Rainier Square Tower, May 2020 from 4th Avenue and Union Street

This is an open thread.

75 Replies to “News roundup: already”

  1. I see the Times article disappeared bikes from the list of those getting access across the low bridge.

    Instead of asking how many cars can get across the bridge, perhaps we should be asking how many buses can be deployed to make using the bus to get in and out of the north end of West Seattle less painful. Instead of making cars the off-peak default, why not consider bringing all-day service back on routes like the 56? And more service on the C and H (120) Lines? if there is room for more cars, then there is room for more buses. Adding all-day service ought to do more than peak-direction-only trips for the Admiral District, which Metro has basically abandoned.

    I’ve also experienced the non-joy of riding the 131 down the hill to the 1st Ave Bridge, which has become a serious bottleneck in its own right. That one-mile stretch took over a half hour. I hate to abandon any neighborhood, but few passengers got on or off north of Roxbury. Metro should seriously consider routing the 131 again through South Park, and across the 14th Ave Bridge which has not been a bottleneck.

    Maybe add a new route serving the length of Roxbury, going through South Park and across the 14th Ave Bridge. The default of forcing bus riders to go across Harbor Island needs to be rethought, stat.

    1. I’m not expecting the 14th Ave Bridge to remain congestion-free for long.

      The low level bridge at Harbor Island is already being used by a steady stream of scofflaws in SOVs. Some sort of enforcement of the transit, trucks and emergency vehicles-only mandate would be helpful.

      West Seattle mobility is going to be a major concern as the economy improves. Running the 56 as a frequent all-day shuttle to SODO Station is just the beginning of what is likely to be needed.

      1. I can tell you that me and one other co-worker have switched to using the 14th ave bridge only (we work in South Park). The back up on 1st, especially in the afternoon, is really bad.

        Traffic on the 14th seems to be light still, but yeah once it really gets going again I don’t see it staying that way.

      2. They aren’t even running the 56 at all. The 55, 56 and 57 have all been cut. I get a ride to the junction to catch the C, and usually walk home from the junction at the end of the day because the 128 and 50 are so infrequent it doesn’t make sense to wait.

  2. Some good stuff today, Martin. Everything from Heidi is always first rate. Gushing-groundwater memory that “Mighty Mole” encountered under Century Square really turned out a “win”. Thanks to the skill of the engineers, we hardly lost any time.

    Damn those glaciers, let’s not have any next time, but good I’m not the only one who wants more public input from and access to engineers throughout the whole process. Including the last forty years of advancements in tunneling. Could change some calculations for both West Seattle and Ballard which for transit purposes are really the same place.

    Sadly, only way Sam Zimbabwe will run for Mayor of Seattle in 2021 will be if he forgets his hard hat visiting a work-site. Fortunately, my sense of Nikki Oliver is that she’ll never forget hers. And COVID-Be Thanked, since voting and legislative-service age are both 18, and since neither SAT nor high school still exist, seat of Student Government is now essentially the whole State of Washington. Hang onto your hats.

    Remembering SF MUNI Metro when its cars were still PCC, good to see it’s still a work in progress. Siemens cars are, finally, progress defined. Can anybody tell us if they still have to obey same octagonal stop-signs the PCC’s did? Preempted signals can’t cost that much.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Ever think there could come a time that my life could’ve depended on getting out of that seat? Like a rapidly-approaching truck coming in on my left? Or somebody tossing a bottle of something either poison or flammable past a space in the partition? Which could also admit a whole button-down can of bear spray?

        What should’ve been in place ages ago was a State with the decency and brains to pay for a mental health system…anybody know when Western State’s going to get its accreditation back, let alone the rest of the fortune it needs…and a police officers’ union able to face the fact every bad member whose job they save puts good officers’ lives at risk.

        I wouldn’t have done any of us any favors by voting to save somebody’s job after the fourth time they left the fuel hose in the tank and drove a bus away. Burn ward at Harborview’s usually full.

        Charles Schulz was making a point about Security when he gave that poor little boy a blanket he had to walk around holding in his mouth and sucking his thumb. Security means you’re walking like you mean business and got two hands free for your work. Good thing an Age doesn’t need a lot of paperwork to start.

        Mark Dublin

  3. If a repair of the West Seattle Bridge can last a decade, and a new bridge could last 75 years, how long could a tunnel last… forever?

    1. jas, main consideration is most likely what-all is going to be in front of the cutter. Reason I keep insisting that not only our officials, but also the voting public, have a good grasp of this knowledge from the beginning.

      Between the glaciers and the ‘quake faults, we’re given a lot to think about.

      Mark Dublin

  4. There seems to be little point in repairing the bridge instead of just flat out replacing it given that we’d be right back here talking about replacing it in ten years. Though I’m sure they’ll push for it since its perceived as being cheaper.

    1. With how long it takes to get things planned, funded, Seattle processed, we should probably do both. Didn’t it take eighteen years to build the replacement to the unsafe viaduct?

