85 Replies to “Weekend open thread: light rail”

  1. Our region’s leaders tried to fix the mass-daily-commute problem just as it was petering out.

    No good reasons still exist for the eight light rail megaproject expansions described in ST3. The planned and existing station areas were to be jammed with dense worksites. However, going forward employers won’t need to require daily commutes of the hordes of workers government consultants projected. As can be seen by current ridership levels, few people need to take light rail to the TOD at station areas for reasons apart from daily commutes.

    Sound Transit’s board presented us with ST3 in 2016 with an implicit threat: daily commutes would overwhelm roads and buses to and from employers’ worksites in the CBD and the growth centers over the next four decades if ST3 is not approved. That premise, however well-intentioned, now has been revealed as meritless. It’s not just this region – around the country employers that had been providing dense worksites near light rail stations now intend to rely indefinitely on workers who perform their responsibilities primarily via broadband connections at home.

    1. You really seem to conflate what is happening now with what will happen later, which is obviously unknowable. What is knowable is that dense cities have existed for a very, very long time, they exist for reasons that are core to human nature, and where dense cities exist, mobility is crucial for economic opportunity. It’s not at all clear to me why a pandemic, while it has caused mobilization patterns to shift over the course of the last 8 months, will mean that suddenly all the factors that make great mobility options worthwhile will suddenly vanish.
      And besides, transit isn’t only used by those commuting to their office job.

    2. Why do you keep repeating the same stupid idea, over and over again? ST3 had nothing to do with traffic. It had little to do with commuting. The parts of it that made some sense (Ballard to UW) still make sense. The parts that were crap (just about every thing else) are still crap.

      1. Pardon me, RossB, but you know too much to be that wrong on a matter we’ve both worked on so long that even if we give up, sheer momentum will finish us before we finish it.

        Sound Transit’s present regional plan to help me restore the regional portion of our National Defense Highway system to passenger mobility instead of linear parking, contains no crap that can’t be remedied with the public toilet systems so common all over Europe.

        Everett to Olympia, Alki to Ellensburg, from the cab of his chain-drive convoy truck, Dwight Eisenhower would’ve specked out rail road-bed under every paved foot named “I-” to be ready for the changeover. And Franklin Roosevelt would already have First Hill subway in the Defense Budget.

        Where the real-life incarnations of those pretty dot-lines are going to signify, millions of passengers are going to go. As they are now, except moving sixty miles an hour instead of zero-to-six, with their cars’ value depreciating faster than their brake-pads.

        To me, Ballard-UW is a tunnel-engineer’s call. Could be a straight fast dig, or run smack into a volcanic-glass meteor under Wallingford. But it’s the fact that nobody’s even bothered to look really speaks to what we’re both out of patience with.

        If this was construction machinery instead of political-administrative, this much roar and this little motion would put a new drive-shaft on real short order. Too bad if parts-supply just lost its lease across from Costco.

        What I would suggest, and also strongly request everybody else hold ME to:

        However ungrateful we are for this undeserved piece of down-time, let’s see how technically and mechanically we can have something shovel-ready when the work order finally arrives.

        Mark Dublin

    3. Excellent!
      That means I can also get my (no-vote) gas tax reduced, along with the added (no-vote) fees on my license tab renewals removed, and not to mention the localized REET that contributes to other highway widening projects.
      The Megaprojects such as the widening of I-405, and the West Seattle bridge, the SR-2 viaduct, etc. are no longer needed, after all.

      You have such good ideas, I don’t know why you choose to remain Anon(ymous)?!

      1. This goes all the way back to the beginning of both politics and entertainment, Jim. Which have always been pretty much the same thing. Huge celebrity and power in being a MYSTERIOUS DUDE!

        My bet, though, is Anon’s ZOOM-sessions look pretty much like mine. Passage of fashions is cruel, though.

        With the advent of contacts, since wearing visible-rim glasses no longer make you look smart, reason so many people are drowning in student debt is ’cause you now need a DEGREE.

        ‘Nother part of the same phenomenon, though: How much Transit Blog time and space is now being devoted to completely doing away with….guess what?

        But….and this is why I think the organization called “Big Brothers” should enlist some female siblings too. Because every little brother’s sister knows that if they just ignore him, he’ll go away.

        Anon? Daniel? ST’s only messing with Mercer Island buses and permanent work-from-homers to get your goat. Are you telling me that these last few months, the Agency’s not already giving credible proof that it HAS gone away?

        But since this is such great practice, we’re all going to keep on reading you ’til you finally tell your employer that if they don’t find you other duties you’re joining Local 587! Or telling Indeed! on them.

        Mark Dublin

    4. We shouldn’t make long-term decisions based on short-term factors. Companies say now that they will telework indefinitely, but will they say the same next year? The region’s population is continuing to grow and traffic will continue to gradually get worse. ST3 — beyond Federal Way and downtown Redmond — will not start construction until after 2025. It needs the money from the ST2 tax stream, which won’t be available until ST2 bills stop coming in and the bonds are paid down a bit. That date is currently 2025, although it may slip again, in which case ST3 construction would be postponed further. Planning costs much less than construction, so any planning that turns out to be unnecessary won’t have cost much. So ST doesn’t need to make a decision immediately on ST3; it just needs to make one in the next five years. It should wait until next year to see how the pandemic recedes, what really happens with commutes afterward, and how serious the companies are about long-term teleworking. We shouldn’t make long-term decisions based on blind preliminary assumptions. We don’t know what will happen with teleworking. All that certainty you hear is hype and wild assumptions.

    5. If you don’t believe physical proximity matters anymore, nobody is stopping you from living outside the Sound Transit district boundary. Our taxes will then be none of your concern.

    6. People also said nobody would want to live or work in a high rise after 9-11. Didn’t happen that way. People are quick to go back to “the old ways” after a disaster. Which, contrary to what POTUS is telling us, we’re still IN.

  2. I like how the MBTA has branches. Why won’t Link have more/any branches? Is splitting a line considered a good or bad thing for a light rail system? Also, where would be some good places to make branches in our system?

      1. I’d rather not explain this again since the last discussion was just two days ago. As I explained then, two branched lines is fine to good for productivity, three is iffy depending on balancing loads and track operations like reversals and passing tracks/ sidings and switches, and four or more is generally bad as operational challenges tend to emerge.

      2. Tlsgwm, thanks for the link to AJ, and I’d encourage everybody to read it. Because it speaks to the question of what “Light Rail” really means. And the advantage we can take of knowing that.

        I’ve linked “The Electroliner” so long they’ve canceled both me and my subscription, but it not only existed but was a hundred percent No manufacture more In The USA than St. Louis!


        OK, the Devil Made Me Do It. I don’t think anyplace else in the world says “Light Rail.” In Northern Europe, the MODE is whatever’s local for “Wagon on Tracks”. “SPORE-vang.”

