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).

OR

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-150x150

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.

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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

Finally, bids begin for Capitol Hill Station development

CHStation-TOD-area-600x467-1Planning for the massive mixed-use development sites around the future Capitol Hill light rail station has been years in the making, and now firms interested in building the projects can officially start their bids.

On Friday, Sound Transit began soliciting applications from those interested in developing the 100,000 square foot “transit oriented development” project that will be one of the most defining developments in Capitol Hill. The project will include housing, retail, and community space on five sites stretching along Broadway from John to Denny.

“Today is a huge milestone for Sound Transit and for the community,” said Sound Transit’s Bruce Gray. “It’s the start of the end game for us to get the parcels redeveloped. It will be a fun ride from here on out.”

Continue reading

Computer Love, a small business also feeling the pinch of Capitol Hill’s rising rents

Horon outside his 12th Ave repair shop

Horon outside his 12th Ave repair shop

There are a lot of people living within walking distance of Computer Love, a tiny store and repair shop at 12th and Howell, who, yes, love their computers. And more and more are moving in every day. But the vitality of the neighborhood that has nurtured the computer repair, service and retail business in the ground level of an old apartment building may also be what kills the little shop.

“The biggest worry I have right now is rents going up,” said Matt Horon, Computer Love’s founder, owner and sole full-time employee.

With a lease that expires at the end of April on a space that sits in the middle of a once low-profile strip of 12th Ave just a block from Cal Anderson Park that is now exploding with new construction, Computer Love’s future in the neighborhood is uncertain.

Continue reading

Concourse digging creates a dangerous snag on the Broadway bikeway

To turn south on Broadway from Denny  cyclists must cross and ride on the sidewalk. (Photo: CHS)

To turn south on Broadway from Denny bicyclists must cross and ride the sidewalk. (Photo: CHS)

As work got underway this month to make it safer for pedestrians to cross Broadway into the new light rail station when it opens in 2016, a crucial part of the street got more dangerous for bicyclists.

On January 13 Sound Transit contractors began tunneling under Broadway at Denny to build a pedestrian concourse connecting a light rail entrance on the west side of the street to the Capitol Hill Station. In order to do the work, contractors had to shut down one southbound lane of Broadway, now walled off by large concrete barriers, and scrub out the bikeway between Denny and Howell.

Seattle Department of Transportation’s Ethan Melone told CHS that despite the headaches, this has been part of the plan all along “We knew Sound Transit was coming,” he said. “If we waited to open it, [the bikeway] would be completed, but not accessible, which would be frustrating.” Continue reading

With developer selection process for Capitol Hill Station properties impending, group shifts focus of its advocacy

(Image: Capitol Hill Champion)

(Image: Capitol Hill Champion)

Change is about to accelerate on Broadway’s central strip. After several years of planning and negotiation, all eyes are about to turn to potential developers for the land around Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail Capitol Hill Station, and the Capitol Hill Champion group, a player in the development process since 2010, is wasting no time preparing to shift its focus.

Champion steering committee member John Akamatsu presented an update of the Champion group’s most recent efforts—the group advocates to secure the inclusion of what they have identified as features beneficial to the community in future developments on the land—at the January Capitol Hill Community Council meeting last Thursday night. Akamatsu is also vice president of the Community Council.

“We want Sound Transit to hear the community,” Akamatsu said about the Champion group’s planned efforts to influence Sound Transit’s developer selection process. The group — a joint venture between the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce – will also be working to influence the developers making a bid for a parcel of Sound Transit’s prime real estate. Continue reading

Making best of Broadway construction means sidewalk+bikeway solution and plenty of visits to Annapurna Cafe

(Image: Annapurna Cafe)

(Image: Annapurna Cafe)

The year-long project to build a pedestrian concourse beneath Broadway to connect to Capitol Hill Station is causing a variety of construction headaches in the area. But let’s get our priorities straight. There’s a great restaurant to support in the midst of it.

It’s no surprise Roshita Shrestha sounds a little worried when she talks about what should — eventually — be a boon for Broadway and her amazing restaurant, the Annapurna Cafe. In the meantime, her corner Denny at Broadway looks like this.

