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    Jolt: Parking Garages and Charter Schools

    The day's winners and losers.
    A Sound Transit train chugs into a station.

    A Sound Transit train chugs into a station. Sound Transit

    No winners or losers today; just a Jolt. 

    In an apparent role reversal (usually it's bureaucratic central planners who are accused of forcing socialist-y ideas onto car-loving neighbhorhoods), residents in north Seattle are complaining that Sound Transit is missing an opportunity to transform the neighborhood into a transit hub.

    As Erica first reported, Sound Transit is thinking about building a 900-stall parking garage at the Northgate light rail station.

    The whole letter that a band of neighborhood and community activists — including Phillip Duggan, president of the Pinehurst Community Council, David Miller, president of the Maple Leaf Community Council, Renee Staton, a Pinehurst resident, and Eric Youngblut, vice president of the Pinehurst Community Council — along with the Cascade Bicycle Club and the Sierra Club, sent to Sound Transit complaining about the potential garage today is here.

    But here are the key paragraphs:

    Northgate represents a unique opportunity to transform a traditionally auto-dominated neighborhood into a more walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented community with greater access to retail, grocery stores, medical services, schools, libraries, parks, and more. Vision 2040 and the Regional Growth Strategy identify Northgate as an important place to accommodate some of the 1.5 million new people projected to live in the region by 2040. With the construction of the new Link Light Rail station and acres of underutilized land, Northgate has a real opportunity to transform into a complete community for thousands of new residents and to benefit the surrounding neighborhoods. Sound Transit’s funding priorities at Northgate can help or hinder this future.

    The Maple Leaf Community Council uses the phrase, “Community-Oriented Transit Development.” This phrase captures the vision of a complete, compact, and connected community. The phrase evokes the notion of keeping past agreements made with the existing community and following a process for community engagement. Unfortunately, we are worried Sound Transit may be falling short of these goals.

    We are concerned that a $40 million, 900-stall parking garage will not realize this vision of “Community-Oriented Transit Development.” Rather than investing in the neighborhood’s and region’s vision for building a vibrant place, our understanding is that Sound Transit plans to build a permanent auto-centric structure for a temporary problem.

    The parking garage would adversely affect the community’s vision for its future.

    Currently, most of the people who park at the Northgate Transit Center live within a 3-mile radius. The 900-stall garage would increase the number of people who drive rather than encouraging more people to walk, bike, ride, and live at Northgate. As a result, the garage could be an opportunity cost in terms of both public dollars and physical space that should be used more efficiently to build a vibrant community and increase Link ridership.

    The letter follows a recent mass email from the Cascade Bicycle Club which, tacking to the theme that's spelled out in today's email about lackluster public process, characterized the pending garage plan as "a backroom deal."

    CBC Policy & Government Affairs Manager Craig Benjamin tells Jolt that Sound Transit contacted the group after the email alert went out to invite them to Thursday's public board meeting. Benjamin says they'll be there.

    "Sound Transit is taking a narrow view of what the problem is," he says. "Their question is, how do we spend money to help people park? The question should be, how can we spend taxpayer money to provide the most people with safe access to the station?"

    Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, Benjamin translates 900 stalls into about 2,000 people parking per day. Compared to spending those tax dollars to increase transit access to tens of thousands of people, he says, that's a bad investment. "We have to spend money where you have the most public benefit," he says.

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    Posted Tue, May 22, 4:54 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think we need the parking garages to accomodaite people who want to leave their cars at Norgate, and take the bus. I live a few miles away from Northgate and parking is becoming ashort supply at Northgate area.

    It is beyond my understanding why someone would oppose this - plus it creates jobs. So what part don't you like about this project. Please educate me



    Posted Tue, May 22, 6:37 p.m. Inappropriate

    I suppose I am among those opposed to building more "free" parking garages. I am OK with Metro renting church parking lots dispersed throughout the suburbs; lots that are largely unused during the week.

    However, I do not understand why we are subsidizing structured parking garages like the $30million, 400 space South Everett Freeway Station in the I-5 Median at 112th.

