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After studies, drafts, public comment, more drafts, amendments, and so on, you might be a little confused about what exactly is in Sound Transit 3 (ST3). This is the second in a brief ST3 reference series (2019-2024 here) about what’s in the package that we’ll vote on in November. Today: the second wave of openings (2030-36), where the bulk of the light rail arrives.

Once again, all figures are in 2014 dollars.

In 2030, two Link segments will open. The first will connect West Seattle to the Link spine in Sodo, with three (elevated) stations at Alaska Junction, Avalon, and Delridge; and intersections with the spine at Sodo (elevated) and Stadium (at-grade). The 4.7-mile, $1.5 billion line would have no park-and-rides and attract 32,000-37,000 riders in 2040, when the rest of the Seattle projects will be complete. Peak headways will be 6 minutes.

tacoma_fw

The second segment opening that year extends Link from Federal Way to the Tacoma Dome, a $2 billion, 9.7-mile stretch of (mostly) elevated and at-grade track along I-5. There will be three elevated (South Federal Way [500 stalls], Fife [500 stalls], East Tacoma) and one at-grade or retained cut station (Tacoma Dome).

ballardThe next year, 2031, ST will deliver three infill stations. $67m 130th St Station is elevated and will have no parking. $70m Graham St would be at-grade, also without agency-provided parking. Finally, $131m Boeing Access Road is elevated and include both a 300-space lot and a bus transfer/layover facility.

Then there’s a gap until 2035, when Link to Ballard opens. The Ballard-South Lake Union (SLU) segment is 5.4 miles, costs $2.6 billion, and will attract 47,000-57,000 riders in 2040. There are three elevated stations (Ballard, Smith Cove, Interbay) and two tunneled stations (Seattle Center, South Lake Union). At no station will ST build parking. There is also a movable bridge over Salmon Bay. Peak headways will be 6 minutes.

tunnelAt the same time, the new Downtown Tunnel will open. This 1.7-mile, $1.8 billion segment will relieve capacity issues in the existing tunnel, and provide two completely new underground stations at Denny and Midtown, and new stations connection to the existing Westlake and Chinatown stops. Interestingly, Sound Transit told me on the record that the ballot language is flexible enough to allow Midtown to actually serve First Hill if the board, and the budget, allow.

The middle burst of project openings ends in 2036 with two rail projects. First, Lynnwood to Everett is a 16.3-mile (!), $3 billion project with 6 stations. It mixes elevated and at-grade track.

everettSouth to North, the stations are West Alderwood Mall, Ash Way, Mariner, Southwest Everett Industrial Center, SR526/Evergreen Way, and Everett Station. A provisional station at SR99/Airport Road is unfunded. Only Mariner (550 spaces) and Everett Station (1,000, net 400) would receive new parking from Sound Transit.

3-minute peak headways will run as far north as Mariner, with 6 minutes beyond that, to support 2040 ridership of 37,000-45,000. The route hugs I-5 except to serve Paine Field.

The other opening that year is the Sounder extension to DuPont. A 7.8-mile, $300m extension that adds two stations (Tillicum and DuPont), a second mainline track, 125 spaces at Tillicum, and undetermined parking at DuPont. There may be 4 peak round trips that come that far south.

dupont

Then there’s a three-year wait to 2039, which we’ll discuss in the next installment.

101 Replies to “Sound Transit 3: The Main Body (2030-2036)”

  1. I doubt three minute headways will be needed all the way to Mariner. I bet that’ll be rolled back to 6 at some point as the extra capacity gets focused in areas with higher ridership.

    That is unless my some magic the PSRC growth predictions come true…

    1. ST will have to turn back some trains simply because if they don’t, the trains will be too crowded for a North Seattle resident to board in the morning commute.

      1. They don’t have to turn trains back if they’re too crowded. The stranded passengers would simply have to wait for the next train that they can get (push) on like they do in other cities w/ crowded peak transit.

      2. I think what Al is saying is that if the train starts in Lynnwood it won’t be full of people from Everett – so less crowds in North Seattle.

      3. That’s right. Donde. Long train lines are often forced to have turn-backs at peak hours because riders complain that they can’t board a train. BART turns back some peak trains at Pleasant Hill for this reason – thanks to years of rider complaints.

        Perhaps more troubling is a complete lack of loading disclosures in ST3 documents. Are there long segments of almost empty trains? Are there stations where people won’t be able to board at peak hours? All we see are riders per project and it appears that some of those are double counted (already on Link but for shorter distances).

        Finally, it shows how much that our elected officials are still in a ‘toy train’ mentality. Ignoring operational needs is no way to run a railroad.

