Union Station from 5th Avenue South. Credit: Bruce Engelhardt.

In a meeting last Friday, Seattle and King County elected officials rejected the most expensive West Seattle Link alignment, endorsed a tunnel under the Lake Washington Ship Canal from Interbay to Ballard, and urged Sound Transit to significantly revamp plans for the Chinatown/International District (CID) station.

The rejection of CID plans, so far the most controversial of the ongoing process, came after pointed criticism from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and members of the Seattle City Council.

The October 5 meeting marked the end of the Level 2 analysis for the new Seattle Link extensions, meaning the advisory group process is two thirds finished. The group of elected officials voted on the recommendations of the stakeholder advisory groups that have met throughout 2018.

The endorsements are strictly advisory, but are intended to guide the planning work of Sound Transit’s project staff. The votes don’t carry the force of law: the Sound Transit board will ultimately decide whether to approve or reject the results of the months long advisory process in 2019. In the meantime, agency staff will study the elected official-endorsed alignments further, and present more developed Level 3 plans to the advisory groups.

Seattle & King County criticize Chinatown plans

In pointed comments, several Seattle officials, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott reiterated a growing consensus against a 5th Avenue South alignment. CID and Pioneer Square leaders have rallied against a 5th Avenue line.

McDermott and Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González placed the concerns of the neighborhood in the context of a long history of disruptive infrastructure projects.

“This segment is where maybe the most work and thought needs to go on,” McDermott said. “I think all of us in the room are aware of the historic elements that have affected the community, from the railroad, to I-5, to the multiple stadiums and arenas, and I think we need to be very mindful of that and the history of the community we’re affecting.”

“There has been a historical negative impact in this neighborhood, as a result of infrastructure projects, that have really resulted in perpetuating generations and years of racism and discrimination and exclusion in this particular part of our city,” said Gonzalez. “I think this is one of the segments where we’re probably going to end up in a place where we are adding more to the table, as opposed to paring it down.”

Durkan, Constantine, and City Council members Mike O’Brien and Bruce Harrell also cited the history of racism and segregation in the CID in their remarks about the Level 2 alternatives.

Constantine said that Sound Transit needs to do its part to “get the most out of one of the most important transportation nodes in the entire Pacific Northwest.” He criticized a mined station under 4th Avenue South on those grounds, saying that a deep station—Sound Transit officials have estimated such a station would have to be 150 feet below the surface—would make wayfinding and the transfer environment more complicated.

Constantine also reminded the group that Metro’s Ryerson bus base will have to be demolished or diminished for every proposed CID alignment. Those remarks drew out an interesting offer from Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman, who suggested that the Port could provide Metro with land for a bus base during construction.

Port & City support a Ship Canal tunnel

Bowman and city officials opposed a movable bridge over the ship canal, and favored a tunnel aligned around 14th or 15th Avenue West over a high bridge.

Bowman’s remarks echoed the objections of the Port of Seattle’s executives to any bridge. Bowman said that some of the bridge alignments could obstruct access to wharves at Fisherman’s Terminal—not just disrupt normal operations during construction. O’Brien and Bagshaw, who represent either end of the crossing, also mentioned those concerns.

O’Brien voiced support for placing the downtown Ballard station on either 14th or 15th Avenue Northwest, citing the area’s potential for transit oriented development. O’Brien also said that any underground station on 14th should have an entrance on 15th.

Pigeon Ridge out

In West Seattle, the expensive Pigeon Ridge alignment—which would have required an extra deep bore tunnel—seems to be ruled out. However, West Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold did mention some of the features that made Pigeon Ridge popular during outreach meetings in the neighborhood.

Herbold cited several benefits to Delridge that would come from the Pigeon Ridge’s east-west alignment, particularly the high TOD potential, and ease of transfer from buses traveling on Delridge Way. West Seattle resident and Metro boss Constantine reiterated both points later. Herbold also cited Pigeon Ridge’s support from transit advocacy groups, including Transportation Choices Coalition, Futurewise, and the Transit Riders’ Union. However, the group came to a consensus that the favored golf course alignment offered similar benefits, at a much more palatable cost.

Meanwhile, Bowman made a sharp case against a crossing north of the West Seattle bridge, and invited the other elected officials to tour the area. She expressed concerns that such a line would hamstring improvements to the Harbor Island terminal.

Snohomish county fiscal hawks

Snohomish County Executive and ST Board Chair Dave Somers continued to voice fiscal hawkishness towards Seattle projects—and Durkan noticed. 

“We’re over a billion dollars, minimum, of adds that we’re going to be doing,” the mayor said. “I think it is worth it, because transit is one of the most important things that we can do for this region.”

“But I just want to tell my good friend Dave Somers, and my friends at the Port: this is not something that Seattle alone will have to bear as we make these alignments. Every improvement that we make to this spine, in Seattle, benefits the Port and benefits the region. We know we’re going to need some third party funding, but I’m going to be pushing hard at the table to make sure people understand it’s not just [coming from] the City of Seattle.”

146 Replies to “ST Level 3 Recommendations, Criticism of Chinatown Plans”

  1. What’s best for the riders? Does any elected official or stakeholder care more about the average rider or their own special interests? The discussion should be about the riders that will be affected for a century — how difficult to transfer to other Link lines, how difficult to get to Metro buses, how difficult to get from any street to the station. Instead we get chat about a few years of neighborhood impacts, and a bunch of people who want to spend more of other people’s money to bury trains because they aren’t pretty to them.

    We aren’t paying billions for the least offensive monument for the neighborhood. We are paying for good rail transit. This whole thing to ignore what’s I think is more important rather disgusts me.

    Does anyone else see how ST is focused on running this study like a beauty contest rather than a lifelong investment?

    1. “Constantine …criticized a mined station under 4th Avenue South on those grounds, saying that a deep station…would make wayfinding and the transfer environment more complicated.” That sounds pretty rider-focused to me.

      1. True. Still, every comment should be mostly rider- focused.

        Who would design a school site without putting kids first, or a hospital site without putting patients first? A misguided politician or stakeholder, that’s who!

      2. By that logic, every freeway should be designed with only one person in mind, the driver, and community concerns should be ignored.

      3. Fair enough, AJ. Maybe not every comment.

        Still, there are very few discussions about future Link riders in these discussions. The deep tunnel options should be obviously off the table as the rider inconvenience and engineering costs and challenges are significant. A platform twice as deep as UW Station (343 steps) is acceptable to even consider further at ID?

        The priorities are out of order.

      4. Aye – your criticism is well placed, I’m just pointing out that it’s not productive to dismiss the impact of major infrastructure on its environment.

        In terms of the depth of the station, it sounds like Dow gets that and isn’t interested in a deep tunnel.

    2. How is ST running it like a beauty contest? It asked for input from the people it judged had a right to influence the project, namely the elected officials and the people whose neighborhood it would be in., Any “beauty contest” was all in the replies. What it shows is that there’s a low volume of transit understanding or value among the public, and this reflects it. That’s the reason ST’s projects are so mediocre, and what need to change in order to improve it. As to who ST thinks has the right to influence the design, that goes back to ST’s structure and mandate. And the reason ST has that structure and mandate goes back to the public’s and legislators’ attitudes and values.

      1. ST could have designed a process to put riders first. They didn’t. They put stakeholders first. Each of these rounds should have feedback from a “Riders Committee” as a separate committee from stakeholders (put there to defend other interests first). I point this directly at the ST Board and senior management, most of whom have never actually commuted on rail transit for long periods of time.

        When you design a study process to be obsessed with a panel that puts self-interest and aesthetics first, you get a beauty contest. The flaw is the study process in general. It’s the rail transit experience of teen-aged girls playing Mystery Date to find a husband to marry for life.

    3. I agree. What is clear with many of these proposals is that they will be *worse* than what people voted for. In Ballard, this is the case. A station at 14th is not acceptable. It is too far away from the heart of Ballard, and that is compared to a station that was already stretching it. The vast majority of riders who would consider using the train will have to walk an extra three minutes, and for many of them, it will simply be too far. Check out this area here, a little bit north of Market. There are apartments everywhere, both old and new, in every direction (https://goo.gl/maps/3AnaoD3k1Yq.) Yet it would take someone over ten minutes just to get to the station: https://goo.gl/maps/uq5tC2tSzt52. What is true of the apartments is true of the clubs, as well as the medical offices. Tractor Tavern would be a very unpleasant 14 minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/Gjjt7MwHJo22). No one will do that. To get to a typical clinic at Swedish it would be a ten minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/s6qAjow8ub82) . Do you really think people will do that? Even if they do, why should we make them?

      Of course people can take a connecting bus, but it is worse for that. The 40, already forced from Leary (and Old Ballard) towards 15th, now will be forced further east, turning on 14th, instead of 15th. Someone in Old Ballard will be forced to walk up to Market or across to 14th to catch the bus. That trip to the Tractor Tavern still looks terrible: First you take the train, then you wait for the bus, wait for it to cross 15th, then get off and walk for six minutes: https://goo.gl/maps/NQD3qdWgPMz.

      Of course it also bad for people who live on 15th, north of there. Either they walk three minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/yCUEJaupADo) or Metro sends the bus over to 14th. If Metro does send buses there, it means it takes longer for riders as well as the bus to complete its route. All those twists and turns mean that Metro can’t run the buses as often. Oh, and how about connecting those people to the heart of Ballard? Right now if I’m at 70th and Ballard, I can hop on a ‘D’, ride it to Market, and get fairly quickly to any of the places I mentioned. Except it won’t serve Market — it can’t. It can’t possibly be in the left turn lane and also serve Market.

      Yes, there are ways that Metro can kind-of, sort-of make it work, just as they are trying desperately to make the UW station work. But it is still a bad station. Does anyone think that the station is better than if it was in the triangle? Does anyone think that Mount Baker is best where it is, instead of farther east? How about 145th? Of course not. These are all major station failures that will cost each and every person who relies on transit some time. They will cost the individuals who use those stations time, as they spend more time walking to the station, or more time riding the bus. They cost everyone — you, me, everyone — time because Metro can’t create as efficient a bus network. They cost everyone who relies on Link time, because ridership will of course be lower. That will mean less money spent on maintenance and eventually service (as the promises of frequent trains become a distant memory).

      This is not happening because we want to save a few bucks. I get that. There are always compromises that need to be made, and things that have to be cut. This is happening merely to placate interests that have no interest in transit. They are interested in preserving their little world — whether it be a small dock in Fisherman’s Terminal, the view from the hill, or to make sure that nothing like this gets built in this town: https://goo.gl/maps/1d4aA9TZoBD2. The proposal for Ballard is worse than what we voted for, and what we voted for wasn’t great. The fact that it will actually cost more just shows that some of the so called “transit advocates” either don’t care about transit, or have no idea what it looks like.

      1. Just an anecdote: As an able-bodied 20/30 something male that lived in Manhattan… I found that 8 minutes was the longest acceptable walk to the subway for a daily commute. 10 minutes was tolerable. 12 minutes was miserable. 15 minutes was completely out of the question. All of these times could be extended 5 minutes for special non-commute trips.

        To the extent that the walking time was reduced, utilization of the subway skyrocketed. It’s like living in a 1st floor apartment vs. a 5th floor walkup– on the 1st floor you never think about coming/going; on the 5th floor you think very carefully…

        These days I wonder if an electric scooter would help or not. I’m thinking not; unless there are top-notch protected bike lanes and sidewalks; crossing too many streets or a major arterial becomes the barrier.

      2. I don’t know. I think for a daily commute, a lot depends on the total travel time, including speed of transit. I walk about 12 minutes to light rail and 15 minutes home (up hill) every day in Columbia City. But the train only takes 12 minutes, so my commute overall is about 35 minutes. I get some exercise. I could take the 7, but it would take more like 50 minutes and I wouldn’t get any exercise.

        I think if there are station entrances on 15th this could work. Buses stay on 15th. People walk, or take the very frequent 44 easily to go east or west. Ballard is a nice place to walk. I can’t remember the exact travel time forecasts but whatever is built will be massively faster and more reliable than current service. It would be worth a walk. Bikeshare, scooters, etc. only help.

        Personally, I’m more worried that the city won’t upzone the SFZ near this station, and otherwise about ID station and a horrible transfer.

      3. My first reaction is, that’s New York, and what’s politically feasible there is not here. But on the other hand, it’s a perfect illustration of why places like New York have less than 50% car ownership, because transit is so convenient, and what we’d need to do to reach that level.

      4. >> I think if there are station entrances on 15th this could work.

        Even if there are station entrances on 15th, it is still 600 feet from 15th to 14th.

        >> Buses stay on 15th.

        Great, now everyone along 15th has a nice three minute walk in the middle of their commute. That will be popular.

        >> Ballard is a nice place to walk.

        Most of it is, but not to get to the station. Folks will have to walk in the ugliest part of Ballard (across 15th next to Market).

        >> but whatever is built will be massively faster than current service.

        During rush hour, maybe, but not the rest of the day. The extra time spent getting to the station will more than outweigh the minor time savings from Link.

        >> It would be worth a walk.

        For some it will be. For others it won’t. But more to the point, why are we forcing this on so many people? Why are telling one of the more densely populated areas in the city, an area *promised a light rail station* that we really don’t care? That it really doesn’t matter how far you walk, or how ugly the walk is, when it comes to transit, you’ll just bend over and take it, because you don’t have any other choice. Why, when it will actually cost *more* money?

      5. Wont the just re rout bus over the station and then turn them around and send them back north. Once the Light rail is complete there will be no need to compete of space over the Ballard bridge Problem Solved

      6. Ian, that’s exactly what will happen. The D line can go the University District as a genuine RapidRide overlay or down 14th to Leary and on to Upper Queen Anne via Third West or Central Magnolia. Every one of its ridership attractors south of “the Ballard Bridge — Smith Cove, Lower Queen Anne, Belltown — will be directly served or a reasonable walk from a Green Line station. Yes, 15th West and Elliott will need a “shadow”, but it can come from Eighth Northwest or just start at the station. And “Yes, some riders from north of Market will be headed to one of the shadow stops and will lose their single-seat ride.

        When transit infrastructure changes stuff happens.

      7. Metro’s plan for the D is to convert it into a line from the Ballard Fred Meyer to the Lake City Fred Meyer, running on 15th NW from Leary Way to 85th and turning right to Wallingford Ave N. RapidRide 44 (Ballard-Children’s) and 40 (unchanged) are separate from that.

