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I am posting this density map as an adjust to my previous post “Notes from a Vancouverite” as an explanation of my stop on Queen Anne.

Seattle Population Densityre

Taking into account the caveat that not all the darker area is in fact up the hill and also that the density variation within one colour is large, I still note that Queen Anne isn’t nothing.

7 Replies to “Notes on Queen Anne”

  1. Of course it’s not “nothing”. But it’s not enough “something” to justify a 300 foot deep station.

    1. Agreed. By the way, the best census map I’ve found for Seattle is the one by ArcGIS. It allows you to zoom in and find the actual numbers for each census block.

      As far as density in Seattle goes, to quote the essay I wrote (

      It is clear that if we only serve the areas with really high density, we won’t have much of a light rail system. On the other hand, it is fairly easy to find contiguous, broad areas of Seattle that could be considered moderately high density (for this state). While, most of these areas are not likely to be served by high-capacity transit for a long time, buses can serve these areas quite well. Therefore any proposed light rail lines should provide good connections to the bus network.

      Which is why ST3 and your proposal are just not efficient ways to spend money. ST3 has West Seattle rail, which appears to provide great bus connections, but does so to areas that are very low density (next to a freeway) and close to very fast bus routes (since they are next to the freeway). In other words, it adds very little value. Ballard to downtown adds several very good stops in high density areas (Denny, Lower Queen Anne, Ballard) but most of them don’t connect very well to buses. Even the Ballard stop — as good as it is — provides nothing for those to the east of it. Just a mile east of the station you have Phinney Ridge (a moderately dense area, like much of Seattle) and a direct bus from there would be very difficult, and break the grid considerably. Meanwhile, both your proposal and ST ignore connections from the existing rail line and the new one. To get from Lake City (a prominent area on the census map) to Ballard will require taking a bus, then a train, then another bus. The last bus as it turns out, is one of the slowest buses in our system, as the major arterials in our city are designed to move traffic north-south, not east-west. This is why Ballard to UW rail makes so much sense. It would connect the entire north end (the area north of the ship canal) to very good transit that is not only fast, but often faster than driving — in the middle of the day. To get from Ballard to the UW (both major destinations) would be faster than driving, which means that other combinations (Northgate to Fremont, Greenwood to the UW, Lake City to Ballard) are all very fast despite the transfer. This makes them competitive to driving, even in the middle of the day.

      To be fair to your proposal, it would be better than what we are building, but it would also be much more expensive. It would be better in that connections to Ballard would be much better (e. g. Phinney Ridge to Ballard becomes easy). Unfortunately, not only is it more expensive, but it also ignores the connection to the UW, the second most popular destination in the state. At the same time, it also makes connections to Ballard from other parts of the north end (e. g. Northgate, Lake City) no better than they will be when ST2 is complete. In other words, it doesn’t fully leverage what we have, which in general is the biggest weakness with ST3.

      I appreciate your ideas, but I feel like you simply don’t know, or are ignoring some of the specific aspects of Seattle that make it different than Vancouver. The goal is great — it is exactly what I did when I wrote that essay — focus on bus service. It is what makes Vancouver’s system so effective (not huge miles of rail, but very effective use of it, because the rail and bus service complement themselves so much). It is easy to see how the rail greatly enhances the transit grid. Ballard to UW does exactly that, by replacing the slowest bus in the area with a fast rail line which would connect to every north-south bus line. Fast buses and fast trains would form a nice grid. Unfortunately, your proposal — as well as ST3’s — simply doesn’t do that, and forces us to wait for what we should have built next.

  2. This is probably a frustrating answer, but basically you have to walk the neighborhood to understand. The density metrics are robust because the SF lots are very small and there are generally families in every single home. Next time you are in Seattle I’d strongly recommend it – it’s a beautiful neighborhood and great to walk around, transit debate or not. or

    The hill is very steep in all 4 directions. Those high density blocks adjacent to 99 are really in Westlake, not upper QA. The geography makes it difficult to move east-west, and so the people that live in all those condos & apartments on Aurora, Dexter, and Westlake won’t really be served by a station at the top of the hill. Same for the census blocks adjacent to Roy – those people will use the lower QA station at Mercer, not hike up the hill – and the blocks by 15th Ave on the west side of the hill or along Nickerson on the north side of the hill. All great pockets of density, but none of which would be served by a station on the top of the hill.

