Green River pedestrian bridge in Southcenter

This is an open thread. The bridge is this one.

33 Replies to “News Roundup: Nice Bridge”

  1. For those complaining about service to admiral, while the 50 isn’t frequent, it is baseline and connects to Link. But it seems like the singular criterion for their assessment is “is it a 1-seat ride to downtown”? It seems like they consider no 1-seat ride to downtown to mean the same as no ride to downtown, and cite Admiral as the only urban village like this. Which I had to check, because it didn’t seem possible after U-Link.

    I guess the urban village on 65th at the northeastern part of the 62 has “good downtown service” because of the 62 (and not the faster 67+Link) because you can take a nap on the bus and wake up in downtown? Seems a bit misguided.

    1. This excessive focus on the one seat ride is a holdover from our days as a bus only transit region.

      Multi-seat rides on buses really are to be avoided due to infrequent service and schedule variability. They can be really slow and painful.

      But rail is more frequent and more often on time. The transfer to rail, or the transfer between rail (when we get there), just isn’t as painful.

      You see it our current system too. Bus to rail? Easy. Rail to bus? Can still be a problem.

      1. It has little to do with timing a transfer. No one times a transfer from a north-east end bus to Link at the UW station. They just expect both the bus and train to run often (and they do).

        It is only a problem if service is very infrequent. If your goal is anywhere-to-anywhere transit, It is far more efficient to require a transfer ( But if you improve the headways from 30 minutes to 20 minutes, it still isn’t great, especially if the bulk of the people showing up at the transit meetings are well to do riders who want to commute downtown (and can drive to their destination the rest of the time). So transit agencies routinely pick and choose, and provide service that is obviously inferior for simply getting around, but fairly good if you are going to the most popular destination(s).

      2. Except for streetcars in GP lanes, rail’s advantage is nothing in its way. That is, if it owns its own tracks and passenger trains have to hold for freight. Give buses their own lanes and ‘lights, and equation will shift.

        Be great if one night of a fish truck spilled equidistant from every stadium in the region on game night, and several hundred thousand people just decided enough was enough, cleared one lane each direction, even at voluntary cost of some smashed fenders, and cranked every one of their Smart-phones into a desperate social media demand for buses.

        Reason I’ve got some hope this’ll happen- problem isn’t civil engineering, but million percent politics- is that I think a love affair with cars will only tolerate so many thousands of partners in the same bed.

        Just wish I didn’t also think about how big a bed we’ve still got for a country. Which I think is truly the main reason for Europe’s mode choices. Bet the Swedes across the bridge from Denmark wits they could import some mountains from Norway.

        Best guarantee of rail transit is every square inch that can hold a car having one in it. Even worse thought is that maybe, being former monkeys who love to cuddle, we’re genetically programmed to do what keeps us packed together. Cars being next natural step in Evolution. Skate-board jams only a matter of time.


      3. Aargh! That’s got to be a joke poking fun at yourselves about West Seattle, right?! Herbold is asking for a study to restore service that was cut in 2012, a goal that this site routinely supports for other neighborhoods. Where else have added or restored service hours been met with STB saying “why add hours?! They must have been cut for a reason!” ? That knee-jerk Panglossian “don’t run more buses, there’s so little ridership!” is more of what I’d expect from anti-transit rural Republicans. As it stands, I’m not sure how much more ridership Admiral could cram into its existing services to convince you the riders are there. Take the 50 up to Admiral Junction one morning and try boarding a 56 or 57 around 7:30 or 8:30. You will see full articulated buses, often leaving riders at the stops. Yes I know that’s not unique in Seattle but my point is these are not uniquely poor-performing routes.

        As for the one-seat ride to downtown, this isn’t about fetishizing sleepy one-seat rides at expense of speed, like AlexKven cites in NE Seattle. Look at some trips on Google Maps. The 56 gets people from Admiral Junction to downtown in 22 minutes, or back in 18 minutes. The 50Link connection takes 46 minutes into town, or 48 minutes to get back from downtown in evening, partly because the transfer is untimed and the 50 has 30-minute frequency. We’re talking 100% to 200% longer via 50/Link.

