The railroad stations and 4th Avenue viaduct from above. Credit: Bruce Englehardt

On Monday, the Sound Transit West Seattle and Ballard Link stakeholder advisory group, which includes transit advocates, prominent community members, and business and labor leaders, moved further along the process of selecting alignments and station locations for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail lines.

In Monday’s meeting in Union Station’s Sound Transit boardroom, agency staff briefed the group on siting and alignments in Sodo and Chinatown. They also briefed the group on water crossings at Salmon Bay and the mouth of the Duwamish river.

The advisory group will eventually pass recommendations to a subcommittee of the Sound Transit board, which in turn will recommend the ultimate preferred alternative to the board as a whole.

A breakout group at work. Credit: Peter Johnson

In breakout sessions conducted over pad thai, the advisory group discussed the alignment and station locations of the new West Seattle line’s Sodo station. The advisory group also discussed the location of the new Chinatown/ID station, which will have far-reaching impacts on the future of the light rail system.

The Chinatown station, and the segment of the new line closest to it, was the subject of intense discussion, with good reason. It’s the centerpiece of the project, and it could have the most disruptive construction impacts of any Link project so far.

Tough choices for Chinatown/ID station and alignment

Concept map of the alignments. Credit: Sound Transit

The future Chinatown station is one of the most critical elements of the new Link line. It will be the southern terminus of the new downtown tunnel, the site of hundreds of thousands of intra-Link transfers every day, and the light rail network’s busiest multimodal hub, with connections to Sounder, Amtrak, public and private buses, and the Seattle streetcar.

The station and alignment’s siting and design will have permanent impact on Link’s capacity, headways, and expansion potential. Sound Transit is committed to making the Chinatown station a central transfer hub, so it has to be built adjacent to the existing Chinatown/International District Link stop next to Union Station.

Construction in Chinatown and Pioneer Square is complicated. Much of the area is infilled tideland, which would liquefy during an earthquake. Liquefaction aside, the loose soil requires deep foundations for newer construction, and would force Sound Transit to make a deep bore tunnel even deeper than in most areas of the city.

Plus, many of the buildings in the area are built on pilings, since the neighborhoods are the city’s oldest. Those pilings could be obstacles for any alignment, and might not be replaceable with a new foundation. Demolition isn’t a way out of that problem: a large slice of the area—and King Street and Union Station themselves—are historic landmarks, or in historic districts.

4th Avenue vs. 5th Avenue

Sound Transit’s “representative alignment” is under 5th Avenue, with a station perpendicular to King and Jackson streets and parallel to the current Chinatown/ID station. During the first round of outreach with the Chinatown and Pioneer Square neighborhoods, there was strong demand for siting the line and station on 4th Avenue, or under Union Station.

From a rider’s perspective, that alignment is probably the ideal option: it will allow for easy underground connections to the heavy rail platform at King Street Station to the west, and existing bus and Link service to the east. Pedestrians wouldn’t have to deal with the current long, dangerous scrabble across busy intersections to move from Link to Sounder.

Building the 4th Avenue alignment would also prevent 5th’s negative construction impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, whose residents are poorer, more diverse, and in the case of Chinatown, older than the rest of the city. The construction would also take place in the middle of one of the Puget Sound region’s largest groupings of businesses owned by people of color.

The 4th Avenue cut and cover tunnel would have impacts on underserved communities as well: the staging area for the alignment would be sited at the current location of an affordable housing development and a halfway house at 4th and Jefferson. 

4th Avenue traffic chaos

However, the 4th Avenue alignment would also create significant challenges. For one, 4th Avenue is the busiest surface corridor on the south end of downtown. According to Sound Transit, approximately 33,000 vehicles traverse the Chinatown section of 4th Avenue South every day. It’s a major freight corridor, and the primary route for Metro buses to enter downtown and exit Ryerson Base.

Closing the street, even partially, for construction would be enormously disruptive. To build a 4th Avenue alignment using cut and cover, Sound Transit estimates two separate segments of the street would have to be closed for a minimum 18 months each.

