stc__complete-v7_seattleSEATTLE SUBWAY

When most Seattleites saw the draft ST3 plan that Sound Transit released on Thursday, they were taken aback. 22 years to get to Ballard with a long section at-grade? 15 years to get to West Seattle? None of the other extensions we need? Seattleites were expecting more out of a $50 Billion dollar regional plan. Upon further review of the draft ST3 plan, however, Seattle Subway believes that we’re really not that far away from a plan Seattleites can get behind.

Here is how to fix it:

1.  Expedite the construction of light rail in Seattle.

The biggest criticism of the proposed package that we’ve heard from Seattle voters and our supporters is the glacial pace of construction to Ballard and West Seattle.  Sound Transit must do everything it can to expedite the construction of light rail in Seattle, including the elimination of projects that do not contribute the same benefits to mobility in Seattle.  The line to Ballard is the single best project in the package, by every possible metric (Ridership per dollar?  Check.  Potential for Transit Oriented Development?  Check.  Potential for federal funding?  Check.).  Seattle voters will not support a package unless they will live to ride the rail.

2.  Make Ballard to Downtown fully grade separated.

Once light rail is constructed at-grade, our city will be stuck with a flawed system, forever. Delays from our existing stretch of at-grade rail ripple throughout the system and limit the future  capacity of rail through the Rainier Valley.  All new light rail must be constructed with grade separation. This line, in particular, needs to be built to the highest quality possible. The high range ridership estimate for Ballard to downtown is 145,000 riders per day, which would mean:
-Ballard to Downtown’s daily ridership will be greater than the entire population of Bellevue.
-Ballard to Downtown’s daily ridership will be equivalent to the entire Portland MAX system.

3.  Provide complete funding of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the extensions from Ballard to UW and from West Seattle to Burien, and add both lines as “provisional projects” if additional funding becomes available.  

Completing the EIS for the extensions from Ballard to UW and from West Seattle to Burien will deliver those projects six years faster once funding becomes available.  That makes the lines closer to “shovel ready,” and creates the possibility that they can be built in ST3 if additional revenue becomes available through federal grants or cost savings on other projects. Just this year alone, Sound Transit is $240M under budget on projects under construction, and the agency will also receive $600M in unexpected federal grants.  Seattle needs a plan that will leverage the benefits from Sound Transit’s continued success.

4.  Fund Study Work for Future Lines.

Though this is very likely the last time Sound Transit will use the regional funding mechanism applied to ST3, Seattle’s need for high quality transit will not stop when these projects are done. We need to think long term and start the planning that is necessary for a future local measure, new Sound Transit funding mechanisms, or state/federal funding opportunities.  Sound Transit must study additional lines in Seattle, including the “Metro 8” from Belltown to Mt. Baker via South Lake Union, the Central District, and Judkins Park and an extension from Ballard to Bothell via Greenwood and Lake City.

5.  Fund the 130th Street station

The agency believes opening the 130th Street station before the completion of ST2 would alter its application for federal funding, forfeiting federal funding that has already been awarded.  That said, there is no reason not to fund the station through ST3, so that construction can begin immediately after ST2 is completed.  Seattle is already planning to upzone the 130th Street area, and this station will be a critical connection to Lake City.  Funding the 130th Street station is the only way to extend our rail system to serve that urban hub.

* * *

As a final point, the estimates used to determine these project schedules need to be realistic, rather than so pessimistic that they can’t be missed.

ST3 serves no one if it doesn’t pass. To obtain approval from a majority of voters throughout the Sound Transit district, it’s expected that the measure will need to win support from over 65% of Seattle voters.  The draft plan presented by Sound Transit would fall far short of winning this support, but could be turned around with the changes we suggest.  Seattle voters will enthusiastically support a measure that includes the right projects – our need for high quality transit solutions cannot be overstated.

If you agree with Seattle Subway on these points, there is still time to make major changes to the draft plan.



Contact your Seattle based Sound Transit Board Members directly:
Dow Constantine:
Ed Murray:
Rob Johnson:
Joe McDermott:


Let Sound Transit know what you think of the draft plan by responding to their ST3 survey.


315 Replies to “How to Fix ST3 so Seattle Will Vote For It”

  1. And no draw bridge. I don’t care how high it is (unless it’s 150 ft or whatever the minimum for a fixed bridge would be, and that won’t happen) or what deals SDOT/ST work out with the Coast Guard.

    Having a bridge that can open every 15 minutes outside of peak (7-9 AM and 4-6 PM as it currently is) would serve to cripple any future headway expansions past 7-8 minutes off peak.

    There’s room to have an at grade or elevated light rail dive underground and tunnel under Salmon Bay. There’s no excuse to have a draw bridge.

    1. Concur 100%. The idea of a drawbridge was my biggest disappointment with ST3. Cost is the issue, but there really isn’t any other choice IMHO.

      1. The ST pushback will be that you can’t have West Seattle light rail without Ballard at grade and with a drawbridge

      2. Not politically popular, but I think it’s better to skip West Seattle then in that case.

      3. I am OK with that too. Just need to convince SDOT, Mayor Murray, Dow Constantine (a West Seattle resident), and ST

      4. If, as the author states, the goal is to “get Seattle to vote for it”, you need to extend the system through Seattle. If you take out West Seattle, this gets zero votes from that part of town.

      5. There are a lot of people who need transit in West Seattle who are going to be screwed, transit wise, by the viaduct coming down. Scrap WS transit in favor of Ballard? There’s a no vote from me and probably everyone else here on the peninsula. We all need transit, not just the wealthy north of the ship canal.

      6. West Seattle light rail is a stupid proposal and not good for the vast majority of folks who live, work or visit West Seattle. That is the point. This is not a case of picking neighborhoods, it is a matter of picking the appropriate technology. In the case of West Seattle, it is BRT (gold level BRT, not the fake BRT that is RapidRide). BRT for West Seattle would save more people more time than this light rail line would, yet would cost a lot less (

        As for the bridge, same thing. The combination of a tunnel plus a Ballard to UW rail line would save more people more time than the single line from Ballard to West Seattle. That is why the most sensible thing we can build is this:

      7. If West Seattle were skipped, it would have nothing to do with giving rail to the “wealthy” north end. Rather, it would be about providing rail to a rapidly-densifying area that has seen more grown than anywhere in the city. And… this is an area with some of the worst freeway/arterial access in the city.

      8. I used to think that BRT would be good enough for West Seattle. But over the past year or so I’ve started coming around, for the simple reason that it would serve more than just the route’s immediate walkshed, and that bus service across the Duwamish is never going to improve in quality.

        Once the Viaduct comes down, every bus crossing the West Seattle Bridge is going to suffer in terms of both travel time and reliability, even compared to today. They already slog through some terrible and un-expandable bottlenecks getting from the Duwamish crossing to Seneca street. When that direct offramp disappears in 2018, good luck finding a way to get them all onto 3rd with anything close to today’s reliability. Cs, 120s, and 21s (plus all the other assorted lower-frequency/peak-only routes) are all going to get dumped into the street grid at Atlantic. These routes are all growing in ridership. The situation is simply not sustainable.

        Truncate all these buses at West Seattle Link stops tomorrow, and you’ve got ridership enough to justify the line. Look at the 3 proposed stops…. all perfectly located to truncate the 3 main routes crossing the Duwamish. Plus, you stomp out the main rational argument against aggressive West Seattle upzones – insufficient transit capacity.

      9. >> every bus crossing the West Seattle Bridge is going to suffer in terms of both travel time and reliability

        Then it isn’t gold level BRT, is it? Gold level BRT means no congestion. You are comparing today’s bus problems with light rail, not comparing gold level BRT with light rail. You might as well compare streetcars with buses (both get stuck in traffic).

        The whole point of spending billions on a new bus tunnel is to eliminate congestion. Of course you fix the freeway at the same time. Doing so is much simpler and much cheaper than building a new bridge and a tunnel through West Seattle. I came up with a suggestion, as did Troy ( I’m sure there are a lots of different ways to do it, but most of the problems (such as the ones you cite) would go away with the WSTT and ramp meters.

        Truncate all these buses at West Seattle Link stops tomorrow, and you’ve got ridership enough to justify the line.

        You’ve also got a lot of riders needlessly making a transfer to a train scheduled to run every ten minutes at most. Even today, for most of the trips, simply staying on the bus is faster. At noon it is certainly faster. Truncation saves some money, but screws over the riders. There is a reason why these same buses don’t just end at SoDo (and ask everyone to transfer). They don’t want to.

        Light rail is certainly better than nothing, but it isn’t as good as BRT for West Seattle. West Seattle has the ridership patterns, ridership volume, existing infrastructure that can be leveraged and geography that makes BRT better and cheaper.

      10. While we’re making comparisons to things that will never exist, why settle for never getting gold-level BRT when you could settle for never getting platinum-level BRT?

      11. The route when the Viaduct comes down will be on Alaskan Way to Columbia Street to 3rd, with transit lanes between Washington and Columbia. So it won’t be as bad as, e.g., coming up 4th Avenue to 3rd. There may have been a proposal to take away the transit lanes for non-motorized transport or recreation, but it’s in the original plan.

      12. RossB: I know that the ITDP does not have a “platinum BRT” rating. That comment was a cynical claim to the effect that debating the benefits of “gold BRT” as it might apply to West Seattle is about as productive a use of time as making things up out of thin air, because nothing like “gold BRT” would ever actually happen. If we are going to compare hypotheticals, the realistic comparison would be “expensive, mediocre light rail” versus “moderately expensive, mediocre BRT”.

    2. There no way a 70 foot drawspan on a primarily recreational waterway opens more than once a day, and probably more like once a week. Of all the things to be disappointed about in this plan, the bridge is at the absolute bottom of my list.

      1. But will it stay 70′? The fact that the city is pushing it as bike/ped access tells me that they plan to drop it to 40′ during EIS process (70′ is way too high to be useful for bike/peds).

      2. On the initial study for a 70′ vs 140′ high rail transit span, four was the typical number of openings per day based on existing merchant marine traffic through the Canal. Nearly all recreational boats won’t trigger an opening since they’re not that tall, and they’ll be long periods of time when no large vessels will pass under the bridge (think weeks). Note Fremont Bridge is the lowest at 34′, which is why it opens so much.

        And there is room but it is crowded under and around the Canal. There’s a sewer siphon tunnel to avoid and some utilities and pilings. A rail tunnel under the Canal combined with Ballard’s topography may also trigger another 800′ long (platform + crossover), deep and expensive station like UW’s.

        Basically, this becomes a $200M-$500M question to prevent maybe a couple off-peak openings per day. All things considered, is it worth the cost?

      3. A 70 ft bridge is going to have fairly long approaches, assuming it needs to be 5% or less for ADA pedestrian requirements. Considering there’s no Fisherman’s Terminal or Leary stop, there’s not an station access problem, but that kind of screws pedestrians over, since they’ll have to start from like Dravus or Market St if they want to cross.

        And I’m curious if there’ll be lawsuits against the bridge. Not sure where from, but industry tends to be lawsuit happy when something affects them in any way.

        Why not just tunnel under Salmon Bay and be done with it?

      4. It doesn’t matter how often it opens, it matters how long it stays open for. If it’s going to introduce random delays, that’s a major problem.

        If the delay is a minute or two, that’s reasonable. But once we start talking about more time than that, it becomes a problem.

        One of the main draws for grade-separated rail is reliability, not speed. My former 72X/73X could get me downtown (single seat) faster than light rail could (10-15 mins on I-5 express lanes, versus 35 mins to bike to and ride Link). But you know what? I am MUCH happier with that 35 minutes, because it will always be 35 minutes. I can plan around it, I know when to leave the house. The bus might take 10 minutes, it might take 30 minutes, it might take an hour. I had no idea. I was constantly early or late to downtown things.

      5. Given how often the Feds have the bridge opened during commuter hours (since they have the authority to override the no-cross times), let alone in general during other busy times, it’s not worth spending all that money to put Canal traffic in the position to interrupt rail travel at all if it’s not necessary

      6. How often do they open the bridges?

        And remember, there’ll be no other traffic, so the maximum delay will be the actual time the bridge’s open – not the time stuck in a traffic jam afterwards.

      7. The top deck Portland’s Steel Bridge is 70′ above nominal water level. East side approaches are almost nothing. West side approaches are several blocks. It really isn’t that bad.

        If bike/ped access causes complaints, then suspend a pedestrian bridge under it that opens more often.

      8. I agree Ron, I think worrying about the bridge is silly. I mean, we are being asked to spend 50 grand on a Yugo that is burning oil and people are worried about the color of the car.

    3. From boating on the ship canal and around here for 20+ years this drawbridge if built with a 55′ clearance would almost never open. In order for it to open during peak commute vessels would have to be over 1,000 tons which is very very rare. That clearance would eliminate almost all openings except for sailboats over 40ft, and few people keep bigger boats like that on the lake. Sure it’s less than ideal but if a tunnel is a budget breaker this is better IMO.

      1. +1 people should redirect their efforts to getting ST to build the thing faster, not wring their hands over 2-4 bridge openings a day

      2. If the Ballard line is fully grade separated and able to operate at 55 MPH throughout the line, I’m sure almost most everyone would be OK with a high drawbridge that had additional opening restrictions negotiated with the Coast Guard or Army Corps or whomever.

        The problem people are having is: ST gave us options and the public chose the tunneled, albeit expensive option, that would serve the exploding populations of Ballard, Fremont and Lower Queen Anne. Instead, ST gave us a steaming pile of at-grade crap, slated for completion more than a generation out, that basically exists to serve Expedia, Gates Foundation and Amazon, at the cost of reliable HCT. Of course people are going to knee-jerk reject everything instead of wanting to negotiate.

      3. The public also chose West Seattle, and that’s why we need to economize on the Ship Canal crossing. A 70′ bridge is no big deal; it won’t open as often as the existing Ballard Bridge. As to the city watering it down to lower for a multimodal bridge, ST’s proposal seems to say no to that, and we could ask ST to confirm that more strongly, such as by passing a resolution as it did for the south King County I-5 alignment while not restricting the other aspects of the line.

      4. Might better do some math on the headway a bridge opening will allow before whole line between Northgate and South Seattle reverberates to a stop. Especially re: any mechanical problem with the bridge. Which I really doubt Sound Transit will control, or maintain.

        After redirecting a technically flawed alignment, LINK saw no problem with whatever depth tunnel and station it needed to get past a line-killing blockage. For for speeds and corridor length we’re discussing…how many draw-bridges does the Interstate highway system allow for same distances?

        Mark Dublin

      5. @Mike Orr, as you’ve previously noted, the public also resoundingly supported a tunnel under Queen Anne as well… ST has a history of charting their own course, whether it be for political or engineering reasons.

      6. Mike

        The public also supported a UW to Ballard line over all the Ballard offerings in ST’s “push poll” survey –it actually finished 2nd to West Seattle.

    4. Having a bridge that can open every 15 minutes outside of peak (7-9 AM and 4-6 PM as it currently is) would serve to cripple any future headway expansions past 7-8 minutes off peak.

      I disagree. Trains will be the only vehicles using this bridge. It shouldn’t need to remain open more than a minute or two at a time. As long as the bridge operator has the authority to tell boats to wait a minute to allow any trains that are currently in sight to pass, any disruption to light rail traffic should be minimal.

      I’d rather have a tunnel, all else being equal, but if it’s significantly more expensive than a high drawbridge I’d rather save that money and use it to make progress on Ballard-UW instead.

    5. Here is another out-of-the-box solution: End the Link trains south of the drawbridge, and have a streetcar cross into Ballard on a drawbridge. That way, the regional line gets no delays. After all, the end station isn’t really in the middle of the Ballard commercial district anyway and a streetcar could circulate through Ballard. A second streetcar could even head towards Fremont from there and maybe even reach UW. I’m not sure how the cost savings would pencil out but it would seem cheaper

      1. While that might work operationally, it would limit future expansion of the system. Ballard isnt meant to be a terminal forever. it’s meant to extend further in the future, either east to UW or NE to Greenwood/Northgate etc.

    6. The political reality is that if you eliminate Link to West Seattle–especially now after West Seattle made the proposed plan–there are going to be an awful lot of people actively working in opposition of ST3. You can be pragmatic and end up with what you think is a flawed line to Ballard, or you can be a purist and end up with no line to Ballard.

      1. OR they could revise their incredibly pessimistic cost estimates, and then give us a good line to both places

      2. That assumes that those who live in the rich Northwest Seattle, who aren’t getting anything north of Ballard, will support even this. There are more of them than the entire population of West Seattle (many of whom won’t vote for it regardless of how well it serves West Seattle).

  2. I love it, especially the contingency projects; those will garner more votes without promising completion. But how to you propose that ST speeds up the Seattle projects? What measures should be taken or projects to be cut?

      1. Is West Seattle that many votes? And is an option other than light rail actually unpalatable to that many people who live in the area?

      2. We can absolutely ditch West Seattle. It’s inclusion is currently costing ST3 a shit ton of votes everywhere else in Seattle.

