ballard_dtAcross the region, everyone is talking about how long Sound Transit 3 projects are going to take, and there is no shortage of opinions about what the sources of delay are.

As it stands, the 7.1-mile segment from Ballard to Chinatown/International District, including 9 stations and a tunnel from Mercer Street south, would cost between $4.5 and $4.8 billion and arrive in 2038, or 22 years after the vote. It would attract an eye-popping 114,000-145,000 boardings per day, although “only” 60-74,000 riders would use the genuinely new service area north of Westlake.

So what takes 22 years? Sound Transit’s plan allows six years for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); five for final design, permitting, and Right of Way (ROW) acquisition; and 11 years for construction, including roughly two years for post-construction testing and float.

There is scope, in theory, to accelerate that timeline. 11 years of planning is conservative. For example, Lynnwood Link’s EIS started in 2011 and they expect to break ground in 2018. Sound Transit executive Ric Ilgenfrtitz noted that the length of this period “depends on the quality of collaboration between us, the City of Seattle, and the FTA [Federal Transit Administration].” He cited Lynnwood of an example of excellent collaboration, so consider that a floor for the potential length of these phases.

However, eliminating the four-year delay in planning requires not only a cooperative attitude from the City, but also a change in the financing plan. As money comes in, it shifts between subareas to focus on the projects currently underway, although the sums come close to matching subarea revenues over the life of the package. At the moment, Ballard and Downtown fall somewhere in the middle, ahead of Issaquah and Everett and behind Tacoma and West Seattle.

11 years is a longer construction period than previous ST projects. It’s hard to say at this point that there’s any fat to cut, because 11 years is believable given the scale of the project. The new tunnel will have more underground stations (6) than ST will have constructed by 2023 (5). Moreover, two of these stations (Westlake and 99/Harrison) will have to be mined, like Beacon Hill, because they will pass under key infrastructure that blocks cut-and-cover construction. The U-Link tunnel is a bit shorter (3.5 miles vs. 3.15 miles), has four fewer stations, and took seven years (2009-2016) to complete while famously being ahead of schedule.

So: Ballard/Downtown is projected to open in 22 years. It could be 18 under two conditions: that the planning and preparation phases go smoothly, and we reach a regional consensus to prioritize it in the funding plan.

156 Replies to “22 Years to Ballard”

    1. Consider the Canada Line, which did cut and cover under Cambie St, built shallow and tiny platforms, had an Olympic Games to put fire under their asses, was built under a public-private partnership with a 35 year design/build/operate/maintain contract, and the $2B cost was funded with up front contributions of 25% from the Feds, 25% from the province, 15% by the airport authority, 15% from TransLink, 10% from the private operator, and 1.5% from the city of Vancouver. While planning in the corridor dates back to 1990, construction began in 2005 and took only 4 years.


        Most important, Zach, especially for this discussion, is that railroad history had left a freight tunnel under Downtown Vancouver exactly where the subway section of the Skytrain had to go.

        The tunnel is narrow, but tall- I was told to vent the steam locomotives of 1932. So the engineers fit the trains into the old tunnel like an over-under shotgun. Every station has elevators between platforms.

        Another example goes by out the windows of every Cascades train entering Vancouver. There’s plenty of room in the railroad right of way for a parade of Skytrain Pillars. And all of this in a city that, while it has waterways, is flat.

        If not for these legacies, there would not have been enough money in Canada to build the line. I think every transit discussion in Seattle has to start with the understanding of how paltry our inheritance has been as to existing right of way.

        The rights of way other systems got for free. Including enough lanes for transit-ways and boulevards with streetcar medians.

        Not to say we can’t overcome a lot of problems through ingenuity, and advancements in tunneling since 1932. But however long it takes to get our digging done, surface transit is going to have to fight politically for the lanes and signals we need.

        Fact that if buses can’t move, nothing else can either is now strong and visible argument in our favor. And also starting every discussion with fact that we have to build and dig what others got for free.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Mark, the 2010 Canada Line does not run through the Dunsmuir Tunnel. It was bored through two route miles of new-build downtown tunnels, in addition to the cut-and-cover on Cambie Street

        The Expo Line (which does run through the Dunsmuir Tunnel) may have been fortuitous in making use of legacy rights-of-way, but the Canada Line had to be built from scratch, and it was built for much cheaper than similar US projects

    2. How about because China is flat? If I’m wrong, name me one city in China whose central business district in any way resembles Seattle. Even more important, how many cities of any terrain in China have as low a population density as Seattle? Compared to China, or most of Europe, as standing load on LINK would get a line canceled for lack of ridership.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Chongqing Metro is a good Chinese comparison. Hilly, large rivers in the middle of the city, and they even have a monorail too!

        120 stations, 201 km, all constructed since the early 2000s. Of course, they also have between 20 and 30 million people in the metro area, depending on how you define it . . .

      2. China also has little to no process to protect private property owners–there are few, and their rights are always second to the needs of the Central Gov’t–scant envt’l review. Also, if people get in the way of a project, they simply relocate them (see Three Gorges Dam project: “As of June 2008, China relocated 1.24 million residents (ending with Gaoyang in Hubei Province) as 13 cities, 140 towns and 1350 villages either flooded or were partially flooded by the reservoir, about 1.5% of the province’s 60.3 million and Chongqing Municipality’s 31.44 million population.” MWC News. 2007-10-13… thanks, Wikipedia…).

      3. Or environmental review process. So the time we’d spend on purchasing ROW and reviewing environmental impacts would be spend kicking people out of their homes and putting endangered species on the dinner table.

    3. To reiterate what Mayor Murray said last night, foreign officials often ask him the same question, “Why do US infrastructure projects take so long to build?” He said it’s because of (a) the public’s limited willingness to raise taxes, (b) the lack of federal support, and (c) the lack of public-private partnerships. He said the state legislature has long been divided on public-private partnerships and has closed the channels that previously allowed them. He said the proposal to extend MAX light rail to Vancouver, Washington fell apart partly because Oregon had a public-private partnership to help with the funding but Washington wasn’t allowed to pursue that.

      1. MAX to Vancouver fell apart because Don Benton and Ann Rivers convinced their Republican colleagues in the State Senate that “loot rail” and tolls would bankrupt the poor beset victims of Clark County. But of course, the people they represent mostly use I-205. Those of us in the I-5 corridor were (largely) happy to pay tolls in order to have a 24/7/365 HOV lane, wider lanes, and no bridge openings.

