Provisionals-v2_Full ArtboardBY SEATTLE SUBWAY

As regional stakeholders continue to work on the inevitable push and pull of budgeting for a massive transit expansion, we want to make sure that a huge improvement to the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) system plan isn’t overlooked: designation of “provisional projects.” Adding provisional projects will cost next to nothing to implement while adding the potential for ST3 to accomplish a lot more. A provisional project is a project that, if funding becomes available, can be built as part of the ST3 plan without an additional vote.  Without a provisional designation, a project cannot be built without further voter approval. 

The draft plan for ST3 provides voter authority for “provisional projects” if additional funding becomes available in the twenty-five year duration of ST3. Each of the five Sound Transit subareas should have one or more projects ready to go if additional funding becomes available

  • North King – Ballard to UW
  • South King – West Seattle to Burien
  • East King – Bellevue to Kirkland 
  • Snohomish County – Spine to Paine Field Connector
  • Pierce County – Tacoma Mall Extension

Sound Transit knows that each of these projects has merit now, but is waiting on a future ballot measure to pay for them. But there are many ways that funding could become available, before the next vote. These include:

  • An Increase in Federal Funding
    ST currently assumes the federal government will only contribute 11-13% of capital costs but changes in federal budget can happen quickly. When the San Francisco metro area began building BART in 1966, the federal government only funded 20% of the capital costs. Just 6 years later, the federal government generously offered to foot 75% of the bill for Seattle’s Forward Thrust–money that went to Atlanta’s MARTA instead due to insufficient voter appetites in the Puget Sound. In 1974, federal statute increased that matching level to 80%. As America urbanizes, we have an opportunity–with sufficient Congressional and Presidential leadership–to move past the 11-13% federal funding level and ensure our slowest projects are still delivered within 15-18 years. With the presidential candidates talking about increases in infrastructure spending, this is not an impossible dream.
  • An Increase in State Funding
    The Seattle Metro area (King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties comprise 52% of state residents, 62% of state tax revenue, and produce 71% of the state’s economic output. As we go, so goes the state.
  • Projects coming in under budget
    Who builds transit projects 10% under budget? We do, with more savings expected on Angle Lake, opening later this year.
  • Higher than expected tax revenues
    Provisional lines can be built if our economy fares better than the cautious growth projected by Sound Transit. Small differences in growth rates can make a big difference over 25 years.

This year alone, Sound Transit light rail projects will come in $240M (10%) under budget and receive $600M in unexpected federal grants. Our economy is booming, and twenty-five years of growth could add hundreds of millions of additional funding to ST budgets. Let’s authorize engineering and construction of “provisional projects” now, to maximize the benefits of any savings on other projects.

West Seattle Junction to Burien, Ballard to UW, Kirkland to Bellevue, Paine Field Connector, and Tacoma Mall must be designated as “provisional projects” when the Board votes in June. 

134 Replies to “Provisionals for All: ST3 Must Plan for the Future”

  1. “An Increase in State Funding” – Even just a penny from Olympia would be an improvement.

      1. lmao they really scraped the bottom of the barrel to find a reason to have Inslee at the preview ride.

      2. barman, to be brutally honest I agree with you. I want Bill Bryant for Governor so transit isn’t just a social services agency but also a means of congestion relief! Jay Inslee has been at best neutral or noncommittal to our transit interests, as I see it.

      3. What are you talking about? There is literally NOTHING about transit on Bill Bryant’s website.

      4. Joe, Bryant said he would oppose East Link trains on I90. If elected he could completely screw up East Link, not to mention that if he opposes this he’s likely to also oppose other transit projects.

      5. I’ve said this before, so I’ll say it again differently: Nobody has shown me where and how exactly a Governor can veto Sound Transit 2 or deny light rail across Lake Washington. Page 2 post maybe?

        I’ve talked to Bill himself about transit. I was a bit concerned at first…

        I would rather have a Governor with integrity who needs some continuing education about transit than forgive Jay Inslee. I would rather NEITHER candidate get the STB endorsement.

      6. this is the Bill Brayan that says our number one transit issue is to make I-90 faster to Chicago? that Bill? I’m really concerned that all he seems to care about is building more roads.

      7. “also a means of congestion relief!”

        Careful with that phrase, it can mean two different things:

        1) Transit that bypasses congestion for those who ride it.
        2) Transit that takes other cars off the road to make more space for your car.

        The first one is why we’re building the spine and 405 BRT. The second one is not possible because empty space generates more car trips which brings congestion back to the original level after a few years. The problem is that when many people hear “congestion relief” they think it will do the second, which sets them up for disappointment. So I don’t use the phrase at all; I talk about “bypassing congestion”.

        “Nobody has shown me where and how exactly a Governor can veto Sound Transit 2 or deny light rail across Lake Washington.”

        The governor can’t veto ST2 or 3 on his own, but the legislature can pass a law that repeals the tax authority or restructures ST and the governor can sign it.

        As for light rail across Lake Washington, the state owns the highway so the state can tell ST to get lost, but again it would have to pass legislation to. I don’t know if WSDOT can do it on its own, probably not. Most discussions of the bridge crossing have focused on legal issues rather than political issues: “Is light rail legal on the bridge given the gas-tax funding for the bridge?” not “Should the legislature make major changes to Sound Transit?” So I can’t say there’s much interest in Olympia in that, no matter Bryant’s campaign comment. Trump said he’d ban Muslim visitors to the US; then he said it’s just a proposal. Bryant’s comment would only have legs if other legislators and public factions get behind it.

        However, if the state tries to prohibit Link or restructure ST, it would run into its own legal constraints. One, the memorandum between feds and the state that funded the bridge: it says the center lanes are reserved for future rail, so the feds have an interest in enforcing that. Two, ST is paying for the lanes, so it will have a property interest in them and would have to be compensated if the lanes are taken from them and they’ve already paid. Three, ST’s obligation to its bondholders; the state can’t repeal tax authority that’s paying back existing bonds.

      8. Mike;

        Thanks for the education. I too believe bypassing congestion may be the better framing for transit, long-term. It’s sad that so many think using a car is such a great idea… costs so much money to drive & maintain one.

        You said;

        The governor can’t veto ST2 or 3 on his own, but the legislature can pass a law that repeals the tax authority or restructures ST and the governor can sign it.

        Well I don’t see state legislative candidates fighting for this, so there’s no threat there from a Governor Bryant. After all, as you said, “If the state tries to prohibit Link or restructure ST, it would run into its own legal constraints. One, the memorandum between feds and the state that funded the bridge: it says the center lanes are reserved for future rail, so the feds have an interest in enforcing that. Two, ST is paying for the lanes, so it will have a property interest in them and would have to be compensated if the lanes are taken from them and they’ve already paid. Three, ST’s obligation to its bondholders; the state can’t repeal tax authority that’s paying back existing bonds.”