  2. In twenty years, does anybody else think that a moveable bridge- meaning stopping trains from moving when water traffic dictates- is something that in classic Seattle style we’re going to start regretting as soon as the ribbon is cut?

    If the soils will hold a tunnel, wouldn’t it be better just to budget one in there over the twenty years? For any cost difference I can imagine, anything moveable across the Ship Canal except trains is penny-wise and dollar dumb as a doorknob.

    Where am I wrong?

    Mark Dublin

      1. Spirals work just fine in the unspoiled countryside shown in the picture on the Wikipedia article, or the empty desert of the Tehachapi line in SoCal, but there ain’t no room for that in Ballard or Interbay.

    1. In classic Seattle style, perfect is the enemy of good. I don’t believe it makes sense to spend an extra $400M to make sure there aren’t 4-6 off-peak bridge openings every day on a line with 10-minute off-peak headways. The $400M+ required for a tunnel and subway station at Market would extend the line as proposed to 85th, or start serious work on Ballard-UW-east, or beef up *all* of Seattle’s buses, or is just $400M we don’t have. Additionally, a tunnel at Market St likely means Link to the north will have to be in a tunnel as the existing grade of Crown Hill wouldn’t allow a train to go from 80′ deep to 30′ above ground without exceeding Link’s operational capabilities; making any extension north much more expensive and less cost effective.

      Why is an insignificant delay 4-6 times/day (sometimes zero as well), if a train does get caught at an opening, worth spending $400M+ to solve? It’s already going to be incredibly reliable when it’s needed during peak periods.

      1. Depends when the 4-6 times a day occur. If it happens in the evening rush hour after 6pm, it becomes an issue.

      2. Careful, Grasshopper, I meanMike. Whatever the state of affairs between the Perfect and the Good, the Mediocre is the strong, brave, and reliable ally of the Bad. OK. Cue the Chinese gong.

        Mark

      3. Even if the train did get delayed by a bridge opening, without a line of cars to wait behind, the delay would only be a couple of minutes at most. It’s the resultant traffic backup, not the bridge openings themselves, that make the openings so devastating for buses. And, at 70 feet, such openings would be rare to begin with. Especially if the boats can be made to wait a minute or two for an approaching train to pass.

    2. So long as the new bridge is higher than the current Ballard Bridge, even slightly, I see very little problem with it being movable.

    3. I had general concerns about trying to go over or under the ship canal–it was one of the reasons why I supported to Ballard to UW. Have we agreed on the height of the bridge yet (70 feet was first proposed, but SDOT wanted to see if it could be lower for bicycles, etc. IIRC)?

      1. All the ST documents I’ve seen say 70′. This is the flip side of the 130th Station issue. If the ballot measure says 70′, then ST would have to justify deviating from it for a lower bridge. That’s not a huge hurdle because ST would just have to write a statement that the deviation is in the subarea’s interest, but it would make the board think twice about changing it, and if we also oppose the change, then ST would see it as “both the ballot measure and community feedback favor sticking with a 70′ bridge”. ST has never given any indication that it was seriously considering a 35′ bridge; that was all the city’s suggestion, to offload some of the cost of replacing the Ballard Bridge.

      2. I think the 70′ is a Coast Guard requirement. I fail why people feel this needs to be a tunnel. The new 520 bridge also has a 70′ requirement and no one seems to be all that concerned that the new bridge restricts some ship movement south of the span. Chances are the most disruption would be to cranes on barges.

      3. Only a very few ships are taller than 70′. That’s different from 35′ that a lot of ships can’t clear. Also, the Ship Canal itself can’t fit the biggest ships, so that’s limiting the potential openings too.

      4. Hang the bike bridge under the light rail bridge. It has to be staffed anyway since the upper portion is movable,

      5. @Glenn — then your bridge is lower and opens more. As folks have mentioned, it really doesn’t have to be very tall. Worse case scenario it is the same height as the other bridge. This means it never goes up during rush hour. You never have a backup of traffic. The bridge opening is timed with trains traveling maybe every ten minutes. It is really no big deal.

        This is one of the few advantages of rail along this corridor. Buses running every minute at noon along this corridor would have to stop for the occasional opening. A train probably won’t.

        Anyway, if it is 70 feet it will rarely open. If it is 60 feet it will open more, but still rarely. It is by far the least important, least worrisome “issue” within our entire network. We are spending a fortune on a Yugo that burns oil and needs a new transmission, but are freaking out because of some scratches on the fender.

