57 Replies to “Weekend open thread: Kitsap partitions”

    1. Commercial buildings tend to have much better sound insulation than residential buildings, rendering the freeway noise almost a non-issue. Just as I-5 noise doesn’t deter people from working in Columbia Tower, I-405 noise won’t deter people from working here.

      1. Good point. I suppose if they bought 10 acres of land near Bellevue Station or East Main, both next to I-405, I wouldn’t mention the noise. I just don’t like the Lee Johnson location for a variety of reasons. I wonder why Google is locating around Kirkland, instead of near light rail.

      2. The fact that it’s so close to Google’s existing eastside presence has a lot to do with it.

        But, in any case, having a large number of jobs right next to the I-405 BRT station will definitely drum up ridership. Even if just 5% of the employees use it each day, that’s still a lot.

      3. They can take Stride North and Stride South to SeaTac, a plane to San Jose, and VTA light rail to the San Jose Diridon campus. Is the main campus in Mountain View near light rail?

      4. “the main campus in Mountain View near light rail?”

        No. The main campus pretty much relies on Google buses, but there are a lot of routes to a lot of places.

        But, they also have a Sunnyvale campus, which is directly served by the VTA light rail. I used it a couple of times to go between my hotel and the office.

      5. Microsoft has many buildings along 520. Regarding traffic, probably good to upzone that area near transit. Maybe some will decide to live there instead of commuting 10 miles every morning.

    2. I had the opposite reaction – I saw this news and thought, “great, this is a big win for Stride!” I doubt Google much consideration to the Stride station, but this is a huge vote of confidence in Kirkland’s vision for the Rose Hill neighborhood, which in turn is the most redeeming aspect of the 85th station.

      Between Houghton, downtown, and now Rose Hill, Google is building out a coherent campus in Kirkland. It’s a suburban, Silicon Valley approach (Waymo shuttles between the 3 locations?), but I don’t mind it. We want most growth to be truly urban (i.e. Seattle and Bellevue), but continued densification of Kirkland is also good.

  1. On page 18 of last week’s financial plan update presentation to the board staff says an ADDITIONAL $3.2 billion of long term debt will need to be sold because paying for the ST3 capital costs is impossible under the assumptions presented to voters in 2016:


    That additional 30-year debt would need to be sold in the late 2030’s or early 2040’s.

    Voters weren’t told two generations of people here would be forced to pay heavy regressive taxes for these train line extensions. In addition, the ridership demand forecasts now are far less than what voters were told to expect.

    Should there be a re-vote on ST3 now that the true financing plan and the anemic demand for these train line extensions are coming into focus?

    1. Q, the real question is whether ST3 should be junked because it serves too few pizza parlors. Amirite?

    2. Should ST have hired a fortune teller to look into a crystal ball and say, “I see the worst pandemic in a century during the payoff period, and a president who ignores it, and a party who won’t give more than token relief funds to transit agencies and states and laid-off workers.”

      It was always clear that ST3 was packed tightly and might need additional funds. But it wasn’t ST forcing it on the region. It was North King , Snohomish, East King, and Pierce forcing it on ST. “But we Seattle voters didn’t force it on ST.” No, but your elected city leaders and appointed SDOT did. ST defers most to city governments, and Seattle is so big it definitely defers to Seattle. (Renton and Kirkland aren’t big enough for that, either regionwide or within East King.) The same thing happened in Snohomish with Paine Field and Everett Station. And in Pierce with Tacoma Dome. And in East King with the Issaquah line. All these cities and noisy subarea factions put strong pressure on ST to include these so it did. It wouldn’t have included them otherwise.

      I’m half-and-half on a revote on ST3. With Ballard turning out so bad, and West Seattle excessive, Paine/Everett excessive, Tacoma Dome excessive, and Issaquah excessive, there’s not a lot left. I suppose we can survive without DSTT2 and SLU until we can do something better. I do think the Stride lines should be completed, and 130th Station, and the short extensions to Federal Way and downtown Redmond. But other than that, ST2 Link puts is in a pretty good position, and a better position than the region has had in fifty years.

      Certainly, the board should consider more choices beyond simply a uniform delay across the board.

      1. What I think is needed is to consider walking away from assuming every light rail project (Tacoma Link extension excepted) has to meet current Link design standards. The relatively slow speed of light rail is not yet in view of the public traveling on I-5 or I-90 so it’s not in the general public awareness. It’s going to take watching trains relatively crawling along the freeway to Lynnwood and Federal Way before the slow speed awareness light bulb goes on. (I don’t think the relative short paralleling of freeways south of BAR has been noticeable enough because the segment on a single freeway is shorter.)

        Along with that, automated driverless extensions with sections of single tracks and self-propelled vehicles are other concepts that could better serve these corridors with faster trains at less capital cost.

        If the choice comes down to reneging on fully serving the length of the ST3 projects including the spine or serving the corridor with a more cost-effective and faster vehicle technology, what will ST choose?

      2. If I were ST I would never put ST 3 back on a ballot because I think it would fail. Economically that was a high water Mark.