    As I understand this proposed garage at Northgate, we are talking $40million divided by 900 spaces or $44,444 per parking space.

    Not including operating and maintenance costs, we are looking at financing costs (40 years at 5%) of $2,600 per space per year. This means that we, the public, are paying $10 per workday to keep another car out of the downtown - and this is on top of the rider subsidy provided to Metro/ Sound Transit.

    Until the car user pays more of this cost, I would prefer we give the $10 a day to the cyclists.



    Posted Tue, May 22, 8:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    That's even chump change compared to how far Sound Transit is willing to go to keep a car off the road. They sunk $368 mil into 4 trains a day to go from Everett to Seattle for fewer than 500 people per day that use it. Thats about 3/4 of a million dollars per person sunk cost. On top of that, they subsidize the trip by about $30 per trip, or $60 per day.
    Many of those freeloaders are getting off ferry boats, and pay nothing in taxes to ST.
    That's what happens when government has lots of blank checks laying around with little oversight in the press.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:11 a.m. Inappropriate

    I would prefer that ST build the pedestrian/cyclist overpasss so that people to the West of the Northgate station could have safe easy human powered way to get to that train. It would probably help the stores at the mall as well.


    Posted Tue, May 22, 5:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    I hope that Sound Transit is honestly still considering all of the facts and views of all stakeholders and that they really are open to getting this right.

    For example, I hope they are still considering King County's survey (that Josh and Erica reported on earlier) that shows that a large majority of Northgate transit center riders support spending limited transit funding on additional bus service (61%) rather than on building a new parking garage (39%). http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/2012/northgate_transit_center_survey_report_3-2012.pdf

    Posted Tue, May 22, 5:57 p.m. Inappropriate

    When government agencies get into one room and negotiate deals without notifying the public and engaging stakeholders, that's the classic definition of a backroom deal.

    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:26 p.m. Inappropriate

    But Erica the "progressive" is all in favor of the corrupt backroom zoning deal that came from Roger Valdez and Michael McGinn. But now the "progressives" are against corrupt backroom deals? Hmm.


    Posted Tue, May 22, 5:59 p.m. Inappropriate

    I don't know if any charter school initiative could gather enough signatures to make the ballot, or if any of them could gather enough in the short time period available, or if any of them could win popular support statewide. With all of that doubt on one side, the charter school initiative described here - loaded with provisos as it is - might have the best chance.


    Posted Tue, May 22, 6:12 p.m. Inappropriate

    Geez, let's fact check the Publicola crew. They got the wrong "key paragraph(s)".

    We'll have to go to Dominic Holden at SLOG for the real skinny:

    "But the group contends that I-5, which runs adjacent to the mall, currently serves as a barrier to the transit station—and that money would be better spent, not by building a parking garage, but by building a pedestrian bridge over the freeway. As they explain: "Direct access from the station to the west side of I-5 will reunite the neighborhoods and provide station access to thousands of potential light rail riders, including the nearly 7,000 students, faculty, and staff who attend and work at North Seattle Community College.""

    They also suggest that the any garage should be planned to be adapted to other uses in the long term rather than be a permanent fixture.

    Of course this all dumb in the first place since Light Rail should have run up Aurora better linking NSCC and the transit hub (with all apologies to my friends in Maple Leaf and points east). In that scenario a parking garage may have been of interest to them...

    Posted Wed, May 23, 9:44 a.m. Inappropriate

    Actually, I wrote about the bridge two months ago after I broke the story about the potential (then-500-stall, now potentially 920-stall) garage.


    Another issue—a potential pedestrian bridge connecting North Seattle Community College to the station across I-5 (pictured)—came up repeatedly last night, with questioners wondering how much the bridge would cost and whether it was just a pipe dream. The answer, although the Sound Transit planners didn’t put it this way, was: Pretty much the latter.

    “There has been a feasibility study done by King County Metro on the pedestrian bridge and they’ve confirmed it’s physically feasible,” Endlich said. But, “there’s no funding to advance the environmental work or design or construction. At this point, it’s not part of our scope.”

