The Sound Transit Board failed to advance 20th Avenue NW in Ballard to Draft Environmental Impact Statement Study. Sound Transit must study a Ballard station in the heart of Ballard.

Seattle Subway has 5 fundamental pillars of rider experience: speed, reliability, accessibility, expandability, and safety. 

For many reasons that Seattle Subway has laid out previously, Sound Transit must reopen study of a Ballard station that serves the heart of Ballard. Both Sound Transit’s proposed 15th and 14th Avenue NW station options fail to serve the heart of Ballard and Sound Transit’s prior study of a station at 20th Avenue NW confirmed that it would serve more people and have better transfers. Providing accessibility for the most visitors, workers and residents is fundamental to a good transit investment, and Sound Transit seems to have forgotten. We need your help to remind the Sound Transit Board of this at their upcoming meetings on July 7th, 14th, and 28th. 

Sound Transit’s study confirmed what we all know by simply looking at a map: a station at 20th Avenue NW provides better accessibility to the center of Ballard. 20th Avenue NW is closer to more units of housing, more destinations visitors want to access, and more jobs than a station at 15th Avenue NW would be, much less a station at 14th Avenue NW. Land use favors a 20th Avenue station as well. Two of three recently proposed re-zoning options for the industrial lands around 14th Avenue NW will continue to protect industrial use instead of implementing mixed use Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Significant pressure is being put on disallowing net loss of industrial lands in the city and strengthening industrial lands protections.

What originally put the 20th Avenue NW option on the back burner? At the time, Sound Transit thought it would cost far more. However, things have changed since then. After further study, previously-large cost differences between tunneling and elevated have shrunk dramatically. We don’t have updated costs for 20th Avenue NW with a Thorndyke portal, and we need it.

What’s more, there is city-owned land and rights-of-way near 22nd Avenue and NW Market that could be offered to Sound Transit for stations, reducing cost. Sections of smaller side streets could be permanently closed and transformed into station entrances that double as public spaces and pedestrian safety infrastructure, and less property may need to be demolished. These kinds of solutions aren’t crazy–they’ve already been proposed by Sound Transit as cost-cutting concepts at Denny Station. So why not in Ballard, too? No one would suggest closing Ballard’s 15th Avenue NW, a regionally-critical primary North and South freight, transit, and vehicle corridor with on average 36,000 vehicles using it daily according to a 2019 report by SDOT. But using rights-of-way and city-owned land for stations that serve the heart of Ballard is possible further west, in the heart of Ballard.

Help us convince Sound Transit to reopen study of 20th Avenue NW, or 22nd Avenue NW and to look at city-owned land and rights-of-way for entrances; otherwise, Sound Transit’s own study indicates future transit riders in Ballard will be left behind.

As of now, the Sound Transit Board doesn’t believe Ballardites care about light rail access to the heart of Ballard. Make your voice heard at the July 7th, 14th, and 28th Sound Transit Board meetings to make an impact. Otherwise, Ballard’s fate is decided.  Tell the Sound Transit Board the path forward is clear: don’t bail on Ballard, reopen the study of a 20th/22nd Avenue NW Station in Ballard with a Thorndyke Portal in Interbay so we can make informed decisions about this transit infrastructure that will last centuries. 

Sign up to testify; or click here to send an email today, just add your name at the bottom.

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62 Replies to “Call to action: tell the Sound Transit board to reopen study of an ST3 Link light rail station in the heart of Ballard”

  1. Do we have a permanent SDOT leader yet? We could get on the city’s behind to do something, and it would be more effective (after all, ST accepted the Kubly proposal without public comment). Shouldn’t we also write our mayor?

  2. It’s disappointing to see Seattle Subway keep pitching bad ideas.

    East Ballard already has very dense zoning, is rapidly under redevelopment, and the comprehensive plan updated underway will expand the urban village further and upzone further along with other possible changes nearby. The Seattle Subway plan makes Link expandability more costly than it would ever need to be by diverting north-south in the western portion of Ballard and makes connections to bus service for the largest number of bus riders worse. A high bridge (with a drawbridge that never opens in reality if we can’t tell the Coast Guard to go packing) will do just fine. On top of all of this, it misses an opportunity to tame 15th Avenue so that it becomes a street rather than remaining as a stroad.

    Seattle Subway already wants the Market-45th Street Link line to service West Ballard. That’s the better tool to serve the neighborhood, preferably with elevated rail.

    Let’s not waste money on an alignment that costs astronomically more, increases risk, doesn’t serve measurably more riders, and condemns future expandability to extreme costs. We should all be supporting 15th Avenue NW.

    1. Do you think Ballard to UW ever gets built? I have wanted this (even at the expense of Ballard to downtown, as did most, according to the ST surveys). I see this proposal as a hedge that this will be the only station Ballard gets this century.

