23 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Northgate Tunnel Ride”

  1. I think it is great timing and lucky coincidence that U link and Nortgate link were built during the same time as the Highway 99 tunnel. You can always tell someone your project is well designed and running smooth. Then you compare it side by side with the biggest mess of all time. It makes Sound Transit look even better. I think it helped with getting people to vote on ST3 also.

    When this portion finishes, the toll to ride Link is probably less than the toll to drive in the tunnel. As these comparisons become more obvious it will take less effort to convince drivers to support transit. I hope, anway.

    Nice video.

    1. I feel like in the average person’s view, they both are tunnels, so they’re one in the same. I’ve often heard people confuse Bertha with the Sound Transit machines. Also, I believe I heard somewhere the toll will be pretty low, most likely under $2.

      1. “I’ve often heard people confuse Bertha with the Sound Transit machines.”

        Actually, it turns out that one of the U-link TBM’s was also named Bertha. (I believe Bertha is the one that dug the tunnels from Westlake to Capitol Hill.) A completely different machine from the WSDOT Bertha, but could cause some people to get confused.

      2. Sound Transit’s machine was named Brenda.

        Close enough to cause confusion.

      3. Isn’t TBM1 (or whichever number the leader was) actually Brenda? It finished its Northgate-U District and U-District to HSS segments and then was trundled back to U-District to finish the UDS to HSS segment for the one that broke down.

        She’s the Little TBM That Could.

    2. There’s something even better. The viaduct was supposed to be down by… 2014? The fact that it’s now scheduled between the U-Link and Northgate Link openings shows how much its schedule has slipped. It’s too soon to say how well-designed, smooth, and long-lasting the tunnel will be. For Link we can assume it’s similar to the Beacon Hill and U-Link tunnels.

      There have been a wide range of toll estimates, and adjustments down, and recently concerns that the last estimate won’t raise enough revenue for its share of construction costs. Widespread diversion is predicted. But I don’t think any of the estimates are final enough to say what the toll will be.

      What will the tunnel’s name be after it opens? Somehow I doubt people will say the Deep-Bore Tunnel or the AWV tunnel or the Viaduct tunnel for long, so what it be called?

      1. And we were supposed to have rail to the U district by 2008. What’s your point?

      2. And the Beacon Hill tunnel was anything but a cake walk. Among other things, it came in almost 30% over budget.

    3. “The biggest mess of all time?” Hardly. Even with the repair and overrun this project doesn’t rise to the level of the Big Dig. There are a lot of projects that were worse, and that is just in transportation.

      And the toll to drive the tunnel will be about half the fare to ride Link. Not that it should be of course, but that appears to be the latest plan.

  2. Man, that is one old video (it appears that they were still even boring!). Hopefully something more recent will be released soon. A lot has happened since then

    Also, does anyone know why the Roosevelt Station cam has been down for so long? It hasn’t updated since March 8th – essentially 2 months of being down. If I was a conspiracy guy I would accuse ST of trying to hide something, but……

    Maybe get Dori on it?

  3. It’s too nice, and busy, a day for my own topic. So would just appreciate benefit of other commenters’ experience.

    Last Wednesday, rush hour afternoon, after a long exhausting day, got my little wrist slapped for one too many ORCA “taps” on LINK.

    Since beginning of ORCA, continuing years without missing a monthly pass purchase,
    maybe third similar threat. With my income, $124 isn’t a warning. Just like with the offending tap: One time too many.

    So developing necessary response, I’d appreciate some information, dealing with one specific set of circumstances. How many people have actually paid the full $124 fine…FOR A MISSED TAP SEQUENCE WHILE IN POSSESSION OF A FULLY-PAID-UP MONTHLY PASS?

    Maybe just nostalgia for the urban civic culture of transit’s glory days. But if shake-downs are back in transit fashion, could North and East LINK please have some of those CTA Ravenswood ‘El wood cars with vestibules and little iron gates?