      1. yes but the Viaduct still worked the whole time, thus removing any sense of urgency from the whole process. Now if the Viaduct had been closed entirely like the W.Seattle Bridge you can bet your but it would have been replaced in just a few years.

      2. The 99 tunnel is a tunnel, which is more prone to delays and construction risks than a bridge.

      3. The viaduct was so unsafe that it was kept open until just before the tunnel opened. The tunnel is only a partial replacement, with the connectivity to Interbay, Magnolia, and Ballard broken. Since it’s replacement purpose has almost nothing to do with freight, the replacement should have been starting West Seattle Link decades ago.

        And now, people are focused on replacing car capacity instead of people-carrying capacity again. Nobody seems to be talking about accelerating West Seattle Link as a more modern approach toward mobility for the masses.

        Heck, while my district representative keeps asking how soon we can just let cars take over the lower bridge legally, almost nobody is asking why Metro has abandoned the Admiral District, even for peak service. Could it be that abandoning all-day service pulled the rug out from under the viability of peak service?

  5. Brent: yes, we hope transit service frequency is improved; the scarcity of service subsidy is an issue in the recession; the aversion to transfers, discussed in the Walker piece on the SF Muni tunnel is another. The STBD must be discussing a November vote.

    Transfer aversion is alive in Seattle. Note the slow pace of restructuring the radial routes at the UW and Capitol Hill stations, that opened in March 2016; SR-520 routes 252, 257, 268, 311, and 545 still extend to and from downtown Seattle via the I-5 general purpose lanes; Route 11 still serves downtown Seattle. sometimes, we go backward; in SE Seattle, Route 42 was restored in the form of Route 106 extended to IDS. In the Green River Valley, one-way peak-only routes will still bypass Sounder and serve downtown Seattle.

    Such transfers can be mitigated by connectivity, frequency, and new connections. Walks for transfers should be very short. At the UW station, the translake routes could be more frequent, making waits shorter both at Link and for intra Eastside trips. I expect the same was done by SF Muni for lines J, K, and L. The SR-5520 riders would bet more better access to the UW, UWMC, and northeast Seattle.

    1. Can we at least put back the Route 43 trolleybuses as a permanent “Bus Bridge” at least between UW Hospital and Broadway Link Station, if not all the way Downtown?

      If purpose of my trip, which I promise will always be Essential , is a visit to Group Health Hospital, the more urgent the trip the less I’ll be in any shape to wait at Thomas and 23rd for the Route 8. Thanks.

      Mark Dublin

    2. The Capitol Hill and UW stations are both poor from a transfer standpoint. Both are very deep, which means it takes a while. But there are other issues as well.

      The Capitol Hill station is very close to downtown. Transferring there would be silly unless you are going to the south end of downtown (and terrible if you are going to 2nd and Pike or somewhere close to the Convention Center). Truncations were never going to happen there, although I’m sure there are some people who transfer there. The 11 could become part of the 8, but in my opinion, that is more likely to come after a big restructure. I suppose you could have straightened out the 49 (have it keep going to First Hill and then Rainier Valley) but that makes it tough for those in the U-District trying to get downtown (they would be solely reliant on the 70). Just to be clear, the Capitol Station is an excellent station — but not that important from a bus integration standpoint.

      The UW station is important for transfers, but simply not a good station. It is very difficult to use the station in any manner, and this is especially true for transfers. I am actually surprised that they truncated as many buses as they did. Lots of people thought they wouldn’t just because the old 71/72/73/74 worked really well (at least peak direction). This was an aggressive action taken by Metro, and I think it has paid off. Frequency is vital (especially outside rush hour).

      I think all the buses from SR 520 should have been truncated a while ago. The problem there is more with 520. Fortunately, that will eventually be fixed, and buses will be able to drive in a HOV-3 or bus lane pretty much the whole way from the East Side to the station. At that point I would hope to see rush hour buses truncated there.

      The expansion of Link will help as well. Not only are the new stations better from a transfer standpoint, but they can lead to a better network. This is when the 49 can be modified to go to First Hill (and Rainier Valley or Beacon Hill). Riders from the U-District headed downtown will just take the train. Others (along the way) will have to transfer (to a frequent bus or train).

      Madison BRT should also kick off a big restructure — hopefully a big one. The 12 doesn’t make sense, and the 11 can be merged with the 8. The 43 can be killed off as well. With six minute all-day frequency, riders will have a short, easy transfer to a fast, frequent bus downtown.

