SeaTac/Airport light rail station

This is an open thread.

70 Replies to “News Roundup: Still Unfinished”

  1. California’s SB 827 is an awesome bill. This is the first issue I’ve written my representatives about since moving down. Sierra club opposition, though dismaying, doesn’t really surprise me. I resigned myself to environmental group hypocrisy after WA’s last carbon tax initiative.

    1. The Sierra Club is full of aging boomer NIMBY’s. Their NIMBY concerns cloud their logic, so this reaction is not surprising. They’ll allow the metros to sprawl forever, provided they get some land set aside in the mountains and they make sure no one can mountain bike on it. The Sierra Club will have to adapt and get some young blood, or it will die with its members in a few years.

      1. Yup, that was always my impression of the Sierra Club when I lived in coastal California. A bunch of wealthy NIMBY ex-hippies using environmental law to protect their cushy, high-consumption lifestyles, and driving teslas or priuses so they can feel good about empty nesting in a 5-bedroom mansion in Berkeley or Mill Valley. Of course, there are plenty of people who actually care about climate change in the organization, but the amount if hypocrisy is pretty amazing.

    2. This is specifically a problem with the San Francisco/California chapters of the Sierra Club. They consistently take anti-infill housing positions and it is not surprising that they oppose SB 827.

      The anti-housing position of these chapters is inconsistent with the positions of most other Sierra Club chapters and of the national Sierra Club. The Washington State Sierra Club is fully on-board with new urban housing, for example.

    3. McGinn is in the Sierra Club and he would support this bill. Washington’s Sierra Club may have little clout with California’s, but they should at least make a statement of protest to the California club if they haven’t already.

  2. The bike/ped bridge over I-5 at Northgate is such a fantastic opportunity for a “gateway” to the city of Seattle. The tube/truss design achieved this status in some regard. But the current designs are ugly and just another over pass. Would love to see some design that welcomes southbound arrivals via car, bus and train into Seattle’s central city. Would love to see a cable-stayed design.

    1. Everything requires money and there’s a limited amount the state allows to be raised. The ped bridge is important, but Seattle also has other priroities. And “iconic” designs remind me of silly wasteful things like the downtown library design, which at best is only a partial net plus for the city. I’d rather see more low-cost artistic changes to the bridge design than an “iconic” bridge. A high-contrast stripe of paint can do wonders.

    2. Any architect, engineer, or both: Why would a cable-stay bridge be more trouble, or expense, than an ugly concrete structure. Seems to me that posts and cables would be quicker and easier to build.


      1. This is the Liberty Bridge in Greenville, SC (my other “home town” from time to time); it’s obviously of much lesser span and it went pretty far over budget, which was originally for a “normal” truss-type span and wasn’t popular. That said, it’s become the symbol of that very pleasant small Southern city and it, and the surrounding park downtown, are extremely popular.×680.jpg

        Mark, although my forte isn’t structural engineering, a long, thin span like a pedestrian bridge is more susceptible to undulation and sway (think Galloping Gertie). If you’re having to support the thing with intermediate supports to eliminate that – and you assuredly would here as the pedestrian structure is to be quite long and is by definition small in cross-sectional area in both directions compared to a bridge carrying heavy traffic, meaning it’s flexible – you’re probably not saving anything and you’re adding cost for the stays. The solution for Gertie’s replacement was to, in effect, suspend a truss structure. If a graceful stayed or suspended bridge could be built at Northgate for a similar amount, I’d be all for it – in fact, I’m disappointed that something like the Liberty Bridge wasn’t done at the UW Station instead of the pedestrian (in both meanings of the word) bridge we ended up with. That location is actually a gateway to something.

      2. Cable stayed bridges are actually good at spanning long distances with a thin deck. The towers are expensive, but you wind up fewer of them than you would with a simple beam bridge.

        But, one of the advantages of design + build projects is by combining the two you should get the optimum design for a particular set of circumstances.

      3. True about the span length, Glenn, but at some point as you lengthen the span a thin deck oscillates too much and needs to be stiffened (note the truss structure at the relatively short Liberty Bridge I linked above; that bridge may not even span the width of half of I-5 at Northgate). You then don’t have a deck as thin as it could be with shorter spans – which of course require more support. At any rate, my assumption is that what they came up with is cheaper or they wouldn’t have gone that route. Both those design firms are well-regarded. As you correctly note, design + build may well have come up with the optimum design – although that’s a bit harder to put together for a project that has taken seven years so far!

        I, too, would have preferred the elegance that can be found in stayed or suspension bridges throughout the world.

