On January 11th, Sound Transit held the second Interbay-Ballard workshop to prepare for a route selection by the Board in March. The workshop summarized the findings from the first workshop and online responses, and then presented a few new options for tunnel stations along 14th and 15th Ave NW. These options were to address some of the Board’s concerns and to reduce cost with the goal to deliver the Ballard extension closer to 2037 rather than 2039. The presentation also provided more details on construction impact.

For Ballard, Sound Transit is trying to refine the options by limiting property acquisition costs and improving station access, in particular from both sides of Market St.

1. Sound Transit could save $100 million by locating the station on the East side of 15th Ave NW. The main entrance would be in the middle of the station on the Southeast corner of Market St. A pedestrian tunnel would also connect to a Southwest entrance and could potentially be extended to another entrance on the Northwest corner for an additional $30 million. There would also be small emergency exits on the South and North ends of the platform.
2. Similarly, they could locate the line right under 15th Ave for similar savings. Lanes on 15th Ave would need to be reduced for up to 4 years. By pushing it further North straddling Market St, they might be able to add an entrance North of 56th Ave.
3. By locating the station on the East side of 14th Ave straddling Market St, they could avoid acquisition of Safeway and save $140 million. They pointed out it would reduce the opportunity for TOD and make the entrances less visible.

One of the concerns with the 14th Ave station is that riders would need to cross 15th Ave. They presented various ways to improve the crossing using bulbs, a pedestrian bridge or a pedestrian tunnel. They also envisioned an underground retail concourse combined with TOD which would connect the 14th Ave station underground and extend under 15th Ave for an additional cost of up to $100 million.

Even though during the DEIS public input many residents had requested better access to downtown / historic Ballard, they did not look at alternative stations along Tallman Ave, Russel Ave, Market St, or 56th St. When I asked why not, they responded that they had not looked at those but that a station requires a large enough staging area, and they try to avoid impacting historical buildings.

During their December 12th workshop Sound Transit had presented a few alternatives for the Interbay section to address earlier concerns. Sound Transit now presented some new findings:

1. A station under Dravus St would require a partial closure of Dravus for 18 months but save $30 million.
2. A Mercer Place tunnel portal turned out to be infeasible though the alternative station locations may also work with the tunnel portals already under consideration.
3. More tunneling with a single consolidated station along 15th Ave may reduce impact and simplify transit connections but reduce neighborhood connectivity and increase cost by $210 million.

85 Replies to “Ballard Station Workshop”

  1. I don’t buy the “no space for a station box” argument. There are surface parking lots a block north of Market between 20th and 24th. Some of those adjacent buildings are not exactly “historical charm” either. Between that and NW 56th ST itself, there might well be just enough space to do a typical Sound Transit cut-and-cover station (facing west-east), restoring the street when you do the “cover” part. If the station were to be mined rather than cut and cover, much more $$$ but less surface construction impact at the surface, perhaps something worth studying.

    1. FYI: there’s new development that has started on the NE corner of 24th & Market. I’m not sure what it’ll be but it seems to take up half a block in length. But your idea is pretty dang good. I always thought of putting it south of Market St, which would definitely affect the nearby historic buildings along Ballard Ave.

  2. While ST acts like they only need to do is refine station layouts, the overall project is several billion over budget and the tougher challenge of deep stations in SLU and Downtown and the CID are considered non-existent.

    And a simple change to run shorter automated trains either to Westlake or further to CID or even West Seattle would save so much more and eliminate the problems of having long deep stations.

    ST remains arrogant, naive and surreal. Riders suffer. Taxpayers suffer. Egos remain intact.

    1. How would shorter automated trains make the stations less deep? You still have to go under the other stations and utilities and building foundations.

      1. I think what Al. S is alluding to is this:

        If the trains were shorter, the platforms could be shorter, which means less dirt to be removed when mining underground stations. A 2 car train every 5 minutes provides the same capacity as a 4 car train every 10 minutes, but in a way that is more convenient for riders and requires less money to build the station.

        The catch, of course, is that as long as trains have to be driven by humans, a 2 car train every 5 minutes requires twice as much labor to operate as a 4 car train every 10 minutes, and over the long term, the cost of all those extra train drivers trumps everything else, hence the need for 4 car trains every 10 minutes. Unless, of course, the trains were automated.

      2. Most ST stations do seem to be huge. Even with existing platform length, the station at Beacon Hill has much less material removed, and no mezzanines, compared to all the other ST stations.

      3. It’s all about maxing the station box smaller. For at grade or elevated stations it’s not a key driver of cost, but for an underground station the best way to reduce capital cost is to shrink the station box, and a good way to shrink the box is to run smaller trains.

      4. There are a few ways that shorter stations could help with the elevation issues.

        1. The smaller station boxes make it easier to create less deep stations. The smaller the station the fewer footings et al that have to be considered when designing the needed depth.

        2. The shorter stations will add at least 200 feet to the travel distance between stations. That allows for something like 10 feet grade (slope) improvement between any station pair.