        Basically it’s too late to undo ST2 and ST1. So no worries if a Governor Bill Bryant happens.

      9. Joe I realize you’re a Republican but you’re delusional if you think Bill Bryant will do anything to help transit in this state. The Democrats already do a terrible job, what in the world makes you think Bill Bryant would be better? Literally nothing Bill Bryant has said publicly supports your claim.

      10. barman;

        I’ve reached out to Bill Bryant out of the same genuine fears we share. I’m also in recent weeks backing away from the GOP Drumpf S–tshow Party.

        So I reached out to Bill. Bill wants transit agencies to sync their schedules and bypass congestion. I trust him and am willing to give an honest, earnest man a chance. I ask for the same please.

        It’s not like anytime soon WSDOT is going to expand it’s transit division.

      11. Ok Joe, let us all know when Bill Bryant bothers to mention transit even just once on his homepage. The only thing that comes close is his section on “Traffic Jams” which has gems like this:

        “Implement a statewide freight corridor approach to ensure we have the bridges, truck routes, and highway lanes we need to efficiently move freight and keep family wage jobs in Washington.”

        Where is the transit?? Nowhere. Personal conversations and anecdotes don’t cut it, Joe. If it’s not on his homepage it’s not part of his policy.

      12. barman;

        Fair point. It’ll take time, so give me until 1 October but I’ll see what I can lobby for until then. I’m not waiting until 30 September to make something happen :-).

        I just neither like nor trust Jay Inslee. The whole gas tax thing without a referendum is UNFORGIVABLE to me.



      13. What are Skagitonians saying about Sound Transit? Do they care about it at all? Do they think it should be drowned like other state bureaucracies? Are they hoping ST3 passes so they can take Link from Everett?

        Maybe Bryant can be turned around or moderated on transit, but it will be a long time before I trust R’s in power again. When Dino Rossi came around last time, I didn’t have much against him himself, but I was afraid he’d be jerked around by his party into supporting extreme fiscal and social positions. That’s too much to risk unless somebody proves they’ll buck the party and won’t be bowed.

      14. Mike;

        I think most Skagit transit users like I want ST3 to work. Most Skagitonians however just don’t care either way.

        I’m also willing to take my chances with a Republican chief executive. Haven’t had one since 1984. If Bryant gets pressure to go extreme – he can just point to the fact he and the legislative majorities won’t hold without the suburbs. This isn’t the Carolinas or Wisconsin.

      15. “This isn’t Wisconsin” – except Wisconsin has a long history of progressive politics and labor rights. All it took was Scott Walker to shit all over everything. I will never trust a republican governor in WA. They will be funded and directed by the GOP in the other Washington and I can’t think of a worse thing for this state.

      16. Well barman that’s your opinion. That said, we DO need a shakeup in Olympia.

        We DO need to reduce the power of the Washington Education Association in our state’s politics.

        I mean seriously $500 mil in ST3 over to education interests? Transit money for public education? That’s what Democrats have done.

        NO public vote on the highway expansion gas tax? That’s what Democrats have done.

        LONGER commute times? Thanks Democrats.

        I’ll give Bill Bryant a chance. Thanks.

      17. Joe

        I do find it very intriguing you are choosing Bill Bryant but I am willing to wager 405 ETLs would be gone under a Bryant administration. The sad thing is Inslee has not done transit advocates any favors either and basically made it a low to no priority issue at all. I have been interested in Bill’s policies and especially education but I believe he has quite a bit to learn on transportation when it comes to lane widening. I don’t think we need to end up like Houston Texas.

      18. Daniel;

        I think 405 ETLs gotta go if we can get true BRT instead. Sound Transit will have to pay for the lanes, and that’s OK.

        It’s time to punish Inslee and roll the dice. Get a farm team of folks who are vehemently pro-transit like yourself instead of wusses who let the highway expansion gas tax pass through without a public vote.

        That doesn’t mean a Governor Bryant can expect a free pass to undercut transit or cut funding from Amtrak Cascades. He shouldn’t expect it nor get it.

      19. Haha, Joe, I get that you are pro transit but will find a way to vote for Bryant because you want a Republican… BUT: Bryant isnt just not talking about transit… He is vocally anti-transit. There is no dressing that up.

      20. Keith;

        That’s just not true. Bill will work to make transit work better for commuters.

        Don’t believe the lack of data on the website. I’ve talked to the guy. My notes say he sees “an efficient transit system” as “critical” and quality with better schedule coordination. Also wants to improve ridership overall and be cost effective.

        Jay Inslee hasn’t done any of this. I’ll roll the dice and punish Inslee. ST3 authority was mainly done by state legislators bargaining hard, not Inslee.

      21. “I just neither like nor trust Jay Inslee. The whole gas tax thing without a referendum is UNFORGIVABLE to me.”

        Would a Republican have been different? The exurban Republican stronghold are the ones who pushed for the highways, and I can’t see them wanting a vote that might fail. Especially when, you know, there’s a maintenance backlog, and urbanists who want transit not highways, and the exurbanites are the lowest number of voters in the metropolitan area because of their low density.

        I haven’t seen Inslee do anything wrong enough to not want him for another term. The controversies all seem to be about whether you support the liberal or conservative agenda. Inslee doesn’t vote conservative, therefore he’s a bad governor.

      22. Mike;

        If a Republican governor proposed a highway expansion gas tax increase without a public vote, he/she wouldn’t get reelected. Most Republicans wanted a public vote, the Democrats opposed it.

        I think it’s time to send Jay Inslee packing and Democrats a message: We transit advocates are a cranky, diverse bunch. We as a group shouldn’t vote automatically Democrat and expect different results.

        I’m just saying give the man a chance and beat the crap out of somebody who told the highway expansion folks they get their money WITHOUT a public vote, but all us transit people to go fight at the ballot box FOR our stuff AGAINST people with nothing to fight FOR but only AGAINST. Frustrating.

        Don’t get me started again on what I feel about the $500 mil Sound Transit bribe to the educational industrial complex when the money could have been given to transit grants… It just wasn’t tried by Democratic Party politicians to expand the base of transit support ;-).

    1. That’s correct Joe. WSDOT had ST make significant design revisions to the pedestrian bridge once the UW secured funding for the triangle and Rainier Vista land bridge. WSDOT contributed $5M towards the cost of construction to make that path more palatable for bikes.

    2. Perhaps, but to WSDOT’s credit the bike mobility idea was theirs and the area overall is better for it. I doubt that a Governor Bill Bryant would bother with a $5M contribution in the first place.