      1. Of course it gets built, but it gets built much, much sooner if we don’t put a station and alignment to 20th.

      2. What does Ballard to UW accomplish? Seriously.

        As a bus intercept it sucks. The only lines it would really help are the historic 26 and the 28, assuming it even had stations for them. For the 5 and E you’re adding two transfers — and we don’t know how terrible the transfer at Brooklyn might be — just a few blocks before the lickety-split section along Aurora south of the bridge. For the 62, yes, the slow slog through Fremont is avoided, but if someone living north of 45th REALLY wants to take Link downtown, riding north on the 62 to Roosevelt is probably better, since it avoids the transfer at U-District.

        There have never been stations planned that would intercept the historic 26 and 28, and the 28X goes up 39th and uses the quick Aurora path already. If Ballard-Downtown is ever completed, the non-peak bus on Eighth NW will probably turn west on Market to the Link station. The 26 has already been replaced by the 20, a bus that goes to the U-District directly itself, avoiding the middle leg.

        So bus intercept isn’t going to add many riders. You are left with walk-ups at two stations, who probably wouldn’t object to the U-District transfer, since it would be the only one, and current 44 riders. That current 44 has ten minute headways.

        That is simply NOT. ENOUGH. RIDERSHIP to build even a three and a half mile subway. You don’t replace a ten minute bus with a subway.

      3. The main purpose of Ballard-UW is a faster alternative to the 44. The 44 takes 45 minutes from UW to Ballard on a bad day, and that makes Ballard isolated from the region and hard to get to. SDOT is promising some upgrades to the 45th corridor, although it later whittled those down. So some speedup may appear. Whether it can get it down to a reasonable 20 minutes (or preferably 15) remains to be seen.

        A Link alignment with a moderate number of stations (e.g., including Latona and 46th/Aurora) could replace the 44 entirely. And if it’s underground without the constraints of the street grid or surface speeds, it could zigzag to both lower Fremont (34th/Fremont) and upper Fremont (46th/Aurora) with acceptable travel time. The 44 can’t possibly do that. Instead there’s another route pair (31/32), but they don’t go to Ballard. A 45th Link line could do it all, serving both Fremont and Wallingford (all the significant villages) between Ballard and Fremont. And even minor/future villages like Latona.

        The 45th line is not really for bus intercepts, except for on Aurora. If you’re on a north-south bus you’re already parallel to Link. In this world I’d probably see the 45 and 62 as becoming more popular, for bus/Link transfers at Roosevelt if it makes sense for the trip.

      4. This is a very speculative topic.

        Ballard/UW may be best as a tram in exclusive right of way. That may frustrate some and it may take some aerial or tunnel sections, but the distances are short so forcing riders into a deep hole seems like you’d be wasting their time. I wouldn’t attempt to thread that needle though. It would however enable extensions at either end.

        If an all tunnel train is deemed the best political option, there is no reason to build two tracks for a 3 mile line. With bypass tracks at a middle station and end stations in their vaults, an automated tunnel line could have great headways (as short as 5-6 minutes) even with long segments of single track.

      5. Ballard to UW only gets built if Seattle goes it alone. As a part of an ST vote it is a poison pill. Unless some part of the line is eventually planned to leave Seattle city limits, the other subareas will never vote for any bill that includes it.

      6. “The 44 takes 45 minutes from UW to Ballard on a bad day…”

        Yes, but that is due to a single intersection. Being very familiar with the area and bus line for decades now, I can tell you that the only reason for the backup on 45th is the on/off ramps to I-5, specifically the westside of I-5. With a single solution to that issue, the traffic congestion literally disappears. This makes it a relatively bad candidate for light rail.

      7. Agree with A Joy on both posts:

        1. The four other subareas don’t want more light rail. The cost per golden mile for light rail in N. King Co. is so expensive it creates unnecessary ST tax revenue in the other subareas. My prediction is N. King Co. doesn’t get any subarea contribution for DSTT2 because the four other subareas don’t have $275 million each let alone $550 million, and they realize ST’s capacity claims based on wildly inflated ridership estimates ( pre-pandemic) used to support subarea contribution to DSTT2 were false. So a SB5528 levy will be billions;

        2. A subway for Ballard to UW is not worth the cost. I don’t know why some on this blog think Ballard is some kind of urban NY. I doubt the other neighborhoods in Seattle will pony up for light rail from Ballard to downtown (WSBLE) let alone to UW. This makes the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line look reasonable in a subarea that can afford it based on ST tax revenue alone.

        Yes, the design of I-5 is dysfunctional and should be fixed, including a barrier that prevents cars entering I-5 southbound from 45th or 50th from accessing 520, but that doesn’t mean we should spend billions on a tunnel from Ballard to UW along density that is less than downtown Mercer Island.

        Seattle urbanists and light rail advocates need to understand the cost is their’s now, and even if you don’t pay taxes you will have to convince a majority of citizens to tax themselves billions just to complete WSBLE, and frankly I don’t think they will, which makes discussion of ST 4 or a subway from Ballard to UW a little irrelevant.