        3. While it’s dependent on the actual vehicle specs, I’ve read that other automated systems like London’s DLR operate at slightly steeper grades. I can’t seem to find the reference at the moment, but it seems intuitive to conclude that steeper grades are possible.

        Automated trains often have automated platform doors like those in SeaTac. The rider safety benefit is profound as no one can get pushed in front of a train.

        Of course, it would mean that ST would have to do “extra work” to redefine the logistics of another vehicle type. That means rethinking vehicle specs and OMF design. (Note that automated trains could still run on the same track gauge off of the same catenary wire.) while seemingly minor to us, ST staff pushes back hard at doing extra work like this. There is an institutional laziness at ST that seems to permeate any operational or construction or design challenge.

      5. Nothing prevents automated controls being added to the current design.

        Somewhat steeper grades are possible with lines that are protected from the weather, as the rails don’t get wet. However, considering 9% is used on some light rail lines in open air conditions, I’m not sure how much steeper you want things?

        You may be thinking remembering that linear induction lines can go somewhat steeper than those requiring wheel-rail friction to move the car? Theoretically that’s possible, anyway but I don’t know anyone has ever pushed the limits of that technology. They are pretty unique. SkyTrain decided to go with conventional track after their first linear induction line. I don’t think they had reason to use linear induction except to try something new. At the time it also eliminated motor brush maintenance, had better acceleration, and a few other advantages that regular traction can do now.

  3. Martin, do you feel ST would be receptive to a proposed east-west station on 56th if it could be demonstrated to have enough available staging area?

    1. I would hope Sound Transit would consider such, it may also require getting the attention of local officials and business groups. Though it would require a slightly longer tunnel, it may allow for a shallower station which would reduce cost while improving rider experience.

  4. Making a decision on the alignment in less than two months makes me nervous. Is that just for Ballard or all of WSBLE? It precludes investigating any more alternatives, and I’m afraid we’ll get stuck with deep downtown stations, a 14th station, and a CID station outside the CID. I’d rather jaw-jaw indefinitely than have that.

    1. Mike, if you believe that, say

      Use the “WSBLE” money for bus solutions now and make a decision on route and technology in a few years when needs of the city and community wishes are clearer.

      That seems to me a much wiser path than “Build To The Plan!!!!!” when “The Plan” is a very difficult-to-build gross distortion of what was presented and approved.

      Make this a “Seattle Transit Blog” policy to balance out the dreamers DBA “Seattle Subway”.

      Then when three of the other four sub-areas end up owing North King enough to fill the gap, come back with two solutions for “The Ballard Stub”.

      One would be for standard Link trains connected to the main stem by a non-revenue connection at Third and Pine and some overnight parking and cleaning tracks in Interbay. Cut and cover tunneling should be allowed when it creates shallower stations in busy areas than the bored diamond mines envisioned by ST. This would specifically be “New Westlake” — the stub station — and “Denny Way”. It’s not like the crowds are sagging the pavement around Westlake Center these days anyway, are they?

      The City also needs to get serious with the Snowflakes in “The Neighborhoods”. A little Robert Moses isn’t a bad thing. So, while the Coast Guard has essentially mandated a tunnel crossing of The Ship Canal, a station in downtown Ballard should be provided on Tallman or Russell on the surface. A tunnel station at 56th and 14th [correction: Ballard Way and 14th] in order to serve the egregiously under-developed waterfront area just to the south should also be included, but spartan in design, with a center platform and no mezzanine except just below the surface. It might need to be deep enough ;that elevator-only access is required. I don’t know how deep a cross-Ship Canal tunnel will have to be to be stable. But 14th is the place to put it, to allow for minimal grades and that “Waterfront Ballard” station.

      The other would be for a fully-automated two-car SkyTrain system that would have little temporary operators cabs and small pantographs in order to access Forest Street for heavy maintenance, using the same non-revenue connection.

      It would have a “mini-MF” in the trailer parking lot west of BNSF and north of Garfield, shown as “Lineage Logistics” on Google maps. This option, since it would require smaller stations, could probably go as far as Midtown and even perhaps even to a South First Hill station around Ninth and James and stay within the amplified budget. It would use bored tunnels throughout and excavated or mined stations similar but, we can hope, somewhat shallower and less extravagant than those proposed by ST.

      Forget about West Seattle unless the full-size Link trains technology is chosen for Ballard and then operate on the surface west of 35th to save a lot of money and make the thing accessible. If Ballard is SkyTrain, well, West Seattle doesn’t really need a train. We all agree on that.

      The result of this is that three lines will run through the tunnel: Northgate-Tacoma, Lynnwood to Redmond and Everett (or Payne Field) to SoDo. Yes, north of Lynnwood and south of Midway is a waste, but ST has spent too much money at the south tip to give up FW easily, and the Pierce sub-area is the best set financially to get its extension, and Snohomish pols will run to Olympia to get at least to Payne as a “state-critical economic zone”. Though few of the “state-critical” taxpayers will ride it.

