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This is an open thread.

97 Replies to “News Roundup: Hard Feelings”

  1. If California’s high speed rail ends up getting cancelled or severally gimped that all but guarantees that a NW high speed rail project will never happen.

    1. There is no way in hell CAHSR gets cancelled. There are certain elements (mostly republicans) that have been trying to kill it since inception. Part of its overspending problem can be blamed on the countless law suites and Republican congressional tactics that have stalled it and have put it in conflict with a requirement to spend 3.5 billion federal dollars by a certain date . With a new chairmen and C&T funds in hand, HSR is moving along fine. In the IOS there will be 8 stations connected with trains running at top speeds by late 2020s. The only unfunded component will be the tunnels from Gilroy to Chowchilla. This is where Newsom, California Democracts and/or Trump will have to pull in more state or federal grants, bonds and/or loans. The EIR won’t be out for another year and the section won’t be construction ready for at least two so still plenty of time deliver. Also a private company will be managing the system and another will be pitching in on the Palmdale to LAU and LAU to San Diego sections. This article is so off base.

      1. The fraudulent requirement to use “year of expenditure” dollars made the project look more expensive than it really was — that was tucked in by some evil Republicans in the US Congress.

        With the slowdown in the economy changing projections for future costs, suddenly the cost will go down.

    2. NW HSR won’t happen either way. We should continue working on incremental Cascades improvements. Additional bypass tracks, a 3rd mainline for the entire corridor, high-platform boarding with no station lines required, etc. Our current equipment can do 125mph, we just don’t have the tracks for it.

      1. I agree. A piecemeal approach, bit by bit, seems like a much more rewarding approach. For Vancouver I would love it if they did the inspection and interrogation while the train is moving. I think that would be easy, and save everyone a lot of time.

      2. California HSR is under construction, was decisively supported by the state, and passed a voter referendum. Comparing that to Washington HSR’s speculative studies is like apples and oranges. There was never much likelyhood that Washington HSR would be built anyway: this is just the happy imagination time before the real difficulties are quantified.

  2. It’s amazing that a route that was deemed safe for passenger rail service in 2017, assuming an attentive operator, is now non-operational for a full year for no reason other than the fact that the operator was not paying attention to the speed limit. And if you say that the threat present at the time was the lack of PTC, remember that it took a long time for PTC to be implemented across the system, and that since basically forever, passengers on trains were at the mercy of the basic competence of the driver.

      1. Not to mention that we still rely on the assumed competence of millions of our fellow citizens every day to not die in bus or car crashes. We hold trains to infinitely higher standards, and there is no clamor for Positive Car Control, despite 500 deaths on Washington highways every year.

    1. The issue is really whether the NTSB report will contain any surprises.

      Train operations are quite a bit more complex than just “being at the mercy of the competence of the driver”

      The interviews they conducted probably hint at what’s to come, so one hopes basic issues are being resolved before all the details of the report need be released.

    2. And I think WSDOT owes us an answer regarding the Wisconsin Talgo sets. Reportedly, Amtrak offered to purchase a set to replace the crashed set, and WSDOT declined. Now WSDOT is using the “we’re one train short” excuse to not increase service levels. This is very disingenuous when we know that they could have a replacement set for free, and even a 2nd set for next to nothing (buy both at the same time) which would give us a spare set.

      Who do we contact about this?

      1. They already have a waiver for Cascades service. Adding two additional trainsets to the waiver should not be a major roadblock.

      2. Meanwhile, the NTSB is taking an in depth look at whether the Talgos are crashworthy. Seems like a smart thing to not commit to more Talgos right now.

    3. It was a poor design in the first place. Why they didn’t fix that ridiculous bend in the first place needs to be questioned. Poor planning….yet again, unfortunately.

      1. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. It probably would have doubled the cost of the project to rebuild the bridge over I-5, which would have been required to straighten out the curve. Given that the switch just south of here requires the trains to slow down anyway, re-aligning the bridge would have only saved a minute or so. Spending that money elsewhere (money that doesn’t exist, so this is just a thought experiment) would have been more impactful. There are sections of the line that still need a 3rd mainline added, other congested areas that could use bypass tracks, etc.

        The issue here is that they didn’t properly train the crews. According to this article, the engineer who crashed the train had only operated the line himself twice northbound and once southbound, prior to the crash. This is completely irresponsible on Amtrak’s part.

        My family and I had tickets for the southbound 505 on the day of the crash last year. It’s tough to think that this could have easily been our train that day. My kids were just 1 and 2 at the time, and they both love to walk the train when we go to/from Seattle.

    4. I don’t know what to assume about the tragedy. But I will be interested to know how many times the engineers assigned to the route got to engineer on the route while the train wasn’t yet in revenue service. Were the test engineers the same group as the Amtrak engineers?

      1. Wait for the NTSB report, don’t assume anything.

        I’m sure it will point out shortcomings on all fronts.

      2. The driver on Train 501 had all the Positive Train Control he needed.

        “My training for this assignment has been totally inadequate. Critical sections are dangerously overspeed, speed change from 80 to 30 mph risky beyond words, at a curve long known to be dangerous. Consider this my resignation.”

        Mark Dublin

      3. Pilot Error, eh?

        I agree with the idea that safety concerns should trump all.

        This is what the NTSB report will reveal.

    5. Positive Train Control was supposed to be completed years ago. The federal govt kept giving short-term extensions because the railroads said they couldn’t get it done that quickly and it was too expensive to implement. So the argument is that the railroads are unsafe now like the Viaduct is; they’re just in a grace period.

  3. Quick thought experiment: Would a trip from Northgate to downtown be cheaper in a Lime e-bike or a Lime car? Somewhat counter-intuitively, if the trip is may during off-peak hours, in light traffic, I think the cheaper option, the way they’ve priced it, may actually be the car.

