62 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: OpenTTD Hell on Wheels”

  1. I spent some time looking at seattleinprogress.com yesterday, and was shocked to see how many new apartment buildings are being planned with hundreds of underground parking spots in walkable areas. Most of the places I looked at have no parking minimums, so why are they oversupplying parking? Is it because investors/lenders require it and they don’t understand the market? If Seattle had parking maximums, would that help? I think it’s irresponsible to allow this much parking to be built considering all the dangers to pedestrians and the planet.

    1. It’s not “over-supply” if the market is willing to pay for it. Average parking ratios in most areas without minimums aren’t high, but still lots of people who want cars for various reasons.

    2. Lenders are risk-adverse and afraid a low parking ratio will make the units unsaleable/unrentable. It all depends on people’s willingness to not demand a parking space, and the latent demand by non-drivers.
      Lenders don’t believe many people are willing to give up parking, and they don’t believe that latent demand by non-drivers is significant. The areas that already have Link or about to get it could prove them wrong by turning away from cars en masse, but so far they haven’t. Parking maximums would help because a legal requirement would incentivize lenders change their business model, in the same way that zoning requirements and setback requirements and code requirements make them approve things that they wouldn’t otherwise.

    3. The problem is that there’s an under-supply of units without parking. So someone who chooses not to have a car still has to pay for the parking.

      What needs to happen is a city law that requires unbundling of parking from rent. If you have a car, you can choose to pay for the parking, but you are not obligated to do so. Otherwise, you pay less and the property owner can choose to provide the parking to someone else (either people visiting the city for the day, or for someone who has more cars than spaces at their own residence who is willing to pay more). That makes parking a much more dynamic market, and provides a price signal over time that developers can use to right-size the amount of parking they decide to provide in their developments.

  2. Given that parking anywhere near DT is in great demand I doubt it will turn out to be an oversupply. People that will be able to afford these apartments will be able to afford a car. Even if you walk to work having a car to make shopping trips, trips to the mountains, visit family & friends, etc. is something most will opt for. Plus, if it’s a shared apt. there’s a good chance one or more people will drive. And if the majority of potential buyers want a parking space, not having one would hurt resale. Typically on tall buildings the parking is in an underground structure that would have to be excavated anyway and not really suitable for too much else.

    1. So, knowing nothing much about the Bay, why create a totally new rail line at great expense instead of just doing a short BART extension to ACE and upgrading ACE from a measly four trains a day?

      People hate transfers. I know that BART is super expensive to extend because bespoke everything is expensive, but why add an additional one for people suffering from long commutes?

      1. Because ACE runs mostly on a single freight track in high demand, ACE cannot get the slots to add lots of trains. It was always known to be of limited value because of that from the day it started running.

        I’m not so sure that Valley Link completely solves the problem. However, if Valley Link builds and owns the tracks in the middle of 580, they have much more freedom to add trains on that segment.

  3. My first draft of an ST4 work in progress. Lawyers are currently working on all disclaimers.

    Gray lines being ST3 and yellow Kirkland Transit Corridor

    ST4 Link Map

    Priority #1)

    A 1 seat ride to downtown Seattle from Bothell, Kenmore, Lake City Way, Wallingford and Fremont with a 2 seater to UW

    Bothell 46,000
    Wallingford 23,000
    Fremont 13,000
    4 Station Lake City Way 33,000
    Lake Forest Park 14,000
    Kenmore 23,000

    Here the addition of only 1 line adds two major destinations (UW and DT Seattle). Makes for an efficient line
    especially when ridership miles is also considered.

    Can utilize new 522 BRT stations as Link stations (I don’t see this Link line occurring until after 2040 by which time BRT will have served its’ usefulness).

    Notable daily bus ridership:
    62 7,500
    309 500
    312 2,500
    372 8,000
    522 10,000 ? couldn’t find numbers

    Priority #2)

    A 1 seat ride for Kirkland and Ballard to UW.

    By doing Ballard to Kirkland it will lower overhead and rider subsidies and compensate for a dinky Ballard-UW line

    Also would offer Link stops to major King County destinations:
    Woodland Park Zoo
    University Village
    Children’s Hospital

    Kirkland 90,000 (Northern Bellevue-Redmond area more than doubles this number)
    Ballard 50,000
    Wallingford 23,000

    Bus daily ridership
    44 8,800
    255 6,800
    271 5,700
    540 630
    541 800
    542 2,300
    277 200
    556 900

    Priority #3)

    Burien extension from West Seattle

    Leverages existing infrastructure from West Seattle Link.
    Lowers rider subsidies for this line with greater travel miles per trip and more riders per trip.

