Sound Transit Light Rail Pulling Into Beacon Hill

This is an open thread.

80 Replies to “News Roundup: Meddling”

    1. …..and it would be really nice if some certain transit agencies in the USA were to put interior maps of their stations there as well. I’m pretty sure I wandered through several states on my way from the CTA station to Midway Airport.

      In Chicago weather it is nice that their preposterous walkway from the train to the airport is at least enclosed (unlike certain other airports served by transit trains) but it also sure seems like a bizarre rat maze too. I think I counted three 180 degree turns in the walkway, among many other strange turns and twists.

      1. The station at Midway needed to be a 1/4 mile from the main terminal in order to allow for through running in the future and good train-bus connections. Except for the lack of a two-way escalator at the station end, it’s a fairly well optimized and functional design.

  1. Brenda (TBM#1? Or is it #2) is back to digging. Hopefully she makes it to Husky Stadium Station within the time limit.

    1. If it’s truely Brenda, then it’s TBM #1. Pamela was #2. There had been some talk at one point of taking the best parts of each and creating a combined machine. Bramela? Penda?

      I for one was sad to see the anthopomorphizing of the TMBs go away. TBM-1 and TBM-2 seem so utilitarian in contrast to the image of these living machines burrowing their way under our city that their names conjured up.

      1. These machines where not designed by Eli Whitney, the major components are not necessarily interchangeable. The only place that a Frankenmachine was discussed was on this forum, and such discussion was ill-informed.

        Additionally Brenda’s trailing gear was backed out of the NB tunnel essentially intact since the trailing gear fits inside the ID of the tunnel., The cutter head and pressure shield exceeds the OD of the tunnel and was extracted and trucked back to UDS. But since this was the component that was damaged on Pamela, it makes no sense to use damaged components from Pamela to replace the functioning components from Brenda. So the machine that is currently digging is essentially Brenda in her entirety.

        But bottom line is she seems to be making good progress already.

        Now where is the latest ridership data?

  2. Seems like one of the key components of any modern mass transit system is realtime train arrival information, yet ST still does not have this at the UW and Capitol Hill stations. Does anyone here know of the reason why ST has not implemented real-time arrival/departure information at the UW and Capitol Hill stations?

    1. Too bad Oregon Iron Works went belly up, but that was probably due to the fact that the streetcars that got built were basically each a prototype to itself and they never really had a production line or that many orders. According to a friend that worked there, they were rolling pieces of fail.

      1. It is United Streetcar that is no longer around. Oregon Iron Works (United Streetcar’s parent company) is still around. They merged with Vigor Industrial ~2 years ago, and were recently renamed Vigor Works.

      2. United Streetcars 021-026 are running reliably every day with tons more riders than envious Seattle streetcar. The original Skoda cars 001-010 also run reliably. The first United Streetcar 015 has problems but makes appearances regularly.

      3. Yes, I wouldn’t consider them to be “rolling pieces of fail” but at the same time low volume production in this industry (I work for an electrical equipment manufacturer for the railroads) has its issues.

        We were only on the edges of the stuff that went on there. I can’t talk too much about it but I think it is safe for me to say there were certainly issues going on there.

        They could have eventually had a really good product, but only after a lot of investment. Bombardier and Kawasaki were demonstrating vastly better quality products in the USA, and Siemens, Alstom and CAF have products in Europe and manufacturing capacity in the USA. It eventually became quite clear to a number of people at OIW that, by their own admission, with the big boys suddenly having their interest grabbed it was going to be a very difficult product development to get anything with that level of sophistication.

        Sure, the OIW product as a licensed clone of Skoda’s product was OK, but it was still basically a late 1980s design with . Once people in the USA get more familiar with what current car designs are like it will be clear how difficult a time developing a modern car design would be for a company without the resources of Alstom or Bombardier.

    2. Glenn, my own best hope for the re-industrialization that this country needs would be an 80 years updated version of St. Louis Car Company. In other words, a USA that can do a PCC. From the trackbed up.

      Our chief industrial advantage was always design that was easy to look at and handle, tough, and above all simple. Like everything called “PCC.” Also “DC-3.” Never been aboard anything Russian- though they look like they’ll take a lot of abuse.

      Would also be good to have a machine that used computers for convenience, but which humans could handle just fine through the rest of the shift. How close is any shop in Portland or anywhere else to fitting the picture?


      1. Brookville Equipment liberty streetcars were running without overhead wires in Texas before Seattle’s First Hill line went into operation.

        They are probably the best bet for a USA based manufacturer.

        The big problem is that there are many, many countries out there that don’t have any headquarters office, though many have some sort of local manufacturing. Bombardier, Siemens, Alstom, CAF, Nippon-Sharyo, Kawasaki, and Rotem have all built railroad equipment here. Hitachi bought out Ansaldo-Breda’s manufacturing capacity so they must be planning something too, and Stadler is building a plant in Utah (because their mountains have the best powder in the northern hemisphere, according to their Swiss executive).

