Northgate Link Extension Construction

This is an open thread

Photo by AtomicTaco, STB Flickr pool

33 Replies to “News Roundup: Be Excellent”

  1. Bike share is more popular in nice weather

    This just in: the Pope was seen attending a Catholic mass, all but confirming rumors that he is Catholic.

  2. Editors, thank you for naming the locations for the out-of-area stories. It’s not reasonable to expect people in Seattle to know the acronym of a transit agency thousands of miles away – saying NYC instead of MTA is a huge improvement over previous news roundups.

  3. Wow – the comments in that Stranger Talaris article reflect NIMBY ignorance at its worst.

    1. As Rachael Maddow would say, “That means it’s Friday.” The Times comments are always like that, such as in the “Excellent Deep Dive” article (which I agree is excellent). As of last night only 2% of the comments were for housing for everybody. 98% were for keeping my quiet neighborhood, with sprinklings of greedy developers, other laws, and that those who can’t afford current prices should move to the outer suburbs or out of the metro.

      How would you address the issue raised in two of the comments: “[The owners bought their houses] with the understanding that they’d remain single-family houses, with their neighbors and yards and separation and possibility of parking on streets which were designed for it.”

      And: “I suspect if I devalued an asset of yours, like a car, by wiping out the whole passenger side, you’d expect me to repay you for the damage done. Well, for those of us who have lived in Seattle neighborhoods for 30 years that bought an asset that we liked and have maintained, you want to side swipe that asset and claim it’s for the public good. When you suddenly change the rules after people have a vested interest in those rules you will get push back… If they block the view that creates part of the value of my property then they do. Yes, a total free for all on property right might make some properties more valuable, but the property values would have reflected that in the past. To change the laws after people have invested is to betray a trust and the rule of law.”

      1. Question: Why should it be acceptable to “pull the rug” out from under condo/office property owners but not house owners? Historically, cities do grow, things do change, and there really should be no expectation that you are entitled to a neighborhood that will indefinitely remain the same as when you moved in. You bought a SINGLE family home not the entire neighborhood! Nobody really has a crystal ball to be able to value a home’s value *today* based on it’s future. Well, It doesn’t work that way. The fact is that even purely single family neighborhoods change over time! There is risk in every investment, it’s called life. Besides, you kind of are being compensated by the greater property tax revenue from, say, the 4 plex, which means your property tax doesn’t have to be as high to maintain the same city services (high rises, though, would presumably need additional infrastructure which may not be practicable).

      2. For people who are totally fixated on their own property rights (muh views, muh parking), they seem totally dismissive of their neighbors’ property rights. If you don’t want your neighbor to build an apartment building on land that he owns, you should buy his lot from him. Otherwise, feel free to pound sand.

      3. For those opposed to zoning and know anything about Houston, what’s it like there? Is it a viable approach??

        Also, I am always irritated when I read (as I too often do) someone expressing their entitlement to whatever they value (e.g. – homeownership or low rents in a major city, $15/hour wage regardless of whether the job performed is worth the wage, “free” college, etc.), but simultaneously deny my right to obtain what I value (e.g. – competent traffic design, decently maintained roads and highways, and parking accessibility).

      4. @Kevin22: If I recall correctly Houston doesn’t bake so much land-use separation into its zoning as most places, but my understanding is that it effectively achieves most bad American land-use practices by other means: “covenants” tied to land titles, extremely auto-centric infrastructure planning, building codes, etc.

        It used to be fashionable in “urbanist” circles to see the results of current zoning and land-use regulations and call for deregulation, but over the last 10 years it’s become clear to most that what we really need is to change the goals and focus of our plans and regulations. What’s an “entitlement” vs. a “right”, what’s “competent”, what’s “decent”… those are the debates that get to the core of public life in a democracy.

      5. “The owners bought their houses] with the understanding that they’d remain single-family houses, with their neighbors and yards and separation and possibility of parking on streets which were designed for it.

        First of all, the current zoning laws don’t guarantee some of the things the author thinks it does. There is nothing stopping me from destroying my yard, for example. If you look at my neighborhood, you can see dozens of small houses on big lots that have been replaced by really big houses. So if the zoning was designed to preserve the style of the neighborhood, it failed.

