This is a live discussion of Sound Transit’s monthly board meeting, which is choosing a preferred alignment for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE) environmental impact statement (EIS).
Meeting page with video link and documents
Update: The following amendment descriptions weren’t quite accurate, and they’re too complicated to explain here.
Amendment #2 is the Balducci/Millar proposal, to include the Restored Spine alternative and the 4th Avenue Shallow alternative.
Amendment #3 is the Constantine/Harrell proposal, for North of CID and South of CID stations.
Amendment #4 asks to activate Union Station with activities regardless of the ultimate CID station alternativ
e. Amendment #5 seems to be choosing a WSBLE preferred alignment.
Some comments on the public testimony are in the previous open thread.
255 Replies to “ST Board Meeting on WSBLE”
Meeting is in executive session. Comments are over.
The “4th Ave.” people want to maintain connectivity.
The “North/South” people want to spare the CID from another decade of construction.
Both goals are accomplished by interlining West Seattle Link. ST has started the FTA grant process and is eager to get WS Link shovel ready.
Interlining may be more palatable if it is not necessarily the end state. A Ballard-Westlake stub (or Ballard – Westlake – “North CID”?) could be extended from there. It could later be extended to First Hill, to the south, or even both.
Upcoming discussion should be fascinating.
I think you’re talking about the one-tunnel concept. West Seattle will be interlined in DSTT1 under both ST’s two-tunnel default and our one-tunnel alternative in two recent articles.
Oh yeah, what I really mean is, the one-tunnel concept, adding West Seattle to the current tunnel to join East Link and the RV /Sea-Tac / FW / Tacoma line.
One tunnel emerging south out of downtown. Two tunnels, actually, heading north from downtown, at least from Westlake, and potentially from this North CID urban renewal location.
Ballard – Westlake – North CID has not one but two transfer stations with DSTT. The segment from Westlake to “North CID” would be redundant, but it isn’t long and a bit of re. One of them may end up better than the other for “same direction” transfers. This would make Westlake station less crowded than if it were the only transfer station.
There isn’t really any point to continuing the tunnel south from there. All it buys is “South CID”, which was only added to solve the CID construction issue. In this configuration, all trains stop at Stadium, and there’s only one pair of platforms at SODO.
That maintenance base issue may end up being sticky, however, even though it is so easy to imagine one being next to the existing train yard in the vast, probably polluted former tidelands / wastelands of Interbay.
Resumption time for public part of Board meeting now expected to be 4:20 PM.
Meant to say…A bit of redundancy is not the worst thing.
Having Ballard trains go as far as “North CID” would dramatically reduce the number of transfers people would need to make from that line as “North CID” gives a lot more coverage to downtown than Westlake alone.
I’m sort of negotiating with myself on these alternatives in an attempt to dream up some variation on this that works great as a transit system and is politically viable enough to win the day. My instinct is, Ballard – Westlake – North CID stub has political legs that Ballard – Westlake stub does not.
Or terminate at Midtown?
Midtown seems better from a transit perspective. Integration with RapidRide G is important. Integration with Pioneer Square, not really, people can transfer at Westlake. instead. I’m down with Midtown.
The 4th/James area is where they would much rather dig holes. Not sure how to square that circle.
They can still dig holes there. It doesn’t have to be for Link. They can come up with another grand vision for the lots. Maybe we can suggest some….
The Mayor is speaking now in favor of looking at the North/South options.
There’s no reason in the world to build a West Seattle stub. Any West Seattle trains should be routed into the existing tunnel.
You could also DSTT2 all the way through downtown to Ballard and route some trains into it. If you do, West Seattle is the best choice. But that’s expensive and disruptive there isn’t a real gain from that… unless you count “South CID” station.
If we really care about connecting West Seattle to SLU – and we should – let’s connect it directly to SLU via SR 99 tunnel via express bus, at least until Ballard Link gets there. That would beat Link even if Link were direct.
I think that express bus is already in Metro’s plans. I think it’s only envisioned to be a peak bus, but that’s probably the only times that would have enough people to need direct service.
Jonathan, if the stub goes to “North CID” it sure won’t “be extended to First Hill”. It will be on a north-south heading at “North CID”; would it “fishhook” and climb back up to First Hill? Surely you mean something else. Why did you use the term “Ballard-Westlake-‘North CID'”?
If it is ever to serve First Hill it has to stop (temporarily) at Westlake. Setting up the linkage might mean some extra tunneling beyond the station.
OK, you’re “down with Midtown”? Does that mean “Ballard-Westlake-Midtown”? That could certainly be turned to serve at least a “South First Hill” station, especially if “Midtown” moves a little east, perhaps to Sixth Avenue right next to the freeway and using the six blocks from Westlake to climb into the crown of the hill, keeping in mind the need to under-run the freeway.
There is a possible TBM removal opportunity within the freeway envelope between Spring and Madison. The southbound Sixth Avenue off-ramp is about thirty feet from the southbound general travel lanes in that block. I think you could dig a pit big enough to remove the TBM’s one at a time.
Yes, the Sixth Avenue off ramp would have to be closed intermittently to move heavy equipment in and out. The TBM vault would have to be partly mined as a vestibule under the off-ramp from the pit dug down between the lanes. I don’t know how difficult that might be, but it seems probable that if the TBM’s are fifty feet down that some sort of support might be possible.
The station obviously would have to be between Spring and Seneca which is a bit south of where Midtown would optimally be.
Tom: there have been tunneling projects where it was cheaper to leave the boring machine in place rather than try to remove it.
In TriMet’s case, the TBM was removed piece by piece out the east entrance. TriMet didn’t want to be the test case for using a TBM on Columbia Basalt, so they had them use drill and blast for the western part.
So, removing the TBM without sky access has been done before.
In response to the question in the other thread:
“… still have forty-six people in-person (sic) sign-up sheet and eleveln individuals signed up for virtual public comment.”
Thank you, Cam. (I had gone out to the kitchen for a coffee refill right then.) It must be incredibly frustrating for those folks who made the effort to be there in person.
Sort of, but not as frustrating as it would be to try and use the system with trains from the south routed into a new tunnel that skips CID.
I left the meeting, listened on AirPods, went home and came back here to pontificate in writing instead.
At the start of last meeting I basically suggested what Balducci and Millar went off and did in the interim. Maybe they were actually listening. They did improve the plan. I hope their efforts bear fruit.
I think the best thing to do is sign up early and make effective comments that can influence other commenters.
Balducci and Millar submitted both the Restored Spine amendment and the North/South of CID (Constantinople) amendment. So maybe they’re not the originators of the Restored Spine proposal; they’re just the spokesmen for it. That could indicate more boardmembers were involved.
I have to say, “Don’t break the spine!” is a strong rallying cry.
Having been inside the sausage factory for years on SR 520, I’m sure there are many, many parallel back channels amongst the Board members, staff, people at the City, etc. This is a good thing. Seeing the Balducci/Millar proposal was a breath of fresh air. It shows a modicum of creativity.
WSBLE as a separate line will be phased, and doesn’t have to be a contiguous line.
Exec sesh extended to 4:35 PM now.
They probably should have just said a warning at mid point that they cannot reach all comments so people wouldn’t wait that long to the end.
I think they did at the beginning.
The executive session has been extended to 4:20. That’s 50 minutes total. The topic is “litigation or potential litigation”. Executive sessions are not routine in board meetings; the only other ones I’ve seen were to discuss “personnel matters”. So this one is unusual, and it suggests a particular lawsuit is pending. What could it be? Speculate away.
Wasn’t Tacoma or Pierce County, I don’t think. They wrote a “sternly worded letter”, but that’s all they got in ’em.
Maybe they just wanted to kick-it with their fine council-members, and partake at 4:20 before coming back to vote and face the angry mob.
Wouldn’t blame them.
Executive session now extended to 4:30 PM…
Another 5 minute delay to 4:35pm.
Is this board meeting like playing Clue or what?
– Whodunit in the lawsuit?
– Did Balducci and Millar create the Restored Spine alternative alone?
P.S. I’m reading Northanger Abbey now (or rather listening to the audiobook). Can we create a gothic mystery out of this, with station castles?
Balducci is smelling stinky fish.
Yep. This is coming across as a power play by Dow and Mayor Harrell.
Balducci is not on board with North/South as preferred without additional amendments. We are now getting down to brass tacks.
She is saying: Two ways to do inequity here. You can also damage a community by bypassing it… also we are being asked to prefer something that has not even had draft level analysis… good points. Respect to Balducci
OK, I see how to solve this problem. Just get through to Balducci and Millar with a super effective rational argument. These are rational players. We are almost there. Hopefully we don’t do real damage today…
Dave Upthegrove sympathetic to Balducci’s arguments. Thinks he “may be in the minority.”
There is a win-win-win here that is lurking behind this conversation…
The framing of the conversation is wrong. It is pitting access vs. impacts. It is a false choice. Share the tunnel.
I guess in general there was less support for North/South CID stations among the board members than we thought.
Somers in favor of Bruce Harrell’s proposal. Said he wasn’t there a month ago but is OK with North/South as preferred. Says it is “not final”. OK with “imperfect” solutions.
Millar not ready to make North/South preferred. What about station access, he asks. We got one shot, let’s do it right, he says. Let’s develop the ideas…
Kent Keel will support the Mayor’s motion “for the sake of conversation”. We want to listen to the local jurisdiction, work with them, this is me doing that. But he’s not sure about North/South. He’s good with multiple options at this point. No rush to have a preferred. Fair points! Kent Keel sounds like someone who would be receptive to an effective, rational argument.
Balducci going out on a limb supporting the Mayor even though her support is really conditional on amendments she is about to propose.
So if the Mayor comes back and rejects her amendments, that would not be a good look.
Bruce Harrell and Millar and Constantine are yes on Balducci’s amendments. This is for 4th Ave. shallower. It is passed. Now Amendment #3…
The Mayor is speaking. He understands North/South is not the ideal transit system. He “respects” that, but thinks of this decision in broader terms.
The truth is, we can have both.
Now on to Amendment #2 from Balducci. Favoring studying 4th Ave. shallower plus…. reading this
Balducci speaking to the one and only opportunity for a real transit hub. Wants to maintain connections.
Putting West Seattle trains in current tunnel solves that problem — for less money.
Only Dow and Bruce are really wedded to North/South for its non-transit benefits…
Millar: What Claudia Balducci said.
OK with studying North/South. Wants to compare with 4th. What can we do to reduce cost and construction impacts?
(Me, raising my hand at home: call on me! call on me!) SHARE THE TUNNEL!
Anyway, I am more optimistic about this project listening to this discussion. New fan of Balducci and Millar.
Optimism was short lived. Balducci/Millar’s Amendment #3 went down.
Start imagining many long corridors in your future.
Now Balducci’s Amendment #5. Not going to offer it. It was saying 3rd party funding should be based on least cost alternative.
$700M for 4th Ave. Shallow
$800M for 4th Ave. Shallower
vs. realigned plan
Bruce Dammeier in opposition of these 4th Ave studies. Fiscal responsibility.
(Answer: SHARE THE TUNNEL!)
This is on top of the already very large existing funding gap, is it not?
Scrap the second tunnel proposal. Stub the Ballard line at Westlake.
@Tlsgwm — Agreed.
Now Balducci’s amendment #3… This is fascinating. Access from the Eastside is an issue. I so hope we move forward with this configuration…. WSBLE as separate line. This can set us up for success…
Upthegrove seconds it.
Dow says we studied this and rejected it in 2015. Asking staff to comment…
Having this as permanent as opposed to interim… capacity concerns… 5x as many riders in existing tunnel as in new tunnel – stations over capacity
reliability concerns – uneven loads on the trains – capacity issues
“Spine segmentation” solves multiple problems, ST staff rep says
shortening length of trains (?)
putting merge into a line that is grade separated
I do not understand why ST staff thinks there would be schedule unreliability… oh, because they think the platforms are too crowded. That’s the problem they anticipate, not with the trains, in the separate WSBLE configuration. Only 1/5 as many riders on the DSTT2.
(Answer: SO DON’T BUILD IT!)
Modifications needed to stations, they say.
(OR: Run trains more often, then less of a crowd!)
Modifications to multiple projects in review… cost and schedule impacts… our operations and maintenance facility…. etc. If same conclusions found in 2015 made again then we’d need to consider tunnel….
Balducci’s response: DSTT2 is a regional second tunnel regardless of how used; it was for capacity.
Significant new proposal that changes the system works and in the center of it is what is supposed to be our transit hub. This is just one idea, we can do it different ways. We have to think about turnarounds. This study would allow us to do that for the 2038 timeline.
Somers doesn’t want to back up the process. Doesn’t want to revisit stuff dismissed 8 years ago. Opposed to additional costs, delays.
Now Millar: Give the Board and the public another option for who needs to make the transfer necessitated for addition North/South stations. In 2015 it all came together in the ID. This is with the North/South stations.
Kent Keel opposed. Applauds Balducci’s creativity but calls this a drastic change. (Isn’t North/South a drastic change?)
The fact that there are 5x as many in Lines 1 and 2 than in DSTT2 for a separate WSBLE is a very damning fact about DSTT2.
In response to Balducci/Miller’s proposal, Dammeier says worst thing the Board could do is…. (what Dow and Bruce just did with North/South?) Not sure I follow… sounds like double standard.
He is struggling with delays with Link to downtown Tacoma (isn’t it not even going there?) concerned about unreliability. Strongly opposed.
Christine Frizzell from Lynnwood: “Maybe we should have another vote”
“We still have 318 participants on this call”
Kristina Walker: Valuable to keep this on table. Supports. “Something we’re going to do anyway for an interim period…”
Dow Constantine: NO.
This is something that was considered a long time ago and it’s time to move on. We have to stop reconsidering stuff and moving forward…
Response from Balducci: This is in response to North/South
Bruce Harrell: NO.
Deborah Juarez: NO.
Call for vote. It’s going down.
Damn. Yeah. 5 yeas, 11 nays.
Yikes. It sounds like board member Walker doesn’t even understand the difference between the representative alignment in ST3 and the selection of a preferred alignment that’s on the agenda for today.
Neither Dammeier and Walker are representing Pierce County’s interests.
Apparently through ignorance.
This is why politicians shouldn’t be running a transit system.
Dammeier is trying to rush this.
Isn’t representing the disaster N/S will be for Pierce County.
I don’t think he even understands the details.
I do kinda understand. From their perspective if there is infinite discussion at the local stations it will go nowhere.
What he seems to care most about — fiscal responsibility and getting stuff delivered — is best accomplished by putting West Seattle trains in the current tunnel. It’s also best for his district.
His point that we don’t have an extra $800M is valid.
The one-tunnel plan, I mean. One tunnel through CID. One CID station. 3 lines in it.
Upthegrove gets it.
The only word about sharing the existing tunnel except for Anton’s testimony. Nobody on the Board seems to have heard what he said. They are Hell bound to build that tunnel from Westlake south to Massachusetts Street.
It does seem that way watching this proceeding this afternoon. (Sigh.)
I see the issue Balducci will not support the North/South because of the East King county transfer issues to Seatac. That’s why alternatively she proposed changing the service pattern.
Surprised Dow voted aye on Amendment 2.
Glad Walker did. At least someone is looking out for Pierce.
It was 10 yeas, 6 nays, wasn’t it?