        But Mike makes a good point: ST needs to go to the Seattle Council and other subareas and say this is how much your subarea has, you tell the neighborhoods what each gets or what is affordable. Ross has been raising this issue for a very long time, even before we learned Seattle’ bridges need so much money. Some like a rail line to Issaquah in 2041 are so far out pretend it will still get built., and for Issaquah was mostly ego. Issaquah will always be car centric. West Seattle needs the truth now.

        I always have a problem with agencies estimating decades into the future, like the PSRC and ST. ST might be forgiven for not predicting a future pandemic, but most futurists would predict if transit doesn’t offer a competitive experience with cars or Uber/Lyft you will end up like the taxi companies.

        I can’t even predict next year let alone 2050. We will always need mobility and some kind of transit. Will this region have a future population like Northern CA? No. Will TOD create the funding for transit? I doubt it. Will citizens suddenly give up single family home density. Unlikely considering the pandemic is enforcing that choice. .

        But I think we can see enough of the future to know transit ridership and revenue will be less than predicted. So best to prioritize and create a great experience if ST 4 will ever pass.

        For me that is the second transit tunnel that can accommodate express buses, and at this point completing the spine. Then fund frequency despite mode.

        You just can’t tell Eastside commuters south of I-90 East Link added a seat and time to their commute if you want to ever sell ST 4. The Eastside subarea has the funding for express buses, and these are the most fickle transit voters, but can afford it, if they want.

        For the same reason I think Metro’s unilateral decision to move bus service to south Seattle due to the political cause du jour (from as Ross pointed out other poor neighborhoods because not every citizen or neighborhood in North Seattle is rich, and if they were they wouldn’t be riding transit in the first place).

        I think Mike is correct that ST needs to be upfront and tell subareas some won’t be able to afford everything in ST 3, and force those elected leaders to decide who gets what. But of course as Mike suggests the local politicians would rather have ST be the bad guy, probably because ST’s arrogance makes them the perfect bad guy.

        Keep the ST 3 revenue but reevaluate what it will buy. ST 3 still makes Move Seattle look like a paragon of honest estimating.

      3. Or, as drivers sit in gridlock, they look at the Link trains zooming by at 55mph and think, “man, I should take that instead.” Unless they are in a driverless car and they are looking at their screen and never notice. Autonomous vehicles will induce further congestion, making the dedicated Link ROW more valuable over time.

      4. I think Al has a point. This has been the problem with the “The Spine” idea all along. You end up with commuter rail for the cost of a subway. Like all commuter rail, you are highly dependent on peak-direction service. It just doesn’t make sense to take the train in the middle of the day, or even in a reverse commute. The stops along the way are simply to pick up more riders *going to the same destinations*. Essentially, the farther away you are, the more you are asked to slow down, and pick up someone else, and you get nothing out of it.

        The same thing is true with every subway. There are subway rides in New York that take well over an hour. The difference is, lots of people are getting on *and* off at every stop. The folks that used to have that sweet, sweet commute on the 41 back in the day (when it elegantly entered the transit tunnel) will no doubt miss it. However, lots and lots of people will get on at Northgate, and off at the UW, or Capitol Hill or further south (like Rainier Valley). Nor will it matter what time a day it is. Getting to Capitol Hill is kind of a pain from the north — the train will be faster for many riders *all day long*. Ridership to those places is an all day affair. Not only are people making those trips all day long, but the train competes with the alternatives (driving, an express bus) all day long.

        That simply isn’t the case with Link, as you get further into the suburbs. Very few people take the bus from Mountlake Terrace to Ash Way. Very few take the express bus that runs in the middle of the day. Very few will actually benefit, and yet huge sums will be spent in the process.

        The folks selling this idea took a freeway mindset, without realizing that mass transit doesn’t work that way. They either implied that it worked like a freeway (which is very easy to assume) or that this is the alternative to traffic (a demonstrably bad idea).

    3. I don’t have the expertise and experience about station design as most on this blog, especially for hub type stations. And I understand these stations take years to design.

      But I would like to see some action on the second transit tunnel through Seattle. That is an enormous engineering project. Those of us on the Eastside were sold on very high future ridership projections (especially during peak commute hours) for East Link, and told ST 3 was necessary to fund the second transit tunnel and allow the frequency East Link will need to handle that future ridership.

      Living on Mercer Island, which is basically the last stop in each direction, and in the past having to take the 550 to upstream stops from Pioneer Square to even get on the 550 eastbound, I am interested in capacity and frequency.

      Now we are told future ridership estimates on East Link were probably inflated (no kidding) so the second tunnel won’t be critical to frequency and capacity for East Link in the near future, and the truth is only one train at a time can cross the bridge span in either directions so that alone will limit frequency to 8 minutes alone anyway. Great.

      Running rail to West Seattle in 2030 and Ballard in 2035 will definitely require a second tunnel, and I think is as complicated an engineering project as either line. So why isn’t ST beginning on the design for a tunnel at least.