        Secondly, the main change that people are suggesting is to allow more unrelated people to live in a place. If you are worried about parking, why it is better to have a neighbor with four teenagers driving around (like the old days) as opposed to a couple families? Again, there is no reason why I can’t own a dozen cars, and park them all over the neighborhood (right now, under the current zoning laws).

        Now if you are talking about changing the height limits, then you have a point. Whether you change the height limits to allow taller single family homes, or taller apartments, that is a change that some would find irritating.

        But that is why I think the easiest thing to do is simply change the density rules. Don’t allow bigger structures, but allow more people to live in a place. Allow multiple buildings, or small lots. In many neighborhoods, it would mean more people, but the exact same house. If you walk through the U-District, you can often find houses that have been split up into several apartments. Even in this red hot market it isn’t worth tearing down a perfectly good house just to add a bit more space. In most of the city (the SF5000 areas), the houses have relatively small setbacks, and the house takes up a big part of the lot. At most you would simply add a secondary house in the back (something that is legal right now as long as it is a garage). Change the zoning, and the big houses will remain big houses — they will simply have more people in them.

        Now go to the other extreme. Consider the tiny houses. If we don’t change the zoning, those houses are going away anyway. They will be replaced by bigger houses. What folks like me are suggesting is that you simply allow more people to live there when you tear down the tiny houses. In my neighborhood, there are plenty of houses on oversized lots. For example this place at the corner of 17th Avenue and NE 120th: https://goo.gl/maps/PXNgMUfd7Tn. Eventually, that place will change, as soon as the owner sells. If the zoning doesn’t change, then they will build as many houses as they can. Since the area only allows one house every 7200 square feet, they will likely build three very large houses. That is ridiculous. It is neither in character with the neighborhood (a very working class — formerly cheap area) nor is it actually adding much density. It would be far more in keeping with the neighborhood if they simply added row houses.

        Change the rules, and that is what would happen. Nice houses would get converted to apartments (as is the case in much of the city). At the same time, the old houses get replaced with row houses (or small apartments). Nothing would be bigger than allowed now. Nothing would be blocking anyone’s view. More people would simply be allowed to live there.

        The problem with the current rules is that we draw little circles around a handful of places, and say “build here”. This results in seemingly crazy development. Fairly big houses are torn down, all so they can add just a bit more space. That wouldn’t happen if you made a bigger change, and changed the rules for the 2/3 of the city that is currently zoned single family. If you only allowed cherries to be grown in Mount Vernon (Washington) then you would suddenly see a lot of tulip fields plowed under. The current approach is just a bad one, and guaranteed to upset people who want to see more places preserved along with people who want to see more affordable housing.

      6. When you suddenly change the rules after people have a vested interest in those rules you will get push back… To change the laws after people have invested is to betray a trust and the rule of law.

        Oh, please. Laws change. That is a good thing. There was a time — not that long ago — when people in many Seattle neighborhoods had an expectation about their neighbors. They couldn’t be Jewish, or black. They too had a vested interest in the old ways — they bought their property with the expectation that “certain people” wouldn’t move in next door. But the law changed. Deal with it.

        We live in a democracy. If the majority of people want something different, then we will have something different. If you really bought your house years ago, then you have nothing to worry about in terms of your investment. Your house is worth a fortune compared to what you bought it for. If the rules change, it will still be worth a fortune. It won’t be the same old neighborhood, but times change. Now we have food readily available from places like Thailand or Ethiopia. To some this is a step in the wrong direction — for many others, it is big improvement. So many people really want to have their cake and eat it too. They love the cultural changes that have come (more restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc.) but they don’t want the people that actually made that all possible.

        It all just sounds like crybaby whining. If I buy a condo, and a majority of the condo owners decide to convert the workout room to a daycare center, I’m sure there will be people making the same argument. “I bought this condo with the expectation that there would be a workout room. Waaaa!” Get over it. You were outvoted.