    Both are $1 to unlock, the e-bike is $0.15/minute, and the car is $0.40/minute (or 0.468/minute after adding 17% sales and rental car tax). But, while the car can immediately hop on I-5 all the way, the bike is limited to speeds of 15 mph, with several stoplights, so assuming you get an average speed of 10 mph, with stoplights, that’s $0.90/mile for 8 miles, or $7.20. For the car, if we assume a 14 minutes of driving, plus one minute of parking, that’s $0.468*15, or $7.02.

    Granted, most of the day, you *will* hit traffic taking the car, and you *will* waste time and money searching for parking once you get there, but the fact that, under even ideal circumstances, renting a car would cost less than renting a bike for the same trip feels not right.

    1. Limebike report. Walked two miles to work this morning. Encountered three Limebikes blocking the sidewalk.

      Incidentally, only encountered one automobile blocking the sidewalk (and it was only partial).

      Public nuisance: Cars and Limebikes.

      1. Yeah, cars and scooters are exactly the same. If either is blocking your path you just pick it up and move it out of the way.

      2. They (cars & Limebikes) are BOTH a public nuisance.

        The car was blocking a few inches of the sidewalk. The Limebikes were all parked ACROSS the CENTER of the sidewalk.

        If you are a disabled pedestrian (elderly or in a wheelchair), how do you move the Limebike? It’s a serious question. My neighbor has a degenerative disease that is slowly eliminating his mobility. He walks around his yard with a cane and frequently rides an electric scooter to the grocery store. How is he supposed to avoid the Limebike? Sidewalks are for pedestrians and should be kept clear at all times. All of those Limebikes need to go, and the City should get serious about towing cars that block sidewalks.

        I’d be thrilled if we scrapped the Limebikes, eliminated parking requirements in all cities with a population of at least 10,000, and quadrupled public transit frequency.

        Related to one of the other articles, there is, indeed, a war on pedestrians. I just want to walk down the sidewalk. Between the construction, the cars (moving & parked), the Limebikes, the tree branches, and the damaged sections that are heaved, cracked, & crumbled, it is downright dangerous to be a pedestrian.

      3. This is part of why the e-bikes need to be supplemented by e-scooters in dense areas with limited sidewalk space. The e-scooters are much less of a nuisance in terms of sidewalk space occupied and tendency to be displaced/blown over by the wind.

        Geofencing is probably the longer-term solution either way.

        Banning them is obviously not a reasonable solution.

      4. I think Limebikes would barely make the top 10 of “sidewalk nuisances”.

        1. Cars crossing your ROW (deadly and inconvenient)
        2. Cars/trucks parked on sidewalk (impossible to move)
        3. Broken/missing sidewalks
        4. Restaurant furniture
        5. Vegetation
        6. Dumpsters/garbage cans
        7. Lack of curb cuts
        8. Cyclists/Scooters riding on sidewalk
        9. Parked Limebikes
        10. Parked E-scooters

      5. Compared to all the other stuff in the “war on pedestrians” article, Lime bikes blocking the sidewalk are the least of the problems. Most of them are parked out of the way, and those that aren’t there is room to go around, and if you report it, Lime will send somebody out to fix it.

        The bikes do fill an important niche, getting around for distances that are just a bit too far to walk, yet the bus either doesn’t go in the right direction, is too slow, or has too long of a wait. For instance, almost anywhere around the U-Village/Lauralhurst area, riding a bike to the Link station is the fastest way to get downtown, beating the bus->train or bus-all-the-way options by a considerable margin.

        Of course, you can also take your own bike, but then you have to lock it up at the station and risk your bike getting stolen. Plus, most homes are not designed for convenient bike access. For many people, riding ones own bike means hassles like lugging the bike up to down stairs to get it from the storage room to the street, moving one’s car out of the way (for those living in a house with a garage), or (for those living in an apartment building) squeezing your bike out of a crowded rack, shoving your neighbor’s bikes out of the way. And, for those that ride less than once every week or two, every trip is going to require pumping air in the tires, which means carrying the air pump from the closet to the building’s bike rack, then carrying the air pump back upstairs again, then walking downstairs again to get to the bike. Then, when you’re ready to go, running back upstairs again because you forgot the keys to the bike lock…

        By contrast, with the Lime bikes, it’s just show up and go. The result is that for most people, by the time you add in all that process, riding a personal bike is not actually any faster than walking (if < 1 mile) or riding the bus (otherwise). But, with the Lime bikes, it's different. If the ride takes 10 minutes, the total time associated with making the trip is actually 10 minutes (ok, maybe 12 if you need two minutes to walk to the bike). Plus, if you live at the top of a staircase (which I did for the past 10 years), you can return the bike at trail level at the bottom, and walk up the stairs, rather than having to ride uphill, every trip, just to get home.

      6. “My neighbor has a degenerative disease that is slowly eliminating his mobility. He walks around his yard with a cane and frequently rides an electric scooter to the grocery store. How is he supposed to avoid the Limebike? ”

        Unpopular opinion: Cross the street.

        Related: I frequently walk to the grocery store. How am I supposed to avoid the cars in the street? ¯\(°_o)/¯

      7. I would specifically add uprooted sidewalks to that list, Chris. I can only imagine how many people trip and fall on the thousands of those each day.

      8. I have never seen a bikeshare bike blocking a sidewalk. I occasionally see them jutting into the walkway or on the side of the walkway, but that’s only a a couple times a month. I don’t know where these sidewalks are that are frequently blocked, but not in the high-pedestrian and moderate-pedestrian parts of the city I spend time in.

      9. Here in Tacoma, where sidewalks are generally just 5 feet wide except in downtown, Limebike is parking both the bikes and scooters squarely in the middle of sidewalks, throughout neighborhoods, including residential areas. One only needs to walk, bike, or drive around the north end for 15 minutes before stumbling on at least a dozen Lime [itmes], of which between 3 and 6 are partially or fully blocking the already-narrow sidewalk.

