Various publications have summarized the March 23 decisions on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE): Publicola, Crosscut, NW Asian Weekly, and the Urbanist. Mike Lindblom even mentioned the single tunnel alternative in his Seattle Times ($) article. Most surprising were the late additions:

  • APPROVED: “North of CID” and “South of CID” (N/S) stations.
  • APPROVED: “4th Avenue Shallower” station alternative.
  • REJECTED: Keep Rainier Valley in DSTT1; move West Seattle to DSTT2.

The result of these is that the preferred alignment moves Midtown and CID stations south. Midtown is replaced by a “North of CID” station at the King County Administration building. CID is replaced by a “South of CID” station at 6 Ave S & Seattle Blvd S. A new alternative is added: “4th Avenue Shallower”, which is like another CID alternative at 4th & Jackson but less deep. This alternative would keep Midtown station at Madison Street. The rejected alternative would have reversed the spine split, keeping Rainier Valley in DSTT1 going to UW and Lynnwood. Ballard and West Seattle would be in DSTT2. In the current plan, Rainier Valley will be switched to Ballard when Ballard opens.

For Seattle the key decision makers are King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. Constantine is trying to use ST3 as a vehicle to revamp the King County buildings. Harrell wants to protect the CID and adjacent businesses from further disruptions, revitalize downtown while not spending extra. Board member Claudia Balducci wants to make sure riders from the Eastside can quickly transfer toward the airport. The Pierce and Snohomish County boardmembers are mostly concerned about avoiding further planning delays and cost increases which may have an impact on finishing the Spine to their areas. Sound Transit staff (Don Billen) is concerned about platform capacity, and therefore wants to make sure riders are spread evenly between both tunnels.

This is not the final alignment decision. The EIS will take a year to complete, and the results of that may affect the favorability of alternatives. After the final EIS is complete, the board will select projects from it for construction, and then the alignment will be final.

CID Perspectives

The N/S vs 4th station is a tough decision for the CID residents – about access vs impact. A station close to 5th & Jackson makes for a short walk to any CID destination. A station further away reduces construction impacts on the neighborhood. Many residents see that the CID benefits from good access. In particular the Asian population in the Rainier Valley, Renton, White Center, etc, depend on such access. At the same time residents are concerned about the impact of 10 years of construction, or even more if the project encounters further delays. They already suffered through constructing I-5, the original downtown transit tunnel, and the First Hill Streetcar. This is a no-win situation.

Transit Rider Perspectives

Balducci was concerned about riders from the Eastside having to make a detour north to Pioneer Square, then walk to North of CID station before going to the airport. The preliminary plans show 4 escalators, none with any redundancy in case any break down. Other than this concern, rider experience didn’t come up much during the meeting.

The 4th Ave station would be between King Street Station and the original CID station. It would connect Sounder, Amtrak, the streetcar, and many bus lines along Jackson and 4th including the 7 (soon RapidRide R), 14, and 36. Neither the North nor South stations would connect to any of these. Two different versions of this station are currently being considered: Shallow and Shallower. The latter would be easier to access; however, it would require replacing the 4th Avenue viaduct, and the Yesler Way bridge would also be impacted. It would take a decade and $800 million more than original estimate. Several board members dismissed this proposal as being too expensive.

The Midtown station would bring transit closer to First Hill and connect to RapidRide G, but would be deep and difficult to access. Sound Transit estimated 15,500 users, but only the 1 Line would serve it, at most every 8 minutes. We expect many riders on the other lines to use University Street station instead.

Sound Transit promised to see whether RapidRide G could be redirected towards the North station, but we have our doubts about that. We can’t see how RapidRide G could get to 4th & James without abandoning access to University Street Station and the ferry and waterfront, or backtracking from there. Traveling on currently-unimproved streets south of Madison would add unreliability. In any case, it would be Metro’s and SDOT’s decision whether to modify the G.

The 1 Line would suffer the most. Not only would it lose the connection to UW and Capitol Hill but also to Stadium, University Street, Pioneer Square, and potentially CID stations. Riders would have to transfer at SODO and wait for the next train from West Seattle – two escalators away on a parallel track. Pierce County executive Dammeier did not mention any of this when he was discussing the impacts on Pierce residents.

If a West Seattle stub would get built it would also be impacted as trains would not connect towards downtown until the 2nd tunnel is finished. If you arrive on RapidRide C at the Junction you would need to transfer to Link, then transfer at SODO, where you would have to not only scale 2 escalators but wait for a train from Rainier Valley (limited to 8 minutes frequency). If you want to travel to the Eastside, you will have to do the same again at CID. Without West Seattle Link, you can take RapidRide C straight to University Street Station and get on an express bus — or soon on the 2 Line — skipping 2 arduous transfers.

Operations Perspectives

Staff voiced concern with the rejected Balducci/Millar “Spine”, saying the first tunnel would have five times the ridership of the second tunnel, and thus the platforms may get crowded. The discussion was fully on the impacts to Sound Transit of crowded platforms, not of the experience of passengers wanting a short transfer or wanting to keep the direct access to northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill they currently have (and will have until Ballard opens). While a 2nd tunnel would reduce crowding for example at the University Street Station, it would force more transfers at Westlake, SODO, and either Pioneer Square Station or CID. The busiest track segment currently is between Capitol Hill and Westlake. The 2nd tunnel would not alleviate any crowding there but instead increase the number of transfers at Westlake.

Denny vs Terry Station

Harrell also voiced concerns for the planned station on Denny Way and Westlake Avenue. Construction would impact traffic in this freight corridor, the streetcar would be suspended during construction, and a major Internet backbone fiber-optic line would need to be relocated. A motion to study a Terry Ave alternative was approved.

Win-Win: Single Tunnel

Though Anton provided public testimony for a single-tunnel alternative, none of the board members mentioned it. We still believe that it would allow the mayor to meet all of his objectives, while less disruption would allow the city to recover from the pandemic more quickly. The County could redevelop the civic center without having to coordinate with Sound Transit construction. For the CID it would provide access and avoid impact. For Rainier Valley and Pierce County riders it would avoid degradation of the 1 Line. For Eastside riders it would provide a quick transfer at CID to the airport.

While running all three lines through the same tunnel would increase ridership in the tunnel, riders would benefit from higher frequency for destinations within downtown and simplified transfers. This would reduce people waiting for trains on the platforms. As all lines would serve downtown stations, it would reduce the number of required transfers. Transfers would not only happen at Westlake and CID , but riders could transfer between all three lines at any of the downtown stations. Only the Ballard line would require a transfer at Westlake. Therefore, we do not expect increased crowding at any of the downtown stations. To accelerate transfers in opposite directions, Sound Transit may consider adding a center platform at CID with an escalator to exit the platform. That way boarding could occur on the outside platforms and alighting on the center platform.

If the West Seattle extension gets built the 1 and 3 Lines (Rainier Valley/West Seattle) could share tracks through SODO and provide West Seattle riders a one seat-ride downtown when the West Seattle stub opens rather than 5 or even 10 years later.

Instead of building through the CID, Sound Transit could focus on the SLU/Ballard line connecting at Westlake. They could use automated trains and build smaller stations which would reduce impact and cost and potentially speed up construction. It may even avoid the Denny Way impacts, which Sound Transit is trying to mitigate, by moving the station to Terry Avenue. Sound Transit could also extend that line beyond Westlake to reach First Hill instead of building the Midtown station. It would also make it easier to serve the Ballard core with a station at the Ballard Library on NW 56th Street rather than building one on 14th or 15th Avenue NW.

What’s Next

We (most authors) still believe that a single tunnel solution is most compelling. The 4th Ave Shallower station would be our next best option, but it take much longer to implement, with long disruption and high cost. Please reach out to your representatives to advocate for the Sound Transit Board to add studying the single-tunnel alternative.

257 Replies to “Still No Final CID Plan”

  1. Direct action suggestion: Print out this article, highlight or underline the passenger impacts you think are most important, and mail it to your ST boardmembers and local politicians.

  2. Caveat: “We (most authors)” mean most STB authors support a single-tunnel alternative. Specifically, MartinP, Ross, Frank, Anton, and I collaborated on this article. Some authors oppose this position or we don’t know their view, so I don’t want imply all authors support it. Others are expressing their views in comments/articles as they wish. The downtown alternatives raise a lot of tradeoffs and uncertainties, so I think the best thing we can do is articulate all our viewpoints so readers can choose.

    1. If we can’t have the CID station and Midtown Station on the second downtown light rail tunnel, then, sure, I’d support a Ballard stub line and everything else in the DSTT1 (and we need to be more clear that we understand Ballard probably can’t be interlined into DSTT1, or the position comes off as non-credible). I don’t recall any Seattle Transit Bloggers being flat-out opposed to ditching the second tunnel for now, especially when compared to having the worse-than-useless second tunnel that is now the Sound Transit Board’s Preferred Alternative.

      I also oppose any editorial position suggesting any of West Seattle, Ballard, Everett, and Tacoma Dome Link aren’t worth building, or a source of savings to build a more expensive second downtown tunnel. I believe they are all worthy projects, which is why I would vote for ST3 again, given the chance. I want Everett and Tacoma Dome Link more than I want West Seattle or Ballard, but I want all of them. So long as the engineering issues don’t contraindicate continuing their construction, their value added seems pretty clear to me, even if the Everett line detours to *not* serve Paine Field International Airport, though I hope it either serves Paine Field or doesn’t bother detouring. Pick one. But I digress.

      The Preferred Alternative Second Tunnel is pretty clearly value subtracted, and not worth spending another penny on, except to mitigate the damage to the transit network that it will wreak. The simplest mitigation is not to build it.

    2. Addendum: If we stick with just DSTT1, there are more mitigations than just signal improvements. How about some variation on the Spanish solution in the tunnel stations where there is room to build a center platform? Cut the dwell time by nearly half, and the capacity goes up.

      I’m up for dealing with a months-long closure of the transit tunnel for renovations to replace escalators, elevators, signaling systems, and center platforms with additional elevators, escalators, stairs, etc, if it means pushing out any need for another tunnel a few decades, buying time to transition to supertrams. But once the ST3 lines are built out, is there any plan to add more lines going downtown, other than in the imagination of Seattle Subway?

      1. My understanding is that a lot of the work in the existing tunnel would be for the stations (instead of just the signalling equipment, tracks, etc.). There are concerns about it being overcrowded.

        So yes, this would be an opportunity to improve things. For example, I would make the CID station have both middle and outside platforms. If people are concerned about the middle platform being crowded, we could make the middle platform be for transfers and exiting only. This wouldn’t be enforced (there would be nothing stopping anyone from going down the stairs) but signs would encourage people to enter from the sides. This would require moving the tracks, but that shouldn’t be that difficult. At worse the station is closed for a brief period.

      2. DSTT opened 36 years ago, which was well before ADA was adopted (and those guidelines weren’t developed until a few years after that). The stations also may lack capacity in vertical devices with the added demand.

        One advantage pols would have is that using DSTT would give them a chance to implement station upgrades as an early project — even starting when WS construction starts. They could use the WSBLE pot to fund the upgrades.

    3. Addendum 2: Is the second downtown light rail tunnel removing another option for getting high-speed interstate / international rail under downtown? While I’m personally not that into building a super-high-speed rail for this corridor, there are lots of wealthy people who are, who could be powerful allies in shutting down this jobs-for-jobs-sake capital anti-improvement that is now the Preferred Alternative.

      1. I’ve long believed that the idea of a second tunnel should be to either enable intercity passenger (such as high speed rail) trains and/or freight trains (with the current freight tunnel converted to passenger only use).

        The big advantage to it is that there won’t be multiple station vaults downtown.

        I think a fallback is that any new tunnel should have some flexibility in what modes use it. I know some have already suggested that perhaps buses should also be able to use it.

        I would note that longer distance services usually require longer platforms (but not as many).

      2. This idea of running freight through a new tunnel is a pipe dream. You can’t run standard freight trains on HSR trackage or under LRT catenary. They are incompatible in so very many ways, it’s ludicrous to propose it. Freight cars are built for maximum speeds in the seventy miles per hour range, not one fifty. Do you want your multi billion dollar HSR service stuck behind one?

        There is elaborate “anti-hunting” apparatus on HSR bogies which are completely absent from freight cars, and there cannot be two fleets of freight cars, because manufacturing is spread out all over the country.

        Sure, you can have single-level “express” cars that are multi-unit “spine” container plarforms with better wheelsets running in captive service, but the volume of traffic between Portland and Vancouver BC is trivial versus the stack, unit train and “freight all kinds” tsunami that moves through the region.

        BNSF will never relinquish its flat trackage along the Puget Sound waterfront to Everett. That is its preferred connection to the Midwest for high value freight.

      3. What is the conflict between freight and LRT catenary? Electromagnetic waves?

        Not to veer too far off-topic, but can freight trains be upgraded to be powered by catenary? Given the increase in toxic derailments, it seems about time to upgrade the tracks anyway.

      4. Brent, it’s the height of “double-stack” and “tri-level auto-veyors” that would prevent the use of electric LRV’s. The pantographs on electrified freight railroads reach four or five feet higher than LRT pans to clear those high cars.

        Yes, electrified freight railroads operate all over Europe. They often share tracks with standard-speed passenger trains, because gauge and surface are not so critical for a 90 mph train that the wear freight levies on the track structure isn’t quickly damaging.

        You’d get no quarrel from me about electrifying the high tonnage lines across the US, but you couldn’t run LRT’s on those tracks. Their pans wouldn’t reach the overhead. Also, high tonnage rail is usually 25K volt AC, whereas transit is 800-1600 volt DC to reduce the sparking danger.

        There’s no way that it would be safe for urban transit rolling stock to operate under high voltage AC. It’s nasty stuff. A 25K cable that is energized but gets torn from its supports snakes around as it hits the ground and produces sparks that push it around. It wouldn’t do to have something like that hanging low over Martin Luther King Boulevard, though of course the transmission lines that cross the street high in the air at RBS are even higher voltage than 25KV.

      5. Several US light rail lines operate on lines also used for freight (no double stacks as far as I know). They have to go through a process in order to make sure main line and light rail don’t mix due to FRA collision construction standards. MAX crosses a freight line at grade, but most of the traffic is frozen food so no double stacks. That line does see occasional excursions by steam locomotive # 700, which is pretty tall.

        So there is some room for some joint operation.

      6. Glenn, yes, there are locations where LRT hosts switching moves late at night. I did not know that MAX crosses a freight spur though. That seems somewhat dangerous.

        But this comment was in response to a proposal that freight trains would operate along with LRT and (apparently from the proposal) HSR in a new tunnel through downtown Seattle. That is just crazy on its face. Has anyone thought what a one hundred car freight train would do to LRT headways?

      7. Tom you misunderstood me.

        What I said was that a DSTT2 should NOT be for light rail.

        I said that it seemed better for a second tunnel should perhaps be designed to be flexible on its use — to either carry longer distance passenger rail (and possibly high speed rail), OR to carry freight with the existing Great Northern tunnel to be used for passenger rail instead.

        By “flexible” I did not mean “shared” on a daily basis. I meant merely meant that it should be convertible to another type of rail without too much hassle with things like curves and grades and clearances. It could be used for one type of rail in 2040 and another in 2070 after a conversion, for example.

      8. Tom;
        The freight railroad MAX crosses has had most of its customers gentrified out of the line side area. I think it’s down to just one frozen food warehouse now. It’s about 3 trains a week, plus passenger excursions whenever they decide to run them.

        Here, someone was standing the the bus lanes approaching the Tillikum bridge: Westbound Orange line is on the right, eastbound on the left. The line running across the foreground is the old Portland Traction Company line headed to a small warehouse district south of Portland.,-122.6617436,3a,75y,236.6h,83.61t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sPg1HdOO-v86hUSQ5ru8U_A!2e0!!7i13312!8i6656?authuser=0

      9. Glenn, yes, I rode the Oaks Bottom Park shuttle once. It was nice. The line used to go all the way to “industrial Milwaukie” and even on east to Gresham. I think that the extreme end of the Blue Line is on its old right of way, but that might be confusing something else.

  3. The saddest part of all of this is this quote:

    “…rider experience didn’t come up much during the meeting.”

    Rider experience should be the primary concern, always.

    Also, as a Rainier Valley resident, most of these alternatives feel like a big “FU.” Having to switch trains, losing one-seat connection to important destinations, bad station designs, and fragile, multiple escalators aren’t going to help ridership.

    1. This one stuck out for me too:
      “Pierce County executive Dammeier did not mention any of this [transfer experience] when he was discussing the impacts on Pierce residents.”

      1. That stood out to me as well. Frankly, it seemed to me like Mr. Dammier just doesn’t get it.

        I will contact my rep on the board, Mr. Somers, but sadly I get the impression that he too doesn’t have a clue that the single tunnel idea is the “solution” staring them right in the face. He’s too focused on Everett Link and how rexamining the 2015-2016 planning decisions will delay the aforementioned project. (Hey, Dave, news flash. The money that is going to be required to complete the tunnel portion of Ballard Link, as well as the money needed for Everett Link, which already has a funding gap identified, is already going to delay Everett extension.)

        Anyway, this was a great summary of what happened on Thursday and where things currently stand. I will reach out to my SnoCo board representation. Thanks!

    2. What is light rail for? It’s to provide the best high-capacity service in the highest-volume corridors. We want the most people to use it if they’re traveling in its corridor. So the primary factor should be passenger experience, because that determines whether the most people use it and are satisfied with it. In a multi-line system, short transfers between lines are the #1 alignment issue.

      This is what the politicians need to understand, and to evaluate alternatives based on this. If a line doesn’t have good transfers to the other lines, that partly defeats the point of building it, because most destinations require a transfer. If a network makes it easy to get to only a third of destinations (a one-seat ride), it can’t fulfill its potential.

      Maybe I can come up with a haiku on this.

    3. Rather than telling elected officials to adopt our values, can’t we meet them where their values are?

      If Executive Danmeier wants to minimize cost, then we should make him aware of the single-tunnel option (which will still require a lot of money, just a lot less money than any second tunnel).

      If Executive Constantine wants housing construction, lets support that (as we always have been). If he wants to minimize construction impacts to the CID, he is missing out on a great opportunity with DSTT1+. If he wants to be popular, he can admit he didn’t foresee how poorly his no-CID tunnel proposal would be received, and move to DSTT1+ to find ways to maximize capacity in the existing tunnel, which, frankly, feels like a ghost town right now compared to the days of joint bus/train operation.

      This is not a case of public process taking too long. This is a case of putting out a trial balloon too late, and failing to pull it back when it becomes clear nobody wants it, and those impacted, including those it is supposed to help, hate it.

      1. Dammeier seems to be cherry-picking the recommendations from the TAG.

        Ignoring all the groundwork that they recommended to allow expert staff opinions to be prioritized, and focus on “make decisions more quickly” piece.

        If you skip the main recommendations, it distills into “Make Bad Decisions Quickly.”

  4. What would the implications of a single tunnel solution be on sub-area equity? For example, would it shift responsibility for the SLU sections of the new tunnel, along with its underground Westlake station, from a shared regional asset to north king’s sole responsibility? If so, you end up with this absurd situation where the solution that is most cost effective overall gets dismissed by north king reps as more costly than the much more expensive two-tunnel option, simply because of sub area equity.

    I’m asking this because, fair or not fair, this is something the ST board would have to think through before they could seriously propose the single tunnel option.

    1. Practically probably yes, I don’t see the subareas paying for the tunnel if they don’t use it. I mean this is why back in 2015 they had to carefully propose having the sub areas fund the tunnel.

      Perhaps one could make an argument that Seattle could be reimbursed partially for the existing cut and cover tunnel instead but that is nowhere near the cost for the deep tunnel with multiple deep mined stations

      1. “Seattle” did not build DSTT1, King County (as a whole) did. So East King and South King (albeit as much smaller fractions of “King County” then) already chipped in.

      2. That is my point TT: all of KC paid for DSTT1 although it primarily benefits downtown Seattle, while our buses were shunted to unsafe downtown streets. DSTT1 has adequate capacity for Lines 1 and 2 (and many would argue Line 3 based on realistic ridership estimates). All subareas will have to pay to update DSTT1 (apparently Metro never used our tax money for DSTT1 maintenance).

        Pre-pandemic I agree many non-N KC workers travelled to SLU for work, which created tremendous tax revenue for Seattle, but that does not IMO validate all subareas paying for a tunnel to SLU, certainly post pandemic (or even a surface line). Many Seattleites or folks from the south will take East Link to Bellevue to work, and yet E KC had to pay 100% of light rail across the bridge, 100% of East Link, 100% of the tunnel in Bellevue, and pay 100% of the west — east express buses. Many of those Amazon workers in SLU will switch to Amazon’s Bellevue offices.