    Posted Wed, May 23, 9:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    And again here, on Crosscut more than a week ago: http://crosscut.com/2012/05/14/publicorner/108531/morning-fizz-1stCongressional-soundtransit/

    Posted Tue, May 22, 6:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    Maybe you people need to look at the traffic cam some morning at 145th on down to Northgate and just think of where all those cars are going to keep on going to without that garage.

    Maple Leaf is 50 blocks from the north city limits, they are "north" as a matter of perspective.

    Mr Baker

    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:14 a.m. Inappropriate

    Once LINK gets to 145th, those car drivers won't be driving to Northgate to park and ride the rest of the way. They'll either drive the whole way, or stop at a parking place farther North rather than slog with the traffic.

    This parking garage demand is a stopgap until the light rail line goes farther North. That's why it would make more sense to build a walkway over I-5 with the money so more people could walk or bicycle to the station.


    Posted Tue, May 22, 6:39 p.m. Inappropriate

    A Northgate parking garage pretty much insures disinvestment there as development potential is reduced due to the traffic impact. Sound Transit always answers to Seattle monied interests who ruined the initial Link light rail with the bypass of Southcenter that likewise steered investment to downtown. Seattle, you suck. But oh Sound Transit people are just the best people and oh they love everyone, hugs and kisses, what knife in your back?


    Posted Tue, May 22, 10:21 p.m. Inappropriate

    Development potential is reduced due to a parking garage being built? And all this time I thought mall merchants actually wanted customers to drive to the mall.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 8:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    The hypocrisy around the ST Board table is so thick you could choke on it.
    Kevin Wallace's Vision station near I-405 with covered moving sidewalks to the Transit Center and over I-405 = BAD.
    Ped Crossing over I-5 to NSCC with a station next to the freeway = GOOD
    Stopping Link at S.Center, costing a couple of extra minutes = BAD
    Stopping at Northgate with a humongous P&R; at 45k ea spot = GOOD
    Link trains a couple of minutes slower than the 194 bus = OK
    Buses to Seattle from Everett at a couple of bucks a ride subsidy = GOOD
    Trains along the waterfront, with $30/ride subsidy = OK too.
    Geeze, it will never end!


    Posted Tue, May 22, 7:52 p.m. Inappropriate

    Ah charters. Voted 'em down three times so no irritation factor in bringing them back.

    Stand for Children has very big pockets and,as well, there is money to be made so expect out-of-state interests to throw money at this.

    Keep in mind, it's a law, not a pilot program. You are buying into a very big and very unproven cost.

    It is a gamble, though. A crowded ballot with another bigger issue - gay marriage. And, if it loses, it has that "loser" stamp all over it. No legislator would dare bring it up.

    But maybe the pro-charter folks have decided to go for broke.

    With a good public information program, I feel confident that Washington State voters will say no...again.


    Posted Tue, May 22, 9:32 p.m. Inappropriate

    47th in the nation and we are abandoning our schools rather then fixing them.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 4:22 a.m. Inappropriate

    If they are 47th in the nation, they should be abandoned. What's the saw about "good money after bad"?


    Posted Wed, May 23, 7:09 a.m. Inappropriate

    that only would apply if they actually put adequate money into them...

    Posted Wed, May 23, 7:53 a.m. Inappropriate

    The money will never be "adequate", so long as political agendas are allowed to grow the mission.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 12:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    right, we need to narrow the mission. because education should be back in the one-room school shack with chalkboards and a single primer...

    Posted Wed, May 23, 1:38 p.m. Inappropriate

    yep those overpaid teachers I read about on the front page of the Seattle times who ruined our economy they are the source of our problems...oh wait, the lesson that we learned from Morgan Stanley et. al. wasn't taught in public schools.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 9:18 a.m. Inappropriate

    I do not understand why we are subsidizing structured parking garages like the $30million, 400 space South Everett Freeway Station in the I-5 Median at 112th.