        Yes, all of the other things – heaved sidewalks, vegetation, cars in their various forms – are hazards, and need to be addressed. Lime is an easy one to address, though, revoke the business permit until they can create a system that doesn’t block pedestrian pathways. The other issues either require a capital investment to build and/or repair the sidewalks, or vigilant neighbors to call police and request enforcement.

      10. So, one potential solution to keep the downtown bike parking more orderly is to have signed, designated on-street parking zones (e.g. taking space away from car parking, not pedestrian movement), and simply require every bike parked downtown to be in one of those zones. Outside of downtown, where the density of bikes is much less, you can fall back on the park-anywhere-that’s-out-of-the-way system we have today.

        In theory, this could work very well, but in practice, I think we’d have far too few parking zones downtown to make the system convenient enough to be worthwhile to users. Partly because of the expense of paint and signage, but even more so because every single parking zone would require fighting a battle with city council against people who want to park their cars there, or business owners who think bikes parked in front of their store are unsightly. In practice, without data to prove that the system is getting heavy use, the cars and NIMBY’s are going to win these battles nearly every time, leading to a crippled system that will fail, for many of the same reasons that Pronto failed.

    2. It really is kinda funny (and unfortunate) that Seattle banned Lime scooters, so now we’re getting Lime cars.

  4. “Note: the ORCA readers will still beep twice with a different tone if have insufficient funds in your account or have cancelled your trip by tapping twice at the same station within five minutes.”

    How many passengers will recognize the difference? I regularly see people get the long beeps (for card not read or insufficient funds or something else) and walk on thinking their tap was accepted. At first I’d try to tell them but I’ve given up because they don’t hear me calling, don’t understand what I’m saying, or don’t think it’s important. Whereas turnstyles just wouldn’t open, and it takes an intentional act to jump them.

    1. For first-timers, it doesn’t matter what the tone is. They won’t recognize it being different from normal because they haven’t heard the normal tone yet. I’m pretty sure those who have used ORCA readers a few times will notice the difference, in the vast majority of cases.

      1. What matters though is that users will now be trained to recognize two different tones for tap on and tap off. This is important for when someone forgets to tap-off, because next time they get on a train, when they tap their card the first time, then it will tap off the last trip instead of tapping on the current trip, resulting in a technical failure to tap on, which can result in a ticket from the FEO (I got a warning for this in 2016).

        With these new tones, after tapping on, someone might recognize the tap-off tone and that would tip them off that something is wrong, like how the insufficient funds noise clearly conveys that message.

      2. The different tap-off signal is a good thing. I expected a down beep rather than two beeps, but maybe some people can’t distinguish two different pitches. I’m more concerned that both the tapoff and the error having two beeps. Why not make tapoff two beeps, error three beeps.

      3. Personally I’m very happy for this change with the orca readers on Link. It’s such a simple thing but oh so overdue and was something I noticed right away but wasn’t super distracting. Definitely an improvement, especially since no regular rider stops to wait for the (nearly useless) screen to react.

    2. (Not all that) shamed to admit it but at times when I’ve been in a hurry and I got the insufficient funds long beep I just decide to keep going and risk it, I’ll reload later. Absolute scofflaw, it’s such a rush!

    3. At least there will now be different numbers of beeps. That corrects one beep for both tapping on and tapping off systems design flaw — that appears to have been created out of sheer stupidity in the first place.

    4. They should just get rid of the technology. There are good transportation systems that use technology (Japan for instance) and others (a lot of Germany for example) that use almost dated systems that work far better than the Orca and everyone can understand them. And far more convenient (as is their transportation). We often overcomplicate things to seem “cool” or “tech saavy” but we always have problems.

      1. I believe Orca is planned to be replaced in 2021. The forcing function is that the company that makes the Orca readers is out of business, so there’s no way to order anymore.

      2. GK, whatever problems there are with the technology, ST has an easy “Fix.”

        “Simply having an ORCA card is not proof of payment for each ride.”

        Sound Transit’s got a month’s worth of my money. If I don’t ride at all, I don’t get a cent back. Pre-paid should mean that wherever I get off, I’ve paid for the whole ride. So just lose three letters and we’re good to go.

        Mystery to me is why Mike Lindblom isn’t interviewing Senator Hasegawa as to why he thinks nobody has yet made a Superior Court case out of being called a thief by an agency with my money in its pants pocket. Apology, but fined for theft equals called a thief.

        If I’m mistaken that my mis-tap is a crime over an internal accounting problem, distributing fare revenue between seven agencies….Would the author of that infraction like to meet me in front of a TV camera and explain my mistake to me?

        asdf2, 2021 is three years from now, so plenty of time to find new technology. Removing the “not” should take three seconds. Just in time to change the “beep” tone to a little trumpet call. And in between announcements, passengers can sing along with the Chipmunk Christmas Carol.

        Mark Dublin

  5. The Columbia River Crossing is not just a Republican issue. The bullet conveniently left out major pieces to the puzzle, Democrats. And tries to take an errant jab at Republicans.

    An article from 2014:

    “Oregon lawmakers lost their appetite for the project after the state of Washington pulled out as a co-funder last summer.”

    “The Oregon House of Representatives stood ready to enact the Oregon-led plan,” Kotek said.

    “In the end, however, Washington again failed to step up,” she said. “Even though a majority of Washington legislators signed a letter of support, action was required by Gov. Jay Inslee to move forward. Absent clear, public commitment from Gov. Inslee and the necessary memoranda of understanding between our two states, an Oregon-led project will not be approved this year.”

    The project’s demise is an enormous victory for both environmental and urban planning groups from the left and conservative fiscal hawks from the right. This Green Tea Party, as they came to call themselves, attacked the project as a wasteful, bloated plan that was financially imprudent and promoted sprawl.”

    Changes the story a bit….

    1. The fundamental issue is that Oregon absolutely does not want it without light rail, and Vantucky folks think they can somehow get a car-only bridge paid for without tolls.

