Frank and I will tape on Wednesday. Please put the questions you have for us in the comments below before then. The usual rules apply — make it a question, and only one question.

41 Replies to “Podcast Mailbag Coming”

  1. Southend, former Viaduct buses are routed through Pioneer Square on 1st Ave until Columbia reopens, after which they will be routed on Columbia both ways . The original pathway revision map shows this taking 9 months to one year. Ferry traffic, the Colman Dock renovation, and the waterfront replacement will put a lot of pressure on Alaskan Way in that area. What is Metro’s plan to keep things moving come early 2020 when Columbia reopens?

  2. Can we have bus lanes for the 40 leading up to the Fremont bridge? Especially that one block of Fremont Ave. with the bus stop. It is common and sad to see buses unable to reach the stop and open their doors because of a few cars blocking the bus stop, waiting for the red light.

  3. Can you give some context behind the desire/thrust for a Fremont-Ballard line? I read all the articles and I get that Seattle Subway’s members are (I guess?) mostly based in that area. That said, it seems absolutely bizarre to give those neighborhoods a second line of rail when there are so many neighborhoods that haven’t gotten anything yet. IIRC (of course I will let Martin do the research [hah!]) Capitol Hill and surround areas are much more dense, yet have a single station. Not to mention I can’t see Fremont-Ballard as a good commute line, but perhaps I’m wrong.

    So let me re-phrase: is the Fremont-Ballard line simply a result of the loudest voice in the room, or is there meat there? (I am very very pro-transit but I would be pretty pissed if it were on ST4 and it would cause me to reconsider a “yes” vote.)

    1. The same people who want to serve Fremont also think Capitol Hill should have more stations. Link could have had stations at Bellevue & Pine, 15th & Thomas, and 23rd & Aloha. It didn’t because Link is a regional transit line not a city subway, so the Everett-Tacoma spine was prioritized above comprehensive urban service.

      The argument for serving Fremont is that the number of stations should reflect the density and variety of uses in the urban villages (and outside them). Ballard-Fremont is the largest urban center not on Central Link. It’s wide enough that one station doesn’t serve the entire walkshed, even with a mile walk.

      There are other concepts for north-south service involving Fremont but they’ve mostly been superceded so i won’t go into them. When construction on Dexter and Aurora finish the buses will get faster, and the 62 and 40 are planned to be upgraded to RapidRide someday. And if the Aurora line is ever built, it could have an elevator down to east Fremont.

      1. The same people who want to serve Fremont also think Capitol Hill should have more stations. Link could have had stations at Bellevue & Pine, 15th & Thomas, and 23rd & Aloha. It didn’t because Link is a regional transit line not a city subway, so the Everett-Tacoma spine was prioritized above comprehensive urban service.

        I’d say that Link is a weird hybrid between an urban rapid-transit system and suburban commuter rail. Older, larger cities/regions with more developed rail transportation split these into two separate systems (Chicagoland’s L vs Metra and NY’s subway vs LIRR/MNR), but Sound Transit is combining the two here, and it creates an implicit tension that’s been at the heart of much of the debates about ST3 andfuture Link lines.

        A lot of suburbanites seem to want an express train for getting to/from downtown Seattle, airport trips, and occasional sporting events at the UW and the Stadium district. The city of Seattle has enough urban areas with multifamily and mixed use, that generate all-day travel demand, where people should be able to use transit for most of their trips, and they’d benefit from an urban rapid-transit system.

        A few factors- but most immediately Sound Transit’s subarea equity mandate- have pushed us into this weird hybrid commuter/rapid-transit system. Seattle has more demand for transit than the suburbs, but for ST projects, we’re limited by what the suburbs are willing to spend. Conversely, suburbanites take fewer and longer transit trips than Seattlites, but they need to agree to enough stations in Seattle to keep the city on board.

      2. I hear you in terms of all transit advocates being generally good actors, and agree.

        When you say Ballard-Fremont is the largest urban center not on Central Link, do you mean in current state (pre-ST3)? I’m asking because it seems like the neighborhoods east of Cap Hill (CD, Madrona, Mad Valley, Leschi, even Mad Park and Montlake) are also dense and nowhere near walkable to the Cap Hill station (or the UW station in the case of Montlake).

        I very much agree that the tradeoffs against comprehensive urban service made a mess of things. Maybe my original question is more easily rephrased as “why would ST4 prioritize Ballard-Fremont as the first area for real comprehensive urban service?” I’d rather cut in those missing Capital Hill stops you mentioned (and no I don’t live there) than build a Ballard-Fremont line. It just seems way off balance to give marquee ST4 goodies to the biggest winners of ST3. I’d probably still vote for it but I’d also vote for a funicular up any of our hills.

