A Sound Transit Tacoma Link Car at Union Station Head On
Avgeek Joe/Flickr

This is an open thread.

35 Replies to “News Roundup: Hiring”

  1. Since this is an open thread can I just say one more time how terrible the formatting on the new comment section is? There’s no rhyme or reason to what order comments are displayed, replies often don’t appear under their parent comment, there’s too much whitespace. I’m not against change but it should at least be functional.

    1. Thanks again for your feedback. As I mentioned in the previous thread, I’m aware of the issue, and I will look into it as soon as I can.

      1. Hi Frank – Thank you for your work and responses to feedback. It now seems as though the first response to each comment is set back (and with the smaller icon) – this is much more intuitive to read than just a smaller icon in plane with the original comment as it appeared to be before. Thanks for the update!

      2. You’re welcome! Still too much whitespace and I had to disable the “new comment” blue color feature but I’ll work on that next.

    2. +1

      Not just the comments, but the style of the whole blog I feel was much better before.

      1. Thanks. A bit of a rough draft but good enough to get ideas across.

        I know soil conditions under Union, Sounder and King have been a prohibitive factor in tying the stations together with a Mezzanine. I hope putting it out from under the stations and along Jackson will work. ST might even be able to extend this one to King.

        I also think a configuration like this will give ST a better staging area (nearby parking areas) and be less intrusive to the International District.

  2. Unfortunately Seattle has very little radial freight rail that can be used for passenger service in order to benefit from any cost savings that the FRA deregulation might bring – but if there is any savings to be had, perhaps it could be put into extending South Sounder to Interbay/Smith Cove (adding a Belltown/LQA station as well) and North Sounder to Renton. Grade separated trackage exists all the way into DT Renton and a layover there seems possible – unfortunately extending the line as far as the Landing would deal with a lot of grade crossings as that would be a better end point. This might add more functionality to both lines as North Sounder could pick up at least some traffic headed from Renton to Ballard, LQA, and Downtown and v.v., and South Sounder would also gain by serving the north end of downtown with connections to Ballard. North Sounder needs all the help it can get and this might add some usefulness to it.

    Heck, get Boeing to pony up a little, add a transfer station at Boeing Access Rd, and they’d have a nice little train service close to Paine Field, Boeing Field, and Boeing Renton!

    1. Geographically, it makes sense. I’m not sure of the track usage and freight demands though.

      A Sounder “refresh” is probably worth considering about 2025/6 when Federal Way and Lynnwood Link extension’s open, as they will draw riders from Sounder. Rather than decline, it’s an opportunity to think more broadly about serving other areas.

      The Smith Cove and BAR connections would seem to be more useful between 2030 and 2035 when new Link lines and stations enable more connectivity.

      Finally, I think the rule change could be useful in areas well outside of the City of Seattle as feeders to Link. Tacoma beyond DuPont or Thurston County? Everett to Skagit or Whatcom County? Bremerton to Shelton? Tacoma to Graham? That would require a different structure than the current Sound Transit District one.

      After all, the benefit is to provide targeted services in mixed service windows than an exclusive track for only higher-frequency passenger lines.

  3. Suburbs not doing their fair share to absorb population growth. This is frustrating and unfortunate. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we need to eliminate all of these silly requirements for things like landscape buffering for apartments adjacent to the front streets, or parking lots in industrial parks. We need to use our land wisely, not squander it on cheezy and tacky landscape strips. And we need to allow developers to go to higher densities. They’ll build it if it’s allowed, because it gets a better return on investment. Unfortunately, Cities are insistent on keeping low densities to maintain “character” (or, as I would say “lack of character.”)
    As somebody living in the burbs, bring on the density. I’d love to have the dining and shopping amenities that follow it.

    1. Many folks moved into the suburbs for a “quiet” life, a single family home with a yard for the kids to play. To do that affordably, they had to run into the burn.

      They are concerned about school overcrowding. A valid concern if there is a massive influx of families with children.

      Many are afraid of sitting in traffic or dealing with cut-thru traffic in their neighborhoods (i.e. Woodway Development and recent road diet of Richmond Beach Rd). On-street parking is another concern.

      There are afraid of the rezone itself. Opponents use images of recent Ballard developments (lifeless 6-story boxes) to show the “dreaded” future of their suburb. In some cases, that means your neighborhood dive bar or restaurant gets the boot in favor of one with higher prices and worse food.

      In essence, these people escaped from the city but now “the city” is encroaching on them.

    2. A normal person who is driving through, let’s say Medina on the Eastside, says to themselves “nice neighborhood.” But you, upon seeing this low density suburb become enraged that it isn’t more like Manhattan? That seems like an odd response to driving though a suburb.

      1. That must be the same normal person who thinks Taco Bell makes great Mexican food. I’m sorry, but Medina does not strike me as an especially nice neighborhood, but rather, and especially boring one. San Fransisco, Brooklyn, and yes Seattle have a lot nicer neighborhoods. These are all residential neighborhoods (not the mix of residential and office neighborhoods that generally define Manhattan). But they all seem a lot more interesting and varied than some place like Medina. But then again, I’ve never had the Cheesy Gordita Crunch — maybe I’m missing something.

    3. It’s the parking, not the landscape strips, that are the real culprits, along with the city codes that require excessive amounts of it. Look at a satellite map and you can see that nearly every business (except those with underground or structured parking garages) devotes more land to parking than to the business itself.

      Two types of businesses whose parking tends to be particularly egregious include banks and post offices. In the 21st century, almost nobody physically visits these places anymore, so the actual demand for parking there is tiny. But, the parking codes were written back in the pre-internet age, and are typically never updated. When they do get updated, political pressure always favors tightening, never loosening. So every new bank and post office still has to build a huge parking lot, as if it were still the 1980’s and everybody were still driving to the bank every week to get money, and to the post office every week to send mail. A lot that is usually nearly empty, and even at peak usage times, sits about 1/4 full, if that.