        We aren’t talking about a trivial change, made only to upset the sensibilities of people who must lived charmed lives if their biggest concern in life is their neighbors lawn. We are talking about changes so that people can actually live in that neighborhood. We are trying to do something that some simply take for granted. Most people who own homes in this city couldn’t afford to buy them right now! That is a crazy situation, and these whiners are basically saying “I got mine, and if you aren’t rich and didn’t buy when I did, tough sh**. Your ability to afford something not quite as good is less important than my ability to appreciate my neighbor’s gardening or finding an easy parking space”. Sorry if I don’t have much sympathy for such a ridiculous argument.

      7. Al Diamond: Benjamin Ross, the author if “Dead End”, agrees with you. We can set aside whether Houston has no zoning or very lax zoning, because the practical result is the same. Ross says that while Houston has no zoning, it puts the power of the law between private covenants. This allows the original developer of the neighborhood to put in perpetual deed restrictions prohibiting aoartments5, small lots, TV antennas, working animals (chickens, pigs) — while useless animals are OK (dogs, cats), non-red doors, etc. In other cities these are merely a civil contract, and plaintiffs must go to civil court for damages. Houston puts city resources behind enforcing them, so the police can go after you, etc.

        The net result is something worse than zoning, because at least zoning is a citywide rational plan that allows every use somewhere. (It must be citywide, defensively balanced, and not exclude any uses completely, in order to St and up in court. So the city must prove to a judge that it gives “something somewhere for everybody”.) But neighborhood covenants have no such requirement for citywide equality, so they can simply exclude anything they don’t want and to he’ll with what the impact is on the rest of the city. Does asdf2 have any comments on this?

        “I think the easiest thing to do is simply change the density rules. Don’t allow bigger structures, but allow more people to live in a place.”

        Right, we don’t need nighties of we have a large enough 2-dimensional area of lowrises, and the same for the next scale down. The problem is that Seattle doesn’t have a large enough 2-dimensional area if either. My model is Chicago’s North Side, a 2×2 mike area of mostly 3-10 story buildings, with scattered SF houses (and one waterfront edge of highrises). Imaging that in north Seattle from Ballard to UW, the Ship Canal to 50th (or Greenlake). That alone would solve or at least make a substantial dent in our housing shortage (along with subsidized housing for those making under $50K, since we can’t expect rents to drop that far).

        “Be excellent to one another.”

        “Party on, dudes.”

  4. Also, that’s a real bummer about the transit plan going down in flames in Nashville. It was one of the most ambitious and best municipal rail plans I’ve seen in decades.

    1. The Nashville plan had a big problem in that it highlighted a limited light rail system often through gentrifying neighborhoods. Add to that how it rolled out mainly a map showing the rail on low-density arterials with no diagrams showing how it would be built, no Park-and-ride emphasis for outer areas, little discussion of better travel times and a basic absence of benefits. Then, in the middle of the campaign effort, the primary advocate resigned from office in disgrace.

      Nashville is a merged city-county. A referendum has to be broader if it is needing to pass (like ST) rather than a situation like only within a city.

    2. Has anyone been to Nashville? What’s its current transit like, and how usable is it to get around without a car?

      1. I am in Nashville a few times each year.

        There are only a few frequent transit lines, and walking 1/4 mile during humid, hot months is exhausting.

        Underneath much of the city is solid limestone, which seems difficult to impenetrable for tunneling. There is often only 1-5 feet of soil before the limestone starts — so even little projects require blasting. It’s also somewhat hilly in many places.

        Commuting to Downtown is the best transit market. The several universities and medical centers are other possibly good markets, especially when most are only 2-3 miles from Downtown. There are some other congested commercial areas like Green Hills, but the parking is still free in those.

        The Nashville Star commuter rail for the congested I-40 East corridor has not been very popular.

        Systemically, it probably needs a frequent central circulator system, fed by express bus stations (upgradable to rail at some point) on the 6 freeway corridors.

      2. Back in college, we visited Nashville for a conference. When we walked from our hotel to get dinner, we had a pickup truck drive by us with a passenger yelling “Get a car!” Mind you, this was an area with sidewalks, crosswalks, etc. As a Portland native, this was a baffling experience for me.

      3. A correction: The commuter rail is called the Music City Star. Nashville Star was a reality show.

    3. Well, I’m actually kind of positively surprised that the Nashville referendum only lost by a 2:1 margin. It’s an incredible rail-hostile area traditionally, culturally — it has next to nothing for transit — and the plan was *extremely* ambitious, which tends to cause some people to vote no because they’re afraid of the cost. Plus the supporters were massively outspent by a right-wing Koch brothers type propaganda campaign which controlled most of the media.

