Metro wants Hill feedback on bus route restructure before 2016 light rail start

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.45.42 AMcapitol-hill-frequency2Tuesday night brings a public hearing on Metro’s proposed “Link Connections” changes to optimize bus routes as light rail service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington begins in early 2016.

For reasons only the King County Council know, the hearing is being held in one of the city’s least public transportation-friendly corners:

Attend the public hearing
Tuesday, Oct. 6
6:30 p.m. Open house
7:00 p.m. Public testimony
Mountaineers Club
7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle
Served by Metro routes 30, 74, and 75
Use Metro’s Trip Planner to plan your travel

We advise making the smartest transit plan of all — stay home and submit a well-crafted comment online.

CHS wrote about the early formation of the restructure here in the spring. Here is how Metro describes the summary of changes proposed for Capitol Hill and the Central District: Continue reading

City seeks to limit park-and-ride light rail use around Capitol Hill Station

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 4.21.46 PMWhen Capitol Hill Station opens next year, thousands of people will find some of their transit challenges solved — and some new ones opened up. How best to get to Capitol Hill Station to start your trip?

In an effort to discourage those people from driving to the station, Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation are collecting information for possible parking changes in the area surrounding the Broadway facility.

In August, Sound Transit sent out surveys to residents and businesses within a quarter mile radius of the station to ask about what parking changes, if any, should be made. Changes could include time-limit signs, loading zones, more paid parking, or expanding restricted parking zones.

“We want folks to take the bus, ride, or walk to the station,” said Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray. “There are so many good options to getting to and from station without driving.”

Last month, King County Metro released the Executive’s Proposal for a restructure of bus service to be rolled out early next year to coincide with the opening of light rail stations on Broadway and at the University of Washington.

Eventually, the First Hill Streetcar will also be an option.

With parking occupancy frequently topping 100% in the area, Capitol Hill Station won’t provide nearly as many opportunities to park-and-ride as stations farther south on the line. When the Central Link came online, new residential parking zones were set up in a quarter mile radius around each station.

According to Gray, existing RPZs near the station are unlikely to change, and other parking changes should be relatively minor. After Sound Transit collects the feedback, it will be sent to SDOT where proposed changes will be drawn up later this year. Surveys were also sent out to businesses and residents near the University of Washington Station, which included a few blocks of the Montlake neighborhood.

New parking rates rolling out this year reflect how slammed parking already is on Capitol Hill. The “Capitol Hill North” zone, which covers north Broadway, will be the first parking area in the neighborhood to hit $4 an hour from 5 PM-8 PM as occupancy rates reached 100% this year. Meanwhile, morning parking along the corridor remains below the target occupancy range of 70%-85%. The morning rate will drop to $3 an hour.

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)


What you’ll find on the UW end of light rail: Rainier Vista bridge in 2016, 240-foot tower in 2021

There are quite a few design reviews to come before this rendering of proposed development around Capitol Hill Station becomes real (Image: Gerding Edlen )

There are quite a few design reviews to come before this rendering of proposed development around Capitol Hill Station becomes real (Image: Gerding Edlen )

Here’s what we’re building above Capitol Hill Station:

Gerding’s plans call for 418 apartments with 38% of units to rent for below market rate for 12 years and 86 units designated for “permanent affordable housing.” A third of the units will have at least two bedrooms.



Plans for a retail “bazaar” at Site A-North, called The Market Hall, envision “a mix of local retailers, served by booths of varying sizes to accommodate the start-up entrepreneur as well as more established specialty retailers.” Gerding says it plans to work closely with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to select a retail broker and future tenants.

Here’s what the University of Washington wants to build above the station planned to open at Brooklyn and 43rd in 2021:

The UW doesn’t yet have firm plans for the site, according to a spokesman. But signs point toward an office tower up to 240 feet tall, if the city allows such height, following recommendations to the university from a panel of development experts.

Before all you urbanists fill with envy, remember the community-driven development plan for Capitol Hill Station did open the way for developers to build to 85 feet along Broadway in exchange for including affordable housing in the project.

