With expanded light rail a year away, Metro rolls out proposed route changes

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(Images: King County Metro)

(Images: King County Metro)

Earlier this week, CHS reported that the agency’s planning is pointing at a March 2016 opening for light rail service through Capitol Hill Station — though Sound Transit is still officially saying only that they’re planning for the first quarter of the year. CHS reported last fall that part of ramping up for the new transit option would be a plan to optimize Metro bus routes around the city in anticipation of the new service.

This week, Metro has rolled out two alternative plans for changing service on Capitol Hill and beyond when U-Link extension is fired up at the beginning of 2016. Here is Metro’s project page for the “Link Connections” planning.

As the Urbanist site reported earlier this week in a preview of the announcement, Metro’s “Link Connections” Alternative 1 is the more aggressive of the plans while Alternative 2 represents an incremental approach. If past optimization exercises with the county are any indication, you can expect Alternative 1 to be held up as a kind of marker at the edge of possibility while the second alternative ends up being closest to the final plan.

Some key details on the proposals for Capitol Hill and Central Seattle are below. Please let us know what we missed and what others should be aware of. Continue reading

Light rail plans call for Capitol Hill Station to open in March… 2016


(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

March 2016 will be a big month for Capitol Hill transit. If everything goes to plan — and it has, mostly, through four years of work so far — Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station and the 3.1 mile University Link extension of Sound Transit’s light rail network will begin “revenue service” a year from now.

In the agency’s “2015 Service Implementation Plan” (PDF), Sound Transit planners lay out the timeline for the $1.8 billion project to begin carrying passengers next March as part of its regular schedule of service changes through its various bus and rail services.

Trial runs on the line are expected to begin “in Fourth Quarter 2015,” according to the document produced last December. “Testing for the University extension is expected to begin either at or sometime during the September 2015 service change,” the document notes elsewhere in the plan.

UPDATE: We’ll let you parse this response from a Sound Transit spokesperson:

We really don’t know that U Link will open in March, 2016. All we know right now is that it will be in the first quarter – could be anytime Jan-March at this point. The service changes that the SIP referred to are any changes that happen as/after U Link opens, not the usual service changes that happen in February.

The spokesperson tells us that Sound Transit is planning to update the document “to say U Link opens in Q1 next year.” The original wording? “Testing for this alignment will begin in Fourth Quarter 2015 with revenue service anticipated to begin with the March 2016 service change.”

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Also coming to Capitol Hill’s underground light rail station and tunnels in 2016: wireless service

IMG_3562-2The Sound Transit board is set to approve a contract on Thursday to add cell phone service inside its light rail tunnels and stations. The bad news: no more phone silence when your train goes underground.

Last year, the company Mobilitie was selected to build out the neutral host 4G LTE cell network (i.e., a multi-carrier network with data) to service all underground light rail stations and tunnels. Installation is expect to start in the coming months, but service won’t be available until mid-2016.

Under the proposed contract (PDF), Mobilitie would be responsible for funding, installing, and maintaining the cellular system. The company will also pay Sound Transit $7,500 a month and a one-time $250,000 payment when the University Link tunnel comes online. The company will profit by selling network access to cellular providers.

University Link light rail trains remain on track to start rolling through Capitol Hill Station by early next year. The University Link line will extend underground from downtown to connect with Capitol Hill and University District stations. Sound Transit began boring for the Northgate Link tunnel in November, which will add three more stations north of the University Station: U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate. As of last month, construction on the Capitol Hill Station was around 78% complete.

In addition to enhancing rider experience, Sound Transit anticipates cell service could be used for direct communication with passengers:

Installing wireless communications coverage will improve safety, security, and information opportunities for transit passengers travelling in the underground facilities. It will also create opportunities for additional communications methods and media for transit operations.

Meanwhile, the Sound Transit board is still evaluating proposals to develop the housing and retail properties surrounding the Broadway light rail station. The board is expected to announce the winning contractor(s) in early March.

Capitol Hill Station retail and housing: $25M price tag, one developer drops out, plans due in December

We'll be seeing more proposals for the development around Capitol Hill Station soon. Here's one rendering from a past American Institute of Architecture Students project.

We’ll be seeing more proposals for the development around Capitol Hill Station soon. Here’s one rendering from a past American Institute of Architecture Students project.

Developers have finally submitted their proposals for the four sites that will make up the retail, housing, and community surrounding the Capitol Hill light rail station. Sound Transit says it is now reviewing plans submitted by the shortlisted teams. Officials must also decide if the four parcels should be developed separately, or if one firm will act as “master developer” for the 100,000 square feet “transit oriented development” that will include housing, commercial, and a community spaces. There’s also an official price tag now: $25 million.

