Comments

1
So the council opposes long-term transit expansion? Lame.

Unless a non-O'Brien councilmember does something explicitly pro-longterm transit, I will assume they are in the "buses are good enough, fund the freeways" wing with Kemper Freeman.
3
Shame on Licata and his shitty amendment.
4
mcginn again has a decent idea. but being that he is pretty fucking stupid & he threw it out there at the last minute wo/ appropriate planning, all he can really use it for is as a campaign slogan. of course, maybe that was the goal & he's not quite so stupid after all.
5
The mayor needs to look in the mirror and ask the tough questions about his draft plan, its funding structure. He can put his light rail plan together and put it up for a vote of the people.

It will be great to see that awesome plan on a ballot on its own, and not have it held back by those other things.

What does he want to buy, how will it get paid for, when does the project start and stop. Will there have to be a final plan to approve, or will he want to rush this through?
6
So, ~$6 million for maint, ~$4 million for bike/ped, and $10 million for transit.

SDOT 2011 Adopted budget for major maint is $52.6, Endorsed 2012 is $44.4 - so this proposal as structured will not even preserve existing expenditure levels, and reduces maint budget below 2009 ($51.6 mil). Street repair is ~$19.9 mil in 2012 up from $13.9 in 2009.

Ped/bike capital budget 2012 Endorsed ~$7.1 mil, 2009 actual was $9.6 mil. So a net increase in that category.

What I don't get is the continued announcements regarding major maintenance backlog growth (which does include sidewalks & bikes to a degree) and little/nothing is being done. According to SDOT's figures, maintenance needs are continuing to increase and yet even with this $60 tab we budget a lower overall percentage of the transportation fund to address this. And we keep funding new facilities that need to be maintained in these packages.

Very frustrating to see.

7
Licata's amendment allows for planning and work on extending the First Hill Streetcar from Denny to Aloha, and for connecting the SLU and First Hill Streetcars.
8
@5: Did you not read the CTACIII recommendations?

CTACIII laid it all out. PLEASE, just go read what they said. It's not too hard to see that they've made it easy to go ahead with a ton of work. There is nothing new or controversial behind this.

They said there are 15 corridors, Nelson/Nygaard laid out some of the 15 corridors to get a clue on what it would cost or entail. The streetcar plan is in line with the streetcar plans we've seen in cities like Portland and San Antonio, TX. Portland is finishing their eastside loop and their leading mayoral candidate intends on finishing the streetcar network, meanwhile San Antonio, TX just got the go ahead for an expedited funding scheme to complete their first streetcar line and begin work on their second.

This should be a no-brainer, but people are trying to score political points.

McGinn didn't even come up with anything new, he just echoed CTACIII's recommendations and pointed out suggestions for projects, several ready to begin engineering and scoping. There is nothing out of step with suggesting work on streetcar lines.

If it makes any of you feel better, this isn't even an original thought from McGinn, he's just urging leadership.

Don't call him an obstructionist and then do exactly that, folks.
9
@7: What is your boss' intent, then? He's got quite a questionable background on supporting large transit projects so there's quite a few progressives out there wary of any transit-related amendment that Nick pushes out.
10
@ 8, those are "recommendations". How much would light rail cost? Where is the project planning?
He wants an unending funding stream that would not pass his own criticism of the tunnel.

The council is better off going with $60, and the mayor can get his shit together and produce a plan for the voter to vote on.

It's a fine idea, but an undeveloped plan.
11
Sdot can tell you how much a mile of road, sidewalk, bike lane costs. A mile of light rail is either as much as ST paid, or McGinn's opinion that it can be done cheaper.

That's not recurring budget material.
12
Let's not forget how god damn far off they were on their guestimation of the sea wall project was.
13
Why does Licata seem to so often oppose rail? What is his issue with it?
14
@10: Here's one corridor suggestion with cost estimates: http://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content…

And STB has a few more. One was a $300mil line to Ballard/Fremont that draws as many riders as Link which cost 3x as much.

We need to stop kicking light rail down the road. Seattle deserves better leadership than what city council is showing.
15
@13: It's not a car or car-like.
16
The street cars really are pretty retarded though. Same quality of service as buses, much more expensive.
17
@15 if we suggest a streetcar designed to look like a car, could we get him to support it as a trojan rail?
18
"I think only the mayor has suggested that here at City Hall," Rasmussen says. Although McGinn has asked that council members "be bold" and approve his proposal, his 11th-hour request is troubled by logistical hurdles. For instance, the city's Transit Master Plan that identifies rail corridors is still in draft form, a never-ending tax is believed to scare off voters, and an $80 price tag may seem excessive. Plus, no council member has sponsored such a resolution. "It’s writing a check for a project that has no design, no plans, no route." Rasmussen says. "I think voters would catch on really fast: Wait, what are we paying for?"
19
@17: We'll just say the "street" in "streetcar" is silent!
20
@18: That's how transit planning works. That's how every other city is doing it except for Austin. You pick corridors, tell folks which ones you'd like, then when you get funding you weed out the ones that you can afford and that are needed at the time.

