From Boston, STB’s frenemy emeritus, d.p., shares this twitter observation:

One can quibble about hills, and placement of the dots. But he’s right that someone that tried to say that Convention Place serves Capitol Hill, or Avalon Station served the Junction, would rightly draw ridicule.

The development map d.p. attaches shows that “new Ballard” isn’t actually east of “old Ballard,” but instead to the north. A 14th station is simply farther away — not at the heart of coming density that will dwarf the existing old buildings.

There are legitimate reasons to support 15th Ave over something further west. It eases bus integration* with points north, and makes a future line, to the north and east, cheaper. As Sound Transit has eliminated options to the west anyway, the choice is down to a station that sort supports some of the density in Ballard, and bus transfers, or one that does neither.

* Though bus integration is generally less effective than putting it where the density is.

126 Replies to “Ballard is Big, but Link Might Miss it Entirely”

  1. It would be a ‘penny-wise-pound-foolish’ and short-sighted mistake to put the station on 14th, which is why I have every bit of confidence that it’s exactly what ST will do.

    1. Just kill ST3. There’s nothing worthwhile in it. Start over with an east-west line from Ballard to UW.

  2. Given this map the station could even be right under the Ballard Commons park at 22nd and 57th, north of market(!), under a park(!), and be far superior to anything they have considered to date. Getting there would be the rub though.

    14th should be discarded out of hand.

    A station at 15th and market is okay, but even that is very much on the edge, and whether they build it at 15th or 14th a Ballard to UW line should seriously consider a station to the west (24th and market?) instead of interlining.

    1. I agree completely. 15th will have to do for this station; 14th is crazy. Eventually a station at 24th (as well as a connecting station at 15th) makes sense, given the area. There is not only the growing population as well as the cultural attractions, but also increasing employment (

      Interlining in Ballard also adds less value than interlining in the UW (although neither seems likely at this point).

    1. amen to K H comment; d.p. is great.

      with 15th Avenue NW full of traffic, Route 15X and the D Line are quite slow southbound in the a.m. peak. Initially, that traffic may have been caused by SR-99 changes, but with growth, I expect it is permanent.

      1. typos: “been caused”; “growth”, not “grow”. is an editing function coming to STB?

      2. d.p. has a lot of good ideas, but he is a tendentious jerk who “won” arguments by refusing to acknowledge opponents’ points and insulting them

        Think Ross but much ruder.

      3. As the recipient of RossB’s wrath on this thread (and the irony is that he, DP, and I are on the same side of the argument in favor of Ballard to UW), I think we all frustrated with the ST process. DP was banned way before ST3 passed, no doubt he would have off the charts if he remained.

        I have gone after STB for not pressing SDOT/Kubly sooner for his ST3 thinking (thus we were all caught a bit off guard by the two tunnel/ 2035 to Ballard idea). As noted below, the winning process was never subject to public comment in an open house, etc. I once donated to Seattle Subway, but stopped giving when they stopped fighting for Ballard to UW.

        I think all of the Ballard to UW supporters (once called “dead enders” on a STB podcast by Martin) are all ticked off– just in varying degrees, because all this was foreseeable.

      4. d.p. was the one who showed me that a Ballard-UW subway could zigzaging to both central Fremont and Wallingford and still have good travel time because being able to ignore the street grid makes a big difference. He may have been the first to point out that ST’s own corridor studies showed that Ballard-UW would cost less and have more ridership than Ballard-downtown. (Although that was before the SLU detour which SDOT requested at the last minute, which will really increase downtown-SLU ridership and somewhat increase Ballard-SLU). But he had a serious weakness wit ad hominem attacks and swearing.

        “I think all of the Ballard to UW supporters … are all ticked off– just in varying degrees, because all this was foreseeable.”

        Foreseeable how? We thought the worst would be a 15th station. That’s what ST and all the electeds were recommending. We thought that was substandard but an acceptable compromise. Then this 14th option came out of left field. Are you saying this is comparable to Surrey Downs or the Bellevue tunnel? Or just that ST always makes things unbelievably worse?

      5. “Or just that ST always makes things unbelievably worse?”

        Yes, in that ST will always take the cheap way out, particularly in neighborhoods without pull. (C.f. West Seattle) Here we are– Ballard, you get a tunnel under the ship canal, but the stop will be on 14th. I did not predict that particular cluster—- but I could predict that ST will take the cheap way out.

        Remember ST’s first proposal on ST3, which would give Ballard a streetcar?

      6. Mike, you are one of the most knowledgeable posters here on the blog. I’m surprised that you did not know that bored tunnels can cross the street grid. Modern subways all over the world are taking advantage of this flexibility.

        They have to be pretty deep to do so because they must cross utilities in place and if too shallow can disturb buildings and their occupants. That of course implies that any station within or immediately adjacent to the “diagonal” section must be deep — and expensive — as well.

        The thing is, though, that Ballard-UW has little “regional” value that extending the Green Line to Northgate as an elevated line would not provide. If the City of Seattle really cares about gating North Seattle residents to jobs and classes in the U District, it can improve the speed and reliability of the 44 for the low cost of a spine implant and a few million dollars of red paint and “No Parking” signage. If rail service across the corridor becomes necessary because of employment gains in Ballard and Frelard, a tram alongside the BGT would serve the employment centers in the corridor without the need for a subway.

      7. “I’m surprised that you did not know that bored tunnels can cross the street grid.”

        I knew that; I just didn’t know a train could zigzag to both Fremont and Wallingford and still be efficient. Usually these arguments have been “You can serve one or the other but not both.”

        “ST will always take the cheap way out”

        14th is not about making it cheaper; it’s about the Port’s opposition to 15th.

      8. Of course Mike knew that bored tunnels can cross the street grid. What he is talking about is the assumptions that just about everyone makes when it comes to transit. This came up all the time with Ballard to the UW. I was talking to someone who lives in Ballard, and voiced my support for Ballard to the UW. She said that it made more sense to go downtown. I said the train could keep going (to downtown) but she said it would be too slow. This is a very reasonable assumption if you have lived in this city. Distances aren’t obvious, and we tend to exaggerate trips that are slow by car (or bus) and underestimate the opposite. But when you do the math (and I did the math) it turns out that going via Ballard would cost the rider less than two minutes. That is a very small time penalty given the obvious advantages (two stops in Ballard, much faster trip to the UW, etc.). We also tend to ignore the cost of actually getting to the station (and ST seems to be doing that right here).

        The problem is, most aspects of transit are not obvious. A lot of plans that seem great on paper simply don’t work out, because you don’t get the riders you think you would. This is where knowledge and experience about other systems is so important. This is what d. p. brought to this blog (and what he brings to the Twittersphere as well the occasional Stranger comment). I have yet to read anyone here (including the folks that run this blog) be able to cite transit systems throughout the country (and the world) to support their case with the regularity and detail that d. p. has. He had an axe to grind, but it was based on history. He has seen too many cities just blow it. They spent a bunch of money on something that sounds great, but falls short, and you are just stuck with it. That is what I fear is happening and it is what d. p. fears is happening.

        Ultimately, big budget transit projects require compromise. Even New York City doesn’t have the system it should, despite dwarfing every U. S. city in both need and ridership. Money issues aside, you are always going to have conflicts with groups that don’t want the mess involved with building improvements. But a few key themes keep popping up, over and over, and d. p. was quick to point these out (again, with plenty of examples and facts to support it). Density and proximity are key. Again, this is not intuitive. We assume that folks who have the worse commute (e. g. Marysville to Seattle, or Fort Worth to Dallas) will be the ones that gain the most from a subway line. But this is simply not the case, anywhere. The systems that carry huge numbers of people are the ones that are relatively close to the city, and reach large concentrations of people. Those types of systems are also more popular all day long, and tend to involve a lot less track. Thus they are way cheaper to maintain, as the subsidy per ridership is a lot less.

        Another key point is that even if you spend billions upon billions on a really good rail system, lots of people will ride the bus. There are cities with outstanding rail systems (like Vancouver, Chicago, Montreal) that have huge bus ridership. Creating a system that works for both the buses and the trains makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, there is little within ST3 that does this. Connecting buses to the Ballard station (even if it is at 15th) is not easy. About a mile east of the station is Phinney Ridge (a neighborhood with reasonably high density). Yet I doubt a bus will connect the two areas (it would be weird if the 5 suddenly turned left and backtracked to Ballard). Thus it is cut off from a good portion of the potential connecting ridership. It is worse for many of the other stations. Smith Cove is the only station for about a two mile section of this line, and yet it sits between the Puget Sound and a greenbelt. This not only severely limits the number of people who will walk to the station, but also any connecting bus route. Building miles of very expensive track, while adding so few good stations is just not a very cost effective way to improve your subway system. Yet it is clearly the best line within ST3. Everything else is worse. Again, this isn’t obvious (it is way too easy to focus on traffic) but if you look at the cities that have really successful transit systems, along with the ones that don’t, it sure looks like we building a poor system (or at best, a poor value system).