The 4th Avenue viaduct

Even a deep bore tunnel under 4th Avenue South would require Sound Transit to close the 4th Avenue corridor south of Jackson. That’s because the 4th Avenue Viaduct, which carries the street over the BNSF main line and rail yard, would have to be replaced as part of any 4th Avenue construction process.

Its lifespan ends sometime in the 21st century, though the SDOT representative on hand, Colin Drake, the agency’s ST3 manager, didn’t have the exact date available.  Therefore, 4th Avenue presents something of an opportunity. Rather than closing major sections of the grid at various times, agencies could minimize pain by completing two major projects at once.

Sound Transit staff said that, if the 4th Avenue alignments were chosen, they would hope to partner with SDOT to complete the project. Drake implied that he supported that idea, though he couldn’t commit to it. Nor could Drake make a firm statement about the state of the bridge or the need to replace it, other than to say that it hadn’t been identified as one of the bridges in dire need of immediate repair.

“So does the bridge need to be replaced?” said Maiko Winkler-Chin, the executive director of the Chinatown-International District Public Development Authority, while her breakout group was discussing the 4th Avenue alignments.

“That’s the right question,” joked Drake, to general laughter.

The advisory group asked Sound Transit staff to continue studying all 4th and 5th Avenue options, though the staff present seemed to favor 5th Avenue, or at least a shorter list of projects. The group did eliminate a mined station directly underneath Union Station, which would have been extremely expensive and risked damage to the historic landmark.

Sound Transit’s evaluation of the Chinatown alignments. Credit: Sound Transit

Sodo station & alignment

The new Sodo alignment, for the line to West Seattle, presents fewer difficult choices. But it will still play an outsize role in capacity, travel times, and headways.

Sound Transit staff presented several alignments—on Occidental Avenue, the E3 Busway, 6th Avenue South, and in a tunnel—and the group recommended that Occidental, the tunnel, and the Busway go forward in the engineering process. 6th Avenue offered some ridership gains and a slightly enlarged walkshed, but the alignment presented some costly engineering challenges, and would have increased travel times to West Seattle.

A map of the Sodo alignments. Credit: Sound Transit

Occidental Avenue

An elevated route down Occidental Avenue, with a stop around Lander Street, would add the most ridership of any Sodo alignment. The stop would be close to Starbucks headquarters, the Port, industrial employers, and a growing row of bars, restaurants, and retail on 1st Avenue South.

However, group members from industrial and business backgrounds were concerned about negative impacts on freight mobility. Occidental is home to plenty of loading docks for businesses and manufacturers. Similar concerns contributed to the death of Chris Hansen’s Sodo Arena proposal.

Busway and track interlining

Staff presented two options that would reduce overall transit capacity from the corridor’s maximum potential. One, constructing a surface-level track on the full length of the current E3 Busway, would displace dozens of southbound buses.

The other, interlining West Seattle service with the existing Link track, would severely limit capacity. Since Central Link’s right of way isn’t completely separated from traffic, and will be at full capacity at when the West Seattle route comes online, the new trains would have to run at lower speeds and longer headways. 

The busway was carried forward, but track interlining was not.

According to Sound Transit spokesperson Kimberly Reason, all of the alignments that the group approved for further analysis—the tunnel, Occidental, or the representative project—would require some use of the E3 Busway right of way. The Occidental alignment would be elevated for its section of E3, while the tunnel’s portal at Massachusetts would be at grade on the busway.

Sound Transit’s evaluation of the Sodo options. Credit: Sound Transit

Water crossings at Salmon Bay and the Duwamish River

Sound Transit staff didn’t tip their preference for the new crossing, but they did discuss some constraints.

Any crossing will have to win approval from a battalion of permitting agencies at the federal, state, and local level. The crossings also have to respect the treaty fishing rights of area tribes, which actively fish both waterways.

Either end of a crossing has to be chosen carefully: the ideal site for a preferred alignment might lie under private property, which would be costly to purchase, or could lead to an ugly (and risky) eminent domain fight.

Also, as mentioned above, Native American nations have fished and lived on both waterways for centuries. That means that any site could have archaeological and historical artifacts buried in the soil.

