A Sounder North Rounding the Mukilteo Corner

This is an open thread.

91 Replies to “News Roundup: Embrace the Changes”

  1. I don’t know how much higher you can go in SLU with the FAA regulations and the seaplane port.

    1. That’s actually not a big problem. I’ve seen the FAA maps for that area (there was a study that went along with the upzone), and it’s just an area at the SW corner of the lake – heading toward/over 99 – that’s significantly impacted.

      1. Thanks. I had seen the planes fly through there seemingly right next to the Space Needle, but I didn’t know the whole path. It looked awfully close to SLU.

      2. Been in and out of there a few times. It predates the current FAA claims of air space.

      3. When did the FAA claim authority over all skies?

        They shouldn’t even be flying airplanes over such populated areas.

  2. First, thanks for using my photo. Much appreciate. I was a little wary about this photo, nice to know it had hidden potential.

    Brian Ach, world famous photographer of concerts said it best earlier this week, “As photographers, we are a different kind of artist. We don’t often get feedback, we take our little treasures and send them out into the world, and hope they get off the ground, and maybe even fly for a little while. More often than not, we never know how they do.”

    Second, in regards to the Paine Field Commercial Terminal, I’ve been helping another transit geek – namely Mukilteo Mayor Gregerson – deal with this terminal issue. You can count on me to raise the issue of traffic mitigation and in particular the need this terminal pay for having good transit to & from it.

    1. Well, I’ll give you some feedback. I like it. I like the tracks and train a lot. I would probably crop just a little bit on the right, and if possible, show a bit more of the water (I don’t know if you cropped that). But that is just me being nit picky — overall I would say it is a great picture.

  3. Sumner residents want a pedestrian bridge?! Seriously? *eye roll* Yet they aren’t willing to pay for local transit and left the Pierce Transit service and tax area.

      1. The real issue isn’t that no one wants to go to Puyallup and Tacoma but that Pierce Transit sucks at getting them there.

      2. It may be more accurate to say, “Who wants to take the bus to Puyallup or Tacoma when I can easily drive there? But going to Seattle requires fighting traffic for an hour and $10 parking so I want a train. And really, Tacoma needs to get with it with destinations and jobs, why would I want to go there except to a chain store whose nearest branch is in Tacoma. Because I’m a suburbanite and I shop at chain stores.”

    1. It’s exclusively for the suburbs. Also they expect to recoup their operational and CAPITAL costs. The idea that they will be able to recoup capital costs on a rail line is laughable.

      1. Toll bridges, at least as this state does it, are largely a one-time expense to be paid back. The bridge builder is not paying for the cars that drive on it. Car bridges greatly reduce operating costs by putting most of them on the backs of drivers.

  4. Thank you for mentioning Poetry on Buses program. For several years I got one in. A good tip is to construct a poem that clearly goes with the theme and is interesting even after multiple readings.

  5. Per the open thread, it looks like Brenda is going to finish up and dig that last leg. You could kind of tell yesterday on the U District webcam – what was left of Pamela was a cylinder.

      1. Same people that can answer your question, Joe, can also tell you how well a laser will cut junk-filled mud.

        However, Finnish architect heading up the new Nordic Heritage Museum team has in his portfolio a description of using armor-piercing artillery shells- concentrated burst hotter than the sun- to leave solid-glass sockets for a warehouse over a swamp.

        But if we could somehow fit those shells on a shield fifty feet across, we could probably do both Ballard tunnels and underground to Everett via Boeing on same dime.


      2. Mark,

        I’d just like to see some innovation around here… it’d be so nice to just tunnel under Paine Field a proper spur to Mukilteo with a Seaway Station & a Future of Flight Station and a Gregerson the Great Station, but that’s me.

