Last week we described the latest concepts for light rail in West Seattle and Ballard. Today, we’ll talk about the path through greater Downtown, from Lower Queen Anne to Chinatown. In a deviation from the follow-the-monorail theme of other segments, the representative alignment skirts the edges of Belltown to provide a direct line to South Lake Union.

It’s all going to be tunnel, so there are only four questions to ask:

  1. What side of I-5 should Midtown Station be? To the West, in the walkshed of the existing DSTT, or to the East, serving the density of First Hill while forcing two crossings of I-5? One issue with the 5th Avenue alignment is the foundations of buildings there.
  2. Should the new Westlake be under the old Westlake, or just to the East?
  3. How far apart should the SLU stations be, or should there be just one?
  4. Under which street should the tunnel swing west: Roy, Mercer, Republican, or Harrison? Republican and Mercer turn out to have sewer conflicts that increase cost and risk.

Interestingly, using the evaluation criteria, all of the alternatives score worse or no better than the original alignment on every metric, except that (surprise) consolidating the SLU stations into one makes things cheaper and easier.

Using the evaluations in the study, it is clear that the best alternative for future riders is 6th/Boren/Roy (purple). It has the best station spacing in SLU and avoids the sewer and foundation problems. However, it’s a longer tunnel and thus more expensive. If ST cuts corners, 5th/Roy/Consolidated SLU Station (dark blue) saves money by making things way worse.

Moving Midtown Station to serve First Hill has been a pet project of mine, and I have to say am utterly unconvinced by the findings here. The study doesn’t even consider a station further up the hill, which would directly serve the key employment centers and housing density. Moreover, the study doesn’t look at ridership (!),  but “projected transit demand.” This is a clever slight-of-hand to count the density downtown that is already served by the DSTT. It is a criterion designed to obscure the key value of a First Hill deviation, which is to extend the system’s walkshed. We estimated the additional tunnel length of an 8th Avenue station as 0.09 miles, longer in a strict sense but essentially the same in the scale of this project.

Finally, the evaluation makes a big deal of the fact that an 8th Avenue station is “not consistent with ST3.” Given the variants elsewhere in the study, this characterization of a 3-block shift is astounding. In the broader context where Sound Transit screwed the neighborhood out of a voter-approved station in ST1, this assertion is astonishingly tone-deaf.

90 Replies to “ST3 Level 1 Alternatives: Downtown”

  1. Yeah… this “not consistent with ST3” garbage is being way overused by ST staff who are clearly trying to force the discussion into certain paths that serve an agenda that only they are privy to.

    if they want to claim that there simply isn’t enough money then that’s what they need to say, but then show us!

    if something is truly outside the scope of ST3 then show us the legal argument for that too!

    1. What motive would anybody have to keep the First Hill Station west of I-5? Only reason I can think of is same soils problem that blocked original station in the same area. But if that’s the case- why isn’t it cited as the reason?

      Mark Dublin

      1. I assume it’s just “a simple matter of money”… two I-5 crossings, more money spent. (That’s not to say I agree – plenty of money is being spent on less fruitful things in ST3 IMHO.)

    2. The reason is that the largest number of destinations and transfers are between 3rd and 5th.

  2. The slide deck also showed expansion north for SLU and east for Madison station as “unfeasible” citing the Long Rang Plan (2014.)

    In other words, to get an obvious feature added to a tunnel we didn’t know would exist yet we should have known to start advocating for it in 2012(ish.)

    We’re not going to leave well enough alone on that.

  3. It’s not just a 3 block shift to 8th Avenue, its a 3 block shift underneath an interstate highway.

    I agree with the premise that first hill should have a station, and 8th (or even Boren) would be a huge win. But geography is not on our side (deep station).

    If you could get to 6th, however, and push for a freeway lid between Madison and Spring to improve the walk shed, would that be an almost acceptable compromise?

    1. You’re right that 3 blocks is too short for such a huge undertaking. That’s why we should move this thing to Boren and Madison and put some money into a real First Hill station.

    2. There’s quite a grade between 6th and 8th, so geometry is still not on your side. Perhaps it’s best to focus on upgrading the streetcar full priority and getting Rapid Ride G right.

      1. Thinking about the aerial tramway in Portland – cars about same size and appearance as small Airstream trailers- I wonder about a line from the park on the south side of the Courthouse at Third and Yesler.

        Seems like easy ride to Harborview. But further distance to Swedish could be enough trouble to kill the idea. But:If these people were being carried in an open street-rail caliber passenger car, could engage track at Harborview for ride to the other hospital.

        Also, if horse-drawn coaches again become fashionable- tendency in World Class Cities….could calm bad blood over replacing proposed Swedish Hospital LINK station with a streetcar.

        Positive result? Seattle will develop a “carriage set” of steady passengers for whom election-swinging donations will be pro-transit pocket change. Negative result? See phrase ending with word “set”.

        Also, if LINK ridership is any indication- early on, parents related that their children immediately started preferring their light rail ride over whatever they were going to see- adding the horses and the parent-terrifying vista all the way to China, could pay for every ST- ’til the Sun blows up.

        And major benefit of Harborview station: Medical personnel, including nurses hired for their resemblance to Nurse Ratched in “Cuckoo’s Nest”, can be stationed to re-assure parents that no matter how loud a child screams, they cannot actually turn blue and explode from holding their breath.

        So ten horse-sharing vertical streetcar rides are really all that are necessary for the little ones. Their Dad? If he often mentions the Ken Kesey statue (a block from the Emerald Express rapid bus line) remind him what she did to Billy Bibbit. Eleventh ride will be LINK from Pioneer Square to IDS, and Cascades to Eugene. Fast.


    3. The southern undercrossing of I-5 shouldn’t be any problem at all. There will be 80 feet of overburden above the tunnel because it can’t climb out of the ground down in the ID so when it crosses under Yesler somewhere around Sixth it will still be roughly sea level. The freeway is WAY up the hill (vertically) at Eighth there. The Green Line would probably cross somewhere about Terrace where the freeway is quite high. South of there and you underrun Harborview and get complaints about the medical equipment being jiggled. North of there and you can’t make it up to Boren and Madison.

      A station at Eighth or Ninth and Madison would make it easier; the tunnel could underrun I-5 as far north as James where it’s on structure. .

      It’s the north crossing, especially of a tunnel as far east as Madison and Boren, which would be very difficult. Remember that the express lanes have started by then, so the “station box” for the freeway goes quite a way lower than say Seneca street level. I can’t imagine that the line could serve Boren and Madison and get back to the freeway anywhere south of Seneca, and probably more like University to avoid the Convention Center supports. You’re not so deep relative to street level here so under-running tall buildings along Sixth and Fifth would be difficult.