      6. It should have to open more.

        If you hang the pedestrian / bike bridge off the bottom of the light rail bridge it can be whatever height SDOT wants for that, and it can be the part that open more often. The light rail bridge, at 70 feet, won’t open as often.

        Basically, I’m thinking Portland’s Steel Bridge with only the lower level walkway and no railroad and upper level with light rail only and no highway.

        The lower level walkway could probably be a simple bascule span rather than the complex telescoping dual counterweight lift thing they had to do for the Steel Bridge.

      7. Ok, so here’s a little math:

        The light rail span is 70 feet over the water. SDOT probably wants their pathway at closer to 25 feet over the water. That’s 45 feet difference. A bascule span on the bike bridge could therefore be 90 feet long (45 on each end) and still be directly under the light rail bridge, and still open without touching the light rail span.

        The Ballard locks are 80 feet wide, so 90 feet should be enough.

        If it’s not, then the bike path portion may have to be offset a bit, or lower down and open more often.

        In any event, there are definitely solutions to this that do not involve hobbling Link with an excessively low bridge.

      8. “The bridge opening is timed with trains traveling maybe every ten minutes.”

        That’s what we don’t know if the Coast Guard will allow. Will it allow trains to have signal priority over boats?

      9. Get our senators and congressmen to put pressure on the Coast Guard so that we can have a 70′ high fixed span. I suppose proposing cutting the Coast Guard’s funding might do the trick.

      10. One of the things that killed the Columbia River Crossing as proposed was that it was too low for certain business interests that, maybe four times per year, shipped very large objects by barge. The business interests made a protest to the relevant authorities.

        So, the question is: what currently goes through there that is higher than 70 feet and how often does it go through?

        Probably the biggest protest would come from the several remaining ship repair yards on Lake Union, which might perceive a fixed bridge as a threat to potential future ship repair business, as they wouldn’t know the exact size of whatever potential future business they might get.

    4. I was worried about that at first, but with Link trains having a very reliable schedule, they can have the bridge open only in the 10 minute space between train arrivals. As long as that is properly enforced, then there is no effect on rail operation.

      And I think for peak, the bridge will not be allowed to open.

      1. Um, er, ah, Kevin, if the headway is ten minutes then the only way you get an eight minute clear window is if the trains reliably meet exactly at the center of the bridge. Any other meetin pattern means that the longer window drops rapidly to four minutes.

      2. That’s 10 minutes from each direction Kevin, which means an average of 5 minutes between trains overall.

      3. You are correct, the bridge will never open during rush hour (the bridges don’t open during rush hour now). So if the trains are perfectly synchronized, you have a gap as long as the headways, which, optimistically speaking is 8 minutes. If the trains are perfectly out of sync, then there will be a 4 minute gap. Chances are, there will be something like a 6 minute gap (followed by a 2 minute gap). But worse case scenario — 4 minutes is plenty of time to open the span, a boat to clear it, and the bridge to close. A slow, tall boat will do a lot more damage to a lot more transit riders (on every bus that goes over a bridge) than it will to that one train.

        Now if the boat runs into the bridge, that is a different matter …

    5. Today bridge openings are a disaster for transit reliability, but that isn’t because of the one or two minutes’ delay from a bridge opening, it’s because they cause general-purpose traffic backups that the buses are stuck in.

      A line with six-minute headways and no other traffic interactions anywhere near the bridge won’t suffer compounding delays, only one- or two-minute delays near the end of the line. Heading north it’s just a delay for one batch of riders heading to the last station. Heading south it causes slight unevenness in headways that should be recoverable.

      1. Also, if the bridge is high enough, a fair percentage of traffic won’t cause a lift. All the existing draw spans are fairly low.

    6. I’m late to the party, but dollars to donuts the movable bridge gets replaced by a tunnel within 5 years of ST3 getting passed.

      ST has experience and success in tunneling under the Ship Canal. They do NOT have experience building 70′ high moveable bridges.

  3. On the Lynnwood to Everett alignment, now that the passions of the ST3 V1 drafting debate have subsided, it’s obvious that the alignment is great for commuting. Goes up I-5 then a quick detour to Paine Field to accommodate a 100-year old major employer w/ subcontractors & museums in the vicinity, then back to I-5.

    Not so great for transit-oriented development (a cause I am beginning to learn more about this summer), but Swift I has run successfully along Highway 99 and there’s nothing stopping transit advocates from filling the Everett Transportation Advisory Committee… wearing Everett Transit red & black jerseys to Everett City Council – or even joining the City Council… and more. Just a thought.