      1. Oregon won’t fund a car-only bridge
      2. Vantucky won’t buy into a bridge with dedicated transit

      Until one of the two above items changes, this bridge won’t happen.

      1. If I remember correctly Portland wanted 4-5 stations to be located on the Washington side. I think if they went with a single station there would be less Clark County opposition. If Vancouver ever wanted to add more stations down the road they could.

      2. That may be a path forward. Clark Co leadership loves to say that “we’ve voted on this before and it always fails”, yet they conveniently ignore that the results in the City of Vancouver were strongly supportive. It’s too bad we can’t just cut the county out of the process and work with the City of Vancouver instead.

        There are also opportunities here for value engineering. If they keep the existing downstream bridge (built in the 60s, I believe) and use it for transit and pedestrians/cyclists, they can tear down the upstream bridge and build an 8-lane single deck non-lift span in its place. They would then close the exit on Hayden Island and build a local access/light rail bridge to connect Hayden Island to Marine Dr. to the south. This would bring the costs under $2 billion and connect light rail to downtown Vancouver. It would also avoid turning Hayden Island into a giant freeway interchange.

      3. I like elements of the CSA. That’s particularly true for items 1+4. I also like items 2 and 3, and wonder if a somewhat high frequency rail service essentially non-stop into Downtown Portland would be better than a slow light rail ride through North Portland — so that item 5 becomes much less required.

        I do have to wonder why fixing the rail bridge wasn’t done decades ago. Are these advocates missing some details? If that bridge is so old, why isn’t it just simply being fully replaced with 2 additional tracks (4 total) on a replacement bridge in the CSA (dropping a lift span into an existing bridge seems more problematic to build without a long closure period and would seem to take as long to clear environmental hurdles as a fully new bridge would)?

        Nevertheless, I am only an armchair observer here. I can only offer observations.

      4. Rather classist and insulting to call it Vancouver “Vantucky”. If the town is worth serving with transit (per your opinion) aren’t they at least worth not insulting? Do you think insulting people is a good tactic to try to persuade people? (Trump does).

      5. Actually, the term is pretty illogical as well as inane.

        There is little migration between Kentucky and Vancouver WA.

        Louisville has a better transit system than many other mid-American cities — and a higher mode share to Downtown using transit than those other cities too.

        Vantana? Vanebraska? Vandiana? I’m sure there are lots of silly geographic word mash-ups out there.

      6. It makes it easier to distinguish from the real Vancouver (BC).

        I didn’t realize people were so thin-skinned. I’ve heard folks from SW WA say much worse about Portland, and the poor souls who happen to live here.

      7. “I think if they went with a single station there would be less Clark County opposition.”

        So if they had gone with the “one Capitol Hill station” approach it would have passed? I doubt it. The opposition was about paying for trains, hooligan gangsters coming to Clark County. and train-only lanes.

        “There is little migration between Kentucky and Vancouver WA.”

        It’s referring to a stereotype of Kentucky being opposed to transit, taxes, and social programs. It’s not so much about the real Kentucky, but that it’s a southern state whose name has a harmonious-sounding suffix, like Russiagate from Watergate or Johnny from John. Both the proponents and opponents probably know hardly anything about Kentucky.

    2. Republicans didn’t want it because it had rail, but plenty of people on the left didn’t want it because it was a huge boondoggle. There was plenty of opposition from environmentalists on both sides of the river, despite the light rail bridge. It really was a stupid project — way bigger than it needed to be. Hopefully they will come up with a better plan this time (,,

  6. Regarding the war on pedestrians, has anyone ever had success reporting a construction project for violating SDOT DR 10-2015? SLU construction projects seem to get blatant pass to not comply, as I’ve discovered.

    I’ve tried reporting other construction projects for violating SDOT DR 10-2015, but the response I get is “this construction project is exempt from SDOT DR 10-2015, because fuck you, that’s why.”

    And I don’t use “fuck” for shock value, it seems like Seattle and SDOT are telling pedestrians they value a contractor’s bottom line more than a pedestrian’s safety and no other word can accurately describe that.

    1. I tried to report the Ballard Blocks II blocking the BG Trail extension via . They referred me to a SDOT email address that doesn’t accept outside email. Never got angry enough to actually track someone down to press the issue.

      1. finditfixit has no category for sidewalk blocked, but will dispatch a dpd inspector if you send a picture in the “other inquiry”

        if there is truly no permit at all, they will force the builder to go through process next time.
        it takes a few weeks to get an update.

      2. I tried to report the Ballard Blocks II blocking the BG Trail extension…

        Oh, you mean where the bike path is closed so they can put up “bike path closed” signs? Yeah, that’s a classic.

        If the law truly has no teeth, maybe the Council needs to revisit it?

    2. I don’t tend to be reflexively anti-developer, but the city doesn’t really care about that rule. Even less than they care about enforcing bus lanes (if you can believe that!). Probably because the construction industry is a large donor to most city elections.

    3. Wish I could still be in Ballard to help out, but decision wasn’t mine. Though at present rate, we’ve probably already got the people for the apocalypse of all Gerrymanders. Well, community center maybe.

      Has anyone tried speaking personally with a crew foreman? Like over coffee- being Ballard, there’s a cafe across the street, isn’t there? Whatever he says, including “Take it through channels”, it’s points in your favor you tried. Also say: “Well, that’s how we do it in Ballard.” If he is too, you’re on your own.

      STB’s got a bad opinion of neighborhood associations as powerful forces against transit. But doesn’t Ballard have one that can be temporarily repurposed for Good? But what I’m seeing here is that Mike O’Brien’s voters have a serious personnel-management problem.


      Can’t believe how little justly-unfavorable mention these workers of yours are managing to avoid. Jenny Durkan and Sam Zimbabwe are one thing. But Mike is next in your chain of command, people. Your signature is on all his activities. Meaning that a developer sue you for Mike’s performance!