Hell, we did that with ST2. They had a few ideas but were otherwise not entirely sure on what the LPA would be for any of the routes.

I don't get how these politicians can wag their tongues over "process" and shrug off cost but immediately wilt over a common transit planning scheme.
21
Streetcars are not light rail. They have different names because they are different transportation modes.

The cost of sidewalks is roughly $100,000 per block-face. As of a couple years ago, Seattle had 12,300 blocks without sidewalks. At the rate we're paving sidewalks now, it will take more than 800 years to fill the sidewalk construction backlog--not counting maintenance.

We need a Sidewalks for All package. Olympia did it, so can we. Another $5 million a year in bike and ped funding is a joke considering there are $250 million worth of unfunded projects identified in the Bicycle Master Plan and $840 million of them just in Tier 1 (of five) of the Pedestrian Master Plan. How are folks going to get to and from transit without decent biking or walking conditions? We need sidewalks, and every neighborhood would vote for them.
22
Yes, Baconcat @8, we read CTAC III (and also noticed that you did not link to it). They did not recommend an $80 tab in perpetuity. They did make suggestions regarding how an annual $80 tab should be spent, if the TBD were to impose such a fee. The key recommendation was as follows:
Make improvements along 15 corridors prioritized by Seattle’s Transit Master Plan. These improvements can include speed and reliability improvements along each corridor; enhancement and expansion of the electric trolley bus network; alternatives analysis, planning, design and construction of high capacity transit systems (e.g. bus rapid transit or streetcar/rail systems); and updates to the transit master plan. Projects should be cost-effective, make Seattle’s transit system work better and encourage an increased share of all trips in Seattle are by transit.

You will note that this is not a wholesale recommendation to start building streetcars.

Just because you get a hard-on when you see the word "streetcar" in a report, doesn't mean you should ignore the context. It may well be that trolleys, or bus rapid transit, is more appropriate. The point is, CTAC III did not take a position on that. So to insist that CTAC III recommended an $80 car tab in perpetuity to fund streetcars is more dishonest bullshit--about what we've come to expect from you.
23
So McGinn took leadership classes from Obama?
24
@22: Go back and read what I wrote. It says that the "suggestion to build streetcars" is not out of line with CTACIII. Like everyone, I have my preferred mode and priorities. Streetcars happen to be the next biggest idea for me after sidewalks and safe routes.

Don't contort what I've said when it's a quick scroll above. ;)
25
@20. No. No it isn't, not even close.
26
@24, and that is not a plan.
Before creating an inflexible investment have an executable plan.

Streets can be repainted, buses re-routed, neighborhoods have waited for sidewalks for decades (the houses are not moving anytime soon), but sticking rails in the ground is a different matter.
27
@25/@26: Did we have a fixed plan for East Link? North Link? South Link? We still voted on it before we had an "executable plan". Hell, we're still arguing on where the First Hill Streetcar should go.

We identified corridors, the effects of the modes. For the Portland Streetcar, the LPA for the main line trailed funding by months, for the Eastside Loop, the LPA trailed funding by years. And now their main candidate for mayor Charlie Hales is asking for money to jumpstart the process of streetcars (I think the Sandy corridor is his preferred big start), which is considerably more difficult to do in Portland since they can't make many "asks" of the population and their funding comes through giant legislative hoops.

By the way, if we went by the metric of having an "executable plan", the authorizing legislation for the DBT wouldn't have been passed in 2009.
28
It's fine, we just need an $80 head tax now to pay for the streetcar network.
29
@16, "Same quality of service as buses..." except for:

Most buses run on diesel and are less efficient per person mile than single occupancy cars, whereas the streetcars run off renewable hydroelectric. Buses are much noisier. Streetcars are almost always cleaner. Streetcars have a smooth ride; buses (as the road's heaviest vehicles) create potholes, then enlarge them by hitting the same spots with every trip, so the ride usually sucks. Streetcars are pretty much always on time, buses almost never. If you try to reduce your commute by moving to within walking distance of a streetcar station, it's pretty much a given that the hours of service aren't going to get slashed or the nearest stop closed as happens so often with buses. The routes and schedules are fixed and much, much easier to interpret than with the bus, essentially removing a huge hurdle for people on the fence about using transit.

Buses go more places, that's their only advantage over streetcars. If you add in the hidden cost of road maintenance cleaning up after the buses and compare that to building rails, the streetcars aren't that much more expensive.
30
As far as sidewalks go, the places without sidewalks are virtually all in areas with very light pedestrian traffic, and none of those routes connect population centers to transit stations. What we do need is some serious sidewalk refurb along Pike and Pine between 12th and Bellevue, and along Bellevue and Olive Way. Those are some of the busiest sidewalks in the city and some of the most difficult to navigate. Hopefully we can begin by taking the asswipe who designed the sidewalk along Pine between Summit and Belmont and bury him under a slab.
31
@ 16, I don't agree entirely but... streetcars ARE pretty lame. They're a too slow, lego, Portland-style BAND-AID that progressives like me love to drool over. Except that I think they ARE retarded because they're very slow and get bogged in traffic like cars and busses.