        I agree N KC paid a significant portion to run Link to its borders north and south, when Seattle should have built more intra-city Link, but unfortunately Seattle is a long and skinny city, and no doubt saw Link bringing lots of workers — including Seattle workers to the north and south — to downtown and lots of tax revenue. Although the cost of East/Redmond Link was pretty modest by Link standards at $5.5 billion I don’t see any huge benefit for eastsiders, and virtually none from DSTT2, even SLU post pandemic with a transfer.

        I still can’t figure out how the cost of East Link trains will be allocated, whether it is mile travelled per subarea or boardings per subarea, or who is paying the cost to build the trains that will run to Lynnwood of all places (not a top destination on the eastside, certainly south across the lake). Farebox recovery is supposed to cover 40% of those costs so if Seattle has lots of ridership it should have lots of farebox recovery.

        Subarea equity should have never been breached, especially from the poorer subareas to N KC. Every part of Link in some ways is a shared regional facility. You can’t get to Tacoma from Seattle without travelling through S. King Co.

        When someone else is paying but they have little control over the design the project costs and purposes get corrupted, just like DSTT2. Mike likes to complain about the influence of the “suburbs” on the Board, but if you take their money they are going to want input. For DSTT2 right now that is no delay, and no cost increases, no matter how bad DSTT2 is because that is Seattle and ironically I think DSTT2 or WSBLE despite such terrible ridership won’t be abandoned because Harrell, Constantine and Seattle don’t want to give up that $1.1 billion, that might pay to rebuild the 4th Ave. viaduct. Or redevelop empty Seattle buildings.

        I agree with Balducci that WS and Ballard riders should use DSTT2 if there is going to be a DSTT2 since Seattle is dictating its design, and N KC should paid the cost. Ironically that would likely lead to more honest ridership projections, interlining in DSTT1, and hopefully scrapping WS Link and maybe a stub from Ballard if the subarea can afford it.

        People and subareas just make wiser decisions when they are spending their own money.

      3. “all of KC paid for DSTT1 although it primarily benefits downtown Seattle”

        AHEM! When DSTT1 opened it benefitted the U-District, northeast Seattle, Rainier Beach, Renton, Southcenter, Kent, SeaTac, Federal Way, Mercer Island, and Bellevue. It allowed people living there to get to their destinations faster, whether the destinations were downtown or transferring through downtown.

        DSTT1 currently benefits Northeast Seattle, Capitol Hill, Southeast Seattle, and SeaTac. It also benefits other areas indirectly, when their residents go to someplace on Link.

      4. Under that rationale Mike every city and area should get tunnels paid for by others. DSTT1 certainly did not benefit the eastside when our buses were kicked out. All I am saying is cities should pay for their own tunnels, including DSTT2.

      5. Thank you, Daniel, for a content-rich and thoughtful reply. I agree with most of it. I do think that the first mile and a half north of Westlake should still be considered a regional asset, because South Lake Union is the fourth largest employment center in the region, and likely to continue to grow.

        North King paid for everyone to be able to get to downtown Seattle and UW, and East King has paid for everyone to get to Bellevue and Overlake including, I think almost all of 405 STRide (Snohomish is probably on the hook for a bit of it), but I do believe that it makes sense to allocate at least a modest portion of the cost of getting to SLU to the region because it will certainly attract lab workers from the entire region. They are a different demographic from “coders” who are disappearing.

      6. “Under that rationale Mike every city and area should get tunnels paid for by others.”

        No, only the center of the network where the biggest destination and transfers are.

        King County built the tunnel as an entire county project. The early drawings suggested it would have trains to Ballard and West Seattle and and other denser/walkable areas, but what it actually did was put routes to the three sides of the county so that they would directly benefit from it. This is similar to RapidRide A, B, E, and F serving the three sides of the county, and A and B being first.

        “DSTT1 certainly did not benefit the eastside when our buses were kicked out.”

        That was twenty-nine years after the tunnel was built. And the Eastside will soon get Link in the tunnel, which will be faster and more frequent than the 550 and 545 and be immune from traffic and serve more areas.

    2. The principle that all subareas should contribute the downtown segment/ transfers for all tunnels still applies. This is the center of the network that makes the rest of it work, and allows people to travel from one sector to another. The idea that South King County residents never travel to the Eastside or north end is ridiculous: it’s one metropolitan area. ST’s formula is that each subarea’s share is its proportion of trains in both tunnels. If you allow subareas to not pay if their trains are in the old tunnel, then every subarea will want to get its line into the old tunnel and somebody else’s line into the new tunnel. That’s not fair and counterproductive.

      I understand the “downtown segment” as Westlake to Intl Dist. SLU should maybe be included but I don’t know if it is. ST has recently been talking as if downtown extends to SODO, but I’m not sure about that. What I expect all subareas to contribute to is Weslake to Intl Dist.

      It gets complicated with ST3 because all subareas have already agreed to contribute to the second tunnel. If ST changes the alignment substantially so there’s no longer a transfer at the south end (Intl Dist/Pioneer Square), then I could see reducing other subareas’ contribution proportionately, but not down to zero. If; e.g., we had one tunnel and a Ballard-Westlake line, I’d expect all subareas to contribute to Westlake2 station, and upgrades to DSTT1.

      1. What are the station alternatives for DSTT2 that cost $2.2 billion or less, are not near the CID, allow some kind of transfers with DSTT1, preserve subarea contribution (no interlining and no “coverage” routes for DSTT2 except downtown), won’t cause more delay, and don’t cause years of surface disruption?

        Is there some alignment that meets these criteria the Board missed? We have been discussing this for a while so surely someone has the solution. From what I can tell the criteria allow at most two stations between Sodo and Westlake (not including the station originally planned at Denny). So where are these two station locations that meet these criteria?

    3. Regardless of subarea equity, the higher ST’s debt, the lower the bond rating. The lower the rating, the higher interest payments get.

      Yes, it is in the interest of the other subareas to keep costs down in all subareas.

      That is a stronger argument for DSTT1+ with the electeds on the ST Board than please-don’t-hurt-us-the-transit-riders.

    4. There is an argument to be made, fairly I believe, that the first mile and a half north of Westlake is a “regional asset” in exactly the same way that access to UW is. People from all over the region want to go there for work and cultural activities.

      A line through Belltown is arguably much less so, because though it would serve Seattle Center, the employment there is a tiny fraction of that in SLU.

      So maybe the other sub-areas contribute not $250 Million each but $100 million? $75? Something certainly seems reasonable since North King shouldered the costs to get Link to the sub-area boundaries. It certainly would not have built a stub to Rainier and Atlantic, or gone beyond Henderson to the south or Northgate to the north without the promise of ridership from the other sub-areas.

  5. The penultimate paragraph, before What’s Next, has some street name typos:
    Terry Avenue, not Street;
    NW 56th Street
    14th or 15th avenues NW

    Regarding 1 line headway, eight minutes is cited; it could be six minutes; it was before Covid. The 2 east line could also be six minutes. The current ST plan is for each to be eight; that could change.

    Of course, the G Line should stay where SDOT has built it, despite its flaws. Metro and SDOT could provide four frequent east-west spines. Route 8 on Denny Way; several electric trolleybus routes on Pike-Pine streets, the G line and Route 2 on Spring-Seneca-Madison streets; and, routes 3 and 4 on James Street; Route 27 is on congestion-free Yesler Way; other routes could be added; it was a desire line in Move Seattle; bus layover was added next to Juvenile Justice. The three southern east-west corridors serve DSTT stations.

    1. Fixed the street names.

      ST has repeatedly said the 6 minute peak frequencies were “only temporary” to handle a capacity crunch between the ending of the Ride Free Area and when all the Northgate Link trains arrived. Ross and I have repeated asked ST to run the 1 Line every 6 minutes all day. I won’t change the “8 minutes” until ST gives some indication it’s considering more frequent. The limit of the new tunnel will doubtless be 1.5 minute frequency like the Westlake-Northgate segment.

      1. Yes, the current and planned eight-minute headway is a ST choice. They did run six-minute headway successfully both with and without 45 buses per hour per direction in the DSTT. During a correspondence on the WSBLE DEIS appendix N1, ST wrote to me that the south line achieve have five-minute headway northbound and five minute 15 second headway southbound. I expect the Bel-Red segment has a similar constraint.

      2. eddiew, Daniel is correct that Link to and from Bellevue and RTC probably will never require mid-day headways shorter than “policy” [e.g. 10 minutes]. Maybe a peaks they’ll fill a few extra trains, but no more often than every 7.5 minutes (8 tph). The RV has shown that it needed six minute headways during the 2015-2018 boom time (10 tph), but is not expected to be able to exceed that. West Seattle will always be “policy” and, thus, quite wasteful. The actual demand will be one the order of two full trains per hour, but of course at 30 minute headways it would quickly fall to one tph and then none.

        So eight tph for East Link, and ten for the RV, plus six for West Seattle equals [sound of calculators thrashing away] — dah-DAH! Twenty-four trains per hour or 2.5 minute headways, something that the DSTT1 can already manage.

        Things have changed! The second tunnel between Westlake and Massachusetts Street will be a colossal waste of money no matter where the stations are placed. And The Board is doing its dead level best to ensure that they’ll be placed in poor sites.


      1. Note SDOT G Line map; they are not providing short-walk transfers at 23rd Avenue with Route 48.

  6. The RapidRide G problem is valid — but it opens in 2024. DSTT2 won’t open at the earliest until 2038 and given how things go I think it’s probably opening in 2044 or 2048 they way things go.

    So it’s the least of the worry.

  7. I’m really surprised that no one has pointed out that no DSTT2 station intersects with Third Ave. It’s a problem way greater than just RapidRide G.

  8. The fact that ST endorsed an alternative that wasn’t in the DEIS short list (or the original long list from 2018) demonstrates to me that still more alternatives could be allowed.

    1. Yup. They can’t play the “it’s not in the DEIS” card now! That would be the epitome of hypocrisy if that now became a rationale for additional alternatives to be rejected out of hand.

      1. Tlsgwm, since when has “hypocrisy” become an “Impeachable offense”?

        Yes, I know I’ve used it incorrectly — one can’t “impeach” a County Executive — but I know you get the irony.

  9. Given how the design of the other CID station layouts for the alternatives kept getting worse and worse from 2018 to 2020 to now, I suspect that these new stations will have a similar degradation in layout as well.

    In 2018 ST was even proposing CID new platforms stacked under a 5th Ave only vault and a walkway under the current tracks!

  10. The back door into this plan is to somehow convince ST to run the West Seattle trains into the current tunnel during the interim period (7 years? forever?) before DSTT2 is built.

    You have to spend some infinitesimal sum to upgrade signaling etc. in the DSTT. Do we have to widen platforms? Would West Seattle really add that much ridership? With more trains, there would be less crowding, not more.

    The idea that we cannot support 2 minute headways without some kind of unacceptable delays when the two lines merge in two stations apart is ridiculous. And in the unlikely event there is some kind of crazy problem, you could go back to the stub plan, but why is that the default?

    Why do we aspire to suck?

    Will anyone at all ride a West Seattle stub after the free rides on opening day? Maybe a handful of people who work in SODO? Are there any buses we’ll be able to stop running? How much are we going to spend running those empty trains for 7 years?

    1. And so what if one train gets delayed by up to a minute sometimes to let another pass. I don’t care if I have to wait one extra minute at the same platform where I just got off another train. Pad the schedule for trains in DSTT by a minute or something if you must.

      What’s more important is avoiding a situation where half the trip pairs require 6 minutes of backtracking, 380 foot walks in deep underground tunnels with multiple elevators, or worse.

      These decisions seem to get made by people who have no experience riding other transit systems of the world that actually work, and who view this as a job creation and real estate development project first and foremost. I wish they could experience the fast transfers at the heart of the the DC Metro, Paris where no place is more than 500m from a metro stop, the short headways on SkyTrain or Hong Kong metro and places where the next train is always in view, so they would have something more to aspire to.

      1. I think it is easy to assume that the folks in charge just don’t ride transit. I don’t think that is the problem. I have ridden transit a lot. I grow up riding transit and as an adult, have been a big big transit proponent. But until recently, I didn’t know much about it. I got on this blog, and pretty soon found that i was making bad assumptions. I started reading more and more, and now consider myself way more knowledgeable than the average person, but still not an expert.

        The board is basically made up of people like me, before I got interested in the subject. Of course I cared about transit, but even basics, like a grid versus a hub-and-spoke system (and the advantages of each) were not known. My guess is, every single member of the board is like that. This explains why they are building what they are building.

        For example, it is really hard to justify ST3 when you see studies like this ( or better yet, comments like this ( The study just backs up the comment. The study was nothing new, really — it would be like another study showing that smoking is bad for you. The difference is, the average person has no idea why running a subway line from the Tacoma Dome to Everett is a really bad idea. They vote in favor because (like me) they support transit in general, and the idea sounds like a good one. Everett to Tacoma implies that it will cover the entire region. Far from it. Only a tiny portion of the city will be covered. Essentially areas, that have the potential to attract riders from the region will be left out. If folks don’t grasp the fundamentals with something like that, it becomes a lot more difficult with things like West Seattle rail (which at least has proximity going for it).

        So no, the problem is not that the people on the board don’t take transit. The problem is that they are ignorant. Worse yet, they won’t defer to experts. The planning for ST3 was completely backwards. They came up with ideas — even relatively detailed ones — then asked the experts to see if they could build it. They should have asked other experts — transit experts — to come up with the most cost effective way to improve transit. If so, ST3 would have been a lot different, and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

      2. I think you’re actually being too charitable Ross.

        From the outset, the project has been driven by developers and property owners. Everything that ST has done has been to bend the project to either mitigate property impacts or to open up potential for more development.

        Read the Asian Weekly article. CID riders pushed hard to keep the ststion near Jackson but the Board didn’t care. The Stskeholders Committee was almost all property interests in some way.

        To most on the Board, I think that this is a development project — not a transit service.

      3. Yeah, man, the three DC Metro core stations are GREAT for transfers. They are why I want a “split mezzanine” for the new platform at Westlake. It allows the platform to be one level closer to the existing platforms. Nobody except Martin has expressed any understands of it, though.

        As a general rule, none of the contributors except you, he, and WL seem to make the effort to understand technical explanations by other commenters.

      4. I find what happens is that many transit proponents or even in the transit agency are very focused on transit solely for commuting:

        Leading to suburban extensions over core frequency (Bart/dc wmata extensions)
        Or park and rides instead of apartments next to stations
        Or say prioritizing speed over frequency/infill stations

        > Yeah, man, the three DC Metro core stations are GREAT for transfers.

        Those transfers were built cut and cover. In general if we want those nice transfers it’ll have to close the street down. Though honestly even for the current deep tunnel westlake station I don’t really see an off street staging area.

        > The study was nothing new, really — it would be like another study showing that smoking is bad for you.

        DC built almost of those lines cut and cover through their downtown.

        Seattle could have the second tunnel for cheaper if it is willing to close down the on 4th or 5th street for much longer. I really do not quite believe sound transit when it cites that it must tunnel so deep below the existing piles. and yeah the current idea to create this westlake transfer station separated by so many floors is kinda laughable

        The reason why it costs so much is the insistence on such deep tunnels and all these deep mined stations.

      5. I find what happens is that many transit proponents or even in the transit agency are very focused on transit solely for commuting.

        Oh yes, absolutely. We are building commuter rail at subway prices, using light rail. This particular combination is unusual (and not very smart) but the basic idea is common. It is a uniquely American way of building transit infrastructure, and it fails, repeatedly. BART was the original manifestation of this idea, and I do give them credit for at least experimenting. But it failed, and has failed in every city that has every attempted it. There are variations, like building especially bad (but cheap) stations, like in Dallas. But they all fail the same way. They fail because they inevitably skip essential places (like First Hill) in their zeal to go ever farther out. I wonder sometime what Link would look like if not for the existing bus tunnel. I am getting my answer with the second tunnel (two stations between Denny and Royal Brougham Way).

        So yes, this is focused primarily on commutes, and more specifically on downtown commutes. And by downtown I mean the traditional business district, not somewhere like Belltown or First Hill. But even then, this fails, and fails miserably. Someone from Federal Way is expected to take a bus (or drive) to the station, then catch the train, where it will let them off who knows how far from their office. Imagine you work at 1201 3rd Avenue, the spectacular building A Joy referenced the other day ( If you lived on Beacon Hill, you can take a train right to your office — you don’t even have to go outside from the moment you enter Beacon Hill Station to when you are at your desk. But now, you will transfer, or walk quite a ways ( This is in the middle of the central business district, and this skips right over it. Is someone in Federal Way — who currently takes an express bus — going to prefer this? Is someone who drives going to switch to taking transit?

        Of course not. That is the great irony. It is focused too much on commuting. It is focused too much on commuting to downtown offices. It is focused too much on people in the suburbs commuting to downtown offices. But even with that in mind, it manages to spend an enormous amount of money, and simply fail. This won’t get people out of their cars. Why would it? Not everyone is going to these downtown locations, and even when they are, existing options (train or bus) are better.

        When the dust settles, and they look at the city, my guess is nothing will have changed. Even metrics specifically aimed at this (e. g. commuting mode, or commuting mode downtown) will be the same. Or rather, they will be largely dependent on other things, like how frequent or fast the buses are; what the bus network looks like; whether we continue to increase density in our urban core. That will determine our transit future — even when it comes to commuting — despite the enormous amount spent on this.

        We really only get one shot at this, and we are blowing it, just like a lot of other American cities did.

      6. @Ross, they were even concerned about tunneling under old buildings but also about station location. They were concerned about hospital proximity/disruption.
        That’s why I’m pushing for the Ballard Library to BofA parking lot area along NW 56th St. It should be easy to locate a small (automated train) station in that parking lot, may be Umpqua branch may have to go.

    2. That shouldn’t be too difficult to convince them. Most passengers will need a 3 seat ride just to get to Seattle with the current plan, because there isn’t that much along the planned line.

    3. “Are there any buses we’ll be able to stop running?”

      The 50 can be split. Or it could be the West Seattle – Southeast Seattle express we’ve wanted.

      1. I just don’t see the 50 surviving after West Seattle Link opens. Its biggest ridership is between California Ave and Alki Beach. The 22 could be extended to Alki, so people from all over can get to it from Alaska Junction Station, in higher-capacity buses. If part of the southeast portion survives, I would expect it to start at Beacon Hill Station.

        Maybe having the 60-north interlining with it would enable it to have sufficient frequency to draw new ridership, especially after CID gets its train path cut from MLK.

      2. Yeah, that is the only bus I see being altered to save money. Construction may cause the SoDo busway to be closed, in which case other buses would have to be moved to adjacent streets (slowing them down).

        It is possible that Metro could force everyone to transfer to the train in West Seattle, but I doubt it. That would save Metro some money, but force the vast majority of ridership to make two transfers. Maybe for something like the 128, but that could happen today (they would simply be asked to transfer to one of the West Seattle RapidRide buses or the 21). I think it is highly likely that the West Seattle buses that go downtown continue to go downtown.

      3. Route 50 could have been split yesterday or today. Between SODO and SE Seattle, Link is the express service. West Seattle service could be restructured today; it need not await Link.

    4. Don’t widen the platforms. Add center platforms. Use all 32 doors on the train to reduce dwell time. Spanish solution or some variation on the theme.

    5. > The idea that we cannot support 2 minute headways without some kind of unacceptable delays when the two lines merge in two stations apart is ridiculous. And in the unlikely event there is some kind of crazy problem, you could go back to the stub plan, but why is that the default?

      You do need some flyover / underpass in the tunnel after building a branch off to Ballard though many other countries’ metros can build them. I’m not quite sure why Sound Transit never investigated it.

      > You have to spend some infinitesimal sum to upgrade signaling etc. in the DSTT. Do we have to widen platforms? Would West Seattle really add that much ridership? With more trains, there would be less crowding, not more.

      The 2014 HCT original plans were to have a Ballard stub or a Ballard to West Seattle only line (albeit at grade through downtown). Sound Transit would have been fine with three lines in the tunnel or a West Seattle-Ballard only line, after all that was the original plan. The split the spine idea was added at the very end.

      1. I’m not quite sure why Sound Transit never investigated it.

        It is the same reason they haven’t investigated any of this. It is political inertia. Somehow, relatively early on, they felt that a new tunnel was needed. Any attempt to revisit that question has been met with opposition simply because they don’t want to go back on that decision.

        Same with the station in Ballard. 15th was chosen because it was cheap. Now it isn’t. So they go with a different option — 14th — also because it is cheap. Fair enough. It is worse for riders, but still cheap.

        But if Seattle comes up with more money, they can put it back at 15th (or 14th) underground. If it is underground, why not 17th — which is just as far from the original station as 14th? Why not 20th? Again, political inertia. They don’t want to revisit these assumptions, even though things are clearly getting worse, and the assumptions were wrong.

        The agency is simply stubborn. They would rather stick with bad decisions than actually try and build the most cost effective system.