      I think the overall network is more important than particular weaknesses with a transfer. The UW is a terrible station, but the 520 buses should be truncated there. There are lots of issues with transfers with this new San Fransisco plan (Walker mentioned some of them) but it is still worth it. Walking a couple blocks sucks when your trip used to involve one bus/train. But it is nowhere near as bad as sitting at the stop, waiting an extra ten minutes because everything is running late. That’s why I think some proposals (like those around the U-District) are counter productive. Riders avoid having to cross the street, but the bus spends an extra couple minutes making turns. This is fine (and probably appropriate) if that is your terminus, but a bad idea if it isn’t. Life is tougher for through-riders and the bus runs less often, and less consistently. We have too much of that in our system, in my opinion. One of the first thing third-party planners usually do when restructuring a system is get rid of the little detours. Yes, it is tough to walk those extra blocks, but if the result is a much better system, it is worth it.

      1. @Rossb: This is a reply to your comment over on Human Transit about interlining the J and K. I think the J/K interline would be rather weak, as there’s not through-ridership when you can just transfer to BART. IMO, the J would be better off taking over the Ocean View segment of the M, with the M (temporarily) truncated to SF State. As someone who used to ride the Ocean View segment of M, I can say that it’s pretty empty there even at peak.

      2. True, the 43 can’t do much structurally for Capitol Hill Station. What it can do is see to it that nobody has to wait on a refreshment- and bathroom-free stop at the time they need to get to Group Health Hospital the worst. Wire’s already there. I used to drive it. Just do it.

        Mark Dublin

      3. @FDW — Good point. Pairing the J and M, along with the K and L looks better all around. Those two lines are relatively straight, and a good distance (not too long, not too short). Even though I still think there would be some through ridership from J and K (e. g. https://goo.gl/maps/PHXCLQfR4zbFrcQD6) it wouldn’t have as much as the other combinations. Plus your idea has other advantages. You would have two medium length lines along with complete independence for the southern part of the trunk line. That makes the core of the system even more independent (just run another S line) while those two outer lines are completely independent, and can run as often as you want. That really is the ideal solution, although it would require some work, I imagine (adding a turnaround for the M and connecting the J and M).

      4. @RossB, there’s basically no capital to running the J through Oceanview, the tracks on San Jose run through and there’s already switches on both sides of SF State.

      5. @Rossb, I should point that these wouldn’t be the final forms of these lines, as the J could be extended up Fillmore, and the K/L out Geneva, though both corridors require grade separation due to geography.

      6. FDW, who is proposing extending the J up Fillmore? The street is not wide enough and a streetcar can’t cross Pacific Heights. You’d split the 22 into three pieces. No.

        Extending the K east of Geneva has been discussed a long time, but I don’t see what it gets you. How many people really want to ride from Bayshore Heights to West Portal?

      7. One other concept being discussed is rerouting the M-Oceanview tracks to run into Park Merced, which abuts the SFSU campus on the south. The scheme is on Figure 7 in the transportation plan:


        The split would set up M-Oceanview to stop there, with the rest of the current M line linkable to the J-Church. It should be noted that SFSU has 29,000 students and very little campus housing and not much parking, so it’s an important transit destination.

        It’s also important because the tracks between Junipero Serra and Balboa Park snake through the neighborhood on mixed-use streets and that makes three-car trains hard to operate in this last segment.

      8. @Tom Terrific, I’m not the only that suggested that idea, and it’s not in MUNI’s plans yet, but I could see them coming around to the idea if Subways didn’t cost a Billion dollars a mile there. And yes, the Fillmore extension would be (mostly) subway, though there could be a surface segment on Webster, I’m also a fan of having the N go down 16th St in a subway as well. Given that both lines would have something more approximating rapid transit stop spacing, I’d keep the 22 around for local service.

      9. @FDW: The sleeping issue that Seattle folks don’t fully grasp is train overcrowding — particularly at Church Street. I transferred from a bus to Metro at Church Street for four years going to work. I often had to wait for two or three or even four trains to squeeze onto a Metro car. And that was 26 years ago!

        The overcrowding problem will be the biggest thorn in the proposed operation when ridership returns.

      10. @Al S: What time of day were you using Church St? Truth be told, whenever I used the station it never seemed all that crowded, though the trains running through certain could be. (I mainly used MUNI off-peak before I left)

        Though the issue of future overcrowding in Seattle is a pertinent one. You’ve been bringing the overcapacity issue a lot recently, and that’s inspired to take a closer look at the Downtown stations to see how they might be expanded. I think that it’s plenty doable, but it’s going to mean a considerable alteration of the station designs.

        Also, I’ll have it on the record that I’m absolutely, utterly opposed to your idea to skimp on DSTT2. As someone who’s had to live through the Bay Area’s will ignorance of increasing Core Capacity, deferring it any way shape or form will get a thumbs down from me. And it’s even more brainless when the I-5 express lanes are a superior route, and likely cheaper route through downtown. (And I don’t say that last phrase lightly, as Rapid Transit should fundamentally avoid freeways wherever possible.)

      11. Well overcrowding is a complex topic. My Church St Station experience was a morning commute and it was the problem of boarding crowded trains. It takes only one notable bottleneck to frustrate a traveler.

        One of my worries about ST and the DSTT is mostly with escalators and elevators. The elevators were installed in the DSTT before ADA was the law. Supposedly, ST is assessing the station flow and I hope they do.