    Because above culture carried another understanding: Nobody stands there with my money in their hand and calls me a thief.

    OK, sun’s out, let’s head for the beach.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I think the fare enforcement thing is dumb, personally. I have an employer pass. I always tap on and off, but I think it’s stupid that you could get a ticket for not tapping because you’ve already paid the fare (would especially feel that way if I bought a monthly pass).

      It may be more expensive to employ fare enforcement officers than to just let people cheat and ride free — I’d be ok with that myself, though, because it helps to get wealth circulating — can’t have a healthy economy if the majority of people can’t afford anything, which is paradoxically bad for the rich economically and politically.

      Anyway, I would contest the fine or, at the very least, ask for a payment plan… maybe $1 a month?

      1. Thanks, Josh. I really think transit fares in all forms will finally go the way of coin operated toilets. In places like Sweden this doesn’t make transit toilets free, but puts them, and showers, behind a cashier’s desk.

        I think a lot of our problems with “Fare Evasion”- second word impossible to do without intent- result from having to make split-second decisions and choices about policies the transit system itself often can’t understand or explain.

        If our minimal unit of fare were an all-day pass, obtainable everywhere and instantly with no [AH] card fee, non-payment rate would plummet. Monthly works perfectly for me. Yearly needs to come back.

        But right now, I’m concentrating on one circumstance only. Being subject to any penalty at all, let alone the exact same one as for deliberate theft of service, after showing a fare inspector a pass that entitles me to a month’s worth of transit. All of which the system keeps if I don’t take Ride One.

        This last week, my phone and internet providers couldn’t withdraw their monthly payment because my account number had changed. Call from them, phone payment from me. Court stayed adjourned. And name me one store in the region that would file criminal charges against me for sending a payment to the wrong department.

        But main thing for me never gets mentioned. Maybe because our buildings still aren’t tall enough to make us a big city. Like many hard-core city transit passengers, my travel day often starts before dawn and ends after suppertime. Connections count to the minute.

        So must constantly concentrate on purpose for my travel, and plans for next train change, arrival, or departure. Indeed, the main purpose of a pre-paid pass is to get that distracting anxiety out of my mind’s way. Any fare system that interferes is in effect stealing from me through deprivation of service.

        Because I believe in electronic fare payment, as well as finding my travel record useful, in any given day, I’ll generally re-tap my pass at least three times just to be sure I’ve got the sequence right. I can’t try any harder.

        Using an ORCA card on LINK will 100% cost me a pair of either new blue jeans or shoes any day. So will carry my card for bus fare. And buy a paper Day Pass first LINK boarding every day. Experimenting with taping it to the card. Which I’ll also keep tapping. But call the paper card insurance. Theft or Theft-Prosecution, your choice.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Think of it this way:

        “I bought a ticket to a movie. I’m entitled to see that movie! Why would I need to bother giving that ticket to the ticket collector before entering the theater? What difference does it make to the theater company because I’ve already paid.”

        Transit agencies need to understand when, where, and how people are using their systems, for both financial (as Al explains) and for operational reasons.

        If there was a gate where you had to swipe your pass to enter, no one would think, “gee, I should just jump this gate because I have a monthly pass.” It’s the same think with Link, with the big difference there isn’t a gate as the physical reminder to swipe your pass. Otherwise there’s no difference.

      3. 1) People interact with movie ticket collectors once a week or once every few months. Some people interact with Link two or three times a day. Even a 99% perfect rate will leave a miss every couple months. If you annually lay $99 * 12 = $1188, adding $124 to that makes $1312. Adding it two more times makes $1560, by which point you’re theoretically banned from the system, and then how will you get around? Will they put you in jail if you ride it again? Whereas a movie is optional, and not a necessity to get to work or to relatives you take care of.

        2) There’s no tapout with movies. So it’s not only half the hassle, but there’s no chance of missing a tapout and getting the next tapin misinterpreted as a tapout. Or an accidental double-tap interpreted as a tapout.