      I was expecting it to go down by an 80%-20% margin, so 64-36 ain’t bad.

  5. ST monthly ridership hasn’t been mentioned much recently. February Link average weekday was listed as a 8.6 percent increase, while March (posted yesterday) showed 6.1 percent.

    https://m.soundtransit.org/ridership

    This is notable as this is demand for same station ridership, with the 2017 base comparison being a few months after Angle Lake’s opening.

    That may seem less impressive than the 10 percent demand increases a few years ago, but looking at the data in numerical growth shows 4K to 5K more riders from one day to the next on average in just one year — better than what Link saw a few years ago. It would probably be in ST’s interest to show numerical changes in ridership averages in addition to percentage changes.

    An 80K summer month weekday average seems quite possible!

  6. Funny that the 1985 Forward Thrust projected map ended up being pretty (but not exactly) close to the likely Link alignment.

    Has there been any discussion of an infill station between Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium? That projected map suggested there would be two (!), one at about 23rd and Union and one at roughly the south end of the Arboretum.

    1. I don’t think that the tracks are ever level enough and straight enough to even put one in.

      ST notoriously doesn’t design for any future expansion options; take a look at the upcoming challenge with the infill Graham station, for example (also in that measure). Many posters and workshop commenters keep mentioning this lack of expansion vision, but it usually seems to not be heard.

    2. More stations are a popular topic on STB, specifically Bellevue/Pine, 15th/Thomas, and 23rd/Aloha. ST has not given any indication that it would consider them. And we assume it would be prohibitively expensive to retrofit underground stations.

      For context, the original proposal was on I-5/Eastlake. Urbanists raised a fuss and insisted there must be underground stations at Broadway and the U-District. The ST1 plan had those, running under Broadway with three stations (First Hill, Pine-or-John, and Roy), then going under Portage Bay to the west side of UW. (Then ST may have dropped the Roy station as “too many stations”, I don’t remember.) But the Ship Canal crossing proved too risky, and UW raised objections to trains so close to their sensitive earthquake-measuring lab. So ST deferred the north part and focused on the south part. In the mid 2000s there was enough leftover money to restart the north part, and ST found a safer Ship Canal crossing at Montlake. ST simply deleted the Roy station that was now out-of-line (or maybe it was dropped earlier), and did not consider adding any stations. Transit fans in 1995 did not press ST to add any stations at Bellevue, 15th, or 23rd. One or two people did, but not a movement. That’s partly because STB didn’t exist then and there was no other organized group of transit fans to stir up a common voice. By the time the issue reached STB around 2008 or 2014, it was too late, the alignment/stations decision had been made.

      1. “The ST1 plan had those, running under Broadway with three stations (First Hill, Pine-or-John, and Roy), then going under Portage Bay to the west side of UW. (Then ST may have dropped the Roy station as “too many stations”, I don’t remember.)”

        I posted the following back on an STB thread back in January. I repost it here for additional context. A second station on Capitol Hill may have been studied in the agency’s white papers but that idea was dropped before the final plan (Sound Move) was adopted by the board and submitted to voters in 1996:

        >>>Finally, here are the detailed project items for the North King County subarea light rail section as outlined in the 1996 Sound Move Ten-Year Plan Appendix A:

        Project List
        Electric Light Rail –
        North University District to Boeing Access Road –
        Capital Cost (1995$millions), $1,355
        O&M, $30
        Combined, $1,385:
        -NE 45th Street Station
        -Pacific Street Station
        -Capitol Hill Station
        -First Hill Station
        -Convention Place Station
        -Westlake Station
        -University Street Station
        -Pioneer Square Station
        -International District Station
        -I90/Rainier Station (Atlantic St.)
        -McClellan Street Station
        -Columbia City Station
        -Othello Street Station
        -Henderson Street Station
        -Boeing Access Road Station

        North University District to Northgate
        (contribution pending additional funding) –
        Capital Cost (1995$millions), $26
        O&M, $
        Combined, $26:
        -Roosevelt Station
        -Northgate Station<<<