      Again, a station at Eighth or Ninth would make this transition easier as well.

      The geometries required for curves and elevation changes may make anything east of Eighth impossible.

      1. OK, Richard, where’d you learn that subways run through actual ground. And everything in it, natural and man-made, in every condition from conceivable and most you don’t want to know. We’ve got to find some work documents from DSTT.

        Wherever they’re buried. As Robert Louis Stevenson noted, it was standard for pirates to leave a trail of dead bodies pointed in general direction toward the file cabinet, I mean doubloons.

        Like how we found out that the Spring the street was named for becomes a River just uphill from Century Square. And that DSTT opening at Jackson Street had to be grouted- liquid plastic cement pumped into the ground for months.

        And south of Jackson, a lagoon with a little dirt added. IDS staging is a thick concrete pad resting on concrete slabs on top of Sioux-Indian “teepees” of triangles of pointed logs driven at angles a hundred feet each into the mud.

        Word to West Seattle project, elevated of subway. And the time our machines somehow hooked into the Courthouse plumbing and result was like somebody in ninth grade had dropped a cherry bomb down every toilet.

        Especially if the kid stole a hard-hat and went on duty with the crew. He’d probably be fifty by now. Ask around.


  4. As a First Hill resident, I think we dropped the ball on not advocating for a station 5 years ago. It’s too late now and it’s understandable that ST doesn’t want to add cost/risk to a project that already has plenty of it. The money would be better spent on other parts of the line.

    Put the Midtown station on 6th and integrate it with Madison BRT.

    1. A group of First Hill activists (I won’t say all of First Hill) agitated for the streetcar and would accept nothing less than a streetcar. That pushed aside negotiations for anything more sensible like a trolleybus (which could have been more frequent and launched years earlier) with money left over to start Madison BRT sooner, and still money left over for other parts of the phase. (To be fair, the entire transit planning was in a mess because neither Seattle nor Metro had up-to-date long-term plans so they were running around ad-hoc in each neighborhood.)

      1. Thanks for opening to this subject, Mike. Before final judgment of streetcars, advise field trip to Tacoma. And it’s LINK..

        Because one thing it can’t be accused of being is slow. Fully reserved lane its whole route, every light green ahead of it. With trains exact make and model of our own streetcars.

        Indicating that problem isn’t choice of wheel-covers, but plain flat political. Meaning that one or two crush load days of same operating conditions could make SLU(T!) (Dolly Parton would have said it was ok to call it a Tramp, since she worshiped the prettiest lady in town who was one) and FHS just get to keep imitating Tacoma.

        Come on. What’s to lose?


      2. TLink has an exclusive lane on Pacific Street but not on Commerce Street. And the MLK extension will be shared lane.

        When I did a walk on Broadway and looked down on the future route on Commerce, the street looked too narrow for transit lanes and a pair of car lanes. And when I went along MLK, it looked like transit lanes would require removing street parking, and I suspect Tacoma would be even more opposed to that than Seattle is, since it’s a smaller and more car-dependent city.

    2. It is understandable from a cost/risk standpoint. I would have no problem with that. But they’re hiding behind “not consistent with ST3” instead of showing us why it’s too risky or cost effective.

    3. That’s where I think we need to push ST to be more specific about why each suggestion is “not consistent with ST3”, and whether ST is being consistent with itself.

    4. With all due respect, Joe, I completely disagree. No one dropped the ball except ST. First of all, of course there were lots of people advocating for a First Hill station a long time ago. ST just didn’t listen.

      Consider the WSTT (a new bus tunnel) that actually would have a First Hill Station. An article was published in the Seattle Times. Seattle Subway — a major advocate of rail — supported it. But ST didn’t even bother to study it. They used the same sort of BS approach they are using here to advocate for one thing, but not the other. Read the second to last paragraph in Martin’s excellent essay — projects you like look really good when you only look at it one way. Technically, they did study a “BRT” approach, but it was nothing more than buses running on the surface. It took much longer for a bus to get downtown (since it was running on the surface!) and the delays cost ridership to drop (because it was slow, from running on the surface!).

      My point being that you could have organized a rally, written letters, marched, and it wouldn’t have made any difference at all. Just ask Kirkland. For heaven’s sake, we are building light rail to West Seattle! No one in their right might would look at this city from an objective standpoint and say “West Seattle rail should be next”. But politics at a high level, not science nor grassroots support drove everything.

  5. It’s also tone deaf about a diagonal conveyance to First Hill. It was in comments mentioned by several and liked by dozens. That option wasn’t even presented nor excluded! It’s a pretty big thing to ignore.

    In this instance, the flippant ST attitude about First Hill could also be easily cast as a Title 6 question by low income advocates. The area has lots of facilities for low-income people. This risk increases if West Seattle and Ballard get tunnel sections. It may take the threat of Federal court action to turn ST “woke”.

    1. I wonder whether Mayor Durkan/SDOT can be convinced to use the City’s portion of $$$ from the “stalled” streetcar for a Hong-Kong system of downtown public escalators. They can even have railings or something on the side (moving bike racks like the supermarket shopping cart escalators–has anyone patented this yet?) to accommodate bikes. The effective walk sheds in downtown are greatly compressed in the upslope direction–especially the part of downtown near the civic center. Anything that makes it easier to get around the greater downtown area in a non-motorized manner would be welcome. Seattle still has the most construction cranes in the country, and much of it is going to be downtown area apartments that come with cars which may or may not be used for neighborhood trips.

  6. I’m rather puzzled about why no station in the alternatives is sited a bit northward between Pike and Olive (particularly at 5th Ave) or south of Denny Way. Those would improve walking distances to the very dense Belltown (which also has low income housing) as well as the huge new Amazon HQ.

    1. I’m still pushing to move Denny Station a few blocks south. I’m not bothered about SLU and Uptown stations being so close together: it is downtown-like spacing in an area that could likely benefit from it. But the gap in Belltown/Denny Triangle is not downtown-like and needs to be addressed. If there’s going to be a wide gap, it should be at the edge of the dense area, not right in the middle.

    2. You guys are forgetting that this isn’t the main line. This is basically a spur. It is bad enough that we are digging another huge tunnel, with many of the same stations, instead of building new ones. But putting a station really close to Westlake is worse than putting it close to the Aurora Station. For many riders, it just doesn’t become worth the transfer. You might as well get off at Westlake (especially if the transfer is as bad as we fear it will be).

      Anyway, the best solution is the one they have (although I’m not thrilled with the combination). Move the station on Denny to the east. That puts that station well away from either Westlake or the Aurora Station, which means you have increased your walkshed.

