24 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Bellevue Tunnel Mining”

  1. Went to Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo this weekend. The
    seasonal shuttle bus between DT Tacoma and the zoo made it a pleasant trip.

    Given how much is going on in Ruston (Looks like a new city is being built!) though and that the zoo also hosts a ferry terminal, its kind of odd that this route is only seasonal.

    1. Tacoma definitely seems to be rebuilding itself. Beautiful location. A hundred years ago or so, Tacoma was expected to be the primer city in Western Washington. Sound Transit, or its successor, will probably serve Tacoma and Seattle as different neighborhoods in the same city. And Ruston Streetcar will have steel wheels, and its own reserved track. Streetcar really did use to run from Downtown Tacoma to Steilacoom.

      Definitely a generational thing, but for me parts of both cities that look the prettiest all share one thing: Hardly any of the people who grew up in them can afford to live there now. Reason I don’t like the term “affordable.” Division is worse than size of paycheck. It’s gone over into a matter of class. General expectation being a life of the privileges you were born with, and improving.

      Or born without, and inevitably worsening. Historically, hundred percent death to democracy. And stagnation leading to well-deserved collapse of what follows it. Really and truly hate expensive restaurants and bars set in renovated machine shops. Would much rather have an ambience compatible with something actively industrial next door.

      Staffed by workers whose understanding of how to design and build a working streetcar entitles them in to class as” Knowledge Workers.” Thereby quintupling their income, to where they can live in same neighborhood I drove them through on the Route 7.

      Mark Dublin

      1. > Sound Transit, or its successor, will probably serve Tacoma and Seattle as different neighborhoods in the same city.

        That would represent a total failure in urban planning, a continuation of failed 20th century suburban sprawl policies. We should be working toward tighter urban cores, resulting in clearer divisions between cities, instead of allowing them to continue dissolving apart into a muddy, low-density, resource-intensive, environmentally-unfixable mess.

      2. If the regional population goes from 4 million to 6 or 8 million — as the Bay Area already has — then it’s conceivable that infill in south King County could lead to continuous Wallingfords and Ballards between Seattle and Tacoma, with exceptions for the industrial areas. The same is also possible for Seattle to Lynnwood or Everett. I’m not sure which is more likely, because Lynnwood and Everett are closer than Tacoma and Lynnwood will have more transit frequency, while south King County is more affordable and has barely started infilling so there’s tons of room.

        Mark is in some ways the canary in the coal mine, since he’s on the forefront of traveling from Olympia to Seattle and Tacoma which will become more common as the population increases and housing prices rise.

  2. General question… When is Sound Transit going to start the tunnel on 1st or 2nd? You were talking about it, before the election, but since then, there hasn’t been a peep.

    1. The representative alignment has a tunnel on 5th. Officially choosing an alignment requires an alternatives analysis and EIS and engineering studies, and none of those have been done yet and it would take at least 2-3 years to complete them. ST may not even start it for several years in order to get ST2 projects out of the way and to be closer to the time its construction is funded.

      2nd Avenue has the advantage of being in-line with University Street Station, and being closer to Pike Place Market. 5th has the advantages of being in-line with Intl Dist Station and Westlake Station, and a straighter path to SLU which has now grown enough to be essential. It could a station at the library (which is awkwardly between Pioneer Square Station and University Street Station), or if Martin gets his way and it goes under I-5, a station on First Hill. And 2nd Avenue will soon have the streetcar on 1st.

      1. I know STB readership includes bus drivers and train operators. But the subject really requires some regular words from the engineers who plan and build things like tunnels and viaducts.

        Because the more an area needs to be served, like anywhere in Downtown Seattle, the more things are already in the way of the machinery.

        Reason for the maddeningly convoluted passages of our stations is that workspace pushes, or fails to meet, acceptable limits. Work is often more like root canal than storm drain.

        I can’t believe that nobody in these classifications reads this blog. So both these pages and citizen instructions to their elected transit officials require your help. You know who you are. Selfish reason to get on board: You’ll get a lot fewer stupid orders from Councils and Boards.


  3. Maybe someday they’ll put a station under the Bellevue Transit Center, making this tunnel actually useful.

    1. The city and Sound Transit took every possible opportunity to neuter the location and effectiveness of the station and tunnel during design. I expect that the station will remain on the periphery of downtown for all of our lifetimes.

      1. ST wanted a better location, but they were neutered by the BCC and their east side political friends. Left to ST we would have a better alignment.

      2. Hard to face, AndyL, but the more important a major project, like a regional transit system, is, the less of it you’ll live to see. No, not because the Best get killed First. A few always get away.

        And like it or not, life expectancy is increasing. Quality of it- land its achievements- largely up to you. One big difference between draft animals and the transit features they used to be used for: Neutering can be reversed.

        Within your lifetime, good chance that East LINK will be an intermediate-level limited line serving a much larger and faster main line. One interesting quandary mentioned in Star Wars: idea that technology beyond our wildest actually existed Long Ago and Far Away.

        South of Centralia, there’s a railroad section called “Vader”. So equally possible that the little place is something that Darth would’ve been so ticked about not getting right on a history test that seemed longer than Time, that he started to become a villain as evil as there are sequels.

        Or: maybe we’re in a sequel where Vader is all that’s left of the mighty Federal/Empire capital, until they find Darth’s statue with a pigeon the size of a pterodactyl using it for a bathroom and disintegrating it. Wonder who gets to be Kemper Freeman? Pin stripe suit with a cape and respirator should win a Golden Velociraptor.