    3. You are right, if you squint, it likes kinda similar. But once you focus in on things, there are significant differences. I would consider some of the changes much worse, others are much better and some are not necessarily worth the extra money. Specifically:

      1) More stations in the Central Area (as discussed).
      2) Several stations on Lake City Way.
      3) Two stations in Ballard.
      4) West Seattle BRT, not rail.
      5) The train skips Rainier Valley, but serves Renton.
      6) A lot smaller on the East Side, but with the same sort of split.
      7) Nothing outside the county (which makes sense, given this was a county only proposal).
      8) Actually includes the bus network along with the rail network. This is a significant difference with our system, as we tend to just build the train line and then ask Metro (or another agency) to just deal with it.

      Overall I would say it isn’t that great. The biggest improvement is really those three stops between downtown and the UW. Serving Lake City is great, but you really make it difficult to tie into north end buses (except for Kenmore, etc.). Skipping Rainier Valley seems silly, since there is very little between there. The idea is to serve Boeing (as cheaply as possible) and maybe this would have lead to a lot of development in Renton, but I’m skeptical. The big question would be what we did next. Did we just keep going out — or did we try and connect Ballard with the UW? At a minimum we would want to send the Lake City train back west, so that I-5 buses could connect to it (maybe a split would be in order, with a train following more or less the current route.but merging at the U-District) But would we do that, or instead run a train to West Seattle.

      In general, I would say it is just a bit better, and mostly because of those three central stops. It is relatively easy (politically) to extend a rail line. It is difficult to back fill (especially when back filling is very expensive). Adding a First Hill station now (or a station on Madison and 23rd) would be very expensive, and we would be admitting that we messed up in the first place. Agencies don’t like to do that. It is much easier to extend it, and suggest that everything is great, it is just going out farther (manifest destiny and all that).

      1. “Nothing outside the county (which makes sense, given this was a county only proposal).”

        Also, 90% of Pugetopolis’ population lived between Lake City and Renton. And Auburn, Tacoma, and Everett were almost completely separate job markets from Seattle, with the exception of Boeing workers. Lake City to Lynnwood I’m not as sure of; Edmonds and Lynnwood got Metro peak expresses in the late 1970s, and I’m not sure whether that area was really growing faster than the others, or simply that the Snohomish TBD (transit benefit district) was formed and bought the service.

        “Skipping Rainier Valley seems silly, since there is very little between there.”

        Rainier Valley in 1970 was a decaying area, not much more than Skyway. Most of the businesses on MLK weren’t there. The revitalization started when Vietnamese refugees came in the mid 1970s and started businesses. Politicians in 1970 did not foresee that.

        Another surprising thing in Forward Thrust is no service to Southcenter, the airport, or Kent. But it was following the urban boundary of the time. Politicians in 1970 also didn’t foresee that shopping malls at freeway exits would take over retail, or that the airport would become so significant (because of deregulation lowering the cost of flights), or that people would move en masse to the farmland in Kent.

        If only we had built Forward Thrust and concentrated population growth between Lake City, Renton, and Redmond, and not sprawled out into Snohomish and Pierce, we’d be a lot better off. But that’s a lament for a lost cause.

      2. >> Rainier Valley in 1970 was a decaying area, not much more than Skyway.

        Rainier Valley had problems in the 70s (didn’t we all) but it was not empty. I’m sure transit ridership was relatively high, as folks with less money tend to ride transit at a lot higher rate. It turned around, just like most of the city turned around. The influx of immigrants simply accelerated the process.

        I would really like to know more about the thinking back then. The label “Model Neighborhood” keeps jumping out at me. On the one hand, the plan was to serve one predominately African American community (the Central Area) really well. On the other hand, it skips the other one (Rainer Valley). That seems weird by itself, since both were relatively run down (but nothing like most cities). But the “Model Neighborhood” might have meant urban renewal,. In other words, maybe the plan was to skip one set of people of color, while kicking out the other. Bulldoze some houses (and a few apartments) send the folks scattering (likely to the south) while white people can move in, and have a fast ride into town. I’m not so cynical as to suggest that was the plan, but it sure looks suspicious.