      You and Ross are essentially The Blog editors now. You have the authority to make this a policy. Nip and tuck it as you wish of course; you’re doing the hard work day to day. But this is by far the most cost-effective design and it serves the neighborhoods best by being on the surface. They may hate it until opening day, but they’ll love it ever after.

      1. I’d have to feel really strongly about something to write an editorial, or see a larger movement that we could collectively make a difference with. Automated trains would be such an about-face for ST I’m not convinced there’s a chance of persuading them at this point. If Ross or Seattle Subway or others feel like these alternatives have a chance in hell of getting approved, I might be persuaded to champion some of them.

      2. There’s nothing stopping you from writing an article about your proposals, and showing how we might be able to convince ST to do it.

      3. As I listened to the ST Ballard presentation, I had the same two-station thought as Tom Terrific: add one on 14th Avenue NW at Ballard Avenue. The second station might be to the west or at NW Market Street. The Ballard stations might be quite shallow cut and cover. The lids could be redeveloped.

        The south station might serve routes 40 and an intra Ballard loop, Routes 17-28. The NW Market Street station might serve Route 44 and the successor of the D Line that could be extended to Northgate. It might layover on 14th Avenue NW. There is capacity to redevelop the 14th Avenue NW area.

        Downtown areas may have close station spacing. ST explained the higher cost of stations on 15th Avenue NW.

      4. The email link is fixed. Email contact at seattletransitblog com if you have any difficulty with the process.

      5. I checked the rules and do not meet the requirement of using one’s own name to post on Page 2. So, that’s that.

        Forget all the stuff about the possible future. NOW we need to stop the stupidity of the current staff. The headline is “NO BUILD for WSBLE”. That’s all that matters now,

      6. Tom, I think your no build option is likely. But if you are on the Board or ST staff you promised WSBLE in ST 3.

        The Board and ST don’t want to admit they lied about project costs and funding and the DEIS was a sham.

        Much better to identify the proposed alternatives in the DEIS (probably 3 including a surface and no build option) noting the budget shortfall for each and ask the stakeholders how much extra they want to pay.

        For example, would Ballard residents be willing to pay $50/mo. each for 20 years for their desired alternative. An argument could be made (which they make) that property values for the right alternative would increase at least $1000/year. Or say $10/mo. for an all surface route.

        The key for ST is to make the demanding stakeholders choose, and pay. One stakeholder who won’t balk is the CID: they will vote for no build. So will downtown businesses. Not sure about WS.

        N. King will have around $6 billion to play with after ST 3 through 2046, less Graham St. and 130th station. Not sure what you can get for say $5 billion in Seattle, but not WSBLE, and certainly not an underground WSBLE.

        This approach also defeats any litigation over the DEIS. A neighborhood can’t sue for an alternative an agency can’t afford and the plaintiffs refuse to help pay for. Courts can’t force agencies to print money or begin projects it can’t afford.

      7. Daniel, if your math is right then not even the mindless West Seattle stub could truly be afforded. However, I’m honestly skeptical that it’s that little; it doesn’t fit the $14-ish billion projection I’ve seen. But perhaps sales taxes will fall that short.

        In any case, the immediate problem is not that the project can’t be afforded, it’s that the design just gets worse and worse. The staff and contractors (rightly) see their continued employment as dependent on inching “The Plan” forward, even if they know it stinks.

        If hollering “We can’t afford it!!!” is the lever that stops the creation of truly bad transit, then let’s wield it.

      8. Tom, I’m working on two editorial-like articles. One on WSBLE, the other on Lynnwood vs the East Link starter line. They may not be true editorials because I don’t have access to the editorial account, and I’m not sure yet how much the editors can agree on. I’m exploring all this now, and WSBLE has a lot of issues within it, so it may take a few days.

    2. Mike, in February or March the Board will select a preferred alignment for the EIS. The final decision won’t happen until next year. The sooner they drop the 2nd tunnel and focus on a Ballard stub the better.
      Tom, I do not understand how you want to serve both 56th/14th and Russell or Tallman. I could envision doing both a 14th Ave station with a 56th station at 22nd St though. Sound Transit told me that a 15th or 14th Ave station would be 80 feet low.
      If we use your SkyTrain approach, how about we just replace the streetcar and go all elevated along Mercer and Westlake Ave to Westlake Center?

      1. Martin, I mis-spoke on the cross-street! The station would be at 14th and just south of Leary. Arrgh! Thank you for going “WTF????? The stations are four blocks apart.” I can see why you question it, not to mention that the geometry is effed!

        Mike or Ross, please change the 56th and 14th to Ballard Way and 14th in the above comment. [Ed: done. I hope I got it right.] I know, it’s a wasteland now, but it could be False Creek South. The False Creek waterfront in Vancouver used to be just like the north shore of the Ship Canal in Ballard. Now it costs $2 million (grant, Canadian) for a two bedroom condo within a block. Five for the actual waterfront. Seattle has to get over its obsession with piles of cement mixings.