    White Center 14,000
    Burien 52,000
    Additional West Seattle access

    Priority #4) Crown Hill extension

    1. Sorry, but I can’t take any proposal with a Ballard-UW line seriously. Maybe after Everett and Tacoma are fully built out to in the 2030s. But neither a dime nor vote until then. Even then only maybe.

      Priority 2 needs to be Priority 27. Maybe even lower.

      1. Ballard to UW has the highest ridership per dollar spent, as well as the highest time saved per dollar spent of anything on that map (or just about anything anyone is thinking about). Even Sound Transit said that (with their studies). Shouldn’t the most cost effective project be the highest priority?

        I’m not saying we can afford anything after ST3 (in all likelihood, we are done). But if we do anything, it is likely Ballard to UW.

      2. RossB, I don’t use ridership per dollar spent as my benchmark for a successful ST project. I use distance per dollar as my benchmark. I am all about getting light rail out past the suburbs and into the rural country. I’ve never been a fan of urban focused light rail. Not since my first experience with it in London back in the 90s, and not since. To me, ST needs to be more BART than BART. Infill stops are anathema to me. I’d even cut the number of current stops in half. More distance, less time. Like Japanese bullet trains.

        Ballard -> UW is the opposite of what I want to see in transit. A 3.4 mile line? A waste of time, space, and money. Let’s think forward to the future, not concern ourselves with the regional borders of the present. By the time the region’s population doubles, North Bend and Monroe are going to be semi-urban. That’s what we need to be thinking about today to make the line of tomorrow. Instead we build today to make the line of yesterday. That’s just never going to work.

      3. The bullet trains work because of the high density of housing and employment near the stations. The only way places as remote as North Bend work is 1) there has to be a lot of stuff within easy and fast access of the station and 2) it has to be an intermediate point between population centers.

        Somewhere like Centralia might work if they increased the zoning near the station and more frequent and faster Amtrak service. North Bend is too oriented around highways and too far from the next logical urban center (Spokane) for anything like that to work, even if it were on a good east-west main line.

        Furthermore, how are those commuters from North Bend to get around once they get to Seattle? Adobe and Google are both in Fremont. Shoving those commuters onto the 44 means those few miles between Ballard and the UW take over an hour.

        This is why lines such as the Ballard-UW are important: it doesn’t just improve the urban traveler commute but also the commute for anyone from further out trying to get to where they need to go once in the core. North Bend commuters aren’t going to use anything if it takes them an additional hour to get where they want once they arrive at the end of their suburban line.

      4. “By the time the region’s population doubles, North Bend and Monroe are going to be semi-urban.”

        It took two decades to grow from 3 millio to 5 million. You’d need 2 1/2 times that to reach 10 million. We’ve just been through an extraordinary growth spurt that’s slowing down, and there’s unlikely to be another company headquarters the size of Amazon (although it’s possible). Seattle could accommodate a million people, or five more headquarters like that, but it refuses to change the zoning to allow it or its employees to live in the city. In the future we may get a flood of climate refugees, but that is still speculative. If things get so bad that millions of people come at once, then large-scale construction of low-density neighborhoods in North Bend probably won’t be viable then, so we’d have to infill them, if we can still get the materials from Asia.

        The urban growth boundary ends at Issaquah. The urban growth centers in Lynnwood, Everett, Totem Lake, Issaquah, and Federal Way will be built up before the boundary expands, and if those aren’t enough then there will probably be pressure on Renton, Tukwila, and Kent to build similar centers.

    2. Sand Point is not a major King County destination. It’s not even a major Seattle destination. It’s not a dense or highly populated neighborhood. Correct transit mode for this type of area: Bus.

      1. A crossing leaving from Sand Point and going across the lake shouldn’t be regarded solely from a ridership perspective, but rather from a system resiliency perspective until we have a line that goes around either end of the lake.

        Also regarding ridership, sure the population is low but we could consider the ability to provide easy access to one of the largest parks in the city (heck region even) that is currently highly inaccessible to a large part of the population and IMO hugely under-utilized.

    3. Nice map. I like the little transit symbols — that is cool. Since you asked, numbers for the 522 can be found on the service implementation plan (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019-sip-final_compressed.pdf). The 522 gets about 5,000 riders a day. The ST documents are really nice, because they have stop data. The interesting thing about the 522 is that ridership is dominated by trips within the city (i. e. Lake City to downtown) as opposed to trips from the places further away. This is in keeping with transit everywhere. The farther out you go, the less people use transit.