      1. Well that’s nice, but quite frankly if only $5 mil buys votes for Jay Inslee, then Jay Inslee can keep using transit bucks as a bargaining chip.

        Nah. Time to change the channel and give a new guy a chance.

    1. Correct, provisional plan should be the plan after ST3 fails. Passing of ST3 is not a given.

      1. Cant do the provisionals after it passes. ST can only do projects with some form of voter approval of a representative project. UW to ballard and West Seattle to Burien CANT be built if we don’t include them as provisionals, because no one will have voted on them.

    2. Wait… why? With the possible exception of Kirkland, these are all popular projects.

      1. Les doesn’t like the urbanist lines; he only likes the spine and sprawl lines. Because that large mass of urban riders on, e.g., the Ballard-UW line don’t really exist or aren’t that numerous. Same for 130th Station: it doesn’t add any net riders because they’ll take a bus to Northgate or 145th if it’s not there, and it slows down Shoreline/Lynnwood/Everett by 30 seconds so it’s bad.

    3. I thought the opposite. The provisional projects are more likely to be segments I’d actually ride and I’m sure this is true of many voters. They could potentially sweeten the deal for people who live in Tacoma, Burien, Vashon, Kirkland, and other communities which would be served directly if the provisional projects were built, but not by ST3 as it stands now.

      1. Plus many voters probably won’t fully understand how the ST3 plan works, so they might just assume these projects are in the package when they see a map of potential light rail lines.

    4. Hahaha… huh? So, expanding what might be in ST3 will make is vote worse? Utter nonsense.

  2. Great plan. It would be a terrible mistake to mis-estimate the future (very likely, in one direction or another) and find that you have increased demand, increased revenue, and no legal means of building.

    1. The crosstown “Metro 8” line with service to the Central District has also gone completely missing. Not sure what happened to the map there.

      1. Voting yes will not advance anything for Seattle either, not in my lifetime; a holding pattern on our priorities is exactly what we’re being offered here. We could kill ST3 this year, kill its successor in 2020, and *still* come out ahead if we got a better offer in 2024, because ST won’t be getting started on the proposed Seattle projects until then anyway.

        “ST3 must plan for the future,” indeed. I can tell you what we need *today*: UW-Northgate, downtown-Ballard-Lake City, Ballard-UW, Metro 8, and downtown-West Seattle. If ST opened that transit network up tomorrow, it’d do a pretty good job of meeting Seattle’s *current* transit needs. How much more are we going to need 25 years from now? Well, I don’t know, I’m not an urban planner – but it’s obvious that our needs will only continue to increase as our population grows and our population centers gravitate back toward urban density and away from suburban sprawl.

        The spine probably made a lot of sense back in 1990 when people were first planning Sound Transit, because it wasn’t obvious then that we were in the process of cresting Peak Suburbia. “Connect the region” must have seemed like nothing but common sense when it looked like the future was a polycentric, neighborhood-focused sprawl with little urban centers dotted here and there around the Sound.

        That was last century, and the trends are obvious; the suburbs have passed their peak and their dominance is already fading. They were a temporary reaction to the GI bill, the Federal Highway System, post-war prosperity, desegregation, and the historical anomaly of cheap gasoline. Sprawl continues because subsidy continues, but the economic pressure is clear, and cities are only becoming more dominant. This is a global trend; Seattle is no exception.

        Why, then, are we succumbing to inertia and continuing to roll out the development of a suburb-focused rail network? This might have been the system we needed in 1990, but it’s not the system we need in 2016, and there’s no way in hell it’s going to be the system we need in 2040, much less 2060. Yes, we should plan for the future: and that means we need to plan for strong urban transit networks that will weather us through the transition away from car-dependence for the greatest proportion of the population we can manage.

      2. [whoops, not sure how I ended up responding to my own comment here. possible to move this to the end of the thread where I meant to put it?]

      3. Excellent comment, Mars. I completely agree.

        But it is even worse than that. BART (and similar systems) have shown that proximity matters. So not only does this plan ignore the changes that have occurred over the years, but it ignores systems that have tried to do exactly the same thing yet failed. BART is much faster, and serves cities that are much bigger (both the satellite cities as well as the core urban area) yet it really doesn’t work that well. Outside the urban core (Oakland/San Fransisco/Berkeley) ridership is tiny — smaller than many of our buses.

        This is not intuitive. At first glance, it would appear that systems like BART would be extremely popular. The problem is, there just aren’t that many people who want to take a relatively long trip from the suburbs, even if that trip is substantially faster than driving during much of the day. I can think of many reasons why this might be the case. The first is that not that many people are making the trip. Not that many people are driving from Fremont to Oakland, Berkeley or San Fransisco (or any of the other cities). It may also be that even if they are, the particular spot in that city can be accessed faster by car, express bus or commuter train. This would make sense, of course, if folks are traveling during the middle of the day (which, I imagine, is often the case). So someone in Walnut Creek who has a medical appointment in Berkeley will schedule the appointment at 11:00, and drives right to the clinic. Afterwards, she drives back to work in Walnut Creek, saving a substantial amount of time.

        I can see why BART planners thought it might work. I fail to see why ST folks think it will be more successful, when everything about the system — the density in the core as well in the suburbs; the speed of the system; the connecting transit — is substantially worse here.

        I really don’t get this. I can understand why you would copy a system that works really well, and find that it doesn’t for your particular area. What I don’t get is why you would pattern your system on a failed one, even though it has so many obvious advantages of your area. It boggles the mind. I’m watching the NBA playoffs right now, and none of the teams have a dominant big man. It is obvious — it is a shooter’s game now. So I can get why a team would go crazy, and try and stretch the envelope, starting a shooting guard at center. What I don’t get is why a team would do the opposite, and start a team consisting of big clumsy “bumbles bounce” type players. Those teams lose. That is a losing strategy. Why ST is pursuing that approach is beyond me.

      4. RossB;

        Great comment, but…

        I would say straight up that a lot of people are commuting to work to Paine Field. Skagit County’s #1 commute county isn’t Skagit – that’s #2. Guess what #1 is?


        Play with for a bit please. Uses US Census data. Lots of blobs around Paine Field.

        So I would say a large # of folks would use high capacity transit to Paine Field – not just the Boeing Factory. Spine Destiny to Everett from Seattle only makes sense and since we have several decades of political inertia to deal with, it’s going to be hard to stop it now.

        I would also say quite a few King County folks commute to Paine Field…

    2. Sound Transit hasn’t studied those lines, so Seattle Subway knows that the board will never put them on as provisional. Maybe ST would add impact studies, but not provisional status.