      2. To your reply, I can’t imagine a SkyTrain being elevated through SLU and then how would it get down to a reasonable level for the transfer. Yes, it’s less expensive, and the views of course would be great! But a vertical transfer of 75 feet is a vertical transfer of 75 feet even if it’s half in the air and half underground. The transfer to and from the Monorail is not quick.

        I don’t think you want something like the CTARed Line eruption in the middle of Westlake Avenue. It would have to be tunneled all the way through LQA and SLU, but as you and Al emphasize, the tubes would be smaller, but not super small, because they cars would have to carry small pantlographs to operate in shared trackage on the way to the MF. The pans would of course be locked down, but they’d necessarily expand the tunnel radius.

      3. Tom, even a slightly smaller tunnel would have to dive under the Hwy99 tunnel and therefore be quite deep along Mercer. An elevated solution going over Hwy99 would make station access much easier.
        I share your “75 ft” concern though. How about going underground on Westlake Ave or Mercer St East of Hwy99?

      4. I went to Vancouver a lot between 1998 and 2002. At the time, 13th floor West End condos with a spectactular view were going for $75K. I thought about buying one. Later the prices went through the roof and are now astronomical. That’s a citywide thing, not just in False Creek. My friend in Vancouver thinks it was partly laundered BC Bud money. It could also be foreign tycoons buying up real estate to get their money into a stable country. Or just that Vancouver is the Los Angeles and San Francisco of Canada all tied up into one (mild climate, Pacific Rim, movies, avant-garde culture).

      5. Martin while it’s true that a train tunnel going straight east under Mercer to, say, Dexter, would have to be a bit deeper than one under just any old street. Mercer dips down ten to fifteen feet to underpass Aurora, and the tunnel would have to follow it down.

        But it would be like under-running the Highway 99 Tunnel at Republican.

        I very much agree that a station a block or so south of Mercer at Ninth would provide better coverage of South Lake Union than the Gates Foundation location. Too much of its walkshed is taken by Highway 99 and Seattle Center. The Center can be served from First North and Mercer.

        So far as transitioning between elevated and subway within a roadway, that is exactly “the CTA Red Line eruption” I was talking about. Such a transition is UGLY!

        Changing between surface and either elevated or subway can be and usually is aesthetic and relatively non-disruptive. But going from underground to elevated requires a fenced box and is almost always done well off main streets. Here’s the “eruption”: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.916193,-87.6527072,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sxm8aSIRkdNvFHnj-TUdfCw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192 Express trains from the Red Line tunnel downtown rise up the rusty ramp to the original elevated tracks for the Brown and Purple lines.

        I don’t think that Lower Queen Anne would go for elevated right through the middle of its activity center anyway. If SLU and LQA are to be served it must be on the surface or underground. The monorail could probably be extended west; folks like it, but its visual footprint is much lighter than LRT’s or SkyTrain’s

      6. Mike, I chose False Creek exactly because it used to be so much like the north shore of the Ship Canal east of 17th NW. This is potentially a gem and it’s being wasted by the concrete plant. Of course Seattle needs concrete, plenty of it. But it doesn’t need it to come from hemmed-in Ballard.

      7. Tom, currently Seattle Center station is planned to be 110′ underground and Harrison at 120′. I’m concerned that people get stuck on the escalators at major events. Maybe we need to look at more nible technologies again like monorail or maglev which can dive more quickly into a tunnel. I remember the tulip and stacked configurations, too.
        https://transportsystemboegl.com/en/track/
        or we look at the Dexter/Fremont route again.

      8. “But it would not be like under-running …” My apologies for bad proof-reading. Also, the “while” in the first paragraph is wrong; it should not be there. It’s not a dependent clause.

        Al, thanks for the link. I will try it.

  5. “It’s not like the crowds are sagging the pavement around Westlake Center these days anyway, are they?”

    Yes, actually. From 4th to 6th the middle-class people are pretty thick in the afternoons.

  6. The Seattle Times has an article today about an Asian food court opening in Westlake Mall. Sounds interesting. Anyone been there? Many years ago I would take the free bus to have lunch at the food court on the top floor of Westlake Mall. Is that still there?

    1. The food hall is at ground floor just to the left of the main entrance. It’s a fun space with multiple stalls. When I was there on a Thursday around 6pm half the seats were full with mostly a younger crowd of twenty somethings.

      The food hall on the 4th? floor is still around. It looks a little more sad than the Asian food hall on level 1.

  7. “they could avoid acquisition of Safeway and save $140 million.”

    This $140MM is avoided affordable housing spend, not avoided transit construction expense.

    The reason acquiring Safeway is a ‘cost’ is because ST’s current policy is to surplus that land for affordable housing. If ST could acquire the lot and sell/lease it for market-rate TOD, it should roughly break even aside from the financing cost to hold the land for 4~6 years of staging.

    Further, if city up zoned it after ST obtain controedl, then ST would probably make money & still built a bunch of affordable housing in a mixed income development. It’s a huge lot & becomes so much more valuable with a Link station + upzone.