        But the burgers [sic] in the rest of the county would not stand for it.

        Thank you David “Jesus Christ” Madore and Senators.

      2. All true. But underneath it all, I think that even before the “Sequester” dangerously deferred a lot of repairs on the United States of America, lack of urgency on infrastructure is same reason we got seventy years of sprawl:

        Our country is huge and mostly flat. What we haven’t felt like building or fixing, we could just go around. Or if it’s a former major industrial city, just escape and call it “moving.” But as populations of both cars and people explode, transit finally gets built because nothing else can move.

        Portland’s whole MAX line took awhile to get going, didn’t it?


  1. Thanks for this post. After all the complaining it’s good to get a breakdown of what actually happens in the 22 years from November to opening day.

    1. Which, QA, is an excellent description of the best way to handle all these next decades of transit construction: keep passengers moving all through construction, so the new lines will have people ready to board on each one’s opening day.

      I think the DSTT’s phased progression from buses-only to joint-use to rail-only is an excellent pattern for next set of projects. For instance, buses and streetcars could share a surface right of way on Elliott, to be upgraded to LINK.

      Or left as an arterial express line, while a subway carries LINK under the canal through Fremont and under Queen Anne Hill to join CBD second subway. Which in a decade or so could become faster and cheaper than surface- also depending on what the soil’s like under the hill.

      But it’ll be good politics to give passengers something present and improving to ride in between major opening days.


  2. Maybe Olympia should do their job and help accelerate ST3?

    Inslee was at the U-Link opening, clapping with all the others, as if he had anything to do with it. He shouldn’t have been allowed the photo op.

      1. Right, the state allowed Seattle to build it with our own money instead of banning us from doing anything. I don’t give much credit for that.

      2. Most of those legislators are a bunch of back*ssed goobers if you ask me. To paraphrase Harry Truman, we have a “Do Nothing” legislature when it comes to spending for any kind of infrastructure, with the exception of “roooads”, that is good for our state.

    1. I think that like other Chiefs of State I could name, Jay Inslee’s main problem is that he’s not in the same party as the elected reps in the way of transit and a lot else.

      I still think we could change some votes by providing maybe half a dozen DSTT runs per day of luxury service out of Westlake Station, southbound through the Tunnel and then non-stop straight to the Dome.

      Liquor Control Board might cooperate if we stop complaining about how complicated the pot regs are getting. Extortionate fares could be directed toward the projects legislators won’t pay for any other way.

      Meantime, look at it this way: Aesthetically at its most heartless, for any photo-op, wouldn’t the world rather look at the Governor than at any of his opposition?


  3. I appreciate the details about the potential timeline and options for possibly speeding delivery up a bit.

    Also, while I understand your map is just a depiction of possible station locations (as it specifically notes in the lower left corner), is it truly not realistic to veer the line into Belltown for a station there? Dive the line deeper as it approaches Westlake station so that it can be oriented in the direction of Belltown, travel under maybe 2nd street to Blanchard (just general street suggestions) where a station can be built and then turn north up Blanchard where the line can return to the Westlake for the Denny station & continue from there to South Lake Union, Seattle Center, and beyond.

    Of course this would add plenty of expense to the project, but would Seattle be willing to cover the extra cost? Is a TIF in Belltown possible to help fund it?

    1. The choice is Belltown or SLU. It’s not practical to serve both.

      I wonder though why Denny/SLU stations are so close. Seems to me it would make more sense to put the SLU station in the block between Mercer/Broad + Dexter/9th. Plenty of room for station construction and I think the property is owned by WSDOT. They are planning to turn it into a park after the north portal is done.

      1. I’m not sure where exactly you would put the station barman (I don’t follow you). Here is a more detailed map of what the route would look like: Which stop would you move and where?

        As for your main point, I agree, the stops are a bit too close together. But I think that is just the limitation of this route. It could swing out and around I suppose. That would mean heading slightly east of due north, instead of following Westlake. Then it would swing around. So the first stop would be at Thomas and Boren, with the rest of the stops the same. That would separate them a bit more, and get a wider walk-share. But that would also add to the cost. I think it would mean more digging. There may be soil or other underground issues as well

        As for the big picture (and Aaron’s point), this is another reason why I prefer the WSTT ( That would basically trade the stop on Denny for a stop in Belltown. But SLU would still have a stop, next to 99. It is important to remember that at some point the street grid will be fixed in there, which means that a bus will travel across Aurora, on either Thomas or Harrison. Either way I think the bus will travel in a bus lane, as there is essentially no traffic there, so the bus wouldn’t be “taking a lane” (and Seattle has taken lanes before anyway). This would greatly increase the value of a stop there, since such a bus would be able to quickly get you to anywhere in the South Lake Union area (from the freeway to the Seattle Center).

      2. Yeah, OK. It might be cheaper to build, I give you that. But I don’t see it as a huge improvement. You are close to the water and the park, cutting down a bit on the walk share. But the bigger problem I see is bus integration. There are no buses on Mercer, for good reason. The odds of taking a lane there are very slim, compared to taking a lane on Harrison or Thomas (as I mentioned). North/south bus integration (on Dexter and Aurora) seems about the same.

      3. The choice is Belltown or SLU. It’s not practical to serve both.

        It’s one of the reasons that a Metro 8 Subway would be really nice. As proposed this route attempts to do part of the Metro 8 as well as part of a direct Ballard – Downtown route.

        If a Metro 8 were built first, it would allow this line to serve Belltown and those coming from the north (either on the Lynnwood line or from Ballard) would only need a single transfer to go a short distance to SLU.

        In fact, just move this line a few blocks east and connect it to the current line at Mt. Baker and you have a Metro 8 + Ballard line.

      4. barman,

        The Aurora/Harrison station serves that neighborhood. Dude, Westlake and Denny is in the basement of all those Amazon towers.

      5. barman,

        Oh, you were proposing moving Aurora/Harrison to Westlake and Mercer. Apologies. Ross’s observation about it being next to the lake is the main reason not to do that; you get a single-sided walkshare. Aurora/Harrison will do what Ross wants the WSTT portal to do: provide direct transfer to a frequent cross-SLU bus on Harrison or Thomas as a start for the Metro 8.

      6. Why can’t a 1st N/Republican or QA/Republican station provide the same transfer to the 8?

      7. @Anandakos — ST3 will likely fail. The sooner we talk about what we should build instead the better.