      Anyway, there are decent ideas here (ideas that ST has explored in the past). But there are some big weaknesses:

      1) Like so many failed projects in the U. S. over the years, it places too much emphasis on suburban commuters. You just don’t get high ridership that way and quite often (like in this case) you still have high costs.

      2) It ignores cost as well as cost per rider. It proposes some sort of chunnel, or brand new floating bridge across Lake Washington, followed by a single stop in Kirkland. How many boardings do you think that station will have, anyway? 20,000? If so, it would leap frog every other station in our system (Westlake has 12,000, the UW has 10,000, the most popular suburban station is SeaTac, with 6,000, and it is an airport). Even if the station has 20,000 riders a day, it is a terrible value. This tunnel itself would cost at least 2 billion, and likely a lot more. Even if this grandiose ridership estimate is right, that puts it at $100,000 per rider, and that is just to build the tunnel. You also have operational costs which would likely be very high (it would is a very long tunnel, with no access for a very long distance). This isn’t the only area where cost per rider is a big problem. The West Seattle line would add only four stops, but be very expensive, since it is so long (and the terrain is challenging, making surface running difficult if not impossible).

      3) Who will pay for the line to Kirkland? I can assure you, Seattle has no interest in that chunnel. We have very little interest in the stops east of UW, for that matter. Hard to imagine Seattle would embrace stops with so few people, while ignoring areas like First Hill, Belltown or the Central Area. Is Bellevue/Kirkland willing to chip in billions on one new stop in Kirkland? I seriously doubt it. Kirkland doesn’t even have good all day bus service (try getting from Totem Lake to anywhere but downtown Bellevue in the middle of the day).

      4) There is no stop in the heart of Ballard. It is bizarre to me that folks want to build a Ballard to UW line, but end at 15th. I understand why you would end the Ballard-to-downtown line there if the line is elevated. It is very difficult to get to the west via an elevated line. But the Ballard to UW line will be underground, and while it is necessary to make a connection, it would be silly to end before you visit the second most popular stop on the line (the first being the UW).

      6) The Lake City line cannibalizes both existing Link service as well as fast bus service, while not providing a lot in connectivity. Someone in Lake City still has to transfer to get to the UW or Capitol Hill. Folks on the E don’t really get anything out of that line except a stop at Fremont. I doubt many will want to get off the bus right when it is on an expressway to downtown. Nor do I think people will want to backtrack to the northeast (Lake City). You do gain that stop in Fremont, and folks in Lake City gain a direct connection to Wallingford, but that is a lot of money (likely billions) for all that.

      If the goal is serving Lake City, then it makes a lot more sense to split from 65th. You could dig a tunnel until you get to around 85th/20th, and then pop out of the ground (that would be a short tunnel). At that point you might be able to go on the surface, although that would have issues (especially with a branched system). You could go elevated, but some might complain (just as they are complaining in West Seattle). I don’t think you could afford underground. Regardless, if you could pull it off, it would make sense as a branch, as this would pull a lot of riders from the main line. You don’t need three minute trains to Northgate, let alone Lynnwood (or Everett). Building the branch would be much cheaper than the line you proposed, and get you just about as much. You lose the Fremont stop, but gain a direct connection to the UW and Capitol Hill for riders along SR 522.

      7) This seems relatively minor, but the stop spacing seems out of whack. I don’t understand the stops along Lake City Way. You have a stop at 153rd. There is very little at 153rd, which explains why ridership on the 522 there is so low (around 50 people a day). You also have a stop at 130th instead of 125th. I think at a minimum you would have stops at 125th, 135th and 145th. Those are all big cross streets. Better yet, you would have stops every five blocks until 145th. That is basically quarter mile stop spacing, which is the only way that could pencil out. You would have to add crosswalks, and otherwise hope that the area continues to develop, but without a lot of stops, you aren’t going to get a lot of riders. Likewise, you probably need a few more stops to the south, although it does get tricky in places (because of the greenbelts). On the Ballard extension a stop at 65th would be essential (again, otherwise it is tough to justify).

      1. “The interesting thing about the 522 is that ridership is dominated by trips within the city (i. e. Lake City to downtown) as opposed to trips from the places further away. ”

        That is indeed interesting. Isn’t the allocation of the costs related to that line all borne by the East King Co subarea? As far as I know the North King Co subarea doesn’t pay anything for ST Express service.