    Like Al’s complaint that the station box size is a fixed requirement, RCW 81.112.350* is treated as an exogenous requirement by the WSBLE planning team. Presenting this $140MM as transit savings to the Board is inaccurate & misleading.

    *https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/creating-vibrant-stations/transit-oriented-development

  8. “Lanes on 15th Ave would need to be reduced for up to 4 years.”

    When then points to the “build a new car bridge on 14th first to allow for 15th to be closed during Link construction” solution, but this is out of ST’s scope so it needs to be suggested by SDOT.

  9. I like the elevated SkyTrain plan from Weslake to SLU and then tunnel into LQA, Interbay and Ballard. It’s basically the dream of the Monorail extension. It will get us to good transit access to Ballard and SLU much faster and cheaper than the current idea. It will also showcase the city way better.

  10. Martin

    Thanks for writing about the event. Did ST get any pushback from Seattle Subway reps (Keith Kyle or his fellow travelers) at the meeting? Seattle Subway is the closest thing we have to a rider stakeholder group.

    What about the Ballard Business Alliance (some of whose members brought us the Missing Link litigation)? Did they throw their weight around?

    Was Councilmember Dan Strauss present?

    1. There were plenty of local people present, but I’m not sure whether they were affiliated with any organization (besides Ray from The Urbanist). I heard Dan had a conflict. Again, this was more a public outreach/marketing event, not as much a public discussion. I did not see any senior Sound Transit officials or Board members either.

  11. Putting the station on 14th is certifiably insane. The line will eventually be extended north on 15th… won’t it?

    1. Yes, it is insane. But it is likely. Only hope in my mind is if the Ballard Alliance (some of those members brought you the Missing Link litigation and bullied (figuratively and literally) Mike O’Brien off city council) starts throwing their weight around

      1. Let’s not forget mdnative we are talking about a line that ST admits the subarea cannot afford, although I personally think the funding gap for WSBLE — and Ballard Link that if all goes well would open in 2039 — is much larger than admitted.

        If ST and the stakeholders were really serious about a design that even came close to the funding that will be available it would be something like TT or Al propose. TT’s proposal — which is closer to the original back of envelope design in ST 3 less underestimated costs for DSTT2 because the other subareas were supposed to pay 1/2 — is not acceptable because it is above ground, and 14th, 15th and 20th are just varying degrees of less affordable. Al’s proposals would require ST to think out of the box when it comes to trains, stations, and operators, and ST is not good at thinking out of the box, and those ideas are not part of the DEIS.

        I think ST plans to get to the end of this DEIS and list several different designs for WSBLE, with different funding gaps, and tell the stakeholders to choose but to come up with the $$$ difference, plus 30% contingency. Right now, the stakeholders are acting like the budget is limitless, and it is someone else’s money.

        Nothing is more sobering, and probably self-gratifying for ST after going through this somewhat entitled process, to tell the stakeholders and subarea you can have anything you want, as long as you pay the difference. Pretty hard to bully an agency when they tell the stakeholder(s) you can have anything you want if you pay the difference, and show them the books. Then the stakeholders can either put up or shut up, although I think the gap with contingency will be around $12 billion for what the stakeholders want. Closer to $6 billion for what TT proposes.

      2. “I think ST plans to get to the end of this DEIS and list several different designs for WSBLE, with different funding gaps, and tell the stakeholders to choose but to come up with the $$$ difference, plus 30% contingency. ”

        Funny you should refer to the 30%. That’s what the DEIS should have at this point, according to FTA publications. The thing is that ST3, with a subway line through Downtown that was never studied and merely drawn on a map by Murray and Kubly was only given a 10% contingency — partly because St kept saying that their cost estimating was supposedly so good!

        The ugly truth is that ST3 was a HUGE pack of lies from a cost and design standpoint. No one dared at the time to question it. Every time new cost estimates came out, ST carefully words the increase causes to materials and real estate — and never to their unrealistic assumptions from 2016.

        Then, the productivity of each investment — even the travel time savings from each investment — were never discussed. It was like second graders drawing a subway map to their personal whims and need to please wealthy stakeholders who don’t ride transit.

        I raised this cost/ design issue in 2016 here on STB! At that time, many of the posters took it as an anti-transit comment or thought I should not question ST. While the regulars have changed, many posters today get that ST lied about costs and initial designs — except the diehards that think ST is holy and above criticism.

        Anyway, ST published a DEIS and can’t change the alternatives beyond minor requirements that they set in 2019. It’s a tough pill to swallow to admit that ST has wasted 3+ years on the DEIS — so I doubt any Board member will ever be direct and shame ST for wasting all this effort since 2017 and a fantasy map.

        I conclude with questions: Can taxpayers sue ST over misleading us about ST3? Will any local leaders have the guts to be both pro-transit while also admitting to the deceit? What is an appropriate remedy to the deceit?

        I see that some of us have very reasonable ways that ST3 can be salvaged for WSBLE. But it’s just us opining. There is complete public silence about the debacles at ST for the past several years.

      3. “The ugly truth is that ST3 was a HUGE pack of lies from a cost and design standpoint.”