        Of course every city is different, but one of the key things he would emphasize, over and over, is that we aren’t unique. Our problems are problems that other cities have, and our approach is common as well. But if you ignore what works and what doesn’t in other cities, you are bound to struggle.

      9. @mdnative — I also think it was stupid to build this Ballard line before Ballard to UW. That is one of the reasons why I opposed ST3. I simply felt that the agency could do better, and would do better if the proposal failed, and they tried again. I think they are long overdue for a shakeup, and need a different approach (one that requires less politicking, and more independent study).

        But I actually thought the Ballard line was decent and one of the few significant improvements to transit in ST3. I assumed that it was going to be built the way they said it was going to be built. Building it that way is fine, and a good value. I would have gone further, and run the train on the surface (or even done cut and cover through Belltown as Bruce once proposed) but those are reasonable trade-offs. I feel like a bridge along with an elevated station is a good value. Whether the bridge was really high or just very high (and opened) is a small matter, in my opinion. But spending a huge amount on a tunnel, and then skipping the heart of Ballard is just crazy. So too is sending the train to 14th. I never thought they would even consider doing either. I figured the only debate would be over exact placement of the stations close to downtown (including Seattle Center), not that they would move the Dravus station two blocks off Dravus, let alone make the Ballard station a terrible value or a terrible station (or both).

      10. This is to every one of you dreamers who think Ballard-UW could be a replacement for Ballard-Downtown.

        1) You can NEVER connect an east-west line to North Link at or in the vicinity of 45th and U Way/Brooklyn. Not even d.p.’s mooted “service tunnel”.

        To do a service tunnel you would need to break into one of the existing tubes twice and into the other once. For a through-routed in-service connection you’d need to break into each tube once AND under-run the existing tunnels by about thirty feet for the north-to-west junction.

        If you do that under UW to minimize the distance you end up with a bi-level station U-District expansion with no good reason for separating the platforms.

        If you do it north of U-District Station you need to belly north to at least 52nd to descend far enough and will need two separate I-5 undercrossings.

        In EITHER case you would have to build”station box” enclosures around each of the omitted bell-mouths to prevent the earth around the tubes from coming into the in-service tunnels.

        2) Since you can’t “through-route” Ballard-UW into a UW-Downtown overlay service, everyone who gets off the 28, 5, E, 62 or 26 (assuming stations at all the crossings) is going to be choosing a three-seat ride intercepted, excepted for the 26, not very far before the commutation service “goes express” on Aurora.

        Will some take the transfers? Certainly, especially if they’re headed for the south end of downtown. But more will stick with the bus, especially to SLU.

        3) Finally, Ballard-UW means no second tunnel and no four stations just north of the traditional downtown. It would have been the end of Link expansion and probably gone down to defeat as the western edge of Seattle voted “No” to ST3.

  3. One of the reasons why I supported Ballard to UW was that I believed ST would go cheap on the ship canal crossing. So here we are– Tunnel and you get to have a stop on 14th, or a drawbridge/likely replacement for the Ballard Bridge that will open at 6:01 pm every day that stops on 15th.

    1. As has been said many, many times, the drawbridge will be taller, and rarely open. It will also be extremely rare for a rider to notice a slowdown. Keep in mind that the bridge operator is capable of delaying a ship for a couple minutes (it happens all the time). Thus an operator will wait until a train passes, then open the bridge. More often than not, the bridge will be down before the next train arrives. There will be no backup (which occurs with traffic) which is always worse than actually waiting for the bridge to go up and down. Most riders won’t notice the delay anymore than most riders don’t notice other delays in our system (which happen a lot more often). The train will simply spend a little more time in the station, that’s all. The extra time spent at each station for the opening will be very small compared to the extra time spent for a tunnel station — even one on 15th. If you doubt that, do the math (I’ve done it before, but don’t feel like doing it again).

      But Ballard to the UW made more sense for other reasons (which have also been mentioned repeatedly).

      1. I ride the 15X everyday home from work — and the bridge goes up at 6:01pm almost every day in the summer no matter for the traffic (whether it is a barge or a sail boat). My guess is that a draw bridge brings back the SDOT attempt to replace the Ballard bridge.

        One of the other issues that Mike O’Brien has said in his open houses at the Ballard Sunday market is that the US (IIRC it was the Corps of Engineers) has to approve a new bridge.

      2. I ride the 15X everyday home from work — and the bridge goes up at 6:01pm almost every day in the summer no matter for the traffic (whether it is a barge or a sail boat).

        So what? I never contested that point.

        Again, the drawbridge will be taller. This means that boats that require an opening for the existing bridge will easily go under a bigger bridge. Look, it is common for sailboats to go under the 520 bridge. These same sailboats require an opening to go under the ship canal bridges. That is because the 520 bridge is taller.

        I hate to repeat the rest of the argument, but you don’t seem to get it. It doesn’t matter if the bridge occasionally opens any more than it matters if a freight train crosses an intersection. Most of the time there won’t be a delay at all. On those rare occasions when a tall boat takes an unusually long time to cross through the channel, the delay will be minuscule, and is dwarfed by the long dwell times felt by riders every day. Close your eyes, get out your stop watch, and you would have no idea when the bridge actually opened. Of course you wouldn’t. Most of the time, the bridge will be up and down before the train is supposed to cross. Other times you wouldn’t be able to tell if the delay is caused by some mechanical problem, long dwell times, or some other issue.

        On the other hand, if you put the station deep underground, every single rider will notice how long it takes to get to the platform.

        Oh, and of course the new bridge has to be approved. There are dozens of projects that have to be approved for a project this size (whether it involves a tunnel or a bridge). That hasn’t stopped us from building things in the past, and there is no reason it should us from building this. Oh, and the Salmon Bay railroad bridge (used by BNSF) has to be rebuilt, and thus has to go through the same approval process (by the Coast Guard) Do think they will just throw up their hands, and start working on a tunnel?

      3. I don’t get it. Why is anyone arguing for a drawbridge when a high bridge is possible and affordable within the plan.

        I also don’t get why ST missed some completely on the 14th high bridge crossing with a 15th station. It’s an obvious option if you are going to do it with a tunnel.

      4. The issue with a drawbridge is that SDOT may use the ST bridge as a replacement for the Ballard bridge (i.e., same height so bikes and pens can use it). I would have no issue for a much higher drawbridge than the current Ballard bridge– but if SDOT gets what it wants, we have Ballard Bridge II.

      5. The issue with a drawbridge is that SDOT may use the ST bridge as a replacement for the Ballard bridge (i.e., same height so bikes and pens can use it). I would have no issue for a much higher drawbridge than the current Ballard bridge– but if SDOT gets what it wants, we have Ballard Bridge II.

        I really have no idea what you are saying now. Are you saying that SDOT will try and build a new bridge the same height as the new rail bridge? That is news to me, but who cares? I mean if they want to build a 70 foot high drawbridge, whatever. Even if they want to piggyback on the ST project, and build one huge bridge for bikes, pedestrians, cars and the train I don’t see the problem. As long as the bridge is high — which is what they have been planning all along — it doesn’t matter.

        @T. R. 5000 — Sure, a high bridge is ideal — as long as it goes to 15th! My point is the worries over a *very high* drawbridge are overblown, and probably played a part in this mess. Seattle Subway, for example, focused on that issue (for long term maintenance reasons, not delays) and that may have lead some leaders to erroneously think that the public opposes a drawbridge. I can’t speak for the organization, but my guess is they would rather have a drawbridge to 15th than a high bridge (or subway) to 14th.

      6. The two bridges ST has considered are a 70′ moveable bridge and a 130′ fixed bridge. The 70′ bridge would be twice as high as the Ballard bridge so most sailboats could go under it. A 130′ bridge would be like Aurora. Bridges that high are more expensive, the touchdown points would be further out, the Ballard and Dravus stations would be higher meaning longer to go up to, and it would be much more difficult for bikes and beds to use the bridge. There’s a good argument that it’s not worth it to avoid a couple openings a day. People point to the West Seattle bridge that got stuck open for years and forced construction of the high-level bridge, but when in the past century have the Ship Canal bridges done that?

      7. Just to be clear, Market Street and Dravus Street would both be over 1/2 mile from the top of the bridge. That would allow for at least a 100-foot elevation change at just a 4 percent slope. That’s plenty for a high bridge as long as the stations are not at or below the surface of the water. Since the proposals include stations already above streets, it’s not an issue.

        It’s probably a bigger issue for tunneling because the stations may have to be in subway holes. Keep in mind that the IW platforms are under 1000 feet north of the Mountlake cut.