        That means railroad passenger car manufacturing corporate headquarters offices are basically limited to 7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and Korea. There are a dozen or so small manufacturers like Brookville (Pennsylvania), Talgo and Skoda but for the large scale manufacturing that’s it.

        It’s basically the same you have seen in the airplane manufacturing industry. There’s been huge consolidations which leave only a few small players and a small number of large players.

      2. The term PCC is an acronym for President’s Commission Car, so named for President Franklin D Roosevelt. We need a President’s Commission Bus (PCB?). The standard 40′ 4mpg jerky jostling roaring rattletraps are obsolete. Their chassis are configured for higher speed with fewer stops. Seattle needs a new model trolleybus specifically for hillclimbs. The new low-floor trolleybuses are not designed for stop-n-go operation nor hillclimbs. We certainly need a new paratransit van model. A low-floor FWD plug-in hybrid drivetrain seems ideal, but better transit translates into fewer car sales, therefore, GM & Ford will not produce a better paratransit van without a fight.

      3. Not quite the right origin.

        The President’s Conference was a meeting of electric railway executives to develop a common standard design for a modern car.

        The PCC car came from the committee those executives put together to develop the design. Despite the stereotype, the design by committee approach didn’t turn out too bad.

  3. i’ll be interested to see how the current redesign of and work on Roosevelt interacts with putting BRT there. I think for BRT to work on Roosevelt, it needs a bus lane- during the evening rush hour traffic is frequently backed up from somewhere between 55th and 75th, and taking the bus is such a crawl that I’ve gotten off the bus and walked.

    At the same time, Roosevelt is a heavily used bicycle corridor, both for local trips- the bike parking outside Trader Joe’s frequently overflows, as well as for people heading across the University Bridge. Having a protected bike lane from 65th to the bridge will make this an even safer and more popular route for bicyclists.

    I’d like to see Roosevelt have both a bus lane and a bike lane, but this would, at minimum, require eliminating parking on both sides of the street to add another travel lane.

    All modes on the corridor (and on the 45th St corridor) would also massively benefit from stationing a traffic cop at the intersection of 45th and Roosevelt. The amount of box-blocking that happens there screws up the intersection for pedestians, cyclists, bus riders, and drivers. going through it from every direction, even on weekends.

    1. In my opinion, getting rid of the parking is the easy part. There are plenty of streets that lack parking, and many of them don’t have bus lanes or even bike lanes. They are called major arterials. Seattle is lucky in that these streets do have parking, so now we can put it to better use (30 years ago they would have just removed the parking and turned it into a five lane road).

      The bigger problem is finding room for both BRT and bike lanes on the same corridor.. As I said here:, they are in contention for at least part of this route. But if push comes to shove, I favor BRT (even if it means that bike lanes have to move to other streets). The BRT potential here is just mind blowing. We are talking about subway speeds for a lot less money. All together, you can make the case that the stops are better than Link, just because there are more of them (it serves 45th, Campus Parkway and several spots in South Lake Union). As much as I like bike infrastructure (and use it) I would hate to water down the proposal for it. If they can get close to that sort of performance, I think it becomes the first priority.

    2. I just went to the Eastlake open house, lots of representation from the ‘that’s my parking spot’ NIMBYs (62+ crowd) and cyclists (reflective clothing crowd).

      Take aways:
      – No bus lanes on either side of Mercer, none in either direction on block to South and only SB north side of Mercer. No bus lanes on Fairview or Eastlake, none in U District, none on Virginia in Denny Triangle. Only bus lanes in a small stretch on Fairview in SLU and the northbound street in Denny Triangle.

      – Electrification in Phase I will only go as far 45th or 65th. Later extension to Northgate.

      – Streetcar by Fred Hutch on Fairview will be relocated to west side of street.

      – Continuous protected bike lanes through Eastlake on Eastlake and Fairview and through U District to Roosevelt. (We need better bike lanes in this corridor but let’s create a parallel route and fix the missing gaps… too much on Eastlake /Fairview).

      -Random short discontinuous patches of PBLs in Denny Triangle.

      If you care about this project actually improving transit with reliable service and not creating another high cost low utility dud like FHSC in the name of appeasing parking/loading paranoia and unused disconnected bike lanes taking up precious street space… get your ass to the open house tomorrow in U District at the UW Tower!

      1. I was there as well. I managed to chat with a few of the officials, including the guy I think was the lead. Yeah, the parking folks were pretty nuts. I really don’t get this. There are plenty of streets that don’t have parking, and most don’t have bus lanes or even bike lanes. Within a couple miles of my house there is 125th, 145th, Northgate Way, Pinehurst Way, and 5th I really don’t get why people think we should have parking on major arterials (or why they think Eastlake isn’t a major arterial).