        With Metro, lots of the overcrowding would have been solved by having four-car trains like ST plans. ST hasn’t made that mistake.

        My DSTT2 issue is that the northbound PM peak demand north of Westlake is higher than demand forecasted from both northbound tunnels south of Westlake added together. Either Capitol Hill should have been the transfer station or the second tunnel isn’t that badly needed to relieve overcrowding. Which one is it?

        A final concern is when incidents happen that close a tunnel — even for just 30 minutes. Operational flexibility is going to be needed if ST ends up running three-minute trains, and that’s a very different reality than six-minute or ten-minute trains. After all, Metro and BART problems are usually mostly from an incident in the tunnels or at platforms. It’s why I face-palm that rather than improve flexibility by adding strategic crossing tracks and tail tracks or bypass tracks, ST plans a second tunnel that doesn’t connect well to the first one. ST2 or ST3 could have funded new crossing tracks around the University St Station or the new tunnel tracks should tie in to the existing tracks to avoid the inevitable meltdowns that have plagued Muni Metro for 40 years. Yeah subway tracks are expensive to build —even just switches and tail tracks. Having seen Muni Metro have repeated real-world operations failures, I see ST making many of the operational design mistakes and see the same likely outcomes in our future.

    3. The UW truncation are less important when I5 is generally running free, like it has recently. Now that congestion is back, shifting to serving UW Link rather than downtown is probably the best use of scarce service hours. This assumes Link has the capacity … don’t want to dump riders on to UW if the trains are ‘full’ under the Covid constrained capacity measures.

    4. eddiew: You’re lumping together many different issues with different priorities and tradeoffs and political factors, which makes it hard to opine on all of them at once. Many of them are judgment calls with legitimate arguments on both sides, and the ones we’ve vested to make those judgments are our elected leaders, so don’t be shocked that they make judgments according to their values.

      In case it ‘s under your radar, the East Seattle restructure is waiting for RapidRide G (Madison), which has been repeatedly postponed. The gap between the openings of UW Station and U-District Station is another factor. The 49 is a stopgap until those two occur. Metro predicted the 49 would carry the bulk of Capitol Hill’s interim ridership, but actually it has been the 11. When the 10 was moved to John, riders near mid Pine switched to the 11 instead of moving with it. Metro’s RapidRide G plan is to replace the 2S, 11, and 49 with a modified 8 (Denny-Madison to Madison Park), a modified 2 (Pine-12th-Union), and a modified 60 (U-District, Broadway, John, 12th, Beacon Hill). That will fulfill two of your suggestions. I have concerns about disconnecting mid Madison and Pine Street which have a wide variety of popular trip pairs, more so than Madison-John-Denny. People going westward to the Pike/Pine bars/clubs/shops as well as downtown, and people going eastward from Pike/Pine to Trader Joe’s and Madison Valley.

      The 106 extension is silly but it’s a small concession to a squeaky wheel in an equity-sensitive area, and is an exception among Metro’s recent restructures. In Metro’s 2025 plan it beomes the long-requested Rainier Valley – Boren route to Uptown and is disconnected from Renton. So Metro essentially gave the one-seat riders a temporary concession, which will probably be enough to smooth over the politics. (As the 71 is in the U-District.) And the 106 extension did not fully restore the 42. It terminates at Intl Dist instead of going downtown, so downtown-bound riders still have to transfer. And looming over all of this is Judkins Park Station, which will allow significant improvements in southeast Seattle’s network but isn’t open yet.

      As far as the Eastside peak expresses, I can’t be bothered to look up where they are and whether they’ll survive East Link. I assume none of them will. The 545 will certainly be deleted in favor of the 542, which qualifies as a crosstown service.

      MUNI Metro is in no way comparable to the Eastside routes or the 106. It’s comparable to short, high-volume routes like the 7 and part of the 40. (Even going all the way to Northgate seems further than MUNI.) In East Seattle it’s not clear now comparable MUNI is because the bulk of the city isn’t that direction and there’s no legacy east-west tunnel to leverage.

      1. Very few of the east-side expresses will simply go away aside from the 550, because they all do something different than the 550, but all will be truncated or redirected in some form, whether that’s to Husky stadium, Mercer Island, or somewhere else. I suppose some routes will technically disappear, insofar as trips pairs are better covered by a different route, but the actual service will remain.

    5. “This assumes Link has the capacity”

      South Link pre-covid was almost at capacity peak hours, and north Link likely was too.

      1. I don’t think we have to worry about capacity. When eastlink opens, we can have 4 car trains every 3 minutes between Westlake and UW.

      2. Yes, but eddiew is saying we should restructure these right now or in the past.

      3. Right – I was concerned about capacity during the pandemic. Post-Covid, we can probably squeeze in a few more people until East Link opens and frequency doubles.

