I’m guessing ST has other reasons to try to avoid building those.

      10. I’m optimistic about Issaquah’s ability to upzone in the corridor between Newport Wy & Gillman, between the transit center basically down to the old downtown.

        I’m more concerned about the fact Issaquah is getting only one station. It initially looks like the line is terminating at the existing transit center. As an Urbanist, I’d really like to see the line extend a 2nd station closer to the historical core, though I suppose a robust bus system within the town can get the job done.

      11. “I’m more concerned about the fact Issaquah is getting only one station.”

        This is a good point. Most people living in Issaquah are already car-dependent. If we’re spending a ton of money to build rail out to Issaquah, why not spend a bit more and actually go through all of Issaquah.

        But on a related note, Mike mentioned that Bothell is too small for ST to consider as a transit destination. But that must be completely false, because ST wants to spend over $2 billion to Issaquah, which is smaller than Bothell! And it has nothing around it after you leave Eastgate.

      12. @RossB. Yes Juanita will see some benefits from ST3. Many Juanita people commute to Seattle via Kingsgate PR which will get a new garage. The 252/257 are nearly a half an hour faster to downtown than the 255 which allows for a lot of driving and still saving time. Kirkland plans to widen/improve 132nd which will allow more access to the PR.

        I missed the earlier group to the council due to conflicts, but I do intend to go to the Kirkland city council meeting on 4/5 to express the dis-satisfaction I have with my potentially massive new property tax bill with little in return. ;-)

      13. I said Bothell is too small for a light rail line going north from 520 to Bothell that would happen to serve Kirkland. Issaquah is half the distance from East Link. And Bothell is of course the target of 522 BRT, so it is getting something.

    2. “Kirkland gets what they want, no Light Rail, but a BRT station & widening of 85th.”

      Kirkland gets what a few activists in south Kirkland want. It’s not what the Kirkland government wants (which is BRT on the CKC), or what the rest of Kirkland residents want (which is unknown, and probably different people want different things). Sound Transit gets freedom from lawsuits (those activists) and cities opposing ST3 (Kirkland government). The residents of Kirkland have to take a local bus to 85th Station or Bellevue.

      This is analogous to Surrey Downs’ opposition to East Link, or Kemper Freeman’s attempt to scuttle the I-90 crossing. It delays light rail and makes it more expensive, and ST may just bypass the community or stop short of it. ST couldn’t do that in south Bellevue because of the all-important need to get to the second-largest city in the region and second-largest employer and traffic/ridership generator. But Kirkland has none of those must-serve features so it’s getting left out, with only peripheral HCT.

      Meanwhile the city of Kirkland can do anything it wants to improve transit access within it, Prop 1 style.

      1. I agree with your assessment. I have trouble seeing why most of the people in Kirkland would want to pay for this, though. I know BRT on the CKC would have been controversial, but it obviously would have worked quite well for a lot of people (unlike light rail or what is proposed now).

  11. I guess I’m getting old, but I don’t have nearly the concerns about the timeline that many of the early commentators here seem to. It would be great to have a subway in Ballard today, but we didn’t start it twenty years ago. Digging a new tunnel through downtown Seattle is going to take time. The important thing is that we start now so that we eventually do have good transit service to Ballard.

  12. A drawbridge? So the trains would have to stop and wait for ships to cross? Are you shitting me?

    Is there anyone else in the world where rapid rail trains have to stop and wait for boats? That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Why not just build a tall bridge or a tunnel?

    1. Some of the older systems (Chicago, New York) have them, but they don’t open frequently.

      1. Also one of the bridges that carries the A to the Rockaways, IIRC. (Though that bridge might’ve been destroyed by Sandy.)

    2. I’d be curious how high a fixed bridge would need to be. The lowest current obstruction to ships (that doesn’t open and close) is the the highway 99 bridge at 138 feet above the water. If there is some reason why a bridge would need to be that high, it would be tricky.

      Agree with you about the idiocy of light rail waiting for yachts, though.

      1. I bet it’d be better than that, mostly opening for large commercial vessels during off hours.

      2. The opening requirement on the ship canal currently during commute hours is 1,000 tons or higher. That precludes pretty much everything except true ocean going vessels, tug with loaded barges and so on. The vessel must be commercial also.

        There are no personal yachts in Seattle (that I am aware of) that exceed 1,000 tons unless Paul Allen brings one of his big boats in. :-)

    3. Chicago has two drawbridges with train lines running over then. They are only lifted once a day at designated times on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the spring and fall. They are also long openings because boats tend to travel in packs from the boat yards up river (going to/from winter storage). The openings in the Seattle bridges tend to be much shorter (on the order of a couple minutes). And the frequency is directly proportional to the height of the bridge. I’m willing to bet that if a new Ballard bridge is at least ~70′ above the water, it would probably only need to open a few times a week.

    4. Don’t forget that the at-grade trains need to match the speed of the adjacent roadways. Elliot and 15th are 30 MPH.

      Ballard is essentially getting a really expensive, all-day 15 express…in 22 years.

      1. Not if the “at-grade” uses ROW next to the rail yard north of the elevated section. That would have the benefit also of making the Dravus Station much more pleasant (not in the middle of an underpass) and midway between West Queen Anne and East Magnolia.

      2. An at-grade train on a street needs to go the street’s speed. An at-grade train on its own alignment where there’s lots of bridges crossing the tracks can go a lot faster.

      3. “I would be surprised if BNSF gives ST even an inch of their ROW.”

        You never know unless you ask. We can’t be basing project decisions on prejudices that a large landowner would never negotiate.

      4. You should either go out and check out the rail yard or just look on Google Maps. There’s not really a “next to”.

        BNSF is never too keen on giving up on revenue tracks.

  13. I don’t think surface rail in Interbay is quite the disaster it’s been made out to be, provided they run along the existing rail ROWs and not in traffic on 15 Ave W. The walksheds are not too different and you pick up some Magnolia traffic as well, and all of the overpass infrastructure is already there. But of course there’s no guarantee that that ROW is affordable or even available.

    1. +1. I have many problems with this package, but not surface-running in Interbay. (Assuming that we go through Interbay at all, which is suboptimal.)

      1. Some have argued that at grade through Interbay is fine now, but what about 30 years from now when sea levels are rising. (Ben S. raised it in the tweet I posted above)

      2. Yeah, interbay isn’t that bad a place to go at-grade, if done right, but sea level is a hazard we should be thinking about there. Seattle is in one of the best locations in the country, if not the world, in terms of risk for sea level rise for a coastal city, but Interbay and the Duwamish are our hazards. We should go elevated.

        Of course, elevated doesn’t solve the problem of earthquake hazard, for which Interbay and the Duwamish are pretty off the charts.

      3. Well going at-grade has limitations, just look to MLK. speed being one, idiot drivers being another, traffic signal coordination so that the packed HOV doesn’t impact the travel times of a bunch of traffic clogging SOVs.

        That’s one, the other is there is nothing transit oriented or transit conducive in Interbay. Its an autocentric industrial and highway oriented area built along an expressway. The freight rail line cuts off everything to the west. I could get excited if the Ballard – Downtown corridor hit LQA, swung under Queen Anne Hill in a tunnel and also hit Fremont (the popular Option D).

      4. It doesn’t matter where the line goes between stations because nobody will be getting off there anyway. Interbay may be a limited transit market, but it happens to be between two large markets Ballard and downtown which have to be connected. And the main reason ST prefers Interbay is it’s the lowest cost alignment. That matters too.

      5. Western Queen Anne has single family homes, while eastern Magnolia has areas with apartments. It isn’t much but it’s something. Also, if the line is further west it sets it up to get closer to the core of Ballard with no sharp curves north of the ship canal.

    2. I can live with at-grade in Interbay if trains can run at least 45mph and if it’s built above 30′ to be reasonably safe from climate change flooding. The drawbridge thing is a bit harder to swallow. I need to see operational details before either supporting or opposing it. STB Emeritus Bruce Nourish has had some good thoughts on at-grade rail in the past, and they’re applicable here.

      1. Honestly, the drawbridge is the least of my concerns. Trains won’t be coming more often than every five minutes or so. As long as the drawbridge operator has the authority to tell boats to wait a minute if there’s a train in sight, I don’t see a drawbridge delaying transit by much at all.

        The bigger deal to me is that the thing won’t be built for another 22 years! By what logic is building Link to Tacoma a higher priority than providing high-capacity transit that Ballard needs yesterday?

    3. I really could care less about surface rail — it is appropriate for that line. I also don’t mind a high bridge. 70 feet is very high, and would rarely open. A drawbridge is also less of a big deal for a train than a stream of cars (traffic doesn’t build up behind the bridge). Making it rail-only is a really bad idea — way to screw over Seattle pedestrians and bike riders. But that isn’t a killer for me either. Taking a while to build it is not the end of the world, just as long as you start now. But taking 22 years to build this before you even consider building a much more cost effective line (from Ballard to UW) is really unforgivable. It shows a total disregard for effective transit. It suggests these guys are more interested in symbolic construction, rather than saving people time when they take transit.

      1. The marginal cost of adding a sidewalk to a new bridge that you’re going to be building anyway is much less than cost of a whole new bridge. And, considering the awful state of the Ballard bridge sidewalk, a better sidewalk on a rail bridge would be the least we could ask for. At the very least, Sound Transit could at least design the bridge in such a way that SDOT could pony up the marginal cost for bike/ped facilities, if Sound Transit is unwilling to pay for it itself.

      2. actually it is a big deal because making the sidewalk accessible complicates the bridge tremendously, getting a sidewalk to rise a maximum of 1:12 with tons of landings every so often requires long approaches, without a sidewalk the bridge can rise steeper and in a shorter amount of space

      3. poncho,

        The gradients SoundTransit allows for LRT trains are much milder than what pedestrians and cyclists can navigate. A 70′ high bridge built for trains will easily reach from south of Emerson to north of Leary Way. It’ll be a honker.

    4. Yes, if they put a station at Whole Foods, they can diagonal out Armory Way to get to run next to Interbay Yard, under Dravus and then start rising to the new bridge. I sure hope that it lands on 17th rather than 15th. Having a station in the middle of 15th NW would be terrible.

      Seventeenth also has the hospital and is closer to the entertainment district in Ballard.

      True, it complicates going farther north. But why would it go farther north? East? Sure, but not north. There’s no “there” there.

  14. If ST3 fails, will the extensions to Federal Way and Downtown Redmond still get built? Since weren’t they originally promised in ST2?

    1. ST2 only authorized to 272nd. I’m not sure about Redmond because I’ve heard conflicting things, so it may have authorized downtown Redmond but it only funded to Overlake Technology Center.

      1. Rest assured that Sound Transit will continue ST2 taxes to fund the extension to Redmond. It’s really not all that much money and in case you’ve been under a rock the last 10-15 years sales taxes generated on the eastside have skyrocketed.

        That being the case I see very little reason to vote for the ST3 taxes forever package. The 405 improvements can be paid for by WSDOT with help from tolls.Money for 405 in Snohomish County might be tight but there’s zero reason to spend billions on light rail from Issaquah to Bellevue just to get this. What the eastside needs most is more bus service which should come from a “Move Eastside” type levy.

      2. Bernie’s right. The Eastside has very little incentive to vote for this. Zach’s “C” line is a great service idea, but the ridership is probably not adequate to justify it.

      3. Agreed. There’s basically no good eastside projects here. 405 BRT sounds like a lot of parking with zero reliability improvements, no direct access ramps, etc… The Redmond extension would already be funded. And LRT to Issaquah is a low-ridership project benefiting only a few people.

        Unfortunately, LRT to Eastgate (which might actually be useful) and 522 BRT would be decent projects that would go unfunded. But both have issues and a second go-around would probably help both out.

  15. What does this decision mean for Madison Street BRT? My understanding is that Move Seattle only provided $15M of the $120M project cost and that SDOT was hoping ST3 to help cover the rest. Does this mean Madison St BRT at risk of dying?

    1. Maybe it should. Cap Hill Station provides a much faster connection for many. Besides, if it was in ST3, it may not get funded for 15 years anyway.

      1. I think you have it backwards, Al. Madison BRT will probably save more people more time than the single, solitary Capitol Hill station. That is because, while the Capitol Hill station is a fine one, it is but a single, solitary station. Madison BRT, meanwhile, will have many stops.

        It will also cost a lot less, and is funded already. It just means that Seattle has less money for other worthwhile, but still not horribly expensive projects. Madison BRT won’t take a hit, but Roosevelt BRT or many of the other corridors will.

    2. It means it needs to find another funding source, possibly a grant. It doesn’t mean it’s dead already. The Northgate pedestrian bridge is also looking for the rest of its funding, and the City Center Connector.

      1. We also have the opportunity to comment on this draft plan and voice the need for Madison BRT. I agree with RossB that the Madison BRT line would serve a ton of people and drastically improve transit speed and reliability through a very dense area.

        While we’re at it, comment in support of a Metro 8 subway line study! I cannot believe that is not even included as a study. Mind boggling.

      2. It doesn’t hurt to ask early and ask often for a Metro 8 subway. All those requests might eventually get somebody’s attention, and the board turns over whenever new city/county leaders are elected. A future board may be more forward-thinking than the current board.

  16. Just a note: don’t call the stop between Junction and Delridge “Youngstown”. It should be called the Triangle stop.

  17. If Sound Transit is unwilling to move up the time table on Ballard Link, then ST3 should at least pay for Madison BRT. It’s already partially funded by the Let’s Move levy, and ST3 would only have to chip in around $30 million (a drop in the bucket for a $50 billion package). This would get Seattle voters excited and be an early win; awesome light rail in 20 years isn’t that exciting, and this would be a very cheap way to buy more yes votes.

      1. Agreed. Seattle specifically asked for projects that could be implemented quickly, and apparently Sound Transit specifically ignored that request (but just for Seattle).

      2. I agree. We need to flood ST with comments in support of including the Madison BRT.

        And a study for the Metro 8 subway line too!

      3. If there is to be a study of a Metro 8 subway, the City of Seattle should do it itself. There will be more but less palatial stations if Seattle designs it. Yes, ST is a great light rail builder, so Seattle should transfer the completed engineering to them to implement. But the City should design the system, with ST’s engineering assistance.

      4. But the City should design the system, with ST’s engineering assistance.

        ST contracts out the engineering. SDOT can skip the middle man and just go direct to CH2M Hill or whoever. ST employees just write the bid proposals and then act as inspectors when the project is being built. Seattle is more than capable of doing all of this.

    1. Moving up the timetable means dropping other expenses if they can’t just do it by tweaking. The budget is almost maxed out with the proposed projects, which is why 130th didn’t get definitively funded. I wouldn’t mind dropping the C and D enhancements if it would speed up Ballard light rail in any meaningful way (although it may be too little money to do so). And I’m particularly unhappy about front-loading so many parking garages, especially if it’s true that $1 now is worth $2 later. But most of those garages are in other subareas so there’s not much we can do about them; ST is unlikely to drop them to accelerate Ballard LRT or add Madison BRT.

      1. “The budget is almost maxed out with the proposed projects”

        I find that almost impossible to believe. Does Ballard – West Seattle really almost max out the Seattle budget? Didn’t we calculate otherwise here on the blog last year?

      2. The total set of projects almost maxes out the $50 billion budget, the finance person said. They didn’t get into subarea details except to assert that the total plan complies with subarea equity, and to cash:bond standards that bondholders care about, and a couple other things.

  18. “HCT Study: Northern Lake Washington ” is included. This is great news. It wraps Ballard/UW line into a complete integrated line for North Seattle instead of a weak ridership, highly subsidized short segment from Ballard to UW. However Fremont appears to get the shaft but there is bound to be some losers. No 130th station is a win for Lynnwood and any person that is stuck with this extremely elongated system. However, too bad Graham is included. Also, Sounder is getting some love and Burien will get looked at as a WS extension; Otherwise WS on it’s own shouldn’t occur.

    1. The fact that I actually had to punch “2038 – 2016” into a calculator to figure out how long this package is going to take is very disappointing. If all goes according to schedule, I would be 54 by the time rail finally makes it to Ballard, and by the time ST4 finally built Ballard->UW, I might be an old man. Somebody who is already 54 years old today might easily be dead by the time rail gets to Ballard. And for all that, it would still be subject to occasional ship canal openings, while West Seattle gets to jump to the head of the line.

      The best I can say is that, with 22 years being a long time, some of the lines that wouldn’t be justifiable today might be justifiable then, if the region continues to grow.

      1. I’ll be 71 (assuming I’m still here). I started attending the citizen’s transit advisory committee (including comments in the transit tunnel EIS related to future rail) when I was a sophomore in high school.

      2. I’ll be 71 (assuming I’m still here).

        I’d be and octogenarian but the actuarial tables say I’ll be in an underground station by then. I like the idea of build it all now and let the grand kids foot the bill. Oh, wait… that’s the same as a Federal Grant :=

    2. It’s disappointing that Ballard-UW is mentioned only in the context of cross-lake corridors (520, Sand Point-Kirkland, or 522). That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dependent on them, but it shows bad prioritization.