      R, your name will make a great bumpersticker. It can say: “Vote R for Recall!” At least your talent search will become public knowledge. Possibly giving you some leverage for further negotiations. An attractive cable-stay cradle for Burke Gilman seems good business all around.

      One serious suggestion. Get with the Nordic Heritage Museum. If their Finnish architect is still available, your developer in question might like to have his name for a reference. But Nordic Heritage can also help with an important cultural solution to an impasse.

      Remakes suck. But for the Norsewomen and their men, Ragnarök is always overdue for a rematch.

      Mark Dublin

  7. I’m copying an idea from a previous discussion. Unfortunately, the thread got deep, and hard to follow. There are a lot of issues and possibilities, but there are two excellent ideas:

    1) Run a train over the ship canal at 14th, then turn on Market and head west, towards 15th.

    2) Run a train over the ship canal at 14th, then turn on Leary, and end at Market.

    Both ideas seem significantly better that any previous proposal. In both cases it means running a train down a street that is fairly wide, but does not have the volume of traffic as 15th. This means an elevated line can take a lane that is right now only used for parking ( or Both ideas have merit, and should be studied. But the first idea is better, in my opinion, and the one I’m going to focus on here.

    Tracks running east-west on Market have several advantages:

    1) It would be relatively affordable to build a station that straddles 15th, on the south side of the street. There is very little there, as both the Walgreens and Safeway gas station are several meters south of the sidewalk. In contrast, on the north side of the street there are two brand new buildings that abut the sidewalk ( and That means that a north-south alignment would be difficult. In all likelihood, the station would be at the south side of the street (not straddling it) and you would not have a pedestrian connection from the north. At best you would have a secondary, someone expensive pedestrian bridge over 15th on the south side of the street.

    2) The train line could be extended quite easily to the west, thus serving the cultural, population and employment center of Ballard. It could even do that first, and make the station at 15th a backfill station.

    3) The station to the west would probably be located between Leary and 20th. This puts it far enough west to cover much of Ballard (and gain some separation from the other station) but not so far west that the southern walkshed is mostly water. The streets actually angle towards that end of town, thus increasing the effective walkshed. I believe a station there would have significantly higher ridership than one at 15th, although it makes sense to eventually have both.

    4) The station(s) could be used both for this line, as well as a future UW to Ballard line. The tracks could split in a couple different places, west of the 15th, either right before or after the turn. This greatly reduces the cost of that expansion, since you would already have two of the highest performing stations on that line. It would also provide a better value for riders. Those close to either station would have direct access to either line. The switching would be very similar to what will exist when East Link is built.

    5) A station to the west is better for bus connectivity. This is not at all intuitive (and I would have assumed the opposite not too long ago). But a station at Leary and Market means that only one bus needs to change: the bus that serves 15th, north of Market (currently served by the D and 15). This bus would simply turn on Market and head towards the same terminus as the 44. This means that the bus modification to serve the station actually provides value to riders not interested in taking the train. That bus would also serve the cultural, population and employment center of Ballard. Other buses in the area would remain the same.

    In contrast, a station on 15th and Market creates a tough choice for Metro. The D/15 can serve it just fine (ending somewhere after making the connection) but there is no obvious answer for the 40. In Metro’s long range plan, they simply ignore the station. This means that people on 24th would have a long walk if they wanted to transfer (the assumption being, I guess, that someone on the 40 would just prefer their one seat ride to downtown). The alternative would be to force the 40 to jog over to the station, use 15th, then follow Leary again. That might be impossible to do from south to north ( which may be why Metro didn’t plan on modifying the 40. The alternative would be to use 14th, but that creates an even bigger service hole in the heart of Old Ballard, making it more time consuming to catch a bus to Fremont or Westlake (this instead of this

    More to the point, the deviation adds nothing other than a connection to Link. It would create a service hole, while not add any value.

    6) The station to the west (between Leary and 20th) would be the terminus of this line. Since the train wouldn’t be going any further (ever) it could end on the surface, while avoiding crossing streets. It would be single track here, thus reducing the platform width and space used on the surface. I don’t have an example of this (maybe someone else does) but the train would basically cross above 20th, and then immediately head towards the surface, and end there. At worse the crossing for 20th would be low (which would be a minor issue, since it isn’t a truck route). The station would be on the north or the south side of the street. It would be fenced in, with a relatively thin concrete barrier and metal, similar to the way the platform is fenced on stations like Othello ( This fencing, though, would only be between the train and the cars. Riders would access the train in the same manner that they access side running streetcars ( which is really not much different than how you access a bus. Thus it wouldn’t take much of the street space, while providing a convenient, fast connection for riders. It would likely be better looking than a completely elevated line, and probably cheaper to build (on elevators, no big platform, etc.). The station could be on the north or the south side of the street. On the north side there are no driveways or intersections between 20th and 22nd. On the south side, Russel would become a dead end, which seems like a small price to pay (many would consider it an improvement).

    All of these options mean lower cost, and all of them sound better than even the most expensive, least likely option being considered (a tunnel to 15th). They would be better in both the short and long run.

  8. I’ve ridden trains all up and down the East Coast. I’ve ridden trains all through the Midwest. Mainly the view is of people’s back yards.

    Nobody but anal-retentive wonky transit geeks would consciously trade 45 minutes of some of the most beautiful natural splendor of views from trains in the whole United States for more ugly views of backyards and 10 minutes of time savings on a 4 hour trip. This kind of stupid decision is what gives transit planners a bad name.

    Skip the bypass.

    1. The bypass is basically part of speeding up Cascade trains so that they are competitive with flying. People take Coast Starlight for sightseeing. People take Cascades for business and other quicker trips. Saying that Cascades should take the slow route for sightseeing is like saying a transcon flight from LA to New York should divert itself and take a few extra hours to view more of the Rockies.