    As I understand this proposed garage at Northgate, we are talking $40million divided by 900 spaces or $44,444 per parking space.

    Large parking facilities are part of Sounder South, and large parking structures have been integral to Link planning since the beginning of Sound Transit. You’re just feigning ignorance about that, right?

    For want of a better term, it’s Induced Sprawl. The “30-minute” rule applies: people will drive 30 minutes each way as part of their commute. If you give them a cheap train ride for another 30 minutes, they’ll be fine with that. Hence, you build big parking garages near train lines to open up large areas for housing developments that before were too far from cities.

    When the financing plan for Brightwater was under development, the King County Council needed a story to justify the pile of bonds it would be selling. The story it sold the public was that new development – aka huge new s.f.d. subdivisions in north King and central Snohomish County – would pay for the bonds. Here’s the pitch in the media from back then:


    “Sims said a moratorium would have "shut down the growth of this county and half of Snohomish County. ... I'm not going to stop the economic growth of this region. I'm not going to be accused of not acting.

    "The sum of all things said: Build it in 2010, get it done, just get it done. Growth will pay for growth. Pay for it now, get it done."



    The PSRC dutifully provided large employment and residential growth projections. The counties' permitting agencies dutifully signed off on large subdivisions in the mid-2000’s.

    Problem is, the PSRC projections were worthless, and there was not the demand for all that new suburban and exurban s.f.d housing (the credit crunch beginning in 2007 didn’t help developers either). The entire Sound Transit system was designed to support this Induced Sprawl that did not occur. That’s why ridership is so low.

    All that stuff from King County about how “growth will pay for growth”, and “pay for Brightwater now, get it done”? Here’s a story in the Times last month:


    Sewer rates in King County would increase 10.4 percent over the next two years under a proposal by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

    Monthly bills for the average residential customer would go up nearly $4, from $36.10 to $39.75.

    The charge for new sewer hookups would increase by 3 percent, to $53.50 per month. Hookup charges are usually paid over 15 years.

    With the increase, rates would be 3 cents below the county's projection, Constantine noted.

    A large part of the proposal is dedicated to repaying money borrowed in the past decade to fund projects, including Brightwater, the $1.8 billion treatment plant in Woodinville that opened last year.



    The Brightwater bonds had a backup, security plan that wasn't explained at the time to the public. Existing ratepayers were put on the hook for the financing and reserves costs.

    The new expanded parking structures planned for Northgate are a response to developers’ desires for more Induced Sprawl, and Sound Transit’s desire to increase ridership above its current AND projected pathetic levels.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 1:42 p.m. Inappropriate

    Sprawl and Northgate? Somehow when I look at maps.google.com the land around Northgate looks entirely built upon. If we end up with denser neighborhoods I doubt it's going to be because of a lousy train station.

    Crossrip I agree with all your financing arguments but parking at Northgate isn't a sprawl issue. Parking at Lakewood for sure.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 1:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    Read the minutes of the Sound Transit board members' retreat last month. They urge large parking garages near stations with train riders getting priority over other drivers. The capture basin for the Northgate parking garage would extend well into Snohomish County (you can drive quite a ways north on I-5, and east on US 2, from Northgate in a half-hour). Also, the series of parking garages north on I-5 (Northgate, Shoreline, Alderwood, Everett) are designed to work together in the context of the "30-minute" rule.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 9:40 a.m. Inappropriate

    This is the real Jolt:


    I wonder who the hand picked media flacks might have been.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 2:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    Link doesn't work.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 4:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    Let's be clear on the Federal Transit Administration requirement for Northgate parking noted only briefly in the May 22nd letter Erica reported as sent in to Sound Transit from the community and advocacy groups urging reduction of the park & ride spaces there:

    Since the full North Link light rail line from Pine Street to Northgate is Federalized -- enjoying $813 million in Federal construction funding for the first half of the line -- Sound Transit is legally bound by the language in the Environmental Record of Decision of 2006, http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/NorthLinkROD.htm, Section, which has two bullet points for Northgate parking:

    * Signs will be placed at Northgate Mall to restrict use of mall parking by light rail patrons.