If we want REAL transit, Monorail or subway are ALWAYS the best solutions. RIGHT OF WAY is key.

If we're not going to make serious investment in mass transit, let's just admit our cowardice and not waste the money on these boondoggle toys. Just add more trolley busses instead. And make their routes best-bus/rapid transit.

As for how to pay for it, well, @23, if McGinn and Obama weren't terrible leaders, there'd be money from the stimulus package that blew so many future dollars on oil-dregs blacktop. What a scam.

Or, we could have told the idiots on council that a complete public transport system is MUCH MORE important than fixing the Mercer mess so that SOVs can get onto I-5 faster to leave our great city for the wretched 'burbs.

Sigh.
32
As long as this is seen as McGinn's tax, only the loony 30% who support him will support handing over $80 a year additional taxes.

"Wait, what are we paying for?"

When has that ever stopped the loony left

Of course, street cars = earnest white liberals with master degrees, buses = negroes. That could be a selling point.
33
@31, don't you think a commitment to fixing the Mercer mess was a key piece to making all that SLU redevelopment happen?

The city gets a ton of money from all the infrastructure improvements, parking, B&O, property, sales and restaurant taxes related to Vulcan, Amazon, Microsoft et al occupying that property and they stand to make a lot more from larger and more frequent events held at Seattle Center if people can actually come and go from QA.
34
@31, also, people aren't leaving the city for the burbs, they're doing the opposite. We're actually (finally) tapping into the massive wealth of the techies raising their families on the east side by bringing more tech jobs into the city. I don't look forward to seeing every parking strip in the city manicured until it looks like it's a putting green, but the influx of cash is certainly very welcome at this point.
35
#31- The difference is we could build 36 streetcar lines for the price of the 1 monorail line or 53 streetcar lines for the price of 1 Central Link-style mostly-not-at-grade light rail line.

Streetcars are nearly as good as off-grade light rail in urban areas, especially when we throw in signal priority and dedicated transit lanes. They can be completely better than light rail when you add complete street improvements like we're doing for the First Hill streetcar, including Seattle's first segregated bike lanes.
36
The math for McGinn is simple:

Street cars/trams/trolleys = gentrification

Buses = negroes

37
@21: The cost of sidewalks is roughly $100,000 per block-face.

Firstly, holy fuck! Is that true!?

Secondly, if that is true, holy fuck! Why is it that expensive!?

Thirdly, if $100,000 per block-face is truly the minimum possible expenditure, then building them in the single-family outskirts can never be justified. $100,000 to serve 7 or 8 houses and barely 15 or 20 residents, who will mostly continue to drive anyway, in areas with zero pedestrian through-usage? That's a riot-worthy level of waste.

38
@37, if Seattle is expected to absorb its share of density, and push density into more areas where there are currently single family homes then you better start planning on putting sidewalks in those areas.

If we are going to just keep rehabbing sidewalks on Pike then that's the extent of walkability and density this city will support.
39
@37, McGinn may very well have SDOT working on how to reduce sidewalk costs. He knows a lot about that - some of his neighborhood involvement before he ran for office involved getting bare-bones sidewalks installed by his house. From 2007:
Michael McGinn decided he wasn't going to wait any longer for sidewalks. The Greenwood resident wanted his son to realize the health benefits of walking and bicycling.
Several years ago McGinn organized neighbors on his block and cobbled together enough money to install asphalt sidewalks near his house on North 87th Street. The sidewalks look cheap, he admits, but they're better than nothing.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/lo…
40
Rome is burning and you morons want to tax us for fucking sidewalks.

Stuffwhitepeoplelike.com
41
@39: That's good news. At a reasonable cost, sidewalks within the limits of a city are a no-brainer.

@38: At this cost, they are not a no-brainer. This is a city that can't be convinced to upzone across the street from a Roosevelt station costing hundreds of millions of dollars. We are a long way from any real density in the 100s.

This is also a city that consistently fails to follow-up actual densification with appropriate transit investments: http://seattletransitblog.com/2011/08/13… Density+driving is actually a bad thing, as the pre-existing road capacity maxes out and nobody -- in cars or on buses -- gets anywhere.

(For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure any new project on a sidewalk-less street is already obligated to install them along its street frontage.)
42
SDOT couldn't figure out how a streetcar on 1st Ave would work, so they picked another route jammed with political clout, the 4th/5th couplet where office workers and government employees oh so deserve premium rail transit. The waterfront streetcar would be historical element for Alaskan Way, but SDOT plans for gridlocked car traffic there instead. Grace Crunican polluted SDOT with unquestionably confident incompetence. SDOT's Mercer West condemns Queen Anne to become an intolerable freight corridor. Kiss my ass, SDOT jerks.

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