West Seattle Junction from above (SounderBruce)

At the direction of the Sound Transit board, staff studied several new ST3 alignment options to the same level of design as existing options. They looked at new variants at Delridge, Sodo, and in the core of Ballard. They presented the result to the system expansion committee yesterday.

Delridge

The previous level 3 alternatives all enter West Seattle near the bridge, take a hard left onto Delridge, where there’s a station, and then another hard turn onto Genesee and on to Avalon Station. There were both elevated and tunneled options along this path, though the tunnel would require unspecified third-party funding.

The new alignments both reduce “impacts” on the residential communities in that path. One would move the elevated line north, with Delridge Station also being north and the track hugging the steel plant. Executive Corridor Director Cathal Ridge says this alignment also precludes a tunnel to Alaska junction, but is cost-neutral relative to the baseline.

Sound Transit

The other tunnels under Pigeon Point and must feed into a tunnel to the Junction. The Delridge station would be further south. The Pigeon Point tunnel would add another $200m, and paired with the junction tunnel the added cost would be $900m. The combined tunnels would likely delay this segment’s arrival by “years.”

The study spills a lot of ink on construction impacts, views, and so on. But what’s better for riders? At this level of precision, ST doesn’t see any difference in ridership. The northern alignment is a little curvier, and the tunneled route a bit straighter and flatter, which both may have very small travel time impacts. The southernmost Delridge station is a bit better for transfers from buses, but it’s hard to see $900m of benefit there.

Sodo

The status quo plan has both lines running at grade, with new overpasses at Lander and Holgate Streets. Thus, only at Royal Brougham would trains have to interface with traffic.* On the other hand, there wouldn’t be room to continue the Sodo busway.

The new alternatives elevate one or both of the lines. Elevating both costs an extra $300m and requires two multi-month closures of the Rainier Valley line. First, they would build the West Seattle elevated segment, switch Rainier Valley line onto it during the first closure, and then replace the existing track with an elevated West Seattle line. This creates room to keep the busway and simplifies some transfers, but it costs money and the closure is a big obstacle.

The “partial elevated” option would only elevate the new track, and doesn’t cost any more. However, it would eliminate the overpass and Lander Street, introducing another traffic crossing. Local businesses are concerned that a new Lander overpass would be as disruptive as the building the current one. Partial elevated also retains room for a busway.

In truth, these options will at best maintain rider experience compared to the current plan, while also imposing large costs in the budget and in service disruption.

Ballard

The Ballard study tried to find a way to put a station at 20th Ave, the heart of Ballard, to go with a slew of existing options on 14th and 15th. The tunneled alignment the board proposed would cost an additional $750m over an elevated line to 14th or 15th, and creates some challenges around the BNSF tracks.

Not satisfied, staff explored an alignment that comes closer to the Ballard Bridge, which reduces the cost by $300m. (!) The track is straighter, leaving room for a crossover without digging further up 20th to install one.

Interestingly, the admittedly coarse ridership analysis didn’t find much difference between 20th and 15th Avenue stations. While 20th has a better walkshed, this terminus station is expected to draw a lot of buses that will have a harder time getting over to 20th. These more or less cancel each other out. Guest writer Dale Menchoffer saw this differently in March, but judge for yourself.

Conclusion

Sound Transit will make a decision that pleases many stakeholders, many of whom care little about convenience to riders in 2035 and a lot about noise and traffic disruption both during and after construction. This is inevitable, but shortsighted.

Taking the long view, the new West Seattle options make things strictly worse or infinitesimally better at high opportunity cost. The Sodo options achieve little but for easing neighbor concerns about vehicle flow. The Ballard tunnel offers some intriguing improvements at medium cost, trading off the interests of residents of old Ballard, and people trying to get there, against people further afield just trying to get downtown.

I asked Mr. Ridge how long Sound Transit could wait for stakeholders to assemble a funding plan before it started to impact the schedule. He said that they would need at least a detailed funding plan by the end of 2020 when the Board picks a single preferred alternative, and for the funding to be firmly in place by mid-2022. The window for ST3 add-ons is apparently wide enough for Seattle’s next TBD vote, but perhaps a little too narrow to get federal aid out of the next Congress.

* The new alignment will not have a Stadium station as it’s already diving underground, and will therefore not cross Royal Brougham. Thanks to the switcheroo, this means the Rainier Valley Line would have zero at-grade crossings through Sodo, and the West Seattle line would have one at Royal Brougham.

105 Replies to “ST adds new light rail options to the mix”

  1. If we had a little transparency into projected revenues we’d know whether the additional costs are affordable.

    [ot]

  2. The Delridge options are not good.

    Transfers from the bus and access to the neighborhood is not optimal with the affordable Yancy/ Andover solution. It’s hard to believe ridership would be the same. I understand this is to avoid the removal of housing where the previous station locations were being proposed, but seems like a bad compromise for the future system.

  3. 20th station doesn’t get better ridership because Old Ballard won’t grow. New Ballard will grow. Link should go to where we can grow, not to the middle of a lovely, walkable, but low-rise historical neighborhood.

    There are good reasons why suburbs like Edmonds, Kirkland, and Issaquah and directing growth away from their quaint downtowns and towards land where there is better opportunity for lot consolidation and midrise redevelopment. Do we really think Ballard is going to be like Redmond and completely rebuild their downtown with 6 story breadboxes? Is that something we want?

    1. 20th is low rise? When was the last time you were in “old” Ballard? Practically everything around Market, with the exception of the old brick buildings on Ballard Ave., has been re-developed upwards. All the shopping, dinning, nightlife and density is in old Ballard.

      Link should go where people want to go. Not to where we *hope* they will go in 40 or 50 years.

    2. Old Ballard is already rebuilding itself with six story breadboxes. So the idea that it can’t grow is completely false.

      1. 20th has a lot less potential to grow than the 15th corridor. 15th is the logical choice. 20th is merely the sentimental choice.

      2. @Sam and none of that potential is lost by building on 20th. 15th is already served by rapid bus lines and any future UW to Ballard line would add a station at 14th.

      3. J.S., I guess we just have different visions of future growth in Ballard. I see much more potential for 15th, starting at the canal and continuing north. I can understand wanting Link to detour to old, historic Ballard. There are some great little funky businesses in two story brick buildings … Hot Cakes … Bitterroot BBQ … etc. But the potential in that area is limited, then the line quickly runs into single family home-land just after it crosses Market, then it has to detour back to 15th at the top of the hill. As you say, 15th is already served by rapid lines, but there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason they go up 15th and not 20th. And even if “everyone wants to go to 20th, not 15, which isn’t true btw, you can’t build a line just by what people are doing today. You have to look out 20, 50, 100 years. The growth corridor is 15th, and over the decades, will spread out from there. 15th is the future. 20th is the past.

