King County Metro #3756

This is an open thread.

111 Replies to “News roundup: to the scrap heap”

  1. “Speed limits dropping to 25mph”

    Yeah, sure…
    They cut it to 25 on 3rd ave nw and to 30 on Holman road. People still drive around 40 on 3rd and 50+ when there’s no traffic on Holman. Without enforcement, they can pat themselves on the back and go back to wondering why in 2020 there was no drop in deaths on the roads…

    1. Traffic enforcement in Seattle has historically been racially biased. Instead of SPD changing their enforcement methods to not be racially biased, they decided to just stop enforcing traffic laws.

      Seattle recently moved parking enforcement under SDOT’s umbrella, I’m curious if the same could happen to traffic enforcement. While there are definitely exceptions to the rule, traffic enforcement doesn’t need to happen via armed, sworn police officers and locations of enforcement could easily be determined via speed studies and other non-racially biased metrics. Make harassing or assaulting SDOT traffic enforcement just as bad as harassing or assaulting a police officer.

      While SPD “solved” the inherent racism in their traffic enforcing methods, Seattle’s vulnerable users are no better off for it. All these speed reductions are great on paper, but effectively worthless in implementation. I only hope City officials don’t strain their wrists patting themselves on the back.

      1. Very typical of SPD to pout and protest instead of addressing the root issue. They thought they could strongarm citizens into begging them to come back but they just proved why they were the wrong people for the job in the first place.

      2. Yes! Absolutely. There are very few reasons to actually pull someone over. If someone is driving recklessly (and/or appears drunk) and therefore could be impounded, then absolutely. If the police thinks the car is stolen, or involved in a major crime, same thing. But pulling someone over for going over the speed limit is bound to create bias.

        The photo cameras work. I sure as hell slow down around schools, even when I know the kids aren’t out and visibility is great. The ticket sucks, and I don’t want to explain to the court that school wasn’t in session that day. Just put those cameras everywhere around town and people will slow down.

        As it is, people slow down anyway. Most of our roads are one lane each way. That means if I’m driving 25 MPH, and you are in a hurry, tough. Unfortunately, there are too many places where people can go too fast, and automated tickets would be great. You could put them up on Aurora and I bet the speeds would drop in a week.

      3. However they are levied (speed camera, SPD, SDOT), traffic fines are regressive punishments. I’ve seen more than a few stories about people drowning in debt from fines. Hence I question whether there is any political appetite for widespread speed cameras.

        I think this lack of enforcement is proving another point – despite lots of money spent on police, outcomes are not massively worse now with no meaningful traffic law enforcement. Yes crashes are up, but we also had a general lack of traffic for many months of 2020. Traffic is paradoxically a highly effective safety feature.

      4. Alex, no sympathy here for people “drowning in debt” from speeding fines. Are you such an Anarchist that you can’t abide financial penalties for people who repetitively drive faster than is safe? One doesn’t accumulate a debt he or she can drown in at $75 an occurrence without a LOT of occurrences.

        Enforcement that is racially biased is certainly wrong, but radar can’t see skin color.
        More to the point, excusing dangerous behavior when people are poor is also unfair to people who don’t engage in it and, frankly, patronizing.

        The biggest problem is opposition to wider deployment of automated enforcement by Republicans who get all “Freedumb!!!!!” when it’s proposed.

      5. I’m reminded of driving home late one night (just after midnight) in 2016 in Madrona. I was wearing a black leather cap, black leather driving gloves and a black leather jacket so black is all that anyone could see unless they were in front of the car.

        I apparently didn’t wait long enough at a stop sign. A police officer pulled me over from behind a few blocks later . The officer got out and looked in the window, becoming visibly shocked that I looked different then what was expected — then literally blurted out “I didn’t mean to pull you over.” The officer explained that I appeared to not fully stop at the stop sign. (By the way, I did use a turn signal.) I got a verbal warning only.

        I wasn’t going to complain to the SPD because there was nothing offensive towards me specifically — but it really appeared that my white privilege benefited me.

        Oh… the officer was a white female.

      6. @Ross B
        Thank you. That clip made my day. It seems so tame, but I wonder what group in 2021 might figure out how to be offended an protest it anyemway.

      7. I suppose a cop might protest it, but most would applaud it. Comedy has a great way of cutting through the BS, and exposing problems that folks don’t want to talk about. Police racism is nothing new, even in “nice
        neighborhoods”, and that video showed it, in a humorous manner.

        I think Keister does a great job of being at times an arrogant, aggressive cop, then being a lovable goofball. He really made that show.

      8. “He really made that show.”
        I agree. I mean the other actors/comedians were fine but it was Keister who kept me coming back for more week after week.

        I remember when I first moved to Seattle from NY back in the late 80s and asking my brother why SNL was pushed back a half hour for this local show “Almost Live!”. Like, what the hell was this all about. He told me to stop being annoyed and just watch it. Well, he was right, as I soon found myself looking forward to watching these goofballs doing their thing every Saturday night at 11:30. It defintely was NOT “lame, lame, lame”. The “John Report” sealed the deal for making this east coast transplant a big fan and regular viewer.

        Who would have ever imagined that it would be Joel McHale who would go on to become the biggest celebrity (on the national stage)?

        Anyway, it was a great show. Thanks for posting your link.

    2. I was happy N 39th by my apartment (the part that does downhill towards Leary) was lowering but no one follows the rule. At least they put new flashing crosswalks which DO work.

      Huge trucks will still absolutely barrel down that hill at nearly 40mph. They use that whole stretch like an on/off ramp to Aurora and drivers get so pissed at the nerve of people wanting to cross the street.

      1. Marked crosswalks would do a lot more good for a street like that than lower speed limit signs, which everyone would ignore.

    3. I often witness downhill bicyclists often exceeding 25 mph across Seattle. Enforcement could also end up ticketing unaware bicyclists as well as drivers.

      Reducing speed limits does not solve bad design, bad vegetation maintenance, bad street maintenance (potholes, worn-off pavement markings) and bad lighting on our streets. It’s a populist citywide strategy masking many bigger problems on many of our streets.

      1. I often witness downhill bicyclists often exceeding 25 mph across Seattle. Enforcement could also end up ticketing unaware bicyclists as well as drivers.

        Bicycles should be expected to follow traffic rules as well and be ticketed if they don’t. However, the impact of a bicycle speeding is many, many orders of magnitude less dangerous than cars speeding.

      2. As long as cars don’t get ticketed for going 26 in a 25 mph zone, bikes shouldn’t either. To do otherwise, is no better than racist cops selectively enforcing laws based on skin color.

        To get to the kind of gross speeding that would cause a car to actually get pulled over, you’re talking 40 in a 25 mph zone. And, unless you’re competing in the Tour De France, hardly any streets in Seattle are long enough or steep enough for a bike to get going that fast.