        My own working definition is that the train can handle the curve radius of the average street intersection. WHEN IT HAS TO. Which is best understood to mean as seldom as possible.

        I can see ST take a leaf from Sprawl Incorporated (LTD) and get out ahead of the competition. Buy development property in Centralia for urban villages, whose main street will have wires overhead and tracks in grooves. You do that for cars and SUV’s, don’t you?

        Connected by spur to the Link mainline. Not EVERY train has to go through through the village, though the train-ride makes the mandatory soda-fountain’s malts does make victims start to drool. Transit-advocacy at its most irresistable starts at age two.

        And did or did not Aurora Avenue used to host crystal-windowed mansion-grade streetcars for the mortuary industry? SF had them. Not kidding about Lake Washington Tech’s funeral services program either. Doubt underfunding will be a problem.

        Also could not be more lethally serious about making Seattle and Everett the new trans-regional New St. Louis. Want anything done right, you don’t contract it out.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Thanks Tlsgwm.

        Sam, I’d recommend Levy’s post on good vs bad branching. He also has a post on reverse branching this is also very good.

      4. Sam, the line would be split after Rainier Beach, but it’s a good idea, especially if a bypass is built or the major arterials are bridged over the tracks in the future. Rainier is too close to Martin Luther King.

    1. Technically, ST2 creating branching by having two lines north of Downtown on the same track, and splitting them at International District Station.

      ST3 created a “branched” segment through Downtown Bellevue with Kirkland and Redmond to the north and Seattle and Issaquah on the south.

      1. Yeah, I was going to mention that: East Link is a branch. Like all branches, it limits frequency, and can cause delays. However, the lines will run every six minutes, which means three minutes frequency in the core. I believe the maximum headway is two minutes, so that gives a full minute of float. In other words, even if a train is a minute late, it shouldn’t delay the other train.

        In general you want about equal demand on each branch. The obvious split in our system would be UW to Ballard, for that reason.

        If you ran a line down to Renton (on Rainier Avenue) you would probably run it on Jackson (where there are a lot more potential riders). Hard to see if we would need it, though. This is a great example where starting with BRT makes sense. If you have a lot of riders, and you are running buses every couple minutes, then by all means, switch over to rail. I don’t that is likely to happen. There just aren’t that many people there.

      2. I’m not convinced that ST has built the right tracks and switches for frequent three-line branches so I suggest planning for only two. Thus, the RV segment shouldn’t be split until the second transit tunnel opens sometime after 2035, when this line no longer isn’t a branch (with East Link).

        Then the question is what branching makes the most sense? It does need to happen before Mt Baker Station on the south because of the MLK capacity limitations. That opens up several options:

        1. The Duwamish bypass. This is the default branch especially since MLK is slow for Link and the Tacoma trains Will have 18 stops before the ID and may be too crowded. This could also set up a second branch if the two lines merge back together south of Boeing Access Road, like to Renton, Kent or Puyallup.

        2. The current high speed rail proposes a station along I-5 south of I-90. Serving that may be important by the time the second tunnel opens. Branching this line for that station would then allow for the line to turn north, crossing I-90 and East Link to a tunnel that serves First Hill and/or the CD before terminating at Capitol Hill Station (new platform) or in the CD.

        3. Feed West Seattle from the future second downtown rail tunnel as a branch Instead of the current ST configuration, opening up East Link for branching possibilities towards the CD or towards Issaquah or towards Kirkland.

        4.. This Rainier idea.

        I think the first three options are much better than using Rainier. For Rainier, the corridor seems better suited for a tram with median stops. That would create stops closer to each other and serve this day-long long commercial street better.

        A final point is that the SLU segment will be quite heavy and some branching or a short-turn near SODO may be required (if riders return post-COVID).

      3. Saying East Link is a branch is stretching the definition. I was talking about branching like the MBTA Green Line branches out into the B, C, D, and E.

      4. Uhhh…. Boston’s Green Line splits are at Copley and Kenmore. Copley is a block from where the tallest building in Boston is, and Kenmore is less than a mile away near the Major League Baseball stadium. It’s remarkably similar except the city is older. It would be similar to having splits at Pioneer Square and Stafium stations.

        The major difference is that the Green Line has four branches, only two-car trains — and they built multiple boarding areas at Park Street (their Westlake station) so that trains are not forced into sequential operations from one platform while leaving outbound.

      5. @Sam — Of course East Link is a branch. The only difference is that the Green Line branches more (a lot more).


        1. The bypass idea is silly: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/10/duwamish-bypass-lots-of-bucks-little-bang/

        2. Not sure what you are proposing. But when you start with”we should add a station by the freeway”, you lost me.

        3. Yeah, you could split and go to the CD, but the geography isn’t great. You are heading south so that you can swing around and head west. A “Metro 8 Subway” would definitely have a station at Madison. From Madison, it would be faster (and more frequent) to just take the BRT into downtown than it would to loop around. In contrast, if you simply kept going with the line, you could end at Mount Baker Station, thus connecting the lines. Kirkland has the same sort of problem — it doesn’t makes sense to head south if you are trying to go west — take a bus on 520 instead. Issaquah is a more logical split, but not worth the money.

        I don’t see any of those happening. I don’t see 4 happening either. The only new line in our system that has even a remote possibility of being built is Ballard to UW. They’ve already studied it. It is a better value than anything in ST3 (according to Sound Transit). It is relatively cheap.

        It could be done as a split or with a non-service connection. Given the cost, my guess is it would be the latter, and even that is unlikely. It is quite likely that ST3 is it. The thing is huge, for a city this size. I think we’ll have the 3rd or 4th biggest mass transit system in North America (after New York, Mexico City and maybe L. A.). Very few (if any) cities keep building after such a large expansion, especially given the financial and ridership issues that are likely to occur with such a gigantic, suburban heavy system.

        The fight will not be over building new lines, but running the trains more often (it has already begun).

      6. First of all, RossB, these are not recommendations but merely possibilities for any branching somewhere between the stadiums and Mt Baker, which is where branching is the most feasible south of Downtown on any line currently without branches. We don’t know what we might need in 10-20 years and they all may be silly or unnecessary ideas. Who would have planned for losing 70 percent of the riders this year?

        That said, each of the options has some basis for justification:

        1. The 2015 post on the Duwamish Bypass is outdated because of ST3. ST3 both reconconfigured the SE Seattle/ South King line to get its own single-line tunnel (the new configuration was not presented in 2015 and this line was a branch then) and the extra rider loads from Tacoma were not part of the demand. Since then, it’s been demonstrated in ST’s own forecasts that the most crowded segment on a per train operation is forecast to be between Mt Baker and the ID. Believe it or not, most big city subways have crowding problems. Link just had about 40K riders a year in 2015. As a SE Seattle resident, I want to be able to not have to wait for several trains to pass by before I can ride one.