        In general it looks like they will take away plenty of parking, but that much of it is going to bike lanes. I really think the parking concern (by both sides) is way overblown. It is obvious that SDOT is willing to take parking spaces (72% of those from 45th to downtown) and those that think the sky will fall as a result better get over it. If the worst thing that happens to you is that you have to pay for parking, you live a charmed life.

        The big struggle, from what I can tell, is to try and not spend a huge amount of money, or screw up regular traffic too much. In this corridor, the other big struggle is bike lanes. Speaking of which, he said that the bike experts took a look at side streets to see if it could work and they said it was much worse than what they thought. Long and short of it is that if you want a decent bike route through there, you would have to spend a bundle, or do what they are doing (run the bike lane down Eastlake).

        This also messes up center running. Eastlake isn’t wide enough to put in center bus lanes along with bike lanes (unless they cut into the sidewalk with is less than ideal, and expensive). In this case it might not be worth it anyway (there aren’t huge numbers of people taking right turns).

        So instead there are a lot of targeted investments. I can see the reasoning behind this. They have done the math and think that is the best way to spend the money. I get that, but what I don’t understand is why the average speed is so low. It will pick up a bit, but driving will still be faster. So something doesn’t make sense there. With 100% off board payment you really don’t spend much time at each stop. With signal priority, and lots of queue jumps (where you think they matter) you should be able to more than make up for stopping every five blocks. So either their modeling isn’t right when it comes to how good this will be, or their modeling isn’t right when it comes to average speed. Then again, maybe they are grossly overestimating the time spent at each stop (we are new to BRT in this town, and maybe don’t realize that dwell times should be in the 20 second range).

        What concerns me most is the downtown area. This is where the congestion is, and this is where they really haven’t done that much (from what I can tell). There is a some good work between Mercer and Denny, but they are limited for a couple reasons. First, next to Mercer there is no room to take a bus lane unless they take one of the turn lanes for the freeway (which shows again that the fight isn’t parking versus bus, it is general traffic versus bus). That is only one block, though. I am more concerned about the southern end of this. Basically all they call out is southbound Steward from Boren to 5th as getting an all day bus lane. That is very nice (and one that will be shared with other buses) but there is nothing for the Fairview-Boren-Stewart section, nor is their anything at all for the northbound Virginia section.

        Finally, they did mention that there has been no work on 3rd Avenue for this project. That is part of another, bigger study, I guess (in general just to get buses moving through there). So, yeah, I’m sympathetic, but disappointed. Maybe they looked at the numbers and figured spending a bundle on this wasn’t worth it (this is very close to what they budgeted). I can understand that, but I am most concerned about whether they are making the kind of investment in downtown that needs to be made to get the buses moving quickly.

      2. So where IS the money going? Once again a transit project that does little to improve transit but rather spends all the money on bike lanes, auto turn lanes, and replacing existing signals and pavement. Its not even going to electrification if Phase I ends at 45th (save for a couple blocks of wire in the U District)!!! This seems to really be little more than a bike project, bikes are clearly steering the ship between Mercer and Roosevelt. Mercer to Downtown seems to be all about auto LOS. I guess all the money is going into cutting back the streetcar line to the entrance of Daniel’s Broiler parking lot.

        I’m shocked that there are no bus lanes on Fairview at Mercer. If there was ever a place they are needed, it is at Mercer. The only real place there are any bus lanes is on Fairview for about 5 blocks between Denny and Republican. Stewart (southbound into Downtown) has bus lanes for about 4 blocks while there are none whatsoever on Virginia (northbound out of Downtown).

        My god the BRT creep in Seattle is the worst. Its whittled away by SDOT and its consultants at the start.

      3. >> Where is the money going?

        Of the 37 million (to 65th), 7 million is to move the streetcar, and 11 million is for the catenary (what I assume to be electrification — I always thought catenary meant a curve). I’m not sure about the other half, but it must cost something to hook up the traffic signals for bus priority. There are also a bunch of queue jumps, BAT lanes and bus lanes.There will be islands for some of the bus stops and probably a fair amount of similar work to get the bike lanes to the other side of the bus (similar to Dexter). Then there are the buses themselves. It just isn’t a huge amount of money (roughly 18 million after moving the streetcar and electrification).

        As far as Mercer goes, I don’t think it will be that bad. It obviously moves slowly there, but there will only be one block of moving slowly (unlike now, where there are several). The street is screwed up now because of construction (or at least I think it is still screwed up now). It may not be that bad once the construction is done and the other bus lane is built. The lane that goes straight isn’t nearly the problem as the lanes that go towards the freeway. There is no mention of a queue jump, which puzzles me (since queue jumps are common and in this case I think it is essential to move from the right lane to the left).