      3. The Soviets once used a nuclear bomb to build a reservoir. Where’s our nuclear rail, huh?

      4. Or something like that. Good grief, it’s taking too long in 2016!!!

        In 2016, we should be also able to prefabricate elevated rail pieces & have premanufactured light rail stations to just build, just baby build. This is not rocket science! There is no need to reinvent the light rail technology. What works in other industries should work here. Yeah sure it may be an eyesore having an elevated light rail but oops, we already have that add to the unqualified majesty that is Seattle and we need that for ALL of the Rainier Valley.

        There is no need to make this custom build. Just do it.

    1. Just received an email update on Northgate Link Extension, talking about which TBM they’ll use for the final dig

      Tunneling contractor JCM has one Northgate Link tunnel section left to build and the option of two machines to build it. JCM’s choice is to use the machine that just completed the future northbound tunnel between the University of Washington Station and the north portal in the Maple Leaf neighborhood. Crews estimate it will take until summer to transport, reassemble, refurbish and relaunch TBM #1 from the U District Station site to the University of Washington Station. JCM will dismantle TBM #2 and remove it from the U District Station site over the coming weeks.

  6. This is a trivial thing, I admit, but the ORCA reader at the northeast entrance to Pioneer Square Station is in the wrong place.

    When you come down the escalator, stairs or elevator from 3rd Avenue, between Cherry and James, you need to turn right to go down to the platforms. And yet, the only ORCA reader is to the left. You need to either detour out of your path, or wait until you get to the platform to tap your card.

    This is just my little rant.

    1. Not all that trivial.
      At least there are ORCA readers at the platform in the DSTT.

      The single ORCA reader to the right of the elevator at the skybridge level of Husky Stadium station needs a partner. If you take the elevator up (or down), and you miss it, its the only one. In addition, I hadn’t noticed any ORCA on the platform.

      1. I will second that post because if you are not paying attention you will that one OCRA reader by the elevators.

      2. And that single skybridge reader is made even easier to miss by the crowd of people waiting for the elevator, which invariably forms directly in front of the ORCA reader.

  7. The way we lost the Waterfront Streetcar was bad enough. The car-line had to cease operations because the pedestrian overpass between the Sculpture Garden required relocating the “car barn”, and also that the line could not keep running during sea-wall construction and Viaduct removal.

    The relocated car-barn deal fell apart. The stations and overhead- Lord knows how many million dollars’ worth of capital, sat still in place but idle and deteriorating for years before demolition even started. Renderings for the Waterfront renewal featured streetcars at first…

    Which somehow just both got increasingly painted out until…”Well, our other Waterfront activities, walking, biking, and viewing just don’t leave room for the streetcar.” Though somehow the viaduct, the avenue and the wide sidewalk some how did for about 20 years.

    Would be good if departing Administration’s Secretary of the Treasury decided they need to recover that money they’d threatened to take back when the streetcars were left to gather mold instead of passengers. Badly-needed example, too.

    Transit lanes, streetcars, and all. Conflict with walking and biking? Yesler to Myrtle Edwards is a long walk in bracing winds and scorching sun. Conflict? Streetcars are transit’s most pedestrian friendly machinery. And can be fitted with bike trailers. Riding them IS a bike and pedestrian activity!

    At least one bus-lane plan turned West Seattle lines inbound and outbound at Columbia- where the floating part of our State Highway system joins the other part. the project was on its way to getting city streets, the new park, and the highway our of each others’ way,

    Nobody can complain about being surprised by latest news. But every person, agency, and entity responsible for both the loss of the streetcars and planned one for the bus lanes badly needs one very salutary surprise: Hell’s own fight to finally get the surface transit system the Deep Bore Tunnel absolutely demanded.

    The deepening trail of slime that slid the streetcars away is long overdue for getting mopped up. Today’s commencing Viaduct work ought to focus everybody’s attention. Would be good if they’d start with the holes drilled and the charges set. But at least everybody can get a feel for a transit-free Waterfront!

    At the very least, let’s redirect the usual STB fight over rubbered over steel wheels to Boeing Field. This one’s ‘way beyond regional too. Between the Victoria Ferry dock and IDS, the Benson line carried international passengers to LINK on the way to the Airport.