    1. Everett does have Evergreen Way redevelopment as part of its comprehensive plan, but it is depressingly half-assed. They aren’t even willing to reduce the number of lanes or install a divider, cause the car dealers don’t like that. North of Everett Mall Way, changing to a car lane and bus lane each direction with a very wide divider would go a long way towards encouraging TOD on Evergreen.

      1. Maybe they can learn from Lake City and put housing above the car dealerships, as one landowner said they’re going to do.

      2. Car dealerships are HUGE tax revenue generators. Per acre of land they beat just about anything other than a casino. So you can be certain that the wishes of the auto dealers are just about tantamount to drafted legislation.

      3. Couple of car dealerships in downtown Portland are at least multiple level buildings. Jim Fiscer Volvo on West Burnside and 21st has something like three or four floors of offices above it. The Mercedes dealer on the southwest waterfront has an office building of some sort too, but it is much less of the city block.

        So, even car dealerships can be multi-use buildings when the market is right.

      4. Surface car lots are a huge waste of lucrative space. There’s a multistory car dealership in SODO and one in the U-District on Roosevelt. They look ingenious and snazzy to me. Since I know little about cars I can’t tell how convenient they are for the dealerships and their customers.

    2. I’m holding out for Sounder North to service Paine Field, then back down the gulch to continue to Seattle. This makes as much sense as adding 10+ minutes to everyone’s trip from Everett going to anywhere but Pain Field for the rest of eternity.

      1. Thinking a little bit deeper, Everett Station is no one’s destination so you have to think about where people are actually coming from. Those driving to Everett Station can just as easily drive somewhere further south (e.g. Lynnwood) and avoid the deviation that way. Those headed to local neighborhoods within Everett and would need to switch to a bus anyway might be able to do the switch at the SR-99/SR-526 stop, while avoiding Everett Station altogether. Depending on one’s ultimate destination, it could be time-competitive with the current service. For those who live west of SR-99, it may even slightly faster, door-to-door. The deviation may also induce some peak-hour Everett->downtown riders to switch to Sounder.

        Even for those riding through the deviation, I don’t think the time penalty is 10 minutes. If it’s grade separated all the way, I’m guessing it would be closer to 5. The train should be able to make up that time by serving Ash Way P&R in a straight line, compared to the current 512 routing with makes a bunch of twists and turns getting in and out. Even South Everett Freeway Station has a couple of stop signs and 90-degree turns which Link wouldn’t have.

      2. “Everett Station is no one’s destination…”
        Sad commentary about a Transit Center about as close to the center of downtown as you can get.

      3. It’s not “as close to the center of downtown as you can get”, it’s where the train station is. I walked from it to the center of downtown during my north Everett walk, and it was twelve minutes, moderately uphill. Sounder has to stay where the BNSF track is, but BRT or a new link line and bus transfers could be significantly closer to downtown if they wanted to, like Bellevue transit center. The current location is a decaying industrial area. It could be densified and prettied up if Everett put its mind to it. There are also a vast number of one-story buildings along Broadway near the station that could accommodate tons of growth.

      4. 1500′ to Xfinity and Hewitt Ave isn’t too bad, and yes, lots of potential along Broadway.
        That took you 12 minutes Mike? You need to get off the bus a couple of stops early and start walking more :)

      5. Ahhh, You must have been at Colby and Pacific, the original Transit Center for the Interurbans and truly the center of town.
        Now, those were the days!

      6. It also has one hell of a busy road that cuts the station and its neighborhood off from much of anything to the west.

      7. I was at Colby & Hewett and went north to Everett Avenue and further north. That seemed to be the main street in the oldest part of Everett, and since it had a bus on it it must be all right, and my friend who grew up in Everett confirmed it was a good place to start. At the end of the walk I went down to Pacific Avenue and saw where the Interurban terminus would have been (and is now a Swift station).

        What’s surprising is that the interurban ended at Pacific and there was probably nothing north of it (since most of the residential area is within a 10-20 minute walk of the station), yet the street north of it remains wide enough for a streetcar in the middle rather than narrowing out.

      8. As to;

        Even for those riding through the deviation, I don’t think the time penalty is 10 minutes. If it’s grade separated all the way, I’m guessing it would be closer to 5. The train should be able to make up that time by serving Ash Way P&R in a straight line, compared to the current 512 routing with makes a bunch of twists and turns getting in and out. Even South Everett Freeway Station has a couple of stop signs and 90-degree turns which Link wouldn’t have.

        Not to mention the 510s & 512s aren’t making those turns anywhere near cruising speed… so yeah the light rail deviation to appease Snohomish County economic boosters at this point should be a non-issue. I mean folks, you want quality light rail and a means to bypass if not relieve congestion or not?