      1. All the more reason to veto ST3 this year and wait til they’ve had time to do a proper job of it.

      2. Hahaha… Mars… this is the local transit version of “I don’t like that Bernie didn’t win so I’m voting for Trump” logic.

        Voting ST3 down will move the Metro 8 and Ballard/LC lines further up the political wish list in no version of the future.

      3. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Killing ST3 would give ST four more years it *could* use to study those lines, so there’s at least a *possibility* that they could offer us a plan for a complete system in 2020. Convincing them to take that hint would be a hard job, obsessed as they are with this “regional spine” boondoggle, but isn’t that sort of grassroots advocacy the reason we’re all here?

        If we accept what they’re offering right now, we’re agreeing to wait 25 years for a transit network that wouldn’t satisfy our needs if they waved a magic wand and built it overnight. If we vote for this, we’re agreeing to leave the next generation proportionally just as far from getting the job done as we are today, since the population will continue to rise and the proportion of that population choosing to live in an urban center will also continue to rise, driving up the importance of the urban transit network we’ll have chosen not to build while leaving all those expensive-to-build, expensive-to-maintain miles of “regional spine” sprawl looking like an impractical leftover from the 20th century suburban mistake. They’ll just have to turn around and start working on the projects we should be building right now. Why make them wait? Wouldn’t it be great if we could look forward to using that great transit system, too, instead of just hoping our kids and grandkids will figure it out after we’re all too old to care?

      4. The money spent to build and maintain the regional spine isn’t available to build more urban rail. It will be bought and paid for by the areas that will use it.

        If we isolate what Seattle gets out of the deal, there are very good reasons to vote for ST3 that very much advance the cause of urban rail and support existing/future density.

        Voting no, very clearly, will not advance anything for Seattle and will put us into a holding pattern on the same priorities.

      5. T.R.;

        I am from Skagit and I agree. I am very concerned if ST3 is rigged to fail in an unlikely coalition of Snohomish elites, road advocates, and urbanists all so torqued off they veto it.

        I have spent some quality time in Seattle and am well aware Seattle needs more than just a light rail spine but also trusses. I am also well aware light rail for Paine Field is not the best… BRT is the best so right now about to swing against it. Depends on the next nine days.

      6. It has studied UW-Ballard as much as it has studied the Tacoma and Everett extensions. :) There was a set of six or so corridors that had studies in 2014 as potential ST3 candidates. The reports are on ST’s website under Projects and Plans -> Find a Project -> High-Capacity Transit Corridor Studies -> Document Archive.

        Ballard-downtown got the most detailed study because the McGinn administration gave ST extra money for a joint light-rail study for ST and a streetcar study for SDOT back when the city was thinking about both light rail on 15th Ave W and extending the SLUT on Westlake.

      7. @ TR — if we isolate what Seattle gets out of the deal, there are very good reasons to vote for ST3 that very much advance the cause of urban rail and support existing/future density.

        No there isn’t! That is the point. This is an absurd proposal, even for the city. Look at the map again, and cut it off at the city border. Now look at a census map. Notice anything? There is absolutely no correspondence. Do the same with employment. Look at the existing transit maps, and ridership. Look at the existing infrastructure, which can be leveraged for buses. Look at similar cities (e. g. Vancouver) and compare this with what they have done, and what they wish they did (e. g. Broadway/UBC extension). Your only conclusion is that ST has no idea what they are doing. Their incompetence does not stop at the city border. Of course it doesn’t. If you really think that the best thing that could possibly be done from a transit perspective on the east side is a light rail line from Issaquah, you obviously are not from around here, and can’t read a map (of any sort). Every project could be replaced with something substantially cheaper and more effective serving the exact same area! If that doesn’t scream failure, I don’t know what does.

        Besides, is that what we — as city residents — are supposed to do? Are we supposed to be so excited about rail in twenty years (that requires a transfer for 90% of the people who live or visit West Seattle) that we will let other areas (Tacoma and Everett) pay for a failed system? That is nuts.

        Mars is right. Let this fail. It will probably fail because folks in the suburbs will wake up to its obvious failures. We urban transit supporters should join in the chorus of no, and tell the planners to go packing. Do better next time. Get a group of people who know what they are doing.

      8. Ross: I really think you’ve gone overboard here. I get that you think other options are technically better, but slow your roll a bit.

        Ballard/DT will be one of the best lines in the country and carry more people than the entire Portland Max system. It hits Denny Triangle, SLU, LQA, Ballard, Expedia, Interbay, and adds a DT Madison stop. It’s 100% legit urban transit.

        West Seattle/DT completely solves transit’s resiliency issues (due to the bridge) on the West Seattle Peninsula.

        Regardless of what you think of the politics, there are very good reasons to vote those lines into existance.

        Further – they will continue to be #1 and #2 politically until they exist, no arguments here will move that needle one bit. If you want other Seattle lines, you better get those off the list by voting yes on ST3.

      9. Keith: Those are good lines. Are they so good that we’re willing to have Sound Transit waste a decade building lines we don’t care about before they get started? Are they so good that they make up for all the other lines we won’t be building? Are they so good that they’re worth postponing the problem of building a complete transit network and leaving it for the next generation to solve?

        I’m not ready to declare defeat yet.

      10. “Are they so good that we’re willing to have Sound Transit waste a decade building lines we don’t care about before they get started?”

        Nothing is holding them up except a limited budget, subarea equity, and the unfinished ST2 projects. ST3 doesn’t start getting 100% funding until 2023. West Seattle is first because it’s easy to build a stub from a SODO surface station. Ballard depends on the second tunnel, so the tunnel has to be open before Ballard can start service. There’s no north end counterpart to SODO where you can truncate it at a surface station. Downtown/SLU/Belltown/Uptown is too congested for surface. A temporary underground station would be prohibitively expensive, and a permanent one would create a long gap between the lines. The closest possible place for a stub to terminate is Elliott Ave, but then people would have to take the D to transfer between the lines, and that’s not much better than not having a Ballard line at all.

        So that’s Ballard and West Seattle, and by Keith’s criteria those are the #1 and #2 priorities; so there’s nothing else getting ahead of them. There are arguments that all lines could fit into the existing tunnel so Ballard could do that, etc, but those are really different issues.

  3. An alternative (much cheaper) Tacoma project would be extending the green line to UW Tacoma.

    There’s almost nothing near the current terminus, which is especially problematic because there’s very little south of seatac airport: it isn’t clear what jobs people are supposed to use link to get to in the area, and therefore what will spur TOD.

    But UW Tacoma is a big destination, and getting the green line there doesn’t involve the same technological mismatch and resulting delays as converting the whole of Tacoma Link.