      3. This is a silly comment. Down here in Portland, most of our neighborhood streets are now 20mph, including ones where cyclists could easily get up to 30mph in the downhill direction. Cyclists don’t get speeding tickets, because it’s nearly impossible to break the speed limit by sufficient margin to justify a ticket. No one in Seattle is going to get a ticket for going 30mph in a 25mph zone.

    4. The net result may be buses going at 25 mph and cars going at 30 or 40. That lengthens travel times and makes transit less competitive with driving. Drivers can just pay a fine a couple times a year but bus drivers can lose their job if they break the law. And if Link’s speed on MLK goes down too, then Link’s travel time increases — in the very southern corridor where it’s least competitive.

      1. There is no law that says Martin Luther King Boulevard has to be “timed” so that residents of Renton can get home with only a stop or two along it. Keep the timing for Link at the current speed and let the trains leave the cars behind.

        Better yet, put the timing at 25 but let the trains have green-hold and advance preemption.

        In the best of all worlds the seven most important arterials (Oregon, Alaska, Orcas, Graham, Othello, Cloverdale and Henderson) would be over- or under-passed and all track-level intersections would be right-on and right-off only.

        Then Link trains could operate at 45 or 50 mph with strictly rail signaling while the parallel traffic was held to 25. Yes, this would cause traffic to make “three rights” on residential streets in order to turn left.

      2. The timing is for the cross streets and local neighborhood. If cars and trains are running at different speeds it limits the opportunities for signals to switch to allow east-west traffic and left turns pedestrians crossing the arterial.

      3. The idea that the SPD does not enforce or police speed limits in Seattle is hardly revelatory. First, there is the safety risk to an officer, and traffic stops are a primary cause of officer death or assaults in any major city. Then there is the risk of having a charge of racism leveled against you. Also it is hard to determine actual speeds unless there is a place for a radar camera. Finally there is the climate in which most misdemeanors are not prosecuted, and the police likely are stretched thin with their new budgets and have better things to do than enforce traffic speeds, or show up in court if the ticket is contested, when car speeds in Seattle rarely exceed 40 mph.

        The irony is all these reasons are why you are much more likely to get a speeding ticket in suburbia. Go 5 mph over the 25 mph speed limit on Mercer Island in a residential zone (and most the Island is a residential zone) and don’t be surprised if you get pulled over and ticketed, even though the roads are so inviting to speed on, which is one of the reasons recreational bicyclists like Mercer Island so much.

      4. In spite of all these things, bus drivers may be required to stick to the speed limit by internal policy, so it doesn’t matter whether they’d get a ticket only if you’re going 15 mph above or only in suburbia, the agency policy would still limit speeds, and the extra scrutiny the county gives to government agencies that are easy to sue.

        And it’s not about “Renton residents getting home a minute or two earlier”. It’s about Seattlites making trips of more than 5-10 miles within the city. The 25 mph limit is being imposed throughout the city; it has been on, e.g., 15th Ave NE and NE 65th Street for two years. So it affects people going from Fremont to Seward Park, Capitol Hill to Hillman City, West Seattle to southeast Seattle, southeast Seattle to St Demitrios church in Montlake, etc.

      5. Well, Mike, I guess I wasn’t clear that by “the timing” I meant the pulse of green light cycles for Martin Luther King Boulevard. The assumption is that when a pulse passes a given intersection, the red comes on and the green goes on for the cross traffic. I said nothing about having a separate overlaid pulse for the cars.

        As I said, they’d be left in the dust

  2. While he acknowledged that he didn’t have the geology background to understand all the logistics of drilling such a tunnel….

    Yes, I think that’s fair to say.

    1. Ha.

      If the cost of the tunnel isn’t much more than the cost of two new ferries, sure why not. Pretty skeptical the cost would be that low. But hey, if we’ve succeeded in blocking highway widening projects but still want to jack up the gas tax for climate change reasons, why not look into a tunnel like this?

      If the toll is set comparable to the ferry it is replacing, like $20/vehicle each way, that should inhibit most of the induced sprawl while enabling some interesting transit options for IT to connect Whidbey to the Snohomish/greater Seattle job centers. A regular shuttle to Lynnwood TC would be great for islanders heading into the city for a doctor appointment or to catch a flight, and great for those visiting family/friends on the island or heading out for an island getaway, to throw out a few examples. The key is to provide good mobility opportunities for Whidbey while not enabling commuters; I don’t think its good for Whidbey or the region to pull Whidbey into the Greater Seattle commute shed.

      1. If we’re going to live in a fantasy world where tunneling is that cheap, why not build some cheap tunnels for transit? Even crazy tunnels like Kirkland->Sand Point could theoretically become feasible if the cost of tunneling were to somehow get low enough.

      2. Ferries limit the feasibility of commuting in four ways: fare, frequency, capacity, and span. Mukilteo-Clinton has the most frequent ferries in the network — 30 minutes — because of the short distance, but it’s still comparable to an infrequent bus. And if the ferry is full with commuter or tourist cars you have to wait till the next one. A bridge reduces the wait to zero, vastly increases capacity, and is open 24/7. So there’s no way to prevent suburban growth even with a $20 toll. Right now people choose to live in the West Sound only if they can tolerate the ferry limitations or they rarely go to the metropolis anyway, but with a tunnel it would be completely different.

      3. Going several hundred feet below sea level to connect a place that has road access already doesn’t seem cost effective. It seems incredibly steep for a crossing this short too.

        There are already suspension bridges over a mile long between the piers and that seems much cheaper and less risky if it’s doable (pier locations) and the locals accept the changes to the view.

        Rather than connect to a handful of rail arrivals in Mulkiteo it would seem better to simply have a fast ferry into Seattle. After all, the Southworth fast ferry will be in Downtown Seattle faster than the RapidRide C is from Fauntleroy!

      4. The population distribution on Whitney really makes the tunnel a pretty invaluable investment. 39K of the island’s 70K residents live in Oak Harbor or further north. The southernmost part from Freeland south only has 14K population. If Deception Pass is too busy, the more useful and less physically difficult connection would be to connect near Stanwood or LaConnor rather than to Mulkiteo. It’s 10 mikes further (38 miles) to Oak Harbor from Clinton than it is to Oak Harbor from Mt Vernon (28 miles)!

    2. Isn’t Bob Ortblad the same guy who pushed the immersed tube tunnel to replace the West Seattle (highrise) Bridge?

      1. I have a house near Coupeville on Whidbey. The fact of the matter is other than Friday afternoons and Sunday afternoons during the summer, and major holidays, ferry traffic is light. There just are not that many people living on Whidbey Island, and very little employment. Once Mukilteo implements the same reservation system the Keystone to Port Townshend route uses waiting for a ferry will decline, even during peak times.

        I could drive around in about the same time the ferry takes, and I guess it would be cheaper, but the ferry ride is beautiful and part of the trip. I would rather wait in line with Ivar’s fish and chips and read the paper than drive up and around, and get a beer on the ferry. Oak Harbor is nothing to write home about.