        The ST3 estimated costs look to me as though they are in line with such projects as the Los Angeles D line extension. It seems to me the question needs to be why it costs so much more to build this stuff for Link.

    2. Eh, not necessarily. If the line is underground, then extending north along 15th isn’t the obvious low cost solution. It’s plausible the line could swing east to serve Aurora or UW instead.

      Now that ST is no longer in the business of building low cost at-grade light rail like it did in ST1 & ST2, an extension north of Ballard is now much, much more expensive.

    3. The interesting part is that northward extension along 15th is not in ST’s Long Range Plan, but Ballard-UW is.

      Maybe the route planners at ST didn’t get the memo that they’re not planning on extending north.

      1. Exactly, Nathan.

        Of course, in 2016 ST thought that Link was going to go over a medium height bridge and that 14th was the path of least construction resistance. As further studies put the costs closer together is was too late to consider how a never-studied east-west Market Street underground platform ( except for an unrealistic tunnel under Salmon Bay) would be much less disruptive to 15th Ave than the current north-south platform positions.

        It’s just another day of beating our heads against the wall while ST staff and board keep living out their “dream” known as WSBLE.

      2. The Ballard to UW folks were seen as dead enders (even by a lot of folks here). Big Tech wanted an SLU stop (as opposed to the Metro 8 line or Gondola). Some of us wanted to use it’s close ties to Scott Kubly to get a sense of what at he was thinking for ST3. Instead, we just got Kubly two tunnel special without any feedback– and we were told this was it.

  12. Sawant announces she will not seek reelection. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/sawant-will-not-seek-reelection-to-seattle-city-council/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BNA_011923184442+BREAKING+Kshama+Sawant+will+not+seek+reelection_1_19_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User

    I think this is the fourth councilmember to announce they will not seek reelection.

    Although I would like to think it is because they are ashamed of the state of the city after their tenures, my guess is the real reason is the brutal budget cuts that will be necessary to the general fund beginning in 2023 and accelerating over the next four years (let alone the ticking time bomb the bridges are, which the lower WS bridge just proved).

    2023 is the year many cities and citizens are going to find out money is limited, even when it is someone else’s money, and even the federal government is now recognizing the harm in adding $13 trillion to the federal debt in a few short years and huge cuts will be necessary there too when payments on the debt alone are now 8% of the total discretionary budget.

    I think we will find out debating WSBLE was a huge waste of time. The only alternative is going to be no alternative. The Board and DEIS will frame that reality in terms of possible alternatives and how much the stakeholders and subarea will have to chip in for each, with 30% contingency, and the figures will be staggering for N. King Co.

    Beginning in 2023 the real issue is where to find the funding to keep the buses running.

    1. Given how razor close her elections and recall was, combined with slight Census redistricting where she lost some key precincts, I am not surprised.

      1. Oh you want to push election fraud nonsense, Jesus Christ. She has never done that, and the fact you want to push such a narrative when the facts are clear based on how the district is demographicllu is honestly gross and pretty disrespectful to the campaign work she did in getting elected and reelected.

        I’m so disappointed but not surprised.

      2. If you want to continue peddle election fraud nonsense, then leave. This forum has no place for this nonsense you want to peddle. So disappointing to see a lawyer to peddle election fraud

      3. I looked further into the story because I was curious and found that after doing some research for this claim to be a nothingburger. Sawant’s team from what I see didn’t violate any election laws at the local, county, or state level.

        The claim it’s “ballot harvesting” when the legal definition doesn’t equate here in context of what actually happened. In context, Sawant’s team only did voter outreach at said booths by sharing voter literature about the recall and allowing people to print out a copy of their ballot, which is legal in Washington. As anyone in the state of Washington can print out a replacement ballot at their own request as long as they provide information to the voting portal to show that you are on the voter rolls and reside in the district. It also sounds like it was just allowing people to print out their ballot and nothing else regardless of how they wanted to vote. No bribes or forced coercin by Sawant’s team to voters who printed out their ballots.

        To claim she committed voter manipulation, fraud, and ballot harvesting has some very shaky evidence behind it in the article and further research i did in finding a photo of the booth itself. That in the end basically says nothing happened in terms of voter manipulation or ballot harvesting.

        Ballot harvesting implies they collected the ballots afterwards as a third party when it sounds like that didn’t happen. If people want to back it up with factual evidence that Sawant’s team on video actually paid or coerced people into voting that way, be my guest.

        But considering the fact that there was no video evidence of this happening, no electoral investigation by the state via a complaint at this point, the amount of invalid/blank votes was just about 30 votes, and no news report that showed evidence of this happening. We can see that didn’t clearly didn’t happen. And just seems to be a grasping at straws claim by the ST editorial board at best by them.

      4. “So the outrage appears completely unwarranted. And many groups do it.”
        Pretty much, reading the article, it seemed like the Seattle Times editoral board was just bitter and somewhat salty about Sawant not losing the recall and using the ppiece as an attempt to grasping at straws to critique her. Which doesn’t feel too surprising based on the paper’s dislike of her and her political views.