      1. There used to be a Spirit of Washington dinner train running from Woodinville to Renton and back. It wasn’t transportation; it was a sightseeing excursion. We could do the same for the Puget Sound segment between Tacoma and Olympia.

      2. Or you could just leave it the way it is and enjoy the journey and get to your destination. Some of my best friends are planners, and they do good work, but you dont have to be always utilitarian and maximization over efficiency all the time. It’s a balance in life.

      3. That’s forcing everybody to go the slow way on 100% of their trips. Should we lower the freeway speed limit to 45 mph too? What you’re really saying is that trains aren’t suitable for transportation so we should focus on highways and airplanes instead. That’s what Washington did for fifty years and it’s trying to get back into more balance and promote more-efficient modes. Again, there can be excursion trains for those who want the slow view. That would be popular for taking kinds and out-of-town guests on.

      1. Exactly,
        And the news media keeps erroneously reporting (by omission) that the sole purpose of the bypass was to save travel time.

        The Nelson Bennett tunnel at Point Defiance is a single track tunnel, which causes significant delays in both freight and passenger operations.

        To double track that would be cost prohibitive.

        When Sound Transit completed the connection from Tacoma Rail’s line at Freighthouse Square, to the BNSF Prarie line (Tacoma to Lakewood via the Nalley Valley), Amtrak now had the ability to move operations to that line.

        This opened up capacity, which was how they were going to add 2 more round trips between Seattle and Portland, in addition to the savings in travel time.

      2. It really wouldn’t cost that much to double track the tunnel, but it would need an alternate route while they do the work.

        The tunnel was originally double track. It was converted to single track to fit container trains. If you dig out the bottom of the tunnel, as is frequently done elsewhere to increase the height, you could convert it back to double track.

        I’m not sure it really buys you that much capacity though. The bypass gets you a 3rd track and eliminates the moving bridge at Chambers Bay.

    2. You can still take the slow section north of Seattle if you want to look at water and islands. PDX-SEA is a critical corridor and time/capacity is paramount. We won’t get drivers off the road with scenery alone.

      1. Train vs car, you have an expectation of delays either mode right now..its already competitove.

        Cost prohibative compared to straightening the bypassm building a new bridge and making it safe? I’m guessing not.

        Compared to flying? That’s just silly. 10 mins faster doesn’t make it competitive w flying. I flew up over Thanksgiving, and took the train back down. When I was in a hurry on the way up, 10 minutes mattered less than nothing in the decision. You’d need true hsr to even make it interesting. 10 mins. bah.

      2. If the purpose of the train were just a sightseeing excursion, then we should just kill it and tell people who want to go to Portland to just ride the bus. The Bolt bus is scheduled at 3:15, but half an hour of that is padding – if you can time the trip to avoid rush hour, it’s 2:45, all the way, station to station.

        The point of the train is to eventually be faster and more reliable than the bus. 10 minutes doesn’t get us there by itself, but it moves things in the right direction. It also eliminates a single-track bottleneck, which means improved reliability, plus potential to run additional trains in the future, for more frequent service.

    3. It’s all about an accumulative impact. Money was spent to shave a few minutes off running through the downtowns of Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, and other station areas. The additional 10 minutes off the Dupont section is just part of an incremental upgrade. Next up will be Oregon working to shave 15 minutes off Portland to Eugene. After that it’s anybody’s guess. 10 minutes off the entry into Vancouver BC maybe? The kink that caused the accident would be a nice piece to remove.
      The NEC is buying some killer tilting Alstom trains that can run faster then its predecessor on the same track.

      Unfortunately Washington State doesn’t have the funds to perform more simultaneous changes; piece meal is the best we got.

      1. If it were my call, I’d send the freight straight through Lakewood- speed limit forty after fixing curve- and let passengers enjoy what freight generally ignores. Pretty sure a decent engineer- in otherwords trained by somebody else- could make up ten lost minutes.

        So long as those slides get stabilized. No voluntary train passenger, meaning not just overbooked, is going to go methamphetopiodal about arrival time in Portland.

        But got a hunch BN decided long since it’s cheaper for them to give freight the scenery than to upgrade the I-5 line. In 20 years, all the serious freight will be in a tube passing ten miles under Wenatchee. Designed not by Elon Musk but stolen from elegant lithograph patent drawings of the Paris post office pneumatic tube network in 1901.

        In spite of the fact that since they are also experienced professional wheeled over the road machines, those freights would love racing their squishy-wheeled buddies down the line toward Southern Chile.

        Bet no freight engine can wait to let go its famous BeeeetchatotheNisquallllllllllllllllllleeeee!
        Just turn off NPR and listen.


    4. Cascades is meant in part to replace airline business and regional trips to reduce carbon emissions, and the trips it’s trying to attract are in large part time sensitive.

  9. As I’m writing this comment, the Sound Transit board should be wrapping up their final meeting for the year, taking care of some very big items in the process such as adopting the 2019 annual budget.

    Here are just a few of the items on the consent agenda (yes, seriously, even the really big items are on the consent agenda):

    “6. Consent Agenda
    The Board will consider a single action to approve all items on the consent agenda.

    • Motion No. M2018-160: Authorizing the chief executive officer to execute a contract amendment with Alexander Dennis, LLC to exercise options to manufacture and deliver thirteen 42-foot double deck diesel buses in the amount of $11,680,258, with a 5% contingency of $584,013, totaling $12,264,271 for this
    procurement. This action authorizes a total modified contract amount of $45,540,795 plus applicable taxes contingent upon Board approval of the 2019 Budget.

    • Motion No. M2018-161: Authorizing the chief executive officer to execute a contract with New Flyer Industries, Inc. to manufacture and deliver thirty-one 60-foot articulated hybrid diesel buses in the amount of $38,827,407, with a 5% contingency of $1,941,370, for a total authorized contract amount not to exceed $40,768,777, plus applicable taxes and contingent upon Board approval of the 2019 Budget.