      2. Ross, when I talked to somebody at ST, they said they can’t get near any of the historic buildings in Ballard, that rules out 17th. It might also be difficult to drop under the canal along 14th and then swing over to 17th and still have a cross over before the station.
        I think it might be easier to take a left and build a station on 56th by the Ballard Library as I mentioned.

      3. WL, if you branch to Ballard instead of stubbing it, you lose capacity in The Spine just south of the highest demand stretch between Westlake and Capitol Hill. In fact, you’d have to remove the most frequent line, probably Line 1 to meet the demand to SLU and Ballard.

        West Seattle will have only wasteful ‘policy” headways, and East Link is likely to be sjetchy because of the bridge. So you are condemning the heart of the system — CID to Northgate — to subpar service by NIT interlining all the way.

        No. Make Ballard a stub.

      4. @Tom

        I don’t understand how would it be condemning anything?

        Let’s forget about west Seattle for a second and just focus on the other 4 destinations.

        2 for heading to the north: Ballard and Everett
        2 for heading south: SeaTac and Redmond

        Given the lengths of the routes just direct Everett trains to Redmond (10 trains)and then Ballard trains to Seatac (10 trains)

        Currently the tunnel is at 3 minute frequency or 20 TPH. commonly around the world it’s 90 second frequency but let’s say with minor upgrades it’s only a 2.5 minute or around 25 TPH just run another 5 trains from Everett to West Seattle (or practically the same thing sodo turn backs/tail tracks) then.

        You’d have 15 train per hour or 4 per minute from sodo to Everett that’s more than enough for the next half century

      5. @Martin — Was the spokesperson talking about above ground?

        To be clear, I’m talking about underground. I assume it is OK to go under historic buildings. For that matter, I see no reason to be under any of the buildings in Old Ballard. I could easily see the train crossing around 14th, then going under Leary and then 20th. This means that you would go under some warehouse buildings close to 15th. You would be relatively deep then anyway. Otherwise you are under streets. The station could be close to Market, or north of it (the Bank of America parking lot looks awfully appealing).

        You could loop around via 14th and Market as well, as you suggested. You could also loop around via 24th. Very early on they looked at 24th (elevated) but didn’t want a station that far west. They never considered turning, and going to the middle of Ballard. There really hasn’t been much research into various options, because that is not how they operate. They look at very high level estimates, and fixate on that idea. They ignore why that option was chosen in the first place (in the case of 15th, it was supposed to be very cheap). Then once they run into issues, they adhere as much as possible to that idea, instead of rethinking the problem (since their assumption was wrong). Then we end up with crap.

      6. Why do we want to subject Ballad to a decade of hellish devastation and suffering? Didn’t we just learn that’s what building a Link station in a neighborhood does?

      7. @Sam

        > Why do we want to subject Ballad to a decade of hellish devastation and suffering? Didn’t we just learn that’s what building a Link station in a neighborhood does?

        If Ballard was cut in half by a freeway, had a stadium built there and a dozen shelters opened only there etc… then it might be a bit more of a similar situation.

        Though that does bring up a good point, I always did find it a bit incredulous that the Westlake and Midtown stations were by default incredibly expensive deep mined stations in downtown and is practically asking the other sun areas to fund an extra billion to avoid closing down car lanes

    6. Well, Jonathan, West Seattle trains are bound for DSTT1 “forever”, once they start, but yes, that is a good “foot in the door”. It means they can “defer” building the elevated structure and station north of the junction to the Forest Street MF. If they don’t want to build a “temporary” junction at Forest and the Busway, West Seattle trains could take a swing around the Outer Loop at Forest.

      Yes, especially for northbound trains, that would add three minutes of fairly slow running. For southbounds it might be a minute and a half, but wow, would it be “better” for West Seattle riders.

      Then, when it becomes clear that North King just can’t afford the second tunnel, the gap between the Forest Street Junction and the curve south of SoDo could be filled and WS trains would run the quick, direct route.

      I’m assuming that the elevated structure south of Forest Street would straddle the busway, because if West Seattle opens in 2030 Federal Way wouldn’t be complete so buses from South King County would still need the busway. Heck, lines to Renton, Kent and Burien will still need it even after Tacoma Link is open.

      1. If DSLR2 happens, I would hope ST would make the lines maximally interchangeable. As in, each line from the south would have trackage to get into either tunnel, as well as the O&MF. And vice versa.

        To get West Seattle to not start as a stub line will require a different operational plan, one that adds significant additional operator hours and LRV usage hours with trains turning back at Northgate or Lynnwood rather than SODO. Of course, there is no guarantee that the NIMBYs won’t delay West Seattle Link so much that Ballard Link and DSLR2 are finished first. And if West Seattle finishes first as a through line, then it ties up more operators to get closer to the staffing needed for Ballard Link (for which driverlessness still seems unlikely to happen).

        OTOH, having Federal Way trains starting to turn back at Northgate at that point would be a way to ease riders from the south into losing the direct connection to CID and every current station (except Westlake) north of it, just starting with the Lynnwood Link stations early.

        Still, the headway plan for three active lines from the south toward Lynnwood is not going to be elegant.

  11. “less disruption would allow the city to recover from the pandemic more quickly”


    The only way to recover from the pandemic is to make the virus go away. Forcing people to work in dangerous conditions is not “recovery”. If you are the one in your office not wearing a mask, don’t assume people aren’t grousing about you behind your back.

    If you are in a position of power to protect a lot of people with a mask requirement, please help the recovery by requiring people who are around other people to wear a mask in the space you control. That goes especially so for the ST Board and the King County Council.

    Granted, failure to end the virus might be one of the tools in the toolbox to keep platforms from getting crowded, based on three years of overwhelming evidence. I would rather the other tools in the DSTT1+ toolbox be deployed.

    1. Pandemic’s over. We had four commonly circulating coronaviruses that generally cause mild symptoms, now we have five. World keeps spinning.

      1. Coronavirus killed 2000 people in the United States last week (up 300 from the week before, though cases and hospitalizations went down). That’s not the sign of a pandemic that’s over. If it was the same as other coronaviruses, we’d have had 10,000 people dead last week. It’s also disabling millions of people.

        It’s true that most people and institutions are trying to move forward as if none of this is true, but it is, and it’s affecting things like transit operations.

      2. I’m not trying to have a debate about the pandemic (that is not over) on this thread. I’m just saying the ongoing impact on ridership might stick around for the long term, and impact calculations on whether DSTT1+ can carry the whole load of train trips.

        The new normal seems to mean fewer people riding, on a semi-permanent basis.

      3. The era of people being afraid to ride out of fear of getting sick is largely over by this point. But there are other redership-impacting aspects that remain. For instance, people who have gotten used to working from home and not wanting to go back. Or people who used to ride transit, but bought cars during the pandemic, only since they still have the car, they still drive it, even though there’s no pandemic. Or, lingering perceptions of physical safety issues, even though the actual number of problems has gone down considerably since the height of the pandemic.

        Counterbalancing all this, Uber and Lyft have gotten considerably more expensive than they were prepandemic, as has bike share/scooter share.

  12. What’s the best channel for sending feedback to Sound Transit and our elected officials more generally? suggests emailing (for comments intended for specific meetings) or (for general comments to the board).

    Also, does it help to email individual board members? So for anyone in King County, would emailing Dow Constantine directly help?

  13. It would seem to me that the DSTT three- line + Ballard automated stub is a possible solution if DSTT2 starts hitting legal, financial or engineering snags — something entirely possible. Unlike most of the recent Downtown SF and LA projects, the corridor is below mostly narrow streets.

    1. > Unlike most of the recent Downtown SF and LA projects, the corridor is below mostly narrow streets.

      Yeah in general I am a bit confused what was Sound Transit’s original plan to build the stations even at Westlake and Midtown. The documents tout ‘deep mined’ as being less impactful than cut and cover. But there was no easy staging site off to the left/right of those street locations. You’d most likely still need to close the street down similar to a cut-and-cover method.

      1. No, when they say “deep mined” that is what they mean. They’ll drill the bores to the edge of a station box and then commence mining the box from the tubes up and outward, removing the spoils through the dame conveyor belts that remove the TBM cuttings.

        They do have to open pits for the head houses, but the streets will remain unmolested.

  14. A historical reference on what could happen is with the Cincinnati Subway saga around and after WWI. They actually built several miles of tunnel for it!

    It has eerie similarities to DSTT2:
    – A successful early bond campaign that low-balked costs
    – Blaming cost increases on localized inflation rather than bad initial cost estimation
    – Backroom deals to give construction projects to supporters of elected officials
    – Inability to find subsequent alternatives to using the tunnel due to tight curves

    1. I’m kinda surprised they don’t try running electric trolley busses (not articulated) on them. In the past running busses wouldn’t be feasible since you’d have the issue of exhaust but electric ones wouldn’t

  15. Make sure to read the Asian Weekly article in this post! It talks about a very large number of CID interests who oppose the Dow/Bruce station plan.

  16. I agree with the comments above that at least from the point of view of Constantine, Harrell and N KC the biggest obstacle to interlining WSBLE in DSTT1 is the loss of subarea contribution for DSTT2. If there is no DSTT2 there is no subarea contribution.

    I never thought DSTT2 was a shared regional facility (even pre-pandemic) because the ridership estimates to support DSTT2 were so inflated, and always worried Seattle would pursue a gold plated DSTT2 and WSBLE, which is what the shallow 4th Ave. station is. I don’t think it helped Constantine’s cause to publicly announce CID N/S are predicated on a real estate deal when he could have said we have no other options based on the criteria of cost, subarea contributions, stakeholder concerns about disruption, Harrell, and so on. No one wants a station near them. You don’t need to be a genius in another subarea to see the 4th Ave. bridge is just a way for Seattle to get ST to pay for the viaduct.

    WSBLE/DSTT2 are a long way off, and come toward the end or after most projects in subareas that might not have any extra ST revenue for DSTT2 when their projects are completed. I don’t see the subarea revenue for Everett Link, TDLE even with all $1 billion in eliminated Sounder S upgrades going to Pierce Co., or maybe even S. King depending on the additional costs for FWLE. I also believe DSTT2 even with the stations at CID N/S will cost over $4 billion, not including the station at Denny. A five-year realignment that extends project completion concurrently along with ST taxes in a high inflation environment doesn’t help when the outside consultant admitted ST loses $50 million/month for each month of project delay.

    Interlining made sense to me because the CID successfully blocked a station at 5th, and because DSTT2 and WSBLE are not affordable by N. King Co. The idea Constantine claims he can “recapture” $400 million from the city’s and county’s worthless buildings when venture capital firms today are simply walking away from NEW downtown office buildings because the value is less than the loan tells me Constantine doesn’t think DSST2 and CID N/S are affordable, but he and Harrell desperately want to hang onto the subarea contribution and want to pretend they are affordable, or at least not admit that today. Everyone is hoping for the magical “third party funding” but that party may be over unless it is the individual neighborhoods in Seattle through a LID.

    The goal of the meeting was to put this turd in a deep drawer for a while. The Board had around two weeks to consider brand new alternatives with no data, but as Constantine pointed out this is all we can come up with, and no one else had station ideas. I am certain the EIS ST comes up with will support CID N/S because EIS’s are always manipulated by the agency to support what they or the Board want. But an EIS is not construction, and the rubber always meets the road when the RFP goes out for construction bids. According to the Times many of the large construction companies won’t even bid on ST projects anymore, and those that do will make sure they contain HUGE contingencies, at least 30%, which based on ST’s project cost estimates still will be too low. Just look at the current estimated cost for WSBLE THAT ST IS WILLING TO ADMIT TO TODAY, although magically the estimated cost for DSTT2 is the same as in 2016.

    One other issue I think for the Board is transit advocates are very, very hard to please, and demand the perfect, and make up a tiny percentage of their voters. Midtown was too deep, Westlake too deep and removed, DSTT2 didn’t add coverage on First Hill even though that would destroy subarea contributions, dig up the city for ten years with cut and cover, a zillion different tunnel configurations and automation, and different stations in SLU or Ballard or WS. Then it was interlining, when that would eliminate subarea contribution so was never going to happen until ST and the Board admit DSTT2 and WSBLE are not affordable, at least as the stakeholders want. So I think the Board tunes out transit advocates. They are never happy with any design and never consider stakeholder concerns.

    At that point, the debate over whether ST 3 requires subareas to contribute 1/2 of $2.2 billion or 1/2 of whatever DSTT2 costs will consume the debate, and that was the gist of the meeting from the other subareas, at least Pierce and SnoCo. I get the idea the subareas right now — based on ST’s insistence DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion which some on this blog believe too — believe their total contribution will be $275 million each, which is why they are so deferential to N KC on the design.

    There is no point to write to your rep or Board member today. They put the DEIS in a deep drawer to forget about it because they are smart enough to know it has some huge holes, they have day jobs, and post pandemic things don’t look good for Link or transit. The EIS will look just like the recent vote for CID N/S because that is what Harrell and Constantine want, the county and city buildings will still be empty, and the next time this issue will get a serious look is when the amount of subarea contributions comes up based on realistic cost estimates for DSTT2 unless Harrell says he will cover anything over $2.2 billion which he never will, and when the RFP responses come in, but that won’t be for many years.

    There is nothing to do today. Either there is the money for DSTT2 and WSBLE or there is not. If there is CID N/S will be the alternative, if not they will probably interline or stubs, which probably make more sense fiscally, or just scrap WSBLE altogether. If ridership on Lynnwood, FW and East Link is stronger than estimated a second tunnel will be more likely. If ridership is very weak then WSBLE itself becomes very questionable. Link itself will determine whether WSBLE or a second tunnel is built. If it is built, N/S CID is almost certain the design because no one else wants it.

    1. “he Board is transit advocates are very, very hard to please, and demand the perfect, and make up a tiny percentage of their voters. Midtown was too deep, Westlake too deep and removed”

      That should matter to more than just transit advocates. If you build a public housing project, it should house people. If you build a library, it should contain books and facilitate people coming in to browse and check them out. If you build a transit line, it should be usable.

      “So I think the Board tunes out transit advocates. They are never happy with any design and never consider stakeholder concerns”

      We’re asking for nothing more than the average of other industrialized countries that have effective transit networks. We praise the good things about Metro and ST lines when they exist. RapidRide C, D, and E are less ambituous than we’d like, but they’ve made their areas much more accessible, especially in the evening, and they’ve been among the top ten routes in ridership increase year after year.

    2. Shorter Daniel: “Blah-blah-[loads of anti-Seattle propaganda]-blah-blah-[some NextDoor hysteria]-blah-blah-[three gallons of political bloviation]-blah-blah-blah….”

      Remember, Dear Reader, attorneys get paid by the word.

      1. Speaking of people who don’t attempt to understand (technical or otherwise…) comments, TT, perhaps a mirror is useful at times :)

        I think that in that morass of text there are actually some useful nuggets which we, transit advocates, should consider taking at heart. Here is one example that got to me:

        “So I think the Board tunes out transit advocates. They are never happy with any design” [cut the rest out, because I do not in fact agree]

        Think about it as if you were Dow Constantine. I think that it is not, in fact, unlikely that we transit advocates are viewed as never being happy with any design. So here is a challenge to all of us: how do we verify whether that’s the case, and – if so – how do we change that attitude?

      2. Tom, think of the endless number of words you have posted about different tunnel and station configurations over the last several months, including today AFTER the Board’s vote, different technologies, different countries, routes, blah, blah, blah, when I told you months ago none of your ideas, even if feasible, would be considered, and none were. Since you are one of the last persons who still believe DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion I never understood why you would post endlessly about alternative tunnel designs if DSTT2 as designed is affordable.

        Stating I don’t think Seattle has the funding for its share of DSTT2, or some other subareas, is not Seattle bashing considering the estimated cost of WSBLE has doubled in cost since 2016 (but apparently not DSTT2 that like Dorian Gray is forever locked into its 2016 cost estimate). If I am wrong then DSTT2 will get built exactly as preferred because those are the only stations and routing acceptable to the stakeholders, and to Dow and Harrell. Arguing ridership and commuting to downtown is down significantly just a fact, especially peak because peak was the only time of congestion in DSTT1, and IMO negates the validity for a second tunnel, even if affordable, and subarea contributions which are desperately needed to complete those projects.

        If DSTT2 is not affordable, then I imagine the Board and ST will look at alternatives, but none of yours. Probably interlining if ridership stays depressed after East Link, FW Link and Lynnwood Link open.

        God, can you imagine how many amateur tunnel and station designs ST receives unsolicited? ST’s engineers know how to build tunnels. The issues are cost, funding, and which stakeholders will allow the disruption. It really is not an engineering issue since engineers have been digging tunnels and underground stations for a very long time, if the funding is there as you believe. It is a political issue, and DSTT2 and WSBLE were designed pre-pandemic, when today the key consideration for Constantine in CID N/S is to capture some value from empty city and county buildings.

        I am not sure you understand this key political consideration, which means you don’t understand the Board’s vote, or that the EIS will support exactly the preferred alternative voted on a few days ago. You can stop with any more posts about different tunnel routes, stations designs, etc. because if there is a tunnel we know where it will go and where the stations will be, and if not there won’t be a second tunnel.

      3. > There is no point to write to your rep or Board member today.

        I do unfortunately generally agree with Daniel that this really isn’t about the technical merits but about what is politically acceptable to the board members (and constituents).

        I mean if we were to build the most engineering easy alternative it would just be an elevated alignment heading up one of these streets but that’s politically impossible.

        The threat of not having enough money to finish the project is generally the only thing that forces the board members to start considering alternatives with more construction impacts.

        And really as Daniel has said in other comments before Seattle has chosen too expensive of an alignment that it really cannot afford. It need to either accept elevating or massive cut and covering the new tunnel or build it at grade 2 car trains (or just not build it at all) It was always out of reach to build multiple 4 car deep mined stations.

      4. I think that it is not, in fact, unlikely that we transit advocates are viewed as never being happy with any design. So here is a challenge to all of us: how do we verify whether that’s the case, and – if so – how do we change that attitude?

        By advocating practical, cost-effective solutions that fit well within the confines of the current plans. Sharing the tunnel is a great example of this. By proposing we share the tunnel, we aren’t revisiting ST3. We aren’t arguing whether West Seattle Link is a good idea, or whether Ballard would have been better served by Ballard-UW, or whether the best rail combination would have been Metro 8 and Ballard-UW (as the Urbanist proposed). We put aside all of that. We assume that Ballard and West Seattle Link are a given. If you assume that, the best option — by far — is to share the tunnel. It is cheaper, better for riders and better for the community.

        The thing is, none of that seems to matter. It is rare for the folks on this blog to come to a consensus on any issue. The fact that many of us would be quite satisfied if the board adopted this simple solution to a vexing problem completely contradicts the image you mentioned. On this issue we are unified. There is also a growing consensus for a separate Ballard-Westlake line. But things have gotten so bad that we would be thrilled if they simply made a branch to Ballard. Is it ideal? Of course not. Nothing in ST3 was even close to ideal. Folks here are fighting for mediocrity. We are fighting for a shared tunnel not because it would be great, but because the alternative would be really, really bad.

        Hopefully, in the process, we would change the image of transit advocates (however slightly). I’m not holding my breath on any of it though.

      5. Unclear to me that “By advocating practical, cost-effective solutions that fit well within the confines of the current plans.” will address the politicians’ concerns. Like, yes, obviously all politicians want to be seen as building practical, cost-effective things, but the operative word here is “seen”. As a few others have pointed out so far, a lot of it is politics.

        I know you (Ross) know all this, of course; I am not trying to imply otherwise. My point though is that technocracy often doesn’t succeed if it doesn’t address the politicians’ actual concerns, whether they be providing for some other constituency (e.g. developers), or their own need to get re-elected, etc. So I worry that we’re barking up the wrong tree.

        Let’s say for example that we decided that this particular forum were not enough, as a constituency, to move the needle on board decisions. Whom else do we need to get on board who might have more sway? Is it CID businesses (in which case we need to do actual leg work and engage with CID business owners, one at a time, or at least the movers-and-shakers in that particular crowd)? Is it the UW professorial crowd? Is it a bunch of condo associations downtown? Is it all of the above?

        That’s a lot more work than just giving feedback at a board meeting; and I personally will freely admit that the chances of doing any of those things myself are low. But I think that it pays to think about what it would take to succeed, and then figure out whether there is a way to get there. Because, I think last week’s board meeting made it clear, the advocacy that was attempted so far failed pretty miserably. So I would hate to see more of the same be done, with similar success.

      6. Let’s say for example that we decided that this particular forum were not enough, as a constituency, to move the needle on board decisions. Whom else do we need to get on board who might have more sway? Is it CID businesses (in which case we need to do actual leg work and engage with CID business owners, one at a time, or at least the movers-and-shakers in that particular crowd)? Is it the UW professorial crowd? Is it a bunch of condo associations downtown? Is it all of the above?