        Sam. Kirkland resident knowing what’s best for Ballard.

      4. The area by 15th might grow faster, but it will never catch up. There is too much industrial land and brand new, high end, low rise development to the east. Neither will be replaced for a very long time.

      5. Also Sam, your summary of Ballard is simply out of date. Go visit the area, read about the development and you will see that most of the big development is to the west.

      6. @Jack — Exactly. Growth on 15th will benefit from a station at 20th, just as growth on 24th (which has already happened) will benefit from a station at 20th. However, growth on 11th would benefit a station on 15th, but do nothing for a station at 20th. The thing is, there is no growth on 11th.

        In short, a station at 20th is right smack dab in the middle of the population and employment density of the area, while also being very close to the nightlife and cultural center of the area (to the west).

    3. I tend to agree with you, AJ.

      I see a contributing problem as the north-south orientation of the platform. If it was oriented east-west, entrances in each direction (towards both “Old Ballard” and “New Ballard”) could be created! Market Street is also much wider and an easier street to build a station vault.

    4. The 20th station doesn’t get better ridership because SoundTransit ridership figures don’t include changes Metro might make to bus routes. We ran into this with the UW station planning.

      5 blocks on a bus, even in Ballard traffic, isn’t really that far. While it is slightly farther than 15th and Market, the transfer experience has the potential to be much better than the busy mess at 15th and Market.

    5. The people in Old Ballard are already there! It doesn’t matter what the difference in growth is between Old Ballard and New Ballard. What matters is the absolute number of people in the two, both before and after their respective growth. Old Ballard has the people now. New Ballard may or may not have as many people someday. It also matters how likely those people are to take transit. 2000s-era neighborhoods tend to attract drivers more than pre-automobile neighborhoods do.

      The “low-rise historical neighborhood” is one street; Ballard Avenue from Market Street to 45th. Everything around it high-lowrise construction (5-7 stories), either now or in the next several years.

      1. With the arrival of Link, a bunch of remaining surface parking lots become prime real estate. There’s no reason to only make whatever new development happens only a few floors. Also, places build on one another. People move there because there’s stuff there, and stuff moves there because people live there. Eventually you get Belltown.

        East of 15th might happen, but it would have to start with Safeway’s parking lot and the Ballard Market as a cornerstone. It would make for slow going vs the mid-rise development that’s already in Ballard.

      2. I doubt it would be slow. Look at Northgate! By the2035 opening date, the Ballard Safeway on 15th will probably be a large building unless ST needs it for construction. Safeway has several ground level stores in mid-rise buildings in our area already.

    6. Old Ballard won’t grow? You don’t know what you are talking about (people don’t call that area “Old Ballard”, by the way). Sure, maybe there won’t be a lot of growth on Market Street itself, but starting just a half block north and south there has been huge growth, and there will continue to be.

      High capacity transit like this should have stations in walkable neighborhoods. Given that 15th is the 3rd most trafficked N-S corridor in Seattle (after I-5 and Aurora), I question whether it will ever be truly walkable. 14th is better, but it is so incredibly far behind 20th in development/density that it would take a very, very long time to catch up. It will probably never be a retail core like 20th is.

      20th is the right call. I say this as someone who grew up in eastern Ballard not too far from where the 14th station would be.

      1. “people don’t call that area “Old Ballard””

        No, but we need something to distinguish 24th-17th vs 17th-8th to discuss the walksheds of the various stations and there doesn’t seem to be a better term. (17th is about where the density and oldness starts to go down, although it doesn’t go down abruptly till 15th.

      2. OK, how about these terms:

        West Ballard — 24th and places west.
        Central Ballard — Leary, 20th.
        East Ballard — 15th
        West Woodland — 14th and places east.

        West Ballard has the most people. East Ballard is growing, but still lags it. West Woodland is largely industrial, with (at best) a smattering of new townhouses. Central Ballard has plenty of population density, the highest employment density, and is close to the cultural center of things (on Ballard Avenue). The big advantage of Central Ballard is that it — as the name implies — is in the middle of things, not off to the edge. People will walk from 15th to 20th to catch a train. Very few will walk from 24th to 15th.

  4. The Thorndyke tunnel to 20th avenue option seems like exactly what we Ballardites have been asking for:

    – A station where we actually are, rather than one half a mile east of that
    – On-time performance throughout the system, thanks to the tunnel
    – A long tail track heading north for future system expansion to Crown Hill/Northgate and short-term, a place to cue up inbound trains for the morning rush.

    The additional cost with the Thorndyke portal is also significantly less than the BNSF portal.

    1. Yes, the new Ballard / 20th plan seems excellent. Make it happen!

      The other new proposals are terrible, and given the awfulness of the entire existing collection of West Seattle proposals, West Seattle shouldn’t be getting a light rail line at *all*. Back to the drawing board there, I say.

      1. We need some sort of right of way transportation to get out of West Seattle – not just to get away from the traffic on the West Seattle Bridge, but for people that need to commute beyond downtown, e.g., Bellevue, Redmond, and eventually Snohomish County (Boeing) and Tacoma (Growing business district). The least worst light rail option for West Seattle would be fine. Just build the damn thing.

        If you don’t believe we should have it, what other options would work that sound transit would utilize to streamline public transportation for the peninsula? And no, the status quo will not suffice with our rapid population growth.

      2. The best solution for West Seattle is a BRT system. It really is a classic case where it makes sense. Ridership there is trunk and branch, with most ridership coming along very spread out corridors. There will be very few walk-up riders, and there will be very few stops per mile. From SoDo to West Seattle is about two and a half miles — very close to the heart of the city — yet there will be no stops. The train is a terrible value, while BRT would be cheap. It is also bad for most riders. They will be asked to make same direction transfers at the very point when their trip was about to be very fast (on the freeway). At best this is commuter rail at subway prices (it only benefits those who commute during rush hour).

        Since ST won’t build a WSTT (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/02/18/westside-seattle-transit-tunnel/) it will simply muddle along, like the rest of the city. There is nothing unique or special about what West Seattle endures. Average speed on the West Seattle buses only seems slow, because riders are on the freeway. But compare it to the 8, or 44. Or for that matter the 40. There are a lot of slow buses, and we should try and make them faster. I would support widening the Spokane street viaduct, so that buses could connect to the SoDo busway, since it would be relatively cheap (around 200 million or so). But we’ll see if that is even necessary. The new SR 99 project may work out OK.

