This week Sound Transit is kicking off ST3 planning for the Ballard and West Seattle Link extensions with community meetings in West Seattle, Ballard, and Downtown Seattle. The basic alignments have been chosen, but there are still a lot of big decisions to be made before Sound Transit selects the preferred alignment for each segment.

The difference between a good system and a great system is all about making the right choices at this phase. Here is what Seattle Subway is focused on:

Reliability

When building out a multi-billion dollar system, the worst thing we can do is make planning decisions that damage people’s trust in the system.  A great system gets you from point A to point B in about the same amount of time, every time.  It gives the system a huge advantage over unreliable and frustrating traffic.

Two features in the draft plan jump out as a cause for concern:

  • The Ballard Drawbridge
    As we noted in an earlier post, a drawbridge that can hold up trains or get stuck is a feature we shouldn’t be considering for our massive investment.  A high static bridge or a tunnel are both better options.  A high bridge would be amazing to ride and would not increase costs of the project.  A tunnel would have fewer construction impacts and would facilitate a slightly better station location, but would cost $600M more.
  • Royal Brougham Grade Crossing
    The draft plan adds an additional at-grade crossing at Royal Brougham near Stadium Station.  The combined frequency of current and future 4-car trains will create a dangerous situation where cars will be more likely to “risk it” to get through the intersection.  Crashes will potentially shut down the entire system for hours at a time.  Either Royal Brougham needs to be vacated for auto traffic or Link needs to be elevated at that point.  This needs to be decided in advance.

Expandability

ST3 is a fantastic expansion of our regional system, but will not be the end of rail expansion in Seattle.  As the Seattle Transit Blog Editorial Board wrote last week, ST3 must be built for the future.  Light rail lines must be designed so that future expansion can happen without high cost re-work or disruptions in service.

There are four areas where Sound Transit needs to explicitly future-proof the system:

  • South Lake Union
    Either the South Lake Union or Denny Triangle Station must be designed with future expansion to the east (Metro 8 line) and North (Aurora Line) in mind
  • Ballard
    Ballard Station must be built with expansion to both the north (Crown Hill/Greenwood/Lake City) and east (Ballard/UW) in mind.
  • West Seattle
    The West Seattle Line must be built with future expansion to the South (White Center/Burien) in mind.
  • Sodo
    The new Sodo station must be build with future expansion to the south (Georgetown, South Park Sea-Tac, Renton) in mind.

Accessibility

A system is only as good as people’s ability to get to it.  Therefore station location and design needs to consider bus integration.  Mt. Baker and Husky Stadium stations show us what happens when too many compromises are made on rider experience. Pedestrian access and bike storage facilities are non-negotiable features, to to be designed at every station with safety and security in mind.

Areas we’re focusing on for bus transfers:

  • West Seattle
    Every West Seattle station will act as a bus transfer station and needs to be designed for direct (no street crossings) bus-to-rail transfers.  The integration of each station into the bus network means the difference between a transit upgrade and a revolutionary change in transit service and accessibility for the peninsula.
  • South Lake Union
    The station in SLU at Harrison presents a potentially incredible bus intercept for Aurora buses like the E line and the 5.  Riders who use those buses daily know that the most painful part of the commute is often just getting out of downtown.  Rail-to-bus transfers there could add resiliency against mega-traffic days and increase reliability for riders
  • Ballard
    Ballard station will be a critical bus intercept as well.  The extent to which routes like the D line and 40 will be re-configured after ST3 is implemented is still unclear, but it’s obvious that there will be a huge demand for transfers at this station due to the speed and reliability offered by the new line. The station must be designed for easy transfers.

We’ll be following the planning process closely and we’ll be back when there are opportunities to influence the decisions that can help make the system exceptional.  In the end, it’s your system: it should be designed to be awesome for you.

Seattle Subway is organizing a community of grassroots transit supporters to channel public enthusiasm for fast, reliable high capacity transit into actionable goals. We champion a vision of a connected city and region to accelerate our region’s transit investments. You can find a list of board members here.