Sound Transit staff haven’t eliminated any crossing type (tunnel, high bridge, drawbridge) from consideration.

Corrections: This post has been updated to reflect the location of the proposed 4th Avenue cut and cover tunnel staging site, and the relationship of the Sodo tunnel and Occidental Avenue alternatives to the E3 busway, and to clarify that the 4th Avenue viaduct partnership with SDOT is provisional.

45 Replies to “Link Advisory Group Reviews Chinatown, Sodo, Water Crossing Issues”

  1. Build the station under 4th. What’s worse: 18 months of inconvenience for drivers, or a lifetime of inconvenience for transit passengers trying to transfer between Link and other trains?

    1. It’s not just drivers, it’s also “… a major freight corridor, and the primary route for Metro buses to enter downtown and exit Ryerson Base.”

    2. Not to mention that by the time construction begins in earnest in say 2028 there will be very few buses still using 4th. Metro has a couple all-day routes that remain in the LRP, but almost all peak service will have been supplanted by East Link, Federal Way Link and Lynnwood Link, joined a couple years later by by Tacoma Dome and West Seattle Link. And who knows how traffic will evolve in the next 15 years. I for one am hoping that we wouldn’t make a decision on station siting based on 2018-era traffic levels. 33,000 cars is maybe a fifth of what Link ridership will be even before Ballard opens. 4th Avenue is better for transfers and creates an opportunity to have a unified superstation. Sound Transit would likely gain efficiencies from moving HQ and consolidating, rather than being sprawled out across 5 buildings, and they could help save a small historic neighborhood, all while taking one for the team and vacating Union Station and returning it to public use with retail. Being able to simultaneously replace and reimagine the old 4th Avenue viaduct is just icing on the cake.

    3. 4th is the best thing currently on the table, but it’s almost like going underground there was not such a good idea and it might be easier to stay above ground coming up first (a Seattle Subway idea) then make the turn on to Jackson then cut in to the hill where it’s more stable terrain.

      1. B, I wouldn’t worry about where anything is in relation to above table right now, or anything else. But good to know that Seattle Subways is still around, or at least the idea you mention.

        Because I really think our subways will need to come out of the ground at level where the south end of the Third Avenue trolleywire starts downhill at Yesler. And a lot else, tracks, trains, and buildings, rest on pillars and pilings as far south as they need to go.

        The Finnish chief architect for the new Nordic Heritage Museum has on his resume a project in Finland, which is also mostly marshland. What’s your foundation for a huge warehouse you have to build over a swamp?

        In addition to the shell’s main explosive charge, the nose of an armor-piercing anti-tank round hits the enemy steel with a finely-aimed blast the temperature of the sun. No, they didn’t bring a tank, though really would have been a viral video. Just frames in correct pattern.

        When the steam clears next day, your piling has a socket of sand fused into volcanic glass that won’t crack when the sun goes nova and the world blows up. Keep saying transit deserves defense money. Maybe JBLM already has some.

        Definitely reason has somebody else besides his most current best buddy to discuss any plans he might have for the Baltic states. The Swedish navy uses Russian-submarine-chasing for training. Every barn in Skane Province is a hangar, an every freeway a runway. Saab doesn’t just build cars.

        And the Finns showed that with a tenth Russia’s population, and casualty rate of same ratio, messing with Finland isn’t worth the price. Foundation- forming would definitely out-draw Seattle’s usual fireworks display at Gasworks Park.

        But meantime, I think that early as possible, ST needs to start creating the electorate that can be convinced to pay for this, because like Gary Larson’s cave-man plumber says: “Oooooh this not be cheap!”

        PTKWYTA. People That Know What You’re Talking About. Every -holder gets a shovel instead of a Stake.

        Mark Dublin

    4. Note that 100s of years of “inconvenience for transit passengers” was not listed on the evaluation grid. This usually means ST has made up its mind and 4th options are off the table; just there for show.

      1. Yeah, I also see from the post that the Sound Transit staff seems to favor 5th. I’ve seen this play out before. They make up their mind on something to save a few dollars or just because they it’s the first way they thought to do it, and nothing short of a herculean public uprising will get them to change their minds.