      3. “West Seattle is already going to vote no anyways.”

        Not when every single poll and survey ever puts support down here at 90%+ in favor of Light Rail ASAP.

      4. Are these folks aware that “light rail,” as proposed, would have only one station that would be out of walking distance for 90% of the people in West Seattle? I think people may be expecting a system that is much more convenient to use than what Sound Transit is actually proposing.

      5. Wait, scratch that. I hadn’t looked at the new West Seattle map recently. WTF is Sound Transit thinking putting three stations in West Seattle and only one in Ballard? Their priorities are completely backwards.

      6. “It’s inclusion is currently costing ST3 a shit ton of votes everywhere else in Seattle.”

        You’re mistaking a few votes by transit fans for the hundreds of thousands of votes in the rest of the city. Many of them think at-grade is fine or don’t understand the difference, or don’t think West Seattle should be left out even if they don’t live there. There’s a reason the mayor and city council and the ST Board were united on West Seattle. (With the turnover in the council I don’t know if they’re still unanimous but I expect it’d be all except one or two if not.)

      7. What Mike said. Which is why it’s somewhat irresponsible to leave decisions about alignments and modes largely up to a referendum. The public SHOULD have say about what kinds of improvements to access they want, how widespread it should be and how much they want to pay for it. Details should be worked out from this basis, or some other measurable objectives that reflect the community’s/region’s values.

      8. The referendum isn’t whether it should be one alignment or another. It’s whether to pay for ST’s final proposal or not.

      9. @Eric — You’re point is still valid. If you ask anyone in West Seattle why they feel they “need” light rail, they will say the same thing: It is faster. Traffic is terrible, so they need an alternative.

        The obvious alternative is BRT. It would save more people more time than light rail. This would involve a major tunnel, but only one. The tunnel, along with the other improvements aren’t cheap, nor could it be built really quickly, but it sure as hell could be build faster and cheaper than rail. The best part is they could be built in pieces. It will take a very long time before anyone in Seattle sees any improvement in transit as a result of ST3; the opposite would be the case with these projects. Some of those improvements could occur within a year.

        Do that, along with the improvements to the West Seattle bridge and West Seattle has much better transit. ( or

      10. Yes—whether to pay for a package of projects whose modes and alignments have largely been determined.

    1. Imho, the best way to speed up and get the projects we want in Seattle is to recognize that ST has a requirement to serve the entire region – so of course we’ll end up with a suburb heavy, almost BART-like system.

      Personally, I’d like the option of Seattle be allowed to commit its own funds to those transit lines ON TOP OF ST’s contribution with the goal of speeding up implementation of Seattle-centered lines, similarly to how we funded extra bus service in Seattle-only through Prop 1.

      1. Seattle is of course allowed to do so. But there’s little incentive yet for them to commit to billions of dollars of future funding that ST could rely on to build the lines. Including the provisional projects / EIS funding as Seattle Subway suggests could be a way to make way for those projects, which could be good candidates for future federal funding, as long as voters are educated that that is not a promise they will be built within a certain timeframe.

      2. We’re not talking about the suburban subareas in this thread. We’re talking about what North King should do within its proposed budget. As you know, Seattle Subway and STB support the suburban extensions (although not 100% of the details) for the sake of regional unity and getting something done. There will surely be more articles coming about those issues.

        As to Seattle supplementing ST’s funding for its own additions, that’s a good idea that activists are already starting to consider. But first we need to determine what’s in ST3 itself and try to make it the best we can. That’s the topic right now.

    2. The RapidRide C and D improvements can be cut. I don’t know if it would raise enough money to materially make a difference to the light rail schedule, but they weren’t the kind of “early deliverables” I was thinking of. I’d rather have infill stations or contributions to the planned RapidRide lines. If we can’t have those I’d rather have accelerated Ballard LRT.

  3. The plan seems to overlook the fact that a more comprehensive in-city network will better serve *everyone*, even suburban commuters. The success of the currently-planned suburban network hinges much more on better in-city destinations than on more stations in their neighborhood.

    I wish “subarea equity” would take that into account.

    1. Agreed. Park-and-ride stations are only useful to people who drive to that station. Stations in a walkable area are useful to everyone who rides the system. Costs should be apportioned across subareas with that in mind.

      1. Stations in a walkable area are useful to everyone who rides the system.

        No they’re not. What possible use does anyone who takes advantage of free parking at the 130th P&R to take East Link benefit from a station at West Seattle Junction, Roosevelt, etc? There are very few P&R customers that will ever use the system to do anything but go to work, sporting events or the airport.

      2. Sorry, I meant they can be useful to anyone using the system. You’re right that most people boarding at an Eastside park-and-ride won’t be going to West Seattle, or Ballard, or Interbay, but some of them will. Nobody will be making the reverse trip. Park-and-rides work fine as a starting point of a transit trip, but you need walkability at the destination.

      3. @Eric — Exactly. This is why a system that is dependent on park and rides (and much of our system is, whether we choose to build them or not) will fail. It will fail because of the last mile problem.

        Case in point, I know someone who works downtown. Of course he takes the bus. But once a week he visits his dad, who lives in Lacey, He sits through absolutely terrible traffic, and really has no other choice. He can get down to Tacoma really fast with a bus, but then what?

        Now compare that with someone who works downtown but decides to go out to show on Capitol Hill after work. The buses (and train) works just fine.

    2. The difficulty is getting ST and the city to see it that way. It’s better in an abstract perspective, but we need to deal with the political reality of today, because it’s the region’s leaders and voters who will be making the decision, and they have certain things they want that contradict it.

    3. I agree, which is why I find it ironic that the board supports proposals inside the city that are obviously worse for the city, and much, much worse for those in the suburbs.

      Here is a great example: Imagine a guy lives in South Everett and works in Ballard. In a few years, he will take an express bus from his neighborhood to the Lynnwood transit center. It goes through the local streets, then gets on the freeway and everyone disembarks. He then rides the train to the UW, and catches the 44.

      If ST3 passes, nothing really gets any better, despite the fact that billions would be spent on those very areas! It is unlikely that he lives close to a station, so he still has to take a bus to a station. Depending on where he lives, the old express might be faster. He can stay on the train and transfer to the other train at Westlake, but that really isn’t much faster. That takes over 20 minutes. The 44 is slow, but it will be a lot faster by then (when SDOT invests in the corridor). No will ever “go around”, thus negating the value of light rail line to Ballard for a very high proportion of the region.

      1. Getting off at northgate and taking the 40 is the mucj better option. It still sucks though.

  4. I don’t know about this list of asks. If this list is what we REALLY want, and this is like a negotiation, we should be asking for more if we want to ultimately land these things. You might think we are powerless in this negotiation and don’t have a strong BATNA, because ST can say “no,” we don’t have the money for these projects. But we actually have the strongest hand – we can vote NO.

    We need to be asking for more than studies.

    1. I’ll reiterate my call on this thread for a STB/Seattle Subway hosted forum to explore alternatives to the proposed project list. Invite the media, invite elected officials, keep it controlled and focused on outcomes. This is not a call for another meet up. This is a call to get organized beyond our musings on social media.

      We need to up our game if ST is going to listen…

      1. You’d have to make it clear that STB and SS will be recommending no as to the current draft ST3 projects– and thus ST goes down in flames. In an ideal world, we would coordinate with SDOT, but SDOT has not made big noises against this– and Kubly has his own problems. Council member. Juarez has been ticked off about this, she should be invited. Probably O’Brien and Johnson too.

      2. I agree with you, huskybone. The process of back room meetings to shift around projects and priorities is just wrong. There is no effective way that informed local citizens who don’t hold office to get together and work through these issues. Unfortunately, at this point it is too late to happen for 2016.

    2. Existing ST3 draft plan is better than a NO vote – especially because a NO would likely push the vote and projects back 4 years or at least result in a smaller, rather than larger package that does not accomplish the additional projects being asked for here. I have been befuddled at times by Seattle Subway’s strategy but this all seems like reasonable compromise within the inevitable sausage making going on. A lot of it doesn’t cost a huge amount but opens up opportunities for expansion without an ST4 that would also require the crankiest cranks in Snohomish and Bellevue to get on board with another big expansion and load it up with goodies. The BATNA in this case is not very appealing to me; overall Seattle will vote yes but we need it to be an *enthusiastic* yes.

      1. The biggest expansion Snoho wants is already in the proposal. They’re not about to ask for a Mukilteo-Lynnwood-Bothell light rail or something. East King is having trouble coming up with projects that even its own people think are worthwhile, because their trip patterns are so decentralized and peanut butter.

      2. IMO, this plan is not better than a no vote, if it leads to Seattle realizing we’re all done with what we might have needed from the regional plan.

        West Seattle not getting LR isn’t a disaster, since LR wouldn’t serve very much of West Seattle, and wouldn’t serve it very well.

        Would I rather have this than nothing ever? I guess so. But, I can easily imagine Seattle going it alone at the next election.

      3. (but “this plan”, I mean ST’s proposal. I like Seattle Subway’s tweaks more of course, but they’re still far from optimal for Seattle.)

      4. @Mike: Snoho probably won’t want anymore big projects, but East King has much untapped potential. The 522 BRT is actually good and if those cities continue to densify, LRT may be warranted. Kirkland needs to be added to the “network”. We will need better transit in the 405 corridor (Bellevue-Kirkland-Bothell), though the specific route and type will need more study. And then there’s possible link of 520 or Sand Point-Kirkland, a connection to Link at 520 now, etc…

        The biggest issue right now is that ST is too fixated on rail everywhere.

      5. I agree kptease. Sometimes you just have to vote no, and start over. I’m not ready to do that yet (because this is just a draft) but so far ST has been unresponsive with public input. There has been no official response to the WSTT, for example, despite the fact that it was written up in the Seattle Times, and many transit advocates support it. They seem to be hell bent on building expensive, pointless light rail systems, while ignoring sensible improvements. This is true not only in Seattle, but in Kirkland as well.

        I really don’t see anything but small improvements at this point. NE 130th is a possibility, just because it is so cheap. But Ballard to UW light rail can’t be built unless we abandon West Seattle light rail, and doing that would mean either pissing off West Seattle, or building the WSTT (along with ramps and other improvements). It is too late for that — I don’t think ST has time to study that now. I will be very surprised if Sound Transit suddenly changes their stripes and comes up with something useful for Seattle (or the region).

        My guess is that it will be a big failure, and will go down big in the ballot box. Even if they proposed something great for Seattle, I think it will fail. The only suburban projects I see that are the least bit palatable are a couple BRT things and the light rail extension to Redmond. Everything else is silly, and I doubt very seriously if anyone in the suburbs will vote for it once they realize how long it will take to actually get anywhere (e. g. three seat ride from the Issaquah Highlands to downtown Seattle or an hour and 15 minutes from Tacoma to downtown) . If Seattle opposes it, then it will send a strong message that we want better planning.

      6. @RossB The point of South Link is for a connection to SeaTac and South King County for Tacoma. We’ll vote for it.

      7. The people in Tacoma who care more about economic development than useful transit will vote for ST3 because of the train to the airport, but those who have been left behind by past rounds of economic development will not. As for a connection to Federal Way and the rest of South(west) King, we already have that in the 574, albeit at a very low frequency, and the alignment and station locations mean that South Link’s only improvements over the 574 are frequency, access for Fife, and access for South Federal Way. We can get those things at a much lower cost and much sooner with shortened headways on the 574 and flyer or in-line stops at 54th and at WA-18. Additionally, while the political difficulty is high enough that we shouldn’t count on it, speed can be improved by kicking the 2-person vehicles out of the HOV lanes.

  5. Well put. The single best thing ST could do to get my vote would be to get rail to Ballard more quickly. Even if it’s not feasible to get all the way to Ballard by 2030, if we could at least get stations open through the most congested parts (downtown->South Lake Union->Queen Anne) by 2030, with the extension to Ballard opening in 2035, I could live with that.

    The big problem, I see, is that too much of the north King subarea funds are being spent on West Seattle. While Ballard and Queen Anne have actual jobs, West Seattle is basically a bedroom community, so if you don’t live in West Seattle, there is very little reason to travel there. If postponing West Seattle rail to 2041 is what it takes to get Ballard rail accelerated, than so be it.

    Ballard to UW is also very important, and one unfortunate consequence of the long timetable ST proposed is that by the time anything merely “studied” in ST3 actually gets built, people who are young today will be old or dead. If we can’t afford to build it now (because the ST board is unwilling to give up West Seattle to pay for it), I would at least live with something that funds all the preliminary engineering and leaves Ballard->UW shovel ready, for when future funding becomes available. Waiting until 2050 to pass another 25 year package that completes Ballard->UW in 2075 is simply not acceptable.

    1. I like your idea of building it in segments, the only problem I see is that the longest part of Ballard is the second DT tunnel, so I’m not sure if waiting on the actual Ballard part of it would significantly speed things up. But I’m no expert, and if this would speed things up by a few years I’d be all for it.

      1. The length of time involved in the DT tunnel makes me want to build Ballard to UW first.

      2. If they can build a West Seattle line that just truncates in downtown pending completion of a full tunnel, I don’t see why the same shouldn’t be possible with a Ballard line. Reverse the order.

      3. The greatest need and bottlenecks are in the downtown side. A phased opening from downtown to Dravus could allow people to switch to the D for the last mile until he bridge and Ballard section is finished. In contrast, a stub from Ballard to Dravus is much less helpful or better than the D, and it raises the issue of how to get to the maintenance base wherever that is.

      4. the maintenance base is between downtown and west Seattle. Ballard to north DT would require a new maintenance base if not connected to the existing system.

      5. Perhaps I was unclear with my previous post. I wasn’t suggesting that it makes any sense whatsoever to build a line starting in Ballard, going partway downtown, but stopping short. I was suggesting that a tunnel running the length of downtown isn’t any more of an essential component for a Ballard line as it is for a West Seattle line.

        Instead of building from West Seattle to the edge of downtown and later building from Ballard to downtown and tunneling through downtown, do it in the opposite order. Build Ballard to the edge of downtown first, and later do the full tunnel connecting to a West Seattle line.

        As to the maintenance base concerns, a non-revenue connection to the other line should suffice.

      6. “the maintenance base is between downtown and west Seattle.”

        ST usually sites a maintenance base after the vote. ST2 had three candidates (Spring District, Lynnwood, and I forget the other) and it chose the Spring District a year or two ago. I haven’t heard that there’s specific base proposal in the Ballard project, much less that they’re limiting it to one alternative. And Ballard going to DSTT2 and Rainier Valley won’t be connected to the West Seattle line to use its base.

      7. Eric,

        Even though the West Seattle line would operationally end at SoDo, it would have a physical connection to Central Link so that trains could be serviced at the Maintenance Facility. A Ballard to Downtown only line without the new downtown tunnel would be an orphan. There is no way to build a connection to the DSTT from the north along Westlake. Westlake Center Station is in the way of the connection, and the two tunnels will be at different elevations in order to cross properly (the new tunnel is to be deeper).

    2. The craziest part is my yet to be born child will graduate college with this time table

  6. While I like the ideas of Ballard to downtown, how do you respond to the inevitable ST pushback that West Seattle light rail uses up much of N. King funds, so therefore Ballard gets at grade through interbay and a drawbridge? (do you throw West Seattle under the bus?)

    Ballard to UW is a no-brainer, but ST is not sold. (I could live with Ballard to Downtown 22 years from now if Ballard to UW was built in 12-15 years)

  7. Surely the bigger risk is that more non-Seattle voters will vote against ST3 if the Seattle component is even larger. There is plenty of distrust for Seattle among suburban voters.

    Seattle voters would probably approve a tax increase to dig holes and fill them back in again. I don’t think you need to worry about their support. It is turnout that matters more, and that is not going to be significantly affected by the size of ST3 in the city.

    1. Except this proposal is so bad it’s more like digging a hole and NOT filling it back in again. There’s tens of billions of dollars in here pandering to suburban voters who are not going to be convinced anyway.

    2. I heard a lot of complaints from people in 522 Transit Now about how Seattle was going to get all the investment and nothing for the suburbs. It took me a lot of effort to fight that perception. It wasn’t until we started to see the cost and expected ridership of projects that I was able to convince people that we were competing with Eastside projects, not Seattle projects.

      I’m not saying this perception is justified, and I agree the currently proposed ST3 projects for Seattle could be better. But the money for making the changes suggested in this article has to come from somewhere, and if it comes at the expense of projects outside of Seattle, that could end up costing some votes.

    3. To date nearly all ST projects have benefited everyone but Seattle. We are talking almost 20 years worth of commuter rail, express buses, direct access ramps, etc that have all been built and used for those outside the city. The suburbs have literally nothing to complain about here. It is time for Seattle to get what it needs from ST.

