44 Replies to “Weekend open thread: box-jacking a rail underpass in a day”

  1. The video shows how expedited grade separated projects can be done. Still, it looks like it’s most suitable for sandy soils that can easily bind to concrete — in places like Florida and Long Island.

    1. There might be some places in the soggy Pacific Northwest where the technique could work, but it wouldn’t be useful for undercutting Link in Rainier Valley. All the electrical lines and water lines are buried next to the Link right-of-way.

  2. It’s soon going to be time to start asking the question – what conditions need to happen before mandatory masks on buses and trains are not necessary anymore.

    At this point, a complete eradication of COVID is looking more and more unrealistic. Do we consider it good enough if King County reaches herd immunity , even if outbreaks are still happening elsewhere? On paper, King County has few enough Republicans that herd immunity by summer could actually happen.

    One scenario I hope we’re not headed for is a world where masks remain mandatory on transit indefinitely, but become optional everywhere else. If people have to go through the extra burden of carrying a mask around, just for transit, and don’t need it to go into buildings, that’s one more inducement for people with means to stop riding. And, if people with means stop riding transit, the political will to properly fund it will inevitably drop off with it (that’s how politics works), leaving the people without alternatives stuck with much worse service.

    1. While I’m not a public health expert, I would think it would be reasonable to remove indoor mask mandates a few months after all adults have had the opportunity to become vaccinated. The vaccines we have are so efficacious, even against variants, that the risk to the vaccinated will be incredibly low, likely lower than the risk of ending up in the hospital or dying from flu. Obviously there will still be some risk to the unvaccinated, and I certainly sympathize with those who will be unvaccinated due to circumstances beyond their control (though these folks by and large will unfortunately be at risk from *any* infectious diseases), but I don’t think we should hold up society for the people who willfully choose not to become vaccinated.

    2. Percent vaccinated in Capitol Hill: 56%. Percent vaccinated in Sammamish: 72%. Capitol Hill is filled with Republicans. Who knew?

      1. Or maybe Sammamish has a bunch more people older than 65 who have been eligible for months, or able to drive long distances to gobble up vaccines elsewhere in the state?

      2. I’m not sure your point Sam. There is a fairly well known reluctance amongst Trump supporters to vaccinate. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04/20/vaccine-hesitant-republicans/). It is a big enough issue that public health officials are concerned (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/19/fauci-disturbing-that-some-wont-take-covid-vaccine-because-of-politics.html). This could have real world ramifications in the area, as we go from “I’m still waiting to get my shot” to “Shots are as easy to get as a latte”.

        Are you arguing that there are very few Trump supporters in King County, including Sammamish? If so, that is quite reasonable. Trump has divided the Republican Party, and while there are a significant number of non-Trump Republicans in Sammamish (way more than in Capitol Hill), there aren’t many Trump supporters. That is basically what Skylar was getting it, when he wrote “On paper, King County has few enough Republicans that herd immunity by summer could actually happen.” This was not in reference to Republicans who voted for Bill Bryant or Rob McKenna, but Republicans who supported Trump and Culp. You know, morons. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHJbSvidohg).

      3. Ross, I was replying to a specific comment from asdf2: “On paper, King County has few enough Republicans that herd immunity by summer could actually happen.”

        I went to King County’s website. Halfway down the page, Proportion of King County residents with documented vaccination, by zip code of residence.
        I selected 50+ age group. One thing that map tells me is, there isn’t a pattern of Republican dominated areas being less vaccinated, and Democratic dominated areas being more vaccinated. “Yeah, Sam, but if you compare New Hampshire and Montana, what you will find is ….” I’m not talking about other states. Asdf2 was talking specially about King County, and less Republicans in the county means a quicker herd immunity. My point is, I don’t think the stats from the County’s zip code vaccination map supports his assertion.

        https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/vaccination.aspx

      4. According to 2020 precinct level voting data, Sammamish voted very similarly to the rest of Eastside, with about a 70/30 split. Sammamish may have leaned Republican 20 years ago, but that’s certainly not the case today.