      4. A cable-stayed bridge can be more lean in the use of materials, but it will usually be more expensive than a simple truss or girder because it requires more customization and is more complicated to construct. Structural steel is very standardized, a bunch of I-beams and trusses in various dimensions and concrete pre-stressed girders can also be ordered off the shelf in standard dimensions. In that case, only the foundation and supporting towers need to be custom designed and constructed on site. The rest can be trucked in and hoisted into place. But a cable-stayed bridge has more on site construction. A concrete deck can be cast off site in segments and trucked in, but that must be erected sequentially one segment and one cable at a time which would take some months all with many road closures below which means working from 10pm to 5am. A steel truss deck could be erected more quickly, which is why they would probably choose that option, but small cable-stayed trusses are not something that can be picked up off the shelf made up of the usual kit of parts. That would have to be custom fabricated. And taller towers require tower cranes to hoist concrete forms, rebar and concrete instead of just concrete pump trucks and excavators for shorter 20′ supports.

        All that said, the current designs are not that appealing and it would make sense to have a more inspiring design. Perhaps a “Burger King” bridge with naming rights for 10 years. With that location, that ought to pay for a skookum bridge.

    3. Note that this isn’t even the only pedestrian bridge you see on I-5 coming from the north… there is another one just before it in shoreline. Speaking as someone who commutes on this route, I could care less what the bridge looks like.

      The newer less pretty design takes less time to walk across than the old tubular one… I think that’s the important thing.

      1. “The newer less pretty design takes less time to walk across than the old tubular one”



        It also goes straight toward N 100th Street. That has got to be more useful to people on the west side than a longer bridge that touches down at an arbitrary place between 100th and 95th.

      2. Two narrow stripes of paint. One on top, one on the bottom. That would frame it and make it look less like a concrete hulk.

  3. UW Campus Master Plan ‘Finally, Roach said that the university should be required to deliver Burke-Gilman Trail improvements sooner rather than later. The university promises to complete trail expansion and bicycle-pedestrian separation by 2028, but Roach said that these improvements should come earlier, perhaps as soon as 2021 to accommodate existing and future commuters. The trail is already failing to meet existing demands.’
    This is particularly distressing with the upcoming Eastside bus termination at UW LINK station and the opening of the 520 bike/ped trail. Never has the Burke Gilman been more vital as a last mile link.

    1. The thing I really find distressing about the UW Master Plan is that UW still has no intention to construct a protected pedestrian connection between the UW Station and the UW Hospital/Medical Center. If ever there is a place to have a safe pedestrian connection free from having to cross busy streets, between a high-activity, high-employment density medical center and a rail station is it!

      It even makes me wonder if the Medical Center administrators enjoy some schadenfreude watching sick people cross a street.

      1. It is round about and not a way anyone would go, but couldn’t you go up to the bridge over Montlake and then walk around to the underpass to go under Pacific?

      2. Thanks, Al. Has current Federal administration dismantled Americans With Disabilities Act enforcement for mop closet space? And are the Huskies doing so bad that the Athletics Department is short on funds?

        Meantime, bridge project could help some of the alumni with pesky pocket change all over the rug every time they hang up their pants. But some real ideological heartbreakers.

        Forget air. Coal just costs too damn much. And wind and solar Kings- c’mon, in the West you gotta have them, Queens and Consorts too-have so much left over that Citizens United isn’t even worth bothering with.

        And too bad Cecil B. Demill didn’t live to see his worst lie set straight. Wyatt Earp only cleaned up because he got his orders from the people that always give them:

        One more investor shoveled into Boot Hill because the Clanton Gang got drunk and shot them, and they’d replace Wyatt with the girl that inspired True Grit. Not the John Wayne one. The Jeff Bridges one proving that since average cowhand had live Shakespeareans for TV, one “ain’t” and you were Hamlet’s father.

        But worse buzz-killers than Raid(tm) for my side. ‘Til Jeff gets enough mall-aisle space to sell drones the size of a semi, the stationary motoring public are all going to get class-action sued for more money than car-tabs will cost them. His drone order’s been sitting there all day!

        While Anarchist special forces are calling in from the field that they can’t destroy the Establishment because that happened first Inauguration Day Meaning that real rebellion now means becoming the Establishment. Hope Goodwill has some army-surplus pin-striped suits left.

        So as I think Karl Marx hinted at in passing: From the time the first mammoth-foot wastebasket got sold for a chisel-chip off a flat VISA rock, humanity’s chief liberator has always been The Chamber of Commerce.

        Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, and Doc Holiday

      3. The athletic department has nothing to do with it. The parking around Husky Stadium is not athletic department parking (that’s mostly in back) and in fact is open to the public. The parking for all intents and purposes is controlled by the school / UW Hospital except on game days. The med school takes in about half of all funding for the entire university and hence is a very big tail wagging the Dawg. In other words, they are the ones that need to be approached about all of this – if you can get them on your side stuff will happen. The AD is a drop in the bucket compared to the med school and hospital.

      4. @Scott Sidell. Although I agree with your point in general, you’ve overstated your argument with the following misleading statement.

        “The med school takes in about half of all funding for the entire university and hence is a very big tail wagging the Dawg.”

        The University’s FY18 Adopted Operating Budget is $7,251,988,000.
        Of this, the UW Medicine segment is $3,613,000,000 (48%). But of course this includes the UWMC, Harborview MC, Valley MC, NW Hospital, UW Physicians, Airlift NW and the UW Neighborhood Clinics. The FY18 budget for UWMC is $1,186,000,000. By comparison, the UW Core operating budget is $1,339,314,000 and the Research Enterprise is $1,302,302,000.

        Fwiw, Intercollegiate Athletics has a budget of around $127 million.

        I too liked the “tail wagging the Dawg” line. Well done.

      5. Do the “don’t block the box” laws apply to pedestrians? The island at Montlake/Pacific where trainloads of people are forced to wait between signal phases is getting fuller and fuller. At some point (perhaps when we have 4-car trains), there might be more people trying to cross the street than what can fit in the island.

      6. I’m not a money guy (designers rarely are) so I appreciate your delving into the budget, Tlsgwm. Any “misleading” was unintentional as I had neither time nor inclination to pore through financial statements and budgets; as most laypeople would I took “UW Medicine” as an entity as part of the University of Washington, and indeed their budget is nearly half that of the entire University’s. The note at the end of Table 12 states that the School of Medicine’s projected revenue is approximately $1.4B and is excluded from the UW Medicine numbers, which as you say budgets about $3.6B (and I assume intends similar revenue). If you remove the non-School of Medicine’s component of UW Medicine from the budget, you have to also exclude its revenue – and you really should do the same for the Athletic Department as both are separate entities primarily serving the public at large, and both are considered part of the Auxiliary Budget. As it’s a small number I won’t do that.

        Since the School of Medicine’s income and expenditures are apparently distributed between Core and Auxiliary budgets, it’s difficult for me to quickly ascertain what percentage of that non-UW Medicine portion of the overall budget the School of Medicine is. If you take the $3.6B out of the overall budget, leaving about $3.7B, the $1.4B for the School of Medicine is about 38% – not half, but still a substantial portion, and as a back-of-napkin calculation hopefully in the ballpark. The School of Medicine still is by far the largest financial component in both income and expenditure amongst the strictly educational components of the UW, and my point that when it speaks, the UW listens, is still valid. I’d still bang on their door first if you’re trying to gain an ally for altering the situation at Husky Stadium station. I’m pretty sure if the School or UW Medicine went to Dr. Cauce with a request to improve transit access to their facilities on campus, Dr. Cauce would listen. I know damn well that if the College of the Built Environment (Architecture school for those of us who are older) did the same, they’d still be sitting in the waiting room. :)

        (oddly enough, if you go to UW Medicine’s website, education/research is at least as prominent as patient care as the UWSOM is part of UW Medicine, making the ‘separation” between UW Medicine and the School of Medicine noted in the budget under Table 12 even more confusing to a layperson. Dean Ramsey oversees both; associate deans are directors of Harborview, UW Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital amongst others. The combined revenue expectation for the two entities is over $5B – again, an immense figure comparatively speaking.)

        Fortunately this is an open thread – that was a rabbit hole I didn’t intend to go down! The gist of it is, make friends with Dean Ramsey and convince him his patients and staff need better access from Husky Stadium Station, and a bus layover/turn area at the station, and it’ll get done. Jen Cohen at Athletics – who is great, BTW – can’t even open that door.

      7. @Scott Sidell. Sorry about the rabbit hole. Lol. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my reply. I am a numbers guy and I just wanted to make sure that other readers on here didn’t come away with the impression, after reading your commentary, that the UW School of Medicine or the UWMC comprise half of the University of Washington’s budget. As we have both now illustrated in our replies, that simply isn’t the case.

    2. What Burke-Gilman improvements; the university just finished some. And closing part of the trail for a year or two was a pedestrian annoyance even if bikes could quickly move from the trail to Stevens Way and back. Do you mean widening the trail overall to fit this ped/bike separation?

