West Seattle and Downtown Seattle from the air (Wikimedia)
West Seattle and Downtown Seattle from the air (Wikimedia)

Have questions about ST3 and want to ask them directly of the powers that be? Tomorrow evening is your chance. Tuesday evening from 5:30-7:00pm in Union Station’s Ruth Fisher Boardroom, Transportation Choices Coalition will host its latest in its series of “Transit Talks”, this one devoted entirely to ST3.

TCC’s Director Shefali Ranganathan will join County Executive and ST Board Chair Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor and Sound Transit Boardmember Ed Murray, King County Executive and ST Board Chair Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Boardmember Claudia Balducci, and Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. The panel will be moderated by Erica Barnett.

Tickets are not required, but due to space limitations, TCC asks that you register on their website here.

13 Replies to “TCC Hosts ST3 Panel Tuesday”

  1. The last ST3 board meeting was standing room only in the afternoon, and it may get a lot more people in the evening. I hope they think about setting up a TV in the lobby.

    1. I wish I didn’t have a hot event in Portland conflicting, otherwise oh I’d be there. How long after the local Drumpf Vice Presidential candidate “Alex Zimmermann” is up for spirited debate…

  2. My notes. Shelfali Ranganathan (TCC), Ed Murray (Seattle mayor; ST board), Peter Rogoff (ST CEO), Claudia Balducci (KC council; ST board), Erica C Barnett (moderator, STB author).

    They all had impressive opening statements. Rogoff said Link’s ridership was 36K before U-Link, 50K with U-Link, and 80K on Mariners game day. The region is expecting 1 million more residents and a 62% increase in freight traffic (mostly truck). Balducci said her role in city-based panels is often the suburban explainer. She said the largest Eastside cities have 500,000 people, not much less than Seattle’s 620,000. The forward and reverse commute across Lake Washington is now equal, and north-south travel in the Eastside is larger than east-west. Murray said transportation costs are households’ second-biggest expense, and when he was 12 the region chose the most expensive transporation system, a car-dependent one. Ranganathan posed several questions to think about: What do we want our region to be like in 25, 50, 100 years? How do we make diverse and affordable communities in the region? If we had said yes to rapid transit in the 1960s what would our life be like now?

    Erica asked Rogoff what would be required to put Ballard first. He said a magic wand. Ballard and the second DSTT are the most complex and challenging projects in the package. Making projects faster requires difficult conversations with the communities and a different relationship with them, on issues like faster permitting and 24-hour shifts. He mentioned a 7-year bridge project that got built in 2 years after the community agreed to close the old bridge during the entire construction.

    She asked Murray how the city would accommodate TOD and handle NIMBYs, and pointed out that Bellevue, Kent, and Issaquah have big upzones, and Kent even zoned to the FAA limit. Murray said we’re already working through this with HALA. “We must upzone our urban villages and transit centers” with a citywide vision, not piecemeal neighborhood by neighborhood. It depends on whether the city council agrees to implement it.

    She asked Ranganathan how we’ll keep the pro-ST3 coalition together when people are saying it’s too much in the suburbs and not enough in the city. Ranganathan said Seattle has 17 stations in ST2 and 30 stations in the ST3 draft, or half of the network’s total stations. So it’s not doing everything in the suburbs. And the reality is that our population has grown as a region and throughout the region, and that population needs mass transit. Social justice requires extending transit to the more affordable areas north and south. 50% of Federal Way riders will be minority or poor, and 42% of Everett riders.

    Murray said foreign officials ask why it takes so long to build infrastructure in the US. He said it’s people’s limited willingness to raise taxes, lack of federal support, and lack of public-private partnerships. Later somebody asked about the partnerships, and he said the state legislature is divided on them and has closed the previous legal methods for them.

    More in part 2.

  3. Part 2. Erica asked Balducci, how do we slow the suburbanization of poverty? Balducci said we need affordable housing throughout the ST network, and mentioned the Ready fund (a revolving fund for affordable housing invented by the PSRC that ST is required to contribute to). She said the Spring District proposal originally had surface parking which she thought was nuts for an urban village, but the current plan is structured parking with affordable housing on top. Balducci said she is temporarily transit dependent while her car is broken, and has learned firsthand that it’s a different experience than being just a transit rider. Rogoff said that ST’s earlier footprint strategy had been to impact as few neighboring properties as possibe, but in ST3 it’s looking at larger station construction areas that could provide more TOD opportunities. (That got me thinking about affordable housing at Federal Way Station, which has plenty of space around it.)

    Murray said he’s working on Pierce subarea support (=matching funds) for the second DSTT since it would serve them.

    Rogoff said that as an East Coaster he was unused to the role of ballot measures in transit projects here, and that the people who are saying they’ll vote no because the package doesn’t have everything they want should consider that if a ballot measure fails, it usually comes back smaller. (Jon Craccolici said afterwards “Why?” If people voted against the package because it’s not big enough, why can’t the next one be bigger, and why is Rogoff prejudicing the discussion now by saying it would be smaller, which could make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

    Erica asked Rogoff, why is there so much parking in the package? Will ST charge for parking? He said he believes ST will eventually charge for parking, and it’s in the plan. He said Auburn has an interim $70/month lot next to ST’s free lot and it has no trouble filling it. He said that people are demanding all forms of station access — parking, ped, bike — and that without it it limits ridership and the usefulness of the network.

    She asked Balducci, what did you learn from all the East Link delays? She said she learned a lot of things. One of them is the ST needs to work with new cities (those that don’t have Link yet) to agree on expectations up front on how permitting will work and the expectations for TOD and land use. That didn’t exist in Bellevue and so every interest tried to shape them throughout the design process. She wants all that to be done before the design gets to the city involvement stage.

    Murray promised that he’ll propose an expedited permitting process in Seattle. Although he said, I’m not sure if jokingly, “It won’t involve tearing down single-family houses.” I’m not sure I like that.

    Two audience members asked about 130th Street Station. Rogoff said city councilmember Juarez has been saying a lot about that. He repeated his belief that changing Lynnwood Link would require reapplying for the federal grant under a different administration, after the Feds awarded it twice the money ST had originally asked for. (It’s now $1.7 billion or such, which will help ST3.) Somebody brought up a case in Denver where a station was added. He said the station was paid for by Panasonic. So the issue seems to be not that nobody can add a station, but that “the federal project” can’t. I’m not sure where the federal project ends, can’t ST fund the station locally? But that seems to be something ST is willing to do because it needs every penny for the proposed projects.

    Balducci in her concluding statement said that she came from the northeastern US, and that the lack of transit infrastructure here was striking to her, as it is to other people who come from other parts of the country. She said it’s clearly dragging down our progress, so it’s something we need to rectify now.

    1. I took Rogoff’s comment about the next package being smaller as being an observation about how these things have gone historically. Oddly, it was Murray’s comment later that sounded more like an ominous warning, “Approve this or you’ll get less next time!”

  4. PS. Jon Cracollici, afterwards you said that ST could fit all the trains in the existing DSTT at 2-minute headways and save a lot of money and time, and I said it would require a new junction into Westlake Station, and you said that would still cost less than a new tunnel, and that the line could terminate short of the junction for a time (like West Seattle). This morning I remembered there already is a junction through Convention Place, and that I myself had recommended using it for an SLU-Ballard line. So there’s that. Also, nice jacket (just like mine :).

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