(Trying to get my day job work done while watching/listening.)
Ughhh. Somers. My rep.
Doesn’t get it. Probably never will.
Hey, Dave, where’s the money coming from?
I was kinda surprised the Pierce and Snohomish County council members were not supportive of the ‘maintain regional connectivity’. It would allow them to side step the entire ballard/west seattle tunnel issue. And also they could possibly argue exit having to pay for the new tunnel too.
Restored Spine dies 11 to 5. We’re headed to a North/South or 4th Avenue S future. Harrell and Constantine voted against it.
The only real solution to this conundrum is to invent a time machine back to, maybe 2015 or so. Which if I had, I think I would use…
Balducci and Millar will be disappointed, for good reason. The interests they spoke to have not been addressed.
If staff thinks 4/5 of the total demand is too much for DSTT, they will also think that 5/5 of the demand is too much (the one tunnel plan).
Except… if you run the trains more often, that mitigates the platform crowding issues, doesn’t it? They seemed more concerned about crowding at the stations than in the tunnels. That is new information from this meeting.
Unfortunately anything involving a Ballard stub would impose procedural delays… and that maintenance base issue, while solvable, would take time.
There is actually plenty of time. Note the revenue is short. More time means more years of revenue. Why the rush to build a suboptimal network.
“Balducci and Millar will be disappointed.”
A lot of riders will be disappointed too.
Joe McDermott – The baseline has become unbuildable. (He cites a number of segments on WSBLE.)
Mentions the No Build plan… but no real follow up on that.
Says we don’t have enough money for 4th Ave. shallow or shallower, but we will study them.
North/South require more review. They move two stations a few blocks south. They may have more TOD potential. Speaks to rerouting RapidRide G line (which is half built right now!)
Did he mention any routing for RapidRide G? I’m concerned that they’re starting to count on that before Metro/SDOT has been able look at routing options and how they’d affect travel time, reliability, and access to DSTT1. The only routing options I see are:
– Extend it from the 1st & Madison terminal, going south and east.
– Turn at 3, going south and east.
– Turn at 4th, bypassing University Street Station.
All of those would put buses in mixed traffic on streets that haven’t been optimized for RapidRide. That could be added, but it’s not in the current RapidRide G project.
The Urbanist already covered how difficult it would be to reroute RR-G:
I just listened to the recording, he actually said that the CID residents asked for “No Build” last year, but now the extended CID discussion has led to new options and residents are starting to support certain stations.
To get the one-tunnel solution we’d need an alternative for it in the EIS. There was no amendment for it today, and several boardmembers are tired of adding alternatives. So the likelyhood they’ll add it at a future board meeting is slim. That means they’ll pursue the second tunnel until/if they hit a brick wall on affordability. Then they might look at a single tunnel to avoid canceling WSBLE. It sounds like the EIS won’t be finished for another year, so that point might come before or after that.
Is it really the current plan to have a forced transfer at SODO for trains for West Seattle until the Ballard line opens? How long is that gap supposed to be, 7 years?
Because that would be insane.
Yep, West Seattle will be a stub at SODO until Ballard Link opens – 5-7 years afterwards.
So… even when the headways are the longest, on a Sunday night, they are going to kick me off that West Seattle train to walk over an overpass in the January mist in SODO so I can just miss the train that goes… anywhere else.
You’ve got to be kidding. We are going to be looking at virtually empty trains rolling across the Duwamish for 7 years.
For this, we must RUSH RUSH RUSH through the FTA process to get this project SHOVEL READY ASAP. This project our #1 priority in Seattle. If you don’t make it until… 2039 or so? this boondoggle will be all you ever see of WSBLE, despite paying into this system for decades. Forgive me if I’m unenthused.
The monorail we voted in favor of 4 times (before voting it down) was originally supposed to open in 2007 or so, then 2009, serving pretty much this route. That date may have been a fiction, but the gap is 33 years and rising. It’s a generation.
Apparently buried deep in one of the documents is a gem about the West Seattle line not adding any transit rides. I don’t think that qualifies for FTA funding.
It will consume all the local funding so nothing else gets built, maybe.
The monorail had even shakier funding. It depended mostly on car tabs, which was killed in an Eyman initative. It wouldn’t accept transfers from Metro because it couldn’t afford the fare discount. When I lived in Ballard, most of my trips would have been mono+bus, so I’d have to take a parallel bus under the monorail tracks in order to avoid double fare, so I wouldn’t get any benefit from the monorail. The maximum speed was 35 mph. (Link is 55.) In the end they truncated half the line and single-tracked part of the rest, which would limit frequency. So it was a total mess by the time the fifth referendum killed it.
I was born the same month in 1968 that Forward Thrust was on the ballot, Seattle’s Forward Thrust rail initiative failed with 50.8% of the vote.
By the time I moved to Seattle in 1990 after college, this was local history, but it was only 22 years in the past. The 1962 World’s Fair with its monorail was also history, before my time… then only 28 years in the past.
By the time WSBLE is complete, the fifth vote cancelling the monorail will have been at least 34 years in the past.
If that original monorail project had been properly funded from the start, without all the dumb compromises, it would have made for a more viable project that possibly could have served mostly the same route a generation earlier. That’s an alternative history, but it sure would have put us in a different spot now. And the utility value of a system existing for decades is huge, even if it would have been pricey for the city.
correct, the DEIS says buses will continue to run downtown until the line continues into the downtown tunnel. They do not expect any increased transit ridership from WS during the “stub” time. Once it connects downtown, they expect 400 riders will switch from crossing the WS bridge to taking transit. I expect the cost of WSLE to reach $4b by the time it’s done, that’s a cost of $10m per converted driver. Is that the best use of your tax dollars?!?
OK, I just learned that staff in 2015 thought the real issue with 3 lines in the current tunnel is the PLATFORMS not the TUNNEL segments.
Staff spoke to crowding because 4/5 of the demand would be from Lines 1 and 2 if WSBLE went in DSTT2.
They never studied putting 3 lines in the current tunnel. That solves the platform crowding issue. There is your solution.
Wow, I just realized that if 4/5 of the demand would be in Lines 1 and 2 if WSBLE gets DSTT2 all to itself…
That means THE PLAN is to FORCE MOST PEOPLE TO TRANSFER! That’s how they “even out the demand”!
It’s like we are ants in ant tunnels, not taxpaying humans (many of whom voted for this mess!) whose time and convenience actually matter. Augh.
I seriously doubt that Ballard and West Seattle (the Full WSBLE diagram on the right) will only provide 1/5 of the riders on the system. Those projections were pre-Pandemic and pre-only-Link-in-Tunnel figures. Ballard and SLU will most certainly go up. It’s the long-distance commuters from Snohomish and Pierce Counties which will be most affected, because of the long travel times.
They’ve given their ultimatum about WFH or their resignation.
Meaning, the plan is to force a large number of people to use the awful, deep transfers with the 380 foot passageways to transfer between DSTT1 and DSTT2. That’s how they “even out the demand” between the tunnels… which is being done to reduce crowding on the platforms, apparently, more than for any other reason, according to staff in today’s ST Board meeting.
That means the “person-hours of delay”, a metric also used in traffic planning, will be extremely high due to both the volume of transferring passengers and the time hit to each one.
Lower overall system ridership is another factor that should help mitigate the platform crowding issue with DSTT2 and the “Split Spine”!
The platforms are the easiest to solve too, as they just need to add a center platform at each. Bring a cement mixer in on hi-rail wheels during night shutdown and fill it up.
They’d have to rip out that ridiculous third track at CID, but there’s plenty of other ways to deal with its purported use. Eg: TriMet built a full wye at Rose Quarter and “maintenance moves” from the yellow to blue line are handled as in-service trains.
Yes to the cement mixer. We’ll need a way to walk off the platform though.
When this video is posted online people should go back and listen carefully to the discussion about amendment #3, the Balducci-Millar proposal to “Retain the Spine” and make WSBLE a separate line. This went down 5 to 11 (a couple of Board members were absent.)
There are Board and staff comments about having to modify platforms, elevators, etc. in DSTT and how this is seen as an impediment (whereas constructing a new tunnel and two mega stations under downtown is not?)
There is discussion about not wanting to go back and revisit a configuration that was dismissed in 2015 as unviable.
Did ST ever actually analyze having 3 lines in the same tunnel? I’m beginning to think nobody there has actually even looked at it. I can’t begin to count how many times I (and many others) have suggested exactly this over the years.
The place we most need the center platform is at CID, which looks like it has plenty of room. The surface layout can be changed. The station could use a remodel; it seems pretty tired.
The one hitch with the Ballard – Westlake stub is the maintenance base. It’s buildable in Interbay, but that will cost $.
It could end up being cheaper to continue at least one tunnel to south of downtown to make a non-revenue connection to the existing system. But I can’t really imagine ST staff and Board accepting such an out-of-the-box approach.
Isn’t it possible to solve any platform crowding issues downtown just by running more trains? Shrink the headways. So what if some of them turn around at Stadium if the real crowding issue is downtown.
Long term, the real crowding issues may be in Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill anyway.
Here’s another crazy idea: Build that Center City Streetcar (quickly, and for relative peanuts) to relieve pressure on the “one tunnel” given the consternation about crowded platforms. Having two separate lines is almost worst case.
And/or more buses, as others have suggested. That’s even easier. You could do that right away.
Bottom line, there are countless ways to relieve overcrowding on platforms if that’s the big bugaboo with the “one tunnel” plan. I call this a great problem to have!
Jonathan the best non-revenue connection is between the southbound Line 4 track at Stewart and Westlake to the southbound Spine Track at Third and Pine, taking advantage of the oblique intersections at Third and Steward and Westlake and Stewart.
There would have to be a cross-over directly north of the diverging point under Westlake, but that tunnel remains unbuilt, so including the cross-over would cost something, but is eminently doable. Basically, the station box for New Westlake would be continued north a block or so to include the diversion and the cross-over.
To add the cross-over to the Spine Tunnel, use the bus bypass at USSS.
This connection would only be used at late night times so the two minutes that it would take a Forest Street to Line 4 train to foul the southbound track north of USSS could be worked around easily.
This is a LOT cheaper than extending all the way through downtown, even for a single tube. It’s only four-and-a-half blocks.
The elegance is that the track to be merged into is on the west side of Third, so that gives the greatest possible radius for the curve between Third and Stewart. Westlake is really wide and the obliquity is greater at Stewart and Westlake, plus the tunnel has two blocks to switch to the south edge of the Stewart ROW, so the curve there is doable, even though the connecting track is also on the west side.
I agree with your consistently voiced choice of automated trains, and I’d just say, “include a ‘stand-up’ control stand that folds into the wall” at one end or the other of each car, and deliver married pairs with the control stands “facing out” and open gangways in the middle. You’d essentially have an automated MAX train but a step farther than the Type III and IV cars with the lounge seating.
I can’t imagine that such a control stand would be more than $75,000 once designed and with a large enough order.
Watching the discussion of amendment #3, the Balducci-Millar proposal to “Retain the Spine”, it sounded like she was trying to minimize rocking the boat so not suggesting anything as radical as not building the tunnel at all, and therefore the option didn’t involve any cost savings or speed-up, which were the primary concerns of many of the board members. Focusing on the no-new-tunnel option being cheaper (exactly how much depending on study of exactly what modifications ST thinks the existing tunnel would need) would probably make it an easier sell… although it sounded like they were pretty suspicious of adding more alternatives (at least ones without strong political support) as well.
it sounded like they were pretty suspicious of adding more alternatives (at least ones without strong political support) as well.
Yes. It is what I feared. The politicians are getting pressure to “just do something”. They don’t want to “study the problem to death”. The problem is, this hasn’t been studied at all. This is also one of those situations where we really do need to study it thoroughly. This is a “measure twice, cut once” situation. If we had delayed UW Link an extra year, but eventually built a First Hill Station, the delay would not have mattered. The same is true for any mass transit project. Going slow and doing it right is essential. But our representatives are being cowardly.
Dow doesn’t want to embarrass himself, and find out that building a second tunnel was a stupid idea in the first place. People from other parts of region want to defer to the locals. So while someone in say, Tacoma might think this is a big waste of money, they fear reciprocity. They don’t want to point out that the emperor has no clothes while they are standing their naked.
The only good news is that the community remains divided. There is no consensus on where the stations should go in the new tunnel. As a result, the idea of no new tunnel is still alive, at least in theory. The biggest issue is that no one is considering it seriously. The strongest arguments for North/South CID is that it is cheaper and less disruptive. The same is true for sharing the tunnel. The strongest arguments for 4th Avenue Shallow/Midtown is that the stations are better, and transfers are much better. The same is true for sharing the tunnel. Any reasonable person would conclude that the ideal solution is sending all the trains in the same tunnel, and yet, here we are.
I wonder if there would be any basis for 4th Ave CID station boosters – those living and based in the CID – to file for a Title VI violation based on promised station locations in the ST3 ballot initiative?
ST is clearly not building a station in the neighborhood, connected to the current station, due to protected classes (the board has hinted at or said as much in meetings) and the CID north/south option is going to significantly worsen transit connections for protected classes from current state; this is especially true for connections for people heading south or east compared to the CID station promised to voters with ST3.
FTA Title VI website states: “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Federal Transit Administration works to ensure nondiscriminatory transportation in support of our mission to enhance the social and economic quality of life for all Americans. The FTA Office of Civil Rights is responsible for monitoring FTA recipients’ Title VI programs and ensuring their compliance with Title VI requirements.” (https://www.transit.dot.gov/title6)
With testimony splitting half and half on whether North of CID would be worse for Asians or too far from the CID, the court might conclude it’s not clear either way, so the petition is denied.
A disabled/elderly argument might get more traction. One Asian speaker said North of CID is too steep for her or her friends to walk to.
The testimony is split because it pits access vs. impacts.
One tunnel plan offers both, for less money.
Matt, actual access from Shelter Station [AKA “South of CID”] won’t be that bad for reasonably mobile folks in the District. It’s basically just across Seattle Boulevard and Dearborn at Sixth South and Plummer. That’s just five and a half blocks from Maynard and King. So, to be fair, though it’s unthinkable to make transferring folks make the similar length walk to CID Station, for folks making “the last mile” walk home, it’s pretty normal for a rail walkshed.
Please don’t take this observation as support for “North and South”. It’s not. I’m for “Three Lines in a Tun-nel” (to the tune of “Three Coins in a Fountain”). But I doubt that a Title VI suit would work. It’s not THAT much farther from King and Maynard to Shelter Station than it is to existing CID (three blocks).
I don’t think the folks who want 4th Avenue Shallow have money for a lawsuit. Nor do I think they would want to play that card.
Money for a lawsuit is probably a lot easier to find than $700M to build the station. ST will study it, but money and the political will isn’t there.
However, there’s no escaping the fact that ST will have to analyze this North/South plan thoroughly, and some of those numbers may not look so good, because the qualitative criticisms we’re making on this blog have some objective facts behind them.
ST3 had the following in the specs upon passage:
“PROJECT ELEMENTS Approximately 1.7 miles of light rail in tunnel
Four tunnel stations: Denny, Westlake, Midtown, International District/Chinatown”
What are the chances they back out of new plans given the original specs and threats of lawsuits?
I find it telling about how a new alternative can be proposed in less than a month that has significant rider impacts — after 5 years of study — and then certain people are arguing that it’s time to make a decision.