    2. Tunnel option can go to either 15th or 14th. A bridge to 15th is dead in the water after the port made it clear they won’t tolerate any disruption to their operations which all of the 15th bridge options would require.

      1. If a tunnel is built then the line should go closer to 20th and the middle of Ballard. 15th only makes sense if this is to be an elevated line that would be next to impossible to build into Ballard.

      2. Does the port have higher eminent domain authority than ST? Has it detailed the operations that would be impacted and are they major or is this just BS they don’t want any inconvenience at all. Never mind that their employees are also residents and might want to use the train when they’re off work or even possibly to commute (if the Interbay stations are close enough).

      3. Yes to your first two questions and more importantly they have the lawyers to fight anything they don’t like in court. The Interbay station is not close enough to serve Fishermans Terminal, the railroad yard is in-between them. Further along the station in Smith Cove is sub-optimal for port/cruise ship use but that’s not what the station is there for. Smith Cove is there for the Expedia HQ that is currently under construction and will have several thousand people working in it.

        letter from the port with their objections. The short of it building a 15th ave bridge would knock out one of the few dry docks left, eliminate some moorage and make the navigable water in the terminal smaller (depending on where the pylons fall). Frankly these complaints are so obvious its like no one at ST even bothered to pick up the phone and ask.

    1. Wasn’t there a STB podcast right around the time ST3 got passed where they interviewed Mr. Johnson? As I remember he was noncommittal but indicated that he thought they could do a lot better than the representative alignment.

      or maybe I’m just imagining things. it wouldn’t be the first time. heh

  4. If you agree: write the Board and tell them to support the representative alignment on 15th. The disadvantages of a drawspan have been way overblown.

    1. Is anyone here arguing for a bascule bridge? I would assume people here would favor a high bridge, ending over 15th. The bascule bridge would make a mess of reliability, and be an engineering nightmare for the track connections.

      1. Supposedly a high lift span would only need to be raised a few times a year or something like that. I would hope they would do so by using a vertical lift span as supposedly those are faster to raise and lower than other moving spans.

    2. We should be supporting a high bridge option in the 14th alignment with a station on 15th.

      Hate to see people bring the drawbridge back up when there are viable/affordable options. Just because ST didn’t put better options on the table that really should be fhere.

      1. A vertical lift span can raise in 90 seconds. At the headways this line will run, delays will be not-existent. At 70′ clearance, it will rarely need to raise at all anyway. There’s absolutely no reason to spend hundreds of millions on a high bridge.

      2. And unlike MAX at the Steel Bridge, the water level being dealt with here is carefully controlled.

      3. “the water level being dealt with here is carefully controlled”

        … because of the floating bridges.

      4. A high bridge is affordable within the ST3 budget. That’s the point.

        Why accept random slow downs at all? Why accept the risk of the drawbridge failing? Why add the complexity of a drawbridge? it may mean a relatively minor reliability hit now but as Link expands it becomes a much bigger issue. Really – why accept lower quality? There is no good reason to negotiate with ourselves on that at all.

        Leaving an affordable 14th crossing/15th stop off the table now really enables this false choice between a drawbridge and a tunnel. A tunnel is great, but our concern is that this road leads to the worst possible option for transit riders unless a high bridge option with a 15th station is put back on the table.

      5. The problem is that right now, nobody wants to try to estimate how high this “high bridge” will need to be. The feedback from the port was basically “build a tunnel” so they are completely unhelpful in determining how high a bridge needs to be there. As best as I can tell, there are no overhead power lines or other obstacles west of this bridge, and the BNSF bridge is a bascule bridge with no height limit. Therefore, this bridge will determine the highest object that can enter Lake Union. The Port and various Lake Union marine operators will push for the highest bridge they possibly can get.

        The way this process worked with the Columbia River Crossing was that the bridge had to be designed first, then submitted to the Coast Guard for approval or rejection. The Coast Guard rejected the Columbia River Crossing design because one of the heavy steel manufacturers just upstream from the bridge sometimes sends very large objects through there. So, then it was back to the drawing board to design a new bridge, and so on…..

        Because of the way this process appears to work, it looks to me as though trying to settle on a high bridge is going to be a difficult and time consuming and likely expensive process due to the several design iterations required for anyone to agree on what works.

        If you wind up with, say, everyone with a marine voice asking for a 200 foot bridge, you are looking at some awfully long approaches. Navigation channel to Market is probably about 2,000 feet, and ST says they want to keep this thing to a 5% grade. This puts the Market Street station about 100 feet above ground, depending on the elevation at the actual station location chosen. Yes, the land at Market Street is well above water level, but you also have to leave distance for the transition curve of the track as it can’t go directly into a 5% grade from dead flat. You’d need a couple hundred feet at each end to transition from flat to grade to flat.

        This is not an unheard of height, but not exactly ideal. As RossB says, you’d wind up delaying every passenger every time they use the station due to the vertical distance, rather than having a delay every once in a very long time when the bridge needs to open.

  5. It’s not just the number of feet. The quality of the walk and time spent waiting at stoplights matters to.

    In the case of Ballard, it’s not just 3400 feet, it’s 3400 feet, plus having to cross 15th, and for most residents, Market too.

    1. I’ve done that walk before, by choice, because a D came by my stop downtown before a 40. It’s OK, and I got there just as fast.

      I’m going to take the other side on this debate. In most transit cities I’ve visited, locals think nothing of walking 10 – 20 minutes to get to or from a subway station. Seattle has been spoiled with nearly door-to-door bus service for so long, it will take a while for people to adjust to walking longer distances to higher quality service.

      If we are not going to spend the money for subways, then elevated lines following major arterials make sense, even if they miss the best areas by a few blocks. For example, an elevated West Seattle line would do well to stay on Faunterloy, and have its final stop over the block south of Alaska. California Ave is only 4 blocks away. Easy setup to extend further south without property takings.

      If you are going to spend money on subways, then the best Ballard station would be around 20th & 57th. But it seems we didn’t budget for that, and the density now is only about half my subway-threshold density of 40,000 people/sq. mi.

      1. Yeah, a 10-15 minute walk to the nearest station is really not unusual in most cities with rail transit. I think upzone proposals will also encourage more growth east of 15th in the future.

      2. Most transit cities have a subway station within a 10-minute walk of any inner-city location. And they don’t have hills and cliffs and freeways blocking the way. The worst part of that Convention Place map is walking across the depressing freeway. The freeway only occupies one block (Seattle insisted on that), but because it runs on a diagonal and the Pine-Boren instersection is right in the middle of it, the effective impact on Pine Street is two blocks. I’ve had to do that walk at different periods ever since Convention Place Station opened and I hated it, and I was so glad when Link actually crossed the freeway to Capitol Hill Station. This even though I live halfway in between so Convention Place is a five-minute walk and Capitol Hill is a longer walk uphill, so I often take a bus to Westlake. (The advantage of four bus routes with combined 5-minute service in the daytime, although they all come at once in the evening.) Ballard at least does not have that horrible freeway to walk across. I’d take 15th any day and be glad, but 14th is still too far from 15th.

      3. I’m with Chad in this. I am a homeowner in West Woodland (aka “East Ballard”), and that walk while not as ideal as having a stop steps away from Leary/Market or any number of other options, it’s not a bad walk, and it also splits the difference with the rest of the neighbors.

        Yes, there is density in the heart of Ballard, but it seems like every week brings another notice of a single family home being rezoned as multi-family along the corridors of 8th and 15th. The 28 is often standing room only during rush hour anywhere south of Market, and I’m sure a lot of people would be happy to walk a few extra blocks for the lure of light rail. Not to mention that keeping a station more accessible to those east of 15th will help drive neighborhood activation, which in turn will focus the city council on a better long-term solution to the temporary housing that often takes up the streets in our “East Ballard” district.

        Every station site will have pros and cons, but frankly, 14th/15th just makes a lot of sense to residents and workers east of 15th. As Leary continues to get more exciting, that location will seem like a wise split between Ballard and East Ballard/West Woodland/Frellard

      4. In most transit cities I’ve visited, locals think nothing of walking 10 – 20 minutes to get to or from a subway station.

        Are you serious? Sorry, man, but that just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen in our city, nor does it happen in other cities. Not in New York, Chicago, D. C., the Bay Area, Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. If it did, then stations like Mount Baker would have a lot more riders.

        Go talk to someone who lives in D. C., and ask them if the subway serves Georgetown. Not the college, just the neighborhood. Everyone you ask will say them same thing: “No”. They might add that the neighborhood rejected a subway, not wanting to put up with the mess. But no one will say “Sure, although it is a bit of a walk”. Because long ugly walks are simply not popular. When asked how folks in Georgetown get around without a car, they will mention the bus.