        It’s a poster child of educated suburbanites moving away from the party of Trump. On top of the fact that a lot of new houses have been built there, and the people moving into them from the rest of the Puget Sound region are taking their politics with them.

      5. Capitol Hill’s demographic is pretty young and they’ve only recently become eligible for the vaccine. Enumclaw’s zip code, where the politics get pretty red, is at 44.4% overall. What’s the explanation for that?

    3. How about those with vaccine cards get to sit in the front of the bus or train car, and those without have to sit in the back.

      Wait…. what!

    4. We should start having the discussions even if we aren’t there yet, so thank you for putting this out there. I’ve been pondering it myself. I do think rules requiring masks on transit and in buildings will continue in lockstep, however, so the scenario where transit is the only mask-requiring location may be unlikely to happen.

      I don’t think mask mandates will go away anytime soon, however, because there is no political cost for continuing to require them. In fact, I’d argue in Seattle at least there is a strong pro-mask political force that would come down hard against Inslee if he removed the mandates (& likely push King County / Seattle to impose their own mandate). Adherence to mandates is incredibly high, ~95% outside in my deep blue neighborhood and 100% indoors, where I haven’t seen an unmasked person indoors at a non-restaurant in months. Liberal social media (yes, not real life) is full of “always wearing masks forever” people.

      Most likely scenario to me: masks remain required indoors, on transit, and at parks, but become explicitly optional on sidewalks by late summer. Rules continue into 2022 for inside spaces, anticipating another major surge this winter, and then perhaps summer ’22 rules get relaxed.

      1. Last fall, I was strongly on the side of mask mandates. While I still support them now, my view has become a bit more nuanced.

        Overall, I think a distinction needs to be made between outdoor and indoor situations. Outdoors, I think masks should be optional in general, and only required for special events where large numbers of people are gathering in close contact for an extended period of time. The risk of catching the virus when passing an infected person on a sidewalk or hiking trail is extremely low because the amount of time you are within 6 of the other person is just a couple of seconds and, if you’re really paranoid, you can always just hold your breath as you pass. In fact, outdoor mask mandates gone overboard can actually *increase* the spread of the virus by encouraging people to move their maskless friend-to-friend conversations indoors, rather than outdoors.

        Indoors is a totally different situation, since the science is very well established that this is where the virus actually spreads. My personal opinion would be to keep it mandatory for now, but once everyone who is waiting to get a vaccine has had time to get both doses, make it optional (but be prepared to make it mandatory again later if a vaccine resistant virus variant starts circulating).

        There will always be some segment of the population who will want mandatory masks, even after vaccinations brings the virus under control, until COVID is completely eradicated (which I doubt will ever happen). I personally think that level is going too far.

      2. I agree with both comments. I think indoor mask mandates will be the same everywhere (on the bus and in a restaurant). You will probably see more people breaking the rules as things get better.

        Outdoors is a different story. As it is, lots of people walk around the parks without a mask on (myself included). I put it on when I encounter people, but honestly, it is mostly a courtesy (although I’m a bit concerned about some of the variants being more easily spread). Even before I was vaccinated the risk was extremely low. You really have to be in a big crowd for a long time to spread it, and by midsummer, it will be hard to spread (hopefully).

        Long term, I expect more social acceptance of masks. It will be similar to Asian countries. You will see them a lot at airports. Either people wearing them because they have a cold, or wearing them to avoid one. The same thing will happen on the streets.

        It is quite likely the county will reach herd immunity much faster than the rest of the country, and this country will reach herd immunity much faster than the rest of the world. This will create a very weird situation. My guess is life will more or less go back to normal, but there will be flare ups, not unlike measles flare-ups. Its a little different, because measles is treatable. But for those who have been vaccinated, a typical flu will pose a greater risk of serious complications of death. From a public health standpoint, once an area has reached local herd immunity, it is much easier to manage.

    1. It doesn’t propose it, it suggests to explore it and several other ideas. The biggest thing I see is the request to extend the realignment process to July 2022, with “select” (unspecified) actions in 2021. That would give the board another year to decide what to do. If the pandemic recedes this year, it would also give more clarity on how commute patterns after covid will change. ST3 can’t proceed much until ST2 is finished anyway because 2/3 of the revenue is going into ST2.