        In general the big problem with trying to make cheap improvements with this corridor is that it is a crucial one for cars, buses and bikes. This is a big contrast with Madison. With Madison, they didn’t even try to do anything with bikes there (they added improvements on other streets) and just figured the cars could go on another street. That is very difficult with this corridor, as there really aren’t other ways to get there.

        Arguably the best thing about BRT is that it gets our foot in the door. Unlike streetcars and light rail, it is pretty easy to fix. If the bus does get bogged down on Mercer (or other streets) then they can add more support. That might mean spending more money (I think the only way you can get it to work is if you have center running, which means adding a middle of the street bus stop) and that might also screw up regular traffic, but if could easily be worth it.

      4. I just did the math, and I contend that the numbers SDOT published for average bus speeds are way too pessimistic. They say a car, not making any stops, can average 12.6 miles per hour from 65th to downtown right now. They also claim that with these changes, a car will be slowed a bit, to 10.4 MPH. At the very minimum, not counting stops, a bus should be able to average that 12.6 average. At 12.6 MPH, it takes 25 minutes to go from 65th down to 3rd. At 10.4 MPH (the new car speed), it takes 31 minutes. That is a six minute difference. There are 14 stops. Assuming 30 seconds a stop (remember, this is all off board payment) a bus would get there within a minute of a car (making no stops) right now.

        But a bus should be able to do much better that that. With queue jumps, bus lanes, BAT lanes and signal priority, a bus should travel faster than 12.6 MPH (not counting stops). I really think they are grossly overestimating the time it takes to get on an off a bus when everything is level, and no one pays a fare. It may be that all the numbers are off (driving is a lot slower) but my guess is this bus, end to end, should be at least as fast as driving.

  4. That’s what I love about this city, duplicate services. D line runs great but we need to spend 5 billion on a Ballard LR line. LR station is being built at Roosevelt but now we need another BRT/Rapid line. What else can we plow billions into?

    1. Roosevelt BRT intentionally shadows Link and serves areas not covered by the station walk-sheds. The services are complementary.

      1. What AJ said. Look at the chart ( on this post ( and you can see some really nice combinations by leveraging 65th, 45th and Westlake station. For example, most of South Lake Union would be readily accessible by everyone riding Link (something that isn’t the case now).

        Oh, and the entire budget for all the Seattle BRT projects is around 300 million (not billions, as you imply).

      2. A symptom of building light rail stations in sparsely populated areas; which is pretty much all of our system except the bus tunnel and UW. The Airport is a destination in it’s own right precisely because it is a transfer point.

    2. The D Line works great? Really? It’s an acceptable interim service. Light rail would be more than twice as fast, significantly more reliable, and provide significantly more capacity.

      1. Yea, the D line is moderately better than the bus service it replaced but isn’t frequent or rapid mass transit in any way. A 40 minute trip from downtown to Ballard isn’t acceptable, whereas a 15 minute light rail trip is even faster than driving.

    3. Anyone else here for abandoning Interstate 5 since its services are duplicative of 1st Avenue?

    4. If Central Link was built with (roughly) 1/2 mile stop spacing, then, yes, Roosevelt BRT would be redundant. And certainly U-Link should have had at least 2 more stations, and I think a station at 55th could have been reasonable as well, but if you’re running a line between Roosevelt and Northgate, there’s not enough density of destinations in the intervening area to justify spending on the order of $100 million per station.

      I’m somewhat less bullish on this BRT line than RossB, but growth is accelerating along the corridor, and a BRT line will at least be popular for local trips, and could also be useful complement for Link. If we get full ROW from Northgate to Downtown, then it will also make SLU much more accessible from north of the ship canal.

      1. After attending the meeting, I am significantly less bullish on this line than I was. Basically they have decided this wasn’t worth the kind of investment necessary to get the kind of speeds they thought they could. They can only spend so much money, and there is only so much they can do if they want to have a good bike path as well. I can understand that. They really were given a very small budget to do all these projects (a small subset of the Move Seattle project). Compared to corridors like the 7 or 44, I can understand why they didn’t want to spend too much on this one. Still, it is very disappointing. As I said above (in a much longer comment) I am most concerned about downtown. If you can move buses really quickly from 3rd and Stewart to the southern end of Lake Union, I can live with mediocre speeds the rest of the way. I’m not convinced that will happen, which has me a bit worried. This should be significantly better, but I don’t think it will be outstanding (i. e. gold level BRT).

        The good news is that in general, modifying this line is relatively cheap. Moving the street car line isn’t (7 of the 37 million is to precisely that). So if a few years from now they decide to add a few more bus lanes downtown, that should be pretty cheap.