        The only remaining route on the Ballard Bridge will be a Frequent route from Elliott Ave W to central Magnolia, 8th Ave NW, to 145th Station. The only route on 15th NW will be RapidRide 8, from 15th & Emerson to Mercer Street, 5th N, Harrison-Fairview-Denny-Olive-John-Thomas, to Madison Street and Madison Park.

        So there will be no way to get from 15th NW to downtown on a bus except RapidRide 40, and no way to get from 15th W to downtown on a bus at all. Elliott Ave will have the 19 and 24 going to SLU and Harrison Station (not downtown). Elliott will also have two Express buses, one to Kirkland (the Kirkland-UW route) and the other to Renton (the 101).

        A 14th station may make it less viable to delete the D on 15th. For riders at 15th & Market it’s only one (long) block difference, and for those in “real Ballard” it adds a slight increase to the distance because they already had to walk or bus to 15th in the representative alignment. Riders north of Market (65th and 85th) may be more concerned, because a 14th alignment may preclude a northern extension someday. And riders on 15th W and Elliott may have to find a two-seat ride, but that’s unchanged from the representative alignment and maybe they can use Dravus or Smith Cove station. (Is Smith Cove where Expedia and the station are?)

      8. There are all sorts of things that can happen, but sending all the buses to one spot, and then having them turn around, or even just keep going the exact same direction is just bad network design. It is the same bad network design that exists in Northgate, and will exist in perpetuity after the station is there. Check out this transit map: https://seattletransitmap.com/app/. Now imagine you are on Northgate Way and are trying to get over to Aurora or Greenwood. You can’t go directly — you have to first make a detour to Northgate. This is time consuming, both from a personal standpoint (your trip will take a while) but also from a system standpoint. The latter is not obvious, which is why I recommend the Jarrett Walker book called Human Transit (he also has a very good blog).

        For this area, there are several things that are likely to happen. First, the 40 will likely be modified to serve the station. That means that instead of turning on Leary, it turns on 15th (or 14th, if the station is moved there). This sort of thing (https://goo.gl/maps/VLg991E4rfC2) or this sort of thing (https://goo.gl/maps/ePUhdSibas82). As you can see, the route to use 14th makes for a bigger hole in service. This means that a lot of people have to walk a lot farther just to catch a bus to Fremont, let alone a bus that connects to Link.

        For serving 15th (the 15 and the D) it is less clear. One possibility would be to just end, close to Leary. This is actually what Metro Sketched out for one of their RapidRide runs (1010) which ends like so: https://goo.gl/maps/nFPyL5CTfE12. The equivalent for the 14th would be like this: https://goo.gl/maps/vUJVeSnAgBG2. At first glance, these look very similar, suggesting the difference is trivial. But that really isn’t the case.

        With the route on 15th, you help backfill the hole created with the 40. Someone who lives to the west of 15th who doesn’t want to walk a long ways up the street to catch a bus (or catch Link) can get a bus on 15th. Not only do more people live to the west than the east (something that isn’t likely to change) but people on the east don’t have that problem. Regardless of where they put the station, the 40 will run on Leary east of 14th. In other words, folks in West Woodland have nothing to worry about, while folks in the far more populous Old Ballard area do.

        There is also a far more subtle difference. Imagine you are riding the bus headed southbound, towards the station. If the station stops at 15th, then you exit there. If the station is at 14th, you have to wait for the bus to turn (which could take a while), then stop, then get over to 14th. So basically you have an additional left turn light (instead of the far more common north-south light) plus an additional stop before you reach the station. This not only costs every rider time, but it slows down the bus system. This, in turn, leads to a weaker overall system.

        There are a lot of different possibilities for other routes. One is to connect Ballard with SPU and upper Queen Anne, thus eliminating several time consuming three seat rides (something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/HaKKdT9xwsH2). That would be tough to do if the station is at 14th. (Moving the Interbay Station to Bertona and Thorndyke also makes that route worse — something that has been lost in this discussion because of all of the other bad ideas).

        All of these issues add up. None of it seems like that big of a deal, but we have experienced this before. Both of you guys are new to the blog (and I’m guessing new to transit issues in general) but we went through this on Capitol Hill. While the Capitol Hill Station is a great station in general, it is lousy from a bus perspective. The fact that there is only one station in the area (only one station between Westlake and the UW) makes it worse. While Metro tried their best to change the network, and provide something acceptable, ultimately they gave up. We still have buses like the 43 (although now only during peak).

        A similar thing is likely to happen here. Folks from the heart of Ballard (the part of Ballard with lots of apartments as well as lots of jobs and activity) may not be happy being asked to walk long distances to a bus or train. This would lead to weaker overall system, and ultimately less ridership on both the buses and the train.

        All of this would be a reasonable trade-off if 14th was better from a pedestrian standpoint. While Capitol Hill Station is bad from a bus interaction standpoint, it is great otherwise. If you are foolish enough to only add one station in the area, then that is where you add it.

        But in this case it is worse! It is worse from a bus perspective, and worse from a walk-up perspective. Oh, and it costs more than the default alignment! I honestly don’t know what is driving it (land speculators in West Woodland?) but it should be clear by now to anyone who does even rudimentary analyses that 14th is a terrible idea.

        It is a dramatic change that is being considered without any study whatsoever. That is because any study would surely find that a stop there would have substantially less ridership than what they originally proposed (let alone a better stop).

  2. Spending more money across the Ship Canal makes it more palatable to spend in West Seattle. The general tone on funding seems optimistic — maybe surprisingly optimistic considering the cost run-ups, but more money for transit would be good.

    I can see my dream of riding Link across the Ship Canal with the snow-capped peaks of the Olympics over Salmon Bay and the Locks slowly fade. Tunnels do the job with fewer impacts and we’ve gotten good at building them, even in bad soils.

    Speaking of bad soils, Seattle is about to dredge some to become the nation’s deepest container port. Much is happening around Harbor Island, on the north side of the West Seattle Bridge.

    But it does seem odd to assume up front that we couldn’t engineer a way around a lot of purported impacts bridges would have, before those impacts have really been identified at anything but the most general level. I wonder if this process is on track to make too many exclusions too early on in the mad rush to a preferred alternative. It takes considerable faith to believe that the political process behind ST3 will make the most rational decisions, but I do hope we base whatever decisions we make on something a lot more substantial than a hunch and some dialogue.

    Preliminary engineering is cheap compared with building this stuff or committing $200M more than we have or may need. With all due respect to concerns over potential impacts to this or that, my gut says to hedge bets at this stage for bridge vs. tunnel to Ballard, at least until soils have been bored.

    1. I don’t think that it’s optimism about funding per se, but that they’re thinking in a vacuum where funding is irrelevant.

      It will be very interesting to see what the suburban-dominated ST board thinks of having, not one, not two, but three tunnels in Seattle. I don’t think Snohomish or Pierce will display a sudden interest in high-priced Seattle tunnels that they’ve never shown before.

    2. “With all due respect to concerns over potential impacts to this or that, my gut says to hedge bets at this stage for bridge vs. tunnel to Ballard, at least until soils have been bored.”

      I believe O’Brien is bringing the 14th street bridge option forward?

      The true head scratcher on Ballard is why SDOT and ST aren’t exploring join solutions to replace the quickly failing Ballard Bridge and expand capacity for all modes across the ship canal. I’m actually starting to agree with (some of) the NIMBY’s in Ballard in that we are at the point of gridlock where North of the ship canal we can’t support further density and growth until we have dramatic improvements to our transit, bike, and roadway infrastructure. Transit buses are too full to take on passengers in downtown Ballard, there is no dedicated bike facility (or even a single lane) across the ship canal, general purpose lanes across the ship canal were designed to handle traffic volumes that we blew past 40 years ago.

      1. The Ballard Bridge is SDOT’s problem. The best thing ST can do is to leave that problem to SDOT and keep their own hands clean. Everything SDOT touches becomes our carp. ST should stay clear.

        Besides, who wants our best transportation mode on a lift span anyhow? Go high or tunnel. Putting it on a draw span is a transit loser.

      2. Because SDOT has the right of way on the best alignment, 15th Street! Why are tax payers being asked to support millions more in land acquisition when ST and SDOT could just replace the current bridge on the current ROW with a taller and wider bridge? We are going to build two super expensive crossings when we could save hundreds of millions by building one (tunnel or bridge).

        It’s a complete joke and a complete waste of money. It’s like we are trying to prove how inefficient government agencies can actually be.

      3. @Southeasterner,

        Ha! That is the same line of reasoning that got us the Kingdome, and look how well that turned out. I have a piece of it sitting on my bookshelf right now – right next to my piece of the Berlin Wall and my piece of the viaduct. All equally successful structures BTW.

        No, in absolutely no way should Link go on a drawspan, and a station on 14th is just fine. It’s just one block away,the TOD opportunities are actually better, and the development is moving that way anyhow. Plus, with the wide ROW it will be easier to integrate bus transfers.

        Nope. In no way should ST get involved with SDOT on a bridge replacement for cars. Remember SDOT is the same org that got us $12m/mile bike lanes and a $150m/mile CCC. their involvement would be a disaster all around.

      4. a station on 14th is just fine

        The station at Mount Baker is just fine. The UW station is just fine. The station at 145th is just fine. We don’t need a station serving Belltown or First Hill. We don’t need a good way for 520 buses to get to Link.

        Complete and utter nonsense.

        It’s just one block away,

        Have you ever been there? Can you read a map? It is not a normal block. Measure it yourself. Here, I’ll help you. From NW 56th to NW 58th it is 550 feet. That is two blocks. From 15th to 14th it is about 650 feet. Put it another way. It takes three minutes to get from NW 56th to NW 59th (https://goo.gl/maps/iyRLPk4qWS22). It takes three minutes to get from 15th to 14th (https://goo.gl/maps/qqjar7N4uVB2). From a practical standpoint, it is three blocks.

        Jesus, if you just look at the map you can see that. Look north, as the street goes past 65th. There is 14th, there is 15th, and there are two blocks in between there (Alonzo and Mary).

        the TOD opportunities are actually better

        Who gives a fuck. Why should we hope and pray that some place will actually look like Ballard instead of actually serving Ballard? Ballard is where the density is, not West Woodland.

        the development is moving that way anyhow

        More BS. No, the development is not moving that way. The bulk of the development is west of 15th. You can even see it in the pictures. Here is an aerial map centered roughly around 59th and 22nd: https://goo.gl/maps/7hmVkFvLLoR2. You can see apartments in every direction. Some are old, some are new. Slide the picture west and you can see development goes well past 24th. Go south and you see that apartments extend south of Market. Where you don’t see apartments, you see medical offices (AKA employment centers). You see bars and pubs with historic charm (the type of places visited by people from all over the city). That entire area has seen a boom of development on top of what already existed (a fair amount of density).

        Now look at an area to the east (59th and 11th) https://goo.gl/maps/6ENJLRi6hvN2. This is actually closer to 15th. Not a lot of apartments there. None, in fact. There are a few old duplexes, but mostly it is just houses. Look to the east, same thing, until you get up the hill to Phinney Ridge. Look north, same thing. Look south, and things get a little better, as you approach Market. There are some apartments there, to the west of 11th. But guess what? Nothing to the east of 11th, even on Market. Past Market, it is the same thing for another block, then things get a little better. You have some apartments, but you also have industrial land. A lot of industrial land, actually. I have no idea how easy it will be to rezone that area, and even if they do, industries may not want to sell. Fremont Brewing, for example, might be quite comfortable where they are, for the same reason that SoDo businesses haven’t sold. By the way, how is TOD doing at SoDo, now that we have been at it for about ten years now?

        Oh, and that second spot (59th and 11th) would be a six minute walk to the station. The first spot would be a 15 minute walk. Even places closer than six minutes lack development. Here are some houses, right on 14th, less than a minute walk away from the proposed station: https://goo.gl/maps/rzAadKg4evz. Somehow they didn’t get the message that West Woodland is the new Ballard.

        Plus, with the wide ROW it will be easier to integrate bus transfers.

        Are you trolling? Seriously, what the heck does right of way have to do with bus transfers? Here is how bus transfers work — you get off the bus, you transfer to a different bus (or a train) and the bus keeps going in the same direction. 14th would be much worse for bus transfers. The people in Ballard who find themselves too far away from the West Woodland Subway Station will take the 44, but have to wait to cross 15th, instead of simply exiting, and walking a few feet. Others will find themselves walking at least three minutes, or Metro will be forced to modify their bus routes the way that they do at Northgate. So that means the 40 not only moves away from Leary — thus leaving a hole in service there — but continues west, before it can head south, to connect to Fremont. Meanwhile, the replacement for the D (a bus serving 15th north of Market) will have to make a turn on Market just to get close to the station. This means that the bus stop serving the 15th Market area is moved next to the Safeway. This is not only inconvenient for those headed west of 15th but worse for riders headed to Link. Instead of this being a convenient stop before the light that serves both Link riders and those headed west (of which there are plenty) it is much worse. Riders will have to wait for the bus to make that left turn, then immediately stop. This will waste time not only for the riders, but for the system as a whole (all riders suffer when buses waste time).

        It is just a horrible station. It is the type of station that we have seen before by Sound Transit, back when they were desperate to build anything, just to prove they could. It is the type of station that even the biggest fan and apologist for Sound Transit finds awful (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2012/04/18/the-awfulness-of-mt-baker-station/). Because it is! And this station would be too. Except in this case, it isn’t being built to save a few bucks by an agency desperate to save every dime — it actually costs more! You will not find any study, anywhere, that says that ridership will increase because of this station. Because it won’t. Ridership will decrease dramatically over what they originally proposed, let alone a station to the west. It is only being proposed to placate people who don’t give a rats ass about transit, along with people who are clueless about it.

      5. How easy will it be to upzone around 14th when tall buildings could block views from Phinney Ridge?

      6. “it is three blocks.”

        I did a walking tour of 14th & Market this weekend, and there is an unusually long distance between 14th and 15th. It’s similar to the distance between the Denny Way entrance of Capitol Hill Station to Pine Street, which is 2 1/2 blocks (Howell, Olive, Pine).

        The good news is that there are six-story buildings under construction on one or two of the corners, and tapering down from there for lots built after 2000. The bad news is it’s typical new mixed-use construction: no bars or charming shops that would attract pedestrians, and a lingering trace of the industrial area south of it.