        How would you fix a possible SE Seattle Link capacity problem? Grade separations in SE Seattle or a new subway segment? Those easily could be more expensive and less advantageous than a Duwamish bypass.

        2. High speed rail is going to need a station stop. One advocacy group placed it here: https://www.cascadiahighspeedrail.com/uploads/4/8/9/8/48982907/hsr_seattle_station_02.pdf

        How would you serve that very important regional hub station if the existing Link tracks are not compliant for an infill station? We don’t know where the ultimate station will go so it’s good to have options.

        Sure going north is circuitous, but the slope of First Hill is much gentler heading south. The Metro 8 concept doesn’t help First Hill at all. The activity on First Hill (including Harborview, Swedish, Seattle U and taller residential buildings) dwarfs anything else in Capitol Hill or the CD. Depending on the branching location, a two or three minute ride out of direction is somewhat negligible. Finally, connecting at Capitol Hill Station would help offload crowded trains if trains are too crowded between there and Westlake.

        3. East Link branching has possibilities. If East Link is already a branch, it seems operationally dubious to further add another one. I’m just observing that one branch could be added if East Link is no longer a branch itself .

        The possibility of branching is a general operational systems question and not a question of if any of the corridors are justified. I’m simply responding to someone else’s post about why Link should have more branches.

      7. East Link is in no way a branch like the MBTA Green Line’s B, C, D and E are branches. And of course there could be some good places to add branches to East Link. And East link branch to Issaquah via Factoria and Eastgate would be a good one some day.

        Smart people discuss ideas, they don’t argue over definitions. Repeating East Link is a branch isn’t scoring you the points you think it is.

      8. 1. Dwamish bypass probably only makes sense if the Rainier Valley section is repurposed to serve Renton, with the segment crossing over I5 remaining as an out-of-service spur. But it likely makes more sense to invest in better crossing in the RV unless SW King population’s really booms. At grade to Renton is then a way to add frequency to the RV (where it will be needed) without boosting frequency south of SeaTac (where it probably won’t be needed).

        2. I think the idea is that HSR would leverage the I5 ROW going in/out of downtown?

        3. I’ve argued this before and I really hope ST designs the line so WS can feed either tunnel for operational flexibility. If Bellevue/Redmond really grows, we might want to ‘un-branch’ East Link in the future to send 100% of trains from UW to Bellevue, shifting WS to the other tunnel to create East Link capacity. This will be needed if the north and east parts of the region grow much more than the south King & Pierce.

        Of course, we could instead use the ‘spare’ capacity in the 2nd tunnel to create yet another branch to Fremont, Renton, etc. I don’t see a branch to the CD; that ship sailed when no junction was built into the Cap Hill/UW tunnel. If you are at Judkins Park, a frequent 48 is sufficient to access the CD.

        Most branching options need to be designed into the 2nd tunnel, notably something towards Fremont/Aurora. Otherwise they will be too disruptive. A surface branch to Renton is interesting because the tie-in at Rainier Beach is presumably a less disruptive/expensive project.

        Sam, go read the Alon Levy post on branching. NYC has many branches on which they run multiple lines. A ‘line’ doesn’t need to be branded a ‘branch’ to be a branch.

      9. “We don’t know what we might need in 10-20 years”

        Remember that it takes 6-10 years to build a new line:
        – 1 year to add it to the long-range plan and prepare and hold the vote.
        – 1 year for the alternatives analysis and EIS, to make it eligible for federal grants.
        – 2 years detailed planning.
        – 2-3 years for surface/elevated construction or 5-6 years for a long tunnel.

        So you have to start the process 6-10 years before you need it. If we think a Rainier line might be needed in 20 years, then we’d need to start it in 14 years.

        The Duwamish bypass is not politically feasible! It was in ST’s long-range plan in 2014, but the board deleted it in 2015 as unnecessary. The subareas it would benefit — South King and Pierce — said not one word to defend it. North King’s Georgetown and the Industrial District are too low-population to make it a North King priority. Not when Ballard and West Seattle might need additional funding, the 45th and Lake City-Bothell lines aren’t funded yet, and hopefully ST will see the light and support a Metro 8 line eventually. (Oh, the Metro 8 line could go down 23rd to Rainier and Renton. :)

        It’s possible that South King and Pierce might be disappointed with Link’s travel time when it opens, and that might get them thinking about the Duwamish bypass again, but I doubt it. There’s still the Burien-Renton line, 167 Stride, and Pierce’s paucity of intra-subarea transit, which would be higher priorities for those subareas. For Pierce, choosing something within Pierce would be more popular than choosing something in North King’s industrial district. Especially given the loud voices that “We’re not getting hardly anything for our ST taxes.”

      10. I also don’t see “We need the Duwamish bypass for faster service to the airport” as persuasive. 39 minutes to the airport is not bad, and it’s not subject to traffic jams. And re airport riders thinking going through Rainier Valley is too low-class or unsafe, puh-lease. Many newcomers in the Valley over the past decade didn’t even know its past when they moved there, and while they’re aware of it now, it’s ancient history. This will increasingly be the case going forward.

      11. I too agree that the Duwamish bypass isn’t justified for getting to the airport faster, Mike.

        If’s possible justification would come from overcrowded trains. If you’ve ever had to skip boarding several trains because they are packed on a regular basis when they arrive and the doors open, you would understand why it’s a reasonably valid issue.

      12. Faster service to the airport isn’t enough to justify a Duwamish bypass, but if the Duwamish train were to continue to Kent, Des Moines and Federal Way, the time savings might be justified. In 20-30 years I could see a rail line that serves FW-DM-Kent-Duwamish-Downtown and the Rainier Valley line would end at the airport where transfers could be made between the 2 lines.

      13. Maybe parts of the Duwamish bypass area will someday be an area worth having light rail go through. And, if you build TOD around Duwamish bypass stations, there will be no pre-existing anti-gentrification community groups to prevent development, because almost no one lives down there, so there will be no one to complain. (Except when you start getting close to Georgetown and South Park).

      14. The argument in favor of the bypass is capacity, but then the counter-argument is just to improve the existing RV rail to allow for great capacity. In theory, 4 or so over/underpasses at major cross streets should allow for dramatically increased frequency.

        I’m not sure the Seattle industrial corridor has no pre-existing anti-gentrification community groups. There is a strong coalition around protecting industrial lands from conversion to TOD, as illustrated by resistance to the Hansen basketball stadium street vacation and other roadblocks placed in front of the CBD moving further south. I think most of the same groups would oppose TOD elsewhere in the Dwamish. I would not look at industrial land in Seattle as “objection-free brown field redevelopment” in the same ways that dying malls or other commercial blocks make for politically easy redevelopment.