      2. They should work around the existing streetcar terminus, sure it isn’t ideal but to spent so much on changing that is nuts. It would be easier and cheaper to just cut it back at MOHAI on that private RoW.

        And when you scale this project back so much, why keep the expensive consultants?!? What they are proposing could be done in-house with SDOT much like was done on Dexter or the red bus lanes.

      3. Thanks for attending the meeting. It’s been said before, but I wish there was a better calendar of these things so that most people didn’t just hear about them the day of the event.

        Compared to corridors like the 7 or 44, I can understand why they didn’t want to spend too much on this one.

        Your and Poncho’s reports just make me more pessimistic about what we’ll get out of a RapidRide+ Route 44. Though there’s always going to be some bottlenecks (e.g. the bridge) and Mercer is a Mess, I feel like there are fewer obstacles to improving the Roosevelt/Eastlake/SLU corridor compared to 45th Street.

      4. I disagree, Phillip. To be clear, the 44 corridor has some major obstacles (which is why a subway makes sense there). But I don’t think it has as many as this corridor. To begin with, you don’t have the bike conflict. The 44 route really means very little to bikers. They can be moved to parallel streets. There already are some nice bike lanes on other streets, if memory serves (43rd?). On the other hand, I knew the changes for “Full BRT” were in trouble when I drove to the meeting (and parked quite easily, by the way). There is a hell of a lot of construction going on, and almost all of it is to improve bike access. It would be crazy to move that, or water that down when it is obviously a huge thing for bikers (I get that — it is a major potential bike corridor, as is anything next to Lake Union).

        For parts of of the 44 route, I think it is fairly simple to improve things dramatically (just take the parking). Again, it is pretty clear with all these projects that folks have it backwards. We shouldn’t worry about parking. If you see an arterial that has parking, start talking to SDOT about making it a bus lane (it could happen). The problem is when the parking has already been removed. Worse yet, when well meaning improvements have been made (such as narrowing the street). The good news is though, for most of the way, 45th is really not “the only way to get there” the way that this corridor is. You can go 50th. You can go down low (via Fremont) if you are headed from the UW to Ballard. So the possibility exists that they will make more intrusive improvements (e. g. “take lanes”).

        There are challenging locations, but in general, this is where we should make a push, in my opinion. We need to try and take a lane in many cases. Drivers can always go on a different street. Even if you do that, though, there is only so much that can be improved. Westbound under Aurora is one lane, so that will have to be shared, for example. Even in that case, though, signal priority would do wonders. As the the bus leaves this stop (, the next light should turn green, and then immediately soon after, so should the light on Fremont. That should clear out the traffic and then you can add bus lanes a little while after that (if they are even needed).

        Anyway, yeah, improving the 44 won’t be perfect, but if they are as aggressive as they were with Madison (taking lanes and forcing regular traffic to deal with it) then it should be a lot better.

      5. Oh, and Phillip, try and get on their mailing list. I was notified about the meeting in plenty of time. I’m not sure if you need to get on their list for each project, or if you will get notified every time there is a similar meeting.

  5. Pity they won’t take Point Wells suggestion of a North Sounder station seriously – if they really do put 3,000 condos there, it would probably be the 2nd busiest station after Everett.

  6. If money was no object, what would be the best solution for connecting UW Station and Stevens Way? A recent post suggested some bus routes should be changed to speed up travel between the two locations. Is that an ideal solution, or just an affordable, doable one? Would an elevated, enclosed movable walkway be a good solution?

    1. If money was no object, then I’d run 2 sets of routes, both at 15 minute or less headways- one set on Stevens Way for people going to campus, and one set on Montlake for people transferring to Link.

      The problem with installing any major new infrastructure is that by the time it’s designed and built, Northgate Link will be close to opening, and more people will be boarding and transferring at U-District, Roosevelt, and Northgate stations. I won’t be surprised if UW Station boardings actually fall significantly when Northgate Link opens.

    2. If money were no object and UW approved, move the station underneath Rainier Vista. That would be closer to Stevens Way, Pacific Street, and Montlake Blvd bus stops and the hospital. Football-fan alums would have to cross the street six times a year but that’s not much: it’s still less than they’d walk if they were driving.

      1. 1) Seven times a year (and 20+ for basketball).
        2) Sports fans’ walkshed is considerably larger than a typical walkshed, in no small part because parking near events is extremely high-priced. I don’t think any fan would have complained about the new station being across the street from where it is now. As you mention, most people driving to the games walk much, much further. It’s a mile to the north end of lot E18 (towards U Village) and about that to the Padelford garage.
        3) Just about everybody going that direction already crosses the street and has for nearly 100 years. It’s closed post-game and many of the buses stage there, so you walk across.
        4) 20,000 people ride the bus shuttles and the number of others carpooling is immense (thousands are tailgating, and there’s a $60/car parking charge for cars with less than three occupants). Husky fans have long been accustomed to not using SOVs to get to the games. Personally, in over 200 home games attended I have never once done so.

