News Mar 21, 2023 at 9:00 am

Sound Transit’s Board Makes the Tough Choice This Week

The battle ends Thursday. Frank Okay

Comments

1

remind me again why we cant have rapid ride lanes dedicated to low emission busses? 50th ave east west then kicking down to leary way could take care of Ballard and west seattle you could have the busses anex the lanes under the west seattle bridge and have the others dedicated to freight. ST is a colossal fuck up that will end up missing its mark for many and costing us all tens of thousands

3

The whole reason the CID exists in the form it does is because it is the perfect nexus between poor working class Seattle and the rich business class parts of the city that need to be serviced by poor working class types. It is the natural transition point for a transit hub. History is great and all but this region and this country has always cared more about the now and strives to concern itself with the future. Build the best possible transit system as close to Union station as possible. It’s a no brainer. Fuck off to the rowdy overly vocal interest groups of the neighborhood who care only about their very narrow interests and who are bullying the rest of the region with their bullshit arguments listed above. Cities are about change, and the change should be focused on the most efficient movement of peoples and goods as possible.

4

District 2 voters have a real choice this year. They should fire Tammy Morales and replace her with Tanya Woo.

https://www.votetanyawoo.com/

5

@3 yeah how dare a neighborhood have concerns over a major impact on their lives!

6

The obvious "Seattle Way" is to build the worst system possible that doesn't hurt the feelings of a single neighborhood, so that future generations can continue to marvel at how bad Seattle is about designing for sanity.

See also: The fight over whether 5 years of construction of a light rail station near the Seattle Center is a fatal blow to the Seattle Opera.

7

@6 The Seattle way is to study the matter to death, exhaust all options ... until they find the least effective option possible.

@4 Well said.... are there any available Burlington Northern freight lines headed toward Portland.

8

To me this amounts to a lot of things that "could" effect CID negatively vs. decisions that will negatively effect transit for the whole city/region. There are no promises for tomorrow in any sense, preservation as always is hand in hand with NIMBYism. We have to do what's right by the future inhabitants of our city and not wring our hands about what this could maybe mean for one neighborhood which is simply not the only community effected by the development of transit. Cities, demographics, cultures change over time, again: we don't know what tomorrow brings for the demographics and culture of our city. All we do know is what we can do to create infrastructure that works so that people of all incomes & cultures have a fair shot of experiencing the benefits of urban life, reasonable commutes and upward mobility through transit. Anyone who has worked paycheck-to-paycheck and gotten a surprise bill for car repairs knows how much a liability car ownership can be when you're living hand to mouth.

Let this be about an equitable and just future for all in the region, and not a culture war about a few square blocks.

9

Doing what's right for the city isn't as sexy as casting this as a "cultural war" on an "inequity"....

The city has to build bridges, roads, transportation hubs and look at the greater good... Is there something in the city charter which exempts China Town. Look at the impact of the light rail, building of the climate pledge arena, the monorail, the removal of the viaduct.... underground that went thru downtown and all over the city... everybody has to accept inconveniences due to these projects...... for the greater good.

The community needs to needs to meet, sort it out and work with the city/county to get the job done. That method by the by worked rather well for the better part of Seattle's history... at least when business and the city/county worked together... before the dark times of "spin doctors and hype".

10

Hey why not negotiate? The ID is all full on homeless encampments, shelters, human services and crime. Maybe like, take some things off their plate so they aren’t carrying the burden of EVERYTHING?

11

@8: A lot of folks in the CID figured out who the real Seattle NIMBYs are back in 1886 (https://www.historylink.org/File/2745).

12

Am I misunderstanding the headline “Preserve Chinatown or Fuck Over Transit Riders Forever?”

Doesn’t the choice of an alternative hub location to ‘preserve Chinatown’ have the effect of ‘fucking over transit riders forever?’