        A tunnel would be cost prohibitive, and if subject to the same cost recovery as ferries would make ferries unaffordable. My guess is same for a bridge that would have to be high enough to allow all the ship traffic pass through. Certainly a bridge or tunnel to Bainbridge Island would have priority if feasible. But again there are just not enough people living in this region or on Bainbridge to make such a bridge economical.

        I spent many years on the ferry advisory board when WSF was considering moving the Keystone terminal. At the time, my state senator was Jim Horn, who was head of the transportation dept. (Mary Margaret Haugen was ranking minority member at the time). When I met with Horn he told me he and his number two R from Yakima had visited the site over WSF’s proposal, and he said although the scenery at this part of Whidbey Island is breathtaking, the ferry to Port Townshend was a trip from nowhere to nowhere, and so WSF’s planned new terminal was DOA, which was our goal.

        While the new steel electric fleet was being built the run was reduced to a trickle and to nothing when the remaining ferry broke, so WSF put in a fast passenger ferry to Seattle, which Port Townshend loved because affluent visitors and tourists increased dramatically, whereas not a lot of affluent folks taking the Keystone ferry to Port Townshend except maybe during the jazz festival. P.T. lobbied to keep the passenger ferry permanent, and if necessary replace the ferry from Keystone, but WSF said it was not economical, and Mary Margaret Haugen had become head of the Senate transportation dept. when the Democrats took back the senate, and she represented Whidbey Island.

      2. I would rather wait in line with Ivar’s fish and chips and read the paper than drive up and around, and get a beer on the ferry. Oak Harbor is nothing to write home about.

        YES! Waiting for the ferry can be great. If you ever come back via Port Townsend and use Kingston, absolutely try the crepes right across from the parking lot. WOW! They have a dozen “savory” ones like they serve in France. Tres magnifique!

    3. When I saw the quote about a $200 million cost estimate, I almost spit out my drink. This guy clearly has no idea.

  3. Publicola article is really arguing that 18th amendment is ‘racist,’ so that’s a bad headline (by Publicola, not STB). There’s some initial handwaving about regressivity, but those are just generic talking points that apply to any revenue source that’s not explicitly an income or wealth tax; I’d be curious if the authors think we should ditch water and electric bills and Seattle should fund its utilities with a ‘more progressive’ source.

    The authors mostly complain about how the money is spent, not how its raised. And some of the specific things they mention as not being adequately funded, like fish culverts, are things that I understood are getting more funding from the gas tax in all the various gas tax packages under consideration. Other things, like using a carbon tax to fund “economic transition assistance,” can be done with a gas tax if the 18th amendment is repealed. Seems like switching to a carbon tax is mostly an end run around the 18th amendment, since the vast majority of the state’s carbon emissions are transportation related.

    Overall, seems like a pretty mild “highways bad, multimodal projects good” policy take packaged in a completely unnecessary “gas taxes are racist” hot take.

      1. Thank you, Ross. (I get a little tired of correcting this common misunderstanding myself.)

  4. Is there any logical reason why the Talgo sets are being scrapped? That part about WSDOT not even bothering to show up to the sales meeting is especially hilarious, what a bunch of a*holes. I’m sure we’ll spend a ton of money soon enough to replace this perfectly functional train sets.

    1. One of the recommendations from the NTSB following the 2017 derailment was that the Talgo series VI trainsets didn’t meet FRA standards and that WSDOT should replace them. From the report: “To the Washington State Department of Transportation: Discontinue the use of the Talgo Series VI trainsets as soon as possible and replace them with passenger railroad equipment that meet all current United States safety requirements. (R -19-017)”

      So WSDOT clearly intends to junk them and doesn’t want to see them ever again.

      1. You know what really doesn’t meet NTSB standards? Going twice the speed limit on an S curve. The Talgo design was not at fault and any other train would’ve derailed in that situation. What a bunch of BS.

      2. NTSB seems convinced that Talgo VI didn’t offer sufficient protection in the crash, although it’s not clear that the FRA-compliant rolling bank vault designs would have fared better.

        I’m sure someone explained to WSDOT that future settlements would be much more painful if they continued to run non-compliant equipment.

    2. I hope they save at least one of the Bistro cars.
      They were a unique and classic design.

    3. Nothing about the construction, training, and reaction to the eventual crash on the Point Defiance Bypass was logical. WSDOT messed up big time, and they latched on to the NTSB’s comments about the Talgo VI set being insufficient robust (which of course is rooted in a general disdain for lightweight railway equipment) because it allows them to save face, in a sense.

      “Look at us. We got rid of the bad train and fixed the problem.”

      Scrapping the series VI will not make Cascades service safer. It is going to make it harder to run the full schedule on consistent equipment, though. Expect to see a jumble of Talgo VIII and older Horizon cars if you go down to Portland in the next few years.

      1. It also means longer station stops because the Horizon cars (as well as the replacement Amfleet cars that WashDOT says they are buying as replacements) need high platforms. They’ll have to use the wheelchair lift carts, which are really time consuming.

  5. I went to the Stride open house last night. Not too much new information. I did learn a couple of things.

    1 – the new projected opening date for 522 BRT is 2026, so possibly 2 years after Lynnwood Link opens. But the 522 will be redirected to Roosevelt Station this year, so most of 522 BRT’s gains will have already been achieved – connecting to Link and improving frequency from every 30 to 15 minutes this year, then 15 to 10 minutes in 2026.

    2 – ST is not planning to install any crosswalks to help riders reach Stride stations. Some intersections along 522 only have crosswalks on 1 side. At 153rd street, there is no crosswalk on the south side of the intersection by the SB bus stop, and at Ballinger there is no crosswalk on the north side by the NB bus stop. So some people will have to cross roads 3 times to reach Stride bus stops.

    1. Thanks for sharing the updates. Weren’t the ST BRT lines marked as an “early” deliverable in the ST3 package? 10 years doesn’t meet my expectation of that.

      1. I think the “early” deliverables were to improve existing BRT (C and D) along with speeding up the 510/511/512 by allowing them to drive on the shoulder for parts of I-5. The 522 BRT doesn’t make sense until Lynnwood Link is done. So it is essentially delayed by a couple of years.

        I wonder if that means that initially, the 522 will just keep going to Roosevelt, or whether they will send it to 145th (even though the project isn’t complete)? It might depend on whether the work on 145th is done in time. If so, then you might as well go to 145th (as is the long range plan). If not, then you have to deal with a lot of traffic during rush hour. Then again, there is traffic on Lake City Way, too.