        A stop at 14th creates the same situation. Folks in Ballard — the cultural, population center of Ballard — will simply ride the bus. If Metro truncates the routes, they will have an extra transfer. We will have spent billions on a major subway system, and yet missed the bulk of potential riders. The vast majority of people who would ride transit have a worse experience as a result. When you do this, ridership suffers. Folks who might consider the train use other means (driving, cabs, of a bus if it is available).

      5. Today, a bus doesn’t get from 24th to 15th all that much faster than walking, maybe slower than walking if traffic is bad, or you have to wait for it. Remember, just getting through the light at 15th often requires multiple cycles. If push comes to shove, I think it’s still, most days, faster to walk. But, this has more to do with how slow the bus is, than how great walk is.

      6. RossB yes it absolutely does happen lol. 20 minutes might be a bit of a stretch for some people with limited mobility but a 10-15 minute walk to the train in NYC is far from unusual. I used to walk almost 20 minutes to the train every day to my old job in NYC. Your nearest station might not be the line you need so it’s extremely common to walk past one or more stations to get where you’re going.

        Since Seattle’s rail network is so small it doesn’t make as much sense but in cities like NYC it’s common, especially outside Manhattan. More people live in Brooklyn and Queens than Manhattan you know.

      7. Hey Ross B: if people in Seattle are not willing to walk 10-20 minutes to a light rail station, then light rail will not serve many people. People in Chicago do walk 10-20 minute to a light rail station. People in Seattle will to, when light rail is built out And by the way, turn off the firehose of your opinion, you really do not speak for all of us. Give others a chance to speak.

      8. Of course some people walk 20 minutes to a subway station. I know people who walk forty minutes to work. But to say that “locals think nothing of walking 10 – 20 minutes to get to or from a subway station” is simply not true. It isn’t born out by the data, or the way that most people treat a subway or for that matter, design it. That is because most cities, when they design their subway, are well aware that if you put the station that far away, very few will use it. Again, ask someone in D. C. whether Georgetown has a subway stop; better yet, ask them why Georgetown doesn’t have a subway stop. Not a single person will say “But it does, just walk to Foggy Bottom or Dupont Circle”. Or barman, ask someone who has to walk 15 minutes to a subway in New York whether there place is “on the subway”, or a particular line. For that matter, consider the Red Hook neighborhood. Last time I was there, a local said very clearly “the subway doesn’t go there”, despite being about 15 minutes away from a couple stations.

        Or consider some local examples. First Hill keeps begging for a station despite being relatively close to the downtown stations and Capitol Hill (less than a mile to each). No one had the gall to say “Don’t worry, you are getting your station”. Maybe they should, since a new station is going to be at Fifth and Madison. Huzzah! Drop the balloons! First Hill is getting a station!

        Or how about the four stations within one mile downtown. They originally planned on five (but adding a Madison Station proved to be too expensive). Despite the added cost of building extra stations, they knew that it made sense to put them so close together. Even this line has stations that are close together (in South Lake Union).

        Hey Ross B: if people in Seattle are not willing to walk 10-20 minutes to a light rail station, then light rail will not serve many people.

        Yes! That is the point. That is why we are arguing that a station at 14th is terrible. Ridership on Link is smaller than it should be because of decisions like this. People don’t consider First Hill to be served by Link, and they avoid the awful station at Mount Baker ( They take buses, or drive. Oh, sure, people do use the train, and some will use the Ballard station no matter where they put it (Ballard, West Woodland, Golden Gardens) but you won’t have the huge increase in transit ridership that usually comes from a big expenditure because you don’t have a huge improvement in the system. It works for some commuters and folks who are in no hurry, but not the masses that mass transit is supposed to serve.

        One final example, and it is one d. p. used. West Seattle is concerned about running a station above ground to the junction (as I predicted). So much so that folks are considering spending hundred of millions of dollars to bury it. Fair enough. But no one — and I mean no one — is suggesting the obvious solution: just end the line at Avalon. It is, after all, not that far from the Junction. Using your reasoning, you could basically say “close enough” and everyone wins. Except they don’t. Those that actually live in nearby apartments, who were assuming that a vote for ST3 meant a station close to the junction get screwed. Just like folks in Ballard.

      9. RossB, you’re clearly passionate about this, and I agree with you more often than not. Including in this case (see the first reply to this post). I was simply responding to your assertion that “It doesn’t happen in our city, nor does it happen in other cities. Not in New York, Chicago, D. C., the Bay Area, Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.”

        This is simply false. A 15 minute walk to the nearest subway is extremely common in NYC. I did it every single day and thousands of other people do it too.

      10. @barman — Of course lots of people walk 15 minutes to a station in New York. It is freaking New York! Lots of people do everything. You will find plenty of people who juggle while riding a unicycle, too, but that doesn’t mean they represent the bulk of the population. I was objecting to the whole idea that “locals think nothing of walking 10 – 20 minutes”. That is just absurd. Many walk that distance — but they all think about it. It is no more a normal thing to do than driving for an hour and a half. There are lots of people who do that in Seattle, and even more that do that in New York. But they don’t represent the vast majority of people. Not even close.

      11. I live a 10 minute walk from the nearest MAX station, with no busy roads to cross and I am one of the few that actually walk to the station from this far away.

        Nobody in New York ever says “screw it let’s just drive there because it will be faster.” In Seattle and Portland they do.

      12. “Of course lots of people walk 15 minutes to a station in New York. It is freaking New York”

        Uh…. ok? I’m glad we agree because just a short while ago you said no one does it.

    2. I definitely know people in DC who walk more than 10 minutes to a Metro station. I’m one of them! When I want to avoid a transfer (on weekends, for example) I’ll also walk 15+ to go to a different station. Of course, I frequently walk home from work (which is about 40 minutes).

      For what it’s worth, Georgetown doesn’t have a Metro station because the line runs under I street, so the station would have needed to be right at the river. Even assuming that a station under Water Street was physically possible–which is a stretch–most people didn’t think that part of Georgetown was worth going to at the time, since the core part of G’Town at the time was (and in many ways still is) a 10+ minute uphill walk north from the water. Things have certainly changed since then.

      1. OK, I’ll be clear. If I ever gave the impression that *no one* walked 20 minutes to a station, I apologize. That was never my point. My point was that the opposite — that “locals think nothing of walking 10 – 20 minutes to get to or from a subway station” is just about as absurd. Of course it is a mix. If you look at the graph, the numbers trail off, and then level off (with the hearty walkers extending the line out towards infinity): We can argue about how much higher those lines stay when you have a subway, but it is pretty clear in those examples that ridership varies by distance by a wide margin. Of course it does.

        My point in mentioning D. C. was that no one thinks that Georgetown has a subway station. Here is a very interesting article about whether Georgetown lacks a station because of racism, local opposition in general, or cost: But what is clear, from this very article, is that Georgetown doesn’t have a station. Taking a contrarian stand, like suggesting that it wasn’t racism or local opposition that doomed a station there is one thing, but turning around and saying that they have a station — and have had it for forty years — is just silly. Yet that is supporters of a 14th station are arguing.

      2. Which of the “supporters of a 14th Street station” have even mentioned “Georgetown”?
        So far as I can tell it’s you who brings up the topic, nobody else.

  6. The Ballard Station placement issue is only one of the outcomes when there is only a stakeholders committee but not a riders committee.

    Stakeholder concerns about the fishermen were heavily influencing this. This is how we also got tunnel proposals in West Seattle and a deep platform at ID.

    It’s really disturbing that this process is treating rail and its riders like they are unimportant nuisances! We really should be loudly attacking the process and the attitude that riders matter little in general. Otherwise, this process and anti-rider bias that drives it will continue to make decisions more hostile to riders.

    1. This isn’t decided yet, but both the Stakeholders and the Electeds advisory groups recommended 14th because of port impacts and construction disruption on 15th (which meant the apartments and businesses, not the bridge).

      ST’s political structure and mandate is such that it’s accountable to the county and city governments, not to “the riders” or “the residents”. That’s why we’re getting these outcomes, and nothing will change it except a new mandate, or if all the electeds are enlightened someday.

  7. I 100% agree that the Ballard station should be as far west as the budget will allow (which as this point is basically on 15th), but one thing all of these twitter posts and your blog post ignore is topography. The reason it sounds so ridiculous to say Convention Place serves Capitol Hill or Avalon Station serves the Junction, but saying a 14th Ave station serves Ballard doesn’t sound as ridiculous is due to topography. Walking from Convention Place to Capitol Hill or Avalon Station to the Junction involves a steep uphill climb, but walking along Market Street from 14th Ave to the Ballard Locks is basically flat. Therefore, walking from along Market Street from 14th Ave to the Ballard Locks is much easier than walking from Convention Place to Capitol Hill.

    1. The topography in Ballard is that 15th Avenue is a canyon… of traffic.

      The station should be on 15th Ave. with entrances on both sides. What is the reason that has been given for even considering 14th? Is it cost alone? Is it the fact that we just built big buildings near there? Is it the difficulty of working around traffic we are currently assuming can’t be moved at all?