      The fundamental issue is that realignment may force the board to reprioritize projects. That would affect some subareas more than others, and the ones who lose the most will resist. They don’t want to get into “My projects are more important than your projects” because that turns into a circular firing squad and hurts people’s feelings and makes them feel their projects are being cut from unfairly. So they’re trying to avoid this as long as they can. And they don’t want to show their cards until all of them show them at once, because the first one to offer a concession will probably find that one cut the most. (“You said it wasn’t that important or could wait.”)

      1. Another year of the realignment process wouldn’t accomplish anything. Ridership will be down from 2019 levels, but all the pressure will be on the board to keep spending in the key areas.

        Nobody’s feelings are going to get hurt if Seattle’s projects get priority $$ — that’s where the numbers are and the Tacoma mayor or whoever can’t stop it.

    2. Extending the plan doesn’t solve the issue of exceed the debt limits in the 2030s. I’m not sure why they proposed that. Maybe they want to take some of the projects at the end of the line and push them out even further to create capacity for higher N King spend?

      I assumed that some project would have to open after 2040, but perhaps that’s not official yet and they are creating that groundwork. If the current plan requires all the projects to be finished in 2040, then some projects will need to be deferred, but if the plan is extended, those projects can remain “in the plan” opening in 2043/46. IMO there’s no difference, but the messaging would be very different (“don’t worry the project is still fully funded!”) so politically it could be a savvy move. Everett Link in particular is a candidate to be broken up into phases and the final phase pushed out into that 2045 timeframe, so perhaps this is a move by N King to offer Snohomish some of Everett Link early*/on time but the rest significantly delayed.

      *Politically, I think a smart move by King would be to offer Snohomish as much as Everett Link as can be built without the 4th OMF (certainly Alderwood, probably Ash Way, maybe Mariner) as an early win, in return for deferring the ‘rest’ of Everett Link construction until after the core of WSBLE construction is complete. If I’m Snohomish, I think I’d take just Alderwood station in 2030 and Mariner in 2038, rather than Lynnwood to Mariner in 2036 (dates illustrative)

      1. AJ, how does extending or cutting projects in Snohomish Co. affect ST3 in N. King Co., or the W. Seattle – Ballard line? They are separate subareas. The critical issue for W. Seattle to Ballard is the second tunnel, how to fund the true cost, and whether the four other subareas will or can contribute above the original cost estimate of $2.2 billion.

        How do you tell one of the four other subareas their projects that are finally coming to them will be delayed or cut, but each has to pay an additional $276 million for the second tunnel, if all goes well?

        N. King Co. did approach Snohomish Co. about a loan to complete the line to the Snohomish Co. line on the basis that would speed up service from Sno Co. to Seattle but Sno Co. declined.

        My guess is ST is dreaming of ST 4 somewhere down the line. Cutting or extending projects in subareas that have seen no rail yet and are the hardest to sell would not seem wise IMO if you want to sell ST 4.

        I think completing the spine is more important than ST 3 in N. King Co.,, especially since it doesn’t require a second transit tunnel. To be honest the idea of digging a very deep tunnel under 5th Ave. with all those tall buildings on each side seems like a huge risk, and ST doesn’t even know who will or can pay for it, or what it will actually cost.

      2. The alignment process is driven by AGENCY wide financial constraints, specifically the debt limits in the bond covenants, not the financial constraints of a specific subarea. Subarea equity informs HOW the Board will go about the realignment process, but it has nothing to do with WHY ST is going through realignment. Deferring the construction phase of certain project out of the 2030s creates financial capacity for the overall agency, regardless of the subarea of those projects.

        ST isn’t ‘dreaming’ of an ST4, it’s explicitly planned for in the ST3 documents.

        (sorry for all-caps but I don’t know how to bold text)

      3. “Deferring the construction phase of certain project out of the 2030s creates financial capacity for the overall agency, regardless of the subarea of those projects.”