    You’ve all seen these. Your reps haven’t. Pic’s worth all the above paragraphs.




    Mark. Dublin

      1. Thanks, Engineer. But wish I could attribute the picture properly. I pulled it offline. Wish I could afford a trip to Strassburg to get one myself. Cogwheel mechanism might also help our system too.

        On place I can think of is the south end of the CKC trail- at South Kirkland Park and Ride. Maybe this could help.


  8. Embrace the SLU-like changes coming to the U District, then embrace your cell phone, open the Yelp app, and start looking for a mover, because you’re about to priced out of the neighborhood.

    1. Good point. Here’s a question: does the UW need to move with the students? Public universities need to be located in places with abundant low-cost housing. For decades, UW has met that criteria. Time for UW Main Campus to move to Skyway or White Center??? The students need a place to live. The students are the reason for the institution.

      1. I remember the “apartment” my wife had at UW. Ants. Lots of ants. It was in a basement. It was dirty. But, boy, was it cheap! My college apartment was arguably worse. 50 degrees with the heat on in the winter because it wasn’t insulated, a leaky roof, and in a very unsafe neighborhood (friends had been robbed at gunpoint walking to our house). It didn’t matter to either of us. I spent all of my waking hours on-campus studying and always offered to work late during my internship quarters. My wife was the same – always studying on campus. I don’t condone substandard housing, but most college students are broke, and those coming from poor families like ours are willing to make lots of sacrifices to save a buck – because we were always one paycheck away from skipping dinner. With a rising standard and cost of living in U District, where do the poor students live?

      2. UW did move sort of, to Tacoma and Bothell. Did you say you wanted cheaper housing?

      3. And wouldn’t moving the main campus with all its research and a hundred degree departments cause housing prices to rise wherever it goes? Even in Wenatchee. I hear the cost of housing in Pullman is not much less than the U-District if you want something close to campus or during a football game.

      4. Cal is in Berkeley. UCLA is in Westwood. Now that’s some expensive rent. The UW is staying where it is (as it should).

        As Bob said below, the city should allow a lot more high density housing (e. g. Apodments). The area is growing, though (there are a lot more new places to the east, closer to freeway). The growth should be allowed to happen in a wider area (across the freeway in Wallingford, as well as north towards — and including — Roosevelt).

    2. Too late, I got priced out of the U-district sometime around 2004.

      But for students, the UW does have on campus housing. $6000 per academic year in the cheapest residence halls. Placement guaranteed if you apply on-time.

  9. Shouldn’t we be livid about the loss of bus lanes on the waterfront? It seems to me like a textbook example low quality creeping into infrastructure development due to cutting corners. No drastic change of plans partway through, but the initial guarantee, followed by a possibility of their removal from the plan, followed by their probable removal, followed by the delivery of something not very much like what the original promise was at all.

    I can’t remember how this case played out, but I remember being lulled into complacency by some promises of great things. Then I remember being angry about a blog post here that announced that they had been removed from several of the options put forth. Maybe this link it’s the same magnitude as the earlier possibility, but I think we should be sharpening our pitchforks.

    1. Martin’s headline is accurate, while Seattle Met’s headline is misleading. The key word here is “might”. The bus lanes aren’t gone. The EIS simply has one option with them and one without. There is a huge difference, which is why it makes sense to insist we get them, not pout that they are going.

  10. The Sea-Tac airport article is interesting. The new northern gates would be further from the terminal than the light rail station is! They are even presenting a two-terminal option, with a new terminal sited well north of the current one.

    The article notes that although the Port isn’t talking about it, a second terminal would raise a discussion about having a second airport light rail station between the current station and TIBS.

  11. Another lesson of the 2nd Ave sidepath — some Metro drivers don’t seem to know that SDOT explicitly allows bicycles in “bus only” lanes all over Seattle.