    1. Yeah I think it makes more sense to extend the line the UW and into Downtown Tacoma, rather than arc away from downtown. Tacoma down is a great transit junction given the Amtrack and Sounder station, but the best anchor for the line is downtown, not a mall that might turn into some nice midrise development.

      I think when Link opens at the Tacoma dome, people are going to find the link street car is inadequate to move people from the dome into downtown. It’s a good investment now and should continue to run for a few decades,but should be replaced with real light rail one the green line gets to Tacoma.

    2. I say stop from Fife, go west with a slight turn north, stop at the Museum of Glass facing south (right next to UW Tacoma) and then hit Tacoma Dome facing south. You could then use an I-5 alignment from there to Tacoma Mall, or consider going down Pacific.

      1. Placing the museum district in between Fife and the Dome would result in a horrifically kinked routing. I see no alignment that would work for that.

        Instead, (coming from the Portland Ave stop shown on the map) stop at the Dome, then swing north up Pacific with a UWT/museum district stop directly above (I’m assuming the line is elevated at this point) the streetcar stop. Then curve west and head into a tunnel at some point (there are enough vacant lots downtown that a proper portal location could be found). Stop near Tacoma Ave/11th St to serve the Library and the County/City building. The next stop is at 11th St and MLK, serving Hilltop, with demising walls in place to allow future extensions without interrupting service. It would be expensive, but if we are talking about provisional projects, we might as well go big; even if we can only afford the UWT extension as mentioned above by others, it will still be helpful.

        Of course, this all assumes that we build the slow rail extension at all. I’d rather put most of the Pierce and South King money into Troy’s proposal for Sounder infrastructure improvements between Tacoma and Seattle and run fast, frequent, all-day trains on our existing spine. Any leftover money could go into BRT improvements on SR 7, SR 161, and other bus priority corridors; and adding more Sounder connector buses, like the STEX 581 from Parkland to Puyallup station. Unfortunately, it is clear that this is a minority view down here, at least among those who are politically active.

  4. I agree on these provisional projects. Especially the idea of a light rail spur to Paine Field. If Snohomish County elites are so dead set on light rail to Paine Field, okay then….

    First, it is blatantly obvious the only transit solution in ST3 that maximizes ridership is N-02cmod + BRT. Keep light rail on I-5 (since the Snohomish County folks oppose Hwy 99) but give Paine Field BRT. 12,000 more riders is NOT something to turn your nose up at.

    Second, there is also the matter of light rail to Paine Field may enable a controversial passenger terminal at Paine Field few neighbors seem to want. Not to mention all the issues you guys have educated me on…

    Third, a spur to Paine Field – most likely to the Seaway Bus Stop that’ll be the northern hub of Community Transit Swift 2 BRT – makes a whole lot more sense than diverting Spine Destiny. All the white t-shirts said “Light Rail to Everett” ( see ) not how and certainly not “Paine Field”.

    I think I’ve said enough. I think it’s became clear where I stand and why.

    1. The Provisional spur to Pain Field, should also include the potential of a Mukilteo extension.

  5. As usual, South King left out. Burien to West Seattle helps West Seattle – part of the Seattle subarea – far more than anybody in Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, Algona, or Pacific, people PAYING INTO THE SOUTH SUBAREA. How about a provisional project that actually serves the residents of South King??? Kent-Des Moines light rail in the 516 R/W? FW-Auburn Light Rail? Maybe a third track along the Sounder corridor so we can get all-day all-weekend Sounder service without a fight with BNSF? Lots of things that could actually help South King, why are we so focused on West Seattle? Burien-West Seattle serves a very narrow segment of population. Expanding Sounder to all day service? That’s huge.

    I do think that investment in a Seattle Subway makes sense for Seattle. It does not make sense for Federal Way or Auburn or Kent to subsidize it though. We’ve already be priced out of living there. Seattle can pay its own way.

    1. But these will increase the number of jobs people from your area can commute to within an hour – by a lot. That’s worth something.

      1. SeaStrap,

        What jobs exist in West Seattle? And how do I get to Burien from the south part of the county? Enhanced Sounder service would provide the benefits you mention. A neighborhood line from Burien to West Seattle does little to help the vast majority of residents in the South Subarea, and actually benefits those who already live closest to Seattle and Bellevue – those with the shortest commutes – the most.

        Enhanced Sounder service improves service for every resident in the Kent-Auburn Valley, plus people further south in Sumner and Puyallup, as well as those living on East Hill connected to Sounder by already existing Metro routes. It provides a critical connection to jobs in Seattle AND Tacoma, as well as Bellevue via I-90 Link. Big picture, a massive expansion of Sounder in both directions, which is already standing room only for many trips, makes the most sense. Investment in a third track makes sense for all parties involved: the public, ST, and BNSF, and is worth our money.

        I would add that it is probably more prudent to en

      2. It’s not so much about getting to West Seattle as it is connecting Burien to a system that goes to, you know, downtown Seattle and UW. That’s a huge boon for Burien.

      3. Remember amount of time we’re talking about. In space or years planned for ST3, South Lake Union went from place nobody wanted to buy or rent to place few readers this morning can afford to. 25 years ahead, both places will certainly change again.

        Same with Kent and West Seattle. A transit system is one of those public utilities like electricity, water, sewers, and highways, that let a region stay strong as it changes. As every living thing has to. Meaning that transit also needs to be designed to “flex”.

        Because concepts like “commuting” are probably as obsolete as the old “company towns.” Or employers themselves.

        A factory now doesn’t need to have “shifts” of workers, except for the few who mind the Computer Numerically Controlled machines making things designed at work-station a world away.

        Or over the space of a half hour train ride and a morning in someone’s favorite cafe. By same number of people who formerly spent workdays each doing same repetitive task. Who are now self-employed professionals designing products to “click” to the machines when finished.

        And who now travel because they need to meet a client, check out a source, or get with a co-worker in person. Or because they feel like it. The real atmosphere in which most people are most creatively productive.

        Needing transit same as for a healthy worker’s circulatory system: fast, smooth, unblocked and completely interconnected. Organs and areas of the brain are indeed discrete subareas. But block any vessel between two of them, and same result.

        So good start for transit planning is to begin thinking “corridors” instead of “subareas.” Because person or region, gangrene is an ugly an inefficient way to die.

        Mark Dublin

      4. The argument seems to be that the Burien-Renton axis is the highest density corridor in south King County and will become more so with Tukwila’s planned development, Burien’s downtown, and Renton’s downtown if it ever does anything about it. Plus proximity to Seattle and Bellevue means more people travel between them and would take high-capacity transit to them. I’m not sure this is fully accurate: the densest part of South King is in Kent, and the 150 has twice or three times as many riders as the F, and the south half of the 169 is also busy. But area politicians focused on Burien-Renton in the 90s when ST’s long-range plan was drawn up, and it has kept reappearing since then. At this point it’s the closest to a “shovel ready” line South King has after the Central Link extension, which is probably why Seattle Subway mentioned it.