        Even if that wasn’t the plan, maybe it was all politics. Serving Rainier Valley actually made more sense, but that scared the white folks who worked at Boeing (even though Ballard was just as dangerous at the time). As mentioned, it is also a lot cheaper (no Beacon Hill tunnel). Meanwhile, the ride to the UW goes through a “Model Community” that might eventually mean nothing — or maybe an actual improvement. Maybe the plan was to spend money helping the community. Instead of the “destroy and rebuild” failed model of urban renewal, spend money in the C. D. (on schools, community centers and the like). That really isn’t much different than what happened (Garfield had an influx of top quality teachers recruited from around the country, the community center did get rebuilt, Medgar Evers pool is very nice, etc.).

        As far as the suburbs go, they have definitely grown, but still remain relatively low density. It is very difficult to serve them direction with rail transport. Look at a census map, and you can see that this actually serves the high density areas as well as ST3, despite being a lot smaller. There are plenty of people who live outside Seattle and Bellevue, but they are really spread out.

        That is why bus intercepts (presumably on the freeway) make the most sense. The Forward Thrust plan seems to neglect that because as you said, that wasn’t a big concern. We didn’t have many buses streaming from Kent, Federal Way, Shoreline or Lynnwood back then.

      3. My friend who’s a 3rd-generation Raineir Valleyite said that when I-5 opened it was empty because people didn’t commute those directions: they went southeast to Renton Boeing and places like that. The freeway’s presence caused living patterns and job locations and shopping choices to change. That wasn’t clear in 1970. (The 520 tolls ended five years early because the Eastside grew faster than predicted.) If we’d built Forward Thrust and gotten the land-use incentives right, it could have had the same effect, but promoted compact streetcar suburbs rather than 3-county sprawl.

        “Model Neighborhood” was an euphemism because “Central District” was too toxic for most readers: it reminded people that blacks live there and it’s unsafe. So it’s clearly urban renewal, Maybe it would have been a nicer urban renewal without as much displacement as in the 1950s and 60s, but it was still something along those lines. Think SLU: it stagnated for decades after 99 and I-5 were built because the city couldn’t decide on a zoning plan and kept kicking it down the road, but now it has highrises. Maybe the “model” for the CD was something like that.

        “On the other hand, it skips the other one (Rainer Valley).”

        Rainier Valley is more residential. The CD had Providence hospital and Seattle U and it’s close to downtown so you could imagine more offices and institutions there. Rainier Valley was a forgotten area of minorities, mixed marriages, and multiculturalists. There were no plans for urban renewal there, no jobs that middle-class people wanted to go to, and they probably assumed it would remain like that forever.

        Several things happened between 1967 and 1990 and I’m not sure of the timeline. Forward Thrust, the Thompson freeway revolt (also against general urban renewal and displacement), and the improvements at Garfield High School and its magnet programs. I think Forward Thrust occurred within a couple years of the freeway revolt, and there was a general debate about urban renewal and whether it should proceed and how, and “Model Neighborhood” was part of that, and meant to be a low-key proposal on the establishment (“pro”) side to avoid turning off voters (a kind of “to be determined” placeholder). I think Garfield’s teacher recruitment and improvements happened after that. At least, I was in high school in 1982 and a friend from Queen Anne was bused to Garfield and he never mentioned them. I think those improvements were just starting around that time.

  7. This article (https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/hockey/inside-sports-business-study-shows-where-fans-might-come-from-for-pro-games-at-keyarena/) about basketball and hockey at the Seattle Center got me thinking about buses from SR 520. In most other directions, regular transit is fine. From the south you can transfer to the monorail from Link. Pretty soon you will be able to do that from Bellevue. From Ballard you just take one bus. A lot of people walk.

    So that leaves the north end as well as Kirkland and Redmond. Folks from the north can always just go downtown and backtrack. That sort of trip is common now (from Northgate, for example). Hopefully by then we will have an improved Metro 8 (or something like it) which crosses Aurora in a bus lane around Harrison. That would mean that for people around Eastlake (and some in the U-District) it would make sense to catch the new Roosevelt RapidRide, and transfer to the other bus. In general I think most people would have a pretty good transit option — such that it would be faster to take transit than drive.

