Transit advocates make push for Sand Point Crossing

The Purple Line proposal (Image: Seattle Subway)

The Purple Line proposal (Image: Seattle Subway)

The people behind transit advocacy group Seattle Subway have a new idea to transform transportation between Seattle and the Eastside and they’re looking for your help in making it part of Sound Transit’s longterm agenda:

In recent weeks, Sound Transit has released studies of additional crossings of Lake Washington serving destinations between Ballad and the University District on the Westside and Eastside destinations such as Kirkland, Redmond and Microsoft.  Sound Transit has overlooked a much more efficient and effective route to better serve these cities and our regional transportation system: a Sand Point Crossing of Lake Washington.
This new Sand Point crossing will provide fast connections between residential, entertainment, and employment centers in the northern half of Seattle and the east side.  It will provide a one seat ride from Ballard to Microsoft in 30 minutes or less during rush hour, and less than ten minutes between the U District and Kirkland.  This option is superior to 520 crossings that Sound Transit has studied so far as it adds destinations (Downtown Kirkland, Magnuson Park, Childrens Hospital, Rose Hill) while providing a more direct crossing of Lake Washington for faster commute times and higher ridership.

More information about the why the Sand Point crossing is the best plan for the region’s future is available here.
The comment period for the Sound Transit Long Range plan is open until 7/28. We encourage residents to tell the Sound Transit Board and Long Range Staff they want the Sand Point Crossing for a faster and more efficient transportation system.

The proposal would certainly be transformative for Central Seattle. Capitol Hill has long been a Seattle homebase for many Microsoft and Eastside tech employees simply because transit across the lake from nearly any other neighborhood in the city is such a drag. Meanwhile, East Link slated to carry passengers across Lake Washington via I-90 starting in 2023.

14 thoughts on “Transit advocates make push for Sand Point Crossing

    • Boy, I can hardly wait for that discussion and bond offering to pay for a bridge or floating tunnel for Sound Transit only. Given there’s no state highway to piggyback off, this ought to be fun. Just “pennies a day” onto your already-christmas tree-like property tax or car registrations (or both). “goodluckwiththat”.

  1. The per user cost would be prohibitive….subways are for densely populated cities….we are nowhere near the cost/effectiveness. Bus only lanes?

  2. Two paths across the lake seems more resilient, and relieving the traffic on the Portage Bay/Ship Canal bridges and their I-5 intersections would be nice. I really don’t want WSDOT to get away with turning the Arboretum into an on/off ramp.

  3. The cost of a tunnel under Lake Washington is cost prohibitive. We already have trouble building a 1.7 mile tunnel under Downtown Seattle and can’t find a way to pay for the 520 bridge.

    • From the transit blog’s article: “Another surprise: In this corridor WSDOT considered a floating tunnel the most viable of the tunnel options.”

    • There’s no way it would involve a conventional (ie bored) tunnel *under* Lake Washington — the lake is far too deep for that. On the other hand, a moored (submerged floating) tunnel requires no boring and just needs to be assembled and submerged. It probably would have been much cheaper to replace 520 that way, if you didn’t have to worry about all the things that can go wrong with random cars and trucks in a tunnel (vs trains on rails). Oh, and the fact that no one has ever built a SFT before (there are lots of examples where this is done but the tunnel is sunk all the way down to the sea/lake floor — eg the transbay tube for BART and the Fehmarn Belt under construction in Europe — and we have plenty of experience with mooring bridges on Lake Washington, which have to deal with waves and weather that a submerged tunnel avoids, but it’s still a proposal containing more risk simply because it would be the first).

      Realistically, another rail crossing of Lake Washington almost certainly will happen… just not in my lifetime.

  4. The cheapest cross-lake per-passenger cost could be found with a passenger-only ferry. I can see it departing from the south bank of Lake Union, perhaps with a stop at Sand Point, and terminating at downtown Kirkland. It should hold at least 400 walk-ons, and it would clearly be the greenest solution.
    This is my opinion only; there are no studies that I could site. But at least this solution does not involve the Colossus of Roads, merely some Metro bus co-scheduling.

    • The return of the Mosquito Fleet! I’d suggest a stop somewhere closer to the UW/ University Hospital / Montlake (and the transit tunnel station) would probably be better than Sandpoint, but otherwise I like the idea. The Lake Washington ferries ended a year after tolls were removed from the floating bridge; it would be poetic if the return of tolls led to a return of the boats. The real problem today might be securing the dock locations — waterfront is not cheap, and most existing docks are in use and/or couldn’t accommodate the connecting bus traffic.

  5. Zip Line. Or for those that like the slow lane, Gondola.
    Cheap, easy, proven technology.

    Actually, the Gondola isn’t so silly. Great view. And we build them all over the world for ski lifts. A lake crossing wouldn’t be near as hard as some mountain passes.

    The only real problem is getting the sucker up to 70 mph.

  6. I agree the lake crossing would be quite expensive. So why not just have a Seattle-funded, Seattle only portion tunnel that connects Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, U-District, U-Village, Childrens, Magnuson. That covers a quite densely populated area of the City that currently is quite difficult to manage via bus – the distance plus traffic to get from U-District to Ballard is a complete PITA. Turn that whole length into a subway tunnel with a handful of stops at major nodes and you’ve cut that cross-town crossing on the north side of town in half timewise – or maybe even more! Plus, you get to connect north-south with the U-Link..

    Its pretty obvious where we need a subway after the U-Link is completed – and its not to connect commuters between downtown and Northgate – they are quite well served by the commuter buses like the 41. What we need is an underground crosstown connection – a real subway. (frankly, we need a subway connecting West Seattle-Downtown-Seattle Center-Queen Anne-Magnolia)

    Basically, four lines – the current SE line, the U-Link, a northside crosstown and a westside crosstown. LIke a real city.

  7. Capitol hill blog does not need to be reposting Ben scheildermans wet dreams stay with reporting capitol hill news…

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