67 Replies to “An Opportunity to Make Light Rail Exceptional”

  1. I see the concern with Royal Brougham but I don’t think it’s really any worse than Holgate or Lander for vehicle traffic. I suspect Royal Brougham has more pedestrian traffic however. With I-90 ramps right there, I doubt there’s room for a vehicle bridge but there should be room for a pedestrian bridge.

    Is the Lander bridge across the train tracks really happening? Perhaps that needs to be rethought so it extends across light rail as well, although I don’t know what that does with traffic to/from 4th.

    Or maybe that entire stretch should move to a trench similar to what’s happening near Bellevue, with the option to later sell the rights to build overhead between stations.

    1. In favor of a trench! Basically, a cut and cover extension of the transit tunnel through SoDo, which has great redevelopment potential. I have no idea the cost of logistics involved (probably not easy with the I-90 viaduct!), but there will be *four* stations there–a huge public investment–so maximize the potential!

    2. How important is car circulation on Royal Brougham to the road network? And what about buses going to the base and Greyhound buses?

    3. Building a rail underpass at Royal Brougham is a great and necessary idea. The current plan is for the West Seattle line to be elevated through SODO, so only the Rainier Valley Link (min headway = 6 minutes) would pass through the rest of the current at-grade crossings.

      Both lines would cross Royal Brougham (combined 3 minute headway), so grade separation is needed here.

  2. It’s still very unclear where an above ground alignment through Ballard would go that wouldn’t cost an incremental $600 million in land acquisition costs, including the long long long long drawn out legal battle if they dare take a single parking spot. Just ask SDOT.

    I think ST is being very naive in the actual costs of land, legal battles, and resulting construction schedule delays, which will further push costs up for an above ground alignment.

    Do it right and work with the city to replace the Ballard Bridge (which is at the end of its useful life) with a vehicle and transit tunnel. Sell the land rights for the existing Ballard Bridge approaches to offset some of the costs.

    1. Either you’ll need a pedestrian/bike ferry, or you’ll need to keep those approaches for the assumed smaller drawbridge that would follow. There’s also the drivers that are trying to get to/from Leary or Nickerson/Emerson, that won’t want to back track to the tunnel openings that are now quite a ways back to facilitate the underground approaches.

      In a perfect world, there would be a large transit/car tunnel and a 2 lane drawbridge with bike/ped access. 15th/Leary and 15th/Emerson/Nickerson would be standard traffic lights and the tunnel access would be north and south of those intersections, respectively.

      The big question is: how do you build all this, while keeping the existing bridge open?

      1. >The big question is: how do you build all this, while keeping the existing bridge open?

        Easy, you build the tunnel first. Start from roughly the interbay golf center (The U haul site and A-1 self storage are disposable). Eminent domain the Brown bear carwash and the Amazon fresh and those are your north portals. Finish those tunnels, then rip down the travesty that is the Ballard bridge and rebuild.

      2. Or, just close the crossing for a year? It’ll be super disruptive, but that’s the cheapest way to deliver big infrastructure.

        Would also be helpful to have the new ship canal bridge propsed around 3rd Ave W open before the Ballard bridge closes?

      3. @AJ: On one hand, we’d get the new tunnel and smaller bridge quickly and without temporary-permanent oddities that are the results of construction phasing. On the other hand, oh god that would be a terrible year.

        Look at happened with the South Park bridge closure. That was 15,000 cars per day, rerouted 3 miles via a small freeway, and it was still a huge ordeal. The Ballard Bridge would be 60,000 cars per day, rerouted 3 miles on Leary or Market, to/from either the Fremont Bridge or Aurora. On the plus side, it might force SDOT to put some transit priority on Leary and/or Market?

        I would think they would start the tunneling on both ends, up to the bridge structure. Then they close the bridge and demolish it. The tunnel would be floated in and sunk, like the BART Transbay Tube, but into excavated trenches to allow for required depth clearances. Once the tunnel is in place, the new, smaller bridge is built over the following year.

        The closure would be significantly less time than a full bridge closure. Pedestrians and cyclists would bear the brunt of the closure, but a temporary pedestrian and bike ferry could easily mitigate that.