        She’d probably would’ve been not recalled regardless of the ballot collection thing based on how she’s done representing her district and the amount of voter outreach she does in the community.

        Seattle Times would probably not be complaining about it if it was the recall people doing it, which just speaks to their own double standard on covering topics in their editorial section.

        In my personal opinion, I’m ambivalent to Sawant and her politics. She was a flawed council member who had both good and bad to councilship. But at the end of the day, she represented her constituents well in the 3rd district and stayed in the position for over a decade. Which is not always an easy feat as a council member or mayor with how the elections usually played out on off years from national elections.

      5. I’m a Sawant constutuent, and I’ve seen the tables outside Seattle Central repeatedly. Sawant’s supporters have petition drives for all her causes, and of course against the recall. (“I stand with Sawant.” was the slogan.) At the election they had machines for people to print their blank ballot if they wanted, as is legal. The official drop box was a minute’s walk away. Every ballot is tied to a specific voter, and if multiple ballots for one voter are submitted, only one of them is counted.

        I’m liberal but I find Sawant’s proposals and rhetoric excessive, so I’ve voted against her in every reelection. She has always won anyway because the district is so leftist. I voted for her in the recall because I didn’t think the recall drive was in good faith. She won the election and had the right to complete her term. None of the purported recall reasons rose to the level of disqualifying (e.g., corruption, self-dealing, abusing staff, harming enemies — unlike somebody else who was doing three out of four at the time).

      6. Thanks for confirming what I thought was happening in relation to the printers, Mike.

        I remember some folks who didn’t like Sawant but who were just as baffled by the recall effort. They viewed it as a waste of time, money, and resources that could be better spent on fielding a better candidate in the next district election.

        It’ll be interesting to see how the next council election shakes out as I do see it being a political shift that’ll happen within the council. Which way is anyone’s guess.

      7. It was an attempt to oust somebody the proponents didn’t vote for and were ideologically opposed to. It has happened repeatedly with California governors, and now it happened with Sawant. I don’t remember when the recall vote was, but off-year elections tend to have a smaller and more conservative electorate than presidential elections, so they may have been counting on that.

    2. Meh. Andrew Lewis is running again. Dan Strauss, who represents Ballard, hasn’t announced, but would likely cruise to reelection for opening up Ballard Ave to cafes, saving a lot of restaurants. Plus, he hasn’t pissed off the Ballard Alliance like O’Brien did.

      I find it interesting Pedersen, the most conservative, is not running again. I suppose he could be painted as accomplishing very little. in an election — he barely won last time in an open seat

      Sawant had a couple of closes calls. Hollingsworth would likely have taken her out 1 on 1 and I doubt she could have propped up the other weaker candidate to overtake Hollingsworth.

      [Ed: Corrected typo “cages” to “cafes”, because it made the sentence non-understandable.]

  13. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/movies/report-regal-meridian-16-movie-theater-in-downtown-seattle-to-close/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TSA_012023000159+Major+downtown+Seattle+movie+theater+to+close+its+doors_1_19_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User

    Regal 16 Movie Theater in downtown Seattle is to close. Is there a movie theater left in downtown Seattle? Is the Cinerama still open? The last time I was at this theater with my wife the area had gotten sketchy. After the movie we wanted to walk to the bar in the Mayflower on 4th and Olive because we used to get a drink there long ago after Christmas shopping, but the area was too sketchy so we went home.

    1. I think the reason has more to do with movie theatres struggling in general than downtown Seattle specifically. A few weeks ago, I was at another theater in Houston. The place was completely deserted when we walked in and completely deserted when we walked out. This is a place that I have been to several times and was extremely busy pre-COVID.

      I suspect COVID has caused many to get used to Netflix and other TV/movie subscription services, and they are displacing movie theaters everywhere. No need to bother traveling anywhere. No need to sit through endless previews and commercials waiting for the movie to start. You can pause it to go to the bathroom. You can watch it with your dog on your lap. It’s far cheaper. You have control over the volume. No crying babies or other’s phones ringing. There are just so many reasons why watching a movie at home is better than at a theater. And the movie theater business is dying because of it.

      1. Theaters are doing well although it depends on the releases. Factoria and Lincoln Square are packed, although crowds thin out the longer a movie is out.

        The Regal got run down. Other theaters serve booze and food in your seats. Plus theaters need retail vibrancy around them. People like to go to a movie and then walk around and shop, dine or get a drink.

        The area of Seattle The Regal is in is dead retail wise, and the theaters got old and dirty, like a lot of downtown.

        The better theaters are in the suburbs, and people especially like theaters in malls because of the retail and restaurants and free and easy parking.

        If Nike is closing a flagship store just a few blocks from The Regal it means there is nothing The Regal could have done to survive, just like Pacific Place.