    2. I accidentally erased the part about what the line would do. A 45th line would primarily connect Ballard to the U-District, secondarily Fremont to the U-District, and only thirdly Fremont to Ballard. From U-District Station you can walk to the entire U-District, and ditto for Northgate, but not so for Capitol Hill or Fremont. Capitol Hill’s hills shrink the walkshed in half, and Fremont Ave is over a mile away from 15th Ave W.

      There have also been some north-south concepts for Fremont but they’ve mostly been superceded. The city decided not to extend the streetcars north of the Ship Canal so it’s planning RapidRide 40 and 62 instead (no firm schedule). An Aurora line could have an elevator down to Fremont. If it’s right at Aurora Avenue it wouldn’t directly serve Fremont’s center, but if a new bridge would be needed anyway because the Aurora bridge can’t handle the weight, then it could just as easily be west of Aurora.

  4. A question per the monthly ST Progress Report. Why has U Link been running (or allowed to run) on a temporary Certificate of Occupancy for over 3 yrs?

    1. A follow-up question….
      Where is the damn “before and after report” for the U-Link extension? It’s now several months overdue. Earlier Link progress reports promised it would be delivered by summer 2019, which was already beyond the 36-month requirement.

  5. Some questions on the streetcar, same as before. Is it going to be built, what’s the new timeline)

    Also is Rainier Rapid Ride moving along?

  6. What, if any, realistic fast-path solutions exist to un-suck the 1st Ave S Pioneer Square path for the cavalcade of west/southwest buses (C, 120, 125, half a dozen others) waiting for the conclusion of the Viaduct demolition?

    1. IMHO, the obvious solution is to bring back the temporary route they used for a few days right after the viaduct closed – take 4th Ave. north through SODO, designating one of the lanes on the exit ramp from the West Seattle bridge as bus-only. From everybody I’ve talked to, the switch from 4th to first just made things slower. Assuming I’m right, that change should be rolled back.

      1. @asdf2 That is also my conclusion: we should bring back the 4th Ave alignment (which worked great) and ALSO implement a stop at the Sodo Link, which provides a helpful, traffic-free connection to Downtown and UW, not to mention southend stops. There was a lot of whining from drivers about the bus-only lane on the 4th Ave exit, but I am not aware of evidence that the removal of one car lane actually slowed anyone down appreciably, and definitely not enough to justify the enormous slowdown that thousands of bus users experience on 1st Ave daily.

  7. Can you please explain exactly what is going on with the Center City Connector now? Do you think this thing will actually get built?

  8. Why are all the car-drivers obsessed with left turns along the Madison BRT route? You can turn left by going around a block, so let’s make the 9th Ave and Boren stop actually reachable from Boren as a pedestrian. We do not need a dedicated left turn lane there.

  9. Besides the link extension, what change are you looking forward to the most in regards to Seattle transportation in the next 5-10 years?

  10. If the state and city and UW all magically had a plan and found the money and constructed a new southbound transit/emergency lane from University Village- without repurposing the existing lanes (which we need for queue space when the drawbridge goes up ) how would that impact your thinking about bus routes in this area and UW Station as a transfer point?

    1. UW Station is only a temporary transfer point until U-District Station opens. While many people are going to Link, many others are going to campus or the U-District or points west. So it’s a tradeoff: when you improve one you disimprove the other. Metro seems to think it can’t say know to the thousands of UW students who are commuting to campus. The rest can take the peak expresses to downtown; that’s why they’re still there. So if you convert lanes on Montlake Blvd, it would be the same situation as Northgate, they would only be used for a few years.

  11. This is a pretty important local primary to vote on. I am looking at different neighborhood outlets and blogs to help me decide. But even though their priorities are the same, they tend to back different candidates. Then the votes for good transit, pedestrian rights and bike lanes are divided. And more anti transit runners benefit. Is there a good way to eliminate this issue?

  12. Do you think we could ever see 1st Ave as a Transit/Bike/Pedestrian Boulevard between Mercer and Dearborn? Seattle doesn’t really have a main street, and I think 1st Ave is the perfect candidate. It’s near the waterfront, it connects many of Downtown’s top destinations (Key Arena/Seattle Center, Belltown, Pike Place Market/SAM, CBD, Pioneer Square, CenturyLink Field), and it could totally have a streetcar line between McGraw and Lander.

