Lovely residential street in Seattle.

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38 Replies to “News Roundup: Parking Lots Disappearing”

  1. .Suggestion. I think that with some overdue measures to speed it up, like reversing lane and signal priority on Broadway from cars to streetcars, First Hill Streetcar will finally earn its birth, and keep, and a lot of affection. But it’s not a substitute for a promised LINK station, never was, never will be.

    Going big, probably only place in Seattle an aerial tramway like Portland’s will make sense. The park by the Courthouse, maybe? Right across the street from Pioneer Square Station entrance. Top end, still working on that Last Half Mile between Harborview and Swedish. Meantime, a red-painted lane and signal pre-empt for Routes twelve, three, and four cheap and even not dirty with daily street-sweep.

    . Curious about fare-by-phone. Will Fare Inspection get access to your phone records to see if you’ve mistakenly “phoned on” after failing to “phone off”, and are therefore a ride-thief? Also, pic confirms that if you have to ride on a vehicle you can’t see out of, your fare should be lowered or waived.

    . East Pierce County on my favorite-hate list. First thing I did after moving to Olympia was to find as many alternate routes north as I could, for when, and not if, the I-5 bridge over the Nisqually gets blocked by a crash, road work, or just plain traffic. Now, Puyallup et al make I-5 look empty.

    First time, willing to consider just letting Pierce fry in it. Make ’em an example for Thurston. It was their call on both bad zoning and worse transit. But rather look at situation as an opportunity. Start experimenting how to “Desprawl” a self-inflicted disaster. These last few years, I’ve thought that the “Love Affair With Cars” is becoming a forced marriage. Getting fired for being late might encourage a divorce.

    Mark Dublin


  2. How do we lobby for taller buildings in Northgate? Not sure how to make my voice heard.

    I would love to see at least the mall area be up-zoned as high as 40 stories, to really incentivize the mall owner to go up, or sell to developers who can do it. All those parking lots and low-slung buildings are prime land plus there would be no displacement (other than cars lol).

    The neighborhood could become another major employment and residential hub for the north end, and is in a prime location for future light rail riders from Everett, and only a few stops from Downtown Seattle!

    1. Yes it should have taller buildings. Even Sourhcenter now has a 19-floor building taller than 95 feet (the Northgate height limit) and it’s not on light rail!

    2. It is an urban center, the largest kind of urban village, so it’s supposed to be on par with downtown and the U-District. 40 stories is appropriate. We shouldn’t have taller buildings in Bellevue than in Northgate.

    3. It looks like a large area of surface parking facing Northgate Way is to remain? If so, it’s a shame. It should really be continuous walkable from the station to the “Northgate North” part with Target, ect.

      I’m usually against focusing on a few skyscrapers sandwiched in between transit stations and single family zoning, since they tend to be the opposite of “affordable” and bring with them lots of cars. However, Northgate Mall is a business district that is not realistically going to redevelop into a lot of low key affordable housing, so I say bring it on, Bellevue 2.0 but more transit oriented!

      1. It’s easier and cheaper to expand on parking lots in the future (one company owns it). They’re not going to do the whole thing at once, look for requests for taller buildings in the future after they have maxed out the current rebuild.

        – I have no relationship with the company.

    4. Email your council members. Their email is [their first name].[their last name]

  3. Can someone tell First Hill they won’t get a station this round because West Seattle is siphoning billions of otherwise useful tax dollars that could be better spent in denser areas with higher projected ridership?


    1. That wouldn’t be the “Seattle nice” way to go.

      Instead, it will be done by inventing the most expensive alternative possible and then saying it’s unaffordable.

      Even now, an alternative to have a much less expensive diagonal conveyance studied between First Hill and Midtown Station wasn’t considered even after dozens asked for it to be studied. Instead, only an expensive major tunnel reroute is proposed for study.

    2. Took transit to the Mariners game last night from First Hill…walked down the hill to the University St. station and returned via the streetcar. It occurred to me that even getting the Midtown Station up to 6th would be a big win for First Hill–it takes quite a bit of time to get from 6th to 3rd and Seneca when all the waiting at intersections is accounted for. It probably isn’t worth the effort to cross I-5 twice.

      Unfortunately only about 10 people were using the streetcar to get home despite a capacity crowd. It turned out to be quite convenient compared to the crush of people trying to ride Link after a big stadium event. It’s so sad how much money was wasted along a corridor that could have benefited considerably from rapid transit.