      8. “A subway for Ballard to UW is not worth the cost.”
        It’s one of the few east west metro lines that do make sense in the context of link. It also ticks off a lot of boxes for ideal metro line
        -good medium to high density
        -multiple major and minor destinations and neighborhoods along the line (Freemont, Ballard, Wallingford, Phinney Ridge, Woodland Park Zoo, Aurora Ave, Roosevelt, U District, UW North Campus, U Village, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Sand Point)
        -Crosstown line that connects with and feeds the other metro lines
        -good mix of commuters/riders that would use it
        – Speeds us a slow bus route that has good ridership
        Not every metro line needs to connect with a downtown, some lines are jusr needed in providing good crosstown access and that’s what Ballard UW is good at.
        ” that doesn’t mean we should spend billions on a tunnel from Ballard to UW along density that is less than downtown Mercer Island.”
        Actually, that corridor is much denser than downtown Mercer Island so this doesn’t make much sense in my opinion as a reason to not build the line. By this logic, we shouldn’t have built a station on Mercer Island because the density isn’t there but we did because it’s got other things going for it despite the low density of the city (it’s along the way to other destinations so why not serve it, got good attractions like Downtown Mercer Island and Luther Burbank Park, and being a good connecting point for other transit both local and regional).
        Like you can debate all day about it, but regular people want good quality transit and Ballard UW is a good line to be built.

      9. “Ballard to UW only gets built if Seattle goes it alone. As a part of an ST vote it is a poison pill. Unless some part of the line is eventually planned to leave Seattle city limits, the other subareas will never vote for any bill that includes it.”

        The other subareas will vote based on what’s in their own subarea. They don’t hate Ballard-UW so much that they’ll vote against the whole thing over it. Most of them probably wouldn’t even notice or care that it’s in the package.

      10. “multiple major and minor destinations and neighborhoods along the line (Freemont, Ballard, Wallingford, Phinney Ridge, Woodland Park Zoo, Aurora Ave, Roosevelt, U District, UW North Campus, U Village, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Sand Point)”

        That’s even worse. A straight shot down 45th I can see, but a meandering, snaking line going north and south over and over to hit all those points? The supposed crucial Ballard-UW segment would be slower than the bus during all but rush hour. Not a way to make riders happy.

        “The other subareas will vote based on what’s in their own subarea. They don’t hate Ballard-UW so much that they’ll vote against the whole thing over it. Most of them probably wouldn’t even notice or care that it’s in the package.”

        I disagree tremendously. The moment you start proposing intra-Seattle lines with no plan to ever run them outside of city limits, the other subareas start to take notice and vote against the proposal. ST3, while it was successful, suffered a hit from this, and there are still discussions to run WS south to Burien and Ballard north, although where to is less certain.

        This is one thing Seattle Subway has right. Their vision contains zero intra-Seattle lines, making it a truly regional network. Sounds Transit is not Seattle Transit, after all. Link should not be thought of as such either. Inter-subarea or bust.

      11. Many lines wander a bit to serve the areas they need to. It depends on what gets built, but the time difference really shouldn’t be that much. At worst you’ve added maybe 3/4 of a mile total length.

        To counteract this, you’ve served thousands of more actual destination locations.

      12. Tom,

        Pre-COVID, the 44 carried something like 7500 riders per day, and had 8-minute headways at peak. It almost certainly could have justified tighter headways but there just isn’t enough street throughput to support it without bunching, which is a problem even with its current 10-minute headways. Given that Link doesn’t even run with better than 10-minute headways now, I don’t know that it makes a particularly good threshold for bus vs train.

        As a long-time 44 rider, though, I can say it is a corridor that is pushing the limits of bus infrastructure and making a subway is one of the few ways to improve it. As has been discussed in many other places on STB, though, I don’t see that benefit in West Seattle (for instance) where the buses already move fast and will have better coverage and frequency than Link.

      13. “A straight shot down 45th I can see, but a meandering, snaking line going north and south over and over to hit all those points?”

        That’s what I thought at first, but d.p. convinced me that underground you can do all of them with good travel time, because it’s only ten blocks difference and you can ignore the street grid and run full speed. So it should take 10-15 minutes to get from Ballard to U-District. Sand Point wasn’t considered then, but you can see that it would take the same amount of time east of U-District. And it just occurred to me there would be an opportunity to surface at U-Village if it could get exclusive lanes on 45th and Sand Point Way.

      14. Mike, there is quite some height difference along 45th, I’m not sure light rail could handle the grade. Gondola would be an option.

  3. The other advantages/disadvantages aside, can we please stop doing this?

    “there is city-owned land and rights-of-way near 22nd Avenue and NW Market that could be offered to Sound Transit for stations, reducing cost.”

    Giving away taxpayer-owned assets doesn’t reduce cost. It just cheats on the accounting.

    1. Rights of way aren’t really a usable taxpayer owned section of land in the same way city owned property is. Rights of way should be 100 percent fair game (placing station entrances in widened sidewalks and closed side streets). Save money and pedestrianize auto spaces.

      Plus the city owned land in Ballard is public park space that could largely be returned to use as public park space.

  4. 20th Avenue performs significantly better than any other option on metrics of ridership, housing, access, transit transfers…. Of course we should study it.

    It’s a study, not a final decision. Let’s study it and remove 14th options that don’t serve the neighborhood anyways.