      2. Yes, it only serves Lake City because it’s on the way and its predecessor did. But Seattle riders have stepped up like they often do, while suburban riders haven’t as much. Some of the suburban riders are on the peak expresses.

      3. Then it seems it’s only reasonable that the North King Co subarea pay its fair share (and likewise that the East King Co subarea be credited for picking up the tab for the other subarea for all these years).

    4. The West Seattle Alignment could use some tweaking.

      Maybe this is too analytical from a preliminary map, but assuming the line is elevated, a line down California and 35th is going to be politically tough.

      A better alignment past the Morgan Junction Station would continue from Morgan St to Sylvan Way SW and then go South on Delridge. Maybe add a stop at the turn and upzone?

      I appreciate the stop at the current Rapid Ride C stop in Westwood Village, but a light rail stop would be better placed around Delridge and Barton St since it could serve both Westwood Village and the White Center core. Bus integration should be considered to make this stop work well.

      The White Center stop is a little off the beaten path, but would offer a great opportunity for transit oriented development if this was upzoned.

      I think the routing to Burien should use Armbaum Blvd much like the 120 uses today.

  4. How does King County Metro decide when to eliminate bus stops? My local stop (Denny & Olive EB) was deleted and I didn’t really see signage or a discussion indicating that this was going to happen.

    I realize that there is a stop at Denny and Summit 300 ft away, but I would’ve wished they’d split the difference and move the stop to the little plaza there, because this was not a fun fact to discover while I was on crutches.

    1. That must be the eastbound stop on the 8 near Bellevue. That’s one of my stops. I knew it was going away but I didn’t know when. To Pine Street it will be a longer walk with heavy groceries, although I can’t really complain because the outer neighborhoods have it worse. It’s part of Metro’s stop diet program, to spread out the stops to 0.25-0.33 mile to make the buses faster. Seattle had a legacy of stops every two blocks, but that’s now seen as excessive. Another of my stops was deleted earlier.

      1. Metro just completed the long-planned project to convert that stop at Summit to in-lane stops. You may have noticed that while it’s great for the bus to not wait to pull back into traffic, there are more frequently backups on Olive than there were before. Eliminating the stop at Bellevue seems like a way to compromise with level of service.

        I understand your pain as I used to get off at the Bellevue stop and be able to cross the street and get to my front door even before the bus reached the next stop.

      2. “there are more frequently backups on Olive than there were before”

        That’s the point of in-lane stops: cars wait for the bus rather than the bus waiting for cars. So six people wait for thirty people rather than thirty people waiting for six people, and transit is more competitive with driving. If we can’t have transit lanes or BAT lanes, this is the next best thing. It works well on Dexter.

    2. @Mike: Is there a review or public comment period for these eliminations? I certainly wasn’t aware of one, and while it’s great to be eliminating close-in bus stops I think that soliciting feedback would be not-hurtful. Not to mention, are there explicit guidelines saying what does and doesn’t qualify? Because the elevation changes on Denny and Olive get quite rough.

      @Ryan: The in-lane stop is certainly nice, though I think they may have underplanned it; in my experience the in-lane stop cannot handle two 60-ft long buses, so if both an 8 and a 10 show up one has to wait behind the other before pulling into the stop, causing traffic backups as well.

    1. Hardly anybody thinks Sand Point should get a rail terminus for its own sake. It’s all about a stop on the way to Kirkland.

      I was surprised ST put Link on Bel-Red rather than NE 8th Street where the city initially grew and Crossroads is. But after seeing the density going into Bel-Red and the fact that it’s a shorter distance to Redmond, it now seems like a wise decision. Those garden condos and golf course and one-story businesses on 8th between 124th and 148th probably aren’t going anywhere, not when Bellevue couldn’t bring itself to upzone Surrey Downs or west of 100th Ave NE next to Bellevue Square.

    2. Also, RapidRide serves Crossroads and will connect to Link at Wilburton and Overlake Village, and it’s a one-seat ride to Bellevue and Redmond, so it’s not like they left Crossroads with nothing.

      1. … and buses serve Sand Point and can connect with Link at UW and Roosevelt Station. And the whole Sand Point Crossing idea is wasteful and unnecessary. Our population doesn’t warrant a second Link lake crossing. Even BART has just one bay crossing point.