      15. Housing is prohibited in industrial land. The city is reluctant to open it up because developers would outbid the industrial owners and the jobs and economic diversity and manufacturing capacity would vanish forever. We may need them in the future more than now. In other cities that have converted their industrial districts, the industries were obsolete and no companies wanted to move in. But our industrial areas are busy and vibrant, and new companies move in whenever there’s a vacancy, and we have a niche in international trade.

      16. How would you fix a possible SE Seattle Link capacity problem?

        That is highly unlikely, but if it did happen, the first thing I would do is run express buses to downtown. That is cheap, and gets a lot of riders to their destination faster. Second thing I would do is do a cut and cover for Rainier Valley, and run the trains twice as often. That would also open up space for bikes and buses (the latter assuming they didn’t have enough stations and still need bus stops along MLK).

        <The current high speed rail proposes a station along I-5 south of I-90

        Where? I’m still confused. Do you mean SoDo?

        Branching this line for that station would then allow for the line to turn north, crossing I-90 and East Link to a tunnel that serves First Hill and/or the CD before terminating at Capitol Hill Station (new platform) or in the CD.

        You mean branch the line from West Seattle, or the line from SeaTac? It wouldn’t make sense to do the latter, since it is limited to six minutes. It seems silly to do a reverse branch from West Seattle. In general it seems silly to do a reverse branch from any south end line.

        I don’t know why you think it makes more sense to branch in the south end. The obvious branch is to the north, at the UW. You want a branch location to be a destination (UW is). You want demand to be roughly the same on each branch, and roughly double that on the combined segment. That is the case if UW to Ballard branched off of the main line.

        East Link feels like it could have a branch, given that it ends in a more distant suburb. It is common for transit to branch there, just because you are trying to cover a sprawling area with mid-level density. But in the case of East Link, the areas it serves are actually pretty good, and much better than any branch. You wouldn’t want to run the train every 12 minutes to Microsoft or downtown Redmond (even though that would be appropriate for say, Crossroads). Even if you spent the money so the train could run more often, I just don’t see it. East Link stops will have by far the greatest potential for ridership (and RapidRide will sop up the rest).

        Lynnwood Link would make sense as a branch. You could branch after Mountlake Terrace, with one line up to Lynnwood Station, and the other over to SR 99. Given the three minute headways on that line (which is overkill that far north) that would work out just fine. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed.

        The only decent branch in our system left is UW to Ballard.

      17. Ballard to UW may be an interesting branch. UW to Ballard would be a terrible branch unless we figure out how to run trains at 2 minute frequency in the DSTT or ridership between Northgate and UW is well below projections. Or Snohomish could just give up half the trains they paid for, I suppose.

        Swift transferring to Link at 185th will appear as a ‘branch’ on regional transit maps. If the Blue line is so successful it struggles with capacity, I could see Link branching 185th (or wherever) as an upgrade to Swift in the future.

        On the south side, investing more in Sounder (and Sounder feeder buses) may also assist with crowding in RV, depending on the source of the ridership, but if there is crowding it’s more likely to come from greater density in Seattle itself, so I don’t see express buses making much of a difference: when Link is crowded, express routes are very expensive to operate; when express buses are intriguing from a travel time perspective, Link will have plenty of capacity. Squeezing in just 2 more train an hour is better than a dozen express bus runs an hour. If SE Seattle residents start to suffer from overcrowded trains, I think SDOT will figure out how to squeeze in some extra trains.

      18. “ Housing is prohibited in industrial land.”

        I think Renton Landing pretty much proves that that restriction can be temporary at an airplane assembly site.

      19. “ I don’t know why you think it makes more sense to branch in the south end. The obvious branch is to the north, at the UW.”

        I’m not saying that any specific branch is preferable. I’m only saying where I think a branch can go.

        If the Ballard end is branched at Ballard to go north and east, that puts two lines in the second tunnel through Downtown yet only one would fit on MLK. (The new line won’t have access to three tracks south of Stadium Station as the line will have been moved.) ST would almost certainly have to build something to turn or extend that second line south of Downtown in order to have branching in Ballard — unless the second tunnel is designed with switches for a branch somewhere south of Madison Street.

      20. The bypass will not be a dumb idea in 2040 by which time 10 million climate refugees will have descended on Puget Sound. If ST builds the trackage along the busway correctly — a big “if” — trains from Ballard and SLU could use the new tunnel and the Rainier trackage to the airport and Renton while “short-turn” trains from the main line at Northgate — including of course UW — could use the existing tunnel and take the bypass on their way to Tacoma.

        By “correctly” I mean as stacked double tracks with both tracks on one level in the same direction with center platforms for quick out-of-direction transfers.

        Really, Ross. Someone as well-versed in climate science you have to understand that as Tom Toles said yesterday “climate change is real and a catastrophe”. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/30/tom-toles-final-cartoon/]

        What do you think is going to happen to the 25 million people in Southern California when the aqueducts dry up? How about the five million in Central Arizona mostly dependent on the same soda straw. Hint: they’re going to come to the Pacific Northwest — as many as will fit — because they, like we, can’t stand the myopic jerks over the mountains.

      21. “because developers would outbid the industrial owners and the jobs and economic diversity and manufacturing capacity would vanish forever.”

        I’ve heard that argument before, but I don’t see what the big deal is. If some developer outbids industrial owners, that just means a more valuable use of premium land, a half mile from downtown Seattle. Industrial jobs end up moving to the suburbs where land is cheaper, but again, I say, so what? It’s not like cities have to be “self-sufficient”, as in, physically manufacturing everything they need within the city boundaries.

        I would personally be quite happy to see SODO redeveloped into residential high rises. It would create foot traffic in the neighborhood and make it much safer to walk through there at night. It would justify bicycle and pedestrian improvements that are harder to justify when there’s nothing there but warehouse stuff. And it would add would help mitigate rising housing prices by adding more housing to the supply.

        And, it’s not like an rezone forces existing industrial businesses in SODO to sell immediately. It would be a gradual change over several decades.

      22. If 10 million people move here and California’s aqueducts dry up, then it’s just as likely there will be no more concrete or we can’t use it because of its emissions, and transoceanic shipping may stop so we can’t get steel from Asia, and there will be no more large scale construction. We really should treat construction as a finite resource and not assume we’ll still be able to build as we do now in thirty or forty years. Oh, and will there still be airplanes for those 10 million people to come in? Or will they arrive by the highways, in which case they’ll trickle in more slowly.

      23. Er, if Seattle’s regional population more than doubles by 2040, very little of what ST is building will work at desing.

        Again, a branch in UW to Ballard is a horrible, no good, very bad idea. A junction there will be awesome and will have the highest number of transfers outside of downtown, but it’s a terrible junction for all the reasons Alon articulates, unless you simply don’t value riders north of UW.