    * Sound Transit will provide one-to-one replacement of displaced off-street park-and-ride spaces at the Northgate transit center.

    The Northgate vicinity is going to see more hide-and-ride parking if sanctioned park & ride is curtailed. An even worse result is the likelihood that Sound Transit won't make its rail ridership forecast without lots of parking at some of the North Link stations.

    Lack of free parking at all existing light rail stations save one south of downtown results from City of Seattle policy, and is arguably a partial cause of deficient ridership so far. Today, the one P&R; lot at Tukwila Station is full most week days to capacity, but the train is running well below its forecast level of passengers, as documented at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf .

    Remember that Link is intended to be a regional system, for getting people from all over the region to the high density destinations where the train goes, the U District and downtown Seattle being prominent. Park & ride to access transit is popular -- shown in full park & ride lots region-wide -- and with increasingly more fuel efficient and clean cars, this multi-modal practice will trend toward lower environmental impact.

    A parking garage at Northgate as a substitute for expensive downtown parking and congested I-5 is the kind of people pleaser that Sound Transit needs to achieve ridership levels that at least get closer to justifying the Federal and local taxpayer investment.

    Not actually justifying the billions for our subway, I would assert, but more ridership gets us closer to justifying.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 4:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    John Niles posits: "Not actually justifying the billions for our subway, I would assert, but more ridership gets us closer to justifying."

    Oh please. It's not even close.

    Parking garages and surface lots by stations won't come close to creating ridership levels that would justify the public costs of this financial black hole. You know that full well John.

    Let's do it this way. Give us your estimate of the regressive local tax costs that would be required to secure the ~$8.5 billion of long term bonds that are the centerpiece of Sound Transit's current financing plan. My estimate is $85 billion, and I'd like to know what figure you have in mind for your cost/benefit analysis.

    If I'm right, and the tax cost to the public is $85 billion for the bonds that would be used to cover the lion's share of the ~$13.5 billion ST2 light rail capital costs, NO WAY would P & R spaces near stations generate ridership levels that could come anywhere close to justifying the costs to the individuals and families of this relatively small region.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 8:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    John, is there something about that request that you explain yourself that you don’t understand? You just uploaded a big post to Crosscut. Now you won’t address a question about what you wrote?

    Local reporters and editors have been giving you credence as an expert critic of Sound Transit for years. You now apparently have a cost/benefit analysis worked up for ST2. That’s huge.

    Enlighten us about your cost/benefit analysis. What’s your methodology? From what you just posted, “daily ridership” apparently is a big deal in your view. What assumptions did you use to determine whether or not Sound Transit’s costs might be “worth it”?

    What data from that government were relevant to your analyses? You don’t think anything from the PSRC is particularly relevant do you?

    We’re paying heavy regressive taxes that disproportionately harm the least well off families in our community. That unique financial abuse in the name of trains is supposed to increase on this relatively-small group of people year after year for decades. Sound Transit’s tax confiscation program takes away from the most economically-vulnerable individuals here large portions of their discretionary spending power. It widens the gap between the rich and the poor.

    You get that regressive taxing on this scale adversely impacts the local economy and unduly punishes poor families, right? It takes food off tables. I’d say “train ridership” at the levels Sound Transit projects is not worth it by any stretch of the imagination in terms of those abusive local tax costs. What say you?


    Posted Thu, May 24, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

    Crossrip, John Niles has been against the Loot rail system since day 1. I've been to numerous hearings where he testified that the system would eat the transit dollars available and move fewer people in our region than a well run bus system. You are attacking the wrong guy. Go read his website for all the other stuff he did to support his position.



    Posted Thu, May 24, 11:56 a.m. Inappropriate

    I'm not attacking him. Why would you say that? I'm asking him to explain something he wrote here yesterday. He's got access to information and people I do not.