    5. Eric,

      Which one is larger? The 8 decades’ sum of misery caused by poor station location or the sum of temporary pain caused by constructing a great piece of public infrastructure.

      The very fact that you have thought about this indicates you are unqualified to work at Sound Transit.

  2. Any discussion of how the 4th Ave or Union station alignments will be able to cross under (or over) the existing DSTT? I don’t see how the station can be level with the existing ID station platform and also be able to cross under the DSTT just a block or 2 north.

    1. The current 80’s era tunnel slips under the Great Northern Tunnel and comes within just *4 FEET* of it. With the new tunnel descending from 5th/Madison, it would likely go over the current tunnel and could likely do so with even greater clearance. Next time you leave Pioneer Square station heading south, notice how the tunnel dips below sea level before rising to come into IDS.

      1. Arthur, tell us where you got that measurement. I’ve heard that BN locomotives and every car they’re pulling go five feet over the top of our tube. I do remember that for at least months, we had to pump liquid cement called “grout” into the ground so the mud could be bored at all.
        Could be best place to start this whole discussion.

        Because every construction detail on the Downtown Seattle Transit Project, Tunnel and all,will tell us volumes on what our real choices are going to be from here on. We also need all the information we can get as to everything railroad-oriented between Jackson Street and the next actual ground.

        Those tracks have been ton top of that lagoon-bottom for a long time- so might be good to find out how long BN is planning for them to stay there. And their plans for when they can’t. Sea level isn’t going to get any lower. Or earthquakes any less likely. Or the Earth itself prioritize the wishes of any community group.

        So it’s past time that ST’s public meetings have an increasing percentage of civil engineers on speakers’ roster. Not kidding that the muddier the hard-hat, the higher the speakers’ credibility. Among the exact tax-paying demographic most skeptical, and critical, to convince. Like the ones that a few weeks ago showed they liked the head-tax least.

        Not the first or last time cities and civilizations have had to do this.

        Mark Dublin

    2. Oh, OK – I didn’t realize there would be enough clearance to go over the existing tunnel.

      1. Though it does say in the presentation, “LRT service disruptions during construction over existing tunnel”

  3. At this stage, I’m not sure why options to relocate existing Link platforms is not discussed.

    There is that large cavern under pillars just south of the current ID-Chinatown platform that seems to offer plenty of room for new platforms with the ability to build great pedestrian connections from scratch. Here, only wildly disruptive concepts are discussed — with every one featuring leaving existing Link platforms where they are.

    The SODO station options to facilitate transfers have been discussed often here yet these never get debated by any committee. Even here, there is no discussion about the overcrowding that would result from a West Seattle stub.

    It feels like buying kids a board game where the rules are strict and not a solutions-driven workshop.

    1. Relocating the existing platforms will requiring closing the existing tunnel for weeks if not months, which would be incredibly disruptive.

      The rules are strict because this is reality, not a board game.

      1. Hello? ST is splitting an existing line. That means that some closure is going to be required no matter what — to put in new tracks and switches.

        I think it could be easier to first build new platforms and connections south of the existing ones, then phase in moving to the new platforms — maybe one direction at a time and/or putting in a break between the north segment and south/east segment— closing the existing ones at the end of the project.

      2. The RV line might need to close, or at least truncate at SoDo, but the Lynnwood-East Link line shouldn’t be impacted by the new tunnel construction, unless you move the ID station.

      3. The cross section underneath the building south of the existing platform is fully utilized to accommodate the geometry of the tracks merging to and form East Link. In other words, while it looks like a big open space today, it’s going to be used up.

      4. These issues are a strong argument for the kind of long-term future-oriented planning that Sound Transit has assiduously avoided from the start. I don’t know if the fundamental issue is political, regulatory, or simply that every generation of the board has been similarly myopic, but somehow, Sound Transit always seems to blow past and essentially ignore the increasingly compelling suggestions to, say, think for five minutes about a potential connection between a future Ballard-UW line and Northgate Link when both have been in the long-range plan since the 1990’s. ST seems incapable of even considering the purchase of an option a few square feet of real estate in the U District core for a future connection there… an area which is about to turn from low buildings with parking lots into a cluster of high-rises over century-old utilities with the same kinds of challenges we have downtown, virtually guaranteeing a repeat of this wicked problem of downtown transfers another decade down the line.