    • Motion No. M2018-163: Authorizing the chief executive officer to increase the contract contingency with Hoffman Construction to construct the Roosevelt Station Finishes within the Northgate Link Extension in the amount of
    $7,000,000, for a new total authorized contract amount not to exceed $166,905,743.

    • Motion No. M2018-165: Authorizing the chief executive officer to execute an amendment to the Permit and Project Review Reimbursement Agreement with the City of Lynnwood to add construction support services in the amount of $2,344,655, with a 7% contingency of $164,126, totaling $2,508,781, for a new total authorized agreement amount not to exceed $4,006,903.

    • Motion No. M2018-167: Authorizing the chief executive officer to execute a task order with the
    Washington State Department of Transportation to provide professional services for project
    development and environmental review of the I-405/NE 85th Street In-line Freeway Station for the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit Project, in the amount of $13,627,765 with a 10% contingency of $1,362,776, for a total authorized agreement amount not to exceed $14,990,541.”

    And here are the business/final action items:

    “7. Business Items

    A. Motion No. M2018-169: Electing the Sound Transit Board Chair and two Vice Chairs for a two-year term each, beginning January 1, 2019.

    B. Motion No. M2018-173: Appointing committee chairs and members for two-year terms.

    C. Resolution No. R2018-44: Adopting an annual budget for the period from January 1 through
    December 31, 2019, adopts the 2019 Transit Improvement Plan, and permits systemwide allocation of financial benefits of certain grants.
    [Ed. note: I doubt they spend much time on this though it’s the most important item on the agenda.]

    D. Resolution No. R2018-42: (1) Amending the Digital Passenger Information System program by (a) increasing the project allocation to date from $1,617,150 to $48,882,092, and (b) increasing the 2019 annual budget from $1,617,150 to $8,425,113 to modernize and standardize Sound Transit’s passenger
    information systems across Link, Tacoma Link, and Sounder, with support for future expansion including BRT and Parking and (2) changing the program name to Passenger Information Management System. [Ed. note: Wow! $$$]

    E. Motion No. M2018-164: Authorizing the chief executive officer to execute a contract with ARINC to provide system integration services for the Passenger Information Management System program in the amount of $30,777,995 with a 10% contingency of $3,077,800 for a total authorized contract amount not to exceed $33,855,795 plus applicable taxes. [Ed. note: Well I guess this explains the need for the preceding resolution.]

    F. Motion No. M2018-166: Authorizing the chief executive officer to execute a construction contract with Stacy and Witbeck – Kiewit-Hoffman, a Joint Venture, to provide Heavy Civil General Contractor/Construction Manager construction services for the Northgate Station to NE 200th Street segment within the Lynnwood Link Extension in the amount of $88,147,300, with a 7% contingency of $6,170,300, for a total authorized contract amount not to exceed $94,317,600. [Ed. note: I believe this is the first major construction-related contract for this segment of the project. 7% contingency. Interesting.]

    G. Motion No. M2018-170: (1) Declaring that an approximately 2,256 square foot parcel owned by Sound Transit adjacent to the Beacon Hill Link Station facilities at approximately 17th Avenue and Lander Street in Seattle is suitable for development as housing; (2) approving the key business terms of a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Pacific Housing Northwest, LLC for the sale of the Purchase Parcel, which will be combined with the Developer’s adjacent 6,431 square foot parcel to facilitate a mixed-use
    transit oriented development; and (3) delegating to the chief executive officer the authority to execute and subsequently amend as necessary a Purchase and Sale Agreement and associated documents, all subject to the Board-approved key business terms.

    H. Motion No. M2018-168: Approving a performance award for Peter M. Rogoff, Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer. [Ed. note: I guess Peter got passing grades from his behavioral coach.]

    I. Motion No. M2018-171: Appointing Mr. Clark McIssac to the Citizen Oversight Panel for a term of four years beginning January 1, 2019, and expiring December 31, 2022.

    J. Motion No. M2018-172: Ratifying the chief executive officer’s finding of an emergency in connection with the purchase and installation of a light rail vehicle lift at the Operations and Maintenance Facility due to the fact that Macton Corporation has ceased doing business and is unable to complete its work.”

    Busy day in the boardroom.

    1. Glad to see they are getting the Beacon Hill station area development moving. Its been around 9 years since the initial light rail segment opened. Granted, there was an economic calamity at the time, but Seattle recovered from that in a couple of years.

      They are really going big on the passenger information system. I probably would have started more piecemeal and gotten the light rail PIS upgraded first, then looked at what was needed for other services, because getting that system right for light rail is critical and having all the issues ironed out before other light rail segments open is important.

  10. When I was logging and quarrying, my favorite crew-members were from the southern mountain states. North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. So Vancouver City Council could check its records to see if its county’s got any coal mines left.

    Too bad “You’ll Never Leave Clark Alive” is off beat. Statement’s probably true.


  11. Observation: The more sanctimonious someone is about climate change, the more silent they are about flying over the holidays to visit family.

    1. And they are probably also driving an old Subaru getting less than 21 mpg giving the finger to a guy with a Trump bumper sticker because they are likely a climate change denier. The guy with the Trump sticker is probably also driving an F150 getting 26 mpg and has no plans to hop on an airplane for the holidays.

      Which brings to question is it worse to be a climate change denier or someone who understands climate change but refuses to make any personal changes to help address the issue, including voting for a carbon tax in a fully blue state?

      6 of the top 10 states for wind power are red states (Texas is first)
      7 of the top 10 states for solar power are red states

      Annual growth rates in wind production are twice as high as they were under Obama and solar capacity has almost doubled since 2016 from 3,613 GWh to 6,471 GWh.

      I’m definitely not a Trump supporter but I think Democrats need to be fully in-tune with their outright hypocrisy on climate change.