        As for Sounder, ST3 has separate projects to improve its speed, frequency, length, and add more parking. ST is in negotiations with BNSF on a price to complete the Seattle-Tacoma passenger track and run hourly trains into the evening and some weekend service. ST can’t promise a certain level of service or cost right now because BNSF would say “We’ll take that!” and run with the money rather than negotiating a lower price. And it’s unclear how much of these projects will get into the final ST3. But there are some Sounder improvements planned, and that will benefit Auburn, Pacific, Kent, etc. And maybe Federal Way and Des Moines, depending on how willing they are to go to Auburn or Kent Station.

    2. I think we also need to continue the rail from Burien to TIBS to Southcenter to Renton. RR F is not the same thing!! That line is winding and really slow..

      1. The geography and placement of freeway interchanges that challenges F Line would also give problems to a light rail alignment.

      2. @JK

        The freeway interchanges are already elevated. Simply elevating the rail does not solve the problem on its own.

        Its a giant interchange and building a reasonable rail connection through there will be complicated and expensive.

    3. Agreeing with Engineer here, West Seattle/Burien is NOT South King… Also, Federal Way extension is funded by ST2, contrary to the map insert above. Kent, Sumner, Auburn, Puyallup, Federal Way, etc. are all South King.

      1. North King would pay for the part to White Center; South King would pay only for the part south of that. White Center is in South King but it’s the largest shopping center for many in West Seattle, and if Seattle annexes it it may become part of North King.

      2. “Federal Way extension is funded by ST2, contrary to the map insert above”

        Federal Way was funded to 272nd in ST2. The budget wouldn’t stretch to 320th. Then the recession hit and South King’s revenues went down, and everything south of 200th was deferred. At that time ST made a deal with Federal Way to accept the deferral in exchange for advancing the studies to 320th, so that if any stimulus funds came along it would be “shovel ready”. Later with the recovery ST said it might be able to undefer 240th, and then it definitely did. But 272nd was still unfunded. So ST3 is really supplying 272nd’s funding, and extending it to 320th, and extending it to south Federal Way. (I’m not sure if Pierce pays south of the last station, or if South King is paying to the county border. In most previous cases it’s the outer subarea that pays.)

    4. TIL: Burien isn’t in South King. Interesting.

      Between Sounder expansion, Link spine expansion, 405 BRT, and a potential Burien Line, I would say South King gets quite a lot out of ST3.

      1. 405 lies entirely within East King. How does that benefit South King??? (Renton pays into East King.)

        Burien is in South King, but it is in the far corner. A project in Burien helps a commuter from Auburn about as much as a project in Wedgewood helps a commuter in West Seattle.

      2. The East King border is between Renton and Tukwila. 405 ends at I-5 in Tukwila.

      3. Engineer:

        The 405 BRT project extends from Burien up to Lynnwood via 405 (and on other roads.)

        Check it out here:

        I don’t get the Auburn comment – building a thing in one location doesn’t help a totally different location. OK.

        Building a line to Burien will very much help people in Burien and points directly south.

        What will help Auburn is increased Sounder service. All day and extended evening hours are on the table.

      4. There is no guarantee of any substantial increase of Sounder service in the corridor. The rumor has been 90 minutes which to me is lacking. Even with hourly, it doesn’t decrease the current travel time let alone add any more trips during the peak commute hours. You simply do not get the same benefit for the money as a true all day suburban rail corridor. That is what Sounder is meant to do and serve that kind of corridor. DuPont has quite lackluster ridership projected and if South Tacoma and Lakewood are any indicators, the ridership will not be that great so why are we spending a large sum of capital to extend a service if not many will use it?

        405 will have ETLs to the 167 corridor but the reliability of the ETLs during rush hour is not very impressive. The single lane sections are still getting bogged down. A true BRT would have its own corridor like in Brisbane and could service one seat rides that the Eastside wants.

    5. What about South King to East King? That seems to be a big missing link. I have some faith in commuter buses and BRT serving Snohomish to East King if 405 HOT lanes works, but no faith in the southern half of 405 given the current infrastructure.

      1. It’s a question of relative ridership. A lot more people in South King take the existing transit to Seattle than ride the 560, or 566 to the Eastside. And in the Eastside, a lot more people take transit between Bothell, Kirkland, Bellevue, Renton, Issaquah, and Seattle than between Bellevue and Renton. That’s why all the light rail proposals have been north of Bellevue and Issaquah. 405 BRT is seen as an appropriate step for the Bellevue-Renton corridor for now, and maybe in the future its ridership will rise enough to warrant something more.

        There’s also the issue of Renton. Renton is a relative ridership void. The number of people on the 101, 106, 107, northern 169, eastern F, 240, 567, 566, etc is not what you’d expect given the city’s size and socioeconomic profile and similar neighboring areas (Kent and Rainier Valley). That’s a major endpoint or anchor point for a 405 light rail line, so until Rentonites get more interested in taking transit or the city changes its unwalkable land use, it won’t be prioritized. The move of the transit center doesn’t help: Renton wants ST to move it to a less walkable area for mega parking and freeway access, but did not announce a station-area upzone to accompany it.

      2. It’s difficult to justify riding transit when it actually takes longer than driving a single occupant vehicle. That is the case with the 560 and 566.

        Moving the transit center to South Renton with a major area rezone could be a huge benefit to transit use. Get those 56x buses out of the idiotic circuit of red lights that takes 25 minutes to navigate and back onto an HOV lane. It isn’t express, right now, it’s a neighborhood route that trolls through stoplights for several miles before hopping on the freeway for a few miles. The comparison is if buses from Lynnwood Transit Center labeled express took a route that went south on 44th Ave to Lake Forest Park, then SR 522 to 145th St to get on I-5 rather than just hopping on the freeway right there at the Transit Center. That’s what all of the Renton routes do.

        I know that the land use in South Renton totally suck. Too bad.

      3. “Moving the transit center to South Renton with a major area rezone could be a huge benefit to transit use.”

        Yes, with a major rezone. Make south Renton the commercial downtown, and central Renton can be the historic downtown. That’s similar to what Kirkland and Issaquah are doing with their urban centers.

        But my main concern is how will Rentonites get to the transit center? The eastern residential areas are separated from downtown by hill and highway barriers that take a long time to walk across. Will Renton have a transit master plan with frequent bus lines to bridge the gap? Will people ride them if it does? Renton needs not just a downtown upzone but a citywide transit plan.