        It would be nice if the buses could go faster through downtown, but join the club. Again, there is nothing special about West Seattle in that regard. Even after ST2 and ST3 there will be plenty of buses going through downtown, and the current system is half-ass. Drivers aren’t sure if it is OK to drive on Third, and violations are routine. I support turning Third into a one way street (for regular traffic) with two lanes for buses going the other way. This type of contraflow system is very easy to understand, and violations are rare (because streets are well marked with “do not enter” signs). Then do the same thing with Fourth Avenue (in the opposite direction). That would mean two lanes of buses — and only buses — going each direction. That allows buses to pass buses, which enables very fast service. Doing that would improve the trips from West Seattle (and huge parts of the city) all day long — which is something that West Seattle rail won’t do.

    1. WordPress image compression is a bit aggressive when reducing to fit on the page. I’ve reset so you can click on the image for a larger, hopefully clearer, read.

  5. There is a bus base/barn off of the busway. The busses from that base enter and exit there. You can watch it from Stadium Station. What happens to that if they choose an option that eliminates the busway? I don’t think traffic flow on fourth will allow almost 200 busses to enter or exit there.

    1. I think that while this should be considered, it should not block a decision to use the busway for light rail should that be decided (which I think there’s a strong case for, since those buses could be changed to exit the freeway downtown and there would be two rail lines to help passengers get to SODO).

      Ultimately you have to consider the essentially free ROW value of the busway. Would it be more expensive to create a new entrance to Ryerson on 4th Ave, or to have the WS line do expensive gymnastics to keep the busway? And is the future utility of the busway worth that gymnastics? Especially given that the major routes that use it are the 101/150, which arguably should be truncated at BAR, 590/594, which will be truncated, and the 177/178/190, which are likely to be eliminated as they closely follow Link.

  6. Throwing this out to the horde: how do we come up with the extra money (assume that the Port is not going to chip in any money). A LID? District 6 (Ballard) may elect a city council candidate who, despite her past transgressions, has gotten support from the Chamber of Commerce and big money PACs– so I doubt that having folks pay more property taxes will fly. Also, consider the headtax for housing didn’t last a week.

    1. They seem to be banking on a big nationwide infrastructure package being passed by the next Congress / Administration.

      Given the long timelines for construction of the lines, it’s not ridiculous to keep these options in study at least until late 2020 when we’ll have sense of whether more funding may shake loose from the feds.

      1. And if the federal money doesn’t arrive? Remember Infrastructure was supposed to be huge in 2009 as part of the Recovery package of the great recession, but thanks to Senate filibuster rules, etc., it was watered down.

      2. Infrastructure wasn’t really a big part of the stimulus package when you consider that half of it was a payroll tax cut.

        But that’s beside the point. If the money doesn’t arrive, we pick a cheaper option. This doesn’t have to be complicated. But when the Democrats seem to want to make infrastructure (and fighting climate change) a big piece of their post-2020 agenda, it would feel foolish to not at least study at least an option or two which could utilize additional funds, should they become available. When and if those funds arrive, we’ll face a choice of using them on a “platinum” Ballard/West Seattle option or accepting a less-costly option and redirecting toward planning for something like Ballard-UW, Metro 8, grade separation in Rainier Valley, or SR-99 rail.

      3. A huge infrastructure package is pretty unlikely unless Democrats take the senate, which I don’t think most people consider likely. Even if such a spending package happened, how many years until grants are awarded? There is no need for economic stimulus, so they won’t be in a rush to dole out money to shovel ready projects.

        Realistically, the timeline is such that unless Seattle foots the bill, these tunnels are just not going to happen. Sound Transit is being pretty clear that a decision has to be made soon or there will be project delays and cost overruns.

  7. I love it. The stop at 20th in Ballard is where it should go. It is closest to everything in Ballard that people want to go to, and it also looks closer than the other options to Swedish Ballard

    I also find it hard to believe that buses would find it difficult to get to the station on 20th. In fact any bus coming down 24th would find it easier! If there truly are problems with bus transfers then the buses can skip 20th entirely and make the transfer at the Interbay station.

    (In other words: if some people were okay with walking to downtown Ballard from a train stop at 15th and market when coming from the south, then people should be okay with walking from a bus stop at 15th and market when coming from the north, so that a bus doesn’t have to divert off of 15th to serve the ‘Ballard’ station. It can head directly to the Interbay Station.)

    Another 450 million for improved access for as long as the train is there is worth it!

    1. In an ideal world yes. But the angry hordes of home owners don’t want to pay more taxes (see District 6 elections) and in addition, the politically connected West Seattle folks may be ahead of Ballard in terms of any additional money (especially since ST claims (however inaccurately) no additional ridership)

      1. Ballard would still be ahead as the Port opposes any bridge crossings. So the chances of being able to squeeze some money out of them are high as far as 3rd party sources go. For West Seattle the only realistic 3rd party source is the city in general.

      2. The port has shot that idea down before. And, given the history of “Missing Link” litigation, I am somewhat skeptical that the port wouldn’t just sue.

      3. Although I agree with your assessment that West Seattle seems to be ahead of Ballard politically…this fact shows how utterly corrupt our political system is. Any cost/benefit analysis would show that the Ballard alternative is clearly the better use of money. It is substantially cheaper and actually produces benefits beyond just burying the train.

        If West Seattle gets funded and Ballard doesn’t I will give up any remaining shred of hope I have in our local governments.

    2. Totally agree, of the added cost options 20th seems like a slam dunk. Sending buses over to 20th for the connection has the additional benefit of taking riders to an actual destination, Old Ballard, rather than flying by it on ped-hostile 15th.

      The argument that New Ballard is a better location than Old Ballard is unsubstantiated — it’s going to take many decades of development to build a single family area up to Old Ballard levels of density and culture, and that’s not including the advancement that Old Ballard will see in that time. Plus, New Ballard could get a stop on the Ballard-UW line once it’s more built up.

      1. “New Ballard could get a stop on the Ballard-UW line once it’s more built up.”

        Yes! I completely concur with this.

        Build a current line to where people are now, and where the population will continue to grow.

        Build a future line to where people are in the future.

        Is this too logical?

      2. While I have been a naysayer on funding on this thread– one of the better arguments for a 20th street location is proximity to Swedish Hospital. Although a nurse friend of mine says it isn’t huge for a hospital (especially compared to First Hill spots) an argument for an aging population not to walk as far (particularly compared to a 14th Ave location for a stop) might be worth mentioning (more so than it is closer to Hipster Haven Ballard).

      3. Its not even that many bus routes that need rerouting. The 44 has a stop at 20th, the 40 and 18 goes down Leary, which isn’t a terrible transfer, but could theoretically make the turn on 20th instead and then go back to Leary. Only the D/15 are not optimal for the transfer. No other routes really matter here (maybe the 28, but that is at 8th and wouldn’t have been a good transfer anyway for a 14th station). The only reason I take the D is because its faster than the 40 downtown. I live between the two, so have the option of both. With light rail at 20th, I would never take the dirty D again.