        Great question, and one folks have been trying to answer for quite some time. There are a number of us that have been exchanging emails behind the scene. We have been focused a bit on the blog, hoping that the case for this is solid enough to attract interest from outside. It helps to have a solid case for which you can reference. We have also been looking at the press, hoping that others (like the Seattle Times) pick this up. There has been talk about reaching out to CID groups, but at this point, I don’t know if anyone has actually done the legwork. As community organizers, we suck. We have just gone through the regular channels — contacting our reps — and gotten nowhere.

        We probably moved way too late on this. The good news (from my perspective anyway) is that it isn’t too late. If there is no consensus on the stations in the new tunnel, then there is no consensus on a new tunnel. The Seattle Subway crowd was thrilled that 4th Avenue Shallow was even considered. The other side (Dow, etc.) feels like they have this in the bag. The ongoing conflict and lack of consensus between those two groups represents an opportunity to provide folks with what they actually want. I’m not talking about just transit advocates, or those on the other side that oppose a 4th Avenue station — I’m talking about the politicians too. Sound Transit is in a heap of financial trouble. Any savings that can be had would be great news. The fact that this can be done while simultaneously improving things is a huge opportunity. Whether any politician actually takes advantage of it and pushes this proposal depends a lot on the answer to your question. It depends a lot on how effective we are as community organizers.

      7. Thank you, Ross – that’s great to hear about.

        I wonder if this is something that talking with actual community organizers about would be useful – not in terms of getting them involved (necessarily) but also just to learn from, in terms of techniques, how to set up campaigns, signature gathering, even the legalities thereof, etc. Basically learning from people who do this actively for other issues. Also learning what those of us with limited time to contribute (or other practical reasons not to) can do to maximize return on investment (other than filling out ST surveys etc., and voting for those who are US citizens, of course).

      8. There is a history of who ST has listened to, and who they’ve ignored. That might make an interesting post, chronicling that history. Maybe if enough examples are listed, a pattern will emerge.

      9. Sam, the most important decision maker is Harrell. He was elected to rescue Seattle from itself, most of the very unpopular council are leaving, and even Morales who is one click to the right of Sawant PUBLICLY supported Dow’s vision for DSTT2.

        If I am Harrell and the ST Board tells me it can raise $1.1 billion from my subarea that does not come from city budgets, and another $1.1 billion from the four other subareas, DSTT2 with CID N/S will cost $2.2 billion, and Dow is telling me he has run interference with the stakeholders and DSTT2 will revitalize two depressed areas of downtown Seattle and vacant city and council buildings without a dime in city tax revenue I am taking that deal all day long no matter how bad the transit rider experience is. Transit riders voted for Harrell’s opponent.

        Morales agrees. If you want to reach out to anyone reach out to Morales. Her public opinion from the Uber progressive on the council clearly influenced the rest of the Board. People on this blog jump all over me but forget about Morales, one of their own

        If DSTT2 is affordable it will be built as approved by the board. If it isn’t affordable — and ST won’t admit that until the last second — then interlining will be an option. Based on ST’s three year concealment of the plinth issue on I-90, even to major stakeholders, I can’t see ST admitting DSTT2 is not affordable for many years, so there is nothing to do for many years.

      10. Daniel, I was responding to Anon, who I think was wanting to know which stakeholders/community groups/neighborhoods etc., have pull with ST, and which don’t. When does ST listen, and when do they ignore?

        There’s a long history of ST either capitulating to this or that group or person, or ignoring or steamrolling over others. ST played hardball with Mercer Island, as I recall. On the other hand, ST immediately withdrew the Red Line name when someone said it will traumatize them.

      11. “which stakeholders/community groups/neighborhoods etc., have pull with ST, and which don’t. When does ST listen, and when do they ignore? ”

        That is what interests me, yes. It seems like having such a list, and the topics which were broached to obtain compromises or not on, would be very useful. Otherwise we’re all just grasping at straws.

      12. Get a job as a towel-boy for the steam room at the Rainier Club.

        Try this, find out the sales patterns for the local cigar-shops and what ‘smoke filled back rooms’ they are delivered to.

      13. Daniel, the staff may indeed know how to build tunnels. I have no doubt of that, and I don’t think anybody else doubts it either. But they have proven very clearly that they don’t understand why to build (or not to build) them. Yes, I understand that they are doing the bidding of The Board who has this Grand Vision of people stepping onto Light Rail trains at a station along Casino Road or at the Emerald Queen and hopping off brief moments later at UW or Expedia.

        That’s not going to happen, or only vanishingly rarely. As you have pointed out frequently — really, too frequently by half — the region can’t afford the Grand Vision, and so, ignores the places where there is real, demonstrated demand for transit. The region needs people to whom The Board members are inclined to listen to tell them that their Potemkin System is going to fall on its face. Now. Before they build it and waste 30% of the $54 billion planned!

        You are someone they’d listen to. You probably know several of them personally. You clearly think that the system can’t be afforded, and kudos to you for understanding that. But instead of doing the Civic Duty thing and calling your powerful friends to walk them through what’s wrong with the plans, you sneer at those of us — amateur or not — who by dint of our quirky enthusiasms have learned how real transit systems work but have no power.

        I’d call that abuse, to be frank. It’s the essence of “punching down”.

      14. Jim,

        I appreciate the vote of confidence in my age :) and perhaps gender, too, but I do not fit the profile they would hire.

        If you got any other ideas, though, I’m all down to hear them.

    3. Why are you telling people that they shouldn’t encourage the Sound Transit board to ditch the second tunnel? It’s important that we get the board to come to their senses sooner rather than later. It’s not going to happen unless we make it happen! I don’t know about you but I don’t want to see Sound Transit have their projects be unsuccessful.

      Also, contrary to what you seem to think, it’s actually pretty easy to please transit advocates: just provide good frequency, reliability, coverage, quick transfers, and trips that aren’t extremely slow compared to driving. This is basically putting the customer (transit riders) first.

      1. I don’t know who “you” is here (Daniel or myself) so I’ll assume that you perhaps meant both and take a stab at explaining what I meant in a less snarky way.

        The point is, perception matters. So it pays off to think about “how” to present your very pertinent concerns, in a way that will 1. actually succeed (as Daniel pointed out, so far they have not) and 2. not ruin the chances of being listened to in the future.

        It’s true that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”, if I may use an old metaphor, but it’s equally true that choice riders will not ride in the squeaky wheel train if they can avoid it. So we need to ensure that we’re not viewed as that bad kind of squeaky wheel.

      2. Evin, what I am saying is no one is listening right now. This blog has spent weeks if not months advocating for interlining. I was one of the first to do so, based on cost. They know what interlining is, and it isn’t part of ST 3.

        The vote is over. It was 15 to 1. Harrell and Constantine are adamant on a DSTT2 and CID N/S. Basically you are telling Harrell to forgo $1.1 billion from other subareas.

        There may be a time in the future to advocate for interlining, but the Board has gone back to their day jobs. If the money is there for DSTT2 they will build it exactly where they voted to build it. If there isn’t the money to build DSTT2 you won’t need to tell them to not build it. They will know, and I think that is the truth ST and the Board would prefer to not admit now. No matter what, they have a 14 month EIS process they have to go through, and you can submit comments at any time although the Board just wrote the conclusion for the EIS. Maybe Pierce, SnoCo and S KC will decide to pony up $800 million for a shallow station on 4th, but $800 million is real money in those subareas and they voted no on ST 3.

        If you really want to start early begin with the stakeholders. Convince the CID a station on 5th is not racist and 10 years of construction will be worth it, even though ST offered no mitigation.

        Then contact Harrell’s buddies at the DSA and convince them about the same for midtown and Westlake with shallow cut and cover stations. I think you will find those two groups care less about transit and your trip than I do.

        Or focus your energy on WS and Ballard where the fight will really be. Convince Ballard to pass a $250 million LID for a station on 15th or 20th that would be a big improvement. I could see Ballard voting yes although rents would go way up for decades.

        I think WS is a lost cause. Those folks care about transit less than I do. WSBLE is like Issaquah Link to Issaquah and Kirkland. . They preferred to drive when their bridge was CLOSED. Martin’s research shows few if any WS drivers will switch to Link, and Ross has pointed out Link will be much worse than buses today because the bridge is so excellent.

        I just don’t think WS residents are paying attention. When they are offered upzoning their SFH zones , extra transfers with Link, demolishing hundreds of homes, and maybe a LID, like the CID they will say no thanks.

      3. Anonymouse, I was responding to Daniel, not you. I definitely agree that the way we present our concerns is important, but I disagree with Daniel’s opinion of “don’t even bother contacting the board, they’ll figure it out eventually.”

      4. If the board ever gets interested in a single-tunnel solution, we’ll have an outline ready for them, we’ll have thought about the practical issues that would come up, and they’ll know that part of the transit-advocate community supports it. It may think more of the single-tunnel solution if it hits a brick wall of affordability. And other unknown things may happen, since the future is always uncertain.

      5. SCREW the $1.1 billion!!!!! Not building DSTT2 between Massachusetts and Westlake Center will save far more than that! Jesus, can’t you see that? And, not to put too fine a point on it, but “improvements to the existing tunnel” would also be eligible for region-wide contributions. ‘
        So you and your Millionaire Neighbors would still be on the hook for part of it.

        WSBLE is like Issaquah Link to Issaquah and Kirkland. They preferred to drive when their bridge was CLOSED.

        Um, that’s “WSLE is like Issaqual Link to Issaquah and Kirkland”. “BLE” is more like hmmm, well, Roosevelt!

        So far as “West Seattle is a lost cause,” yep, let’s hope so! But just who exactly on the blog do you think actually supports building it that you can Lord it over? Well, yeah, Lazarus because when The Board says “Jump!” he asks “May I hover in my helicopter for a while?”

        The rest of us will cheer if that project gets the axe. It would also make running Line 1 through the existing tunnel imperative, because Line 2 can’t supply enough trains to meet the North Link demand by itself. Interlining solved!

        Evin, neither Anonymous nor Daniel much cares for transit, so “a good rider experience” is not high on their Christmas lists. Anonymous appears to be here to correct the poor communication habits of the more elbows-flying cohort [including me].

        Mike is exactly right in his view of the future. The guys on The Board are like a Flying Wedge formation in football that is rolling over all who oppose them.

        Sadly, they’re headed toward the wrong goal line.

  17. “But under questioning by Constantine, agency staff said Balducci’s new concept would put too many people into the main tunnel, leading to crowds and train delays.” From the Times article

    So staff thinks DSTT1 is at risk of crowding even with a 2nd tunnel?

    1. Staff think if you put most of the second tunnel’s riders into the first tunnel instead, that will cause overcrowding.

    2. Isn’t that just another way of admitting that West Seattle Link won’t have many riders? Might as well have put it that way. “It is essential that West Seattle Link be in the tunnel, because it won’t have many riders”.

  18. Maybe this is in the comments but I didn’t see it. I think I must be fundamentally misunderstanding this.

    Everyone talks about how you have to walk from Chinatown station to the jail to transfer, but as I understand it the South of ID station is near Uwajimaya. So wouldn’t that be the transfer?

    1. To a rider, transferring at CID south seems faster. But Dow wants the pedestrian tunnel at CID North because he wants to take out the county buildings.

      Again, too many ejected leaders this seems like a development project more than a transit service.

    2. It’s not clear whether both of the North/South stations will be built, or one or zero of them. ST may decide later it’s too many stations or one is unaffordable. The North one is assumed to be the transfer point because Dow presented it that way, and outlined an underground passage to Pioneer Square station. South of CID has no transfer infrastructure planned at this point, so it would be walking on surface streets. This could change: some have suggested making South the transfer station, but ST probably hasn’t even heard that argument yet much less agreed with it. South does have the advantage of being a flat walk.

      1. Could someone do up a map showing the station boxes at CID and “south of CID”, and the streets surrounding them?

  19. One would think that COVID would be a perfect excuse to re-examine old assumptions from 2015 while saving face. In the face of lower transit ridership post COVID here and elsewhere, revisiting the assumption that DSTT1 would be so crowded if west Seattle trains were added that we need a whole separate tunnel seems natural. COVID has also impacted revenue, yet another need to make adjustments.

    1. It’s one thing to claim the pandemic is over. It’s a totally different unreality to say COVID is over. We won’t know what post-COVID ridership is like until COVID is actually over. But I’m quite sure it will be better than ridership right now, and less than pre-COVID, per capita, excepting the impact of new openings during COVID.

  20. It’s extremely important not to get distracted and focus on a single tunnel solution.

    Instead the entire focus should be on retaining the 5th Ave station. The north and south stations are no good. Please don’t make it easy for Sound Transit by submitting comments on issues they are not questioning. All comments right now need to be focused on the quality station, not on other issues.

    1. Agreed.

      This blogs myopic focus on a single tunnel is a non-starter among both the politicians and the technical staff of Sound Transit.

      It is a waste of whatever tiny clout Seattle Transit Blog has.

      1. I don’t quite support the single tunnel alternative, but I’m not sure what is the point of focusing on the 5th avenue alternative. It’s been debated for years and practically found to be politically impossible.

      2. It really isn’t that difficult to say your first choice is a second light rail tunnel that includes CID, Midtown Station, and Westlake, and that your second choice is no second tunnel. We learned to handle such nuances centuries ago.

        If you prefer, the noCID tunnel over no second tunnel, just say it. If you prefer DSTT1+ over the noCID tunnel, then be better coalition builders by saying “If we can’t have a tunnel with CID, Midtown, and Westlake, we’d prefer then to stick with just one downtown light rail tunnel”.

      3. It is a waste of whatever tiny clout Seattle Transit Blog has.

        I think you have this news blog that is open to opinion pieces from many sides confused with other groups whose primary purpose is activism. We fill a niche that is not being filled by other organizations, including having a welcoming but just-lightly-enough-moderated comment section that I doubt you’ll find anywhere else.

    2. It’s extremely important not to get distracted and focus on a single tunnel solution.

      I disagree. I believe that if there is a second tunnel, there is a 99% chance that it will have either the North CID or South CID stations (or both). That’s it. I feel like the question as to where to add the station has been argued to death. People went back and forth (in person, on Twitter, in the media) and no new information was gathered. The various sides have dug in, and aren’t going to change their opinion. It is worth noting that people aren’t strongly in favor of the North CID or South CID stations — they are strongly opposed to the alternative stations (on a new tunnel).

      These are the people who the politicians are listening to. If those same people seriously considered sharing the tunnel, there is a very good chance they would support it. But as of now, they aren’t considering it. No one is considering it. There has been almost no press about the idea of sharing the tunnel. We keep crafting and re-crafting our message, but no one is actually doing the dirty work of trying to reach out to the very group we should be allied with. For that matter, I doubt many are trying to convince those in favor of the 4th Avenue Shallow. There is a get together tonight at the Optimistic Brewery; folks from The Urbanist, Seattle Subway and Transit Riders Union are getting together to talk about transit. How many people on this blog are showing up? Anyone?

      For this reason, I think you have it backwards. There is no way that the board is going to support any new stations, other than North/South CID. They would be going back on the community at that point. However, there is a chance — however slim — that we form an alliance between the folks in the community for a shared tunnel. But for that to happen, people have to reach out to other members of the community. As of right now, no one is doing that.

      It is worth noting that it took a lot of effort to get 130th Station (in Seattle) added to ST3. Of course it helped to have this blog lay out the case for it. But ultimately, it was community organizing — lead by Renee Staton — that made the difference. As of right now, no one is doing that for the shared tunnel.

    3. We should pursue all alternatives we support, in hopes of getting one of them. An opening of opportunity appear in any of them, depending on what other people do over the next several months and what the results of the EIS are. WSBLE is complex and there are multiple tradeoffs in it, so it’s not straightforward to say only one approach is acceptable. The others are not equally bad.

  21. Fifth Avenue has been ruled out, just as firmly as “interlining”. There will not be a station on Fifth Avenue South of any depth or alignment. There just won’t. It will come down to North of CID only and a station box at South of CID or Interlining plus a Ballard Stub.

    Those are the only possibly and affordable solutions. Standalone South of CID is even cheaper, but I doubt that even Dammeier would go for that, unless Istanbul In The Clouds were built above it for East Link trains to stop.

  22. WL, I’m not so certain that cut and cover would work on either Fifth or Sixth Avenues. They’re both pretty narrow, just three and a half lanes wide. That’s about 34 feet. One has to allow a couple of feet for the bearing side walls of the station box, leaving just thirty feet for two trackways and the platform. One trackway takes ten feet.

    That sounds good until one realizes that the vertical conveyances have to land on that platform with enough room on each side that folks can move safely and comfortably between the conveyance and the trackway. A 32″ escalator is 4′ 8″ in width when its hand hold sides are added. That leaves only 32 inches on either side if it’s in the middle of the platform. That would be quite uncomfortable for most people to be next to a moving train.

    Yes, the platforms can “stick out” beyond the stopping zone and the escalators could be off center landing at the ends, but that makes for an inefficient pathway. A wider platform is much better.

    So, keeping the station entirely within the street envelope on Fifth or Sixth means that the tracks would have to be stacked with over-under platforms. If one took the sidewalks also, then a center platform would be another ten feet wider and it would work. However, that’s where building tie-backs often intrude.

  23. At the 3/23 meeting, Balducci’s amendment to restore the spine was badly defeated. The primary objection was that it would put too many people in DSTT1 – 80% of riders. If the ST balked at putting 80% of riders in the current tunnel, they will almost certainly refuse to put 100% by ditching the 2nd tunnel completely.

    As much as you might personally prefer a single tunnel option, it is not politically feasible. It was already considered and rejected, and the board isn’t going back.

    At this point there are 2 options on the table. North/South of CID and 4th Shallower. Pick the 1 of those 2 options you like more (or dislike less), get organized, and lobby for it. Lobbying for any other option like single tunnels, Ballard stubs, etc., is a distraction thst will just waste your time and expertise.

    1. It wasn’t defeated because of the stacking ridership concerns but more about when Sound Transit talked about adding escalators and elevators costing more.

      If you were to highlight the lessened cost of the one tunnel alignment (and expediting their sub areas extensions) I’m sure you’d be able to convince all the suburban board members. However you wouldn’t convince Dow and the Seattle-related board members

      1. I hope you don’t think my idea of ST buying AI-powered robotic fare enforcement dogs from the PRC is a fantasy.

      2. Did you not hear Chairman Constantine say that continuing to study a 4th Ave option was an exercise in giving people “false hope”? He just told you you are living in fantasyland. Some of us listened.

      3. That’s one boardmember’s opinion, not the entire board. And we don’t know what the EIS study results will be and how they may affect the relative preferences. We especially don’t have a fully-studied cost estimate for North and South stations yet, since they only emerged a week ago.

    2. Lobbying for 4th Shallower with the current additional cost of 800 million isn’t realistic either. You’ll need to find some design that is much cheaper and acceptable aka smaller stations, not rebuilding 4th avenue viaduct completely, etc…

      1. Yeah, but how accurate are the estimates for North and South?

        Are they just napkin estimates? Bolstered by Dow and Harrell who (big surprise!) can find extra money for their pet alignment?

      2. It is obvious that North of CID is less expensive than Midtown. It’s not nearly as deep and would be constructed on a brownfield site with no nearby modern skyscrapers to avoid shaking.

        It’s also obvious that South of CID is cheaper than any other site for blocks in any direction. It’s currently occupied by single level buildings, parking lots and a closed street right of way. It’s obviously even cheaper than the original “Fifth Kind of Shallow” swag from 2016 because there is no need for mitigation of any kind.

        So though while “back of the napkin” is in no way adequate for project budgeting, it clearly shows that the Mayor and Executive have indeed found the cheapest places in South downtown to place these stations. They don’t serve very many riders and complicate transfers forever, but they check all the “due diligence” boxes.

        I expect what will happen is that North of CID will be built and an uncompleted station box will be installed at South of CID. It will be completed by whoever gets the development rights for the land between the freeway, Royal Brougham, Fourth and Seattle Way/Dearborn.

        Fewer people will ride Link between the Rainier Valley and points north adding costs to Metro, and Paine Field will get a boost from riders North of the Ship Canal who will get dropped off at Link and ride north to catch their plane rides instead of South. Community colleges in Tacoma and South King County will suffer from the loss of a direct connection to UW for transfer students needing advanced classes offered only at UW.

        These are all “marginal” degradations to the region caused by fracturing the regional system unnecessarily.

      3. They can find the money. They can save $100 million in West Seattle by eliminating the Avalon station and not building the 42nd Ave entrance at the Junction station. Plus, they can terminate Ballard at Smith Cove and save the rest of the Ballard extension for ST4. If having a station at 4th Ave is truly as important to the future of transit as everyone says it is, these should be easy decisions.

      4. > Yeah, but how accurate are the estimates for North and South?

        > Are they just napkin estimates? Bolstered by Dow and Harrell who (big surprise!) can find extra money for their pet alignment?