    6. Fast, frequent, all-day Sounder must be prioritized for the Pierce and South King areas above the slow-rail extension. If BBSF won’t give us a fair price, then we need to be ready with the torches and pitchforks.

      1. I’m fine with that, but we still need to get a fair price out of BNSF. End the slow-rail spine in Federal Way (or even Star Lake), make Sounder the top funding priority, and scare BNSF enough that they will give us a fair price so we can afford bus improvements, like our BRT corridors and the 581. Pierce County has nothing yet that is called ‘BRT’, so most people in Pierce County, if they have any understanding of the term at all, think of the Sodo busway that the 590/594 use. We have a chance to get BRT right the first time in this County, and if we do that, we can save millions of dollars on future projects that don’t have the demand to justify rail’s higher capacity, but need the reliability that is politically easier to deliver with rail.


      They’re not paying much. That’s why South King has few projects. It’s the poorest subarea and because of subarea equity it doesn’t get anything more.

      1. Correct, but I’m looking at 405 between Renton and Bellevue as a key chokepoint – whether it’s enhancing bus speeds on 405 or creating an alternative transit route (i.e. light rail), the investment would primarily help South King and east Pierce commuters, but the geography would technically fall into East King (plenty of money!) because Renton is officially East King, correct?

    8. Can I point out a logic problem in the ST3 planning process about South King, East King and the Renton access issue? The Boeing Access Road station combined with the light rail reaching Burien are not seen as related — when they could be.

      Rather than first construct a terribly disruptive surface line or wildly expensive subway from West Seattle to Burien, why not propose an initial line similar to the Kirkland-Issaquah one for Burien-Renton? An alignment on the surface with some aerial could be from Downtown Burien to TIBS, merging with the Green Line, passing through the Boeing Access Road station, and the diverting on MLK southbound to the South Renton Transit Center and 405 buses? In fact, at that point, the 167 corridor is within reach and could be available for a BRT express system or even eventually an LRT line towards Kent and Auburn!

      Renton/167 corridor passengers headed north would transfer at Boeing Access Road.
      Burien passengers would transfer at TIBS if heading south or Boeing Access Road if headed north.
      The Boeing Access Road station may need to have some track adjustments to allow for a center platform for easier transferring.

      This is different from the alternatives studied in the 2014-15 work — because the Burien-Renton corridor never combined an alternative from Burien to the Green Line that included a Boeing Access Road station as the link into Renton. My bigger point: This configuration combination has not been studied, and its cost would be way cheaper than a West Seattle – Burien line!

      Dare I also note that even the South King studies put more riders on the Burien light rail alternatives headed to TIBS than those headed to West Seattle?

  6. I’m surprised that the Seattle Subway map shows both the red and blue lines all the way to Downtown Everett. That’s too unrealistic. Not only would the 3-minute trains north of Lynnwood be running with only a few riders, but the trains could conversely be overcrowded in North Seattle.

      1. Yeah, we don’t know where the turn around is planned so we don’t highlight it. 145th maybe? We’ll update our basic map when we find out.

      2. Will you also update your basic map after the first time that a single person from your organization visits Tacoma? There are so many things wrong with Dome-Mall-TCC that I don’t even know where to start.

      3. Eric:

        Hit us up at – interested to hear your comments.

        We have a Tacoma native on our board but I won’t pretent we are experts. We based that extension on what ST had in the LRP.

      4. I would suggest assigning one line (red or blue) to the Paine Field spur, given the concept of the map. The other line color can remain as it now is. Still, that may be too controversial.

      5. I’m not ready to split service half between downtown Everett and Paine Field. That may be necessary peak hours, but off-peak it would overserve Paine and underserve Everett. I’d rather that Paine get a shuttle line, or if not, then less than every other train.

  7. As unlikely as it is that any of these provisional projects are going to be built, I still agree with “why not”? (With Kirkland being the exception).

    1. Indeed. What’s the downside? They’re not committing any money at all to these, just leaving the option open if funding becomes available.

    2. The downside is that come ST4 time any of these projects that don’t get built to the top of the queue, regardless of whether they make sense. q.v. Spine Destiny.

      1. That sounds like a pretty abstract worry. I hope we fix the problems we can today, and worry about the politics of future transit measures (10+ yrs away) when they start coming around.

  8. ST currently assumes the federal government will only contribute 11-13% of capital costs but changes in federal budget can happen quickly. …., this is not an impossible dream.

    This isn’t an impossible dream today.

    MAX Orange Line was close to 50% federal, even under current circumstances. Get to that level from 13% and you’ve built the Metro 8 Subway and Ballard – UW.

    1. It is also possible that the government will fund projects that are a better value. It is hard to imagine projects that are a worse value than this, based on any kind of metric. It might be different if they did things the other way around (e. g. planned to build the Metro 8 subway and then use the extra money to extend Link farther north).

      1. It is hard to imagine projects that are a worse value than this, based on any kind of metric.

        Well, Sacramento is considering closing its Green Line because it only moves about 400 people a day right now…..

        ST3 will probably compete with Portland’s southwest corridor, which goes through nothing on its way to a parking lot at a shopping mall in an area that really doesn’t even have a name.

        Sure, this proposal has a lot of mistakes, but every transit agency in the country is doing the same damned thing.

  9. With the timeline that ST3 plans, ST3 IS the future. What ST3 should be doing is planning for the *now*.

  10. Its a good plan though not the all fix it it for me that every one wants. Just do it, just do something.

  11. One downside to this is I can see the ST board in the future be distracted by building shinny new things for their constituents rather than investing to maintain existing infrastructure, or funding low cost solutions (express buses) rather than building light rail willy nilly because they have the beaucratic mandate to build.

    These are major investment decisions and should be beholden to the public. If we are going to spend this money and build a whole raft of additional projects, it SHOULD go to the public for a vote, not simply slipped in as a funding footnote.

    Robert Moses was able to run amok with his interstates because he had unlimited funding via tolls and other fees. Obviously Sound Transit isn’t going to be that, but it is important to check in with the electorate on a regular basis. Getting approval is a critical component of a successful project, not merely a planning inconvenience

    1. ST just passed a financial policy saying maintenance and equipment replacement is its top funding priority. Both ST1 and ST2 include a budget for maintenance and replacement for their projects.

      1. Easy to say that now, but hard to maintain in 2036 when ST Board is full of politicians that were not around in 2016. The provisional projects will be tempting…

      2. That’s just speculation though. Maybe they won’t. But 2036 is twenty years away. A lot could happen by then, such as the state and feds getting serious about the infrastructure backlog, merging all the transit agencies into one, or things we haven’t thought about.