        I’m trying to follow your thinking. If in the ongoing realignment a project is scheduled for completion in 2042 instead of in 2039, do you think all five subareas would get two-plus years of additional tax revenue to play with for their projects? Deferring the start of construction of a project would not increase the revenues “pie” for all the subareas.

      4. “do you think all five subareas would get two-plus years of additional tax revenue to play with for their projects” – yes, I believe the value of extending the financial plan is to ‘unlock’ those additional years of tax revenue for new projects.

        Right now, funds beyond the completion of the plan are fully dedicated to O&M, SOGR, and paying down debt.

      5. “Extending the plan doesn’t solve the issue of exceed the debt limits in the 2030s.”

        Yes it does. Extending the plan means postponing some of the expenditures that were scheduled for the over-ceiling period. Postponing contracts makes them finish later. Yes, the net effect is to get more revenue, but the changes happen in the 2030s when the expenditures don’t occur.

        In ST’s terminology, delaying projects means extending the timeline. Deferring projects means moving then out of ST3 so they’re unscheduled again. Deleting projects means erasing them from the long-term plan too. If I remember Graham Station was deferred in ST1, deleted in ST2, and re-added in ST3. Lynnwood Link has a deferred station at 220th St SW in Mountlake Terrace.

        It’s too early to say whether there will be an ST4 or what might be in it. I doubt it’s on the board’s radar now. ST3 was increased from a 15-year plan to a 25-year plan in order to fit things that were previously assumed to be for ST4. ST wanted to get the voter authorization done so it wouldn’t have to go back for them, and then it could take as long as it needed to finish them. it’s not likely to throw away that authorization (defer some projects) and then have to win it back again. Anything can happen in the realignment or afterward, but it’s unlikely ST would defer anything, or any large projects.

        ST is already thinking about splitting Everett Link into Mariner and Everett phases, Tacoma Dome Link into Fife and Tacoma Dome phases, and Ballard and West Seattle Link into a Smith Cove-Delridge phase followed by the tails.

      6. ” I believe the value of extending the financial plan is to ‘unlock’ those additional years of tax revenue for new projects.”

        So the more Sound Transit delays, the more taxing it does. THAT is why Durkan, Constantine, and Balducci want to delay — to tax more.

      7. “In ST’s terminology, delaying projects means extending the timeline.”

        In ST’s terminology, delaying projects primarily means extending the taxing. That creates a bigger pool of assets available to dole out to favored interests.

      8. Daniel, the tunnel will be deep enough that the tall buildings — even with their deep foundations — won’t be the problem. The problem is Midtown Station. If necessary ST can emulate Park Avenue West and dig over-under rather than side-by-side tubes. That would allow for a narrower station as well as a narrower trackway.

        However, you’re arguing out of both sides of your mouth. You prophesy that downtown Seattle will be a hollowed-out dystopian Hell of junkies and publically-defecating lunatics while also predicting that the existing tunnel simply can’t accommodate Ballard and West Seattle trains, a la ST.

        Jonathan and I have shown how to connect a branch to SLU and Ballard to the existing tunnel east of Westlake Center. With such a connection and with overpasses for Lander and Holgate and barriers at Lower Royal Brougham to allow very frequent trains along the busway, in the burned-out downtown Seattle of your prophesy, there will be plenty of capacity in DSTT1.

        If somehow the inept Commies who run Seattle manage to band-aid downtown sufficiently that enough brave suburbanites want to return to jobs there that Lines 2 and 3 fill DSTT1 with trains, sales, property and tab taxes will have rebounded enough to cover the remaining projected shortfall.

        So which is it? Will Seattle pull itself up by its frayed bootstraps or sink into a hedonistic miasma? Tune in tomorrow, kids, for another thrilling episode of Dump on Seattle!

      9. The problem with extending the timeline is it is invariably offset by increased costs. There general inflation but the killer with transit is ROW acquisition costs. As the area grows land prices go way up. Then there’s the general overhead of the agency “planning to plan” as they are chewing through cash now. On top of that you’ve got the cost of operating ST Express which is in theory a placeholder for Link. And as the area grows there is demand for more bus service.