      It looks like les doesn’t think Seattle needs anything; it’s the suburbs with all the needs. The suburbs need something because they’re the majority of the population, but Seattle is where people are most concentrated and HCT can most effectively serve, and Seattleites are much more willing to use transit for all their trips. The idea of serving just the suburbs is what led to our interstates and lack of urban infrastructure development in the 1950s. It was wrong then but they can maybe be excused for not realizing it; whereas the evidence is on the ground now so there’s no excuse to make the same mistake again. So we do need those infill stations and Seattle lines.

      1. Oh, so lets build a short stub of a line that requires its’ own maintenance facility, has anemic ridership which will require huge subsidies and a line that doesn’t take people to Children’s, U-village, NOAA (you know, places where everybody else in SEATTLE would like to go). Oh and lets tie are hands now so that we can’t flexibly deal with the flood of riders from Bothell, Kenmore and LCW which will put huge pressures on the spine. Hell, why not have a regional plan when we can piecemeal a piece of shit together.

      2. Go ride the 44 and see if it has anemic ridership. Hint: Metro has increased it to 15 minutes full time and running until 2am eastbound, because of its high ridership. Then look at the population level along the 45th corridor (the highest in north Seattle or any suburb), and the willingness of people in that corridor to walk and take transit for all their trips. Complaints about too few stations or not going to U-Village don’t apply to a future proposal which has not been made yet. A mantenance base is an operational detail that can be decided in the context of a future plan. It could put a base in Interbay where it has a line going anyway.

      3. I was on a 45 last week. I know the buses run good numbers. I know this corridor is a major pain in the ass to navigate. Whenever I visit friends in Ballard I end up using various combinations of 65th and 85th. But a line to replace these buses has to be put in context. It has to be integrated to handle the entire area and not just self-serving Ballard. Plan it correctly with one complete master plan, not this segmented BS.

      4. “… it shows bad prioritization … “

        No kidding. That’s the understatement of the year.

        Oh, and les, you are completely wrong. So wrong I wonder if you are trolling or being satirical. A Ballard to UW subway would mean that Ballard and the entire region north of the ship canal and west of I-5 would have a fast ride to both the UW and downtown — places that are hundreds of times more popular than Children’s, U-village, and NOAA (NOAA, les? everyone is headed to NOAA?). Its per mile ridership would greatly exceed everything outside the core (UW to downtown) and thus be one of the few areas that would actually subsidize the rest of the system. And, as has been discussed way too many times, it wouldn’t need a separate maintenance facility, but a simple (non revenue) connecting line, like dozens of systems throughout the world.

      5. Mike,

        Fifteen minute headways, even with articulated trolleys, is completely inadequate to justify LRT. If that’s all the ridership there is, forget about Ballard-UW. It would be pissing away 3 billion,

      6. Anandakos: how often did the 8 run when we replaced its function on MLK with Link?

        Moreover, the 44 runs more frequently than every 15 minutes in the peak-of-peak, and it is crush-loaded, never mind on game days when UW pays to supplement service. And even in off-peak, we see bunching and crowding because of the I-5 automobile traffic. How much additional demand do you think is being diverted to other routes simply because there is no more room on the 44?

      7. Kyle,

        Sure it runs more often during the peak hours, and yes, it’s crowded then. But even then the minimum headway is eight minutes and is typically every ten minutes. If there are people being left at stops consistently, then yes, add more runs, and I do understand that Metro is much more budget constrained than ST.

        But even if you assume that the people currently riding the express buses from Phinney/Greenwood and Wallingford north of 45th would all transfer to a new Ballard-UW subway, that’s only an additional ten or eleven busloads per hours. So at the most you’d be getting about twenty busloads per hour, or 2000 pphd crush loaded. And yes, I understand that Wallingford is a growing neighborhood that uses transit loyally. But that’s just not enough to justify a subway.

        Forty-fifth/Market is one of the corridors slated for “RapidRide+” (aka the Incredible Shrinking List of BRT Standards), and maybe SDOT will get serious about making it work.

      8. @Anandakos — I think you are forgetting that Ballard to UW also works really well as a way to get from Ballard to downtown (or Ballard to Capitol Hill or Ballard to Northgate, etc.). The entire region north of the ship canal and west of I-5 would have a fast ride to both the UW and downtown. If rail isn’t justified there, then it is hard to see it justified anywhere (including Ballard to Interbay to downtown). I’m a big fan of the Metro 8 subway, but the 8 only carries around 10,000. This is because, like the 44, it is horribly slow, and makes absolutely no sense as a connector. No one will take the 44 over to the UW and then Link to downtown, just like no one will take the 8 over to CHS, then to downtown (unless they are really close). But in both cases, it makes a lot of sense once you add a tunnel for the trains.

        I hope that SDOT can make the 44 corridor really fast, but I think it will be really challenging. There are just a lot of cross streets that will want to have traffic priority (or at least traffic parity) and many of those carry a lot of bus traffic.

      9. Anandakos, you’re forgetting to count the folks going from Ballard to downtown were this built instead of a line from Ballard to downtown via Interbay. Also, this would become the new fastest way to traverse the corridor at anytime of day, pulling more people from cars/bikes (the current fastest modes). What’s more, getting from downtown and Capitol Hill to Wallingford and parts of Ballard wouldn’t be a pain in the ass anymore, encouraging more trips between these places.

      10. “Fifteen minute headways, even with articulated trolleys, is completely inadequate to justify LRT.”

        That’s the fallacy of assuming that the current level of service is the right level of service. Or as Dr Pangloss would say, that “This is the best of all possible worlds.” The 45th/Market corridor is similar to corridors in San Francisco and Vancouver that have a much higher level of service. If a fast/reliable/10-minute train were there, it would attract riders who avoid the 44, and more people would move to the neighborhood so that they could be near the train. People don’t move to Wallingford and Ballard now for the excellent transit service because there is no excellent transit service.

      11. And even if it doesn’t attract more riders, it gets the existing riders to places faster and more conveniently. That’s worth something in a corridor with higher-than-average density: it’s what a citywide/regionwide network should do and is worth investing in.

      12. Guys,

        You can not assume that everyone from north of Market or 45th who wants to go downtown will be able to transfer to Link at Brooklyn. When all the remaining express buses from Northeast Seattle, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, Shoreline, and Snohomish County are truncated at Link stations, there really will be no excess capacity at Brooklyn.

        Sure, many people will get off there, and that will certainly open up some space. But not enough for people currently taking the Ballard expresses, the 28, 5, 62, and 26 routes to downtown to switch to Link at 45th or Market.

        Everyone has drunk d.p.’s Kool-Ade about there being almost unlimited capacity on Link. Well, there’s not. It can carry somewhere around 16,000 people per hour in the peak direction with three minute headways. That’s 20 four-car trains, with each car carrying 200 people. That’s pretty packed.

        Now if they get the Montlake Vent maybe they can up it to 24,000, but that capacity is far from Seattle’s only.

        That’s very good for a Light Rail line. Very good indeed. And it will reduce the total cost of operation for Metro and CT enormously. But it’s not unlimited, so you simply cannot jack up the expected ridership on a 44 replacement subway by assuming that every person from north of it will do the double transfer to get downtown.

        And the truth is, so far as getting to UW itself, transit probably has nearly every trip from south of 85th already.

        Yes, there would be significant off-peak ridership to Capitol Hill because Link is so enormously better for that trip. But there isn’t any noticeable in-commuting to Capitol Hill. There’s very little employment there; it’s on First Hill.

      13. “how often did the 8 run when we replaced its function on MLK with Link?”

        They’re different transit markets. The 8 is to go all along to any block in the valley. Link is a limited-stop service like Swift or the 38L in San Francisco: to quickly go between the densest points and emerging urban villages, but mostly to quickly go in or out of the valley or through the valley.

  19. With so much expert panel discussion about missing local bus integration and land use connectivity, I’ll be watching to see if the Board members get serious about these specifics or if they will keep merely gushing about generalities because they built a political consensus.

  20. This package is pretty good, however Interbay-Ship Canal is unacceptable as proposed. We need grade separation in Interbay and a fixed Ship Canal crossing.

    That three mile stretch is really the main severe flaw with this package.

  21. I see nothing in here to get excited about. I live on the northeast periphery of Ballard. The nearest station will be over a mile from my house and won’t be operational until my newborn son is about to graduate from college.

    I don’t expect the suburbs to put much worth walking to nearby their stations, making the spine useless for someone taking transit from Seattle.

    One small consolation is that they don’t propose to put in a Ballard-UW subway with anti-urban stop spacing, so if this is to happen at all maybe it will be done by an agency that understands building transit for people who aren’t driving to the station at one end.

    I expect to vote no. Try again, Sound Transit.

    1. Hear hear. I’m a hugely pro-rail voter and Seattle property owner, and I will be voting no on ST3. ST seems to have taken Seattle Subway’s suggestion to “go big”, but only for taxes and timeframe, not for projects. This is a $50B tax plan for cheapo solutions on far too slow a timeline. Seattle Subway’s plan was for a similar length of taxes for a much more comprehensive solution.

      If this is the crap that ST is going to propose, it’s time for Seattle to separate our transit destiny from the suburbs. If ST can’t deliver lines that people will actually ride for 25 years because they are busy designing and building some idiotic line to Paine Field, then the City of Seattle no longer shares any common interests with ST. It’s time, and I would contribute my time and money to any organization that advocates for a Seattle-going-it-alone strategy.

      1. I have little interest too in what is planned. First off $50 billion is a huge amount of money, even in this wealthy prosperous region that is much more willing to tax itself than most places in the US. Two, the timeframe simply is unacceptable, maybe if in 25 years we had the most incredible rapid transit system covering every corner of the region I could deal with the timeframe but with the crap proposed, absolutely no! I need Ballard & 2nd Downtown Subway built before 2030 to consider getting behind this. Almost the rest is pure junk.

        I want to see: Ballard-Downtown, Ballard-UW, Sounder upgrades to make it frequent, HCT to Downtown Kirkland (not some cloverleaf in the middle of sprawl hell known as 85th), something reasonable to West Seattle. And that’s even discounting Metro 8 subway which was clear was never going to be part of this package unfortunately.

        I cant get excited about Ballard – Downtown when it has a sub-optimal route through Interbay and an operable bridge. Oh and in 2038

        Pay a lot, wait a lot, and get shit. Much like a restaurant, if that’s the story, I wont be going back or voting in favor.

        Look how much our region and especially Seattle has changed in the last 10 years!!! Under this proposal by 2041, we will get these crappy projects. What do you think the region is going to be like and need for projects then?!!?!? What is proposed is seriously a system for 1990.

      2. As much as I hate to say, I’m leaning the same way. I’ve always been a big fan of ST, but this is shaping up to possibly be my first “no” vote on a transit measure since Roads and Transit in 2007. They are trying to do to much here, and the timeline is ridiculous. Absolutely nothing for Ballard until 2038??? While West Seattle jumps ahead in line? Meanwhile, Federal Way and Tacoma could be in for a rude awakening if their express buses get cut, in favor of a train that takes twice as long.

        And rail to Paine Field in 2041 – who knows if Boeing will even still be here in 2041 – by that point, they just might have succeeded in moving everything to either South Carolina or China.

        And Ballard to UW gets a “study”. Even if there is an ST 4, by the time enough tax authority is available to fund it and build it, even people in their 20’s and 30’s today will be old or dead.

        And, in the meantime, Sounder North continues to run in perpetuity, with its 4 trips per day subsidized at $32/rider, even after Link goes all the way to Lynnwood and Everett.

        Just as failure of 2007 Roads and Transit was not the death of transit, I don’t believe failure here would be death of transit either. If a failed vote is what it takes to allow Seattle to fund its needs itself, then that it what it takes.

        The proposal is exactly what d.p. has been warning us for years. If he weren’t banned, he’d be saying “I told you so, I told you so, I told you so” over and over and over again.

      3. Seattle does have employment taxation authority, but it’s afraid to use it. However, once Expedia gets moved to Pier 91 and Amazon has five big buildings, they’re not going to be leaving for downtown Bellevue. The “creatives” want to be in this way cool City. The managers won’t like it, but they’re all expendable; management is certainly a skill, but they don’t cut the code or come up with the cool new app ideas.

  22. The suburbs are clearly holding Seattle back. Let’s consider blowing this up and going alone. While we can’t imagine what Seattle will look like in 30+ years, we KNOW it will need so much more than this is proposing.

    1. What would the tax dollar numbers be for Seattle alone? Say given the levy rate, how much over 25 years could Seattle raise towards their own lines? I would even consider paying double for an amazing subway system and I’m sure others would agree

      1. If subarea equity holds (which I find a bit hard to believe with this proposal), then Seattle’s tax dollars, and only Seattle’s tax dollars, were paying for the West Seattle and Ballard lines. More likely, Seattle’s tax dollars were paying for West Seattle, Ballard and part of the Everett line. At worst, by going it alone, Seattle could pay the same taxes as ST3 is proposing and get West Seattle and Ballard. More likely, Seattle could pay less taxes and still get those lines.

      2. Brando I agree. As a Seattle homeowner I’ll pay virtually anything for us to make a real and immediate investment in rail.

    2. If Seattle decides to go it alone, then it can do away with the ridiculous Sound Transit planning and start from scratch. It means building things that are cost effective. This means, basically this: plus Metro 8 subway. That will simply be better for the vast majority of people in the area. Better for the vast majority of folks in West Seattle, better for the vast majority of folks in Ballard and much, much better for everyone else. It would also (likely) be built way faster as well.

      1. We are going to have to get SDOT to get their shit together though if we go it alone. We can’t have more “First Hill Streetcar” debacles.

      2. Agreed. But technically that is an ST project, too (although the neighborhood weighed in on it heavily). The first SDOT HCT project of this administration is Madison BRT, which looks pretty damn good to my eyes. Fast, frequent and bold (center running). If their assessment is wrong (and they need to take more lanes) I think they will just take them (after all, they’ve taken a bunch already). If not, then they saved a bit of money and came out way ahead. Meanwhile, the Roosevelt BRT seems like it could be huge for the area — extremely fast speeds connecting some very dense areas (by Seattle standards).

  23. So I have to wait 20 years for it to get near my place. I’ll be 78 so I doubt I’ll be driving still so maybe it’ll come in handy.

    1. At that age you might be a ripe old NIMBY complaining about those trains that are going to destroy your property value (haha as if) and want some worthless geriatric walking trail in the right of way instead.

      1. The Mariner P&R would be closest ST3 station to my house. That’s roughly 2.5 miles away. Too far away to affect my property values. In addition since the transit facility already exists adding light rail to it might be a plus to the property values in that area.

    2. In 25 years it’ll be hard to get anyone to believe that trains will destroy property values, because it will be obvious that areas like Roosevelt have just fine property values and have not turned into a ghetto and a lot of people use the light rail and the community won’t be able to imagine how it would get along without it.

      1. but you have to feed the outdated 50 year old narrative perpetuated by the local news and drunk like kool aid by the nouveau riche country club set that transit is for criminals who are gonna steal your VCR

  24. Good luck trying to get the ST Board to start large scale side-deals. November isn’t that far away to unwind what just got passed, so it’s a hold your nose and vote Yes or nothing for maybe 2 or 4 more years of planning.
    What would Bernie do?

    1. That is exactly what the Burbistas are counting on: Seattle HAS TO HAVE grade separated transit, and soon, in order to avoid grinding to a gridlocked halt. So the azzoles in the hinterland are gonna make certain sure that their little “extensions” get built first. THEN you can have some Seattle.

  25. This is just much too long to wait. 2041? That’s bananas. Kids born today will be out of college by the time that opens.

    If it’s a matter of cost, just figure out how to cut-and-cover the whole thing. Vancouver did it, and the sky didn’t fall.

    1. The new tunnel has to pass under the Pine Street section of the DSTT, so it simply has to be bored. Besides, the impacts on downtown would be enormous if you did a C’n’C tunnel through it. The two downtown stations will be bad enough.

      1. Vancouver cut and cover in their downtown and they survived, right up Granville. They bored parts of it, too. I dunno, this is just so much money for a bunch of compromised lines.

      2. Vancouver has a lot of streets parallel to Granville; Seattle has four other than Fourth Avenue. Sixth doesn’t really work because it’s one way north in half of it and one way south in the other half. But maybe “four and a half”.

  26. First time commenter here. The massively long-term phasing of this is a colossal mistake and frankly, destined to fail. 2033 to West Seattle and 2038 ballard? What a f’ing joke!

    If Sound Transit wants any chance of this passing, projects like these MUST be completed within 10-15 years MAX (much like ST2 was phased to do). To put this in perspective, voters 18-30 years old will be 40 -52 years old by the time the Ballard extension is done. Those in their late 30s now will be retired or near retired. Expecting voters to approve something that will be paid-for by themselves but will likely impact the next generation but not themselves is not a good plan.

    I am a huge supporter of mass transit, but even this gives me pause and i’m going to have to think long and hard before this gets my vote. Leadership must communicate why this can’t be done under a reasonable timeframe. 22 years is laughable. I’m just stunned.

    1. This will be the first transit package where I vote no. Time for Seattle to cut ties with ST and go it alone.
      I, too am willing to pay more to get more. LR to Tacoma and Boeing is not necessary. Funding model is broken. Let’s pay our own way to good transit sooner.