      2. I agree that the Sand Point-Kirkland crossing is dubious. We could probably build most of a South Kirkland-Bothell extension for the cost of another floating bridge, and it would serve more communities. But your original comment was about Sand Point on its own. If a Ballard-Kirkland line is built through U Village, Children’s, and Sand Point, it should naturally have stations in those neighborhoods because there are job/multifamily concentrations there, and Magnuson Park is one of Seattle’s larger parks with many uses inside.

      3. How has the route 44 survived all these years just going from Ballard to the UW, and not continuing on to Kirkland through a billion dollar Magnuson Park cross-lake tunnel?

        PS, I once asked Fare Enforcement Officers what their favorite, and least favorite Rapid Ride line to patrol was. Favorite: B Line. Least Favorite: A Line. B Line passengers gave them the least amount of hassle. A Line passengers, the most.

        The B Line will pick up ridership once East Link opens.

      4. @Sam: FYI, but a second transbay tube has been the holy grail of the Bay Area for a long time now. So I think using them as an example of “one underwater tube works!” is probably not a great example.

      5. Actually a 2nd Transbay tube planning is in the works (see Valley Link and Capitol Corridor long range plans) . Also, see recent fed grant for BART enhancements for current Tube.

    3. Oh, and the B is the second-worst performing RapidRide line after the F. A great transit reporter like yourself would want to dig into this scoop and figure out why its ridership is so low and what could be done to improve it. You could win a Pulitzer prize for this. You probably have a shelf full of them anyway, but you could always build a second shelf.

      1. My personal thoughts is that RapidRide is trying to connect to many things together and, in the process, producing a route that is too slow to be useful when traveling more than a couple miles at a time. A 40 minute travel time from Bellevue to Redmond, for what’s a 10-minute drive in a car is pathetic.

      2. asdf2 is 100% correct about RR-B being a milk run. From DT Bellevue to Crossroads is fine. Pretty hard to screw that up. It “had to” make a tortured route to pick up Overlake Village because, well.. mistakes are never admitted as mistakes. And from there it gets worse. Not that there’s no demand over on 148th but 148th already had bus routes. And there is nothing any more rapid about a wiener mobile stuck in traffic than any other bus. It’s already a lost cause by that point but turning down Old Redmond Rd. would have made more sense than the tour of the warehouse district and entering Redmond through the back door.

        Hopefully when East Link opens it will just trucate at Overlake. Then it will be a pretty slick connection. FWIW, I think Wilburton (aka Hospital Station) should receive major attention as a RR-B transfer point. The pedestrian crossing of NE 8th is happening in the next couple years and it’s important to get this right.

      3. I agree with the general sentiments about RapidRide B. Once East Link fully opens to Downtown Redmond, it will fade further into obscurity. Where it goes now is the land of nice ranch homes with some garden apartments and one-story retail with ample free parking except for Downtown Bellevue and the Microsoft campus. That’s hardly a great transit trip generator for a limited stop service.

      4. “I think Wilburton (aka Hospital Station) should receive major attention as a RR-B transfer point.”

        I’ve thought so too. It make up for the long transfer distance at Bellevue TC, plus it’s one station closer.

        “That’s hardly a great transit trip generator for a limited stop service.”

        RapidRide is not limited-stop. Limited-stop routes stop every 1-2 miles and have a local shadow, like Swift, Link, the 9X and former 7X, or the limited routes in San Francisco. The B is the only route in its corridor so it stops every 0.25-0.33 miles like Metro’s stop-dieted local buses.

      5. I agree with the general sentiments about RapidRide B. Once East Link fully opens to Downtown Redmond, it will fade further into obscurity.

        I disagree. If anything, it makes more sense than ever. I’m not saying I agree with every deviation (I prefer it if a bus avoids making turns) but it doesn’t matter as much. There will be no long distance (Bellevue to Redmond) riders. There will be people like the ones Sam mentioned — riders who live close to 8th who want to get to downtown Bellevue (because that is their destination, or to transfer to Link). It will go by two Link stations (and three I assume eventually) which makes it great as a way to complement the train.

      6. It will have five Link stations I believe: Downtown Bellevue, Wilburton, Overlake Village, Redmond Tech Center, and Downtown Redmond.

      7. Mike Orr commented:

        I’ve thought so too. It make up for the long transfer distance at Bellevue TC, plus it’s one station closer…
        RapidRide is not limited-stop. Limited-stop routes stop every 1-2 miles and have a local shadow, like Swift, Link

        I’ve actually done some fairly in depth CAD layout of the NE 8th crossing and believe I have a good case for moving the pedestrian bridge to the east of the Link ROW. I’d also like to see some direct connection from the bridge to the station (possible though it would be between ground level and the platform. It provides a much more fluid and safer interaction with the pedestrian crossing north of the station to the hospitals. And, it could/should include stairs at both the North and South sides of NE 8th.