    But there will be a fair number of riders from Kirkland and Redmond (apparently — if the report is accurate) and their options don’t look great. Buses may be truncated at the U-District by then, which would mean at least a three seat ride to the Seattle Center. Even an express to downtown and then back (via the monorail) is not great (since the bus would get clogged up getting downtown). Ideally you would see an express. A bus leaves Kirkland (or Redmond) gets on SR 520, gets off at Mercer, gets into the bus lanes on Fairview and follows the path of the new 8 right to the center. It wouldn’t necessarily have to swing around to the other side — it could just pull into the Space Needle parking lot (if they could swing it) or turn around on 5th somewhere (if it couldn’t).

    The problem is getting from one side of I-5 to the other (520 ramp to Mercer ramp). Cars do this all the time, but buses don’t. If I’m not mistaken, with the latest restructure, this is why they didn’t send 520 buses to South Lake Union. Is that still the case? Will things get better once they replace that part of 520, or will it still have the same type of ramps? My understanding is that the HOV lanes for 520 are supposed to connect into the I-5 express lanes (or maybe it is the I-5 mainline HOV lanes) but I don’t know the details. This seems like a very important thing to consider for the future. There are a lot of trips (e. g. Northgate to downtown) that will never be done by bus, while there are others (Kirkland to the Seattle Center) that will ideally be done with one bus.

    1. Metro is more cautious than drivers (at least in its schedule planning), so they won’t route any buses to take 520 to I-5, while taking the Mercer St. exit. The completion of the 520 project will change this somewhat, by allowing buses an carpools a connection between 520 and the I-5 express lanes. Since the express lanes are narrower, there’s fewer lanes to cut across, so Metro will allow Eastside->SLU buses to use that corridor. But, as the express lanes are only open in one direction at a time, this will only work for rush-hour-only routes, not all day routes – in other words, totally useless for anyone trying to attend a hockey game.

      I’m guessing the preferred transit route from Redmond to Key Arena would be taking EastLink to Westlake Station, then switching over to a bus (eventually, the train to Ballard, instead). Kirkland would have the three-seat ride with the transfer at UW, as you said.

      However, if we want a transit pathway from 520 to SLU that can work in the present, there is nothing to stop buses from taking the Stewart St. exit from I-5, which the 255 and 545 already do, then making a right turn on Denny, rather than taking Stewart all the way into downtown. Whatever bus lanes are planned for the 8, these buses could make use of as well, making for a more reliable trip. Things get a little bit ugly in the eastbound direction – if the Mercer entrance ramp cannot be used, buses would have to backtrack to Olive Way, but it could be done. Buses could even do it by taking Denny up the hill partway to Bellevue, to get a stop in for Capital Hill, thereby getting in something very close to the 545’s currently (and quite popular) capital hill stop.

      1. Yeah, that is what I was afraid of. One possibility is that they would make the express lanes bi-directional. I remember that was discussed at some point (after Link gets to Lynnwood). That doesn’t seem like a crazy thing to me. There is a lot of traffic both directions, especially in the evening and weekends. That would be complicated (and take some work, I would imagine) but I could see it happening.

        You are right — from Redmond I think folks would connect to the train, then take the monorail to the center. That would take a while (almost 40 minutes on Link, then maybe another ten to get to the arena). That still might be the best you can get though, as driving would be very slow.

        I forgot about Stewart, and you are absolutely right, that could work out really well for getting to the game. For after the game, couldn’t they take the express lanes? They would certainly be going in the northbound direction at that point (and connected to 520). That seems pretty much ideal.

        The interesting thing is that these buses are generally appealing even when a game isn’t occurring. I’m not saying they are worth the money, but if they had a regular route (both directions) then they could pick up passengers who aren’t going to the game, but are headed to South Lake Union.

      2. Game-day shuttles from the Eastside to Key Arena would be fine for this, until the Ballard line opens and Metro’s network improves.

      3. Potentially offering event trains is just another reason why route flexibility between East Link and the second Downtown tunnel is needed. To date, there has been no ST discussion of line options in the most current study.

        I’d also like to see a tail track planned just west of the new tunnel near Elliott) as part of a future Key Arena strategy.

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