        I know your comment was tongue-in-cheek but I can pretty much guarantee you that neither we football-fan alums nor the athletic department had much if anything to do with the station’s location. (In fact, noticing that the information for the spring game omitted the fact that the stadium was now served by the new station, I let the department know that they might want to consider adding that information. Not only did they agree, I got a “We love the new station! We take the train up to Capitol Hill for lunch!” — which is probably faster than getting to anywhere to eat near the stadium.) The station will be well-used on game days but it’s unlikely that a single person using it would not have were the station located where you suggest–which indeed is a much better location!

      2. Totally correct, Scott. The decision to put the station where they put it had absolutely nothing to do with football. My understanding was that the UW and ST couldn’t agree on how to handle security. It is a shame, since it would be much better for everyone, since the vast majority of riders are either headed to campus, or to the hospital. The former would not require an overpass (to an underground station) while the latter is already connected underground to that parking lot.

      3. The athletic department may not have been involved but the UW gives a lot of attention to football-fan alums because they bring money to the university and fund the other sports.

        The security issue was about connecting the station to the parking garage – hospital tunnel and having non-UW people in it. So they could have put the tunnel next to the other one with no passage between them.

  7. Any chance that Roosevelt BRT can stay on 5th a few more blocks to better serve the rapidly developing East Green Lake urban village? The Link station is already going to require an unpleasant and unnecessarily long trek across I5.

    BRT could cut over on 70th to Roosevelt or take Weedin Place to 65th.

    1. You aren’t the first to suggest that. That would make a lot of sense (assuming they can get the right of way). I’m not sure if they can, though. The problem isn’t getting from 5th to Roosevelt. For example, Weedin looks great, as there is parking that can be taken under the freeway. The problem is north of there. Crossing over the freeway on 5th, which doesn’t have room for bus lanes, can get congested. It might work if you add a bunch of traffic lights. Add a light for Banner and 5th, then add another light on 5th at 76th, where the bridge narrows. Take away the parking, and synchronize the lights. Northbound, the light at Banner and the jump ahead light for transit go at the same time, sending traffic northbound. Meanwhile, traffic southbound just needs a jump ahead light for the bus. As long as southbound traffic doesn’t back all the way up onto the bridge (north of 76th) I could see it working.

      1. No ROW is needed on either Weedin or Fifth NE. They’re traveled, but not heavily. It would require a stoplight be installed at 70th.

        This would be a huge improvement, tying Maple Leaf and East a Green Lake together.

    2. I made this comment at every opportunity at the Eastlake Open House tonight. It’s a clear clean route that hits Green Lake commercial area and especially the PCC store. Personally I’d prefer it cut over and head east-west on 66th (vs 65th) and be above the station for what should be an easier station transfer but that is a minor detail.

    3. Good job poncho (I noticed your comment). Folks there said that the section between 65th and Northgate won’t be built as part of this project though. Eventually, perhaps, but not now. They did do a preliminary study, and went with Banner (as many people suggested) instead of taking a sharp turn on 80th. I asked about the stop sign there (since it is congested) but he said they weren’t going to change that to a traffic light. It is probably way too early to worry about that (because again, there is no money to do anything) but that hardly seems like BRT (the stop sign allows for decent traffic flow, but you lose all signal priority and spend a good chunk of time waiting to get through).

  8. It’s surprising but good for developers to incorporate transit into their plans. Seemingly, CT will axe the majority of their commuter service in 2023, freeing up local service to operate for frequently. A 15 minute bus between Edmonds and 185th St is perfect.

  9. I’ve been in Washington DC for two full days now and have been feeling the brunt of their first phase of SafeTrack work (I take the Silver Line between my hotel and conference venue, which is being reduced to 18-20 minute headways and single-tracking). It’s been a bit of an inconvenience, but not a total nightmare.

  10. It is amazing how the Port and Convention Center can seemingly work outside of process, but transit has to slog through it over and over and over– rather than a quick – “oh, hey, here’s what we are doing!”. Maybe we can work with the Port or Convention Center on our next transit projects, they seems to have the magic sauce!

    1. It’s a state entity. The UW is a state entity and pre-empted ST’s ability to site UW Station in a more central location or put TOD at the UW Laundry facility next to Mt Baker station. WSDOT is building the deep-bore tunnel outside of process, in the sense that Seattle voters rejected two tunnel proposals before as too expensive and wanted the Surface+Transit option instead, but the state did a last-minute deal with the then-mayor and city council to build a tunnel anyway.