      1. Point well taken on parking. Parking minimums need to be reduced, if not altogether eliminated, for many classifications of development. Further, I would argue that a good land use policy would dictate that parking must be structured (underground, or parking under useable building square footage) for any parking that exceeds minimums. This would discourage excess parking, but still allow it provided they invest in more intensive land uses.

      2. I disagree with Engineer. Structured parking is very permanent, while surface parking can be easily redeveloped. In neighborhoods that are urbanizing, particularly in the suburbs, surface parking is a great way to meet current parking needs while still allowing for further density in future years the mode share has adjusted. I think a few big apartment projects in Lynnwood are using surface lots with the intention of adding in additional buildings (and less parking) in the future.

        Surface parking can also play additional uses, such as a plaza/market space on weekends, or various storage & lay down space for commercial & industrial tenants.

    4. “Cities are insistent on keeping low densities to maintain “character” (or, as I would say “lack of character.”)”

      The biggest problem isn’t lack of character, it’s how the residents are being replaced by ever-wealthier residents as a growing number of people compete for the same number of houses. Medina now isn’t what Medina was like thirty years ago even though it looks the same. A few years ago I mentioned to my mom, “The houses in Medina must have reached a million dollars.” She said, “Michael, there’s no house in Medina now that’s less than $4 million.”

    5. Many of those that flee to the burbs are fearful of the class and race diversity that would come with density. It isn’t merely just an embrace of a “quiet” life and a yard for kids to play in as well. There are politics involved for some.

  4. I’m growing increasingly frustrated with the crappy routing of buses destined for N King County (Shoreline and Sand Point) via 5th and 6th Avenues. Expediency of the 301, 308 and 316 routes have gone into the toilet. They are now reliably late and overcrowded.

    Much of the hold up appears to be the slight right of trips CT and some KCM make at Cherry St for the I-5 Express Lanes. Many of these routes were already using the contra flow lane between Terrace and Cherry Sts.

    Another bottleneck is the right to Marion from 5th Ave. The protected right turn phase is useless with vehicles queued within the turning radius of an articulated bus. It doesn’t help either that “Seattle’s Finest” holds up transit for vehicles exiting a parking garage.

  5. I’ve thought for a long while that there is an opportunity for this between central and southwest Clark County to Washington County using the Chelhatchie Prairie, the new third track that the State paid for through Vancouver and Portland and Western. Sure, the track would have to be seriously upgraded and the southeast leg of the “wye” restored, but such a service would be an hour faster than driving at peak hours, even with the necessary bus feeder system at the Washington County end.

    The track from Helvetia down to the US 26 West would have to be rebuilt, but there appear to be no encroachments to the right of way. For another $50 million it could be extended right to Orenco Station using an elevated structure. But that’s for a later day. Right now it would cost maybe $60 million for the necessary minimal upgrades.

    1. Seems to have minimal utility without the extension to Orenco. The other issue is congestion on the UP mainline south of the river. If we can get commuter rail between Vancouver and Union station going, how can we justify using those very same slots to run a WES-sized service out to Orenco?

  6. I’d love to see how ST figured that $90/month was a reasonable charge for the Angle Lake garage based on market rates. The “overflow” parking next to the garage is $10/day but only if you pay in advance and get some discount coupons. How that translates into $90/month for a minimum of 12 days is something only government could figure on.

    1. The overflow lot likely makes most of their money from long-term airport parking.

      If ST were willing to open up the Angle Lake garage to overnight parking, they could probably charge the same. Maybe more, since for Link is likely a faster, more frequent, and more reliable ride to the airport than the private parking operator’s shuttle, except for those arriving very late at night.

      But, the rates that people are willing to pay to park to ride Link for 45 minutes each way into downtown are much more limited. There’s too much free competition from other station lots, park and rides that have express buses to Seattle that get there in less time than Link, plus, of course, hide&ride in the Rainier Valley. Plus, the parking fee is in addition to the Link fares, whereas, in the private lot, the parking fee includes the airport shuttle. So, there’s that difference too.

      1. No, this is the charge specifically for overflow from Link; it doesn’t include a shuttle. It’s “I arrived at Angle Lake when the sign said the ST lot was full and I need to park here and now and take Link”, and it’s $10. You park in a different place that is relatively convenient to walk to Link and you are not shuttled anywhere.

        There is no hide and ride near Angle Lake. You are not going to drive 25 minutes to South Seattle to try and find a hide and ride. All around the airport are the airport parking places with shuttles and they are more expensive. But if you don’t want to get a parking ticket, you’re paying $10 for the overflow.

  7. My friend, who has been living in between Vancouver Wa, and Portland for over 20 years says there are 3 and 4 car Max trains. I have never seen them so I asked him to send me a picture. He never did. Do they exist? Just curious.

    1. Only in the event of an emergency, when they need to move a disabled train with another train. I can only think of one time this happened. A two car train of then-new 400 series cars had a software defect that suddenly applied the brakes and would not allow them to be released. So, they did a manual release and lock of the brakes to toe the train out of the way. However, their operating rules want at least as many operable brakes on a train as inoperable ones, so the entire next train was used to pull the train with inoperative brakes out of the way.

      Portland’s 20 blocks to the mile grid preclude anything longer than about 210 feet on MAX under normal circumstances.

      1. I stand corrected.

        There was a time at the end of the service day they would accumulate trains at Gresham and move them to Ruby Junction in four car trains. As this didn’t involve the potential of blocking any crossings it didn’t matter as much as it would have had these train moves happened on the downtown section of the line.

        Someone got some video footage of this in the early 1990s.

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