        If your chief complaint is ridership, some runs on this route restoration would admirably serve that goal, especially those closest to current run-times, like a run to town at 10am or back at 2pm for school pickups and 7pm for later workers. The other run-times would be accomplishing a coverage goal.

        Inquiring about cost seems worthwhile, since as we’ve seen from Alon Levy, the marginal cost of all-day routes beyond that of peak routes is relatively small (even though his article is about trains I know Metro has a labor shortage but perhaps part of their challenge is finding people to work the ridiculous split shifts or part-time that one-way rush-hour only service like the 56’s current schedule necessitates. My point is it at least seems worth asking how much this would cost.

      4. ‘Where else have added or restored service hours been met with STB saying “why add hours?! They must have been cut for a reason!” ?’

        It depends entirely on the corridor. Northern West Seattle (Alki and most of Admiral) and southern West Seattle (Arbor Heights) had strikingly low ridership throughout the decades that all-day transit existed. That couldn’t be justified during the cuts, and now in this era of expansion it’s still worth asking, what level and configuration of service reaches the top of the benefit/cost curve, and not assume the legacy routes are the best. I have no specific answer, but I’m doubtful about the legacy routes. AS to whether there should be some kind of all-day one-seat ride to downtown from these areas, that’s harder to say. Northeast Seattle doesn’t have that anymore, but then it does probably take longer to get to West Seattle, which is one reason for these requests to reinstate one-seat rides.

        The debate is also confusing peak vs off-peak service. The peak express routes still exist. AlexKven seemed to be talking about all-day service, while JTinWS says, “try boarding a 56 or 57 around 7:30 or 8:30. You will see full articulated buses, often leaving riders at the stops.” Midday coverage and peak overcrowding are different issues. Peak overcrowding is the hardest to solve because it requires extra buses and drivers peak hours, and that contradicts JTinWS’s desire to keep running the peak buses all day (that would be way excessive and unproductive). Ideally people would spread out their work and activity schedules, but nowhere in the world has succeeded in this: every city has morning and afternoon peaks, even those with much more extensive all-day transit. And some jobs intrinsically require people to be there at the same time their customers or business contacts are.

        One argument in your favor is that Canadian and European cities have at least twice as much transit as we do, so they would have something frequent to areas like Admiral and Arbor Heights, and it would probably go to something like Link to transfer to downtown. We are just three decades behind in that, and are not putting resources into a complete interim alternative during the gap.

  2. Admiral and Alki transit seems to be caught between the, “If you build it, they will come,” narrative, and the, “Use it or lose it,” narrative. The geography of Admiral and Alki is tough for mass transit, and that has to be the understanding that allows us to discuss solutions and plan for the future without unproductive anger and judgmentality. It may be true that Admiral residents are seeing more traffic, but not more options to avoid being-in-slash-being traffic, and also true that the hard numbers basically support what happened in the C Line restructure.

    1. >> The geography of Admiral and Alki is tough for mass transit, and that has to be the understanding that allows us to discuss solutions and plan for the future without unproductive anger and judgmentality.

      I agree. It is a very unusual place in general. The only place similar to Alki is Madison Park. Just about every neighborhood at the edge of the city is low density. Matthews Beach, Laurelhurst, Madrona, Mount Baker, Seward Park, West Magnolia, Sunset Hill — almost every place close to Puget Sound or Lake Washington is an area filled with nice looking houses, with few apartments. Even the beach part of Rainier Beach is low density (like Mount Baker, you have to move well away from the water to find apartments).

      So Madison Park and Alik are similar in some ways, but different in others. With Madison Park you have a simple, straight shot to the rest of the city. In a mile and a half you are past MLK and 23rd, into an area that has been densely populated for years. Another mile and it just gets more and more urban. First Capitol Hill, then First Hill, then downtown. Except for that little gap between Madison Park and MLK, you have great density the whole way. But even that is no big deal, because it moves fairly fast. All of this means that good bus service to Madison Park is justified, and easy to operate.

      With Alki it is much harder. Going around the horn makes sense and is fairly fast, but it is a long way. It is about three and a half miles to go around and get to the freeway. By that time if you started at Madison Park you would be at Boren, an area that would be considered “downtown” if not for the freeway. You haven’t come close to running by as many important areas (no major pockets of density, no university, no hospitals, no major crossing transit line). If you go by Admiral Way it is shorter, but not a lot shorter. You have some people, but still nothing major. Unlike Madison Park, you actually never see anything more urban than what you started with. Then it still takes a little while (albeit on a very fast road) before you are actually downtown. Alki itself warrants better bus service, and would have it if there was more along the way.