      My worry is the tunnel is 1. Very expensive; and 2. a rare multi-subarea project. North KC (Seattle) will pay $1.1 billion, and the four other subareas will pay around $260 million each, plus cost overruns.

      Will South KC, Snohomish Co. and Pierce Co. really see $260 million in value to their subarea from a second tunnel through Seattle when they didn’t get tunnels. $260 million would go a long way towards local transit. And do they actually have the money?

      Shouldn’t the second tunnel come before the lines to West Seattle and Ballard are completed, and we thought by the time East Link opens?

      1. I agree that the second transit tunnel is the biggest challenge. (The recent problems in new downtown light rail tunnels in San Francisco and Los Angeles are huge harbingers of challenges to costs and schedules that are likely here.)

        The station part appears to be the higher discretionary cost as opposed to the bored track tunnel part. A substantial reduction in costs can be achieved by dropping or deferring one or two stations. Making that kind of decision won’t be easy — and the Board (and STB regulars) will struggle on what to do.

      2. Daniel, maybe it happened so far before my time it’s been forgotten. But did anybody ever even slightly warn say, Mercer Island how soon the speed on those cannon-haulin’, shield-bearin’ Federal highways would decelerate from sixty to, like six?

        To make up for it, maybe The Other Washington’s new management will help us put the Link-rails in the lanes right next to the ones for buses. Which Swedish pantographs can also make electric. “550 Ellensburg. Buckle your seat-belts and make tight those masks!”

        Delivery delay? Look at it this way. A railroad somebody bought you got delivered late. But now it’s here, might it not be a good idea to run it awhile before you dump it, to see how much return it might just bring you in the future?


        Good thing Black Diamond hasn’t gone anywhere. Because Social Spacing or not, somebody’s stocking is going to need a real big piece of coal next month.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Any chance it’s not an either-or, Daniel? When Medicine can finally let us work and live to tell about it, a previous Depression showed us how much ($) and energy the term “Recovery” can deliver.

        Budget? Since the COVID’s cost us five times as many US dead as the Viet Nam War, just tell me that the proper column ISN’T National Defen($)e.

        Tunnel 2 and Ballard-West Seattle? I’d hold off declaring them in competition. The first is a heavy-duty regional artery. The second? Comparable to a streetcar boulevard (which light-rail really is) between two city neighborhoods. Passing through the west side of Downtown Seattle on its way.

        If you want to devote your advocacy and effort to Tunnel 2, I’ll certainly support you. What’s Regional is also Really Mine.

        But given all my Ballard goals and memories, whatever research I can both gather and encourage will be complementary rather than competitive. As these two projects already are.

        When the ($) arrives to be put to work West-side, it’s Provider’s every “prep” will find it fully ($)hovel-Ready.

        Mark Dublin

    4. Voters weren’t told two generations of people here would be forced to pay heavy regressive taxes for these train line extensions.

      Maybe they weren’t told about it, but a lot of people knew.

      I think what people didn’t know (I certainly didn’t) was that they could make things so much worse. There is no way in hell I figured they would move the station to 14th. I also figured that before they sold West Seattle riders on an elevated station close to the Junction, they could actually build a station close to the Junction. I never thought they would go “Oops, sorry, we forgot to measure it. I guess we’ll put it much closer to the golf course then”.

  2. Sam, I’ve got a hunch that Google can afford an architect who’s good with soundproofing, and also at creating a campus whose walls and trees could make life a lot more than bearable for employees.

    The traffic congestion? No chance that’s what reserved transit lanes and frequent service, on rubber tires or steel wheels, are for? By its “Original Intent”, that highway has already served Captain Eisenhower’s purpose of telling the Japanese High Command to leave Kirkland alone.

    Articulated bus or electric train, think how much engine-noise one unit of either mode will eliminate from Google-land. In addition to all the sweat saved getting to work on time. Really would like to see stats on the cost per driver of one minute jammed in traffic. Multiplied by the number of stuck drivers.

    But mainly, I really would like to see some comments from Kitsap bus drivers on the partitions they’ve been given to work with. It looks spacious and pleasant enough for a work-place. So let’s here some reports, and suggestions for improvement. Incidentally….where are those partitions manufactured? If not close-by, why not?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark’s belief that employers around here will demand daily commutes of all their employees to distant worksites ignores the new realities:


      Pockets of the US have climate change deniers. This corner of the republic harbors an enclave of remote working deniers. In both cases the ignorant groupthink stems from refusing to look at relevant data and realistic projections.

      1. Strange thing, Anon. Neither the Engineering Graphics Department that hired me at Highline Community College nor my tutoring clients in Kingsgate and Lynnwood respectively, had to DEMAND I do anything.

        Getting on the 44, across a parking lot from my door, was such a natural way to head out for my Metro and CT buses that I just sort of did it subconsiously. What transit was giving me was the POWER guaranteeing that if a closer employer wouldn’t do right by me, it’d be no skin off my seat-cushion.

        Early in the game yet, but let’s start to get some stats on how many of us are already enthusiastically compelling ourselves to get contracts doing precision machining on our own keyboards.