    3. Just to recap: The Paine Field Mutation Route cost nearly $2B more, 13 minutes extra time for 1-2 thousand more daily riders – now that the angst has subsided.
      I don’t think the time penalty is 10 minutes.

      1. Mic, I think you’d know this, and have an opinion on it. When Everett Station first opened, there was a branch of a college in the station building, and a coffee shop. The place was active, clean, and well used. What the Hell happened?

        Mark

    4. The museum is in the vicinity, but it doesn’t look like service to it improves that much. There’s no way anyone is going to walk on the shoulder of the Boeing Freeway, so you’re back to walking from the 113.

      1. Now you are. But twenty years is plenty of time for bus routes to change, and CT will have a lot more service hours in 2023 for local routes.

      2. That’s good to hear. The current 113 doesn’t seem to work for a lot of people.

  4. One interesting thing about the new downtown tunnel is that the combination of fewer stations and no security barrier will mean faster travel times through downtown than with the existing tunnel.

    West Seattle begs the question of whether parallel bus service between West Seattle and downtown is needed between 2030 and 2035. A 2-seat ride from West Seattle to downtown is bearable, but a 3-seat to downtown (and a 4-seat to Bellevue, since the connection would be in SODO, no International District) seems a bit much.

    With the regard to Everett, the lack of the station at the SR-99 transfer point to Swift most likely means that, if the provisional station doesn’t get built, Swift will, forever suffer a deviation into and out of Mariner P&R, slowing down all trips along the line by at least several minutes. From ST’s perspective, this is CT’s problem, not their problem, but this is still very disappointing for transit in general. I’m not a fan of having Link serve Paine Field to begin with, but if they are going to do this, they can at least put a station in at the major transfer points. Fortunately, the cost of an extra station at SR-99 should be a lot less than UW to Ballard, so there’s some chance that the provisional station may actually happen.

    1. I”m optimistic there will be a 99 station. And if ST doesn’t include it in ST3, i think people will see how much of a benefit it is and add it as an infill station later – CT will certainly advocate for it. Sonohomish leadership is focused on getting the line built quickly, and if that means dropping some stations and adding them later, then that’s their choice.

    2. For the West Seattle two seat ride thing, what about making the new bridge a bus + light rail span, and running it with buses until the new tunnel is done?

  5. Is Boeing Access Road station still getting billed to North King?

    Does North King have any interest in this station at all?

      1. Glad that got corrected. Hopefully it was just a typo to begin with. Even though I’m in S. King and don’t want my taxes going to a BAR station, it was even worse to think that money might have been pulled out of the W.Seattle/Ballard bucket to pay for it.

        It really seems like something’s goofy when they predict the same 2040 ridership for BAR and Graham. They must be planning on truncating a whole lot of I-5 express buses at BAR to meet that target.

      2. ST’s documents say (in many words) that it will probably cannibalize some ridership other stations, and in addition it’ll have some parking and is near two PSRC Manufacturing Industrial Centers (meaning lots of jobs). Earlier (candidate project) documents noted approximately double the ridership if you included a BAR Sounder station.

        Graham Street would also cannibalize other stations, but has more supportive land use and much better development potential, so by ST’s analysis it’s a wash. Not sure I agree with all that, but that’s what ST thinks.

  6. The SLU- Ballard segment is supposed to have much huger demand than the Green Line segment from Downtown Seattle to Tacoma. Rainier Vally also makes it tough to have a train more than every six minutes.

    Shouldn’t two lines be running through the Ballard-SLU segment? If so, should one of those lines go somewhere else? Where would that be?

    1. Under ST3 Ballard gets one line. But with the study of another L. Washington crossing (to UW then Ballard) included in ST3, I expect in ST4 we’ll have Tacoma to Ballard line and Redmond / Kirkland / UW / Ballard / CBD line running on this segment ..

    2. With the Link maintenance facility between SODO and Beacon Hill, theoretically it shouldn’t be difficult to add extra “short green line” trains that run between SODO, downtown, and Ballard. That would make peak frequency 3 minutes.

      1. No that should not be difficult at all. I am mostly talking about BART style long lines. Tacoma line will need to end soon after Ballard, and Ballard will add the second long line to UW and points east.

        However, they can also add a third “city only” line from wherever the green line turns around to SODO. There should be no technical reason not to. Only ridership demand / train availability etc.

    3. I wouldn’t count on a second Lake Washington crossing just because ST is studying it. ST studied it in 2014, and it would be hugely expensive, have lackluster ridership, and be too redundant east of 120th. The I-90 crossing piggybacks on an existing bridge built by an earlier generation and funded mostly by the feds. A 520 routing would have a shockingly low-density neighborhood. A Sand Point – Kirkland crossing would require a new bridge or tunnel, at billions of dollars just for that.