  3. I actually have to admit that although i was disappointed originally when the all day 56 was cut(i live in alki), i’ve become fairly happy with the peak 56, half hourly 50. The 50 is actually better for connectivity within west seattle (which if i’m using the bus midday is 50-50 what i’m wanting) and with the transfer to the C isn’t horrible for getting downtown. For my core commute the 56 is definitely handy, but outside of those hours I’d rather the bumps in 50 frequency with connections to the c than an hourly 56…

  4. So… this bridge pictured over the Green River… what is it actually connecting to on the east side? I can’t find much information about it. It connects to the Green River Trail on the west side, but on the east it looks like it just connects to the west sidewalk of the highway, not especially close to a way across.

    1. Project Overview

      Construct a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Green River. Pedestrian/bicycle connection between Tukwila’s Urban Center and Transit Center and the Tukwila commuter rail/Amtrak station. The pedestrian bridge will support local and regional goals and policies regarding land use and transportation in Urban Centers.

    2. That is exactly the case Al. Cyclists crossing East over the river will find themselves on a sidewalk a block away from a stoplight to cross. I was hoping they would create a different path for bikers but I believe they are expected to walk their bike on the sidewalk and wait for a loooong light. Going Westbound, the trail doesn’t really connect to Southcenter. I would like to know about the ribbon cutting just so I can yell “WTF!”. A lot of money on a cool bridge that doesn’t really change anything.

    3. The bridge is for the new residential development along Baker Street between the mall and Sounder station.

  5. German court considers banning driving dirty diesel cars because of air pollution. This would make millions of cars undriveable. The government is considering making public transit free as a remedy.

    Seoul is also trying free transit to combat air pollution. The article says the results of free transit have been mixed, and that it often doesn’t generate many more riders. It says that Paris and Milan have used free transit during periods of high pollution, and Madrid is considering it.

    The thought of a German court enforcing an environmental law banning a large percent of the country’s cars, or that the European Commission is considering suing Germany for not doing enough about air pollution in its cities, sounds strange in the American context where almost the opposite is happening: repealing environmental regulations, packing the EPA with administrators who want to nullify it, an energy policy of “Drill, baby, drill!”, no tolerance for courts who might disagree or supra-national treaties, etc.

    1. Since we’re talking about German companies, my guess is that they’ve been foreseeing this for awhile, and are ready to install everybody a new and much improved engine that will last the rest of the car’s life, free of charge.

      But best examples are non-GErman, though neither of them will cross a five foot deep African river with an exhaust pipe like a periscope, like any Mercedes truck can. But still:

      Citroen-Maserati. Terrifying car for a non-French or-Italian to drive. Turn the wheel one degree, and you’re airborne at escape velocity off Highway 1 in Big Sur. Good car to sort out exactly who deserves to get a driver’s license in America. Insurance rates will plummet. And transit use skyrocket. Note the tail, too.

      Excellent example of the Kamm principle. But when I congratulated my Toyota salesman on his company’s excellent sense of design, he told me all customers care about is the gas mileage (which really is great) and if it has all the latest options. Being Americans, they don’t want to know where the hood release is.


  6. There is a different James on this site so I will go by Jimmy James.

    As a student of seattle Public schools during the bussing years, I am pleased to see free ORCA’s for students. It is not just the transportation to and from school.

    It is for after and before school sports. It is for school clubs. It is for socializing with friends from other neighborhoods. These were all an issue when I was in school. I had to pay the fares out of my own pocket.
    It makes me happy to take that financial burden away.

  7. Central and Eastern Europe have a long history of scientific research and Rationalism. Continental Eurooeans, especially those participating in the Reformation have a cultural respect for excellence and accuracy.

    Contrast that with the Anglo-American tradition of democratic leveling and “Who does he think HE is?”

    And they don’t have a Constitution that values Individualism above all others and half the attorneys in the world, all itching for a fight.