        Though will be really great when COVIDIA finally “Makes Nice” and lets us work from coffee-shops instead. Whatever transit station they happen to be at.

        But because I do believe so strongly in international trade, a really good start at Recovery would let us pack up Management’s unchecked DEMANDing-Iron and ship it back to Saudi Arabia where it came from.

        The Boeing Company that I watched build Seattle was not afraid of unions. Who saw to it they’d be MORE afraid to build a screw-up of an airplane. And dealt with homelessness by way of wages that’d let somebody buy one.

        And if Israel can run transit with driver-and-supervisor-owned cooperatives, an equal-sized service area between Sound and Mountains here can yield the same. Too bad you got executed, Joe Hill, but since West Seattle’s not in Utah, we really do have nothing to lose but our chairs.

        Mark Dublin

    2. Yes they did Mark. That is why Mercer Island negotiated SOV access to the center roadway, and the design for light rail always included complementary forms of transportation in the center roadway, until post tensioning required raised rails. It is why I-90 east of MI is so wide.

      So then the area decided on R8A that converted three lanes of I-90 to four which eliminated some bottlenecks where lanes narrowed, and has worked so well the bridge traffic is good until you reach I-5 or 405, which then caused problems with ramp metering because we are always the last stop in either direction.

      Even with tolling on 520 the I-90 bridge span has always had pretty good capacity, unlike I-5 or 405.

      I think it is interesting you think “someone” bought us East Link. I am not sure you understand how taxation works. MI tends to buy others expensive things, like new libraries and Metro (considering we really have no intra-Island transit) and just about everything else in King Co., which is the point of taxation. The last thing we would ever buy ourselves is East Link.

      The great irony is Mercer Island will get two ugly, out-of-scale stations and East Link, with no first/last mile access, and maybe the bus intercept. Since we are now a HCT we are suppose to upzone so the Master Builders Assoc. can build zillion dollar condos but pay no impact fees, and some fools on The Urbanist think ADU’s in remote residential areas with no transit will become affordable even though they apparently hate suburbia.

      Few Islanders will use East Link (the same or fewer who used the 550) and few want those using it to get off here. It has been 10 years since I have been in Redmond. Why would I ever take a train there? Why would anyone in Redmond, Bellevue or Seattle take a train to Mercer Island that has no intra-Island transit. What are they going to do when they get off the train on Mercer Island?

      So I bring a pretty jaundiced view to light rail, and at least don’t see it as ending climate change, creating wealth equity, or creating affordable housing or some Urban utopia (without police). Like The Ave.

      All I ask is it create better mobility for as many riders as the money allows, which more often than not means transit other than rail, unless someone else is paying, and the pandemic put a wrench into that.

      I thought Ross made a great point on The Urbanist about moving bus service to south Seattle for “equity”. The wealthy rarely ride the bus, never during non-peak times, ,so if you are taking transit from someone you are taking it from poor and working class citizens no matter where they live. I always thought rail was too much about wealthy, white commuters, because Rogoff knew that is where the subarea money would be, except that demographic will never love — or really need — transit.

      I never thought ST 3 would cover all the promises (except ironically in the Eastside subarea) so let’s make sure we get the bang for the buck. The wealthy and privileged will always drive. They will continue to drive to work because it is easy and their career advancement will require it while staff who commute will work from home.

      Running rail to West Seattle doesn’t strike me as much bang for the buck for the N. King Co. subarea, and the debate over the bridge repair indicates W. Seattle residents love their cars as much as eastsiders do, and no doubt assume someone else will pay for their new bridge and rail line, because that is how most Seattleites think. Time will tell.

    1. Al S., in the days before airline deregulation turned the passenger-experience of a cross-country Greyhound ride from five days of Freedom to a week in Jail….

      That outfit’s ordinary service, starting with the skill and demeanor of its drivers, was not only elegant, but really and truly American. Out those spectacular windows was the perfect way to see our country.

      My own plan for National Defense Highway Act Phase 2, called “Operation Eisenhower”, will bring those Scenicruisers back updated, maybe running double-wire pantograph like those Swedish trucks.

      In the fully-reserved lane right next to the one with tracks under the catenary. And for everybody’s information, the reason Japan nixed the idea of invading American soil was because they’re a country so tiny their own troops wouldn’t even be able to find each other. Let alone any parking for their trucks.

      Reason they invaded China- who was on our side in WWII- instead was that they didn’t have to cross the Pacific Ocean to get in there. Two giant oceans east and west, Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south….that’s what makes America “Impregnable.”

      Mark Dublin

    1. It’s scary to think that anti-democracy guys like Culp can get the support of any party. Our country seems to have a lot of people intent on preferring irrational psycho leaders who believe ego and control are more important that the norms of patriotic governing.

      1. Have a little bit of pity for Candidate Culp. Word is that while he was out campaigning, with no collusion at all from BLM, Republic’s police department defunded itself and turned enforcement over to the sheriff.