      1. You guys are forgetting that this isn’t the main line.

        Except that that Ballard line is going to be through routed to Tacoma, so it kind of is a main line, we’ll just have three main lines now.

        I’m of the opinion that West Seattle and Ballard should be through routed as a spur, so that issues that happen in the far flung regions of the Puget Sound don’t affect an urban mass transit line, but ST is hellbent on tying Seattle’s reliability to the region’s reliability.

      2. The Chicago el has two subway lines and they both run through downtown a block apart. They didn’t put one downtown and one in an adjacent neighborhood because 80% of the people are going downtown or transferring to something else, and downtown is where the most destinations are and transfers to everywhere are.

      3. @Mike — Vancouver has two lines and they don’t share the same stations along the way. The third line — the Millennium Line — doesn’t go downtown (even though that is where most people want to go) but will head out towards UBC, arguably a relatively smaller destination than First Hill. That means all those riders headed downtown have to transfer now, and will have to transfer in the future. There are other examples, of course.

        @RapidRider — OK, that is why I said up above (or somewhere here) that there are lots of considerations. The quality of the transfer as well as what each line is paired with makes a huge difference. Relatively few people will be coming from West Seattle, so asking them to transfer to get to University or Pioneer Station isn’t the end of the world. If this indeed paired with the southern section (Rainer Valley and so forth) then it means a lot more riders that would be inconvenienced. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rule it out, but it does mean that the transfers better be really good, and it might not be worth it.

        Wait a second — so basically to of the best stations (University and Pioneer Square) will no longer serve folks from the south end so that we can give them over to West Seattle? Holy smoke, what a ridiculous situation.

  7. The biggest risk I see in this segment is the cost-cutting, value-engineering conversations we will have regarding SLU, which is actually geographically quite a large area with tons of congestion and high-rise development and absolutely deserves two stations. With the originally proposed station locations, the walksheds overlap, but the right answer to that is to move them further apart, not consolidate them. And we must ensure great bus transfers with service on Denny (Metro 8), Fairview (Roosevelt RapidRide) and Aurora.

    What does a Roy alignment do for transfers to bus service on Aurora? It seems like it might work well. An underground station could have exits on both sides of Aurora. There’s a lot of employment around there and more on the way. WIth the remodel of Key Arena there might be advantages to colocation of a station right there, but if construction is difficult there, Roy is not far away. It’s still way closer than Stadium Station is to the actual stadiums.

    A station around Denny/Boren and another around Aurora / Roy has pretty good coverage of SLU and less redundancy to the streetcar versus a station at Westlake. A station at 6th/Madison is fine. 6th/Boren/Roy seems like a strong contender. I would actually suggest shifting the Boren station yet another block east to Fairview with station exits on all four corners of the enormous intersection of Denny/Fairview and superb transfers to RapidRide.

    None of these serves Belltown, including Westake/Denny. First Hill and Belltown absolutely deserve better transit access but this one project can’t do everything.

    1. I don’t think you can get over to Fairview from Sixth Avenue Green Line Westlake platforms without a pretty squiggly alignment. You’re not deep enough below street level to go diagonally so you’d have to go north under Westlake to Virginia up it to the five-points intersection between Boren, Virginia and Fairview and then turn north again. But then how do you get over to Aurora from here? It’s a long diagonal with some buildings already in place.

      The station could be under Virginia just west of the curve into Fairview’s right of way and that would REALLY extend the walkshed. It’s great that way, but somewhat out of direction for most riders.

    2. The walksheds should overlap. (I’m channeling RossB and d.p. here, OMG.) Especially downtown. If they overlap for a person right between the stations, then they increase continuous walkshed for people a few blocks perpendicular to the line. It’s like the Graham Station issue. For somebody at MLK & Graham, it’s a 10-minute walk to Othello Station or an 18-minute walk to Columbia City Station (from memory). But for somebody a few blocks east or west, such as in the dense SHA redevelopments, they have to walk diagonally to either station, and as we know from Pythagoras, a^2 * b^2 = c^2 . So Graham Station brings the people just beyond them into Link’s walkshed, whereas without it they’re outside it. The same principle applies in this downtown corridor.

      We do have to limit the number of underground stations because they’re expensive, but that’s why we need them as evenly spaced as possible (with consideration for the peak concentrations of people).

      1. But they mostly can’t walk diagonally (because street grid….), so they end up walking a+b instead the square root of the sum of the squares of a and b.

      2. Assuming that blocks are squares (rather than rectangles), each time someone is forced to walk around 2 legs of a block, it adds ~40% to the distance and time. Plus any additional time spent waiting to cross the street in 2 directions rather than 1.

        The further apart the 2 downtown tunnels get, the more important it is to design a convenient transfer with minimal walking where the lines meet, say ID or Stadium stations.

      3. I can’t speak for d. p., but you really don’t want too much overlap. We are only adding so many stations (notice that no proposal suggests adding stations, only taking some away). With that in mind, you don’t want to overlap the five minute walkshed, which is what the original proposal does. You can get carried away trying to avoid a little bit of overlap, and end up making things worse, but ideally you want a little less overlap than the original proposal.

        I do know that d. p. and I both share the same attitude towards this line. The problem is the curve. The decision to go north and making a sudden turn is a poor design decision. Metro 8 subway doesn’t have that problem, and neither would a line that served Belltown instead of South Lake Union (the curve would be broader, and the spacing better).

        Personally, I like the purple line, but I have some concerns. I find it odd that they moved both stations though. Slide the Denny stop a couple blocks over (to Boren) or better yet to Fairview (as suggested) and the other stop can be at Republican and Aurora. As you get up to Roy, the lake starts nibbling at potential ridership, and the buildings get shorter. But put one station at Republican and Aurora, and the other station at Denny and Boren, and you have very little overlap, while retaining the best of both initial stations. It is about 14 minutes between stations, which means that the only overlap is for folks willing to walk over 8 minutes, which is really a long ways, and not worth worrying about.

        [Just to be clear, getting rid of a station is one of the stupidest things they have proposed. If they dig tunnels but get rid of a downtown station, it would be a horrible decision.]

      4. In case I wasn’t clear, I don’t support consolidating the Aurora and Uptown stations. That’s the right-sized overlap for a downtown area. And I want to push Denny South not because it’s too close to Aurora but because of the large gap between Denny and Westlake. That would increase riders and the usefulness of the line by adding a high-density walkshed. An alternative is to add a station around Blanchard. But that would raise the price substantially. It’s not “value-engineering” to not add the station; it’s the opposite of value engineering to add it, because we’ve already baselined the budget and the promised number of stations.