    1. Well said, AJ. And this is why the Green Line needs to be stacked between just north of Denny Way and just east of Lower Queen Anne Station, implying a stacked station at Harrison. That’s because a line that junctions just west of Harrison, swings back a bit east to run under Dexter with a station somewhere around Galer, and heads north to Fremont is far better than a Top-of-Queen-Anne-Hill routing. The Green Line should continue to Expedia and north alongside Interbay Yard to Ballard (“at grade” but reserved ROW), though it really ought to cross the Ship Canal in a tunnel. From there it can either make the fishhook to the U-District (and beyond?) or continue on north.

      If it makes the fishhook, the Dexter-Fremont line should continue on north under Phinney Ridge and then swing a bit east to surface in the Interurban ROW north of 105th and Fremont and continue north as at-grade “reserved ROW” LRT to Shoreline with a short elevated section between 128th and 145th. Yes, I know this squeezes the Interurban Trail, but there’s room or in a worst case, bikes can use Park Avenue north of 115th. The power poles would have to be consolidated with the catenary supports, but it’s definitely doable.

      If it is decided to send the Green Line on north along 15th NW it would eventually use the Interurban ROW to Shoreline. Then the Dexter-Fremont Line would swing east across lower Wallingford with a couple of stations and into the U-District, crossing North Link at 43rd, passing under campus with a station near the cluster of housing in the northeast corner then erupting from the tunnel to go elevated around U-Village. From there it would either go back into tunnel to Lake City along 25th, 35th, or even 40th for a little way in order to serve Children’s whichever the City wants to densify.

      Or cross Lake Washington to Kirkland and Redmond.

      Heck, you could do both if the Fremont Station were also stacked. Just west of it a stub could run along the Ship Canal through Frelard and out Market to a terminal station at 24th or 28th NW. Run the Redmond-Kirkland-U District-Fremont line to Ballard and the Lake City-U District-Fremont line on downtown.

      A pipe dream? Sure. But both options have that amazingly productive multiplier that occurs when lines cross each other twice or more, multiplying the single-transfer destinations that can be reached from a given location.

      1. I agreed – a “fishhook” from LQA to Ballard and then to UW, combined with a traditional north-south line that goes from SLU to Fremont and northward makes for an excellent network (especially as north of Ballard you’d still have two good RR lines in the D and the 40).

        This is where the tunnel under ship canal is a super important decision. Without that tunnel, simply heading north along 15th and then Holman in an elevated alignment SO much easier to do that it will be the default extension in any future plan.

        However, looking at the Dexter-Fremont line, I’m not sure it’s that big of an improvement over BRT along Aurora AND Westlake. My preference would be to spend money to improve the E, 5, and 40, including rebuilding Aurora to make the E center running. I think I’d rather have the closer stop spacing of BRT, and I’m also deeply skeptical of Fremont as a bus&rail node, relative to a Ballard or U District.

        Otherwise, what do you do with the 5 and the E once you’ve built a Dexter-Fremont rail tunnel? I suppose you could truncate the 5 in Fremont. Do you keep the 40 running all the way downtown? The impact on the bus network makes me skeptical.

        If the long term goal is to simply replace Seattle’s RR network with rail, then sure you’re laying the groundwork for a great grid, but I think high frequency bus corridors will continue to be key part of Seattle’s transit network for a long, long time. Perhaps I’m just less ambitious?

      2. AJ, you make very good points about the better stop spacing of bus lines. The north-south line along the west side of Lake Union and on north is designed to serve a linear string of already densifying nodes within the City — West Lake Union and Fremont — three potential Urban Villages Plus on toward the north — Upper Fremont, the top of Phinney Ridge which is a spectacular place for high rises with views in both directions, and North Greenwood — and the strip between Aurora and Greenwood north of Northgate Way.

      3. When the day comes that the city of Seattle can upzone Phinney Ridge to >100′, I’ll support a subway station in Phinney Ridge. But until the land use changes, I’ll firmly support bus.

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