      1. Umm, no. The current light rail is Sea-tac to UW, barely leaving Seattle at all, the next extension is Northgate, still in Seattle. ST2 will open, for the first time, big light-rail projects not in Seattle. [ah]

      2. So commuter rail and bus lines that feed into Seattle don’t benefit Seattle? So a Seattle resident trying to reach Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma doesn’t benefit? LOL. Maybe everyone from the suburbs should drive into Seattle and lets see how bad traffic is for the residents of Seattle.

      3. The point is that no one in their right mind would start with a line to the airport if they weren’t trying to convince suburban voters that “this system is for you”. It is one of the most wasteful projects possible. If you were thinking in terms of the region, you would start with downtown (using a tunnel built a long time ago) and go to the U-District (not just Husky Stadium). You would have a few other stations — one for first Hill, one for 23rd and Madison and probably one where 520 crosses over the railroad line (although that problem could be solved in a different manner).

        The irony, of course, is that a system designed for Seattle would benefit suburban riders more than the crap we seem to be trying to build. Right now the system doesn’t work well for people trying to get to high employment places like First Hill or Fremont. Even this seems to ignore people trying to get to Ballard from the north end, as it would be useless for anyone at the UW or anywhere north (it is a wash with the 44 now, and once SDOT improves the corridor, taking the 44 BRT will be much faster). In other words, the best thing for your average suburban transit rider is to encourage SDOT to keep doing what they are doing, and ask the state to allow them to spend more money on similar things (instead of the nonsense that is ST3).

    4. They aren’t knee-jerk against Seattle that much. They’ll evaluate ST3 based on how much it serves their own subarea. If Seattle got all the lines they’d be pissed off (and that’s why they insisted on subarea equity), but if one Seattle line gets more grade-separated or another Seattle line is added they’re not going to care, as long as it isn’t taken from their subarea.

      1. I doubt they look at the subarea. They look at their own community. Ask anyone in Kirkland.

  8. Ballard -> UW -> Kirkland -> Redmond — that’s a line that should be funded by the *state*. After all, the state fully funds a road (520) that connects exactly those same three cities.

    Part of the big picture problem here is that Sound Transit can only do so much with their funding structure. The state need to be pay for more of this. A LOT more of this.

    1. The state need to be pay for more of this. A LOT more of this.

      Pass the pipe, Jeffrey. Whatever you’re smoking is very psychoactive.

    2. It’s not clear that ST is really serious about a unified line the entire length. The original 2014 study started with a unified corridor but activists insisted that Ballard-UW had to be separable because it likely has twice as much ridership and need, so ST made the corridor separable at UW. The study showed the part east of UW was expensive and low ridership and the eastern section (east of 120th) would duplicate East Link too much (cannibalizing riders or having two parallel lines ridiculously close in a suburban area). That’s why it was not pursued in the ST3 system plan. The segments are probably again aggregated for study convenience/economy, so that one team of consultants can study them and also compare how their alternatives on one segment would affect their alternatives on the other segment).

    3. No, that’s not the problem. The problem is that ST doesn’t have any idea how to plan a transit network. Hint: Look to Vancouver, BC. Second Hint: It involves a combination of buses and trains.

  9. This is an excellent way to get Ballard to vote for ST3.

    If your two biggest priorities are Ballard to downtown and Ballard to UW, that sucks most of the oxygen out of the conversation. Ballard uber alles gets a no vote from me. Ballard is already demanding, and getting, Rapid Ride/BRT-style transit criss-crossing all over the place. Demanding 2 multi-billion dollar trains on top of that fancy bus network is absurd.

    Pick ONE fancy, grade separated route to get folks out of the dead-end Ballard-backwater, and focus your energy on that. Let other parts of the city have some goodies before the next millennium.

    1. Both Ballard lines (especially Ballard to UW) have better bang for the buck than West Seattle light rail– but West Seattle is apparently sacrosanct, with no reason other than being politically connected. Are you willing to throw West Seattle under the bus too?

      1. I think fully grade separated BRT with all the bells and whistles makes the most sense for West Seattle, given the engineering challenges and expense inherent in crossing the Duwamish and climbing the escarpment.

      2. Fair enough. (Ross B. wrote a post that had something close, if not identical, to your ideas)

        Some folks (including SS and STB) don’t want to waste their political capital convincing SDOT, Dow Constantine, and ST that real BRT would be better.

      3. Gold level BRT would be better and cheaper for West Seattle than rail. It would include a new tunnel. The tunnel would also help improve the Ballard to downtown corridor. For south of the canal (Queen Anne and Interbay), it would be better and cheaper than rail.

        Unfortunately, that still leaves the Ballard bridge (a common congestion point). The alternative for those headed downtown from Ballard is the Ballard to UW subway, which only adds a couple minutes. So the only substantial time savings from a new bridge is for Queen Anne to Ballard trips.

        Meanwhile, a Ballard to UW light rail line would improve transit mobility for everyone north of the ship canal and west of I-5. Just about everyone in the area would have a faster ride just about anywhere. Those headed to downtown, UW or Capitol Hill would be able to get there faster using that subway*. Many in the area would also have a faster ride to the north end (Roosevelt, Northgate, Lake City, Snohomish County, North King County, etc.).

        Thus the combination of the WSTT and the Ballard to UW subway would save more people more time than the West Seattle to Ballard subway. It’s not even close.

        * Although just about anyone in the northwest part of the city would save time by taking the UW to Ballard train, one exception is for those already on a bus headed to SR 99. Those folks would likely be better off staying on a bus that would enter the WSTT.

    2. I’m all for rail everywhere, but I struggle to understand the Ballard to UW route taking precedence over other in-city projects. West Seattle should come after Ballard-downtown, but well before Ballard-UW.

      1. UW to Ballard gets more riders at a cheaper cost.

        However, SDOT chose Ballard to downtown and included stops for Amazon and Expedia, which requires a second downtown tunnel— that will take a long time to build.

        If I had to choose only one Ballard line, it would be Ballard to UW.

      2. I would also choose Ballard-UW over Ballard-downtown. We already have plenty of buses that do Ballard-downtown in a reasonable (if somewhat slow) amount of time. The crosstown buses just slog along because the road network isn’t set up for it.

        But even as a Ballard resident I agree with biliruben’s opinion that having two Ballard lines as Seattle’s top priority does seem a bit too much to ask.

        I do think that a Ballard line should be the first one Sound Transit builds. Again, I’d prefer the crosstown line, but can live with downtown. After that another area of the city should get something, and then the other Ballard line can go in.

      3. The Amazon and Expedia stops weren’t the only trigger for the second tunnel. Even without those, inserting Ballard into the existing tunnel would risk reaching capacity or going over in the medium-term target (2040 I think), and would leave us no spare capacity for other lines. We’re very lucky the DSTT was built in the 1980s so it didn’t have to be included in ST1’s price tag or 2000s-inflated-dollar cost or tax-limiting atmosphere, because it might have sunk the project. Now’s the time for a second tunnel, to make sure we aren’t even close to capacity, and to pre-invest in future lines.

      4. MdNative,

        Ballard-UW only gets ridership if you assume that it will act as a curtain bus intercept for riders from north of Market/45th to downtown. ST staff has warned consistently and with you know actual numbers that the truncation of hundreds of express buses from everywhere northeast of 45th and I-5 to Northgate Way and from Puget Sound to Highway 9 for the area north of there as far as Marysville will FILL. LINK. UP. at the peak hours. There will be insufficient capacity to divert riders from Latona to 32nd NW to North Link at U-District.

        Without those diverted riders Ballard-UW is basically the 44 on steroids. Right now it runs eight buses per hour in the peak direction. That’s fewer than 1,600 pphpd at U-District, hardly viable for surface LRT, let alone a full subway. Sure a train would make the north central and northwest Seattle to UW commute more attractive; you might possibly double the ridership headed to the U in one peak hour to 3,200 by capturing the relatively small number of people in the travel shed who drive to the U. But the truth is that there just aren’t that many people making that relatively quick trip today who aren’t already using transit.

        It’s either depend on the diverted trips or Ballard-UW is not worth it. Depending on the diverted trips are gambling that ST staff can not do math. That’s not a good bet for $2.3 billion.

      5. Continued.

        Another question the curtain intercept plan. Let’s assume that ST staff (and I) are wrong about the capacity and all those folks riding from Tangletown, West Green Lake, Fremont, Eight Northwest and Ballard north of Market DO switch to Ballard-UW and North Link. What happens to the buses south of Market/45th? Suddenly they’re empty heading on south toward downtown. The ridesheds south of the new subway are considerably smaller for almost all lines than the one north of there (the 26 is the obvious exception), so suddenly you’re running half-empty buses into downtown which is NOT a good thing to do at the rush hour, is it? Either that or you run the lines less often so that the loads to and from the north are a little overcrowded for the few blocks north of the transfer stations.

        That’s of course not terrible, but it does mean that service becomes less frequent for everyone on the bus lines. Last time I looked everyone here was rah-rah’ing about the FS improvements in the northeast quadrant of the City. Cutting the 5 back to every twenty minutes because it doesn’t fill up when run more frequently doesn’t really seem like much of a win for Greenwood Avenue North riders.

      6. What happens to the buses south of Market/45th? Suddenly they’re empty heading on south toward downtown.

        Why wouldn’t you head the buses toward the subway that’s a 10 minute trip to DT instead of wasting a 1/2 hr sitting in traffic? One thing is most certainly going to be true in the not too distant future and that is that buses going to/through DT Seattle are going to be slower than walking. You may not like the “forced” transfer to the subway but I can almost guarantee that you will be transferring to a gawd awful slow streetcar instead because DT is already oversubscribed.

        The idea of a fast reliable high capacity east west connection north of the ship canal seems like a no brainer.

      7. Anandakos, I’m curious where the ST numbers are that say all the bus traffic might fill Link up. I just haven’t seen them before, though I’ve heard these capacity concerns voiced before.

      8. You would truncate some of the buses either at 45th/Market or at dense nodes before the Ship Canal (e.g. Fremont). You would still send at least the D and E lines through Interbay, LQA, the Westlake area, and SLU because networks and resiliency.

      9. Truncating some of the north central buses at Fremont is a good idea, but it would result in even less frequent service from south Wallingford to downtown. But maybe that’s good enough.

        So far as the volumes on North Link, by 2040 the system as designed is expected to be operating at capacity south of Husky Stadium. I suppose you can argue that Tokyo’ing people for the six minutes between U-District and Westlake is an acceptable outcome. If it happens because the system is successful beyond anyone’s expectations, well, that’s a good problem to have, but it’s not something for which ST will consciously plan.

      10. There will be a service gap on Westlake/Dexter, so there is an opportunity for a local bus to continue from north of the ship canal across the Fremont Bridge and into downtown; this could be a south Wallingford bus.

        The capacity issues can be handled somewhat by the north-south RapidRides and the opportunity to purchase more capacious vehicles by 2040.

        Also–and I have nothing to back this up–I suspect capacity will only be an issue during peak commuting times and during events downtown or at the UW.

      11. Don’t worry about local buses. The idea is that ridership on both Link and local buses will increase, because the buses go on different streets and to different places and serve the in-between stops. Adding service to one line makes the adjacent lines more useful and makes more people willing to use transit overall. I thought the D would cause deletion of service on 24th, and the E of service on the 5, but instead Metro put a new route on 24th and increased the 5’s frequency because it sees a strong future for them. Likewise with MLK Link and the 38.

      12. @Anandakos —

        As to your first point, worries about capacity are way overblown. It is a train. It can handle the load. If it does get anywhere close to full, it is because of precisely these type of trips not because everyone in Snohomish County suddenly feels like heading to downtown (and feels like Link is the way to do it). ST really seems to be caught in a time warp. They believe that everyone is headed downtown, and the suburbs are growing like crazy. It is exactly the opposite. The city is growing, and employment in the city is as well. Ballard to UW means that folks can get from Lynnwood to Fremont, Lake City to Ballard or Northgate to Wallingford much faster. This is the way every successful subway line in the world works. You have trips all day long from everywhere to everywhere.

        As to your second point, you seem to ignore the fact that there are plenty of people south of 45th/Market. They want to go to the UW, downtown or to other neighborhoods. Let’s break it down, corridor by corridor:

        15th/Elliot (D-Line) — There are probably enough people going from Ballard to Queen Anne to justify a frequent bus. If not, then Ballard to West Seattle rail sure as hell isn’t justified, as I explain later.

        Ballard/Fremont/Westlake (28/40) — This is a major corridor, and ridership would likely increase with a Ballard to UW subway.

        Greenwood (5) — See Aurora.

        Aurora (E-Line) — Still justified because it is faster to downtown.

        Wallingford buses (62) — This is probably one of the few that would probably be truncated (or somehow merged with another bus).

        In general I think you undersell the UW. Fair enough. But worth considering is that ridership on the 44 is stunted by the fact that it is dreadfully slow. I know more than one person who simply walks. People complain about buses stuck in freeway traffic, but they fail to do the math. A 90 minute trip up to Everett is terrible — but that is over twice as fast as the 44 at noon, to say nothing about rush hour. In other words, people find other ways to get to the UW (often driving, and unless you are an idiot, you avoid the 44 route). Worth considering is that the U-District is poised to grow as well. It is growing really quickly in terms of population (and some of that populate surely wants to head west) but it is also growing in terms of employment. They are simply arguing over how much.

        But this is sort of a silly argument, because almost everyone who supports Ballard to UW suggests that the WSTT makes sense at the same time. If I had to choose, I would build the latter first. Build the WSTT (along with some relatively cheap improvements), as it is simply better than the Ballard to West Seattle subway for the vast majority of trips. The one exception is Ballard to Queen Anne (which you don’t believe is a common enough trip to justify a bus).

        In general, I think you are ignoring how people take transit in a big city. It isn’t all about the commute to downtown. It is about the network. Ballard to UW simply creates a much better network. That, plus the WSTT would ensure fast trips for most of the city. You really don’t need much more. The Metro 8, and that is about it. There still will be trips that suck (e. g. Ballard to Queen Anne when the bridge is up) but way fewer than with any other alternative.

  10. I like huskytbone’s forum idea, but it may be tough to pull off in the short timeframe available …

    Failing something like that (or failing some sort of consensus on priorities to emerge from it), it would be helpful to me (and probably at least to some others) to know what 5 principal points (OK, maybe 6 or 4 or even 3 or 7) points the regular contributors (Zach/Martin/Frank/Brent/Dan/David/etc.) as well as regular commenters intend to emphasize in their comments to ST (Mike Orr has helpfully done something like this in the past). That would help ensure I didn’t inadvertently omit a point in my comments that many others were emphasizing (thereby magnifying the chance that someone at ST might actually pay attention to it).

    1. I’m still deciding and will wait a couple weeks to make sure my feedback is complete and doesn’t forget anything. I generally favor Seattle Subway’s proposals although I’m not as enthusiastic about some of their minor segments (e.g., Ballard-Northgate, Georgetown bypass). I think some of these are negotiating position (“start negotiating high”) rather than absolute necessity (“Mobility will be f*cked if we don’t get this”).

      My own experience the past forty years living in both Seattle and in the suburbs is that a seamless network is worthwhile, so I can’t object to Everett and Tacoma if the region wants it. But the most necessary extent is ST2’s (Lynnwood, Des Moines, Redmond). 522 BRT is an innovative idea that brings needed frequency in an economical way, and losing the Lake City segment is unfortunate but not a deal-breaker and it’s really Metro’s responsibility to fill that hole.

      Ballard is the largest urban village the furthest from ST2 Link, and people are avoiding living/working there because of the half-hour overhead to get to it. It’s the most critical rapid-transit need so that the village can fully reach its potential. Haight Street is off BART/MUNI Metro, Georgetown is off the DC Metro, and leaving Ballard off here is the same kind of mistake. Lake City is a more recent issue; it didn’t start getting love until around 2011 so it missed ST2 and ST3 (thinking about 130th Station and a Lake City/Bothell LRT). It and Pinehurst will probably emerge as RossB has been championing.

      Re the immediate issues, Ballard-UW would be best because it would adequately serve both UW trips and downtown trips. But going along with Ballard-downtown is second best. The minimum acceptable alignment is a downtown tunnel to Mercer, a Seattle Center West station (for the Center and Uptown), surface on Elliott 15th, and a 70′ bridge. Full grade separation and stations for Fremont and Queen Anne (upper) would be better of course. I don’t think the SLU vs Belltown alternatives are critical, so I can go along with the politicians’ preference for SLU. The 99/Harrison station seems dubious (next to the 99 portal and Gates Foundation which have little ped/TOD potential, and not that close to Belltown or the Denny Triangle).

      West Seattle, meh. I don’t think LRT is necessary there, but it would be useful to have southwest Seattle on the network, and I understand their concern about wanting insurance that they can still get in and out when the bridge periodically gets jammed with accidents. Long-term West Seattle’s jobs will likely increase and people will commute from elsewhere, as I once worked in Ballard, and right now it takes a long time to get from West Seattle to e.g., the U-District or Bellevue, so it’s hurting people’s ability to get around without a car.