        It’s probably accurate as the North+South of CID is comparable to the 5th avenue shallow alignment where the North of CID is a shifted north Midtown station and the South of CID is a shifted south cut-and-cover 5th avenue station.

        Secondly, if there are seriously cost overruns, they will cancel the South of CID station, leaving just the North of CID station. (Or similar to what Tom says leaving a station box)

      5. Thanks for reading my whole reply, WL. Your comparison of the Bargain Basement Plan to 2016 is right on, except that Midtown also moves south. I understand why you said “North CID is a shifted north Midtown. Midtown is north of North CID. But for clarity when others who may not be as familiar with the topology, it should say “shifted south Midtown.

        If Metro brought back the Blue Streaks, the Fifth and Terrace station would be hopping after North CID is opened.

      6. Thanks for reading my whole reply, WL. Your comparison of the Bargain Basement Plan to 2016 is right on, except that Midtown also moves south. I understand why you said “North CID is a shifted north Midtown. Midtown is north of North CID. But for clarity when others who may not be as familiar with the topology, it should say “shifted south Midtown.

        If Metro brought back the Blue Streaks, the Fifth and Terrace stop would be hopping after North CID is opened.

    3. In the meantime, I’m typing this comment on a Link train having just passed through downtown. I took note of the number of people actually on the train platforms at the downtown stations we passed by. The idea that the additional platform capacity of a second tunnel is needed is complete B.S.

      1. Again, this is during-COVID ridership. There are still lots of people avoiding transit, and the train in particular, because of it, and because little effort is being made to make the trains safer to ride. We have no idea what ridership will be post-COVID, and unfortunately, might never find out.

      2. We’re post-COVID. 99% of people are doing all the things they used to do except going to the office five days a week. When somebody goes to a restaurant or a cinema like it were 2019, but doesn’t go to the office so often, that’s not a story about COVID.

        The real shifts are two-fold. Fewer work trips, which are the core of the market for transit, and less traffic which makes it easier to use a car than in more congested times.

      3. Brent, during the height of covid, masks on transit were mandatory. But, I seem to remember most riders were either wearing ineffective cloth masks, or wearing masks below their nose, or on their chin. So, how can buses and trains be made safer if even when masks were mandatory, it wasn’t safe on transit? The best thing someone can do to protect themselves is to wear a high-quality mask, and be vaxed.

      4. The key for transit ( and schools and big venues, and and and) is ventilation.

        I really have no idea how good or bad ventilation is on buses and trains. I’ve heard it isn’t terrible, but haven’t dug into what primary literature there may be to know for sure.

        For buildings, it’s very very expensive. Lot’s of expensive filters and HVAC work.
        For buses, just make the windows able to open, and have this be the default. Run the heat to compensate and push the air out.

        Trains I have no idea.

        I’m not an expert on aerodynamics, but we probably have about 10,000 experts milling about town. They don’t call us Jet City for nothing.

      5. This has been my experience when going downtown, though I will say I haven’t been downtown on weekdays since I no longer work there.

        I think it’s fair to say that the tunnel was much busier when it still had buses in it.

      6. The NY Times is ending its daily reporting of Coronavirus related data in the U.S.

        According to the Times, the last large spike was in January 2022. Average daily cases in the U.S. as of March 23 are around 22,000. Average daily deaths are 255. Average daily deaths in WA state are 6.6 which is .09/100,000. WA’s vaccination rate is 75%. 93% of those 65 and older in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, and 67% of those have received a booster.

        I have no idea how many former transit riders have not returned to transit even today due to Covid. Metro’s new equity paradigm is to measure transit ridership during the height of Covid and before vaccinations because those riders obviously must ride transit and can’t WFH, even when the threat of death was real so they must be poor, and I imagine they still are riding today. I agree with Ross, however, that this paradigm is too simple because a lot of workers who must take transit had jobs that shut down during Covid. Post pandemic equity when it comes to transit ridership IS ridership. Few ride transit for the fun of it.

        Transit ridership figures suggest the biggest declines in transit ridership are peak work commuters due to WFH. These same folks however have returned to other social gatherings such as flying, vacations, grocery stores, malls, sporting events, restaurants, bars, in pre-pandemic numbers, without masks. At least where I live and work (including two college age kids who go back and forth) Covid is not a threat and few treat it as a threat, although occasionally someone we know still gets Covid, but gets over it.

        I still see people wearing masks in the airport and on planes. More wear masks on public transit than other areas I see although I don’t ride transit a lot. A physician told me that wearing an N95 mask is effective at protecting the person wearing the mask even if no one else is wearing a mask because although the virus itself is smaller than the pores in the mask the aerosol droplets carrying the virus are not. I don’t wear a mask but carry one on a plane or on transit and if the person next to me has a mask on I put my (old non-N95 mask) on. Some dental and medical offices still require masks. I keep spare masks in my car. The irony is today if you wear a mask around others they assume you must have Covid.

        I would not design transit based on the fact the missing riders will return when Covid goes to zero. Folks just don’t like commuting a long distance to work when that time is uncompensated, especially on packed public transit because parking is too expensive.

        I also think Covid lasted long enough it created a nesting effect among citizens. If they ever do return to in office work in the few areas with expensive parking like downtown Seattle transit ridership will likely rebound, but if I had to guess the current 2/3 of ridership compared to pre-pandemic is the long term normal, which is WAY less than ST’s optimistic future ridership estimates that supported the levies. That 2/3 will likely decline when Link’s suburban lines begin to open.

        2023 is important because 2022 was to determine the new normal for work and travel patterns especially transit. 2023 is when Covid stimulus runs out and lower ridership and lower farebox recovery (and lower taxes for urban cities) will impact what really drives transit levels of service: money. You can’t run Sounder S. at an 11% farebox recovery rate forever, or Link at 20%.

      7. Covid will likely never go away because we missed the chance to kill it with universal masking and vaccination when it was small and hadn’t mutated. Flus and colds have never gone away. Only a few diseases in the past century have, and one of them is reversing now due to anti-vaxxers.

      8. Cam,

        Metro has done about all it can on air filtration and circulation. It is up to riders to open up windows.

        Sound Transit has done pretty well too.

        There is still the problem that someone could be breathing straight at you, and your N95 mask only catches 95% or so of air particulates. Or the air circulation brings infected water droplets at you by sheer chance.

        I’m still only riding for essential trips, and planning ways to avoid or minimize time on Link. I can always just stand on the bus (and do so more often than not) and make gravity my first line of PPE. The preponderance of riders standing on the train and not wearing masks precludes that tactic. [A brimmed floppy hat is my second line of PPE on planes, as the air generally drops straight down.]

        I’d be pretty close to fine with just having a mask-required car on each train, kinda like how Dutch trains have quiet cars. There’s no enforcement, but people pay attention and follow the rule.

        The immunocompromised population has suffered quite enough during the pandemic, and possibly even more so during the New Normal. Picking a masks-up car, and broadcasting its existence, would help us get a much better idea what ridership would be like if and when COVID fizzles out down to something resembling a bad year of the flu. If ST won’t do it for vulnerable populations, I wish they’d still do it for the data that could inform ridership projections, and this major decision about when DSTT2 would actually be needed. It wouldn’t be a perfect measurement, of course, but it would get closer to where ridership is likely to trend.

      9. Brent, I doubt that there are more than fifty riders a day from the RV or south of it going farther than Northgate. The loss is access to Capitol Hill and UW, plus longer walks to the actual International District.

        I grant that theoretically there would be some potential for drop-off airport riders at stations north of Northgate who might do in-line transfers to a line 1 train between Northgate and CID once service starts up there, but it won’t be a huge number. For sure they aren’t taking the 512 and dragging their suitcases up the three stories to track level at Northgate today.

      10. Daniel, your reply on post-Covid ridership is cogent and likely an almost entirely correct prognostication of future effects on transit ridership.

        The clear conclusion to be drawn from it is that a second tunnel — on any alignment — is unnecessary and a nearly criminal misuse of public funds.

        Yet you refuse to write the words, “Yes, the proper solution is to defer building a parallel tunnel south of Westlake.”


      11. Tom, I believe I was one of the very first to suggest interlining all three lines in DSTT1, because I don’t think DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion, and if there was one take away from the Board’s meeting it was the four other subareas think their contribution is capped at $275 million. Since I joined this blog I have questioned ST’s ridership estimates.

        I didn’t contact any of the board members outside my subarea because they don’t represent me, and I can’t vote for them. I would definitely have contacted Balducci — and sometimes do, mostly over zoning and land use — if I thought any of the proposed amendments would have negatively affected East King Co., but Balducci seemed pretty up to speed on protecting her subarea, and I thought it was smart of her to partner with Millar in her amendments.

        It would have made no sense to contact any Board member about interlining if that is not a formally proposed amendment to the DEIS. Scrapping DSTT2 would be a material change to ST 3, not something you raise in a one-minute comment at the Board meeting with dozens of CID residents waiving signs saying my subarea are white supremacists, or NIMBY’s, and there is no interlining amendment even on the agenda. I can’t believe those on this blog who are surprised interlining was not discussed more at the meeting WHEN IT WAS NOT ON THE AGENDA OR PART OF A FORMAL AMENDMENT.

        I think most of ST 3 is a criminal waste of money, and voted no in 2016. But many of the folks on this blog, and at the brew pub the other night, believe any transit no matter how bad is better than no transit, rail will cure the world, money grows on trees, Seattle will grow by 1 million residents over the next 20 years and they will all take transit, and believe ST’s estimates when they want to and don’t believe them when they don’t want to, so here we are.

        Here is some good news. WSBLE is not affordable for N KC at the all-in number of $20 billion, DSTT2 won’t cost $2.2 billion, WS will balk at a LID or demolition of hundreds of homes or upzoning, Ballard will demand stations on 14th or 15th but object to a LID, everyone will object to stations near them in SLU and those folks have juice and lawyers and lobbyists, and the four other subareas have made it clear their contributions are capped. Just like zoning is not construction, a DEIS is not construction, unless the money is there.

        Hopefully a good lesson was learned by some on this blog: don’t rely on the kindness of other subareas, or posts on this blog to do the work for you. Don’t assume your Board member reads STB or understands this stuff. Meet with them BEFORE a hearing on amending and adopting the DEIS. If necessary, draft amendments for them. MAKE SURE THEY UNDERSTAND.
        Because you know the others are doing that. Constantine, Harrell, Harrrell’s new friend Tim Ceis, his new employee the former exec. dir. of the CID group, and you know someone was coaching Balducci and her partnership with Millar on her amendments to make sure East Link used DSTT1.

      12. Tom, I believe I was one of the very first to suggest interlining all three lines in DSTT1

        Citation, please. All you have to do is find the comment, right click on it, choose “Copy link address”, and paste it into a reply.

        We can look at the post on which you were commenting and look at what others were suggesting around the same time to judge the accuracy of your claim.

        Oh, yes, you’ve been predicting that “North King can’t afford WSBLE” forever, but I don’t remember you ever proposing that all three lines remain in the old tunnel. It was just “You can’t afford it, nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyaaaaaaaahhhh!”

      13. People were arguing against the second tunnel the second it was proposed (for obvious reasons). I didn’t waste a lot of ink on it, because it was merely one of many bad decisions that made up ST3. I opposed that measure, feeling like we needed to go back to the drawing board (and if we did, we would have something much better). I still feel that way, but it is too late now. ST3 passed, and many elements (e. g. West Seattle Link) are going to be built, whether they make sense or not.

        I still feel like the second tunnel can be stopped, simply because it isn’t an essential piece of this. Compared to other changes — that are now the preferred option — ending the second tunnel is nothing.

        So yeah, predicting that the second tunnel would be controversial is really nothing special. Now if you had predicted that the Ballard Station would move to 14th — yes, I would be impressed.

      14. The first group I remember opposing ST 3 and DSTT2 was ETA. They — Vic Bishop — claimed in a seminar on light rail I co-hosted on MI in 2016 that DSTT2 would cost $4.2 billion. I was naive then and believed ST. But ETA’s prediction stuck in my head. That was the first I learned about subarea contribution. At the time all the transit fans were ga ga over ST 3.

        What Tom doesn’t understand is that for me at least interlining goes hand in hand with whether WSBLE is affordable, and asdf2 makes a good point I have made before: you can’t begin digging a tunnel or tunnels unless you have the money to finish it (WSBLE).

        If DSTT2 is/was affordable of course it was going to get built. It is part of ST 3 and Seattle was never going to give up $1.1 billion in subarea contributions to build a second tunnel that accesses SLU. Especially with ST’s crazy ridership estimates urbanists were only too happy to believe.

        Tom still thinks DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion, so his arguing for interlining is pointless. So was arguing that the Board should interline when interlining wasn’t even a proposed amendment. I don’t think many on his blog understand Roberts Rules of Order. You would think that at least one person on this blog who rides Link and lives south of Sodo would have met with their ST Board member and looked at CID N/S and Balducci/Millar’s amendments and said the fix is in, formally propose an amendment to interline or for riders from the siuth to use DSTT1 but nope, despite 8 million words posted about interlining on this blog.

        It wasn’t long ago most on this blog opposed the station design for DSTT2, not DSTT2 itself. Midtown was too deep. CID needed to be center platform. Automation. Few were calling for interlining. They just wanted shallower stations. When they didn’t like the station location and learned — thanks to Al — all riders from the south would have to take DSTT2 then they demanded interlining, even though it wasn’t a formal amendment to the DEIS.

        From early on TISGWM — before me — really exposed how WSBLE simply was not affordable by four of the subareas. Tom points out that I raised that pretty early on, but you don’t have to be a genius to read the 2021 subarea report and see WSBLE going from an estimated cost of $6 billion to $15 billion today to know it isn’t affordable, plus with DSTT2 still estimated to cost $2.2 billion and the exploding costs for 130th and Graham St.

        Personally if it is affordable (it is not) I don’t have a big problem with CID N/S, especially with crazy Seattle politics. Nothing is ever good enough. I think it is naive and foolish for Seattle Subway to waive signs demanding SOMEONE pay $800 million for a shallow station on 4th but Seattle Subway has a tenuous grasp of money. I thought it was galling the CID would demand the same, PLUS cash mitigation for construction. The CID will get pay back.

        If you think DSTT2 and WSBLE are affordable then work on station design although good luck on cut and cover. Interlining won’t happen until ST and the Board are forced to admit DSTT2 is not affordable, and that won’t happen for a long time. But it will happen. The proposed LID’s for Ballard and WS should be fun.

        At least now I hope most on this blog understand how the legislative process works and you better get involved because you know others are working behind the scenes, and transit riders usually get screwed because they have no money, and unfortunately don’t have the race card to play. It is pointless for Tom to demand someone like me who lives in E KC save S KC or Pierce or S Seattle or demand interlining when my rep was making sure we use DSTT1.

        It doesn’t matter who figured out what first. We are all here now. DSTT2 is a done deal. No more crap about interlining when that is not part of the DEIS. Move onto the next section, figure out who your representative is, and start a relationship, although a sizable campaign contribution won’t hurt.

      15. @Brent: Why are people avoiding public transit because of Covid but not anything else, like bars, restaurants, festivals, grocery stores, museums, sporting events, school functions, the ballet, airports and airplanes, concerts, etc.?

        Transit ridership is down due at the level that it is due to so many people still working from home because the cat is out of the remote work bag (at least for now); it’s not Covid. It’s the same reason a lunch place in downtown is struggling but the bar by my house in N. Seattle is packed on Taco Tuesday. And on St. Patrick’s Day.

        I went to Due Cucina on 65th and Roosevelt on Sunday around 5pm. It was packed with people; families with kids, UW students, and everything in between. People sitting at tables with no masks on. No one was avoiding this place because of Covid but we’re to believe that transit, especially transit downtown, is experiencing ridership declines because of a lack of masking requirements? That doesn’t add up.

        You might be avoiding transit because of Covid, and that’s certainly a decision only you can make based on your own level of risk assessment, but you’re not seeing the forest from the trees.

      16. Well, Daniel, at least you admit it. You have never opposed DSTT2 for the sane reason that it is unnecessary, but merely because you think it’s too expensive. While that’s obviously a useful position functionally — if it can’t be afforded it’s a good idea not to start digging it — there is a big difference in the level of analysis, perception and citizenship. Opposing something because “it’s too expensive” is a lazy reactionary’s “go to” way of stopping “progress” that the reactionary doesn’t like.

        Whoop-te-do. Give the genius the Nobel Prize for Selfishness.

        [Y]ou can’t begin digging a tunnel or tunnels unless you have the money to finish it

        Ah, but you certainly can. It’s not good public policy, for sure, but I would note the Cincinnati tunnel which has been mentioned in recent comment threads briefly. They did go ahead and build a part of it, and it’s still down there today, doubtless dark, dank, and dangerous. I would further note the segments of the Second Avenue Subway in lower Manhattan which are over sixty years old. A couple of bits of it have been used for connectors between otherwise cordoned lines, but three-fourths is dark, dank and dangerous.

        So, no hurrahs for opposing something because people you don’t like support it.

      17. Tom, if I rely on ST’s ridership estimates, or the Dept. of Commerce’s future population growth estimates, or the comments Billen made at the Board meeting, a second tunnel is necessary for capacity, which is the basis for subarea contribution. (Many on this blog thought DSTT2 was necessary for additional coverage). That is why it is part of ST 3. No one has been a bigger skeptic of these assumptions than I have, and few have been as believing as you have been. My God, you have spent a year posting a hundred different tunnel/station alternatives for DSTT2, because you assumed it was not affordable, not because interlining makes better transit sense, although to be fair CID N/S appeared about two weeks ago.

        Disagreeing with station location or design is much different than disagreeing with the capacity assumptions or whether DSTT2 will be affordable. There is still time to comment on better station design, to some extent, but not location, and CID N/S were about the only areas the stakeholders and Harrell would allow, and not all that materially different than CID/unknown deep midtown. Even Morales supported N/S and she is even more left than you.

        I am getting tired of repeating this, and you complain I repeat myself, but when someone doesn’t get it over and over and over I do tend to repeat myself: interlining was not a formal amendment to the DEIS. Why? I don’t know. But it wasn’t. Dow and Balducci certainly were not going to really argue for interlining all three lines because they understood the game was who would use DSTT1, WHICH IS WHY NEITHER PROPOSED INTERLINING IN A FORMAL AMENDMENT.

        Did you reach out to any Board members including your own to suggest an amendment to interline, because surely you saw there was no formal amendment to interline all three lines into DSTT1, according to you you have supported interlining for some time just based on good transit, and anyone with a lick of political sense could see Balducci was not suggesting that, she was ensuring East Link uses DSTT1, WHICH IS HER JOB AS BOARD MEMBER FOR EAST KING CO.

        Interlining now is not part of the DEIS. So stop talking about it. Stop blaming others, especially folks on the eastside like me who will use a DSTT1 that won’t be crowded. If as you believe DSTT2 can be built for $2.2 billion it is going to be built, only a very naive person would think Harrell would voluntarily give up $1.1 billion in subarea contributions that will extend a tunnel to SLU, you know where the stations will be, but if you have some ideas about station design then reach out to ST, but I wouldn’t propose cut and cover.

        This blog is not an effective political tool to get changes to Link, especially with editors calling Constantine’s proposals Istanbul and Constantinople. Folks like Constantine HATE snark like that or The Stranger, but love passive transit advocates who don’t understand Roberts Rules of Order and how amendments work. This blog is an effective tool to learn a lot about transit projects to then take back to your representative or publish on local blogs like Nextdoor that local politicians and Board members do read, but always, always, always understand there are five different subareas competing for the same limited resources or tunnels. East King Co. is not Pierce Co.’s friend.

        This time I have to give it to Balducci: she and Constantine schooled the other subareas, although from what I saw that is not a high bar. I will never understand Keel’s years on the Board and the miserable results for Pierce Co. But I don’t live there so not my problem.

        Time to move on to probably the more important and interesting parts of WSBLE because there isn’t a redundant tunnel: SLU, Ballard and WS. My humble advice is see if your Board rep. wants to meet for a cup of coffee now, although most will be totally agnostic about the parts of WSBLE that have no subarea contribution so you better live in SLU, Ballard or WS, although Constantine and Harrell will run the show on those, albeit with help from the stakeholders. I think the fights in Ballard and WS over stations, routes, disruption, and LID’s are going to be fascinating to watch, especially the LID because that is ST’s perfect tool: you can have whatever you want, and are willing to pay for.

        If DSTT2 is affordable it isn’t the worst route and stations in the world, and many on this blog believe Link creates tremendous TOD and retail vibrancy, so who knows, I may rue the day Balducci made sure Eastsiders would use DSTT1. If it isn’t affordable in some ways that is worse, because then WSBLE is not affordable, and that would be a sad ending to ST and to the gilded age of transit in this region when even Link from Issaquah to S. Kirkland was a good idea. God we were naive back then.