      4. RossB is correct again. Link had capacity for the SR-520 services even with the two and three car trains. in 2021, it will have four-car trains.

    6. The northeastside, the north end, Capitol Hill, and Rainier Valley are not suffering catastrophic mobility losses comparable to losing the West Seattle Bridge.

      The 2013 reorg involved significant wrong-direction travel for Admiral Districters to connect to a transfer at the West Seattle Junction, in order to get off the peninsula any time other than morning peak, and to get back to the peninsula any time other than evening peak. Then, even the connector routes lost any frequency boost they got over time, because people voted with their feet to give up on transit if it had to be that painfully circuitous and infrequent.

      Bringing back all-day 56 service, or something similar, does not mean it will exist forever. It just means that it would exist during this mobility emergency created by the West Seattle Bridge closure, and possibly long enough for West Seattle Link to open. Riders on the peninsula need some sort of mitigation. Instead, all their district representative is doing is demanding that bus priority be removed.

  6. https://www.myballard.com/2020/06/24/nw-market-st-paving-project-postponed/

    Zimbabwe said that some projects will be picked up again in 2021, but it’s possible that some will be abandoned, “if they no longer make sense for the new City we find ourselves in over the coming years.” SDOT will, “prioritize racial and social justice in our transportation system when we develop this criteria.”

    Seemed like most Ballard businesses were against the paving project, however, the road surface is in pretty bad shape in many places. I avoid it on my bike to not have to deal with potholes and rough pavement.

    1. A pause on paving Market Street might be the headline on the article but the list of paused projects is mostly a list of projects that enhance transit, bikes and pedestrians. Many of the other paused projects are parts of the Bicycle Master Plan, New Sidewalks and Safe Routes to Schools programs as well as pausing plans on the Graham St. Link Station and CCC Streetcar.

      I’d like to see the list of projects that are continuing.

      1. Graham Station seems like the best thing to defer in ST3 belt tightening.

        The CCC will become more of an albatross if SDOT protects it while bus improvements in the rest of the city get cut.

      2. Graham Station seems like the best thing to defer in ST3 belt tightening.

        Not to me. It’s subsidized cost per rider is second only to Ballard Link. In other words, it is the second most cost effective project in ST3. (And that is with pessimistic ridership estimates that put it below every other Rainier Valley station). If you are looking for a project in Seattle to defer, than clearly, West Seattle Link is it. If you are looking at projects outside Seattle to cut, there are a bunch.


      3. I shouldn’t have written “cut” — I meant defer. Nothing should be cut. Everything should be deferred (unless there is another vote).

      4. While the CCC has always been a waste of money, the thought of spending money on it while basic bus service is getting gutted is an abomination.

    2. This is all budget related. The “racial and social justice” angle just sounds like BS to me. Those considerations have factored into city projects for a while. Or at least, they should have.

  7. The good news about the metered access for “essential workers” is that it will be metered! That means that the “stream of scofflaws in SOV’s” — “S-cubed” — will cease if the ticket is high enough. I’m thinking 3% of the ST-tab value of the vehicle would be about right. Whaddaya think STB’ers?

    No more “police discretion” (when they’re present at all).

    1. I agree. I was going to point that out. From the article:

      They agency said police officers on the bridge would be replaced by an automated system that would check license plates.

      There may be some watering down by allowing a relative handful over the bridge, but having routine, automated enforcement would be huge improvement.

      1. Ross,

        Yes, I agree that allowing disabled people driving registered autos across the bridge will impede the buses significantly. But the City needs to step up and provide the funding for Metro to run enough buses to make a difference. It should just be considered part of the cost of the bridge repair or replacement.

    2. Is automated enforcement in this particular case even authorized under our current RCW statutes? I don’t believe it is, even with the changes (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1793*) enacted in this year’s legislative session that impacted the section of the code pertaining to automated traffic safety cameras. (Toll/HOT lane automated camera enforcement is in another section but it’s not applicable here under its current restrictions.)

      *Not yet incorporated into the published RCW sections, but effective June 11, 2020.

      In regard to the amount of the penalty that can be issued for the infraction caught by such automated enforcement, that is also restricted by RCW 46.63.170 in section (2) as follows:

      “(2) Infractions detected through the use of automated traffic safety cameras are not part of the registered owner’s driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, infractions generated by the use of automated traffic safety cameras under this section shall be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.100, 35.20.220, 46.16A.120, and 46.20.270(2). The amount of the fine issued for an infraction generated through the use of an automated traffic safety camera shall not exceed the amount of a fine issued for other parking infractions within the jurisdiction.”

      1. Tlsgwm, this is NO LONGER a “street”. It is a freight and commercial vehicle way, at least between the cross-walk next to the at-grade railroad crossing and the “wishbone” of the westbound off-ramp and eastbound on-ramp at the eastern shore of the island. That section of roadway is closed to all non-commercial private vehicles. It is NOT a “street”.