      The Metro 8 subway (which I interpret as Denny/23rd) is worth pursuing, and it would be good to at least get its foot in the door with ST. So far ST has not even acknowledged it as a worthwhile corridor. A study would be better than nothing. ST could repurpouse its Madison corridor for this, since it’s unlikely to get more than Madison BRT in any timeframe relevant to now.

      In Snoho, Link to 164th is a good idea, Link to 128th might be marginal benefit (I don’t know much about 128th), and Link to Everett Station less so. The Paine Field detour seems unlikely to meet expectations; the “BRT loop” is a reasonable compromise and possibly more useful (i.e., more stations and locations).

      In Pierce, I despair of the Tacoma Dome station area but the proposed TOD could partly turn it around. As for Central Link to the airport transferring to Tacoma Link at Tacoma Dome, the city will have to do a lot more than it has done with zoning and local transit to make that reach its potential.

      In East King, I give up on Kirkland. Bellevue-Overlake-Redmond is just where the density is, the transit riders are, and the most inexpensive apartments are. Part of Kirkand’s problem is its isolated location (unfixable) and the zoning between 124th and 38th (not willing to fix). 405 BRT will likely underperform because of the distance from stations to destinations (not just 70th and 85th, but 160th, Coal Creek, Kennydale, etc). I walked half an hour from Somerset to Coal Creek to catch the 340, and only 0.1% of Eastsiders would be willing to, and only 20% would even take it to Factoria. Issaquah-Bellevue LRT is unnecessary but I like Issaquah’s enthusiasm and density promises, and Issaquah-Bellevue-Redmond is even more intriguing.

      1. @Mike Orr, I generally enjoy and agree with your point of view. With regard to ST’s lack of acknowledgement of Metro 8 subway, do you think it’s because they are expecting Seattle to pick up the tab for future truly in-city subway?

      2. I don’t know. I think they’d say it’s not “regional transit” enough, and the CD has nearby stations downtown. The first time a Central District line came up was when ST was updating its long-range plan in 2014, and one of the candidates was a West Seattle-Jackson-23rd-Denny Way-Uptown corridor. Somebody asked ST where it came from, and the guy said one person had suggested it at an open house. ST debated whether to put it in the LRP, but everybody was bewildered by it and nobody on the board or public stepped up to defend it until the last week and it was deleted. Right before it was deleted, a movement started for a 23rd-Denny line, and direct Link service to the Central District in general, but it was too late. That movement has now become the “Metro 8 subway” idea.

      3. Mike,

        People living in the Haight west of Masonic walk to Carl and Cole all the time, especially now that the 7 has been extended into the old 71 territory and is often pretty full at Stanyan Street inbound. Who wants to ride a diesel when a relatively short walk will get you into the Metro Tunnel?

      4. And, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO! to 23rd Avenue. If an upzone there is tried the neighborhood will go into full “gentrification” howls; it will never be worth the cost of digging that subway. Put the Metro 8 under the strip between 14th and Broadway north of Jackson with stations around Pike, Madison and James (close, but appropriate for an urban collector/distributor). Then come out of the hill and run elevated right down the middle of Rainier to Judkins Park and Mt. Baker. Have a station a bit south of Dearborn and one between Judkins and Mt. Baker and upzone the hell out of North Rainier and the west CD strip. With Vancouver BC sized high rises you’d have thousands of new view properties peering over Mt. Baker at the Cascades and Mt. Rainier without blocking anybody else’s view (there are very few houses on the northeast slope of Beacon Hill) and no shadow problems because nothing bus hillsides and businesses are closeby.

        Finally, put a lid over I-90 along the base of Beacon Hill or at a minimum high sound walls and downgrade Rainier Avenue from a highway to an urban arterial.

        This plus Belltown and the Denny Triangle can be a big part of Seattle’s contribution to housing the million people headed for Puget Sound. That leaves the existing SFH neighborhoods (with ADU’s) in charming amber for as long as people want them that way.

      5. Anandankos, with all due respect: Stop predicting what my neighborhood will do. I live here and can tell you that the people around me not only want more transit, we want high-capacity transit and we’d really like to have it before a rail line to the eastern middle of nowhere. Upzone all you like. That the 23rd Ave Action Plan happened and didn’t get immediately torpedoed (try pulling that off in Wallingford, I dare you; but, hey, at least Wallingford gets to sit on a route that might someday have rail) is a very good thing.

        23rd is where all of the “there” is and where the city, long-term, wants it to be after checking in with the people who now live here. We’re already building along 23rd, we’re already increasing in population, and we’re already starting to zone for more. Sticking any new form of HCT 9 blocks away just continues the perception that the Central District can just go get stuffed as far as anyone is concerned.

      6. I said this in the other thread too and I’ll back lakecityrider up by saying it again here: yes, yes, yes to 23rd Avenue! It’s already redeveloping and it’s awesome. After years in the doldrums, 23rd & Union is no longer a depressing hole known for its random shootings – it’s an increasingly happening corner with life and a future. That whole Union Street strip is coming alive, and there’s new development in progress on MLK to anchor it. A transit stop at 23rd & Union would make all kinds of sense and it would fit right in with the direction the neighborhood is already going.

        Same story at 23rd & Jackson, though that’s always been a little livelier. The neighborhood has been trying to build that area up as a neighborhood center for years. A development company just bought most of that property and they’re going to replace a bunch of wide-open parking lots with a more modern, urban, walkable environment. Density is going up, neighborhood is on board with this, decent connectivity down Jackson Street toward the streetcar and the I.D.: great place to put a transit station.

        Anandakos, I don’t understand why you think a transit line on the other side of the hill would have anything to do with the C.D. What good is a train way over west on 14th or Rainier supposed to do us? If we’re getting on a bus to go over there we might as well just go downtown or over to Capitol Hill.

      7. +1 for lakecityider.

        “If an upzone there is tried the neighborhood will go into full “gentrification” howls”. That battle is already on its tail end. The neighborhood has already gone into full gentrification howls, and still seen lots of upzones, land purchased by Vulcan, etc. Wait until all of the apartments now under construction or planned come online, with all their new young renters as voters; there’ll be no turning back. There already isn’t, actually.

        (PS Why is your name lakecityrider if you live in the CD)?

      8. I never saw the 6 or 7 going to the Haight, it was always the 71. I wanted the 6 or 7 because I prefer trolley buses. The 6 or 7 must have weekday-only or peak-only hours. I’m not sure where this Carl and Cole station is, when I tried to take MUNI Metro to the closest station to the Haight, I ended up in a single-family area a few blocks away and had to go up or down a steep hill and wind around the streets.

      9. Mike,

        Carl and Cole is at the west end of the Sunset Tunnel on the N. It is four (short) blocks from Haight on Cole Street which is one block toward GG Park from Clayton, two from Ashbury. It sounds like you got bad directions that sent you up Carl to Ashbury first (which is indeed up a pretty steep hill) and then down to Haight. But if you walk on Cole it’s essentially flat.

        If you go again, walk that way.

        And yes, the 7 has been peak only for a long time now. Back in the day both it and the 6 ran up Haight from Market to Masonic pretty much around the clock. I remember quite vividly one late night at a party in an upstairs flat at Masonic and Haight during which the sparks from the overhead when the 6 would turn onto Masonic were particularly interesting.

        The 6 turns there at Masonic which is only one block east of Ashbury and very much “in the Haight”. It goes a couple of blocks up to Carl and turns west two more blocks to Clayton and then up the hill another block to Parnassus. From there it turns west past UC Med Center and continues on. Parnassus becomes Judah and the bus turns south into the upper Sunset at Ninth and Judah. I think all the zigging and zagging to get to Parnassus is because the hills are non-trivial and it gives people the opportunity to “walk down” both ways if they live in the two blocks uphill from Haight (or three west of Clayton).

      10. There already isn’t, actually.

        So the negro removal “urban renewal” project has already been completed then? Apologies for not knowing that.

        It seems to be the consensus that 23rd Avenue is a good idea so there’s no point in arguing it more. It does allow 15th and John to be served and that’s a plus. But whoever said “Well the streetcar already serves Broadway” is full of it. What a joke that is as high capacity transit; it will never support the density that ought to go into that area directly adjacent to downtown.

      11. I could be wrong, but I think there is strong consensus around the following projects:

        1) The WSTT (and assorted projects to justify its cost, such as additional ramps and lanes on the West Seattle/Spokane Street freeway)
        2) Ballard to UW subway
        3) Metro 8 subway.
        4) Lots of little, obvious improvements, like the stations at NE 130th and Graham Street.
        5) Continued improvement on the surface routes (which SDOT is doing).

        There is no consensus on where a Metro 8 subway would go, nor would I expect there to be. I’ve played around with the idea, and should just write something on Page 2, so we can argue about it there. I don’t see anything obvious, like I do with the other projects.

        In any event, I think if we had these projects, we would have a very good transit system. For almost all of the trips taken in the city, transit would be very fast (often faster than driving). Unfortunately, other than the little stuff and the Ballard to UW subway, none of those are given serious consideration by Sound Transit. None of those are on the list for ST3 (not even the little stuff). Instead they propose something that is more expensive, and would be largely redundant. Once you build those first two projects (WSTT and Ballard to UW subway) you don’t need a Ballard to West Seattle subway. But the opposite is not true. Build the Ballard to West Seattle subway and people still want the Ballard to UW subway. They still want a fast trip from Aurora to downtown, or a connection to Belltown.

        The failure of Sound Transit to even consider the most cost effective or even just plain effective projects shows that Sound Transit doesn’t know how to plan. Mistakes like the Mount Baker station, or the failure to add stations in the most urban and dense section of the entire state are not anomalies. They are a sign of incompetence, and all the writing and begging in the world isn’t likely to change that. So, like many, I continue to write, fill out forms and the like, but I sure as hell won’t get my hopes up.

      12. I think that the only person–at least on STB, and overall based on people I have talked to in my area–who doesn’t want a “Metro 8 Subway” to go down 23rd is Anandakos. Everyone else recognizes the reality of 23rd being the commercial and arterial focus of the Central District. With MLK a mostly-flat few blocks away, it makes way too much sense to dig there versus, say, nine blocks west.

      13. “The 99/Harrison station seems dubious”

        Is the station at 99 or 9th? I went to 9th & Harrison today and realized I may have confused the location. 9th & Harrison is in the middle of SLU so it’s a good enough place for a station. I can’t say that it’s definitely better than Belltown or worse than Belltown, but my instinct is that an SLU station will end up with more people in the station area because it will influence unbuilt developments.

  11. I think the approach for Ballard and West Seattle should be pick one and get it right. Either pick Ballard, tunnel under the ship canal and connect it to UW. Or pick West Seattle and run it all the way to Burien, or at least White Center (cheaper per mile, by a lot, than Ballard). By trying to do both with limited funds they have presented two low-quality options.

    1. I’m with you, West Seattle gets my vote. However the Ballard Subway cheerleaders , excuse me, Seattle Subway cheerleaders will storm Sound Transit meetings and throw fits and spasms.

      1. That’s a fair question. Who outside West Seattle rides a West Seattle line and when is it ridden?

        Ballard-UW or Ballard-downtown are ridden all day and well into the evening by people all along both lines.

  12. Seattle Subway believes that we’re really not that far away from a plan Seattleites can get behind.

    Note the qualifier as “a plan Seattleites can get behind”. In other words, it still sucks but maybe if it’s just a little better Seattleites will dutifully tuck their hat under their arm and vote yes.

    Ballard to DT or Ballard to UW. Pick one, you don’t get both; not this century anyway.

    Though this is very likely the last time Sound Transit will use the regional funding mechanism applied to ST3, Seattle’s need for high quality transit will not stop when these projects are done.

    One reason this proposal is s-o-o far out in the weeds is because of the funding mechanism. The reason for regional funding is to fund regional transit. That is transit that crosses municipal and county boarders. Seattle is only harmed by this model and the eastside cities of Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland have little to gain.

    This doesn’t have to be a Seattle “go it alone” proposition. Remember, it was King County Metro that built the Bus Tunnel. King County is the best hope to build a replacement. There are other fatal issues with the ST funding mechanism but the nattering by the board caused by light rail envy is the most obvious and will never cease.

    1. Good point about the county. I could easily see a King County proposal that makes a lot of sense for the region. The Forward Thrust plan, for example, was much better than what is proposed.

      But I disagree when you say that the funding mechanism is the worst part of ST. The worst part is the planning. In Seattle it is terrible (see The East Side isn’t much better. Kirkland got screwed. They hired a planner and figured out that the best thing they could is run BRT from various parts of town (including the most densely populated areas) onto the ERC. ST wanted light rail, and they decided to build nothing. Instead, East King will get Issaquah light rail to Bellevue, one of the worst projects imaginable.

      Unfortunately, Dow Constantine is in charge of both the county and Sound Transit. Maybe the problem is the structure of ST. Not the funding mechanism, but the leadership. When it comes to the buses, Dow defers to the head of Metro. With ST I think it is the opposite. The board comes up with a rough idea, and then the planners are stuck with it. If asked to build a light rail line to West Seattle I would probably build the same thing they proposed. The problem is that no one is asking the big question, which is what should we build. What projects are the best value; what projects will save the most time for the most riders for the least amount of money? I don’t think they’ve asked that question, and it isn’t clear whether they will ask it if the county is in charge. Maybe. Maybe the county would simply ask Metro to come up with a set of plans to improve things (and ignore the politics). If that is the case, then I’m sure they would come up with something better than West Seattle to Ballard and Issaquah to Bellevue rail.

      1. Maybe the problem is the structure of ST. Not the funding mechanism, but the leadership.

        I’ve been saying all along that there needs to be a change in the way ST is organized. The existing clique of politicians has proven incapable of making rational decisions. But the funding mechanism and the way sub area equity has been applied makes it impossible build what’s needed where it’s needed because everybody has to get something at the same time spread out over the entire taxing district.

        That’s why I think Metro is a better choice for King County. With that model one project can get done without being tied to projects from Dupont to Everett. I honestly think ST will be better off too if the agency can just focus on incremental improvement of regional transit; improvements to Sounder, ST Express, etc.

      2. I agree Bernie, on all your points.

        What worries me most about ST3 is not that it will pass, but that the city (or county) may try again with the exact same set of projects. This happened with Metro funding. Assuming that ST doesn’t see the light in the next couple months, I would much rather have it fail, and make it clear that folks in the city (and county) don’t like what is proposed either.

  13. Before I make Judgement #1 on anything in this posting, let alone tell any elected representative Thing #.05, I want to see a route map, and a profile (what it looks like from the side at relevant places).

    What exactly does “grade-separated” mean, and where? What’s alignment through the Seattle CBD? Where are the stations? What does Ballard terminal look like- or future ones past Ballard?

    And real #whatever: What happened to that fast connection to University of Washington? Maybe it’s just lingering effects of excessive exposure to the last monorail plan’s last days, but at this stage, I really care a lot less about voter surveys than what exactly we’re going to take to voters.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The alternative that got majority support in the studies was a tunnel from downtown (details TBD) to Seattle Center East, Queen Anne (Boston), Fremont, and Ballard (17th & Market). There was some willingness for surface north of Fremont (Leary Way). Opinion was divided whether it should point east (toward UW) or north (toward 65th/Greenwood/Northgate).

      Travel time from Ballard to U-District underground was around 8-10 minutes I think. Some proponents envisioned small shuttle trains running every five minutes.

  14. I love it in theory, but this proposal seems to boil down to “Spend more and spend it sooner”. I don’t get it: do you believe ST is lying and actually has a lot more funding available under the ST3 plan than they are saying? Or are you proposing to not spend on current elements of the proposal like West Seattle and/or Everett?

  15. “Make Ballard to Downtown fully grade separated”

    Most of Seattle Subway’s ideas are reasonable and doable as changes that will work, except for this. This would be a huge increase in cost. How do they expect ST to pay for this?

    1. There is absolutely no point in building at grade rail transit. It is a complete waste of money. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

      1. People keep saying this, and I have to wonder if they’ve ever been to Interbay. The two major grade crossings you’d have to separate (Dravus & Magnolia bridge approach) are already built. One new overpass at Gilman, a bit of new frontage road to connect up Armory, and you’ve got an “at grade” alignment with zero signalized crossings. I see no advantage in spending hundreds of millions more for elevated track here.

      2. You glossed over a major detail of at-grade: that pesky speed limit of 30 MPH along 15th/Elliott. The light rail will be as fast as an all day 15 express AKA waste of money.

        Also curious where you would stick the rail to where you could build one overpass at Gilman and avoid all the other intersecting streets.

      3. With a stop at Expedia, Dravus, and Market, there’s very little of that section where you’d get north of 40 mph to begin with, slowing down or speeding up for stops. I do support raising the asinine 30mph limit back to 40, I do my part by continuing to drive 40 there every day. You do that, you lose maybe a minute over a hypothetical $300 million elevated route. Perfectly reasonably trade off.

        With a frontage road connecting Armory to Gilman, you’ve got the two major streets that can’t be truncated into a right only intersection. ST can pay for some compensatory P-patch space somewhere else.