      4. “… one of the better arguments for a 20th street location is proximity to Swedish Hospital.” Stop exaggerating. Both have great proximity. One station is a 1 minute walk. The other is a 2 minute walk.

      5. Sam, try doing it in a walker, crutches, or a non-electrical wheelchair– I’m sure STB would subsidize a small donation to a charity of your choice if you can do so in under a minute in a walker, crutches, or a non-electrical wheelchair.

        FWIW, https://www.google.com/maps/dir/5551+14th+Ave+NW,+Seattle,+WA+98107/5551-5501+20th+Ave+NW,+Seattle,+WA+98107/@47.6689162,-122.3800151,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x549015c980ef5d25:0xc592425a75a27187!2m2!1d-122.3735107!2d47.6690462!1m5!1m1!1s0x549015c8a85e7d83:0x5f77892163a0986f!2m2!1d-122.3821423!2d47.66888!3e2

      6. Sam, in addition, the approximate one minute it takes to cover almost half a mile in foot from 14th Ave to 20th Ave. would (in addition to likely violating the Jay walking laws by crossing 15th Ave.) also enable you to get a well-paid sponsor to a track and field event.

      7. Sam, you said it was only a one minute walking difference between a 14th ave location and 20th ave location. Just pointing out that unless runs very, very fast (much less someone who may have some mobility impairments), that is unlikely.

      8. I had an outpatient procedure at Swedish Ballard this spring. I would have come on Link if it had existed. Thousands of other patients and visitors come from outside the neighborhood. Even though it’s a small hospital. In some cases you have to go to that location because that’s where a certain doctor or department is.

      9. Please stop using the terms Old Ballard and New Ballard to refer to these areas…it hurts my brain. The “New” parts aren’t new, and the only part of Ballard that should be called “Old Ballard” is historic Ballard, not downtown Ballard.

        I really hope the people using these terms don’t actually live in Ballard…

      10. @Sam — How do you get to Swedish Ballard in two minutes from 15th? Even the closest entrance in the closest building is four minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/xrDQhBDdvVmxJm6G8). The entrance to the emergency room building is a five minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/xJg9WFfcUehnfunR9) as is the side entrance to the main building (https://goo.gl/maps/zgdvw5TELLH86ZK2A). In contrast, the walk from 20th would be two minutes or less to any of the buildings.

        Saving three or four minutes doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it is often the difference between a trip lots of people take, or one that fails. The UW and Mount Baker stations are clear examples of stations that suffer relatively low ridership because of a similar weakness.

  8. Hmm one thing I’m noticing about the OG Ballard tunnel proposal is they’ve moved the portal for the start of the tunnel onto to BNSF land. Before it was on the other side of the street at the corner area of 22nd and Emerson, which currently contains a gas station and gravel parking lot.

    Was there a real reason for moving the tunnel portal because from first glance it looks more like it was done to increase the cost and to create the biggest possible conflict with BNSF (on their map the line cuts right through BNSF main buildings)? original proposal > https://seattletransitblog.com/2019/03/21/a-better-ballard-option/

  9. I watched the meeting online. It really amazes me how the discussion never centers on rider experience for SODO transfers. The parade of public comments are valid – but no one wants to talk about the effort to make cross-platform transfers at this station. ST never says how many will transfer although surely it’s mire than would board a train there — or at West Seattle or Ballard!

    Does anyone there realize that we are building a system that will be used by something like 400K riders every weekday for decades?

    1. “Sound Transit will make a decision that pleases many stakeholders, many of whom care little about convenience to riders in 2035 and a lot about noise and traffic disruption both during and after construction. This is inevitable, but shortsighted.”

      Martin is right on point!

      Why isn’t TRU, Seattle Subway and TCC making these points? Does anyone care?

      Saying “It’s in the best interests of greatly improving things for tens of thousands of daily riders” is a much more compelling factor when choosing something than to appease a single property owner.

    2. It’s short-sighted that the Rainier avenue line won’t have a stop at Stadium. The Mariners play 81 games a year plus concerts, graduations, etc. Event traffic is a strength of Link. This also means that the Ballard line won’t have a stop there

    3. STB has raised this issue several times the past few years. I don’t know about the other organizations because I don’t follow them closely. Train-to-train transfers are one of the most critical aspects of the entire transit network! Each train line carries more people than several bus routes, and a large percent of them transfer between lines. Look at any city with multiple subway lines: the stations with the most on-offs are major transfer stations. And likewise, the bus stops with the most on/offs are at major train stations.

  10. One benefit of elevating the SODO portion that goes unmentioned is how this could facilitate the adoption of automation (CBTC) in the future by creating a truly grade-separated line. The increased cost is justifiable if it ensures future operational flexibility.

    1. Nope, the Rainier Valley line will still have at-grade crossings, and in every scenario the West Seattle line still has a crossing at Royal Brougham.

  11. I love the grown-up approach to the debate Ballardites have taken. I haven’t heard one complaint about shadows from the track or buildings or about them being “eyesores”.

    Let’s keep in mind that the grade of the terminal station impacts future extension feasibility and costs. If the Ballard line has to tunnel all the way to Northgate, that won’t be cheap. It also is a lost opportunity to have at least one high bridge across the canal with magnificent views for the tourist throngs (or for daily riders who might even be willing to eschew slightly faster commute options to take in the view), and Ballard is the place for them to go, though moving it a few blocks one way or another should not discourage the tourists. A friend of mine told me that when he was visiting Norway, and told people there that he was from Seattle, he was asked, “Is that anywhere near Ballard?”

    The same argument still applies to West Seattle. A tunnel means a longer wait time for White Center to get light rail service, and a missed opportunity to attract tourists to the Junction.

    1. This is largely because the 15/14th street alignments go through commercial and large apartment building areas and along a busy/noisy street too. There are no single family houses near the line, the source of those “shadow” complaints. If there were we’d be hearing the same level of howling about the elevated option as West Seattle.

      So it’s more down to the dumb luck of a relatively straight alignment in an already built up zone. Than the forward looking attitude of Ballardites.

      1. And the straight alignment/grid is why light rail will be a massive success in Ballard and not West Seattle, regardless of route. The walksheds are gorgeous in NW seattle, WS makes my head hurt thinking of the standard routes.

  12. You all realize that light rail is not going to get to the Junction and Ballard in ST3 right? The real costs of these lines and the 2nd downtown tunnel will force serious truncation of these lines. The top priority for Seattle in ST3 is downtown.