    He represented here in this thread that additional parking proximate to stations would bring the costs "closer" to justifying light rail. I've asked for him to give us his estimate of the public tax costs, and requested that he provide some insight into his method for assessing the worth of what Sound Transit is up to in light of its massive public costs. That's not an attack, it is an attempt to foster dialogue on very important public issues.

    I'll note here that several Crosscut posters who suggest Sound Transit is worth it also fail to respond to questions about their postings. Those include Loren Bliss (see, for example, this comment thread --http://crosscut.com/2012/04/23/transportation/22245/A-desire-named-streetcar/) and Richard Borkowski (see here -- http://crosscut.com/2012/04/08/transportation/22187/Meet-the-megapolitans-and-their-need-for-rail,-collaboration/).

    I'm hoping John Niles will act differently than Bliss and Borkowski. That is, can he respond in a cogent manner when presented with an opportunity to provide information about which Sound Transit wants the public to remain ignorant?

    I'm seeing a pattern here. Posters are unwilling to address direct questions about Sound Transit's financing plan and what value it might provide. Given the sheer magnitude of its unique and regressive taxing plan, the unwillingness of that government to make any of the key information about its financing plan available (capital budgets for most ST2 projects are not yet close to finalized, the bond sales projections are upward-moving targets, the projected tax burden is mushrooming because the bond sales dates are moving outward with each passing year), and the complete inability of people to control that government's policies or management by any political means, the lack of public information regarding these important issues is disturbing.

    Niles has been presented in the media as an expert on this government -- I'd like him to share information about those issues.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 3:03 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Posters are unwilling to address direct questions about Sound Transit's financing plan and what value it might provide"

    Full employment for bond salesmen, increased revenue for companies like Goldman Sachs which has been hit hard by the current recession. Have you no compassion for the workers on Wall street?


    Posted Thu, May 24, 12:39 p.m. Inappropriate

    Please excuse the erratic timing of my comments into this forum. I don't read it regularly every day so I may be unaware of a point somebody suggests I respond to. You can reach me in a way I'll notice more quickly at email jniles@alum.mit.edu.

    I quite agree that the investment in Sound Transit is not justified by the ridership. I explained that point in a disassembling of the Sound Transit benefit cost analysis back in 2007, posted at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/benefit-cost.htm . However, the majority of voters around here believe, apparently, that the benefits of our evolving train network exceed the costs that they and others pay.

    All I am saying above is that once the train line has been funded, built, and put into operation, more ridership is better than less ridership. Park & ride lots are a way to get more ridership. Train riders paying a daily charge for that parking is not unreasonable, as well as paying more for the ride on the train, which can be operated and promoted as a premium transit service.

    On the taxpayer cost, I've recently looked at Sound Transit's published financial plan and extrapolated local tax payments out until the bonds are paid off. Similar to Crossrip's $85 billion, I calculate $81 billion.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 1:25 p.m. Inappropriate

    However, the majority of voters around here believe, apparently, that the benefits of our evolving train network exceed the costs that they and others pay.

    Why would you believe that? The voters in 2008 were presented with a ballot measure that only referred to tax rates. They were not informed about "the costs that they and others pay" and they could not have figured that out given what was disclosed to them. Significantly, they also were not informed about how light rail in other metro regions is paid for using little or no new regressive taxing of individuals and families.

    All I am saying above is that once the train line has been funded, built, and put into operation, more ridership is better than less ridership.

    That's a far cry from your earlier assertion to the effect that additional parking proximate to stations would bring the costs "closer" to justifying the public costs.

    I'd guess your $81 billion tax cost estimate is based on you presuming no sales of 30-year bonds after 2023. Given the regular announcements to date by Sound Transit that East Link will be delayed, if it proceeds we can expect there will be bond sales in 2025. That difference may account for the $4 billion delta in our estimates.

    Now lets discuss whether regressive tax costs north of $80 billion to secure about $8.5 billion of bonds to be used to cover part of $13.5 billion of the capital costs of a light rail line of marginal utility is anything other than, well, insane and punitive.