In the meantime, here is what you’ll find when the extension goes into service in early 2016 on the other end of the light rail line at Husky Stadium:

With picturesque precision, the recently opened land bridge finally links the main UW campus with Husky Stadium, the UW Medical Center, and the rest of Montlake Triangle. Pedestrian and bicycle paths now border Rainier Vista itself, and newly planted trees frame the extended lawn to enhance the already breathtaking view of Mt. Rainier from Drumheller Fountain.

(Image: Sound Transit via Flickr)

(Image: Sound Transit via Flickr)

Bus Stop | Locked in — Metro releases proposal for revamping routes around light rail

Stutter Bus

(Image: Metro)

(Image: Metro)

King County Metro has released the Executive’s Proposal for a restructure of bus service to be rolled out early next year to coincide with the opening of light rail stations on Broadway and at the University of Washington.

If you were hoping for your bus service to mostly stay the same, this proposal should please you. But if you were hoping for a dramatic change in Metro’s approach to transit service, taking advantage of quick transfers to a fast train at any opportunity to reduce duplication and provide more frequent service to more destinations, then this proposal might leave something to be desired.

Almost every bus route on Capitol Hill stays entirely intact. Here are the changes:

  • The biggest change will be to the 43, which will be deleted. In its place on E Olive Way is the new route 11. Between downtown and 19th Ave E, this route will follow the route of the current 43. At 19th, it will turn right and continue south to Madison Street, where it will take a very tricky left turn onto Madison and continue all the way down Madison and terminate in Madison Park like the current 11. This diversion down 19th Ave was not in any previous restructure proposals and is very unusual. Also of note is the fact that this route will not be able to run on trolley wire, leaving the 43’s trolley wire between Summit Avenue and 23rd Ave unused.
  • The 8 will receive the only other change in physical routing and the change does not come on Capitol Hill at all. At Mount Baker Station the 8 will terminate and anyone who would continue south on Martin Luther King Jr Way S will need to transfer to the new route 38 to Rainier Beach. Splitting the 8 at Mount Baker will likely do little to alleviate reliability problems relating to the the Capitol Hill segment of this route. I talked about those reliability issues in the last column. The 8 also retains its 30 minute frequency at night and on Sundays. It will receive some added trips during weekdays and end service later at night.
  • The 25, which serves Capitol Hill’s northwest edge on the way to Laurelhurst in an infrequent manner, will be deleted.
  • The 10 and the 12 stay just as they are, bypassing Capitol Hill Station. Increased service thanks to Prop 1 will bring the 10 to 15 minute frequency at most all day long including Saturday and Sunday. The 12 will see weekday evening service increase to 15 minute frequency as well. Many of these frequency changes were already approved by the County Council with the passage of Prop 1 so it’s not immediately clear of the immediacy of their inclusion in this proposal or if they are merely included to clarify the longer term goals for frequency in the area.
  • The 49, despite also connecting Capitol Hill to the University District will remain entirely in place and increase to 12-15 minute frequency at all times. However, U District Station at NE 45th Street will open 5 years behind the station at Montlake, at which point this route will be truly duplicated by Light Rail.
  • The 48 will, like the 8, become split into 2 routes, in this case in the University District where riders can board the new route 45 which will take over the Green Lake/ Crown Hill portion of the route. With this will come an increase in frequency at most times of the day
(Image: Metro)

(Image: Metro)

After two rounds of public comment and three other proposals, this set of changes is very likely the final one that will get put in place in the first quarter of 2016. At this time, the only changes will probably come directly from the King County Council. The only two council members whose districts these changes are taking place in are Larry Gossett and Joe McDermott but contacting the entire council as well as County Executive Dow Constantine is probably the route to take to communicate any last minute suggestions on this restructure proposal. At this point it is not known when a final vote will take place.