      If West Woodland were zoned to be the next SLU the station still wouldn’t belong on 14th.

      1. Again, I 100% agree with you, but just playing Devil’s Advocate so that we can understand the point of view of those that don’t agree with us.

        Yes, cost savings is a major reason that 14th is being considered; and yes, it’s also because there’s a lot of new development on 15th that would make it difficult to find room for an above-ground station; and yes, the car traffic delays that construction would cause there is another reason.

        At one of the community meetings, I sat at the same small-table discussion as the manager of Fisherman’s Terminal. His sole reason for being there was to prevent light rail from touching Fisherman’s Terminal. For that reason, he advocated the 14th Ave alignment (or a tunnel) so that Fisherman’s Terminal would be left untouched. I suggested that if protecting Fisherman’s Terminal is that important, then The Port of Seattle should help fund a tunnel. Everyone laughed, but I was serious. I wish that option would be taken more seriously by Sound Transit. The Port of Seattle could be a great source of “external funds” to upgrade to a better option.

      2. The move away from the representative project — the project planned during months of work, with various input from groups and voted on by the public — is being driven by the port. Basically they ignored all of this until now. They don’t want to lose moorage for a couple boats. Understandable, but no reason to stop a multi-billion dollar project.

        The two alternatives on the table are either to dig a tunnel, or build an elevated station at 14th. A tunnel would be extremely expensive — more than what has been approved. It might end up at 14th because building there is probably a bit cheaper, and if you spend all your money on a tunnel, you have little left over to put the station in the right place. To be clear. there is plenty of room for a station on 15th, on either side of the street (it should be on the Ballard side, i. e. to the west). Elevated stations don’t take up that much room, and neither do the pillars (any more).

        The cheapest and best option left on the table is to simply build what the voters approved — an elevated station at 15th.

      3. Still pressing that 14th is West Woodland and not Ballard? A station at 14th will encourage more development east of 15th, more than any new development would happen west of 15th.

      4. @Orv — First of all, citation please. Why would building in West Woodland lead to “more new development”?

        Second of all, so what? So what if this means more townhouses in West Woodland (see all those tiny little dots — those are town houses) it still doesn’t mean that more people will live, work or visit that area. Not even close. Even after the area undergoes a major, unpopular rezoning, you will have less there. Do you really think someone is going to buy up all of those brand new townhouses, and replace them with apartments only a little bit higher? Do you think the industrial area that so dominates that region is just going to go away? Do you think that new clubs will popup, all with the charm of Old Ballard? Will Swedish just up and move their hospital, with the surrounding clinics following?

        Of course not. Even if that did happen, is that why we are spending billions on mass transit — to spur growth? All of this time I thought it was to move people, but it turns out it is just a massive redevelopment project. Apparently no one wants to live in Seattle, and all those cranes, and high rent prices I’ve seen around town are just my imagination. The only way we can possible grow as a city, is to put train stations in areas far from population centers, and then hope that development follows. Here we are, wasting all our time thinking about places like Ballard, Queen Anne and South Lake Union when what we should really do is send the train out to West Magnolia (there is a lot of growth potential there). And to think, UW Link passed right in between Interlaken and the Arboretum without a station. Man, just think how great a station would be right here:

      5. Still pressing that 14th is West Woodland and not Ballard?

        Yes, because it is. Just look at the West Woodland Neighborhood Blog ( Here, let me click on the map for you: The arrow is pointing right at the proposed station! Folks in West Woodland (and I know a few) will tell you that 14th is West Woodland. They will also tell you that a station there is stupid. Really. Because even though they, personally, would benefit, building a station in such a low density area (with no major employment or cultural attractions) is just stupid.

      6. The reason West Woodland is low density is that it’s zoned industrial. Residential uses are not allowed in industrial zones. If the station gets put on 14th, the challenge with any transit-oriented development there will be to change the zoning so that residential uses are allowed around the station. You can bet that there will be significant resistance to getting rid of the industrial zoning there because people will argue that we should preserve the jobs located there. Just look at how much pushback there is against the missing link, and that’s just a request to put a bike trail through an industrial area. Getting rid of industrial zoning altogether would be a much bigger fight.

      7. “What is the reason that has been given for even considering 14th? Is it cost alone?”

        I think a 14th station more expensive than 15th. The Ship Canal crossing may be less expensive there, but what matters most to passengers is station locations, not non-station locations.

        “Is it the fact that we just built big buildings near there? Is it the difficulty of working around traffic we are currently assuming can’t be moved at all?”

        It’s mainly about the port. They don’t want any impacts between Smith Cove and the Ship Canal, nothing that might inconvenience them or require them to do things differently. Secondarily some apartments and businesses on 15th are concerned about the temporary construction impacts of a 15th station. So these are all secondary concerns but they’re being elevated to primary because the stakeholders don’t understand how critical station location is to passengers and to the effectiveness of the transit network. If it were a freeway, they’d pay more attention to the impact on drivers.

      8. “A station at 14th will encourage more development east of 15th, more than any new development would happen west of 15th.”

        We need a better guarantee than “maybe a future city council will allow an upzone that isn’t in the current HALA plan”. We’re having enough trouble even expanding the urban villages as in the existing plan, and there’s serious opposition to upzoning single-family areas beyond that, or even allowing duplexes and row houses.

        “The reason West Woodland is low density is that it’s zoned industrial.”

        I’m not concerned about zoming on 14th. There are already a couple apartment buildings at 14th & Market if I remember from my walk, and the council is likely to allow more mixed-use at least a couple blocks north and south of the station to avoid the embarrassment of a sand lot and one-story building across the street from the station.

        I’m concerned about the blocks from 14th to 8th, or 14th to 3rd. It will be a lot harder to upzone them, and we need a better guarantee than “my gut says the city will do the right thing”. It didn’t do the right thing in Roosevelt, where it stunted the planned upzone and still has single-family two blocks north of the station. It didn’t do the right thing in Beacon Hill, where barely a village exists at all. (Thank you El Centro de la Raza for being enlightened on your adjacent lot!) It didn’t do the right thing in Mt Baker, where only a couple blocks is 80′ and then it tapers down immediately to 40′ and single-family. It probably won’t do the right thing at Northgate, where in the current plan only the mall lot is zoned 200′ and the mall owner plans to build much less than this (probably 40′ to 60′), and the surrounding lots will be just like the recent buildings. So how can we put our hopes on something better for East Ballard/West Woodland?

      9. And new development is just not as people-friendly as prewar development. The storefronts are too wide, and everything looks sanitized and geometric like it were made for robots. It doesn’t feel cozy, a place you’d want to linger in. Those are all in Old Ballard, and developers have shown no ability to create it in new areas. The only time they’ve been able to make a new building as good as an old building is when they’re restoring an old building — and there are no prewar apartment/retail buildings on 14th to restore.

      10. The reason West Woodland is low density is that it’s zoned industrial.

        Right, and the other parts are zoned low rise (thus allowing townhouses). The area has actually seen a fair amount of development. That is why the “all we have to do is rezone” argument is so silly. For that to work It would mean:

        1) Rezoning residential areas. This is never easy, but it would be the easiest part.
        2) Rezoning industrial areas. This is always difficult, as you said.
        3) Converting industrial areas to apartments. Not that hard in some cases, extremely difficult in others. A working plant has value as a plant. The Bardahl plant, for example, is not just going to convert over to an apartment overnight. Other places may have cleanup issues, which can take years and years.
        4) Converting townhouses to higher density apartments. This is extremely unlikely to happen. It just doesn’t make sense to replace brand new moderate density housing with an apartment only a bit higher. Most apartment development leapfrogs from single family (and a big lot) to an apartment building. If they build skyscrapers, then sure; but it won’t be zoned for that.

        That is the crazy thing about this idea. Even if they did build the station there (and thus spurred growth in that area) there would still be more people, more jobs and more attractions to the west. It would be like building a station in Montlake, but skipping Capitol Hill. Sure, that would mean that Montlake would grow. But who cares? You missed Capitol Hill!

      11. Jonathan, you’re right, of course, but “entrances on both sides [of Fifteenth]” means that there must be a Mezzanine to avoid the street crossing. It doesn’t matter if there is a center platform for two side platforms, if you’re headed for the west side of 15th you’ll need to cross 15th if there is no Mezzanine or the station is designed to be a permanent stub-end with a walkway around the north end.

      12. Oh, I did not finish. With a Mezzanine the platforms will be eye level with the third floors of the apartment buildings on either side of 15th just north of Market. While it’s reasonable to posit that there might be businesses with two floors which would not care about eye-level visibility from the Mezzanine, you can be double-damn betcha certain that the residents of the third floor units on the 15th Avenue sides of those buildings are going to care. With a 14th location the adjacent buildings can be built with offices up to and including the third floors.