      1. Took transit to the Mariners… and returned via the streetcar. Unfortunately only about 10 people were using the streetcar… sad how much money was wasted along a corridor that could have benefited considerably from rapid transit.

        Sad indeed when even baseball fans find the streetcar too slow :=

    3. Madison RapidRide will take care of the delays at intersections. It’s designed for five minutes from 1st Avenue to Broadway, and five minutes from Broadway to MLK. The only reason the 2 and 12 can’t do it is they haven’t been given priority, and they have too many turns near freeway entrances.

    4. West Seattle got priority because it was either light rail or a new vehicle bridge, and light rail makes way more sense from an urbanist perspective. “Do nothing” wasn’t an option when it came to improving access to West Seattle, so let’s refrain from trying to pit neighborhoods against each other.

    5. What makes you think a new vehicle bridge was on the table? West Seattle may want it but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Why is the entire cost of the West Seattle Link line charged against North King’s ST3 budget if other money would have paid for the automobile bridge?

  4. I thought unbunding of parking spaces from apartment rents had been enacted in Seattle, but the PLUZ article says it’s still a proposal. This is what I was suggesting for Kenmore’s downtown.

  5. Broadway changes to improve streetcar flow: would the green time to improve north-south flow come from east-west flow on Pine, Union, and Madison streets carrying routes 11, 2, and 12, respectively, that carry more riders than the streetcar?

    1. As a regular streetcar rider, I can attest that the section from Madison up to the terminus is not really the worst part. The worst part is the turns and traffic signals between Madison and the 12th Ave stop, where there’s little conflict with cross bus routes.

    2. I’m not exactly sure how smart it is to ban left turns from Broadway for several blocks. That’s going to lead to lots of people taking narrow side streets to get to their destinations in the Pike-Pine corridor.

      I think they should have left the Union left-turning vehicles alone. There’s not a streetcar stop there.

  6. re Crosscut on park-and-ride: there are many lots with many empty spaces; the full lots have good service and short waits; the relatively empty lots have poor service. Is there a parking shortage or a service shortage? At Link stations, will the parking attract peak period traffic that will degrade local transit flow? Most Link riders will use bus service, not parking.

  7. Recently I have been reviewing Sound Transit’s annual subarea equity reports and, frankly, they frequently raise more questions than they answer.

    I have a question for those out there who are more familiar with the East Link extension and its funding than I am. Admittedly, I have been keeping a much closer eye on the northward extensions headed in my direction, e.g., Lynnwood Link.

    Anyway, I see that the East King County subarea is not being allocated any costs year after year for debt servicing per these reports, implying that no long term debt has been charged to this particular subarea. This doesn’t agree with the original financing plan for capital projects approved under ST2. When I checked the relevant documents to refresh my memory, it confirmed that the original plan called for some $2.8 billion in bond financing and some $786 million in debt servicing.

    Can anyone explain what ST is doing here?

    (Fwiw, I’m well aware of the $1.3 billion in USDOT TIFIA financing ST secured back in 2015.)

    1. Good questions. I would assume that now construction has begun in earnest on East Link some debt payments would be in order. But for years the East sub-area was “putting money in the bank” via sub-area loans to build Central Link. Plus, tabs on a new Tesla Model X will build about a mile of track!

    2. They haven’t actually issued any bonds yet for this particular project, they will use all of the federal grant money first then issue bonds to cover the rest of the construction. we are only 1 year into 4 years of construction.

    1. Like many people I read a large number of articles disparaging the streetcar, and I felt that Seattle could do better, that we should spend money on something grade separated. That is until I actually boarded the streetcar for the first time: it was revelatory. It was warm, it was smooth, it was comfortable. I preferred it a thousandfold over a bus. I am disappointed, but maybe it can be expanded at it’s extremeties – perhaps along East lake Union to UW?

    2. Yes! This is big news.

      I personally think — given the large number of development projects combined with complication of the existing AWV traffic with unrealized major traffic changes coming from the AWV closure — suspension is a wise choice. It also gives some time for an independent review of SDOT’s analysis work and will keep construction from beginning before the Downtown ramps to and from the AWV close. Traffic today regularly backs up pretty badly on First Avenue waiting to get onto the soon-to-e-closed viaduct.

    3. Wow. Again. Just wow.

      It’s going to be interesting to see the FTA grant reviewer’s stance on this.

    4. Oh wonderful. I was resigned to at least having decent infrastructure we could repurpose to buses after the streetcar was taken out down there, but now we might not even get that.