      1. Agreed. I’d be curious to know why the regional funding model is preferred. These projects can be done concurrently if the voters in the respective cities/counties approve the projects. Frankly, id prefer to wait and see if more efficient technology is preferred in 20140. Gondola, hyperloop technology, or something else could be significantly more efficient mode of transportation by the time 20140 rolls around.

  27. I just realized how old I am. Currently at 47, I wouldn’t see link to West Seattle until 65 and Ballard until I am 70. Very frustrating but I am resigned to the fact that that is just the way it is. If this gets voted down, I will be even older before it is built. The next package will just be smaller and take longer. I don’t think a Seattle only package will ever work with our political process and Sound Transit already ingrained to run our transit. They are here to stay and we have to work with a regional transit organization.
    People can’t look at this package and say “what does it give me?”. It is so long term that people will move to where the transit goes. When my youngest finishes high school in 2 years, I will move from the suburbs to a city location where I can live “car free” with easy access to the airport. I can move to Bellevue, Cap Hill,, U district, Columbia City, or downtown to live in a condo to make this work. I can make this project list work for me. But it doesn’t give me options if things take so long to build. Ballard, Belltown, and Alaska Junction see too far away timewise…
    I gotta vote for this but we gotta try and squeeze these timelines. I want to go more places faster

    1. Yes, as you say, it’s not a matter of voting it down and waiting, it’s a matter of pressing ST to explain why it’s going to take so long when everywhere else in the world seems to be able to do it faster. Part of me thinks it’s just job security, but the better part of me gives ST the benefit of the doubt in that there could be reasonable explanations for it taking so long. But there’s also likely a large dose of under-promising. And perhaps even a financial element in terms of phasing the issuance of bonds and ramping up debt repayments more slowly. I, and I think a lot of other people, would rather see aggressive timelines with plans for more appropriate resource allocations over time (in terms of labor). Whatever the case, they need to explain it, because the worst case is that our laws, regulatory structure, and whatever else blah blah could actually make it take this long — and in that case, it definitely isn’t worth waiting to get started.

      I’m sorry, but I don’t see why ST can’t hire a slew of people (and contract more) for shorter timeframes. If they’re worried about cost growth due to labor (and thinking of every new hire as a permanent employee in perpetuity), that’s just wrong. They are a project-based, capital building organization, and they should view their workforce that way.

      1. This will likely be voted down. This is a transit blog, and many long term transit advocates are basically saying this is unacceptable. It will likely fail in the suburbs by huge margins, but if it fails in the city, there will be a shakeup. This will be a good thing. The planning department at Sound Transit is incompetent. The time it takes for this to be built is just one of the many failures of this plan. This plan is better for the vast majority of Seattle residents:
        But most of the key components of that plan were rejected for no logical reason. Sound Transit is more interested in symbolic rail accomplishments (such as completing the spine) than real improvements to transit mobility in the region.

        If ST3 was built it would look unlike any successful system anywhere. At best it would like Dallas light rail, a sprawling, largely unsuccessful system that struggles to provide meaningful transit to the region. But unlike DART, ST3 would cost a fortune.

        Just compare this system to Vancouver BC SkyTrain. Vancouver is similar to us (a new city, with geographic challenges). SkyTrain manages to carry around 400,000 people a day, which is more than this would ever carry. More importantly, the rail is part of a transit system, which enables very fast, frequent bus and rail service. The result is transit ridership that is more than triple what ours is (per capita). Yet this looks nothing like what Vancouver BC has built. They don’t have miles and miles of rail, but short, very important pieces that fit together well. Building the system described above, plus the Metro 8 subway would create a system very much like what Vancouver has — a system that enables good transit options to anywhere.

      2. The planning department at Sound Transit is incompetent. … Sound Transit is more interested in symbolic rail accomplishments (such as completing the spine) than real improvements to transit mobility in the region.

        This hasn’t even been waved past the noses of the planners. It’s all on the ST Board. The Butler did it!

        If ST3 was built it would look unlike any successful system anywhere. At best it would like Dallas light rail, a sprawling, largely unsuccessful system that struggles to provide meaningful transit to the region.

        Peter Rogoff specifically pointed to Dallas as a success story he wants to emulate here. If he can do something about ST’s run away costs I’m all for it.

      3. “SkyTrain manages to carry around 400,000 people a day, which is more than this would ever carry”

        500,000 is what ST is predicting.

        And for miles-of-rail bragging rights (which I know RossB would say is not a good measure), they said it’s 108 miles total. And that that’s roughly the same length as BART, the DC Metro, and CTA Chicago; twice as long as MARTA; and three times as long as SEPTA.

      4. Ross, they do have “miles and miles of rail”. But at every station they have a cluster of high-rises, either residential or employment or sometimes both. The bus grid is great! But the number of people who can walk to SkyTrain is huge.

      5. @Anandakos — SkyTrain is 42.6 miles. This would be 108 miles. But it isn’t the length, it is the way it is designed. Here is a nice map: From the farthest reaches of the system it is about 15 miles to downtown, while everything else is closer to that. It is a much more compact system.

        You are absolutely right; Vancouver manages to go to high demand places, and places of high density (they don’t skip their version of Lake City to go to their version of Shoreline). But the effect many of those towers have is exaggerated. Go out a bit (to areas like Richmond) and you can see that there are areas where density is very low, even if there is a tower there. Check out Landsdowne Station, which is by no means unique for the area: Go to the street view and you can see a few towers. But those towers are nowhere big enough or tall enough to make up for all the low slung buildings and parking in the area. Simple short brownstone buildings in Brooklyn have much higher. density. Here is another example, closer to town: Not exactly the urban wonderland that most people associate with Vancouver. But it really doesn’t matter. Buses run along 49th there and quickly connect to the station. Look at the frequent transit map: It isn’t miles and miles between stations — not only do you have a great grid, but the light rail is huge part of the grid! Imagine that! Every major road has frequent transit, and every major intersection has light rail. We simply haven’t built that, nor are we building that. We just spent billions on a light rail line from the UW to downtown, and managed to miss both Madison and 23rd! Holy Cow — two of the biggest transit corridors in the city — two of the most urban corridors in the city (and growing) — two corridors that of course would play a huge part in a transit grid, and light rail manages to miss both. Oops.

        The lines between buses and rail in Vancouver are so blurred that it is sometimes hard to tell which is which. When I searched for a Google Map of SkyTrain, it came up with this: I was confused. I didn’t know the rail went all the way out there — because it doesn’t. This includes BRT. Why not? The UBC Loop (AKA 99 B-Line) “operates on a 2-minute headway in the AM peak direction, with a 4.5 minute day base headway.” It carries more people than our entire rail line. When a single bus line carries more people and runs more often than our entire multi-billion dollar light rail line, it should tell you something. But it isn’t just about the BRT, or the light rail, it is about the entire transit system, that works well together. Vancouver bus ridership is still way higher than its rail ridership. According to this, it actually has a higher ratio of bus to rail riders than Portland: It really isn’t about the towers, it is about the grid.

        @Mike — I am predicting the Mariners will win the World Series this year. I think I have a better chance of being right than Sound Transit.

      6. Ross,

        Well, you’re comparing the completed Spine Destiny system with the existing SkyTrain system. Remember that it’s going to be extended well southeast toward Surrey and out east to Coquitlam. When those are finished it will be a lot closer to 108 miles than it is now.

        Yes, of course lots of people transfer between buses and SkyTrain, but a much higher proportion are and always will be “walk-ups” than in the Link system as planned.

      7. @Anandakos — Of course I’m comparing the existing SkyTrain system to ST3. That is my point. Vancouver, now, has a more effective system than we will have, even if we have more than double the amount of rail. Who cares if they then catch up in miles. All that means is that they convert some of their bus lines (like the BRT I mentioned) into rail, and extend farther into the suburbs. It will still be more compact than our system, but more importantly, have the crucial transit grid in the core of the city necessary for this to work. They ordered an ice cream sundae, and are now adding whip cream. We are thinking of buying a big bowl of whipped cream, and paying really prices for it. No thank you.

        As for the ratio of transfers to walkup riders, who the hell knows. Really, I would like to see some data on it. Our transfers are terrible. The Mount Baker station should be one of our most popular stations, since the 7 (our second most popular bus), the 48 (third) and 8 (sixth) all connect to Link there. But it isn’t. Ridership isn’t that high there. Meanwhile, we are sending our buses into some very low density areas, so you have a point. But I really don’t care. The big point here is that Vancouver SkyTrain has enabled a very good transit system involving both buses and trains, and that ST3 would not. A quick glance at the frequent transit network and you can see that it isn’t that hard to get from anywhere to anywhere in Vancouver. Of course there are places that are less than ideal — where bus congestion is a problem. But it is nothing like Link, where some very common trips will simply get nothing. Lake City to Ballard, for example. That is not an obscure trip. I would imagine those are two top ten destinations (certainly north of the ship canal). Does ST3 do anything for them? No, not really. Add towers at Northgate and Ballard; hell, add towers in Pinehurst (NE 130th) to justify the station there, and see if it is any easier to get from Ballard to Northgate. No, not at all, because ST has no interest in building a transit system, they are simply interested in adding more miles of rail.

      8. Ross,

        I’m not defending Spine Destiny. I think it’s crap, too.

        I would say that you are skating a little close to the edge of hyperbolic ideology, though. Why is it Sound Transit’s responsibility to make a Lake City to Ballard trip better? It’s entirely within the City of Seattle. First, who the hell wants to make that trip except off-peak? There’s almost none of the sort of employment that people who take peak hour transit have. There’s plenty of entertainment and folks in Lake City surely might like to enjoy that. But that’s no ST’s job. It was created to make peak hour commuting in the horrible geographic tangle that is North and East King County more efficient.

        Now had you said “Lake City to Fremont” where there is some employment, that might have been more effective. But Ballard-UW won’t go through Fremont; at least, none of your schematics show it going that way.

        So, you clearly have no option other than to vote “No” on the package as proposed. I would too, because I think that Lynnwood to Highline College and Redmond is quite sufficient. I have lots of ideas about good right of way should the system be extended beyond those points, but I agree with most people that it would be a stonking big waste of money.

        One very good thing about a failed ST3 is that it will get the City of Seattle off its complacent ass about painting the town red. More bus lanes and wait for a more sympathetic legislature is a very good Plan B for a failed ST3.

  28. Only minor surprises here. But, wow, will this be a long wait. By the time this plan is fully built out we should be able to run lots of new ferry service given rising ocean levels. /sarcasm

    The second tunnel downtown is clearly needed. Glad to see the Aurora/Harrison stop included.

    Targeting the West Seattle Junction is more reasonable than building light rail across the Duwamish and foregoing the Junction. It seems to be a political reality that West Seattle light rail is included in the plan, but kicking the Ballard-UW can this far down the road is disappointing.

    Looks like the ERC / CKC remains untouched – which is fine by me as I think that trail as a greenbelt is one of the greatest long term public assets on the Eastside and I have yet to see a plan I think is superior to no action there (sincere attempts aside.)

    Does this plan expect Seattle-Issaquah trips to involve a huge diversion plus a transfer in downtown Bellevue? Or are we going to continue running express buses all the way downtown indefinitely? Or do a bus-intercept at Mercer Island, over their unreasonable opposition?

    By the time the Paine Field diversion would be built, I believe we’re likely to have a second commercial airport up there, given the growth rate of traffic at Sea-Tac. I have a feeling that’s behind at least some of the motivation for that routing. And a second airport wouldn’t be without some benefits besides relieving pressure on Sea-Tac; a Link trip from Everett to Sea-Tac almost matches the flight time from Sea-Tac to the Bay Area.

    Disappointed to see 130th continue to be de-prioritized. Also, Graham Street not until 2036? It’s hard to imagine there isn’t a solid business case to do that faster given the need for additional accessible housing that’s convenient to Seattle employers.

    I think this is queueing us up for a potential post-ST3 Seattle-only supplemental transit plan (potentially using monorail funding authority?) that includes Madison BRT (absent from this plan) and some kind of acceleration of the Seattle projects, or additional ones.

    This plan or any variant is going to take a long time to build, and traffic has already become intolerable. I suspect we’ll be creating a lot more transit-priority bus lanes in Seattle in the interim, at the expense of street parking and general purpose traffic.

    1. Sound transit is done running express buses into Seattle from Issaquah once East Link opens. Only question is whether the transfer happens at MI or S. Bellevue.

      1. What is the point of even opening rail to issaquah if pax headed to Seattle have to take a bus and transfer somewhere along the I-90 corridor?

      2. Because the Eastside is growing and Issaquahites will increasingly want to go to other Eastside cities? Because it’s a spur off the main line because Issaquah isn’t one of the largest cities in the Eastside? Issaquah-Seattle trips will continue to be strong and perhaps the majority, but connecting the Eastside cities to each other is also important, especially if low energy use per person is a long-term goal.

    2. The ST2 plan is to truncate the Issaquah-Seattle buses at Mercer island or South Bellevue. There’s some resistence in Mercer Island, but the transit agencies seem dedicated to truncating one way or the other.

    3. Jonathan,

      East Main is only one station and three miles farther than South Bellevue. Sure, it looks horrible on a map, but at 55 mph plus an extra station dwell and transfer, the difference will be only about six minutes. everyone here has been arguing that eight minutes saved by a fairly direct Duwamish Bypass is not worth doing, so Issaquahns can suffer six minutes off-peak.

      And “Yes; they will be running peak expresses to Mercer Island”, even with Bellevue-Issaquah up and running.

    4. ST has not said anything about eliminating the 554 with Issaquah Link, just that the 554 will be truncated before then. That puts the 554 in the same position as the 57x and 59x: maybe they’ll be eliminated and maybe not.

  29. Haha, hehe… *sigh*. No. I’ll definitely be informing all my family and friends why they should vote no

  30. There are some disappointments with the plan but I’m not surprised with the timetable. When you have to factor in all the things associated with the list and the delivery it makes some sense. 20 years for Ballard is long compared to other projects but even those built first, like Des Moines to Tacoma and DT Redmond and infill stations are already studied and through EIS. They won’t stall on account of importance, real or perceived. West Seattle will be a lighter lift and as such the projected schedule reflects that even as the likelihood of Ballard/WS being studied at the same time and probable construction periods, with tunneling being the difference.

    Some of these factors and others I’m sure will probably make a decision to vote hard for folks. There is plenty in the plan people can poke holes with. Study the plan, make comment, lobby your City reps and try to improve it Emotional based choices though are rarely a good thing.

  31. Two thoughts:

    #1. You need to let Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson know your views buddy so “Jenn” can roll in hot and drop some. I think some of us realize the con is on to grease the light rails for commercial flights to Paine Field.

    #2. I agree this is Mission: Failure 100%: “The Paine Field area gets one station instead of two, which makes serving it with light rail even worse than what was proposed before. The Evergreen Way/Airport Road station is unfunded, which means the junction of two Swift lines may have light rail passing right over it without stopping.” Light rail needs buses (and to a smaller extent Uber & Lyft) to be truly successful. Just ask Seattle.

  32. The board was dealing with a lot of conflicting issues and interests, particularly money, and in general, I think they did pretty well coming up with a workable plan for everybody. Remember, not everyone here is a hipster Seattlite, there are other cities in the metro too. I understand the Ballard approach they chose, since the big limit here is money, and tunnels are expensive. They put the tunnel where they really needed it, downtown, and used cheaper methods where it’s not as needed. I also agree on Kirkland, they gave quick access to downtown Kirkland, while not building the rail the city doesn’t want, apparently.

    Some things I’d like to see different:
    * If the issue is money, drop Ballard-Downtown and replace with Ballard-UW subway, with BRT from Ballard to Downtown(which could actually work, unlike N 45th & 46th)
    * Get Tacoma Link to TCC earlier on the schedule (maybe I’m biased, that’s my neighborhood), by delaying Tacoma-Federal Way – however, since the project requires replacing the entire Tacoma Link fleet, I understand why they are waiting until everything is old and due for replacement anyway.
    * Change Paine/Boeing to a spur, rather than on the mainline, with a red line to Boeing and a blue line to Everett, or something like that.
    * Less parking along I-5 in South King. I don’t have much of an issue with the on-the-fringe parking (Mariner, Issaquah, Totem Lake), but the I-5 corridor in South King is not on the fringe. Move that money to increasing frequency on South Sounder
    * Increase frequency on South Sounder. Auburn Valley doesn’t get much, this gives them something. It also makes up for a delayed opening of light rail to Tacoma.

    1. Oh yeah, one more thing – Drop the Orting study from the plan, and use that money instead on Tacoma Rail’s Mountain Line, running from Tacoma Dome to Frederickson to Graham, which would be a much more useful commuter line than one from Sumner to Nowhere.

    2. “they gave quick access to downtown Kirkland”

      Where did they do that? A freeway station at 85th and a bus in BAT lanes on 85th is not quick access to downtown Kirkland. (And also, Kirkland proposed transit lanes on 85th last week, and BAT lanes are less quick than full transit lanes.