UPDATE: Bus Stop missed the fact that the route 8 will also be making the same deviation via 19th Avenue that was in no earlier proposals from Metro. This deviation to a tricky turn between Madison St and 19th Avenue adds at least 2 minutes to every 8 trip, reducing the impact of splitting the 8 at Mount Baker Station and comes with little apparent justification.

You can read more about the proposals here.

Sound Transit seeks feedback on light rail to West Seattle, Ballard… and beyond

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.28.17 PMSound Transit 3, a “sales-tax, car-tab tax, and property-tax increases”-powered $15 billion package of projects for the agency to take on once its currently planned investments are complete in 2023, will go to the ballot in 2016. Right now, Sound Transit wants your help shaping the package:

The Sound Transit Board needs your help to determine which projects should be included in the ballot measure. The Board will also consider the findings of technical analysis about each project, feedback from the public and key stakeholders, and project cost considerations. The Board is made up of 17 elected officials throughout the Puget Sound region and the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It is scheduled to release a draft plan for system expansion in early 2016 for public review and comment before advancing a final ballot measure for public vote in late 2016 or afterward.

Sound Transit is conducting a survey through Wednesday, July 9th collecting feedback on 39 alternatives on a “draft priority projects” list including multiple variants of light rail options connecting to Ballard and West Seattle. You can learn more about ST3 and take the survey here.

The Madison Bus Rapid Transit project is also included in the draft list.CHS reported on SDOT’s Madison BRT planning here. We’ll have to follow up to find out how the new Sound Transit package funding would mesh with the current planning process.

The survey provides the opportunity to weigh in on the individual importance of each of the draft items on the project list and also provide “top 3″ rankings for the regions Sound Transit serves. It also includes question #8 which seems to inform as much as it queries:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.24.59 PM

Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill light rail project, meanwhile, is on pace to begin service by early 2016. Isn’t that? a) awesome b) totally awesome or c) all of the above

Sound Transit selects Pride flag as Capitol Hill Station icon


20150630_SignageThough it will be rendered only in blue and white, Sound Transit has selected a symbol of Gay Pride as the legally required identification icon for Broadways opening-soon Capitol Hill Station.

“Pictograms, as part of our overall general signage program, are not produced in color,” colorful Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray regretfully informed CHS.

The new symbol was spotted by eagle-eyed @gordonwerner in Sound Transit’s latest project update newsletter. Sound Transit also announced that the Seattle-side line of light rail will be known as the Red Line while Eastside extensions will be known as the Blue Line.

The Pride-based icon was selected as part of a design and community feedback process designed to “create pictograms to identify Sound Transit Link light rail stations” that “serve as a tool to easily differentiate stations.” “This is important for non-English speaking audiences, particularly those that do not use a Roman alphabet,” a report on the process reads.

It’s choice comes in a summer of revival for the rainbow flag on Capitol Hill. While the flag continues as a ubiquitous symbol around the neighborhood every June for Pride, the addition of 11 rainbow crosswalks in Pike/Pine has represented a small restoration, for some, of the neighborhood’s eroding LGBTQ identity. For others, it’s a groovy photo op. You might expect a similar response for the Capitol Hill Station icon — though we wouldn’t mind holding the license for the branded blue Pride flag merchandise.

Art inside the station will be, well, kinda gay, too, with war+love machine Jet Kiss (Image: CHS)

Art inside the station will be, well, kinda gay, too, with war+love machine Jet Kiss (Image: CHS)

Continue reading

Sound Transit announces U-Link extension passes first phase of testing — and takes you on a video ride beneath Capitol Hill

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 2.44.14 PM

Sound Transit officials have announced that an important “first phase” of testing on the University Link light rail extension connecting downtown to Montlake via Capitol Hill Station is complete. And they included this groovy video view from the operator’s cab to show you how it feels to zoom through the twin tunnels at speeds up to 55 MPH.

The testing of “new power, safety, train control and communications systems in most of the 3.1 miles of tunnels between Westlake Station in downtown Seattle and the University of Washington” involves coordinating the newly installed equipment with the system’s existing infrastructure. The work is part of phases of testing that will continue through the summer and will grow to include Sound Transit’s working fleet of trains. “(W)hen final phases of testing beginning this fall, all trains that operate during normal service hours will continue on to Capitol Hill and UW Station before returning south,” the announcement on the completion of the first phase of testing reads. The full announcement is below.