      Can we throw a couple suitcases of cash at Metro to start the 99 up again?

  8. How Boise could keep at least some Downtown housing affordable… With houses costing less than $200,000 approaching extinction in Boise

    Overhype of the year award? A quick search filtered for Max $200k on Redfin shows 149 homes (yes, homes) for sale in Boise. Same search for Bellevue… er, well you can get a slip in Newport Shores. BYOB: Bring your own boat.

  9. Seattle Times tells me I can’t read about the suspension because my number of free looks is up. So fill me in. Does suspended mean dead and left hanging there as a warning to others?

    Or if not, for how long and and what developments to let it come back to school ’cause it’s learned its lesson? Anybody wanna promise the parrot another cage-rug – The Stranger, maybe- and fill me in? Many thanks.


    1. paste of the text

      Halt to any spending of funds while a review of the project costs takes place. A lot of talk about the cost overruns. They’ll still fix a water main in Pioneer Square, everything else is on hold.

      1. Something else, Ness, now that I think about it. Recall reading about outcome of your “tap” case. If you felt forced into compliance with paying $124 in the face of communications problems compounding some seriously abusive mistreatment….

        Long past time to do something about this untreated sanitary waste. I can’t believe absolutely nobody has gone public- like to Court in front of TV cameras, or The Seattle Times- about this policy over all these years since LINK opened. Over last thirty years of transit politics, have generally had a good relationship with the ST Board. And its predecessor, the Metro Council.

        From the general demeanor (like they say in Law and Order SVU) of the Board about this issue- along with absolute blank-out of accurate information, there’s definitely something going on here that needs public attention. Furious as I am about this whole policy, its sponsors’ absolute refusal to back down an inch from something this bad really spooks me.

        Especially some I could name….they’re better than this. Also, weird that Transit Passengers’ Union has never shown any fangs on this one. Can’t believe none of their members haven’t gotten the worst of a bad law. Don’t want to interfere with your privacy. But this matter’s personal. I’ve put in too much unpaid overtime on this system since 1983 to see my work get dirtied like this.

        Any advice or info, from any direction as to first move, much appreciated.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Suffice to say there’s a few reasons I’d prefer not make public why I wouldn’t want to be a face for anything. I’d rather not risk being a target with the current political climate.

    2. I wanted to say “Durkan pulls the plug on the CCC” but that would imply it was canceled and the article doesn’t say that.So I said suspended meaning it might continue after the review.

  10. Well, The Stranger website read my mind, though my parrot bit me when it found out I was leaving its cage floored with The Seattle Times.

    With the Viaduct coming down- which possibly could snap plate tectonics out of the knee its been taking and go for an end run- First Avenue’s most efficient mode of transit could be as a pedestrian mall for at awhile. So no rush about it.

    Since I seem to remember trolleybus wire down First from Virginia, and re-attachable to the West Queen Anne lines at First and Broad, we can have respectable electric service all the way down First ’til CCC gets rethought and refunded. Starting tomorrow.

    Civil engineering minded advocates could also get with Rob Johnson about else could be re-built or -arranged along with the seismic plumbing The Stranger mentioned. I think Marshall Foster did that with some drains on the Waterfront, with future rail in mind.

    So to make the MEAN time at least stop ripping people’s pantlegs, we’re about three line-crew work shifts from an improvement that The Times will use to lecture us on what we can really do if we put just stop wasting money and put our minds to it.

    Three blocks of existing wire and switches from First to Cherry to Second to the Courthouse are a half block of missing eastbound wire on James short of a permanent connection from Colman Dock walkway uphill to the Courthouse. And possibly all the way to Madrona and Lake Washington.

    Art critics are starting to get skeptical about my assurances that all that unused aerial copper and brass is really an example of transporationallyminisurrealist protest art against sacrificing taxpayers’ money to laziness and cheapness. Luckily, we’re probably three line-crew works-shifts from having to give all that Arts money back to the Feds.

    Because greatest thing is how many Seattle City Councilmembers aren’t old enough to know-or believe- I’m not lying about that wire hanging there completely unused for thirty years. Ought to be a plaque commemorating final completion of the Downtown Seattle Transit Project. Also celebrating a perfect illustration of The Seattle Way.


  11. Washington’s Scott Wiener is Jamie Pederson. His SB2711 would have done the same thing as SB827, but it was killed. In fact it would have done a lot more, since it would have amounted to a universal upzone to >400′ in Seattle around all Link/HCT stations. It would have basically removed zoning in the city. Of course that would never pass.

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