      “If the issue is money, drop Ballard-Downtown and replace with Ballard-UW subway,”

      That’s what many of us have been recommending loudly for a year but ST has ignored it. ST’s studies in 2014 show that Ballard-UW would both cost less and have higher ridership than Ballard-downtown. The reason Ballard-downtown is prioritized is that Mayor McGinn spearheaded it and all the current politicians seem to agree. Plus it dovetails nicely with the second tunnel, which the Everett and Tacoma extensions depend on (since a single Everett-Tacoma line would exceed the DSTT’s capacity and be two hours long which would be too long for drivers). Also, ST has been reluctant to say how the U-District Station transfer would work, or to get the bulk of Ballard riders in the UW-downtown segment which would limit capacity from Lynnwood and Everett. So for several reasons ST has deprioritized the line, which is very unfortunate, because not only would it be cheaper and have higher ridership, it would serve Ballard-UW trips and Ballard-downtown trips with one stone.

      1. I didn’t see anything about a freeway station. What I saw as a redone interchange at 85th to allow for the direct Kirkland->Bellevue bus I’ve been advocating, only no service hours to actually operate such a bus.

        I am also disappointment that there are no promises about frequency improvement for ST express in general. I want a statement like “improve route 522 all-day frequency to every 15 minutes” or “improve route 542 frequency to include a bus to connect with every train” or “extend route 554 (truncated to South Bellevue P&R) to Sammamish while maintaining 30-minute frequency”. I want something because it’s the bus improvements that I will see within a reasonable timeframe. By the time all the rail gets built, who knows if I’ll even still be living here.

      2. They said the BRT lines (405 and 522) would be every ten minutes. The ST Express item just says it would “fund capital and operating improvements for ST Express supporting the high-capacity transit extensions that are selected for the ST3 measure.” That could mean unspecified improvements throughout STEX (similar to ST2, more frequency here and there and one or two more routes), or it could mean just on the routes that LR will replace. Throughout the system sounds better, but on the other hand the routes that LR would replace are where the highest ridership and overcrowding are anyway, so it’s one half dozen to the other. But in the expansive definition, it could lead to a Sammamish route. I think that has been on ST’s radar since the long-range plan update in 2014.

      3. Ballard to downtown has the Expedia and Amazon stops– no way that gets dropped (it would be politically like dumping West Seattle)

      4. The SLU renaissance had already started when McGinn proposed rail projects with Ballard-downtown first. And Paul Allen is the city’s business buddy. And one of McGinn’s alternatives was a surface line on Westlake that would have directly served SLU. Expedia came after that but it’s not must-serve, any more than Amgen was before it. Expedia just happens to be on the lower-cost alignment compared to a Queen Anne tunnel.

    3. * If the issue is money, drop Ballard-Downtown and replace with Ballard-UW subway, with BRT from Ballard to Downtown(which could actually work, unlike N 45th & 46th)

      Even if the issue isn’t money, this makes more sense. The combination of a bus tunnel and Ballard to UW light rail is way better for everyone than West Seattle to Ballard rail. This has been studied to a ridiculously nerdy level here:, or a much more readable level here: and the conclusion is the same: more people save more time with that set of projects over the alternative.

    4. There’s already BRT from Ballard to Downtown; all that’s needed is to give it better priority and some better way through LQA,

      1. Yes, I’d certainly like another bus tunnel. I see no reason that it has to be a rail tunnel. It can follow the new Denny/Harrison/LQA alignment with buses just as easily as it could with trains. Harrison as planned, though, might make the Aurora portal difficult. That would need study.

  33. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I agree with so many of the posters have said here.

    Main concerns for me that I can think of off the top of my head are the at-grade section in Interbay, the nature of the bridge crossing there (whatever form that may take), and most definitely the length of time that this plan is stretched out.

    I echo what many have said here: that this plan takes far, far too long (2038-2041?! Really?!). I have seen so many cities (in Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg, for example) complete and/or expand underground and above-ground rail systems at a much faster pace. This proposal needs to seriously speed things up.

    I’m also starting to feel more and more sympathetic to the idea of Seattle going it alone on future rail transit development. Seattle needs much more drastic progress on this. Now.

    Regarding age, it’s pretty depressing. I’m 56 now, so I wonder if I’ll even be around in the 2038-2041 time frame.

    1. The timeframe isn’t an inability to complete the projects quickly, but mostly just waiting for the money to roll in.

      1. I agree, which just shows how improper these projects are. Building the WSTT would be cheaper (obviously). Building Ballard to UW rail would be cheaper. Both could probably be built much faster than this, but if one was built before the other it would still be better in the short or long term.

        Why in the world would you start with a light rail line that provides almost nothing of value? A line from West Seattle to SoDo? Most of the day, that is useless to just about everyone on West Seattle. You are basically telling people to transfer somewhere in West Seattle, then transfer again. Why not just run the buses to SoDo right now? I can answer that — because people don’t want to transfer there. That is just ridiculous, and just one of the many flaws with this plan.

      2. Wouldn’t the West Seattle line run into downtown? Or would it really terminate at SoDo?

        Also, having a dedicated rail crossing is going to be much faster & more reliable than buses running across the West Seattle bridge. Even as just a stub line, I would image basically all of the West Seattle routes, including the C, would truncate at the Delridge station as soon as possible. A double transfer does suck, but if both lines are rapid (<6 minute frequencies) it's not a terrible intermediate solution. It's certainly better than waiting for the full line to be built.

      3. Slight correction: It would go into IDS. But still, that means for most of downtown, you would have to transfer.

        As far as buses versus trains: A bus can run as fast as a train, so if you put half the money into making the bus route fast, then it would be just as fast as a train. As far as both lines being rapid, the expected maximum headways for West Seattle Link (per the old document) is ten minutes. I would imagine it would be lower in the middle of the day. So, if you are headed to Westlake, you take a bus, wait for a train running every ten minutes (at best), wait for a train running every three minutes (at best) then get to where you wanted to go. The alternative would be to take that same bus, but watch it run in exclusive lanes on the freeway, and onto an exclusive tunnel, where it will go through downtown ( It would certainly operate as a BRT in the tunnel, with dwell times typically under 20 seconds.

    2. It’s not just ST that’s slow, it’s US systems in general. It’s all the regulations and bureaucracy and limitations like “Buy American!” (can’t use superior off-the-shelf European trains).

      1. Declare a state of emergency and suspend all that shit. it really will be an emergency when we are in complete and ever worsening gridlock over the next 25+ years and then get only get the system for 1990.

      2. Maybe Donald Trump would do that when he completes his authoritatian regime. At least he’s not reflexively anti-tax like the other R’s.

      3. well when an environment saving transit line gets tied up in 7 fucking years of environmental review even I want to take a huge hatchet to environmental regulations or whatever BS bureaucratic hurdles stand in the way. this is absolutely unacceptable.

  34. All these comments about the long timeline and ‘how old I will be’ are pretty self centered.

    We’re building a city for current and future generations.

    Many European carhedrals took centuries to build. And we now we are in debt to the vision and foresight of those long gone builders, planners and patrons.

    This is our cathedral. I’m voting yes.

      1. and shredded the rail transit system we had to, wait for it… Tacoma, Everett, Ballard, West Seattle

    1. Ok…but if we build a cathedral for the future, can we at least make it not suck?

      1. Exactly. The timeline is just one of the many flaws of this system. I almost wonder if it a negotiation tactic. Maybe ST will come back in a couple months and say “just kidding — see, we can build this crap a lot quicker — happy now?”.

  35. I like the joke where it says we wouldn’t get rail to SLU and Ballard until 2038. A real knee slapper that.

    1. And even then, with a drawbridge and 30 MPH speeds through Interbay, it’ll just be an all day 15 express.

      But at least Expedia, Gates Foundation and Amazon will get their stops!

  36. Honestly this plan has the smell and look of giant pork.

    We have already seen U-Link smashed, can the signal systems handle more than every 120 seconds in the DSTT if short turning at ID? We are basically trying to run a system the scale of BART with light rail vehicles. Not very mode appropriate for Tacoma let alone Everett. How many are going to want to stand for that long from the burbs into downtown Seattle?

    The timeframe is too long and too drawn out. We needed these services long ago and the whole 99/Harrison stop is just a shame for Seattle. Belltown gets left out too and we are trying to pass a package just to get a mediocre transit system that will cost billions. This seems like a losing proposition from the start and the politicians are using this to fund their interests without asking the question of is it really going to service their populations? How are Snohomish County residents feeling about another .5% sales tax to get light rail in 20+ years? Let alone everyone else. Even with the BRT investments this is not looking like a winning package.

  37. To put the “wow, that’s a long time”, just think about this way: it’ll be done less than 60 years after Forward Thrust would have been completed. That’s Seattle Process working in our favor!

    1. And 130 years after the Bogue Plan! It’s nothing, really, when you think of it….

  38. This is exciting, but I agree…the timeline sucks! I’ll be mid 50s by the time everything gets built.

    What are the possibilities of passing a future tax measure that will accelerate construction? Similar to LA’s Measure J (that failed) ? Or are we already maxed out?

    1. The legislature would have to approve a higher tax rate. It was only willing to give us ST3 in conjunction with a huge highway deal, and Republicans have effective control of the Senate and don’t want to hear about higher taxes. The state does not think transit is important since so many legislators are from rural/exurban areas. It did agree to ST’s creation and ST3 because it can’t hold that position absolutely when Pugetopolis has 3 million people that need to get around and pay most of the state’s taxes. But Washington is one of the few states where the state does not help fund local or regional transit agencies.

  39. Look, I understand all the angry comments; I was angry too when I first read it. But I don’t think we can give up on this or decide right now if we’re voting yes or no. This is a DRAFT plan, and Sound Transit will be listening to feedback over the next two months. I think we should redirect our angry posts to Sound Transit and plead with them to speed up the implementation, even it that means dropping some projects

    1. Anyone who decides whether to vote yes or no now is acting prematurely. The public comment period is basically the month of April. Details on these projects will be online Tuesday. Our job for the next month is to advocate for the best possible plan, whatever that means to each of us. In June the system plan will be finalized and then people can make their decisions.

    2. Why should we assume that Sound Transit will listen to us now, when they haven’t listened to us before? People have clearly stated (in excruciating detail) why Ballard to West Seattle rail is not a good value, and should be replaced by this: Yet they have not seriously considered a bus tunnel, and they have made it clear that Ballard to UW light rail is a very low priority item. This is a draft plan, but it is likely very close to what will be built. Maybe things get built faster. Maybe stations move around a bit. But the WSTT is dead, and a UW to Ballard subway line is probably not going to be offered for ST3. In other words, the two most cost effective improvements to transit are being ignored, while the third most (Metro 8 subway) is not even on the long term planning list (while they study light rail lines to North Everett, Bothell, and Burien).

      I agree that I’m not ready to make up my mind yet, but Sound Transit has given me no reason to have hope.

      1. Agreed. I would vote for Frank’s proposal in a heartbeat. But this, probably not.

        One thing that is now glaringly obviously from the ridiculously long table is that if we want something to happen in our lifetime, we should not accept a “study” in ST 3 hope for it to actually happen in ST 4 – if it doesn’t happen in ST 3, it won’t happen at all.

    3. It’s not over until the fat lady sings. We can’t predict the future or what other people will do. If we make an absolute decision prematurely we run the risk of backing ourselves into a corner and unable to leverage any opportunities that might unexpectedly arise.

  40. I used to think an Issaquah line needs to meet at S. Bellevue to make easy cross-lake connections in order to attract ridership. But then again, 25 years from now, who knows how much larger and denser downtown Bellevue, the Spring District, and Redmond will be. Might make the Bellevue to Issaquah spur make sense by then – assuming all those areas continue to grow and densify.

    1. Downtown Bellevue is definitely growing but so is downtown Seattle, especially Amazon, Expedia, and now Google too. Seattle will be a major employment center for decades to come with no signs of slowing down, and building a rail line to issaquah that precludes easy transfers to Seattle trains makes zero sense to me.

      Also, who in their right mind would commute from issaquah to Redmond via Bellevue? It’s like a massive C routing that’s miles out of the way.

      1. East Main is only ONE station and three and a half miles farther than a transfer at South Bellevue. They read Zach’s post and agreed!

        Yes, it looks stupid on a map, but it really is only about five or six minutes longer at the max. You have the transfer dwell regardless which station you choose.

        I expect that during the peak hours Metro will run a bunch of buses from the I-90 corridor to Mercer Island if they’re allowed to do so or South Bellevue if they aren’t. The only folks who’ll have the out of direction transfer for Seattle work trips will be those who live right around an Issaquah Link station and prefer to ride it.

    2. A mostly grade-separated line would make up for some of the extra miles. There’s not going to be a faster bus route in parallel to it, or driving without congestion, and some people don’t want to drive. Anyway, it’s not just end-to-end. It’s also about trips to Microsoft, Overlake, the Spring District, downtown Bellevue, Bellevue College, and even transferring to Kirkland.

    3. Cross the slough!!! Cross the slough!!! Allow for interlining at South Bellevue to go north and/or a connection to the line into Seattle across the I-90 bridge. It is ridiculous to make the only connection from Issaquah to East Link at Wilburton or even East Main.

      1. Agreed. This is an absolute deal breaker for me. I see no benefit in spending $1B on a line to Issaquah that serves only Issaquah – Bellevue traffic. No one headed to Seattle or elsewhere will use the line. And if we need a bunch of redundant bus service to continue serving Seattle then we’ve already failed.

      2. Upzoning at East Main is underway. Expect things midrise or higher. Not on the station/park corner but on the other three corners.

  41. Politically, I think this is a hard sell in Seattle.

    While I’m skeptical of light rail to West Seattle on its merits, my guess is that there is substantial abstract support for it, at least among West Seattle residents, but I also guess that when people hear “West Seattle” light rail, they imagine light rail stopping close to their house, which just won’t be true for most West Seattlites- my bet is that support for West Seattle light rail will fall when more people realize that it will terminate at Alaska Junction.

    Secondly, Ballard has been waiting for rail for a long time. I think the expectation people have had is that rail projects in ST3 would take about as long as those in ST2- around 10-15 years. I imagine that there will be anger when people learn that it will be another 22 years before Ballard gets light rail.

    Thirdly, I think most people are now aware that Seattle is growing- the city has added nearly 150,000 residents in the past 25 years, with more than 50,000 added in the past 5 years. Even if they don’t know the numbers, everyone can see the traffic and the packed buses and trains everyday in 2016, and a lot of voters will think taking two decades to add a couple rail lines is a bad joke

    1. “substantial abstract support”

      Great phrase. I will try and remember that. It pretty much summarizes the problem with Sound Transit’s planning. They are busy building lines that only work on an abstract level, and go to places that sound good from an abstract standpoint. Everett, Tacoma, West Seattle. Of course that sounds good. Who doesn’t want to go there. But when you really work out the details, it becomes obvious that this does very little for the vast majority of people in those areas, to say nothing of the vast majority of people in Seattle.

      1. They are busy building lines that only work on an abstract level, and go to places that sound good from an abstract standpoint.

        When I turned on the news this morning the first thing I heard was the end of this comment from the TV reporter, “light rail to Orting.” Then it switched to an interview where the next sentance was, “We go big because there is need.” I think there might be a problem with the message ST is sending to the voters along with this tax increase. And 80-80-80 hasn’t even hit the mainline yet. If the politicos on the ST Board weren’t so wrapped up in everything but transit maybe they would spend time talking about something better than foot ferries and trails to rails.

  42. I wouldn’t get too obsessed about the exact timelines, as much as whether or not this is a logical strategy. Funding cycles change. Economies change from one year to the next. Most importantly, the people who provide funding matches change — and as the rest of the state and national transportation infrastructure needs replacing, there is going to be an eventual push to fund more capital projects. I know we’ve been waiting many years for the infrastructure light bulb to click on — but it will! Especially after 2010 it will, as more of our large metro areas in the US as absorbing most of the population growth and hence will get more representation after the 2020 census.

    When that moment arrives politically, any region will be at an advantage if they have already developed a systems strategy and cleared the environmental processes — perhaps even bought right-of-way. At that point, when the influx of funds becomes available, it can put these projects to their openings sooner.

    1. But if they are wasteful projects, then getting it faster is really not a huge bonus. I don’t feel like spending 20 grand on a used Yugo that burns oil, even if I can get it sooner than I expected.

      1. This.

        I care only tangentially about the timeline, because it is ludicrous–but by then I will be retired or dead and the city will still need good transit.

        I have no dog in the hunt as my current neighborhood is not and will never be served by high-capacity transit, nor should it be, so I’m not screaming “Serve MY house NOW!”

        My issue is solely that this is a horrible plan for the current needs of this metro area, and smacks more of Albert Speer or Texans saying “Look at how BIG this is!” without ever stopping to consider if it’s the best solution or even reasonable. Defeating this immense money grab for sub-par projects is a necessity if we are ever going to spend our money in ways that make sense and give us the most “bang for the buck.” Why should people in Snohomish, South King or Pierce pay these kind of tax rates for projects put there simply to spend “their share” of the money? They don’t need to spend that much, and they don’t need to raise their taxes to that extent. Seattle does need to spend that much, but if sub-area equity is actually a thing, we would be paying the same to build either way. Let us tax ourselves, and let us determine what and where is best for us. The same goes for everyone else. It would have made more sense to build out from Tacoma and Everett gradually than to build towards them.