      4. What Ron said. Worrying about surface running (which many successful systems have all over the world) is similar to the worry about the bridge. That isn’t the problem. If that was the only weakness in this line that I would be enthusiastically supporting it. The problem is one of geography. While Ballard to the UW works great as a way to get from Ballard to downtown (or anywhere in between, like Capitol Hill to Ballard) the opposite is not true. Getting from the UW (and all places north) to Ballard would still suck. Meanwhile, the WSTT works just fine for every trip south of the ship canal. Better, actually, since buses would run more frequently than trains. So the only trip that would be faster with the ST3 plan over the obvious alternative (WSTT and Ballard to UW subway) is Ballard to Queen Anne. Compared to the huge number of trips that would be made much faster, that is quite acceptable.

      1. “West Sprawlattle”

        Shall we stop building to Roosevelt and Northgate, too? Because we’re as dense as they are.

      2. Reason I keep asking for “section views” early in the consideration of any transit plan whatever is that this perspective by itself is a good test of how serious anybody really is about any project.

        And most especially in a crowded place with our number of steep hills and deep waterways. However many rails go under each train, hills in the way, water to cross, and soils under the pillars dictate build- or no-.

        The West Seattle-Ballard line is going to be a “beaut”, which to 1940’s engineers meant another five letter term starting with a “b”. But in their minds, also meaning, if done right, better chance of Border Collie pups than inbred poodles.

        For me, points of technical detail mean the opposite of “forget it.” For one thing, I’ve always thought west-side transit is extremely important and long-overdue.

        But equally important, like certain Presidential candidacies, I think last monorail effort was largely fueled by voter fury at transit agencies’ condescending refusal even to think about the subject at all.

        I want to evaluate all drawing views of every sensible route between South Lake Union and the Ship Canal. Lower Queen Anne could be an ill place to miss.

        Mark Dublin

      3. “Shall we stop building to Roosevelt and Northgate, too? Because we’re as dense as they are.”

        Building north to Lynnwood has the advantage of picking up commuters from Snoho and the northern part of East King. Building west to West Seattle gives you nothing except residents there.

      4. Minus those residents that live there and don’t want to do the whole take a bus to the five minute transfer to a train, then transfer to another train in SoDo.

        Because that is what the ST3 proposal gives West Seattle until Ballard finally gets built.

      5. Building west to West Seattle gives you nothing except residents there.

        Maybe if you ignore all the fully loaded buses feeding into the West Seattle Bridge today from points south. Stops at Delridge and Avalon mean that transfer riders from the 21 and 120 would likely outnumber riders from the actual Alaska Junction walkshed.

        Rail to West Seattle would actually serve riders from as far away as Burien.

      6. I can’t speak to the C and others, but the 120 is full at noon and midnight.

      7. @Lack — Imagine we built both. Just imagine we built the Ballard to West Seattle train, along with the WSTT (and assorted freeway and surface improvements). Why the hell would you get off the bus? Seriously, how many people would get off, just when their trip is about to get really fast (by getting on a freaking freeway)?

        Even if you did nothing but build the WSTT, no one would get off the bus at noon. That is the point. The strongest argument for West Seattle light rail is that traffic is so bad — one direction at one particular time of day — that everyone will endure a very bad transfer. Fine. But there is an obvious alternative — and guess what? IT IS CHEAPER!

        ST has a rail fetish. What is true for West Seattle is true for Kirkland. Even when the city of Kirkland hired their own consultant, and said they wanted BRT on the ERC (which is what anyone who knows anything about the area would propose) Sound Transit rejected it, and said rail or nothing. So they got nothing.

        West Seattle light rail is a bad value for West Seattle, let alone the rest of the city. I have three (count ’em three) relatives that live in various parts of West Seattle, and they would get nothing out of this. Because, like almost all of West Seattle, they live nowhere near the stations. Even those that live in High Point, the most densely populated census block in West Seattle, get nothing out of this. Again, why the hell would they want to transfer?

  16. No, no, no, no, NO! Not 23rd Avenue! You will never get neighborhood agreement to upzone there sufficiently to make such a line worthwhile. It would be far better to turn sharply southward at Capitol Hill and run down through the strip between Broadway and 14th Avenue, with the Madison station closer to Broadway than the other three (Pike/Pine, James, and Jackson) nearer to 14th. You can enormously upzone the strip through there enormously and it will be welcomed by the people already there.

    Trying to do the same to 23rd Avenue will run you into a buzz-saw of gentrification complaints.

    Also, coming out of the hill just south of Jackson along Rainier would allow a station between Jackson and Judkins Park and one between JP and Mt. Baker. Upzone Rainier to fifty stories and you have buildings wherein the upper floors can see over Mt. Baker to the Cascades and Mt. Rainier. The same is true in the strip north of Yesler. You’d have thousands of new view properties with almost no blockage of existing views or serious shadow effects.

    Also, having the line around 12th Avenue puts the bus intercept to in a place where everyone can ride “in-direction” if they’re headed for SLU or LQA employment rather than have nearly half backtrack to 23rd Avenue. And finally, the trolleys run easily east of 12th Avenue; it’s right about there or Broadway that they run into congestion.

    1. 23rd clearly makes the most sense. It’s just way more logical and underserved as well as a high growth area that ALREADY being upzoned. I’m not nearly as concerned about NIMBYs there as you are and I lived in the area last year. The areas you’re talking about are already served by the FHSC and existing station.

    2. Of course 23rd avenue would be the best route. It would connect a whole dense section of the city to light rail and would serve an under represented and transit-needy community. It is already growing rapidly (see 23rd and Union, 23rd and Jackson, etc). Yet 23rd is being squeezed down to 3 lanes. Building underground transit is the best way to serve this area and ease congestion.

      Without the at line along 23rd, the entire area south of Madison and north of I-90 would be a light rail dead zone, but that is where it is needed!

    3. I actually think a line along 23rd would serve more people than Ballard to UW, but unfortunately we don’t have the studies to back it up (I support both). 23rd Ave is an excellent route for the Metro 8 line. I wish we lived in a world where ST was studying a Metro 8 line so this debate would actually be relevant :( But maybe there’s still time! We need to flood ST with emails and comments demanding the Metro 8 to bring a real urban subway system to Seattle.

      1. “But maybe there’s still time! We need to flood ST with emails and comments demanding the Metro 8 to bring a real urban subway system to Seattle.”

        We did that in 2015 and 2016. It didn’t help. But if we keep trying, eventually ST or the city might pursue it.

    4. “You can enormously upzone the strip through there enormously and it will be welcomed by the people already there.”

      Ha, you clearly haven’t been following the community blow-back to the Swedish Cherry Hill expansion…

      Also, could you even build 50 stories buildings on Rainier with the liquification issues?

      Those quibbles aside, I agree that there is a lot to like about a First/Cherry Hill -> Yesler Terrace -> Little Saigon -> Dearborn -> Judkins Park -> Mount Baker, also I also think that 23rd has a lot of potential as well, with lots of development in the works already grouped around specific intersections (Madison, Union, Jackson). Given that the metro 8 concept is not yet even on ST’s radar to consider, it seems a bit premature to be vociferously arguing about which is the best route.

    5. You will never get neighborhood agreement to upzone there sufficiently to make such a line worthwhile. … Trying to do the same to 23rd Avenue will run you into a buzz-saw of gentrification complaints.

      Before I launch into my words, even though I post as “lakecityrider” for historical continuity, I live in the Central District. The smack middle of it, actually, near Garfield.

      I posted this exact question to my Nextdoor area. You know how Nextdoor has been (justifiably) vilified as being some of the most pro-SFH, anti-density, loudmouthed people you’ve ever met? Yeah, not here. I asked what people thought of a Metro 8 Subway, aimed them at the Seattle Subway page, and specifically called out the 23rd Ave route. Their reactions? “Can we build this yesterday?” Several people were even willing to put aside historical dislike for the monorail concept and say, “well, if we have to build it like a monorail to fund it, let’s do that.”

      Another point: we’re already upzoning. The 23rd Ave Action Plan, while currently limited in scope, is pushing up heights all along 23rd Ave. The CD’s Urban Village (23rd/Union&Jackson)–which we have and want, and which is one of exactly three that is not being considered for any form of high-capacity transit, including BRT (the others are South Park and Phinney Ridge)–is slated to be zoned as high or higher than Ballard in the coming years.

      And a final point: Metro’s own numbers show that our ridership would be fantastic. Their 2015 service guidelines show that routes 8 and 48 stand in the top-25 of routes by ridership in all of Seattle. Add in routes 2, 3, and 4, and now it’s almost a landslide. By peak, off-peak, and night rides per platform hour, routes 8 and 48 stand within decimal points of route 44…a route that is already being studied.

      The 98122 ZIP code is a hole of transit riders that are not being potentially ever served by high-capacity transit (I’ve not seen much from the “RapidRide+” proposals except a line on a map…which is more than we’re getting from Metro or Sound Transit and even there the buses would run in traffic through most of the CD). So, yeah, you’d get some riders here. How many? We don’t know for sure because nobody is willing to take a professional look at the numbers. And I can’t help but wonder why.

      1. The SDOT TMP claims the Rainier Av + 23rd Av RapidRide+ line would get ~16,000 daily riders.

      2. 98122 is a large area. A big chunk of it is easily in the walkshed for Capitol Hill Station.

    6. The need for better CD travel is actually east-west because buses are so slow.

      I see the Metro 8 idea as one solution to an oversight in our transit planning environment. That oversight is:

      1. Failure to treat Harborview as a regional destination.
      2. Failure to plan Yesler Terrace with a regional transit station.
      3. The abandoning of an original all-Jackson streetcar to 23rd project in favor of the First Hill alignment.
      4. The Seattle TMP obsession with Madison rather than Cherry or Yesler or even Union, and not connecting Madison BRT better with Link.
      5. Trying to solve the grade challenge up to Capitol Hill or First Hill (noting that light rail may actually be the wrong technology for this problem).

      I’ll keep suggesting cable-pulled technologies (aerial or underground funiculars) and extensions of RapidRide D or E into the area as quicker and cheaper partial solutions, although I don’t get much support on STB for either one.

      1. Idea: Gondalas. Send one from the Seattle Center to CHS; send another up James/Jefferson from the ferries via Harborview to Seattle University. The bonus is that they’re fixed-guideway HCT that isn’t light rail, so they can be built using the monorail levy.

        Thoughts? This isn’t anywhere near as fast as light rail, and it’d probably be too slow if extended all the way to 23rd (d.p. when he was still here said that Seattle Center – CHS is already pushing it), but it’s much better than nothing.

      2. Gondolas are a viable cable technology. Funiculars could pull much faster though. Jefferson Street from Pioneer Square to Harborview would be almost ideal! Another unrecognized constituency are bicyclists, who could use a standing-room only car in a funicular train to connect between the Broadway and Second Avenue bicycle tracks.

        This could then begin to link to a streetcar network. As an example from there, a streetcar line that begins/ends at Harborview, uses existing segments on Broadway and Yesler, then jogs up Jackson then turns south to connect at Judkins Park Link then uses MLK to reach Mt. Baker Station would be a great Metro 8 alternative for the south segment – at a much cheaper cost.

        I would add that there are a high volume of trips in the CD that deserve faster transit. The Metro 8 proposal tries to link them all in one expensive project. I think a combination of strategies would need to be packaged to address all of the overlooked needs but a combination is much cheaper than a Metro 8 subway and it would improve travel times for riders.

    7. Yes, yes, yes 23rd Avenue! As a neighborhood resident I say BRING ON THE UPZONE PLEASE, the sooner the better, and for god’s sake we need some real transit.

      My biggest disappointment with the 23rd Avenue repaving project is that they didn’t take the opportunity to dig a cut & cover subway tunnel connecting the I-90 Link station to Capitol Hill station while they were at it. (Not a reasonable fantasy, I know… but any politician with the guts to propose it would get my vote forever.)

    8. Your definition of “upzone” and mine are simply not the same. Seattle really doesn’t need more four story plywood boxes with first floor garages. What the people headed to the city want are view towers like in Belltown and the Denny Triangle and most emphatically Vancouver, BC. You can’t build those along 23rd because of the houses on the other side of 22nd and 24th, but you could just east of Broadway where the area is ripe for serious renewal.

      The buses that serve the eastern CD all run very easily and with little congestion east of 14th Avenue, so a curtain intercept for people headed elsewhere along this strip would grab everyone who wants such a journey without a “double back” to 23rd for those between 14th and 23rd.

      But most importantly, it would serve to expand the perimeter of downtown Seattle just as SLU has done.

      The one loss of turning south is that the small cluster around Group Health would not be served directly.

      1. Abrupt changes in density are weird, and you’re right that it would be weird to build towers along 23rd if there were houses a block away – Bellevue is like that and it’s part of what makes the place seem so…. fake. Rather than a dramatic upzone in one tiny area and SFH everywhere else, I want a moderate upzone *everywhere* – let SFH property owners upgrade their properties progressively, let density spread out more evenly, and we won’t have an issue with the kind of problem you’re talking about.

      2. “What the people headed to the city want are view towers like in Belltown and the Denny Triangle and most emphatically Vancouver, BC.”

        They can’t afford them because highrises require more expensive building techniques and thus cost more. An average density of 3-6 stories would be enough if it’s spread over a wider area, as in Paris and Boston and north side Chicago (3-10 stories once you get a couple blocks away from the lake where it’s higher). Those areas have plenty of density for a lot of people and business and can support 5-10 minute transit fourteen hours a day. Given the general public resistance to highrises outside downtown (or at Link stations), a 3-6 story lowrise from Broadway to 24rd and Yesler to Mercer is the kind of thing we should be looking at. The same for the Ballard-Fremont-Wallingford-UDistrict-UVillage-Roosevelt-Greenlake urban village.

    9. Friendly reminder that the 48, which runs down 23rd, is Metro’s single highest ridership route.

  17. I would also add building the Graham Street infill station earlier than 2036, seeing as Seattle voters approved $10 million for it that would expire in 2025.

    1. So the city can fund the studies and initial construction costs and ST can fund the last year. :) The issue is ST committing to the project, not that it must finish by 2035.

  18. Could you update request number four to clarify that the Metro #8 Subway would go all the way to Mt. Baker?

  19. I think we should take a step back and look at what we need now and how best to serve the region.

    Do we need redundant train service to out outlying cities Tacoma and Everett?
    Use sounder and expand that. It can go to Boeing tracks already there.

    Do we need a bus transit tunnel for all those suburb buses that are not going away?
    Yes , This should be the first thing that gets built.

    Should we allow free parking at the park and rides?
    No with over a 1 billion dollars in st3 dedicated to parking. We need to remove the burden, and return our dollars to moving people not storing possessions.

    Should we spend millions propping up the C and D line, only to tear it down and build a subway?
    No, there are other lines that will never get a subway let’s improve those corridors. The E line carries 15,000 people a day. Yet many stations don’t even have readers. This is a regional bus, and Seattle should not have to spend all its money on that line.

    Issaquah shouldn’t even be in the package. At 11,000 daily riders there is no industry out there and this is a waste of money.

    Now count up the billions
    1.5 b issaquah
    4.5 B Everett (some would go to sounder)
    1 b Tocoma
    1 B parking

    That’s approx 8 billion I found.

    1. Well said. There is absolutely no reason for light rail to extend all the way to Tacoma or Everett at this time. That is a complete waste of money, nothing more than pandering to those communities for votes.

      And Issaquah? I couldn’t believe that was actually even a consideration, let along put forward on ST3.

      1. As someone who lives in Tacoma. I can tell you, not including LRT to either Tacoma or Everett is completely short-sighted and not looking at the bigger picture. Tacoma and Everett have been growing pretty good over the last decade, and will be growing ever bigger as I forsee more companies coming to the South and North ends of the Sound as it’s getting plenty crowded in Seattle and the Eastside. Along with more people are moving north and south because of the more reasonable housing prices here in the Everett and Tacoma markets.
        The other fact is, that the reigon needs to be better connected outside of ST Express buses and the Sounder, which while serve their purpose pretty good, Have also the problem of being infrequent as in the case of ST Express to South King/Airport or Seattle. Saying they are a waste of money might sound reasonable now, but not looking down the line or being forward thinking is only going to hurt us in the end.

      2. If the 594 to Tacoma is not frequent enough, ST 3 should make it more frequent. You don’t need to convert a bus to rail in order to make it more frequent.

      3. Everett and Tacoma are paying for this too, and you want us to be happy with a bunch of buses crawling in 10 MPH traffic? [obscenity]

      4. @Zachary — It is always best to see what trips are actually made faster by the investment in transit. Seattle to Tacoma? No. Sounder will be faster (and the buses will be faster when the Sounder isn’t running). So that basically leaves Rainier Valley to Tacoma (and all combinations in between). I don’t see any way in the next 100 years that those routes can justify rail. I just don’t. Tacoma is a decent size city, but cities of 200,000 don’t usually build expensive light rail lines. It is only the proximity to a much bigger city that has Tacoma thinking it might need one, but as mentioned, it doesn’t work as a connection to it.