    Cyclists have reported being honked at and yelled at by Metro drivers for riding entirely legally in the 2nd Ave bus/bike lane during the recent closure of the 2nd Ave sidepath. (Others have received the same treatment on 5th Ave and on Westlake. But the lack of a bike detour when the 2nd Ave path was closed increased the number of bikes riding in the travel lanes of 2nd Ave.)

    Many of the “bus only” lane signs in Seattle have tiny inch-high lettering saying bikes are allowed, too, but perhaps that’s too small to read from the driver’s seat while navigating a bus through traffic?

    Even where the “bus only” signs don’t have the fine print, SDOT confirms that bicycles are allowed in the bus lanes, even where the new bus lanes on Westlake have streetcar tracks.

    Does Metro have any sort of formal outreach to drivers about these “bus only” lanes? Any training to make sure drivers know that bicycles are officially invited and expected users of these lanes, too?

    1. I’m not sure if that’s the case on Pike, there is no “bikes ok” sign

  12. Walked Kirkland CBD to South Kirkland P&R, past the signs. Please can that pic of the buses. I wouldn’t tolerate them either. Try putting in South Lake Union or First Hill Streetcars. Might work. But bus or streetcar, getting south of the P&R is going to be trouble.


  13. With the viaduct closure, the rerouted 120 shaved 15 minutes off of my daily commute today, inboth directions. Most of the time savings seemed to come from being able to transfer to Link at Sodo station instead of University St, although some came from skipping slow single-lane ramps in the WSB/SR99 interchange.

    I vote for this reroute to become permanent.

    Still confused about why it doesn’t take advantage of the busway, though.

    1. I will try that next week. This morning I spent 32 minutes on the 120 between 4th & Lander and Union Street!

      Get it together, Metro! All re-routed buses need to be on the busway not 4th Ave. Any “congestion” caused by too many buses on the busway will not compare to 32 minutes on 4th Ave.

      Oh, and then it got worse in the pm peak. Absolutely no 62 or 40 buses headed north out of downtown for a 30 minute period around 5:30pm, due to unspecified “congestion” downtown.

  14. “Propeller Airports announced Wednesday that it had hired an architectural firm with extensive experience with airport projects to design a two-gate terminal.”

    So… uh… Paine Field Intergalactic will be smaller than Wenatchee (three gates) or Bellingham (five) but slightly bigger than Walla Walla (one). I hope no one is going to build a train to Paine Field on the strength of this development.

    1. If you ask me, building only two gates will be a huge mistake. Bellingham didn’t overbuild with their five, and Bellingham is a community of 80,000 grabbing overflow from a community of several million, Vancouver. Everett has it’s own 100,000 and is relieving the rest of metro Seattle, so I’d expect Paine to have somewhat more passengers than Bellingham.

      1. Without a commitment from a major airline, building any gates is a pretty ballsy move already. Especially considering most of Bellingham and Wenatchee’s traffic is back and forth to Seattle – Paine is so close to Sea-Tac, I have a hard time imagining anyone scheduling flights between the two.

        Also, Paine field is currently limited to 22 takeoffs and landings per day, unless they want to risk having the community impacts re-litigated. So 2 gates might just be based on what’s necessary to reach 22 flights/day.

      2. Wrong about Bellingham. They got dailies to Las Vegas, and multiple times a week to Phoenix (Mesa actually), Honolulu, LA, some other places, and all on real jet planes, not those dinky props. Everett is similarly situated – a smaller relief airport to its big city cousin and with a higher local population.

        Although I will note that WTA doesn’t even run a bus there, since the airport is on the way to nowhere at all.

      3. My point is that flights to Seattle and Portland using prop planes are a rather small percentage of the airport’s schedule. Paine will likely see similar flights to Bellingham, and similar airlines for that matter.