    4. The Green Line should turn east to UW and maybe U Village as many people have suggested, but not cross the lake. The overlay line should go to Lynnwood via Crown Hill, Linden Ave (the Interurban ROW not Aurora, at least not south of 160th. This gives the capacity that North Seattle and Shoreline will need for Downtown commutes while providing for a Lake City and North Lake Cities line some day.

      There is a lot of ripe junk between Linden and Aurora that could sprout 20 to 30 story buildings with the top halves “view” properties.

    5. Although keep in mind that although these long haul lines serve much less dense areas, they are replacing Seattle express buses. In the case of the green line, it is taking over two well established Seattle express corridors (577, 578 & 590, 594, 592), so presumably the trains will accumulate Seattle-bound riders along the entire 35 mile length of the line. So taking all that into account, I could see green south having comparable demand to green north.

      1. Ballard-SLU is forecasted at 125k riders. Almost all of those riders will be on board between Westlake and Denny.

        Link trains at 2 cars are filling up on the segment between Capitol Hill and Westlake – which appears to have 35k or so riders on this maximum load point. With 4-car trains, that suggests a capacity of 70k or so weekday riders.

        How do you close the gap from 70k to 125k? ST will need 3-minute trains of 4 cars each. The Rainier Valley can’t handle 3-minute train spacing. This is why additional service will be required from SLU to Westlake.

        Yes, ST can turn around trains in SODO. Still it seems like such a waste to not use it more effectively.

  7. $300 million seems terrible for a line mostly rebuilt in 2017 for Amtrak and only serving several trips a day.

    1. WSDOT isn’t double-tracking the stretch from Tacoma Dome to Bridgeport (aka all of South Tacoma and half of Lakewood), so ST would be on the hook for that. ST may also, in its secret negotiations, be quietly pondering a lot more than 4 trains a day. Considering they own the track, I’d like to see every ten minutes in this area.

      1. Do you have any idea how much it costs to run heavy rail commuter trains? Hint: it’s a lot.

      2. It costs a lot to run Soundr trains on the main line. It should cost quite a lot less if you aren’t paying for BNSF access.

        This whole section needs to be thought out differently.

      3. Olympia’s Lacey station looks to be about fifteen minutes ride from Dupont. Easily served by express buses to Downtown Olympia and other expanding residential areas. Remember how far in the future we’re talking about. This area isn’t going to get any smaller, or emptier.

        But shorter term, the permanent week-day rush hour condition of I-5 all the way to Seattle really decides a lot of the argument about “spines”. We’ve got the region’s both interstate and international transportation corridor blocked solid for ever more of the day.

        We can look at the Nisqually River very much like the Ship Canal. An accident-prone frequently blocked bridge renders bus service risky for anyone whose job depends on being at work on time. So, like with U-LINK and the Canal, a fast crossing will draw a lot of riders.

        I’ve got an 8AM appointment in Seattle Tuesday. My only sure chance is ST Express 592 to Lakewood, and Sounder to King Street. Leaving Olympia at 5:40 AM. Full hour to Lakewood Station. After ten minutes each lost at Hawks Prairie Park and Ride and Dupont itself.

        At Lakewood could stay on 592 to Seattle. For another hour, almost certainly stuck in traffic before Spokane Street. Without a single bathroom.

        No, it’s not going to “solve congestion on I-5.” Only think I can think of that will is a major emergency that’ll let the Army decide who gets on I-5, and driving or riding on what.

        Meantime, though, car-traffic-free tracks will make sure thousands of people don’t have to be helping their cars occupy lane space. 20 years could see enough progress to get transit straight down I-5 on its own lanes or track.

        But since track-work will be done soon, seems to me that whatever it costs to get Sounder across the Nisqually, the results will be worth a lot more.

        Mark Dublin

      4. It would be great if there could be a study of what Sounder to Olympia might look like or if its even feasible and to look at the long route with in-place track or re-building the direct route. Eventually this needs to happen as this whole area between the base and Olympia fills in and I-5 becomes gridlocked.

  8. Please tell me the “West Alderwood Mall” station is actually going to be connected to the mall like the SkyTrain stations in Vancouver, and won’t involve walking hundreds of feet through parking lot to get to the mall. Does anyone know?

    1. We don’t even know where exactly the station is going to be. Judging solely on the map in the post, it looks like it will be by the freeway and that is at least 650 feet from the mall itself. But “West Alderwood Mall” implies it’s on the west side of the mall, far from the freeway. So who knows?