        As for growth, it could happen in Tacoma, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Businesses in general have left Tacoma. They could come back, but my guess is Tacoma will become an increasingly bedroom and retiree community. That is not the trip patter for a subway. That is a trip pattern for commuter rail, and buses. You need all day demand along the entire corridor to justify the cost of light rail, and you simply don’t have it along there. Tacoma needs better transit, but it should start with better bus service.

        Of course Federal Way could grow, but again, I don’t see it. Saying something is “affordable” is another way of saying it is less popular. It means that density will be lower. Of course it will grow, but not nearly as fast as the areas that are more expensive. If you are willing to spend twice as much for a small apartment in Seattle, where do you think the developer is going to build next?

      5. Zachary- extending Central Link to Tacoma will make transit worse for the vast majority of Pierce County residents who ride ST routes. For Dome-to-Sodo travel, it will replace a bus that currently takes 40-50 minutes, sometimes even 30 minutes, with a train that takes 65 minutes. ST has already indicated that they plan to truncate our busses at Star Lake when it opens. -A frequent rider of the 586, 590, and 594

    2. @ Joe

      King County voted down the car tab tax for transit. Seattle came in and passed it. So I don’t see votes coming from this if done right.

      But with the current plan. Seattle doesn’t really loose anything. We are still going to have the same crappy transit that is clogged with congestion.

      I say let it burn. Then people will care.

      1. I’m definitely leaning that way. I would rather this lose, and lose big, then lose by a little and send the wrong message. If ST doesn’t change their plan (and I don’t think they will) I would much rather reject this proposal in town, because I figure it is going to be rejected outside it (by a huge margin).

    3. “Do we need redundant train service to out outlying cities Tacoma and Everett?
      Use sounder and expand that.”

      “We” need the Snohomish and Pierce subareas to support ST3 or we don’t get anything. They have said loud and clear that the #1 thing they want is light rail extensions.

      “Do we need a bus transit tunnel for all those suburb buses that are not going away? Yes , This should be the first thing that gets built.”

      We don’t need a tunnel just for the 101, 106, 150, and 255 and whichever peak-only routes may remain after ST2. Burien and Aurora want to know why they never got into the DSTT in spite of having high all-day ridership.

      “Should we allow free parking at the park and rides?”

      It doesn’t stipulate free. And this is also high priority for the suburban subareas. Although I am bothered that so many parking garages are front-loaded. We should be front-loading low-hanging transit fruit, not garages.

      “Should we spend millions propping up the C and D line, only to tear it down and build a subway?”

      It’s not clear what these improvements even are. But the D will remain because of the in-between stops. The C would most likely be truncated and reconfigured in West Seattle. Deleting the lines or reconfiguring the C could trigger repayment of the federal grants underlying them. That didn’t happen with the C/D split, but I think that’s because it was just finishing the original goal.

      1. Our elected officials have said they want light rail extensions to the Dome and Paine Field. Those of us down here who are paying attention know that this is a bad deal even when considering just our narrow parrochial interests, and not looking at how bad it is regionally. Extending Central Link to the Dome will likely lead to the elimination of the 590 and truncation of the 594 at the Dome, making it a net loss for Pierce County transit riders. Without an MOA stating that the Dome-Sodo STEX service (and 577/578 to Sodo or direct to the heart of downtown Seattle) will continue until Sounder is a viable alternative for their riders, this is a terrible proposal for Pierce/South King.

  20. Seattle’s projects are driven by the Downtown tunnel cost. That’s where the major expense is coming from.

    We can’t get everything that we want! Some tradeoffs have to be made.

    Should we consider an aerial option through Downtown? Should we have the tunnel partly funded by Downtown development fees and special assessment districts?

    Alternatively, should we get a better grade separation on 15th but stop south of the drawbridge? Should we be shortening the West Seattle line rather than go all the way to Alaska Junction? Should we be assessing whether each additional station is worth it, rather than expect whole lines? Should we build shorter lines right or do cost-cutting to get longer lines?

    I know these aren’t pleasant questions to ask, but we don’t have an unlimited amount of funds here. These things are expensive. There are projects that I would like to see that aren’t here, but money doesn’t grow on trees.

    1. I think an aerial option through downtown should be seriously considered. No city has ever built elevated rail and regretted it.

      Unfortunately, I suspect much of the cost savings over the tunneled options would be eaten up by legal fees and design changes to deal with neighbor complaints. But it’s definitely worth studying.

    2. West Seattle costs a bundle as well. That requires a new bridge, along with a tunnel under West Seattle. That is a lot of money. It is probably cheaper to build an entire new bridge, just for buses to West Seattle.

  21. On a personal note, my property taxes for my Seattle home have risen 35% in the past two years — on the same house! That’s significant. These tax increases are being passed on to renters too. Much of this is because of the passage of new taxes within Seattle. With each yes vote, the more likely that owners – especially those on fixed incomes – are less likely to vote yes. I wouldn’t assume that Seattle will vote yes in this rapidly increasing tax hit climate. I expect that this will be a factor in November.

    1. Are you sure it’s new taxes? King County property tax is right around 1%, below the national average of 1.3%. I’d reckon it’s massively escalating house values. House prices in Seattle have increased by ~10% each year for a few years now. So if your house is worth more, there’s more taxes.

      1. Move Seattle was responsible for a significant jump this past year, Larry. It’s probably 30-50 percent of the increased assessment.

        Regardless, these jumps shock many homeowners and it creates a reason for more people to vote no. They don’t parse out their bill on why; they just see the bottom line. They don’t see their pay checks growing this fast and they don’t see why local government staff needs more money since they aren’t getting that much more.

      2. Without new ballot measures, increases in your house value don’t necessarily mean higher property taxes. The county picks an amount of money it wants to raise (the “levy” amount). This generally cannot be more than 1% higher than the previous year because of Tim Eyman. The levy amount is then divided by the total value of all the property in the county to determine the tax rate. This rate is then multiplied by the value of your property to determine how much you owe.

        The net result of all this is that if all the properties in the county appreciate at the same rate, your taxes will only go up 1% before adding any new taxes passed in recent ballot measures. You’ll only see a higher rate of increase if your property value increased more than the average property in the county.

        In fact, if your property appreciates slower than average, your taxes can go down even if your property value went up! This actually happened to me a couple of years ago.

        More info at

    2. Al S,

      I fully agree with you post, and my property taxes went up 25.2% this year. I am on a fixed income, and enough is enough. Yes, I voted for Move Seattle since I want the Madison BRT, but I will be voting NO on ST3. I will also be voting no for a police levy as well as for the homeless levy.

      We are already funding our schools with the property tax since out state legislature is is ignore the Orders of the State Supreme Cout to fund schools. Also, the state legislature won’t increase the income level for seniors from $35,000 for seniors so they can get reduced property taxes. Try living in Seattle on $35,000 a year!

      Our taxing system is broken, and I don’t think Seattle voters will continue to vote blindly yes on every levy possible!

  22. From a suburban point of view, 25 years to do anything is way too long. They need to focus on projects that can be delivered in 10-15 years or less. Also, they need to focus on projects to improve service in the short term. Many of the ST Express lines and P&R lots are at or beyond capacity, and there is still a large unmet need for bus and sounder service. These should be at a higher priority. Getting the full “spine” is a nice dream, however we have more pressing immediate needs.

  23. Honest Question. Lots of commentators seems to think Seattle has appetite for additional tax to fund transit. Would it be possible for Seattle to use the monorail or any other authority to generate funds which would act as top-up for ST funding. It could technically use them to build the tunnel or drawbridge (thus possibly avoiding the ‘non-light rail’ requirement) It could help speed up the projects and also might fund UW -Ballard

    1. There is no county TBD. Metro is the county itself. And the county voted down an inexpensive Metro supplement in 2014. The county could theoretically propose its own rail lines, but it would need a new TBD and/or legislative approval to get sufficient tax capacity. A countywide TBD would run into the same subarea controversies that ST3 has if you’re thinking of mostly lines in Seattle. Forward Thrust was our biggest opportunity there, before the Kent Valley and SeaTac and Federal Way and Issaquah got built up and started demanding rapid transit.

      1. we can create one mike! the 2014 vote was a vote in February, and rail votes better than buses (imo).

  24. Far, far more people live in West Seattle than do in Ballard. It’s no coincidence that so many of the entitled young male bucks that run Seattle Transit Blog and Seattle Subway all live up in the path of the Ballard extension.

    But screw the 100,000 people in the West Seattle, White Center/North Highline (very poor majority minority by the way, so racism, class, and equity in action here) and Burien (mostly blue collar and heavy minority populations) are all getting the shaft in comments here.

    But the mostly white tracts making $70,000 a year on average — yep, they matter more.

    Thank God almighty that all the adults in the room like Dow Constantine and other people whose opinion matter tend to live in the West Seattle area.

    1. Racial slurs are not appropriate against the bloggers here.

      As for population statistics, “West Seattle” covers a lot more area than “Ballard.” If you delve into more detail, you’ll see that far more people live within a half-mile of the Ballard stations than within a half-mile of the West Seattle stations. Having a train going to some point in West Seattle doesn’t do you a bit of good if it doesn’t go near you.

      1. Those comments are over the top in saying West Seattle and the absolutely not affluent areas in eastern West Seattle and south of us matter equally to Ballard, but what racial slurs were used against bloggers here? There are none.

      2. William C.,light rail actually does help people in West Seattle, despite only going to one or two stations. It gets us downtown quickly, and avoids the inevitable traffic backups that occur on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the West Seattle Bridge, and that will no doubt occur on the eventual replacement for the viaduct. We can then take buses from the station to our houses, just like the people who take buses from the Capitol Hill and UW stations do.

      3. Joe – “buck” has historically been used as an insulting label for African-American men.

      4. vBut if the goal is to avoid backups, how expensive is it really to paint center running HOV/Transit lanes and build direct off ramps to the SODO busway? I’d peg it at $150 million or $200 million. None of the other Seattle areas discussed have such a cheap plausible bypass option, that gets 80% of the value at 10% of the cost. Moreover, such a chokepoint bypassing project could probably be built in 5 to 10 years, not the 17 it will take to build West Seattle rail.

      5. Joe – it’s weird how those phrases work. I grew up in an environment where racist insults would have been completely unacceptable, so I worry sometimes that some word or phrase I’ve used all my life will turn out to have connotations I never knew about, just because it would never have been part of the atmosphere when I picked it up. Nothing much to be done about that though, I just have to pay attention and try to be sensitive. It’s frustrating to deal with, but not half so frustrating as it would be for the people those insults were aimed at, after all.

      6. I can’t consider buck an insult just because it may have been one in the South fifty years ago or wherever it was. It hasn’t meant that here in my lifetime. Young buck is basically a young energetic/enthusiastic guy/dude.

    2. And where are people getting that West Seattle will vote against this anyway? Because of some vocal commenters on the West Seattle Blog, many of whom are complaining more about the time it’d take for light rail to get there, and probably would be all for it if it could get there sooner? Do people think that people in Ballard aren’t also having these same feelings when they see how long it’ll take? And do people think that a few commenters represent all of West Seattle? Many people don’t read the WSB, or may be silent lurkers

      1. I have spent three years working on transportation issues for West Seattle before mostly taking a sabbatical to volunteer toward some other stuff now that ST3 is in flight, and I have literally never heard anything but a super niche (read: utterly statistically irrelevant) minority say “no trains here”. It’s on the level of scientific acceptance for global warming by reputable scientists that people in West Seattle desperately want train service.

    3. Whether the race card was played or not, I am a person of color who supports Ballard getting light rail. There are non-racial reasons for supporting Ballard light rail. Dow Constantine lives in West Seattle, so they get light rail. If you want to skip the junction and better serve minority communities, I am willing to listen to your proposal– but will SDOT, Dow, and ST?

    4. I don’t think it’s racism. It’s merely privilege. The Seattle decision-making culture focuses on loud, squeaky wheels and that’s something certain demographics do better than others.

      Unfortunately, most of us don’t have experienced in riding buses all over town today. We only know what we see. That’s a big reason why we need to grade the utility of these projects objectively.

      Everyone wants to look at cost per rider. I would also like to see aggregate rider travel time savings also presented because this is a much better way to assess improved accessibility for any neighborhood, especially those who don’t get recognized in the Seattle political culture.

      1. I don’t think it’s clear at all that it would cost less. Tunneling through SLU would be super expensive.

      2. I acknowledge that tunneling is expensive (but essential), but it seems like tunneling through the Central District will connect more people over a shorter distance, thus reducing overall cost. Someone really needs to study this though to confirm these suspicions (let’s fund the study in ST3!)

    5. West Seattle is higher population than Ballard, but diffuse in its land use patterns. Further, any attempts at getting bus only lanes to connect to new stations will be a huge political fight. Objectively, DT-WS is 3rd or 4th priority in Seattle, but politically it ought to get rail.

      1. “Further, any attempts at getting bus only lanes to connect to new stations will be a huge political fight.”

        I have strong doubts about that, depending on how the bus-only lanes are handled and where they’re instituted.

        Delridge: simply too small. No where to put them, at all. Taking parking doesn’t get you enough for bi-directional bus only lanes. In a car or bike you’re practically scraping paint off parked cars already, if there even is parking in stretches.

        35th: You could possibly do bus only in some stretches if you completely eliminated street parking, but that hurts businesses up and down 35th that have no off-street or alley parking (which might be the majority of them), and you also have space issues. I’m not sure you could fit two bus lanes in there, and the street is already down to three lanes for half of it because of the current successful rechannelization, and the rest of 35th is getting that soon.

        California: narrow, dense, already road dieted, and good luck. That will be the political fight. You would need to make it transit only for very, very limited benefit, as it’s not that congested anyway most times of the day except for around Morgan.

        Now, though…

        If you did a neat bus-only lane from the Alaska Junction all the way to 35th and then on that small stretch of 35th to Avalon, and made the limited bus-only on Avalon fully — aggressively — bus only, and did the same under the viaduct to the bridge? That last mile would be glorious and that could save a lot of time with only token political resistance.


      2. Delridge doesn’t have room to add bus-only lanes the whole length, but it DOES have room to add lanes in a few places where it would be needed.

        Just looking at Northbound (because in my experience most of the traffic-related delays are in that direction)…
        Holden to Orchard – just being able to jump the queue here would save a ton of time in the mornings. The land to the east of the road in this section is entirely undeveloped. A stripe of this land could be purchased to widen the ROW. The bike lane and sidewalk could be moved 4 or 5 feet eastward, and a new transit lane could appear where the bike lane is now. Not as cheap as “just paint,” but still pretty good in terms of bang-for-the-buck. You don’t get many opportunities to widen ROW in this town without knocking down buildings.

        Hudson to Oregon – extend the existing peak hour bus lane by a much-needed few blocks. I don’t know whose idea it was to end the bus lane at Oregon, but 2 or 3 more blocks would make all the difference in the world. All that is needed is paint and signage – this lane is currently unrestricted 72 hour parking.

    6. West Seattle is a geographic area, very spread out. If you wanted to compare population I suppose you could look at the population of much of NW Seattle (Ballard up to Bitter Lake) as a more honest comparison to West Seattle. Or the better comparison would be the population of the urban village and the 1/2 mile surrounding area that would be getting the station. Pretty sure Ballard #s come up higher if it’s strictly a #s game.

      1. West Seattle is also technically like fifteen distinct neighborhoods with varying levels of density. It’s like calling “North Seattle” a neighborhood. Alaska (1) and Triangle (2) density are king, then Morgan (3), then Delridge (4), then Westwood (5). Alaska/Triangle is rapidly building up and I don’t think there’s a single under utilized parcel in there at this point that isn’t either being rebuilt or slated to. It’s going to look and feel utterly different in about another two to five years, and then White Center is on the horizon…

        If you could “West Seattle” density by including the backwater neighborhoods in that, it unfairly skews our overall perceived numbers far lower. Do we count the stately neighborhoods above Golden Gardens into the “Ballard” total?

    7. STB staff live in Rainier Valley, the Central District, Kirkland, and Smokey Point among other places.

      West Seattle’s large population is the entire penninsula, which is like saying Ballard-Fremont-Greenwood-Greenlake-105th. Northwest Seattle has a de facto urban center/jobs center (Ballard-Fremont), more “streetcar suburb” density along Phinney/Greenwood Ave, the Aurora businesses, and fewer barriers to a four-direction transit grid that increases ridership. West Seattle has two small urban villages (the Junction, Westwood Village), the rest of it is low density and fiercely resistant to upzones, and its lower-income areas east-west LRT can’t fully address (Delridge, 35th).