I find it telling that the new alternative has not been vetted for constructibility band cost — and certain people are pushing for board approval.
It’s truly crazy making and dhows contempt for both objective analysis and public processes.
Delay is the right choice here. No elected official should commit billions on a Hal-baked idea that hurts thousands of people who transfer!
By the way, ST never says how many transfer. What’s that number? Does anyone care to ask for that number on the board?
Are you really surprised that Sound Transit is as much a political circus as a transit outfit? What’s happening here is the same as the Tacoma Link debacle… AKA, the train to nowhere.
Board member and Tacoma deputy mayor Walker makes me laugh…. she might seem like she has no idea what’s going on, but I doubt that’s true. She just realizes that her opinions mean squat, the Sound Transit staff are clowns, and King County and Seattle have the political muscle. Tacoma actually has other issues more pressing than this…. why burn the time and energy fighting Sound Transit? So they build a crap train system for billions and take decades to do it? She won’t be in office when they finally cut the ribbon anyway.
The moral of this story is any project voted on by the public that takes decades to build…. it’s going to be crap. There’s no one to hold responsible for the ST blunders. Who are you going to kick out of office? By the time all the trains are actually running paid for by the ST3 vote…. many of the riders will be younger than the ballot measure. I wouldn’t call that democracy.
Did 50 people show up for public comment? That’s less than Tacoma city Council meetings on good night. Sound Transit has successfully bored the public into submission. Well played, Sound Transit, well played.
Are you really surprised that Sound Transit is as much a political circus as a transit outfit?
The moral of this story is any project voted on by the public that takes decades to build…. it’s going to be crap.
I don’t agree with that. The Washington Metro took decades to build, and it was a very well designed, effective system. In contrast, this is going to be crap. I do think that the gigantic nature of the project does make it worse — I will give you that. Once Lynnwood Link and Federal Way Link are built, the case for Everett Link and Tacoma Dome Link becomes very weak. But the basic problem is the planning. Folks have a vision, but it is based on ignorance.
The same thing happened with the split spine and the SLU reroute. Officialdom suddenly wanted it, and then it was adopted.
“Did 50 people show up for public comment?”
The time allotment was 90 minutes and each speaker was given one minute, so with the overhead between speakers it was probably 50 or 60. But there were some 45 more on the queue when the session was cut off, so they didn’t get to speak.
It was a truly disappointing outcome from this very long meeting. (I jumped on around 3pm and stayed until adjournment.) It didn’t help that their executive session wound up taking more than twice as long as planned, well over an hour I believe. Perhaps they jammed too many things into today’s agenda. Perhaps that was the strategy though. As it was, the staff presentations were cut short as Dow just wanted to get to the various motion/amendment discussions and ultimately to the related votes. By the time the late afternoon/early evening approached you could tell that the members just wanted to get it over with, get out of there and head home for dinner.
I just felt like Dow railroaded the rest of the board to move ahead with his new proposal, his urban renewal plan posing as a station siting “solution”.
Anyway, Mike Orr, thank you for starting this “live meeting” thread. Much appreciated.
Walker from Tacoma may be an “in”. I expect she would love to make possible Tacoma riders’ access to UW by three-line interlining. The same may be true for Upthegrove and Von Reichbauer may be interested as well, since Link runs through their districts.
And all of the suburban folks would love to get the $250 million back for their sub-areas.
There’s no way the subareas get back $250 million back from Seattle. This the main reason a three line/one tunnel solution won’t happen. Seattle greed. Build that second tunnel and give Harrell and Constantine their big boondoggle downtown project…..
Oh, and some posters here thought Sound Transit was about…… transit?
The ST3 money is long gone…. the Tacoma city council has just moved on.
Walker has potential.
Whaaaat? how many people reading this live in Oakland? What has Sound Transit ever done for the 3rd District? Ms. Walker is a real nice lady who was always listening to folks when she was working at “Downtown on the Go!”, but she’s got real, everyday problems to solve for the folks who actually voted for her. I’d bet she does’t give a rip about Sound Transit… just like the Tacoma general public.
Besides being a city in California, Oakland is a neighborhood in the heart of the Tacoma’s third district, the district that Walker represents. This is what Ms. Walker was elected to deal with.
1. Her entire district is highly polluted and should be an EPA site.
2. There are hundreds of homeless people camping in the 3rd district and the Oakland playground and Masko Park are being destroyed.
3. Oakland alternative and Foss H.S. have enrollment and staffing issues.
4. Oakland isn’t all that well served by Pierce Transit and more cutbacks could happen any day.
5. The Tacoma Police Department needs a major overhaul.
I doubt Ms. Walker cares much about future tunnels under Seattle because that’s not what she was elected to do. Dow and Bruce are the Big Dogs in Seattle…. they have a plan. Ms. Walker isn’t likely to get in their way because they’re all Democrats and the Seattle Big Dogs might help Walker out in future (running for another office, getting a plum job in Seattle, that sort of thing).
This isn’t Star Wars…. Tacoma is the rebels on the outer rim fighting for justice.
Huh. I rode through there last week. I didn’t know the neighborhood had a name. Center St is too fast and too wide with crap sidewalks, is it’s main problem. Allstar Burgers is a hidden, affordable gem.
I think Walker definitely is engaged with transportation issues. She wouldn’t be on the board if she wasn’t. I was pretty disappointed that she supported the sale of the rail line to the mountain, however.
While the meeting has been a bit disappointing — we’ve (or at least I have) all learned a lot about where every board member stands.
For persuading sound transit board members, I feel the current tactic of just talking about connectivity and other issues etc… isn’t going to work. While East King (Balcucci) does care about it, that’s not enough since they are outvoted by the other members.
What they care more about, especially the outside seattle board members is the price point. We should gear the talking points more about lower cost and faster delivery of reaching Snohomish and Pierce to get them on our side. That would have gotten them to support the ‘maintain regional connectivity’ approach.
I have a pretty good idea of the subjects emailed Tacoma City Council and Pierce County Council members get. By all means, talk to Walker, or better yet, Tacoma Mayor Woodard. They’re both approachable even if you don’t live in Tacoma. Write a email to Marty Campbell (Pierce County Council) and ask why nobody gives a crap about what Sound Transit is planning. (and they don’t)
There’s more public interest in police conduct or homeless issues at a Tacoma City council meeting than a Sound Transit Board meeting, and the ST region is much, much bigger. That’s because Sound Transit doesn’t operate under any sort of democratic principles. Even the board members are done caring. I’m going to guess that there’s a second tunnel….. and projects just get pushed further and further back when the money isn’t there. It’s impossible to stop it at this point…
If they push back the start of construction indefinitely, that’s fine. This WSBLE alignment won’t help much, and it won’t open for at least fifteen years anyway. That gives us more time with an intact Line 1, and I’ll be at least 70 by the time it opens anyway. Postponing construction is better than starting consrtuction and then having a long delay to find the money to finish it.
The fear on the street in the CID is , according to friends and cousins I talked to in the Lincoln District, that Sound Transit would tear up the the CID and run out out of money and the 8-10 year construction plan would stretch much longer.
Dow and Bruce are going to start digging ASAP….. where does the money comes from to finish? Who knows? It’s not like those two will even be in office at that point.
You know plans are getting bad when you’re counting the good years left that you can still use the transit system before it gets screwed up. I’m doing the same thing…
The $700M gap for 4th Ave. Shallow and the $800M gap for 4th Ave. Shallower does not include the unknown figure for mitigation for the damage to the CID. That will easily put it over $1B. The community is seen by many, including the Mayor, as priceless. If the city or region had an extra $1B, we’d probably want to spend it a different way.
It’s easy to say 4th Ave. viaduct needs to be rebuilt anyway, businesses need customers, etc. but it’s also fair to say that DSTT2 construction would take a big toll on the CID.
I listened to Mayor Harrell today. He is not going to go for 4th Ave. He wouldn’t go for it if it cost the same. The chance of that 4th Ave. station getting built is, in my eyes, approaching zero at this point. I don’t see a way for Seattle to come up with $100M for a plan the Mayor won’t approve, let alone $700M.
The Board dialogue was telling. In the end, they will prioritize getting the “checkbox” deliverables on schedule so they can claim victory and move on. This does not bode well for the long term usability of our system. The real forcing function is going to be a lack of money. When doing the right thing (one tunnel) is cheaper, this is advantageous.
We don’t know what this North/South plan will cost yet. The schedule for Ballard could be pushed further out to increase the budget.
Here’s something to consider. Line 2 is about twenty-five feet in the air when it passes the Plummer Street ROW (it doesn’t continue west of Sixth South) but if you take a look at the Google Maps and look straight down on the old HOV and bus ramp there’s an unused “island platform” between the tracks where the HOV cars used to go. A stop could be added to Line 2 trains there and stairs cut through the unused roadway to drop down a level and a pedestrian walkway added over to Shelter Station at Sixth South and Plummer. It would actually be considerably closer to Shelter than The Giant Hole would be to Pioneer Square, and it would not require such an extreme level change to get pass under the east side track.
Take a look. This could salvage the East-To-South transfer if “North and South” does carry the day. Lemonade.
Tlsgwm, my apologies. Not “The Giant Hole”. “Constantinople”. Disculpe me.
Here are some view links to show you what I mean:
Straight Down, showing the HOV/Car now Train ramp, where Shelter Station would go (on Sixth South by the label “1005 Sixth Avenue Parking”, and the “Plummer St” tag. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-122.3261261,184m/data=!3m1!1e3
The Plummer Streeet Right of Way showing construction cars parked on the northbound train ramp and how close it really is for transfers: https://email@example.com,-122.3259552,3a,34.6y,270.63h,84.42t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1shAIA2fPYRUDGWW1m9aHTKA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
The same line of view but from the west side of the ramp on Fourth Avenue South: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-122.3292019,3a,15y,83.71h,92.86t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEB3OoBfpc-uOCk-Wsfo4jw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
I get that this would not inherently be a pretty transfer, but it can be beautified at least some. The important thing is that both the northbound ramp down and the southbound ramp up are plenty high here that a pedestrian way would be well above the surrounding ground. If this station gets built all the crap everywhere will certainly be gentrified away. Folks living here would have a station for both tunnels, Capitol Hill, SLU/LQA, UW, Northgate, Bellevue and Sea-Tac. The only neighborhood that wouldn’t have a no-transfer ride would be West Seattle.
The GREAT beauty is that this station would probably cost $80 million……
This is not bad Lemonade.
6th and Plummer, the 14th and Market of the CID.
Wouldn’t that section of track be too sloped for a station?
Well, that’s certainly a concern, especially for the “inbound” track, with does descend more rapidly. But if ST chooses “North and South”, it should be studied, because the transfer there will take half the time that one between Constantinople and Pioneer Square would. Depending how deep Istanbul is, it might be even less.
Alex, if the slope does turn out to be too steep for a platform, it’s at least possible to put a side-platform station above Sixth South. The platforms would have to be curved, but not severely, and there isn’t much room between the rail structure and Upper Royal Brougham Way (I-90), but there is “enough” room. Plus, there’s supposed to be a headhouse for “Istanbul” (“South of CID”) right at that intersection, and it’s a short walk to Stadium for transfers to West Seattle.
This location would be a lot more expensive, because the platforms would have to be on separate, quite high structures adjacent to the elevated trackway. Building it would be like adding platforms at Boeing Access Road station, only higher.
If ST is insistent on building the new tunnel, the optimum station placement on it would be Istanbul, NOT “Constantinople” but rather Midtown, and New Westlake. It’s not that long a walk from the north headhouse at Istanbul to Maynard and King, and if ST buys the gas station on the north side, it would be much more pleasant and safer a walk. No, it’s not practical for folks with walkers or wheelchairs, but they have the existing station.
This of course limits the County’s gains from it’s real estate “put” that we all can see and that would probably be fatal.
Let me be clear. Trying to make Lemonade out of Lemons does not mean I think the new tunnel as described just above is a good idea. Three-line interlining with a Ballard stub is what can be reasonably afforded, will provide better transfers for all riders and meet the region’s needs well past the half-century mark. Do The Stub correctly and it can be extended into First Hill and conceivably farther in the coming decades.
[On the topic of “do the stub correctly” I’ve been thinking about the width of Sixth Avenue at Pine. The street is simply not wide enough to have a center platform station with two bored tracks on either side as I have been advocating. So, it seems that stacked tracks would be required, which means that in one-direction transfers to and from the existing platforms would require one additional level change. The platforms would be on the west side of the tracks to minimize horizontal distance.
I would still do the “split mezzanine” because it allows at least the upper track to be only one escalator away from the existing Spine platforms.
It honestly would work — though I am kinda internally laughing at the idea that the main transfer point for the link lines would be i90 exit ramps.
If North of CID is “Constantinople Station”, South of CID can be “Istanbul Station”.
LOL! That’s good.
Thanks very much for all involved in commenting and summarizing.
Just scrap the project. If we can’t build it right, don’t build it at all. Such an enormous waste of money.
Build a spur from Westlake to Ballard, or better yet, UW to Ballard. Nothing else makes sense given the cost/benefit, especially if they’re going to skip the largest transit hub in the PNW.
Board is hell bent to build the second tunnel.
Dow and Bruce are both now politically wedded to this plan to redevelop the county properties.
The Mayor is responsive to the developers and investors close to the “South CID” station, clearly. Read this and fill in the blanks:
The Mayor admitted he sees this as “more than” a transit project and, to paraphrase, he’s willing to sacrifice the transit aspect to achieve some other goals.
Staff, and thus Board, is determined to break the spine, forcing many slow transfers, out-of-direction travel, ultimately separating Sea-Tac and CID. The transfers are seen a benefit because they “even out the load” in the two tunnels (one of which we don’t need and shouldn’t build…)
It’s the theater of the absurd, except it’s also reality.
We may well have money for this North/South plan, if they push out the schedule and cheap out in every other way along the alignment. Can you imagine what that plan will look like?
The Board member from Lynnwood suggested maybe we should have another vote. Sounds good to me.
If the purpose of the second tunnel is to push the redevelopment of the KCAB plot of land, and the park to the south, building lots of housing there would be a far, far better redevelopment, that does not have to ruin the transit system, or impact CID with construction for years.
Can anyone explain what the purpose of the second downtown transit tunnel is now?
Improved transfers for riders from Ballard / South Lake Union? Will they be outnumbered by the riders whose transfers are going to get a whole lot worse?
Improved capacity in the original tunnel? A huge number of riders who would have avoided riding through the most constrained segments in the tunnel by transferring (basically, anyone trying to transfer between the south line and east line, and anyone trying to transfer between the south line and the West Seattle line) are now going to have to ride through what might still be the most-constrained segment to transfer. Is any capacity actually being freed up?
Getting trains from Ballard to the existing Operations & Maintenance Facility? That’s a really expensive tunnel just to avoid the cost of building a mini-base in Interbay or a pair of connecting tracks at Westlake.
Are there reasons I am missing?
You actually don’t even need a “pair of connecting tracks at Westlake”. One will do nicely if it’s just for non-revenue moves to the Heavy Maintenance Facility at Forest Street. A “parking and cleaning” MF in Interbay would cost a few hundred million tops because with two-car automated trainsets, half of which would be running around the clock, there doesn’t need to be so much “parking”.