      2. Thanks for the clarification, RossB.

        Speaking of the 145th St corridor, my understanding is Shoreline is handling the corridor improvements at the I-5 interchange and the sections westward to just past Hwy 99, while Sound Transit is handling the eastern portion of 145th (SR 523) from I-5 to Lake City Way. Both elements appear to be behind their initial schedules, with Shoreline having some funding uncertainties about their second and third phases*. The Sound Transit piece is clearly behind schedule based on my reading of the latest published progress report (Dec) from ST. The section covering the 522 BRT project can be found on pages 183-186. The revenue service date for this line is also up in the air at this point and subject to the board’s decisions regarding the ST3 program realignment. In the risk evaluation segment of said report, ST wrote the following:

        “Risk Management
        The Risk and Contingency Management Plan (RCMP) establishes a risk management and oversight process for identifying,
        assessing, and monitoring risks and developing risk reduction/mitigation plans. It provides a tool for the project team to proactively manage risks on the project. Sound Transit continuously monitors project status and assesses associated risks.
        The following are the top project risks and proposed mitigations:

        •The SR 522/NE 145th Street BRT project is an early deliverable and involves close coordination with multiple project partners. Staff and consultants are continuing to coordinate closely with project partners.
        •Early concurrence on project components is a key effort of project development though on-going coordination with the
        Project Interagency Coordination Group, City Managers Group and Elected Leadership Group. Letter of Concurrence are
        being developed with major jurisdictions on the SR 522/145th BRT alignment for the project advancing to 30 percent design.
        •Coordination of project on NE 145th with WSDOT and the Cities of Seattle and Shoreline – complex jurisdictional situation and third partner expectation for ST capital investment. Partner Agency staff are actively working towards a multi-agreeable solution.
        •Working with Agencies Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to modify the project footprint throughout the corridor to minimize potential property impacts.”

        Note the first bullet point stated herein whereby ST does indeed characterize this BRT project as an “early deliverable”. (Phew, I didn’t just dream that up afterall. Lol.)

        *relevant link:

      3. Interesting. I just assumed that Sound Transit was paying for everything. I think it is weird that Shoreline is paying for the widening on 145th. I always thought that was one of the reasons the project was so costly. But that was before I started thinking about the big expense: parking. Again, I’m just speculating, but I think ST is spending a bundle on parking along that corridor.

        Anyway, I think you are right in terms of the relative progress. According to this:, there are a lot of bus and BAT lanes “under construction”, but on 145th it is all “proposed”.

    2. Thanks for attending and updating the readers!

      The 2026 date is more believable. Groundbreaking would have almost certainly been needed by now to make 2024 happen. The plans don’t appear anywhere near ready for construction bids.

      Until opening day, it’s probably fine to promote Route 522 to Roosevelt. I would think that this path will still be faster than 145th to Shoreline South after Lynnwood opens anyway. The 145th rebuild will also include some major construction so keeping buses out of that mess is a good thing.

      For liability reasons, it’s in ST’s best interest to let other agencies design and install crosswalks. ST can help by providing funding through the 522 allocation or the systems access allocation of ST3.

      I’ll add that going to Shoreline South doesn’t achieve much additional travel time savings for a future transit rider on much of this route if they are going to or from UW or Downtown. Shoreline South (as well as Shoreline North and 130th) aren’t near major busy non-residential destinations and it appears that Shoreline North will be the Swift terminus (one station off). Had the alignment stayed on 522, Lake City would have been served (and North King is helping to pay fir this). Still, the decision to use 145th appears irreversible at this point.

      1. “the decision to use 145th appears irreversible at this point” – it’s a bus! If 145th doesn’t work well, or if the Kenmore and Bothell riders notice it’s an inferior routing, it can be changed. There will be other routes on 145th, so aside from some Stride specific branding & Orca readers on the Stride stations on 145th, I don’t see any much sunk cost here.

      2. The major sunk cost will be the widening of 145th. I don’t think the work would be done just for the 65 or similar buses. That being said, it will benefit other buses, even if the STride moves to Lake City/125th.

        I doubt that will happen though. 145th will be fast enough. The 125th/130th should be fast too (for a bus) but there would be more stops. 145th would be similar to 125th/130th in terms of stops, but you would have the addition of stops along Lake City Way.

        From a network standpoint, a lot depends on whether they can find a turn back/layover stop on SR 522 around 145th (or a bit north). If so, then the routing is fine. The STride takes care of the suburban riders, while a few overlapping routes serve Lake City Way up to 145th. The former would tend to be heavily geared towards rush-hour commuting, which means it would run frequently during peak hours, and infrequently outside of it. The latter would be the opposite — a more urban system with better (combined) frequency during the day.

        But that assumes that a turnback/layover can be found. If not, it means that buses go all the way Kenmore, or there is a combination of bus(es) to Kenmore and bus(es) to 130th (the Fred Meyer). This would create needless overlap (in the first case) and a service hole (in the second).

        I really have no problem with running the buses on 145th. The big issue I have is with the station. It should have been on 155th. Then the bus would have doglegged up via 15th to 155th (where traffic is relatively light). You wouldn’t need to expand 145th (which would save a lot of money). It wouldn’t take much longer for riders as the current plan.

        I get why they didn’t want to do that though. It is psychological. People don’t like going the wrong direction, even if it doesn’t cost them much time. You don’t want to go north to go south, especially if drivers just go across and get on the freeway at 145th. My guess is though, it would have created a much better and cheaper station. Many of the buses will go that way anyway (except on the much worse 5th instead of 15th). So instead of this:, you will have this:

    3. BRT. “Quicker and easier to build than light rail.” And this isn’t even a proper “light rail on wheels” BRT. I’m still waiting on the BRT project that actually gets done *quickly* compared with light rail.

      1. Even with this delay, it still a decade faster and several billion cheaper than a comparable rail project.

  6. Here is an article from the Puget Sound Business Journal I think it is interesting, and explains why Bellevue chose to run East Link along 112th since it was cost prohibitive to tunnel under Bellevue Way, and IMO may be the future of first/last mile access to the light rail spine based on ACES:


    “Inrex CEO says autonomous shuttles could be running in Bellevue by year’s end”.

    Inrix CEO Bryan Mistele co-founded the Kirkland-based company in 2004.


    By Paxtyn Merten – Data reporter, Puget Sound Business Journal
    Feb 17, 2020, 11:58pm EST

    When Bryan Mistele co-founded Inrix in 2004, nobody cared about transportation, he said.

    The Kirkland-based transportation analytics company had a hard time getting off the ground and getting funded, he said. But now there’s a lot of focus on transportation, both in the region and across the world.

    “We’ve been fortunate enough to identify the wave before it came and kind of get on top of it,” said Mistele, the president and CEO.

    Inrix started around the idea of crowdsourcing traffic data and later added dynamic parking information. Mistele has built the company into a software subscription analytics platform that sells to public sector customers who use it for urban planning and traffic management, and enterprise customers who largely use it to determine new store locations.

    In the past two years Inrix has also grown its focus around new mobility, including rideshare, bike/scooter share and autonomous vehicle companies. The company’s primary focus in the next couple years will be to push its products to a global customer base and keep growing as it prepares for an eventual exit event.

    What has collaboration looked like on your new mobility work?