        Thinking out loud, what if the paratransit + kiss’n’ride access were built to actually be a turn around for RR-B buses. Yes, a forced transfer, like inflicted on 255 riders at Husky Stadium, is a PITA when traffic is light. But with all the development happening DT the slog from Wilburton to the DT TC might actually be faster transferring to Link. And since the bus would be “curb side service” you wouldn’t have to cross NE 8th; which is a major advantage for anyone not able to use stairs. It would require a transit only traffic signal but I think that is doable. It would also mean the demise of the “historic” Pumphouse Bar & Grill where I think Nirvana may have played… on the jukebox ;-).

    4. Interesting map, Sam. It doesn’t say when the data was gathered, so I assume it was the last census. You can see the same thing with this map as well: https://arcg.is/1uH8zf. Sure enough, the Crossroads area has the highest density census block in Bellevue, and the highest density census block in Washington outside of Seattle.

      My guess is it boiled down to cost. The route east of downtown Bellevue is relatively cheap (being both surface and elevated) yet it manages to pick up the employment density rich areas around Microsoft. The census block for Crossroads is surrounded by very low density areas, which means that even if it bent a little (and served “Crossroads”) it might not serve the area that has all the people. The best stop would probably be at 8th and 140th. I’m not sure how you would do that without digging a big tunnel.

      I’m not saying it was the best decision, but it is understandable. I agree though, adding stops at places like Sand Point is really silly, as is the notion of a Sand Point-Kirkland rail crossing. We just have to get used to the fact that buses will play a huge role in our transit system, and that even relatively high density areas won’t have a train station nearby.

      1. The best stop would probably be at 8th and 140th. I’m not sure how you would do that without digging a big tunnel.

        There’s nothing there! In fact there’s really nothing from the time you start up the hill east of 120th Ave NE until you get to 156th and Crossroads Mall. The good part about that is it actually is fairly rapid for people to get to/from Xroads to DT Bellevue. Realistically there was no way Link was going to use the NE 8th corridor. A couple of the hills the hybrid artics struggle on even when they are mostly empty. And NE 8th is the busiest arterial into DT Bellevue (~50,000 trips /day) and the ROW has no exess space.

        Xroads to Microsoft or DT Redmond is a different story. Overlake Village is not a destination. All along 156th is building up rapidly but jogging over to 148th doesn’t do a great job of serving the MS campus and can be a traffic nightmare. Straight on 156th and then 520 from 51st to DT Redmond would be a better value. Although that route would also need some transit priority during peak commute. When East Link opens you truncate at MS Station. RR-B then becomes a simple NE 8th to Xroads – 156th to 51st. Done.

  5. Please indulge the personal anecdote that follows so that I may ultimately ask my transit-related question. Ok, so I made a visit to my mother-in-law on Saturday who has lived on Beacon Hill since my spouse’s family built their house there in the early 60s. We always drive down from our home in Edmonds and use the Columbian Way route past the VA and then south on Beacon to reach her house. We noticed that the Columbian Way realignment/protected bike lanes project, which I believe was supposed to be completed this past spring, had apparently recently been finished with the new alignment and striping now in place. Making the left turn to Columbian Way from 15th S, the traffic heading eastbound was already backed up to just about 16th S (just past MacPherson’s Produce) at around 3:30pm on a Saturday afternoon. It took several minutes and multiple light cycles to reach the intersection at Beacon Ave and there were no accidents or disabled vehicles along the way. Thus we concluded that the new alignment (that involved the removal of most of the center turn-lanes to accommodate the bike lane buffers) and the seemingly inadequate signal timing were causing this unanticipated section of congestion. I’ll have to see how this segment flows on a weekday, especially at peak travel times. I suspect that there will be an unwanted diversion of traffic cutting thru side streets as a result.

    My question for the transit experts here is: what is anticipated for Metro’s route 50, since it has to make its long slog thru this very section as well? One of the vehicles just ahead of us in the congestion was indeed a route 50 bus.


    1. I rode my bike though here Friday at 4pm and saw no congestion. The new bike lane is awesome though.

      1. Fwiw….for the 10 minutes or so it took us to travel from 15th S to Beacon Ave S, I didn’t see a single bicyclist in either bike lane.