    4. Based on Barnett’s reporting, it sounds like a majority of the CID is in favor of the 4th Ave versus “North and South” option. Politicians care about that sort of thing. Harrell can crow for a while but he’s wrong about what the community wants and then he’ll pay at the ballot box.

      I’m starting to think the ship has sailed on the single-tunnel option after this meeting. There’s too much noise at the moment for the single tunnel option to be heard. Not to mention, it continues to be downplayed by ST staff.

      Mobilizing with all the other people currently behind 4th ave like the transit equity for all people is the move.

      1. The CID petition should have included the fact a shallow station on 4th Ave. will likely require an $800 million LID for surrounding property owners paid for by increased property taxes (except of course the RR tracks), which means the CID. That is what the city did to help fund the waterfront park.

        No way Harrrell, Constantine, the Board or other subareas are going to pony up $800 million for a shallow station on 4th Ave. after the CID accused them of racism for a station on 5th Ave. If the CID wants a shallow station on 4th Ave. they will have to pay for it, and even though it made it into the DEIS I thought Constantine was pretty specific it won’t happen, unless the CID pays for it, especially since CID N/S depend on “capturing” $400 million in development from county and city buildings.

        I haven’t read the petition Barnett references. I posted yesterday she should have made clear the petition was referencing a station on 4th Ave. paid for by others PLUS cash mitigation for construction,but doubt a petition asking CID property owners and businesses to pay for a station on 4th Ave. would get 2000 signatures, or just 2.

        IMO a lot of CID business and property owners, and residents, are going to look back and realize they missed a once in a generation opportunity to negotiate all kinds of mitigation for a station on 5th. But right now the CID like Fredo is dead to the Board, Harrell, and Constantine. After the accusations and ambush the CID did on a station on 5th the CID has no friends, and no one owes the CID anything.

      2. Re. your last point about the 5th ave mitigation – it would be really interesting to know what could be done with 800m in mitigation money. Could better outcomes be secured by giving the money directly to the people who need it – rather than giving it to a construction company?

        But not everything can be rebuilt the same. Also, CID residents probably don’t have a lot of trust that mitigation funds would be sufficient or distributed well enough to prevent disruption. Based on Sound Transit’s demonstration of its own capacities over the past year, I would have those doubts.

      3. Andrew, I think the mitigation would have been much less than $800 million. $800 million just is not affordable anyway.

        Dow was expecting the pro move from the CID after they raised the racism flag: this is what the CID needs and deserves (to remedy racism), and to boot all this mitigation will be wonderful ribbon cutting opportunities for a disadvantaged community. I have already posted what I think some of the mitigation the CID would want.

        I am sure Constantine was thinking the CID would come back with half, or $400 million, as an opening offer. That is how amateurs negotiate over huge sums when it becomes like monopoly money. But when the mitigation got down to actual things, like a parking garage, more police, more zoning control, a police precinct, fewer shelters and homeless and drug addicts, better road access, scholarships, etc. I think that total mitigation package for a station on 5th would have ended up between $200 and $250 million, the rest of which would have gone to a PPP kind of mitigation package for businesses that could show a loss from construction.

        Not chump change, but doable, with Seattle chipping in some, and the county some, for a win/win and station on 5th where it needed to be, and investments in the CID that were worthwhile anyway.

        Instead the CID activists were total amateurs, and wanted to use racism to end up with nothing, not a dime, not even a station within walking distance, and a mayor and Co. Executive who won’t forget and now owe the CID nothing. There will be no ribbon cutting ceremonies.

        Absolute worst negotiations when really big money was available I have ever seen, but so typical of Seattle. What is the root evil of racism? Poverty. How do you solve or reduce poverty? Money and investment. When will the CID ever get another opportunity to negotiate for hundreds of millions of dollars and zoning control? Never.

        The CID station will still be built. In fact two of them, one south, and one north. How much did the CID realize from this multi-billion-dollar project? Not one single dime. Fools.

  24. Interlining is a salvage operation outside ST 3 and now the DEIS.

    Dow sold Harrell and the Board on several points:

    1. CID N/S means they didn’t need to get into a racist argument with the CID, something Harrell wasn’t going to do for a transit station. And who knows, maybe negotiations for a station on 5th are still possible, but only if the CID sees any benefit from transit, or a second transit station servicing south Seattle. If there is no benefit as they see it, then no amount of disruption is acceptable unless the cash is HUGE, and you can’t build an underground Link station without lots of disruption.

    2. DSTT2 with CID N/S would cost $2.2 billion so the other subareas, or cities like Seattle, would not have to contribute general tax funds to complete it.

    3. If there are cost overruns, they would be paid for by development income from CID N/S.

    4. CID N/S would revitalize two blighted areas of downtown Seattle.

    5. Someday the extra capacity would be needed (hopefully).

    6. The DSA and downtown stakeholders agreed with CID N/S because there is no midtown station, and those folks are important to Harrell’s goals.

    7. The riders who get the short end of the stick are from the south, not north Seattle or the eastside (which was the entire point of Balducci’s amendment).

    8. This is the last time Harrell or the others will have to publicly consider this project for many years.

    Who wouldn’t want a free tunnel that will serve SLU and gentrification of CID N/S if you are Harrell with zero political angst and $1.1 billion from the four other subareas, and doesn’t disadvantage transit riders from the areas that voted for Harrell? After all, transfers are common with transit all over the world, and what are feeder buses if not transfers? Plus transit advocates and The Urbanist crowd didn’t vote for Harrell or likely any Board members or Constantine.

    What will change this are:

    1. The other subareas are asked to contribute more than $275 million each because DSTT2 costs more than $2.2 billion, and/or Dow’s development does not net $400 million, a figure I doubt he just made up but represents what he thinks is the best-case scenario for cost overruns (and I think is around $2 billion short).

    2. Some of the subareas (including N KC) don’t have their full contribution of $275 million after completing their projects.

    3. Seattle is asked to contribute money outside ST, such as a 5528 levy. For Harrell the key is DSTT2 costs the City of Seattle nothing.

    4. Other routes and neighborhoods along the line balk at LID’s or local contributions for the transit they want or years of disruption, sort of a white version of the CID protests but with non-gluten cookies, man buns, and herbal tea, or some like WS just decide like the CID Link isn’t worth it.

    5. Link ridership is very low after East, FW and Lynnwood Link open.

    Some on this blog like to ridicule Nextdoor. My Nextdoor can target just Mercer Islanders, or the greater eastside which reaches around 75,000 readers from Renton north. Often I post about transit and land use but didn’t re: the Board’s March 23 meeting because I wanted to see if anyone on the eastside understood or even cared.

    There was not one post or reply about DSTT2 or the Board’s meeting or vote despite articles in the Seattle Times. Zero. Tons of posts about the usual: public safety, schools, residential zoning, parks, trees, development, pets, kids, free stuff, stuff for sale, Seattle, bad drivers, basically the ordinary life on the eastside. Absolutely zero about ST (which is often a hot topic), transit, DSTT2, interlining, the Board’s meeting, the Board’s vote. People don’t even post about the three-year delay for East Link, on top of the prior two-year delay. So much of the region has just moved on from transit, certainly grand new projects based on false assumptions, which means the politicians have moved on. Grand transit is basically a privilege of a city or region that is prospering and doesn’t have major issues with crime or homeless or jobs or a declining downtown so they can move to the tertiary issues.

    You can write to Harrell but he won’t read whatever you submit. Neither will Balducci. Harrell either got a free tunnel or someone else will force interlining on the Board. You could write to Morales but she probably thinks the same, and likely needs Dow’s support for a run for political office, and sees the political winds moving to the center and away from the crazies.

    Interlining would be a terrible admission for the Board and ST (and basically such honesty is what got Rogoff fired). It would be like yelling out, “ST LIED”, none of this shit is affordable in any subarea (except East King Co. and those folks don’t like transit). It would also mean ridership estimates and the great urbanization and all the phony upzoning bills are lies, and commuters are never coming back so fill all those empty county and city buildings with affordable housing at $400/sf which isn’t the revitalization Harrell is thinking about.

    Interlining would be admitting the dream is over, not just transit but downtown Seattle. If you don’t need DSTT2 you don’t need WS Link or Ballard Link. Better to let the dream survive for now, and if necessary let someone else break the bad news, although I don’t think many on this blog who support interlining because of the better rider experience truly understand what interlining means. It means the urbanist dream is over because the money ran out and the transit riders are never coming back, let alone at the fantastical levels ST projected.

    Next year Harrell likely will have to cut $250 million from Seattle’s operating budget (and hire 500 new police officers) and that will be a taste of the end of the dream that was Seattle so let’s see how traumatic that is first before asking the Board to admit ST lied about DSTT2 and WSBLE and the other subarea project costs and revenue and ridership levels, and Harrell’s hopes to revitalize downtown Seattle are hopeless.

    If interlining is truly necessary because the money ran out (because that is the only reason the Board would even interline) then the (next) Board will interline, but it will be a very sad decision because it means the urban dream is dead, and a tunnel built in 1990 will still have more than enough capacity for transit through downtown Seattle despite the claims that millions are moving here and we must build for them because the area is urbanizing.

    DSTT2 may not be great transit, but if it isn’t even needed or the money runs out that is worse than the marginal transit from DSTT2 (and WSBLE). I can live with a transfer at Pioneer Square to get to the airport or Tacoma, and hope DSTT2 will be needed and affordable someday. Interlining would mean much more than just the transit rider experience, or God forbid a transfer from Link to Link.

    We really don’t want interlining or that one tunnel has the capacity for decades to come. If anyone wants to spend some energy change the stations for DSTT2.

    1. “This is the last time Harrell or the others will have to publicly consider this project for many years.”

      You don’t understand how this works? He’ll have to consider it again in one year when the EIS is finished and has another public hearing, and again when the board selects projects for construction. It’s not just us objecting to Constantinople and Istanbul, it’s half the CID public. We’ll all raise our objections again, and some little factors may change or a few people change their minds or there are different people on the board then, and the outcome may be different. The final EIS may say C & I cost more than the very-preliminary estimate, closer to the cost of 4th Avenue Shallower, or the tunnel may be even less affordable than it is now. It will remain a political issue for Harrell and councilmembers. Maybe not it alone, but it with other things may generate a larger coalition.

      1. “You don’t understand how this works?”

        Mike, I have been through the EIS process several times. The EIS is going to support the preferred alternative, especially after a public 15 to 1 vote. The EIS will recommend CID N/S (without the pejorative names Istanbul and Constantinople that don’t make folks on this blog sound serious), the Board will AGAIN vote for CID N/S, and CID N/S will be built if the funding is there.

        The only alternatives in the DEIS are do nothing (interlining) which I addressed but is the very last option because it is nuclear, a shallow 4th Ave. station which is not affordable so that is hardly an option if cost estimates for DSTT2 are low, or a change of heart by the CID about a station on 5th and the DSA about a midtown station, but I am not sure what would change those stakeholders’ objections, but suggest you spend your energies there.

        The vote and alignment have been chosen, in large part because they create no political problems for Harrell, Dow or the Board. There is no objection to this alignment from the major stakeholders I can see, and 99% of the rest of the subareas are not even paying attention.

        I still don’t even know what you want. Interlining and no DSTT2 so no subarea contribution for Seattle? The City of Seattle or the four other subareas pay $800 million to replace the viaduct on 4th Ave. for a shallow station that is not much different than CID N or S? The CID agree to 10 years of construction on 5th Ave. so transit riders have a shorter transfer. The DSA agree to closing 5th or 6th or some other avenue for 10 years for a cut and cover station?

        CID N/S are about the best design based on stakeholder concerns and cost, if the funding is there.

      2. “do nothing (interlining)”

        Those are two different things. “Interlining” is the single-tunnel solution with either a Ballard-Westlake line or a Ballard line merging into DSTT1 and going south. I don’t like the word “interlining” for this because it’s ambiguous: we usually use it to refer to joining two bus routes (27/33) or a route with two very different halves (62). It’s unclear how this applies to the various Link proposals.

        “Do nothing” (the No Build alternative) means canceling Ballard and West Seattle and DSTT2. So the primary trunks to Ballard and West Seattle would continue to be buses C, D, H, and 40.

        I would be OK with either one-tunnel, 4th Avenue Shallower, the original 5th Avenue Shallow, or No Build. The commonality between all of them is the inter-line transfer distance is reduced or eliminated. Or if Ballard-Westlake is chosen, we can focus our effort on the one Westlake transfer station.

        “Interlining and no DSTT2 so no subarea contribution for Seattle?”

        The subarea contributions would have to be negotiated because this is an unanticipated situation. ST hasn’t seriously looked at one-tunnel so it hasn’t even begun to consider what the subareas’ share would be. As I said before, I’d expect all subareas to pay for at least the Westlake transfer station and upgrading DSTT1. Its not worth debating until/if ST pursues single-tunnel someday.

      3. “The subarea contributions would have to be negotiated because this is an unanticipated situation. ST hasn’t seriously looked at one-tunnel so it hasn’t even begun to consider what the subareas’ share would be. As I said before, I’d expect all subareas to pay for at least the Westlake transfer station and upgrading DSTT1. Its not worth debating until/if ST pursues single-tunnel someday.”

        I don’t think there’s anything to negotiate. DSTT1 is a shared regional facility too, and all subareas are on the hook for new costs there just as they’re on the hook for DSTT2 and for vertical conveyances etc in DSTT1. The dollar outlays will have to be considered, but the rules for sharing them do not.

      4. Yes, all subareas will have to share the costs of DSTT1 (CID to Westlake) and any upgrades and maintenance, and in the past King Co. has been doing that through Metro, and now ST although I don’t think other subareas are paying to maintain the tunnel in Bellevue, or there is any other “shared” Link facility supported by all five subareas.

        ST 3 obligates the four other subareas to pay half, or 12.5% each, of DSTT2, which is still estimated to cost $2.2 billion, which is what the tax rates are based upon (although total revenue varies considerably by subarea due to different economic factors).

        I think the reason the shallow 4th Ave. station is out is because the four other subareas believe their contribution is capped at $275 million each, which means every dollar over $2.2 billion for DSTT2 is Seattle’s problem, and Harrell has made it pretty clear he does not see Seattle chipping in, which is why Dow came up with the somewhat unrealistic claim that DSTT2 will “capture” $400 million from redevelopment of vacant city and county buildings. That is why the other subareas are so sanguine about Harrell’s and Constantine’s design for DSTT2. It isn’t their problem.

        If the CID or anyone on this blog really wants the $800 million shallow 4th Ave. station or a very expensive and deep midtown station the person to convince to pony up the difference is Harrell, but Seattle doesn’t have the money and he doesn’t plan to spend a dime of city money on ST.

        I think Ballard and West Seattle, and maybe SLU and other areas along WSBLE, are going to find this out. The word they are going to hear is “LID”, just like for the waterfront park.

      5. From a Pierce County transit rider perspective, I would want a refund, not an additional contribution, if we were shunted to the tunnel to nowhere (aka Ballard). Worse transit times, forced transfers from hell, most useful stops gone. Capital Hill. UW. Anyplace useful will be pushing 2 hours with triple transfers. Much worse that the status quo.

        I assume RV and South King should feel the same way. Paying more for worse service.

        And what if they (likely) run out of money before they reach the county border in 2035, or whenever it will be? Do we still kick in for a tunnel we couldn’t use, whether we wanted to or not?

        The more I think about it, the angrier I get at Keel and Dammeier, bending over for Dow and Bruce, rather than putting Pierce interests dead last.

      6. Yeah. And Walker. Tempted to try and get a face to face with walker. She might be receptive, given her history, and I work in her district.

        If I thought it would do any good.

  25. Interlining doesn’t even require admitting that the original ridership estimates were a lie. They can simply use COVID and work from home as an escape and say that circumstances have changed so that ridership estimates from 2015 aren’t accurate anymore.

    I also don’t buy the real estate development argument. What ever redevelopment of abandoned buildings king county wants to do, they could do anyway whether DSTT2 is actually built or not. It’s not like the site wouldn’t have good transit. We’re talking a mere block or two from the other tunnel.

    A part of me wonders whether some board members (e.g. Baldacci) actually want a single tunnel in secret, they will just never say it publicly out of fear of the other board members dismissing it out of hand and calling them obstructionist. This is a question no one will ever know the answer to.

    1. “A part of me wonders whether some board members (e.g. Baldacci) actually want a single tunnel in secret, they will just never say it publicly out of fear of the other board members dismissing it out of hand and calling them obstructionist. This is a question no one will ever know the answer to.”

      I don’t think she cares. Her constituents don’t care. Juarez, Constantine, Morales and Harrell all support CID N/S so why should a Board member from the eastside care or tell them they are wrong? At most her amendments were to assure East Link accesses DSTT1. Not one single voter in Balducci’s district will vote based on DSTT2, or even the three-year delay for East Link. This is a Seattle decision.

      1. I think the argument that nobody on the Eastside cares the slightest about anything transit related is far too simplistic. The Eastside is big and has lots of people with different opinions, and you do not speak for all them. I suppose you do not consider myself to be a “real” eastsider, not that matter, in the same way that right wing politicians don’t consider any of Seattle’s residents to be “real” Americans.

        In any case, it is a fact that Baldacci put forth an amendment to shuffle trains around between the tunnels so that Bellevue riders would have an easier transfer to go to the airport. Yes, it was rejected, but it nobody cared, she would not have wasted her breath proposing it. The fact that did proves that there exist at least some constituents on the Eastside that do care.

        Again, we don’t what she or any other board members really think about DSTT2 deep down. Maybe they all really do believe it’s necessary, maybe they are all simply saying so in order to not weaken the case for federal funding for ST3 projects. I don’t know. I am simply saying that if there do exist board members who deep down really do believe DSTT2 is unnecessary but are afraid to come out and publicly say it, it would be very ironic.

      2. Why would a Board member be afraid to say they think DSTT2 is unnecessary? As you note, Balducci proposed several amendments along with Millar. I doubt Millar is afraid.

        DSTT2 is part of ST3. It is a N KC project. The CID N/S alignment seems like the only alignment that satisfies all the stakeholders and strange brew of progressive Seattle politics, and extends a tunnel to SLU.

        It has been the transit and urban enthusiasts at the brew pub who have been claiming for years the area needs more transit capacity, that ridership will return, the region is urbanizing, the region will grow by 1 million residents by 2044 so we must upzone, upzone, upzone, cars don’t scale, parking doesn’t scale, ST’s ridership estimates are accurate, East Link will have 53,000 daily riders, and whenever someone from the suburbs questions these claims we are called NIMBY.

        But now the Board members for these suburbs are suppose to stand up at a public meeting and state ST, Dow and Constantine are lying, and they are there to save the Seattle from itself.

        They were there to make sure their contribution is capped at $275 million, and Balducci’s amendment was to make sure Dow knows if he tries to put East Link in DSTT2 she would put WS in DSTT2, so it was understood and agreed by the two big dawg subareas riders from the south would get DSTT2. 6% to 8% of passengers take Link to the airport. For eastsiders that might be 1-2%. Balducci wasn’t worried about an eastsider transferring at CID N to go south because there won’t be any.

        I am not saying there are not a few eastsiders on transit blogs who care about DSTT2 or East Link opening, but so far you are the only one I know about. Other than this blog I haven’t read anything in any Eastside paper or on an Eastside blog about DSTT2 or CID N/S, interlining, any of it.

        DSTT2 is a Seattle project. If the subarea wants to let the CID reject a station on 5th and the DSA a midtown station that is Seattle’s call, and if the money is there for all subareas CID N/S will be built and is the best solution I can see in such a politically dysfunctional city.

        The idea that the Board would pivot to interlining — over Constantine’s and Harrell’s recommendation — at this point in a public meeting including Juarez and Morales — and Seattle would give up $1.1 billion in subarea contributions until forced to because of “optimistic ” project cost estimates — was never realistic.

        DSTT2 is a Seattle project for Seattleites to solve, including the folks at the brewpub who denigrate the suburbs unless they need $1.1 billion for a tunnel with less than ideal station locations. Someone had to get DSTT2 and shock and surprise it will be S. Seattle, S. King, and Pierce.

    1. The amount of the contract does not surprise me, or that someone in politics is “Machiavellian” even when working for progressives. (What would you call Pelosi)? MI has paid an outside consultant $171,000 to design a roundabout in the Lid Park to slow bicyclists from Seattle coming down the hill, and then “paused” the plan due to citizen objections over the amount of concrete and diameter of the roundabout.

      What Barnett is saying that might be relevant is maybe the CID wants a station on 5th despite 10 years of disruption and negligible economic gains from the second station, although I did not get that feeling from the public outreach and public comments. At the same time, I have always wondered why ST did not negotiate mitigation with the CID for a station on 5th. According to Harrell, his relatives for generations have run small businesses in the CID and have put up with a lot (I saw today the police are finally clearing the homeless camp from under I-5 on King St. after Westneat’s article about Inslee’s and Seattle’s hypocrisy on this issue).