    We’ve built this electronic platform basically digitizing rules. Cities can say where certain vehicles can drive, certain roads or times when it’s OK to do an Uber and Lyft pickup on certain roads. We’ve now got about 60 cities that are working with, entering this data and digitizing it. Since we already have a lot of relationships with most of the car makers and transportation network companies that are current customers of ours that received traffic and parking data, this is just a different type of data that we can send them as they then integrate into their algorithms.

    What work have you done with local public entities and transit agencies?

    We’ve had a lot of collaboration with the city of Bellevue. Seattle seems to be more focused on transit and less focused on traffic congestion. Cities like Bellevue that are doing dynamic signal timing are more ripe for using our data to help them optimize traffic signals. Bellevue is a great example of a city that’s pretty innovative and using technology to help drive down traffic congestion.

    Can you talk about that technology?

    The technology Bellevue is focused on now is dynamic signal timing. The time on green versus time on red and when this light’s green versus when that light’s green – that’s all part of signal timing. In a lot of cases like Seattle, they set the signals and the let them go for 10, 15 years without touching them. Bellevue is changing them dynamically. So based on Snowflake Lane in December for instance, where traffic gets to be nutty, or based on a bunch of new Amazon buildings going into downtown Bellevue, they can adjust those signals dynamically based on what they’re seeing on the roadways. We think that’s a great way to solve traffic congestion. Los Angeles took our data and re-timed all their signals. They saw about a 9 percent decrease in overall congestion with no new infrastructure, no new roads.

    One of the things I see most often from Inrix is reports, studies and the Global Traffic Scorecard. Have you been doing those since the beginning?

    Pretty much. The scorecard was very controversial when we launched it because cities weren’t used to being ranked on whether they were doing a good job or a bad job. What we found is some cities didn’t want to be on the list because it showed them doing a bad job, and some cities actually used it to lobby for more money. It became a very important tool because it used to be transportation projects were funded based on earmarks – how powerful your Congresswoman was really dictated what got funded. Now we can prioritize them based on the impact they’ll have and we know where we can invest. So I think one of the big things we’ve done from a policy point of view is just helped change that dialogue and focus on data-driven decisions as opposed to politically-driven decisions.

    Do you feel like being in proximity to Bellevue, a tech city with potential for autonomous vehicle development, creates any crossover for you?

    There is, because myself and Tom Alberg, who runs Madrona and was on the board of Amazon, we co-chair a group called the ACES forum, which stands for autonomous, connected, electric and shared. One of the things we’re working on now with Bellevue is doing just that and deploying an autonomous shuttle to take people between the mass transit station and the Bellevue Square mall. We can probably see it by the end of this year. One of the other things we’ve been focusing on is simple permitting with car sharing. Another is on TNC drop-offs. For Uber and Lyft, you need to keep them from picking up and dropping off on the road where they cause congestion, so we’re working on making it possible for them to pick up and drop off on the first floor of parking garages.

    1. Seattle recently installed dynamic signal timing on Mercer. It didn’t fix the problem. Because the problem is a geometric one (cars don’t scale efficiently) not a technological one. Miami also tried it — and county wide not just a single stretch. Again, no joy. However, a lot of $$$ for those tech companies, which no doubt donated to the campaigns of certain politicians.

      1. This is true, which makes me wonder about this statement:

        In a lot of cases like Seattle, they set the signals and the let them go for 10, 15 years without touching them

        This is simply not true. Not only do they change them periodically, but they tried the dynamic signal thing, and it didn’t do squat. It makes me wonder if they went with a competing company, and now this guy is focused on badmouthing Seattle.

      2. The problem with Mercer Street is that it’s just too wide. It’s scary for pedestrians. It creates long delays for cars and buses as the width adds lots of time waiting for pedestrians to cross. It creates more potential for turning drivers to not see pedestrians and bicyclists because the field of vision must be so wide.

        Imagine how much more undesirable Second Ave through Downtown would be if it was twice as wide with traffic flowing in both directions. Had SDOT embraced more one-way streets in SLU a decade ago like we have in the Downtown core, I think that the pedestrian environment of the district would have been better for everyone.

        There was a time when one-way streets were very popular 60-70 years ago. Then 20 years ago they were declared mostly bad. The truth seems to be in the middle — great in some areas and awful in others.

    2. Usually, these signal timing tweaks in the name of traffic throughput come at the expense of bikes and pedestrians. They sacrifice what is not measured (ped wait time to cross the street) to improve what is (# cars on major street per hour).

      If the major street has no transit, but the cross streets do (e.g. Mercer), changing signal timing to improve traffic flow on the main street also comes at the expense of transit.

      That’s not to say adaptive timing is always bad. Signals that change quickly in the middle of the night, when nobody is around is a good thing and avoids frustrated drivers running red lights. But, lets not kid ourselves and pretend that we can just retime our way out of traffic congestion.

      1. A worsening systemic problem in Seattle is malfunctioning signals. Thieves steal copper wire. Electrical connections get dropped. Residents and public employees (police, bus drivers, parks and utility maintenance staff) aren’t trained or encouraged on how to quickly identify and report problems. SDOT has many more signals to maintain (with so many new pedestrian crossing signals) but doesn’t appear to have staff added to maintain them.

        When signals malfunction, they don’t quit working. They are programmed to instead think that cars or pedestrians are there when they aren’t. When a left turn light malfunctions it stays green much longer, for example — frustrating everyone else including pedestrians, bus drivers and riders in addition to those in private cars. We probably need better attention in the field more than we need more elaborate signal logic.

    3. “why Bellevue chose to run East Link along 112th since it was cost prohibitive to tunnel under Bellevue Way, ”

      So it had nothing to do with the mall owner spending scads of money to elect his slate of candidates to the council to ensure that light rail didn’t come near the mall? okay, sure.

      1. If I remember right, there was an at-grade Bellevue Way alignment in the final East Link EIS.

      2. I can’t fault Bellevue (or Kemper Freeman) for not wanting an at grade rail line along Bellevue Way, just like Seattle (or Nordstrom) does not want an at grade rail line along 3rd or 5th Ave. in lieu of the second transit tunnel, which is looking like it will cost $3.5 billion, with all five subareas chipping in (only the eastside subarea helped pay for Bellevue’s tunnel).

        Bellevue Way is pedestrian and retail rich. Retailers will still favor cars and trucks on the eastside after East Link opens, which is/was about commuting to Seattle. What city does want an at grade rail line through its commercial center?

        With the funding shortfalls in the N. King Co. subarea an at grade rail line through downtown Seattle may be a necessity if it is going to get built. Where would you put an at grade rail line through Seattle?

        Maybe if the eastside subarea was not on the hook for its share of the second transit tunnel through downtown Seattle, Bellevue could have afforded a tunnel under Bellevue Way for East Link, with Bellevue matching 1/2 the cost and the eastside subarea paying the rest, and skipping Bellevue’s other tunnel.

      3. Daniel, don’t take the bait. It’s fake news. Kemper Freeman never said he didn’t want light rail near his mall. And, it’s fake news that Bellevue bullied ST into accepting an alternative they didn’t want. It’s actually Bellevue that didn’t get their preferred alternative. ST got theirs.