  15. Mariners Day, 6:30pm, UW Station. A bunch of people walking past the Montlake fields to the station, did they park there? ST has a 2-car train. It departs with just a few standing spaces left. A larger number of people remain on the platform. At least half of them could get in but they don’t try because of “American personal space”. At Capitol Hill a few people get off including Yours Truly. The crowd entering is not that numerous, so it leaves with about the same fullness as before as far as I could tell from outside. I wonder if Westlake will have a huge mass, and why there isn’t a 3rd car on game day.

    1. Despite riding both ways, every weekday, since a week after launch, I haven’t ridden on a 3 car train for at least 4 weeks. I have seen them on the opposite platform once or twice, though, I think.
      My commuting is almost always around the beginning or end of a 10-minute headway part of the schedule, and the cars tend to be pretty full on just a regular day. Not completely packed, but what cost-conscious managers might call “right-sized”. Any day there’s extra traffic, like when ECCC was going on or today with the Viaduct closed, it gets sardine-can level. They seem to make zero adjustment for potential ridership swings – every day is treated the same as every other day.

      Northbound this morning I had to push my way on at SODO station. Southbound this evening we left people behind at Westlake and University St. Clearly lots of people heeding the media’s advice to leave their cars at home during the Viaduct closure. But still 2-car trains.

    2. Yes Westlake and the rest of the DSTT was a train wreck. Platform jammed full of people and one full 2 car train after another. It was absolutely madness and it was clear SoundTransit hadn’t planned at all for this. I ended up going to north to U District to get on a southbound train after 5 packed trains arrived at Westlake.

      Oh wait – there were actually several 3 and 4 car trains – all deadheading back to the yard *empty*! Apparently ST doesn’t realize the stadium is before the yard.

      Post rush hour (9-10am) is getting absolutely insanely crowded and still no extra capacity.

      SoundTransit step it up and show you are capable of running this system before begging for ST3. Seriously. Or more of us loyal transit fans will be voting NO for ST3 until you show you are grown up enough to handle a much larger system!!

    3. I am beginning to think ST needs 3 car trains full time. They do have a spare ratio in the 60% range according to their SIP but what is the required spare ratio to keep a reliable service? I would definitely have pushed in 3 car trains as many as can be and I am almost wondering if one thing for ST 3 should be pushed for new trainsets in 2018 to have 3 car trains now. That would reduce the need for added frequency on weekends but the 6 minute span might need to be expanded and midday goes to 7-8 minutes.

    4. “At least half of them could get in but they don’t try because of “American personal space”. ”

      I think ST is trying to train Seattleites about handling real “crush loads” before giving us the 3 car trains we all want.

      1. I watched about 3 crushed loaded trains disembark passengers at Staduim for the Mariner’s game. You could hear the crowds sighing in relief as they exited and regained some sense of personal space. I felt awed-people embracing transit and Seattle with a “big city” feel. I also felt embarassed that ST hadn’t increases service or train length any more than usual. We need to show these new riders a good time, so they continue riding. The six minute frequency needs to be extended later in the evening.

    5. ” I ended up going to north to U District to get on a southbound train after 5 packed trains arrived at Westlake.”

      North to the U-District? There are 3rd Avenue buses outside. And it’s a twenty minute walk.

    6. Today around noon there was a full train from UW because of a Sounders game. Am I correct that the lots north of Husky Stadium now function as a giant park and ride? (but at least have to be paid for, or are they free on the weekend?)

      1. I work in parking for special events at the U, so I might be able to answer your questions and more.

        Normally, the lots on Montlake are free after 12:00 on weekends. Today there was a softball game, so E12 and E19 (the lots right by the station and the football stadium) cost $10.

        I was stationed near the tennis center, and I saw more people than I thought to count walk by after parking in E18 (the lot by the track and baseball field). Many of them were complaining about having to walk over half a mile (one person called it a forty-five minute walk) to get to the train from their free parking. At least one person paid $10 to park in the softball-designated lot and have a shorter walk to the train. I only know about that one because she asked me if she could park there.

        We all know that the ULink transfers are less than optimal, but the longest walk there is about a quarter mile. Maybe some of the people who drove to the train will consider taking the bus in the future.