        And as time has shown, time and time again, you can’t really “plan” 30 years out. It relies on PSRC guesstimates that are way off. It relies on economic assumptions that don’t account for major changes in industry and technology. And nobody can “plan” for what government will do even 2 years out.

  3. Commute planning question: How would you commute from downtown Ballard (24th/Market) to Capitol Hill (11th/E Pike)?

    As I see it there are several options:
    1) 40 (to SLU) to 8
    2) 40 (to DT) to some combination of Link/2/11/12/49
    3) 44 (to UW Station) to Link

    Knowing how bad the 8 has been at rush hour, I was initially leaning towards 40 to 11/49, preferring the 11 but taking the first arriving. Also IIRC the 2 and 40 overlap downtown stops somewhat so could jump on a 2 if it was coming.

    Anyone have thoughts? Am I missing other options?

    1. Ballard to Capitol Hill is one of those trips we often talk about; you’d think there’d be a more direct way but there isn’t. I lived in Ballard (15th & 65th) and now live in southwest Capitol Hill, so that’s almost your two endpoints. I haven’t been to Ballard much recently and I don’t know what the 40 is like at rush hour but that’s probably your best bet. You’d definitely want to take a Pike/Pine route (10, 11, 49) because the 2, 8, and 12 get caught in traffic bottlenecks. They may not be bad right now but they are during normal times. Talking the 44 to UW would be a long slow ride, especially during rush hour, and then it takes five minutes to walk into the station. UW Station was not designed to be the major transfer point in north Seattle; it’s just pressed into that role until U-District Station opens in October. When it opens we’ll have to reevaluate the options; then the 44 might be faster. You could also take the 40 to Westlake and Link to Capitol Hill. That’s a tradeoff because Link is faster but less frequent compared to the 10/11/49.

      1. If I were Alex, I’d try each way, then try UD Station in Oct., then decide which I liked best. Fastest isn’t always best. A slower option might be less crowded. Personally, I’d eventually go for the 44 + Link at UD Station. But, if everyone in Ballard starts doing that to get downtown, and the 44 becomes too crowded, I’d switch to the 40.

    2. Google suggests another option. Just get one of the 44 buses that becomes a 43. Stay on it until you get close.

      In general I would say Mike’s advice sounds right. Personally I would try several things, and see which one works out well. The 8 may not be as slow as it was in the past — Google puts it as one of the faster options, the only reason it isn’t the best is because of the longer walk. Which brings up another point — it may depend on how fast you walk, and how much you want to do. It also depends on how the buses are timed (i. e. how much waiting you will encounter). For that you probably want to experiment.

      1. The 43/44 through-route is only for a subset of trips now, though eastbound I think you can tell the difference because a native 44 is signed UW MED CTR while a 44 that will become a 43 is signed UW STADIUM (the actual route display changes between Roosevelt and the Ave). It’s somewhat bizarre because the UW MED CTR buses actually layover closer to the stadium while the 43 gets closer to UWMC, but I assume there’s some historical rationale for it.

        I guess worst-case you can transfer to Link if you end up on a 44, and just stay on the bus if you end up on a 43.

      2. Yeah, that’s why I wrote “one of the” 44 buses. You would have to check the schedule to make sure you get the right one. Like you wrote, worse case scenario you transfer to Link.

    3. I used to commute from the Ballard core to Pine and Broadway for an 8-5 job. I would take an express (15X in that day) to 1st and Pine and walk up the hill. I would usually pace or beat the 10 or 11 up the hill because traffic was that bad, plus the turn at Bellevue took a lot of time

      My company moved 10 years ago and since then, a lot has changed in bus routes and infrastructure, though I’m guessing as traffic starts to comes back, the walk from (now) 3rd to 11th/Pike may still be competitive, assuming you’re a decent walker. It definitely gets your blood moving in the morning!

      I would echo Sam’s thought about the 44 to Brooklyn Station. I would definitely have considered that had my office still been on Capitol Hill.