      1. Basically all of the stretch North of Rainier Vista including a proposed grade separated crossing at Pend Oreille Road.
        The bigger question to me is how the following will apply to Montlake Way NE as it is technically a State Route from 520 north as Sand Point Way NE up to NE 65TH Street.
        “Any public streets under the city’s control would need to be improved to city code and right-of-way manual standards when new development occurs adjacent to such streets.”
        Transit, bike and ped use are part of the Complete Streets approach SDOT espouses and these improvements would help mitigate the placement and accessibility of Husky Stadium Station from the north.

    1. That was my first thought too.

      Although it should be pointed out, UPS refers to the shipping company, not the University of Puget Sound. UPS started in that building according to the plaque. Is UPS still in the building?

      1. I don’t know if UPS is still in the building. Corporate HQ definitely isn’t there anymore (they’re in Georgia now). It’s still in the name of the park though.

      2. A foundation established by the original founder runs the park now, the business has no association with it or the area except by name (which blink and you’ll miss it anyways).

  4. UW article: “To facilitate increased transit demand at the campus, the university would need to pay King County Metro Transit to operate additional peak morning and afternoon trips.”

    I wonder which routes these would be. Which routes are currently most overcrowded or which areas are most underserved?

    “The university would also need to pay for several RapidRide corridor capital improvements near the campus, dedicate space for transit riders in new developments adjacent to existing and new light rail and RapidRide stops, and expand stops along three stretches (NE 45th St, 15th Ave NE, and NE Pacific St) of future RapidRide corridors near the campus.”

    That would be great. And it would lead to RapidRide 44 and 48 opening sooner. It would be nice if they could open in time for U-District Station.

    1. “That would be great. And it would lead to RapidRide 44 and 48 opening sooner. It would be nice if they could open in time for U-District Station.”

      Or, at the very least, addressing the poor pedestrian crossing of 45th ST at U District Station and UW tower, in anticipation of transfers to/from RapidRide.

    2. Of course, it would be unthinkable to UW to be required to give 520 buses some space in the parking lot to layover and turn around…

  5. Since Sound Transit is so slow at publishing their monthly and quarterly ridership reports compared to other transit agencies, I decided to take a look at some of the end-of-year reports from those other agencies.

    The preliminary ridership numbers from LA Metro are pretty troubling as overall transit ridership continued to decline and total boardings were some 43.5 million less than they were just two years ago.

    Total boardings on light rail increased by some 5.8 million over 2015 ridership numbers, with growth on the Expo line countering declines on the Red/Purple line (the most used segment), the Green line and the Blue line. The Gold line had an increase in boardings of some 2.3 million in 2017 compared to 2015 numbers.

    1. It looks like — since there wasn’t an ST Operations Committee meeting today — ST posted the December report.

      The December weekday growth on Link was 4.9 percent. That’s half of Novembers 9.7 percent growth and the lowest December-to-December change since 2012. It appears that Link’s staggeringly great ridership growth these past 18 months when new stations opened was mostly driven by UW students and additional growth won’t be robust until Northgate Link opens in 2021. The only thing before 2021 that I can think of to add weekday growth bact to double digit percentages would be forcing more riders onto Link with route restructuring for the 520 service.

      That Link ridership growth was still awesome these past few years. It’s just that it’s likely not going to be as rosy in the next few.

      1. Thanks for the info. I checked earlier today and the numbers hadn’t been published by then. I’m going to dive right into the report now. Much appreciated!

    2. It’s actually happening in a number of places. One theory is that as the USA housing shortage is turning many former close in middle class neighborhoods into wealthy ones, there is less transit use as those people are able to afford Über or parking or other expensive options. Lower income people wind up on the outskirts, where more often they have to drive.

      1. “It’s actually happening in a number of places.”

        Yes it is. Another explanation has been a surge in car ownership among groups that previously relied on transit to get around.

        UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies authors Michael Manville, Brian D. Taylor, and Evelyn Blumenberg just published an interesting analysis of the situation in California. Streetsblog did a decent write-up of the study just today.

      2. Glenn in Portland, you hit the nail on the head. I used to commute to work by bus three to four days per week and usually once per week to a non-work destination. Then the recession came, along with cuts in hours and pay cuts, and complete lack of job security, which forced me into the suburbs. Pay increases generally lagged behind rises in home prices for my job, so I never really go an “in”. Today, I rarely ever take the bus because it functionally does not work for me. I know that I’m not alone in this situation. Many of my neighbors would choose to live closer to work – probably near transit – if they felt they could afford it, particularly the younger neighbors. The younger/newer members of the neighborhood mostly feel like we got stuck here.