      5. I should correct what I wrote above. I don’t think the two original stops actually overlap within a five minute walkshed. Here is a map that more or less shows the five minute walksheds for all of the stations: It is probably not too accurate south of Denny — since the street layout is different — but for the purposes of discussion, close enough. When you start talking about a six or seven minute walk to the station, then you start getting some overlap. But in general I would say that we don’t need to worry too much about overlap with the original layout.

        If you select the other options, you see some interesting things. The “5th/Mercer” option appears to be close to ideal. No overlap (probably into the six or seven minute range) and yet the Mercer station looks pretty solid. On the other hand, when you add a station at Roy, then the six and seven minute walkshed starts including the water. Whatever you’ve gained by pushing the stops farther apart, you’ve lost just by having a weak station. You also have what most people would consider a hole, in that some riders would take a bus to the station anyway (or a bus to where they would be going).

        I guess I would focus on the strength of each station (how well it connects to buses, what the walkshed is really like, etc) rather than worry much about overlap.

      6. >> And I want to push Denny South not because it’s too close to Aurora but because of the large gap between Denny and Westlake.

        It isn’t that far, Mike. It is about a ten minute walk between stations. The stop spacing is just about ideal, really. A lot of people will be within a five minute walk of either station. Being able to straddle Denny (which means getting there without waiting to cross Denny) means a lot more than being a block closer to Westlake.

    3. Belltown can get a pretty cheap, grade separated connection to the Denny Way Station (wherever it may end up) by NOT filling the Battery Street tunnel with chunks of viaduct and running an automated people mover down one lane of each side, with a bike tunnel and platforms in the other lane. Yes, some cut and cover east of Seventh would be necessary, but not much.

      People headed downtown from Belltown don’t really need to use the subway; many of them walk and the rest have the Third Avenue spine with a bus every couple of minutes. But this shuttle would connect the largest concentration of residences along Western to the regional system with a two minute frequent ride.

      1. Except that still runs afoul of the structural reinforcements the Tunnel would need before converting it to literally anything but debris storage. That makes it very not cheap.

      2. I would go the “extra mile” and open the top, making Battery an urban valley park. Sure, the cross streets would have to be strengthened, but how nice it would be to have a strip of green through Belltown. It would also alleviate the “predator trap” problem by opening the stations to view. They could have glass-roofed shelters like those at Sunset TC on Westside MAX.

        I understand that this is a little problematical from a traffic standpoint; Battery is the northbound access to Aurora. But Lenora and then 7th works equally well and gets cars off Third faster.

      3. And, Ness, in any reasonable scenario this is WAAAAYYYY cheaper than a third north/south tunnel on Second Avenue, that dead ends somewhere around Madison because the tunneling environment is simply too crowded south of there for another set of bores.

  8. It does make you wonder why 1st Hill and Belltown 2 of the densest areas (that also have a lot of vulnerable residents) seem to be coming up short. Is the goal to provide transportation for current built out population centers, or to drive future growth and development?

    1. The goal is to serve up-and-coming SLU, where Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen are building the industries of the future, and is already dense enough to justify downtown-like service. Belltown (west of 6th or wherever it ends), while it has arguably more density, doesn’t have any major new companies moving in with hip new workers that I’m aware of, so that’s the difference.

      1. The goal is to serve up-and-coming SLU, where Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen are building the industries of the future…

        Maybe ST should start looking to our local billionaires for grant funding. Seems like they should be concerned enough for the reliability and well being of their small SLU empire.

      2. I was wondering if we should acknowledge it and name it the Jeff Bezos Line now, and ask him for sponsorship funding. And hey, “Bezos Ballard Line” or “BB Line” has a ring to it, or at least alliteration.

    2. The goal is miles and miles of track, regardless of whether people will ever find the train more useful than the old bus system, or whether people live close to stations now or in the future. That is what happens when politicians refuse to study alternatives (like rail to Belltown or First Hill) and instead just “go with their gut”.

      1. The goal is to connect the largest urban villages, and the miles of track is just a function of where the villages are. (Yes yes, Lake City and Ballard-Fremont were out because they aren’t county-designated urban growth centers yet, and Ballard and West Seattle got in because Seattle pushed hard for them.)

        Link is intrinsically more useful than buses because it comes every 10 minutes minimum rather than 12, 15, or 30 minutes. It doesn’t share lanes with cars so it’s not caught in traffic jams. And it has more capacity to handle the peak-hour, ballgame, and protest surges and future population growth. And it’s faster to transfer train-to-train than train-to-bus. At least if ST doesn’t screw up the transfers as badly as UW Station to Stevens Way. So even mediocre lines have some benefit.

      2. >> Yes yes, Lake City and Ballard-Fremont were out because they aren’t county-designated urban growth centers yet, and Ballard and West Seattle got in because Seattle pushed hard for them.

        Right, and the Central Area was skipped because they aren’t county-designated blah, blah, blah. And we can’t possibly provide a better connection for Ballard to the UW and the north end because we need to focus on Fife or some Issaquah to Kirkland Park and Ride line.

        Link is intrinsically more useful than buses because it comes every 10 minutes minimum rather than 12, 15, or 30 minutes. It doesn’t share lanes with cars so it’s not caught in traffic jams. And it has more capacity to handle the peak-hour, ballgame, and protest surges and future population growth. And it’s faster to transfer train-to-train than train-to-bus. At least if ST doesn’t screw up the transfers as badly as UW Station to Stevens Way. So even mediocre lines have some benefit.

        What? Are you seriously lecturing me (or someone) about what trains are useful for? Seriously?

        Just a refresher: Buses can run as often as trains. In fact, it costs *less* to run a bus than it does a train, so if a bus or a train is covering the same spot, and money is tight, the bus will have better headways.

        Buses can be given the same sort of exclusive right of ways as trains. Holy cow, where you from, MIke? This is Seattle, for heaven’s sake. We built a bus tunnel that has saved riders more time than our billion dollar rail line.

        Besides, that isn’t the point. I’m not arguing for bus tunnels, bus lanes and bus ramps everywhere (although ST3 is so bad it probably would be an improvement). What I’m arguing is that that ST3, and the thinking behind it, was amateurish. Spend the same money on rail as you did, and you can easily come up with a better plan.

        There is no science behind the design of the Link. There is no magic formula, no checkbox that Ballard, Fremont, or the Central Area forgot to select (but Fife, West Seattle and Issaquah did). That isn’t the way this works. This is all about politics, and it is no coincidence that the head of ST is from West Seattle. It is no coincidence that a board made up people who don’t know squat about transit decided to build a ridiculous “spine”, despite the fact that any independent transit expert would call it stupid. And it is no coincidence that Kirkland — after literally hiring an independent transit expert — had their recommendations summarily dismissed, with no evidence to refute their study.