        Unless the station is moved at least as far west as 17th, 14th is better because 15th is so bad.

        It would be possible to build a stub-end at 17th by having the bridge approaches curve onto Leary and running up 17th. But it’s a dead end. And of course a 14th tunnel could go wherever fancy and the budget took it. If the west side of 15th is that much better than the east side as everyone claims, then a tunnel with at station around 20th is the right solution. It could surface around 65th in the middle of 15th if an extension is ever built.

  8. I do think there is merit to step back and look at prior studies:

    1. The Ballard-to-Downtown study ( shows most Ballard stations at 15th.

    2. The 2016 “Kubly unstudied alternative” in ST3 ended at 15th. (People forget that the ST3 représentative project was never vetted in the community.)

    In other words, 15th and Market was set as the bulls-eye for the station location. That’s relevent because 14th is closer to the bulls-eye than Leary Way and Market is. I’m not saying that this assumption was right; only that we should have spoken up earlier and made an issue of it earlier if this was important.

    1. I think everyone here is accepting of the stop at 15th. Sure, it isn’t ideal, but is a good value (or at least as good as you are going to get for this line). It is pretty hard to argue that we should have spoken up earlier for a station to the west, when it was made clear that the line was going to be elevated. Furthermore, it it the port that refused to get involved early. The Port said nothing about issues with a 15th alignment. 15th was a compromise — one that most people understood meant missing the cultural as well population center of Ballard. But 14th was never discussed. I don’t think anyone ever thought that they would build it there, any more than they thought the 5th and Madison Station would be at 3rd and Spring. Sure, it would be great if we found some extra money and moves the Madison Station up to First Hill, just as we all wished they would move the 15th station close to the heart of Ballard. But no one thought they would move it to a worse location (as they are trying to do here).

      1. I’m not “accepting of a stop” at 15th It’s the intersection of two hideous car sewers seven and five lanes wide. What a horrid place for a bus intercept!

        Not only that, but there are two large apartment buildings whose second floors will be eye level with the mezzanine necessary for any elevated station with “entrances on both sides of 15th” for which all and sundry clamor. And whose third floors will be eye level with the platforms of the station. I think one can see the “sensitive” nature of the placement if one climbs down from one’s ideological tall equine.

    2. There is a difference between “accepting” or compromising and ideal.

      For better or worse, the case so have the ideal bulls-eye further west was never made. I think that’s part of the issue. Had the bulls-eye been further west, 14th would look disingenuous. But it looks like 14th is just 600 feet away from the original bulls-eye.

      I think the biggest pedestrian rider aggravation is crossing wide streets like Market and 15th at grade as well as vertical changes are handled.

      Perhaps the way to respond is to demand that ST include the additional cost of riders reaching the west side of 15th Ave without a forced street crossing in the 14th Ave options. As it is, 14th is going to look cheaper — at the expense of rider convenience.

    3. It wasn’t just a bullseye, it was a belief that 15th was better than further west because it’s a six-lane road with straight bus access to the north and south, and it would encourage future development on 15th which would be taller than that in Old Ballard and is new riders rather than just existing riders, and it would be cheapest to construct because of the wide road coming straight from the existing bridge. Urbanist transit fans disagree with most of these premises, but that’s why representative alignment had the station on 15th.

  9. I hate to sound like a 4th generation Seattle nativist (well, maybe not), but are the ST3 planners even from here? For those of us lucky enough to be born emerald, or who have lived here for awhile, some of these planning/placement exercises appear to have been made from a consultant sitting in a Houston office park. Before anyone should be allowed to make a mark on a map of Ballard, they should be required to live there car-free for a couple of months…14th?, even 15th is a stretch – although maybe 14th is just a ruse to make 15th not seem so bad.

    1. Honestly, anyone looking at Ballard with the satellite/aerial view on Google/Bing Maps should easily be able to see that 14th is terrible and 15th is barely acceptable placement for a N/S rapid transit line stop. I’m not sure why ST3 planners are having a difficult time with this.

      1. I agree. Yes, it helps to know the area. But you can just look at the maps (or other data) and get a feel for what the situation is. That is why d. p. referenced it, so that folks who haven’t been there in a while aren’t fixated on the idea that the only density consists of 1980s style duplexes.

        But I do think it is worth simply walking from 14th over to Ballard, to get a feel for not only the distance, but the soul crushing ugliness of it all. Ballard is full of very nice areas to walk, but that particular section is really bad (and one I often avoid).

    2. The residents east of 14th are part of the problem. I’ve talked with similar people in Mt Baker and north Seattle who have lived in their house for decades, and they’re among the strongest opponents to upzoning. If we were to upzone 14th to 8th to match 15th, that would go a long way toward transit fans accepting a 14th station. But no city councilmember has endorsed this, much less tried to accelerate it in time for the station opening.

    3. Not living close enough to visit all the open houses like I used to in the old days, what type of station is envisioned for 14th?
      Will it straddle the street?
      Have they even discussed that detail?

    4. @Felsen — As someone who is also from here, I don’t think that is the problem. If anything, I think folks here are designing this in a vacuum. They don’t have a lot of experience with subways — looking at what works and what doesn’t. Then again, maybe they just don’t care.


      [OK] I see the problem now. Being away from Ballard going on six years, I’m starting to forget the Norse mythology of my former home. “Troll” threw me a little.

      Because as d.p. is described here, he and STB’s trolls over the years have more resembled the trickster-god Loki who did things like ignore “Keep Your Giant Wolf Off My Lawn!” signs Just before the creature slipped his leash and ate the sun.

      And worst of all, bus or train, will not stay under the seat. But like all self-named Republicans now, his real focus is a dark attraction to gold, including in the form of tax avoidance and credit default swaps. But whose main vulnerability is sunlight- meaning dig faster, Robert Mueller!

      Bringing me to my real point about transit for Ballard. As mentioned above, Loki also has a persona that stresses quick changes for their own sake, the more annoying the better. The Bredas perfect example.

      Meaning that our every plan must be able to deal with whatever Norse we encounter, on roads, salt water and especially underground. City, county, regional, State and these pages, what can we see in section view- the Norsemen had those-as to what we can actually dig, and what must we bridge? Thor’s specialty.

      Ballard has an ocean fishing terminal across the canal. And, if it’s still there, a boat repair shop snuggled into its very center. Will these be valued, discarded, or kept and changed? And will its ordinary worker be able to afford a home there? Long enough to make a life there, for long enough to have a family home?

      Not sure if anything on screen or videos show this, but Odin, the chief of the gods, asks a prophetess what’s going to happen. Her first and frequent words through the devastation: “Are you sure you want to know?” But in the end amid mass destruction , she promises that everything will be restored. So it can all happen again.

      Excellent project outlook anywhere. And especially in Ballad. Please. The new Nordic Heritage Museum is worth an entire trip from anywhere on LINK as it extends,via the 44. Very seriously, station plan might best start with some ongoing contacts there. You’ll get some valuable contacts in exactly the professions this projects will need.

      Finn, chief architect. Thing he likes best about America: “There’s no right (Politically Correct!) way to do anything here”.


      1. “The new Nordic Heritage Museum is worth an entire trip from anywhere on LINK”

        I’ve been meaning to visit it, so this is a helpful recommendation.

  10. There is one small thing I will quibble about with the West Seattle or Convention Place comparison:

    In West Seattle or Convention Place there could be a fair number of buses providing the connection.

    In Ballard, one logical thing is to route RapidRide D into Ballard after Link arrives. Terminating it at Fred Meyer instead makes 0 sense. One direction increases Ballard – Link frequency while the other does nothing except for those traveling from the north end of the D to the Fred Meyer.

    I don’t think there are enough Interbay to Crown Hill trips to justify the D continuing to struggle across the Ballard Bridge after Link arrives.

    1. d.p., if you’re reading this, this is not the plan I voted for. Yesterday, I wrote, “I’m not ready to say I’d vote against ST3 but if I had known it would turn out this badly I might not have been such a strong yes and tried to get others to vote for it.” It’s not just 14th; I also listed eight other serious flaws that emerged this year that weren’t in the representative alignment. Ayayay! Mt Baker Station and TC for all their flaws is at least at the MLK-Rainier intersection, and UW Station is at least near the medical center and stadium and 520 buses. 14th Station is near… 15th. Not a good place for a north-south bus transfer, and 14th going north runs hard into Ballard HS’s stadium, and an elevated train would have to turn 90 degrees left and then right to go around the school.

    2. I guess I could clarify this a bit.

      So suppose Link ends at 14th. It makes sense to have the D serve it. It has to run east to do this, making its logical terminus where? Fred Meyer? Somewhere in Fremont? Or make a long time consuming loop and head west to actual Ballard? Or loop further and continue south on 15th where it will wait in traffic to cross the Ballard Bridge?