        The distance is enough to make me pessimistic. I used to go to the Ballard Farmers’ Market a lot, and the walk from 15th was a minor annoyance. Walking from 14th would be a quantum level worse because it approaches the edge of walkaibility and is at the far edge of the urban village (or even a block outside it in some respects). It’s enough to make me think about taking the 40 instead, especially if I made that trip frequently, and to be fuming that the long-awaited Link line doesn’t really serve Ballard. Of course it would serve 15th and the new developments there, but it wouldn’t serve the western half of the urban village very well. For comparison, imagine if Link had been built along I-5 with a station at 7th & 43rd.The distance from there to the UW campus is a bit less less than the distance from 14th Ave NW to Ballard Avenue. Oh, how unimportant it was to fight for that station on Brooklyn Avenue.

        For extra fun, you can compare the new developments on 15th to the new developments on Roosevelt. That’s what a 14th station will primarily serve, and what a 7th NE station would primarily serve. But in Roosevelt’s case, it will be in the center of the U-District upzone when it’s built out. Believe it or not.

        “Look north, as the street goes past 65th.”

        I don’t understand this. Are you talking about 15th? 14th ends hard at 65th where it runs into Ballard High School. An elevated extension there would graze the west side of the school’s stadium, and the stanchions would separate the stadium from the rest of the school. A high school is not a little-used golf course, so an elevated line through it has about negative ten chance of ever being approved. If you want the line to switch to 15th, would it make a sharp turn left and another sharp turn right to go around the school?

        As to whether it would be the worst station in the Link network, probably not, but it may be the worst station in Seattle. For other worse stations it’s hard not to think of TIB and 145th and their walking distance to population centers.

      7. “How easy will it be to upzone around 14th”

        We’ll know when the city addresses it. It would require an additional change to the citywide HALA plan that is now being rezoned one neighborhood at a time.

        “when tall buildings could block views from Phinney Ridge?”

        It’s almost a mile to the middle of Phinney Ridge at 3rd Ave NW. That’s far enough that 8-10 stories may not block much. We wouldn’t expect 20-40 story buildings here, much as we would like them near stations.

      8. “when tall buildings could block views from Phinney Ridge?”

        It’s almost a mile to the middle of Phinney Ridge at 3rd Ave NW. That’s far enough that 8-10 stories may not block much. We wouldn’t expect 20-40 story buildings here, much as we would like them near stations.

        Yeah, but the main point is, nothing taller than what is currently being built (or has been built, in the last few years) west of 15th will likely be built east of 15th. This isn’t the U-District, where such an upzone is possible. In other words, if they considered upzoning to allow 12 story buildings, I doubt very much that they would build them, because someone — maybe not at the top of the hill — but someone, would lose their million dollar view.

        Furthermore, 12 story buildings aren’t likely to lead to affordable housing. Of course we want to encourage everything, but what this city is missing — more than anything — is the missing middle. The idea of a giant bait and switch to encourage higher building in one tiny corner of the city really won’t do it.

      9. Because it used to be a freight railroad line, and because the old right of way on 14th ends at the high school so going further north without a tunnel is problematic, and because there are still traces of the old railroad bridge just east of the Ballard Bridge, maybe 14th would be better as a northern terminus for Sounder South trains?

      10. Nailed it Mike! Just freakin’ nailed it! Every paragraph, every point — spot on

        Well, you guys can tantrum, strut and preen each other, but the station has a 2/3 probability of being on 14th. Actually, it’s probably more than that given the discussion and estimated costs.

        And remember, every time you write one of these abusive comments about Sound Transit being “stupid” or some similar expression, you give the people who don’t give a damn about “improving” it, but rather want to dismantle it one more arrow in their quiver.

      11. What part of Mike’s comment was abusive? Seriously — you need to calm down and figure out the difference between calling an idea stupid and calling a person stupid. I happen to think the mayor is very smart, but the idea of moving the station to 14th is stupid. (By the way, if you want to criticize personal, unfounded, pointless attacks, you might want to go after the people who keep attacking the mayor as if she was the one who screwed up Move Seattle).

        You are free to disagree, but the whole point of having an open discussion — an argument if you will — is to present ideas and facts to support your opinion. So far, every one of your ideas about this station have been shot down. Again, that doesn’t mean I think you are stupid — I just think this idea is stupid (and don’t worry, I’ve had plenty of stupid ideas in my time too). Just to review here:

        1) 14th is significantly farther from the heart of Ballard.
        2) The heart of Ballard has had a dramatic increase in density.
        3) Getting to 14th is harder for a bus.

        You have argued each and every one of these points. But in all cases, your arguments were shot down with ease. So much so that you aren’t even arguing them anymore, but suggesting that all of this is inevitable anyway. In other words, you aren’t even arguing whether it makes sense to build a stupid station at 14th, but only that the stupid station will be built. At the same time, though, you are saying we shouldn’t call this idea stupid, for fear of antagonizing people who read this blog.

        You seem to be missing the main point here. Guys like Mike and me are simply yelling into the wind. We know we have little to no power. But the people that write this blog do! Seattle Subway does. If those folks get together and write an editorial, it can have some weight. Right now, a lot of the city — including quite possibly the mayor — believes that the only thing wrong with moving the station to 14th is that it will cost more. THIS IS THE MYTH WE NEED TO ADDRESS! Unless people realize that 14th is not only *more* expensive, but also *worse*, folks will still support it. They will find the money somehow, someway, thus managing to not only build a line that is worse, but a system that is worse.

        This blog was not created so that we can argue arcane political points. Nor was it to provide updates on transit news. The whole point is advocacy. Of course there will be disagreements, but when someone proposes something stupid, the folks in charge should say something, instead of pretending it isn’t that stupid. They have done that before (many times). They haven’t always been successful, but often they have. They should try again.

      12. “This isn’t the U-District, where such an upzone is possible”

        There’s one small chance. 14th would be a location not anticipated by the HALA plan, Seattle’s TMP, Metro’s LRP, or probably the mayor or councilmembers. So the zoning would deserve a reevaluation. Updating 14th to the same level as 15th might have a tiny glimmer of possibility. It’s something we should at least try for. There’s a gradually-increasing awareness that Link stations should have decent zoning, and while Seattle and Shoreline define the minimums lower than Vancouver, it’s a starting point that can increasingly be leveraged to convince the politicos to do it.

      13. I was not properly clear. It’s not Mike’s comments that are trending toward abuse. It’s yours. You seem to be more easily upset when the scales fail to fall from peoples’ eyes when you tutor us of our ignorance. And you can’t deny that you’ve called Sound Transit — by which presumably mean “the planners” stupid more than once.

        I think that plays directly into the hands of Sound Transit’s enemies.

        Also, you claim to have “shot down” my points “with ease”. Normally one side in a debate is not also the judge of the debate.

        To the topic: there are three options which the Stakeholders passed: 15th Tunnel, 14th Tunnel and 14th High Bridge. They are, respectively, $500 million, $300 million, and $100 million more than the ST3 Representative Alignment. So either you know some inside scoop that the Rep Alignment is actually still in the running or your assertion that “14th is MORE expensive” [emphasis added] is a crock of bull puckey. Both 14th alignments are less expensive than 15th.

        I don’t object to a 15th Avenue station if it can be done in an artful way. The problem that ST and probably the City is/are trying to avoid is tearing up a VERY important intersection for an underground station. Fourteenth will still affect Market, but at least it won’t bring 15th to its knees for three or four years.

      14. Also, I don’t recall arguing one way or the other that 14th is harder or easier to access for buses than is 15th. Since every north-south bus line on a street parallel to 15th would have to deviate over to it, tho ONLY bus(Es) that would be affected is/are those traveling on 15th. Mike has already reported that Metri’s plan for the D after Link to Ballard is to go to Ballard Fred Meyer. At– wait for it– 8th and Leary.

        Put a bus-only left then at 56th and run south on 14th to Leary. Yes, two more turns but not the end of the world.

    3. I keep hearing that Bowman and the Port are against a Duwamish crossing north of the West Seattle bridge. I understand that they are expanding Terminal 5. However, the proposed crossing would not be near to Terminal 5. This would have some impact to the southern end of Harbor island just north of the bridge. Surely we could figure out how to keep trucks moving while constructing the light rail bridge above. Does anyone know what Bowman’s specific concerns are?

  3. So for the cost of building a tunnel in West Seattle and Ballard to appease interests, we could pay for extending the rail to higher- minority areas like High Pount or maybe White Center at the surface — or add a new tunnel to the CD. Anywhere a station goes will increase accessibility to that immediate area for decades (while construction closures are just for a few years).

    The mere obsession to make hipster Ballard and Alaska/ California stations closer and ID station further appears to de facto discourage having minority riders on Link.

    And these leaders think that they are fighting racism? What silliness!

    1. Could a Duwamish Bypass hitting Georgetown be done for 1 cool $Bn? A Renton to Rainier Beach spur hitting South Center? Making more of 405-BRT be real BRT? Granted neither is actually on the table, but it’s more food for thought. We’re already what, a half $Bn in to overruns. And the current business cycle will inevitable turn downward. It always does. The fiscal optimism is a bit disconcerting.

      1. The best value would be to extend Ballard Link north, up to 85th. Two elevated stations (one at 65th, one at 85th) would be relatively cheap. It could all be done for less than what they are proposing. Both areas have plenty of people nearby (better than 14th, in many ways) and 85th would serve as a great way to serve folks who live east or west of there. Greenwood, especially, would benefit from a stop a quick bus ride away (instead of making a transfer to the E, or slogging their way to Roosevelt).

      2. Not sure.

        If it were me I’d look at putting a line from 130th Street Station up to Lake City and split the East Link and West Seattle trains there.

  4. Lorena Gonzales thinks infrastructure projects perpetuated generations of racism.
    Everything that comes out of this woman’s mouth is focused on identity politics and crying wolf.
    She lost all credibility when she worked for, then defended, Ed Murray the child rapist.

    1. Concur. I’m not impressed.

      The best thing she can do for the ID is to insure that they have a highly functional and easily accessed station.

      After that just work to minimize the construction impacts and get it completed as fast as possible. We shouldn’t hamstring the future of the neighborhood because we are afraid of temporary construction impacts, nor should we do it wrong because of racism generations ago.

      1. http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/covenants.htm

        Matt, I suggest that while you read this, you need to think also that the Federal Government itself also deliberately wrote people of the wrong faith, color, accent out of housing assistance. For starters.

        Born in 1945, always considered myself the last of my father’s generation rather than the first of my brothers’ starting in about 1948. Leaving a lot of years ahead before us Jews could file this matter as “Generations Past.”

        But worst damage is least discussed. Because like present Administrations’ destruction of our civil service, most people get bored about anything to do with bureaucracy. For vast majority “Income” is a tool whose main use is for present enjoyment.

        But a house is “WEALTH”. Something whose owning creates the choices and backstops for generations of effortless benefit to its owners and their descendants. Like the level of great grandkids’ income, and education and every other gift of comfort, safety, and power that has Hell Yes been massively withheld on many more things than subways.

        In matter at hand past generations’ financial damage carries enough prosecution evidence for settlement that includes some serious influence as to details of present transit construction. But as with most business disputes of this kind in places like Seattle, mutually acceptable-and beneficial- agreements are more than possible.

        Has Ms. Gonzales yet had any person to person discussion with the technical side of the project? Because, Matt, this is really how you get a better subway past a much worse past. And have your own attorney read you the law, Paul.

        No matter how badly a defendant handles either a TBM, Seattle, or their own life, an attorney can become a defendant herself if she refuses to defend him. But in the courtroom, a skilled trial lawyer can invisibly hold her nose with her eyes and her brain, and concentrate on the assigned job.

        Which, come to think of it, is mandatory skill for all transit project leadership. Pretty sure that if she’d been at the controls, she would not have tried to convert a steel pipe into a brillo pad.

        Mark Dublin

    2. If it is generations of racism, then the transit budget shouldn’t be forced to bear the full cost of an alternative, it should go to all the residents of Seattle, who are the most direct descendants of those who perputrated the racism. Otherwise we’re taking it out of non-car transit options for the victims of racism, again.

  5. Has anyone explored a design that splits the new ID platforms, putting the northbound platform east of the existing tracks (5th) and the southbound platform west of the existing tracks? That could create two easy level transfers.

    1. I’d explore a three platform design with the new tracks under/adjacent to 5th. The outer tracks would be left and right boarding only (towards the middle of the station). The inner to tracks would be all door boarding with easy transfers.

      If you want to get fancy, then spend the money to interlace it with the 2 NB tracks to the east and the 2 SB to the west.

    2. Has anyone studied *just using the existing ID platforms* (and Stadium and SoDo, BTW) and branching off of the current transit tunnel to get to the midtown station? You would have three lines using the same tracks/platforms at IDC, but a train every minute or two would seem to be doable without having busses to deal with. Actually, it would seem to be appropriate for the busiest transit hub in the Pacific NW–which may well end up being the busiest one outside of NYC and Chicago? (OK, that might be pushing it.) And there is space to add a third platform if needed. Currently, busses already come by every minute or two during peak hours in the downtown transit tunnel, right?

      1. The maximum frequency in DSTT1 is three minutes unless there’s additional capital improvements to bring it down to 1.5 minutes, which is what ST thinks the theoretical maximum capacity is before train bunching becomes excessive. ST considered making those capital improvements in ST3 but rejected it when it decided to build the second tunnel. Now there’s no money for them. (Unless we downgrade West Seattle to BRT, which ST and the West Seattle activists are adamant against.)

  6. Aren’t we “staging” this whole project in the wrong order? Because whatever The Community (your choice of which) wants, final determination will be what the surrounding ground will tolerate. Especially through ground that is really dirt with some very old water in it- waiting ’til it’s time to reclaim it’s rightful territory.


    Between plate tectonics and climate change, any bets on what the next 120 years are so are going to bring, non-refundable, to the communities in this posting? So right now, maybe money and effort spent in inter-neighborhood fights about turf should center on surf instead.

    My own call is that first and foremost, we go with whatever plan is easiest to change at shortest possible notice, for the system’s whole lifespan. Followed closely with what’s easiest to build and burrow- whatever the price. And when the core-drills are back in the garage, then get back to meetings like this one.