        I’ll have to check out that Sightline article , but so far all your argument are sound like generic anti-zoning argues and could be reused to say we should abandon the UGA boundary and let agricultural land go to their ‘best’ use. The only specific counter I’ve provide is that industrial land is a regional policy, not a city policy. I’ve argued that the Interbay MIC should be allowed to transition to other uses (including denser light industry) and the region (or the State) should assist the key marine industries with relocation to elsewhere in the Sound, but I think SoDO is a unique enough industrial area that I wouldn’t apply the same argument there.

      24. Argh, let me try those paragraphs again:

        Er, if Seattle’s regional population more than doubles by 2040, very little of what ST is building will work *as designed*.

        Again, a branch in UW to Ballard is a horrible, no good, very bad idea. A junction there will be awesome and will have the highest number of transfers outside of downtown, but it’s a terrible *branch* for all the reasons Alon articulates, unless you simply don’t value riders north of UW.

      25. @Tom — If we don’t control climate change, then we will have large scale, widespread social unrest. Think Syria, but at a global scale. There will be mass migration (largely from poor countries) but no one will have enough money to build anything as grand as a subway system. Think of how life has been since March, and imagine that being normal.

        @AJ — A branch at the UW is reasonable, given the relative demand. The demand from the UW it roughly twice that of that to the north. It is quite reasonable to run the trains to Northgate and Ballard every 6 minutes, and to the the UW every 3 minutes. In the unlikely event that you get crowding during rush hour, you could just build a spur: https://www.flickr.com/photos/67869267@N07/9152772373/in/photostream/.

        But like I wrote, it is unlikely that Link would add that as a branch. They would just run a line from the UW to Ballard, and end there. Everyone would transfer. I’m just saying that if there was a branch, that is the most likely one, simply because it adds the most value (e. g. Ballard to Capitol Hill as a one seat ride). In contrast, splitting at Ballard adds very little (Wallingford to Expedia?). The most likely scenario is that the line is built independently, but with a non-service connection to one of the other two lines. (Actually, the most likely scenario is that nothing else is built after ST3, and we join a bunch of other American cities that built massive suburban rail systems while under-building in the urban core). Hopefully we will have a better bus system in the future (some day we might even have bus lanes on 45th, in the U-District).

      26. Commenters who are against housing or TOD being allowed in Seattle’s industrial area, you are also against it in the the SW Everett industrial area, correct?

      27. I haven’t given that as much thought, but yes I think I would ‘defend’ the SW Everett MIC the same as Dwamish. Why do you highlight that MIC, rather than other MICs that are transit accessible like Kent, Sumner, or Port of Tacoma?

    2. I think that the discussion that’s badly needed is how we design transfers at stations. It will take years of planning to study and recommend branching — while we have multiple ST transfer stations being built or designed right now. The topics are related as designs that make rider transfers difficult create pressure to never branch lines.

      So how about we discuss first how difficult transfers will be in 2023 between Lines 1 and 2 because there are no down escalators or permanent center platforms and how there is no leadership actively addressing this? After all, ST seems to be examining DSTT station renovations at this time anyway.

      1. Do it like this:

        “Hello, this is that official Alex Tsimerman is always giving a Hitler salute to even though it should be the one for Mussolini. Not ‘Seig Heil.’ ‘DU-CHE!’

        “From here on, when inspecting anybody elderly with an ORCA card, look up ‘Pre’ and ‘Paid’ and have Fare Enforcement say ‘Thank’ and ‘You.’

        “For regular passengers, for instance headed to vote, whether at polls, drop-box, or their own brand new seat in the Washington Legislature….your ‘Reader’ has already ‘read’ both their minds and their I-phone. You’re done.

        “Now can you switch me to the number for that contractor our poor young Inspectors have to keep threatening passengers with to show why it’s a crime to tap wrong?

        “Ok. Stop crying. In keeping with ‘Operation Bring-It-All Home,’ we have acquired you but you don’t have to leave Japan. And Mercer Island is just teasing about how you have to move there and sign a pledge you won’t use transit!

        Though in the name of Law and Order, next employer who stipulates that is going straight to jail. ”

        Wills and Ways, Al S., Wills and Ways!

        Mark Dublin

      2. We know exactly what the transfer will be like – you take the stairs or escalator up to the surface and go back down again on the stairs on the other side or (if necessary) the elevator.

        I don’t think it’s going to be horrible. The International District Station is pretty shallow compared to most of the other downtown stations. There are elevators for people who can’t use stairs. There’s no stoplight to wait for between the “up” and “down” stairs. And not that many people will be making the transfer anyway, since the dominant trip path – eastside->downtown won’t need it.

        For those that really want to avoid going up and down, there is an alternative – you can always stay on the train to Capitol Hill Station, which has a center platform, and transfer there. It will add an extra 15 minutes of travel time (~7 minutes each direction), and is probably not worth it. But the option is there.

        Yes, ideally, the ID Station would have down escalators, but this doesn’t feel like a problem worth spending tens of millions now of dollars to fix.

      3. There are slow elevators. All the elevators in the DSTT are extremely slow. It was probably an ADA fashion then.

    3. Notice this part of the Pedestrian Observations article: “there’s more capacity underground than on the surface”. That’s referring to surface light rail with a downtown tunnel, which German cities have been building since the 1970s. Link’s initial segment was like a stadtbahn: the downtown tunnel, surface in SODO and MLK. The earliest drafts continued on the surface south of Rainier Beach, but later decisions elevated it. And the earliest drafts went around Beacon Hill on the northeast side, so that would have been even more surface.

      With such a system, the surface segments are slower because they have to coordinate with traffic lights and not go faster than parallel cars to avoid high-speed collisions with wayward children and cars. So the tunnel has lots of extra capacity when it’s empty waiting for surface trains. So you double up multiple lines in the tunnel segment to make use of that capacity, and that also gives you greater frequency in that segment.

      But when the outer segments are elevated or in a freeway ROW, the difference disappears. Now trains can run at full speed in the periphery without level crossings too, so the capacity difference vanishes.

      ST2/3 Link is mostly the latter variety: grade-separated everywhere except SODO, MLK, and parts of Bellevue-Redmond. That’s neither a “stadtbahn” nor “rapid transit” but something strange: surface in the middle, or surface in a small peripheral part. That skews the equation, because now instead of the south line being fully surface, it’s only 25% or so surface, so it has only 25% of the impact. The comments try to pin down what Link is but don’t come to a definitive conclusion.

      So Link is not designed for a highly-branched system. But the MLK segment is limited to 6-minute frequency, and the I-90 bridge is limited to one train at a time (if that still applies), so those are capacity brakes on those lines, which give the downtown tunnel spare capacity for other things. ST uses this for two-line frequency to the north, which is conveniently where the highest ridership is expected. This is similar to a reverse branch. Normal branches are together downtown and separate in the preiphary (like several London lines); reverse branches are the opposite (like London’s Northern Line and New York’s N/W). Link is not quite either one but I’d say it’s closer to the latter.