        So out of common decency, the least we all owe him is his choice of whether time should stop ’til EVERY VOTE GETS COUNTED. Or, we destroy every single ballot, starting with the legitimate ones in order to STOP THE THEFT!

        Because he looks so pathetic in his picture…I say “Give the poor man both!”

        Mark Dublin

    2. I shudder to think about what our COVID situation would be like if Culp were governor. Perhaps something like North Dakota, where the governor finally issued a mask mandate after nearly 10% of the entire statewide population had tested positive. Or worse.

      At a minimum, Culp and Constantine would be constantly fighting each other in court over King County’s authority to close bars, issue mask mandates, or do anything else to fight the virus.

      Thank god we live in a blue state, so we don’t have to deal with that.

  3. People who deny reality seem to be more common in the US than elsewhere. I find it very intriguing. Recently met a couple who literally believe the world was created in 6 days and that the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood.

    1. it started with the Puritans, who came here to have their own isolated intolerant reality. (Amazingly, three centuries later they became tolerant New England type moderates.) Then there was chattel slavery, which James Webb says came from Barbados and replaced the earlier indentured servant system. The philosophy to justify that required doublethink. (“Freedom is slavery. War is peace.”) They claimed it was compatible with Christianity and the natural way of the world. The legacy of that had a gigantic impact on American thinking. Then there was the US being young, a new experiment like modernism, where history and old thinking is irrelevant because the present and future are better. Then there’s the whole right-wing propaganda media network, which continually stirs up us-vs-them mentality and gets people to believe falsehoods and conspiracy theories they wouldn’t have otherwise. Much of this is being stirred up, it’s not inevitable.

      If God created the earth 4000 years ago with fossils already in the ground, then he could have equally created it with canyons.

  4. Mike Orr, I’d guarantee that “Freedom is Slavery” originated with a wearily-observant Orwellian who noticed what a burden it is for the average person to be responsible for the consequences of their own un-forced decisions.

    But Al S., can you please explain why, of all places and pieces of equipment, a regional electric railcar would ever have to “crawl” along the I-5 corridor?

    When it’s so easy to just take a lane, put the track in it, hang wire overhead, put a railcar on the track, a driver in the seat, and a controller-handle “hammered down” straight “Forward?”

    Dictionary problem, maybe. “Don’t Want To” means a different thing than “Can’t!” Though “War Is Peace” begs this question: “Compared to WHAT?” Which begs this answer: “You Don’t Want to Know!”

    Mark Dublin

    1. “why, of all places and pieces of equipment, a regional electric railcar would ever have to “crawl” along the I-5 corridor”

      Because Link is limited to 55 mph, while the freeway is 65 mph. So when there’s little traffic trains will be slower than cars. That happens in many non-optimal light rail systems. Light rail is capable of going faster, maybe up to 85 mph, but ST’s specs on the tight curves and inclines and minimum car quality target 55 mph.

      Some on the board have recognized this mistake and talked about designing future extensions to be faster and seeing how much they could retrofit the existing segments, but it hasn’t gone anywhere.

      So Link will be slower than cars without traffic, and faster than cars in heavy traffic. The impetus to “rise above it all” and have a traffic-free right of way is based on improving peak-hour travel. That’s a small part of the day, but it does occur 44 times a month. (Although I-5 southbound from Northgate to downtown backs up all afternoon starting around 1:30pm.)

      1. 55mph vs. 65 mph actually makes very little difference. You’d save at least as much time, if not more so, by simply running the 55 mph train more often to reduce wait time.

    2. Admittedly, “crawl” may be too extreme of a verb. Still, I won’t be surprised if the full spine it too expensive to build once ST works through their actual costs and anticipated revenues. Hard choices seem inevitable. In particular, Everett to Lynnwood will seem to take forever when compared to today’s buses.

      If ST had chosen an 80-mph self-propelled technology to complete the spine in ST3, it very easily could have been cheaper to build and still be faster even adding in a few extra minutes to walk across a transfer platform. Bonus points if that track segment could carry high speed rail in the future!

    1. I usually can’t read WSJ articles but this one I can. A suburb in SC near Charlotte NC had rapid growth that exceeded its water infrastructure, road capacity, and schools. The town, Lake Wylie, “put a 16-month moratorium on commercial and residential rezoning requests and consideration of any new apartment complexes or subdivisions.”

      “Booming towns across the Sunbelt are struggling to unwind the unintended consequences of growth. After years of taking a hands-off approach, they now find themselves without the tax structures or long-term infrastructure plans needed to deal with the present and help shape their future.”

      Moratoriums can be OK if the city uses them to do sensible planning, but not if they become de facto permanent and an excuse to exclude people and apartments. I also wonder what the current density and zoning are. I assume it’s all car-dependent and < 30% multifamily. If it is, that's why you're having water shortages and car congestion. If it were planned from the beginning, the houses smaller, more transit, and a good street grid rather than just state highways and a few giant arterials, it would use less water and people could get around better.