      1. If you look across the water Alki has 3 miles of apartments and condos lining Harbor/Alki Avenues, with more units under construction. One on Harbor Ave currently under review proposes 100 units on land that replaced some of the few remaining single family homes. The whole spine of California Ave SW for 3 miles between Admiral and Morgan/Fauntleroy has many multi unit constructions projects ongoing. Silvan Way and Delridge up to White Center are also upzoned. I think your view of West Seattle’s population centers is pretty simplistic or out of date. All these population centers feed into a few choke points across the Duwamish. A reliable connection to the greater Seattle area is desparately needed for the peninsula. There is always vocal opposition and fighting against upzones, but what SF areas of Seattle don’t have that?

      2. If you look across the water Alki has 3 miles of apartments and condos lining Harbor/Alki Avenues, with more units under construction. One on Harbor Ave currently under review proposes 100 units on land that replaced some of the few remaining single family homes.

        A string of expensive waterfront condos on the wrong side of the bay doesn’t warrant sucking funding for major capital projects from the CBD. Presumable people buying into these units know a commute is going to be a bear.

      3. While there may be a lot of development in West Seattle lately it is dwarfed by development in other parts of the city. Certainly Denny Triangle+SLU+LQA+Ballard have it beat.

    8. >> Far, far more people live in West Seattle than do in Ballard

      Only by making a superficial and meaningless definition for both areas do you get anything close to that. Besides, that misses the point. It is a question of whether it works for the area or not. The vast majority of people on the peninsula would not benefit from light rail, because the vast majority of people in the area don’t live anywhere near the stations. They would be way better off with gold level BRT (which would also be cheaper). Not cheap ass RapidRide, but real BRT which means the buses never get stuck in traffic.

      Light rail is not the same as a community center, or a school. You don’t just sprinkle them around in various neighborhoods and pat yourself on the back. It has to be part of a cohesive transit network in order to work effectively. West Seattle light rail doesn’t do that. But this does:

  25. “expedite construction of light rail” “Make Ballard to Downtown fully grade separated”
    Holy Christmas! Even in my line of work, there are limits! Seriously, I’m still trying to fill requests for ponies from 1958!
    Seriously kids, who’s going to PAY for all this? Do you have any idea as to cost?

    1. They left out the following parts of their plan:
      – No rail to West Seattle
      – No rail to Everett
      – No rail to Issaquah

      Presto! Plenty of money to give Ballard two underground lines except for the small problem of losing the ST3 vote by a landslide, since 95% of the people voting don’t live in Ballard, and 67% don’t live in Seattle.

    2. We have an idea what it would cost, ST put out an option – option D i believe – that is fully grade separated through magnolia. We will pay for it via taxes. Not that complicated.

      1. ohhhh, you “will pay for it with taxes”. Well then, I see. No problem so long as you’re not using real money. (I blame our schools)

      2. if you’re planning to fund with taxes- rather than money- why not skip the rail infrastructure and use high-speed, high occupancy hovercraft capable of gliding over grid-locked traffic? Sort of a mass-transit magic-carpet? If were paying “with taxes”, well then, cost is no object.

      3. are…. are you being serious? Taxes are money, and taxes are real. Unless you’re one of those libertarians who thinks that fiat currency is a conspiracy? o-O

      4. Of course I am being serious. Yes, taxes are money. I disagree with your assessment that “it’s not that complicated”. I believe it is exceedingly complicated by the very high price, by the fact that no solution will appease everyone and by the logical question of just who should bear the larger burden of paying for it.

      5. it’s only a few hundred million more than the atgrade option, considering that one requires ST to build a moveable bridge with bike/ped access. not that complicated to raise those funds by extending the tax a year or so.

      6. Only “a few hundred million MORE…” Zach, I wouldn’t presume to think this is a good idea (or not). Taxpayers will decide.

    3. How much is it costing people to sit in buses that are infrequent, slow, and caught in traffic and accidents? How many business/cultural/social opportunities is the city losing due to people’s difficulty in getting around? How many thousands of dollars are people paying to maintain a car for every member of the family because they can’t get around on transit without it taking two hours? How much does that increase their demand for parking spaces on-street and in apartment buildings and supermarkets and shopping centers? How much do those multilane roads cost to maintain? How much is the city suffering by parking minimums pushing things apart, making them harder to walk between, displacing land for sorely-needed housing, and making the city uglier?

    4. The Legislature thinks the Gas Tax is a bottomless bag of funding, and when there’s a shortfall, – No Problem !
      Just make the bag bigger to fund capacity increases..!

      No Vote Needed !

      Christmas presents indeed.

      1. a gas tax has merits, but is also so regressive- the less well-to-do bear an unacceptably high burden. This is a sticky wicket.

      2. The gas tax overtaxes me to pay for capacity ‘improvements’ on roads that I don’t drive on, and to ‘solve congestion’ problems that don’t impact my commute.

        You will have to prove to me that the extension of SR-167 and the additional lanes on I-405 are paid for by those people who actually want it.

        If those projects have true merit, then a public vote, such as what Sound Transit projects must go through, would be the best way to convince people the extra taxes are worth it.

    5. Santa Claus is right (when do I get to say that?). Seriously, though, something has to give. The only reason this plan takes so long to build is because it is so ridiculously big. Two tunnels (one for downtown, one for West Seattle) two very big bridges (one for Ballard, one for West Seattle) all built at grade (because trains can’t go up steep hills) and all containing a bunch of rail. Of course that is expensive. They don’t want to float bonds to build it quicker because they can’t. They can’t build all that and pay the interest on the bonds. So they have to wait for the money to trickle in, and that takes a while.

      Seattle Subway is going back to its roots, and suggesting we build something that is completely out of scale and inappropriate (and largely ineffective) for the area. I get it. No need to piss off the folks that have their heart on one project or the other, but it is bullshit. The ST3 plan is stupid, and the fix can’t be afforded (and really wouldn’t fix much). The answer has already been suggested:

      Build that, piece by piece. Start with the WSTT, but without the SR99 connection. Then connect that with West Seattle (which really shouldn’t be that expensive). Now West Seattle has better transit options than they would with the ST plan, and they have them 10 years sooner. Add in a new Interbay station (which is cheap) then add the SR 99 connection. Now your only problem is the Ballard bridge. By then you should be able to afford Ballard to UW, and you have a much better system. Folks in Ballard have a faster way to downtown much sooner (when the bridge is down) and they eventually get a fast route to the UW (which improves every trip to the north end of the ship canal and west of I-5).

      Its not that hard, but it requires the courage to say that sometimes light rail isn’t the answer.

  26. One of the most significant advantages of grade-separated light rail is faster travel times (the other being as a way to reduce overcrowding). Most high-activity places in Seattle are reachable by transit but it can take so long – so the rail improves travel times.

    I’d suggest that we objectively look at some point-to-point pairs to see if we are improving things before saying what should be included.

    1. Better yet, we should be setting targets for improved travel times and number of jobs/businesses/homes that can be accessed in a set amount of time before choosing modes/alignments/frequencies.

    2. ST should have included the long-term costs of surface MLK in its estimates: the 30 mph speed limit which hinders mobility, and the accidents every few months that interrupt the line. Then its cost wouldn’t look so much less than elevated or underground.

      1. 100% of those accidents (and their associated delays) would prevented if SDOT implemented photo-enforcement for left turns across the tracks.

    3. Gold level grade separated BRT also has faster travel times. Since dwell times are lower, it can actually be faster than a train. Headways can be a lot smaller two, allowing for much more frequent service. It can more easily leverage existing infrastructure, especially if said roads are steep.

      But it lacks the capacity of light rail. That is the trade-off.

      As for your suggestion, I did exactly that (objectively looked at point-to-point pairs) on this blog post: Based on my analysis, the only trip pair that would be faster than the set of projects I mentioned is Ballard to Queen Anne (since the subway would require a new bridge). The number of trip pairs that would be significantly faster is much higher, and have much higher ridership (e. g. Ballard to UW, Fremont to downtown, or any trip that requires a transfer).

  27. I have a lot of problems with the ST3 plan and this would go somewhat towards fixing those. At the same time it’s really hard to see the regional priorities and buy into the regional plan.

    The focus of the plan seems to be building out this all-important “regional spine”, but then I look at this so-called spine and it seems like a solution in search of a problem. Is it meant to serve local traffic in Federal Way and Tacoma and Everett and Lynnwood? Or is it meant to serve long-haul commuters from far away places and bring them into the city? Doesn’t seem like it will really serve either. The stops are too far apart and/or near freeways, so they aren’t in walkable areas… and the ride will be way too slow into downtown Seattle. I doubt it will be able to effectively replace the buses that currently serve the routes today because the buses will be faster. The bus to Tacoma takes an hour, light rail to the airport alone (halfway) is 40 minutes. We’re basically trying to build a BART-type system with slower and tinier and more cramped trains, but at the same cost… and it’s going to be so slow that no one’s going to want to ride it.

    To me it seems like we’re doubling down on a bad technology and wasting money on unneeded projects for political purposes. I’m going to have a hard time supporting any of this unless we get real as to the needs and we actually start solving a problem. In my view, building the Ballard line with a fully automated heavy-rail type technology (similar to SkyTrain or the Copenhagen Metro) would be a positive start.

    1. Exactly! As far as I can tell, Everett, Tacoma, and Issaquah’s representatives (and voters) are pushing for light rail because they hope it will ease congestion on the roads they drive on (and plan to continue to drive on), not because they plan to ride it– obviously it is way too slow to be useful to ride. The only flaw in that plan is that if everyone thinks that way, it doesn’t actually reduce congestion on the roads (and even if it takes a tiny fraction of people out of cars, induced demand would just fill that space up again).

      And if I’m wrong, and lots of people want to ride the trains (I could see this from Issaquah, and maybe Everett, and the intermediate stops), not that many will be able to! Because the stops are within walking distance of only a few dozen people, and only have parking for a few hundred. So max ridership ends up around a few thousand. As opposed to tens of thousands on urban segments/stops.

      As you said, ST already serves long-range commuters by express buses that are actually superior to the train service they plan to replace them with.

    2. Tacoma’s primary reason is light rail to the airport, which it believes will attract companies and jobs and workers to Tacoma. Everett’s primary reason is it believes it will attract companies and jobs and residents to Everett (both downtown and in the Paine Field area). Issaquah’s primary reason is it doesn’t want to be left out of the light rail network, and I’ll believe its density promises until it proves otherwise. Even if light rail is not faster than the express buses, it will be more frequent, comfortable, smooth, immune to the almost-daily traffic accidents that sometimes cause an hour’s delay, and goes to many more destinations besides downtown (UW, Sea-Tac, Northgate, Bellevue, etc — some of these areas ST Express doesn’t go to at all).

      1. With respect to Tacoma, no one is going to ride from the airport. It’s simply too long and too slow. The drive is 30 minutes and it’s usually not that congested heading to/from Tacoma as it’s a reverse commute. They may pick up a few riders, but is that worth billions in light rail cose?

        Same thing in Everett. It’s going to be such a slow, lumbering ride that I doubt it will attract a significant number of Seattle-based commuters. Sounder in the South End HAS done this because it’s so much faster than driving, even in good traffic. The further that Link stretches north and south, that possibility is negated due to the slow maximum speed of 55mph and the distance/number of stops (and other political compromises, such as the slow curve under the University of Washington).

        The Issaquah line is totally worthless in my mind because it doesn’t allow for fast/easy connections to Seattle. Despite investing a few billion, we’d still need frequent buses between Issaquah and Mercer Island.

        The more I think about this proposal, I can’t believe we’re proposing tens of billions of dollars on worthless rail lines that seem to be purely for political purposes.

      2. You said it Ryan. This just seems like a political, symbolic set of gestures.

        Just look at Mike’s arguments, which are quite reasonable. Everett and Tacoma are building this to spur economic growth. Fine. But my guess is they won’t sell it that way. My guess is that residents of the area would basically say “screw that” if they figured that was what this was about. They assume that this is about improved transit. Too bad, don’t read the fine print.

        Issaquah’s primary reason is it doesn’t want to be left out of the light rail network. Fair enough. But we aren’t building swimming pools! This is supposed to be a major investment in transit infrastructure that works for most of the people in the area. We are talking about billions for a light rail line, and the folks up on the plateau will have a three seat ride to Seattle or, as suggested, you still are running buses to Mercer island. That is crazy. That is spending billions on streetcar type ridership (less than 10,000 a day). Running trains miles and miles with only a handful of passengers is a recipe for failure. It means you can’t possibly justify even BART headways (no minutes at best). It means this thing runs every half hour, and loses money while doing it.

        This is symbolic, silly, politically motivated and very expensive. It gives all sensible transit projects a bad name.

    3. Thank you. The Seattle stuff is valuable, even if it isn’t the most valuable. On the other hand, the non-Seattle stuff is a by and large awful and generally an extremely large waste of resources. Just look at some of the dollars per rider for some of the suburban projects, they are preposterously high in some cases. Indeed, it is probably sufficiently wasteful to not make the overall package worthwhile. This is especially true given that the other four subareas are unlikely to vote in favor of the proposal so you can’t even say that the wasteful spending is “what they want”.

      In my view as a single Seattle voter if you want to make the proposal worthwhile, the Seattle stuff has to be much closer to perfect. Something like HOV/Transit lanes on the W. Seattle bridge with direct off ramps to the SODO busway and an automated Ballard line serving Interbay, LQA, SLU, Westlake, Madison, First Hill, Squire Park, 23rd and Jackson and Judkins Park station (with extensions east from Ballard or south from Judkins Park funding pending). While we don’t have studies to compare these two projects to the existing proposals, given the densities of the CD and especially First Hill and the additional connections facilitated between the East Side and Central Seattle this seems like a far better allocation of resources. Frankly, It’s disappointing to embarrassing that Sound Transit failed to study rail in First Hill, the CD and central Seattle.

  28. I’ll be voting for this based on it being the right thing to do. But, if I was voting for what is in my best interest, I’d be undecided. The timeline is way too long. I can say that I will definitely sell my home and move before anything that is built will directly benefit me. There’s a potential that I’ll leave the Puget Sound region before anything gets built. ST has been studying and building this stuff for so long, why the long lead time for Federal Way and Tacoma??? I thought that a spine to Tacoma was part of the original ST1 plan. They should already know what they want to build. Let’s go!!! Enough of the studying and negotiating with NIMBYs already!!!!!!

    1. It’s when the revenue comes in. The ST 1 & 2 taxes and bonds are maxed out until 2023, so only a third of the revenue will be available for ST3 until then. ST has a 50% bond:revenue maximum I think, and the state has a hard cap somewhere above that. The state also caps the tax rate, and this is what it buys in 25 years. It takes ten years to plan and build a significantly long tunnel segment in the US.

    2. Tacoma has known for a long time what it wants to build: Link to Tacoma Dome on either I-5 or Federal Way. NIMBYs is not an issue there.

  29. Seems like the real problem isn’t going to be whether Seattle will vote for it, but whether Pierce County, Snohomish County, and the Eastside will vote for it. Seattle has never met a tax they didn’t embrace. Not so elsewhere.

    1. Not true. Prop 1 failed a couple years ago. Seattle does vote for useful transit, but not anything vaguely connected with the “transit” concept.

  30. Might as well connect Burien to TIBS at least…and then go east to Southcenter and Renton? How much would that be?

    This would also give Tacoma commuters a backup option in case Rainier Valley ever experiences a shut down.

    1. Burien has a connection like that now, via ST560 and RR F. We don’t use them much because the backtracking wastes more time than it saves — for most of us on the dense west side of Burien, it’s 15 minutes faster to just ride the 120 for it’s full milk-run into downtown, rather than backtrack to Sea-Tac station (making a detour through the airport drive, whee!) and catch the train. Doesn’t seem like it should be the case, but it is.

  31. The timeline is unacceptable. These lines would be built in 5 years or less anywhere else, and would be completely elevated or underground at that. If Sound Transit cannot build the lines on a reasonable timescale, it should not be given any money and should make way for an organization that can.

    I am all for more mass transit but it needs to be done in a reasonable timeframe. Even nearby Vancouver has been building new Skytrain lines on ~5 year timescales rather than ~20 years.

    1. “Anywhere else” means outside the US, where transit has full government and public support, fewer pro-highway-and-NIMBY barriers, fewer time-consuming regulations, and no “Buy American” policy (never mind that all the current-generation trains and lowest prices are in Europe, and the US shut down its urban-rail production for decades and it’ll take a long time to build it up).

  32. Here in the CD, where we won’t get squat (our two “closest” stations continue to be Broadway/John and Judkins Park; at least one of them is operational now) it is very difficult to envision voting yes on the proposal as made to the Board. There are some great critiques above that don’t need to be repeated.

    I am all in favor of at least getting planning money in place to look at the Metro 8 line possibility, and continue to be baffled about the failure to at least *study* the Ballard Spur. But I am not sure that planning money added to ST3 would be enough to get my yes vote in the face of the many problems with the current proposal.