        I have no interest in supporting an agency whose stated purpose is to serve the suburbs with commuter rail (including The Spine) and ignore the city to the greatest extent possible. NONE of this would have ever been built without Seattle voters, and I’d just as soon Seattle voters cause it to fail so all of us can find better ways to design and build a rapid transit system that works in every area. If oh-so-progressive Vancouver can send a poor proposal to a crushing defeat so that something better is brought to them, we can too. Seattle/King County can do better for their citizens than a system that’s 20-25 years out on the west side, where it is most needed, and spends far too much money on the east side just because it has it. Seattle, Bellevue and the east side cities can do better than this, and we can do it while still allowing South King, Snohomish and Pierce to have their own say as to how much they want to spend and what they want to spend it on without being financially tied to Seattle/East King (or vice-versa).

        Rail is extremely popular now that we have it. A rail vote in Seattle or even Seattle/East King will still pass regardless of the election year, which wasn’t always the case. We can come back with something better, and we can gain allies in the Legislature for self-taxation that we wouldn’t have otherwise had because we can tell suburban lawmakers “We don’t want to raise taxes on you for things you don’t want or need just because we can overwhelm you at the ballot box. Let us do our own thing and you can do yours–Seattle/Bellevue isn’t forcing something down your throats to get something we want.”

  43. Oh gosh. Time to give up and move to the suburbs. If I am going to drive 30 minutes every morning, at least I want to be moving. By the time this is completed, I’ll be retired or dead.

  44. If I lived in the district, I would vote against this plan. Tell them to go back and try again.

    This is like the worst mistakes of BART (vast extensions to low-ridership far outer suburbs) combined with the worst mistakes of Portland (street running through key bottlenecks), plus the Seattle special of running nonstop past locations which should have stations. Sounder gets lip service, but no funding. 130th gets bogus excuses (yes, Sound Transit most certainly could fund 130th in the Sound Transit 3 project without jeopardizing their current federal grant, by funding it with local money only). The timeline is even worse, prioritizing the worst routes over the better ones.

    Oh, and early losses include money spent on parking. Let me guess, it’ll be free parking, guaranteeing that it’s money lost.

    What is going on here?

    The Sound Transit Board needs to be told to restart their planning using new data, and NOT from the fantasyland PSRC projections, which are bogus.

    University Link only just opened. East Link is unduly delayed. The voting patterns are going to change within a year after University Link, and again when Northgate Link and East Link have been open for a while. This package seems to be designed to satisfy a voting pattern which probably doesn’t exist any more, and if it still exists, won’t exist for long — it’s like Roads and Transit was.

    1. “combined with the worst mistakes of Portland (street running through key bottlenecks)”

      I don’t see surface trains downtown with stations every two blocks. The one bottleneck that has been mentioned is 15th Ave W, and that’s not much of a bottleneck.

      “plus the Seattle special of running nonstop past locations which should have stations”

      People keep bringing up the lack of stations not in the plan as if the stations that are in the plan don’t exist. People will be able to use the stations that are in the plan, and they’ll benefit from it, and they are real people. And those who really really want to live closer to a station can move there.

      1. Surface rail over a drawbridge over the Ship Canal?

        Seriously? There’s a bad bottleneck design for you.

        As for your prattle about stations, it’s irrelevant. Omitting stations where there should be stations, where there are lots of people or lots of jobs, where it will be very hard to add stations later (underground sections especially) is *bad design*. You shouldn’t settle for an obviously bad design. Make it better.

  45. Two thoughts:

    Seattle is absorbing a huge amount of the travail from this process. Building a second downtown tunnel will be disruptive in ways one cannot predict, but based on living through the first tunnel, it’s not going to be fun. And the two projects chosen, at least in my opinion, are the most capital-intensive compared to cost imaginable. There are formidable geographical obstacles in both projects, and as others have pointed out, the solutions are not even optimal.

    The other thought is that I’d be interested in what the projections are for the use of the West Seattle line at any time other than the morning and evening commutes on weekdays. And who would be riding that line. It’s an awful lot to spend on something my gut tells me is not going to be used much except at peak. I ride the 44 a lot and I can tell you it can be crowded at 10pm. Are West Seattle to downtown buses similarly busy?

    1. Not only that, but as someone who regularly visits West Seattle, I can tell you that the only regular traffic bottleneck is in the morning, headed to downtown. So basically, if you did nothing but build the WSTT, you would improve the transit experience dramatically for everyone in West Seattle, and do so sufficiently for most of the day. Improving the bridge itself so that it could work with those changes would be much cheaper than building a new light rail line, and be done much faster. Simply adding ramp meters would be a huge improvement.

  46. A number of these potential station locations are in areas with relatively low-density development — and in some cases there are also larger vacant parcels near these locations and those are great for major developments. Even within Seattle, the proposed station locations are not very dense (over 100-foot buildings allowed) except for Downtown and SLU/LQA. If we’re supposed to support rail to these areas, I think the voters providing the money for these lines and stations deserve a local commitment that councils won’t cave to NIMBYs — who often demand only low-density station areas combined with no rider parking at the stations, effectively turning the stations into underutilized and expensive transit stops used only by a handful of nearby residents.

    I’ll note that we’re not doing a very good job of planning for significantly higher densities in many of our ST1 and ST2 station areas. A major reason that there isn’t a 30-story building in Mercer Island, South Bellevue or Shoreline is because there wasn’t advanced planning to create the market and zoning for one, for example.

    I hope the City Councils in the cities that are proposed to get these new stations are willing to advance much denser station area planning than the plans we’ve seen lately. It should even been much more than this 85-foot height limit that Seattle has in practice in the urban villages today. If Atlanta can upzone for 80-story buildings we should at least shoot for 20-story buildings if not taller.

    I would even expect a commitment from City Councils to do this if they want to legitimately endorse ST3. Put your zoning and land use where your mouth is, Councils! We’re not paying for a toy train to add to a manicured low-density landscape. We’ve got 1 million new residents to house and employ somewhere!

  47. Any interest in setting up an STB straw poll to see how many would vote for or against ST 3, as it stands now?

    Gut feeling suggests to me that a proposal that can’t win a large of majority of the transit-minded people on this blog is going to have a tough time winning in November over the entire population.

    1. I don’t know. Failing to pass among STB commenters might be a sign of its strength at the ballot box. We mostly want high ridership lines in dense places to replace buses stuck in surface traffic (or to supplement neighborhood feeder routes), but most of the voters don’t live in dense places or ride transit. Most drive in suburban areas (just a fact). If they see things similar to how their ST board reps see it, they’ll see Link planned to run 100 miles along the same freeways they drive on, and even though none of them expects to ride it (maybe a few hundred here and there who can snag a spot at a P&R), they mistakenly assume enough of the others on the freeway causing traffic WILL ride it, freeing up the roads for a faster drive to work.

      1. I’m not sure. Remember how past transit packages have done much better in dense Seattle than in the suburban sprawl.

      2. I agree with William. If long term transit advocates don’t like it, then it will be much easier for people to oppose it. The people who live in the sprawling areas you mention won’t like this very much, because (like any light rail plan to a sprawling area) it offers very little. You would have to base your entire campaign on the ignorance of the voter (which has worked before, but I’m saying that is tough to do).

      3. asdf2 has a point. Measures that the STB commentariat are mostly united on have been mostly winning. Measures that we’re divided half-and-half on go down to defeat. There was that Seattle proposition that had “too much streetcars”. And that wacko Monorail II proposal that we opposed and it went down with 70% defeat. People look to us to see whether a transit measure is sound. If we’re pretty united on liking it, a lot of people will trust it, even if some other people have different overriding values (e.g., that the only important things are relief from freeway congestion and more P&Rs). If we’re half-and-half on something, then there’s something seriously mediocre or wrong about it. If a proposal needs a lot of Seattle votes, and outer suburbanites are guaranteed to vote no because it’s a tax, and we transit fans and those influenced by us are tens of thousands of people, than that could tip the balance if it’s otherwise close.

      4. sure not popular on Reddit either, almost the exact same responses about insane timeframe and crap projects

      5. An STB straw poll is exactly what we need to give the ST board a wake-up call while there’s still time? If they look at it and less less than 50% support from visitors to STB, they will know immediately that it won’t even pass in Seattle, much less the rest of the region. Which means maybe, if we’re really lucky, they come up with something better now, rather than have to repeat the election all over again in a year.

      6. The suburban folks clearly do expect to ride it, jt. There is a reason all the park and rides are overflowing all the time.

      7. A petition would have more clout with ST. We just need somebody to word it wisely, and provide a positive alternative for ST, not one that totally ignores three subareas.

      8. By “alternative” I don’t necessarily mean a specific network proposal, but a set of principles and high-priority areas. Asking ST to adhere to a more general principle is more likely to be effective than asking it to replace its plan with a specific other one.

      9. The disturbing thing is that Seattle Transit Blog has already quite explicitly advocated for the right things, repeatedly, and seems to have been largely ignored.

        (1) Take Ballard-UW seriously
        (2) Prioritize Ballard
        (3) Urban station spacing in the urban area, not suburban station spacing
        (4) Be able to get quickly and reliably to the areas which *now* have the most jobs and residents, not just the areas which the completely bogus PSRC inaccurately claims will have the most jobs and residents in their fake future
        (5) Don’t “borrow” from Seattle subarea to give to the suburbs, since there is no trust that it will ever be repaid

        This is a nice list of principles. They have been ignored by Sound Transit.

      10. (P.S. In the suburbs, principle #4 calls for major Sounder South improvements, since Sounder South neatly hits all the population concentrations between Tacoma and Seattle.)

      11. When it comes to both Sounder and the far distances of Link, some consideration needs to be taken of where the rest of the industry is going in the next 25 years.

        In recent years the FRA has gotten a bit more liberal with the concept of waivers for intermixing light rail trains (in UIC compliant light rail cars that meet all safety requirements for European main lines) and some regular main line trains. The new CalTrain electrified stock is likely to be UIC compliant but not FRA approved.

        In three years many lines will have to have Positive Train Control. Link to the airport and Sounder to the airport may become a blurred line if Link compatible trains are allowed to operate on the new third track along the current BNSF main.

  48. If STB won’t/can’t interview anyone in city government, have they thought (either by themselves or with Seattle Subway) about polling this proposal? Nothing scares ST like a poll showing this thing not passing in Seattle. The poll could list what they like don’t like about the proposals for Seattle.

  49. So what happens when a place like, say Totem Lake or South Center/Renton, takes off in the next decade or two and becomes a huge center for growth? They have to wait until 2060 for a line because we are still building this crappy system until the mid-2040s?

  50. $50 Billion divided by 4 Million in this region is $12,500 per person (including non-taxpayers). So would you pay that for this?

    1. $50,000 for a family of four — that will pay for a lot of Uber rides (which people will need even when this is done). It’s not like Seattle has other needs, either (like police, mental health services, help for the homeless, school construction, day care, sidewalks, ….).

      1. Agreed but we don’t have space for more Ubers or more regular autos on roads unless we destroy our economy, tax base, employment centers and housing stock flattening everything in sight and devoting more land for additional and wider roads.

  51. Upon initial review the timeline looks rather extended. If you ask me within 2 years bus improvements should be made, within 6-7 years Sounder improvements made, and within 10-12 years Light Rail improvements made. Now they may be waiting to bank some of the funding that comes in, however we need improvements now. I think we need service improvements today, If money were no object, nearly every ST Express route could use at least 20 minutes, if not every 10-15 minute headways nearly every day and there would still be a demand. Parking improvements need to be made (and the users need to pay to use them), service coverage improved (many areas of Pierce County get no service at all except ST) and there is a need for service in many of these areas.

  52. 3 things come to mind:

    A) time. Just like everyone else I’m appalled at the timeline as we’ve seen big cities complete magnificent systems in much shorter time frames. I have one question about speeding it up: federal grants; a $1billion dollar grant was proposed for a portion of the line semi-recently by the Obama admin. If we get more grants like this- which is entirely possibly considering the help that Cali has gotten on their HSR project, how much quicker can this be expedited? I see the amount of guys working on the Angle Lake extension every day. Surely we can afford a couple dozen more guys?

    B) UW – Ballard via Freemont. I don’t even live on this stretch or hardly use it, but the lack of East to Wesr links is inexcusable. You’re going to see everyone piling into busses and overcrowding the spine stations, both in terms of people waiting at the train and in parking. As others mentioned above, these stations were needed 15yrs ago and may not adequately serve future growth.

    C) Renton 405- Apparently I’m the only one concerned about the South End but I can tell you that busses already sit in traffic and rapid transit will falter just like the rolling systems have. An efficient source of transportation underground or above it, away from and out of traffic is the only way for peopl to reliably get along 405. Adding a station at The Landing where Boeing has a plant and people live and visit, connecting it to Factoria which is only a few miles up the road, and connecting the other end to the Spine would complete another much needed East to Wesr corridor.

    Saying riders wouldn’t be able to support these lines would be short sighted and against logic as the freeway is packed with south end commuters, while 169 is being widened and 167 is being extended.

    But all of this is moot if we can’t build this quicker. I’m sure the construction workers would love to get to work and hire more people so let’s pay these guys today! Let’s tell Olympia this is our priority and let’s make it happen!

    1. A) Grants would help but we can’t count on them until they’re awarded. I’m pretty sure the budget does not include them because it has to be what we can fund locally without outside help. If a grant comes in it would make the system cheaper or allow extras, and it could possibly accelerate some tasks ic they’re acceleable.

      B) UW-Fremont-Ballard is a variation of UW-Ballard. ST’s candidate project in 2015 served only upper Fremont (46th), but there may have been an official alternative and there was definitely an unofficial proposal for a line that zigzagged on Ballard-Fremont-Wallingford-UW, and could do so while still retaining 10-minute travel time because of the freedom to move underground regardless of streets or houses. So that’s definitely worth pushing for, although some have argued that upper Fremont is more underserved and more of a growing area.

      C) It’s not that nobody is concerned about the south end but Bellevue-Renton is a particularly low ridership area, with the 560 getting fewer people than the 550, 554, or 545. The “just a few miles” between Renton and Factoria is quite a long waywith nothing but low-density houses and no support for upzones. And Renton did not ask for it.

      1. I always thought Burien-Renton light rail made total sense. Is it not happening because Renton simply isn’t interested? Tukwila & Burien are eager for more transit, but Tukwilla thinks they can get it with infill stations, and Burien might be stuck waiting for the line to extend from West Seattle.

        560 gets low ridership because it’s slow. I’ve ridden it before all the way from Bellevue to Seatac, and it was a steady flow of people getting on & off, but the drive through Renton is brutal b/c it’s stuck on city streets.

        I’m pretty sure ST said in the presentation that they assume $0 of grants for budgeting purposes, but they’ll go all out for any money they can get. If some of the project delays are a need to “bank” funding b/c of bonding constraints, I’m sure any large Federal grants can directly result in project timelines moving forward.

      2. A) I would hope an infuse of money would add more workers and speed up the project as opposed to other options- imo

        B) I think you’ll have a lot of support for that line from readers

        C) I think you slightly missed my point here but AJ got it. My gf rode the 560 buss consistently from Kent station to Beelevue, but do you know what wasn’t consistent? The busses. They were always stuck in traffic and sometimes even broke on the freeway! Nobody wants to ride the bus because even on the bus they’re in traffic on the same 405 they want to avoid!

        This corridor is extremely overlooked and I’m worried that you and the planners using the 560 as your only source of guidance have a terrible tunnel vision. If there was a rail that avoided traffic and was on time, unlike the busses, you’d see more riders for sure.

        Furthermore, the distance between Renton Landing and Factoria is 6 miles. Nones asking for or would necessarily need stations in between this distance as it could if anything be an express from the Spine to the East Side. I gaurantee that resonates.

        Also, it’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we only need P&R stations for Link in that area you mentioned or no stations at all. I lived in NYC and Japan and on the outskirts of Tokyo in Chiba, a residential area like Renton, their station had two things: a drop off zone for cars (which UW station lacks) and a massive bike and scooter parking area. We could either set up a station more for biking and drop offs and discount the notion that people have to drive or live in an apartment building on top of a station to ride a link.

        The point is that Renton and 405 is being way overlooked.

        When I spoke to an actual board member about it he mentioned “rif raff” as a concern. This is political language for poor people or people of color. It seems they don’t want them to have such a direct route to Bellevue even though a large portion of riders would be Boeing employees going to Renton and Bellevue commuters.

        PS trains to perpetuate or encourage crime.

      3. Sorry for the iPhone spelling mistakes.

        Busses don’t perpetuate crime was one mistake I typed.

        A couple of misspellings too, my apologies

      4. @Nick

        B) I think you’ll have a lot of support for that [Ballard to UW] line from readers

        Yes, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Numerous articles written saying it makes more sense (in conjunction with other projects, like the WSTT) but it still gets put on the back burner, while things of very questionable value are pushed in front. This is basically what a lot a lot people want (now): It has numerous links to these projects (and some have been written since then). That, plus the Metro 8 subway, is what a huge number of frequent commenters here believe would be the most cost effective plan for Seattle (everything after that is just bonus). But again, that doesn’t seem to matter to ST.