      1. Thanks everyone – I appreciate all of the ideas. The other more extreme option on the table is to move to optimize the commute – Roosevelt Station area for example, no desire to go back to living on Capitol Hill at my age now ;). But all up in the air with the restrictions ongoing, not sure it is worth moving if WFH is going to continue for a long time.

        Seems like one of those situations where flexibility is the key. 40-11/49 seems like the baseline, minimizing walking. 44-Link is a clutch backup once the Link expansion opens for those days when downtown is messed up for some reason, as long as that reason doesn’t mess up Link.

      2. Its definitely a moving target. Once in a while, the city addresses the biggest backups. That will happen with the 40 in a couple years. The 8 saw an improvement not that long ago, and I think they are chipping away at the 44. Likewise, the frequencies could change, which could alter everything as well. As Mike mentioned, it is a very interesting trip. I hope you comment again about your experience.

    4. It’s not super obvious, but my inclination would be to start by taking the 40 to Westlake and Denny. From there, if the 8 is close enough back that you can see it, take it. Otherwise, walk down 9th to Pike, avoiding the slog through downtown/Belltown. At 9th/Pike, check for an approaching 11 or 49. If you see it, hop on. Otherwise, just hoof it up the hill because it’s only a few more blocks and not worth waiting.

      Alternatively, if you’re willing to substitute physical effort for mental effort, you can just start jogging from Westlake/Denny and not even bother checking for an approaching bus. It’s 1.2 miles to the destination.

      Skipping the bus altogether and riding a bike down the Burke Gilman/Westlake Trail is another very good option, and even with the hill climb might get you there faster.

      If you really want a route that minimizes walking, you would need to stay on the 40 to 3rd/Pike and take the 11/49 from there, but the total travel time will likely be longer that way.

  4. What are the best parks for seeing the colorful spring flowers? My favorite is Kubota Garden, followed by house yards, particularly 17th Ave E between John and Aloha. I’d think the Arboretum would be good but the last couple times I’ve been there I’ve been disappointed.

    1. This piece in the Seattle PI might be of help. Personally I love the Bellevue Botanical Garden for their cultivated gardens as well the trails through the natural parts of the park. I usually go later in the summer though to check out their dahlia beds. I’m not sure if I’ve ever gone there this early in the year. It’s a great place to go on a nice afternoon for a relaxing walk around and having a brown bag or picnic lunch. I’m not sure how accessible it is by transit though, which I know is important for you.

      I like wandering around the gardens at the Ballard Locks too sometimes. It gets quite busy there in the summer months of course, particularly on the weekends. (I’m sure you already know this of course.) I think a lot of visitors go over there to watch the salmon going thru the ladder and the boats passing through the locks but commonly pass right by the gardens without taking some time to check them out. I actually hunted down a couple of varieties of roses that I saw there one summer to plant in my own front yard. (I’m typically not heavy into rose plantings, because they’re kind of high maintenance to keep them looking their best and vulnerable to so many maladies, but, hey, I was inspired! Lol.)

      Wherever you decide to go, I would suggest that you not put it off much longer. With the mild weather we had at the end of winter and the warm, sunny days we had recently at the early part of spring, all of the spring-blooming perennials I have on my property are either now in full or close-to-full bloom (my azaleas, rhodies, forsythias, etc.), have already bloomed and are at the tail end of their bloom cycle (my ornamental cherry trees as well as my regular cherry and plum trees) or have already completed their cycle (my camelia shrubs, grape hyacinths, daffoldils, etc.).

      Good luck and report back as to where you ultimately end up going.

      https://www.seattlepi.com/thingstodo/slideshow/best-places-in-seattle-to-see-spring-flowers-219304.php

      1. The Bellevue Botanical Gardens is within walking distance of the B. I’ve mostly gone there at Christmastime for the Garden d’Lights (mini Christmas light strings shaped like plants and animals — the volunteer spend all year making them). I’ve only been there once in the sunnier season and I don’t remember anything specific, but that’s a good idea, I’ll try it.

        Thanks also for the P-I article. I stopped reading it after it became a cesspool of intrusive ads.