Yes, trainsets would need to be rotated in and out for cleaning regularly. But not too many would have to be parked at any time.
So, now, we’re imagining no need for overnight track maintenance?
Of course, sometimes. But a properly built system — especially one that is automated — can go single-track for six hours for segments that need maintenance between 2300 and 0500, or even longer on weekends.
I am far from the only person on this blog who advocates for 24 hour base level service.
Are there reasons I am missing?
If you are asking if the second tunnel provides a practical purpose for the foreseeable future, the answer is no. Theoretically, it could provide additional capacity if a bunch of other things are done. Realistically, none of things will be done, as we won’t need that much capacity through the tunnels downtown (although we may need it elsewhere).
If you are asking why those in power are still pushing for it, the simple answer is political inertia. It is common for bad decisions to be made because people don’t want to rethink the problem, even in the face of new evidence that shows it is an especially bad decision.
“If you are asking why those in power are still pushing for it, the simple answer is political inertia. ”
I think along with that is the those currently at ST want to be builders rather than operators. The hope created by planning and change is a much better political message than keeping the existing system operating.
Just like it’s more appealing to add bike lanes rather than keep them up or more exciting to put in crosswalk signals or more stop signs or speed humps rather than resurface a street.
“If you are asking why those in power are still pushing for it, the simple answer is political inertia. It is common for bad decisions to be made because people don’t want to rethink the problem, even in the face of new evidence that shows it is an especially bad decision.”
Agreed. That was clearly evident in Dow’s demeanor and words at yesterday’s board meeting as I watched. With an assist from my rep Somers (ughhh) as well as board member Dammeier, the chair made it clear that he had no intention of “relitigating” the decisions made back in 2014-2016. He/they took this position, despite knowing that our world has changed since those planning years and that the ST3 capital program, even with the time spent for the realignment, is still plagued with huge funding gaps. Screw all that. We’re moving ahead! (Oh, and we’re making it even worse than the representative alignment. Another win for incompetence!*)
It is truly depressing to witness. Watching ST3 play out, I am constantly reminded of my days working in the NYS Legislature after law school while there were efforts being made to secure funding strategies for the MTA and all of the ridiculous arguments I heard being made then. Many times a pol just gets dug in on their position and then doubles and even triples down on it despite mounting evidence that demonstrates what a poor decision that position led to.
I was in a bad mood for a few hours after the board meeting but I’m refreshed and regrouped as I write this. So, where do we (those of us who want to scrap DSTT2 entirely and build a Ballard stub to Westlake instead, interlining the other lines) go from here? Is the Balducci/Millar proposal the only (compromised) hope we have remaining even though their amendment was defeated yesterday?
Ooops. Hit the post button prematurely…
* Sorry in advance for the snark..
“So, where do we (those of us who want to scrap DSTT2 entirely and build a Ballard stub to Westlake instead, interlining the other lines) go from here? Is the Balducci/Millar proposal the only (compromised) hope we have remaining even though their amendment was defeated yesterday?”
Just wait Tisgwm. Let time work. This is only the beginning fight over WSBLE, and if you and I are correct the money is not there for what is proposed. Most citizens don’t get overly worked up about the downtown or commercial centers, but go ballistic when it is their residential neighborhoods. WS and Ballard are going to be personal.
There was such a flurry of pretty late ideas including interlining, CID N/S, the Balducci/Millar proposal, it was unrealistic to expect any to be understood or definitively decided, especially when we are still not fully post pandemic and things look pretty bleak downtown. ST is pretty opaque about the actual costs of DSTT2, which of course determines subarea contributions. We have some on this blog who still believe DSTT2 will cost $2,.2 billion WITH a midtown and Denny station. The CID only raised its objections a month or two ago. Who knows, maybe someone in the CID who actually understands money, big money, will realize there is real money in that thar CID station, and would they rather have some of that $700 million needed for a 4th Ave. shallow station go to the CID when the disruption will be about the same.
My guess is the Board members left a lot more informed — and suspicious — than when they started the meeting. After all, this isn’t their subarea and N KC is one of the big dawgs, but it didn’t look good to the other subareas. With the competing interests, Dow’s proposal for CID N/S is probably the best that is available (on paper) today, especially if the Board does not want to admit DSTT2 is not affordable so N KC loses the subarea contribution. Interlining is a very last resort, and it is too early for that.
The Board wants to revisit this by the end of the year. If I were Dow I would find someone who is trusted by CID businesses who can tell the non-crazies there is a pot of gold in a CID station with about the same amount of disruption as a station on 4th, and the CID doesn’t want to be a pariah with the County Exec. and mayor. Get the station at CID then all that is left is the midtown station, and that is close enough to DSTT1 transfers won’t be such a big deal.
I would however have a meeting with ST staff and fire the person who failed to reach out to the CID years ago so this thing blew up in the Board’s face at the 11th hour, and make sure that does not happen on the other parts of WSBLE, especially the neighborhoods. I just don’t think ST staff understand many now see them as the enemy, and weak.
The reality, especially post pandemic, is folks don’t really care much about transit or Link, not as much as their neighborhoods, and don’t believe Link will materially change or better their lives. If the CID defeated a station which could have given them hundreds of millions of dollars in mitigation for a pretty poor and beaten-up neighborhood imagine how hard Ballard and WS will fight, despite these progressive white Seattleites being part of the Nimby calling crowd for everyone else (at least Ballard).
I will be very interested to see how much WS and Ballard are willing to contribute in a LID toward the Link they want. My guess is Ballard will pony up for an underground station on 15th or 20th, and WS will tell ST to get lost and take their Link and LID with them, which will be somewhat embarrassing for Dow.
Can anyone explain to me why ST wants to build a West Seattle stub to SODO when
(1) SODO is a destination so minor it’s not even worth serving today by the same buses from West Seattle that (2) we will likely keep running anyway, and
(3) There is clearly room for these trains and the passengers on them in the current tunnel in the timeframe we are talking about in which West Seattle would be running but Ballard would not, or there would be room with a couple of runs to Home Depot if we make some incredibly minor and cheap mods to the tunnel we should probably do anyway.
Do they want to keep it a stub so they don’t have to challenge the claims they keep making that the trains won’t fit?
Those claims are bogus and those trains will be empty.
Say you live on the RapidRide H line and you are getting called to your (very steady!) Bellevue office job 3 days a week.
Today, you can take that nice new RapidRide H line downtown, transfer to the Bellevue express bus, and you are there. Next year, you can (will!) use East Link, cool.
When the West Seattle stub opens, will you use it? Hmm. It would require getting off the RapidRide bus at Delridge, transferring to Link, then doing the SODO do-si-do to get to Line 1. Then, riding that to CID, where you would go up, over and down because there’s no center platform, to get to East Link. From there it’s a smooth ride all the way to Bellevue.
This is 3 bad transfers in a row, each way. You will not do this. You will stay on the RapidRide H they will keep running because its riders (like you) demand it. West Seattle Link doesn’t help you.
Now, finally, it’s 2039, and they open Ballard link and stop running your trusty RapidRide all the way downtown. It’s time to change. Your new commute:
Bus to Delridge – transfer to Link
Link, zooming past the existing CID station, to North CID
Terrible transfer at North CID, much worse than bus to rail is now at Pioneer Square station
And finally, East Link to Bellevue – passing by the CID station this time
This is two transfers and it’s slow, with backtracking. It’s one transfer today, and much faster. Even if that person is just heading downtown, it’s one transfer in the future compared with none today.
I like riding trains, but I don’t favor spending limited funds to build them to nowhere for nobody. The West Seattle stub is an absurd thing to do for 7 days let alone 7 years.
This “North/South” CID plan creates two transfer points between the tunnels: Westlake, and NoCID / Pioneer Square.
I posit that the 380 foot tunnel at NoCID is bound to be worse than whatever transfer experience happens at Westlake. I suggest Westlake will be the primary same-direction transfer point. Therefore, NoCID transfers will mostly be the opposite-direction people:
Do I have this right?
for south-to-east and east-to-south — transfer at NoCID w/backtrack
for west-to-east and east-to-west — transfer at NoCID w/backtrack
for west-to-south and south-to-west — transfer at SODO
Two of the three involve backtracking. Which, frankly, sucks.
Meanwhile, the SODO transfer would be a lot better if the West Seattle trains served the same platforms.
Why can’t they? Because of the bogus claim that they can’t fit on those tracks? East Link doesn’t even join those tracks until after Stadium station!
Oh… south-to-east and east-to-south would just happen at Pioneer Square in DSTT1 in the split spine scenario…It’s Tacoma-Ballard trains in DSTT2. Not having a center platform would make this onerous.
When I said my Kirkland neighborhood used to have a one-seat ride to downtown, which turned into a two-seat ride, which finally turned into the now three-seat ride (two bus, one Link), the comment section told me my three-seat ride is actually a step up in service from the two or one seat ride. They told me I should feel lucky. Not many neighborhoods are chosen to receive this high a level of service. No joke. The comment section actually said that.
So … now it’s my turn to deliver the great news to all of you. All the backtracking and transferring you’re going to have to do in the future … it’s actually the highest level of service you can hope for. You should feel lucky.
See, Jonathan, that’s rider-focused thinking that doesn’t take into account the true purpose of building light rail – the riders aren’t real people, just proletariat who can’t afford to drive to work if they have the misfortune of occasionally having to sit at a desk outside their home in 2023. It doesn’t have to be useful, it just has to be Shiny.
The West Seattle Link Extension has long been panned on the Blog as a waste of concrete, when electrification and prioritization of Rapidride C and H would do just fine for 1/10th of the price.
Jonathan, if we can convince ST that the elevated structure for Line 3 is wasteful, West Seattle trains can start running to Lynnwood or Northgate as soon as the WS stub is completed.
The elevated structure seems like an easy target. It has to be at least two to three hundred million to build and permanently closes the busway which might be useful again someday. Worse, it makes overpasses at Lander and Holgate impossible in the future because the overpass bridges would have to be sixty feet high at the base of the spanning structure. It’s not far enough to Fourth Avenue to attain that height.
Either a “level junction” at the top of the rise south of Lander or a “flying” junction in which the northbound track out of West Seattle descends to ground level and uses the bikeway right-of-way (and those three brightly painted buildings in back of the building in the middle of the block) is entirely doable for relatively little money.
Yes, it would require two overpasses, one at Lander similar to the one to the west over the BNSF and a smaller, two-lane one at Holgate. Lower Royal Brougham Way would probably have to be closed at the Link tracks, with access to the stub streets from Fourth Avenue and Airport Way. But it would make the reversing transfers at SoDo (West Seattle to the Rainier Valley and south) much less difficult. That would be especially true if a center platform were built by swapping the southbound track and the southbound platform.
I’ve been thinking about what the West Seattle stub will offer. In short, very little. My guess is Metro will simply rework the 50. Maybe they send it across the Alaska Way Viaduct directly to Beacon Hill. Maybe they no longer have a bus from Beacon Hill/Rainier Valley to West Seattle. That is about it, from what I can tell. The West Seattle stub will basically replace a tiny section of the 50.
As far as your scenario goes, it is worth pointing out that the new tunnel won’t serve West Seattle. So riders will transfer to take Link to CID, then do the up-and-over to go to get to Bellevue. Two transfers, instead of one, but not as bad as transferring at Pioneer Square. The big problem is that the two trains won’t be frequent. During peak, maybe every 8 minutes. Most of the day it will 10. Then there are the transfers. The one in CID won’t be that bad, but who knows about the one in Delridge (or the one at The Junction or the one at Avalon).
It has to be at least two to three hundred million to build and permanently closes the busway which might be useful again someday.
Losing the busway doesn’t get enough publicity. Here are the buses that run there now, and their ridership prior to the pandemic:
50 — 2,300
101 — 4,800
102 — 1,000
150 — 6,200
177 — 500
190 — 400
I could see the 50, 177 and 190 no longer going along the busway. That still leaves 12,000 riders with a slower bus. Even if the bus doesn’t go downtown, riders are still hurt by the slower trip. This is just another way that south end riders are getting the short end of the stick here. Those on Link will get inferior downtown stations and lose their one-seat ride to the UW and Northgate. Riders on very popular buses will be worse off. All because folks are too stubborn to consider alternatives.
By the way, this is also another example of the failed approach by ST. Years ago, WSDOT scoped out a project to tie the busway into the I-5 HOV lanes. This would have dramatically improved travel times in the area. But instead, folks from Renton get nothing.
“West Seattle trains can start running to Lynnwood or Northgate as soon as the WS stub is completed.”
I’ve long felt that this will happen anyway.
1. The segment of Line 1 between SODO and CID will be the first to be overcrowded. (North of CID, there are both the 1 and 2 Lines once East Link opens.) The 10 trains per hour with the added West Seattle demand (admittedly dampened) will be overcrowded. There will be loud complaining.
2. East Link demand across Lake Washington is met with 8 trains and hour (the FEIS operation) — maybe even 6. They won’t need 10 in all likelihood. I don’t see peak direction loads growing after 2026-7. (Any ridership growth seems more likely towards Bellevue in the AM and away from Bellevue in the PM — the lower volume direction across LW.)
3. I’m expecting at least a 10 year gap between West Seattle being ready for service and DSTT2 being ready for service. The official delay is 5-7 years but ST’s recent delays show just how unlikely that will happen, especially when the project can’t be fully funded even with current “realignment”. It will be delayed.
The question becomes whether 10-6-6 (22 trains an hour) 10-8-6 (24 trains an hour) or some other combination.
The next question at the North end is whether all trains will go north at least to Lynnwood.
There is another possible outcome — stopping trains from Tacoma at SODO. However, I think enough people are finally becoming aware of the problems with transferring so that this isn’t so likely.
Anyway, there is one thing that’s clear from this current saga: ST can change their plans when they want to.
Actually the alternative to save the SODO busway for the stacked station is listed, it costs 200 million dollars more.
The ” At-Grade Station and At-Grade Staggered Station Configuration ” cost 500 to 600 million while the “Mixed Profile Station” costs 800 million more.
Although ST says West Seattle Link will open by 2032, it could easily slip. The original 2030 date (5 years of construction) was dependent on not having a tunnel section. There are hundreds of more properties to acquire than originally planned. That might put the opening days closer — but West Seattle is still a cakewalk compared to building the rest of the project.
It’s doubtful that ST would pursue a mixed profile station but a slight operational change and track connections, it’s possible to create sane direction cross platforms there. Just put the northbound tracks on the surface and southbound tracks upstairs. With timing strategies like releasing West Seattle trains northbound when 1 Line gets past Columbia City, then northbound trains crossing at the surface could arrive almost simultaneously— meaning less operational disruption than we have today.
Even without this change, SODO would be the easiest place to transfer with a mixed profile station configuration by far . Just one level change.! Of course it still hoses Eastside transfers.
Not that it’s much consolation but I’ve kinda wondered when the montlake lid is finished and the reversible 520 to i5 express lanes are done https://wsdot.wa.gov/construction-planning/search-projects/sr-520-i-5-express-lanes-connection-project if they would bring back some eastside to slu/downtown route. Plus with the bus no longer stuck in traffic (on i5) hopefully it doesn’t cost as much to provide frequent service to reach downtown.
A West Seattle stub line is most useful for people that would be transferring to Link anyway and continuing northward past downtown. I don’t think it would make sense to use it for a trip to Bellevue.