    The north ending will be in Interbay and the south will be in SODO.
    We’re better off adding a second/enlarged Ballard bridge for dedicated bus lanes. As far as W. Seattle, prepare for a LONG wait. you are truly on an Island.

    1. Fwiw, STB has shot down this idea before on one of its podacasts– voters in ST3 supported a line to Ballard and West Seattle, so you can’t truncate it– now it might be 2050 before either final stop opens, and therefore Big Tech employees from Ballard might have to take a bus to transfer to a stop across the bridge…

      The fight to build a faster built/cheaper Ballard to UW lost the minute SDOT put out their Big Tech plan.

      1. Ballard to UW lost the minute it was proposed. It is a horrible idea (short, stubby, serves too few neighborhoods/urban cores, a single intersection change can alleviate half the issue, no serious plans for it ever leaving Seattle city limits and actually being regional). Big Tech had nothing to do with it. Ballard -> UW fails on its own “merits”.

      2. I did. They tried recruiting me when they first formed, long before they even had a website. Their devotion to this bad idea is one of the reasons I declined their invitation. Seattle Subway isn’t looking at evidence and coming up with best practice solutions. They started out with preconceived notions and fix the evidence to meet the already decided upon solution.

      3. “Ballard to UW light rail is a bad idea” continues to be a bizarre hill to die on.

        East-west movement in current rights of way is a known bottleneck for all modes of Seattle transportation. A Ballard-UW rail connection, traveling at high speed in its own right of way, would blow away any other mode in terms of capacity. End to end, it would be competitive with driving in the middle of the night. It would effectively create an east-west spine, essential for anyone traveling in the region, combining them with the extremely high ridership of today’s 44.

        Should we also improve the reliability of the 44 and upgrade it to RapidRide? Absolutely, but that’s not mutually exclusive with a Ballard-UW subway.

      4. Ballard to UW lost the minute it was proposed. It is a horrible idea (short, stubby, serves too few neighborhoods/urban cores, a single intersection change can alleviate half the issue, no serious plans for it ever leaving Seattle city limits and actually being regional). Big Tech had nothing to do with it. Ballard -> UW fails on its own “merits”.

        Total bullshit. ST’s own projections were that it was going to exceed the ridership per dollar spent of alternatives. Overall time saved would greatly exceed what is going to be built.

        As for your other points, they are nonsensical. It is like you are arguing that Kevin Durant is too tall. Subway lines don’t have to be long to be successful. For the reasons that Preston mentioned, this line would be successful in part because it would be faster than driving throughout the day. There are bottlenecks throughout the 44 route, and not just close to the freeway.

    2. “You all realize that light rail is not going to get to the Junction and Ballard in ST3 right? The real costs of these lines and the 2nd downtown tunnel will force serious truncation of these lines.”

      That’s premature speculation. ST’s estimate is supposed to give the real cost for these alternatives, and the question can be answered whether $300M or $1B or $5B fits within the estimated revenue. ST believes it can build the representative alignment on time or close to on time (within 5 years), as is the case so far with Northgate Link, Lynnwood Link, and East Link. ST has not said, “Well, maybe we can’t build it or it will be ten years late.” The delays are only if these options are chosen. Nobody else has sufficient expertise in my mind to question these estimates. There are still a lot of unknowns: further engineering in the design process; unknown obstacles, uncertain federal grant environment over the next two decades; unexpected increases in real-estate costs, materials, and labor; an uncertain economy. These affect all long-term rail-construction projects. They’re not a reason to say we can’t build what we planned to; they’re just a reason to be cautious with the more expensive options.

      “The top priority for Seattle in ST3 is downtown.”

      Of course. Downtown and SLU are where the largest ridership and mobility bottlenecks are. (All-mode mobility, not the specific Link bottleneck between Westlake and U-District.) SLU needs high-capacity transit to bring people to those highrises, and the PSRC estimated that downtown north-south transit circulation will have a capacity overload if nothing is done. (This was before the RapidRide+ lines in Move Seattle, so those will partly alleviate it. But it’s still prudent to build a second tunnel to guarantee plenty of capacity and provide redundancy if the first tunnel breaks down, and have spare capacity for a potential fourth line someday.)

      Ballard is the largest urban village furthest from Central Link; that’s why it’s a priority. For Ballard to reach its potential with the maximum number of jobs and residents and satisfied visitors it can fit — so that it can contribute the most to the housing solution — it needs high-capacity transit. That’s also why 20th is important: it would serve the largest cross-section of trips most effectively, and make it as convenient to get to Ballard as any London or Cologne or DC neighborhood. 14th is so substandard that high-quality transit authorities wouldn’t even consider it.

      “Ballard to UW lost the minute it was proposed. It is a horrible idea”

      ST’s own study said it would have higher ridership and be less expensive than the Ballard-downtown line. A cross line can generate more ridership than a parallel line by making more trip combinations feasibe, such as east to north, east to south, and Wallingford to U Village. 45th is the densest and highest-ridership east-west corridor in north Seattle (or south Seattle even) — only central Seattle between Valley and Dearborn surpasses it.

      A caveat is that this was before the Ballard-downtown alignment was modified to serve SLU. That addresses Seattle’s biggest transit hole and oversight (besides First Hill and arguably Belltown), and it hugely increased the benefit of the Ballard-downtown line. Not for Ballard-SLU trips which aren’t particularly numerous, but for trips from the rest of the region to SLU. And the Ballard-downtown project was arbitrarily assigned DSTT2, which is another huge benefit and makes Ballard-downtown look better.

      ST didn’t choose the 45th line because McGinn initially favored Ballard-downtown and gave ST money to accelerate its study (which is what catalyzed ST3 in 2016 instead of the 2020s because all the other subareas said they wanted to accelerate their projects too).

      Another reason is the debatable assumption that most people everywhere want to go downtown. Or at least want to go through downtown because that’s where most of the transfers are. And the real fact that downtown needs a lot of north-south transit capacity, both for trips within downtown, to adjacent neighborhoods (SLU/Uptown and Pioneer Square/SODO), to more distant north-south destinations, and from a northern origin to Pioneer Square and a southern origin to SLU.

      The 45th corridor is relatively inexpensive because it’s so short. An underground train that can ignore traffic and stoplights would have impressive travel time, enough that Ballard-UDistrict transferring to UDistrict-Westlake would have competitive travel time with Ballard-Westlake, because Ballard-Westlake is the long side of the triangle.

      ST also insisted on studying Ballard-UW as part of a Ballard-Redmond corridor, because suburban privilege and multi-subarea preference. It didn’t preclude that Ballard-UW could be severable and built on its own, but the underlying assumption was that it would be part of a 520 line. (ST’s corridors are wide enough that a Sand Point-Kirkland crossing could be considered within the scope of a 520 corridor, as were the Aurora and Lake City Way alternatives for Lynnwood Link.)