        Oh, and Amazon Tower I is about half way between the stop on Denny and the stop on Westlake (

        @Mike — Sure it can. But the advantage of another stop close to Aurora is that it is close to Aurora. It interacts with buses going north/south as well as buses going east/west. Think Greenwood to Madison (downtown). [I can’t believe I’m defending this crap — but in general, if you are forced to build a line from Ballard to West Seattle, this is the way to do it].

        @Glenn — Absolutely. A Metro 8 subway would be able to serve the heart of South Lake Union, not just the outskirts. It could also serve Belltown, as well as a lot more of the Central Area (including the major corridors, which Link managed to miss). The result would be a real subway system (intersecting in more than one place, enabling lots of different trips within the urban core). It isn’t on the table, we are too busy figuring out how to provide light rail to Fife.

      8. The Seattle Center West station will be there anyway as I understand, so that can handle the 8 transfer. As for the E transfer, I don’t understand why it needs to be at that location when there’s already a transfer downtown. People aren’t going to take the E down Aurora and Link back up to Ballard when they can take the 44 or 40 or future crosstown routes directly to Ballard.

    2. If Ballard-UW can zigzag underground to serve both Fremont and Wallingford while maintaining good travel time, why couldn’t Ballard-downtown zigzag to Belltown and SLU the same way?

      1. Money. This thing is stretched as it is. That’s why there is surface running on 15th and no tunnel under the ship canal (or a tunnel under Queen Anne — AKA Corridor D)

    3. With the SLU subway, the SLU streetcar becomes rather redundant. One option could be to turn the SLU streetcar segment south of Denny into Belltown north of where the Center City Connector project wants to do it, say using Lenora and/or Blanchard, and then turn southeast on one of the Avenues. Of course, it would need much higher frequencies to be useful to Belltown or anywhere else.

      1. Al S., many cities have both surface streetcars and subways. Different tools in the same kit.


      2. Non-US cities give streetcars their own lanes and signal priority as much as possible, so it’s more accurate to call them light rail than streetcars. The idea that there’s value in having streetcars share car lanes without priority sounds ridiculous; it’s not effective transit. When the old streetcars shared lanes with cars, they had the right of way and the cars had to stop around them.

  4. Waiting 11 years for planning seems to be entirely budgetary.

    If money were no object and every engineer in the world were put on the task, the planning could be done and ready for regulatory review overnight.

    Such an absurdly long time frame is being presented because the ST3 money is going elsewhere first.

    Since this is the only line likely to have any ridership, one would think ST would want a poster child for the future. The fact that they do not suggests that they see this as the end of the line, so to speak.

  5. However, eliminating the … delay .. requires … a change in the financing plan

    This is the real issue. ST is limited in how quickly it can spend the money ( Given that limitation, you can’t build this very quickly. In other words, rather than have a full crew and pay them a billion a year for four years, you have to pay them half a billion for eight. Of course it is worst than that. You can’t even spend the half billion until later. This explains why the planning takes so long. You might as well. Even if the planning was completely done, you couldn’t start construction right away (you can’t have the boring machine work at half speed). The projects can be shifted around, but that is the fundamental limitation. It makes sense that they start with the tiny projects (e. g. RapidRide improvements) because those can be done cheaply, and thus right away. But after those are done, we will simply have to wait.

    Which is all the more reason to not freak out and think that this is “our only chance” or that voting against this proposal would forever delay the day we get a substantial addition to our transit system. A vote two years later wouldn’t really delay the big projects — it would delay the small ones. If, as many people have suggested, the city or the county builds a system themselves, the financing would be completely different, and likely not subject to the same sort of restrictions. It is possible that a new set of projects (e. g. Ballard to UW rail or the WSTT) could be built sooner than these, even if the vote took place later.

    1. It would still delay the big project, even if by only two years. If I had any confidence that the state would let ST fix the financing situation, I might vote no now and yes later. But that obviously ain’t gonna happen.

      1. It’s also possible to ask the state to relax the financing restrictions and tax restrictions after ST3 passes. It doesn’t require an ST3 failure.

      2. We already tried that and the state will never go for it. With the republicans controlling the senate it was an uphill battle just to get the authorization we have now. I doubt the legislature would change its mind after a failed ST3 vote. More likely ST would cut the package size down to 15 years and cut many of the projects.

      3. Future legislatures are not necessarily the same people or the same attitudes as past legislatures.

    2. If you vote yes on ST3, the city or the county could still run a measure to accelerate construction, you know.

      1. @Donde — (This is in response to both comments). It isn’t the construction — it is the financing. Put it this way, let’s say there is a law that says that Sound Transit can’t spend over 100 million a year until 2024. Does it really matter when you start the work? For that matter, does it matter when you have the vote?

        That is essentially the world that ST is living in. This is all about bonding capacity (as the article clearly states). My point is not that the exact same projects could be build sooner by the same agency, but that other projects could be built sooner, by the same agency, or a different one.

      2. I don’t believe ST has a spending limit. It has a revenue limit, and debt:revenue limit. But the cities and counties can pay to accelerate things as much as they want. The problem is that their unused tax capacities are smaller than ST’s and they have non-transit needs to fund too.

      3. I agree Mike, but for all intents and purposes, a spending limit and debt revenue limit are the same thing. I also agree with your other point (about cities chipping in).

      4. It’s important to distinguish them because things like Initiative 601 are a spending cap: it says that state and city spending can’t increase by more than 1% per year except for population increases, regardless of how much cash or taxes they have, and only short-term voter-approved levies can go beyond it. That’s not the kind of restriction ST has: ST can spend as much money as it has, but it can only raise taxes up to a certain rate and issue bonds up to a certain debt ratio (which is higher than ST’s own voluntary limit).

    3. Even though I have property near the Ballard station, I am probably voting no given this draft because of no Ballard to UW in the near future (which would have made the wait more palatable).

      If ST3 fails, and WSTT is built using the monorail tax authority, could a future Ballard to downtown line use that tunnel (like the DSTT)?