Even then, the actual amount of time savings vs. just taking the C downtown would be minimal.
So, ST can spend $200 million to “save the busway” on top of $500 million, OR, it can spend $200 million for two overpasses and a junction south of SoDo and also get the busway “saved”.
Why is this even a question? Let’s look at the reality. If RV trains return to six minute headways, that gives … [sound of calculator wheels turning] … about a four minute window at which to aim the West Seattle trains. I’d personally aim the northbounds to get to SoDo one minute before the RV northbounds, and depend on the RV irregularities to make the real gap two to three minutes.
“vs. just taking the C downtown would be minimal.”
Only if the passenger is going to/from somewhere close to one of three stations. Otherwise, they’re stuck transferring just to extract themselves from West Seattle, and the trip gets quite a bit worse than the existing C situation.
I think your question can be interpreted two ways:
1) Why don’t the people in West Seattle support sending the trains into the existing tunnel?
The short answer to that is, they are ignorant of it. The same is true for most of those supporting North/South CID or the second tunnel. Some are aware, but they mostly dismiss it on procedural grounds (“no one is actually looking at that option”). That, of course, is a circular argument. Some oppose it because of capacity concerns, ignoring the fact that if the existing tunnel was improved to allow trains to run every two minutes, it would have the same capacity as the two tunnels.
2) Why build a stub in the first place, since it offers so little value — why not wait until you can connect it to downtown?
I think this was done on purpose, to make sure that West Seattle Link gets built at all. Dow remembers what happens with the monorail. For those that don’t, the project was initially supposed to be a monorail from Ballard to West Seattle. But after they had an issue with funding, they wanted to just run it from Ballard to downtown. It is a reasonable fear that the same thing would happen to West Seattle. Ballard Link is a much better value than West Seattle Link. Build it first, and it is quite possible that West Seattle Link never gets built.
Which is exactly what should happen in this case because West Seattle Link was always a bad idea. That monorail plan had some of the same flaws; the layout of West Seattle just isn’t conducive to this 3 station layout that serves a tiny percentage of the population. Even turning the Junction into the next U District tower zone wouldn’t change that.
I would love if someone can point me to a summarizing post or just reply with some comments regarding connections for the 2 scenarios)
(Just having one tunnel does seem like the best and cheapest option here to me, but I’d like to set that aside for this question and assume there will be a new tunnel).
What are the impacts of 4th vs North/South?
It seems that 4th is more expensive and has more construction impact on the ID. N/S seems to do worse on connections from what I gather here.
I see that both plans have connections at Westlake and SODO.
4th has stations at CID (connects to ID) and Midtown (no connections)
N/S has stations at NorthCID (connects to Pioneer square) and SouthCID (no connections).
What is the impact of those different connections? Which transfers would be better/worse for each scenario?
Kinda seems like doing someones homework for them, but whatever I’ll bite.
> What are the impacts of 4th vs North/South?
4th allows all 3 lines to connect at Chinatown, however costs too much. North/South misses notably the East Link connection and requires them to backtrack (going up to Pioneer Square then transferring south) to reach Seatac.
Probably the “correct” alternative would have been a shallower 5th avenue alternative but there have been too many impacts to chinatown so it is politically impossible.
You can view the transfers here for each possible alignment here, as it’s a bit complicated: https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/ActiveDocuments/Motion%20M2023-18%20Amendment%203%20Representative%20Graphic.pdf
For the One tunnel proposal it is a bit complicated as there are various ‘suggestions’ but to cite some problems is interlining so many trains does cause issues notably whatever route heading to Ballard will probably block the southbound train from Northgate. For a spur it doesn’t have that issue, but then you’ll need to find space for an OMF in interbay
It’s important to keep in mind that under the current plan, the current “1 Line” route south of the CID would be connected to DSTT2, so riders boarding in Rainier Valley and beyond will be shunted to whatever stations are present here, unless they do the walking overpass transfer at SODO.
Re: Midtown & CID (4th Ave)
Midtown was intended to be a transfer point to RapidRide G (Madison), which is intended to be a transit artery to First Hill and beyond.
4th Ave CID station would engender a significant revamp of the transit situation at Jackson street, connecting basically all our major transit modes in one central location. It would also include reactivation of Union Station, which (if done well) would be an excellent central hub for travellers and commuters. A station beneath 4th Avenue would be basically the only objectively good station in the entire WSBLE project. However, as noted elsewhere, it’s assumed that construction would require significant, long-term closures of parts of 4th Avenue, and reconstruction of various other bridges north and south of the station, which is assumed to generate significant traffic impacts on the adjacent CID. As we saw yesterday, advocates for and groups within the CID are vocally split on whether this is worth it.
RE: N/S CID
This was a late-game variation on the plan, and has not had the same level of study as was completed for the original plans. We don’t have any real assessment of construction impacts on the CID, except vibes and the assumption that since the holes aren’t technically in the CID, the dust and traffic won’t affect the CID.
North CID would be legally treated as a “shifted Midtown station”, connected to Pioneer Square Station via a block-long pedestrian underpass along James street. It would not have any direct connection to RapidRide G. It’s objectively a Bad location. But, it’s fairly obvious that Mayor Harrell and Exec. Constantine have decided that they want to use ST’s powers of eminent domain to pull a different thorn out of their collective side, which is the degrading King County administrative complex. Vocal groups want the aging King County Jail on 5th avenue torn down, and the King County Admin building on 4th has been vacant since 2020 and has also heard calls for demolition (and iirc needs asbestos abatement?). There’s a massive hole in the ground across from City Hall that’s been waiting for its developer to get its act together since 2005, and BruceDow have stars in their eyes regarding the ability to either sell or lease several county and city-owned properties for $$$. It’s pie-in-the-sky.
The South CID station would be legally treated as a “shifted CID station”, and as you note, would have no direct connectivity to anything (arguably walkable to the current CID station and current Stadium station, but it’s like saying 14th & Market is walkable to Ballard avenue). It’d be in the armpit of East Link’s curved ramp to the CID station and I-90. It’s currently owned by “Urban Visions”, a developer who has been tight lipped about their development schedule since 2020 (which usually indicates that things have fallen through). I think BruceDow also see an opportunity to juice up interest in development there by having ST take it, use it as a staging yard for a dozen years, and then resell it to more interested developer in the 2040’s.
That’s basically it.
Midtown was intended to be a transfer point to RapidRide G (Madison), which is intended to be a transit artery to First Hill and beyond.
That is a stretch. I think Midtown was designed as a cheap substitute for stations that the new tunnel skips (University Street and Pioneer Square). This explains why there is no station at First Hill. People pushed for a First Hill station very early, but it was rejected by Dow Constantine. Initially the West Seattle line was supposed to use the new tunnel, and he didn’t want West Seattle riders to skip “downtown” (or be asked to make another transfer).
There was no design for Madison BRT until 2014, and it didn’t get approved by the city council until 2016. ST3 planning started back in 2008. By 2014 they had a package that they were going to present to the voters*. So ST3 largely predated Madison BRT. My guess is, no one who pushed for the Midtown Station was even aware of Madison BRT (now RapidRide G). The type of person who would sit down with a map, look at the stations and point out that you could run a bus line on Madison to complement the train is the type of person who would push for a station in First Hill (after rejecting the idea of West Seattle rail in the first place).
Fair enough – maybe the intention wasn’t there at the start (and it’s pretty obvious that the midtown station was just a thrown dart), but today the connection to RR G is one of the station entrance location drivers, and likely a significant contributor to ridership estimates.
Whoa, both of you guys. Midtown if built would be right in the middle of the high towers where Fifth Avenue is five stories higher than Third. Sure, from a 2D point of view, “the walksheds overlap” egregiously. But it’s not a 2D world there. It is a grind to walk up to Columbia Center from Pioneer Square Station! And that’s the direction one is going in the morning before a day’s work.
Of course, all that is much less critical at this time, but Midtown is much more than “a transfer point for RapidRide G”, Ross is absolutely right about the history of that. A well sited Midtown would be a five digits station, for sure. We begged to have it moved across the freeway so it could better serve First Hill. We said, “Build a pair of long underground escalators (like at the Adams-Morgan Station in WMATA) under the freeway to Eighth or Ninth.” ST refused to even consider these proposals; they didn’t want any new freeway undercrossing(s) of any sort.
Midtown serves the library, which is halfway between two DSTT1 stations.
A well sited Midtown would be a five digits station, for sure.
Yes, with any luck it would have almost as many riders as the combination of Pioneer Square and University Street.
People have pointed to the expected Midtown ridership, but they haven’t considered the alternative. That is the problem. It would be like having one station in the U-District. Sure, it would have very high ridership. But it wouldn’t have nearly the ridership as the pair or stations we have now.
As I have written many times, hardly anyone will transfer to this station. It just isn’t worth it. It is too close to the other stations. So it will be reliant on riders from the south, and from Ballard. It will (would?) have decent ridership, but nothing spectacular. Around 10,000 sounds about right.
4th connects to the Jackson Street buses (7, 14, 36) and the First Hill Streetcar to Little Saigon, First Hill, and beyond. The 7 is slated to become RapidRide R; it’s fourth in line after the G (Madison), I (Renton-Kent-Auburn), and J (Eastlake).
Constantinople station has no direct connection to any of those. The buses turn north on 3rd. The streetcar, if the CCC is built, will turn north on 1st. There’s a steep hill between 1st, 3rd, and 4th. I can’t imagine the buses will be rerouted to Constantinople and then 3rd. That leaves the James Street buses (3/4), which go east to Harborview and Jefferson Street. They’re S-L-O-W, much slower than the Jackson or Yesler buses. Oh yes, there’s the 27 on Yesler, a half-hourly route a but closer than Jackson, but up a stairway from Constantinople.
Istanbul station has little transit. Dearborn Street has no buses left except I-90 expresses, which will go away in the East Link restructure. The closest other routes are the 4th Avenue S routes (124, 131, 132), which all go north-south. The station is *SOUTH OF* Dearborn Street in the middle of industrial hell, so anyone going to civilization will have to walk a block north and cross Dearborn and then a couple more blocks. Or you can walk east a longish way to Goodwill.
I’m having a hard time taking the new south station siting, what you’ve termed Instanbul Station, seriously. From a transit perspective what is it supposed to connect to in the area? And what’s in the walkshed that would bolster ridership?
I used to bike commute through the “Istanbul” area, but the last time I went through there I did not feel safe, and I’m pretty confident. They will redevelop the area around the Istanbul station regardless, but even with a station, it will become an urban island surrounded by ramps.
Today, it’s one type of urban dystopia. In the future, it’s difficult to imagine it having the kind of positive qualities people associate with the CID. I suppose you could build a ton of affordable housing in place of the homeless shelter, which we wouldn’t need an Istanbul station to do, but it’s not like it’s going to magically become a great urban place with all those giant looming ramps.
Istanbul is really just north across Royal Brougham from Stadium station, which I believe has the lowest ridership in the system today.
Let me add that the Stadium station has been there since 2009, and in that time, I would guess that approximately zero people have walked from Stadium station to CID to shop there who weren’t lost.
If shopkeepers are complaining that nobody is taking the streetcar to patronize places the streetcar stops in front of, you can imagine how much foot traffic they will get from Constantinople and Istanbul. They will probably get more visitors from the actual Istanbul than they do from that station.
Istanbul Station is there to serve the stadiums and the CID south of King St.
The stadium interests in particular would go bonkers if it wasn’t there.
I agree with Tacomee with two points he makes:
1. This is not the day job for the ST Board members, and transit — let alone a light rail line in another subarea that won’t open for 15 years — is very low on their priority list, and not at all on the list of the constituents. The one blowback they are getting is about delay and costs. Maybe 0.5% of regional citizens understand the details discussed on this blog, and maybe 50% of Board members.
2. The reps for the other subareas defer to reps from N KC because this is a N KC project, in part because their subarea might need some financial help down the line, and in part because Dow can help or hurt your political career if you are a D, especially if he becomes governor.
Two of the more interesting board members IMO were Harrell and Balducci. I don’t think Harrell wants any tunnel, and if there must be one, like Bellevue his view is built it where they ain’t. Transit has the same priority for Harrell as the other Board members. Balducci (with an assist from Millar) was pretty good, because she doesn’t feel the need to defer to Constantine since her subarea is flush, although I doubt many eastsiders will be taking East Link south let alone transferring at the mega station. Balducci’s constituents rank Link, and WSBLE, about number 39 for issues they care about. I doubt a single eastsider was present at the meeting.
About the one conclusive thing from the hearing was interlining is out. But interlining, at least in my view, was always a drastic remedy only if DSTT2/WSBLE did not have the subarea funding, the other subareas did not have their contribution for DSTT2, or the stations and route for DSTT2 became too terrible. After all, DSTT2 is part of ST 3. I don’t think anyone on the Board is ready to make that admission at this time although some sound suspicious, and ST staff still want to believe the pretty lies from the gilded age of transit in 2016n about subarea funding, project cost estimates, ridership estimates, capacity, regional transit, urbanism, etc.
I have to say the “white devil” and white supremacy” comments from the CID are getting old now that a station won’t be on 5th, although ironic to see these arguments used against white progressives. Unfortunately for the CID businesses, all those white devils are home on the eastside, and there are a lot of good Asian restaurants on the eastside that are closer, cleaner, and safer with plenty of parking.
I think some of the CID commenters forget the CID is old, poor, dirty and run down. When the Board voted 15-1 for CID N/S the CID just screwed themselves because they missed a once in a generation opportunity to negotiate for mitigation (and a station on 4th or even CID N/S are not going to be great for access to the CID by white devils but will get zero mitigation), and now Harrell and Constantine feel they owe the CID nothing, so start permitting those shelters and rehab centers for the CID. Maybe the new jail.
The reality when all the cards are laid on the table is the CID N/S stations are the only alternative that plausibly meet budgets, Harrell’s desire for zero disruption where folks are, the CID’s objections, the objections of stakeholders in midtown, and is predicated on Constantine’s claim he can “capture” $400 million from vacant county buildings near CID N when their current value is a tiny fraction of $400 million.
Interlining is such an admission of how bad Link and WSBLE and DSTT2 are I don’t think this Board will make that call, and will leave it to another Board who will only consider interlining if ST staff tell them they don’t have the money, and lo and behold DSTT2 will cost closer to $4.2 billion, and some subareas might not have that money because they spent it before construction on DSTT2.
My money is CID N/S will be the ultimate choice because that is what Dow and Harrell want, and the rest don’t really care. Transfers between rail and rail are very common according to some on this blog, and if you build a light rail spine better get ready for lots of transfers. As those commenters note, there are always winners and losers in any transit restructure or project.
> I don’t think Harrell wants any tunnel, and if there must be one
I agree, basically if he voted on a 5th avenue alternative there would have been outcry while he couldn’t afford the 4th avenue alternatives so was left with two bad solutions and found an ‘out’ with the north/south cid option.
> My money is CID N/S will be the ultimate choice because that is what Dow and Harrell want, and the rest don’t really care.
I generally agree though slightly disagree on the others don’t care. The east side (Balducci) does care as they are the ones that have to back track up to CID North (Pioneer Square) to reach downtown.
This is why she hesitated to vote for the north and south of CID proposal and also proposed the ‘maintain regional spine’ idea.