        Private non-commercial vehicles may use SW Spokane Street between the intersection at Chelan Avenue and West Marginal Way with Spokane and the eastbound off-ramp/westbound on-ramp just west of the railroad crossing mentioned above. They can also use SW Spokane Street westbound between any point east of the East Channel Bridge and the westbound off-ramp just west of the East Channel Bridge or eastbound between the eastbound on-ramp from Harbor Island to any of those same points east of the East Channel Bridge.

        No non-commercial private vehicle is supposed to transit the roughly 250 feet between those access points to and from the surface streets of Harbor Island.

        Since it is also not a State Highway, the city should be able to impose any penalty, up to and including misdemeanor trespass to anyone operating a private motor vehicle across it. This is NOT a “moving violation”. There is no “speed limit” for private vehicles across it. There is no need for a dangerous driving charge to haul someone off to jail. It is criminal trespass on posted government property.

        So far as the penalty, sure, the 3% of the value is trolling. But the penalty should be in four figures or involve a short weekend vacation at the cross-bar hotel.

      2. Except SPD isn’t doing shit to enforce that (too busy murdering people and blaming them) and SOVs are constantly using it, so yes it is still a street.

      3. Illegal use of a thing and a lack of police enforcement does not change the nature of that thing.

      4. @Tom T
        Sorry, guy, but all of your assertions with regard to the statutory and regulatory framework involved here are just not valid.

        “Tlsgwm, this is NO LONGER a “street”.”

        Untrue. The SDOT Director has authority under Ch. 11 of the SMC to implement a temporary full or partial closure of any city-controlled street or alley. Doing so does not change the classification of the relevant thoroughfare. This is the case with the section of Spokane St that has been closed to traffic except for authorized vehicles. Here’s the bottom line: it is still a city street subject to the same rules of the road as any other city street, albeit with the added “closed road” restriction.

        “Since it is also not a State Highway, the city should be able to impose any penalty, up to and including misdemeanor trespass to anyone operating a private motor vehicle across it.”

        This is also incorrect. That’s just not how statutory authority works in this state with regard to the control of traffic and rules of the road*. Under our current (and longstanding) framework, the city cannot unilaterally declare this type of driving infraction (failure to comply with a posted, standardized traffic control sign) on a public road to be a criminal offense, such as misdemeanor trespass. Municipalities just don’t have such authority.

        “This is NOT a “moving violation”. ”

        Again, this is incorrect. The traffic infraction being committed here by a driver disobeying the road closure sign is indeed a moving violation and that’s what the citation will indicate, should the infraction actually be enforced. Currently, this type of citation cannot be issued through automated camera enforcement as the state has limited its use to a small number of types of infractions. Interestingly, the traffic infractions that ARE cited through the permitted automated enforcement method result are classified as non-moving violations. Seattle has codified these few exceptions in coordination with state statutes in the following section of the SMC:

        “11.31.020 – Notice of traffic infraction—Issuance.
        A. A peace officer has the authority to issue a notice of traffic infraction:
        1. when the infraction is committed in the officer’s presence;
        2. if an officer investigating at the scene of a motor vehicle accident has reasonable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle involved in the accident has committed a traffic infraction;
        or 3. when a violation of Section 11.50.140, 11.50.150, 11.52.040, or 11.52.100 is detected through the use of an automated traffic safety camera as authorized pursuant to RCW 46.63.170 and Section 11.50.570.”

        *This is a deliberate strategy and it makes total sense if one stops to think about it for a minute. It provides for uniformity across jurisdictions in the state when it comes to application of the rules of the road all drivers are expected to abide by.

  8. “As someone who used to ride the Ocean View segment of M, I can say that it’s pretty empty there even at peak.”

    What is the ridership on all the MUNI Metro lines? Are some lines busy and others not? My experience is mostly taking the F, staying with people on the J and N, and occasionally taking the L. My impressions over the years:

    1. In the Market Street tunnel which purports to be a subway and has five lines converging, it’s appalling to wait ten minutes for any train and twenty minutes for your train.

    2. The surface segments are extremely slow. Although the J has its own right of way for a little stretch.

    3. Once when I was returning from J to the Transbay Terminal Greyhound station, it went west instead of east and dumped me at West Portal. The distance from there to Montgomery Station seems short, but it took almost an hour to wait for an eastbound train and lumber to Montgomery. I had to run from Montgomery to the Greyhound station, and caught the bus only because it departed late.

    4. MUNI and BART seem to run redundantly parallel between Glen Park and Balboa Park.

    #1 and #2 make me feel like, if I lived in San Francisco, I’d much prefer to live in the Mission where BART is more frequent and fast. Church, Judah, Traval, and Geary Blvd do not inspire.