        The solution has to have multiple approaches. Address the housing shortage. Address the lack of density. Build transit in the burbs. Encourage employers to locate, when possible, in places near where their employees can afford to live. I worked at a job once where two thirds of the office commuted from Lake Stevens, Monroe, or Everett, in to Bellevue. That was idiotic. The office should have been in Everett or, at least, Mill Creek or Lynnwood closer to where their core employees all lived. None of us could afford Bellevue or anything close to it.

      3. In the Portland area, transit use in the close in areas has dropped, but has increased in the suburbs, so this really illustrates the impact of housing costs.

      4. I think it’s basically a shift on our concept of time. People generally are less patient every year. Smart phones have created the “I want things now” attitude.

        Take real-time arrivals on buses. We think of it as an improvement — but honestly with other time management improvements with texting, Waze, and even Uber/Lyft status updates, we are merely keeping up with this more instant paradigm. Even online retailers’ delivery services keep people from using as much transit as before.

        What can transit do? The big advantages of transit are that people are free use smart phones while on transit (rather than driving) and that exclusive transit lanes can move people faster. For planning, that means designing lines that people use for longer distances and reducing the access time to get to those higher-speed transit services.

        In other words, rail expansions are probably the best way to grow ridership — but we must also make them fast and easy to access. Even forcing riders to cross one or two major streets at push-button, cycled pedestrian signals while it’s raining could be as harmful as reducing train frequencies from 6 to 10 minutes. Adding an additional 30 seconds getting on a occasionally crowded escalator may be subliminally encouraging a rider to seek other ways.

        The online world business analytics obsess about seconds and the direct correlation to lost sales. With our growing time obsession, those analytics are going to be increasingly important for transit too.

      5. @Mike Orr.
        “Low gas prices have nothing to do with it, nothing.”

        Lol. You should tell that to Sound Transit since they keep stating the opposite on their monthly ridership reports when referring to the performance for their ST Express mode. For example (from the Dec 2017 ridership report):

        • Passengers per trip fell below the monthly target at 33.5. Low fuel prices and freeway congestion have limited
        ridership increases.

        I hope you have the time to read the UCLA report. Here’s their conclusion about other factors including fuel prices:

        “Fuel prices, service changes, and rideshare use are not the likely drivers of ridership decline.
        Other potential causes do not strongly correlate with the fall of transit ridership in Southern California, unlike the spike in car ownership among heavy transit users. Gas prices have jumped up and down while transit use has declined, transit fares and service records have not notably changed, and while new rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber may play some role, transit use began its decline before rideshare became popular and research shows that rideshare users are mostly making different trips at different times than regular transit riders.”

      6. “Take real-time arrivals on buses. We think of it as an improvement”

        It would have helped thirty years ago but it was impossible then: there was no GPS, data feed, open data format, smartphones, or bus-stop displays with network feeds. But the most serious subways had “minutes to next train” displays, and Moscow and St Petersburg had “minutes since last train” displays. Knowing how soon the bus or train is coming makes transit more feasible, and watching the display change from 10 minutes to 5 minutes to 2 minutes makes people more content.

        Before Seattle Prop 1 many core routes were 30 minutes evenings and Sundays, and many suburban core routes are still 30 minutes daytime, 60 minutes evenings, sometimes 60 minutes Sundays. If you know that that is the norm and you don’t know when your bus is scheduled, most people won’t even go to the bus stop to find out they might have to wait 25 minutes: they’ll drive, get a ride, or not make the trip. Most of the people I know won’t consider putting up with bus service like that; they’ll only go to the stop if it’s rail, RapidRide, or a guaranteed-frequent route they know about. Even I avoided going to Aurora, Greenwood, or West Seattle evenings when they buses were half-hourly. Now with real-time data you can not only look up your stop if you don’t know the schedule, but you can even see whether the bus is on time or 40 minutes late. That must have contributed to ridership, because it contributed to my personal ridership.

  6. Throwing this out to the horde, would you attend the 2/15 Ballard open house if you were a Ballardite?

    Not to sound apathetic, but I am a Ballard to UW supporter (partly because it avoids the ship canal crossing and the inevitable cheapness that would result), but that isn’t happening in my lifetime.

    I am agonostic over the ship canal crossing (Bridge or tunnel, my guess is ST takes the cheap way out) and the Ballard representative is a tunnel guy.

    Why would you attend?