        The hardest part is finding the money…

    2. If we are going to invest in a canal crossing, we should be planning for one that enables more than one light rail line.

      I could see how multiple lines could benefit from a better crossing, from a light rail line split in Ballard to an overlay streetcar system that goes through Ballard or through Fremont to Wallingford or further to UW or Roosevelt stations, or through northern Queen Anne to SLU. Even a dual-mode crossing for Metro buses could add value.

  3. What about calling for the system expansion to be 24/7 service-capable? ST continues to refuse to run trains past 2 a.m. even on Friday and Saturday nights despite late night service this being the trend in cities like LA, Philadelphia, and Boston. Not to mention that Chicago and NYC already have 24/7 service on several lines. As the economic engine of the PNW, we should be shooting for all night service (or at least the capability to have it).

    1. The tracks have to be shut down at night to do daily maintenance. ST is taking better care of its infrastructure than many other subway systems have.

      The New York solution is redundancy. If some lines are designated as the night subway lines, the rest can get their maintenance overnight, and the night subways during the day.

      A future Aurora line could be in service while the U-line is shut down, and vice versa.

    2. New York has four tracks for express trains, so when it’s doing maintenance on one track the trains run on the other track (and thus become express or local) or in a different tunnel (mimicking a parallel line). We have neither four tracks nor parallel lines two blocks apart. Increasing the projects to four tracks would add greatly to the cost, require more ROW, and us not what the voters voted for.

      What ST could do is run owl service Fridays and Saturdays and do maintenance the other five days. It doesn’t do maintenance that requires stopping trains every night, it just likes the convenience of being able to schedule it any time rather than only on certain days. That wouldn’t help full-time night workers but it would help the bar crowds and their staff.

      But Metro’s night owl buses aren’t bad, they’re just not frequent enough and leave large areas out. Other peer cities like Chicago and San Francisco have half-hourly night owls.

    3. Seattle simply doesn’t have demand that exceeds the level which can be served with owl buses. Heck, Barcelona (whose nightlife is far more legendary than sleepy Seattle’s) doesn’t run trains past midnight. Perhaps Seattle could stand to run one or two trains past last call, but there simply isn’t a need to prohibit overnight maintenance.

      1. I agree – traffic congestion at night is effectively non-existent, so running night buses should be adequate most of the year.

    4. The best way to attain night owl rail service is to have multiple tracks and multiple places to load at stations. With getting little things like cross-platform transfers or more escalators at stations so hard to get included in ST plans, getting additional track and platform capacity for owl service seems almost impossible.

      I don’t think it’s fully appreciated how many lower-wage people get off of work at 1 or 2 am, or have to report at 4 or 5 am — and transit trips may take up to an hour to make, which makes the need almost continuous all night. Sure, a weekend “club train” service would be great, but the issue is much bigger and I’d hate for general public perception to dwell on night-clubbing.

      With most current and planned Link stations near freeways or major arterials, an ST owl bus route branded as Link line replacement service seems to be the most implementable and understandable solution. It may have to skip a few stations like Beacon Hill, but it could be done.

    5. Seattle can be served well with a robust night owl bus network. At night the buses run significantly faster because there’s no traffic. The 49 takes 20 minutes from 3rd & Pine to 47th (cf. Link 10 minutes). The 70 from 3rd & Pine to 50th is 30 minutes; Roosevelt RR will presumably be less. (cf. Link 12 minutes to 65th.) The 7 to Rainier Beach is 34 minutes (cf. Link around 20 minutes). The 65 from Campus Parkway to Lake City is 10 minutes (!). The E from Pioneer Square to 46th is 16 minutes, to 85th 20 minutes, to Aurora Village 40 minutes. Subtract a few minutes if starting at Pine Street.

      So the main problem in our night owl network is bus frequency and suburban coverage. Link would add simplicity to the network, but it’s so close to several parallel night-bus routes that it would be rather redundant. The buses have to run anyway for in-between stops and beyond stops. We’re a long way from overcrowding an articulated bus at night.

      We just need to get the buses up to half-hourly, give comprehensible night instructions to Link-only riders, and do something about the suburban gaps.