      1. If the WSTT is built, it would probably be built to allow for later conversion to rail (as the other tunnel was). I’m not sure if we ever would want to, though. If we built the Ballard to UW line, that would relieve much of the pressure from folks headed downtown (you could take a bus or take the train). Meanwhile, a closed BRT system (which would exist through the tunnel) can have very high throughput. With dwell times less than 20 seconds (which is the case for BRT) you can have a lot of people coming and going through the tunnel. Worse case scenario, you have some bus bunching in SoDo or Ballard. This doesn’t seem any worse than being asked to make a transfer. In other words, if I am on the 18, and have a wait a few seconds because the but is right on the ass of a 15, how is that any worse than if I am asked to get off the 18 and wait for the next train?

        As Martin points out above, the bulk of the service here is redundant (the area between SoDo and Westlake). That is where most of the riders will come from. If the buses are too crowded, then folks will take the train. Meanwhile, we can build other things (like the Ballard to UW subway or the Metro 8 subway) to give them another alternative.

      2. I would still call it open BRT because the buses would diverge outside the tunnel, and it’s possible that non-BRT routes could share segments outside the tunnel.

      3. The WSTT can not be built with the Monorail authority. Although “Light Rail” is forbidden in the Monorail legislation, “rail” is mandated.

        Of course, a monorail has rubber tires, but people do know what a bus looks like so it would be hard to pass the WSTT off as some sort of “rail” system.

      4. @Mike — I agree. It would be Open BRT. But inside the tunnel (where it matters) it would be gold level BRT, which means dwell times of around 20 seconds, and absolutely full grade separation. This is really where the bottleneck would appear if there was one (i. e. buses from Aurora mixing with buses from Ballard). From the tunnel to Ballard this would have the same level of service as the proposed light rail line — bus only lanes, off board payment, level boarding on big platforms. Essentially the same as Rainier Valley (MLK Way). The same is true for the West Seattle bridge. All projects could be done independently, so they wouldn’t necessarily happen at the same time. Outside of those areas, it would be “open”. In some cases, you would have BAT lanes and maybe even off board payment (for the big bus stops) but in other cases you could potentially have regular old “pay the driver” service (as you do with RapidRide).

        In any event, worrying too much about capacity is a bit silly, since the areas where it would matter most would be in the tunnel (that would have most of the ridership) and that would have really low dwell times.

      5. @RossB – That makes a lot of sense. Only if it had some rather pushy dedicated bus lanes though. The folks on queen anne would hate it.

        However, I strongly agree it would shave more minutes off more commutes than the current proposed WS and Ballard lines for way less time and money.

        Spend the West Seattle and Ballard savings on full EIS/planning funding for the Belltown/SLU/Cap Hill/CD subway/el and Ballard UW subway/el

    4. Yes! This is not our only bite at this apple. Let’s have ST and Seattle try this again in 2 or 4 years. With a more manageable list of projects.

  6. Best realistic way to accelerate? Build Westlake to Ballard first, and the downtown tunnel last.

    1. How would that work exactly? How do you get the Ballard trains to and from the OMF? The Ballard line can’t join the current spine at Westlake.

      1. Correct. Which is why Ballard–UW with a level junction should be the first project built.

    2. That’s what some people are suggesting, but where would it terminate? West Seattle can terminate on the surface in SODO. But we categorically oppose a surface segment between Jackson and Harrison. So it would have to be an underground station near Westlake or a possibly-surface station north of Harrison. How can you build an underground station within walking distance of Westlake that won’t become obsolete when the second Westlake Station is built? That would be some $200 million dollars for a station that would be obsolete in 10-20 years. And if you terminate it north of Harrison (e.g., at the edge of 15th/Elliott West) and people have to transfer to the D to bridge the gap, how is that much better from the current D whose bottleneck is south of Ellott?

      1. That is something I have supported (and still do), but based on earlier discussions, there is no money available for a Ballard to UW and a Ballard to downtown line in ST3.

        I asked in this post if Amazon is pushing the Ballard to downtown line (do they really need it/willing to fight for it, and if not, why not go with Ballard to UW instead along with a vigorously enforced BRT line on Westlake).

      2. Sorry, I should have been more clear – I’m dropping Ballard to Downtown. It’s simply a Downtown tunnel, and Ballard via UW

        If you drop the Interbay section, maybe it is within budget. There is minimal need to go to Ballard a 2nd time once you have the Ballard-UW spur. So for ST3, it would terminate at the Seattle Center station*. The idea being that you push out the most expensive, complex part of ST3, the DT tunnel, to allow for most other projects to be built rapidly, and then you use the vast funding base of ST3 to pay for the new DT tunnel at the end of the package.

        The extension, through Interbay or under QA Hill, can wait for the next funding package, either ST4 or a Seattle city package.

        *Or even terminate at Denny, if needed to get under budget. The critical need is really the ID-Madison-Westlake section and the new station at Westlake. Seattle Center is connected to Westlake via Monorail, which can hopefully limp on along for a few more decades. You can always fully fund the EIS to Ballard and just push the construction into 2040~2050 & the next funding package.

  7. Has anyone heard about what Amazon (and to a lesser extent, Expedia) thinks of this timeline? Are they willing to put their money where their mouth is, (e.g. buying advertising for/against ST3, giving money in support (or against) ST3, or offering to contribute to speed things up)?

    1. 22 years is such an eternity for a tech company that I doubt they would care much, one way or the other. Although they would certainly benefit greatly from the line, once it finally opened.

      1. Amazon has only existed for 22 years. I imagine they’ll probably still be around in another 22 years, but it’s impossible to guess what kind of a company they’ll be or where their headquarters might be located. Perhaps by that time they’ll have pulled a Boeing.

      2. Boeing merged with a more corporatist, bean-counting rival that was also decades old. Amazon invented both the large online-sales outlet and the cloud-computing market. What rivals can we see at this point who would be able to take over its management culture even if not its brand name? Bezos could take Amazon out of town to show investors it’s not beholden to any city, but I don’t think it would throw away its investment in SLU that easily, or that it would make that investment now if it wasn’t sure it would stay in SLU for at least few decades.

    2. Amazon was certainly eager about the streetcar but I haven’t heard anything from them about Link. It may be like Bellevue’s transit master plan: the city wants it but it hasn’t lifted a finger to fund anything in it, except for roads that it also wants for other reasons (meaning all the projects between 110th and 124th to support the Spring District).

  8. Orrrrrr, they could run the 15X all day, make the 15th/Elliot BAT lanes 24/7, add more transit only improvements on Denny and use the $4.2 billion savings to build Ballard UW instead. Estimated trip time would probably be about the same.