      Due to the mess on and around the Ballard Bridge, it really makes no sense to have buses stuck there after Link gets to Ballard.

      So, ideally, if the southern end of the D suddenly became unnecessary it seems the most logical thing would be to have the D turn west and head into Ballard and terminate with the 44. The turn isn’t ideal, but going straight is terrible due to traffic and has light rail now anyway.

      You can’t go west from 15th and Market if the station is to the east of there.

      1. Yes, bus connections is just one more way in this would be worse. It is worth considering the other buses as well. The 40 (which will be RapidRide by then) will have to move away from Leary (and old Ballard) to Market (whether the station is at 14th or 15th). This makes for a bit of a coverage hole, but unavoidable, by my estimation. With the station at 15th, the D could turn on Market (as you say) or it could turn on a few blocks south (e. g. Leary) and terminate in Old Ballard (thus plugging the coverage hole). Whatever traffic is encountered towards the tail of that route is less of an issue, as it is past the Link station, and close to the layover point. A bus headed the other direction might encounter some traffic, but the city is actually improving this (by adding a small bus lane there).

        That isn’t the only option, of course, but that is the point — it is just one plausible option. With a station at 14th, you really have no good options. The D would have to turn on Market to serve the station. A southbound rider headed to Ballard now has to walk across 15th (either direction). Riders headed to Link have to wait for that extra turn and extra stop as well. Meanwhile, the hole created by moving the 40 has grown: Either that, or the buses wiggle their way back and forth to try and pick up riders as well as serve the station.

        It is worth noting that a station on 24th (which is also closer to the biggest apartments in the area) would have none of these problems. Yes, the D would make a turn and serve Ballard, but that is a destination in its own right. Meanwhile, none of the other buses have to be modified — the 40 still goes on Leary, etc.

  11. What is the achievable route to throwing out ST3 and starting over with Ballard–UW, as should have been the first priority for Seattle all along?

    1. The Ballard-UW ridership numbers were never there, ie, subsidies per rider would have been very high. However, if stops at Fremont, UW, U-Village, Sandpoint and Kirkland were included then subsidies would have been reasonable.

      1. Ballard or West Seattle were never the lowest hanging fruit. West Seattle’s investment could have been enhanced with added stations further south (White Center, Burien and etc). ST could have leverage the WS line and made it work, but oh no, they have to appease groups such as Ballard Subway and create this highly subsidized stubs.

      2. Ballard to UW ridership per dollar numbers were better (i. e. it would serve more riders per dollar spent). That was before they bothered to calculate bus transfers, or time saved per rider (which this line will perform poorly on).

    2. 1. Get the ST board to agree to it.
      2. Convince the other four subareas’ boardmembers to go along with it. Required for #1.
      3. Legal issues regarding walking away from a voter-approved set of projects. I don’t know how much if any these would be. It may not be feasible to stop ST3 without a vote that simultaneously supercedes it with something else. That may be functionally identical to a modification of ST3.
      4. Explain to the public why a revote and modification is needed just two years after the original vote.
      5. Watch the yes votes plummet as voters think, “If the 2016 plan was so bad that ST wants to modify it now, what’s the chance that the 2019 would be just as bad, and can we trust ST that this one is really better?” Requires large PR effort.

      I have all along thought a modification in the late 2020s or early 2030s might be likely, when East King and Pierce rethink the ridiculous Issaquah line and Tacoma Link 19th Avenue extension and decide they want something else instead. But the pressure from Issaquah and Tacoma to get something for their city might be too much to overcome. Although Tacoma is the largest city in Pierce, so any replacement would probably benefit it. And didn’t Link want a Central Link extension to Tacoma Mall? This wouldn’t be enough for that, but it could cover a bit of it. Although the best would be upgrading the remaining one-digit bus routes to RapidRide.

      1. 6. Convince Big Tech/pray Big Tech does not object/ spend money on a No campaign, since the Expedia and Amazon stops won’t be in a Ballard-UW alignment. (Suggest a Metro 8 line? Gondolas?)

      2. Yes, the vague Metro 8 concept could address SLU. If Big Tech championed it then ST might give the concept the time of day. They got the state to study a high-speed rail corridor to Vancouver and Portland.

    3. ST’s own study said that Ballard-UW would have a lower cost per passenger than Ballard-downtown. ST rejected it because McGinn wanted Ballard-downtown instead and inertia has been strong since then. Also, ST was worried about overcrowding in the UDist-Westlake segment. Then there’s the issue of SLU needing high-capacity transit, which both ST and Seattle somehow overlooked until 2016, in spite of the longstanding expectation of 400′ towers there. Ballard-downtown addresses SLU; Ballard-UW does not. Then there’s the benefit of a second downtown tunnel as a capacity relief valve, and some redundancy in case one of the tunnel fails and has to be closed, and having plenty of capacity for possibly another line after Ballard. We were very lucky that the 1980s generation built the DSTT when costs were lower so it didn’t have to be included in the ST1 budget. That might have been a factor in getting ST1 approved. Now we can do it again.

    4. Good quesiton. It’s clear ST3 needs to be killed with fire; it will blow a lot of money and lock in awful routes. Kill it. Try again. Build a line which *actuallky goes to Ballard*.

  12. I think this discussion points to the problem with the lack of concrete long-range planning on Sound Transit’s part. If the Market Street area is only going to ever have 1 light rail station for all of eternity, then you probably want to site it more to the west- maybe around 20th Ave NW. If the Route 44 line is ever built, siting one of its stations at 24th Ave NW, then a siting transfer to the N/S line at 15th Ave NW gives decent coverage of Ballard.

    I think there’s reasonable odds that we get a Route 44 line in the future (although probably not for 30 years, unless city/state/federal policy priorities change soon), but I’d feel a lot better about the tradeoffs in selecting the site for the ST3 Ballard line if Sound Transit had already planned and committed to building a future E/W line through Ballard.

    1. Yes. ST has a long-range plan but it’s not at that level; it’s “all the things we might want to consider doing sometime in the future”. U-District Station should at least have been built with a transfer stub to a 45th line even if the latter’s alignment weren’t fixed yet or they weren’t sure when/whether it would be built. The same for Market Street.

  13. I’m not understanding what makes tunneling at 14th and a station near 57th and 20th impossible. Is it just cost?

    1. Yes, but it is a very weird argument. It is like buying a Ferrari, and then putting cheap tires on it . Yes, it costs extra money to go farther west, but what is the point of spending all that extra money if you don’t actually add value. It seems like they’ve painted themselves into a corner on this one. Digging a tunnel would be really expensive, so they then look to save money, and put in a station at 15th (or even 14th) as if to suggest that a tunnel, by its very essence, is better. Sorry, but my Honda Fit will outperform your Ferrari if you have terrible tires on it, and the same is true with ST’s tunneling idea.

  14. Useless, boring, and dangerous to in the past. It’s main use is what’s life and death to remember. Especially being present at the exact idea an extremely wrong idea is expressed by someone in a position of influence.

    ATU Local 587 headquarters, early 1980’s, the Regional Transit Problem, or whatever it was later called Sound Transit just starting to take shape. The Metro Council still in charge. A delegation of Boardmembers talking to Local members.

    Someone asks: “Who is the leader of this project?” Officials look around at each other. Then one says: “Well, there isn’t any single leader. We’re all more or less in charge.”

    In the old Norse saga “Ragnarok”- literally the destruction of all order- the Chief god Odin asks a prophetess what’s going to happen. Too ambiguous to make that the name of the project. Should have been Old Norse for:

    “Are you sure you want to know?”

    Now, thank all the gods in Ballard and the One in West Seattle, it’s about time we remember meaning of the story. Not just the temporary end of creation, but its destruction by habitual divisive argument for lack of a leader. Not “leadership.”

    Now. If the Councilman had looked at his cohorts and asked for a volunteer- most hopeful answer would’ve been, one after the other: “I don’t want the job!” And the one who says it loudest, the whole room roars with acclaim.

    By history- James Garfield, the one the school’s named for, Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln- good leadership comes from the one who loves the project most, but to the end of his day’s- often not very far off – hates it to the end of it.

    Might, however, be looking for somebody who remembers (reading about or being told by great great grandfather) how Ballard was once its own city, and sees West Seattle, Ballard, and the U-District as one linear subarea.

    Somebody of any age, and definitely gender, who expresses interest, and shudders. Age to become a State legislator is 18. We also live long enough to drain the ORCA fund, but in good enough shape that most of what we now call Social Security will be a public service job paying taxes into SSI ’til we die.

    So whatever your goal for the whole project- keep your eyes and ears open. Imagine social media doesn’t exist and make your own assessments. We humans have had to pick leaders (who’ll fight us like Hell) based on what they look, sound, and smell like.

    Last always most reliable. You don’t even know you smell it, or him, or her, or them- but it’s your most accurate decider pro or con. Channel your inner wolf. Or dog.