    1. Pre-covid, the N had ridership of about 40-45k per day, the K/T, L, M about 30-35k per day, and the J about 15-20k per day. A good portion of this number is from the MSS, but it varies from line to line. Going from line, the N has strong ridership on it’s surface sections, From Church to 9th Ave, and on Embarcadero due to strength of it’s destinations, so it’s no surprise that it has the highest ridership overall (and it’s one of the single best MUNI lines, though the corridor as a whole isn’t the strongest). The K/T, L, and M have their numbers juiced by the Market St Subway. The K/T has way more ridership on the T side than on the K side, though the K side doesn’t look that bad because they only run single car trains. The L’s ridership falls off a cliff west of 19th Ave off-peak, so serving the corridor with 1-car trains is probably much more in line with demand. The M is similar, seeing empty trains in Ocean View, and filling them up at the 19th Ave stops. The J looks more crowded/in demand than it is due to it’s shitty scheduling, but ridership is decent north of 30th and sparse south of there. And lastly, the F has heavy traffic all along Market, due to local demand as well as tourists, but along the Embarcadero it’s basically a ghost town between the Ferry Building and Pier 39, with the stops there having very poor usage.

      1. This was the bane of my existance. And why I’m so enthused about just making people transfer.

      2. The surface segments are slow because of high stop rates, low speed limits, and lack of RoW. Before I left, 2 of those 3 were starting to be rectified.

      3. The reason why the Eastbound trips are so bad is because of need to transistion from Street Mode to Subway mode, which inevitaby create major backups as trains take forever to do this. It’s made worse by MUNI’s insistence on Single-Berthing, which mean that inbound trains creep from station to station.

      4. This is because the segment isn’t a holdover from the old Streetcar system. It’s not all that well known to people, but the San Jose Extension was built in the late 80’s, in between the MSS, and the Market St restoration and MMX. This segment is redundant because consideration for ridership was utterly ignored. The reason why it’s on San Jose is to provide a second connection between the Geneva/Green Yards (MME was still 2 decades away at this point), and the Market St Tunnel, so out of service trains wouldn’t block up service as much. If ridership had been considered, than it should’ve gone down outer mission, or Circular Ave (to more directly serve CCSF).

      1. I’d add that the F-Line historic streetcars were made much more operationally feasible once the San Jose Ave tracks were built. The F-line replaced the 8-Market trolley bus, by the way (as opposed to being an added service like CCC).

      2. Those weren’t the extension only effectively replaced by rail, the 26 Valencia (though it took until th Great Recession to kill completely), and 32 Embarcadero were both replaced by rail services. The T didn’t really replace the 15 in it’s entireity (just the segment between King and Sunnydale), and it’s extension into Chinatown won’t lead to any major restructuring, though the as of yet unfunded 3rd Stage could see some changes.

    2. What do MSS, MME, MMX, and Single-Berthing mean? I gather MSS must be Market Street Subway. What did the J, K, and M do before the San Jose extension? I first encounferted MUNI in 1987 and I think the K and M were as they are now although I’ve never been to that area. I thought the J terminated at 30th, but in the mid 2000s when I was staying near Church Street I had occasion to the Glen Park community center and found the J went to Glen Park and Balboa Park. That must be the extension you’re talking about.

      1. MME is MUNI Metro East, the railyard that was built alongside the 3rd St Light Rail, the MMX is the section of tunnel between Embarcadero and Folsom where terminating trains layover and turn around, it opened around the same time the F market did (mid 90s).

        The area around Balboa Park had the only surviving Rail Yard, and it’s only connection was to the K. However, regular K service ended at the phelan loop (now since relocated and built over). It was until after BART opened that the K got its terminal moved to where it is now. Shortly after the K got (re)extended, the M was extended from it’s traditional terminal of Broad/San Jose to Balboa Park BART, to the same loop that the K uses. This situation held until after Loma Prieta, when the J was extended from 30th/Church to Balboa Park (Keep in mind that passenger service on this segment did not start until some period after construction ended, as the line was not intended for passenger service, just yard access). The extension to Balboa Park booted the M from the loop by the station to the one it uses now in Geneva Yard.

        Single Berthing was only allowing one train to stop in a station at a time, and was considered egregious when double Berthing was possible and led to better throughput. And analogous situation in a Seattle context would be not platooning buses through the DSTT.

      2. It’s moot with the new configuration, but not moving the train blocks to allow for some trains like J-Church stop at the back third of the platforms seems short-sighted. The ballet of riders shuffling to avoid getting on the wrong train among the five lines was always confusing.

  9. Another MUNI question. On the map the K appears shorter than the M. I’ve always wondered whether the K is too short and redundant. Is it? Is its unique segment particularly dense or have some other reason to be a train? Or is it a random legacy from the past?

    1. They’re separated by a hill while the M serves SFSU and the K more directly serves City College.

    2. The K segment is short, in part because MUNI abandoned nearly all of the trackage it inherited from Market St Railway. Some of this trackage was East of San Jose ave, which the K used for several years after the war. Also, the M’s tracks were built way after the tracks on Ocean were, and the alignment on San Jose was a part of San Francisco’s first electric streetcar line.