    Expedia (Smith Cove), Gates Foundation (Seattle Center) and Amazon (SLU) could have their mass transit tomorrow and Scott Kubly won’t have to live with the fact that he sold Northwest Seattle up the river to cater to companies that may not exist in 22 years.

    1. And then when a Republican governor gets elected, the state will pass a law that converts all BAT lanes into general lanes, and everyone’s commute will become twice as long.

      1. If we’re going to imagine fanciful cataclysmic scenarios, how is that different from a Republican governor + legislature terminating ST3 and refunding money back to taxpayers?

      2. It’s not so fanciful. The 405 HOT lanes have reverted to general-purpose evenings and weekends. There are some legislators and voters who want to revert them to general-purpose full time. (And want to banish forever the idea of tolls on I-90.)

      3. The ST district is growing in population so quickly that it has gone from about 40% of the state’s population in 2000 to over 50% today. The trends are moving in such a way that it will be increasingly more difficult to punish ST. After the reapportionment following the 2020 Census, things will change profoundly.

      4. Kyle,

        Once bonds are sold, unless they have been sold as “callable”, the legislature’s hands are tied. The bonds cannot be retired.

      5. That applies only to repaying outstanding bonds. The legislature can’t cancel the taxes that the bonds were sold on. But at any given point the outstanding bonds aren’t enough to complete any project except when it happens to be near the end of the project or the project is small. So the legislature could halt ST3 construction in mid-project and forbid future bond sales as long as the taxes continue to repay the existing bonds. Something similar happened with the Kingdome where we threw it away in the middle of its useful life but still paid off the bonds.

        However, this is increasingly unlikely because all the cities and counties are united in completing ST3, and an increasing number of voters in ST’s legislative districts want “MORE LIGHT RAIL NOW!!!” and wouldn’t tolerate the legislature interfering with ST3.

      6. @Mike — You are talking about a state highway changing almost as soon as it was created (in response to promises that were obviously not met). That is a lot different than telling Seattle that it can’t build BAT lanes.

      1. If you think Atlanta’s livability problems have to do with transit rather than race relations, I’ve got a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

      2. Atlanta’s livability problems also have to do with land use (sprawl) and local buses (not enough of them).

      3. And arguably even worse topography than Seattle’s. Almost nowhere in Atlanta is flat.

    1. Only thing we regret worse, Sam, is that nobody saw the zipper on your Joel Horn suit. But we’d probably be so overcome with remorse that we couldn’t find a single one of those pillars that went gurgling out of sight as reality and gravity went to work between Jackson and Spokane Streets.

      Or that your statue as the project’s chief advocate didn’t even leave a single pigeon feather floating on the surface as it followed them to the place where the will eventually cause a five year delay in a future Deep Bore Tunnel. Guess we just have to get used to our disappointment that this is taking so long.


  9. Has anyone found a reference explaining why merging the W.Seattle and E.Link lines going to U.Link without a transfer, is a better choice than continuing to merge E.Link with S.Link to the same place?
    Looking at the combinations of Origin-Destination pairs for trip generation would be interesting to see the trade-offs of which lines were connected to each other, while riders of the other lines would see a transfer and time penalty.

    1. To put in a long line to go from Tacoma to Everett creates all sorts of problems. Crew changes, reliability and system adjustments during delays are just some of them.

      I’ve never seen ST present studies on how to balance their loads and minimize transfers if ST3 is in place. It’s a good question!

      1. The roughly 2 hour trip from Everett to Tacoma seems like a long trip without a break, so yeah, Ballard to Tacoma, and Everett to either W.Seattle or Redmond may be the primary reason.
        There are turnback tracks planned (eg Henderson St), but that means some riders have to wait for a through train to go further south.
        What do other systems do that have very long runs for driver breaks?

    2. The existing express HOV bridges from I-90 that connect to that will become the east link ramps to I-90 turn north into the DSTT. They’re already there waiting to be outfitted with rails. Taking East link South to get to West Seattle or Tacoma would required rebuilding those bridges and connecting to the I-90 express lanes. Connecting from I-90 to the South boud tracks would require a massive new interchange that would have to send trains over or under the main I-90 traffic ramps that connect to 4th Ave S and Atlantic St.

      Additionally, all riders from the East Side would have to transfer to get to Downtown Seattle which makes little sense.

  10. Well, remember when Sound Transit said that they could build a light rail line from Northgate to S. 200th street in ten years? I think they are trying to prevent that from happening again. Incidentally the actual amount of time it’s taking to complete the Sound Move light rail projects is 25 years.

    On that, however, the fact that ST2 even passed at all two years after the Sound Move light rail system was supposed to be complete with zero miles of rail in operation seems slightly miraculous. Combine that with the U Link opening being viewed as ahead of schedule despite actually being ten years late according to the actual vote to build it, it looks like the only thing left of the disaster of Sound Move is the cautionary element.

    1. And your point, besides beating a dead horse again? The original estimates were proven to be unrealistic and were revised, and the ST board was reorganized to ensure it wouldn’t happen again, and Joni Earl’s revised estimates avoided that mistake. The revised estimates were approved by voters in 2008, so that’s what ST is accountable to now. Comparing the timeline to the discarded original estimates is an interesting academic exercise and a way to express unresolved feelings, but what value does it have beyond that? Perhaps one should focus on resolving the feelings or finding another way to disspate anger (e.g., boxing or weightlifting).

      1. It might be easier to deal with those feelings of frustration if ST were actually trying to catch up on the years of lost time that have left us with our present cripplingly inadequate transit infrastructure. By crowing about “ahead of time and under budget” and pretending that lost decade doesn’t matter, they create the impression that they are content to just poke along lackadaisically, that they don’t understand the urgency of the problem, that they are content to leave Seattle stuck with car-dependence and bad transit for the indefinite future. When they then come along with a 25-year plan to build a little bit of transit that wouldn’t be enough to get us out of the hole if they flipped a switch and started running it tomorrow, it just reinforces the idea that they really haven’t gotten the hint yet, and that we cannot afford to let them keep thinking this “ahead of schedule” business actually means anything we care about.

      2. His point is pretty clear: ST is now stating a “reasonable” timeline instead of the unrealistic one that they originally went to the voters with re Sound Move. They learned their lesson and don’t want to over-promise. Once bitten, twice shy.

      3. It’s good that they are no longer making the problem worse, but they need to stop bragging about their punctuality as though the problem never existed; you can’t just move the goalposts like that. It’s unseemly. Let’s see them start making up for those lost years first, and then maybe it will start being OK to brag about it.