      3. That may be better or worse. The Port is directly elected, and a fair number of people don’t think it’s very good. In any case, even if they are elected, AJ’s point still stands: there will be elections between now and then and it won’t necessarily be the same people in twenty years.

  12. One of sound transit’s major shortcomings is that everything they do is based and has to be in one of their plans/projects. They have no flexibility to add, expand, or otherwise majorly improve the current system if it’s not in their plans. They need to break away from this plan based model, and give themselves the flexibility they need to improve and adapt as opportunities present themselves.

    1. They can modify the Long-Range Plan anytime they want. They updated it in 2014 for ST3, and added and removed corridors. The law just requires projects to be in the plan tirst to avoid a bunch of ad hoc projects with no thought to how the affect the whole and address the overall needs.

      1. So, if a bunch of private developers in South Lake Union offered ST $1 billion or so towards the Metro 8 Subway, they could point to its presence in the long range plan and start moving it forward? Just not with ST2 or ST3 money?

      2. I think they have needs that are unmet from their existing services, where funds could be found outside of their normal process (grants, etc.) that are going un explored because it’s not listed by name in their plans. A lot of this goes towards P&R, Sounder Station, and other relatively minor capital expansion, and route/service expansion and modification although they seem rather vague about that anymore probably just for such reasons.

      3. I’m thinking of what happened when TriMet built the line to the Portland airport. Bechtel Corporation came in and offered to fund the line to the airport in exchange for the airport allowing Bechtel to develop unused airport land near I-205.

        Not surprisingly, that altered TriMet’s priorities a bit.

      4. “So, if a bunch of private developers in South Lake Union offered ST $1 billion or so towards the Metro 8 Subway, they could point to its presence in the long range plan and start moving it forward?”

        It’s not in the long-range plan. You have to get it in first. That’s why ST has not acnowledged Metro 8 as a worthwhile project: it’s not in the LRP. If developers offered ST $1 billion toward an Metro 8 subway, then ST might get so excited about it that it would put it in the long-range plan immediately so that to can go forward with it. But absent that billion dollars, ST doesn’t seem to see it as a North King priority.

        In the 2014 deliberations two things came up.

        (1) The LRP has a Madison line. The board discussed deleting it because SDOT is doing Madison BRT, but they weren’t sure if Madison BRT would be enough long term so they left the corridor in. I argued that an Uptown-SwedishCherryHill line could be an alternative in that, since it would be no further away than Bellevue Way to 405 or Aurora to 15th NE, which were considered acceptable alternatives for those corridors. But ST hasn’t commented on that.

        (2) A U-shaped line appeared in a draft: West Seattle-Jackson-23rd-Denny-Uptown. I asked ST where it came from and the rep said one person had suggested it in an open house. Neither the board nor I could think of how it would be useful (Who would take it from Jackson to Uptown, or West Seattle to Uptown? They would transfer downtown instead.), and nobody else stepped up to defend it. A week before the final vote that deleted it, some people on STB started talking about a “Metro 8 line”. That also envisions a Denny Way/23rd routing, so the U-shaped corridor could have represented it in the LRP. But it was too late to draw ST’s attention to it because the vote was imminent, and the corridor was deleted. The next time ST will be inclined to update the LRP is in preparation for ST4. Which could be years away or never.

        Also, Washington law is more restrictive on public-private partnerships than Oregon is, so ST may not be able to accept a private contribution. That’s what they said at the TCC forum when somebody suggested using private funding for 130th Station as MAX did for a station. They mumbled that the legislature is not sure if they like partnerships or not, and they’ve been gradually tightening the rules, after something happened with the Hood Canal Bridge or such. On the other hand, SDOT did get private donations for the SLUT stations, so I’m not sure how that’s different.

  13. Hey Seattle Subway;

    Please accept my sincere apology for how the Inslee-Bryant debate took over the comment threads. I rather think you guys have some great ideas.



  14. Not sure if this was covered above, but wanted to start a fresh discussion:

    Why does Seattle Subway not give any love to downtown Everett and Tacoma? I would think extending Link into the respective downtown core would be preferable over the alternatives they are proposing here – Tacoma Mall link and the Paine connector – which strike me as much more suburban oriented. Put aside suggestions like more funding for South Sounder … are these 5 projects really the best “next” 5 projects for each region?

    Everett in particular seems like an unforced error by transit advocates here … extending Link north of the Everett station through the city core and to Everett community college – grade separated and with urban stop spacing – seems a much more TOD-centric / Urbanist / efficient investment than doubling down on the Paine spur. Getting Snohomish’s political leadership to be open to Paine BRT and an I5 alignment for Link struck me as one of the biggest wins during the latest public comment period. Allowing provisional funding to “upgrade” Paine BRT to light rail strikes me as backsliding; it would be much better to have provision funding for the Paine BRT to be better BRT (more ROW, etc.) and extend the I5 link alignment further.

    (I also don’t think Kirkland is the best next project for East King… see my comments above about Renton-Bellevue transit … but I understand that Renton hasn’t asked for it, and it’s really a South King project on East King territory … but I’m still bummed by the lack of love for Renton. A Burien-Renton-Bellevue and/or Kent-Renton-Bellevue line strikes me as a much better investment than a Kirkland stub)

    1. These are projects the local areas want. Snohomish in particular has taken a Paine Field or Else!!! position.

    2. The map does have downtown Everett. That has been an ongoing issue. Everett wants it to downtown and the college; ST truncated it at Everett Station to fit into the ST3 budget. The map above has a downtown Everett station, which is between the two viewpoints. I think Seattle Subway would say “More is good” and support the college extension if it had a chance this cycle.

      Paine Field is clearly a spur in this map, not a detour. It could be realized as BRT or LRT. So that’s consistent with the lower-cost, shorter-time compromise that has been floating around. I’m not sure SS is saying the provisional project should be “Upgrading BRT to LRT”, but that the provisional project is “Anything to Paine Field at all”. Of course, we’d have to make sure that ST and Snohomish understand it that way. But your idea of a provisional extension to Everett CC is a good one. Or Snohomish could start thinking about its own Tacoma Link-like network.

      The Pierce boardmembers have been asking for Tacoma Mall to be the official end of the spine, whether it’s built now or later. The article agrees with that, but the map shows a further extension to Tacoma Community College. I don’t know where that came from; I haven’t heard anyone else suggesting that. But that would serve Tacoma Dome, Tacoma Mall, and TCC, but not downtown.

      As for downtown Tacoma, nobody in Tacoma or Pierce has asked for that. They seem happy with Tacoma Link serving that role, and eventually getting five-line extensions throughout the city.

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