      3. ST signed on for having a tunnel, then let the city water down the tunnel to the point of being pointless except for reducing impact to car traffic. Maybe ST wanted a better alignment, but the process and precedent that let the city put the ‘downtown’ station where it ended being located is broken.

      4. ST needed the city to approve permits for the entire line in Bellevue. Going through eminent domain is a lengthy expensive court battle that would sour relations on both sides for a long time, and ST needs the city’s cooperation for ongoing operational issues, the streets the buses run on, and to support future measures such as ST3. So when a city wants something, ST tries really hard to accommodate them. The purpose of the tunnel from the beginning was to avoid trains blocking intersections downtown and running in front of City Hall. So it wasn’t “watered down” to that because that was the goal. There were other alternatives like as a station under 110th but they were just alternatives. I’m not sure why ST chose the station it did, except that the hillside lets it go straight out from underground to elevated to go over 405. But it could have done that with a station around the corner. I guess an open-air station is cheaper; that must have been the reason. There was also something about not blocking the City Hall parking entrance, which is under the station escalator as I recall. That must have affected another alternative, since it wouldn’t affect a station on 110th.

      5. I can’t argue with anything that you said Mike, but it’s still frustrating that a 100 year investment is somewhat marginalized for relatively small cost savings and reduced construction impacts. Looking at the initial options for downtown Bellevue, the station location got worse and worse as time went along.

        Downtown Bellevue extends from 100th to 112th and the blocks are long. Since Bellevue Way was discarded early on, the tunnel went from being under 106th or 108th (which would have been ideal) to under 110th with a station in the tunnel (which would have been OK) to under 110th with a station outside of the tunnel between 110th and 112th. Each change moved the ‘downtown’ station further toward the edge of downtown and put more of I-405 in the walkshed.

        STB covered this in great detail over time. It’s kind of interesting (and depressing) to read through the old posts.
        Nov 2008: https://seattletransitblog.com/2008/11/21/bnsf-one-last-time/
        Apr 2009: https://seattletransitblog.com/2009/04/08/editorial-tunnel-options-in-downtown-bellevue/
        Sept 2009: https://seattletransitblog.com/2009/09/25/new-bellevue-tunnel-option/
        Apr 2010: https://seattletransitblog.com/2010/04/21/st-to-change-preferred-east-link-alternative-tomorrow/
        Jun 2012: https://seattletransitblog.com/2012/06/13/bellevue-east-link-study-session-report/

    2. How long until we see a significant number of Bellevuites and politicians lamenting the decision?

      1. Probably about the time when they realize two things: that Link isn’t being used to transport crime into their neighborhoods like they thought; and that it’s really useful to use and way better than driving.

      2. The number of Bellevueites who think Link will bring crime is probably close to zero. Link serves the same areas as the 550, and businesspeople and working people ride the 550. In any case, criminals are not going to be deterred because the station is one block further east. If they are deterred, they’ll bring a getaway car; they won’t just not come. Your second point gets at it more. There are a lot of people in Bellevue who want the train and want to ride it, but a lot of them don’t take transit currently much or if they do they don’t think about the logistics, so they envision it like a driver would, rather than like a pedestrian would. To a driver the station and TC are close together. To a pedestrian transferring, they have to walk all those steps and wait for the traffic light, and possibly do it every day.

      3. However, even if average Bellevue residents don’t understand logistics, it’s the job of city councilmembers to understand logistics and how station design impacts their transit-riding constituents and the people who bring money and social/cultural value to the city.

      4. The ironic thing is, at least for transferring from Link to the B, Wilburton Station may be a closer transfer and become more popular. Or for certain areas along the B, Spring District or 130th Station may be acceptable, especially if there are north-south bus routes that don’t currently exist. So that could mitigate the impact of the Bellevue station location. But it’s aggrevating because a transit center is supposed to be the best place for transfers and to have amenities for that.

    3. The Bellevue downtown station will be immediately adjacent to the existing Bellevue transit center, and transfers will be seamless. The fact that it isn’t literally underneath the bus stations doesn’t make it a poor transfer experience.

      Walking from a bus to the train in Bellevue will be much, much easier than, say, transfers at Mt. Baker or Husky Stadium. Relax.

      1. It’s not poor but it’s not ideal, and that prevents it from maximizing ridership and customer satisfaction. It’s better than UW Station transferring to Stevens Way buses, but that’s only temporary during construction of U-District station. Mt Baker is a hub urban village (the middle level between urban center and residential urban village), so it’s just a local transfer point for the neighborhood, as opposed to downtown Bellevue which draws tens of thousands of people from everywhere in the region. So ST should pay closer attention to Bellevue’s transfer experience than Mt Baker’s.

        I don’t think Bellevue’s design is very bad; it’s a B or a C. But it’s not “immediately adjacent” or “seamless”; that’s too much understating it.

      2. I still disagree. The distance is a half block at most from bus to train, crossing a single street. Simply trying to exit a transit center in most large cities involves a longer walk. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to walk from the bus platform to the Link platform faster than I can exit Westlake station.

        For those more familiar with Seattle, the best comparison I can think of is transferring from the bus stop at 9th & Pine to the Convention Place station. You cross one street (9th Ave), go down an escalator, and you’re at your platform.

      3. It’s only half a block to the close side of Bellevue TC – but not to 108th, and at least a couple years ago, Bellevue was planning to move more routes to 108th.

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