A Sound Transit spokesperson said that while no mitigation money has been made directly available to help Annapurna or any other area businesses make it through the last push to 2016′s planned opening of the light rail station, the agency’s strategy has been to support the neighborhood as a whole.

“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,” the spokesperson wrote via email. How much that kind of mitigation can directly help a business like Annapurna is up for debate. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and Sound Transit promotional budget has included purchasing advertising on CHS and in other area media in addition to Twitter and Facebook campaigns.

The Sound Transit representative said the agency did meet with Annapurna’s ownership this week to further discuss the situation and get better signage up as soon as possible. Expect a new banner to fly any minute now. Meanwhile, Sound Transit says it is also pushing its contractors to finish the work on the west side of the street as soon as possible. Still, “this summer” is currently the best estimate for completion of the west side of Broadway portion of the work. Meanwhile, the ST rep said “the overall station” will be nearly complete by this time next year “with most of the work focused on systems installation and testing.”

UPDATE: Annapurna’s owners confirmed the meeting and said they’re hoping to see more to help them make it through the next six months. The building’s landlord, they point out, received help from Sound Transit to fill the retail berth left empty when another restaurant recently left the building.

Sujan Sharma tells CHS that in addition to immediate concerns about the lack of foot traffic potentially making the area unsafe at night, he worries about gaining new customers who might never try the restaurant because they don’t know it’s buried behind the construction fence. “New customers will never know we’re here,” he said.

You can make taking a few new customers with you part of your Annapurna mission.

Right now, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle will also need to sort out a solution for the closed sidewalk on the west side of the street and the unannounced decision to erase a block of the new Broadway bikeway. Closing a sidewalk in a dense, busy neighborhood like Broadway doesn’t really work — people move their “sidewalk” around the obstacle in question. Be careful for pedestrians in the area in the meantime. The bikeway’s abrupt northern terminus now also appears to require a more thorough solution. Sound Transit says they are working for new signs in the area to help clear up any safety issues.

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 this summer and Peet’s Coffee pulled up stakes long before that. If you’re excited about light rail but also want to help some of Broadway’s best longtimers stick around to enjoy the party, consider navigating your way through the digging and the signs to visit the area around Broadway and Denny.

You can learn more at annapurnacafe.com.

Reminder: Broadway ‘lane reductions’ for light rail ‘underground pedestrian concourse’ begin Monday

unnamed (3)Governor Christie apparently has nothing to do with this. A year of construction on Broadway at Denny is slated to begin Monday as Sound Transit contractors dig in on a new pedestrian concourse to access the future Capitol Hill Station:

Lane closures on Broadway start Monday January 13

Beginning  Monday, January 13, 2014 construction will begin on the underground pedestrian concourse that will connect the Capitol Hill Link Light Rail Station to the west side of Broadway.

To build the concourse, Sound Transit’s contractors must excavate portions of the road and sidewalks on Broadway between E Howell Street and E Denny Way.

This work will take place in two stages:

  • Stage 1 (January to July 2014): Construction crews will close the west side of Broadway, just south of E Denny Way, to build the concourse in an open trench.
  • Stage 2 (July to December 2014): Crews will close the east side of Broadway, just south of E Denny Way, to complete the concourse.

Crews will maintain one lane of traffic in each direction on Broadway. Flaggers and signs will direct traffic.

What to expect during construction

  • Lane reductions will remain in place 24/7 during this work.
  • Intermittent daytime noise while crews use saws and jackhammers to break up concrete and install soldier piles to support the excavation.
  • Sidewalk closures and street parking restrictions at the construction site.
  • The bus stop on the west side of Broadway between E Howell Street and E Denny Way will be closed from January through July 2014. The closest bus stop is located one block south, directly in front of Seattle Central Community College.
  • Access to homes and businesses will be maintained.

Construction concerns
Major construction can be disruptive to communities. If you have any construction related questions or concerns, please call Sound Transit’s Central Corridor line at (206) 398-5300 or email us at ulink@soundtransit.org. For after business hour construction issues please use our 24-hour construction hotline at 888-298-2395.

CHS reported on the “extraordinarily lucky” construction progress for Sound Transit on the U-Link light rail line in December. The project’s excellent construction progress so far has helped Sound Transit begin planning an earlier-than-expected start of service for the line in 2016.