      2. Regal is closing 39 locations. Obviously some people are still going to movies, but not enough to keep some locations open. Except for the Friday Harbor Film Frstival, which has good stuff, I’ve not been to one in a long time. We used to have a bunch of second run theatres here where movies were only $3 a pop. A few years ago, Holywood changed its release format and everyone had to buy really expensive new projectors. The vast majority of our affordable theatres had to start charging more and doing first runs.

        With the collapse of shopping malls, a bunch of our big mall theatres have closed too. Southgate, Eastgate, Lloyd Cinemas, and a number of the other big ones are gone here. Century Eastport, Century Clackamas, one remaining Lloyd Center theatre, and the two downtown Portland Regal cinemas are the last of the big chains left here. Everything else is small locally owned stuff scraping by.

      3. The movie theater business is also dying because almost all the movies have fallen into three or four repetitive genres: superheroes, teenage airheads, too-hip animations, or slasher horror.

      4. Closing 39 theaters out of 500 after a pandemic does not surprise me. As noted in the article, the Chap. 11 bankruptcy allows Regal to vacate leases. What does surprise me is one of the 39 theaters is in a major downtown like Seattle. Maybe Seattleites don’t like going to the theater. Theaters are packed on the Eastside, although my wife and I like to wait a few week after opening to avoid the crush.

        Good theaters now have reserved seats and serve alcohol, some like Factoria to your seat, and really comfortable and adjustable seats. Regal put no money into updating Regal in Seattle probably seeing the writing on the wall. Like Nike that is flush.

      5. Meridian 16 wasn’t a great theater. The interior layout and decor is makeshift, especially on the bottom lobby level, where an escalator was shoved in to make it work and sticks out like a sore thumb. The restrooms are on a half-floor between the theater floors, so you have to go up and down stairs to get to them. The location on Pike Street is at the outer edge of the retail district, so it’s mostly offices around it and not many people walking there. I always hoped movies I wanted to see were at Pacific Place instead of Meridian 16. If a movie was at Meridian 16, the theater would be a negative factor in whether I’d attend the movie, and I’d also see if it’s playing at a more interesting smaller theater on a frequent transit route. So the theater itself wasn’t attracting as many walk-up patrons as a better-designed theater and closer to the pedestrian core might.

        As for alcohol and food delivered to your seat, that still seems unusual to me, and likely a high price. I wouldn’t say most theaters do it.

      6. “Like Nike that is flush.”

        One thing about Nike. The anti-globalization activists that kept breaking its windows really wanted Nike to leave. It’s ironic that it’s now doing so. Even people like myself who didn’t condone the vandalism didn’t shop there, because Nike is an overhyped, overprice brand, and if I wanted Nike shoes I wouldn’t necessarily go to Niketown.

        However, twice in the past few months I’ve seen a long line in front of Niketown, and I don’t understand it. Why would people wait half an hour in line to experience a shoe display or buy shoes there? Maybe there was some special event beyond that.

      7. The best time to visit Meridian 16 is the first few days of a release, when it’s on three screens and starts every half hour. That’s like a frequent bus route where you don’t have to check the schedule or wait a long time in the lobby.

      8. The theatre in Ballard seems very attractive and I don’t see why anyone would trek all the way downtown from that region if a theatre like that is an option.

        In Portland, places like The Hollywood and The Bagdad are neighborhood anchors in their own right. Shame they couldn’t keep the old Ballard theatre building to do something like that there.

        http://americashauntedroadtrip.com/hollywood-theatre-portland/

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagdad_Theatre

      9. However, twice in the past few months I’ve seen a long line in front of Niketown, and I don’t understand it. Why would people wait half an hour in line to experience a shoe display or buy shoes there?

        People collect shoes. Nike probably released a new version of some sneaker and folks were in line to get a pair. Often these are limited release and the price goes up.

      10. Interesting theaters outside downtown include: the Majestic Bay in Ballard, the Admiral in West Seattle (shaped like an art deco ship), the Varsity on the Ave, the Grand Illusion on the Ave, SIFF Cinema in Uptown, Northwest Film Forum on 12th Avenue, tArk Lodge in Columbia City, and The Beacon on Beacon Hill. I’ve been to all of them except The Beacon. There may be another one further south on Rainier around Hillman City.

        Closed theaters include the Guild 45th, Harvard Exit, Seven Gables. The Egyptian opens occasionally for the film festival. (That’s the closest equivalent to the Bagdad in Portland, but no pizza.) I’m not sure if the Metro/Sundance/something else at 45th & Roosevelt is still open.

        Other theaters have been converted to live performance venues: the Neptune, Columbia City Cinema, University Theater on 55th (if it’s still open). That penny jazz restaurant in Ballard may have been a movie theater once.

      11. The problem with your “solution” is that Netflix no longer gets most premier movies. The big studios are owned by other corporations with their own streaming services, so one ends up with a $70 monthly streaming bill to have access to all the studios.

        Netflix is scraping by with formula confections “starring” wooden wanna-be “actors” and emotionless “voice-over” films from Croatia.

        Yes, “grump-grump”.

  14. What does surprise me is one of the 39 theaters is in a major downtown like Seattle.

    The lease was probably very high.

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