CHS took you inside for a first look at Capitol Hill Station as work continues to have the new extension ready for service by early 2016. You can also join CHS on a walk through the light rail tunnels here. Meanwhile at the surface, the process to develop the land around Capitol Hill Station with a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments, commercial space, and community space is underway.

Sound Transit completes first phase of University Link testing

New video from operator’s cab previews fast and frequent service that starts in early 2016

Sound Transit contractors have completed initial work to integrate and test University Link light rail signal and power systems as part of the push to open the extension in early 2016. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing picked to operate light rail station’s 86-unit affordable housing site

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 11.12.06 PM

All 86 units planned for Site B-North will be below market rate. (Image: Gerding Edlen)

A prominent Capitol Hill nonprofit will be taking the lead role in developing an all-affordable housing building as part of the four site, mixed-used project that will one day surround Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station.

Master developer Gerding Edlen has selected Capitol Hill Housing to develop, own, and operate the seven story, 86-unit building. According to Gerding’s winning proposal, half of Site B-North’s units will be restricted to households making no more than 30% of the area median income. The other half will be made affordable to households at or below 60% of AMI. Initial plans call for a community center and a day care, as well as a rooftop deck and computer lab. Continue reading

More transit prep on Broadway: If you spot ‘smoke,’ don’t worry — Capitol Hill Station airflow test


A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station's main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station’s main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

If you see smoke Friday night coming from the under construction Capitol Hill Station, you can probably relax. Sound Transit says contractors will be conducting tests of the station’s “airflow”

Friday, May 22, from 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sound Transit’s contractors at both the Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations will perform airflow tests in the University Link tunnels. Nearby residents and passersby may notice artificial smoke (a dense vapor produced by a fog machine) exiting vent shafts at the station sites. Additional airflow tests will also be performed on May 30-31 and June 6-7 during daytime hours.

If this were an actual emergency, never fear — Capitol Hill’s Fire Station 25 is home to Seattle’s only special tunnel firefighting machine.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The work is part of preparations through the rest of 2015 to open Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway.

You can get a sneak peek here of the UW station and a look here at what it’s like inside the 3.1 mile tunnels. Riders will descend around 90 feet via escalators and elevators to reach the Capitol Hill Station platform, according to Sound Transit diagrams. In addition to the main entrance near Broadway and John, the station will also be accessed by an entrance near Denny on the west side of Broadway and a third entrance on the south end of the site. By 2030, about 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day.

Above ground, the process to develop the sites around the Broadway light rail site with a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, a community plaza, and commercial space — including a home being planned for a new grocery store — is underway and planners are adjusting bus routes in anticipation of the new transit service coming online. Meanwhile, the surface level streetcar has begun testing on Broadway with hopes of opening the service to riders later this summer.

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Developer shows off plans for Capitol Hill Station housing and The Market Hall

unnamedSiteMapv4-W-Map-1024x807-600x472-1-400x315For the first time since they were selected to develop the housing and retail sites that will one day surround the Capitol Hill light rail station, developers Gerding Edlen met with the Capitol Hill community Saturday to show off its early designs for the project.

The Portland-based developer set up posters inside E Pine’s Century Ballroom for a public viewing of the company’s winning proposal, which Sound Transit selected and made available last month. The event was co-hosted by Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Champion, a neighborhood group that’s worked for years to insert community priorities into the “transit orientated development” project.

Members from the Gerding team and architects from Schemata Workshop were on hand to answer questions and take public feedback during the three hour open house. The event was a kickoff of sorts to a new round of community engagement on the project as Sound Transit spent much of the past six months scoring proposals from four teams.

A dog swimming pool, music practice spaces, a newsstand, and more vibrant color palettes were just a few of the colorful suggestions attendees offered after viewing the designs Saturday. Continue reading