      1. You can alleviate easily half of the Ballard -> UW commute congestion with a single overhaul of the 45th and I-5 interchange. I’ve been caught in that congestion. I’ve gotten off the 44 in Wallingford and walked to 15th with the 44 still in that traffic jam. It disappears when you cross I-5. Completely. 45th traffic looks like an SFH single lane on the other side. While I admit some of that is due to the traffic jam itself, it is clear what the problem is. I’m no fan of SOVs, or even cars. But when the issue is so blatantly clear, the solution should address that issue.

        It won’t be cheap. You’ll need a place to store trains. Either in UW or Ballard. Elsewhere you run the extra expense of driver time. Those trains need to take up space.

        ST has been very reluctant to seriously consider a 520 line in the past. I am hopeful, yet skeptical. It would appeal to multiple subareas over time. A Northeast railyard would be a huge boon to the system and reduce expense.

        About planning for decades from now? I’ll have to admit I’ve been wrong on that before on this very issue. I thought that Westlake -> Seatac volumes would dominate over UW -> Westlake volumes. I’ll confess to the underestimation of demand volumes in the past.

      2. You can alleviate easily half of the Ballard -> UW commute congestion with a single overhaul of the 45th and I-5 interchange.

        No. There are slowdowns on the entire route. A rookie driving move is to use 45th to get to Wallingford, yet alone Ballard. Experienced drivers use 50th (although that is more congested than ever). For reasons mentioned over and over, it is simply slow to drive east-west, while north-south routes have expressways (I-5, Aurora, 15th West, etc.).

        You’ll need a place to store trains.

        It would connect to the main line at the UW. Making a non-service connection would be trivial.

        ST has been very reluctant to seriously consider a 520 line in the past.

        For good reason. It is a stupid idea. For a lot less than half the money, you could build a bus tunnel connecting 520 to the UW station. That would mean less transfers for people headed to the UW, and the same bus to train transfer for the vast majority of riders headed to downtown.

        I’ll have to admit I’ve been wrong on that before on this very issue. I thought that Westlake -> Seatac volumes would dominate over UW -> Westlake volumes. I’ll confess to the underestimation of demand volumes in the past.

        Right, which maybe should be a wake-up call. Look, we all make mistakes. Very few (if any) of the people here are trained professionals. I’ve said my share of stupid things in the past. They were all based on lack of information and research. But over time, I’ve come to realize that many assumptions were simply wrong. A subway from Tacoma to Everett sounds like a great idea, until you start looking around at other subways. It just doesn’t work. Subways excel in urban environments, where lots of end to end trips are faster than driving *all day long*. It is an oversimplification, but density plus proximity equals high ridership. This is counter intuitive. There is a tendency to focus on long trips (e. g. Tacoma to Seattle). But there simply aren’t that many people making that trip, and no subway system is going to change that. I’ve mentioned it before, but the best example is BART. It was built for speed, and built to serve the distant suburbs. The trains go 70 MPH and there are few stops. Yet despite all that, ridership is dominated by trips within the urban core (San Fransisco, Oakland and Berkeley). Ridership in Muni Metro actually exceeds BART. This is striking — a system that enables blazing fast suburban trips has less ridership than the slowest transit system in the U. S.! In general, it is about proximity and density.

        There are exceptions, which is why I encourage you to do more research. Calgary is not a very densely populated city, yet light rail ridership is very good (the highest in North America for a light rail line). But even then, the key is density — employment density. Just about all of the jobs are right downtown. But speed is also important, especially speed compared to alternatives. Unlike other cities, Calgary didn’t build new freeways to serve downtown. This means that the train can compete with driving, even before the driver has to deal with parking (with is very difficult in downtown Calgary). Calgary also has a decent network of buses. The combination of highly concentrated employment and relatively weak automobile infrastructure to it enables Calgary to mimic a more urban environment. Ridership is still nothing compared to more urban areas (like San Fransisco) but it is quite good for a city like that.

        The point is, UW to Ballard has all the trade-marks of successful lines. It is urban, alternatives are very slow *all day*, it directly serves a major employment area and connects well with buses and the main train line. There is a reason why people who know an enormous amount about transit systems (way more than me) think it makes sense. It is great to take a contrarian view, but if you do so, you should be able to back it up with facts and examples. There is no reason to doubt the potential of a Ballard to UW line, especially since ST, which has ignored bus transfers and favored more suburban routes had data to support it.

      3. It would connect to the main line at the UW. Making a non-service connection would be trivial.

        Now you’ve outdone yourself in ridiculous underestimation. It would be the furthest thing from “trivial” to break into the tubes.

        First, UW isn’t going to allow an access pit on Parrington Lawn south of the Law Schook.

        Second, the tubes are exactly that: steel rings whose strength depends on their ring rigidity; there are no “demising walls” in the tube a TBM leaves behind.

        And finally, you can’t just intrude on one tube; you’d have to have separate access for each direction by flying one new over or under the existing pair or have a cross-over tunnel between them which would require THREE penetrations. It’s too far to force out-of-direction operation between HSS and the junction, even only for service movements.

        If all in-service trains on Ballard-UW were parked overnight in the lune, then it would be reasonable to have service moves only for maintenance and di them at night. Then out-of-direction operation to and from HSS would be acceptable. But you offered this as an alternative to online parking. It would not be acceptable for that because trains would be entering and leaving service during the middle of the day. It would impact the service on The Spine too badly.

        If there is ever ti be a Ballard-UW subway Link libe it will have to connect for maintenance at the Ballard end.

    3. ST’s ridership estimates for 20th vs 15th or 14th are questionable, but that’s the way it goes. ST’s criteria don’t quite reflect the whole urban effect or more speculative possibilities. It can’t count zoning capacity that hasn’t been committed to or close to approval. So we can see the potential for a row of midrises on Aurora and Highway 99 in Des Moines but ST can’t count that because the estimate would be inadmissable for federal grants.