  33. Rob Johnson and Joe McDermott have their own suggestions

    Also, we believe there are ways to speed up project delivery in order to meet current and future transit and housing demands. We must work with local governments to change land use near stations to increase density and opportunities for affordable housing and small businesses. We also need to make sure that the surplus property is offered to local non-profit housing developers to build out our regions affordable housing stock (retroactively applying that framework to ST2 projects too!). We need to engage on priority hire issues to ensure that people living in the poorest census tracts in our region are connected to family wage construction jobs. We need to make the 130th Street and Graham Street stations permanent in the first 10 years of the plan, not provisionally at the end of the line. And finally, we need to make the UW-Ballard and West Seattle-Burien light rail studies as close to shovel ready as we can, so that if funds become available we can start construction on those before ST4.

  34. Eric,

    “Are these folks aware that “light rail,” as proposed, would have only one station that would be out of walking distance for 90% of the people in West Seattle?”

    Yeah, the average person knows how to read maps and the average knows that buses get stuck with everyone else that is the swamp of the West Seattle Bridge, the cloverleaf to SR99, SR99, and the Viaduct itself. Even if 90% of buses terminated at a cool UW-ish transit center the average voter will be overjoyed, because their existing commute looks like this — here’s what mine is like on the bus from home:

    Walk to 21: 4 minutes
    21 to bridge: +8-10 minutes
    21 to ID: +20-30 minutes
    Net time 32-39 minutes (can be even worse with Lander Street randomly, leaving those outliers out, up to another +10 minutes)

    Walk to Rapid Ride: 6 minutes
    C to bridge: +12 minutes
    C to 3rd/University: +15 to +30 minutes
    Net time 33-48 minutes (traffic on SR99/Bridge is magical, randomly add +5-10 minutes if you flip a coin)

    Both will go to shit randomly.

    Roughly the same in reverse. 7.8 miles from my house to my office. That’s nuts — 32 to 50 minutes to go *eight* miles. Average velocity of as fast as 15mph.

    But if I could trade it for…

    Walk to 21: 4 minutes
    21 to bridge/transit for rail: +8-10 minutes
    Transfer: +1 to +6 minutes
    Rail to ID: +10 minutes (that train will absolutely fly from Delridge to Stadium)
    Net time: 23-30 minutes

    That’s a fixed time. Up to 20 minutes a day of my life given back, an hour a week, up to 83 hours of the year returned to me: that’s two full weeks of my life per calendar year. And no more random magical commute.

    Most West Seattle people will trade for that instantly and with zero reservations.

    1. Amen. I’ll walk the 1.5 miles to the junction if I can get on light rail. I love my bus for the commute (56,57) but last week it no showed and this week it was 20 minutes late. I can’t get to work late because of the bus all the time and keep my job. I can’t imagine how it’s going to be when the viaduct comes down. The population is increasing here rapidly. I’m fine example with that, density is okay, but we need transit for that density. Ballard, you are not the city’s only neighborhood.

      1. Well that’s because Metro sucks and is incompetent. These increased no-shows are inexcusable.

    2. Now compare that with WSTT (and the freeway improvements that come with it)*:

      Walk to 21: 4 minutes
      21 to bridge for BRT +8 minutes
      Rail to ID: +10 minutes (that bus will absolutely fly from Delridge to Stadium)
      Net time: 22 minutes

      That assumes that nothing is done to improve the 21 corridor outside of the freeway (which is unrealistic). Once you invest in BRT (off board payment, level boarding, etc.) it makes sense to extend it. So, realistically, you are looking at a 20 minute ride to downtown.

      * Building the WSTT and the freeway improvements would be much cheaper, of course. Here is one proposal: Here is another: Both would be as fast as light rail (no congestion once you get close to the freeway). Since they would be cheaper they would be built much faster.

  35. Actually I think the uproar over the ballard bridge is overdone. An early “win” for seattle would be to make it a ped/bike bridge that was delivered within 8 years- even if light rail took longer.
    Yes, of course, I think UW Ballard would be better. Also agree that “at grade” seems short sited. Also think arguing that infrastructure in seattle (i.e. tunnels) is only part of seattle’s cost is ridiculous- (unless we charge everyone from snohomish a surcharge for using tunnel to seattle/airport.)

  36. Would connecting Ballard to the Northgate station on an elevated line be a cheaper/faster option with less engineering hurdles? Can we do that while they figure out connecting the loop from Ballard to Downtown?

    1. I doubt it. It gets really challenging around Northgate, since the station is at such an awkward location.

  37. I don’t understand the angst over the 130th Steet station. Sometimes, plans have to change. I’ve not yet heard of an FTA grant being taken away because a city or region decides to add a feature.

    TriMet was already building the orange line when Milwaukie decided they really needed a pedestrian bridge in a certain location. The only impact was trains had to go slow through the construction area for a few months.

    1. It’s not that it would be taken away but it would invalidate the application and require starting over. That would require going to the back of the line, a couple-year application process, a different fiscal year for the funds to come from, and an unknown president and administration that may zero out transit grants.

      1. I’ve not heard of additions making an application invalid before, even though other lines have had additions to them.

        The $800 millon FTA grant for the not-built Portland to Lake Oswego streetcar remained valid for use on several other projects that were nowhere near that corridor.

      2. Mike, Sound Transit is bullshitting you. Minneapolis-St. Paul added stations without requiring any “invalidation” of previous construction, and that was under Bush, who was eager to cancel grants.

        Just bullshitting. Don’t tolerate it.

        ST seems to be doing a lot of bullshitting lately.

  38. There are so many people online that will argue with homeowners exactly how much of our property tax rates are going up. It’s comical as people will fight to the death with arguments about land value, Tim Eyman etc etc. None of that matters when I look at my escrow bill – my tax bill has gone up by 35% in the last two years, that is a fact, 35% more of my hard earned money is funneled into my property tax escrow payment in the last two years. I watch the dollar amount grow and grow every 6 months now. Staring this package down and even more money tacked onto sales tax, my vehicle and my house for the rest of my life in Seattle makes me worried. In 25 years, I will be on a fixed income and not able to afford the escalating cost of living in the city limits. We are building a city of renters and region for the wealthy and young – by the time this project is finished there will be no disabled or older folks able to use the Ballard to Downtown or UW line, they simply won’t be able to live here. I’m voting no.

    1. “my vehicle”

      That’s why we’re building a regional transit network, so that more people can downsize their number of cars and not pay for their expenses, they won’t have to hunt for and pay for parking, they can get around without getting caught in traffic bottlenecks, and the working-class/poor won’t be saddled with a large car expense they can’t afford.

      1. working-class/poor won’t be saddled with a large car expense they can’t afford.

        That is a complete fallacy. Spending billions on trains, mostly funded with sales tax, is going to hurt the poor the most while providing the lion’s share of benefit to the wealthy that work in DT Seattle/Bellevue, can afford to attend sporting events and fly in/out of SeaTac. I guess you can add to that the privileged population able to attend UW that by and large don’t own cars (or at least don’t keep them in the city). Of course that’s the user class. The other group that stands to gain tremendously are the international firms that engineer and build the infrastructure.

        We can debate the merits of building this infrastructure but please lay off the “we’re helping the poor” meme.

      2. Take Rainier Valley, where a lot of working-class people live. Their low-paying jobs are at Northgate Mall, SeaTac airport, the Eastside, Kent, various locations in north Seattle, and probably Lynnwood. Link will go directly to all these places except Kent, and it will be one alternative for getting to Kent too.

      3. Mike if there were fewer or even no ‘My vehicles’ how would this be funded really? More on the property tax? More sales tax? Yah, I thought so. And the working class people will be so taxed they won’t be able to purchase the ticket to ride but oh..yah what was our point here? TRANSIT for all, expect not. I love the passive yet completely not intentional point of naming cities the poor might be able to afford that don’t have a Seattle zip code. Let’s make sure to move the ‘working class’ out of the core to justify the outrageous price tag and keep it ‘regional.’

      4. “We” are not moving the working class out of the core and we can’t stop it from happening. I just named some of the more typical trip patterns that ALREADY EXIST. The cities can stop the displacement with enough zoning that housing filters down to the lower middle class and a wider variety of jobs appear in the city, although the working poor will still need housing subsidies. I have been lucky enough to live and work in Seattle, but if I one day have to work in the suburbs or live there, I’ll want to be able to get around without having it take two hours or having to get a car. I don’t buy the argument that keeping taxes lower to perpetuate forced driving is a benefit, or that all lower-income people want it.

  39. ” including the “Metro 8” from Belltown to Judkins Park via South Lake Union, the Central District line, and from Ballard to Bothell via Greenwood and Lake City.”

    What does “the Central District line” mean? Isn’t that the same thing as the Metro 8 subway? Or is it a different line.

  40. The goal of ST3 should be to maximize mobility, not maximize the building of light rail. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a supporter of a HCT system for our region and prior to last week have never doubted voting yes on ST3. But, in light of the taxes necessary and that none of this will help my commute during my working career (and I’m only in my late-30’s), at this point I am leaning towards a No vote in hopes of a better proposal in the near future.

    One compromise that should be considered is deferring rail to both Ballard and West Seattle and focusing on getting the new downtown transit tunnel built as quickly as possible. A year ago, Seattle Subway proposed this:

    Let’s leverage the Rapid Ride routes we already have and get them through downtown quicker. The tunnel would likely differ from the one proposed by Seattle Subway so it would follow the proposed light rail tunnel from Westlake to SLU to Lower Queen Anne with spurs to pick up Rapid Rides E and possibly buses coming off of 520 once the West Side Approach is built. Other bus improvements could be made to help speed the trip from West Seattle, Ballard and Burien. Imagine if such a tunnel could get the majority of buses off downtown Seattle streets and be completed by 2028 – that would rally voters! The tunnel could be built for easy conversion to rail at some point in the future. With no bridge or tunneled station in West Seattle and no bridge to Ballard, there may be some $’s left for a bus tunnel part of the way from Ballard-UW (underneath Wallingford?) or connecting the Central District to SLU for a start of the 8 Subway.

  41. No one’s talking about it yet, but ST3 boosts the sales tax above 10% for the first time. I think this will actually be a major reason why it will fail. You can’t keep going to the same well once its dry. Governments are slow to get the concept of substitution effect, but piling on more sales tax will just shift even more purchases online and out of state. Same goes for car registrations. Program administrators were shocked and surprised when Monorail revenue didn’t pour in as projected. Many people registered their vehicles elsewhere. It’s not that hard to do.

    1. You say that as if people don’t care about transit at all. Some people care only about taxes, others want transit to get around and have freedom from car dependency. Businesses are increasingly voting with their feet to areas that currently have good transit, leaving people in their former areas with fewer job options. The MVET was most of the Monorail’s funding and the rate was higher, while it’s the smallest part of ST’s funding and a low rate to assuage those “Not much more than $30!” activists. ST didn’t want an MVET and tried to get something else instead, and it tried not to use the MVET part but people are saying “MORE RAIL NOW!!!” and “25 years is already too long!!!” so it doesn’t have much choice; not using the MVET would stretch it out even longer.

  42. The Interbay stretch needs to be grade separated. That should be non-negotiable.

    We should push for a fixed Ship Canal crossing, be it the tunnel or bringing back the concept of a high bridge.

    There is a spectrum of options for the crossing in particular that could work. One is that we could demand that if a movable bridge is chosen, ST have agreements with the Coast Guard that the openings must not occur until after any approaching trains cross. Another mitigation for riders could be trains waiting at respective stations on either end until the bridge is closed, rather than stopping again at the bridge.

    But in the end, a fixed crossing would be worth it, especially considering all the Aurora Corridor, Lake City, Greenwood, Loyal Heights ridership that may eventually funnel through it. The Ship Canal is by far the most compelling chokepoint in the area and therefore should receive the most transit priority treatment if there’s ever a question.

  43. For those of you who haven’t been to West Seattle recently, you should come for a visit. The amount of development is truly stunning. I live here, but often don’t recognize critical landmarks when driving because of the changes. It’s getting pretty dense over here. And yes, the transit to downtown is lacking – forget to anywhere else in a reasonable amount of time. When the Viaduct comes down, it’s really going to hit the fan. The ST3 proposal for West Seattle could be better, but it’s livable. And btw, we need more stops than Ballard because geographically we’re a bigger/more spread out area.

    1. I go to West Seattle on a regular basis, and while the growth is impressive, it really isn’t anything any other part of the city is seeing.

      Besides, the big problem is not that West Seattle doesn’t have any big buildings, it is that those big buildings can’t make up for the fundamental geographic, population and trip patterns that make light rail so much a poor value, and BRT so much of a good one. Light rail won’t be better for 90% of West Seattle. If that number changes to 85% (because more towers are built) it still doesn’t mean that it makes sense for the region. Build the WSTT, add new ramps (or even a new bridge) and you come out way ahead, even though you’ve spent way less money (which means you get the improvements a lot sooner).

    1. Should it? There’s all this talk about charging developers “linkage fees”, but that just ends up making it more expensive for new residents. Why are new residents less important than old residents, especially since old residents already have the advantage of a place to live. It’s one thing to charge a low-density greenfield development to run sewer lines and roads to it, but it’s another thing to charge infill development. If there’s unmet demand for housing, it means the city didn’t do its job in planning for a larger population and accommodating it. It’s not the responsibility of the developers and new residents to pay for the city’s mistake; it’s the responsibility of the city’s taxpayers as a whole, both old and new. Remember that “new residents” doesn’t just mean people moving from out of state, it also means children turning 18 and getting a place of their own. Are the children of residents supposed to pay higher prices because people with existing houses don’t want to pay for the city’s evolving infrastructure needs?

  44. This looks like a much better proposal for Seattle. Best of luck to everyone pushing for improvements to the draft plan for Seattle, Snohomish, and East King. Even if you are successful, though, the selection of projects in the South area, as it is currently presented, would likely be a no vote from me.

    Extending Central Link to the Dome will likely lead to cancelation of the 590 and truncation of the 594 to a Lakewood-Tacoma stub. Travel between the Dome and Sodo is now on a bus that takes 30-40 minutes, or 50 if traffic is horrible. This would replace that with a guaranteed 65-minute train. Because of the I-5 alignment, which has been discussed ad nauseum here, the Link extension provides little to no benefit for mobility within the Pierce-South King area.

    So, we are being asked to spend a boatload of money degrade the quality of transit to and from Seattle without a substantial improvement for transit within the Pierce-South King area.

  45. The voters rejected “Roads and Transit” in 2007 and got a better plan in 2008. I’m sure that it’s possible to get a better plan than this initial ST3 proposal, and I feel that these proposals will help.

  46. I live in Toronto, but I’ve visited Seattle several times and have been following ST3 closely. Maybe I’m being completely unrealistic here, but why not rebuild the Ballard bridge altogether? The Emerson overpass is dangerous, the existing bridge doesn’t have nearly enough room for bikes or pedestrians to cross safely, both the north and south entrances to the bridge are a mess of concrete and subdue any kid of walkability or interconnectivity between key Seattle neighbourhoods. And if everyone seems to agree that ST3’s plan to build a new bridge for light rail, just east of the Ballard Bridge, from DT Seattle to Ballard is problematic, why not consider scrapping the existing structure to build a beautiful and more functional one in its place? This could be a defining opportunity for Seattle’s infrastructure. The Ballard Bridge might mean something to the history of Seattle, but it doesn’t have either the aesthetic or the capacity that makes the Fremont or Montlake Bridges so iconic. Building a new bridge, with cars on an upper deck and light rail traveling below on a lower deck, would appease those calling for grade-separated light rail, it would better align light rail stations with the 15th Ave West retail corridor, avoid spending millions on a light rail tunnel beneath Salmon Bay without improving safe crossing options for cyclists and pedestrians, and would open up so many opportunities for redevelopment and investment in areas that are currently paved over with messy onramps and offramps and overpasses. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is so much industrial space on either end of the existing structure to make this feasible, maybe even increase the height of the new bridge enough to avoid having to draw open for passing boats altogether. The Ballard to DT Seattle option presented in ST3 is a joke. It feels completely half-assed and is thrown onto the back burner in favour of projects that probably won’t even serve a quarter of the riders this extension would. But I’m disappointed by the popular solution: digging a tunnel. Of course building a new Ballard Bridge would be expensive, but digging a tunnel solves all of a one problem in a corner of Seattle that is bound to continue growing and growing. This kind of growth demands good city planning before the growth reaches a point where you are unable to change or make repairs without it costing billions of dollars. This debate shouldn’t just be about cars vs light rail; there are other modes of transportation. This debate shouldn’t just be about how quickly can we get from Ballard to DT Seattle; speed is important, but building a station in Interbay that doesn’t interconnect with the walking/retail grid is a Mt Baker 2 in the making. Sound Transit knows how important this project is even if ST3 doesn’t give that impression. But when Seattle asks for a tunnel it feels awfully short-sighted. If Everett has enough leverage to get light rail when its population is basically the same as Interbay, Ballard and Fremont combined, why can’t Seattle ask for more than just a tunnel? Demand a bridge that revolutionizes Seattle infrastructure, something like the Burrad Bridge in Vancouver or the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in Boston?

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