  15. I know that this will probably be panned because it would make a Crown Hill Station a pipe dream, but should ST be considering an east-west station over Market Street? The station could cross the Ship Canal at 14th, and turn to/ from west just before Market Street.

    The station’s 400 foot platform could straddle 15th or lie between 15th and 17th, or be some hybrid of the two possible platform sites. Fire Station 18 could be moved to be located under the 14th/Market curve and the current station could be one of the entry points with escalators and stairs up to a mezzanine. The other could be east of 15th.

    Would an east-west platform make any sense to consider?

    1. Years ago I lived near 24th and 85th, and I’m skeptical that crown hill will ever ‘need’, or get light rail. (Or is it that a line north could end up at Northgate, or somewhere else useful?)

      On the other hand kneecapping a possible expansion to the north doesn’t make much sense either I think – especially when you don’t have to.

      1. The Center of Crown Hill is 85th and 15th and the neighborhood overall has seen significant growth in recent years.

      2. It’s certainly not an ideal situation. Still, the question remains if it is better to get closer to the heart of Ballard or to keep a future unfunded station option in Crown Hill a more reasonable possibility? It’s a tradeoff.

    2. It might make some sense to consider. It could be expanded westward at some point into Ballard maybe, and then a later expansion would convert the east-west line to Ballard UW and a north-south line to Crown Hill. You’d have to plan and execute it very carefully so the station would work as a future transfer point.

    3. If Ballard Station runs east/west, then the terminal end should point east. Otherwise it becomes the Conrad Lee plan of having the train pull in, the operator get out and walk the length of the train, and then get back in and head east. The junctions needed for the Conrad Lee approach would also be a mess.

      Still, stacked platforms might keep options open better.

      If the station is pointed to be able to head east, elevated sets it up better for shallower tunnels under Phinney Ridge/Wallingford. If the station is to continue north, and eventually veer over to Aurora, elevated still makes future extensions a lot cheaper.

      1. I think the need for drivers to physically swap ends of trains by 2035 will be as antiquated as manual car door locks are today. Even most new cars have good back-up cams. We may not even have on-board drivers by 2035!

        Stacked platforms aren’t really required for a Ballard to UW line if the Ship Canal crossing is a bridge. The spur for the second line simple has to run beneath the higher tracks as they near the bridge. Keep in mind that Market is really 55th Street — north of Fremont, Wallingford and the U-Didtrict Station — so splitting off the line around Leary would seem more advantageous anyway.

  16. As has been said If the crossing has to be st 14th then they need to figure out how to put the station at 15th.

    If the board can’t see that then maybe an elected board, of which I’ve been highly skeptical, might be the answer

    1. It’s easy enough to use Leary away to shift to 15th. But 15th and Market is and always will be a horrid place, for a bus intercept. If the primary objection to 14th for Bus transfers is the D line successor’s jog east, use some of the money saved by crossing at 14th to build a station over 65th between 14th and 15th with the ability to make the turn into 15th in the future. Trains enter stations slowly anyway, so the slowdowns for the “S” are not a penalty.

      1. use some of the money saved by crossing at 14th to …

        Except that a station at 14th is more expensive than 15th. To quote a previous post,

        An approach via 14th avoids Fisherman’s Terminal and has the best options for crossing the bay (a fixed bridge for an extra $100M above the project baseline or a short tunnel for an extra $300M).

        (emphasis mine). It is understandable that you figured the 14th option was cheaper than the baseline, since usually when they make things worse it is to save money. But in this case, it isn’t. It is to avoid upsetting stakeholders who apparently don’t care about transit.

        It is also an agency with an elected head. This has happened before (when Mercer Island shook down ST for a few million). That is probably the case here. They should just go into court, and settle for a few million (probably way less than 100 million). If the reps push it further, then make a big stink over it, and watch every port representative lose their job.

      2. Is that $100M more than the drawbridge baseline, or $100M more than a fixed bridge at 15th?

        I’m wondering if the cost increase is the alignment or the switch to a fixed bridge.

    2. The primary objection to 14th is the map at the top of this article. A D detour is much less important than that. And the D is going away in Metro’s plan. Its successor will start at the Ballard Fred Meyer which is east of 14th, It could easily go up 14th and turn over to 15th at 65th. There will be no route from Ballard down 15th Ave W as we know it — just a Magnolia route on 15th between Dravis and Market Streets. (And it happens to pass 14th Station on its way to 8th Ave NW and Northgate.)

      1. The primary objection to 14th is the map at the top of this article. A D detour is much less important than that.

        I agree, except that the bus situation is worse as well. You have basically made the stop a lot worse from a walk-up perspective, while making it a little bit worse from a bus intercept standpoint.

        No one expects buses to go over the Ballard bridge when this is done, but it is reasonable to send buses down 15th. The bus you mentioned (the one most resembling the D) does that until Leary. Yes, it could turn on 14th, but I don’t see how that is actually better. That means less coverage on 15th (between Market and Leary) as well as more time spent for the bulk of the riders getting to the station. Assume I am at 85th and 15th and want to get downtown. With the station at 15th, I just get off at Market and walk to the platform without crossing the street. At worse, I have to cross 15th when I come back. In contrast, the change you suggest would mean that I have to wait for the bus to turn, then make another stop, then finally I get to the station. It isn’t horribly worse (it probably costs me all of a couple minutes) but it is still worse.

        The one thing that confuses me about the long range plan, though is how they handle the 40. They basically keep it the same, despite Link being in the area. That means either a long walk to the station, or a three seat minimum ride for folks along 24th. With the station at 15th it is bad enough (somewhere around 8 minutes — but if the station is moved to 14th it is even worse (around 11 minutes). Keep in mind, this isn’t walking to the station, but a transfer. That just doesn’t make sense to me. That would be like sending a bus from Lake City to Ballard via Northgate Way, but ignoring the Link station. Yes, it is unfortunate that the station is there, but I don’t think you can do that.

        I think Metro has to move the 40, especially if the station is at 14th. That, in turn, creates a hole (as mentioned above There is no obvious solution, and things are worse. These are the cascading issues when you have an insufficient number of stations. This wouldn’t be an issue if there were stations at 24th and 15th. But they are issues when you have only one station, and the more you move it away from Old Ballard, the worse it gets.

        By the way, as I mentioned in that other comment, it is interesting how bus connectivity is actually best where walk-up ridership is best. This is not intuitive, but it occurred to me when Glenn mentioned turning the D. Put the station at Leary and Market. That means the 40 is unchanged, and provides a very good connection to Link. Now all you have to do is turn the D so that it doubles up coverage on Market (which will likely have off board payment and bus lanes by then, as the 44 becomes RapidRide+). That means two RapidRide routes on the same heavily traveled section (which is ideal for “BRT”, no matter how half ass). It means that folks along 15th would have a one seat ride to the heart of Ballard, while every other area retains the same coverage as they today.

      2. Actually, if the station is at 14th, it would make the most sense to add a bus-only left turn at 57th with a pre-emption light. Even at a five minute headway this would be far enough from Market and be triggered infrequently enough and for a short-enough time that it wouldn’t effect northbound traffic on 15th NW. There could be a protected right turn like used to be on Aurora just north of Mercer at 58th for the northbound D successor.

        If the bus stops were north of Market the D could turn west there and do the “double Rapid Ride” Ross advocates which is a good idea. Sure, people riding from central Ballard to Crown hill would have two extra blocks and turn extra turns, but that’s a small price to pay for quick access to a bus intercept in a MUCH less auto-dominated location. They’re getting a single-seat ride with a kink in it; not a bad trade-off for when they want to go downtown.

        Neither of you is considering how plug awful it is going to be for folks headed home in the evening to stand at the northeast corner of 15th and Market in large numbers waiting for their bus home. Yes, people transferring from the 44 do that today, but it is a far smaller number than will be transferring from downtown origins. Having to wait for a second bus probably never happens today, but it must certainly will between 5:00 and 6:00 PM when every train is carrying six to eight articulated bus loads.

        They will be going to many destinations other than 15th NW, of course, but certainly 1/4 of those transferring will be headed for the D-Line northbound. That’s more than one artic load.

        And it’s not too much to ask that the money saved with a 14th Avenue crossing of the ship canal be used to extend the line to a station oriented east-west on 65th in front of Ballard High School. With a pedestrian bridge to the “far-side” of 15th this could become the intercept for D riders to and from the north. Folks living between Market and 65th in the current 60th Street stop’s walkshed could and would likely walk to one or the other station directly.

  17. Living in West Ballard, whether I take the #44 to 14th or 15th to transfer is of little matter – I already have to cross twice to transfer. The #40 replaced the old #17 and #18 – with a LINK station in SLU, and Northgate, why would the #40 still run to either? If experience tells us anything, it is that bus routes will be the last issue decided.

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