  10. Graham Street Station on one condition: eliminate every grade crossing on MLK, either with undercuts, ramps, or both. Regional rail doesn’t get stalled at Capitol Hill Station over fenderbenders on MLK.

    The rail line CCC will be the center should be viewed and financed like a long linear business district. Link and buses are for transportation, which along the streetcar line will be readily accessible. It’s for enjoyment, sightseeing, relaxing, and window-shopping.

    Remember also that back in the days of the Ancient Mariner, deep-ocean sailors, for whom it was a matter of life and death, viewed the albatross as good luck.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Resolving the MLK crossing problem should be a new special study so agencies could get concepts and costs determined, and whether large segments can be resolved in stages at lower costs. Until that analysis happens, the problem won’t ever move pass the “agree then shrug” stage.

  11. Remember the monorail plan from the early 2000’s that said the W Seattle Bridge would handle the weight of a monorail running over it? I’m glad that project got canceled – we’d be in a mess with that added weight…

  12. With regard to the recently released SAO performance audit report on Sound Transit, here’s another way of looking at their findings (which were significant despite the OP’s attempt to downplay them in the news brief headline).

    First of all, this undertaking by the SAO was not a comprehensive performance audit by any stretch of the imagination. It’s scope was very, very limited*, as it was designed from the start to look at just one area:

    “The audit answers the following question:
    • How can Sound Transit improve its oversight and management
    of its projects?”

    The audit team limited its review to just 12 contracts across five ST capital projects. These five projects were funded by the first two voter-approved tax measures, Sound Move and ST2.
    The methodology employed in their review is detailed in full in Appendix B of the report. The following is just a partial excerpt:

    “Selected a sample of contracts –

    “First, we selected a judgmental sample of contracts based on their dollar value, number of change orders, and differences between initial cost estimates and current or final cost estimates. We used large differences between the two cost estimates and a high number of change orders as indicators of
    major scope, schedule or budget changes. We selected 12 contracts associated with five projects. The contracts currently total $2.3 billion. Since it was a judgmental sample, the contracts selected may not be representative of all Sound Transit contracts.”

    The five projects involved in the review are:
    • D Street to M Street Track and Signal
    • Northgate Link
    • Operations and Maintenance Facility – East
    • Tacoma Trestle Track & Signal
    • University Link

    Continuing on with the methodology utilized…

    “Reviewed change orders and interviewed project teams –

    “To determine whether there were major changes to scope, schedule or budget, we reviewed change orders worth more than $100,000 and all change orders with any schedule adjustments. The 12 contracts totaled $2.3 billion, and had 2,220 change orders issued from 2010 through December 2019.

    “We reviewed 324 change orders, about 15 percent of all change orders. However, the cost of these change orders totaled $172 million, or 94 percent of the total value of all change orders. We used Sound Transit’sclassification of change orders but also categorized change orders based on the justification given for the change to analyze them. We also interviewed Sound Transit project staff to ask them if there were major changes to contracts.”

    Appendix B continues on explaining the remainder of the audit team’s employed methodology. I strongly encourage reading it in full. (It’s just a few pages.)

    Now, moving on to the audit’s findings of which there were several components. In regard to the reviewed change orders, the SAO concluded:

    “Spending more money up front and conducting additional
    planning could limit change orders, reducing overall costs –

    “Although Sound Transit has policies and procedures in place to minimize project changes, the agency still issued hundreds of change orders. We examined more than 300 change orders worth $172 million, and found Sound Transit issued more than
    160 change orders, worth $100 million, to address mistakes or missing information in its designs and contracts. Among the reasons given for these changes were:
    • Design deficiencies, such as electrical systems that lacked power supplies
    • Structures that did not meet building codes
    • Contractors encountering adverse underground conditions that were not described in contract documents”

    So, recapping the findings in this regard, that’s $172M on 12 contracts totalling $2.3B, or roughly 7.5% in contract escalation. At first glance that may not seem like much, and apparently ST’s CEO is fine with it, but using that figure to extrapolate the potential impact on the agency’s capital program cost through 2041 brings a whole other perspective.

    The capital programs under the ST2 and ST3 plans, as approved by voters, were $13.4B and $36.7B respectively. So essentially we are talking about $50B in YOE$ exclusive of debt servicing costs. The most recent annual update to the agency’s financial plan (thru 2041) puts this figure at $51.6B. This is the relevant figure, not the $100B mentioned in the OP’s headline.

    7.5% of $51.6B comes to just shy of $3.9B in potential capital project cost escalation due to change order issues. That’s worth taking heed of the recommendations in this limited scope performance audit and the agency finally getting serious about learning from its past mistakes. I’m not going to hold my breath though.

    *For example, the scope of this audit did not include probing into the cost estimation and cost escalation issues with Lynnwood Link, Federal Way Link, Redmond Link and the Tacoma Link Hilltop extension projects. It acknowledges this limitation in its discussion.

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