      I still think there is time to negotiate with the CID for a station on 5th if DSTT2 is really affordable (ST doesn’t want to commit to or build hundreds of millions in mitigation and then not built DSTT2). Of course, this has nothing to do with interlining and I didn’t see a petition signed by midtown stakeholders demanding a station in midtown. I am not a CID merchant or resident, but I don’t see any benefit from a station on 5th for DSTT2 for the CID, or worth 10 years of disruption so wonder about those who signed the petition. After all, what is the benefit to Harrell of skipping a station on 5th if the CID wanted one, because Barnett is suggesting Harrell manipulated the process to bypass the CID despite the neighborhood’s desire for a station?


        “A construction period for 10 to 12 years could cause irreparable harm,” Harrell said. “And this is a treasure; this is a gem.” Suggesting repeatedly that Fourth Avenue supporters were looking at the issue from a “pure transit plane,” Harrell said equity was more important than what makes sense for transit riders who may just be passing through the neighborhood.

        “Quite candidly, [the new option] came organically from the community,” Harrell said. As someone on the pro-CID station side of the room yelled, “Not true!” Harrell continued, “There are no backroom deals being made. We’ve been trying to be transparent. We’re trying to work openly and thinking out loud as things evolve.”

        “Many community members who testified—including the leaders of the Seattle CID Preservation and Development Authority (SCIPDA) * and Uwajimaya—argued that the majority of people in the CID actually support keeping the station in the neighborhood, as long as Sound Transit provides mitigation for construction impacts. “Simply put, this is the best choice for the future of our community,” said Jared Johnson, the co-executive director of SCIPDA. “To have a world-class transit hub at the doorstep of the CID means a future full of opportunity and connectivity for our residents and businesses.”

        This is from Barnett’s March 24, 2023 article.

        I get the feeling what the CID residents in the petition are asking for are BOTH the shallow 4th Ave. Station AND unspecified mitigation. If I were Dow or Harrell I would have noted that the cost of the shallow 4th Ave. station would require a LID from the CID rather than mitigation, but would have been interested if there was a mitigation package for a station on 5th Ave. that would be acceptable to a large majority of CID residents and businesses, because even Barnett notes the CID is deeply divided over a station on 5th Ave., and anyone who disagrees is labeled a racist.

        No wonder the four suburban subareas wanted to wash their hands of this typical Seattle s%$t show.

        * Harrell hired the exec. dir. of scidpa for the past 12 years in 2022.

      2. “A construction period for 10 to 12 years could cause irreparable harm,” Harrell said. “

        Just calling this timeline out! The revisions to the DEIS to finalize it won’t be until later in 2024. Then comes property acquisition.

        From 2025, that’s 2035-37. This makes West Seattle Link opening look far off.

        For DSTT2 and Ballard the funds are still way short. We may be talking well after 2045 before opening day.

      3. They started construction of the MAX tunnel in 1993, and it opened in 1998. Actual tunneling work took 16 months on the first bore and four months on the second bore.

        Point being: if they really wanted less than 10 years construction disruption to the CID, they could probably do so. It’d cost money, but would probably be worth it.

      4. Glenn, I think the MAX tunnel was built in very different circumstances. It wasn’t through the middle of a Downtown with skyscrapers and traffic. It had just the one deep station under Washington Park, rather than seven throughout Downtown Seattle.

        A more comparable timeline is that of recent second subway tunnels in Downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles. Those took 10-12 years — although the actual street closures were not taking the entire time.

  26. Clearly the board’s primary focus isn’t rider experience, and while unfortunate, it is understandable given that it is composed of politicians with broader concerns than transit. However, sub-optimal transit performance is not the only way in which the N/S CID alignment is problematic, and when considering impacts beyond the CID from a social justice perspective, seemingly an important factor for the board, it is abysmal.

    While it avoids disruption to the CID, it creates a network where whiter more affluent areas are given superior access to the core of the city at the expense of historically poorer and more diverse neighborhoods. The N/S CID DSTT2 is clearly worse than the current tunnel and the plan is to force riders from Rainier Valley and areas south, the most diverse areas in the state and a more affordable part of the urban region, to use this inferior tunnel or transfer. Meanwhile, Bellevue and West Seattle, both more affluent and whiter, are placed in the superior tunnel. Couple this with the fact that essentially the only portion of the network which runs at-grade through a non-industrial area is to be found in the Rainier Valley, and it renders our transit network a physical manifestation of socioeconomic inequality.

    It would seem that community organizations and social justice groups operating in the Rainier Valley and areas south of the city could be important allies for transit advocates, and there should be a focus on empowering these groups to weigh in on the issue, particularly since there seems to have been little to no concern from the board for the harm to these areas that this plan entails.

  27. I think it’s time to get back to the idea of an elected Sound Transit board. Sure there could be problems with that too, but it literally could not be any worse than it is now.

    I wonder if an initiative could be passed to do this, or if the legislation passed by the legislature enabling Sound Transit would preclude it.

    1. At the very least the System Expansion Committee should be run experts such as the transit planners of the various agencies of our region.

  28. I guess ST CEO Timm didn’t get Dow’s latest memo….

    “But she appreciates that people are passionate about getting it right, even if it means taking more time.

    “I would say that same frustration is shared inside the agency. We all feel the same way. We want to get it built. We want to be using it. We want to extend. We want to make sure we’re connecting up to Snohomish and down to Tacoma,” Timm said.

    “We want to get the spine built out. You will find no lack of that desire inside this agency either. And yet, as we build it, whatever it is that we build will be here for 50 to 100 years. It is the groundwork, the framework for all the mobility that we’re gonna be building in the future.”

  29. “There is a get together tonight at the Optimistic Brewery; folks from The Urbanist, Seattle Subway and Transit Riders Union are getting together to talk about transit. How many people on this blog are showing up? Anyone?”

    I would have gone if I’d have gotten more notice. Did anyone go?

    1. I would have if there had been a direct train from Tacoma to Capital Hill and back. ;)

      I really like Optimistic, and I’ve met up with a few of the urbanist writers in the past. Super-nice, approachable and open-minded.

    2. I mentioned it last week, but it got lost as folks focused on the board meeting. Anyway, I went down there, and assumed the event was outside. It wasn’t. I didn’t feel like being in a large indoor crowd without a mask, and didn’t feel like talking with my mask on the whole time. So I left. Hopefully they will have other events soon that include outdoor seating.

      1. Ross,

        I wish you would speak up more about the lack of basic and easy measures that can be taken to protect people’s health. I feel kind of lonely in the Comments space carrying the torch for the various immunocompromised populations that Transit has left behind.

        I have several co-workers who tell me how horrified they are at the disappearance of efforts to slow the virus down. But we get dismissed and treated like we are crazy when trying to bring this up to anyone who has the power to improve things outside of our job space.

        Indeed, I just had a store manager order her cashiers not to put a mask on when I kindly asked one of them if they would be willing to do so while I check out. (I was told that the same store manager had recently come through and removed all the plexiglass shields protecting the cashiers.)

      2. For whatever it’s worth, like Brent, I have been and continue to minimize interactions with people outside my immediate “bubble”, and that means not entering any interior space where there are unmasked people unless absolutely necessary. I do this to minimize chances of infection for two family members who are lung cancer survivors (one of whom is actively on chemotherapy). If that makes me part of the 1%, so be it.

        However, anecdotally, there are fewer than 100 active commenters here on STB, so Brent and I jointly form more than 1%. I would encourage people to be more open to the possibility that the minority Brent and I are in is in fact larger than it might seem to them.

      3. To anyone who wants transit to be safer covid-wise, you’re the head of ST or Metro, what would you do? Make masks mandatory again? And after it’s mandatory, when most riders are wearing ineffective masks, or wearing them on their chin or below their nose, or refuse to wear them, what should be done then?

      4. Sam: for whatever that’s worth, I don’t want to “make transit safer” because people will do people things. And people things involve stuff like not wearing masks properly, complaining about the mandates, vote for candidates which tell them they will repeal said mandates, etc.

        I will just vote with my feet, and not ride. I don’t expect the world to revolve around my needs, or my family’s. I am just fortunate enough to afford the alternatives.

      5. The formally-recognized immunocompromised population is about 4%. But that doesn’t include the vast majority of elderly (who, statistically, are much more vulnerable to bad outcomes from a COVID infection), or people in their households. Or people working in health care or other settings where they work with lots of vulnerable people. I’m in the last category. Anonymouse is in the third. I also know quite a few who are simply allies.

        I don’t have the luxury of just paying for a Lyft every time I have to travel several miles. And there is no guarantee the driver will be wearing a mask.

        If ST and Metro were to put wearing a mask in the Passenger Code of Conduct, I think the vast majority of riders would wear masks, so long as they are aware of the rule. Employees would certainly be wearing masks, which might clue the riders in. For those indignant about it, they would behave just as they are right now, with perhaps a bit more theatrics. I don’t think it would be that big a deal to the vast majority of riders. But it would make more feel safe returning to transit, if the word gets out.

        There was essentially no enforcement before a judge lifted the mandate and local officials didn’t issue a local mandate to fill the breach. I don’t expect anyone to be arrested for not wearing a mask any more than anyone ever faces arrest for playing the boombox too loud or eating or drinking on the bus. It is one of those common courtesies that people ought to just be doing. I’ll take 10% of the riders not wearing a mask over 50% not wearing a mask.

        That said, designating a car on each train and the top floor on each double decker as a masked-up zone would be a more surgical approach that would almost certainly not produce a backlash from the anti-maskers. I would ride the 1 Line a lot more often if at least one car wasn’t entireless manspread by the standing maskless.

        Let me close my off-topic digression with a word on who benefits from wearing a mask. An N95 stops 95% of particulates that approach the wearer’s face. But it also contains 95% of particulates that would otherwise enter the surrounding air. On top of it, just like the feeble masks, the particulates would tend to drop straight down rather than fly at other people. So, really, my mask is doing a lot more to protect those around me than it is doing to protect me. I’m making a decision about other people’s health to protect them. Those not wearing a mask around me are making a health decision to maximize the risk they can give me a very nasty respiratory pathogen.

        While some are learning to “live with” (i.e. ignore) COVID, it just keeps getting more infectious. We’ll blame Sir Charles Darwin for that.

    3. It may not seem like it sometimes, but community organizing is a skill. We need to find someone interested, who has that skill.

      I will do my part in Pierce mainly working the pols. Community organizing down here wouldn’t get results. People just don’t care.

      1. If you are told people just don’t care, and take the pronouncement to be correct, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        Asking strangers for money at the door is a special skill I never acquired as an adult, even though I was pretty decent at selling candy bars door-to-door for little league. Just talking with them (and, most importantly, listening to them) and getting an idea about their politics, and finding allies, takes a lot less skill than that.

    4. Maybe identify one of the leaders of the group with the signs supporting 4th shallow at the meeting, and convince them of the merit of 3 lines in the old tunnel.

      There clearly was some organizing skill there.

    5. It sounds like you need to get the editorial board all on the same page on whether this is a news-only blog or also a group willing to dabble in advocacy. I think the later is probably essential for survival, but I’m not an expert on the life-cycle of blogs.

  30. One of their board members is on a design review board and is insane with how he holds up projects. Another is running for city council and opposes density.

    1. Well, I’m glad you’ve done your homework on STB’s political slants.

      I’d love to see links about this anti-density candidate.

      1. “He wants to “control the burn” to avoid further gentrification and displacement in Black and Brown neighborhoods such as the Central District and the Chinatown-International District, which he says have absorbed “more than their fair share” of density. He said Seattle might be ready to end single-family zoning by 2050.”

        “Despite his passion for density, he’s less enthusiastic about doing away with single-family zoning. He said ending single-family zoning all at once would leave it up to the market to decide where new density occurs.”

      2. Is The Stranger capable of a single article without the F or S word in it? It is the most juvenile publication I have ever seen. The authors so clearly pander to their base, but are so unsophisticated, especially when it comes to money.

        And if the candidate in The Stranger article is too conservative Seattle is in for even more damage than the current council has done. If The Stranger, or anyone on this blog, took the time to follow King Co’s subcommittee on affordable housing they would find the subcommittee is just as concerned about gentrification from upzoning in poor communities of color as the candidate. But The Stranger authors are so young they can’t remember when Black people lived in The Central Dist. or in Columbia City.

        No wonder the CID thinks all white Seattle progressives are racists.

      3. OM_G, there is political diversity and nuance at Seattle Subway.

        I’m kicking myself for not voting to have approval voting in the primary. Hud1: Approve Hud2 and myself, and nobody else. Hud2: Approve Hud1 and myself, and nobody else. The Huds could have been our only choices in the general election, and only gotten 35% approval each in the primary. Okay I’m done kicking myself. The proposal was half-baked.

      4. Daniel Thompson,

        Seattle, along with most other Left Coast cities, are deeply racist and classist. Seattle and Portland have dropped non-White population and non-college educated population over the last 30 years. Because of housing prices rising, Seattle exported lower income minorities who called the City home for generations and imported higher income educated folks.

        The Stranger floats in this weird pool of college educated White Privilege. The reason the writers swear all the time is there’s angst about college educated kids not getting what they think they deserve. And heaven forbid anybody get in their way or oppose them.

        Look at I-135 (social housing) and all the suggested zoning and TOD plans that are pushed on this board. All these ideas make it magically possible for younger, lower income (but still well off) college grads to live in the City. “All we need to do is change the zoning so that “house rich” homeowner’s place can be flipped into a cool 4 plex I can afford” type of thinking. It all stinks of White Privilege to me.

  31. During the ST board discussion, Constantine asked Billen about the 2015 analysis of DSTT capacity; he said that if the west and Ballard lines were in the new tunnel, the DSTT would be over capacity. Was is the platform area needed for intending riders? Would that issue be well-mitigated by short headway? All three lines (e.g.,. east, south, and west could go through at least to Northgate; the DSTT might have a train every two minutes. Southbound, trains take peak riders to Sounder; all three lines reach IDS. As Balducci asserted, this scenario will be tested as we wait for the second tunnel to be designed and constructed. In 2015, working from home was not much of a thing; no one can know what the post Covid reset will be.

    1. > Constantine asked Billen about the 2015 analysis of DSTT capacity; he said that if the west and Ballard lines were in the new tunnel, the DSTT would be over capacity.

      It’s a minor issue but not really an actual blocker. After all the original plans in 2015 were to have it be a West Seattle – Ballard line or Ballard only stub. The idea for Seatac trains to Ballard and tunnel was added at the last moment. The capacity issue is brought up mainly as reasoning for why the other subareas should help pay for the tunnel. The Sound Transit board brings up capacity issues because they want to use the subarea money and so that is why they want to interline the trains. It is not the other way around that they wanted to interline (break the spine) the trains and so they thought of using subarea money.


      > Speaking of a new downtown Seattle tunnel, ST staff took the unusual step of editorializing at today’s board meeting in its presentation, nudging the board toward a Ballard-to-Tacoma option that would run a third line through a new downtown tunnel with transfer stations …
      > … The surprise proposal overlapped with ST’s revised version of subarea equity because while it’s the most expensive of the Ballard proposals (as much as $5.3 billion), it’s regionally focused, which would prompt voters in Tacoma to both vote for it and share the costs.

    2. I have a feeling that platform size may be dictated by some type of occupant load factor, likely through the state building code or through federal requirements for “fixed guideway” transit. I have never worked on a transit station before but from other use types, minimum square footage is assigned an occupant load such as concentrated assembly etc. This also dictates the amount of emergency exiting required. The higher the capacity, the greater the requirements are for life safety and egress features.

    3. What Billen said is only true if DSTT assumes three minute headways and current vehicles.

      The math is pretty clear that 2.5 minutes be right about at capacity with pre-Covid commuting trends, and 2 minutes is not a problem.

      Purchasing new vehicles with more capacity (fewer driver cabs) can also address the problem.

      The math also suggests that the single-line Beacon Hill tunnel will be overcrowded before a triple lined DSTT will be.

      I would also suspect that vertical conveyances would be a capacity issue before the platforms themselves. I’ve never seen an analysis showing how the increased demand requires more escalators or elevators. Thus, I’m naturally suspect about this claim.

      Finally, the overcrowded segment is between University St and CID, and it’s not clear how much of this added demand are bus transfers or short intra-Downtown trips that the model shifts to the tunnel and Link.

      I understand that what Billen is doing is defending his team’s forecasts that formed the basis of ST3 — and that the technical details are too nuanced for a Board meeting. Still, it’s pretty obvious that this is a shaky if not false technical conclusion that Billen stated.

    4. Eddie, based on my experience I would be very surprised if Constantine asked Billen this question cold in a public hearing to determine formal amendments to the DEIS. I am sure Constantine asked and rehearsed this question and answer with Billen well before the meeting. Constantine is a lawyer after all.

      But it wasn’t about interlining lines 1, 2 and 3 in DSTT1 because that was not a proposed amendment to the DEIS. Interlining was not on the agenda, no one had proposed it as an amendment, and so legally did not exist as an option at the hearing and does not exist as an alternative in the DEIS today after the hearing. Interlining was not discussed at the meeting because under Roberts Rules of Order it could not be discussed since no Board member had proposed it for discussion, and it would be a very material change to ST 3.

      The question was to address Balducci’s proposed amendment to have WS and Ballard use DSTT2, and the rest use DSTT1. Billen’s answer certainly did not support interlining because even with two tunnels he stated this scenario would overload one tunnel (although it does highlight how low ridership will be from WS and Ballard, and questions whether a separate tunnel for that ridership is a good investment based on dollar per rider mile, something ST does not like to discuss).

      Was Balducci simply being altruistic in her amendment, and doing the work for the reps from S. King, S. Seattle and Pierce who would have to use DSTT2? I doubt it. I also doubt she was concerned about the very few eastsiders who will take East Link to SeaTac and have to transfer at Pioneer Sq.

      Why would Balducci want to overload DSTT1 if East Link was going to use DSTT1? You would think one of those reps from the south would have asked how Lines 1 and 2 would overload DSTT1 if they don’t overload it today, and East Link trains will double frequency on DSTT1 on the busiest section of DSTT1 from the CID to Northgate and ridership from the east will be much lower than originally estimated, but that might require ST to admit its ridership estimates on Line 2 are way high. Oh well, the reps from S. Seattle, S. King and Pierce should have read this blog, or maybe someone on this blog should have explained this to their rep if they live south of Sodo BEFORE the meeting, joined in Balducci’s amendment for their own reasons and not rely on the altruism of Balducci.

      Balducci’s goal IMO was to make sure East Link used DSTT1, and if that was in question the clear alternative was to have WS and Ballard use DSTT2 because according to Billen someone has to use DSTT2. My guess is Dow figured if given time Balducci could explain to the other subareas why her amendment was a good idea (at least for them), but apparently those reps didn’t pick up on it. Dow’s goal was to made to have riders from the south use DSTT2.

      That being said I don’t think most on the Board see the huge difference between DSTT1 and DSTT2. IMO the CID is not a huge destination. CID N makes it to 5th and James rather than 2nd and University, both go to Westlake, and DSTT2 goes to SLU, the Seattle Center, and lower Queen Anne. As Mike likes to note, Ballard is Seattle’s fourth largest urban growth center, although I agree with Billen very few non-Ballardites will take Link to Ballard (or WS residents to anywhere).

      At this point it probably makes sense to move on, and begin review of the stations and route from Westlake to Ballard. A good lesson learned is to make sure your Board rep. understands what is written on this blog, and to make sure formal amendments are part of the hearing to formalize the DEIS. Talking to Board members after the vote on the DEIS for DSTT2 is too late, and unfortunately, they don’t read this blog. A common refrain among lawyers who lose trials is the jury were idiots who didn’t understand, but whose fault is that?

      1. “ At this point it probably makes sense to move on, and begin review of the stations and route from Westlake to Ballard. ”

        It makes sense to do this no matter what moves forward. The quality of the proposed rider experience has dramatically declined with each subsequent station design. Platforms get deeper. More stairs and longer paths keep happening with every single design iteration. If the average person has to use these stations, it’s bad enough — but someone who must use elevators (wheelchair, bicycle or stroller) is really in for a huge hassle!

        It’s clear that every refinement is to either mitigate construction disruption or address some property owner concern. No enhancements are occurring to improve the rider transfer experience.

      2. @Daniel T
        “I am sure Constantine asked and rehearsed this question and answer with Billen well before the meeting.”

        Oh really? Interesting. So you’re saying that ST’s PEPD guy Billen was a “friendly” witness at last Thursday’s board meeting? (“Now, Don, above all else, remember to stick to the scripted bullet points…regardless of what the others may ask. Understood?”)

    5. > All three lines (e.g.,. east, south, and west could go through at least to Northgate; the DSTT might have a train every two minutes. Southbound, trains take peak riders to Sounder; all three lines reach IDS. As Balducci asserted, this scenario will be tested as we wait for the second tunnel to be designed and constructed.