Sound Transit’s initial property valuations were echoed by the agency’s outside analyst, which released a detailed appraisal of all five sites last week. The appraisals by Valbridge Property Advisors gives an interesting, albeit dry glimpse into the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes in the very early stages of planning many Capitol Hill developments.

In addition to considering constraints of the community development agreement, the appraiser evaluated how the neighborhood and transit-centered location would increase the property’s value. The report also analyzed nearby property sales:Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 3.47.59 PM

In total, the four TOD properties were valued at $25 million. Here’s how the appraisals break down:

Site A: $9.1 million
Site B North: $2.8 million
Site B South: $6.2 million
Site C: $6.9 million

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Piece by piece, Broadway’s Red Wall is finally coming down

We've been through a lot with this guy (Image: CHS)

We’ve been through a lot with this guy (Image: CHS)

More than five years after the demolitions that kicked off the massive project, the Capitol Hill Sound Transit light rail station is entering its final months of construction. As the station rises between John and Denny on Broadway, the various murals and art installations that have decorated the exterior of the surrounding plywood “Red Wall” are slowly coming down piece by piece.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

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Sound Transit contractor that dug twin light rail tunnels beneath Capitol Hill hit with racial discrimination lawsuit

Black workers who say they were demeaned and fired because of their race are suing the Sound Transit contractor responsible for digging the twin tunnels between Montlake and Broadway for the U-Link light rail extension beneath Capitol Hill.

KPLU reports:

A group of African American laborers who worked on the Sound Transit Link Light Rail project at Husky Stadium are suing, seeking class action status in federal court.

The men, four of whom appeared at a press conference in Seattle, say they were demeaned and fired because of their race. Continue reading

With eye on 2016 Capitol Hill light rail, plans readied to integrate Metro, Sound Transit service — UPDATE

Escalators leading up to mezzanine level of the UW light rail station (Image: CHS)

Escalators leading up to mezzanine level of the UW light rail station (Image: CHS)

King County Executive Dow Constantine will be at the University of Washington light rail station construction site Wednesday afternoon to announce the “initial results” of planning “to integrate services provided by the region’s two largest transit agencies” — King County’s Metro and Sound Transit.

“It is essential for transit agencies with overlapping jurisdictions to fully integrate their services, and provide them to the public as efficiently as possible,” Constantine said in a statement on the planning earlier this summer following his executive order forcing the process. “Long term, our transportation future requires both adequate revenue and continuous innovation to expand service. This initiative advances the innovation half of that equation.”

UPDATE: The release plan includes possible proposals to revise Metro Route 8 and create or revise Capitol Hill routes to better connect the Broadway light rail station to South Lake Union and First Hill. More details below. Continue reading

Sound Transit issues clarifications for Capitol Hill Station development proposals as cost concerns mount

Lots of concrete got pumped in to help complete Capitol Hill Station this spring and summer. Lots of money will need to be pumped in to complete the "transit oriented development" around the station (Image: Sound Transit)

Lots of concrete got pumped in to help complete Capitol Hill Station this spring and summer. Lots of money will need to be pumped in to complete the “transit oriented development” around the station (Image: Sound Transit)

As the projected start date for construction of the apartment complexes and businesses that will populate the area surrounding the Capitol Hill light rail station approaches in coming years, Sound Transit has released clarifications of many of the rules governing how the short-list of potential developers will outline project proposals for the developments. According to Cathy Hillenbrand of the Capitol Hill Champion community group, Sound Transit has provided new information about how the proposals will be graded and selected as well as aspects of the design process.

“What I’ve been hearing is that the developers will be having to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars if not more just to complete these proposals just because of the level of design-detail Sound Transit wants,” said Hillenbrand. “So if you’re one of the six teams competing for Site A, that’s not a great percentage of chance for winning, so are you going to lay out hundreds of thousands of dollars for that?”CHStation-TOD-area-600x467-1 Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station’s crane ready to depart Broadway’s skyline after 3 1/2 years

Capitol Hill Station's shell now rises above the Broadway construction walls. Time to say goodbye to the crane. (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill Station’s shell now rises above the Broadway construction walls. Time to say goodbye to the crane. (Image: CHS)

Construction signs warned the Hill to be ready for a long haul back in December 2009 (Image: CHS)

Construction signs warned the Hill to be ready for a long haul back in December 2009 (Image: CHS)

A part of the neighborhood skyline for nearly 1,300 days is slated to wave its 250-foot arm goodbye to Capitol Hill this month. The giant crane purchased by Sound Transit contractors that has helped build Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail tunnels beneath Capitol Hill will be taken down, disassembled, and transported north to help build a new station in Roosevelt.