      4. “It might be easier to deal with those feelings of frustration if ST were actually trying to catch up on the years of lost time that have left us with our present cripplingly inadequate transit infrastructure.”

        That problem is a lot bigger than ST. Rejection of Forward Thrust and the Bogue Plan also play a significant role. The fact that 45th and Northgate are opening ten years later (or whatever) seems small compared to the fact that we could have had a more comprehensive subway in 1980, and then I wouldn’t have lost 40 years of my life to bus delays and infrequency, and the region might have developed in a more compact manner around the stations.

        (Fun fact: the Eastside, Northgate, Southcenter, southwest King County, and Lynnwood were not large population centers when the Forward Thrust subway was designed, and Pierce County’s and Everett’s job market were separate from Seattle’s except for Boeing workers. So Forward Thrust did not need to take them into account at all. And if the subway had been built, it would have influenced the majority of housing development and company locations, which emerged after then.)

      5. Oh, I agree, Mars. My response was to Mike re AlexKven. Dead horse or not, we were promised something and didn’t get it. Many reasons for that, most of them reasonable ones, but the point remains valid.

        That said, our current funding mechanism and political realities are what they are and short of ST3 failing I’m not certain what will change that.

        (It’s a shame that the word “rejection” is used in conjunction with the first iteration of Forward Thrust; while technically accurate in our non-democracy, it did receive a fairly substantial majority. Unfortunately our weighting people who don’t vote more than those who do meant that a 60% supermajority was required. The Bogue plan is just cool to look at as a City Beautiful/Beaux Arts plan, although a vastly different city would have been created and SLU would have been an industrial area and rail yard to large extent. I always chuckle at ST and the politicians at each groundbreaking and grand opening who mention finally getting rail transit after 50 years of trying–it’s actually over 100 now.)

    2. “remember when Sound Transit said that they could build a light rail line from Northgate to S. 200th street in ten years?”

      Northgate was only a provisional project in 1996. This should be kept in mind when people ask for Sound Transit to include a bunch of unfunded projects in ST3. Northgate was not fully funded until the 2008 measure.

      “the fact that ST2 even passed at all two years after the Sound Move light rail system was supposed to be complete with zero miles of rail in operation seems slightly miraculous”

      Rail from both Everett and Tacoma to Downtown and the interim express bus services began rapidly and were in operation for years before ST2. What’s miraculous was the ability for Sound Transit to survive and recalibrate after the “dark days” when they were in real danger after early cost estimates (many of them taken verbatim from other agencies rather than costed by the fledgling planning group) blew up, and build public trust to the point that it’s one of the better institutions around.

  11. The environmental and design work for this is much more complex than Lynnwood Link is. The corridor will run next to our region’s tallest buildings as a subway and then will have the regulatory challenge of crossing the Ship Canal. The turn in SLU will be another area of special concern. Then there are the unique challenges of IDS and Westlake station designs. I understand the impatience to get it open but I also see why it takes so long.

    1. Do the environmental studies actually do anything other than delay the project? Every rail project has a years-long environmental study after the commitment to build is there. Could a bad environmental review cancel a voter approved rail expansion?

      1. Environmental studies mean the whole environment, not just vegetation or geology. That includes vibration and traffic after construction street closures. Even building foundations on the corridor must be studied. These studies also identify how to address impacts rather than merely identifying them. Identifying impacts and negotiating with adjacent high-rise property owners is going to be a time-consuming process.

      2. EIS is a disclosure mechanism, not an approval mechanism. It’s meant to lay out the pros and cons of each alternative on its environment (which means everything around it: nature, people, job access) so that people can make an informed decision whether the cons are worth it. It’s a mechanism to divert lawsuits, because people can’t claim the cons weren’t disclosed. In fact, the validity of the EIS depends on it including all reasonable alternatives and fully disclosing their cons; otherwise people can sue saying the EIS was incomplete and thus invalid.

        BUT, there’s no specific criteria for how many alternatives or what variety of alternatives must be included. There’s just general criteria that there must be more than one, and one of them must be “no build” (which can include incremental improvements, so not really no build). And for a light rail line, a less-expensive BRT alternative is presumed to be required if it’s at all plausable (although it can be eliminated at an early stage if it’s not very plausable; e.g., it’s impossible with the existing roads and barriers, or the demand is already close to exceeding buses’ limits).

  12. ST should buy their own tunneling machines and keep them hidden underground in constant motion, no-one knowing they are operating . Once done with the University campus tunnels they could move them to Bellevue. Once done there move them to downtown. Next to the UW to start the Ballard/UW tunnel and so on and so on. Meanwhile ST could be working on the EIS and designs hoping they got their tunnels to match close enough. We may end up with a few kinks but at least we cut the timeline in half.

  13. Martin, I think it’s ‘way past time that the next five meet-ups take place in the company of several civil engineers along any proposed route between Ballard and West Seattle. Either on buses or walking. Money and politics are ‘way back down the list of reasons for long time frame.

    Let’s ask the Army for an assessment of how fast this line could be built if the West Coast was the same level of a target in a declared shooting war as it probably was in 1941. Answer probably would have been, “Just move whole city buildings and all to Ellensburg. It’ll be faster and cheaper.”

    Main problem I’ve got with the graphics is the date on these pics. For next 22 years, same set of lines and circles can represent reserved lanes and signal pre-empts. And contact with bridge-operators and shipping lines.

    But neither drawbridges, light rail surface running, nor a second tunnel belong on the same page with “22” and “years.” It’s worse than a 1950’s highway on the Waterfront, on either side of the ground. Go online for “Tunnel Boring Machines.”

    Neither the political motivation or the budget will shorten this project anywhere near as much as the next ten years improvement in tunneling and other construction. Luckily, based on the DSTT effort, think these improvements can easily happen in exactly the same time-frame we’ll be ready to start digging Tunnel #2.

    Reason I keep asking for section drawings. Side views like the ground cut open. Whose meaning and relevance will show a first-grader what our choices really are for this corridor. Agencies and taxpayers will save a fortune in time, and money spent arguing.

    Mark Dublin

  14. We need to think outside the box: how about building *two* bridges to Ballard, so that one of them is open to trains at all times? If a big boat wants to get by, it passes through the first, sits in between the two until the first drawbridge closes, at which point the second opens and the boat proceeds.