        3) A movie ticket collector doesn’t give the same beep sound for both tapin and tapout, so that you can’t distinguish them by sound. Some time later you can’t remember if you looked at the reader, so then you either have to go back and tap twice more to be sure, or you’re already on a train or a transefer bus and it’s too late.

        4) Movie ticket collectors have a physical barrier or narrow walk-through point so can’t forget. You don’t have to look down to see them, or turn around to find them, or walk out of the way to the side. At Beacon Hill Station the readers are at the side of the elevator so I’ve forgotten or not noticed them both going out and going in because they’re not in the line of sight right in front of you.

        The principle of usability is that a few design changes in the system can increase compliance dramatically and lessen stress on passengers. People shouldn’t have to constantly worry that maybe they forgot to tap because the reader wasn’t in their face, or they can’t remember whether they tapped because they do it every day but aren’t sure if they did it this time. The system doesn’t have to be set up this way that trivial mistakes are considered fare evasion and criminality. Any system like that has a major problem. Especially because it discourages ridership and makes transit feel like a threat rather than a good thing.

      4. Do people struggle to remember to pay for street parking every time they park? I think yes. Tapping your Orca card is much easier than finding the closest parking meeting, paying for parking, and walking back to your car to display the parking ticket.

        Sometimes people honestly just forget to pay for parking, and then sometimes those people get parking tickets. That’s not an injustice.

    2. The Puget Pass agencies need to figure out how to divide revenue, so they want people to generally try to tap their passes correctly. But that doesn’t require 100% compliance, just most people getting it right most of the time. I guess they define their terminology so that the Puget Pass isn’t actually the “permit to travel”, it just entitles the holder to get one by tapping… but your experience is a reductio ad absurdum proof that the definitions aren’t quite right. (OK, it’s not exactly reductio ad absurdum, but it’s closer to that than insulting the ORCA card fee is to ad hominem…)

      1. When did internal accounting come under the criminal justice system? With the same penalty for a misplaced entry as for embezzlement?

        Solution here is cost- and brainer-free. Fare inspector determines a pass is valid. Mistake? Friendly reminder about helping the system work. End of story of a King’s ransom in wasted operating time.

        A long day in Seattle had ended with every route south of Desmoines jammed solid. Drove back to Angle Lake and took LINK to Columbia City for supper. May have started miscounting taps while showing someone how to use a reader.

        Ruined a drive home on the year’s most beautiful evening. I’d like to find the fare inspector and apologize for losing my temper. He was just doing his job. And also because I need every ounce of spare fury to get him the policies he deserves.

        “Ad Hominem” probably translates best as “Attacking the speaker, rather than disputing his statement.” But fare policy under discussion here? “Est etiam multis contumeliis!” Google Translate.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I think I agree that a friendly reminder is enough to keep most pass-holders tapping properly most of the time, which should be all we need.

      3. “I think I agree that a friendly reminder is enough to keep most pass-holders tapping properly most of the time”

        And redesigning the entrances to the fare-paid areas.

  4. Couple things to remember about tunneling. Tunnel boring machines don’t have windshields. Any more than surveyors can see into the ground.

    Engineers have to estimate infinite number of unknowns for everything they know. Usually discovered the hard way. We got off extremely easy under the Waterfront. Which isn’t even ground, but water containing a little dirt.

    And a lot of stuff it’s probably merciful we never found out what we just about hit. I’d calculate at least five steam boats and seven steam locomotives. But most important thing to think about now are the new tunnel’s possible future uses.

    Good chance its final purpose will be as part of a massive permanent storm-drainage system.


  5. Anybody else check out the Northgate TOD Open House last Saturday? Got a couple of nuggets of info at it – the Northgate pedestrian bridge is scheduled to be completed 2020, and the parcel between Thornton Creek development and the current Northgate Transit center (parcel is right now a parking lot) if going to be developed in the 2019- 2021 timeframe.

    Not unhappy about it, but the construction we all are seeing on the 41 is about to expand and make I-5 the restful stretch.

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