      ST also doesn’t quantify the convenience/attraction factor very well. Even if new breadboxes on 15th and 14th contained exactly as many units as comparable blocks between 17th and 24th, the fact remains that pre-WWII development is more pedestrian-friendly and cozy and soul-enhancing than 2000s construction. People want to linger in those old neighborhoods and shop more there, and bars and clubs are more willing to locate there because more people are willing to go to them there and feel more comfortable walking to them there. Roosevelt Way in the U-District is the center of the district’s upzone, but the buildings, businesses, and atmosphere there are nowhere near as inviting as University Way, so University Way is still where most pedestrians want to go to and be in and wait for transit in. A station on Roosevelt would miss that. But Roosevelt is only four blocks from University Way (a 5-minute walk), while 14th is 16 blocks from 22nd (Ballard Ave). Not 13 blocks because the distance between 15th and 14th is three blocks wide. That’s 3/4 of a mile or a 15-20 minute walk. The walking limit of average Americans is 5-10 minutes. The longer the distance, the more people you lose. New Ballard will never get the variety or attractiveness of businesses that Old Ballard has, and people living in New Ballard apartments won’t walk as much as people on Old Ballard apartments because there’s less to go to and the pedestrian atmosphere is less pleasant. People want to go to University Way or central Ballard (17th-24th) or Pike-Pine. They don’t want to go to Roosevelt south of 50th or downtown Bellevue as much; they just have to because that’s where the businesses are or the Bellevue Park is and they live too far away to go to Ballard or Greenlake. Some people do prefer suburban modern and car-scaled walkability, but it’s a minority of people like John Bailo and Sam. And those who are paranoid that cities are unsafe and you’ll get shot or mugged if you go there.

      1. Well said, Mike. It is still weird that they got the same numbers, though. I do wonder what assumptions went into the calculations.

      2. Mike, the distance between 14th and 15th is tge same as that between 15th abd 17th, perhaps even a bit less.

        So not “three blocks”. It IS two, because Mary occupies the gap north if 65th, but there’s no need to go all hyper about it.

    1. Sam, as a fellow member of the “Kirkland resident knowing what’s best for Ballard” community, you understand the weight we must give to our deliberations on this matter.

  13. Nobody is talking about the largest negative impact from building these segments (although the size of the impact is orthagonal to the alignment discussion).

    Cement.

    The carbon footprint is yuge.

    It could potentially be changed to carbon-negative by finding the right vendor who produces carbon-negative cement and concrete. Maybe we need the City/County/State to go into business by building a facility locally to produce this stuff, as part of the Green New Deal.

    Putting money from the next TBD into paying for the higher-cost/zero-rider-improvement alignments is something likely to cause me to vote No on said TBD. If, instead, the TBD were to include money to pay the premium for getting carbon-negative cement and concrete for building these lines, that is something I would consider taking leave from my job to campaign for.

    We may not be unstoppable, but a lower-carbon-impact Link is possible.

  14. No way I’m advocating doing this, but if there’s any advantage to be gained, short-term or long, would not rule out periods of joint rail-bus operations.

    On the absolute condition of training drivers of both divisions to run a cooperative operation and like it.. At the very least, based on this last year or so’s experience, would be careful about ending present SODO busway early.

    Downtown Ballard? We need facts of excavation life under the library, the business district, and the Ship Canal. Places like an airport or two in California show the benefits of people-movers long enough to class as rail- like between 14th and Golden Gardens.

    Finally, know this mention is getting old, but I really think voters, taxpayers, and stake-holders (those vampires make terrible transients!) need to start demanding less convention staff at public meetings and more engineersM both in the audience and on the podium.

    Mark Dublin

  15. My general expectations:

    1. The SODO at-grade alignment will be chosen. The cost savings are just too good. (I really hope the discussion shifts into using the savings towards reconfiguring the tracks to create cross-platform transfers and operational flexibility during disruptions between the two parallel lines — although I don’t expect it.)

    2. The Andover/Yancy shift will definitely replace an alternative for the EIS. The cost isn’t more and a whole neighborhood is saved.

    3. The Pigeon Point tunnel will go forward if the Port will pony up the $300m for it. Even if the Port won’t commit now, any suggestion that Port interests support it will get it into the EIS.

    4. The West Seattle tunnel in some form will be in the EIS.
    The Ballard tunnel to 20th Street as the refined corridor will go into the EIS and maybe replace the other tunnel alternative. I have serious doubts that they will survive in the long run because ST3 seems severely underfunded already.

  16. Kudos to ST for taking the 20th Avenue alignment seriously and studying it as much as the other alternatives. It’s the most urban/transit maximizing option of everything in this set of options. We need to build it or at least quantify what we could have done and what the real tradeoffs were. In the future people will say “We should have built 20th” just like they say “We should have passed Forward Thrust”. Let’s get a transit line in New Norway that’s as good as the ones in Old Norway.

  17. Are the two Link lines (one of which is hard limited by the Rainier Valley segment) passing through SODO so frequent that two sets of tracks are really needed? I can understand once you get up to IDC where East Link comes in to play, but for SODO and Stadium stations themselves, why is a second set of tracks needed again? Then make the busway be a linear park–that would definitely help the neighborhood.

    1. In short, I would say “yes”. Both tracks are needed.

      The tunneling for the new ID/C Station is pretty much required to begin barely north of Holgate so switching tracks would be needed about Holgate no matter what.

      Switching with separate tracks would also be needed at SODO. The West Seattle branch would have to be braided into the RV tracks somehow.

      Thus, only about a half-mile between Holgate and Lander is really the only segment where just two tracks could physically work. In that case, having extra tracks has innumerable benefits for eventual, periodic disruptions.

      I say “thank you” for recognizing that train operations is an important consideration. We spend way too much energy worrying about a few months of street detours and not enough worrying about 50 or 100 years of train operations.

  18. Also, if nobody else has raised these points, a previously proposed First Hill station under the district serving Swedish, Harborview, and Virginia Mason Hospitals is a must. Station under Boren/Madison intersection.

    And given the importance of both the University of Washington and Ballard, so is line straight east-west. Would like to know soil, rock, and water conditions for every line proposed. But don’t think it’ll be that hard to bore.

    Mark

  19. Feelings aren’t facts. A lot of you feel 20th would make a better station location because it’s the “heart” of Ballard, but we can’t site stations based on emotions and vibes. But do you know what is a fact? Seattle’s zone map. And the zoning is clear, 15th has more potential than 20th. Compare boxes 73, 55, and 38 vs 74, 56, and 39 and tell me which has the better zoning for light rail.

    1. Sam, I would be in more in favor of 15th if I thought they would go there. That alignment has always been about 14th Ave. *shudder*

    2. That’s like when RossB says everything depends on the density of zoning tracts. People are not robots or pieces of software. They make decisions for thousands of reasons, not all of them logical. Ask anybody in the U-District whether they’re more likely to go to campus, University Way, Roosevelt, or one of the other streets between 7th and 15th. People with ties to the university will say campus, people who live on the other streets might say them, but most others will say University Way. Roosevelt will be a distant third, mostly those who have ties to the Roosevelt businesses. It’s not just a “feeling” or a “heart”, it’s where people go. Numerous people go to the large University Book Store; the hundreds of restaurants; the movie theater; to hang out on the sidewalk; to catch a bus; etc.