      1. I would venture to guess that the current amount of development is not what the original plan was. Just because it’s an exurb doesn’t mean the infrastructure was planned to be an inner suburb, if you see what I mean. More concretely, if everything was zoned to have 20 acre lots to start with, and then they started to do infill housing on quarter acre lots, all of a sudden whatever power grid was in place is insufficient, they need to add water mains and sewer mains, the roads need to widen, etc. You can see this sort of thing outside the GMA in Snohomish in some places, too, e.g. the unincorporated SnoCo between Granite Falls and Snohomish proper.

        As to why it happened this way? Because it’s rare that people want to invest for the long-term success of others, especially if they will be inconvenienced majorly along the way, and politicians know this. So it’s hard to get that new sewer line funded when it will also involve tearing down the road it runs under or next to, and it’s easier (as a politician) to kick the can down the road a little longer. And so we end up where we are.

        Seattle has a similar problem, too, not necessarily with capacity but with age. My understanding is that a lot of the water and sewer mains are reaching or have already reached their end of life. Plus bridges are a problem too, as we know here. So at some point someone is going to have to make some of those hard calls, and it won’t be pretty, not when we still have a major housing problem on our hands, too.

    1. Oops, apologies for the duplicate post. WordPress didn’t show it the first time around so I tried to re-post it, assuming it had eaten the comment. Teaches me to be impatient :(

  5. Daniel, the best way I can put this is that I think that the “Balance Sheet” in my mind’s eye has is cut from different parchment than the one in yours.

    To me, wherever I live, my calculation is that in return for everything in both taxes, commerce, service, and enjoyment I make possible for residents of other places, they pay me back in value added to MY whole-life bank account.

    If plate tectonics at their worst suddenly relocated Mercer Island, completely intact, to the timber-turned- methamphetamine country between Olympia and the Coast, it’s a good bet you’d miss your present receipts from Sound Transit’s present area, and population.

    Concerning what other people think about transportation modes and everything else, the two of us are both entitled to our opinions, and the discoveries that either affirm or change them. My assessments do lean toward the skeptical.

    But if it really is true that nobody on Mercer Island will ever want to ride Link, I’ll certainly chip in what I can to help everybody else in the region and the service area remove the station so everybody else can at least have a little faster ride.

    Though if I later on tonight I drive up there and start to take the thing apart myself, I somehow doubt that your police will thank me for the favor. Especially since their counterparts at Western State Hospital presently all Work From Home.

    My nurse has warned she’ll take me to the Vet and have me put to sleep if I actually talk to anybody, mask or not. So I’ll have to put off a week or so of interviews with 550-riders and Island Crest “people on the street” By now, everybody knows what POLLS are worth!

    But I really do appreciate your telling me how many potential passengers show their appreciation for Link by really hating it.

    Image it calls to mind is a TV Sci-Fi show from 1957, where death-penalty proponents discover they can make a spy disintegrate by just shoving him into a card-table chair, and everybody in the stadium sitting there and hating him.

    Which, come to think of it, could finally start to seriously reduce the number of public meetings before approval of a station is finalized and acted upon. Wouldn’t doubt “Indeed!” impactifies a lot of would-be hires that way. But:

    “Few Islanders will use East Link (the same or fewer who used the 550) and few want those using it to get off here.” Better check and be sure YOUR pollsters were not recently employed by the Democratic party!

    “It has been 10 years since I have been in Redmond. Why would I ever take a train there?” You? I’ve got no idea. But neither do you know the wages I might this minute have been offered to work there! Not “Demanding”. The poor employer is more like BEGGING!”

    And: “Why would anyone in Redmond, Bellevue or Seattle take a train to Mercer Island that has no intra-Island transit. What are they going to do when they get off the train on Mercer Island?”

    Well! Shawn’s Cafe and Bakery? Tougo’s? Nordstrom Espresso Bar? I really am tempted to tell them that according to you, their businesses will never be worth de-training for. Especially with all those Starbucks around!

    Tempted to ask you, though. What if in spite of your best efforts, some evil meddler GETS you intra-Island Transit! The plug-in hybrids may be wired-up as we speak!

    But I definitely appreciate your alerting me to my over-arching duty. If that many people anywhere anyplace in the region, let alone living on Mercer Island hate transit….I’m just not working hard enough.

    So for the benefit of Mercer Island’s kids who otherwise will jump aboard and run away to Ballard as soon as Eastlink “clinks”, my word is “Troops, hang in there!”

    Since you’ll be 18 in time for 2024, when returns are in and you get your Committee assignment….. the Oath You Take beneath The Dome will make ST all YOURS!

    Mark Dublin

  6. Just a quick question for anyone that knows…

    How much did Mercer Island residents pay in local taxes for the lid over I-90?

    I haven’t seen anything that breaks down those funding sources.
    (I already know the costs)

  7. Has anyone else noticed Metro Transit drivers refusing to open their partitions for disabled passengers? So far, what I’ve seen is if you’re not in a wheelchair they don’t care.

  8. Jim, do you mean “The Lid” with the park and the tennis courts? I wonder if Luther Burbank Park was also tax-financed. Because the north end of Mercer Island has some really attractive features that its taxpayers can really be very proud of.