  4. While these are all important, I’m really disappointed to see that Seattle Subway is not discussing optimum rail-to-rail transfers here. There will be tens of thousands of rail transfers made in ST3.
    All will need lots of escalators and elevators unless a cross-platform transfer is possible.

    1. That’s true. Westlake and Intl Dist stations are the biggest issue, so ST should dedicate plenty of resources to them even if it means lower-budget alternatives elsewhere. SOFO is maybe third.

      1. Because I think cross- platform transfers without escalators are optimum, I support asking for that first. If they cannot be built at a Westlake or ID (and that looks almost impossible) then they should be put in at SODO. Further, we need at least three or four escalators moving in both directions at any rail-to-rail transferring point. That assures that they will be adequate if one goes out of operation.

        It may seem early to define these details, but these requirements govern many fundamental design decisions later.

      2. I don’t think many Capitol Hill, North Seattle, UW and Snohomish people fully fathom that they will have to transfer to get to the airport after 2035. The Ballard and West Seattle projects as planned will degrade trip quality in SE Seattle and NE Seattle because of the added future transfer.

      3. @Al S. Speaking as a SW SnoCo resident, I’m well aware of the need to transfer lines in 2035 (if these system expansions come to fruition by then) to get to SeaTac. But your point is well taken nevertheless.

        Of course, if I’m still alive and kicking by then, I might just catch a flight at Paine Field, which I’ll be able to take an Uber to in about 10 minutes. (I’m under one of the flight paths.)

    2. I agree. I agree with the spirit of Seattle Subway’s vision, but not necessarily about the Ship Canal crossing.

      Reliability is important, but a mid-level bridge would seldom go up, and I’d rather save 5 minutes every day with better rail-rail or rail-bus transfers or more optimal station locations than to save 5 minutes every month, perhaps, at off-peak times, by tunneling under the canal. I’d also rather have a glorious view of Fisherman’s Terminal and the Olympics every day over saving 5 minutes a month while staring into darkness out the window on every trip, even in the middle of the day, in a tunnel. Even if price were no object, I’m not sure I’d feel differently about it, but price is absolutely going to be an object, especially with the pressure I anticipate will build in favor of tunneling up to the Junction in West Seattle. Also if we blow the budget on Ballard-Downtown, it may hinder Ballard-UW later on.

      Where the station actually goes in Ballard (15th? Further west? What will need to be torn down? What about bus transfers?) is an important question that may be tied to this, and we don’t know exactly how yet, so I remain open-minded, for now, about bridge vs tunnel.

      Royal Brougham has not been on my radar thus far, but any grade crossings are suspect on a line like this and it deserves a closer look.

      1. “the pressure I anticipate will build in favor of tunneling up to the Junction in West Seattle”

        West Seattle may not have a lot of cards to play on that. They spent a large amount of political capital getting light rail to West Seattle at all over higher-ridership, higher-density areas, and that didn’t come with a promise for a gold-plated line. At the same time there’s the compelling needs of DSTT2 and SLU, and the top-deserving Ballard which is higher density and more transit-using. And the potential loss of federal grants. And I’m afraid that even ST’s representative alignment to West Seattle may have above-average risks of higher costs. So West Seattle really needs to focus on a good low-budget alignment. And it must prioritize riders and transferers, not non-transit-using neighbors and golf courses.

      2. Johnathan, the problems isn’t the frequency of delays. It’s what can happen any time the bridge goes up at all. Like not being able to make it come down. Weather. Malfunction. Earthquake. You’ve got a piece of machinery out in the weather, 24-7-365.

        In transit world, nothing promised. But after the Loma Prieta ‘quake, BART had trans-bay tunnel open after inspectors had checked out the track. Bay Bridge back in service after crews lifted a span of the upper level off of the lower one.

        So if the soils check out….just be sure everybody, especially Tunnel Boring Machine crew on duty, knows exactly where that steel pipe is. And also doesn’t try to save time by scraping it out of the away.

        Mark

  5. “A high [static] bridge would be amazing to ride and would not increase costs of the project.”