        Sam. Proud Kemper Freeman supporter.

      4. What’s wrong with having “an at-grade rail line along Third Avenue” if it’s for trains to and from Seattle neighborhoods?

        Seriously, not that many folks “ride through” fron LQA to The Junction.

        Third Avenue will be a transit mall within two years, bank on it. The current “OK sometimes but not others” is crazy-making.

        Now I grant that getting through the section between Yesler and Dearborn would not be easy, recreating Market Street between Denny and Yesler would just mean tremoving a bunch of lights in Belltown and rwplacing them with STOP signs for the cross-streets.

        Not every street, of course. Stewart, Virginia and Lenora would synchronized lights, as would Battery and Wall. But most north of Stewart and even a few downtown — Marion and Cherry come to mind — would just have the cross-traffic stop. The buses and trains wouldn’t be that frequent.

        Trollies would use one set of stops and RR’s another, as happens today. They’d use the tracks in the middle to pass one another as is done in Portland.

        It would require a short section of tunnel from about Vine over to Harrison and Elliott, but that shouldn’t cost much.

      5. I think the best practice a Stadtbahn approach, so grade separation in downtowns rather than Tram-train like has been built in Portland, Dallas, and San Diego. Bellevue’s short tunnel through their CBD is consistent with this best practice and is consistent with the DSTT, ST3’s 2nd downtown tunnel, LA & Dallas’s downtown tunnels to upgrade their tram-trains, and a proposed downtown tunnel in Portland.

        Similarly, I’m open to a tunnel in Ballard (not as passionate as others), but feel strongly that future extensions north of Market should transition to at-grade operations as soon as technically feasible.

        So no, there’s nothing wrong with at-grade ‘rail’ on 3rd Ave, generically defined, but just be aware you are proposing a streetcar, not light rail. And since 3rd Ave will continue to have a very high volume of trolley buses, any streetcar probably belongs an an adjacent avenue, hence the CCC on 1st.

      6. No, AJ, I’m not proposing a “streetcar”. This would operate ordinary Kinkisharyo or Siemens LRV’s.

        Portland’s problem with its street operations is that A LOT of folks “ride through” between the east end trunk and Silicon Rainforest. The system outside downtown, the Rose Quarter and the stint around OMSI is freeway running or full-speed gated rail ROW everywhere except Interstate Avenue and East Burnside.

        Going through the Rose Quarter and Downtown makes those eastside-westside trips miserable.

        But that is NOT true of the WSBLE. While there would certainly be people riding from West Seattle to SLU and even a few to LQA or Smith Cove, almost none will be riding through to Ballard.

        Similarly, folks from Ballard who work at Starbucks will ride through to SoDo, but almost no one farther.

        In any case, the entire length of WSBLE is about 40% of MAX Blue Line so the “worst case” end-to-end trips will take much less time thah Gresham to Hillsboro.

        The speed penalty for through riders would be exacted on many fewer riders.

        Another complaint about street operations in Portland is the two-car-train limit Imposed by Portland’s short downtown blocks. You yourself — rightly and to great acclaim on STB — have proposed two-car trains for WSBLE.

    4. You can’t solve traffic congestion by unleashing more cars on a congested city. It’s that old physics puzzle “Can two objects occupy the same space?”

      The answer is, of course, “Not unless they have good liability insurance!”

      1. Johnny and his friends have just time-traveled.

        “How do you get back?” said Yo-less.

        “There’s a flash, and there you are,” said Kirsty.

        “And you’re back where you left?”

        “Of course not. Only if you didn’t move. Otherwise you go back to wherever you are now is going to be then.”

        “Even if there’s been something built there?” said Yo-less. “If there’s a lot of concrete, what happens?”

        “I don’t know,” Johnny said. “Probably you kind of… get lumped together.”

        There was a wail from Wobbler. “I don’t want to end up with just my arms sticking out of a concrete wall”

        “Oh, I don’t think it’d happen like that,” said Yo-less.

        Wobbler relaxed, but not much. “How would it happen then?”

        “What I think would happen is, see, all the atoms… would smash together suddenly and—”

        “And what?” said Kirsty.

        “—and… er… bang, good night, Europe,” said Yo-less. “You can’t argue with nuclear physics, sorry.”

        “My arms wouldn’t end up sticking out of a wall?” said Wobbler, why hadn’t quite caught up.

        “No,” said Yo-less.

        “Not a wall near here, anyway,” said Bigmac, grinning.

        –Johnny and the Bomb, chapter 5. (pp 85-90)

  7. Is there any scuttlebutt about what WSDOT will be doing to replace the retired Talgos? I understand they’ve been awarded some funding to buy replacement trainsets, and that for the time being, Amfleet and Horizon rolling stock is filling in where needed.

    The Talgos are pretty deeply associated with the Cascades brand at this point. I’d be surprised if they went with a different manufacturer for new trains.


      “Sound Transit voted for the East Link alignment with the Bellevue downtown tunnel 15-2, with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Council member Larry Phillips voting against. Seattle Council President Richard Conlin was absent.

      McGinn and other board members expressed concern over how much Sound Transit would have to pay if the financing of the tunnel, even if Bellevue were able to come through with the proposed $160 million in tax breaks, property acquisitions and other actions that would help pay for the tunnel.

      McGinn said that other future sections of the Sound Transit light rail system could be compromised if the Bellevue tunnel turns out to be more expensive than expected.

      The vote was lauded by the Bellevue City Council in a prepared statement released Thursday night.”

      (I guess McGinn didn’t understand how subarea equity works. I wonder if he opposes a second transit tunnel through Seattle, or advocates for an at grade line down 5th).

      The Wiki article gives an especially detailed history of the different proposals. Apparently Microsoft opposed a tunnel in Bellevue estimated at that time to cost $600 million, worried that it would delay the line to Microsoft. Bellevue later adopted an ethics code to address complaints against Balducci and Kevin Wallace. As usual it appears Bellevue got the route it wanted. Estimated costs for East Link back then: $3.6 – $3.9 billion, so cheer up N. King Co., ST underestimates all light rail projects. Freeman’s lawsuits against using the gas tax funded I-90 bridge are discussed (I had forgotten that).

    2. From what I’ve read, it is expected that they will piggyback on an eventual Amtrak order for single-level cars, most likely the Siemens Venture. With this, Cascades would end up with similar rolling stock to Amtrak Midwest, Amtrak California and Brightline.

      I’ve tried these on Brightline, and they are nice. I do wonder what effect the lack of tilting has on passenger comfort and run time between Seattle and Portland. I haven’t been on a SEA-PDX run on the old Horizon cars yet, so I can’t really compare.

      1. Sound Transit should boost link light rail service soon. Lumen field vaccination site is going to open this weekend and ramp up quickly. Thousands of people will travel to and from there daily for months. I say let’s boost service , making sure transit adequately serves the area. Let’s have trains running every 8 minutes, daily – including weekends begining on March 22!