        The folks in charge aren’t into science. They aren’t into evidence. They are into seat of the pants planning, and political gamesmanship. Satisfy some poor misinformed mayor who thinks rail will fix their problems, while ignoring another city when they actually do their homework. That is why Kirkland, Belltown, Fremont, Wallingford, Greenwood, Phinney Ridge, the Central Area, Lake City, and even Ballard are getting hosed.

  9. Talking about extending walk sheds, the second line through Sodo line really shouldn’t go *right beside* the current line with stations less than a block away. Why isn’t going down 1st Ave. through SoDo being discussed? You need the same length of track whether you make the turn from West Seattle Bridge onto 4th or onto 1st, through you likely have to continue elevated through the ID because there’s already stuff underground there. I’d put the station elevated right above Jackson between the current ID station and King St. Sounder/Amtrak station. And link the stations into a complex with covered walkways since it rains a lot. New high rise condos are going up in the area, replacing surface parking lots, so it would be in character for where the neighborhood is going. Best way with respect to transfers at ID and King St stations, save for cross platform transfers with a middle platform.

    1. I’m hoping that STB will have a SODO item tomorrow, but I don’t know. Will one be posted?

    2. Elevated above Fourth makes the platforms of the DSTT at least two level changes away from the platforms of the Green Line. That’s NOT a good transfer. If it is to be along Fourth rather than east of the existing platforms, it has to be a rail level next to BNSF under Fourth South, as proposed in The Urbanist.

      But that quickly runs into enormous troubles to the south with necessary tunneling in the same sort of landfill that almost ruined Bertha. And it also means that the Green Line tunnel has to under-cross the existing DSTT tubes around Fifth and Washington. All of which is to say, “expensive and not easy”.

      1. I’m saying elevated above Jackson between 4th and 5th, since you’d be turning right off of 1ST Ave. to get to the second downtown transit tunnel. It is two level changes, but so is the current plan of the second ID station being beneath 5 ST or even The Urbanist’s “grand station” concept. It’s just two levels in the same direction as opposed to-up-then-back-down. I agree it’s not the best rail-rail transfer situation, but perhaps an “equally bad” transfer. Also, bus transfers are pretty seamless. Perhaps the second transit tunnel’s midtown station doesn’t need to be as deep either, if you’re starting from an elevated position in the ID as opposed to starting from below grade.

        I’m also looking forward to a SoDo focused post;)

      2. “Elevated above Jackson between Fourth and Fifth” sounds like you intend to replicate the Chicago “El” with city street corner-sized turns at First and Fifth. Way, way, way bad.

    3. “Why isn’t going down 1st Ave. through SoDo being discussed?”

      Inertia. ST is more open to ideas that are what it expected or within the ST1/ST2 tradition. First Avenue has never come up before this month that I’ve heard. That’s partly because First Avenue has been emerging from decline, and it’s further along now than ten years ago when this corridor was first being drawn. (As I said, tradition and inertia is playing a role here.) But if you feel strongly for First Avenue, by all means tell ST again in the feedback. It doesn’t hurt to argue again for something ST just rejected. A large enough opposition could get some Powers That Be to rethink things. There’s a point of diminishing returns, after the next couple rounds of ST persisting in its decision, but we’re not nearly there yet in this case. And I think it’s important to raise the opposition count to 21 rather than 20 even if it becomes nothing more than a tally in ST’s feedback report, because it shows that the size of support for that alternative was 21, and that may be useful later, or at least it makes transparent how good a choice ST made and how well the community tried for something else.

  10. The Jefferson Street ramps for highway 26 in the Goose Hollow area of Portland had a MAX line tunneled under it. It was a challenging situation as the MAX tunnel is just below the road surface, and while they are no longer there the highway in this area was supported by some 1920s era stone viaducts that allowed a branch of Jefferson Street to serve some residential properties that aren’t there anymore.

    The result wasn’t really that bad, and over the past 30 years several new developments in tunneling have developed that could have made this much easier. Among them has been the development of a method of cryogenic ground freezing of the fill material under the road so that it is able to be tunneled as you would tunnel through rock, built the concrete support structure, and then let it thaw in place.

    Compared to tunneling under all the assorted city streets, with their older grading, I would think I-5 wouldn’t be that risky.

    1. Glenn, for West Seattle route, I wonder if the ground along first south of Jackson isn’t already too much of a swamp to hold a tube created by freezing. But glad you brought this up. Because I really think we need to run down all the records we can find from the last Monorail effort.

      If only to find out it Seattle got anything useful at all out of that project. And at least partly to repay us for the tax money we put into that effort for far too long. Considering that the route the voters approved ran on, or close to, West Seattle routes now being discussed, could be some technical documents to much improve current discussions.

      And Mike, I wasn’t suggesting we duplicate the whole extended Tacoma LINK route. Just suggesting the parts of its route that the trains do have for themselves. And find out how fast those trains can run given reserved lanes and pre-empted signals.

      Since I question Broadway’s value as any kind of through corridor at all, would be worth a few days to see what would happen if we really did give streetcar operations exactly the level of first priority which automobiles now have.

      If First Hill Streetcar is to be anywhere near compensation for a very important LINK station that couldn’t be built- the community deserves trains to be moving, no matter what all else has to stop.


  11. These discussions about getting rid of a station in SLU make me nervous. Overlapping walk-shed is a non-problem given how much traffic these stations are expected to serve. Cramming all of the SLU ridership and all the bus transfers to 99 into one station is not a good idea.

    I personally thought the representative alignment was well thought out. It didn’t hit first hill… but I think sacrificing a midtown station to hit first hill is not that great of a solution.

    If you do that, then there isn’t any station in the central business district, and probably half of the riders coming from the south will have to transfer to the other subway line, which will already be crowded.

    This one line isn’t going to solve all of the city’s transportation problems… but it is well engineered for good bus connections to 99, denny, and madison, which indirectly make it easier for the city to solve a lot of these problems.

    1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! While I think the technical difficulties are less than those the original U-Lind tunnel faced, especially to the south, the lack of a financial district station for folks from Ballard and the Rainier Valley would be a huge mistake. While building a shared-platform station at SoDo would alleviate the issue for the Rainier Valley riders, there’s no way to make Westlake a good transfer environment short of a very unconventional “double-mezzanine” station design.

      [That is, the mezzanine for the Green Line tunnel would be at platform level immediately east of the end of the current platforms and the track level would be directly below. People could then walk directly out the end of whichever platform of the DSTT level on which they deboarded into the short half-mezzanine long enough to land both elevators and stairs. You’d turn right from the southside platform and left from the northside.]