    I seem to recall one or two career-changes over a miscalculation under the Ship Canal late in a previous project. Don’t recall if it was even called “ST” yet. So for a few years, let’s use engineers for meeting staff. Doubtless cheaper. And comment line, and time, both (by content and knowledge, not the clock,shorter and more to the point- of public input. Especially the point at the sharp end of a drill, not community preference. Somebody with a hard-hat, give us a real concise “read” on my input here. I yield my time.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’m surprised that there isn’t an aerial option over the tracks, with a portal north of Jackson. Maybe move the firehouse at 4th and Washington and make that the portal? The Link transfers would be terrible – but it would still be closer in elevation change than this deep tunnel scheme.

      1. Al, I keep thinking about a structure that will more or less unify the International District, IDS, King Street Station, the ball-park parking lot and maybe the Waterfront. A long pedestrian bridge resembling a skyscraper lying on its side, and containing blocks of shops and restaurants. Moving walkway or little electric vehicles. So Seattle will have one steel and glass structure that won’t block, say, a classic clock tower. Could start a trend.


      2. Indeed. This, or make better use of the existing station space, would seem to avoid dealing with the bad soil issue entirely! And if you branch off the existing tunnel between IDC and Pioneer Square, no additional portal would be needed.

  7. OK, my last comment was long. I’ll see if I can summarize:

    1. From a rider perspective, 14th NW is much worse than 15th.

    2. It is more expensive.

    3. Why are the transit advocates being so silent about it? Where is Seattle Subway, or the leaders of this blog, who have been so strong on issues like this? Are we just going to shrug our shoulders, and not let anyone know what a terrible idea this is? Will writers, years from now, write about how awful this station is and list the various excuses why, as we have in the past. If the representatives don’t know this is actually *worse*, can you blame them if they think spending extra for the new Ballard alignment is worth it?

    1. It’s not just the 14th location is bad, but in a tunnel it’s going to be deep too. It will probably need to be at least 50 feet below the water surface. 28 feet deep at the locks + depth of tunnel and tracks below bottom of canal = 50 feet at least.

      Then the ground slopes upward, in the same direction the track needs to go, unlike a bridge that could go downward to meet the ground coming upward.

      Furthermore, if it is going to be in a tunnel, there is no reason not to build it over at 20th since the primary reason not to do that seems to be the lack of a street wide enough for an elevated structure.

      1. Exactly. The only advantage of a tunnel is that you can send it to a better area, like 20th. But instead they are sending it to a worse area. They are treating Ballard like it is Fife (just put the station anywhere — it doesn’t matter). This could be one of the most popular stations in our system (like Capitol Hill). A good anchor for the biggest addition in ST3. But not if you treat Ballard like it is Fife.

      2. My impression is that ST is looking at the wide 14th Right of way and relatively low traffic volumes and thinking 14th is easiest to construct columns and aerial guideway on. And the soil conditions and impacts to the port appear to be better crossing the cut at 14th. Throw in some likely pressure from developers/owners of the large relatively underutilized industrial properties east of 15th that are ripe for upzones and TOD and I think the chances are better than 50/50 that we’ll end up with a 14th station.

      3. @🚇🚲🚠💵 — Your comment (though true) reminds me of something d. p. used to say, when people suggested really big stop spacing because it would be faster: “It would be really fast if they didn’t make any stops”.

        Well, the same is true here. If they just didn’t build any station in Ballard at all, then issues involving the soil or bridges just go away.

        They aren’t building a sewage plant. This isn’t a case of just plunking it down anywhere in the general vicinity, and as long as it doesn’t bother the neighbors, we are OK. This is a subway stop — the only one in Ballard. It is bad enough that an area like Ballard gets only one stop, but now the plan is to screw over Ballard even worse, thus creating one of the worst stations in our system. Not in terms of ridership, but in terms of actual location, or wasted potential. All the while this will actually be *more expensive* than what they originally planned.

      4. The distance between the canal and the station platform is what affects the depth.

        I can’t tell exactly, but a 14th station appears to have 2,000 to 2,500 feet. A 17th station seems to be about 1,500 to 2,000 feet. The UW station is a mere 500 feet from the canal in comparison.

        It is reported that the UW station platform is 95 feet down and the ground is about 40 feet above the canal water. Having another 1,500+ feet to slope trains upward would correct much of that although the ground slope does work against the design.

        It’s probably too steep to build an aerial Ballard Station and dive under the canal, but a station just 40 feet below Market Street seems reasonably doable. 2000 feet at just 4 percent is about 80 feet of grade change easily possible at 14th.

        It’s a matter of soils and boring, however. ST is paying millions to figure this stuff out. Has ST said how deep the tunnel platforms need to be for these alternatives?

      5. Light Rail trains in a tunnel with no ice or rain can reliably make 5% grades at speed. According to Google Earth t is 6/10 of a mile between Market and Shilshole on 14th; let’s say 3,000 horizontal feet. A five percent grade rises (or falls) 5 feet every hundred horizontal feet. Thirty times five feet is one hundred and fifty feet. That is the
        potential vertical rise from the edge of the Canal to 14th and Market.

        Now sure, you can’t really continue to rise north of 53rd, and there have to be vertical curves to transition into and out of the gradient. So take off ten of the thirty rises of five feet. The net result is a potential 100 foot rise from the flat section under the Ship Canal to the station. I’d actually expect that the trackhead will have to be
        more like sixty-five to seventy feet below the water level (28 feet for draft, fifteen feet of overburden for protection and 20 feet from trackhead to the upper edge of the tubes.

        That still allows the trackhead in the station to be thirty feet above the water level. Since a station straddling Market Street would
        need a mezzanine whose floor would be twenty feet below street level, the trackhead would be about forty-five feet below street level.

        That is not terrible, especially if the mezzanine extends to the west side of 15th Avenue NW, and I seriously doubt that Market Street is more than seventy-five feet above the Ship Canal.

        If a station is built at 14th Avenue the entire stretch of ho-humness between 15th and 8th NW will be dramatically renewed all the way from Leary to 60th. Do people really want to tear down “Old Ballard” for
        TOD? I didn’t think so. But there has to be a reason other than bus intercept to build a rail line. That means tall buildings directly adjacent to the stations, and you simply can’t do that west of 15th.

        Look at what is happening to Roosevelt. The buildings going in there are huge. The same exact thing will happen between 15th and 8th with a station at 14th NW.

        Everyone here complains about West Seattle wanting the Junction to remain as it is but you’d all scream if the charming old buildings in the angle area of Ballard were torn down. How is that not hypocritical?

      6. Thanks for the details, Tom.

        I’d just note that grade corrections from a high bridge would also seem to be possible.

        That said, the reality of major funding shortfalls will be significant. I think that the project money will first go to cover the overages in SLU and LQA. We will be lucky to get further than Smith Cove Station when the shortfalls become clearer.

        The same funding issue will eventually emerge in West Seattle too. Just like with Ballard, one or two stations West Seattle May end up on the chopping block. Getting to Delridge or maybe to Avalon will be all that we will be able to afford.

        Adding new, expensive tunnels at the end of any line sets the stage for dropping a station entirely when money woes emerge.

      7. “It’s a matter of soils and boring, however. ST is paying millions to figure this stuff out. Has ST said how deep the tunnel platforms need to be for these alternatives?”

        That’s what this decision are about, whether to proceed on these studies, or to study some other alternatives instead.

      8. >> Do people really want to tear down “Old Ballard” for TOD?

        Old Ballard doesn’t need TOD! It is already D’ed!

        Look, no one is talking about putting a station at the Old Firehouse, or the Tractor Tavern. All proposals are for stations on Market. West of 15th, there are apartments everywhere, in every direction. Here, look at 20th and Market: https://goo.gl/maps/xpsfK9ZbZnT2. Every, freakin’ direction. What isn’t apartments is clinics, or places that encourage nightlife, both of which encourage riders.

        Just look at Capitol Hill. Did it undergo a massive new zoning change, thus justifying this new station? Of course not. Despite putting it right next to a park, and having terrible bus to rail integration, it is the third highest station in our entire system. Higher than SeaTac, higher than every downtown station other than Westlake. This is before we connect it to the U-District, Roosevelt and Northgate.

        The reason it is so popular is because it has the same thing that Old Ballard has. It has old density and new density. It has attractions, it has a college (while Ballard has a hospital). All of this leads to ridership. You don’t need Toronto style towers to build density. And guess what — they won’t be built in West Woodland. If you think people object to a new bridge right next to the old one, imagine what they will say with giant towers that block the views from folks up the hill.

        Besides, height doesn’t equal density. Go to Brooklyn, and look at all the three story high apartments. Now look at a census map, and those places are some of the most densely populated places in the country. That is basically what Capitol Hill and Ballard are. It makes sense to serve places like that. Of course it is nice to try and build new ones, even if they fall short (which West Woodland would inevitably do) but it doesn’t make sense to ignore the really densely populated, popular places, while hoping that some other place comes close to it.

      9. “Just look at Capitol Hill. Did it undergo a massive new zoning change, thus justifying this new station? Of course not. Despite putting it right next to a park, and having terrible bus to rail integration, it is the third highest station in our entire system….The reason it is so popular is because it has the same thing that Old Ballard has.”

        Exactly, In our zeal to attract new ridership and new density, we mustn’t lose sight of the old ridership, especially because it’s more reliable. A lot of people in the new buildings or shops on Roosevelt own cars and drive there, but in fifty years there will still probably be more pedestrians taking transit to University Way, and they’ll be more supportive of transit investments, because the pre-WWII style is just more conducive to that and attracts people who favor that. (And the people who like to drive shun it because of the lack of parking.)

        Old ridership is proven; new ridership is speculative. Ballard and 45th deserve subways because of the existing density and ridership, not because new development is the only way to justify it. The existing pedestrian centers will always have the highest ridership, at least until developers and the city learn how to build new buildings and streetscapes like the pre-WWII ones.

      10. Mike, of course there must be an upzone. Doesn’t O’Brien’s support for 14th imply that? He specifically mentioned “TOD”.

        Ian, your math is correct, but the multiplicand is “30” not “35”.

        Old Ballard is a charming and very aesthetic bunch of single and two story buildings, hardly “TOD”. The “blocks and blocks” of apartments west of 17th are all four stories or less, without underground parking and on a single or pair of lots.

        More to the point, they’re already there and are valuable enough that they’re not going to be torn down.

        Seattle needs new housing on underutilized land like the strip between 15th and 11th of which 14th is the center.

      11. One councilmember’s support is not enough to make it happen. We need a committed response from the mayor and the majority of the council. And TOD doesn’t necessarily imply upzones. The current construction on 14th is TOD. I.e., mixed-use buildings whose front doors and short setbacks are convenient for arriving by transit, or at least not in convenient like some other buildings are (cough, VA hospital with its deep car turnaround on a different side than the bus stop).

      12. Old Ballard is a charming and very aesthetic bunch of single and two story buildings, hardly “TOD”. The “blocks and blocks” of apartments west of 17th are all four stories or less, without underground parking and on a single or pair of lots.

        Complete and utter nonsense. Have you even been to Ballard? Can you read a map? Try the Google Map or just read this: http://www.myballard.com/2018/07/01/high-density-neighborhoods-like-ballard-absorbing-most-of-seattles-growth/.

        Seattle needs *new* housing on underutilized land like the strip between 15th and 11th of which 14th is the center.

        Oh, now that’s a great idea. I get it. What we do is go around and try an upzone an area. As an enticement, we promise them a light rail station. But then, right before they get one, we move it! Awesome. The beauty of it is that this station will take so long, we can do it again! Right before we build this thing, we can move it again, to central Magnolia, a place that has even fewer apartments (https://goo.gl/maps/8Ah7GJQaseM2). Brilliant!

        Or, I don’t know, we could take a different approach. How about we build good transit for the bulk of the city that already exists. Then, we change the zoning in the entire city (i. e. deal with the missing middle) so that housing is a lot more affordable. Then we keep improving transit, by building a network of good subways and good bus service.

        Crazy idea, huh?

    2. A high drawbridge or an extremely high fixed bridge will cause head-scratching and grumbling in Ballard.

      A 14th Ave Station will cause a secession movement in Ballard.

      Ballard has been given upzone after upzone, increasing the density in Ballard vastly, always with the promise of mass transportation right around the corner. A 14th Ave Station would be ST and Seattle giving Ballard the middle finger.

      I don’t understand why the choice has to be terrible crossing, but good station or good crossing, but terrible station. Why not good crossing AND good station?

      1. I agree.

        A high drawbridge (70 feet) — which is actually what people voted for is really no big deal. Lots of cities have subways with movable bridges. Nor is an elevated station at 15th. Lots of cities have elevated stations on similar streets. Look at our nearest neighbor, and what they built. Heck, they even named it SkyTrain. Here is a typical station: https://goo.gl/maps/Yh8i71RGTip. Notice the busy street in both directions. The rail line is not bad at all — it takes up relatively little space, and is relatively attractive.

        But a station in 14th — in West Woodland instead of Ballard — would definitely be giving Ballard the finger. If you are going to go underground, then get something out of it. Go to 20th, where there are way more people. Don’t simultaneously go deeper and farther away from most of Ballard. Don’t make the experience worse, while also making it harder to actually get to the station (by any means). Don’t call this Ballard Link if doesn’t even serve Ballard.

      2. High drawbridge west of 15th vs. tunnel on 14th — I vote for the high drawbridge. Occasional delay is better than permanent inconvenience and outright inaccessibility, hands down!

      3. RapidRider, does “Ballard” end for you at 17th NW where the angled streets occur? I doubt that’s true for most folks who live in Northwest Seattle.

        Fourteenth Northwest is hardly “West Woodland”. That neighborhood is east of 3rd NW up on Phinney Ridge.

      4. RapidRider, does “Ballard” end for you at 17th NW where the angled streets occur?

        No, but most of the upzoned density ends at the west side of 15th Ave NW. What the hell is the point of spending billions on a brand new mass transit to a dense neighborhood when you make the residents of the dense neighborhood travel a quarter mile or more to get to the station instead of putting the station in the middle of the dense neighborhood?

        I hope ST ends up telling Seattle to take a flying leap in regards to a 14th Ave Station.

      5. Look at where the arrow is pointing — within inches of the proposed station: https://westwoodland.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/ballard-map-color-with-arrow-2.jpg

        This is from the West Woodland blog (https://westwoodlandballard.com/about/) which reads “Our community feels like a small town within the larger City of Seattle.”. Yep. Oh, and by the way, I know someone who lives in West Woodland, who would be fairly close to the station (a lot closer than a lot of people who live in apartments on the other side of 15th). He too thinks a station at 14th is stupid. Sure, he would love it, but he thinks it makes way more sense to build a station where the people are (common good and all that).