    Mercer Island Historical Society’s website notes that Roanoke Landing used to serve the biggest ferry boat in the fleet. And Google Satellite says that if you put tracks in Mercer Way and 76th Avenue, the Island can become a Sister City to the little red streetcars in Issaquah.

    But Daniel, greatest thing of all this morning is the revelation that your list of reasons at 2:14 yesterday why transit’s a loser for your Island is so deeply tongue in cheek. And also some pretty damning evidence that if we can’t help with your taxes, it’s the rest of the region’s duty to give your merchants and also Island Crust Espresso some patronage.

    “The last thing we would ever buy ourselves is East Link?” You shouldn’t have to! Just for being such a gem of a place, every transit taxee between Olympia and Everett should chip in and make you a present of it.

    But Jim, because my lenders tell me I that if I bet anything else they’ll make me Homeless, please share this information with me. Is there one single Island resident standing in the middle of Lid Park waving the Stars and Stripes and yelling that the Feroglia Ball Fields are making them feel Tyrannized? If so….I’ll trade them flags.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The “Lid” is called “Aubrey Davis Park” now.
      Ironic, since Mr. Davis was instrumental in taking WSDOH… (Washington State Department of Highways (Yes I’m being facetious) but more about that later), and turning into an actual Department of Transportation, and helping to facilitate creating the regional Cascades service, along with working with Sound Transit.

      The reason I’m asking is because during the time we were developing the 5 Alternatives for the I-405 EIS we were looking at various options to put into each one. Those options included their representative costs (as of the last time any example was finished), which is what is known as “Budget” dollar amounts.

      One of the interesting things I found out was how the estimates were being formulated for freeway lanes. The staff member showed examples of representative costs for 1 mile of:

      At Grade – $11 million
      Elevated – $20 to $40 million
      Tunneled – $100 Million
      Lanes built to Mercer Island standards (Lidded, landscaped) – $200 million

      What I’m trying to find out, (because it wasn’t a question at that time for us,)
      How much was Mercer Island’s contribution?

      (my other question is for any WSDOT lurkers, or any of their secret compatriots that could update me. I worked on some Y2K projects at WSDOT. My question is….
      are those gigantic murals of highway interchanges and giant butterflies still hanging in the escalator lobbies on the upper floors?)

      1. I -90 was not for the benefit of Mercer Island. It was for the benefit of Seattle, to connect it to the rest of the country. All Mercer Island needed to connect to the rest of the country was access at the east end of Mercer Island.

        At the same time, like the rest of the country (including the current West Seattle Bridge) neighborhoods and their elected leaders don’t care about the “region”. Shock and surprise big cities and neighborhoods get what they want, and shock and surprise Bernie Sanders was kneecapped in 2016 and 2020.

        The original plan called for 14 lanes, which was nearly halved saving a fortune. The cost of the lid was more expensive per mile than say 405 or I-5, or free airspace for the convention center, but the distance is very short. Medina and Yarrow Point negotiated expensive mitigation for 520, and so did Montlake. No one has been more extravagant in its demand for tunnels — rail tunnels — and ST mitigation funds than Seattle, and those are not federal funds.

        The rest of the Eastside subarea got to pay 1/2 of Bellevue’s $350 million unnecessary light rail tunnel, more than the cost for the lid.

        I am not bemoaning progressive taxation. Mercer Island pays $2.68 million for King Co. parks each year but gets back at most $200,000. In 2009 KC forced MI to buy Luther Burbank Park at the threat of developing it so we have no KC parks. This summer Mercer Island parks were overrun with Seattleites because our parks are safe, well maintained, and not overrun with homeless, which is nice if you have kids (which I am not sure Urbanists do, hence the disconnect between east and west). We pay $6 million/year to KCLS for maybe $1 million/year in library services for the last 20 years.

        We also pay around $7.5 million in tab fees above the base $30 each year, and get back $36,000 from the state for “intermodal transportation”.

        Don’t get me started on Metro.

        Mercer Island isn’t the only Eastside city that sees little benefit from East Link. In fact most of the Eastside is not served by East Link, which is just a big ego trip for Bellevue—Microsoft—Redmond, except Microsoft has lost interest. Show me a picture of Brad Smith on East Link, or any executive, or include Medina in regional or state or PSRC upzoning , and I will believe.

        A better way to examine highway cost is by use. For example, the cost to run I-90 through mountain ranges in rural Montana is a terrible deal, except it benefits the large urban areas west along the way. Imagine what Chicago thinks about paying for I-90 to Seattle. Lucky Magnusson was Senator.

        What has twisted Seattle housing is industrial zoning in Sodo, and the huge areas in East KC with great access to Seattle. Usually like in NY affordable housing and gentrification creeps into low value/density (Black) urban neighborhoods like Harlem. This is what happened with the Central District.

        It begins with artists, followed by stockbrokers and tech workers. South Seattle should be the natural urban upzoned oasis for Seattle.