      First Hill is a big problem; I really do believe it’s best solved by moving sidewalks or escalators from a Fifth or Sixth Avenue Midtown Station underneath Marion Street. The biggest problem is of course the express lane Cherry Street ramp; it’s deep there, but so will be the station. The walkway could be flat from the mezzanine east far enough to pass beneath the express lanes and then transition to escalators up to a mini-mezzanine/transfer to a differently angled escalator on up to Boren.

      Arrgh, I forgot. Escalators! SoundTransit’s bane and Achilles’ heel.

      1. I’m not sure but a series of escalators may require an adjacent diagonal elevator per ADA.

        If that’s the case, it could make more sense to just have two oversized diagonal elevators (aka funiculars) in a tunnel. Decades ago, counter-balance inclines were common in Seattle and for good reason. With ADA and bicycle popularity, it may be time to revive them. Here that could accommodate both with level floors.

        I like the idea of using Marion Street as the corridor. It makes easier to construct when traffic closures are easier. It also puts the top closer to Harborview.

        It could also be set up as a paid fare area. The tunnel can be much smaller because there would be no electric power caternary — just a pull cable underneath.

        The distance would be about 1400 feet — variable depending on the setup. Allowing for 60 seconds at each end, a single vehicle would require 6-8 minute round trip. A two-tunnel counter-balance would put a vehicle leaving every 3-4 minutes.

        I think many observers see the benefits and see it’s much cheaper than boring two crossings under I-5 as well as digging a very deep station. The bigger question is whether anyone making decisions does — at least enough to study it further.

    2. They also don’t really overlap. Here is a map of the five minute walkshed, using the original stations:
      You can see that no one can walk to both stations within five minutes. It isn’t until you get to the six and seven minute time frame that you get overlap. At that point, people are usually better off taking a bus to the stop.

      The other options offer less overlap, but at no point is one station as good as two, unless they expect people to walk over ten minutes to a station, which is ridiculous.

      1. Well, if the map says so. I’m not sure I believe it because it takes me more than ten minutes to walk from Westlake to Denny when I miss the streetcar, and twenty minutes from Westlake to Seattle Center. But if those walksheds are accurate, that’s great news. (Although not for those who live between the diamonds but outside them.

      2. @Mike — I’m sure much of the time is simply getting out of the station. It is a judgement call, and while some studies say five minutes is the big turning point, others say longer for a train. The thing is, just about everything in the area is very good. So even if you don’t consider overlap, I don’t think you gain that much by sliding the Westlake station to the south. Sure, you make it a bit faster for those headed just south of Denny, but for people on the other side it is much worse. Not only do they have to walk an extra block, but they have to wait for a light. A station straddling Denny solves that problem. There are lots of people close to Denny, and about to be a lot more. The new apartment at the old Seattle Times building (1120 Denny Way, just north of Denny on Boren) will have 1,179 units. That is just one place (and there are plenty like it in the area).

        So yeah, sliding it south would probably be better (if there was no overlap) but still not that much better. Just about any station in the area will be good. We just have to make sure they build a couple of them.

  12. With the Madison BRT, I don’t really see a need for a technically challenging, and potentially risky, subway station under First Hill. The initial concept, with an easy connection at Madison/Midtown, is a generous enough.

    1. With that argument, we could forgo the Ship Canal Crossing and anything west of Delridge too.

      Attributing any rail station as removable because a BRT can replace it instead is a slippery slope argument.

    2. It depends on Madison BRT living up to its promises, which is 5 minutes from 1st to Broadway, 5 minutes from Broadway to MLK, and 5-10 minute frequency (possibly 15 after 9pm-ish). That wouldn’t be as seamless as Link swerving to 8th or a grade-separated line on Madison, but it’s an unprecedented step forward for Seattle. (Pike Street and Jackson Street are envious.)

      “Attributing any rail station as removable because a BRT can replace it instead is a slippery slope argument.”

      It’s not “removing” a station because it’s not in the default plan. The default plan is 5th & Madison. Deleting any Madison station (i.e., nonstop from Intl Dist to Westlake) is a separate issue, and nobody is saying BRT replaces that. What they’re saying is that the station isn’t essential for other reasons (DSTT1, the lack of non-office uses around Madison, the closeness of the two remaining stations, etc). There are arguments on both sides of that. (And the transfer to Madison BRT and the upcoming multi-use density along Madison argue against it.) But deleting the station is a separate issue from moving it a few blocks east.

      1. I’m not saying that pushing a station up into First Hill is the right thing to do. I’m simply pointing out that saying BRT is there is not justification.

        After all, FHSC was the original “replacement” justification for losing a First Hill Station 15 years ago — and we all know what a lame excuse that was!

      2. Right, the issue is Madison’s transit need and how well Madison BRT addresses it, vs what we might do instead in the North King Link project and the transit need of that. I’d say that a transfer between Link and Madison BRT is absolutely essential, a 10-minute BRT overhead to get to Broadway (including transfer) is acceptable even if not ideal, the tradeoffs between 5th vs 8th don’t clearly favor one or the other, and there are probably other aspects of Link that are as important.

      3. The problem with the Madison BRT stop at Midtown Station is that it’s going to be on a relatively steep slope. Unless one is in a wheelchair (or perhaps has a walker or a stroller or a cane or a rolling suitcase in hand), one doesn’t see the problem. After all, it’s designed to serve medical offices.

        People on First Hill already have multiple frequent bus route options to get to a Link station. Route 12 is already on Madison. Madison BRT isn’t going to make travel times significantly better to go one or two stops. For those that don’t live on Madison, It will still be faster to take Route 3/4 to Pioneer Square, or take Route 2 to University Street.

        If Madison BRT is such a great replacement, then moving the Midtown Station into First Hill is perhaps even more justified After all, people going to Downtown Stations already have University Street and Pioneer Square to walk too and those will require making a transfer for those coming from Snohomish, UW, Eastside or West Seattle. If getting to Midtown Station is so advantageous for others (say going to Ballard, SLU, Rainier Valley or SeaTac), they can ride Madison BRT to 8th rather than 5th — or maybe all the way to Boren or transfer at one of these supposed great and easy transfer points that is supposed to exist at ID and Westlake.

        I’m not defending moving the station. Again, I’m just saying that Madison BRT is not a valid replacement argument for avoiding First Hill. Cost is. Constructability is. Depth is. Just not Madison BRT.