13

This was an extremely helpful summary of all the pros and cons of the options, thank you! It’s clearly a difficult and nuanced choice the board will have to make. I wonder how the inefficiencies of the two non-CID stations will affect ridership - do other cities with these types of gaps and inconveniences in station placement actually see a drop in ridership? How will this affect riders with mobility impairments and are there solutions in those cases? Overall, I’m left curious about the long-term effects of a new station in an established neighborhood in other cities, and what we can learn from their experiences.

14

Love this breakdown!

Transit is a core service and it's detrimental to ALL groups to handicap it. The CID must be protected and nurtured, this is necessary with or without the light rail.

The neighborhood groups are fighting to preserve a community. The transit center will cripple family businesses during construction, then be followed by an influx of capital causing displacement of family businesses. The community will then crumble.

But dislocating the light-rail station is not how we avoid this scenario. Gentrification is like an invasive weed supplanting a tended garden. You cannot stop watering or fertilizing the garden to make it go away, if anything a weed is more likely to thrive. They must be pulled out as they spring up.

Denying capitalism as a driving force in Seattle is unhelpful. Whether Director Shimizu likes it or not, it is not "cynical" but a reality. What is true is the value of the CID is not directly monetizable. The vulnerability of the CID against gentrification is not a light-rail problem but an ongoing growth problem.

Mitigation is tough. It's not a single act but an ongoing effort, nor is it specific to the light rail. If the CID was healthy and strong, a new light rail station would not be a problem, but we got here because it has been needing support for a while.

The light rail is part of that support providing more access between this cultural hub and the rest of the city. There is a way to build this station to limit direct damage. Despite their resistance, the neighborhood groups must be involved. And It doesn't end there, the community needs to grow on its own - only it can decide what the CID is and will become. The city must listen and provide means for it to grow over sterile external investments.

15

Ballard was a very different place once upon a time. Change happens.

The question of what happens to businesses which will be displaced is a valid one. For me the issue is why it takes years and years to build infrastructure. Seattle and the region need to figure out why it takes far more money to build infrastructure in the US than it does to build similarly in Europe. Europe has unions and far more sensitive ecological and historical issues to deal with. Yet they can build something in half the time and half the price.

My suspicion is that there is too much capitalism mixed in with our public infrastructure investments: too many consultants, too many engineers, too many lawyers gaming the system to slow it down and rack up hourly fees. Our elected representatives might want to look into streamlining decision making and construction practices.

Bring the construction practices inside the government, minimize the use of outside firms. Pass laws to minimize the number of government entities that have a voice in a decision; make the mayors responsible for making the decisions and get rid of the endless community board meetings that slow things down. Just make the decisions, build the plan for the stations, bridges, mass transit, etc., hire the workers, and get the bulldozers moving and the cranes in place so things are built with maximum efficiency.

16

@14 Ultimately this is correct in my mind as well. The influx of capitalist investments is going to be a threat even if they choose South of CID. We should find a balance by building the best transit while not letting the cultural spirit of the CID decay as a result.

From the transit point of view, it's too much to lose to not have direct connections to Amtrak, Sounder, Streetcar AND lines 1 and 2 at the same place. Forcing all rides from the airport to the Eastside to spend 10 minutes longer on the train should be reason enough to scrap the North of CID idea. The car journeys over the lake badly need to be reduced.

17

@15

End the Seattle Process... Is that what you are suggesting? Now look who is being naïve!

Make this a government project --that is how it got so messed up and convoluted in the first place. Do you think the City of Seattle has a construction division that build stuff like this? Holy Moses.. Do you actually think, are you naïve enough to believe any city of seattle office could as you say

" Just make the decisions, build the plan for the stations, bridges, mass transit, etc., hire the workers, and get the bulldozers moving and the cranes in place so things are built with maximum efficiency."

Just take a gander at a City Light Repair crew or SDOT crew... always in groups of six, with one or two working....

What sleeps six and is bright orange? ---That would be A City Light Service Van.

I'd do the vote at the city counsel, go out for bid-- no you don't have to use union labor or pay union rates, get a bid and let the contractor do the job. The contractor who is awarded the job, posts a performance bond or an insurance company draw up a policy if they don't complete the project or do a crappy job... the insurance company pays out.