      In any case, I’d be disappointed if *20* years from now Alderwood Mall remains like it is today. If ST3 is approved, it will influence future development plans for the mall. It is way too early to tell.

      Metrotown in Burnaby didn’t even exist, much less in its current form, when Skytrain opened.

      1. SkyTrain carries over 400,000 people per day because it goes TO destinations. Not “sort of near them”. Not 650 feet from them. This would be terrible if the stadium was some long, tedious walk exposed to the elements from the mall. Even if they have to reroute it a little, they should.

      2. That is an awesome photo. I haven’t seen any from right the time that skytrain was completed. That said, there was already a substantial mall there, just out of the photo to the right, and a bunch of three story walkups that are in that photo. The mall started with a Sears in the 60’s and had already expanded several times to a real regional mall when skytrain rolled up. It is just that skytrain spawned even more expansion of the mall, some office towers and much more residential. But one good lesson of that photo is the need to plan rail and bus together. Skytrain, when it was first built, was a political pet project, but the transit agency adopted it and was committed to making the most of it.

    2. It’s a representative corridor, not an exact location. The EIS process requires an alternatives analysis and consideration of all reasonable options. That will be the time to argue for a station in a pedestrian-friendly location. (If anything about Alderwood Mall can be considered pedestrian-friendly. This isn’t Canada where they like density and make the most out of transit stations.)

      Link, the Train to the Five Malls.

      1. OK, I’m gonna make a comment about train stops at big parking-full developments in general. Cities thruout the region are keeping these parking lots when they don’t know the trains are coming. When they know the station will be there, they all sing a different tune. Look at Spring District – that would never have happened if Link wasn’t coming. Same with Lynnwood’s new city center planning. If ST3 passes, expect most of the station areas to be rezones to be high-density with less parking.

      2. It’s a weird nitpick though Mike. When I think of the prevailing thinking regarding transit centers and the desire to keep transit running along the street to avoid time consuming movement in and out of them I can’t help but think to locate a train stop closer to a mall at the expense of connecting street running transit service is a bad idea. Seems counterintuitive to me.

  9. Looking at the map, the proposed station for “Paine Field Instrustrial Center” is only able a mile east of the Future of Flight and another 1/4 from parts of Mukilteo, but the current roadway design has no walking or biking facilities whatsoever to bridge this distance. If nothing changes, a resident of Mukilteo trying to access the system by bike would to ride all the way around to Mariner P&R, adding considerable distance. From Google Earth, it looks like the physical space for a walk/bike trail alongside SR-526, connecting the light rail station to the Future of Flight museum exists, but the ST planning documents indicate no plans to build such a trail. In fact, from the looks of things, it appears as though anyone getting off at the Paine Field Industrial Station stop who doesn’t work at Paine Field Industrial Center would not even be able to walk out the door of the station without committing criminal trespass. If that’s the case, perhaps ST should consider having the trains bypass the stop altogether on weekends, as there is literally nothing to serve that isn’t locked up.

    1. To keep things in perspective, Whatcom Transit is just now proposing to run a bus ‘nearer’ to the airport (2000′) that only runs hourly. Bellingham airport actually has a fair number of flights now, and the transit system recognizes that only about 5% of airline passengers use transit to/from – nationwide (APTA data). With 400,000 annual boardings, 5% would be about 50 bus riders per day.
      Paine Field has yet to board a jet to anywhere, and wants an extra 2 Bil to serve what?

      1. I think the Paine Field station is intended to be primarily for the factory workers. If it happens to serve a few travelers should commercial service ever get added there, all the better, but that’s not the purpose.

        Feeder buses connecting the station to Mukilteo would definitely help. Today, taking transit from Seattle to Mukilteo when north Sounder isn’t running is a 2+ hour ordeal with very infrequent, circutious routes in Snohomish County and poorly timed connections to/from the 512. Even a half-hourly shuttle route from the Paine Field Station to Mukilteo, taking a direct route, would be a huge improvement. And, as an extra bonus, such a shuttle route could easily serve the Future of Flight museum, which would be right on the way.

        But I still think you need a bike trail in addition to the feeder bus. The feeder bus will never be frequent, and for a good chunk of Mukilteo, it would be faster to just bike to the station than to wait for it.

  10. Not that I really want to see a lot of transit resources poured into exurban locations but I wonder if it might be worth having DMUs run from DuPont to Tacoma Dome for when Sounder trains aren’t running to at least make the most of that passenger-only track. What seems like a real waste is spending so much money on the infrastructure of DuPont-Tacoma Dome Sounder only to have so few trains actually use it. The DMUs could then feed the 59x Tacoma Dome-Seattle buses into Seattle on the off hours.