      2. Thanks!

        The UW ought to monetize the all of the lots, especially on game days.

  16. Regarding an E line stop at N 38th and Aurora:

    We could get a stop almost identical to the 45th Street stop with little effort. The only pitfall may be the need to take a few parking spots but this is a small price to pay for better bus service for an entire neighborhood.

    Isn’t 38th/Aurora the exact spot where property owners along that stretch got SDOT to give up the afternoon bus lane hours on the southbound side of Aurora because omgparking? If I’m looking at the right spot–and the picture from the Urbanist’s article shows precisely the same place I’m thinking–then “take a few parking spots” will be slightly more difficult to accomplish than finding habitable ground on Jupiter.

    1. Very interesting article. I did the regular tube from Heathrow and also the Heathrow Express; on the way to a plane the latter was a valuable convenience, while coming in from SeaTac the Tube made sense.

      Of course, the SeaTac connection is unusual because it will be very soon no longer the end of the line. Right now, everyone embarking on the train at SeaTac has room for their luggage; will this be true when the train gets to Federal Way (I’m skeptical Angle Lake will make any difference).

    2. Every time I’ve flown to London it’s been to Gatwick so I’ve never seen Heathrow. But from Gatwick it’s easy, there’s both the express train and the local train. The express train is expensive and runs every 15 minutes. The local train has only one stop in between so the express is kind of a fraud. It also goes both to London and to Brighton in the other direction; I took it that way once when I had a few hours before a flight to Ireland and a friend in Brighton to visit. Since I was a visitor and not in a hurry I always took the local train to London. It’s not that frequent, maybe half-hourly or less, but it’s like half the price of the express (for only one extra stop!). But my last time returning I did take the express, because it was close to my flight and the queue for local tickets were long.

      Another trip I was going from Gatwick to Bristol, so I went down to the train ticket office at the airport and validated my BritPass, and got a high-speed train from Gatwick to Reading and from there to Bristol. So the Gatwick station connects to the entire national network. Like Zurich, and like Duesseldorf with the help of an S-Bahn. Meanwhile in the US we wonder whether light rail to the airport has enough riders to be justified.

      SeaTac is an unusual configuration both because it’s not the end of the line and because the station serves both the airport and the city without segregated entrances. That makes it impossible to charge airport travelers a surcharge. So that makes it more of “just a station” rather than “the price-gouging, revenue-generating airport station”. But on the other hand we’re lucky that the airport is so close and is on the way to somewhere.

      1. It’s not impossible to add a surcharge (nor all that uncommon elsewhere) – you just set the ORCA readers at the station to add the surcharge to anyone tapping on/off there. If someone wants to get off at Angle Lake or TIBS and take the A line, more power to them. Very few airport travelers (me included) would do that. That said, I’m personally more than happy we don’t, and because it also serves the community around it, we never will.

    3. Makes sense to me. Jarrett Walker made the same conclusion on one his pieces. I don’t have a link, but he was discussing subway line to a beach, and how it really isn’t a good idea (half your walk share is gone). But in both cases, people tend to support it, because they can see themselves using it on occasion.

    4. The funny thing is Britian’s mainline rail network was for a long time considered the worst in Europe. When I saw it they had already upgraded to medium speed (150 mph-ish) several lines west and north of London, around Manchester and Leeds and Crewe and Bristol, and some of them run every hour and some a few times a day. So even “the worst network in Europe” (even if it wasn’t quite the worst anymore) was still ten times better and more comprehensive than the American network.

  17. Question, is the 601 route open to the public or do you have to be a Group Health employee? Google and Metro transit directions from DT to Metro South Base suggest using it. Google also suggest the 889 which is a Bellevue purchased transit service only available for Sammamish and International School students. FWIW nobody’s directions included Link. I looked at taking Link to TIB and back tracking on the 124 but it works out about 5 min. longer plus the reliability issue of an additional transfer.

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