    Citation please. What are the required heights for a static bridge over the Ship Canal? The Aurora Bridge is 167 ft and the Ship Canal Bridge is 182 ft. Compare this to the ~75 ft drawbridge that ST is proposing. The approaches for the 75 ft bridge are already going to be minimum 500 ft, ignoring the up slope of 15th going north (Ballard bridge is 44 ft clearance and has effectively negligible approach height difference on the south side; so 30 additional feet at 6% light rail slope = 500 ft).

    So anything over the current ~75 ft drawbridge is going to be logically more expensive. It’s not just higher, thicker columns, it’s the increased approach lengths for both ends and all associated real estate costs that will follow. Once you start looking at something more expensive or extravagant than the 75 ft drawbridge, you may as well just do a tunnel.

    1. Sound Transit said this during the ST3 plan development.

      Originally there was added cost but that was because originally Ballard Link was going to be at grade through Interbay. The high bridge would have caused the line to go elevated earlier. Once that stretch was elevated the marginal cost of going higher is offset by the savings in not having to engineer and build a movable bridge.

    2. There is some bridge height threshold where a drawbridge is no longer required. That height is determined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the administrator of the waterway, and is ultimately negotiable, but building it any lower than the Aurora Bridge would constrain navigation to Lake Union and the shipyards there. Not an easy thing to permit. So we’re talking about a really, really big fixed bridge, especially when it’s coming from Interbay instead of Queen Anne hill. As that lands in Ballard, it would create Seattle’s version of DUMBO in Brooklyn (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – amazing place actually.) Big, big visual impacts. Pedaling a share bike up that would be epic. Not sure what the implications for a Market St. station would be (maybe integrated into the top of a new mid-rise building?)

      There is some cost overhead for constructing a drawbridge over a fixed bridge, whereas the approaches to a higher bridge have to be longer and indeed, more expensive. The study that just commenced should explore those tradeoffs.

      Tunneling tech is improving, but the soil conditions in Interbay are almost surely terrible for tunneling, like Portage Bay, which was so deep with peat that ST moved the tunnel east to Montlake. You have to go deep, like ST did under the Montlake Cut, with enough dirt overhead to support the canal itself. You have to deal with the soil that is there. Salmon Bay wetlands where this tunnel would go were filled with soil from regrade operations and with garbage for decades since 1911 as described on p. 7 of this 1984 survey of Seattle’s abandoned landfills: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/toxins-air-quality/~/media/depts/health/environmental-health/documents/toxins/abandoned-landfills-seattle-1984.ashx

      It does not sound like fun to tunnel through that. It also doesn’t sound easy to permit, cheap, or low risk. Hence the mid-level bridge concept.

      1. That linked doc is a colorful read. Concerning the zone a Ballard tunnel would have to traverse:

        “…compact drift of unknown depth but at least 1,000 feet deep lies beneath the site, hence bedrock is at great depth. Long ago, an arm of Smith Cove extended beneath the park site (as evidence by sea shells in the samples) leaving soft bay deposits. On top of this intertidal soil are stream and pond sediments including peat from the stream that flowed from Salmon Bay to the south. Also, the area adjacent to 15th Avenue West probably is mantled with colluvium or slide debris from the east…

        On top of all these natural soils are hydraulic fills and a sanitary landfill, the latter being up to 40 feet deep consisting of garbage and debris interbedded with the silty sand used for cover… The uneven rate of settlement has limited development at the site… This particular site was one of the longest fill projects in the City. It started about 1911 and continued to be filled off and on as late as 1968.”

      2. The type of water traffic using Lake Union and Lake Washington has changed a bit since the Aurora Bridge was built. Lower may be possible now.

  6. Since the Ballard line is slated for 2035, maybe we should wait a few years before committing to a plan.

    The Boring Company plans to make tunnel boring much cheaper than it currently is, we may find that a tunnel becomes cost competitive with a bridge.

    1. Balance sheet has two columns, Brandon. Considering the cost of delays, damage, and danger, over the life of the project, a higher black column could deliver a much smaller red column. And with ink less the color of blood.