> 2. The reps for the other subareas defer to reps from N KC because this is a N KC project
I guess also, the ballard section/ tunnels do not start construction until a decade later I wouldn’t be surprised if the plans change again then when the political winds shift.
Yes, I could see the designs changing in the future too. The fights over WSBLE have just begun.
But the key for this Board is to leave that up to a future Board, because the “changes” won’t be pleasant because they will be driven by budget deficits so stuff will have to get cut. I know developers who laugh their heads off at Dow’s claim he can “capture” $400 million from vacant and defunct county buildings in one of the worst areas in downtown Seattle, because of the mega station of all things. I think Dow knows that is fiction.
I think it was Millar who was speaking through Balducci. For Balducci to complain eastsiders will have to transfer at CID N. to go south probably sounded a little precious to the other Board members because very few eastsiders will go south on Link, even if the transfer were at CID. A better question is where were Juarez and the Board members in S. King and Pierce about the fact 80% of those riders will have to transfer to go north of downtown?
Balducci doesn’t have any skin in the game over WSBLE. Her constituents don’t care about East Link opening let alone DSTT2 or WSBLE that won’t open for 15 years, if that. I think Millar however is worried about a DSTT2 that is materially worse than DSTT1, skips midtown, costs $4 billion, and forces a lot of unnecessary transfers. I think Millar/Balducci’s proposal was to expose this hypocrisy by pointing out WS residents will get to use DSTT1, and if DSTT2 is so great why not have WS and Ballard residents use it. When ST stated 80% of riders would use DSTT1 that alone should have told the Board there is something wrong with DSTT2’s route or stations.
I am sure Dow’s response would be if you have a better alternative without a station at CID that is affordable (even on paper) and Harrell will approve because it has no disruption anywhere downtown where the folks are and doesn’t eliminate the $1.1 billion subarea contribution then let’s hear it.
This is only the beginning. Now the route and debate move to SLU, Seattle Center, Queen Anne, Ballard, WS, and so on, and the other subareas really have no skin in the game for those fights.
If the Board and ST are smart they will use the DEIS as an a la carte LID tool to force areas to fund what they want or forgo them. If CID wants a shallow station on 4th then pass a $700 million LID. Same up and down the line. Unlike the tunnel in Bellevue which Bellevue paid 1/2 and the subarea paid 1/2 you know Harrell won’t contribute a dime of city general fund money toward the upgrades, in part because the city does not have a dime and he has a hard time seeing the benefit of transit for what he is trying to do.
> for Balducci to complain eastsiders will have to transfer at CID N. to go south probably sounded a little precious to the other Board members
I’m mainly guestimating from the board members actions in yesterdays’ meeting, but I believe Balducci does care about heading south on Link. That is why she hesitated to vote for the north/south cid proposal. Whether that is to reach CID/rainier valley or probably to say the airport I don’t know, but the point is the eastside board members do care about it.
> Unlike the tunnel in Bellevue which Bellevue paid 1/2 and the subarea paid 1/2
I mean the tunnel in Bellevue while expensive wasn’t too bad in cost in the grand scheme of things. The asks from Seattle are too much especially given there are like 3~4 deep mined stations and 3~5 shallow underground stations that every minor ask is going to be exponentially expensive.
> I am sure Dow’s response would be if you have a better alternative without a station at CID that is affordable (even on paper) and Harrell will approve because it has no disruption anywhere downtown where the folks are and doesn’t eliminate the $1.1 billion subarea contribution then let’s hear it.
I meant more as in even the north/south cid alternative might be found to be too expensive as you’ve pointed out. I’m sure they’ll have to do more ‘value reengineering’ a decade later.
I would not be surprised if they end up reverting a couple of these stations back to the original cheaper locations. Like for a specific example the current debate over terry vs westlake for the denny station. Let’s say terry ave gets voted in, then 10 years later in 2032 they might say nvm back to westlake avenue (which honestly I think the impacts are acceptable if slu wants a subway station) since we don’t have the money to move the fiber optics cable.
Can anyone explain why this fiber optic cable is such a big frickin’ deal? I’ve tied these cables in knots and the signal still gets through. Aren’t they carrying, like, the internet, and isn’t that designed to be fault tolerant?
Some guy at the Board meeting who seemed to have a vested interest said it would cost $500M to the move the cable which just seems absurd.
Just how big is this cable and how hard is it really to avoid? Why can’t we just steer around it, move it, or replace it? It seems easier than a giant pipe of water because light flows uphill.
Eastsiders can get to the CID on East Link without a transfer, and continue on Line 1 to Lynnwood without a transfer if they desire, although few will desire.
6% to 8% of trips to the airport are by Link. I really don’t see a lot of trips on East Link to CID N (or even the original CID station) to go to the airport or south because if necessary eastsiders will drive to those destinations or take Uber to the airport, which is what they do today despite one seat buses down 405 in the express lanes. WSBLE has a fabulous bridge. I-90 is a fabulous bridge these days. Eastsiders prefer to drive. So a transfer at CID N for eastsiders is almost irrelevant, although I agree a 100 yard walk through an unsecured underground tunnel is not very inviting.
East to West cross lake transit ridership is very low today and likely to stay low. So really if any subarea has little skin in the game over WSBLE/DSTT2 it is the eastside that can easily pay for its subarea contribution to DSTT2. East Link will always continue in DSTT1 and Line one north of the CID because the trains are needed to increase frequency on that crowded run (because no one will be in DSTT2 or going to Ballard).
I was surprised Juarez or Board members representing S. King and Pierce didn’t make more noise at having to transfer to DSTT1 going north, and Balducci and Millar had to propose to have WS and Ballard riders use DSST2 although that would not affect or benefit eastside riders. To say these reps are passive is an understatement, although maybe their trump card is they won’t have their contribution to DSTT2.
I just think Millar and Balducci were trying to call Constantine’s bluff and point out DSTT2 as Dow and Harrell propose will be materially worse than DSTT1, which of course will always create an imbalance if the original goal was increased capacity along the same route.
At the same time I am not sure what other route and stations — CID N/S — meet all the criteria, at least on paper at this time without admitting N KC does not have the money for DSTT2 or WSBLE. I can tell you this: I haven’t seen or read a single word on any eastside blogs or publications about yesterday’s Board meeting. It means literally nothing to us.
this isn’t just a regular Internet line, it’s essentially the backbone of the Internet for the PacNW connecting us to the East Coast and California. Nevertheless I wonder whether you could still build around it if the station would be half the size, meaning if we would build a station for automated trains.
“I don’t think Harrell wants any tunnel”
How is that different from the single-tunnel solution?
Harrell in his campaign said he’d been a long-time major transit activist in the CD. I’d never heard of him, but maybe it’s true. I wonder what kind of transit he supported.
When does Harrell’s term end?
> How is that different from the single-tunnel solution?
That’s not what DT (assuming) nor I mean. We mean Harrell does not want to be forced into choosing a tough choice. He’d still like to build (and not be the mayor that cancelled) west Seattle/Ballard link of course. But in another world it’d probably be simpler politically for him if he didn’t have to decide at all (if these decisions were made before or after his term)
A silver lining observation here. This option did not exist in the public realm until a few weeks ago, and it still hadn’t been fully designed. That means that WSBLE can still change when opposition gets loud enough.
I really feel that we need to focus on building a coalition to change the plans in SODO to make the system operation more flexible and to make transfers easier. There is also not clear opposition from community interests to changing this segment design.
The only pushback that I can find is that ST staff don’t think it could be done. Of course it’s a question I asked but I don’t have any clout. If enough corporate and elected official interests want this to happen, I’m more than confident that it could still happen.
Again, there are two post EIS actions that could be done:
1. A mix-match operation (Line 1 and Line 3 each alternating tunnels). The ability to switch tracks needs to be possible where the lines meet! ST has NO diagram showing this is possible currently. The design change needs to be forced. I note that WMATA has switched how branches connect over the years even after the system opened.
2. SODO transfers. With the CID transfer gone, transfers here between 1 and 3 Lines will really increase at SODO. A concerted effort to commit to level transfers or one escalator transfers is needed to counter the current two escalator transfer there.
Are there stakeholders or interests ready to fight for rethinking SODO?
Al, if you are ever going to have “mix and match options” you need to get down off that damnable elevated structure down the busway and start advocating for a junction just south of SoDo Station. Quit assuming that the completely wasteful and unnecessary elevated will be built and start chopping away at it.
I can tell you for certain sure that there will be no horizontal cross-overs between the two lines north of SoDo allowing for “mix and match”, because they’ll be separated by thirty vertical feet and trains can’t navigate stairs.
So exactly how are you certain, Tom? Are you working for Sound Transit?
Look, i think that until these past several weeks, everyone was “certain” that the transfer station would be near Jackson and King Streets. With a mile between I-90 and Lander St there are plenty of track changes that could be made. However, the switching south of Lander is also critical.
And let’s be honest about who has it difficult. Redesigning SODO tracks to make transfers a level thing or at worse a one escalator thing helps tens of thousands of riders for decades. The hardship is making designers and engineers rethink their work and maybe buying a little warehouse property.
Adding West Seattle Link is going to create service disruption on the 1 Line no matter what. So why not build the flexibility in as an early phase to keep the disruption at a minimum? It seems the smart thing to do just for mitigating 1 Line service disruption.
The track work needs to be resilient for the future. That means allowing trains from either direction to use another platform.
I’m not quite sure what you asking of Tom? If sound transit moves forward with the elevated alignment for the west Seattle link then it is of course impossible for there to be a cross over to the at grade tracks.
The RV trains are already elevated by the OMF and drop down on the curve south of Lander. All the tracks will be elevated just a few blocks south of Lander.
The northbound one can drop down and the elevated southbound can connect to the existing tracks at the OMF switches. The new WS tracks can stay elevated southbound while the northbound tracks can drop down to go under a new southbound RV track viaduct.
That puts northbound trains on ground level and southbound trains above them.
ST is open to shifting the SODO platforms. That leaves room for two switches around Lander St. The station could be two levels with center platforms and escalators and elevators between the levels.
Then north of SODO station the tracks can have scissor switching tracks again. Then the sound bound aerial tracks could separately drop lower onto each of the approaching tracks from the north.
Lander would still have a link crossing but only for northbound trains from each line. The trains may cross Lander at about the same time, reducing crossing gate delays.
@Al S, your split level idea is very intriguing. The main access to the station is on the east side. I suggest to place both platforms on the east side and escalators east of both tracks. That means the soundbound track may be slightly above the buslane and the southbound platform may extend above the northbound track. You may still need a center escalator between the tracks to allow access from the west side or you do a shallow underpass along Lander under the buslane and tracks for that.
I hope that there is enough space to drop the track before the Holgate overpass… the scissor switch could be north of Holgate.
Could we just close Lander and redirect cars/trucks to the Holgate overpass?
Lindblom on the meeting ($).
He covers the alternatives and viewpoints. The last paragraph says something interesting:
“Sound Transit is even hearing a few public comments to scrap the second downtown tunnel entirely. Instead, it could boost capacity with a pivot to automated trains, like Vancouver, B.C.’s SkyTrain, which might run every three minutes through a refurbished 1989 tunnel, plus a shorter ST3 tunnel attached at Westlake Station to lower Queen Anne. “
Wow. Maybe we are being heard just a bit then. And it’s not the Jim Carrey, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” sort of hope.
Attention about the Pioneer Square mega station needs to begin now! The underground mole hole has way too many level changes. Strategies to configure the transfer path better needs to be discussed.
These could be useful additions:
1. Moving sidewalks. Airports use the often.
2. Diagonal or incline elevators. Large cable-pulled connectors can work like funiculars to get riders between the platforms.
I note that Sounder riders are big losers in this decision. It suddenly gets much harder to take Sounder to SLU via Link.
Pierce and South King interests better start paying attention.
I think Sounder S. will have to get cut. First the $1 billion in Sounder S. capital upgrades, and then service which today is around 11% to 13% farebox recovery. Pierce Co. will need both sources of funding if it hopes to fund TDLE. Probably some kind of ST express bus service from Tacoma Dome to FWLE will replace Sounder since Pierce Transit is poor. Then through the RV at grade, then a transfer into DSTT1.
ST and the served cities are still in fantasy mode when it comes to Sounder South. With ridership less than 30 percent of 2019 (or a 70 percent drop) and demand levels not coming significantly back in the past year, it will eventually get reduced in a downward death spiral.
With FWLE and then TDLE ( admittedly now further delayed) available, it will siphon even more riders from Sounder South. With fewer Sounder trains likely anyway, that siphoning can only get stronger.
The lack of a 1 Line-Sounder transfer station becomes strike 3 after Covid/ WFH and nearby Link service.
Is there even anything to redirect the money of Sounder South to? They can’t increase the frequency of it and increasing the capacity of it makes no sense.
The only thing relevant I could think of for Kent, Auburn etc.. was the Rapidride I but that doesn’t take a billion dollars. Another Stride down state route 167?
This is completely wrong. The Sounder S. can increase frequency, and should. All it takes is money and the political will the negotiate with the railroads.
If you made it all day, put some money into the tracks to speed it up a smidge, and kept it that way for 5-10 years, I would imagine all that upzoned land in affordable housing in Kent, Auburn Puyallup would start to sprout some serious roots.
Cancel the TDLE and pour the money into the tracks that are faster and are already there.
> This is completely wrong. The Sounder S. can increase frequency, and should. All it takes is money and the political will the negotiate with the railroads.
BNSF is using the tracks quite often during the day time. They don’t really want to give up the use of them, I don’t really see how money (beyond an unreasonable amount) or political will is going to work here.
> Cancel the TDLE and pour the money into the tracks that are faster and are already there.
The point is the tracks *aren’t* there, Sounder doesn’t own them. It’s why Amtrak is slow and unreliable on most routes except on the NEC, it only owns the tracks there.
Practically you’d need to build more tracks and quad track it or at the very least build a third track (beyond the portions that already have more than 2 tracks) if you want more service.
> Cancel the TDLE and pour the money into the tracks that are faster and are already there.
You’d either be building a third track along the Sounder route or building a track for TDLE. Either way you need to build new tracks and right of way to reach Tacoma. It can be debated that the sounder route might be cheaper but it isn’t as easy as you think.
ST3 includes money for unspecified additional Sounder South runs. The amount and number of runs is unspecified because ST was in negotiation with BNSF on the rate per time slot; if it revealed how much money it has, BNSF would want that amount for the fewest runs. The negotiations were ongoing in 2016, and apparently they ended up unfavorable because ST never did announce how many more trains it could run.
“The only thing relevant I could think of for Kent, Auburn etc.. was the Rapidride I but that doesn’t take a billion dollars. Another Stride down state route 167?”
Sounder is two or three times as fast as a RapidRide would be. Sounder takes 20 minutes to Kent, 30 to Auburn. The 578 takes 45 minutes to Auburn, and there’s no express to Kent. So that would be where to start.
We have talked about Stride on 167 from Renton (Stride 1) to Auburn or Puyallup. ST hasn’t talked about it. We assumed it would run in addition to Sounder, not replacing it.
Metro has other RapidRide lines in mind. The I will run from Renton to Kent and Auburn via Kent East Hill and Auburn Way. Two RapidRide candidates are KDM-Kent-132nd-GRCC, and Federal Way-Auburn-GRCC.