Sound Transit says it will require approximately 20 trucks to cart the giant crane. More information about the crane’s August removal will be announced soon. The Krøll 1800 (Capitol Hill’s is the metric model) was set up with its enormous 250-foot jib about 100 feet off the ground. The model can be as tall as 200 feet. It can lift more than 30,000 pounds at full extension and more than 130,000 when operating at a shorter radius, according to the manufacturer. Continue reading

CHS Video | A walk in the light rail tunnel to Capitol Hill Station — UPDATE

The video stops at Capitol Hill Station -- but the CHS photographer went all the way to Pine. Here, the track curves beneath I-5. More pictures from the trip soon. (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

The video stops at Capitol Hill Station — but the CHS photographer went all the way to Pine. Here, the track curves beneath I-5. More pictures from the trip below. (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

The best news: It will take you less time to ride from the University of Washington to Broadway when light rail’s U-Link opens in early 2016 than it will to watch this hastily edited video of CHS’s walk Friday afternoon from Montlake to the future Capitol Hill Station with the winners of a Sound Transit contest.

Four winners of a contest designed to buck up a local restaurant’s prospects during construction made the 3.1 mile trek under Capitol Hill from the construction site at UW’s Husky Stadium to the edge of the downtown transit tunnel beneath the Paramount. They were escorted by a gaggle of Sound Transit representatives and a small pack of media for the Friday afternoon hike.

Arriving at the future Capitol Hill Station

Arriving at the future Capitol Hill Station

More than 1,000 entries were received in the Annapurna Cafe contest, officials say. One winner declined to make the journey. Commence your “Hey, I would have taken your place!” complaints. Continue reading

Capitol Hill meets prospective developers of Broadway light rail station housing + retail + community projects

IMG_3173It was a speed dating session of sorts as potential developers of the future retail and housing sites to surround the Capitol Hill light rail station met with the public for the first time to tout their experience and qualifications and hear about the public’s wide ranging priorities.

Some 200 people gathered in the Broadway Performance Hall Monday evening to demand space for a Broadway farmer’s market, ample affordable housing, and to urge the eight shortlisted firms to adhere to the community priorities for the Broadway properties, which were hammered out over several years in an effort led by the group Capitol Hill Champion.

“We’re asking you to be bold, think historically. We’re here to help you succeed,” said Michael Wells, co-chair of the Champion group and director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. “There’s no need to move in darkness in this project.”

The participating developers have until September to submit bids to develop four housing and retail properties that will surround the future Capitol Hill light rail station. Sound Transit stands to net millions from the sale. Continue reading

Reminder: Capitol Hill Station development meeting — Plus, how to participate if you can’t attend

Monday at the Broadway Performance Hall, years of community effort to shape the thousands of square feet of development opportunity around the Capitol Hill Station light rail facility will reach another important milestone as the companies and organizations vying to create the new projects meet with residents and neighborhood representatives. You can be part of things even if you can’t attend the meeting in person:

Let developers know that you support community priorities at the Capitol Hill Station TOD sites. Attend a Community Meeting with short-listed bidders on June 2nd from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the SCC Broadway Performance Hall (corner of Pine and Broadway).


tweet your comments to #CapHillStation live!

CHS reported here on the “short-listed” developers with hopes of creating the affordable housing, retail and community projects that will be built surrounding the new light rail station after it opens for service in early 2016.

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What image should be used on light rail signs for Capitol Hill Station?

crow_pictoBeacon Hill’s Othello Station is represented by the noble stag.

Sound Transit is running a survey through mid-April to help determine what imagery should represent Capitol Hill Station, Broadway’s under-construction light rail stop:


Othello Station’s pictogram via Beacon Hill Blog

Sound Transit is developing pictograms for future Link light rail stations. A pictogram is an icon that conveys meaning through its pictorial resemblance of a physical object. Pictograms are used on Sound Transit’s Link light rail station signage and way-finding materials. Paired with station names, they help identify stations and the surrounding neighborhood. Pictograms serve as station identification symbols for non-English customers, primarily those that use a non-Roman based alphabet.

Sound Transit would like to begin the process by getting input from you.

You can take the questionnaire here. It includes interesting queries like this as planners seek to build community descriptions of the areas where upcoming stations are planned:Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.52.06 AM

A Sound Transit rep says the feedback will be just part of a community process to arrive at the final symbol for Capitol Hill’s Broadway stop, UW and beyond. To  be effective, the final symbol must achieve three goals:

Pictograms are intended to be station identification symbols for non-English audiences, primarily those that use a non-Roman based alphabet. To be effective, Sound Transit’s Link light rail station pictograms must meet these requirements:

  • Simple in form, and are an easily recognizable symbol

  • Readable at many scales; including signage, print material, online and mobile devices

  • Are individually distinguishable and read as a family

Capitol Hill Station is currently described as at around 30% complete as construction crews continue to work at building the station’s platforms and light rail facilities. Meanwhile, a separate process to determine developers for housing, retail and community space on Sound Transit-owned land around the station is underway. Capitol Hill Station and the 3.1 mile U-Link extension connecting the downtown transit tunnel through the Hill to Montlake is expected to open in early 2016. No word, yet, on who the lucky winners are who will get to take a walk in one of the completed twin-tunnels as part of a Sound Transit promotion.