      Mark

    2. There is no reason to expect Elon Musk will be able to reduce the amount US transit agencies spend on deep-bore projects, when companies across the Atlantic are already able to deliver results at 10% of the price we pay.

      Especially when Elon Musk *also* owns a company whose stated purpose is to replace public mass transit with privately-owned individual transportation.

  7. A high bridge would be amazing to ride and would not increase costs of the project.

    Can someone point to analysis that verifies this claim? That seems both improbable, and not how I remembered previous discussions about this issue.

    1. Yeah it’s truly sad. The other amazing thing is that Trump is proposing that State and local governments pay for most of the remaining projects, even highway and bridge projects. It leaves me very discouraged about our entire transportation system.

      1. The ironic thing is that he’s telling us to do what we’re already doing. He said he’ll give communities the opportunity to choose the projects that are most important to them, but we’ve already done that: that’s what the existing grant applications are. And Lynnwood Link’s 50% federal match is unusual, most other transit grants are less than that. As for 80% federal funding of highways, that may be true for the Interstates, but which other recent Washington highway projects are getting an 80% grant? I’m not aware that they’re getting any grants.

      2. Germophobe Donald Trump is constitutionally allergic to public transportation and obsessed with Vendetta. He will think of reason after reason to subvert transit investments. There will be no grants for Seattle as long as he holds off

        The great thing about Democracy is that the people get the government that they choose, and in this case that they richly deserve.

      3. It’s hard to believe that someone who spent his whole life in New York City and builds Manhattan skyscrapers doesn’t understand the impact if the subways, commuter rail, and buses didn’t exist. How would people get to his skyscrapers? How much space would it take if they all came in cars? And is this a “local” issue or an issue of national importance? If people can’t easily get to their Financial District jobs and tourists can’t get around without taking Ubers on gridlocked streets, wouldn’t the lower productivity impact the rest of the country?

    2. The only impact to North King Link is the Lynnwood Extension. That would either be delayed or ST would backfill current ST3 revenue for it, which would then cause a corresponding hole elsewhere. If we assume for a moment that the hole is $1.3 billion for other North King ST3 projects, how would you distribute it?

      (And if you say, “Replace West Seattle Link with BRT”, how would you get the ST board and Seattle City Council to agree to it? We can’t do just what activists want; we can only do what politicians agree to.)

      1. Well if it were up to me I’d cut everything north of Lynwood and I’d cut the Issaquah line if it means Ballard and West Seattle get built right. Everyone knows that’s not what would happen though.

        This is such a long-range project I hope any one president with a term of 4 years (or less?) can impact the schedule too much.

      2. Congress could turn over this year too.

        Congress should send Trump bipartisan bills and call his bluff on vetoing them. Congress should enact everything that has bipartisan support anyway, and not hold it back because the majority of the majority party opposes it. That’s what Congress is supposed to do, at least according to the values that prevailed until the 1900s.

    3. I wouldn’t go that far, but you can expect cost-cutting in ST3.

      For instance, the conversation around a Paine Field Spur is starting up again.

      I could also see a new West Seattle alignment that’s all elevated along the highway.

      I could also see cutbacks in Tacoma Link to pay for getting light rail to Tacoma Station.

      Sad dudes, really sad. Happy to say I left the GOP because of the main protagonist of ^this^!

      1. lol… it wasn’t the racism, sexism, dismantling of healthcare or the evisceration of the EPA that did it huh? Cutting TIGER was just a step too far.

      2. I think ST has already prioritized the projects by scheduling the lowest-priority ones last. That would be Tacoma 19th Ave and Issaquah-South Kirkland Link. So Tacoma 19th Ave would likely be chopped. I can’t see Pierce wanting to reduce Central Link when it has been so keen on it for decades. The only other thing to reduce is Sounder, and again it’s high-ridership, moves a lot of people, is faster than Link, and is the only thing that serves Puyallup and Sumner (especially Sumner which no longer has PT service).

      3. Let’s not lay the general excesses of today’s GOP at Joe’s feet in a subthread on transit funding. IIRC, based on STB threads, Joe left the GOP over Trump before the 2016 General. He’s been posting here, writing letters to newspapers and officials, and testifying publicly for years, and the beliefs and values he’s displayed have been the ones the GOP has been running away from for the last decade.