        ST seems to be a bit more forward-looking now than they were when they were on the ropes in the beginning, only as far as they absolutely must because we’re building more lines that have to work with what’s already there, but I’m not convinced the energy and mindset is really there to grab even the lowest-hanging fruit for the long term, notwithstanding the good discussions currently going on. The first step in addressing this long-term planning problem is to acknowledge it, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

        Kudos to this blog for an outstanding job of explaining the options that are on the table now.

  4. Was there ever any talk about synchronizing design/construction on the Interbay/Ballard leg with the planned demolition on the Magnolia Bridge? Seems like another opportunity to do two jobs at once and also has a potential impact on the alignment of the rail itself.

    1. If there is, it’s not being very well publicized. There’s a lot of stuff happening: Interbay/Ballard leg, Magnolia Bridge, potential development of the T-91 uplands, potential development of the Armory property, current development of the triangle bounded by Armory, Wheeler, and 15th… not to mention lots of construction in East Magnolia and in the area around 15th and Dravus. Oh, and Expedia…… and no one seems to be thinking of everything as a whole.

      1. The point of the Interbay alignment is that it’s less expensive than a Queen Anne tunnel.

  5. No discussion of Stadium stadium and that some green line (Ballard-Tacoma line) alternatives that totally skip the station. This needs to be discussed, as those patrons to Seattle Mariners Field (Safeco Field will be renamed after this season to something else) and possibly the Chris Hanson Arena (if it ever gets built) will find SODO or IDS stops too far to access and resort to driving again (a rail transfer is not going to work). Also, KC Metro does use the trains for drivers road relief (those affected would be down south). Just some considerations to wrestle with.

  6. I really like the Occidental route and think it would really increase ridership. We are trying to make a transit network that hits as many different neighborhoods as we can. If we are building another line doesn’t it make sense to try to make it serve the most people instead of duplicating an existing stop? I don’t buy the construction impact arguments. Occidental is really just an alley that would have to give up some parking and homeless tents to allow construction. There are also a few trucks that can deliver on 1st Ave for a few months. We have handled much bigger obstructions in our city for a lot longer. Remember shutting down 3rd to build the first tunnel… and look at our waterfront right now. We have to be able to build our network right and not be afraid to live with some inconvenience for a while.

    Sodo is going to change and I don’t think anyone understands what it is going to be yet. A lot of land is owned by one guy right now which gives it huge potential do be something big that would be a huge boost for a city.. Actually serving it with convenient transit could make that possible.

    1. I’m not sure about the idea to run the line along Occidental Ave – this may maximize the line’s walkshed, but who will actually be going to locations on Occidental Ave? There is not much along Occidental except trash collection bins and loading bays. I think riders coming from and going to that area will more likely be going to 1st Ave, which is a major arterial probably better suited for the infrastructure of these transit stations. The walkshed would be diminished to the east, but the service would better reflect the needs of riders. In my experience as a pedestrian in that area, Sodo is greatly bifurcated by the freight train tracks east of Occidental anyway.

      1. Wouldn’t it be better to have a station on each side of the tracks?

        and my main point is that we don’t know what Sodo will look like in 10 years. Existing buildings and whole blocks North of there were bought with the expectation that they would be torn down for an arena. If there is no Arena, they could be torn down for another purpose. Housing? Retail? Restaurants? Hospitals? Office Towers? Museums? or all of the above? Occidental could be a pedestrian street through a new neighborhood. It isn’t common to have that much land owned by one person so close to downtown.

  7. Bummer that Seattle Subway’s “actual stadium station” is not doable with the Occidental route under consideration.

    My first choice is still take the entire busway, where the big routes (101 and 150) are either planned to be truncated at Link at RBS or stay on I-5 to downtown.

    Then bury south Royal Brougham, Holgate, and Lander halfway and lift the tracks, and take the opportunity to build excellent transfer stations at SODO and Stadium stations.