      4. I agree with Al. If anything the existence of Madison BRT makes the case for a First Hill station stronger. If you are focused on bus to train transfer, then you want the intersection to be in the middle of the bus ridership, and First Hill is that spot. Lots of people live or work a few stops from there. Putting the station at Fifth means it is at one end of the bus route (more of a ‘T’ and less of a ‘+’).

        I don’t think that is the biggest advantage of a First Hill station, though. The big advantage is how it makes life easier for someone within waking distance of that stop.

        A big consideration is the ability to transfer within the rail lines. If this is easy (and the trains run often) then First Hill becomes a much better stop. You simply transfer at I. D. or Westlake. Some people transfer to get to the downtown stops (University and Pioneer Square) while others transfer to get to First Hill. There may be more people headed to downtown, but the people who are headed to First Hill save a huge amount of time over the 5th and Madison stop.

        Then there is the question of how the lines will be tied together. Way more people will come from the University line than the Ballard line. Way more people will come from the Rainier Valley line than the West Seattle line. More people will be headed to the downtown stops than to First Hill. So if West Seattle is tied with Ballard and the First Hill station, it works out nicely. The less popular lines are tied to the less popular stop, meaning fewer people would transfer (while it is still worth it for those headed to First Hill).

        The depth of the station matters as well. Someone might be better off just sticking with the train until downtown, then making the transfer on the surface. The thing is, the University Station (the current station closest to Madison BRT) is pretty deep as well.

        I do think the most promising idea is a pedestrian tunnel, connected with some sort of people mover (such as escalators). Obviously ST’s reputation in this regard is not stellar, but the interest in escalators shows how important they are. The time spent actually getting from the platform to the surface is just as important as the time spent on the train. It is quite likely that someone who gets off at 5th and Madison won’t be complaining about the speed or frequency of the connecting bus to First Hill, but how long it takes to get from the train up to the bus stop. If they build a pedestrian tunnel that could quickly get you to the surface — and on the other side of the freeway — it could be extremely popular, and a very big piece of our transit system. Then you would have the best of both worlds, as folks who are headed downtown would stay on the train, while those headed to First Hill would transfer and take the escalators.

  13. Any of these alternatives don’t solve the biggest overcrowding problem in the Link system, which is going to occur between Capitol Hill and Westlake. Instead, it will make overcrowding worse for this segment — because more people from SLU, LQA and maybe even Ballard will go to Westlake to transfer for destinations further north.

    If the transfer point was moved from Westlake to Capitol Hill — say putting the “Westlake stop” at Boren and University (adding a pedestrian connection through WSCC), crossing over the tracks at Pine Street, putting a platform off of he Capitol Hill mezzanine to the west, portaling out at I-5, and having a surface light rail through SLU (say on Mercer) with stops around Fairview and Aurora.

    If we’re actually going to test options to the representative project, variations by one block — which is what most of the alternatives do — is a silly and deceptive thing to test. The alignment decisions will be decided by constructability and not by what’s best or not best when the options are so close together. The public deserves to see the implications of a variety of alternatives and not be limited to those here Downtown. I don’t think these are actually “alternatives” but are simply “variations” on the same alternative for the most part.

    1. Then you get into how far the project can deviate from the ballot measure. The most baseline fundamental concept in Ballard-downtown Link is Market Street to Westlake Center. Moving it away from Westlake would have virtually zero support and more opposition than practically anything else about Link. And while you may have a good idea to expand the “core center” walkshed of the network and recognize downtown-adjacent demand (which Broadway is) better, how can it help overcrowding when the same people will merely be going the opposite direction in the Capitol Hill-Westlake bottleneck. There are a helluva more greater number of people going to Westlake than to Capitol Hill, both because downtown has more people and more destinations, and because the bus transfers to almost everywhere are at Westlake.

    2. No, not the same people. If 10% of the people from Ballard who get off at Westlake transfer to Capitol Hill and 20% transfer to UW via Capitol Hill, then 70% of the people from Ballard who get off at Capitol Hill would transfer to Westlake. So there would be even more people going the opposite direction in the bottleneck.

      1. The ST2 studies already proved that Westlake to Capitol Hill will be the most crowded segment. ST has not publicly disclosed any load date about ST3. Its very irresponsible for us to be discussing anything about SLU without these data!

        The added riders won’t come from Ballard. They’ll mostly come from SLU. Workers in SLU won’t want to wait for a bus from or to Capitol Hill, and will instead go to Westlake and transfer to another train. It’s no little number, given all the 20+ story builds Ng’s going up in SLU.

      2. The relevant crowd is traveling from SLU to Westlake, isn’t it? If there’s no Link between Westlake and SLU, then they’d have to transfer at Capitol Hill, wouldn’t they? Or take the Monorail which is several blocks away or a bus like the 62 which is perhaps too slow and unreliable. If they transfer at Capitol Hill, then don’t you have a larger bottleneck in the opposite direction (CH-Westlake) than if those bound for Capitol Hill transfered at Westlake? The latter’s alternative is to take the 8, and the 8 is notoriously bad at rush hour.

      3. Don’t forget the SLU Streetcar and RapidRide C! There are plenty of ways to ride transit between SLU and Westlake.

        We’re debating about an issue that ST has yet to discuss or release to the public. I really wish that they would because we can only offer opinions based on studies done for Lynnwood Link years ago. The lack of discussing any load analysis post-ST3 is actually really shameful for ST to ignore!

        ST, where’s the load analysis?

      4. “Don’t forget the SLU Streetcar and RapidRide C! There are plenty of ways to ride transit between SLU and Westlake.”

        And we rerouted Ballard Link through SLU because those don’t have enough capacity.

        “where’s the load analysis?”

        There never has been one. I’ve been wondering that for years. The closest I’ve heard is that when I was discussing Lynnwood Link options with an ST rep at a Northgate open house during the AA or EIS, he said that some ST staff were concerned that downtown-Lynnwood might reach capacity within the planning window (2035 or 2040), and then there would be no room for more people.

        There has always been disagreement within STB on whether ST2 Link between downtown and U-District will have so much capacity we won’t know what to do with it, or conversely whether it will become overcrowded with both local people and those from Lynnwood and Everett. It depends on whose assumptions and numbers you believe. ST debates loads internally but never tells us its estimate of how full the trains will be.

      5. Mike,

        I expect that Link will hit capacity even before 2035. Snohomish County will completely end transit service into King County farther south than 185th and I-5 and somewhere in Bothell, except perhaps some peak-hour expresses to Bellevue.

        There had better be Northgate turn-backs or there won’t be room for people from Seattle to board at Northgate or Roosevelt. Enough folks will deboard at U-District and HSS that some Seattle transfers will be able to board there.