    1. This is not true actually. ST already studied this and determined that the difference is negligible from 15th.

      1. Yup, it was the same ridership, just different riders. One is better at serving local riders, the other is a more effective bus intercept because riders from anywhere other than DT Ballard can get to the trains faster on 14th or 15th.

      2. if this bus intercept idea is your most important criteria then…

        If the line ever is expanded to the north all of a sudden the bus intercept in Ballard mostly goes away because the stations to the north will be taking the buses.


        Too, because of working from home there are now fewer people going in to downtown during rush hour.

        this all tells me that the studies need to be redone, because things have changed, and the value of a bus intercept in both the short, and long term is less, and therefore a station at 20th is a much better value.

        And this also means that the line needs to be future proofed so that ST makes expansion easy.

      3. Work from home changes nothing. A new study would show 15th performs even better than the old studies because that’s where all the housing is going in. We’re talking thousands of new homes. 15th still gets west Ballard ridership in perpetuity until a Market-45th line is built. Expanding the line northward just creates more destinations and ridership from Ballard because of more points served. You can’t just assume ridership evaporates because it follows a bus line. A shadow bus line would even still be necessary for interim stops.

    2. Joe, you were just positively commenting on Seattle Subway’s post that said “ST3 must be built for the future.” But, here you are only talking about Ballard as it is today. As you say, it’s just a study. So, if it’s just a study, and we need to look to the future, why not study 14th/15th as a future growth corridor and possible Link alignment?

  5. Building light rail underground does not cost the same as building it on the surface. All of East Link cost $5.5 billion including the bridge span.

    Ballard would no doubt prefer a station at 20th, and so would ST, if it is underground and affordable. Station location at 14th or 15th is based on the assumption the station and line on the surface, and no community wants surface rail in its commercial heart just like East Link will run along 112th and not Bellevue Way.

    I agree a station at 20th should be part of the DEIS, which is premature to begin with IMO, but like every other segment of WSBLE each alternative should have a realistic cost estimate with 30% cost contingency (certainly if underground) and a realistic assumption of total ST revenue for WSBLE (now less the cost of stations at 130th and Graham St.).

    Does a taxpayer in Madison Park or South Seattle want to pay for the extra cost of an underground station at 20th? I don’t know (and they were never asked if they wanted surface, non-grade separated light rail through the heart of their neighborhood). But we should ask them, and will have to ifcWSBLE is going to be underground.

    I would also suggest making sure the taxpayers in the four other subareas want to pay more than $275 million each for DSTT2 ( or whether three of those four subareas even have $275 million each, which ST knows they don’t).

    1. “Ballard would no doubt prefer a station at 20th, and so would ST, if it is underground and affordable”
      I find it amusing how different the conversation becomes when transit infrastructure is invoked in comparison to highways or other car dependent infrastructure. Which is to say throwing whatever money we have at the issue no questions asked in relation to highway infrastructure. But when it comes to public transit, we need to be so concerned about how much we spend and how taxpayers will feel about it. Going over a single dollar over the budget and people lose their minds at costs changing. It’s honestly hypocritical to give highways and car dependency projects a pass on the validity of the projects and yet we spend so much energy debating the merits of spending x dollars on a transit project.

      1. WSDOT budgets are reshuffled all the time. Their projects are less likely to go over budget, but when they do, it has a direct down-the-line impact on other project schedules. Unless you want to tell me voters don’t care about gas taxes and fees on cars. Staying on budget matters a lot.

        That said, Daniel’s statement about $275m limits on subarea contributions to DSTT2 is just nonsense. He repeats them every few days, and it’s simply false.

      2. Dan, I said subarea contributions to DSTT2 should be capped at $275 million each because the assumption was DSTT2 would cost $2.2 billion, which is what the tax revenue is based upon. If it was going to cost $4.4 billion that should have been reflected in the taxes for ST 3.

        Because ST grossly underestimated project costs in every subarea three of the subareas have the perfect defense: they don’t have $275 million each for DSTT2, let alone more. You can’t get blood out of a turnip although light rail advocates believe you can.

        If the Board on behalf of N. King Co. tells a subarea like Pierce it will have to eliminate expansion or projects like Link to Tacoma Mall or downtown so N. King Co. can build a gold plated WSBLE when no other subarea got tunnels let alone subsidies from other subareas, and the Board has already extended ST taxes five years and projects on the Eastside to afford WSBLE, then I think that would be the time to break up ST and the subareas and have each float their own levies if they want. That is the point of SB 5528 isn’t it?

        Otherwise I think the odds that a ST 4 would pass region wide are very low so why even talk about making sure ST 3 projects and stations can be extended in ST 4. That is just stupid. Show me a SB5528 levy passing in N. King Co. for billions first before making project plans for ST 4.

        Even if the four other subareas were willing to contribute half of DSTT2 no matter what it costs, and had that extra revenue, where will N. King Co. get its half? I can‘t think of anything more stupid than beginning DSTT2 without an honest budget plus 30% contingency and knowing the money is there.

        Is that really fair to the other subareas when by now everyone knows DSTT2 is not necessary for capacity on Lines 1 and 2. Hell, East King Co. will be paying to run trains to Northgate forever so Line 1 north can have 3 minute frequency. How much does N. King Co. want from the rest of us for its gold plated light rail? How many “realignments” will it take to satisfy transit advocates in N. King Co. when actual ridership will be around 1/2 of what ST estimated in the four other subareas.