    1. Anti-intellectualism has been used by fascists (including communists posing as fascists) the world over.
      Widespread respect for intellectuals and scientists is evident in American folklore (from Ben Franklin to Thomas Jefferson). Einstein was treated like royalty when he visited the U. S. (before becoming a citizen). Or, should I say, he was treated like a rock star (since we don’t treat royalty that well in this country).

      More recent anti-intellectualism is simply an attempt by the right to discredit opposition. Not new, nor unique to this country.

    2. Distrust of educated people and science is very recent. Richard Nixon had a lifelong grude against the “Harvard establishment” who he felt looked down on him, and this drove his political style and the movement that grew up around him, Goldwater, and the John Birch Society. Nixon may have even pushed it in that direction more than it would have been otherwise. Then the 1960s counterculture questioned authority in their own way, over the very-real lies about Vietnam and segregation, and ended up at relative truth (whatever you believe is as true as what I believe). In the 80s and 90s the right wing adopted the former tactics of the radical left for their own vision of a white Christian plutocrat dominated society (of course not all members agreed with all aspects but the coalition as a whole did, and increasingly the coalition is influencing its members to drink the entire kool-aid). Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Rush Limbaugh played a starring role in creating the right-wing propaganda machine that sold this vision to the public, and to a lesser extend in Britain. From a sociological perspective, I guess it comes down to the bulk of white Christians feeling their dominance in society slipping away, combined with their very-real loss of wage growth and purchasing power since the 1970s, and this is their way of reacting to it, of discounting science and learning because they seem to be the tools of their oppressors. I can’t believe this denying of science and education can go on forever, so eventually it will stop and the remaining deniers will become marginal again. Somehow they’ll have to decouple anti-intellectualism from their social/ethnic beliefs. But how and when that might happen I don’t know.

      “More recent anti-intellectualism is simply an attempt by the right to discredit opposition”

      There’s a specific tactic in there that must be recognized. The “Karl Rove strategy” was to accuse your opponents of what you’re guilty of, to confuse the public and make them believe all sides are crooks or immoral. But it’s actually one side that’s guilty, the side throwing the accusations. The other side is guilty of some other things, but nothing as serious or destructive. Others started using this strategy under Obama, and now Trump uses it all the time. The media reports the (true) accusation and (false) counteraccusation, but it doesn’t go beyond that to connect the two and ask why is the counteraccusation occurring, and how is the onslaught of unfounded counteraccusations affecting society? Calling out this tactic would make it less effective. Orwell wasn’t concerned about people throwing around words like doublethink or crimethink and saying “Here it is, there it is.” He was concerned about people internalizing it so much that they weren’t aware of it, and the concept dropping out of the language so that people couldn’t articulate it if they did recognize it. This is similar to what happens when the counteraccusations are successful.

      the counteraccusation is occurring, This tactic needs to be called out and confronted so that it’s not so successful. Orwell wasn’t concerned

  8. A few corrections from my spouse, Ethan Goffman.

    “Public meetings on transit plans typically draw the same people making the same old points. Attendees tend to be older, whiter, more affluent, and more highly educated than the constituents who most need proposed services.”

    Ethan, here’s a method that might help you. One thing your transit system can do both for itself and the community is to hire as many members of it as possible to be first-line transit workers.

    Hands-on experience..a steering wheel, or a train controller, or a radio handset, or a wrench will bring your whole community the transit workers- and work its people really need. Who will also be the source of the very information and contacts the system needs. Ongoing day-to-day, at bases and union halls as well as usual public meeting places.

    Now, “… older, whiter, more affluent, and more highly educated than the constituents who most need proposed services?” People’s circumstances often different than the appear. So it might be more accurate to say: “Our chief problem right now is to be in contact with the people who depend on our services the most.” And then elaborate.

    But “highly educated” bears a lot more discussion. Because its most common definition has left thousands of people in debt for the rest of their lives, after leaving school unprepared to make a living at all. It’s always an after-the fact judgment anyhow- but underneath everything, it’s always the product of curiosity and experience.

    After it closed, Stoneyhurst Quarry was supposed to be a memorial park. Now it’s the basement of the world’s ugliest apartment building. Is that “highly educated in Montgomery County? Lord, that building was ugly. Any chance they didn’t really build it?