      4. @barman: “Happy to say I left the GOP because of the main protagonist of ^this^!” Presumably Joe means Donald Trump, which is basically a stand-in for the GOP’s sexism, racism, and bad economic and environmental policy.

      5. “There are four areas where Sound Transit needs to explicitly future-proof the system:”

        Joe, as a former Republican, which means you still really are one who had to flee for your life when the Southern Democrats took over…you can really be helpful here!

        Because you can give us a favorable verdict on the meaning of the term “Future Proofing.” Last time I remember seeing it, context was that lack of intelligence or foresight had made the Mt. Baker Station essentially impossible to ever correct.

        So we’re counting on you to assure that the future will be something to honor and defend from the forces of the past. Such as the party you just left. Wonder if One Percent for the Arts will get us a Goddess of Future Transit Victory statue.

        Or since the Theater is also a legitimate art form, actress can actually dash into the State Capitol in a white gown, and chase Steve O’ban around the dome waving a sword, and putting curses on him in either Greek or German.

        Hacking “Ride of the Valkyries” into the sound system will definitely give people something else to have hearings about. Italian baritone swinging a barber’s razor should get his chance too.

        Your call, Joe.

        Mark

    4. I posted a comment about that yesterday, but I stuck it on the Sunday open thread since it would’ve been deemed off topic on Monday’s STB entry. Anyway, thanks for bringing up the issue again and hopefully there will be a dedicated STB entry on the subject matter in short order.

      I’m very worried about the funding stream for Lynnwood Link since ST has yet to obtain their FFGA with the FTA and the current administration wanting desperately to kill the New Starts program.

      1. I think one option we could be looking at is this:

        *Fund Lynnwood Link with ST3 dollars.
        *Reopen the plan to serve Paine Field with a spur, and look at how TransLink does the Canada Line spur. Note how TransLink gets to charge extra fare on their spur… (hands rubbing) and consider a public-private partnership there.

        We still get light rail to Everett… and Paine Field.

        It’s no secret Community Transit (and Sound Transit) need the freed up $$$ tied up in commuter service hours that Lynnwood Link will replace. So that’s why I think as transit boardmembers are educated on the finances of what Lynnwood Link completion will do for Snohomish County bus service, you’ll see support for this.

        [ot]

      2. “Reopen the plan to serve Paine Field with a spur”

        There never was a plan for that that I’m aware of, just unofficial suggestions.

      3. Right on, Joe! Notably, that spur alternative opens sooner by several years, is notably cheaper and has a higher ridership forecast!

        I’ve been wondering if the impact to Airport Road and 128th Street residents will result in years of lawsuit delays and howling anyway, so that the spur becomes the only way to get the project built.

        I’d even suggest looking at a streetcar alternative (exclusive ROW wherever reasonable) between Everett and SW Snohomish with closer spacing. That will ultimately serve more destinations since there won’t be pressure to keep the number of stations north of Ash Way to a minimum on the main Link line.

    1. There must have been a few hundred people who came. Everyone seemed generally engaged and interested in a number of issues.

      ST staff towed the line of nothing has been decided since the vote and everything is transparent. Of course, the staff later announced that the first list of alternatives to be screened would be out in two months. (The timeline seems very suspicious to me. There must be alternatives already if ST plans to release them soon. The stated ‘ transparent’ promise is perhaps already dubious if alternatives are almost ready to present.)

      The public wandered around in the unorganized room and individually wrote post-it notes, a few comments on a blank board and on note cards. There was no public testimony allowed after the ST speaker made a ST3 for Dummies speech. There was no effort to get the mood of the crowd, like ranking of issues and priorities, or affirming of other people’s comments. I only saw coffee being offered.

      Reading blog discussions here is many times more insightful than this open house was.