      5. “I always thought Burien-Renton light rail made total sense. Is it not happening because Renton simply isn’t interested? Tukwila & Burien are eager for more transit, but Tukwilla thinks they can get it with infill stations, and Burien might be stuck waiting for the line to extend from West Seattle.”

        ST’s 2014 Burien-Renton studies showed it as one of the higher-cost, lower-ridership non-tunnel corridors. The cost is higher than it looks because of going up and down over the I-5 ridge. It’s only marginally competitive for Renton-Seattle trips (assuming interlining through West Seattle). Since then RapidRide F launched and it’s been a bomb east of Southcenter. Those are probably factors why Tukwila and Renton pulled back from prioritizing it. Plus South King has limited funds, and the Powers That Be are clearly going to fund 99 (Federal Way) and Sounder first, and 405 BRT has also gotten high favor.

        “560 gets low ridership because it’s slow.”

        Partly, but when ridership is so low you only get a handful of people midday and weekends even when there are no slowdowns, you can predict that better service would bring it proportionally up but still not make it a zinger. The 100%-always-slow bottleneck in Renton is a bigger issue, but that’s exactly what 405 BRT intends to relieve.

        “When I spoke to an actual board member about it he mentioned “rif raff” as a concern.”

        I’d have to know the context of that because it’s hard to believe a boardmember would weigh that. That was the same argument against East Link, that it would bring people from the ‘hood to the Eastside and spur crime and gang violence. Never mind that the 550 has connected the same stations for two decades and it hasn’t happened yet. And I think gangbangers would most likely bring a getaway car; it’s not like nobody has one.

    2. Other city topographies are not like Seattle. Denver 0 tunnels, Salt Lake 0 tunnels, Seattle 6 tunnels thus far.

  53. I realized why it takes so long, it’s because we’re building ST2 concurrently. So the ST1 and ST2 taxes are maxed out through 2023, so there’s only a third of the funding the first seven years and only a little bit can be built. Then the funding triples and it’s full speed ahead.

    1. Good point, I was wondering that. So when they say “0.5% Sales Tax”, is that on top of the ST1&2 taxes? Or does it not “count” towards ST3 until the ST1&2 taxes have expired?

      1. That’s the specific ST3 tax, on top of the ST1 & 2 taxes that would be extended for ST3. Each tax mix has three parts, generally being sales tax (mostly), property tax, and MVET.

    2. Does anyone know why they can’t sell bonds against the tax stream? It seems like that brings money to 2016-2020 and allows a simultaneous build out of more routes quicker. The 25 year timeline is just such a killer when its also very expensive. “Money for nothing” – or at least nothing until I hit my 60’s

      1. That is what they’re doing, but they’re targeting a 50% bond:revenue maximum or something like that. That’s to guarantee they can pay off the bonds even if a bad recession or unexpected cost occurs. The state limits the bond:revenue ratio, and ST’s policy goes further. A full Los Angeles style “30 in 10” would require state authorization and support, if not some state funding.

  54. About as expected. No real shockers here.

    I was a bit surprised by the inclusion of BAR, and the phasing for Grahm.

    Not too happy to see WS finished ahead of Ballard, but I suspect you probably need to do something for the south/west end next since the northside is already getting “new” service via U-Link and L-Link. You just can’t appear to be spending all your time in NS. And votes from NS are probably assured, but votes from WS? Na, you need to give them something if you want their votes.

    Paine Field? The diversion is unfortunate. There are lots of jobs there, but they are dispersed and not well served by LR. It would be better to have a LR station on SR99 or I5 and run bus shuttles to the various employment sites. Boeing already does this.

    130 St and Ballard-UW? No surprises. Dead is dead.

    I wish it all could come faster, but the phasing needs to match the funding stream that the state gave us….

    1. I should say, “Boeing already runs a shuttle.” It would need to be extended to intercept any LR station along SR99 or I-5 though.

    2. I suspect it has more to do with the new DT tunnel (which I’m _still_ not convinced is really needed). I suspect that STs “analysis” is that the existing tunnel can handle WS loads but not Ballard loads. In short it’s a tacit admission that the Ballard project is the better project .

      1. There was a PSRC study a year ago that said downtown Seattle is headed toward a 6,000 person gap in daily circulation capacity. That’s both for people going out of downtown and traveling within downtown. So yes, the second tunnel will be needed just for the population increase and jobs increase. And having two tunnels at half capacity is better than one tunnel on the edge of capacity, because that gives plenty of expansion space for any lines we want in the future. We’re lucky the DSTT was built in the 1980s because it lowered Link’s price tag enormously. The 80s were a time when things were more affordable and the legislature was more willing to raise taxes, and the lower capital cost probably helped ST1 to pass.

      2. And I’ve looked at that study and consider it an enormous waste of the taxpayers’ money. It perpetuates the assertion that it is impossible to run at reasonable headways in the central tunnel, despite ample worldwide evidence to the contrary. It also ignores the possibility of improved platform access in the existing stations. In short, it is so deeply flawed that I think it probably isn’t even worth the price of the paper it’s printed on.

  55. Well, I just checked the funding of ST3. It will raise property taxes. I knew it would. That is a guarantee no vote for me. Property taxes are an unjust form of taxation. I know plenty of people who will have to struggle to pay it. No one should have to keep paying for what they already own.

    1. IMO, property taxes are both a much more equitable and a more efficient form of taxation than sales tax. I believe property taxes are included specifically because funding ST3 fully with sales tax was seen as regressive. A property tax taxes wealth, whereas a sales tax taxes consumption.

      1. Property in the same as paying rent on something you own. Also it is people like my parents who will be hurt by this the most, I know people who struggle to pay property taxes every year. We keep adding more. No property taxes are unjust. No one should pay for what they already own.

      2. You’re lucky to own something, and that makes you more wealthy than others. You’re in one of the lowest-taxed states in the country due to no income tax.

      1. An income tax is a property tax. Pure and simple. Sales taxes are the most just.

      2. On what planet are sales taxes just? Since the poor spend every penny they get on stuff they need to buy, the pay sales tax on basically their entire income, while wealthy people buy things like insurance and stocks and only pay sales tax on a tiny part of their income. Sales tax is inherently unjust for putting the burden on those least able to pay.

      3. That’s not totally correct. Non-prepared food is exempt from sales tax; I think several other things are too. You can definitely still make a good case the poor pay a disproportionate amount of sales tax, but they don’t pay it on anywhere near all their income.

  56. You know, there is time for an advisory ballot measure. Something like:

    “Should light rail to Ballard be:
    Via an underground route from the University District, plus a new downtown tunnel


    Via a surface and bridge route to downtown, including a new downtown tunnel”

    Sound Transit should run a measure like this in Seattle and do whatever Seattle voters choose.

  57. I heard some vague comments during the Board meeting about the Paine field being a “loop”. Is the language going to be vague enough that 10 years from now ST can decide to run light rail straight to DT Everett and simply support the Paine Field industrial area with BRT? Might be a bait and switch with Snohomish county voter, but that sort of flexibility would be most excellent.

    1. That’s what I interpreted it as. It’s unclear whether the boardmember fully meant this, or whether the rest of the board or staff see it that way. Some might see it as a bait and switch, others might see it as ST being sensible after all.

  58. No vote from me. Not really all that difficult. ST seem to have managed to press every single one of my hot buttons. I believe that fixing investment for such a long term, especially along routes many of which are at best speculative, is a mistake. I’m concerned that leaving the ERC as a trail for at least 50 years means that it is lost as a transit corridor. I’m disappointed that West Seattle seems to be the top priority over even Ballard. I’m upset that there’s no provision whatsoever, not even a study for the future, for an inner loop in Seattle. I am unhappy to see an extreme lack of specificity in the proposed expansions of Sounder South, and surprised not to see at least a study of extra tracks in the corridor. I don’t think light rail to either Issaquah or Paine Field make sense, even in the context of a debate that treats light rail from Everett to Tacoma as worth considering.

    Plus all their crowing about the “on budget and early” delivery of U-Link just has me in a bad mood. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to put the pointless schedule debates behind me, but as I see it, this was just a matter of realistically specifying a project, adding contingencies, and the doing what you said you were going to do. This is the bare minimum I expect; that this is so rare doesn’t make it a n extraordinary achievement, but rather a damning indictment of the public sector delivery elsewhere. Moreover, I see little to convince me that this is the result of striving for taxpayer value rather than mere pathological risk adversity. They have permanently hobbled the existing light rail system by taking the lowest risk approach at every single opportunity: passenger convenience and numbers be damned.

    I don’t buy the “it’s now or never” rhetoric; moreover, I’m not even sure I believe that waiting till 2020 will have much real effect on project delivery: they simply aren’t really starting work on anything until 2023 anyway, and ST1 and ST2 revenue is coming in way above projections now thanks to the strong economy. Remember neither ST1 nor ST2 passed on the first try.

    1. “I am unhappy to see an extreme lack of specificity in the proposed expansions of Sounder South, and surprised not to see at least a study of extra tracks in the corridor.”

      The candidate project that item was based on specifically looked into completing the third passenger track, which seems to be a prerequisite for hourly service. The state and BNSF have been considering the third track on and off anyway, and I gather they’re all ready do to it in the medium term and are making incremental progress. I was disappointed that all of this seemed to be subsumed in the small phrase “track improvements”. We should see what’s in the details when they come out, and talk to ST about how likely the third track and hourly Sounder is. The holdup was negotiating a total price with BNSF, but that must be done now, and either it was affordable or it wasn’t.

      1. They’re being wisely mum so as not to reveal their hand prior to BNSF negotiations.

      2. @Zach… That would be fine if Sound Transit had given us any reason to believe that they would make the right tradeoffs. They have not. On virtually every occasion they have made choices against passengers and the long term benefit of the system rather than take on royal or political opposition.

  59. I’m a huge transit supporter and a frequent user of transit, despite owning a brand new car and despite the fact that transit is slower and less comfortable than driving in many cases. I base this on years of using public transit in different cities around the world and on seeking out convenience (i.e. not worrying about parking) rather than speed.

    There’s no way I would ever support this plan. It’s too slow. It’s too expensive. And it builds upon and compounds the shortcuts and political problems that already face ST. It’s time to move beyond this idea that we need equal investment everywhere. A slow trolley travelling at 55mph makes no sense for a regional trunk system. If we really want to serve Federal Way, Everett, Tacoma, etc., then it needs to be done with an S-Bahn type express system that offers a fast and reliable trip and can replace existing bus service. A slow trolley going 35 miles north/south isn’t going to be an option for most.

    And then there’s all the ridiculous “compromises”…. the I-5 deviation in Des Moines, duplicating the routing through S. Bellevue and transferring downtown rather than at S. Bellevue, Paine Field (!), and prioritizing suburban service over the service needed in Seattle and closer in areas. I don’t care about a bunch of small road/bus improvements in the burbs. For $50B and 25 years we deserve a lot more than an expanded trolley to the burbs and one short line in the city.

    1. Yep, I agree…I feel gut punched. I am a long time transit advocate, worked for a decade as a transit service planner, and usually would support just about any transit initiative with my vote and my taxes…yet I can’t think of how I could possibly support this thing. Downtown-Ballard is the only major project in the entire thing I can support, and even then I have been won over by Ballard-UW as superior, and anyway, can’t possibly agree with a schedule that puts the best project in the crap pile at the bottom of the pile. I usually am critical of Seattle’s tendency to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but not this time. I can’t see how this passes in any jurisdiction. If what hits the ballot in any way resembles this mess, I am worried ST has set transit back a decade.

      As someone living in Seattle, what do I possibly get out of this thing? One good(ish) line in 20 years and an infill station far from my house?!

    2. We do have an S-Bahn type express system; it’s called Sounder. It doesn’t serve Federal Way though, or Lynnwood. But track improvements the state is already doing and ST could accelerate will eventually speed it up from 79 mph to 90 mph. That’s enough to make up for the huge detour via Auburn and bring Seattle-Tacoma down to 40 minutes or something.

      1. Yes. So let’s put a few billion into expanding Sounder (including spur tracks to Federal Way, etc.) rather than building a long, slow light rail line that won’t do anyone any good.

      2. Which would be such a better fit for Everett/Tacoma. Light Rail is such a poor technology for these distances. But that ship sailed so long ago…

      3. Sounder is not feasable as an S-Bahn in Snohomish County. The track is along a hillside next to the water, away from the Lynnwood population center, single track in places and no room for expansion, and much of the track capacity is taken by freight trains. You’d have to run a line through the center of the population area, which is exactly what Link is doing.

      4. @Ryan We Tacomans want service to South King County and SeaTac as well, and Link along 99 is the best realistic way to do that.

  60. Like everyone else, I am frustrated by the timing of Downtown -> Ballard and think we need to push to have it expedited, but I don’t think the timing itself is a compelling reason to vote against the measure. ST has said before that 15 years is basically the minimum time for any new project in ST3 from passage to opening, and it makes sense that Downtown -> Ballard, given its significantly complexity, would take at least several years more than that. So while it would be great to have it in 18 years instead of 22 years, the difference is not huge, and voting down ST3 and trying to get something else passed later will almost certainly push that project even further out…

    The deal-breaker for me is the at-grade / elevated alignment on 15th and over the ship canal into Ballard. Folks have already discussed the reliability and flooding concerns with the at-grade alignment and significant reliability concerns with a movable bridge. If I’m reading this correctly, this proposal would also mean an elevated station in Ballard – i.e., no tunnel at all in Ballard. My understanding of the Ballard -> UW candidate project was that it was conditioned on an underground ship canal crossing and Ballard tunnel. In my mind, Ballard -> UW needs to be a subway. I’m willing (if necessary) to wait 22 years for Downtown -> Ballard (especially if the Ballard -> UW study were expedited so that we could work towards a City-only package that paid for it and could have it open around the same time), but I can only support this package if Downtown -> Ballard is done right (i.e., fully grade separated with a tunnel under the ship canal, like candidate project c-01c). Paying that much money and waiting that much time only to get a sub-standard, disappointing implementation of the most important line in the entire package is simply unacceptable.

    1. Flooding concerns are a citywide issue and ST3 is not the way to address it piecemeal. We need a comprehensive flood mitigation plan, not non-experts throwing arrows in the dark and hoping it’s the right thing. Raising the line or tunneling it would raise the $50 billion budget.

      1. Why is flooding now an issue in Interbay, yet we’re about to embark on a massive project to build light rail on a floating bridge?

      2. So build the UW-Ballard tunnel, which avoids all the flood problems and is a better route anyway.

        Yes, it requires building a junction underground in the U-District. Such things have been built before.

  61. I’m seeing several themes so far in comments:
    1) The project list is bad, with several specific examples (no Ballard-UW, Paine Field deviation, no Madison BRT)
    2) The timing/phasing is bad/too long (West Seattle before Ballard, we’ll all be old/dead before anything gets built)
    3) $50 billion only buys this?!

    I think a major missing piece of information are details of the financing plan. We have no idea beyond the topline number ($50 billion) and some big-picture details about revenue shown on one PowerPoint slide how this is all being paid for. We don’t know how much money we’re talking about for each subarea, we don’t know what kind of and how much bonding is being used, we don’t know about assumptions for grants, and we don’t know how revenue is projected to come in over time. Without that information, it is very difficult to critique the plan as a whole, because the financing is a major constraint on what can get built when.

    I have my suspicions about how and why things are presented as they are, and I can infer some pretty scathing comments based on my suspicions. For example, it seems likely to me that East King money is going elsewhere, but I don’t know where, when, and for what. If it is going for DSTT2, that’s probably okay with me. If it is going to Paine Field/Everett, I’m really not okay with that. But these details matter, and we won’t know them until Tuesday. Until then I’m holding my critiques, because I consider them based on incomplete information.

    1. More details will be online Tuesday. ST is required by state law to tell the subareas how much of their money benefits the subarea. If the breakdowns don’t come in the next couple weeks, that’s something we can press ST on.

  62. Does anyone know why the timeline cannot be accelerated if they changed the funding scheme to leverage long term bonds? The crazy long timeline is a huge barrier to want to vote for this. I think the way its funded is the main reason they can’t do the build out faster is because its a pay as you go scheme – the taxes have to accumulate before stuff gets designed/built. If we built houses and apartments that way, nothing would happen. Debt/bonds give the cash up front. if they accelerated the same plan to be complete in 8-15 years, but the same taxes over the 20-30 years to pay off the bonds I think it would have a much better chance.

    1. The state’s maximum bonds:revenue ratio, and ST’s stricter maximum. I’m not sure longer-term bonding would make any difference (except raise the interest rate).

  63. Too little too late. I guess late is better than never, but WTF?
    Voting for this is the lesser of two evils, I suppose. Maybe a moratorium on freeway and arterial roadway expansion would encourage people to support an accelerated schedule. That would take a progressive state legislator, though, and we currently do not have that.

  64. By far the most expensive proposal is Ballard to West Seattle, which includes an expensive soaring bridge over the Ship Canal, stupid track through desolate Interbay, tunneling under Queen Anne, a whole new downtown rail tunnel, another new bridge over the Duwamish, and more tunneling in West Seattle. All this serves exactly 3 more neighborhoods–Ballard, Queen Anne, and northern West Seattle, at a cost of, what, $15 billion? And of course it will take until 2038 or so.