      The problem with branches is peripheral frequency is often neglected. I believe all branches should be 10 minutes minimum, but MAX and BART and other American ones are 15 minutes. That makes me want to live where multiple lines overlap, but often there are few housing options there. In MAX Eastside the lines overlap to Gateway, but it’s along a freeway so the overlapping stations have limited housing choices, and the line misses the Hawthorne and Powell districts where there’s more. So you either have to live further east with only 15-minute frequency, or in another neighborhood that doesn’t have MAX at all.

      A Rainier Avenue branch would run into the same problem that diverted Link from Rainier in the first place: ST considered it too narrow and congested for a surface train. MLK was already wide and was widened further. On Rainier if you take two lanes for Link, that would leave only two lanes for cars on a major arterial with few alternatives, and if you widened it you’d knock down historic centers.

      1. In the case of Rainier Valley, it is surface where it can operate very quickly. On average it is extremely fast, due to the stop spacing. To get from Beacon Hill to Tukwila (a distance of over 10 miles) takes only 19 minutes. Very few subways average that kind of speed over such a long distance. It comes closer to being commuter rail than Alon’s definition of a stadtbahn. Maybe it is an S-Bahn (in a city without a U-Bahn).

      2. The surface alignment limits it to the same speed as the surrounding car lanes, or 30 mph. Maybe 25 mph now with Vision Zero. If it were grade-separated it could run at 55 mph.

      3. I don’t think MLK was ever lowered to 25 mph. I was designed to be the car sewer while parallel Rainier Ave. was more of the neighborhood arterial.

        In any case, even if the MLK speed limit were lowered to 25 mph, car drivers would just ignore it because the wide roadway is still designed for 40-45 mph travel, no matter what the speed limit sign says. The only vehicles that would actually be slowed by such a change are Link trains, because the drivers are monitored much more closely than the cops can ever police ordinary car drivers.

      4. 30 MPH is blazing fast for a subway. Very few average that kind of speed for a sizable distance. One of the few that does is Link, between Beacon Hill and TIBS. That is the section that includes Rainier Valley.

        Top speed is usually irrelevant with a subway. Does anyone know or care what the top speed is for the Paris Metro or the New York Subway? Of course not. If there were more stops in Rainier Valley (and there should be) top speed would be irrelevant there as well. As it is, running on the surface costs a few seconds.

        Decreasing dwell times would make a much bigger difference in terms of travel times.

      5. MLK is still 35, but there are stop lights every 2 or 3 blocks and the signal system sometimes will stop trains for crossing cars, so auto traffic is always stop-and-go. Link is sometimes slower than it should be, too.

        How did we spend billions for light rail on MLK and not spend a penny on improving the bike infrastructure?

      6. It adds up, especially over all the runs in a day. A faster route yields higher frequency for free, because it’s the same cost for the driver and vehicle, and only a negligible cost for electricity.

        If 55 mph is unimportant, then I guess there’s no objection to slowing down BART from 80 mph or I-5 from 65 mph. 30 mph is fine.

        The argument that trains never reach full speed when there’s so many stops is wrong. Car on a 35 or 40 mph road reach full speed within a minute of starting, so if the stops are more than a minute apart then they’ll be full speed part of the time. Trains take longer to accelerate but they don’t take forever. The stretch between Columbia City and Mt Baker would be at full speed, and probably between Mt Baker and Columbia City.

      7. Limits caused by cross traffic isn’t just a matter of there being surface cross traffic, but the type of cross traffic.

        MAX has to contend with crossing highway 99E by the convention center, which is 8 lanes there (two separate one way streets). There is a freeway off ramp that dumps onto the MAX tracks just east of the convention center, and then a block east of that there is a major surface interchange between Interstate Avenue (Highway 99W at that point) and several minor roads.

        Thus, it is doubtful MAX will ever see anything more than 32 trains per hour through that area.

        The MLK segment of Link crosses some major roads, but none of them appear to be anything quite like the tangle MAX deals with in the Lloyd District.

        Therefore, I really don’t see why the ML King segment shouldn’t be able to handle at least 30 trains per hour or so.

        Figuring out what to do with all that traffic once you get to downtown Seattle, and you mix in trains from the east side and/or West Seattle is a different mater.

      8. If 55 mph is unimportant, then I guess there’s no objection to slowing down BART from 80 mph or I-5 from 65 mph.

        You are mixing things up. I never said that top speed doesn’t matter. For BART it matters across the bay, and for the big gaps between suburban stations. For Link it matters between Tukwila and Rainier Beach — an enormous gap. It matters quite a bit for a typical commuter rail line. But for a normal section of a normal subway, it doesn’t matter much at all.

        That is why *every* section of Link is relatively fast. Much faster than your average “metro”, or subway. Our stop spacing is huge. If you put the stations very far apart, than the average speed is very fast. That is the case in Rainier Valley, and it is definitely the case south of it.

        Put it this way: Imagine we added a couple stations in Rainier Valley. That would mean that in Rainier Valley the stop spacing would average 1.25 km, typical for most metros (https://www.citymetric.com/transport/speed-vs-coverage-how-do-metro-systems-decide-how-space-their-stops-3308). At the same time, speed up the trains, so that they max out at 55 MPH instead of 35 MPH. Is the train faster? Of course not. The train spends a little bit of time going faster, but a lot more time at each stop (and speeding up and slowing down). Compared to most subway systems, Link in Rainier Valley is not slow. The only reason it appears slow is because Link has such huge stop spacing. It is pretty easy to make the case that from downtown to Mount Baker, Link operates as a Metro, but then transitions to a commuter rail after that. So yeah, that part of the commuter rail is slow, but it is still commuter rail, and in that sense much faster than a typical metro. It is also a lot faster than Muni when it operates on city streets (which is the type of system Alon was referring to).

    1. I love that commuter train. That’s a great alternative to driving from Seattle into Bellevue and Redmond (nobody leaves near the Eastside stations).

      Can we build a subway for Seattle? I know Republicans will say buses are the way to go, but we know they never keep their word and they’ll end up asking for another bridge.

      1. To build a real subway in Seattle, we need to first change the funding structure. The Sound Transit model, where you have uniform taxes and spending across the entire Puget Sound region may have been what was necessary to get today’s Link and Sounder running. But, post ST3, this becomes unworkable. In order to build a big enough package to fund Ballard->UW and Queen Anne->Capitol Hill, it becomes necessary to load the Snohomish, Pierce, East King, and South King regions with projects that have far worse taxpayer value. The other regions are likely to vote “no”, and the whole thing gets scuttled. The only way to break this cycle is to change the law to allow the city of Seattle to tax itself to fund its own subway system. (They can still go through Sound Transit for their experience working with contractors and to achieve good connections with existing Sound Transit stations).