> Sounder is two or three times as fast as a RapidRide would be. Sounder takes 20 minutes to Kent, 30 to Auburn. The 578 takes 45 minutes to Auburn, and there’s no express to Kent. So that would be where to start.
Reaching Kent in 20 minutes from Downtown Seattle is pretty hard to achieve. It means pretty much no transfers and no stops to get anywhere near that time. I did check google maps in free flowing traffic a bus could make it there in 25 minutes and since there are hov/express lanes on all sections it could move relatively fast even during peak time (anyone know if these 167 hov lanes are actually moving?)
Yeah, the only idea I can think of is have an express bus on i5 then down state route 167 to reach kent and then down Central Ave to reach Auburn and then back on state route 167 to reach sumner and puyullap. Though the section in and past Sumner doesn’t have express lanes yet. Also as Mike noted I’m almost recreating the same route as the 577/578, though there isn’t the transfer at Federal Way. Or spend a couple? billion on third tracking the existing bnsf rail of course.
If we are destined/doomed to have a DSTT2, and they are determined to “break the spine” in order to “even out the load” in the two tunnels (i.e. send Tacoma trains to Ballard) is there another way to do solve that “problem” that doesn’t have these transfer woes with the 100 yard tunnels? At least not for so many people? Especially the less able.
Is there some other way to, like, alternate the destinations the West Seattle and the South trains go, so they, like, take turns going on one tunnel or the other? Does that kind of approach buy anything besides complexity and confusion? It creates a lot more direct trip pairings. And if you need to transfer, there’s a much higher likelihood you could just wait at the same station.
Looking for creative lemonade recipes here.
I have no idea if the following works. It probably doesn’t. I haven’t even tried to do the math. But something like this would help resolve those transfer problems, wouldn’t it?
Trains from Northgate heading south (DSTT1)
Trains from Ballard heading south (DSTT2)
So, when DSTT2 opens, half of the trains in it (including half the West Seattle trains) move to DSTT2, which by itself would double headways.
But then Ballard trains get added to both tunnels, bringing the headways somewhat back down.
Everywhere (N) to everywhere (S), all at once.
Even if this were technically feasible, as a rider, this would be insane, IMHO. One of the worst things would be that leaving downtown this doubles the wait time to go anywhere, and the chances of picking the wrong station to go to because you “might” catch the next train, only to get stuck at a light and miss it, are huge. I would personally hate it. In the evening, in particular, it would lead to 20+ minute waits to go to most destinations, right? But even going into downtown it would be bad, as you’d go from just catching the next train, to having to wait for the one that gets you closer to your destination, potentially, and having to figure all that out each time.
It adds a lot of cognitive load and defeats the purpose of having high frequency on the trains (high enough that you can “just show up and catch the next one”). Please, let’s not.
Fair points. If the frequencies were actually high (like on SkyTrain) then we wouldn’t have that issue and this sort of approach might save you the hassle of a deep underground transfer. I can see it’s a high cognitive load and sort of ridiculous but I’m trying to think of a creative way out of this mess.
When I hear “alternating” I think “Cutting frequency in half”. If West Seattle and MLK trains alternate between the two tunnels, then it will be 20-minute frequency from there to each downtown station. And coming back you’ll have to choose ahead of time which station to go to for the next train.
With 10 minute frequencies on West Seattle and MLK, I would just take the first train that comes, and if that doesn’t get me where I’m going or close enough, I would transfer. If I’m able bodied and unburdened, I may be fine walking a few blocks downtown. Otherwise I really don’t want to go down any long corridors.
There are a lot of instances (i.e. I have a bike, I have luggage, groceries, etc.) where I would much rather just wait at the same platform.
In some ways, this alternate routing is simpler. It’s a way simpler transfer process if you are willing to wait slightly. Going from Sea-Tac to King Street Station? No transfer required. You’d be willing to wait few minutes to avoid the hassle. This sort of dynamic happens in transit systems all over the world.
“This sort of dynamic happens in transit systems all over the world.”
Can you give an example? Ideally with a link to a schedule so we can see it in practice.
Thank you Jonathan! Whenever I mention this, I get all this pushback about I frequent trains. That’s just not the case. The rider gets to choose!
With the current setup, a rider always has to transfer if a station is not in the line. With a mix-match setup a rider can choose!
Anonymouse, BART has every other Richmond train and every other Fremont/ San Jose train alternate. BART actually quits running trains into SF after 7 and instead has level cross platform timed transfers at MacArthur and Oakland City Center to make that transfer very easy.
The A/C in Brooklyn/Queens does this.
> This sort of dynamic happens in transit systems all over the world.
It isn’t unusual, but at the same time I don’t see why on this corridor such a usage would be used. While it is for regional rail more commonly the issue is that there isn’t a shared station so you do two Y’s branching out. But we should have the shared transferring station at CID or Pioneer Square.
> Can you give an example? Ideally with a link to a schedule so we can see it in practice.
Here’s an example from BART MacArthur station: southbound there’s three trains: one going to SFO airport; another to Millabrae; and last one to Oakland airport.
Though I will note, MacArthur station is a cross-platform interchange with 4 tracks. For a simpler configuration one, it might be more like WMATA’s silver and orange line. Though in either case it does need some kind of flyover if you want to maintain high frequency during peak time. https://www.wmata.com/schedules/maps/upload/2022-System-Map.pdf
Also in WMATA’s case one of their tunnels goes east-west while another goes north-south. In our case both tunnels go north-south and are practically next to each other. I really don’t see the rationale for alternating back and forth the trains.
Thank you all for the examples!
I should’ve actually remembered about BART doing this, as I’ve used it as a tourist before, and found it annoying, because of the long delays in getting a train that actually went where I needed it, mid-day or so (if I remember correctly; it’s been a few years).
I think what feels different in BART vs. our case is that our lines would be only blocks away, yeah. As an example closer to home that I also found annoying, CT for a while ran two lines going from downtown to Ash Way and Swamp Creek P&Rs. The 415 was entering downtown through the North end and traveled South on 2nd in the morning, North on 4th in the afternoon; while the 413 was entering downtown through the South End and traveled North on 4th in the morning, South on 2nd in the afternoon. Leaving downtown in the afternoon, there was no good place to wait for both – the most you could do is try to wait somewhere near 3rd & Yesler and try to watch (this was pre-OBA when I was doing it), literally watch for the buses and do a mad dash in one direction or another and hope to catch it a block away at the actual stop. Very frustrating.
Al and Jonathan, BART has five routes, four of which cross the Bay and one which stays east. There are three stubs also which don’t matter for this analysis.
Each of the four lines which cross the Bay has a different “East Bay” terminus: Richmond, Pittsburgh/Bay Point, Dublin/Pleasanton, or Berryessa. Each has the same “City” terminus: Richmond goes to SFO via a bounceback at Milpitas. Pittsburgh/Bay Point goes to SFO directly, Dublin/Pleasanton and Berryessa go to Daly City.
They don’t all run all the time, and there are times that the Richmond trains turn back at Daly City instead of SFO.
Then there is the “East Bay Line” from Richmond to Berryessa. This produces an effective “mix and match” to and from the Richmond and Berryessa termini, but in fact the East Bay services must operate independently at one end or the other of the lines that cross the Bay.
All three lines in the mix and match sections have fifteen minute base headways, and there is some effort made to provide “interline headways” at the originating end of the branch.
For instance, the Red Line from Richmond to Millbrae leaves RICH at 12, 27, 42 and 57 after each hour until 7:12 PM Monday through Friday only. The Orange Line from Richmond to Berryessa leaves RICH at 3, 18, 33 and 48 after each hour until 7:49 PM after which it goes to every half hour through the evening. That’s 9/6 headways which isn’t ideal but isn’t terrible either.
Coming north from 12th Street, the first northbound shared station, the Orange Line departs at 9, 24, 39 and 54 after each hour, while the Red Line and 1, 16, 31, and 46 which is 8/7, as close to even as you can get two trains running on 15 minute headways. Since Central Berkeley to 12th Street is the heart of the system, this is where BART has chosen to provide the most even headways to its riders.
At the other end, the Orange Line departs Berryessa on the cardinal clock points, 0, 15, 30 and 45 after the hour. The Green Line shoves off at 3, 18, 33, and 48. That is terrible alternating 3/12 headways, and it’s a whole lot longer between Berryessa and Lake Merritt than it is between Richmond and 12th Street.
Going the other direction, the Orange Line leaves Lake Merritt at at 3, 18, 33, and 48 while the Green Line from Daly City to Berryessa departs LAKEM on the cardinal points of the clock, 0, 15, 30 and 45. There are those terrible 3/12 gaps again (as of course one would expect).
This is what I have been trying to tell everyone about “mix and match”: you end up with very uneven headways on some line in one or the other and usually both direction(s). This always happens.
One “saving grace” for the south end of the Orange/Green is that the Blue Line from Dublin/Pleasanton to Daly City joins up at Bay Fair and to some degree plugs that twelve minute hole. Blue line trains leave Bay Fair northbound at 1, 16, 31, and 46, Greens depart at 9, 24, 39, and 54, and Orange go at 6, 21, 36 and 51. That gives 5/3/7 headways which are close enough to be quite usable. Northbound Blue trains leave LAKEM at 7, 22, 37 and 52, giving overall headways of 3/4/8 which are not particularly even.
You just can’t make it work both directions because the different lines will have different running times and numbers of stations. Most systems that do this, I believe, try to get the “inbound” headways as even as possible, because that handles the “walk up” passengers at a given station better. “Going home” one is going to have to wait for the direct train anyway, and that’s every fifteen minutes.
But of course the Red Line to Richmond has almost perfect headways northbound but somewhat unbalanced ones toward the City so that is certainly not universally true.
Tom…. A few comments.
The Richmond line that goes to SFO ends in Millbrae, not Milpitas.
BART has a 100 percent gate-to-gate trip table by virtue of their fare collection system . The operations planners can determine which movements are the most used.
The benefits of mix match aren’t the departure times but are the directness of service. I would gladly spend an extra 3-5 minutes (9-12 total) waiting at a platform than schlepping my luggage for a few blocks through Downtown Seattle taking well over 5 minutes when the escalators and elevators are working (note that early diagrams put an additional level change halfway between the two platforms).
BART has four Transbay lines which makes mix match scheduling much harder. For example, BART appears to send trains from Dublin through Bayfair a minute before the train to Berkeley. Bayfair was not built for cross platform transfers so that’s what got the priority. Sure there are going to be some wonky intervals
I never said that mix match was perfect. I only said that it works when two lines can each have two different end points. In BART’s case those are the Orange, Red and Yellow lines (with no Antioch to San Jose service). The Green and Blue Lines add a layer of complexity that Link wouldn’t have — hence the uneven scheduling. But if you compare the Orange and Yellow line schedules heading in the same direction through central Oakland, you will see that MacArthur is a timed transfer point.
Don’t get me wrong. I still prefer a scenario which puts all three lines in DSTT and has Ballard as a separate high frequency stub (preferably automated). I’m just noting that there is another way to approach the bad transfer problem by eliminating them if possible.
There is a silver lining to uneven scheduling. If two trains are bunched together the second train can relieve overcrowding on the guest, BART is very good about letting riders know where the next trains will be going.
All BART trains go through San Francisco together, which are the majority of destinations. A situation where Rainier Valley trains alternate between the two downtown tunnels and half continue north to Lynnwood and half to Ballard is more like New York City, where trains stay together in the outer boroughs and split to different Manhattan lines. London has a pair on the Northern Line, which are together in northern London but split in central and southern London. Alon Levy calls this “reverse branching”, because normal branching is like BART but this is the opposite. MAX blue and red lines are normal branches in downtown Portland. Levy thinks reverse branching is an inefficient use of service hours vs other patterns. Search “reverse branches site:pedestrianobservations.com” for articles on this.
You’re right, it’s “Millbrae”, not “Milpitas”.
In your scenario, you won’t be waiting five minutes. It will be, on average, ten from your arrival, because each “subline” [“1B” and “1N” for instance coming from the RV] will be every twenty minutes giving your departure “line” ten minute headways. Mike’s reply is spot on. This needlessly complicates the basic home-downtown or downtown-home trip to accommodate much less commonly taken home-[somewhere beyond downtown] trips or the reverse. More Link trips that aren’t home to and from downtown will be home to [somewhere between home and downtown] because the farther away a destination is, the less likely Link will go directly to it.
UW is enough of a trip-attractor that not breaking The Spine is worthwhile.
If DSTT2 is built, come hell or high water…
Maybe the Redmond trains should go to Ballard instead of the Tacoma trains? That would still “even things out” while retaining the regional Sea-Tac – CID connection.
Most of the Eastside people are not going to the stations north of downtown on Line 1 via Link. Redmond to UW is 25-30 minutes faster on a bus than Link will be. Most Eastside people will not use Link to the airport anyway.
Wouldn’t Amazon appreciate having its two regional corporate office centers (SLU, Bellevue) directly connected via rail?
I think they would. Why wouldn’t they.
I think Ballard – Redmond has legs.
You are probably correct about Eastside travel
Patterns on East Link Jonathan. However East Link trains will double frequency on one of the lines. That will be Line 1 north.
Plus East Link is already built to access DSTT1. I don’t think many eastsiders will take East Link across the lake to Judkins Park, CID S or the jail at CID N (or Smith Cove). Al knows how that game goes. If you get non grade separated surface Link you know which tunnel you will get.
The irony is Dow doesn’t want WS residents on a line with West Seattle in the title.
The CID has been waiting a long time for trains from the Eastside. Part of the reason the CID rejected a station for DSTT2 is who will be in DSTT2. They will object if Eastside white supremacists are routed away from the CID, although we will drive which is why the CID’s number one request is more parking
For this scenario:
Phase 1: Add West Seattle trains to current tunnel
Phase 2: Construct Ballard Link, Dow’s NoCID station, and connect that to East Link, skipping CID. Yes, you have to modify the junction.
No “South CID” station is needed or built.
No second SODO station with an ped overpass and all that is needed.
The existing busway adjacent to the Link line can remain, or whatever. It isn’t needed for rail.
Isn’t that a lot less work than what ST is planning now?
East Link will double frequency north of downtown, yes, but the same double frequency would remain if Redmond trains are replaced by West Seattle trains.
The one catch I see is that it would be annoying for Eastsiders to get to sporting events if the train goes straight from Judkins Park to NoCID.
But it seems worse to separate Sea-Tac and CID every single day.
I’ve got it. Here’s a creative idea I have NOT heard before:
Build Ballard–Redmond as I describe. At the time the new connection is built from East Link to DSTT2, add the “South CID” station to EAST LINK… in a slightly different configuration of course from what ST is planning, but basically around there.
Nothing stops us from moving Stadium station to this location as well so all the lines would stop there.
This gets Eastside people to the stadiums. It supports the development the Mayor and some of his supporters would like to see.
Cost would be cheaper than current plan since segment south of South CID station would not need to be double tracked and there’s only one SODO station.
Amazon will allow employees to choose which headquarters to work in (and is getting a lot of resistance to RTW 3 days/week). So I don’t see a lot of midday travel between the two headquarters because Amazon teams are usually site specific.