Very simple actually... its how its done in the real world all the time.

18

The Stranger: Calls Seattle's Chinatown the "last active Chinatown in the Pacific Northwest".
Vancouver's Chinatown, the largest in Canada: Am I a joke to you?

19

@15 “Europe has unions and far more sensitive ecological and historical issues to deal with. Yet they can build something in half the time and half the price.”

What slows things down in the US is the nature of our Democracy not Capitalism. Remember all the countries of Western Europe are just as aggressively Capitalistic as we are. If you don’t understand that you’ve never done business with a Belgian, French, or Scandinavian company.

What slows down infrastructure projects in the US is community involvement. Countries in Europe while Democratic, have very top down power structures.

Just look at France, he was able to push through pension reforms without a vote of the National Assembly because when Charles deGaul write the constitution for the Fifth Republic he made sure that President deGaul had considerable power.

In Europe if the state decides it’s putting a train station across the street from you there is very little you can do to stop it.

20

@10 You mean like caving to the shit-fit CID residents threw when there was going to be homeless services put into the neighborhood adjacent to the CID (not even the CID itself, despite their repeated statements to that fact)?

@18 Hi! People in BC don't call our part of the continent the "Pacific Northwest." Perhaps because, you know, we (1) have this place almost 2000km north of Vancouver called "The Northwest Territories," and (2) BC is the only province that is anywhere near the Pacific.

21

@20 For sure, it's definitely an American term, but Southern BC is generally included as part of the region as commonly defined by Americans.

22

@20 - yeah, most neighborhoods are super excited when homeless services threaten to open in your part of town. Go check out the area around the “navigation center”…sure, it was never squeaky clean or anything but this is a bit different.

23

Let me first call bullshit on the "Midtown" station. If it is built, it will be at 5th & Madison. It is remarkably close to two other stations: University Street and Pioneer Square. It isn't on First Hill. If it was on First Hill, this debate would be very, very different. The reason the numbers are high for Midtown Station is because it is essentially replacing two stations with one. It would be like having only one station in the U-District (half way between the two stations). Sure, that station gets a lot of riders, but not as many as having two stations.

The basic problem with the tunnel is the stations themselves. They are inferior to the stations in the existing tunnel, and yet relatively close. South end riders -- forced to ride through the new tunnel -- will be worse off. Yet no one will bother transferring to get to Midtown station, especially since the transfers in general will be very poor. This assumes we have a station at Midtown, CID and Westlake.

This was the basic problem all along. Most cities -- in fact every city I know of, around the world -- maximizes coverage if they build a new line downtown. In this case, it would mean at least one station on First Hill (like Madison & Boren). But not Seattle. Seattle, oddly enough, wanted to make the new tunnel remarkably similar to the old tunnel. This is a very unusual approach, but then a lot of what Sound Transit does is unusual (Link will extend farther from the urban core than the New York City Subway, the London Underground and the Paris Metro). This is not innovation -- this is ignorance. It is ignoring decades of lessons learned from mass transit systems around the world. It has created this particular kerfuffle.

24

There is a third option: https://seattletransitblog.com/2023/03/21/a-single-downtown-tunnel-is-completely-possible-and-provides-the-best-outcomes/. This would be better for riders, better for the community, and cost a lot less money.

25

I can't wait for the inevitable cries for 'transit justice' or whatever in 20 years when CID activists demand that their neighborhood is connected to the light rail system.

26

@20 -- Wikipedia defines "Pacific Northwest" thusly:

The Pacific Northwest (PNW), sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

27

The problem with BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) is that it’s always comprised.

It is proposed as Express buses with grade separated lanes. But then the lanes become HOV lanes, then turning lanes, then regular traffic lanes. The stops are first planed with, light rail/subway distances, but then stops are added, and added, and added.

By the time it opens what was proposed as a true rapid-transit line is just another bus in a traffic jam.

28

I live in Everett. I'm looking at the various proposals to try to figure out which would make it easiest for me to get to SeaTac.