    No train delays, no billion-dollar tunnel, and no 150-foot mega-bridge. It’s almost too easy.

    1. Also it puts much-needed redundancy in the system, meaning fewer shutdowns decades later when the infrastructure needs repair.

      1. No… build two new bridges, each with tracks. My guess is it would be less expensive than tunneling.

    2. You’d have to acquire twos ROWs, one for each bridge. The bridges would have to be far enough apart to fit large boats, with extra track required. So the cost is much more than two bridges

    3. OR – for the planned bridge that only opens off-peak, since off-peak headways are never less than 10 minutes, just say that a boat may only cross one minute after a train crosses.

      1. Yep, that is how it will be done. It’s not like other cities (Chicago and NYC) don’t have movable bridges with subways on them.

    4. That sounds like the most expensive possible way to improve reliability. If you’re going to go to all the trouble to build TWO bridges, you might as well build one taller one. The fact is that ST doesn’t have an extra couple hundred million dollars to spend on the Ballard line; that’s why we have at grade through interbay.

  15. The unspoken assumption for the delay is the subway segment. A surface or aerial project could be done much earlier – say 10 years earlier, judging from the financing, design and construction delays presented here.

    I think the debate should be this: Is it worth waiting 10 years to get a subway instead of an aerial rail corridor? If you want a subway, you must accept the additional wait. I’m not advocating for something other than a subway, but I’m just laying out that the more challenging design creates later opening dates.

    1. Mattmobiles ™ to the rescue. Set the towers, span the cables, hang the cars and poof, instant HCT for pennies on the dollar.
      Everything in 10 years.

      1. I was thinking about more conventional aerial options, like how Link is constructed between Angle Lake and SeaTac.

    2. You aren’t the first to propose that. I’m not sure why it wasn’t studied in more detail. I would guess that it gets kind of expensive very quickly (think rebuilding the viaduct) so you really don’t save that much. I’m also guessing there would be a political backlash (get rid of the viaduct and then run a train up above).

      1. Wasn’t the rebuilding-the-viaduct problem because of the soil down near the waterfront? I’d think you could build something further uphill much more easily, with maybe taking one lane of Fourth or Fifth for the pillars.

      2. I don’t recall any elevated alternative downtown. ST probably didn’t consider it because it would have run into the same opposition as the monorail: people thinking it an eyesore, not wanting passengers looking in their windows, or afraid the stanchions would take away parking or car lanes. It was the 2nd Avenue businesses who spearheaded the anti-monorail campaign for those reasons. The financing problem was just the last excuse they used that finally convinced the public. Underground is the expected mode in big-city downtowns, and surface is the cheap option, and elevated has this intrinsic opposition outside industrial/highway areas, so they probably didn’t consider it.

      3. I don’t think there was a technical problem with building a replacement viaduct; it was just disfavored on aesthetic grounds. I.e., the same reason as the opposition to elevated trains. Also, the current safety standards would have required a wider viaduct with higher sides, so there wouldn’t be a spectacular waterfront view from it, just a view of the highway. And the wider footprint would have made it more obtrusive from below.

  16. Onlyyyyy twenty-two años to Ballard,
    Two decades away from its charms
    I hate to break it to you:
    SoundTransit loves someone new
    What can it do?

    1. “With no quickly built Ballard to UW spur
      North King will vote against ST3 as if it were a rabid, smelly cur.”

  17. The Lynnwood Link EIS included several alternatives as wide-ranging as Aurora, I-5, 15th Ave NE, and Lake City Way LRT, as well as one or two BRT alternatives. Yours Truly participated in that by pushing for Aurora and 130th Station. But the point is that every alternative and option increases the amount of study and the length of the EIS. So if the stakeholders can agree on a minimum number of alternatives to study, say two or three, it would shrink the EIS to its minimum time. It could potentially make it simpler than Lynnwood Link’s was, although the complexities of tunneling and the bridge could negate that.

    So given that ST and SDOT have agreed on a heir apparent preferred alternative, those who want other alternatives or options should consider the value of those options vs the disadvantage of lengthening the timeline. This includes the Queen Anne tunnel (Galer, Fremont), the Belltown rerouting, the Ship Canal tunnel, grade separation on 15th, deleting the 99/Harrison station, a Denny Triangle station, the Madison-First Hill station, and alternatives to the second DSTT.

    PS. Is the 99/Harrison station really at Aurora or is it at 9th Avenue? The Aurora location seems useless with a limited walkshed (tunnel portal to the south, divided highway, Gates McFoundation), whereas 9th & Harrison is right in the middle of SLU.

    1. Exactly, Mike! The more alternative questions that get legitimacy, the longer the environmental process will take. Even with the existing corridor, alternative station locations, subway profiles and construction techniques, and other options that we haven’t thought of will end up gaining enough visibility to raise questions for the environmental process.

    2. As for Aurora and Harrison, eventually Aurora will be underground there (you will be able to walk or drive east.west on Harrison).

      1. Aurora won’t be. SR99 will be but not Aurora. It’s shown as a boulevard leading to Denny in the tunnel illustrations. Essentially, a long on- and off-ramp for downtown to SR99 north travelers.

  18. On a more serious note, putting the Midtown Station at Fifth and Madison is going to mean that lots of people will be changing at IDS or Westlake to the new line in the morning walking down to their offices and riding the DSTT in the afternoon.

    1. And it will make a nice connection from Madison BRT to the region’s rail system. Would that it be open now!

    1. Persuade Jeff and ST to get the man several years gaining enough knowledge, training, and experience that he himself will have some ideas as to what he can do to help build our system and make it work.

      Pretty sure his company can work with a temporary CEO for a couple of years. And it’s not as if his studies will force him to leave Seattle, except for fact-finding trips to existing systems elsewhere. All of which can give him insights into worthwhile books he can sell.

      I’m very much in favor of bringing sharp and ambitious people around this particular kind of a project. Whose own design and operation have to be run by actual people. Who can always become the people who program future automated systems as befits carrying Earth humans through the crust of their own planet.

      Anyhow, run that by Jeff. Suspect transit would be very glad to cooperate.

      Mark Dublin

  19. Could Seattle pursue a combo Ballard Bridge and sell access back to ST later? Isn’t that essentially what the history of the DSTT has become? A separate financing and environmental process would seem to save a few years.

