The Jefferson Street Funicular

The latest idea for ST3 station placement in Downtown has the planned Midtown Station on the chopping block in favor of an expanded station at Pioneer Square where transfers between lines will be made.  This is not a great idea for efficient Link transfers.  But I started thinking about the possibilities of what an expanded Pioneer Square Station could be.

As luck would have it, there are other amazing transit use cases for a redeveloped King County Administration Building.  Uses that mitigate a lost station at Midtown and support The One Tunnel option.  Uses that would serve a dense neighborhood and large employers adjacent to the station.

Let’s start with an idea, a first principle if you will, that rider experience matters. Rider experience should always be our #1 assumption for station and network design.  Stations should be built as close to the surface as possible, with easy-to-understand wayfinding, built with properly sized and redundant conveyances to the platform, allow platform-to-platform transfers in as short a distance as possible, and station exits should be positioned to seamlessly connect to other modes.  I would use a station that did all of that, wouldn’t you?

With this in mind, I propose a two-station funicular train in an elevated alignment in the Jefferson Street right of way. The entire length of track is about 450 meters (~1500 ft). The downtown terminus will be in the mezzanine of a rebuilt administration building at 4rd and Jefferson, and the upper terminus at street level on the NW corner of 9th and Jefferson at Harborview.  A bridge or overpass will carry the train over I-5. To get to the lower terminus from Pioneer Square Station, passageways will be cut on the east side of the mezzanines under 3rd to 4th avenue and into the new structure.  There should also be additional street entrances to Pioneer Square Station on the west side of 4th and the east side of 3rd between Jefferson and James.

More below the fold.

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