        “Extending”project completion concurrently with ST taxes in a high inflation market is just so dishonest if the claim is projects will become more affordable in the future.

        Forget about subarea contributions to DSTT2. The real point is N. King Co. does not have the revenue for its share of DSTT2, or WSBLE.

        Show me the money if you are N. King Co. Then show me the $275 million in the other subareas, then $550 million each for DSTT2, and then call my statements on DSTT2 false.

      3. “Tacoma Mall or downtown”
        That is not funding for expansion and more of spending for long term research and planning for new potiental expansions. Which is such a small amount that is being allocated that we’re fussing over a whole lot of nothing in this case. There’s studies for Orting, Crown Hill, and Burien as well, so honestly North King has nothing to worry about in my opinion. And honestly sounds like we’re concern trolling at this point over caring about how a different subera spends its funds, even though it’s very inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

      4. WSBLE is scheduled to cost around $12 to $20 billion Zachary depending on the cost contingency used. I think that is consequential, especially when one looks at actual ridership, cost per rider (somewhere between $180,000 and $360,000) or Martin’s research of the DEIS that shows ST expects 400 people to switch from driving to light rail.

        But I think you miss my point and other posts: I totally agree this is N. King. Co.’s decision to make IF IT IS N. KING CO.’s MONEY.

        Don’t hitch my subareas wagon to WSBLE and DSTT2. If East King Co. is simply a spectator for WSBLE I will shut up, grab some popcorn, and watch with one hand over my eyes.

        If the Board is smart the City of Seattle just threw them a lifeline. Postpone WSBLE as Seattle requests and begin to price the different parts of WSBLE for the “inconsequential” SB5528 levy I think will fail based on its price tag if honest b

      5. “Otherwise I think the odds that a ST 4 would pass region wide are very low so why even talk about making sure ST 3 projects and stations can be extended in ST 4. ”

        Because, in 20 years, politics can change in unpredictable ways, and just because ST4 might not pass today does not mean it would never pass, ever. The region is also growing, so many projects that seem like a waste of money today could become sensible by 2070.

        I’m not saying ST should spend additional billions to make Ballard Link expandable, and I don’t think Seattle Subway is saying that either. What they are saying is that if something can be done that costs a couple extra million dollars in ST3, but would save billions on ST4, it should be done. I think the odds of another Link expansion by 2100, be it ST4 or some Seattle only thing, are greater than 1 in 1000.

  6. Embedded in the Ballard segment is the fundamentally bad base assumption: One station north of the Ship Canal.

    That one station will have a similar number of boardings (13,100 boarding) to the three West Seattle stations combined (13,400 boarding)! To me, that quantitatively suggests 2 stations each for Ballard and West Seattle is what would be most logical. I’m thinking around 20th/ Market and 14th/ Leary.

    If ST was to add an alternative with shorter and more frequent automated trains (ending at Westlake or at West Seattle instead of the Rainier Valley interlining), stations become smaller so that two Ballard stations could be similar in cost to one large station using the existing four-car platform lengths.

    If we are going to advocate for adding a new Ballard station site, can we make that plural?


    If the Board won’t consider that, then I think the obvious design change is to advocate turning the station platform more or fully east-west. The neighborhood density is oriented east-west more than north-south. Station entrances just east of 15th and just east of 20th under Market St would be like getting two Ballard stations for the price of one.

    What about ultimately connecting to Crown Hill? There are plenty more hubs around Seattle that ST skips besides Crown Hill. I think reaching points further west in Ballard is more important than reaching Crown Hill. I’ll even note that a Crown Hill extension will almost assuredly have to be underground anyway, so boring a future extension could be done no matter what the station orientation is.


    I know that Seattle Subway would ideally prefer a Ship Canal subway crossing west of 20th. However, that appears particularly difficult and costly. I hope that something more strategic can come bout of revisiting the alternatives like what I’ve described above.

    1. Those are great station locations, Al. But the real question is “is anything north of Expedia needed?” Put that Smith Cove station above Elliott at the Helix Bridge with two side-platforms so that folks can do in-direction transfers to and from the buses with just a vertical offset. That way people headed into the middle of SLU, a Westlake Link transfer or all the way to the south end of downtown would transfer to the train while the rest would just ride the bus on downtown.

      Even Dravus seems pretty weak since ST insists that it be in that cul-de-sac north of Dravus instead of directly under the bridge. But since it wouldn’t cost too much to go that far, perhaps it could be included. But crossing the Ship Canal is going to be very expensive. Build another car bridge for northbound traffic using 14th and dedicate the outer two lanes on the existing Ballard Bridge to transit. Northbound would be “contra-flow” in the one-way street.

      You can transition the traffic back to 15th at 56th or 57th.

      1. A station at Dravus is meant to be a catchment breakpoint for bus routes coming from Magnolia, which would likely be seen as wise placement once the Magnolia Bridge fails and (hopefully) the city decides not to replace it.