        In Seattle the Rainier Valley is cut off from Seattle by the industrial zoning. Otherwise there would be no homeless in Sodo, and new density would be moving south, and Blacks farther south. Not unlike Crossroads on the Eastside, which is very diverse and hard working.

        For all their progressiveness white Urbanists don’t want to live in predominantly Black neighborhoods. So in Seattle they want to upzone expensive white neighborhoods, naively thinking developers are interested in building affordable housing — even if tiny — on expensive land. How many units could you house on Bill Gates’ property in Medina? Or they skip all the way south to Auburn, Burien, Tukwilla and Federal Way. Affordable white housing, and no mistake about it the Eastside is unaffordable white housing, although much less white than in the past.

        Meanwhile affluent whites could move just across a lake, and now ironically Bellevue has displaced Seattle as the economic hub of King Co. Not surprising white guilt is a pandemic on the Eastside, but is a faux guilt.

        If ST were just beginning today Tacoma and Snohomish Co. would insist the line run along the east side of the lake. Every major tech company is on the Eastside, including Amazon. Hardly surprising is the Master Builders Assoc. wants to build on the Eastside, and Urbanists want to live there (with a little more hipness) having likely started there since most on The Urbanist graduated from the UW.

        The irony is if MI were not in the middle of the lake we would never get a light rail station. Why? Just like we would never get I-90, except we didn’t have Aubrey Davis as mayor when ST bamboozled our naive council. Otherwise we would still be negotiating East Link, and more lids and less density mandates.

        There was a post on this blog asking folks to state their dream neighborhood to live in Seattle. I have lived in most (living in a tiny, poorly insulated houseboat during grad school was my favorite).

        Someone on this blog I was rude to stated her dream neighborhood was lower Queen Anne (where I lived in the mid 80’s) but she would have to soon move even further south from I think Burien when she is totally dependent on transit. That post made me realize I have to do better. Lower Queen Anne would be lucky to get that person. How to do that without ruining the neighborhood she loves through upzoning is the issue, for everyone.

        I think it comes down to public subsidies. How about a carbon tax that provides rent assistance, by selling wealthy cities on the promise they can control their zoning?

      2. I’m assuming that in this vast legal-document style answer that the answer is “No”, there were no local funds that Mercer Island was required to contribute.

      3. “I -90 was not for the benefit of Mercer Island. It was for the benefit of Seattle, to connect it to the rest of the country.”

        You could just as easily say it was for the benefit of the rest of the country to connect it to Seattle. The interstate highway system is to connect all the major cities in the US, not all the major cities except Seattle. Truckers bring freight in every direction, people go visiting and to events in every direction, etc.

        “For all their progressiveness white Urbanists don’t want to live in predominantly Black neighborhoods.”

        The CD became majority white in the 2000s. Rainier Valley has been a pretty even melting pot of white/black/Asian/Hispanic for decades, and if anything its white percentage has increased. Even if most whites have an adversion to or won’t go out of their way to look at a home in historically redlined areas, enough of them do to fill up the apartments/condos/townhouses that have been built in Rainier Valley in the past decade and will be built in the next decade.

      4. P.S. Some urbanists think 405 should have been the main north-south freeway, or that it should be now, and I-5 downgraded to two local highways (north and south) and boulevards. If that had happened originally in the 1960s, then I-90 could have terminated at 405 and forget about the rest, and the region’s development might have been different. But it wasn’t; they decided to have I-5 and I-90 go to the traditional biggest city. And so when the last part of I-90 was built in the 1980s (i.e., the Lake Washington area), that’s what it did. (Before that the pre-interstate infrastructure was simply resigned I-90.)

  9. Jim, that is a rhetorical question. Which capital project have you personally paid for? Other than ST subarea equity, which is not equitable, tell me which specific area has paid for any large transportation project through their area, state or federal. What did Renton pay for the billions for 405 or 167 improvements?

    The anomaly is ST subarea equity, isn’t it? The wealthier areas get to keep their own tax revenue, and decide how to use it.

    The wealthy would love a specific use tax you propose. Mercer Island would have rejected I-90 and East Link. Be careful what you wish for.

    1. The reason I asked the question is that when you compare the cost of tunneling vs. the cost of the elaborately landscaped trench,…

      Why didn’t Mercer Island push to have I-90 tunneled?

      Access to the island could easily been made available at each end of the island.

      I wanted to clarify whether that decision was made because it was ‘magic’ federal money, or whether Mercer Islanders had to foot the bill for the extras.

  10. Daniel, if the City of Seattle didn’t exist, neither would the City of Mercer Island. That’s one of the things the State of Washington is for. Every day, every hour, we’re constantly exchanging benefits without ever even having to think about it.

    I really do worry, though, about the rumors I’m hearing that an Island containing a long-awaited rail-and-bus transit station is about to relocate to Gray’s Harbor county. Bad enough how many pieces those tugs and barges will have to divide you into to get you through the Ballard Locks on the way out.

    Because, try as they might, all those shut-down timber mills will never be able to provide you with the standard of living to which Seattle has let you become accustomed. Please give us another chance!

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.