        “I know Republicans will say buses are the way to go”

        Republicans are not pro-bus any more than they are pro-rail. They are simply pro-car and pro-airplane, and anti everything-else. Part of this is due to the urban/rural divide, but they also believe that any publicly funded service is socialism.

      2. Yes but they say buses are better when faced with a rail proposal., then kill any action towards a bus proposal.

      3. You can build a subway in Seattle. Nobody’s stopping you. The group of very powerful Seattle Republicans that you mention, that want to stop you, and want to build a third lake bridge, exist only in your head. Having said that, I think those imaginary Seattle Republicans should step aside and let you build your subway!

        BTW, where is your Seattle subway going to go to?

      4. You can build a subway in Seattle. Nobody’s stopping you.

        The state is stopping us. Seattle can’t just raise taxes to pay for a subway. Even if we pass an initiative, we aren’t allowed to.

      1. Those buses look sooo old fashioned. Even for their day. They look like something from the 40’s or 50’s.

        Also in their historic fleet, a red and silver diesel you can see in the background of some the above video photos, is a Seattle Transit System 1963 Flxible, and there’s a Youtube video of that somewhere, where someone, current day, filmed it at whatever base it is stored at, starting up, and going for a short ride in it. It had a little trouble starting, and created a lot of smoke.

      2. Duh. I just realized something. Those buses in the late 1960’s look so old fashioned, like something from the 1940’s, because they are from the 1940’s! Some, I believe, were manufactured by Twin Coach in 1940.

    1. Many thanks, Sam. Starting with being an excellent introduction to this one:


      Since they do run on rubber tires, there’s no reason the Allweg vehicles can’t also classify as electric buses, even if not “trolleys.” What Germany can do, so can Kenworth. And also worth the read:


      Main thing is this. Like the Brills and the Pullmans, our next wheeled electric order needs to meet these “specs”: Tough, simple, and design-built in the Continental United States by union labor. This election, my own working definition of the term “Conservative”.

      But thinking globally:


      Since this is Valparaiso Chile and not Indiana, the 1974-2016 time-frame means this. In 1973, another US export to Chile was seventeen years of sadistic military dictatorship.

      Which in 2016, Chile had been getting over for 26 years, on the Inauguration date when our own home-grown imitator was just warming up for the 4-8 years to follow.

      But look at the two year-2016 things in the Chilean video. The condition of those buses, and the production date of most of the automobiles.

      I’m praying and fighting to once again have “Made In USA” call to mind the bus in Chile and its original builders here. If what’s “Made In Mara-Lago” can just stay there, maybe Vegas can start running its monorail again when the situation warrants.

      And since Pullman’s out of business, whatever it’ll cost Sound Transit to buy the naming rights for our plant in Everett or East Marginal or both will be worth it.

      Mark Dublin

    2. As a kid, I rode those trolleys frequently, usually the 9 Broadway or the 10 Mt. Baker. Yes, they were pretty dilapidated by the 1960s. They rattled like an old garbage truck, the windows and doors didn’t always close or open and the interior lights cut out every time the trolley poles touched a switch or crossover. The trolley poles would also drop a massive line of sparks when the shoe touched another live wire at a crossing. Sometimes the sparks almost reached the street. Nevertheless, they were pretty cool to ride on.

  3. @Sam. It is interesting to me that some of the green Trolleys had rear air scoops ans some did not. But all of them look like the had a rear roof vents. Possibly for some sort of traction motor or old fashioned switch cooling.

    Plus I remember red and silver busses. Just not Trolleys. Their were no trolleys in my neighborhood in the mid 70’s.

  4. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2014/07/31/hemmings-find-of-the-day-1957-flxible-starliner

    My VISTA year in Idaho in 1976, service from Idaho Falls to Salmon, just below the Montana state line, had an air-scoop. Example of my own vehicle-design preference:

    Make your machine work with natural forces, not fight them. Note the fine print about handling, and the top speed of 80 mph. Passenger windows were small and bathroom absent.

    But I got the impression that on routes where pavement was not available, gravel would work just fine. What was Made In USA would provide service on our continent’s every road. Not a bad standard.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Like we said when that Flyer and its Wire were both New, WOW! I just finally noticed: Today’s REAL Thread-That’s-Open-To-The-Whole- Universe. Some arithmetic:

    + https://scratch.mit.edu/educators
    (Has Got To Finally Equal) The ability to understand, create, govern, spec out, and operate a regional transit system in the hearts, minds, and hands, and performance of everybody in the State.

    Otherwise, today’s pretty-little-lights will be nothing but an electric-magic-marke-imitation. Just a futile digital update on those years following the 1968 and 1972 elections.

    Where voters twice in a row turned down the bushels of Federal money for building the rail that the I-90 bridge was in fact designed to provide flotation for.

    As driver and transit Board-attending Advocate, good thing for me that Nordstrom’s ‘Forward Thrust’ made the last dress arch-support shoe I could wear to work.

    By which we the region finally made into a REALroad by running it with buses, ’til first train finally cleared Westlake and started following the rail-builders into reality.

    ST-whatever, the Ends are presently in Sight, but since neither Everett nor Olympia are going anywhere, no rush about it.

    However, from what I’m seeing of Ian Reynolds and his age-group, here’s Step One we need from whatever these kids turn our educational system into after COVID-19’s made her point:

    To get a certificate from LWIT and its partner schools, compulsory if the State knows what’s good for it, you’ll need a CDL valid on bus, rail, maglev, and “ground-effect aircraft” alike. To be renewed career-long.

    And since ORCA cards require fossil-fuel to make, starting in pre-school, just put their Pass on everybody’s Smartphone and let the ‘Countants do the Tappin’ and the ‘Pol’s do the fussin’! Every tool to its use, and every trade its expertise.

    Mark Dublin

  6. My latest reading list on creeping authoritarianism.

    * This is Not Propaganda, by Peter Pomerantsev. (What really happened in Russia; similarities between current misinformation and the Soviet environment; misinformation in Philippine, Brazil, US, and US elections, and among ISIS recruiters. Also an idea that it’s not so much Russia spreading it, but that it was inevitable worldwide and it just happened in Russia first.)

    * 1984, by George Orwell.
    * The Ministry of Truth, by Dorian Lynskey. (On the background of 1984 and its impact.)
    * The Road to Unfreedom, by Timothy Snyder.
    * Fascism, a Warning, by Madeleine Albright.

    1. Thanks, Mike, but lately I just wish it’d do me the old-fashioned courtesy of creeping. Didn’t there used to be a song called “Creep Don’t Run?” Or considering the train ride I was inviting her on for a date, was she calling me a creep and telling me I’d BETTER run!