  8. How are STB and its readers and Seattle Subway not ringing alarm bells about the multitude of 200 foot deep Chinatown/ID station alternatives vs. the lone 30-40 foot option? There is no way that 200 foot depths lends itself to a decent transfer to/from the existing station or the sidewalk.

    See shallow station on page 69 vs. deep stations on pages 67, 79, 82, 85 of the 7/16 Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting presentation:

    In my mind that makes the 4th Ave cut and cover the only decent proposal for serious transit. (Though we might still have to fix the insanity on page 74 suggesting station access only from below.)

    1. I agree – the depth of the station makes a big difference in terms of ease of access and quick transfer. A shallow station is definitely preferable to a deep station.

      The same logic applies in Ballard, where the elevated alignment likely means a much faster station access vs the tunnel options.

    2. Although not diagrammed, page 66 shows that a shallower cut-and-cover is an option for 5th as well.

      Given elevation challenges of having one light rail line crossing over another and then climbing uphill towards Madison Street, any deep bore seems terribly undesirable, as you note. That really seems to make a 5th cut-and-cover — also the original concept — the most cost-effective option.

      Also, one variation not explored for 4th is reconfiguring the streets. That’s an SDOT issue, but certainly there is some width in that general area above all of the tracks. As a pedestrian, crossing at 2nd/4th on Jackson is horrible and the signals are long. Connecting southbound traffic further south (Dearborn? Royal Brougham?) could be good for many.

      1. We also need to figure out how to connect the 2nd Ave bike lanes to the Dearborn lane and nothing seems to be easy. Redoing 4th and including PBL’s could be the answer but I don’t want to wait that long…

  9. Well, finally happened. Accidentally hit the “Send” key on my notes just as I fell asleep. On a comment on the theme of comprehensibility. Anybody remember Mike Doonesbury’s Uncle Duke in the comic- based on fake-drug-addicted writer Hunter S. Thompson, who was always demanding an exterminator to get rid of all the purple bats? Editor needs a re-write. So:

    1. Reason I’m being harsh about reasonable concerns of people in the community is that the graphics shown at the stakeholders’ meeting nowhere near conveyed the physical difficulty of the work ahead. Whose own serious constraints will mostly govern the course of the work.

    2. I really do think our subways will need to come out of the ground at level where the south end of the Third Avenue trolleywire starts downhill at Yesler. And run elevated south of there. And a lot else, tracks, trains, and buildings, will have rest on pillars and pilings perhaps across and through the whole SODO area.

    3. The artillery-related piling approach the Finnish architect described to me- and I’ve got a request in to him on specifics- is one example of methods we don’t have now, but that could come available. Especially if we invent them. Many of which already exist, or are being created, elsewhere in the world. And are worth keeping our eyes open for.

    4. The conduct and attitude of our country’s Executive Branch are doing serious damage to work like this project on all fronts. Aided and abetted by the other two branches of Government, and both major parties. As individual citizens, we can do our best to fix. But might be a good habit to think of this as a rebuild after a major earthquake leaves us cut off from the rest of the country. Good practice in case one does.

    5. Absolute worst distraction to a major public works project anywhere was the fight the whole length of the Downtown Seattle Project as to whether King County should take over Metro Transit and its agency. A decision that could easily have waited until the work was finished.

    Technicians with Breda told me time and again that they themselves couldn’t get critical decisions from officials. Who were preoccupied with “Governance!” Results were built into the rolling junk-piles we drivers had to handle, and our passengers to ride for years. Don’t see anything close now. But as to which subarea Jackson belongs with, answer should be “All of them.”

    6. At this point in the project, Monday’s presenters did a good job explaining and illustrating technical questions. But as the project progresses, would really like the public to meet and stay in contact with the men and women at the controls of the machines. Because I’ve always felt that these people are the ones about whose work average listeners are the most curious about. And can best relate to. At least one speaker with a hard-hat per meeting. Please.