  8. Where are we going to get the money for this? Don’t say “parking garages.”

    I’m starting to feel kind of cynical about this blog because a lot of really unrealistic plans get published. Then when the plans get ignored, politicians or suburbanites get blamed, though the real reason is the plan wasn’t sound to begin with…

    The general consensus seems to be that Ballard is the most important part of the whole plan, despite having a pretty small share of the ST3 projected ridership. Nobody dare mention that most of the “Ballard line” ridership actually comes from south lake union. Areas outside of Seattle proper are the “suburbs” despite the fact that much of it is heavily urbanized and it contains the majority of the job centers.

    It seems the metric used to judge the worth of a line is the trendiness of the neighborhood, how many cool bars are there, rather than how many riders will be served.

    1. Don’t forget the metric of how many non-rider “stakeholder group” concerns are addressed — as opposed to planning and building for actual riders.

    2. Where in the suburbs besides downtown Bellevue and Redmond has as much residential density as Ballard-Fremont-Greenwood, and the variety of neighborhood businesses, and is walkable?

      It’s not the trendiness of the neighborhood or how many cool bars or cafes, it’s how much people can meet the full variety of their weekly and mothly needs without leaving the neighborhood, or how much is within walking distance of the station that will bring people from outside the neighborhood in. Many people live in the U-District and Capitol Hill and rarely leave the district, or mainly just for work. Ballard, Fremont, and Greenwood are like that to a lesser extent. In the suburbs unless you live in downtown Bellevue you often have to drive all over the place because many things you need are several miles away. A self-contained, walkable neighborood, especially one that has unique businesses and activities that attract people from outside, has the highest ridership and transit mode share, and the biggest gap between its current ridership and its potential ridership.

      South Lake Union is part of downtown now. Of course potential ridership is through the roof, and ST and Seattle had a blind spot in not addressing it as such earlier. They knew it was zoned for up to 400′, yet they thought the streetcar, 70, and 40 were sufficient for it. Then Metro had to scramble to get the C in there and add 30% to the 40 to cope with demand.

      Ballard is lower than Northgate Link and Rainier Valley, but Ballard is the largest transit market after that, and it also has a large size-and-distance ratio from ST2 Link. It’s a 30-60 minute overhead to get to the closest Link station: U-District or Westlake. We can’t just write off one of the major urban villages and a quarter of the city, not if we want to accommodate as many people as possible and give them good transit connectivity to the region so they won’t drive as much. We have precious few urban villages like that, we have to make the most of them because it’s so hard to create new ones in this era.

      1. I’m not saying Ballard isn’t worth doing, but this blog exaggerates the importance and minimizes projects outside of Seattle.

        There are a number of urbanized walkable areas outside of Seattle. Downtown Everett is quite urbanized and walkable. Edmunds is very walkable, though somewhat underdeveloped. Mill creek is urbanized and some parts are walkable. There is tons of multi family housing outside of Seattle…. and 3 million people.

        Also, the largest employer in the state, and the largest building in the world is next to the number one most criticized transit stop. Every time people harp on the Paine field diversion it makes me think they have no objectivity at all. There’s no cool bars there! Just 40k jobs or so.

      2. I’ve never even been to Paine Field, so feel free to educate me if I’m wrong. I think most of the reason that stop is devalued has little to do with the absence of cool bars. It’s that few of the 40k workers there would switch to Link because even if/when there is a stop there, it is far from their actual jobsite. And Boeing has shown little-to-no interest in helping to resolve the last-mile problem.

        That said, the best transit areas mix residences, work places, and third places. Paine Field has only one of those. So yeah, ‘cool bars’ is part of the equation. But no that much of it.

  9. Anyone familar with “West is Best” at the open houses? I like their idea/concept… through Interbay swing over the BNSF tracks to the east edge of Magnolia then dive into tunnel under ship canal then underground downtown Ballard station in the heart of Ballard while angling the line eastward for future expansion… hits a lot of the points I like.

    I get that Magnolia is hardly a dense destination but you might as well shift the station over to broaden the walkshed to more of Magnolia. Its current location on 15th serves nothing.

    1. Lots of the businesses along 15th are pretty auto dominated. That part of Magnolia has more apartments and condos than the mirror part of it in Queen Anne.

      So, I’m not sure it is such a bad place in terms of density.

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