    It seems obvious ST3 could instead run a stub to QA with maybe 2 stations, and also have a UW-Ballard stub with 3 stations, and accomplish more than the proposed Ballard line would, for less cost. Fremont and Wallingford would be served, and another route to UW would come into existence. When classes resume next week the crush of students into UW station is going to be impressive. The case for more trains to UW will only get stronger. The actual building of the lines should not take any longer than the extension to Husky Stadium did–on the order of 6 years.

    Honestly, it can seem sometimes that city of Seattle is more interested in spending as much money as possible than in serving as many people as possible.

    I must have missed the discussion where everybody agreed that a second downtown tunnel is necessary. Is it? Currently trains go through once every seven minutes at peak. I think doubling or even tripling that rate is not unfeasible. If not, the stubs can be just that–shuttles that require a transfer at University District station or Westlake. That’s how subways in big cities typically work. The tracks can still be connected to get the trains down to Sodo for maintenance at night. I would like to see a link somewhere that carefully explains why a second downtown tunnel is needed.

    As for West Seattle, there is some complicated geography there and I’m not sure ST has examined that line rigorously enough. I think WS deserves light rail but this plan does not seem completely baked.

    I live in North Seattle and can see basically nothing in this grab bag of projects that would be of use to me. I will be 80(!) at the far end of the ST3 timeline. Why should I vote to add $1000 or so to my annual tax burden (yeah, I’m not “average”) without getting at least some personal benefit?

  65. For people who want to vote this down for something better, doesn’t a ballot measure like this need to align with a presidential election year in order to benefit from democratic turnout? If this is true it would seem counterintuitive to oppose it for the timeline being too distant when you only get a crack at it every four years and a no vote adds four years to any hypothetical future project timeline. Even if voters would pass something in an off year, it still seems to hold true that a measure proposed in a presidential year could be more ambitious.

    1. That’s true, a presidential election has a higher turnout, and it’s more Democratic and more pro-transit. So if we miss 2016 the next best window is 2020. And if ST won’t be spending much until 2024 anyway because ST2 is using 2/3 of the potential funding, then what would be lost is mostly the “early small gains”. But if 2016 fails, it would be nice to get a small planning package in 2017 so that planning wouldn’t delay things as much.

  66. I wonder if Ballard -> Downtown could be expedited if split into two separate projects – first, an initial stub line from Ballard to Westlake, and then the second tunnel that would connect Westlake to the International District Station. That way, light rail stub lines would open in 2033 (or earlier) to West Seattle (as currently planned) and Ballard, but the new tunnel and and operational switch to split the spine wouldn’t happen until 2038. The resulting project would look basically the same as under this plan, but we’d get light rail to Ballard much sooner (with a transfer at Westlake for trips further south). Building the tunnel as a separate project might also encourage ST to be more ambitious with that last piece of the puzzle (e.g., moving the intervening stop up to First Hill).

    1. Probably not – I think the CEO said the Westlake station – where they build an entirely new station below & perpendicular to the existing station – is possibly the most technically complex part of the entire project.

      1. As I understand it, the intent is to allow people to descend directly from the current Link platforms to the new Green Line platforms two stories deeper, all while maintaining current operations throughout. Monstrously complex, but 22 years is still too long, with 7+ years of process just to get through design, engineering, and environmental.

      2. Think of the fun in having to get from the surface at west lake down to this new station below the existing one. Or vice versa. One of the surprises at the new Husky stadium station are the number of escalators (3) just to get from the surface to the platform.

      3. The early design included a potentially unneeded seconded mezzanine. I still don’t see why that would be needed offhand. Is there some sort of facility under the current DSTT which requires it to be so deep? This was discussed extensively on another post a few months ago.

        The depth at Westlake also makes it doubly hard to build a station further east up First Hill, There was also some chatter about this on that post a few months ago; there were lots of comments..

        The Westlake elevation challenge is almost severe enough to suggest a partial aerial option for the corridor. I know it’s not pretty or desired, but it may work best given the steepness of Downtown. I’m not adverse to consider a refitting the monorail aerial pillars for light rail and moving the monorail somewhere else. An aerial option would also likely get completed 3 or 4 years earlier. I realize that this is a topic way down the line only if the segment is funded, but chances are the EIS will have to consider it in some way.

  67. I wasn’t in the area (and potentially wasn’t even alive) during past debates regarding transit in Seattle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their arguments for voting it down sounded identical to those put force today. Those same people are frequently demonized and are the reason we’re sitting here in 2016 in a transit crisis.

    Let’s not repeat their mistakes. The “but I’ll be old then!” argument has contributed to transit woes, climate change, and much worse.

    Nothing is set in concrete – it’s especially true now, but even after it passes there’s plenty of room for advocating and shaping it into a plan that’s easier to live with

    1. Not really. Forward Thrust was rejected because people didn’t think it was necessary — in short, they liked their cars. It is rare to get so many transit advocates (this is a transit blog, after all) saying much the same thing: this is crap. This is simply not a good value for the city or for the region. The timing has a lot to do with it, but that is only a symptom of the problem. Spending a huge amount of money on something so wasteful means you have to wait until the money trickles in. Put it this way — if they proposed this:, then you would not get the kind of opposition to this plan that you see here today.

      1. Forward Thrust also had an unpleasant supermajority requirement. Remember, it got a majority of the vote, it just didn’t get 60%.

    2. 1970 was a time when most people thought I-5, I-90, 405, and 520 were all they needed and would never fill up. Housing and gas were dirt cheap so people didn’t have trouble affording a car. Planetary carrying capacity was not on people’s minds. And the region’s population was half what it is now. So it was a completely different context. The argument wasn’t that it’s an ineffective transit network because it was more comprehensive than this one (between Lake City and Renton, which was the extent of the population concentration). It wasn’t that taxes are evil because all the other Forward Thrust projects (e.g., highways) passed. It was that people thought transit was unnecessary in long-term future. Now people are crying out for an alternative to clogged freeways, are filling P&Rs and buses, want to mitigate the geographical problems of living in lower-cost areas, are worried their old age might be homeless on the street, and they’re concerned about the climate.

    3. Let’s not forget that in 1968 Forward Thrust received a majority of the votes, by about a 5% margin–it was the state’s crazy and undemocratic supermajority laws that prevented the system from being built.

      Let us also not forget that the timeline for the entire project to be completed, from election day to opening day, was 17 years. This was for a much more comprehensive system than we are asked to swallow now, at least in King County.

      Much of the accelerated speed likely came from the fact that 90% of the project would have received federal funding; however, that just puts the onus on ST to come up with creative ways to finance this boondoggle and not just accept what we have now. With rail open and becoming more and more popular once people see how it works–and the Capitol Hill and UW stations are adding immensely to that–ST and the metro area has a bigger stick with which to lay about heads in Olympia. LA has figured it out. There are other places that have figured it out. The agency and the politicians that run it need to think outside the box. They haven’t.

      In my lifetime this country has gone from “we can do anything” to “we can’t do that, why even try.” I heard it a lot at the caucus on Saturday, and frankly it’s pathetic.

  68. Two Seattle comments: is there room for the SR-522 BRT at the cramped NE 145th Street Lynnwood Link station? if not, cancel its garage and use the funds to build the NE 130th Street station. Note Madison BRT is missing from list; this must have implications for SDOT project.

  69. I’m saying it for d.p. “I told you so, I told you so, I told you so” and I have to say the timeframe to complete the system is dead on arrival.

      1. It *is* a surface line for Ballard (due to ST being completely insane), but with a subway for Interbay (due to ST being completely insane). Seriously, ye gods, you don’t put your rail line across a canal on a drawbridge; nobody does that any more and for good reason.

  70. Ballard in 2038??? After West Seattle?? Is this a joke? Ballard has played along with the urban density playbook (West Seattle, not so much). Getting in and out of Ballard is already untenable I can’t even imagine in 10 years, let alone one year quite honestly. I feel like I should be moving to the suburbs where there are shorter travel times to downtown than Ballard. I really don’t know that I can vote for this without a whole bunch of explaining on this. This makes me sad. Any why no connection to UW? We need an east-west route option desparately.

    1. Oh, and I see it would build link to Tacoma first too….something’s wrong here….have the ST planners even been to Ballard recently? Isn’t there land use and potential ridership data to look at. Omg.Voting no.

      1. have the ST planners even been to Ballard

        What will it take to get people to understand this has nothing to do with “planning” (or ST staff) but is the inevitable outcome of a board structure that empowers politicians (many with a city budget less than ST’s campaign war chest) to ask ST Claus for a free pony.

      2. That plus the tax structure. Seattle needs a lot of investment. Snohomish, less so. But instead of being able to tax Seattle at a higher rate and Snohomish at a lower rate, you have to tax everyone equally. True, Snohomish has a smaller tax base. But construction costs in Snohomish are also a lot cheaper, so you get these extravagant projects with low ridership.

        If instead you said “Snohomish needs x and y, and Snohomish commuters make up z% of Seattle transit users, so the total cost is $n billion, which can be paid for with these tax rates” you could probably come up with a much better investment. But that’s not the way ST is set up, and probably never will be the way ST is set up.

      3. Tacoma has plenty of TOD potential, too, and we need a connection to South King County and SeaTac, as well.

      4. Tacoma needs a connection to SeaTac?

        Build Boeing Access Road station on both Link and Sounder. Run Sounder every half hour. Done, there’s your connection. Gotta be cheaper than “Spine Destiny Link”, and quicker, and more useful…

    2. Starting to sound a lot like the Bay Area… it’s easier and faster to commute 30 miles than it is to travel across your own city.

  71. So Sound Transit chose the Paine Field alignment for ST3, despite it costing significantly more than the Evergreen Way and I-5 alignments and with no increased ridership, and despite it being the least popular alignment with Snohomish County residents.

    Though apparently to afford the Paine Field alignment, they had some stations on the alignment cut or provisional (unfunded), making it even worse. The Northern Evergreen station is unfunded, so that part of Everett may have light rail along Evergreen Way without a single station. The Paine Field area gets one station instead of two, which makes serving it with light rail even worse than what was proposed before. The Evergreen Way/Airport Road station is unfunded, which means the junction of two Swift lines may have light rail passing right over it without stopping.

    On top of that, they cut other things in the county. Central Lynnwood only gets one added station instead of their preferred two, which shrinks its TOD potential significantly. Mountlake Terrace doesn’t get a 220th St SW station or a second parking garage at Mountlake Terrace station, so they get nothing. Sound Transit cheapened the entire light rail line through Snohomish County in order to serve Paine Field.

  72. So let me gets this straight: the suburbs which have consistently voted against transit and which have lower density will be getting transit ahead of neighborhoods such as West Seattle and Ballard which have routinely voted for transit and are much higher density? Can someone please explain how the hell this makes any sense??

    1. That part is pretty easy – it’s a lot easier, faster, and cheaper to build elevated tracks than it is to tunnel. And since subarea equity appears to be mostly in effect, you can’t just route all the money to Seattle at first. If you want a concrete example, U-Link cost almost $2billion for 3 miles and 2 stations while East Link costs just under 2 times that for 14 miles of track (4 times more) and ten stations (5 times more), despite going over a floating bridge (technically challenging).

    2. Today in Sound Transit news:

      ST Express routes 510/512 and 511/513 are experiencing delays up to 20 minutes at this time due to heavy traffic in the Seattle area. Expect delays around Safeco Field this afternoon due to a political rally. We appreciate your patience.

      Complete the spine. Now please.

      1. Why? It doesn’t say “traffic in the Everett area” or “traffic in the Lynnwood area”. It says “traffic in the Seattle area”. I’d rather see three times the number of bus routes going north from Lynnwood and connecting to Link there than a single train going from Lynnwood to Everett in a zig-zag fashion. It would probably be cheaper, faster, and could be fully operational in 2023.

      2. Spinefest Destiny needs to go down in flames. If you want the spine, then its time to take a serious look at Everett-Tacoma RER. Light rail as we saw at 6 minute frequency is going to be at capacity before we know it at 6 minute frequencies, by Northgate, 4 minutes and 4 car trains will likely be filled and what room does that leave when you get to Lynnwood? Unless we can get some sort of automation frequences cannot go above 4 minutes.

  73. Just to remind all the folks saying Seattle gets shafted of an important fact:

    Building in central Seattle is way more expensive than elsewhere, even way more the North and South Seattle. Between 300-ft cliffs, shipping channels, and lack of space, it’s hard to build anything there.

    Think about it, I believe that they have maintained subarea equity, even with the Paine-Everett line for Snohomish County. Why? That line is easy to build. No steep hills, no shipping channels, plenty of room. The only difficult part of Federal Way-Tacoma is the Puyallup River, the decent from Federal Way to the lowlands is very gradual, and why they built so many real terminuses in Tacoma 100 years ago.

  74. Wow…. you guys, face it, this region is really in a world of s#it in terms of regional urban and transportation planning. Hearing Dow Constantine’s excuse will be amusing. What a Fck-fest.

    It’s time to purge the idiots responsible for this pathetic proposal. The good news is most of the dips#its responsible for this lousy proposal will be dead or almost dead by time we complete the 30-year build out (assuming its built).

    We can do so much better than this. New people must take charge. People dedicated to excellence and speed. I hate to say it, but maybe we need to start over. Look at the original Link package approved in 1995 and compare to what’s been delivered at inflated price and more time. Not a great track record. We are NOT getting it done, the region’s being overwhelmed with growth and mediocre planning. This is pathetic.

    The timeline for ST3 is totally unacceptable.

    Are ya’ll familiar with the speed the WW2 generation completed the Apollo program and the design/build/flight of the Boeing 747 including the Everett factory? How long did I-5 take to build? My god they barely had computers. But ST requires 20+ years to build these train lines that by their own progections wont even move as many people as Metro bus moves today. Yeah right.

    We can do better. We will do better. But new people need to take charge.

      1. Why does no one understand this whole “pay as you go” concept? The timeline isn’t incompetence. It isn’t construction capacity. It isn’t regulations. It’s waiting for tax revenue to arrive.

      2. I really like that they finally included a stop on Madison. Serving Swedish and Seattle U and the residents/visitors of that area is huge! I wish they had included the stop between Westlake and Cap Hill on the current line but they were afraid of a lawsuit from a lawyer who lives in the First Hill Plaza who didn’t want construction on his street. Seems they’re just going to wait him out lol

        That purple line extending service along the crowded I90 was also smart. I hope it’s convenient for students at Bellevue College to use.
        There isn’t any problem here that can’t be fixed. The problem has been and always will be cost; the amount of funding that comes in and at what pace. If we can fund ST3 faster and/or be competitive with grants then maybe we can speed up the construction process.

        We’ve convinced the board on so much already and there’s still plenty of time to tweak ST3 before a final proposal is shown to voters. At least now we know where they stand and we know what we need to do. Up to now it was just guessing.

        Priority 1: Funding and the pace at which we can pay for construction.

  75. OK, so suppose Spineifest Destiny is necessary. What is the actual ridership potential for Everett in, say, 15 years out.

    I’m wondering about potential single track sections. If it weren’t for the now retired wheelchair lifts and the scheduling difficulty they involved, the first MAX line to Gresham would probably still be single track with passing sidings.

    1. Glenn, nice try but I don’t see single trackage working for light rail. I just don’t. Too many frequency issues.

      I’d rather see quite frankly the brain trust that is the STB commentariat and the STB Editorial Board bang heads together at a jam session, come up with a solution and present to Sound Transit planner geeks.

      We can do this!

      1. The limitations is the taxing authority. The requirement is to keep each sub-area happy. The only way to cover more areas in less time is going to be cutting back on something.

        Single track can work if you have good schedule reliability, so you know where the sections of double track will have to be.

        In many places, Eugene’s EmX is single lane with passing lanes at stations. It works ok.

        If the outer reaches at Everett don’t need the high frequency then maybe some extra track there could be cut.

      2. There are single-track sections on lots of light rail systems; I remember some in Camden NJ. Not a problem if they’re designed well.

  76. As a Seattle resident I say vote NO on this crap. Seattle needs to go on its own and build out a system where it is really needed …… in the most densely populated areas of the region. Enough pandering to the suburbs and pushing Seattle priorities down the road. I would pay more taxes to fund a Seattle system that serves high density neighborhoods in a shorter timeline.

    1. A go it alone approach does not mean more projects for Seattle, it might mean different projects for Seattle. The Seattle projects are from Seattle money, so with only Seattle paying, guess what? Same amount of project money available.

      1. If Seattle were to take on the Metro 8 Line on its own, with urban stop-spacing connecting the city’s densest areas to Link, how would that work? Would ST welcome connections to Link with open arms without the kind of input/control it would have as part of an ST project? Would the city’s line be operated by a separate agency, making fee collection more complicated?

        And is there money from the Move Seattle levy to study a “Metro 8” subway line?

      2. ST would be willing to consider building an externally-funded line as long as it doesn’t conflict with its own plans. One track is to simply accelerate something that’s already in ST’s long-term plan. Ballard-UW would be a good candidate for that. That’s essentially what McGinn did for the Ballard-downtown studies: he gave ST money to study it now rather than later. If we accelerate the next step, then that also helps move it to the top priority for completion. Again, as McGinn did with Ballard-downtown: by accelerating the study, he demonstrated city interest in making it top priority, and now it’s the one in ST3.