    Anyone want to argue the tax costs of ST2 are justified? And no, the fact that "voters approved the ballot measure" is no justification.

    Anyone want to try explaining why this grossly excessive taxing scheme is being implemented by the political appointees comprising that board?

    There are many viable alternatives. Staff did not disclose the tax costs associated with the ST2 bond sales to the boardmembers when the 2009-series bond sale resolutions were presented for adoption. Is it right for the boardmembers to be putting this kind of punishing financing plan into place without any kind of understanding of the tax impacts?


    Posted Thu, May 24, 3:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    "crossrip," I agree that Sound Transit is a disaster. But here it is, or soon will be. So get used to that sucking sound on our collective wallets. And to big parking garages. They're part of the deal with a commuter rail network.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 2:16 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think the whole fixed-rail idea is just stupid for the Puget Sound region. But, sadly enough, no one made me emperor, so we're going to have at least some of it. Given that unfortunate reality, there is another unfortunate reality: the need for big park & ride lots at the periphery.

    There's no need to make these parking lots free; in fact, I think it would be a bad idea to not charge for parking. But they must be built, or the system will collapse right away. Here's a comment posted on the Cascade Bicycle Club's discussion of the garage. It captures all of the issues perfectly. The only thing it misses is that Boston's parking garages are not free.

    * * * * *

    I lived in Boston for 11 years: three of those years inside the city, and eight of them in the suburbs. When I lived in the suburbs, I used various MBTA commuter options to get to my job in the financial district.

    The commuter rail and boat system there is very popular and used heavily. Essential to that system is a series of very large park and ride lots. The MBTA provides 51,000 parking spaces in 150 locations. They are the largest owner and operator of off-street parking in New England.

    It boggles my mind that you people would be opposing park and ride lots in a natural location like Northgate. If you were against mass transit and wanted it to fail, I could understand the opposition. But my perception is that the bicycle lobby in Seattle wants Sound Transit to succeed.

    So why on earth would you be opposing park and ride lots? A 900-space garage is nothing. I used to park at the MBTA garage at Quincy, Mass., which is approximately the same distance from Boston’s financial district that Northgate is from downtown Seattle. MBTA’s Quincy lot has 2,400 spaces. The Braintree station, a little farther out, has another 1,300 spaces. I’d also use that.

    If you go down to Portland and look at their light rail system, you’ll see that the trains are often mostly empty, in contrast to Boston’s commuter system, which runs much fuller. I asked my friend from there why, and he said it’s because there are so few parking lots. You can’t get to the stations, so people just drive to work.

    Look, children, only 3% of the people in Seattle use their bicycle to commute. That’s not going to change much, if at all, no matter what you think. If you build a rail network without parking lots, you’ll build a rail network without passengers. Is that what you want? I’m not against mass transit at all. I loved Boston’s network. But they know what they’re doing. You people don’t have a clue!


    Posted Thu, May 24, 2:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    "A 900-space garage is nothing."

    Right. It won't amount to a hill of beans in terms of justifying the abusive, punishing financing plan the appointees controlling that government are putting into place.

    There will NOT be large parking lots near the few dozen stations of this line. That decision has been made. The areas near where the stations would go in all are slated for mixed-use commercial and residential mid-rise. "TOD" is the catchphrase.

    There's a good chance the crown jewel of ST2 -- called East Link -- won't go forward into the construction phase. That's because the proposed reengineering of the I-90 floating bridge would present a substantial risk of degrading that highway infrastructure and shortening its useful life. The problem is Sound Transit is not evaluating those risks in a timely manner; it hasn't retained engineers to advise it about those risks. It wants to be able to keep saying "we didn't know". The boardmembers are playing dumb about that reality to allow that government to keep taxing at the excessive rates far longer than it should.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 2:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, look, I think the whole Sound Transit enterprise is a terrible mistake. But here it is, or will be soon. The "New Urbanists" around here have a choo-choo train fetish, and they sold it to the public. We're not going to be Chicago or New York, but we're going to have a train system.