    1970. Thirteen months breaking building stone with a hammer and driving a dynamite truck. Most highly-educational first year post-grad possible. Shame it’s likely not possible anywhere in this country now.

    So Ethan, since the rest of my education since college was thirteen years driving trolleybuses in Seattle, I can tell you that you’re extremely well-placed to create several whole highly-educated generations in the transit world, attending your meetings from both sides of the podium.

    Eventually we all will be old, and a few affluent. But because some of us remember labor unions, we’re already educated to a level we can see to it that the people who most need good public transit finally have the wherewithal to be sure they get it.

    Or our spouses, who have always got seniority over us, won’t let us go to any more public information meetings.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The Transit Riders Union is one group of people who need the service, so perhaps it would be better to listen more to people like them and less to these neighborhood groups?

  9. West Seattle Blog Tunnel Proposal: They want to have a subway station with a park above it? Sorry, but that is the last place you should build a park or plaza. Build housing and businesses above the station, but please not a park.

    1. They want a new park? Where? Or do they just want a tunnel under the golf course and the course restored above it?

    2. ANd people who live in the Avalon area are going to be so screwed. Not everyone can walk a mile or so to the Link station, and I’n sure Metro won’t provide buses because “they can walk”.

    3. Specifics, please. Metro’s long-range plan has a draft of service after Link opens. Which parts of Avalon does it miss?

      (If you don’t have the link, search “KC metro vision”.)

      1. Peter in that article: “There is a significant population (Highpoint, Arbor Heights, Westwood, much of Gatewood, 35th Ave residents) that would be severely handicapped by removal of the Avalon station. It would be a steep time consuming walk to get from Avalon and 35th to Alaska Junction or an inefficient backtracking transfer to a Rapid Ride C to get the Junction to access light rail.”

        That’s exactly what I’m worried about. I might support a two-station alternative, but only if the proponents can explain how buses on 35th. Delridge, and 16th can all get to Link without excessive detours.

    4. A park is the answer to all urban development for a lot of people because the thought that a major city might have commerce and people is somehow unsettling, nature is the answer to everything. Just like the answer always seems to be parks for capping freeways like I-5 when we really need more housing and less dangerous dead space parks.

      1. That is an extreme caricature which is held by a decreasing minority of residents. NIMBYs want park amenities for their existing houses, and don’t consider important the needs of those without existing houses (“They aren’t residents so why should they have a say?”), or believe that those without houses can find plentiful and affordable choices in other neighborhoods (or could with upzones in other areas, but other areas are as hostile to them too). As for cities being evil and nature the solution, that’s more of an argument in the Bay Area, where environmentalists there latched onto it in the 1970s and haven’t let go. I don’t hear it as much there. As for housing over freeways, especially multistory buildings, that requires a lot more structural support than simply a park. It’s possible but it would have to be looked at thoroughly, how much reinforcement is required and whether it’s cost-effective, so that the buildings don’t collapse onto the road. It’s moore feasible where there’s a narrow gap to bridge, such as when the freeway is in a narrow trench, than when it’s in a wide gap like parts of downtown or Eastlake.

  10. The westbound I-90 floating bridge was designed in the late 1970s and built in the 1980s and, like our hairstyles and clothes, many things have changed in the world

    When will WSDOT admit that sinking bridges are the polyester pants of infrastructure?

  11. The comments above discuss radial all-day service. The long range plans typically call for revising the weaker routes to pass by stations and providing new direct connections for riders. Politically, it is hard to do without the frequency mentioned by RossB (and Walker). West Seattle is one example. Route 37 provided all-day radial service before the reductions of 2000. (all Seattle neighborhoods had a radial route!). Before the C Line restructure, the West Seattle radial routes probably ranked about this way in terms of ridership and load: 54, 55, 21, 56, and 22. The C Line probably over-served its tail seeking layover. Routes 50, 60, and 128 are crosstown services; SDOT and Metro have improved the service levels on routes 50 and 60. Other examples follow. In fall 2016, even MLK Jr. Way South got its radial one-seat ride restored. In U Link, Madison Park retained Route 11, even though an option offered them 10-minute headway on a revised Route 8 past Capitol Hill station. Some oppose the reorientation of SR-520 radial service to the UW station even as its buses sit on the I-5 general-purpose lanes. What would TransLink do?

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