      2. Nathan, Al, yes, I understand that a Ballard station at 20th would perform very well. But it would do so at a really high cost, unless ST basically flipped the Coast Guard off and built an opening bridge in the 14th Avenue ROW then went subway from just north of Leary Way. If 15th West were like Upper Market it might make sense to have a rail line along it, but it isn’t and never will be because of the railyard. So what you have is a single station at the end of a two-mile gap to any real “city” at Lower Queen Anne, and that two-mile gap has to have a fairly deep tunnel or fairly high bridge across a commercial waterway. Is it really worth what it will cost?

        For 1/10th the cost of “BLE” RapidRide “D” could be electrified and some sort of short bus-tunnel provided between Elliott around Republican and Third and Cedar, with a couple of simple stations in it.

        Just cancel ST3. Stop at Lynnwood and Federal Way but do extend East Link into Redmond with the East Sub-Area’s extra revenues. Pass the City-only measure to fund a second, but-only lane through the ramp from Spokane eastbound to SR99 northbound, build a new opening bridge at 14th with three lanes and a really nice bike/pedestrian facility, refurb the Ballard Bridge and make it three south and 1 contra-flow north for transit. That’s good enough.

        Use 14th as a one-way to 56th or 57th where the traffic would jog back over to 15th NW.

      3. Tom, I agree, cost will cause further delays. What about ending at Dravus and building a gondola from there to Market along 20th with a mid-station at Fisherman’s Terminal? London and Singapore did such harbor gondolas high enough to avoid shipping lanes. It could be built for a fraction of the cost of a tunnel.

      4. But the real question is “is anything north of Expedia needed?”

        Well, folks voted on a line from Ballard to downtown– not from Expedia to downtown– a bunch of folks in North Seattle will ask for their car tab money back. Now that the Ballard Alliance (some of whose members brought you the Missing Link litigation) is getting involved, the idea of a stop not being built in Ballard is political suicide. (Mike O’Brien tangled with the Ballard Alliance folks (literally and figuratively) and he is no longer our rep.)

      5. Two issues for the Ballard Alliance folks are:

        1. Dow Constantine lives in West Seattle;

        2. Ballard Alliance will have to sell the SB5528 levy if they want an underground station and line.

        I thought Dan Ryan raised a good distinction for the Ballard stations that applies to many urban/semi-urban stations: is the potential rider walking or taking a feeder bus to Link.

        In suburbia that answer is feeder bus (which I don’t think suburbanites will take hence the park and ride) and with WFH I am not sure about Ballard and West Seattle.

      6. 1. Dow Constantine lives in West Seattle;

        Ballard Alliance doesn’t give a f@#$. (see Missing Link litigation)

        2. Ballard Alliance will have to sell the SB5528 levy if they want an underground station and line.

        See my answer to #1.

      7. Big talk MDNative for a subarea with no money, and a community (Ballard) generally considered the red headed stepchild of Seattle. Pass a SB5528 levy for $10 billion and I will believe. As my father from Montana used to say, big hat no cattle.

      8. I am not a member of the Ballard Alliance.. As a Seattle lawyer, you should know all about the length of time about the Missing Link litigation. Also, the reason Dan Strauss is our council member is because Mike O’Brien took on members of the Ballard Alliance. Keep in mind, O’Brien was not Sawant in terms of style. Strauss essentially is O’Brien but deliberately chose not to pick a fight
        with BA in the election. He won by 12 points.

        If you want to take them on, better pack a big suitcase.

      9. Thanks mdnative. I was not aware of the missing link litigation but have researched it. Thus the benefit of a community using SEPA to negotiate mitigation and have standing against powerful and arrogant agencies.

        I was not denigrating Ballard, which I think is charming, probably because it is so remote. But Ballard has not gotten much transit love, and even WSBLE highly favors West Seattle when that demographic is very car oriented and has great car and bus access across the bridge to I-90 and I-5. Wealthy SFH owners in West Seattle are never going to ride WSBLE, or transit.

        I was one of the very first on this blog to predict Ballard, and West Seattle, would not drink “the bitter ale” of surface lines and stations, and would demand tunnels and underground stations that (in their opinion) lesser northern Seattle neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, UW, Roosevelt and Northgate got. If they have to they will litigate under SEPA, because unlike Mercer Island’s stupid mayor they did not sign off on the SEPA permits without a written agreement.

        The mistake many transit advocates make is thinking a community believes transit — especially light rail — is critical to the character of the community, or will change it for the better. Light rail and transit are around number 11 on the scale (and the West Seattle Bridge proves that). The character of Ballard, West Seattle, and Rainier Valley existed before Link, and are/will be barely changed after Link. Look at the antipathy toward East Link on the eastside, and its routing.

        One interesting thing I read on this blog I never considered is IF WSBLE is somehow affordable the only way it is politically feasible is to repurpose DSTT1 so those savings can be used for underground stations and lines in West Seattle and Ballard, along as a route acceptable to the CID is found. Still a terrible waste of money based on actual ridership on WSBLE.