      6. That map of West Woodland from the clerks office is a little confusing. But, ok. It shows Ballard ending at 15th NW. It ends at 8th. It also shows West Woodland on both sides of 8th. That may be correct. I don’t remember. Most of us saw West Woodland being around 8th up to Phinney. But I could have been wrong. I would have to ask a friend I know has lived there since the 70’s. But I am not wrong about Ballard ending st 8th. I think that map is showing downtown Ballard.The other neighborhoods in that picture are communities within Ballard. I also know that Fremont ends at 8th NW. It was pointed out to me in the 1980’s by a life long Seattlelite who has lived in both Fremont and Wallingford for 74 years. I lived in Ballard for my first 22 years. I went to Webster, Adams, and Loyal Heights. They are all in Ballard. If the neighborhood lines have changed, fine. But I think that map is a representatipn of neighborhoods within Ballard and a skinny sliver of West Woodland in the Phinney and or Fremont neighborhood. Even West Woodland’s sight says a commnity within Ballard. Not that this matters too much, because it doesn’t help us get a good station. But since the conversation was there……..

      7. The Orange Line is Heavy Rail. Since Link is in Washington, this “comparison” is almost literally apples to oranges.

        You already supplied the example of a suburban-oriented Light Rail system running madly to keep up with demand: Calgary. Seattle may not be as Draconian as Calgary in limiting where offices may go, but Seattle’s geography certainly is.

        Many of those 9000 crs per hour are actually headed for the U-District or SLU. If those going to the U-District are diverted to Link it won’t hurt crowding south of HSS. That’s certainly true. But those headed to SLU who divert will, and they will be many.

        You say you want “great transit all over the city” yet it seems that ANY actual proposal gets your scorn. Why is that? You don’t write in the style of Jarrett Walker. What makes you so consistently right and others so shamefully wrong?

      8. The reply just above should have been at the bottom of the second thread down. That would improve the context.

      9. You say you want “great transit all over the city” yet it seems that ANY actual proposal gets your scorn. Why is that?

        You seem to be new to the blog, Tom (welcome). (I could be wrong, but I don’t remember anyone with your name until very recently).

        I have been on this blogs for several years. There have been a lot of things I’ve strongly supported, as well as things I’ve strongly opposed. For example, I strongly supported Move Seattle, and yes, I’m pissed as hell that Murray and Kubly screwed up that project. I strongly support Madison BRT. I strongly support Ballard to UW light rail. I strongly support the station at NE 130th. I support an elevated bridge to 15th — in general I think the representative project for Ballard to West Seattle is the best we can do. I want the monorail to accept ORCA cards. I think it is great that high school students now have ORCA cards. I really like the little fixes, like the one on Denny to help make the 8 move faster. I can go on, but it gets pretty boring.

        The point is, with many of these ideas, I was involved personally (I was on the committee that pushed hard for the station at NE 130th). In the case of the ORCA card support for the monorail, I was one of the people — if not the main one — telling folks that we should stop whining, and actually do something about the situation. My theory (which proved to be right) was that the Seattle City Council was just rubber stamping the ten year monorail contract, because they didn’t know any better. I suggested that we email our representatives and see if they can modify the contract (which, as luck would have it, was up for renewal). This approach worked great, and while the wheels of government move slowly, folks will eventually be able to ride the monorail using nothing more than an ORCA card.

        The point is, I’m here because I’m optimistic. If I thought the situation was hopeless, then I wouldn’t be involved with this blog (or write letters to the editor, my representative or other leaders). It is not cynicism, or negativism that keeps me involved, it is optimism. I believe that we can do better. I believe that we, as citizens, have a civic duty to let our representatives know when they are making a mistake. Simply standing by the sidelines and cheering for every new change, regardless of its efficacy, is not patriotism, it is obedience.

      10. Arguing about the boundaries of “Ballard” as if it’s no further east than 15th Avenue looks mighty silly when Ballard High School itself is east of 15th Avenue. Let’s be adults and at least agree that all options are generally in “Ballard” despite official neighborhood boundaries.

        I would also observe that Ballard’s new residential density is not profoundly different than many other villages within Seattle. It’s significantly less dense than Belltown or First Hill (and doesn’t have the topography challenges of First Hill). It doesn’t really have “must serve the center” status.

        Finally and most importantly, station access and layout concepts affect things — and ST isn’t talking about them very much. Moving a station 500 or 1,000 feet creates some difficulty but there are many access features like moving sidewalks and escalators that can change actual or perceived time walking to rail transit platforms.

        I’d be willing to walk 300-400 feet more for down escalators so I wouldn’t have to walk down 50 steps. Taking elevators takes time. I’m not sure what the trade-off is for others but we should really be quantifying these things from the platform elevation and the access system that is being conceptualized. How much further is anyone willing to walk in order to get to a down escalator rather than walk down 50 steps?

      11. For an awful lot of people, the 30 seconds or so of station access issues will pale in comparison if an extra 5-10 minutes of bus access issues gets added.

        So “acccess system” really needs to include what goes on in the station and getting to the station.

        If a half mile or so of underground walkways could be added (say, London Underground at Victoria Station with a tunnel all the way over to Cardinal Place) that could be interesting, but Sound Transit hasn’t done this at any other station.

      12. I would also observe that Ballard’s new residential density is not profoundly different than many other villages within Seattle. It’s significantly less dense than Belltown or First Hill (and doesn’t have the topography challenges of First Hill). It doesn’t really have “must serve the center” status.

        In that case, why bother? Since Ballard isn’t Belltown (and it certainly isn’t) then why bother at all? Why not just end at Queen Anne (because nothing is more cost effective than that section on this line) and just admit that we don’t have the money to do this right?

        Because, as it turns out, we actually do. Serving 15th is actually *cheaper* than serving 14th. That still doesn’t mean we serve the center of things (which lie to the west) but it is definitely closer, and at least has the advantage of 1) being able to be extended fairly cheaply and 2) being the best option for bus connections.

        Belltown and First Hill weren’t skipped because they arbitrarily chose a more expensive, and less desirable area. They were skipped because ST didn’t have the money (in the case of First Hill*) or chose a comparable place instead (South Lake Union). That is a very significant difference.

        * The First Hill situation is complicated. ST had a series of technical failures and when the engineers said they were concerned about the soil, they just skipped it. It was a terrible mistake, but at least did not cost them extra money (as this will). Of course serving First Hill with this line is a different story. Doing so would dramatically add value to this line making it easy to justify the new expensive tunnel. But that again, costs extra money. Although — hmmm — yep, if they simply went with the project they originally proposed (the one passed by voters) and then modified it only to include a station at First Hill (e. g. Boren) it would probably cost as much as this expensive set of improvements deterioration.

      13. Serving 15th is actually *cheaper* than serving 14th

        It’s not clear why you’re still pedaling this nonesensical lie. Two days ago I pointed out clearly that in absence of some “insider knowledge” you have that the “ST3 Reference Alignment” is still in the running, 15th NW is the most costly of the three options that have been advanced by the Stakeholders. Fourteenth High Bridge is $100 million more, which apparently they feel is within the financial capacity as voted for ST3; Fourteenth Tunnel is $300 million more and would require “third party funding”. Fifteenth Tunnel is $500 million more.

        Quit lying about this or go back to nagging the owners of the Monorail.

  8. So putting a subway through the CID is, essentially, racist? I mean, that essentially what those leaders are saying.

    Here’s a suggestion: Design Link to serve the best connections and destinations and the most people. Period. End of story.

    I echo many of the above comments that plead with ST to stop designing a horrible system because some of visual impacts to neighborhoods, special interests that don’t care about transit and are just trying to protect their turf, or faux arguments of racism.

    Design a system that works and serves the public because the public is paying a hell of a lot of money for it.

    1. > So putting a subway through the CID is, essentially, racist? I mean, that essentially what those leaders are saying.

      I believe, based on an article I read on this site recently, the argument is coming directly from ID residents/business owners, in which case I’m inclined to say that yes, it would be racist to push through a solution the ID is actively protesting to save money for other ST projects outside of the ID or to make transfer experiences more convenient for riders from other more privileged areas.

      That said, from my perspective it seems like the Fifth Ave cut and cover alignment, once completed, would be a boon to the ID business owners who are now worried about impacts during construction, and there are ways that negative construction impacts can be mitigated. Wouldn’t a better solution be to build the station respectfully, spending extra to mitigate noise and disruption to the neighborhood, than moving the service to a different, and possibly more privileged, area? And do we really know that the ID and all its voices are generally united in opposition to Fifth Avenue?

      1. I live in the ID. I’m neutral on 4th or 5th Ave alignments and 1000% against deep (bored/mined) stations because transfers should/must be easy and quick. Cut and cover is short-term pain for long-term gain.

      2. Yeah, this seems like something that should be easily mitigated. I prefer fourth, but not if it is going to result in a very deep tunnel.

      3. No matter where the new station is placed it will have to be one level deeper than the current DSTT trackway. If the new platforms are to the west the trackway has to underrun the existing line somewhere south of Washington where the DSTT begins its dive under the BNSF tunnel.

        If it’s to the east it will of necessity have an underground mezzanine at the shallowest level with the existing platforms.

        The ideal placement would be directly below the existing station with a center platform added to the existing level and three platforms in the lower level as well to provide redundant exit paths.

        That’s not likely because of engineering challenges and the reversing track.

  9. In terms of third party funding Mayor Durken has said Seattle wont go it alone in funding these extras but doesn’t the sub area equity prevent siphoning money from the other subareas? Thats why the Everett Link got pushed back they needed extra money for the Paine field diversion and need time to let the coffers fill up before the could bond against future tax revenue.

    1. It’s unclear what Durkan meant. One reading would be confirming Somers’ greatest fear: she’s coming after Snohomish’s budget. That’s not unprecedented because Somers is trying to raid North King’s budget to get Everett and Paine Field finished faster. Technically it would be an inter-subarea loan, which would have the result of putting the displaced projects last (2036-2041). If she’s trying to reassure Somers that she doesn’t intend this, then either she said it badly or the article is inaccurate. If she intends to make up the difference with non-ST money, then there’s no impact to he other subareas.

      If she’s trying to make the case that the Seattle projects benefit all subareas so they should contribute to them, that’s what several STB commentators have recommended. The board did acknowledge this to some extent, because the downtown tunnel is funded by all subareas rather than just North King. (Based on their trains’ use of both tunnels.) Upgrading the Chinatown plan would clearly fall under that. However, it would be a stretch to include Ballard and West Seattle. Some transit fans would say yes about Ballard; some suburbanites would say no.

      It really comes down to different subareas’ interpretations of ST’s mandate. The Seattle-centric interpretation is that Seattle is the main economic and cultural engine for the region. The Everett/Tacoma-centric interpretation is that ST was created to build “the Spine” between between Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, and Bellevue/Redmond, and nothing else can come before that.

      If the electeds succeed in getting ST to fund three Seattle tunnels, then it would proportionally increase the other subareas’ budgets too, because ST can’t charge a different tax rate in different subareas or sunset the taxes at different times.The subareas might then welcome the additional money or grouse about taxes.

      1. >> Some transit fans would say yes about Ballard; some suburbanites would say no.

        It is hard to see anyone in Snohomish County getting anything out of the Seattle part of ST3, which is another example of why it was so bad. We are supposed to be building this system to benefit the entire region, and yet a major expansion doesn’t help the region. It is easy, in contrast, to see how a station in First Hill, or a Ballard to UW subway would help Snohomish County. That would allow folks from Lynnwood and Everett to get to First Hill, Fremont or Ballard much faster.

        Besides, the money they are talking about now won’t benefit anyone! No one benefits from a station at fourth, and no one benefits from a station 150 feet below the International District. No one should pay extra for projects that make transit worse.

      2. DSTT2 avoids the possibility of overcrowding in DSTT1. Even if you don’t believe it or think it can be mitigated in other ways. It also gives Snohomish faster access to SLU, which they should care about.

      3. And if they didn’t think it benefited them, why did they agree to contribute to it? They’re the majority of boardmembers.

      4. And Ballard-UW makes things worse for Snohomish, by adding a large volume of NW Seattle riders to the major choke-point in the system, UW-Westlake.

        A Ballard-UW subway, with no DSTT2, only makes sense in a Seattle-only framework. For Snohomish, it degrades the system by routing most peak commuters on the D, 40, 5X, and others through UW, which the system isn’t designed to handle, unless you think peak ridership from Snohomish will be anemic, which clearly the Snohomish board members do not.

      5. That’s not how subways work! Inside the urban core of a city, there are always people getting on and getting off the train, changing to other trains, in every direction. And always — ALWAYS — those coming in from distant suburbs are a very small piece of that. They represent a tiny fraction of the ridership, yet they benefit from having that type of infrastructure.

        At the I. D., in a few years, the trains from Tukwila will have to be shared with trains from Bellevue. Are the people in Tukwila scared? Do they think we need another line, to handle the loads? Of course not. That is because, every morning, you will see people going the other way. I expect East Link will have decent ridership, because it works for both directions, and it works within the East Side.

        In city after city — including our nearest neighbor, Vancouver BC — you can find subway lines that cross other subway lines, and don’t go downtown. They manage just fine. These are in places less urban than the UW. Build a line from Ballard to the UW and you get just about as many getting off the main line at the UW as getting on. That is because Ballard isn’t a suburb! It is within the city. There are jobs there. There are jobs in Fremont. There are even jobs in Wallingford and there are a hell of a lot of jobs in the UW (and there will be a hell of lot more).

        it doesn’t “degrade” the system to share it with others, AJ, it enhances it. If a subway system is popular, it can run more trains. If you have riders from Lynnwood who are able to quickly get to Ballard along with other riders quickly getting to Northgate, the UW and downtown, it all adds up. When it adds up, the agency can justify more frequent trains. That is the way it works everywhere. If you build a system that works for everyone in the city, then it works well for the folks from the suburbs. If you don’t then, you end up with something that struggles with ridership, and even in a thriving, growing city (like Denver) you end up cutting back.

        @Mike — OK, I forgot about South Lake Union (and Queen Anne). Those are stops that will benefit them. Sometimes I think they should have ended that line right there, instead of continuing this charade that suggests that this is somehow a great line for Ballard.

      6. Adding East Link will have zero impact on Tukwilla’s headways or capacity. If opening east link suddenly meant we were cutting the headways in half for Tuwkilla, I think they would care.