    Now, if you expect that system to thrive, you'll need park and ride lots. That's just a fact. Just about wherever you have big commuter rail systems, you have big parking lots. Not just Boston. Check out Washington, D.C. sometime. Same deal. Huge parking lots. Portland is an exception, and as a result those trains are almost laughably underused. The light rail line from Portland to Hillsboro is a joke!

    But maybe the people here in Seattle just want a light rail system that they'll look at and not use. If they actually think that there are enough pedestrians and bicyclists to justify it, they are nuts. But then, hell, maybe that's enough, because I think the whole Sound Transit idea was pretty nutso to begin with.

    So maybe this is the thing to do. If all you know is insanity, at least be consistent.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 3:15 p.m. Inappropriate

    "proposed reengineering of the I-90 floating bridge"

    Your alarmist statement is way off base. They are only proposing to scrape the top 4" of concrete off the bridge and replace it with a polymer surface. You know put epoxy glue back on for everyone to drive on.

    "Sound Transit is not evaluating those risks in a timely manner"
    Hey they already loaded up some trucks with stuff and drove it on the bridge to measure the deflection and it was fine.. what are you worrying about? It's not like WaDOT hasn't learned how to keep floating bridges afloat...you know they learned a lot from the Hood Canal disaster. And who could have foreseen that windstorm that sank the I-90 bridge when all the access ports were open...


    Posted Thu, May 24, 3:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    Nothing would make the rail fetishists happier than if adding light rail to the I-90 bridge wound up destroying it. They'd be especially happy if it sank during a severe storm with a bunch of vehicles on it, resulting in massive loss of life.

    This would enable them to blame motor vehicles for the collapse, and demand that the bridge be rebuilt for light rail only, to be financed by even higher taxes on motor vehicles.

    It's a bit like what happened last summer when two bicyclists died on Seattle streets as the result of their own reckless behavior. The bicyclist lobby, which is comprised of pretty much the same people as the choo-choo fetishist and the "new urbanist" lobbies, immediately blamed motorists and the city for those deaths, even though the facts pointed at the bicyclists themselves.

    These people are hoping that Sound Transit won't give adequate study to the engineering of the I-90 bridge. They want it to fail, and the more catastrophically it fails, the better.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 5:30 p.m. Inappropriate

    Feet First, works across the state to ensure all communities are walkable, also signed on to the letter referenced above.

    At Feet First we believe we need to make sure that the Northgate Link Lightrail station is pedestrian friendly for the many people who live in the nearby multi-family developments and in the local neighborhoods. Here's why:

    o Between 2000 and 2009, 683 people in Washington State were killed while walking. These deaths cost the state $2.94 billion. (Transportation for America)

    o Reducing pedestrian fatalities just 10% would have saved Washington $293.69 million over 10 years. (Transportation for America)

    · Infrastructure improvements – such as sidewalks and pedestrian/bicycle bridge – will make the station safer and reduce public agency risk.

    · At Feet First we advocate for a balance of foot, bicycle, car travel and working together, we can create a successful outcome.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 3:03 p.m. Inappropriate

    Are you actually stupid enough to seriously believe that pedestrians and bicyclists will fill up those trains? Are you really that insane? Have you even bothered to study the big rail systems in the East, which Sound Transit was clearly built to emulate?

    Or are you trying to recreate Portland's light rail system, which has so few riders that its federal subsidies are in danger?


    Posted Thu, May 24, 5 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Between 2000 and 2009, 683 people in Washington State were killed while walking. These deaths cost the state $2.94 billion. (Transportation for America)"

    It is really sad that 683 people died while walking but how on earth did each death cost the state $4.3M?

    Posted Thu, May 24, 5:23 p.m. Inappropriate

    Because that sounds like a high number?


    Posted Thu, May 24, 9:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    I'm looking forward to having rail available from Northgate to Broadway. I work on First Hill and the short walk from Broadway and Denny to my workplace is just about perfect for my commute.

    Give me a place to park and I'll take the train. Otherwise, it's much faster and easier for me to just drive.


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