      2. Year, I hear you. Sadly that’s what has become of the PI and so many other online media sources, with and without paywalls.

        Here are the places listed in the article, a couple of which we have already discussed:

        1. Kubota Gardens
        Beautiful Japanese architecture is interlaced with peaceful streams, idyllic waterfalls and ponds in this hidden gem of a park which holds impactful history for Seattle’s Japanese community. The high-arched moon bridge surrounded by blooming flowers makes for a photo-op that is both serene and perfect for spring.

        2. Seward Park
        While the University of Washington is advising residents to view their famous cherry blossoms virtually this year to avoid crowding campus, there are plenty of other spectacular spots to view the blooms, including Seward Park. With a view of Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier, the 300-acre park makes for an excellent picnic date or leisurely stroll.

        3. Bellevue Botanical Garden
        Escape the city and surround yourself in nature at Bellevue’s beautiful 53 acres of cultivated gardens, woodlands and wetlands.
        Their Rhododendron Glen includes 50 different rhododendrons while their Fuchsia Garden, which generally blooms in the summer, is often visited by hummingbirds. A serene, Japanese garden that features vibrant azaleas and viburnums, typically fragrant in the early spring, is also a must visit.

        4. Azalea Way at the Washington Park Arboretum
        This mile-long walk features bright azaleas, rhododendrons, flowering cherries, dogwoods, and magnificent magnolias all set within an evergreen forest background. One of the most iconic features of Washington Park Arboretum, the strip of land actually has history that reaches back to the 1890s as it was the skid road used to log the surrounding forest.

        5. Carl S. English Botanical Garden
        Named after one of the Northwest’s leading horticulturists, this 7-acre botanical park next to the Ballard Locks is replete with 500 plant species. The namesake himself even discovered three new rare spcies: Talinum okanoganense (fameflower), Lewisia rupicola (bitter root), and Claytonia nivalis (spring beauty).

        6. Seattle Japanese Garden
        Another spot for cherry blossom viewing is the tranquil Japanese Gardens in the Arboretum. Like most other places, the garden is monitoring capacity and does require timed reservation slots for popular weekend days. For kids, both the Arboretum and Kubota Gardens are offering spring exploration kits that include scavenger hunts and treasure maps in the parks to keep them entertained.

        7. Parsons Gardens
        The beautiful, well-kept greenery and flowers of this secluded public park makes it a perfect spot to sit on the lawn and admire spring blooms on a sunny day. Hydrangeas, which bloom in the early summer, line the park’s pathways with blue and white flowers.Parsons Gardens was a gift to the city in 1956 by Reginald H. Parsons’ family, and the quaint Queen Anne oasis is often used for ceremonies.

        8. Woodland Park Rose Garden
        Adjacent to the Woodland Park Zoo, the Rose Garden is every gardener’s dream, featuring 200 varieties of fragrant, colorful roses.
        Sit on a bench or stroll through the well-kept, 2.5 acres of land that is home to over 3,000 individual plants.
        [Ed: For me this place is better to view in the summer. I used to ride my bike up here from Wallingford sometimes on nice summer days to get some fresh air and sun, people watch, read, etc.. But I would definitely suggest waiting for a few more weeks to see roses anywhere.]

        9. Highline Sea-Tac Botanical Gardens
        When the home and garden of Elda and Ray Behm were slated for demolition in 1996 to build a new runway for Sea-Tac Airport, the city rallied to move the property’s plants — which included numerous native species — to a new, regional garden. You can still stroll through the colorful rows of Elda’s Paradise today in this South Seattle sanctuary.

  5. At Othello Station I saw something called “Othello-UW Commons” on the ground floor of one of the buildings, with a big husky “W”. Does the university have a presence there?

    1. Yeah, I noticed that place one time when I was down visiting my spouse’s mom on Beacon Hill and we got some takeout from a Chinese restaurant at that King Plaza on the west side of MLK and then picked up some stuff at the Safeway on Othello.

      Here’s some info about the place:
      https://www.washington.edu/othello/

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