    2. Having ridden route 50 a few times, this is what I expect: More people will ride in the bike lanes than will ride route 50, by orders of magnitude. The opening of West Seattle Link, when my district representative stops filibustering it, will likely put route 50 out of its misery.

      A more useful bus route might replace it, but I will be close to retirement age by then.

      I’ve never seen congestion on that segment of Columbian Way. I’ve seen speedy traffic, which makes the road dangerous for pedestrians to cross. Bikers aren’t the only winners in this project.

      1. “I’ve never seen congestion on that segment of Columbian Way.”

        Exactly. That’s precisely why I was perplexed by the sudden stoppage of the traffic flow; I’ve never encountered such eastbound congestion on a weekend afternoon thru that particular section, even after the road rechannelization was done there almost a decade ago.

        Btw, consider yourself fortunate that you’ll still be alive to see the completion of the ST3 projects.

    3. The major causes of congestion on that stretch are the Mercer Middle School pick up /drop off times and the intersection with Beacon Ave itself. Neither should’ve been particularly exacerbated by the new bike lane buffers. An unfortunately timed vehicle turning left on Beacon holds up the flow. Fortunately most vehicles are going straight or turning right there because otherwise they would have likely used Spokane St. to head east from 15th/I-5.

      I ride that stretch daily, the car congestion is not new and generally clears quickly. Honestly, the previous bike lanes were more than adequate for me but the additional ‘protection’ is appreciated particularly headed westbound past the middle school where many parents chose to stop in the travel lane rather than using the carpool loop or 16th Ave S creating an unpredictable and potentially dangerous situation and headed eastbound where cars queuing for the Beacon Ave intersection would routinely block the bike lane approaching Columbia Dr S.

      1. The Columbia. Way/ Beacon Avenue intersection is pretty horrible. The design of Beacon Avenue (wide median turned into a parking lot) combined with the angles of the striping or the curve of the roadway that can’t be seen by anyone approaching on Columbian Way. Beacon Avenue approaches have individual signal phases.

        Rather then revisit the intersection and Beacon Avenue design, SDOT has now added surprise jogs and left turn lanes on Columbian Way.

        Perhaps the problem could be resolved by slightly widening one side of Beacon Avenue for three lanes (middle left-turn lane) and turning the other side into a bicycle track and occasionally a very slow and short one-way frontage road. The businesses and homeowners around there should sit down and think outside of the box for a solution.

        The same issue exists at the Graham Street/ Beacon Avenue intersection ( street approaching angles and median parking included).

      2. @(Another)Tom Thanks for your feedback!

        The congestion I had witnessed was on the eastbound side of Columbian Way and this was on a summer weekend, so the Asa Mercer drop-off/pickup zone was not the issue. I suspect the issue is the signal timing at Beacon Ave S, as well as perhaps the general newness of the recent changes. Fwiw, I’ve seen plenty of cars turning left from eastbound Columbian Way to Beacon Ave S in the thirty plus years I’ve been travelling thru that area for one reason or another, both before and after the rechannelization of that road section (not to be confused with the recent bike lane project). I’ve sat behind such left-turning vehicles countless times.

        “Honestly, the previous bike lanes were more than adequate for me…”

        I agree. I remember SDOT reporting at one time that they had experienced a 46% reduction in excessive speeding on this stretch of Columbian Way after the first road diet, even with a 15% increase in daily volume. I believe personal injuries from collisions also declined significantly. The earlier rechannelization followed SDOT’s standard road diet formula of reducing the two travel lanes in each direction to one lane each, adding a center turn lane and adding bike lanes in each direction. My concern really centers around the elimination of most of that center turn lane and the congestion that may ultimately cause at peak travel times. Perhaps there was some other unknown factor at play at the particular time we were travelling thru here and thus the congestion we experienced was a fluke. We shall see I guess.

        P.S. While we were trudging our way toward Beacon Ave, I did see multiple vehicles cut through on S Angeline St and then later others attempt to do likewise by using Columbia Dr S.

      3. I was discussing this stretch and your comment with a friend yesterday who agreed with your observation that there is increased congestion following the elimination of the center turn lane.

        Sounds like we are all pretty much in agreement that their was little to gain removing the center turn lane along that stretch. I’m also not a fan of how the intersection with Veteran Hospital Dr ended up. The posts separating the bike and general lanes push cyclists too far right and it feels like there is a greater risk of getting right hooked than the prior arrangement.

        “as well as perhaps the general newness of the recent changes.”
        I definitely think this is a contributing factor right now. All the Beacon Ave intersections seem to have a bit of a learning curve to them; not always obvious that there are two travel lanes through the intersection, etc.