It doesn't bother me that the light rail starting in Everett would end up in West Seattle. Transfers are a part of transit. It is how convenient you make the transfers between lines.

When I last visited the Boston area, I stayed in Quincy (said "Quinzy") for a most cost-effective hotel. I used the Red Line to get to Downtown Crossing to transfer to the Orange or Green lines if I wasn't going further north that day. Yes, you might have to walk a block, but it was all underground. All things were possible with a Charlie Card. It took me longer to walk from the station on the Red Line to my hotel than it took to ride from Boston Library to the Quincy North station.

In all of these maps for what Sound Transit is wanting to do, I don't really see an equivalent of Downtown Crossing. I'm seeing possible places that might work to transfer from the Everett-West Seattle train to the Ballard-Tacoma train, but will they work as cleanly as Downtown Crossing in Boston?

We need a central point to transfer between the 3 lines and Amtrak that would work like Downtown Crossing. However Sound Transit does it.

29

"White supremacy: Shimizu acknowledged the convenience of the plan to drop a big new station on the CID, but she said the unwillingness to “make trade-offs” on the ease of transit for the sake of preserving a historic, minority neighborhood amounts to white supremacy."

No, it doesn't.

30

@5 All the denizens of that neighborhood do is complain about how shitty it is getting and then complain about how they dont want anything to change. Of course neighborhoods should care about their interests, and of course every other neighborhood and surrounding city should care about things like having vibrant and efficient mass transit. If a couple hundred whiny little babies are going to demand that they get to keep their shitty dilapidated neighborhood forever intact because 'history' at the expense of hundreds of thousands of other people then yeah fuck them. They are just balled up in a fist and have outsized influence of people like Constantine and Morales, but they should do their job which is to serve their entire population and do the obvious thing that benefits them and the greater good rather than cave to them out of fear of their couple hundred votes interrupting their personal political fortunes. Build the station as close to Union Station as possible. In the end it will make life better and more prosperous in the CID anyway. Stupid fucking troll.

@29 i agree with for once. it amounts to supremacy of the masses and caring about general quality of life for everyone in the region and anyone who chooses to visit the region over caring about some old losers who mostly all live in subsidized housing.

Ignoring the complaints of this group is the biggest no brainer ever and its pathetic that they are being heard and that the board is moving from the obvious correct choice to all sort of stupid shitty options.

31

Hannah Krieg, with respect, I encourage you to look at this article by South Seattle Emerald that includes more context: https://southseattleemerald.com/2022/03/17/new-light-rail-threatens-chinatown-historic-district-community-pushes-back/

It seems that while aiming to be unbiased, you have posed a false dichotomy.
Transit riders aren't being fucked over forever by this station that doesn't even exist yet.

Transit riders are being fucked over by ticket prices and fines, by a lack of community-approved transit to historically marginalized areas, by transit security who are unskilled in de-escalation and resolving harassment on transit, and by a historical pattern of the City of Seattle unprioritizing public transit despite the vote of the people - the Chinatown International District shouldn't have to pay the price for the city's mistakes.

This history did not come out of nowhere, and the history you have listed is a starting point, but left alone it is uncomprehensive and lacks context. The Chinatown International District's history is the:
Chinese Exclusion Act
the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II
historic Filipino Town
Jazz on Jackson Street
the relationship between Beacon Hill and Chinatown...

The people who live here are elders, children, queer folks, disabled folks, immigrants, houseless folks and more folks from marginalized communities.
They are not those who are of the Not In My Backyard demographic.
They are people who don't have the privilege and access of owning a backyard, people who choose to stay in Chinatown International District because it is their home.

As someone who has lived here my entire life, I have seen so many great changes in the International District from new Asian American businesses to events like the night market. I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I do wonder if change and progress is something that must be made at the cost of running over the thoughts and experiences of people from the neighborhood the Lightrail would be going through...An article on the Chinatown lightrail from South Seattle Emerald mentions that garbage trucks would drive more frequently through the neighborhood...
How would someone feel if dirt was wafting through the neighborhood?