        Skytrain has lines that don’t go to downtown? I don’t think so.

      7. Millennium Line doesn’t go downtown, nor do several of the extremely busy bus routes, such as the 99.

        If UW to Westlake has a crowding problem, they could add more trains and turn some at Northgate. There are systems out there than run more than a train every three minutes.

      8. “Ballard-UW makes things worse for Snohomish, by adding a large volume of NW Seattle riders to the major choke-point in the system, UW-Westlake.”

        “Inside the urban core of a city, there are always people getting on and getting off the train, changing to other trains, in every direction.”

        These are both true. Yes, a lot of people from Ballard and Wallingford will get off at U-District (because that’s their destination, or to continue east or north), but when you add it to the possibly small remaining capacity it can cause overcrowding.

        “[distant suburbanites] represent a tiny fraction of the ridership”

        Maybe, maybe not in this case. There are hundreds of buses from Snohomish County to downtown, but not hundreds of buses from Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, and Latona to downtown. But even if Snohomish is a tiny fraction of the north-south ridership, AJ’s comment was about the impact on them, and by extension the Snohomish subarea. But a few Snohomishites experience overcrowding, then a lot of North Kingers will experience the same overcrowding too. And since the Snohomishites are already on the train but the people from Ballard aren’t, then it will be the people from Ballard who have to wait for the next train.

      9. “Skytrain has lines that don’t go to downtown?”

        It depends on what you mean by “line”. Originally the Millenium Line had a weird loop that doubled back on itself, so it shared most of its length with the Expo Line. Now with the Coquitlam Extension it’s attached to that and goes east-west south of downtown. The two-station gap between them is served by a truncated version of the old Millenium Line, now a branch of the Expo Line. It gives the line a V shape, which is better than a number 6 shape.

      10. The Millenium line and its planned UBC extension is strikingly similar to our 45th line in terms of its role and importance in the transit network. One difference is that UBC is way off at one end rather than right at the crossing point. When you see 45th Street, think of the east-west trips in Kitsilano and their transfers to the downtown line. For the Coquitlam extension to the east, think of the possible Kirkland extension.

      11. “[distant suburbanites] represent a tiny fraction of the ridership” – that’s what is whole debate should turn on. Ballard-UW would indeed be awesome for Seattle and have excellent all-day ridership, I don’t dispute that. I just think that Ross is underestimating the sheer volume of peak-oriented ridership that will depend on Link to move people in & out of the downtown core during rush hour. The ridership catchment for north Link is not only 100% of Snohomish, but also a decent chunk of northern Seattle plus northern east King via 522 BRT.

        “it will be the people from Ballard who have to wait for the next train.” – inbound mornings yes, but outbound afternoons everyone suffers.

      12. Also, I wouldn’t classify cities like Bothell and Shoreline as “distant suburbs.” Regardless, in an older city, there would be a commuter rail network that would serve these suburbs, freeing up the

        Think of Chicago – the Red/Purple line goes all the way to Evanston, but Evanston is also served by Metra, often with Metra & CTA stops right next to each other. So at peak, if I’m going all the way to the Loop, I take Metra for the express speeds, and then off peak I take the CTA since Metra isn’t running. If there’s wasn’t a Metra, the Purple line would be crush loaded before it even got to Chicago. (though to be fair, without Metra the density would have never developed in the first place)

        In Seattle, we’ve chosen to consolidate those modes into a single line. So Link will be responsible for transporting suburban commuters, unlike most rail systems.

      13. We mustn’t get confused by Everett’s impact alone. The far greater impact is from north Seattle, Shoreline, and Lynnwood. Regardless of how you feel about the Everett extension, they will be there, taking up space on the train. Most of the Everett riders are on existing express buses that will be truncated at Lynnwood, so it’s the same either way. So it’s fair to consider the total number of express buses from Snoho and Shoreline as a starting point. There are hundreds of buses per day from there. The midday 15-minute 512 is reaching capacity. And there’s a vast latent unmet transit need between Snohomish County and north Seattle which will be major — similar to the jump in ridership between UW and Capitol Hill when Link opened and people no longer had to spend half an hour on the 49 or 43. Except in this case it’s 2+ hours (e.g., from north Lynnwood or south Everett to Licton Springs or Sand Point where there is no express-bus alternative now). Now, if they get off at U-District or before the won’t be in that UDistrict-Westlake bottleneck, but they will be a huge number of riders in any case.

      14. I just think that Ross is underestimating the sheer volume of peak-oriented ridership that will depend on Link to move people in & out of the downtown core during rush hour.

        And I think you are massively underestimating the capacity of our light rail system. Take a look at CTrain, Calgary’s light rail system. It is the most popular light rail system in North America, with ridership well over 300,000 riders a day. Calgary is a very suburban city — it sprawls like crazy — with most of the jobs centered right downtown (by design*). This means that most of the riders are just trying to get downtown at rush hour, as opposed to most subways, where there is more of a mix. In 2015 they added four car trains, which means they will have the same capacity per train as we do (about 800 people). They have two lines. Each line runs every six minutes at most. I have no idea which line carries more, but one of the lines carries at least 160,000 people per day. If they were able to run that line twice as often, the busier line could carry at least 320,000 a day without any additional crowding. If they could manage two minute headways, then it could carry 480,000 people. Again, this is primarily headed downtown — at rush hour.

        Do you really think that more than 480,000 people will be riding the main line if they built the Ballard to UW subway, and if so, do you think that more of them would be heading downtown at rush hour than folks in Calgary?

        Trains can carry a lot of people. That is what makes them special.

        * A lot of people have marveled at the very high ridership of Calgary’s light rail line, and wondered how they did it. At first glance, it looks like a loser — something similar to Denver or Phoenix. Calgary is very suburban (I know I keep saying that, but if you have ever been there, you would notice it right away). As a result, it doesn’t have much in the way of attractions along the way to push high ridership (places like Capitol Hill just don’t exist). Yet somehow they have amazing ridership. The best explanation is that they have managed employment growth really well. They just don’t have office parks. There is no Factoria or Bellevue skyscrapers, or even Fremont type growth. Just about all the office jobs are downtown. Parking is also very expensive downtown, and folks have figured out that the only way to get down there easily is by transit. The result is a very downtown oriented system — probably the most downtown oriented system in North America, if not the world — but one that has very respectable ridership for a city its size.

      15. Calgary is probably the best comp from a system standpoint, but their metro is 1/4 the size of Seattle’s. Also, you are looking at daily ridership, but that’s not the problem. The issue is peak capacity, not all day capacity. 4-car trains at 3 minute headways is only 16,000/hour. I think it’s very reasonable to expect, say, >50,000 people trying to get into greater downtown during a 3-hour commute window.

        All I know is that the 2nd downtown tunnel is needed for capacity reasons, according to the ST experts. So apparently in 2040 the models say 4-car trains running at 3-minute head ways still isn’t good enough to handle demand for trips in & out of downtown.

      16. Some ridership numbers:

        510 — 2,000
        511 — 2,000
        512 — 4,000
        513 — 700
        522 — 5,000
        Community Transit (total) — 33,000
        Swift — 3,000 (the most popular of Community Transit lines).

        One thing that jumps out at me is the fact that not everyone in Snohomish County is going to downtown Seattle at rush hour. Despite “hundreds” of buses headed that way, the most popular CT bus is Swift, not an express to downtown. Of the ST buses that go downtown, the one that doesn’t go during rush hour (the 512) is more popular than those that do. Of course with bus routes like the 522, a lot of people aren’t headed to downtown, but just up the road a ways. Close to a thousand of those riders board on SR 522 headed away from downtown. Likewise, that bus (like the other ones) has plenty of riders in the middle of the day or riders headed in the “reverse commute” direction. Similarly, both the 522 and 512 have respectable weekend numbers.

        This means that the number of people who are taking transit headed downtown during rush hour from Snohomish County is relatively small. Obviously this number will grow when people are given a faster alternative, but history (both locally and around the globe) has shown that we can’t expect a massive increase in ridership when Link gets there. It is also worth noting that we don’t have huge numbers of people commuting by car to downtown right now — driving is now less than 25% and still declining. This means that we can’t expect too many people to switch to transit — they’ve already switched.

        Our trains — even if they had to deal with riders from the Ballard corridor looking for another way to downtown — could handle the loads quite easily.

      17. AJ: If SnoCo board members are so gung ho about high ridership, why do they seem to think it’s acceptable to not have escalators to handle all those passengers?

      18. AJ, you don’t get it. Calgary is primarily a peak system! It is way more peak oriented that ours will ever be. Somehow Calgary manages to carry 160,000 riders a day *per line* on trains just as big as ours, despite running them every six minutes. If anyone should have a massive capacity problem, it is Calgary. For us to have the same problem we need to:

        1) Carry over 480,000 riders on the main line.

        2) Be more peak oriented than Calgary. In other words, a higher percentage of people will ride Link to downtown in peak direction than ride CTrain to downtown in peak direction.

        Sorry, both ideas are ridiculous.

      19. “Despite “hundreds” of buses headed that way, the most popular CT bus is Swift, not an express to downtown.”

        You’re comparing the arbitrary distinction of one consolidated line vs several unconsolidated lines that overlap in the relevant area. The proper comparison is Swift vs the sum of all the 5xx routes and 4xx routes. By your own numbers that’s over three times larger than Swift, and that’s not even counting CT (because I don’t know how many of CT’s 33,000 are 4xx routes). The 522 is a completely different corridor with different destinations and populations on it, and it effectively doesn’t serve Snohomish County at all given the distance between downtown Bothell and the border and the currently-peak-only 105 filling the gap. If you want to better your numbers, you could add the 101 to Swift. That might get you up to 5,500.

        If a corridor requires hundreds of buses, that sounds to me like a place that needs high-capacity transit and its ridership is major.

      20. “If SnoCo board members are so gung ho about high ridership, why do they seem to think it’s acceptable to not have escalators to handle all those passengers?”

        Because a train is better than no train, and they got away with no down escalators in all the DSTT stations, and Mt Baker station I think, and the southwest entrance to Capitol Hill station, etc. They’d rather put the money the escalators would cost into finishing the extension on time. That’s not great from a usability standpoint — an HCT line should adhere to minimum convenience standards like full escalators and real-time signs — but it’s the political environment we have.

      21. Ballard-UW would indeed help Snohomans get to Ballard faster. I’m not so sure about Lower Fremont, but whatever.

        What it would ensure is that NOBODY would be going to SLU/Uptown in a subway. Don’t forget that when singing a song about the alternative to Downtown-Ballard.

      22. The capacity issue has nothing to do with daily total volumes which are two-way. Midday, evening and non-workday ridership is the frosting on a cake. It makes a better city possible — a yummier cake — but it is the one-way capacity in the heaviest hour of the day that matters. Let’s stipulate that ST can build the necessary ventilation shafts to decrease headways to two minutes. That’s 30 trains per hour or a VERY respectable 24,000 passengers per hour, easily a worldwide record for a “Light Metro” using low-floor LR vehicles.

        There are a few more than 100 buses that arrive downtown between 7:00 and 8:00 AM and which will be truncated north of U-District Station after Lynnwood Link opens. That is about 6,000 passengers given that most are articulated, Double Tall or retired intercity coaches.

        That number will certainly double between the time Link opens to Lynnwood and the Green Line adds SLU to the system. Those four very solid lanes of cars crossing the county line every workday morning (~8,800 vehicles per hour) are headed somewhere in King County.

        So that would be half the capacity of Link with no passengers at all boarding in King County.

        The only defensible reason for Ballard-UW based on ridership assumes diversion of North Seattle riders; Wallingford and Upper Fremont don’t have enough developable land to make a subway worthwhile without diversion. Better to extend the Green Line north with another crossing of the Red/Blue line to make scissors rides possible on both lines.

        That would be most useful at Northgate, obviously. Seattle Subway is correct about that.

      23. @Mike — Community Transit does not have data on each line (otherwise I would list it). But Swift is the their most popular line, and carries close to a tenth of their ridership. It would be pretty weird if express buses dominate the remaining ridership. We know by looking at ST data that all-day buses are more popular — even when they operate in express mode. In other words, it is hard to see why a bus like the 421, which runs 9 times a day, dominates the remaining ridership, instead of a bus like the 101, that runs 37 times a day or the 201/202, which runs every 15 minutes from 4:30 AM until 8:00 PM, and every half hour until 10:00. Furthermore, what we also know that the 4XX can’t possibly exceed 30,000 riders, and represent probably less than half that.

        The only reason I mentioned the 522 is because AJ did. He seems to think that Snohomish County + 522 Corridor = Massive Ridership To Downtown, and I think that is just absurd. There are absolutely no facts to support that idea. Not within our system, or any system, anywhere.

      24. >> The capacity issue has nothing to do with daily total volumes which are two-way.

        They are related. Of course the are. It is a pretty simple formula. First figure out the ratio of peak demand versus overall demand. Call this ratio PR. Then figure out the all day demand (call this D). That means the peak demand is simply D * PR.

        Now each system has a different peak demand ratio. What I’m saying is, the city with one of the highest peak demand ratios also happens to be the city with the highest light rail ridership in North America. In fact, the high peak demand ratio explains the overall high demand. It is right there, in the Wikipedia article for CTrain, under “Ridership”. It all boils down to lots of office workers going into work each day. (God, I love Wikipedia — it is great for destroying BS arguments).

        You can theorize all you want, but it comes down to this. For us to have capacity problems:

        1) We will have higher peak demand than Calgary.

        2) We will carry more than 480,000 on that main line.

        Both seem absurd.

        By the way, there are systems in the world that for various historic reasons do not have a lot of capacity, despite very high ridership. The Orange Line in Boston is one example. The trains carry about as many people as our trains (roughly 800) and because the trains are breaking down (and they haven’t gotten new ones yet) they are limited to six minute headways. That’s right — six minutes. They manage to carry over 200,000 people running every six minutes. If they ran it every three minutes (which we can do easily) it would mean 400,000 people. Do you really think that we will have 400,000 riders or a peak demand towards downtown much higher than what Boston has? Keep in mind, this is just part of a major subway system that has major transfer points downtown. Our system — our entire system — will be lucky if it gets as many riders (or as many peak riders) as that one line.