        But I think in that case ST better have the funding to do something about the surface and non-grade separated transit in S. Seattle. Everyone seems to focus on grade separation, but my guess is those communities will demand tunnels like white communities got. Black and POC communities don’t want to “see” light rail any more than white communities do. I know some on this blog got all in a lather when Tacomee stated Link is racist, but it is. Just look at which communities got what (the eastside is different because those cities basically chose to not run East Link through the best parts of their city. I love how folks here moan about the walk between 14th, 15th, and 20th in Ballard but a 10 (Bellevue) block walk up a hill to Bellevue Way is no problem).

        If Ballard or West Seattle file suit under SEPA I would imagine S. Seattle joining in that suit, and demanding the same, and raising the equity argument which as Tacomee noted is pretty apparent, especially now that Link riders don’t include a lot of the discretionary white collar peak commuters.

      10. Daniel, for the three-thousand, four-hundred and thirty-fifth time, Link is on the surface in the Rainier Valley because it was the first line, and the region was taken with the “cost savings” potential of at-grade construction. It was supposed to be at-grade all the way to the airport and beyond.

        Then Tukwila said, “Hey, we just rebuilt Pac Highway and we don’t want you chopping it up again. Go around!” So ST did, but since there is no street that “goes around” they had to put the system in the air alongside the freeway for all to see. Once that was done everyone said “Ooooohhhh! That is cool! Let’s build more of that!”

        And, for the seven-thousand, nine-hundred and eighty-first time, there is no physical path between downtown Seattle and the University District on the surface without bulldozing one side of Eastlake. The City wasn’t “into” that prospect. Also, an at-grade line on Eastlake, though it would have served SLU (a plus) would not have served Capitol Hill (a bigger minus at the time) and would certainly have been slower in the most heavily traveled portion of the system.

        Re-MEM-ber, Link is a REGIONAL asset. Snohomans did not relish crawling down Eastlake any more than you would.

        So ST agreed that the segment should be tunneled. In fact, that agreement was reached very early, which led to the debacle with the First Hill station and the delay of U-Link until after South Link was completed.

        One of the unique benefits of tunneling to the U-District was that there could be stations at both the southeast and northwest corners of the campus connected underneath the untouched quads instead of two closer stations at 40th for the U and 45th for the District. And since Link was still going to be underground at U-District station, the tunnel had to continue to about 60th and the freeway right-of-way where it was to come up and the tracks be squinched between the roadway and a retaining wall to Northgate.

        Well, WSDOT did NOT like the prospect of threading a light rail line through the Lake City Way interchange, so it was finally decided “Oh, what the hell! Just leave it underground to north of 85th!”

        So “tunnels” weren’t chosen “fer the What Boahs.” Quit race baiting.

    2. It’s a complex but valid question, Tom.

      ST projects about 6,500 of the 13.100 boardings will be by non-bus transfers (walking or bicycling or drop off). That’s fairly high. That’s just under all riders at Smith Cove and Interbay combined (6,800 boardings). Also a comparison, West Seattle’s three stations combined anticipate about 4,500 non-bus riders. Plus, Ballard transferring bus riders also come from east-west routes so that’s a benefit and adds riders too.

      So the short answer is that a Ballard Station performs quite well even near 14th and Market.

      The second meeting presentations are my source:

      1. The problem is that ST didn’t advance the western station alternatives to full study, so we’ll never know what the potential walking ridership would be for a station that includes all of Ballard Avenue within its half-mile walkshed. I think many folks on the CAG (myself included) really wished ST would have advanced a 20th Ave station just for comparison, even if the cost at the time seemed unaffordable (since at this point, basically any crossing of Salmon Bay is “unaffordable”)

      2. That’s right, Nathan. ST staff forced the Board to winnow the alternatives to 14th and 15th without any ridership data and mode of access data.

        Making decisions without data or with back-of-the envelope cost data is a favorite ST sport. Unfortunately, it’s a Seattle Subway sport too. The entire WSBLE process has been very flawed for this basic reason.

  7. The graphic attached to this post is just plain inaccurate and wrong. This will be a terminal station. It will draw equally from point north, east and west, from Phinney to Puget Sound. Really shabby stuff by Seattle Subway to so blithely demonize a station location at the largest, busiest crossroads in NW Seattle.

  8. The point is to maximize the walkshed, since anyone arriving by bus won’t really notice the extra minute or so to a stop on Market & 20th, whereas anyone trying to walk from the train to or from the Ballard core (which is centered between 15th and 24th Ave NW) will be stuck hiking from the edge of the reasonable walkshed to get to the station. The area east of 15th Avenue is not well zoned to facilitate the kind of development that this station can and should support. The area west of 15th is already well developed and could very much use a high density transit node that’s not a pedestrian deathtrap.

    If the Board selects an alignment in 2024 that puts the Ballard station at 14th or 15th, then the City will be stuck figuring out how to get riders to Ballard Ave effectively, and also figuring out how to appropriately zone the walkshed around the station to most effectively use the transportation capacity it would bring.

    Now that the City is appears to be seriously considering broad upzones in addition to Urban Village expansions, then maybe a station at 14th or 15th wouldn’t be so bad. But that requires the political will to grow West Woodland up from basically scratch.