    1. I did attend earlier Ballard open houses as a former Ballardite (who lived at 65th & 15th).

      I’ll be around retirement age when it opens but I still want to push for a high-quality line. If I were older and it wouldn’t open in my lifetime or I’d be invalid by then, then maybe I wouldn’t, but I still care about infrastructure for the next generation. I’m glad the 80s generation built the DSTT: that shaved a big chunk off ST1’s budget and made it easier to pass. I wish earlier generations had built the Bogue subway (1920s) or Forward Thrust (1970s). Then it would have been easier to get around my whole lifetime, and perhaps it would have encouraged larger urban villages around all the stations.

      What I did experience in Ballard before RapidRide was a 30-minute overhead to get anywhere, since going most places required transferring downtown or in the U-District. Ballard is the largest urban village that’s so far from an ST1/2 Link station, and getting people out of their cars requires something better. That’s why I’ve felt so strongly that Ballard must be next and must not be forgotten.

      1. Don’t consider my own involuntary move from Ballard permanent. Though hope its present condition is as temporary as it deserves to be.

        And reachable by something fast and electrically steel-wheeled, with a short interplatform elevator ride to either subway to Ballard. The one with South Seattle for its other terminal, or the one with the transfer in the U-District.

        But wouldn’t like to have all that trans – regional speed negated by a decades-long ongoing territorial dispute about West Seattle vs. U-District. Looks like next visit- 574 to Sea-Tac to LINK- will terminate via Pioneer Square Station to the Library tenth floor.

        Because the underground rocks, dirt, and water under current Route 44 could dictate a lot about the order of West-side work. If the ground is good, tunnel boring machines headed east and the various vertical levels headed south and west, could make both lines part of same project.

        Harm in checking costs a lot less than harm in arguing about their distribution. Scenes in “Deliverance” with banjo’s duelling in the background, are only slightly less horrific than decades looking at lines and dots that are supposed to be a railroad.


      2. I moved to Ballard because I worked there, but soon after got laid off. I left Ballard because I found I was going outside the neighborhood for most of the things I did. Not work or groceries or bands: I worked at home, shopped at the Ballard Market and Fred Meyer, and attended some shows on Ballard Ave. But everything else, partly because I have longstanding ties to the east half of the city and the East side. That’s when I really noticed the half-hourciverhead of getting to anything east if Aurora or south of Uptown. I liked Ballard as a quiet, laid-back, unstressful place, and thought I’d might come back when I’m older and settled down more. Now that has gotten further from my mind because of the overhead, and the proximity to Link in the central and eastern parts of the city.

    2. I go to them anyway because I don’t want to be surprised in where they are building, what your nearest station looks like, when construction is going to start. Even if you don’t like the decision, it pays to know it.

      Also gives you the right to complain.

      1. Just kidding, Baselle. Though wouldn’t bet that more than one of our projects hasn’t had an art proposition that’ll paint a colored stripe along the entire route, including yards and ponds, and forcing station roofs to be domes painted the same color.

        But seriously, I think the public would react very favorably to construction people, preferably in their work clothes, come talk to them about different approaches and their implications. Because for public works in a democracy, it’s critically important that the average person understands enough civil engineering to give an elected representative the best instructions possible.

        However, one thing both voters and their officials absolutely need to keep mind. If you ask an engineer a question, they’ll tell you the choices, the strengths and drawbacks of each, and approximate cost and time.

        But one thing they’re sworn never to tell you; What you Should do! That’s yours decison, so best learn everything you need to get the right one. Because it’s your responsibility, it’s on your orders,


  7. Update on Amtrak Cascades:

    As some of you probably heard, the engineer has been interviewed, and seems to have admitted to a loss of situational awareness. This is what we all expected.

    Amtrak has committed to having all engines running with PTC by 3Q2018. I guess we just wait for the announcement from WSDOT for their new increased service date along the new route.

    One of the Wisconsin Talgo sets was just moved along with a Charger locomotive to Pueblo, CO for testing. It looks like this train will be headed to Seattle at some point. It will be interested to see if they repaint the train, or modify the interior. They have bistro cars, but do not having dining or business class. The seats appear to be cloth rather than leather. No word on the second trainset, or the spare cars that are still sitting in Illinois.

    1. I was under the impression that both trainsets had been leased to California for service between LA and SLO. Did that deal fall through like the rest?

  8. The article on “TNCs” suggests that cities should designate curb space for pickup/dropoff zones. Well, considering the many demands on curb space and TNCs’ role in consolidating profits, if they want special curb space they should pony up the way traditional taxi companies have for decades.