        I’m getting a little bit tired of this. Not just this specific, ridiculous idea, but the general attitude, that what we are experiencing is somehow unique in the world. That no one else has every built anything like this, and once it gets going — look out. Because, who boy — it doesn’t matter where you put the stations — people will come out of the woodwork and start using it in droves. People who don’t drive downtown or take transit downtown, will suddenly appear out of nowhere, crowding the system. Good Heavens, we want to avoid that, just like, just like, like who, exactly? What are we trying to avoid, anyway. I mean, it is really easy to find examples of cities that messed up, and didn’t build things right, and are then stuck with a system nowhere near as good as it could be. It is also pretty easy to see cities temporarily struggle with massive loads while they buy the cars. But for Seattle to suddenly see crowding on an unprecedented level just because we made it too popular — sorry, you are going to have to start listing some examples.

      25. None of this, of course, is relevant to the issue at hand. The question is, would Snohomish County get anything out of the station being moved to 14th (or underground, for that matter)? The obvious answer is no, because no one in King County (or Pierce County, or Skamania County) will get anything out of it. It serves no transit function. It simply makes the station worse, for the vast majority of users (or potential users).

      26. “Swift is the their most popular line, and carries close to a tenth of their ridership.”

        And the 101 is their second most popular line.

      27. @Mike — Interesting. How did you find that out? I find it hard to find data on Community Transit bus routes (I only found out about Swift from the Wikipedia article about it, not the Wikipedia article on Community Transit).

      28. It was mentioned some years ago; i don’t remember exactly where. Before Swift the 101 was the highest-ridership route. After Swift, you might have expected that most riders would switch to Swift or most riders would remain on the 101 and there would be only a modest number of new riders. But instead Swift became the #1 route and the 101 became the #2 route. That’s probably because 99 is the only street in the county with the largest number of commercial destinations along it, as well as Edmonds CC, the Aurora Village transfer point, and at least some houses in Edmonds and Lynnwood. So any transit on 99 would be highest. But it just happens that the Swift+101 experiment succeeded.

    2. I read that as she’s looking at the Port or another entity, other than Seattle or ST, to chip in.

  10. IDS to Waterfront Promenade- OK, Bridge.

    Foot of 24th Avenue?

    Nobody drop a ball bearing!

    One advantage of any deep station. You can put station entrances blocks from the platform, accessed by gently sloping ramps (call them hallways. Or if you line them with restaurants, cafe’s and shopping-concourses.

    And one more thing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klara_shelter

    Being neutral, both Finland and Sweden have universal national service. Though many recruits get civil service jobs because, as befits neutral countries, you have to compete for the Armed Forces.

    Don’t think there’s a translation in Finnish for “Keep Finland First!” Or that after 1939, Finland has ever needed one. Also, replica shelter station from Sweden will be perfect ethnic reference for Ballard!

    In southern Sweden, many barns you see underneath giant wind turbines as your purple electric streamliner goes screaming by, host world’s hottest jet fighter bombers. Saab doesn’t just make cars. So on freeways, just keep off the hardened shoulders.

    And…I’ve got it! Get Sounder to Olympia, and, with station at JBLM (Joint Base Lewis and McChord) and we’ll have a route that the Defense Department cannot not fund because every candidate desperately need pics with soldiers in them.

    And at the passenger information area on the mezzanine five hundred feet underneath fifteenth or Shilshole Marina, or whatever, have a recruiting station for the National Services of Sweden, Finland, and the United States. Right where the lawmakers come up the escalator with all those soldiers.

    As the neutrals and their informal ally snap to attention and start handing out enlistment papers, Twitter and YouTube will go so viral we’ll need a quarantine. Hey, Department of Defense….De-fund Dat!

    And just in case anybody forgot…want this tattooed on everybody’s brain.

    Two-minute horizontal elevator ride to Tractor Tavern-India Bistro-Ballard Library stop. That on May 17th, Norwegian Constitution Day, will always have a historic fire truck with the Norwegian flag at the top of the huge ladder at main intersection at Leary and Market. Relax, guys, West Seattle is already begging us not to give them one for West Seattle Junction. They’ll pay for our U-District line to avert this.


  11. I know we won’t see this, but a statement from the mayor outlining next steps in Ballard would be nice.

    For example stating a desire at the Ballard Starion to build it in such a way as to facilitate an East-west Ballard to UW line with s station at 24th… and to site it so that northward expansion is easy.

    Unfortunately I recognized that this is ‘system speak’ and ‘outside the scope’ of ST3. Doh!

    1. You’re assuming too much transit priority of the mayor. This is the first thing that could be called “transit priority” she has done, given her complete lack of support for Move Seattle and red paint, and depending on your perspective the CCC. Another mayor would say, “We really need these things, and here are some other resources I’ve found to get more of them done on time, and I’ve directed SDOT to put transit above car thoroughput in priority when there’s a right-of-way bottleneck. And I’m looking for ways to afford the rest of it, because our city’s economy and well-being depend on it.”

      1. This is the first thing that could be called “transit priority” she has done, given her complete lack of support for Move Seattle and red paint, and depending on your perspective the CCC.

        Jesus, this is how Trump won. Not the only reason, but BS thinking like helped. Obama didn’t do enough, so dagnabbit, we need someone new. Except the people preventing Obama from doing things were the Republicans. You get that right?

        Just like you know that she inherited the mess that is Move Seattle, right? She didn’t pass that. She wasn’t even close to it. That was all the previous mayor.

        As for “doing nothing”, I can’t think of a mayor that has done more in the first few months than her, which is remarkable given the mess she inherited. Third Avenue will have faster moving buses when it matters most. Thousands of students have free ORCA cards. Lots of extra bus service is being added in the city, while Sound Transit is cutting back.

        Frankly, this is the first time I’ve been horribly disappointed in her (and O’Brien for that matter). I don’t know what the hell they are thinking. My guess is they are deferring to people who feel like it really doesn’t matter where you put the station, and that tunnels are always better. That is nuts, but since very few people seem to know much about transit in this area (Dow Constantine certainly doesn’t) and she doesn’t even have a head of SDOT, I think we, as citizens should say something about it. Instead of putting up a unified front — everyone, you, me, Martin, the whole STB staff, d. p. (we can bring him back for this), Keith Kyle — all of us should stand up and say this is crap. But instead we are busy making excuses for crap, or saying crap is just fine. Crap, after all, will eventually become pretty good, after we rezone.

        Man, I get so tired of this. Not only can not we not win the big battles – like ST3 being a project that completely transforms transit in the region, making it the default for most trips in the area (instead of just nibbling around edges) but we can’t win the little ones (like building a decent station in Ballard). Holy Cow, I really didn’t think we were going to have a *great* station in Ballard. I really didn’t think they would pull the rabbit out of the hat and put a station at 20th, or have two stations, one at 15th and Market, and the other at 24th. But I didn’t think they would make it *worse*. Amazing.

      2. Sound Transit will never be “the default for most trips in the area”. The “area” has waaaaaaaaayyy too much baked in infrastructure for that ever to be true. If it gets to 20% of all trips being made by transit that would be a spectacular success.

        You constantly argue that Central Puget Sound is too suburban to have a successful system. Instead it’s “crap”. If I didn’t know better, I might think you were a troll for the Dorie Munson crowd.

        P.S. I was wrong about the apartments along 24th. They’re BIG and exactly what I expect / hope to see along 14th. But the truth is that anyone who would walk from 56th and 24th to an east side station at 15th and Market probably wouldn’t care about the additional block if the mezzanine walkway reaches the west side of 15th.

      3. “Jesus, this is how Trump won. Not the only reason, but BS thinking like helped. Obama didn’t do enough, so dagnabbit, we need someone new. Except the people preventing Obama from doing things were the Republicans. You get that right?”

        What? I can hardly see any parallels between Durkan, Obama, and Trump.

        “Just like you know that she inherited the mess that is Move Seattle, right?”

        I know that. but it costs nothing to declare transit a priority, set some specific goals, and outline how you’re going to try to salvage as much of Move Seattle as you can, and to order SDOT to paint Third Avenue red and the other corridors mentioned in Frank’s article Friday, and to say that parking spaces will no longer prevent transit priority from happening. She could also commit to fixing the pedestrian timing problems on the new traffic signals while she’s at it.

        “As for “doing nothing”, I can’t think of a mayor that has done more in the first few months than her, which is remarkable given the mess she inherited. Third Avenue will have faster moving buses when it matters most.”

        That’s the minimum that anyone would do. Doing this is like when the housing committee made some comprehensive HALA recommendations, the city deleted the ones in the single-family areas (70% of the residential land), and committed to implementing what’s left. This change in Third Avenue (bus-only peak and midday instead of peak only) is the “what’s left”.

        “Thousands of students have free ORCA cards.”

        I see that as more of a social issue than a transit issue. Yes, it makes buses more affordable to kids and may encourage them to try transit, but it does not make the buses any more frequent or faster.

        “Lots of extra bus service is being added in the city, while Sound Transit is cutting back.”

        That’s a continuation of Prop 1, and the money flowing in from the booming economy without the mayor having to do anything. It’s good that she didn’t try to reverse Prop 1 or divert the money to non-transit purposes, but isn’t that a minimum a mayor should do? Oh, she did reverse it a little bit, by diverting a chunk to those free ORCA passes for kids. I feel about that like I do about the carbon initiative spending: I don’t dislike it but I’d prefer the money be saved for bus hours later (or carbon-tax money refunded to residents).

      4. >> What? I can hardly see any parallels between Durkan, Obama, and Trump.

        That’s not what I said. I am talking about the election. I said one of the reasons that Trump won was a BS narrative. People thought the Democrats weren’t doing anything, because the Democrats were “in charge”. Except they weren’t. Democrats were only in charge of the White House. Republicans controlled Congress, and they opposed just about everything that Obama tried to do (in a brazen manner). I’m comparing one BS narratives to another.

        As for Third Avenue, she is already improving things. It is unrealistic to expect Third Avenue to ban cars 24/7. That is why no other mayor has done that. But she has banned cars for a much longer time, and banned left turns. Probably more importantly, we will soon have off board payment for the entire stretch. I really don’t care if a car uses Third in the middle of the night. That isn’t the problem. The problem is that boarding takes too long, and the banned period was too small. Both of those problems will be fixed.

        “Lots of extra bus service is being added in the city, while Sound Transit is cutting back.”

        That’s a continuation of Prop 1, and the money flowing in from the booming economy without the mayor having to do anything.

        Not entirely. Some of the money came from Amazon. She probably worked behind the scenes to help make that happen.

        Meanwhile, ORCA cards in the hands of students mean more students take buses, instead of driving, or being driven. That, in turn, helps the buses run faster.

        Again, I point to the fact that no one has done more in such a short amount of time, all while she has no permanent SDOT chief! Seriously, what do folks expect? Please tell me who has done more for transit up to this point. This mess — the mess that is SDOT — is not what she expected (SDOT hid their flaws better than our new Supreme Court justice). She had no idea that SDOT was so messed up, or she would have created a plan to deal with it sooner. She assumed that the agency knew what they were doing, would spend the Move Seattle money as expected, and we would see some very important improvements.

        but it costs nothing to declare transit a priority, set some specific goals, and outline how you’re going to try to salvage as much of Move Seattle as you can,

        She has already done that. You can see that in just about every press release (http://durkan.seattle.gov/2018/04/a-vision-for-a-more-vibrant-downtown-with-fewer-cars-more-transit-and-less-pollution/). But the specifics will require a lot of study, and a new SDOT chief. This is very important, and we should get it right. Otherwise, we could end up with someone as horrible as Kubly.

        I just find it amazing that folks didn’t say this about Murray, since obviously Murray was terrible at transit. I guess it just took people a while to figure that out. People are attacking Durkan for simply not meeting unrealistic expectations, as opposed to doing something bad to transit. Murray, meanwhile, did something horrible to transit. The Move Seattle fiasco means that not only do we not have as much money for transit as we hoped, but people won’t trust the city when we ask for more.

      5. Sound Transit will never be “the default for most trips in the area”. The “area” has waaaaaaaaayyy too much baked in infrastructure for that ever to be true. If it gets to 20% of all trips being made by transit that would be a spectacular success.

        I never said it would be. I realize you are new to the blog, probably new to the area and perhaps new to transit, but Sound Transit is really a small transit player in the region. The heavy lifting is being done by Metro. This is common. Even in cities with outstanding rail systems (like Vancouver and Chicago) it is common for bus ridership to exceed train ridership. In those areas, the buses and trains work together.

        But cities that make massive investments in transit (as we did) can transform transit in the region. Washington D. C. did that, as well as Vancouver. It is not about ridership exactly (although transit ridership in those cities is very high) but about the ability to get just about everywhere you want to go. Going to work, going to a show, visiting a friend, checking out that restaurant someone recommended — all of that happens by transit. Of course there are exceptions. A trip to Fife, for example, would likely happen by car, just as a trip to West Vancouver would likely be taken by car. But those represent a small portion of the trips. For most people, the default mode of transportation becomes transit, whether it involves a bus, a train, or both.

        Seattle could have done that. It could have focused on trips that are extremely slow, but common, along with more cost effective improvements to commuter style trips (that will be dominated by bus service in one form of another). But they didn’t. It would have been easy to build both the WSTT and the Ballard to UW Subway. That would have meant that the entire north end would have a faster trip to the UW (one of those more common trips) as well as Ballard (ditto). The extreme speed difference between the train and driving in that corridor stretches the effectiveness of the route — it extends well north and south of the line (because transit actually moves relatively quickly north/south through the area). This, plus the work done in ST2, means you can get just about anywhere from the north end fairly quickly (e.g. Northgate, UW, Capitol Hill, Rainier Valley, etc.). Likewise, the WSTT (with appropriate improvements, of course) would lead to much faster travel times than West Seattle Link (since most of the riders will have to transfer). The north end of the WSTT would have eliminated the worse part of the E as well as the D, giving those along the Aurora/Phinney corridor a much faster way to get downtown (and places south). Ballard would be much better off as well, having two ways to get downtown, each with its own advantages.

        That wouldn’t have covered everything, of course. While Belltown would get a stop, we lose one stop in South Lake Union (the other one would be in the exact same spot). First Hill remains uncovered (although it would have had a stop if Sound Transit had done things right a few years ago). That means those areas would have to rely on fast bus service. The good news is that the city is actually working on that, in both areas (Roosevelt BRT and Madison BRT). While neither is necessarily as fast as an underground line, the distances are such that if they do it right, the result is a system that just works. Folks in Lake City, for example, will be OK with a connection to the light rail line, as long it doesn’t involve a long, congested, twisted path (to Northgate) but is fast and short (to 130th).