      I heard Balducci assert that.. I would like that to be true, but is that really the case? Are West Seattle trains going to be in the DSTT before the second tunnel opens? I thought the plan was to run a stub to SODO (which I think is a dumb idea.)

      1. The realignment schedule has West Seattle-SODO in 2032; DSTT2, Smith Cove, the spine split, and the rest of SODO in 2037; and Ballard in 2039. The dates may slip but as far as we know the project order will remain.

      2. Wow, I didn’t know Denny to Smith Cove and Smith Cove to Ballard were separate line items on the realigned Capital Program. Does that mean they could actually be built first or is this just a fiscal analysis?

        If Westlake to Ballard were a separate line item then maybe that could be built first. They are both subway stations in the middle of a subway line. Was the choice of Denny as the separator an arbitrary one in that program?

      3. @ Jonathan

        Smith cove was identified as a minimal viable segment to start running trains. I can find more details if you want

      4. Sorry to elaborate a bit the reason why Smith Cove can start running is because that location exits from the downtown tunnel. The next section north of Smith cove is a separate tunnel.

        You typically can’t start running trains if you want to continue further tunneling the same tunnel as the previous sections is used to take the dirt out from. I think Denny is an arbitrary point versus just saying smith cove to ID as it can’t be used until at least that portion is complete.

      5. The realignment split Smith Cove to a separate phase so that it could open even if Ballard wasn’t ready yet. It also split Mariner/128th so that it could open even if Everett Station and Paine Field weren’t ready yet.

      6. “eddiew
        stub = dumb“

        You prefer having half the passengers transfer using 9 levels of escalators?

        Because that’s the alternative proposed by SpundTransit.

      7. @Glenn — I’m confused. I assume eddie is saying that a stub to Smith Cove is stupid. I happen to agree. What does a stub really get you:

        * Smith Cove itself — Nothing much there. Just one office building, really.
        * Seattle Center to downtown — The monorail does that.
        * SLU — Terrible place for a station. Meant as a connector for buses to Link. Works OK for trips to Uptown. For trips downtown, riders will stay on the bus. For trips to Rainier Valley/airport, it saves them a couple minutes. (Sound Transit still doesn’t understand that bus/rail transfers should be perpendicular, not parallel).
        * Denny — Remarkably close to Westlake.

        From a bus restructure standpoint, it allows the D to skip downtown. The Magnolia buses remain the same. The D still has to deal with the Ballard Bridge, along with the time consuming Dravus stop.

        Put it together and you really have very little. So little that you would probably be better off sending all the trains into the existing tunnel (with the south end train ending at Northgate). In other words, I wouldn’t want that stub tunnel thing even if it was free. OK, that is probably a stretch, but not much of one.

  32. So, at the end of the day where is the money going to come from to build WSBLE? It’s going to be interesting to see the updated annual capital program review report which should be coming out next month according to plan. Remember that one of the things that the resolution passed by the board for the ST3 “realignment plan” in 2021 was a requirement for this annual reporting. Here’s a refresher on some of the details from the April 2022 report:

    Long Range Financial Plan (2017-2046)
    (YOE$, in millions)

    2021 Realignment vs Spring 2022 Update and delta
    CapEx- $68,791/70,907/+2,117
    O&M- $32,587/37,026/+4,440
    SOGR- $8,950/9,716/+766
    Reserves- $1,694/2,112/+418
    Debt Serv- $19,475/22,566/+3090

    Total- $131,496/142,327/+10,831

    Yes, this update increased the financial plan by almost $11B in less than a year’s timeframe.

    Moving on…..

    Project Affordability Gap

    Four* ST3 projects have been identified as having funding gaps:

    (All figures listed in 2022$, in millions.)

    Target Schedule Affordable Budget vs Current (Spring 2022 update) Estimate and resulting gap

    WSBLE- $11,931/14,131/(2,200)
    Everett LE- $5,194/5,694/(500)
    Tacoma CC LE- $871/891/(20)
    Issaquah LE- $3,472/3,572/(100)

    Total Funding Gap- $2,820

    *For the purposes here, ST continued to combine the West Seattle and Ballard Link extensions as one project.

    1. Great post Tisgwm. Missing is the cost of stations at 130th and Graham St., and their significant increase in cost. IIRC WSBLE has gone from $6 billion in 2015-16 to $9 billion to $12 billion to $14 billion to $15 billion in the Seattle Times recently, while DSTT2 has miraculously stayed at $2.2 billion (although Lindblom tweeted the cost at $3.1 billion). My over/under is still $20 billion.

      When you write, “Four* ST3 projects have been identified as having funding gaps” I got a laugh because are there any other ST 3 Link projects (except maybe Redmond). And what about FWLE. Surely the suspension bridge is not within budget.

      I think the smoking gun many miss is “O&M- $32,587/37,026/+4,440”. ST recently increased future capital maintenance by $1.2 billion, while farebox recovery has fallen significantly. The hole just today is pretty deep for O&M.

      The other smoking gun is “Debt Serv- $19,475/22,566/+3090” which I assume is due to higher interest rates and the five-year extension in project completion which according to the Board solved a $6 billion deficit in the realignment.

      ST has raised the prospect of LID’s, like $200 million for a station on 15th in Ballard, but the funding gap for WSBLE is so huge I think these LID figures are spit in the ocean.

      The one take away I got from the Board’s meeting on the DEIS for DSTT2 is four subareas believe their contribution — if they have it, and your numbers above suggest they don’t when you include TDLE — is capped at $275 million each.

      1. It seems like the inevitable, but unfortunate outcome outcome is that they build DSTT2 first (with the CID north/south as Dow proposes), then cut/defer on the west Seattle and Ballard ends as necessary to make everything fit within budget. The final outcome could get very ugly very fast. Imagine West Seattle getting a single station underneath the West Seattle bridge at Delridge that even Junction riders have to take a bus in order to get to. Or, on the Ballard end, having the ship canal crossing get deferred indefinitely, leaving Ballard riders with a bus to a station at Thorndyke or Smith Cove. So, the end result becomes Ballard and West Seattle getting essentially nothing, with DSTT2 accomplishing little except putting Everett and Tacoma riders into separate tunnels to provide increased capacity that will never be needed. I guess SLU will get Link service out of this, so that’s something, but hardly worthy of applause for the huge sums of money paid. And all because of so much money being thrown away at a new tunnel that adds Link service to nowhere that doesn’t already have it, just to justify phantom ridership estimates.

      2. Ooof. That does seem quite plausible asdf2. The least cost-effective pieces built first, and the most cost effective pieces put off indefinitely.

      3. “The least cost-effective pieces built first, and the most cost effective pieces put off indefinitely.”

        Exactly. It’s all in slow-motion, but that appears to be what’s happening. And, somewhat ironically, the two exceptions to this are both located in the East King subarea. The downtown Redmond Link extension and 522 STRIDE are both supposed to open in the next two years, and both of which, intuitively seem like they ought to be among the most cost-effective ST3 projects, particularly if the Seattle Link extensions end up being bungled due to DSTT2 going over budget, as is looking increasingly likely.

      4. asdf2, it appears that ST plans to build WSLE first, then downtown, then Smith Cove and finally Ballard. Yes, the most sensible destination will probably get cut. That’s one reason I have been advocating for a single tunnel so that we can focus on Ballard first while putting off WS.

      5. WSBLE is starting from the wrong end. It should be starting from UW to Ballard so it accomplishes something new and useful. By the time it gets to Westlake (where it should actually continue to First Hill to accomplish something new and useful) it has already delivered 90% of the value of continuing through downtown.

        By the time it gets to West Seattle the incremental value delivered turns negative because West Seattle travel times generally get worse and most people will now need to transfer.

      6. What would the cost be for a subway between UW and Ballard? What is ridership today on buses on this same route?

        One funding vehicle I can see is renewal of the Move Seattle levy in 2024, although half ($500 million) of the projects promised in the expiring Move Seattle levy were never completed due to “optimistic” project cost estimates and will probably roll into the renewal levy.

        Maybe if there is a LID for Ballard to move the Link station to 15th or 20th (or underground) a subway from Ballard to UW could be added to the LID, but then we are talking billions.

        The key to any of these projects is to identify the funding source. I don’t think N KC will have the Link funding for a Ballard to UW subway which would probably require a ST 4 to add the project to the list, and my gut feeling is many of these transit projects are moving to local funding through LID’s like the waterfront park. I think if the neighborhood and local citizens pay for these projects directly they will be more interested in the value, such as dollar per rider mile and farebox recovery.

        The other issue we learned from DSTT2 is to anticipate stakeholder objections to construction. Will businesses and residents along 45th agree to many years of closing 45th when that street is already so busy, or residents along neighboring streets where the traffic will move. Probably a small of fraction of people using 45th between Ballard and the UW are going to either. . Even if their concerns can be mitigated it is unlikely these non-Ballard areas will agree to contribute to a LID for this subway as it primarily benefits Ballard at the detriment of all other users of 45th. So like the CID and DSTT2 even if the money is there the political will may not be, and Morales, Juarez and Harrell all proved they will side with the neighbors and stakeholders, and Harrell will rightly note the city has no money to contribute to the project.

      7. Jonathan, how do you run the first leg of your planned “C” shaped-line? That is, how does Ballard-UW, the first step, operate? You absolutely, positively, without doubt will never convince ST to break into the Spine tunnel in the U District. Which means you’re dependent on the new MF we’ve all agreed can be built in Interbay just north of the Magnolia Bridge.

        But that means that you can’t run the line until you build the Ship Canal crossing, the most expensive and contentious part of BLE north of the Elliott Avenue portal.

        So, while this is attractive because “it serves a new area”, it’s not really practical. If Seattle wants quality east-west transit in the 45th Street corridor, it has the ability to create it by giving the buses more priority.

        It’s simply “not that far” that frequent buses can’t do the job well.

      8. Jonathan, UW would be a new line and therefore require a new vote. It might be easier to start with SLU/Ballard and make sure a UW extension can be added later.

    2. In fairness to ST, Tlsgwm, the biggest increase was in Debt Service. We can thank the Federal Reserve’s efforts to calm inflation for that; an increase of $8 billion in the other line items would not cause an increase of $3 billion in debt service by itself.

      That is not to say that we all should have expected this at some time in the life of a thirty year project. But if the Fed is successful in taming inflation — yes, a significant “if” — then we’ll see negative numbers in that line item.

      We have the opportunity to make significant decreases in the CapEx line by shrinking stations and train sizes on the Ballard stub and, probably, on Issaquah-South Kirkland. Since large parts of it will be at-grade, it’s not a good candidate for automation, but it can probably run with shorter trains forever.

      A Ballard stub can absolutely be automated, decreasing O&M, at least for that line, and maybe headways can be stretched at the ends of the line, say twenty minutes north of Mariner and to West Seattle.

      Yes, I know twenty minute service sucks. But there will never be enough demand north Mariner for more than two and a half four car trains. Al’s idea of turning NoM into an eBART clone makes sense.

      1. My issue with these projects is that they perform badly for the most part!

        Here again is the hyperlink to the demand diagrams in a most optimistic higher-demand 2040:

        From no improvement and even increases in transit travel times to no added mode share to low demand for long stretches — especially north of Mariner as well as to Issaquah (both resulting in times slower than today), it’s clear how much of a boondoggle much of ST3 is.

        More troubling is that the Board just seems to want to build! Heaven forbid that it’s beneficial to riders or helps global warming. Big property owner XXX wants the station next to his property and big property owner YYY doesn’t. The project development doesn’t seem to care about anything else.

        The entire program relies on New Starts money too — and because there are only a few regions with ambitious rail expansion plans the eagerness to fund things in DC fades.

        It’s like the Board has been at this six-year long party with a “free bar” and getting drunk with the power of spending public investment dollars. Well the booze can’t be afforded and the party lights are getting turned on once ST2 is operating a few years.

        ST can’t run empty trains at 6 minutes for a half an hour in each direction for very many years while places like the Beacon Hill tunnel get overcrowded. the Board is still too drunk with power to get that their party is not sustainable.

      2. > But there will never be enough demand north Mariner for more than two and a half four car trains. Al’s idea of turning NoM into an eBART clone makes sense.

        I understand trying to make North Mariner cost less, but I don’t understand the eBART idea. The idea of the eBART savings came from using simpler track and smaller cars. In this case it really wouldn’t matter, you’d have to build practically the same alignment and if you want to run less trains just run less trains. The eBART is not magically faster than BART trains it is mainly just a fast and level route with few station stops per mile from Pittsburg to Hillcrest.

        Alternatively if you want to make it cost less for North of Mariner, I’d say build up i-5 and build an 3~4 mile Airtrain (similar to JFK) which will tamper down the elevated 7 mile detour for 3 mile straight shot up i5

      3. WL, EBart has top speeds 25 mph faster than Link and the station spacing north of Mariner (about every 4 miles) is almost identical.

        If you look at the data, you’ll also see that about 80 percent of the riders forecasted as the trains approached Mariner are coming from Downtown Everett. So that’s a long stretch picking up almost no one.

      4. @Al S.

        > WL, EBart has top speeds 25 mph faster than Link and the station spacing north of Mariner (about every 4 miles) is almost identical.

        If Sound Transit wanted Link trains that could run faster or they could just order them. They run only at 55 max speed because practically there is no track where it could run any faster and be useful. Also the stations are not spaced every 4 miles but around every 1~1.5 miles

        For comparison look at Dallas’ DART Trains they are also Kinkisharyo LRV trains and can go 70 mph but DART wanted them to go faster (and also they have wide station stops).

        Secondly in the case of eBart and many DART routes it is a straight shot, even for the Mariner route there’s a sharp turn right after the Mariner station, then after the SR 526 station. There’s really only a long straight section for the part on i5 to Everett. For comparison for the existing 1 Line the only long section between link stations: Tukwila station to TIBS section it unfortunately has relatively sharp curves every so often.

        > If you look at the data, you’ll also see that about 80 percent of the riders forecasted as the trains approached Mariner are coming from Downtown Everett. So that’s a long stretch picking up almost no one.

        I’m not debating this part, I’m debating that using eBart will save virtually zero money as you’ll still have to build the tracks which are the main cost. It is not like where BART used wide tracks and very expensive third rail. If you want to run fewer trains, then just run few Link trains north of Mariner.

      5. “ Also the stations are not spaced every 4 miles but around every 1~1.5 miles.”

        You should really check out a map. Mariner to Seawsy transit center is not 1.5 miles; it looks to be at least 4 miles. Seaway to 99/526 looks to be about 1.5 to 2 miles as you say, but 99/526 to Downtown Everett is well over 4 miles.

        ST says that the Everett slink Extension is 16 miles. Lynnwood City Center to Mariner is about 5 miles (exits 181 and 186). That leaves 11 miles with only two interim stations.

        Curiously, this same web pages says it will take 33 minutes to go from Lynnwood City Center to Downtown Everett. Compare that to the 22 minutes to go from Everett to Mountlake Terrace stop (south of Lynnwood) according to the STX 510 schedule.

      6. I’ve become increasingly pessimistic about Everett Link. I always thought it was going to be a challenge, but had a chance of success. Now I feel that chance is lower and lower. You have to get the stations just right, and they aren’t doing that.

        Ultimately, it will fail for the same reason similar systems fail in the United States. It is a hybrid system, but is miserable at both. This is common. People are afraid to add a lot of stations in Everett, since it is a long way from downtown Everett to Seattle. But they don’t want to make it an express either. So they split the difference. They have a handful of stations between Lynnwood and Everett. This wouldn’t be terrible if these were premier destinations, but they aren’t. Thus it will fail as commuter rail (it will take too long to get from Everett to Seattle) and it will fail as an Everett metro. Buses would have been better in both cases.

        I don’t think converting it to eBART would make much difference. The line would be a bit faster, but still pretty slow compared to express buses, which as it turns out, don’t carry that many riders. Prior to the pandemic, the 510 had about 500 riders from downtown Everett, and another 350 from South Everett. The 510 had about 450 and 200, respectively. That just isn’t that many. These numbers have gone way down, and I don’t see how any train line will help, given that the these trips will be slower.

        So that leaves basically the trips within Snohomish County. Now you get into the other problem — very few stops along the way. None of them are particular good. Then you have the fact that the 201/202 will poach many of the riders. Overall, it just looks like very few riders north of Lynnwood, let alone Mariner.

        The best hope for Snohomish County is that they come to their senses, and stop extending Link at some point. They get diminishing returns after Lynnwood, and there is little to be gained with each extension. This makes it different than WSBLE, where everything is being built backwards (first West Seattle to SoDo, then SoDo to Smith Cove). Ideally they end the Snohomish County line at Lynnwood, but if they go farther to Ash Way or even Mariner it isn’t the end of the world. They won’t have blown too much money. At they are building things in the right order in Snohomish County.

      7. WL, yeah I agree. I don’t think Link should go beyond Alderwood Mall; that little extension makes sense to give the north end of the line an anchor. But SnoHoCo seems hell-bent on “Everett or Bust” and it is their money that’s being blown. Maybe they’ll come to their senses, but probably not until the thing is actually running empty.

      8. I’ve posted this a few times in the past but perhaps it bears repeating in the context of this conversation. The transit portion of the failed 2007 Roads and Transit measure had Ash Way as the northern terminus for the next phase of the region’s light rail expansion. They got that part right, but sadly, and it got cut off (along with Alderwood) in the next iteration which became ST2. Imho, this should be the northernmost station and I have always maintained that the ST2 decision was shortsighted in this regard. Everett Link is just a foolish idea and I agree with Ross here: it will fail as currently planned. Lucky for him, SnoCo Executive Somers will be long gone by the time the fiscal reality comes crashing down.

        An aside….thank you STB editors for allowing this admittedly OT discussion to be posted here. :)

      9. @Tom T

        Just a quick reply to this:
        “In fairness to ST, Tlsgwm, the biggest increase was in Debt Service. We can thank the Federal Reserve’s efforts to calm inflation for that; an increase of $8 billion in the other line items would not cause an increase of $3 billion in debt service by itself.”

        With regard to the April 2022 update to the financial plan, the largest increase was in O&M expense actually. The debt servicing expense did increase substantially as well but that is mostly due to the higher reliance on debt financing itself as a result of the overall restructuring. For example, take a look at the other side of the income statement (“sources and uses” in this case) and you’ll see the sizeable increase in this source:

        Bonds & TIFIA Proceeds, Cash
        (YOE$, in millions)

        2021 Realignment- $ 22,804
        Apr 2022 Update- $29,699
        Change- +$6,895 (30%)

        I would suggest reading the details in the section “4.3.2. Shifts in financing and agency debt capacity” for further clarification (pages 23-27 of the report). Additionally, the bonding assumptions built into the LRFP are spelled out in this same section.

  33. Tisgwm, just like I think sometimes some on this blog forget subareas are all competing with one another when necessary, it is the same for cities within a county. For example, Bellevue and Seattle are in the same county, but fierce rivals.

    If Link ends at Lynnwood then Everett will worry Lynnwood will become the major city in the county. Same with Tacoma and FWLE. Same with Issaquah that has no interest in Link at all, except in 2016 cities and regions were sold on the dream that if you didn’t have a Link station you were a second-tier city. If Redmond was getting Link so were Issaquah and Kirkland, although neither really wants it near them. But they don’t see themselves as Renton either.

    Everett sees itself as the county seat, and Tacoma sees itself as the county seat, and neither are going to risk that by having Link end before them, even if there is one station in each (plus Fife). Ross has noted what really should have happened: Link should have run north from Lynnwood to Everett and a bit in Everett, and probably same for FW to downtown Tacoma. Where the buses made sense was from FW to maybe SeaTac or Angle Lake, and Lynnwood to Northgate Link.

  34. Ross has noted what really should have happened: Link should have run north from Lynnwood to Everett and a bit in Everett, and probably same for FW to downtown Tacoma. Where the buses made sense was from FW to maybe SeaTac or Angle Lake, and Lynnwood to Northgate Link.

    For the record, I never felt like Link should go farther north than Lynnwood, or farther south than Federal Way. In fact, I don’t think it should have gone that far. In the north it could have ended at 145th, as long as WSDOT (or ST) built a good connection to the station from the HOV lanes of the freeway. Likewise to the south. At long at you get that connections to the freeway (presumably right after SeaTac) that is fine. Ultimately, they are getting that with Lynnwood and Federal Way. It is farther than it needs to be, but not horribly so.

    Beyond there and you very quickly diminishing returns. I did make the point that if you are going to go all the way to the Tacoma Dome, then you should go to downtown Tacoma. Going all the way to the Tacoma Dome (or downtown Tacoma) from Federal Way is a bad deal, but at that point, extending the line to the Tacoma Dome is not. In the case of Everett, it actually will run to the main transit center, which is relatively close to downtown. I don’t think you would get much with an extension, as I don’t think many people will ride Link north of Lynnwood, no matter what you do.

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