    1. And the way Car2Go and Zipcar have done for years.

      Ideally they should be required to do this in congested locations like downtown, capital hill, U District, and urban villages. Not only helps traffic flow but would seem to make the whole pickup/dropoff experience less stressful both for drivers and riders, and is a great way to prepare for when TNCs go driverless..

      1. Chris, colleagues who are still professionals in the trade where I used to be one, have reminded me that time to judge accidents is when all the facts are in.

        But I also remember from same experience is that in any chain of command, the time and quality of awareness training are seldom, read never, dictated by the trainee. And also creation same in spades for the Situations in question.

        “Hare-brained” is rabbit-slander. Because a million years of hawk avoidance long ago taught these bunnies never connect any burst of max running speed with sudden change of direction. Have to be those monkeys that lost their tails, brains, and fur to pull that one.

        But ’til genetic engineering and fashion reverse our hereditary disabilities, we can still handle temp solutions. Too many cars for the curb-space? That’s what trackside parking in next county is for.

        Trusting human survival to a man-made mechanism that neither rattles, screeches or stinks before it dies just it kills you- that’s what both natural selection and extinction are for.

        And since paleontology also contains cartoons, anybody remember Brer (Bro) Rabbit? “Born and bred in de briar patch!” is Nature’s defense against driverless cars.


      2. So, private cars have always been able to pick up and drop off people without paying for the unloading space. I’m all for some kind of congestion pricing scheme downtown where everyone who drives pays, at least during the most congested hours – but it’s important to not fall into the trap of just blaming Uber.

        Simply put, a car is a car, and causes the same congestion, whether you’re paying for a ride or are lucky enough to have a friend or family member drop you off for free. It’s not fair for the former group to have to pay for use of the streets, while latter group doesn’t. If the “congestion charges” for Uber/Lyft end up being in effect 24-7, city-wide, simply because that’s the easiest way to implement it, administratively, it effect becomes a tax on the carless, who need to travel at odd hours when transit is skeletal, or non-existant, and simply serves as an incentive for people to buy their own cars, or drag family members out of bed to drive them around.

        We need to think carefully before slapping more fees on car trips for people that don’t own cars that car owners don’t have to pay – too many of these fees simply encourages people to get out and buy cars, and once people do that, they’re essentially lost to transit because the marginal cost of driving is just too cheap.

        It’s bad enough that with rental cars, about 1/6th of the total charge is tax – (on top of all the taxes and fees car owners pay, which are priced into the pre-tax cost of the car) – let’s not do the same thing with in-city trips.

        Again, I am not opposed to charge for use of congested streets, so long as people who drive their own cars have to pay too – the objection is singling out those using a commercial ride service for street fees that ordinary car owners are exempt.

      3. The difference is dedicated pick-up spaces. Noncommerciak drivers stop in any open parking space or lot if on the street or in bus stops. This would be dedicated spaces for taxis/carshare only, like commercial delivery spaces for companies that buy a permit.

      4. One other advantage of dedicated pick up spaces, it would make it easier for clients to find the car.

      5. Fair enough – if they want dedicated pick-up spaces that the rest of the public can’t use, the companies should have to pay extra for them.

        That said, if they do do it, it begs the question of how to pay for it. If they add an extra charge for trips starting or ending a trip there, people will try to get picked up a block away, just to avoid the extra fee. Fold it into the regular fares, and now, every trip becomes more expensive, including trips that don’t go anywhere near congested areas or special pick-up points.

        My personal opinion is that exclusive pick-up points for ride hailing companies is simply not necessary, outside of airports. Thanks to the power of GPS, it’s not hard for the passenger and driver to find each other, even on a crowded street.

  9. As a Sierra Club member I expect that the next issue of the newsletter will have an article about how much they really, really support affordable housing (just not any proposal which would actually help it). It’s really frustrating. People have been turning to other organizations.

  10. Thanks for the information on able-stayed structures. And even more, for helping develop a habit of bringing technical realities into the discussion as early as possible. Term too often used to limit scope. Truth is just the opposite-not showing what you can’t do, but what you can do that you haven’t had enough experience to see.

    On this exact point, though, 48 years ago – Two Score and Eight! since it was in Washington DC-I met Paolo Soleri at his presentation in the Smithsonian. So I think it’s finally time to show the true potential of urban density. Proves that extremely tall, dense buildings can themselves be mounted on a really lot bigger ones. .

    So time get permission to use the pics, and start word of mouth, or tweet of twitter or the other way, whichever for a campaign to convince opponents and supporters that these plans are in the works. Like will probably really happen whatever is correct rhetoric for fifty year.