        That means with just those two projects, we would be pretty much done in Seattle. On the east side, you would have BRISK (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/05/06/brisk-making-it-fast-frequent-and-reliable-alt-2/) along with other bus improvements. Likewise, both Snohomish and Pierce County would have massing improvements in both service and speed. That doesn’t mean that someone in the town of Sammamish gets rid of their car, but that isn’t the case for similar towns anywhere. What it does mean, though, that people in Ballard would get rid of their car (or at the very least use it only for trips to places like Sammamish and Fife). Someone in Lake City really does take transit to Ballard (something that is rare today and will likely continue to be rare after ST3 is complete) even if it involves a bus ride. That is because the buses aren’t the sort of long slogs that typify our system (e. g. the 44, which travels at very low speeds, even in the middle of the day) but are either fast buses (like the E) or short connecting routes (which are rare right now, but would become common with a system like the one I describe).

        That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t add to it. Even great systems are getting additions. But it means that for those cities, after spending as spent as us, would have a system that transforms just about every common trip taken in the city.

      6. I think that if you add up Link, Sounder and Express boardings in King County today you’d get about 130k riders on an average weekday. Metro reports about 400k daily riders, right? It appears that ST is already past 20 percent of all King County boardings.

        The ST2 extensions will probably drive that past 30 percent (especially with East Link and Northgate Metro bus service reductions or eliminations).

        The 405 BRT, 522 BRT , Issaquah LRT, Ballard and West Seattle LRT and three infill stations will probably push this to well past 40 percent of all King County boardings.

        Finally if you look at importance by rider-miles rather than mere boardings, ST will easily be the most used transit system in King County soon.

      7. You have to make a distinction between Link and other ST services. RossB is right in a way: many residents and visitors in cities with comprehensive subways like New York, London, Moscow, etc, take only the subway and rarely take buses expect for unusual trips where the subway doesn’t go. At the same time, all those cities have tons of buses, often coming every 5-10 minutes all day and into the evening, and they are well used.

        Once in Chicago I attended a conference in Rosemont (the second station from the O’Hare airport terminus) and went several times to the North Side (the Lakeview neighborhood along Clark between Fullerton and Lawrence). Chicago’s el is radial, and the O’Hare line is a northwest diagonal, while Clark Street runs north-south near the eastern shore. So all trips to there require a combination el+bus ride. There are several possible bus routes, at Diversey, Belmont, Addison, Montrose, and Lawrence. I rode most of those and the Clark bus multiple times. And because the Blue line is diagonal, a longer train trip means a shorter bus trip and vice-versa. What struck me was that all the bus routes were pretty full, even though they ran every ten minutes, and the Clark bus parallels the Red and Brown lines, and the buses are annoyingly slow. So I could easily imagine that Chicago has twice as many bus hours as Seattle, even though it has a lot of el hours and a half-dozen lines.

        Long-distance trips as served by ST Express and Sounder are a small percent compared to the local trips. But with Link you get a hybrid. Its Everett-Lynnwood-UDist-downtown travel time is the same as ST Express (faster than rush hour but slower than Sunday morning), but it also stops at Capitol Hill, Roosevelt, Northgate, Shoreline, etc. So it picks up many of those local trips too. In Rainier Valley the same thing happens, compared to the former 194 express to the airport. On the Eastside the 550 already has a lot of stops and Link will have mostly the same ones, so that won’t be much different although it will be faster and more frequent. In Bel-Red and Redmond it’s a new corridor and a new urban village, so can’t be compared to the status quo, except in replacing the 545. So Link will absorb both the former ST Express trips, and get defectors from local trips, and make new in-between trips feasible (e.g., Capitol Hill to Bellevue). So it’s expected to gain a lot of mode share. It will be bigger than any single Metro route (if it isn’t already), even if it’s smaller than Metro as a whole.

        The remaining ST services will thus become a smaller percent of the transit whole.

      8. The 405 BRT, 522 BRT , Issaquah LRT, Ballard and West Seattle LRT and three infill stations will probably push this to well past 40 percent of all King County boardings.

        Maybe, maybe not. There is no doubt that ST ridership will increase, but so will Metro ridership. West Seattle ridership, for example, will be almost all folks that take the (Metro) bus, then take the train. Even for something like the 41 (which will definitely see a Metro to Link switch) you will see a lot more people riding the bus to get to Northgate.

        A lot of the switching will also be ST to Link. There is a wide disparity with those routes. The ones that are popular are the ones being replaced by Link. The other buses just don’t carry that many people, which means that it is unlikely that ST bus ridership will be nearly as high, assuming they create similar new routes (or add service on the old ones). Of course we will see significant increases on all of those already fairly strong corridors, but there will also just be a lot of people switching from an ST bus to Link (or ST “BRT”). (This type of switching is not a bad thing, by the way).

        By the time Link gets to Ballard we will all be riding jet packs. Just kidding. But it does sound reasonable that all those RapidRide+ projects will be done and who knows, we might have automated buses. The first would lead to much faster ridership within Metro, and the second would be a dramatic increase in transit ridership across the board (but certainly involving Metro). If you can pretty much eliminate the headway penalty with buses (if buses run on every corridor every five minutes) then you also eliminate the transfer penalty and taking transit is reasonable for just about every trip.

        Put it another way — I don’t see Link getting to 300,000 or ST express or Sounder increasing much at all. If they do, then Metro will probably be over 600,000.

        Finally if you look at importance by rider-miles rather than mere boardings, ST will easily be the most used transit system in King County soon.

        I’m not sure if that matters, nor do I think it is true. If the Long Island Railway shuts down, it is not nearly as bad (for folks in Long Island or in New York City) as if the New York City subway shuts down.

        Either way, though, I don’t think that will happen. Metro has about three times the ridership (as you point out). While ST has some very long trips, ridership for relatively short trips tend to dominate. ST doesn’t have stop to stop data for Link, but if you look at a southbound trip, it is obvious that lots of people are taking relatively short trips. About 2,000 people are just riding it from the UW to Capitol Hill. At Westlake (southbound) about 4,000 people disembark (meaning lots of people are either going from Capitol Hill to Westlake or UW to Westlake). Likewise through downtown. By the time the train gets to SoDo, you have about half of the ridership. By the time it reaches Rainier Beach, 25,000 of the 36,000 people have used it. That means the really lengthy trips (the one involving SeaTac or Tukwila) is not a huge portion of the ridership. Sounder is split fairly evenly, but carries relatively few people. Many of the ST buses go a very long distance, but those tend to carry few people.

        Also keep in mind that Metro has its share of long distance runs, and some of them are quite popular. The E goes a long ways. I’m not saying that ST isn’t more oriented towards long distance runs, but the relative popularity of their shorter runs, along with the wide disparity in popularity (three times) isn’t enough to give them the edge in this measure.

        Could this change soon? Maybe, I doubt it. Whether it is ST or Metro, the shorter trips tend to dominate. As long as Metro has a lot more riders (which I expect to continue for a very long time) they will probably win the rider-miles contest as well.

        I think one of the things that will happen is that Community Transit is poised to become a lot bigger player in the region. They are moving ahead with their popular Swift program, and Lynnwood Link will free up a lot of money for them. They are still relatively small potatoes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Community Transit passes ST Express (I expect them to be moving in opposite direction at some point — although it isn’t clear at all whether ST Express will look like after Link expands).

      9. Here are data on riders and rider miles for both Metro and ST in 2017.


        ST shows 428k rider miles and Metro is listed as 618k. As ST adds riders that’s seems very likely that they will pass Metro in rider miles by 2025. (Of course ST serves parts of three counties.)

        The same report seems to shows that average Metro trip length is under 5 miles while ST is over 13.

        The blog reported that ST3 would have between 657k to 798k eeekday riders boardings:


        (I’m kind of dubious that this isn’t exactly correct as there may be double counting in there.) Metro appears to need to have 65 percent more rider boardings to match this. While feeder buses could help that, many major trunk routes to North Seattle, Bellevue, Ballard and West Seattle will certainly pull lots of riders from Metro.

        It’s an interesting discussion but my overall statement is backed up by these sources — ST will be just as important as Metro in carrying transit riders in our region once ST3 is implemented. ST does not have and is not going to have just a minor role.

      10. Um, yes you did. To be exact you said “Not only can not we not win the big battles – like ST3 being a project that completely transforms transit in the region, making it the default for most trips in the area (instead of just nibbling around edges) but we can’t win the little ones (like building a decent station in Ballard). ”

        That sort of implies that you believe that if you were King of King County you could produce a version of Sound Transit that is “the default for most trips in the area”. Am I reading incorrectly?

      11. Mmmmm, no response. So which King would you be? Canute shouting at the tide of SOV’s?

    2. If Ballard-UW is ever built, it should be a semi-surface alignment on stubby structure alongside the BGT with a fully elevated section through Lower Fremont and Lower Campus and a tunneled section through Downtown Ballard. Let’s say this built with four inexpensive side-platform, non-mezzanine stations west of HSS and two tunnel stations. They’d be at foot of Brooklyn, foot is Wallingford (Gasworks Park), Lower Fremont, and Frelard all above ground and 14th and 54th and 24th and Market in tunnel. It might be necessary to tunnel through Lower Fremont as well, but it’s only 3/4 mile.

      This would take the trackway by ALL the jobs ever likely to be in this corridor, and even at 30 miles per hour in order to preserve the peace of the adjacent trail, it would take only 14 minutes end to end. It’s 0.7 miles from 24th to 14th along Market, 1.7 miles from 14th NW and Market to Lower Fremont by bike (BGT), and 2.7 from there to HSS or 5.1 miles. At 30 mph that takes a hair over ten minutes, and you can run full speed in the tunnel section.

      Add in 45 seconds per intermediate stop and you get three and three quarter minutes or a total of 13.75 round up to 14. This is a perfect use for Euro-Trams (top speed typically about 70 kph or 42 mph). Such a plan makes possible and affordable what would be would be overkill — and unaffordable — as a Link level subway throughout. Four-module Avenio trams by Siemens were sold to Munich for €4 million each, or roughly $5 million. The five-module would perhaps be an additional million each. The full width versions can seat about 90 people per car and stand another 250 or so. At five minute headways they could carry 4000 people each direction. Currently the 44 plus the 31 carry a maximum of 780 passengers, so that seems a generous margin for growth and they could be run somewhat more frequently or more sections could be added. They support up to eight sections.

      1. ST needs to decide right now if a future UW-Ballard line is in the works, and what form it will take.

        If, for instance, they decide they want to interline it at the Ballard Station, then they need to stack the station to allow for this.

        if they think it’s not going to interline then they need to put in facilities for a non-service connecting track so that the UW-Ballard trains can get to the maintenance yard.

        I don’t see how a different tram system can work though. Where would you put the maintenance yard? In Ballard? Too, if you have stations too close to the water you’re looking at a reduced walkshed. There have been very good posts in the past about possible routes for a UW-Ballard line that you can search for on this site.

      2. Trams can run on Link tracks just fine; they can use the existing MF or another facility built in SoDo for them if that makes sense for storage.

        You are absolutely correct that if 14th Tunnel or 15th Tunnel is the selected option, a non-revenue connection needs to be included in the Green Line tunnel. The cross-over used to sort terminating trains to the empty platform can also be used for the needed cross-over for the non-revenue connection. Just put it a couple of blocks south of the Green Line station.

        That’s a good point about station walksheds, but Lower Fremont is almost entirely a trip destination rather than a source, and development up the hill is well-served by the E, 5, and 26/28 expresses. They will continue to run unless and until a Pink Line is built.

        The station in Frelard admittedly could be a couple of blocks north of Fred Meyer if third underground station could be included. The foot of Wallingford is already a mid-rise node linked to UW for employment. The million dollar Queen Anne style houses north of 35th are not going to be razed for TOD.

        A 45th option is simply way too expensive for the potential travel; it has to be under-grounded ALL the way and misses Lower Fremont.

        I recognize that this alignment requires folks headed to the area around U-District Station to change at HSS and backtrack. But a 45th alignment would require two vehicles as well, one of which would be the relatively infrequent 5 to Upper Fremont or the 62 to Wallingford. Neither would be as quick or reliable as the tram. And the truth is that it’s not that far from the foot of Brooklyn at 40th to 44th or 45th.

  12. East of 15th is not Ballard. I’ve never headed to Ballard and ended up anywhere other than west of 15th. The area to the east is something else. I used to live on Crown Hill and loved going down to Ballard. I still enjoy it though I don’t live there anymore, but the parking situation on a Friday or Saturday night sucks. I was looking forward to eventually getting to Ballard by train, but if the stop is over on 14th then… meh.. it’s a long walk on a cold evening to get to anywhere in Ballard I want to go.

    In other words, if the train is supposed to go to Ballard then it really should go to Ballard!

    Even 15th is borderline acceptable in my opinion. Building anything just because anything is better than nothing is a piss-poor way of transit planning.

    And why does ST jump whenever the UW or the Port of Seattle sneezes? The UW, being a state agency outranks ST so it maybe makes sense there, but the Port of Seattle doesn’t.

    And, if losing a couple of drydocks is going to kill the fishing industry here then maybe the fishing ndustry is hanging by such a narrow thread that someone should cut it already!

    1. It’s the no-man’s land between Ballard and Fremont. Ballard can arguably be said to extend to 8th NW or 1st NW, but that area is quieter and less dense than Ballard “town”, or even north Ballard between 60th and 85th. I used to live at 65th just west of 15th, and earlier had a friend at 70th, and I found the “town” closer and people more urban-minded there than in the area east of 15th.

      1. Yeah, my Grandfather used to live in Blue Ridge, and when people used to ask him where he lived, he just said “Ballard”. But the point is, if you are only going to serve greater Ballard with one station, then it should be as close as possible to the heart of Ballard which is west of 15th. That is the area that is more densely populated, has more employment and city wide attractions. This is like putting only one station in West Seattle, putting it here: https://goo.gl/maps/pR2ukTQ8YaB2, then telling the folks in West Seattle: “There you go, enjoy”.

  13. I’m with Ross on this one – putting the Ballard station at 14th is ridiculous and unacceptable. It’s time for transit advocates like Seattle Subway to step up and make that clear before this moves any further along in the process.

  14. These are just recommendations right? The ST board can accept or reject the elected and stakeholder wishes?

    1. So you believe that we here in the cheap seats know all the ins-and-outs the the elected’s hear about — at exhaustive length — every day? Rotsa ruck with that.

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