      So the solution to your problem is to get the state interested in building regional rail in Puget Sound, then it would cut the red tape and get it done. And if it were sufficiently motivated, it would define rail as a “highway purpose” to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court so that we could use gas-tax money for Sounder and Link. And while the state is at it, it could build that third passenger track from Seattle to the Oregon border that’s in its long-range plan, to facilitate more Cascades and Sounder trips and extending Sounder to Olympia. Or it could arrange a deal with BNSF and UP where the state buys the BNSF track for passenger-rail priority and freight moves mostly to the UP track.

      However, for those who don’t like the Link alignment in ST3 or generally, the state would probably design a much worse network.

    2. Forget the Convention Center and its price tag per se. Read the whole KUOW website item, earthquake danger and all, for the sense in which a 19th century Bible-believer understood God’s Wrath itself. Staring with full comprehension that it’s always well-deserved. Sheer, and factually well-founded horror.

      Sins remembered “unto the third and fourth generation”- about 40 years. Pretty much the length of time it takes for a misbegotten idea to go from a subject to talk about, to a general agreement not to talk about. Whatever old English, Latin, or Greek is for “It Is What It Is.”

      Worst of all,, KUOW’s current motto itself: “Editor’s note: This essay contains explicit language.” So does a Force Nine earthquake, which I’d rather listen to than one more repetition of that patronizing little warning. I’d rather die shaking than puking.

      Mark Dublin

      1. That’s what Wikipedia said, but it also said that there are seats for 74 people and I find it hard to believe that they can fit twice as many standing passengers as they do seated passengers.

      2. 74 seated and 126 standing seems in the right ballpark for max capacity. That would mean 1.7 standees for each seated passenger, That would be about 54 people standing in each of the front and back segments of each car, and 17 in the middle segment. That’s packed tight, but probably possible.

      3. For service planning, ST uses a smaller number. From

        5. Passenger Load Guidelines

        The characteristics of light rail make it possible to comfortably and efficiently accommodate standing passengers. Compared with buses, light rail has relatively fewer stops, wider doors and aisles, and a smoother, steadier ride. The average light rail trip distance is relatively short, so when passengers have to stand it generally is for brief periods of time. Accordingly, Central Link trains can routinely accommodate standees while still providing quality service. The general guidelines below are intended to help in making short-term decisions on the passenger capacity needed during different times of the day and week:

         Standees are permitted, up to a maximum of 200 percent of seated capacity per train (a 2.0 load factor). This is the equivalent to 4.4 square feet per standing passenger and is considered to be a “comfortable standing load” in the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual (2nd Edition) published by the Transportation Research Board.
         Passengers should not have to stand for more than 30 minutes under typical day-to-day circumstances.
         Corrective action should be evaluated whenever the 2.0 load factor or 30 minute standing time is exceeded on a regular basis (at least three days a week for weekday service, and twice a month for Saturday or Sunday service.)
         During off-peak periods, schedules and consists should be designed to provide enough seats for all passengers except when major events are scheduled, when construction or maintenance work results in longer headways, or when service is disrupted due to circumstances beyond Sound Transit’s control. “

  11. If Martin Selig can just put the lighted box on top of that monument to average person’s view of Government at its most boring, I’ve got a couple of other projects that need meddling.

    Utilities worker told me that really nice old building on Second just south of the Art Museum was to be replaced by something much taller. Anybody know link to intended size and shape?

    But the building that now permanently erases the memory of the Waterfall Park from Pioneer Square is a special case. It’s relationship to any of its surroundings is…what’s the obscenity I’m looking for? By itself, the thing sums up reason I’m glad I don’t live in Seattle anymore.

    So before the Design Review Board decides the same, one piece of meddling, please. See if next Blue Angels’ performance can spare one retro sonic boom (do they still have those) to at least take that building down to its frame for re-do that wouldn’t shame a mall?

    And wasn’t that space originally first place the replacement for the Waterfront Streetcar was supposed to go? Maybe my request can bring about a second look.


  12. Can someone explain to me why the Ballard line is only going to go to Market Street. That makes zero sense. It should go to AT LEAST 85th Street. A cut and cover tunnel up 15th would be relatively cheap. Running it in the centre lanes of 15th like it does on the south side of the city would be even cheaper. The expensive part on a per-mile basis is getting it from downtown to Market. Going north from there would be much, much cheaper on a per-mile basis. Plus it would save a needless transfer for many. Plus it would enable the bus system to be much more grid-based.

    I was looking at the proposed routes in 2025 and 2040 for KC Metro (, and the bus system if anything looks LESS grid-based than it is now. It makes no sense. Even the Monorail was to go up to 85th Street.

    1. The North King budget is pretty stretched already as it pays for part of the second downtown tunnel and two entirely new light rail lines, so I think there just simply isn’t anything left over for that kind of extension. I agree with you that it’s cheap and makes a lot of sense but I think there really just isn’t enough funding for it.