  11. Would be awesome if this new downtown tunnel could have two levels, not that different than Market Street Subway in SF. Link on the bottom and buses on the mezzanine level. I know fewer buses would be coming downtown, but there will still be many that do and it would be great if they could avoid the gridlocked downtown surface streets.

  12. The six minute (max) headways of the northern section of Link got me thinking. For several years, express buses will carry riders from various parts of Everett to the Lynnwood Transit Center. While the truncation at Lynnwood (instead of the express to downtown Seattle) will cost riders a bit of time in the middle of the day, it will probably save them a fair amount during rush hour. The stops in Seattle (Northgate, UW, Capitol Hill, etc.) will certainly add substantial value. I expect such buses to be fairly popular, as many suburban feeder buses are.

    When Link gets to Everett, things change. If someone in the Everett Station is headed to Mariner or beyond, at no point will it save them time to get on the train. I would expect, for example, that you could take a bus several minutes after the train leaves, and still beat the train to Mariner. You might even catch up to an earlier train. This means that if the bus system is truncated in Everett, it is a major reduction in service. Riders either live with such a degradation, or they keep running buses from the Everett Station to a Link station farther south (Lynnwood or Mariner).

    This isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of lines that make similar detours, and simply don’t make sense for long trips. Some even loop around. A great example is in Toronto. It doesn’t make sense to take a train from Eglinton to Eglinton West. Just take the bus across town. Even at rush hour, when the train runs every couple minutes, it is faster to take that bus.

    But in this case, since this is the end of the line, it means that there aren’t many trips of value added with this very expensive, relatively infrequent section. There are three stations in between Mariner and Everett Station (assuming the provisional station is built). That still allows for a fair number of combinations (Everett to Industrial Center, Industrial Center to Seattle, etc.). Right now some of these combinations are served by Everett and Snohomish County (Community Transit) buses. Many of the buses that do serve the area, do so rarely, preferring to focus their efforts on areas like Lake Stevens instead. The only Sound Transit bus to the area is the 513. It runs fairly often (a lot more often than any of the other buses) but carries less than a 1,000 per day.

    I can go through all of the combinations, but you get the picture. Even if they add the provisional station, I would guess less than 5,000 people a day will ride the train north of Mariner. I don’t think this will be as popular as Swift, which means that it will likely run a lot less often (Swift runs every 12 minutes). It isn’t hard to come up with ideas for improved bus service that would provide for a much better value. To begin with, the Everett Station itself is not a significant destination, but does serve as a transit hub. It wouldn’t be too difficult to simply stop at the station, but continue on to Mariner or Lynnwood. The 201 and 202 do exactly that, and have pretty good frequency (every 15 minutes all day). This is without the demand that Lynnwood Link will provide. My guess is that either frequency is added on those buses in a few years, or other buses are through routed to Lynnwood. Likewise, there are buses that connect through the station and connect to the industrial area. Not just one stop, either, but a broad area (which is important, as the destinations are spread out). As mentioned, these don’t run very often, but it wouldn’t be that expensive to beef up service a bit. Swift connects the areas along SR 99 with the Everett Station. It would be nice to see frequency doubled on that line (to six minutes). Swift 2 enables the rest of the combinations.

    I would imagine that some of these areas have congestion issues. But spending money on fixing those is likely to be a lot cheaper than laying rail. Adding service would not necessarily be more expensive than serving the trains at similar frequencies. The buses would certainly go to more places, and likely do so more often. North of Mariner (if not well before then) spending money on bus service and bus infrastructure is not only a much better value (likely costing billions less) but would lead to much better service.

    1. I would imagine that all service north of Everett station will truncate there, but Mariner will continue to get significant bus service, and same for Lynnwood & Northgate. Each time the line is extended, some service will be truncated northward but some will remain at the existing station. Yes, demand will taper off as you move north, but that is true for all rail as you near the end of the line.
      SWIFT will certainly continue to exist, effectively functioning as the local “shadow” to Link in stretches, but I think otherwise bus service to Mariner, Lynnwood, etc. will generally be east-west intersections with Link, not north-south connecting to multiple rail stations.

    2. I agree that ST made the fundamental decision to emphasize local trips to Paine Field over through trips from Everett to points in South Snoho County and beyond. Whether that makes any sense depends on what happens at Paine Field. If it becomes mostly urban, then I think that most transit advocates would agree that it was a good trade (in the same way that skipping First Hill was a bad trade, though to a lesser degree).

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