      Within these last couple of months, a local lady police officer gave a posed and posted photo-op with a dozen uniformed (somebody’s sergeant needs a word with somebody’s JBLM tailor!) and armed right wingers. “Three Percenters?” Wouldn’t mind a talk with the other 97%!

      Since considering that given all their ages, it wasn’t about the politics but just the pic, I e-mailed my city councilwoman pleading that the officer not be fired. Last thing the world needs now is another angry unemployed teenager with nothing to do but keep bad company and clean her gun. I also want her arrest the right-wing protest-impostors who’ve broken the shop-windows of two friends of mine. Perp’s aim is to make BLM get the BLAME!

      Age-wise, though something a lot closer with far-foamier fangs. Month or two back, a Lacey resident with a gun his mental record should’ve forbidden him, got shot 35 times by specially-Federally-deputized officers after he shot and killed a right-winger in Portland, and left word claiming self-defense.

      US Attorney General was on-screen celebrating his demise. And in just about the same sentence, opining that a young Illinois right-winger did have a legitimate self-defense claim for killing two unarmed leftists and injuring a third.

      Illinois courts sent the kid back to Kenosha to face Murder One. Whew! Good thing nobody’s ever give him a pardon, isn’t it!

      Like with transit vehicle specs and sources, re: armed citizens, to me the Second Amendment’s CONSERVATIVE Framers assumed everybody ARMED would get a SERGEANT that knew a MAGGOT! when he saw one.

      But fact I’ve got to face is that I’ve got a Florida-residing commander in chief I didn’t vote for, taking close-up sides with raggedy-uniformed non-residents (never saw any of these people in real life before) walking ten feet away from me. Carrying guns I suspect ain’t been cleaned since Antietam.

      And while the groundskeepers are doing a beautiful job of maintaining our Capitol grounds, the HOMES my elected officials are working FROM might as well be vacation property in the next Washington over. All my phone calls are non-return.

      Though considering how much money all those bullets cost us taxpayers, there should at least be cross-spectrum unanimity that everybody whose job description includes the death penalty at least get some target practice.

      Hey, I know. Can I pretend this is about self-destructing freeways and “Next-Stop Angle-Lake” announcements on northbound Link trains and ask what I can do about it? Any advice, won’t send anything back. Promise.

      Because I’m Working From…….

      Mark Dublin

    2. I read Sec. Albright’s book and fully enjoyed it. She has an easy style of writing that makes the material readily comprehensible even for a reader who may not be all that familiar with the historical and/or current contexts. I have to admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Ms. Albright as my maternal grandmother had also immigrated from Czechoslovakia, though from an earlier generation. Anyway, I thought her book was a nice read.

  7. I was reviewing the Seattle 130th station plans with the ST online survey a few days ago and a concern popped into my head: Will a station above a busy freeway with walls of glass get really noisy on the platforms? The track ends are exposed to freeway noise and the glass won’t absorb it. The platforms are also on the side so there isn’t much room to put anything next to them. Unlike a street like MLK, I-5 carries lots more traffic at higher speeds. TIBS is probably the closest existing station design that has this issue and 518 is not like I-5.

    Has this question emerged while designing other stations along freeways? Is this a valid concern that no one is talking about? I’ve waited for trains in freeway medians elsewhere and the noise on the platform was awful!


    1. What station staff told me on a howling windy night at Sea-Tac Station shortly after its opening is that both the design-drawings and the glass have to be spec’d out right.

      Any way us the public can get a “Spec-Check” team authorized to spend some time with project crew? Since it worked so well with DSTT art in the early days, we’ve got ever right to demand it be called “Value Engineering.”

      Maybe if the glass is held up by lions on poles, it’ll be an easier sell. Though in real life, it really is kind of amazing how big a crow can perch on a real skinny branch-end in a windstorm.

      Mark Dublin

    2. That’s a very good question, and sometimes, seemingly innocuous factors such as terrain that acts as a sound chamber or the type of pavement used on the freeway can have a big impact.

      Montlake Terrace freeway station, for example, has terrible acoustics. The roar is deafaning in the parking garage, and is no better at the bus stop. The last time I was there, five minutes of waiting for the bus made my ears hurt a full half hour later, and I vowed to never, ever use that stop again without hearing protection.

      But, other freeway stations, the roar of the freeway isn’t so bad. Yarrow Point, and Evergreen Point, and NE 40th St. along 520 have reasonable sound levels.

      For the Link station, the key is is a combination of several things. You need sound absorbent glass on the walls, with no air gaps between sections. And, you need to repave I-5 near the station with quieter pavement. Maybe it’s possible to get WSDOT to pay for the repaving, since they own the freeway and have already installed quieter pavement on some sections of other freeways.

  8. FWIW, while driving in Dupont, saw Steve O’Ban campaign signs attached with another sign that said “$30 car tabs– it isn’t over yet”

    Presumably this is what the republican party’s next political move (don’t laugh, it worked in Virginia in the 1990s in a governor’s race). Even though I-976 is dead, what do we expect the next move to be? Is a revote of ST3 projects for cheaper ones (Ballard to UW instead of a second tunnel) a countermove (again, if the revote fails, the default is the original ST3 , coming before 2050)

    1. ST3 will not be revoted, but if it were to be, the “cheaper” project would be a Ballard->downtown streetcar that sits in traffic, not a Ballard->UW subway tunnel.

  9. Wish I’d gotten into this facet sooner, because I do have some pretty strong feelings about it, though because it’ll be so easy to do, it’s nowhere near time-sensitive.

    “Duwamish Bypass” isn’t what I’d call it because of the poll results I’m imagining over who even knows what or where or what the Duwamish is. A marine Sasquatch, maybe?

    And while I don’t generally bow to conformism, I really doubt anybody else would’ve left out the fastest way between Downtown and the Airport from the get-go. How much track are we talking? SODO to Boeing Access? Come on! We’ve got a region to serve.

    Let alone two airports. I know aviation’s getting into runway-free aircraft, not all of whom are also descendants of the Hindenburg. Can also see Sea-Tac getting short enough on terminal space that it won’t mind sending transferring inter-airline passengers ten minutes north to Boeing Field. Extra counter-space, that’s all.

    For MLK, while I don’t know the soils like I should, I’m guessing that if Portland can do undercuts at stations resembling Columbia City, Othello Street, and Rainier Beach, so can we. Except if Glenn says I’m wrong, I’ll be first to admit he’s right.

    But between stations on any line, regional trains in regular service should join RapidRide and Route 7 my Route 7 Renton express ETB’s in stopping at zero traffic lights between stations.

    And while dynamic braking does indeed return power to the system, law of physics also says that once you’ve got something completely stopped, only Exxon and Saudi Arabia gain anything from the extra fuel you’ll need between zero mph. and one. If it’s rollin’, let it stay that way.

    Mark Dublin

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