      Also, it couldn’t be payed for by a different subarea i.e. you couldn’t scrap the Issaquah line in favor of this.

      1. Also, it couldn’t be payed for by a different subarea i.e. you couldn’t scrap the Issaquah line in favor of this.

        Which, right there, is the most obnoxious thing about subarea equity and the idea that Seattle shouldn’t be allowed to tax itself for its own projects (monorail authority notwithstanding). We, as a region–to make transit more useful and able to move people around besides commuting needs–need light rail down 23rd Ave and Ballard Link to continue up to 85th far more than a light rail link that would be considered underperforming-relative-to-cost if it was run with buses.

      2. @lakecityrider

        If we have to work within the ST framework, I’m all in favor of allowing different rates of taxation between subareas- Seattle has much great transit needs and a much higher rate of transit use than Pierce or Snohomish County.

        But, I am, in general, fine with requiring that revenue raised in a subarea be spent in that subarea- I think this is what people usually mean when they talk about subarea equity.

        That said, when people talk about light rail to Issaquah, I feel like I’ve landed in some bizarro alternate reality. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time in issaqauh- I’ve only been there briefly once or twice, so maybe I don’t understand how much transit is used and needed in Issaquah, but from I can tell, it’s mostly a small, low-density mix of cul-de-sacs and parking lots nestled in-between state forests- not the sort of place that jumps out as being a good place for large transit capital expenditures.

      3. Issaquah zoned an urban center in the northwest near to the transit center. It wouldn’t be getting light rail otherwise.

      4. They could probably stretch it out farther if they ran on the surface more, but I guess we don’t want to do that now.

        Anyway, the lack of a grid has little to do with that. It has much more to do with geography and the decision (by ST) to ignore an existing or potential transit grid network. Run a line from Ballard to the UW (with all of the appropriate stops) and you enhance the grid. On the other hand, ST3 — like U-Link — will make restructures hell. What sort of complementary intersecting bus lines will be added? Not many, because you can only do so much here. This wraps around Queen Anne, and spends much of its time on a side next to a green belt. The other direction is the very sparsely populated neighborhood of Magnolia. Once in Ballard, it is a bit of a challenge because they won’t have a stop on Leary. This means it is difficult to serve buses like the 40, which serve the rapidly growing (and now probably more dense than anywhere in West Seattle) 24th avenue NW. Either you make the 40 jog over to 15th and Market, or you lose your connection. If you did move the 40, I doubt you would get many people from the other end, as it doesn’t work for something like lower Fremont to Queen Anne (despite being very close to both). Again, geography. Take a map of the Ballard to UW line, with all the intersecting bus routes (most of which are already there, from 24th NW to the UW). Now turn it sideways and see if you can make it work with Ballard to downtown. Nope (not even close).

        ST seems to be stuck in the old days, when everyone was headed downtown, and every transfer should take place there too. Even Metro doesn’t think that way anymore. Oh well.

      5. @PhillipG – yes, you have not spent enough time in Issaquah. Or sitting in traffic on I90 in Eastgate on a very full express bus.

      6. That said, when people talk about light rail to Issaquah, I feel like I’ve landed in some bizarro alternate reality. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time in issaqauh- I’ve only been there briefly once or twice, so maybe I don’t understand how much transit is used and needed in Issaquah, but from I can tell, it’s mostly a small, low-density mix of cul-de-sacs and parking lots nestled in-between state forests- not the sort of place that jumps out as being a good place for large transit capital expenditures.

        No, you have that right. Density is very low; a train won’t serve the Highlands; ridership for the express buses is extremely low. It makes no sense for light rail. Run more express buses and build a busway from Eastgate if you want to improve things. But this is typical “all problems can be solved with light rail” ST crap. Someday folks will enjoy their three seat ride into Seattle (bus to train to train). Some of those poor Issaquah folks will have to buy a car, just to get around in the middle of the day.

    2. @Chris Cee – it will go up to 85th in due time. Need to truncate the line somewhere for budget reasons

  13. How big a deal is the backyard cottage legislation delay? Will it delay it for a year or two, or is the appeal likely to kill it completely?

    1. Sounds like at least a year. Pretty frustrating as I’ve been watching anxiously. Sure would be nice to secure a HELOC while we still have these low interest rates to make it affordable. What a joke.

  14. Okanogan County starts up its new TRANGO transit system on July 1. Funded in part by an increase in sales tax voted on in 2014 (I think) and with a $1 fare and $30 monthly pass, it’s not quite as snazy as the LINK, but there will be 9 trips between Twisp and Winthrop everyday Monday through Saturday and that’s 9 more than we’ve got now. For other routes and all kinds of details, see

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