        The Denny/23rd subway is more difficult because it’s not in ST’s long-range plan; there’s no concrete plan on what to attach it to on the west end to get to a maintenance base, and you’d have to take out two square blocks in the densest part of the city to launch and extract the tunnel-boring machines. Seattle Subway suggests attaching it to a Georgetown bypass line, but that’s a much larger project, and what else would you connect it to instead? If you connect it to West Seattle, then what happens to Lynnwood?

    1. Yeah, but the angst of transit advocates is huge. Even Congressman Rick Larsen is publicly critical:

      U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, whose district covers most of western Snohomish County, said Friday he wasn’t in a mood to mince words.
      “There may be a lot of head-scratching from some folks. I’m not scratching my head. I’m banging it against the wall right now,” he said.

      A Sound Transit spokesperson Friday pointed out that the agreements approved in the mid-1990s identify no specific light-rail projects for Everett.
      That might be true, Larsen said, but Snohomish County voters can still feel slighted.
      “Sound Transit was supposed to bring light rail to Everett long before this timeline,” he said. “They may argue that wasn’t a promise, but it certainly was an expectation.”

      Today’s Everett Herald.

      1. “If there’s interest in expediting it, the alternative could be an I-5 line with a bus rapid transit loop going out to Paine Field,” [ST spokesman Geoff] Patrick said. “That could be accomplished in 15 years or less.”

        There you go; there’s the loop.

        Also, a “bus rapid transit loop going out to Paine Field” doesn’t have to necessarily follow exactly the Link routing. If there’s some neighborhoods or businesses it could usefully serve along the way, it could do that. And why does it have to be V shaped? If Swift II will be duplicating the southern leg, then maybe the BRT line could go from Everett to Paine and then somewhere else?

      2. “Unlike routes to the mostly residential areas of West Seattle and Ballard,” ”

        West Seattle and Ballard are so like Mukilteo and Lake Stevens and North Everett. Just residential areas, that’s all.

        “a Snohomish County segment promises to relieve congestion on I-5, a major freight corridor.”

        There you go, it relieves freeway congestion!

        “The CEO and president of Economic Alliance Snohomish County is troubled by the idea of residential areas getting higher priority in the transit plans than the state’s biggest manufacturing center.“

        If we put a station at S 133rd, would all the workers in the surrounding industries use it? Or are they not in walking distance? Are they dense enough for bus feeders to every business?

        “They cite a motion the transit board approved in 1994 prioritizing the construction of light rail to Everett, after the system reaches Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma.”

        There’s that. And people wonder why Ballard-UW and Lake City aren’t in ST3.

        “A Sound Transit spokesperson Friday pointed out that the agreements approved in the mid-1990s identify no specific light-rail projects for Everett.That might be true, Larsen said, but Snohomish County voters can still feel slighted.”

        Like how north Seattle residents say they were promised sidewalks?

      3. “If there’s interest in expediting it, the alternative could be an I-5 line with a bus rapid transit loop going out to Paine Field.. That could be accomplished in 15 years or less.”

        Snohomish leaders need to learn the meaning of ‘trade-off’. Rick Larsen, and the Board members up north, should be explaining to Snohomish voters that the Paine Field diversion is adding ten years to their pet project, and a billion dollars to their tax bill. And the train will be slower and more circuitous when it eventually gets there.

      4. This brings us also back to the light rail spur. You get the Everett-Lynnwood line running in 15 years, and the Boeing spur opens later.

      5. higher priority in the transit plans than the state’s biggest manufacturing center.

        Except, the state’s biggest manufacturing center isn’t a center but a sprawl. Boeing + Paine Field + Museum of Flight + all the stuff surrounding Paine Field is what? Maybe twice thee size of all of downtown Seattle?

        You could draw a line around the same amount of land in SoDo, West Seattle all the way down to about Tukwila and probably wind up with more manufacturing jobs.

      6. Lots of jobs, visitors and sheer revenue generated at Paine Field… it’s well worth HIGH CAPACITY transit. How and what, let’s not get stuck on the technology.

        I mean if we can CUT a Billion and a substantial number of years from transit for the north… let’s do it.

      7. Oh and Glenn, your Trimet Red Line serves PDX and a few sprawly stations close to PDX. Also going out to Hillsboro and Gresham? Sounds to me like going out to Everett, please correct me if misperception.

      8. ….which are certainly terrible locations but at least they are located in a straight line along Airport Road.

        Nothing at Paine Field is in a similar straight line. Serving one area means not serving something else. They make it sound like all those employees are at a single point on the map, and it’s nothing like that.

      9. I agree Glenn, which is why I think a BRT loop is better than light rail. The only direct line that makes sense is a east-west spur. The west side of Paine Field includes museums and Mukilteo, the east side has many tenants as well as Boeing and Flying Heritage Collection…

      10. Gresham to Hillsboro is roughly 30 miles through downtown Portland. That’s equivalent to Lynnwood to Angle Lake through downtown Seattle. Extending south and north to Tacoma and Everett would more than double the total length of rail. I really wish “the spine” wasn’t exclusively about light rail but I like the spur idea. Not every one traveling between Everett and Seattle wants to go via Paine but there are people who do.

        PDX to downtown Portland is only 8 miles, which is the same distance between Boeing Field and downtown Seattle.

  77. Gee, I thought there might be some discussion of how cost effective all these projects would be. I guess I was wrong.
    The Expert Review Panel issued their report for the Board to see the data, by project, which shows a huge variance between them.
    Cheapest to do: Boeing Field Link/Sounder Station at 85 cents per annual rider.
    Mid-Range: E-03 Issaquah to Bellevue LRT at $9.76 per rider.
    Highest: S-16 Sounder extension to Dupont at $16.75 per rider.
    I wonder if the Board even considered much of this when decorating the 25 year, $27B Christmas Tree.
    Appendix A

    1. One of the panel’s recommendations in its oral report to the board was to include cost per rider as a comparison metric. I’m not sure how much it matters though, much less “annual rider”. Sounder may be expensive but it moves a lot of people quickly, which is the purpose of transit. Nobody has suggested anything higher-volume or faster for moving people between the 720,000-person Seattle and the 830,000-person Pierce County. And getting partway closer to the state capitol is a goal in itself.

      1. The post giving per-rider costs above was mistaken, they read from the wrong column. The $16 per rider price was for the Orting rail line (no surprise there), while Dupont is in the mid-range $6 per rider. And of course, I’m sure this doesn’t account for cross-state travelers who benefit from the track improvements as well.

    2. It makes no sense to extend full Sounder trains to DuPont. Operate it with two car trains at a high enough speed that travel time + transfers in Tacoma are an improvement in current overall speeds, and it should be decently popular.

      That doesn’t sound like that is what they plan to do though.

      1. They will be full Sounder trains, but only every other train will go to the Dupont. The other half of them start and end in Lakewood.

    3. Boeing Access Road Link/Sounder station makes a *lot* of sense because it provides Tacoma, Kent (etc) residents with a reasonable all-rail route to the airport.

      I bet you the expert review board didn’t even account for transferring passengers in its estimates, so this is even better than they think it is.

      It should be built promptly. The added riders will help the operating budget… this is a “quick win”….

      1. I don’t know how familiar you are with travel times in Pierce and South King, but it does not “make a *lot* of sense” to make SeaTac-bound passengers from Tacoma take Sounder all the way to BAR and then backtrack to the airport. Even at slow Link speeds, it should be faster to travel directly from the Tacoma dome up the hill to FW and then on to Seatac.

        *Note* I’m not commenting on cost, but simply that it would somehow be “better”

  78. Well there just might be a solution for Paine Field that will get a line to Everett faster, connect Spine Destiny to Paine Field and save some money. So I just e-mailed the Everett Herald my support of Geoff Patrick’s idea:

    Support Bus Rapid Transit for Paine Field

    Dear Editor;

    As I’ve sortied to your newspaper before, I’m an aviation photographer who occasionally visits Paine Field. I do not believe the best solution for Paine Field is light rail to Paine Field, nor do many transit advocates who are quite capable of speaking up.

    Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick is right (March 26, “Leaders fume over Sound Transit’s 2041 Everett timeline“) that bus rapid transit to Paine Field from the Sound Transit spine is the best solution for Paine Field. Paine Field lacks the density to truly support light rail without a bus feeder network; but is very economically diverse and needs quality transit to most if not all of its destinations such as manufacturing, museums, general aviation hangars, and flight schools now.

    Although I will not get to vote for ST3; I find it hard as a transit advocate to champion a ST3 that is slow in serving the Future of Flight with over 300,000 visits last year and does not connect Sound Transit’s spine destiny to Mukilteo. There is also the sensitive matter of traffic mitigation for any commercial terminal at Paine Field seemingly absent from public discussion.


    Joe Kunzler
    Skagit County, WA
    What Geoff said with some context:

    A route to Paine Field likely would cost about $1 billion more than running the light-rail line straight up I-5 to Everett. That kind of trade-off could make for a faster construction schedule, Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said.
    “If there’s interest in expediting it, the alternative could be an I-5 line with a bus rapid transit loop going out to Paine Field,” Patrick said. “That could be accomplished in 15 years or less.”
    The Paine Field route has been a must-have for Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and the three Sound Transit board members from Snohomish County. The big reason: jobs, more than 55,000 at Everett’s Boeing plant and the other businesses that have sprung up around the airport.
    Current estimates from Sound Transit peg the Paine Field option at $4.3 billion. A route that follows I-5 all the way to Everett would cost an estimated $3.1 billion with the bus loop adding up to $300 million.

  79. Again, this really reminds me of the meetup that STB had once where someone asked Joni Earl why Seattle’s projects took so long and so much money compared to Vancouver’s or other cities around the world. They had no answer and looked liked a deer in headlights. The fact that they cannot learn from other places even 2 hours away or figure out how to cut down the cost and time it takes to build these stations is beyond me.

    I love transit and the new U-Link stations but something’s gotta give in the terms of construction costs and time taken.

    I am leaning on voting no currently.

  80. This plan takes way too long to connect outside of the seattle core. The seattle city plan seems reasonable, and the second tunnel inside the city is long needed. But the plans to take 25 to 30 years to connect to the suburbs is too long. Most people working today, driving on the roads will be dead or retired by the time this comes to fruition and serves Issaquah (underserves Kirkland), server Bothell and Bellevue. There’s not going to be a good route from Issaquah to Bellevue and Kirkland and Bothell for dozens of years, so those poor saps like me will keep driving north and south on 405 to 90 for decades. There also needs to be a better plan for the thousands of people that drive to redmond every day from sammamish.

    This plan needs to be accelerated to be built out all at once, not one segment at a time for 25+ years. Build this in 10 years, and charge overpaid software engineers more (like me).

    1. The 556 runs from Issaquah to Bellevue right now in 24 minutes at morning rush. So I assume you mean it’s not a good route. What about it would be improved by switching to rail? Genuinely asking because I’m ignorant of conditions on those Eastside commute routes, and the release from ST Thursday didn’t do much to fill in the details.

      This page dives into the travel time comparisons of the East Link lines being completed in 7 years: Looks like presently it’s 10 minutes Bellevue TC to Microsoft on the 566.

  81. So where is this 2nd downtown transit tunnel going to run? I assume it will be roughly under 5th Avenue? Just guessing here. Is that right?

  82. I’ve seen comments about why this sucks for the other sub-areas; here’s my take on why it sucks for Pierce County:

    1) The only segment of the south spine that actually makes sense to build, Tacoma Dome to Tacoma Mall, is the only segment that is not being built.

    2) Improvements to Sounder lists no specifics about the improvements in speed, frequency, and span-of service, or even if there will be such improvements.

    3) Sounder vagueness leaves open the possibility that Pierce County’s STEX routes could be cut/truncated and replaced by a slow train whose high frequency is still insufficient to make up for the long travel times.

  83. The Paine Field extension is terrible, as I’ve stated here many times. It costs too much to build and significantly more to operate, achieves too little in ridership, duplicates other HCT, inconveniences anybody going to/from Everett on a regular basis to the tune of 2 weeks/year, and disenfranchises those near I-5 north of 128th, where tangible ridership demand exists today. Following the I-5 alignment gets it done 10 years sooner and frees up $1.3 billion for value-added north end projects to help today’s commuters, such as the northbound HOV ramp at 164th and a separate bus overcrossing at 128th (Direct access ramps there would be even better). Under this scenario, tens of thousands of us will be alive to ride something we paid for instead of being long dead or retired. This proposal should support today’s commuters and residents of Snohomish County, not tomorrow’s people who commute to Snohomish County.

    The Ballard to downtown alternative is also terrible, favoring lesser-populated Interbay while duplicating Rapid Ride D instead of the more-sensible, more ridership-rich Fremont option. Further, the non-Seattle-centric UW/Ballard line is omitted, which would alleviate congestion on 45th and 50th while acknowledging Ballard’s growing role as a residential and employment center, enabling northbound trips from Ballard and southbound trips to Ballard that don’t involve going through downtown.

    At least they opted to truncate the Issaquah to Kirkland line at Bellevue. Now, instead of going north with that line (with ST-4?), they should head south, providing a light rail option for the most-congested segment of I-405, that being from Bellevue to Renton (and go all the way to Tukwila International Station). I’d also like to see the taxing district expanded, but presently the area in question has to vote on it. If light rail and/or express bus comes close, e.g. Marysville, why would somebody vote to tax themselves for something that will take decades to reach there?

    Lastly, the cost. It’s been reported as just over $400 per household per year /$200 per person per year forever, i.e., $10,000 over 25 years, but the taxes continue forever. I’d rather have the $10,000 than this misdirected plan. I will enthusiastically be voting no on this proposal.

    1. The I405 Light Rail Extension from Bellevue was originally supposed to run to SeaTac and then on to Burien. The complexities are high with this section and its naysayers : Studies that are the basis for validity of such a line are extensively flawed as I was able to see them firsthand.

      First of all they’re based largely on the ridership of express busses from Kent and Renton to Bellevue along 405. If you’re familiar with the S Curves and the morning traffic I don’t need to tell you that even the HOV lanes are full, causing unreliability in the bus travel times and connections. Who would want to use a flawed bus service that sits in traffic? At least in their own car, the driver has a sense of control of the situation. Based partially on these numbers, research shows them there wouldn’t be Link riders= though they fail to see that a Link could actually attract riders as opposed to the “express” busses.

      Furthermore, the ridership is also analyzed on off days when reliability is seen to be more predictable and they concluded ridership was still low. However is what wasn’t looked at is the cause and effect analysis of the potential link customers. The majority of commuters that are traveling from the south sound along 405 understandably don’t have the energy, desire, or budget to drive the same route as the previous five or six working days as the average commuting distance was quite long. How would those behaviors change with a reliable Link that connected to the Spine? Not even considered.

      Target marketing also lacked in the research. No polls or opinions were taken from the market itself that would’ve been most likely to use the rail, including employees at the Boeing plant at The Landing, commuters from Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, or students from local college campuses around those areas just mentioned, to name a few examples. Without asking the people within the market or adequately considering the potential consumer base, how can effective conclusions be drawn on the impact of a Light Rail within that area?

      The third issue is maybe the biggest problem aside from the skewed research: Renton is a part of the east side section of Sound Transit. As ST is divided into sections and money is allocated to each of them, Renton is at the bottom of the list when talking about funding needs and requests among Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, and Issaquah. Those cities for the most part also have a voice on the ST Board while Renton and Burien do not.

      The last major problem is a continuation of the third reason in that the majority of transit bloggers, ST board members, outspoken citizens, and online entities like Seattle Subway all are based within the city limits of either Bellevue or Seattle- and thats going to be a continued statistical fact. Their opinions, even when meant to be objective, always revert back to their specific needs as they hold a bias view against commuters outside of the city. Out of sight and out of mind is the best description for I405 Renton issues in regards to how they are being addressed by the Link community.

      As 167 is lengthened and widened, as 169 which also feeds into I405 Renton is also widened to relieve some of the pressure from valley commuters, the region continues to grow and the drivers continue to commute North. The planners and “advocates” think that the tolls combined with BRT, will somehow be more effective and solve reliability issues and attract more riders than Link could, even though there’s going to be a continuation of added drivers by way of population growth and the next I405 widening project will probably be it’s last in that area due to land constraints, meaning it will be at capacity.

      Basically there’s no hope for 405 Link Light Rail service from Burien to Bellevue unless a large base of commuters speak up to ST and tell them to build it. Even with that, there’d have to be enough money leftover from what Bellevue and company is asking for within that east side region.

      Some overall money could be saved if we scrap that Paine Field stop and also efficiently use the money that’s supposed to be allocated to parking installations. I vote for more shuttle/bus/bike service to the stations that already exist- though admittedly some new parking will definitely be needed.

  84. I’m not going to vote to start paying heavy taxes now for marginal transit improvements that will appear TWENTY YEARS from now! The timing is crazy. China was able to build over 2000 miles of high speed rail in under 6 years. Heck, we built the entire interstate highway system in 35 year for around $300bil. Here, a small city network (yes, Seattle metro region is a SMALL city by global standards) is going to take 25 years and $50bil? Nuts!

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