      2. There aren’t really that many tight curves south of King Street. Where it will hurt to use heavyweight equipment is in acceleration and braking and in ths speeds at which they can negotiate those #24 cross-overs

      3. There are actually a fair number of curves that are rated 40mph for conventional equipment and 60 mph for the Talgos. The Talgos could actually go faster than this through many of the curves, but the limits are based on the locomotive weight and track impacts. If they could get someone to make a lighter locomotive, we could actually see some real improvements.

        In any event, it will probably add 20 minutes or so to the Porland-Seattle trip.

      4. Glenn,

        I can think of the “S” in Ridgefield and perhaps the curve at the “point” south of Kalama, and of course the wreck curve just north of Nisqually Junction, but where else are there 40 mph curves “south of King Street”.

        I guess there may be a couple passing through Milwaukee in south Portland, but trains are held to slower speeds there because of the grade crossings.

        I can be convinced, though.

      5. They’re scattered trough the entire line. Most are between Kelso and Chehalis. I can’t remember what Napavine is, but I think it’s in the 45 conventional passenger/67 Talgo range.

        The S curve south of Kalama is pretty tight too.

        Really, none of it is particularly straight, which is why they decided to use the Talgos in the first place. It was the only thing that would allow somewhat faster running with the existing line.

        The fastest trip ever run was in the 1970s with the Amtrak gas-turbine electrics, when they were trying to show what light weight trains with tilting technology could do. Today you could do it with light weight diesels, but nobody currently offers that package.

      6. Hmm, I once was lucky enough to ride one of the Seahawk Specials south out of Seattle and ended up in the dome car. That train was all “streamliner” (which used to be called “lightweight” but was that only in comparison to the old six-wheel truck Pennsy Broadway cars…) with the two west coast domes and it smoked all the way to Portland. The tunnel just north of Kelso was downright terrifying on approach even though all logic said “the Starlight and tri-levels go through this tunnel”…

        But man it came up in the headlight fast!

      7. The turboliners had tilting just like the Talgos, but also had a lightweight engine. This allowed them to go fully into the 3 inches of unbalanced superelevation allowed. It’s been a while since I read the article about their Portland-Seattle test trip, but it seems like it was in the 2:45 range.

        Without a detailed line profile, the only way I can inventory speed limits on curves for you is to try to find places where Google street view caught speed limit signs when passing by, and also failed to blot out the numbers because their camera technology thought the sign was a face, or something.

        Only one I’ve had time to successfully come up with so far is the one just south of Vader, which is 55 mph conventional passenger and 65 mph Talgo. I’d post a link to the picture, but doing so using the iPhone version of Google maps street view dumps it to the wrong location, so I’ll have to do it from work tomorrow or something.

    1. When ST starts testing East Link, I wonder if the trains will continue on to Northgate and switch to revenue service at IDS, continue to Northgate without passengers, or be turned back? If they did go into revenue service, it would give us an early boost in frequency, though it would come with the need for extra security sweeps, cleaning, and communication with southbound riders.

  8. I live on South Whidbey. That tunnel idea is the craziest dumb idea I’ve seen in a long while. Even if it were feasible for the imagined cost, nobody on either side would support it. Also that grade! The future of crossing the water around here is electric foot ferries between urban centers, electric car ferries with electric vehicles, and robust intermodal connections at ferry terminals. Here’s a low hanging fruit for improving access to Whidbey: Have Cascades stop at the brand new Mukilteo terminal and train station! This would give a car-free, non-commuter timed regional connection to Mukilteo and Whidbey that would likely generate a helluva lot more riders than the Stanwood Station, especially in summer.

    1. +1000. Very well said, sir. Adding four minutes to the Cascades timing between Seattle and Bellingham is worth it for better connectivity to Whidbey. The bus access to Mukilteo is abysmal, as I’m sure you know.

    2. It’s not clear how much of a difference Cascades service to Mukilteo would really make. You’re talking about a train running (pre-COVID) twice a day connecting to a ferry that runs every 30 minutes, with a bus on the other side running once per hour on weekdays and not at all on weekends. In the southbound direction, the train is coming all the way Vancouver, and can easily be an hour or more late, depending on what’s going on further north. On top of that, the train has very limited stops, so if your ultimate destination in Seattle is say, Green Lake, you also lose another hour traveling to King St. Station before you can even get on the train.

      What Mukilteo really needs is a fast shuttle bus to the nearest Link station, timed to the ferry schedule. While it’s probably not going to happen in 2024, it could very well could happen in 2044, with Paine Field Station much closer to Mukilteo than Lynnwood Station. The shuttlebus wouldn’t even need to be particularly frequent, simply running every 30 minutes to match the ferry would be good enough. You could probably run it with just one bus.

      And, of course, the Whidbey Island transit on the other side of the ferry would need to improve dramatically.

      1. Lynnwood to Mukilteo express every 30 minutes could probably be done with 2 busses off peak, 3 during peak. With one bus, you could match every other ferry departure.

      2. Right, but that’s assuming that Mukilteo to Lynnwood is one of CT’s priorities and I’m guessing it’s not. Simply straightening the 113, without doing anything else, would leave coverage holes unless filled by an extension or detour to some other route.

        In theory, CT could run the 113 and 417 side by side using resources freed by by Lynnwood Link, but I could easily see them deciding that the Mukilteo ridership potential is limited and spending the money elsewhere. For instance, the Swift Blue Line extension to 185th costs money. Edmonds/Lynnwood frequency is poor, and in need of upgrades. The Swift Green Line needs an extension to Bothell. CT also has a ton of hourly milk runs all over the system (including the 113), which could be upgraded to at least half-hourly.

        When Paine Field Station opens, the case for a quick Mukilteo->Link connection becomes stronger, since the marginal cost of running it becomes much less. For instance, the “shuttle” could be implemented by simply extending the 113 to Paine Field, rather than creating a whole new route.

      3. @asdf2: CT’s Commuter buses have more than enough to around, and besides, the service-hours are already in that corridor to begin with.

    3. The future of crossing the water around here is electric foot ferries between urban centers, electric car ferries with electric vehicles, and robust intermodal connections at ferry terminals.

      Yeah, I agree.

      I think once Link gets to Lynnwood, it makes sense to run an all-day 417, terminated at Lynnwood. Then I would live loop the 113 via Harbor Pointe Boulevard and the Mukilteo Speedway (riders in that section would catch it going clockwise). I would try to run the new 417 every 15 minutes, but if that is too expensive, I would try and time it with the ferry (every half hour). The 113 would be timed with the bus as well (so that riders could continue on from places like Harbor Pointe to Mukilteo, as they do now).