    1. Part of the problem of the 20th site earlier was that the Ship Canal tunnel was pretty much in the 20th alignment under Salmon Bay. ST never studied crossing at 14th and turning the tracks westward.

      1. I was seriously considering writing up my 22nd/56th street proposal for a Ballard station as my Page 2 article, but after sitting through the CAG meetings, I got pretty disheartened that ST would have any openness to as significant a change to potential alignment. It seemed that a N-S station at the end of BLE was just about as written in stone as it gets, despite Ballard-UW being in the LRP, and the extension to Crown Hill being cut.

      2. I think it’s easier to get ST to scoot a station a few blocks further (with a turn) than it is to lay out a whole new alignment under Sslmon Bay. They moved 145th/ Shoreline South north a few blocks, for example.

    2. Now that the Ballard Alliance is taking a bigger role, I’m wondering if 17th and Market (the 7-11) becomes the possible compromise. The station would have to be underground. There is no 16th Ave on Market– so 15th is a long one block away for the bus connection/don’t disrupt traffic folks.

  9. It’s 5 blocks. It is a 6 minute walk. In the burbs we are measuring our access to transit in miles, not blocks. Stop whining.

  10. The Center of Ballad point makes me chuckle, because, you know, it’s not like that’s a fixed point independent of public infrastructure. Seattle Subway is so oblivious to this fact they try to use the distance from Pioneer Square (the center of Seattle’s CBD in the early 1900s) and Westlake (the center of Seattle’s CBD in the late 1900s) as a point in their favor. I would take the exact same visual and caption it, “look, station location literally doesn’t matter on a longer time scale. If the center of Seattle can move 2,000 in a few decades in response to public and private investment, then surely a much smaller neighborhood like Ballard could do the same!”

    Old Ballard : New Ballard :: Pioneer Square : Westlake

    1. I think you’re seeing the point backwards – you wouldn’t say that Pioneer Square is served by a station at Westlake. There is no reason to think that the area around 14th is suddenly going to be the new center. A lot of the walkshed is zoned industrial, and that isn’t going to change for a very very long time. On the other hand, the actual neighborhood of Ballard is 2000 feet away, so why not just build it there? Like, what is actually better about putting it on 14th? The idea got traction because of early budget assumptions that the DEIS showed to not be true anymore, so why stick with it?

      1. Why worry about serving Crown Hill? It’s only 2 blocks wide of moderate density stretched out for several blocks. That’s not a great setup for inducing station ridership, and it would probably be better served by RapidRide or a tram that could go more places at the same cost.

        Something like a Fremont, Ballard, Crown Hill, Northgate, Lake City path would be amazing to have as a tram or RapidRide.

        Seattle has many villages denser than Crown Hill that don’t have any rail proposed for them. That not only includes First Hill but a string of points in the CD, along Rainier Ave in SE Seattle south of Charlestown, Alki Beach, Lake City, U Village, Westlake north of Galer and Upper Queen Anne.

      2. You nailed it Al. That arc you described is a “natural” for a tramway. The grades aren’t steep, the stroads are wide pretty much all the way to Greenwood, though it would probably have to be tunneled between there and the curve east of Aurora. It actually ought to continue on to the U along Pacific. Scoot the Burke-Gilman over a bit and have a single-track section between Gasworks Park and the spaghetti intersection under the bridge and you’ve got yourself a nice, high-capacity tramway.

        The toughest part is between NW 43rd and Leary and 34th and Evanston, but westbound could be could be the center parking on 34th to the west, the southside parking on Canal and then continue on to next to the BGT. Eastbound would be the right-hand lane of Leary Way with the left refuge eliminated everywhere except that the left lane would be mandatory left turn at 39th.

        The tramway would turn south on Evanston to Northlake and run in mixed traffic all the way to Stone Way. I walked this; it works, though it would be impactful for 34th and Canal and pretty slow but reliable! through Fremont. Northlake could be made one-way westbound and the tramway single-track on the south side of the street in order to avoid running in mixed traffic.

        That means that there would be two single-track sections separated by about a half mile so schedule keeping would be important.
        At the spaghetti intersection the streets would have to be rebuilt a bit to allow the tramway to continue onto Northeast 40th down behind the dorms, then north on U-Way, say to Ravenna? U-Way would become a transit mall. Nearly all the retail along it is already walk-up, so removing the auto access wouldn’t “kill” it.

        No, it doesn’t get to “Central Wallingford” or Phinney Ridge, so the 44 would still need improvements. However, it does get the high density at the foot of Wallingford, Fremont and “South West Woodland” which is bound to boom.

        It’s also VERY hard to get from Northgate to Lake City without a tunnel or building down Thornton Creek, which I hear has a large number of hornets’ nests…..

  11. But what about extending North to Crown Hill? It seems 15th would set that up well while 20th/22nd would mean that would be the last station in the line.

  12. The first thought in designing transit routes should be “will there be population density near each the stations or incentive (via rezoning) to build density”? Running trains to desirable endpoint destinations is not going to help revenue as much as generating revenue at each and every stop. Does an alignment to Ballard do this?

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