      Two other problems with zoned capacity are: (A) it may never be filled up, (B) new buildings may not use the maximum zoning potential or may not attract a large number of people or a large cross-section of diversity/uses — the building may be irrelevant to most people.

      1. “it’s where people go” Ridership for the route 40: 12,100. Ridership for the D Line 14,400. Maybe they want to go to 15th a little bit more?

      2. And ridership on the 40? The 120 doesn’t have anything comparable to Seattle Center, Uptown, or Ballard. Burien doesn’t have all the jobs and apartments Ballard has, it’s 55 minutes from downtown vs Ballard’s 25 minutes (Burien should really have an all-day express but it doesn’t, which is one thing suppressing ridership). Westwood Village isn’t much more than Interbay, Delridge is mostly single-family houses with a few apartment buildings, so no wonder the 120’s ridership is lower.

      3. The D also has Rapidride treatments. The 40 is really slow. The sheer numbers might not be there but the stops on 24th are busy enough to bog down the speed.

        Parts of the 40 corridor in Ballard is also shared with the 17, 18 and 29, which might not be much service but it’s there at peak periods so you might want to toss in some of that too.

    3. I agree with others who have said that when the line is expanded north from 20th that the natural path will be for the tunnel to swerve over to 65th and 15th, and then go up 15th to crown hill.

      A station at 20th then gives us the benefits of a station where people ARE in Ballard, and the benefit of 15th in the future. Yes?

      1. It doesn’t matter where the people are right now. It matters where they are in 2035. There was nobody living near the Roosevelt station when ST2 was approved.

      2. It doesn’t matter where the people are right now. It matters where they are in 2035.

        Yes, and more people will be within easy walking distance to a station at 20th in 2035 (for the reasons mentioned above as well as in https://seattletransitblog.com/2019/03/21/a-better-ballard-option/).

        There was nobody living near the Roosevelt station when ST2 was approved.

        Bullshit. The area was growing well before ST2 passed and there have been large apartments in the area for years. Many of them are on the other side of the freeway. The growth occurred because the zoning changed, and it happens to be an attractive place to build. It wasn’t easy to get the zoning changed, and it still doesn’t go far enough (to the east). It was tough to make those changes, and I still remember what city council member Conlin said about the process. Roosevelt wanted to move the station to the west. But they didn’t like the upzone. Conlin made the point that before a station be moved to a low density area, we should approve the upzone.

        Yet that isn’t happening. ST is seriously considering 14th, yet there are no plans to upzone there, or to the east. Even 15th includes much of the same area — areas that are zoned single family or industrial. Even if they did all that — even if they managed to eliminate industrial land and change West Woodland into a land of breadboxes, you still wouldn’t get the ridership of places to the west. That is because people want to go to the west. There is more going on there.

        Sorry, but it just isn’t going to happen. There is no way they change the industrial land to housing — they won’t even do that to SoDo, despite an existing station that has been there for years, and an area very close to downtown.

    4. You are drawing the wrong conclusion from the maps, Sam. It is zoned for big buildings on 24th. It is zoned for big buildings on 15th. It is zoned for big buildings between there. But east of 15th, it is largely zoned industrial. Much further east, and it is zoned single family. While a SFH zone could change, it is highly unlikely the industrial zone will. Even if it did, building there would likely be expensive, since it would require major environmental cleanup in places like Bardahl.

      20th is not “West Ballard” or “Old Ballard”. It is right smack dab in the middle of the population density. It is also closer to the employment as well as cultural center of the area. Those add ridership. (By the way, Mike, if I ever gave the impression that you should *just* look at the census map, I apologize. My point in looking at the map was that areas that many assume to be densely populated because they have a few big buildings are not that special). Worth mentioning is that things do change. But in the case of greater Ballard, most of the new buildings are to the west and the allowed new construction is to the west.

      People will walk from 15th to a station at 20th. They will walk from 24th to 20th. But they won’t walk from 24th to a station at 15th. Current development as well as future development make 20th the best choice.

  20. Every time I here comments over and over again about the West Seattle to Ballard line it reminds me of the 2004 Monorail project arguments. I would have bet 2 years pay, at that time, that some West Seattle to Ballard grade seperated line would be built before anything to Bellevue over I-90. That was 15 years ago, and we have at least 16 to go. I am thinking more like 20.

  21. There’s no way to rank these alternatives right now. They all cost different amounts and my opinion on the more expensive options depends on what the funding source would be.

    ST needs to produce elevated alternatives that cost the same as the tunnel alternatives. Is $450M enough to get another elevated station at 65th St in Ballard? If so, it seems like that would be a far better option. But we’ll probably never know.

  22. Contrary to statements by Sound Transit staff on September 12th, the neighborhood’s SODO Station Design Coalition team (made up of SODO businesses, planners and construction experts) found the Double Elevated option for the SODO segment may in fact cost less and with far fewer economic impacts to the neighborhood over the Preferred At-Grade Option. With what the Coalition Team knows so far, a cost of $30-50 million less, not to mention avoiding significant impacts to business and freight movement during the 1-2 years required to build overpasses at Lander and Holgate as part of the At Grade Option. In the At Grade Option the SODO neighborhood will be essentially shut down while the overpasses are being built with the negative impact alone constituting tens of millions of dollars in business and job loss together with traffic impasse, and forced re-routing of transit, freight and delivery vehicles. This creates a significant social justice issue for a fragile job based neighborhood ignored by Sound Transit as they promote the At Grade Option. In addition the lengthy light rail down time issues threatened by Sound Transit staff when considering the Double Elevated Option can be minimized through good planning similar to those soon to be initiated in the Eastside Connector process – schedule for early 2020. The Coalition findings were shared at September 12th Sound Transit System Expansion Committee meeting by members of the SODO Station Design Coalition team. As reasoning demanding inclusion of the Double Elevated option in the full environmental review.

  23. Well, this is pretty much as expected, at least for West Seattle and Ballard. None of the expensive alternatives for West Seattle adds anything for riders, and many of them make things worse. For Ballard, a station at 20th (in the middle of Ballard) is better than 15th, and much better than 14th. But it costs extra money.

    Thus it is a pretty easy choice for Ballard. Either spend a little more and get a better system, or go with the elevated line to 15th. For West Seattle the obvious route is the one that voters approved (and West Seattle insisted at the time that they wanted).

    As for SoDo, “partial elevated” sounds like a reasonable compromise. You keep the SoDo busway, while avoiding the big delays and extra cost of building two elevated lines.

  24. How does “Partial Elevated (Refinement)” differ from the Not Carried Forward “ST3 Representative Project”? IOW, what’s the “Refinement”?

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