    A job building these structures- which would create the world’s largest labor union- would definitely take care of the affordability problem, by paying the average worker enough to live there ’til their natural terror of the things subsides. Or if it doesn’t, enough to offer anybody else in California enough to buy whole lower-density provinces in Argentina to move to.

    Leaving only some very old questions. Should escalators be LINK or BRT? And will wrong ORCA tap get you fined by floor or whether you’re at the point or just a different leg? Water- some desert dwellers get their drinking water out of the air, by condensing it in caves, or along other rocks. Might even work in California.

    But for sewage: So long as you don’t get or put anything in its way, gravity always works. Never much need for a plunger here.


  11. Are there going to be any open houses for the new downtown tunnel stations? Are there any conceptual designs or planning docs available?

    I haven’t seen anything on the blog and I can’t seem to find anything on ST’s website. It took a ton of Googling to find a really basic schematic of the new Chinatown/ID station and, based on what I saw, I really, really want to attend some open houses.

    1. Yes, transfers at both IDS and Westlake will involve a couple of level changes and a noticeable hike. Neither was designed to be a transfer point, and it’s going to be a long-term drag on the system

    2. Yes, because it’s EIS-required or board-mandated public input. The open house schedule for that project hasn’t been announced yet that I’ve seen. Expect it this year.

  12. Must really be slipping if I can’t even be sarcastic at both the UW Athletics Department and the Alumni Association and not have it register. How many people in these categories get far overpaid above professors? What percent is “all of them?”

    Shouldn’t have even had to wait for that plaza extension ’til the first Christmas. Should’ve been part of the station! Fact that UW didn’t draw the bridge into the plans with a magic marker speaks volumes, all of them terrible reading.

    “What’s the matter with these people?” nowhere near rhetorical now. Well, The Post-Sarcastic Age, needs a kick-off. So the whole official Democratic Party, led by Jay Inslee, shows up at Montlake and Pacific without any special notice, but with a lot of shovels.

    And have the Governor announce he’s already got The Guard at Royal Brougham and Airport Way- and some other places along LINK- setting up the same emergency quarters and facilities they’d use after an earthquake next Richter up from last one. Bunks, kitchens, latrines (bet they’ll stay in better shape than PortaPotties) and medics. Trade school nursing credits for time in grade there.

    And rent at the camp will be wages for building the park connecting the hospital with the LINK station. And a lot of other long-overdue public repair work. No harm in putting in for Defense money. Worth the effort to watch the Far Right go after exactly the homelessness-ending job provision they’ve been screaming for.

    And as the backbone for the return of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress….a light rail line that Franklin Roosevelt could’ve ridden without an attendant. But here’s a great bi-partisan win-win. If the Democrats don’t go for it…Steve O’ban gets a free ORCA pass good for every witch-hunt in the region. And Uber fare if his elevator breaks.

    Mark Dublin

  13. Earlier I complained about it taking 45 minutes to go from 65th & Roosevelt to Capitol Hill Station’s southwest exit, even though the evening traffic was not bad and the 10-minute Link wait was not excessive. Yesterday evening I timed it again, hoping somehow it would somehow be shorter. Maybe traffic was worse than I judged. This time it came out to 30 minutes. The 67 took 15 minutes. Traffic was maybe a little lighter. There were two other differences: I took the UW elevator instead of the escalators, and the Link wait was 2 minutes. So 30 minutes vs 45. Adding the previous Link delay (8 minutes difference) and the escalator difference (1 minute I estimate) gives 39 minutes: close to 45 minutes. So that was a bummer but it shows you can get down to 30 minutes on a good day.

    This is why I’ve been so insistent on getting ST2 Link done: with Roosevelt Station open it would take 12 minutes train + 1-2 minutes walking out the exit. That and U-District and Northgate would have made it a lot easier to get around the city the past forty years.

    Also, ST recently lowered the time estimate between Northgate and Westlake from 16 minutes to 14 minutes. That’s the same drop as on UW-Westlake (8 minutes to 6 minutes) after U-Link opened and it turned out the 2-minute padding for Westlake bus congestion wasn’t necessary.

    1. “This is why I’ve been so insistent on getting ST2 Link done: with Roosevelt Station open it would take 12 minutes train + 1-2 minutes walking out the exit. That and U-District and Northgate would have made it a lot easier to get around the city the past forty years.”

      I agree. It’s hard to comprehend that after 21 years of building our region’s light rail line this is all we have to show for it. 21 friggin’ years!

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