    1. Good point. The streetcar planners have at least thought about a long-term extension to SODO, and the 1st Avenue segment would make that easy. The main automobile streets are 99, 2nd and 4th, so 1st is not as critical for regional mobility and could become a multimodal street. With the changing nature of SODO there are increasingly more things to bike to.

    1. I’m starting to get worried about the University’s station deadline. It appears the contractor is very disorganized and can’t get a sequential process going on getting the trim work done. Quite the opposite at Roosevelt Station where the work sequence seems to be much more organized and smoother.

      For the University Station the contractor will start on one element of trim, stop, and then start on another without finishing the other. I’ve even noticed he has started a weekend schedule again. He seems out of sorts, this guy.

      1. In some cases, long-term adhesives need time to cure. It could be that they’re putting in those adhesives and letting them cure in all the places that need them, and will come back and do the rest once that’s done.

        Not sure that’s actually what’s happening, but it might be.

      2. No, its not that. For instance they are currently putting what looks like a “cool roof” material down. 1-2 months ago they applied it to a vent shaft structure. Then they abandoned doing any more and proceeded to do some Styrofoam insulation on the other structure but before finishing that they would go back to the first structure and partially do a sealant coat on one side of it (leaving the other 3 sides) and so on (Styrofoam work continues incomplete for weeks). It has been like this constantly, never completing an application. I’ve spent my share of time on construction sites and this is not a technique I would recommend.

  13. With the WSDOT “Rest of the West” project affecting access to Montlake Boulevard from SR 520, and the temporary bus lane on the exit going away, this would already add considerable time to downtown trips, perhaps even obliterating the Link transfer savings gains. But when WSDOT inevitably closes the Montlake Blvd exit to build the new one, do you think Metro will reroute the 255 up I-5 north to NE 45th street, then back down to UW Station, or do you think Metro will detour it to the vicinity of Westlake Station?

  14. What effect (if any) would the city council elections have on ST3–e.g., would a vote for one candidate in D6 lead to more support for a tunnel under the ship canal/D1 would lead to tunnels in West Seattle?

    1. Great question, mdnative! You’ve suggested a very concrete and specific way to bring the election into discussion. Putting this on the pod could help STB’ers cast their votes – and also try to predict what the future may bring – ST3 and all.

      P.S. I listen to the pod more than I read the blog.

  15. Related to the Center City Streetcar, has anyone actually seen the full report and not just the summary? I’m asking because it would be interesting to see what alternatives were considered. For example:
    – Did the study consider wired streetcars to reduce the weight on the overpasses? -Would that mean we could use standard streetcars for less cost even compared to increases in overhead wiring?

    I looked around and couldn’t find the full study posted.

  16. Will Metro at some point lose access to the busway due to Link construction?

    how strongly does access to the busway figure in metro’s future plans, and could closure of the busway provide impetus to truncate bus routes that use the busway to Link?

    1. All the Link alternatives will probably close the busway for construction, and there’s a 50/50 chance it will close permanently for Link. But that will be after 2024 when Federal Way is open. ST was planning to truncate all south end routes at KDM before ST3, so now it will probably do so at Federal Way. That leaves only the 101, 150, 50, and maybe one or two others. That’s not enough to make the busway indespensible. When I asked ST about its successor, the rep said Metro would probably consolidate any remaining buses on 4th. However, the 101 and 574’s successor could just take the freeway, which will have way fewer buses on it. Airport Way is also fast and uncongested.

  17. What do you think about Sound Transit’s plans for its 405 BRT stations in Bothell? I recently learned that ST3 will NOT result in a station at UW Bothell. Instead, ST3 will build a station at the 405/522 interchange, which is a big freeway tangle and not pedestrian friendly. Good for transfers, not so great for walkability, unless ST can hook the station into the amazing trail system that’s tantalizingly close to the interchange. Thanks.

  18. Will you consider putting a big sign on your mics that says “Don’t bump me”?

    I end up listening with it turned way up because Frank tends to trail off at the end of long sentences and ends up muttering inaudibly, and then someone will just thwack the mic or mic stand with their finger and it’ll damn near blow my eardrums out.


  19. When Eastlink opens up, would it be faster for people going to/from UW to take the 542 rather then the Link?

    Also, one thing (not for the podcast) that I would appreciate an answer to is, “what is the issue with UW station, as a station”. I understand the horrid transfers but is that the only major complaint? Or is there something else wrong with (or not great about) the design?

Comments are closed.