        But it is going to be a shock to the folks in Bitter Lake, Lake City, East Green Lake, and Wedgewood when Lynnwood Link opens and their walk on, sit down comfort on Northgate Link in 2022 is overwhelmed a couple of years later.

      6. “There had better be Northgate turn-backs or there won’t be room for people from Seattle to board at Northgate or Roosevelt.”

        There won’t be enough trains for Northgate turnbacks, and the train frequency will be 3 minutes each direction. I don’t remember whether the DSTT’s current train capacity is 3 minutes or 2 minutes, but I think 3 so it will maxed out. The only way to do turnbacks would be to truncate East Link trains. But ST believes it will need all those trains in Lynnwood.

  14. Moving the midtown station to first hill will is a poor decision in a larger urbanist is trading the convenience of distant commuters for the convenience of those who live in first hill. Most people who live in first hill work there or downtown, and most of them walk or take transit already. The riders who would use a first hill station would therefore be cannibalized from other transit like rapidride G, as opposed to the distance commuters who are swayed from driving cars in part by the convenience of midtown station to their job.

    Let rapidride G serve first hill and connect to midtown station at 5th avenue with the greatest walkshed. Then add buses to Boren.

    As for SLU, let the aurora ave station be sited for maximum convenience to Aurora bus transfers, and then site the Denny station to maximise ridership with that held constant.

    As for westlake, do whatever makes the transfer as smooth as possible.

    1. The “distant commuters” include those from far-off Ballard, Rainier Valley, and the U-District, and the thousands of patients and their visitors who come from everywhere. I’m not a particular fan of moving the station east, but if Link does absorb some people who would otherwise take the G, then the network is doing exactly what it’s supposed to. People who find the express stops suitable take Link, and those who don’t take the G and other buses. That may result in a short-term shift of people to Link, but in many cases the long-term result is higher ridership on both lines, because both kinds of people find that the transit network meets their needs better than it used to. When CT put a limited-stop Swift overlay over route 101, the result was that CT’s highest-ridership route because CT’s two highest-ridership routes.

    2. And Madison’s near-term growth is so significant that the G will be busy with people going up and down it from apartment to downtown to clinic to supermarket to library, even if people from north and south don’t take the G. That would then be the great success story I was referring to.

    3. What about distant commuters to First Hill? What about the needs and interests of nearby travelers, that *always* outnumber those making long distance commutes. In every city, more people ride transit for short trips than long trips — why should we obsess about the latter group?

      But I digress. It is complicated, and as Mike points out, it is quite possible that the short distance riders are paired with Madison, while the long distance riders get what they get now (multiple stops downtown). But in general, it isn’t a good idea to build an entirely new tunnel and add nothing new in terms of stations. It isn’t any cheaper (unlike sharing the tunnel) and you haven’t added much value to the system at all.

      A station at First Hill would. It would mean the tunnel would go from being largely redundant, to very useful. But the situation is complicated, and there are a lot of considerations, as I mentioned here:

    4. “In every city, more people ride transit for short trips than long trips — why should we obsess about the latter group?”

      Because we need a complete transit network because people travel from everywhere to everywhere. Just as people from distant communities commute to First Hill, people who live on First Hill commute to distant communities for work, shopping, visiting relatives, cultural activities, to get to the airport, etc. We shouldn’t make long-distance trips the only concern but we should give them a bit of advantage because they take a longer time, and that’s time lost from being able to do something else. You first have to define a “reasonable” travel time. A half hour from First Hill to the Zoo or Bellevue or Rainier Beach is a start. An hour from First Hill to Ballard is not acceptable. Ten minutes from First Hill to Kent is unreasonable. It almost sounds like some people are defining “long distance” as everything not on Madison BRT or the future 8-Madison. That leaves out a lot of inner-city trips that most people consider everyday trips that should be expedited.

      1. >> We shouldn’t make long-distance trips the only concern but we should give them a bit of advantage because they take a longer time …

        No, no, no. You don’t get it, Mike. Giving long-distance riders an advantage is stupid, because there are less of them! A lot less! Why should a dozen people in Fife get special preference, while thousands in First Hill get nothing? It makes no sense.

        Look, I get it. You think that saving a minute here and a minute there for a long distance commute makes a huge difference, whereas the short distance commuter will just endure. But example after example shows otherwise. Even when you pander to the long distance commuter, even when the trains travel 80 freaking miles an hour, with hardly any stops in between, you don’t get that many riders. Most of the riders are only going a relatively short distance, even if that trip takes as long as that long distance ride! Seriously, look at the numbers. Look at how ridiculously fast it is to ride BART from the suburbs, and look at how slow it is to ride from one side of San Fransisco to the other. Yet the San Fransisco ridership — on those slow buses and streetcars — blows away the fast BART riders. Most of the riders who take BART are going a short distance, and their total trip (which includes getting to the handful of BART stations) takes a very long time!

        Look, dude, we’ve been over this before. Density + proximity = high ridership. Favoring places far away, and less densely populated simply means you are favoring the few instead of the many.

  15. Saddling the 6th/8th downtown routing with the Republican routing through SLU (doomed due to sewer etc. issues) seems like an intentional choice to cripple the chances of a Madison/8th station… which is very much desirable if for no other reason than to break up the counterproductive clustering of stations in this area, and extend the combined walkshed.

    A hybrid routing with the 6th/8th path through the downtown core, and either the Harrison or Roy routings through SLU/LQA, needs to be looked at in the upcoming rounds of alternative studies, in order to give this station a fair shake.

  16. Im seeing that a 5th Avenue Westlake-2 station location is back. For the last year or so they’ve been showing Westlake-2 on 6th Avenue. How would they dig and connect directly under the existing Westlake-1 station?

    Under it seems more dependent on the existing station for vertical connections whereas on 6th Avenue seemed like a second independent station with a close underground foot connection.

  17. With regards to the SLU stations we should be cognizant that Mercer St serves as a large pedestrian barrier. Not only is the wait time to cross the street astronomical, but when you actually get the green the crosswalks are blocked 90%+ of the time. Putting the station on one side will mean people on the other side of Mercer have poor access. There won’t be an easy answer here until we decide to prioritize crossing Mercer for people on foot – something SDOT refuses to do currently out of the hopeful fantasy that the adaptive signals are providing value.

    1. This is just one more reason that station access planning is vitally important. Making people wait at just one crosswalk adds up to two or three minutes to a trip.

      Unfortunately, all these ST proposals ignore station access issues, and the ST3 budget has both limited continues and little funding for better station access. When ST3 gets into station design, there won’t be much funding to address this.

      It’s the design equivalent of building faster cars but require everyone to crawl out of windows to access them.

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