I do think the Eastside would be open to truncating East Link on MI so that could work, and may be a necessity depending on the bridge. No doubt Bellevue would be open to anything that discourages Eastside workers going to downtown Seattle like DSTT2 (and the 554), and of course Harrell is desperate to lure those Eastside workers back.
The real problem is DSTT2 has stations that are material worse, especially for downtown office workers. There shouldn’t be a fight over who has to use the new tunnel. Fix the stations.
Dow isn’t going to propose Eastsiders use DSTT2 because Balducci will counter with her and Millar’s proposal that WS use DSTT2, which makes more sense and got some traction which is why Dow won’t open that can of worms.
Plus 6% to 8% of passengers take Link to SeaTac
Jonathan, I like your creativity, but one thing you’re forgetting, is transit decisions are no longer purely about transit. That’s an old fashioned way of thinking. Equity politics may even be the biggest part of transit projects going forward.
The politics we have seem to be unifying behind the North/South approach for DSTT2, and the idea I am proposing goes with that flow instead of fighting it.
Whatever value the SouthCID area has with a new DSTT2 station for the real estate investors there, it would be higher still as an all-way hub.
Jonathan, I like your creativity, but one thing you’re forgetting, is transit decisions are no longer purely about transit.
Transit decisions were never purely about transit. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a “spine”, along with West Seattle Link and Issaquah Link. If it was all about transit it is likely the system wouldn’t leave the county. There would be several lines, covering all the major urban destinations as well as the areas with the highest density, well integrated with the bus system — you know, the way the build them in the rest of the world. For those farther away there would be express buses (connecting to the rail system) and commuter rail (where affordable). Again, like they do in the rest of the world.
Hell, I would be happy if they even considered the transit cost/benefit of these projects. But that isn’t how they roll.
Why does the NoCID station have to be a 380 foot corridor away from Pioneer Square? Why couldn’t it be basically right next to Pioneer Square station, in the existing hole? I suppose it would have to be deep, but the hole is already there. just keep digging. The Pioneer Square station entrance is right there (and it’s a terrible entrance.)
I don’t know, there’s a lot of old stuff around there and there’s probably something in the way, but I haven’t heard a reason.
There are skyscraper foundations I’d assume if you don’t stay in the street right of way. (Obviously not an issue in say Ballard or West Seattle)
WL, there’s no foundation in the Giant Hole. It has been dug up. Howevrr, it can’t be used for Constantinople because it’s on the wrong side of BNSF.
Johnathan, you can’t use the Giant Hole because the BNSF tunnel runs along the west edge of Fourth Avenue, which means along the east edge of the hole. Either you have to be another twenty or thirty feet below BNSF of go under it like DSTT1 does have the “New Pioneer Square Station” and then go under it again. That would mean that the new platforms would be quite a bit deeper than the Pioneer Square ones, but much closer. I doubt, though, that ST wants to underrun BNSF twice more.
All three tunnels in the current plan, in which DSTT2 stays east of BNSF are just about the same elevation above MSL (about eight or ten feet), but Pioneer Square and DSTT1 overall are slightly tilted up at the north end. BNSF is dead flat throughout. The new Constantinople Station would probably be tilted up toward the north as well.
The deeper you are this far north the harder it becomes to climb the hill to New Westlake.
RossB: regarding the SODO busway, it is also used by PT operated ST routes 590, 592, 594, and 595. They may be deleted with FWLE; it is not known .
Dubman: the costly CCC Streetcar is not a good answer to any issue; under the Murray-Kubly SDOT plan, that has been paused, it would one-car trains and 12 trips per hour per direction; half the trips would come each from two unreliable tails; there is very little rider interest on First Hill to use that pathway to reach downtown. the combined shape of SLU, FHSC, and CCC is a bobby pin; that would not be legible; that would not be effective CBD circulation. Doing any about the CCC Streetcar quickly is antithetical to its nature; it is Beckian; we have Waiting for Godot (the CCC Streetcar).
Dubman: do short headways in a single DSTT seem an answer to the capacity issue explained by Billen? Balducci asserted it will be in place between East Link and DSTT2; they could be loooong time.
We have waiting for the Interurban in Fremont. Someone should write a grant proposal for a sculpture project to be installed on 1st Ave. outside the Seattle Art Museum, Waiting for the CCC.
Short headways in the DSTT seem like half the solution to WSBLE, the other half being a Ballard – Westlake stub or something of that nature.
“there is very little rider interest on First Hill to use that pathway to reach downtown”
There is interest in going from Jackson Street to 1st Avenue and the waterfront. Today I shopped at Pike Place Market and then went to Uwajimaya. Tourists would go from Pike Place to Little Saigon. Then there are people going to the Art Museum and all the other businesses and apartments on 1st and west of it.
It’s not necessarily the best use of transit dollars, but it’s downtown and therefore has a lot of pedestrian trips.
There is something to be said for surface transit in a dense urban area for short trips. The absence of vertical circulation helps make up for traffic lights you have to suffer through (which you also have to wait for as a pedestrian.)
From Westlake to Denny, who will win and how often, streetcar vs Ballard Link? The train is faster but takes longer to get in to and out of. Might be kind of a wash.
The streetcar is great for tourists because it’s spacious, comfortable and they are typically more interested in sightseeing than getting somewhere fast. Also better for businesses to be seen than to have customers whizzing 100 feet below.
None of this is an argument to build CCC, but it’s a mixed bag.
“From Westlake to Denny, who will win and how often, streetcar vs Ballard Link?”
Link probably. The distance is about from Westlake to Pioneer Square. I don’t take Link from Westlake to University Street (for the library) because it’s too short. I sometimes take it from Westlake to Pioneer Square. I always take it from Westlake to Intl Dist.
Second is bus 40. It’s faster than the streetcar. The streetcar gets caught at a traffic light every block between Stewart Street and Denny Way, and has stations every two blocks. The 40 runs at normal speed. If you’re going to the surrounding area, buses 40, 62, or 70 may be feasible.
> “From Westlake (station) to Denny (station), who will win and how often, streetcar vs Ballard Link?”
I think you’re forgetting that both the new Westlake station and the Denny station will be a deep mined station. It will probably wash all travel time advantages from the time it takes to get down to the station and get back out.
Honestly walking is probably fastest for this route or as fast given the time it takes to wait/ or reach the stations.
A bike would win easily. I can do it in maybe 2-3 minutes.
It’s a false question because stations are no one’s real destination. A more realistic trip might be from somewhere a block from Westlake station to somewhere a block or two from Denny station. When you include the walk time in with the ride time plus wait time, walking the entire way usually wins.
When you’re talking about very short distances, like half a mile or less, walking is king and the role of transit is simply to provide an alternative for people who are lazy or have disabilities. This can be true even for longer distances if you walk fast or have access to cut through paths that are more direct than the route a bus can take.
A general rule of thumb I have observed is that it is nearly impossible for a trip involving transit to be shorter than about 20-30 minutes, door to door, including walk time and wait time. Anything shorter usually means riding a bus for such a short distance you could just walk directly to the destination and not bother. Of course, exceptions exist, like from somewhere a block from Capitol Hill station to somewhere a block from Roosevelt station, but actual trips that line up with Link that well tend to be rare.
This is a big reason why short distance “shuttle” routes perform so terribly. They cost an enormous amount of money to operate, yet don’t serve any trips that aren’t directly competing with walking. And walking will always be more reliable than the bus and comes with zero fare and zero wait. Transit is better focusing on longer trips where walking can’t compete with it so easily.
Yes, there is interest in going to 1st from various parts of the city. That isn’t the problem. Put it this way. Imagine the streetcars are just regular buses. Call them 80 (Capitol Hill) and 81 (SLU). Now imagine that folks want to put buses on 1st Avenue. There are a lot of candidates, of course. You could send buses from the north or the south there. But where it really makes no sense is for the 80. It runs south on Broadway and turns west (after doing a silly button-hook). To make another turn north would mean forming a big loop. Loops are a bad idea, because they eliminate stop combinations.
For example, consider the 2 and 13. They are paired, and probably have been paired for a very long time. The combined route is essentially linear, which means that every possible stop to stop combination is possible. This is good. It leads to higher ridership.
Now consider the 80 sent to 1st. Immediately we see combinations that just don’t make sense. Broadway & Madison to 1st and Madison: right now you would take the 2, eventually you take the G. Broadway and Pine to 1st & Pine: you take the 11 or 49. Broadway & Jefferson … (you get the idea).
But remember, the plan is to hook this up with the 81 (from SLU). So now you have extended the ‘U’. There are some one-seat rides that are now unique (e. g. MOHAI to Broadway & Madison). But would anyone take that? Of course not. They would transfer.
If you ignore the mode it just sounds ridiculous. There is no way any planner would do this. It ignores every aspect of good transit route planning. Just because these are trams doesn’t mean that poor routing won’t severely damage ridership. Never mind the capital cost to build this — consider the service cost. A lot of the buses that could run on 1st currently run on 3rd. Thus it costs basically nothing to serve 1st. In contrast, running the streetcar means running other buses less often. All for a route that is clearly flawed.
“From Westlake to Denny, who will win and how often, streetcar vs Ballard Link?”
Interesting question. I think we need to assume that we are at a location equidistant from the streetcar stop and the Link entrance/exit. This goes for the starting point and destination. Google puts the travel time for the streetcar at 3 minutes (at noon). I don’t think there is any way you can beat that with Link. It takes too long to get down to the platform and back up again.
Google also puts the walking distance at 7 minutes. That means that if the streetcar comes within a 4 minute wait, it is faster. With ten minute headways, chances are, that won’t happen. That means that walking is likely the fastest.
While an amusing puzzle, this has real-world ramifications. A more important one to me is whether it makes sense to transfer to Ballard Link or not. Imagine you came from Bellevue, and are at the Westlake stop. Link runs every ten minutes — so does the streetcar. Which is faster? Now the math is a little different. You have to calculate the transfer time, as well as the difference between leaving Westlake Station versus leaving Denny Station. If the transfer takes 2 minutes (or more) then it isn’t worth it, unless exiting Denny is faster than existing Westlake. Either way, it is likely that walking is your best best.
There are other considerations of course. If it is a nice day, it is likely you will walk. If it is raining, you will likely walk through the various tunnels and wait for Link. If you are in heels or dragging a lot of luggage, then you focus on a minimum amount of walking. People hate waiting, which is why it is common for people to walk along a corridor, and be passed by a bus (they could have taken) a few seconds before they reach their destination. The city could make the streetcar faster, so that the noon travel time is normal. Finally, the city might eventually create a decent bike-share system and biking would be the best bet.
Regardless, the main takeaway is that a transfer isn’t especially worthwhile. It makes little sense if your destination is short of Denny, and may not be worth it even if you are headed to the other side of Denny. This makes it different than many other stops. For example, if you are coming from Bellevue and headed to the Seattle Center, than transferring to Link is definitely worth it (although we have a monorail for that). The main benefit of the Denny station are for those already on the line. This means folks from the south end as well as Ballard, Interbay and Uptown. It is just too close to the Westlake Station to be worth transferring to. If the station was a few blocks east (Fairview & Westlake) or a few blocks north (Westlake & Harrison) it would be a different story.
This is yet another example of how flawed ST3 is. You really have to get the details right, to a degree that we never have before. There is little room for error. We are clearly failing.
Yeah, I should have mentioned that the ST routes, and how they didn’t factor into my thinking. I figure they will go away eventually. This is contrast to routes like the 101 or 150, which will stick around, and be slower.
The argument that passenger capacity at the platforms necessities a whole new tunnel just makes me cringe. The existing waiting areas are nowhere near full. Train frequency could be boosted as necessary to clear waiting areas more quickly. And in the meantime, in an effort to make sure that, even if ridership proves far above expectations, that nobody ever has to wait to reach the platform, they make compromises with station location and transfers that cost far more person-minutes than the capacity of this extra tunnel would ever save. It’s just frustrating.
It is clear that at this point really the only reason for the second tunnel is to avoid Dow having to admit he made a mistake. Unfortunately, I will probably end up voting for him for governor anyway when the inevitable choice becomes him vs. some Loren Culp-style right wing maniac.
The difficult transfers lower ridership, and then there’s no full-platform problem.
I took a look at the Istanbul station area. The station is at 6th & Seattle Blvd S. Seattle Blvd is really Airport Way, and S Dearborn Street is a half-block north of it. Both are wide car streets, but Dearborn isn’t as wide as I thought there: it’s a four-lane street like 23rd. Between the two streets in a triangle with 6th Ave S is a one-story Circle K. East of that on the other side of 6th is the something building that’s the station site; the one the owner couldn’t find a buyer for. North of that is a three-story brick building that looks like a Chinese warehouse. It’s run-down but a restoration would make it nice. So the south side of Dearborn has the brick building and the Circle K.
The north side of Dearborn has the Uwajimaya parking lot. I didn’t realize it was so close. East of it (and north of the brick building), is a recent mixed-use building. The Chinatown businesses start from there.
So the station is better than I thought to access the CID neighborhood. It’s a 5-block walk from the station to Jackson Street, but everything between Dearborn and Jackson is highly walkable and a variety of businesses, so it’s better than the walk from Columbia City Station to Columbia City (three blocks residential-only).
But there are no transfer opportunities at the station. 6th Ave S going south to Royal Brougham Way is closed, presumably for construction., so I had to walk around it on 4th. I got off the 124 at 6th & Brougham, which is at the Greyhound station. I should have gotten off at the previous stop. I walked around on Brougham, 4th, and Seattle Blvd to Dearborn St. I had to wait for two Link trains to pass on Brougham; the bells were loud, and it’s all concrete there and some litter.
North of the station, the nearest east-west buses are on Jackson Street five blocks away. The nearest north-south buses are on 4th north of Brougham: the northbound ones include the 28, 33, 131, 132, some peak expresses, and maybe others.
Istanbul to CID transfer (Line 1 to Lines 2/3) is around four blocks.
It’s a really awful location for a Link station. The only hope it has for turning into a good station is if the area is rezoned and redeveloped. The area has a lot a potential.
Here is where Mike is talking about. The station, I believe, would be near the homeless encampment in the triangle area with all the blue tarps.
The rust-colored roof building in the upper right at 7th & Charles is the First Hill Streetcar base. Across the street to the west is where the Mary Pang warehouse was, where four firefighters died in 1995.
It’s close to the far end of the Sounder platforms too. It makes me wonder if they could thread a wide pedestrian path to Sounder and the stadiums.
Sam Israel use to own quite a bit of property in this area. I wonder if the Sons of Israel, Sam’s nephews, are selling any property to the city or are involved in the plans?
This whole episode is a textbook lesson in bad planning. The choice here was not properly vetted with technical studies and public comment except for this broadcast meeting where speakers were limited.
Shame on our elected officials for bad planning! Even if it’s the right decision, it’s too premature to make it. It’s like letting a fresh horse run onto the track in the home stretch and winning the race!
The proper action would be to reopen the DEIS and add it as a new alternative rather than the preferred alternative.
This is as bad as Putin or Trump thinking that their way is the only way. I cannot stress hard enough how this is an insult to the very notion of a rational democratic decision-making process.
“The proper action would be to reopen the DEIS and add it as a new alternative rather than the preferred alternative.”
This was a power play by Dow, with an assist from Mayor Harrell, and the rest of the board seemed feckless in its path. I commend Balducci/Millar for their effort to at least push for another alternative, though their amendment was defeated.
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