      1. “6 of the top 10 states for wind power are red states (Texas is first)
        7 of the top 10 states for solar power are red states ”

        The reasons have everything to do with economics and nothing to do with politics. Solar power is most effective where you get lots of sunlight. Wind power is most effective where you get lots of wind. The parts of the country that have a lot of sunlight and a lot of wind tend to be sparsely populated. And both solar and wind require very cheap land to build at scale, which, again, is impossible in an urban area, which means the most productive solar and wind parts of the country will, by necessity, have very low population density, and therefore, vote heavily Republican. Even within the state of Washington, it is the Republican part of the state – not the Democratic part – that generates nearly all of our wind and solar power.

        Similarly, regardless of how one may personally feel about climate change, if you own a large chunk of land that’s not being used by anything else, and a power company is offering you free money to let them install renewable power on your land – there is no reason not to let them and take their money.

        On the demand side, the cost of renewable energy has declined rapidly over the years with improving technology, to the point where even deep-red states like Oklahoma are rapidly ramping up their renewable energy production, not out of concern for climate change, but because it costs less than building more coal plants, and that savings trickles down into the pocketbooks of all the ratepayers. Regardless of one’s political leanings, everyone wants to save money on their electricity bills.

      2. With the emergence of offshore wind blue states such as Mass and Conn will soon be top 10 wind power producers.

        California and other blue states were the pioneers of solar and wind power in the US. Economic principals are why it has migrated to red states..

      3. Yes, by conveniently ignoring that hydro is also a renewable, you can make it look like red states are leaders. The reality, of course, is much different:

        And as to your made-up example of the new F150 and the old Subaru, you need to consider that there is more to the carbon footprint of a vehicle than its fuel economy alone. The energy to produce a vehicle is a big factor, and that amount is much higher for a pickup truck. Also, it is likely in your example that the rural pickup driver puts more miles (2-3x more) than the urban-dwelling Subaru driver (who has a shorter commute and can also take transit/walk for many trips). Fortunately, people have calculated the CO2 release per capita by state, so rather than make up examples to fit our own narratives, we can just look at the data:

        The notable trend is that red, rural states spew out more CO2 (sometimes a lot more) than places like Washington State. Washington DC is a great example to look at, because it is the only data point that has no rural element. They produce 4.55 metric tons per capita, compared to the 10+ tons per capita that we see in states like Oregon. Oregon has no oil and gas production, so the difference is due to the types of jobs people have and their lifestyles.

      4. True, but you have to put the numbers in context. All people, including city dwellers, have to eat, and the food is probably grown from a farm in a rural part of the country. Are the emissions associated with operating the farm charged to the area with the farm, or the area with the people who consume the food grown there? A simplistic chart that simply spews out numbers for each state doesn’t really capture that picture.

        I agree that, at the end of the day, the carbon footprint is still probably substantially smaller for people living in denser areas, but we should never forget that regardless of one’s neighborhood environment or political leanings, if we don’t have farms, we don’t eat.

      5. “California and other blue states were the pioneers of solar and wind power in the US.”

        That’s an important point. Cities are where people with different backgrounds and experiences mix the most, both intentionally in business relationships, and accidentally in supermarkets, buses, and sidewalks. The tech industry figured out early on that user groups, conferences, open-source collaborative projects, etc, are an effective way to learn new technologies, spread ideas, and generate new ideas. As some have stated, “In college and at conferences I got more out of the group study sessions and hallway conversations than the official lectures.” Many companies and products have come from these in-between conversations. These groups are microcosms of cities. Even Burning Man is arranged as a temporary city rather than spread out like Vashon Island artist studios.

        Jane Jacobs noted this in “The Economy of Cities”. She even suggested that agriculture started in cities. I.e., it started in something like kitchen gardens and back yards. Then they started doing it larger-scale by showing the surrounding rural dwellers how to grow it and buying it from them (at cheaper prices). So innovations usually come from cities. Even those that come from rural areas, there’s often a city in the background: the edge of a metropolitan area, the maintainer of their Internet links. And sometimes there are reversals, like Texas getting big into wind power for its own reasons.

        Cities are bluer than their exurbs or the rural parts of their state. This is true essentially everywhere in the US. Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Charlotte, Raleigh, Miami, Tampa, etc, are more moderate and socially-conscious than the exurbs and rural areas around them. Most people attribute this to historic white flight and liberals moving to cities, but some studies have also started to show that cities make people more moderate/liberal. When you see the effects of inequality every day and how it impacts the city’s functioning and your prosperity, it becomes harder to justify it than when you can imagine welfare queens and poor criminals from afar. Rural dwellers recognize this at some level, which is why they’re trying to subjegate cities in their states and not give them autonomy, and are fiercely opposed to to the city-state structure which would be more natural and productive.

      6. City dwellers’ carbon footprint includes the amount they consume from farms, watersheds, and Chinese factories. Even with that, city-dwellers use the least resources because their living spaces are smaller, are often attached so heating is de-facto shared, they don’t have large ornamental lawns, and they often don’t have to drive or drive as far. Rural farms are producing food for the owners and/or others. Rural woods benefit the environment as well as their owners’ recreation. Even a piece of woods-and-stream in a home lot next to a wood is beneficial. But quarter-acre suburban lots with manicured lawns are the worst of both worlds: they use the most energy per capita and the open space is often unusable by native plants and animals.

    2. It’s an observation, but is it true? How many people do you know of who are both? Somebody once said that since I’m a liberal I’m contemptuous of flyover country. At the time I’d never heard of “flyover country” but I could guess that it was the land between the coasts. He was wrong, I’m not contemptuous of it, and I don’t even consider it an accurate phrase. I later learned the phrase came from right-wing media so he must have picked it up there. The same kind of idea that “limousine liberals” want to tax the oil companies but don’t give a concern how much they fly.

    3. Basically you’re full of shit, Sam. I’m about as sanctimoneous about climate change as they get, and I don’t take airplanes at ALL.

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