        “P.S. While we were trudging our way toward Beacon Ave, I did see multiple vehicles cut through on S Angeline St and then later others attempt to do likewise by using Columbia Dr S.”
        They closed the Beacon/Columbia intersection a number of weekends this year and detoured via Columbia Dr S. Every time a part of me thought “No! Some of them won’t forget.” I don’t begrudge people using a cut through to avoid a long line at a light IF they do so safely. For example, when headed westbound on Columbia from MLK I routinely turn onto 24th Ave S to avoid the Beacon intersection. It’s a stressful left to make, oncoming vehicles behave unpredictably and you’re often holding up the flow. When I do though I always remember that I am now on a residential street and never exceed the 20mph speed limit for non-arterials. (I know that last sentence is almost unbearably smarmy but I wish others would treat my residential street with the same respect. Golden rule and whatnot.)

      4. @(Another) Tom
        Thanks for your follow-up reply.

        “…and detoured via Columbia Dr S. Every time a part of me thought “No! Some of them won’t forget.” ”

        I have that same sense of trepidation when it comes to cars coming off of arterials to cut through smaller neighborhood streets for fear that drivers will indeed fail to reduce speed and drive appropriately (unlike the way you proceed when you make your left turn to avoid the Beacon Ave S/Columbian intersection).

        Fwiw. My spouse is a Seattle native and grew up on Beacon Hill and he knows all of these side streets like the back of his hand. Thus, he is much more inclined than I am to turn off onto a street like Columbia Dr S to try to avoid congestion.

  6. OpenTTD is awesome! I’ve been considering trying to make a Puget Sound scenario for the game with the player playing ST for a while now, but I never had the time. There’s a Pacific Northwest scenario that works quite nicely with some adjustments, through…

  7. “Is Bellevue/Kirkland willing to chip in billions on one new stop in Kirkland?”

    East King has not yet articulated what its priorities might be in ST4. The most likely contenders are:
    1) a WSJ-Burien-Renton extension because ST has studied it. (Renton is in East King.)
    2) a Lake City-Bothell line joining a South Kirkland extension. Northshore is enthusiastic for high-capacity transit, and ST has indicated this north lake loop is within the scope of a “520 line” (as is a Sand Point-Kirkland crossing).

    East King will certainly weigh the cost of another bridge against the opportunity to serve more communities for the same cost. And it won’t take Kirkland’s “I’m the third-largest city” as a reason to put all its money into Kirkland. Kirkland is channeling its urban center to Totem Lake, which is in a north-south corridor, and Link’s mandate is to connect urban centers.

  8. Can anyone explain the following on Metro’s TripPlanner? Trip from NE 45th Street and 36th Avenue NE to Kaiser on Capital Hill. Weekday. Arrival at 11:40am. Three results:
    1) 67, transfer to Link. At Capital Hill walk to Kaiser on 15th.
    2) 65 NB, transfer to 71, Transfer to Link. At Capital Hill walk to Kaiser on 15th. ( I guess, if you want to avoid the walk from campus to the station)
    3) 65 NB, transfer to 62. Go downtown (This is the most laughable option) and transfer to 8. Get off at Kaiser.
    Since Metro clearly knows that the 8 exists, why don’t options # 1 and 2 have the 8, rather than the walk up the hill to 15th? I’ll assume it’s not because the 8 is so unreliable. That would eliminate option 3 from consideration. Which it should be anyway.
    It really makes me wonder if TripPlanner works.

    1. The 10 – and 43, peak only – will get you there from Capitol Hill station as well; between it and the 8 the service on John to 15th is quite frequent (although I normally walked when I was headed over the hill from Link, not everybody can or will). Odd they don’t give you that option either. When you throw those in there, there’s a bus scheduled every 2 to 9 minutes midday.

      I thought you used to be able to select your maximum desired walking distance, which could have forced the transfer to the 8/10 if you set it low enough, but I don’t see that option now.

    2. #1 is best. The 8 and 10 both run every 15 minutes daytime, so even if the 8 is late there will surely be a bus in a few minutes. That’s how I go to Trader Joe’s in the 6-7pm timeframe: Link to Capitol Hill, 8/10 to 15th, walk to 17th & Madison. #2 may leave you with a half-hour wait for the 71. #3 is laughable as you said. I can’t speak to why Metro’s trip planner says what it does; I rarely use it. I look up the bus schedules, and if I don’t know which routes serve an area I look at the system map.

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