Inside Capitol Hill Station (Image: Hewitt Seattle)

Inside Capitol Hill Station (Image: Hewitt Seattle)

Win a *walk* under Capitol Hill through the light rail tunnel

8444270641_5b235c14e3_o (1) 8445359548_ee92ffe3d5_o (1)Sound Transit has come up with a unique way to aid a Capitol Hill business in a bit of a pinch due to construction on Capitol Hill Station. Eat at Broadway’s Annapurna Cafe between now and March and you’ll have a chance to win a one-of-a-kind, three-mile walk *under* Capitol Hill from downtown to Montlake. Here are the details from Sound Transit:

When you eat at Annapurna Café, 1833 Broadway, you can enter to win a Sound Transit walking tour of the U-Link tunnel-from Capitol Hill to the University of Washington.

To be eligible, you must spend at least $10 at the Annapurna Café and fill out an entry form at the restaurant. You can enter every time you visit. You must be at least 18 and able to walk the entire 3-mile concrete-lined tunnel.

A drawing in early March will determine the winners.  No entry form information will be sold to an outside party.

By 2016 only U-Link trains will be running in the tunnel, no pedestrians allowed.

Earlier, CHS reported on the impact from construction work slated to last through summer to create a pedestrian concourse beneath Broadway to provide a passage for some of the thousands of riders expected to use the light rail station when it begins service in early 2016. Now 11 years old, Annapurna is soldiering through the remaining two years of construction and continuing to offer its delights of India, Nepal and Tibet on Broadway. Neighbor King’s Teriyaki shuttered last summer and Peet’s Coffee pulled up stakes long before that. “Our focus has been on promoting and marketing Broadway through a $610K agreement with the Chamber to keep shoppers, diners and drinkers in the neighborhood,” a Sound Transit spokesperson told CHS via email about the agency’s efforts to support area businesses through the years of construction to create the Capitol Hill portion of the U-Link extension.

Sound Transit is an occasional CHS advertiser and advertises its mitigation efforts on CHS.

The three-mile walk will likely take the eventual winner a few hours to complete as the course through one of the line’s twin tunnels winds its way from the downtown transit tunnel beneath the Paramount up through Capitol Hill and then down through Montlake and under the Cut to Husky Stadium. Riders will soon travel the same route in under 10 minutes. The tunnel boring on the $1.9 billion project was completed in spring 2012 and was achieved by a team of two 21-foot-tall boring machines that completed their mission with almost no hiccups along the way barring an occasional burst of muck at the surface and some strange vibrations around the Hill and in Montlake.

The twin tunnels between downtown and Montlake pass beneath dozens of apartment buildings, about 250 homes and several municipal structures at depths between 15 feet (beneath the Montlake cut) and 300 feet (beneath Volunteer Park) below the surface. The deepest digging between Broadway and downtown bottoms out at a still impressive 150 feet below the pavement. The journey from downtown to Capitol Hill includes some of the most technically challenging work of the project. Navigating a continuous curve that at one point brought the process within 21 feet of I-5 at the surface, the tunnel boring machine operated by a team of around 17 people operating five days a week, 24 hours per day for weeks at a time, traveled from Broadway to the edge of downtown’s transit tunnel. At its fastest rate, the machine was able to churn through 105 feet of soil in a day. On the other end of things, the lucky winner will descend a steep slope down the northside of the Hill into Montlake and under the waters of the Montlake Cut. It was an incredible feat of engineering — geek out here in this document (PDF) from the project team if you want to lear more — and all the more amazing given the continued troubles faced by the efforts to bore the waterfront tunnel.

The Annapurna contest has no limit on entries — you can add your name on each visit to the restaurant, according to Sound Transit. Just make sure you can still walk, come March.

Community advocate recognized for work on Broadway light rail development

Hillenbrand (Image courtesy Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)

Hillenbrand (Image courtesy Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce has selected resident and community advocate Catherine Hillenbrand as recipient of its 2014 Spirit Award. The award recognizes “a Capitol Hill community member who has done outstanding work to benefit the Capitol Hill neighborhood.”

Hillenbrand led the process to organize community priorities in the development of property surrounding the future Capitol Hill Station. Last week, CHS reported the bidding process had opened to become part of the development opportunity on this central stretch of Broadway.

In 2013, the organization honored Kay Rood for her work in shaping Cal Anderson Park.

The 2014 award will presented at the group’s annual Spirit of the Hill dinner slated for February 20th at Fred Wildlife Refuge. The chamber’s announcement of the 2014 selection is below. Continue reading