      Paying for it would be an issue. It would make sense for ST to chip in — this is definitely within their mandate, to connect distant places across county lines — but they don’t have any money (and have different priorities). CT isn’t exactly loaded. Neither is Island County, and it would be weird for them to chip in for some other county’s bus service. Ideally the state would chip in. It would reduce the need for so many car ferries (it has to be cheaper to run a pedestrian ferry than a car ferry) and could really be seen as part of the ferry system. I could also see a small increase in car ferry fare going into funding the bus service. It shouldn’t be that expensive. While it wouldn’t carry a ton of riders, it is a relatively short bus trip (less than a half hour by my calculation).

      It takes vision, but would lead to a change in behavior. I know someone who lives on the island, and when he visits, he just reluctantly drives. If he could get right off the ferry onto a bus that would get him to Lynnwood Link, it would definitely change his approach (and save him some money).

      1. “Paying for it would be an issue.”
        That’s the problem in a nutshell. Yes, CT will free up some much-needed service $$ with the truncation of the 417 at the Lynnwood TC once the LR reaches that northern terminus in a few more years, and that should allow for this new “417”* all-day service, perhaps half-hourly with some 15-minute headways during peak hours. I think that part is possible, but I don’t see enough service $$ being freed up to improve the situation with the 113, which certainly could use an increase in frequency. Obviously this would come with increased capital and operational costs. This is a coverage route for the area and, as you undoubtedly know, only runs every hour outside of the peak periods. I live pretty close to this area and the biggest complaint I hear from riders is not about the Harbour Pointe loop but rather the lack frequency. I think that this is and has been a key factor in suppressing the route’s ridership, which is unfortunate given the number of residential infill projects within the route’s walkshed I’ve seen go in over the last decade.

        Now if the state (one can dream, right?) or ST were to step up and help fund the newly-envisioned all-day “417” as you suggested in your comment, then the calculus changes obviously.

        *the route would most likely be renumbered to fit within CT’s longstanding route numbering scheme

      2. Seems like the 417 becomes a decent all-day route post-Lynwood Link simply looking at Mukilteo riders. The ferry is a useful anchor but I don’t think it’s even needed to make the case for the route.

        Some have also proposed an all-day STX route serving more-or-less the 417 corridor in lieu of Sounder service to Mukilteo. Perhaps Snohomish could pitch this route to the ST Board as an all day counterpart of Sounder service, simillar to how Puyallup/Sumner/Auburn are likely to have good STX service to FW Link when Sounder isn’t running. This might be a good chip to play as a concession for deferring Everett Link (particularly since at least some of Everett is likely to face major delays). ST could commit to running the route until Link gets beyond Mariner, for example.

      3. @Tslgwm: It seems like truncating the 417/880 at Lynwood would only allow for about 11 hours of 30-minute headways. To boost things enough, you’d need to throw in the 413/415 service hours. I would just throw all the service hours into a streamlined version of the 113, with its milk-run sections shifted over to the 112 or 119 (to terminate at Seaway). With all those service hours, you could the 113 running every 10 minutes at peak, 15 minutes midday, and have service to midnight on weekdays.

  9. For the love of Pete, do not dig up and move a toxic landfill for a light rail yard. ST has enough money problems without adding another billion dollar problem to the mix. South Federal Way would work great.

    1. Reading the tea leaves, I think ST wants to walk away from the landfill option. They have to publish costs to justify it.

      There are “mounds” of landfill reuse horror stories. Here is a recent one near Cleveland:

      It’s a mess! The lesson is DON’T DO IT! Reinforcing the ground so that it doesn’t sink under rail tracks, methane and disturbing the buried material are just a few of the issues.

      Of course, I personally think that the South OMF should be as close to Tacoma as is feasible. Otherwise mostly or fully empty trains are running miles to the end to start a full run.

      1. Exactly. Somewhere on the north edge of Fife by the big rail yard for the Port of Tacoma would be perfect. Yes, something would have to be knocked down for the couple of blocks north of Old Highway 99, but as you say, it would greatly reduce deadhead miles.

      2. I think the Port is focusing on using that land to create a national logistics hub. Even though it’s industrial land, I don’t think a light rail OMF is the best use of that space because there’s zero synergy between heavy freight rail and a Link OMF.

      3. AJ, of course there’s no “synergy between freight railroading and light rail OMF”. Except the track gauge and a need for industrial land.

        The Port of Tacoma is a LONG way from being “a National Logistics hub”. They don’t even have on-dock ship-to-rail container transfer. But their dreams may sink the possibility of having the OMF around SR 509. I did not know of this objective.

      4. The ST reason presented during the screening of sites for the OMF was that it needed to be opened to train operations before Tacoma Dome Link began operating — so that Fife wasn’t suitable. I always found that logic odd as East Link is in a similar sequencing issue and the ST didn’t site the East OMF to be accessible to Central Link trains before East Link’s opening.

        There appears to be another unspoken reason for excluding Fife sites for the South OMF — so maybe it was the Port or it was the tribe or it was something else. I wonder if we will ever know.

      5. Was going off of this article, as the UPS facility is roughly were an OMF would go, and UPS’s recent announcement to build a $100M facility at Boeing field:

        The OMF-S is to open in 2026, while Tacoma Dome Link is going to open much later than that, so it appears to be basic project scheduling rather than some grand conspiracy. The OMFS is essential to WSBLE operations, so real issue appears to be ST’s instance on running WS as a stub. If Seattle was wiling commit to opening Tacoma Dome prior to any part of WSBLE, then sure the OMF-S could open in FIFE. But since WS is an immovable political object and half of Pierce wants to just walk away from TDLE, I think it’s pretty reasonable to tie the OMF-S to FW.

        Also, post-COVID project phasing means we are likely to open partial extensions in South King and Snohomish without having reached either Fife or the Everett MIC, so one of the OMFs (N or S) needs to be built outside of one of the major industrial areas, and since OMF-S is first it’ll be the one, while OMF-N can likely wait until Link gets far enough north for placement in the Everett MIC.

    2. My initial thought was, “well this is clever way to reuse land that is otherwise wasted space” but the cost numbers don’t justify it.

      Now my best hope is that landfill remediation can come from a different source (Superfund?) and ST could use that for land a future OMF expansion in a few decades (ST5?)

  10. Citylab links.

    Berkeley and Sacramento abolish single-family zoning, joining the wave of Minneapolis and Oregon. San Jose and South San Francisco are considering it.

    Sweden turns the idea of a 15-minute city into a one-minute city. It involves amenity units sized to fit into parking spaces, including “seating planters, bike or scooter racks, children’s play spaces or electric car charging stations attached”. They can be connected together in adjacent spaces. A kind of Ikea parklet.

    1. Thanks for the links, Mike. I had read about the Berkeley plan from another source but knew nothing about the situation in Sacramento. The latter kind of surprised me honestly and really puts Seattle to shame.

    1. That’s big news. Incorporating the ETL extension into Stride was a big win vs the original ST3 plan IMO, as it allowed for the Brickyard, Canyon Park, and Bothell ‘hub’ stations to all be inline rather than in general traffic. So bummer if it cannot open, but probably necessary as the ETLs are what allow for 405 Stride to be more than just STX in a different color.

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