The article also mentions that sidewalk space would be smaller, making it difficult for the elderly and disabled to walk: How would you feel if that was your grandparent or your friend?

I get it. It's not an experience that someone can easily put themselves in because even if I said 'what if it was your neighborhood' not many of us live in a neighborhood that has the same history and nuance as Chinatown...and it makes me wonder what would it take for people to be a bit more compassionate toward the residents and seeing the people who are being vocal about the changes as people who are a whole lot for a neighborhood that has often been under-cared for and has not had its community's voice and agency recognized.

32

Hannah Krieg, with respect, I encourage you to look at this article by South Seattle Emerald that includes more context: https://southseattleemerald.com/2022/03/17/new-light-rail-threatens-chinatown-historic-district-community-pushes-back/

It seems that while aiming to be unbiased, you have posed a false dichotomy.
Transit riders aren't being fucked over forever by this station that doesn't even exist yet.

Transit riders are being fucked over by ticket prices and fines, by a lack of community-approved transit to historically marginalized areas, by transit security who are unskilled in de-escalation and resolving harassment on transit, and by a historical pattern of the City of Seattle unprioritizing public transit despite the vote of the people - the Chinatown International District shouldn't have to pay the price for the city's mistakes.

This history did not come out of nowhere, and the history you have listed is a starting point, but left alone it is uncomprehensive and lacks context. The Chinatown International District's history is the:
Chinese Exclusion Act
the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II
historic Filipino Town
Jazz on Jackson Street
the relationship between Beacon Hill and Chinatown...

The people who live here are elders, children, queer folks, disabled folks, immigrants, houseless folks and more folks from marginalized communities.
They are not those who are of the Not In My Backyard demographic.
They are people who don't have the privilege and access of owning a backyard, people who choose to stay in Chinatown International District because it is their home.

As someone who has lived here my entire life, I have seen so many great changes in the International District from new Asian American businesses to events like the night market. I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I do wonder if change and progress is something that must be made at the cost of running over the thoughts and experiences of people from the neighborhood the Lightrail would be going through...An article on the Chinatown lightrail from South Seattle Emerald mentions that garbage trucks would drive more frequently through the neighborhood...
How would someone feel if dirt was wafting through the neighborhood?

The article also mentions that sidewalk space would be smaller, making it difficult for the elderly and disabled to walk: How would you feel if that was your grandparent or your friend?

I get it. It's not an experience that someone can easily put themselves in because even if I said 'what if it was your neighborhood' not many of us live in a neighborhood that has the same history and nuance as Chinatown.

33

@19 "In Europe if the state decides it’s putting a train station across the street from you there is very little you can do to stop it."

Au contraire: whenever infrastructure is proposed the locals come out en masse to oppose and the same process Seattle is experiencing happens. At least in Germany and probably everywhere else. Things get expensive because they accomodate the richest/loudest.
But you avoid a lot of the stupidity of people being simply against public transit or having politicians who have never used public transport decide. And they want people to use it so making things easier for commuters has priority over offending or not offending. And since public transport (rail, trams, etc) can often improve neighborhoods and reduce traffic, there is more support.

34

@31 This South Seattle Emerald article is a year old and describes mostly how destructive the now-tabled 5th Ave option would have been. It also seems to suggest that a 4th avenue shallow option would be minimally disruptive to the neighborhood. This is in alignment with what most people who want a new CID station are suggesting.

35

@34 -- seconded.

The 5th avenue solution would definitely have been disruptive, and permanently displaced much of the CID history. 4th Ave is functionally between the CID and King Street Station and the stadiums. Construction is always disruptive, but the disruption (while years long) is in fact temporary.

This whole idea that "gentrification will increase with the shallow 4th option, and end without it" premise is just... not believable. Don't sacrifice the best transit option by casting it as a gentrification issue.

36

What I have yet to hear is a clear explanation of why Seattle needs two separate Link lines through downtown only blocks apart. It seems logical that both lines would run on the same tracks and stop at the same stations in the downtown hub. That's how a transit system ought to work.


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