  20. I don’t think it has been previously mentioned, but if the second downtown tunnel which would later serve the Ballard Light Rail were built it would greatly speed up Ballard buses to downtown. And I believe those who suggested it, also suggested a feeder from Aurora avenue.

    I believe as proposed it went from Interbay to near Pioneer Square, with a Y to Aurora.

    1. That’s the WSTT concept championed by RossB. The “W” means West as in 2nd Ave, but it would be the same if it were east (4th or 5th Ave where ST’s DSTT2 is proposed). It would be a tunnel paralleling the DSTT with a “Y” at the north end for both Ballard and Aurora buses, and an entrance at the south end for West Seattle buses. Other routes could also use it up to its capacity. It would probably be rail-convertable like the DSTT was, although some argue that would be unlikely afterward because it would lead to either joint operations (slowing down buses and trains) or rail exclusivity (kicking out the other BRT routes which would then be in the same pickle they started in).

      1. “It would probably be rail-convertable like the DSTT was, although some argue that would be unlikely afterward because it would lead to either joint operations (slowing down buses and trains) or rail exclusivity (kicking out the other BRT routes which would then be in the same pickle they started in).”

        What if joint operations were to be worked as designed, meaning the expensive equipment installed be used for its purpose by trained personnel, as planned?
        Instead of being in the hands of an agency who thought getting the thing working right was just too much sweat?

        If new tunnel is going to be under the control of the same mentality that gave a bad name to a good idea- might as well forget everything else about the whole effort too. Because first thing they’ll do is insist that riders pay at vehicle fareboxes. And carry on from there.

        Mark Dublin

  21. Thanks for the decent explanation, Martin. This illustrates why it is so imperative to elect pro-transit representatives to all levels of government. Realistically, there should be some exemption to some of the “process” for transit, as it actually reduces environmental impact in a whole host of ways (encouraging infill growth instead of sprawl; condensing transportation infrastructure into a much smaller footprint; using less energy from fossil fuels; many others). But it isn’t exempt. Getting lawmakers who are at least willing to help accelerate and facilitate the process would do wonders to helping get us the mass transit we want in an affordable and timely manner.

  22. We could’a retained the Convention Place station and dug through to SLU and operated the south line to there for the next 22 years until the other tunnel opens – but that would’ve required actual planning. 22 years to Ballard is depressing, but to SLU is criminal. SLU represents a wholesale extension of the downtown northward that has had virtually no rational transit planning or results other than a toy streetcar and finally a belated RapidRide extension. Regional access to SLU is terrible, so transit mode share is half of what it is in the traditional downtown and housing shortages are acute in north Seattle – the only place that has reasonably frequent, but crowded and unreliable bus access. A stub line to SLU would have served the new expanded Convention Center and Denny Triangle, and lined us up to serve Ballard eventually via Fremont, a better and less expensive route. Eventually a new tunnel would be needed either way, but there’s no reason the stations couldn’t be retained.

    1. Convention Place is not a very good station location so it’s not much loss. It would e a useful place for a northwestern line to enter the DSTT but that doesn’t mean a station is very important. Westlake Station is three from the convention center, which is a normal distance for a subway station. Convention Place Station is effectively two blocks from the center’s main door, where crossing the damn express lane entrance adds an intersection. It was expected to be useful to Capitol Hill residents but it was a block away from the northbound bus stop, its walkshed is only a small corner of the hill, and it requires walking across or taking a bus across the unpleasnant freeway. I used that station to commute for four years but I was happy to switch to Capitol Hill Station even with a new walk uphill, to avoid that freeway. The station is not very close to SLU or much better than Westlake. Its only value was connecting to the I-5 express lanes. And that only helps a subset of people who travel from north Seattle in the peak direction. So don’t spend excess money on Convention Place station or distort the network to keep a station there.

  23. Has anyone looked at whether we could use the City’s bonding capacity (instead of lining the pockets of Chris Hanson) to help speed up the process?

  24. Sheech Mr Dublin, I think we’ve been through this before. The Dunsmuir Tunnel was not “exactly where the subway had to go”. If they built a new tunnel for the Expo line, it would have gone under Georgia and not Dunsmuir. Also, the Dunsmuir Tunnel had nothing to do with the Canada Line which runs perpendicularly to it in a bored tunnel. (This line is cut and cover under Cambie and bored under False Creek and downtown.)

    Finally, flat?? From the train line Vancouver might seem flat because that is where trains go, but the city is not flat. There is a significant ridge all along the Burrard peninsula that results in some significant hills, not to mention the North Shore Mountains which are actually mountains. Listen to the neighbourhoods: Mount Pleasant, Burnaby Heights, Canyon Heights, Westwood Plateau, Upper Lonsdale, Westmount, Burnaby Mountain, Arbutus Ridge, Capitol Hill (yes there is one of those here too), Little Mountain, Fraserview (hint, it has a view), Buckingham Heights, Laurentian Belaire (the Laurentians are a mountain range), Citadel/Mary Hill, Panorama Ridge, North Bluff, Champlain Heights, Capilano Highlands, you get the point.

    Seattle might more hills in awkward places, but Vancouver is not flat.

  25. Thinking outside the box a bit…is there any chance that a section of an existing underground parking garage downtown could be retrofitted into a subway station? If so, it would greatly simplify things by avoiding the need to deep-mine the station, relocate utilities to make it fit, etc. Granted, buying out the garage owner might cost hundreds of millions of dollars per station, but as long as it’s no more expensive than excavating a new station, it seems like it would still be worth it. Especially if it allows the line to open a couple years earlier than it otherwise would. And when the line finally opens, the building immediately above would get a direct connection to the new transit tunnel, almost for free (using the walkways currently used by people who park their cars there). Considering that a single train can carry more passengers than the number of parking spaces that would be displaced, the marketing advantage of the eventual direct connection might help get the building owner on board with the idea.

    1. The city-owned Pacific Place garage is losing money. Although turning it into something else might violate the Westlake-area agreement with Nordstrom that got the garage built.

      1. brilliant idea.
        Pacific Place would only have to vacate the bottom floor or two of the garage for a temp station.

        Terrible transfer to LINK, (almost as bad as bus/rail transfers at UW station) but if its a throwaway station terminus, doesn’t really matter for 10 or so years while a new downtown tunnel (with beautiful mezzanines) trundles forward.

        the mall would extract $$$ from ST, and everyone would be happy.
        That could easily take 5-8 years off the 22 year construction timeline, and let it proceed before the west seattle line.

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