    7. To me, this ST-3 is DSTP (Downtown Seattle Transit Project)-2. Many thanks to everybody that’s bringing it about. Will be good to have one where young people can see for themselves that 1980’s veterans are lying about dinosaurs and mad blood-drinking Civil War doctors from Night Stalker in the tubes. At least not on morning or afternoon shifts.

    Mark Dublin

  10. Looking closer at each diagram, I’m seriously troubled —even alarmed — by the word “unfunded” for each underground pedestrian passageway connection. ST3 says that existing station will be expanded and that suggests that those costs should be borne by ST. To declared this as “unfunded” seems very manipulative and wrong at this early stage, especially when alternatives include expensive station platforms over 100 feet deep.

    Did others notice this?

  11. All the advocates for a 4th avenue location are overlooking the fact that the VAST majority of transfer activity will occur between the two LRT lines. The immediate adjacency of the new station to the existing looks intentional and appropriate. The northbound platform of the existing station would have direct access onto the new station’s mezzanine. The other south bound platform would have access via the plaza, without any street or traffic interactions. The 4th Ave options are a block further away, and make the transfer less convenient on more time-consuming for more riders.

    There are two other studies under way that could address access connections between King Street and IDS, the System Access Plan and the Sounder program. Keep the eye on the ball when talking about convenience and efficiency.

    1. What numbers are we talking here.

      Would more people transfer from Sounder/Amtrak trains to Link then would transfer between Link trains?
      Sounder is approaching 20,000 boarding/day for entire system, the majority of these at King. Amtrak is nearing 2000/day. I believe Link ID is running under 6000 boardings/day.

      The Ballard folk would most likely transfer at Westlake. WS folk would most likely off board or pass through DT to get to UW. Airport to WS folk would transfer at SODO. UW/Northgate, if they do transfer, would most likely transfer at Westlake.

      I wouldn’t discount the potential of cross connectivity among systems. Every effort should be made to seamlessly integrate systems to increase usability, it only makes sense.

      1. Numbers? The number of Link users will be 15x-18x more than the number of Sounder users (180 million vs 11 million annually). That’s not to understate the importance of Sounder transfers at all. It’s just that the sheer volume of Link:Link transfers will dwarf Link:Sounder transfers.

        The primary transfer markets will be north end airport users, eastside airport users, Ballard/SLU-to-eastside users, south end-eastside users, south end-UW users, airport-eastside, and airport-northend users. Some of that activity will occur at Westlake, but not the east side transfers. That all happens at IDS.

  12. Seems to me it’s early to permanently identify anything as funded or not. Considering soil conditions, like being thinly suspended in water, could be that cross passages will all be bridges. At least structures as opposed to tunnels will be under mostly under our control. I just got in on this whole thing. How much detail has been finalized about anything?


    1. My biggest take away from docs is:

      “Lack of full consensus but majority support to carry
      forward both 5th Ave Bored Tunnel/Mined Station and 4th
      Ave Bored Tunnel/Mined Station alternatives.”

      “Need for clarity from City of Seattle regarding 4th Avenue
      viaduct replacement need and funding availability.”

  13. I’m all for the 4th Ave alignment, but it continues to have a weird triple-crossing by going under the current line south of ID, then over it north of ID, then back under it at Westlake.

    Instead of that madness, why not cut-and-cover the 4th Ave tunnel /into/ the current tunnel between ID and Pioneer Square, and separate them like a bolo tie? Then the two lines would be:

    Red: Cap Hill – Westlake (old) – University – Pioneer – 4th Ave ID (new) – Stadium
    Green: Denny – Westlake (new) – Madison – 5th Ave ID (old) – Stadium

    The only issue is that East Link may be dependent on the 5th Ave ID station, so it’d either require a tricky track change from Pioneer to 5th Ave, or a service reconfiguration (Ballard-Redmond, Everett-West Seattle, Northgate-Tacoma).

    1. That would require closing the tunnel for… a year?

      If this was a surface alignment, that might be feasible, but for a tunnel, that would be incredibly disruptive to existing service.

      1. Would it actually be that disruptive? I don’t actually know, but hypothetically you could do a lot of prep work right up to the breakthrough, and then only do the work when Link is down at night.

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