Capitol Hill Station’s next stop: Transportation Choices shows sneak peek of UW Station

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choice

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choices

Last Tuesday, we told you the Big Red Wall around the future Capitol Hill Station was beginning to come down in preparation for U-Link’s expected 8% under budget, six or so months early depending on who’s counting, early 2016 (March?) start of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Capitol Hill.

Pfew! That’s exciting!

So, how about a look at the other end of the equation! Here’s a peek inside your northern light rail destination adjacent Husky Stadium, courtesy Transportation Choices:

TCC got an inside look at both stations today, and here are some pictures of the highlights of the gorgeous UW Station (Capitol Hill station pictures are embargoed but we assure you, it looks great!).

We’re only a little envious of you, TCC, and your embargoed pics of the Broadway light rail station. At least we know what Capitol Hill Station art will look like integrating works by Capitol Hill artist Ellen Forney and a massive “Jet Kiss” sculpture by artist Mike Ross. And, of course, we did get to do this:

Bus Stop | Considering the alternatives

Metro is clearly trying to get you to think about frequency.

In the early 1980s, as Portland was building its first light rail line from downtown Portland to Gresham, the public transit planners in that city decided to make substantial changes to its bus network. Like Seattle now, Portland was served by a large number of bus routes that all headed downtown; if you weren’t going downtown you frequently found yourself there anyway because that was the only place to catch a bus to a different neighborhood.

After the reorganization, the redundancy that came from having so many buses running downtown was reduced, freeing up money to provide service between neighborhoods that were not connected before by bus, and to increase frequency of service along those routes. Service every 15 minutes all-day became the standard, making it easier to transfer between buses. The number of places that could now be reached in the same amount of time that it used to take you to only get downtown increased dramatically.

Last month, King County Metro released two proposals for what bus service could look like after the opening of two new light rail stations north of downtown in 2016. Capitol Hill Station and the University of Washington station are clearly envisioned as jumping off points for a reorganization proposal that will trade current levels of coverage for frequency of service. The first round of public feedback on the proposals closed with the end of March.

With a trip between Montlake and Westlake shaved down to 6 minutes, it makes sense to ask riders to transfer when their trip could become much faster overall. Alternative 1, the more ambitious of the two proposals, has the potential to mirror the transformation that Portland saw 30 years ago. What remains to be seen is how reliable the portions of the new, more frequent transit network that are not in their own tunnel will be. Continue reading

Broadway’s Red Wall art coming down in preparation for opening of Capitol Hill Station

“Tim Marsden hands a section of Stefan Gruber’s artwork “Both Worlds” to an assistant. De-installation of artwork and dismantling of the red wall next to Cal Anderson Park continues over the next several weeks.” – (Images: Jennifer Babuca)

UPDATE 4/6/2015: See?!? :)

Piece by piece, Broadway’s Red Wall is finally coming down, we wrote last October. The comedown continues — and is picking up pace.

The giant wall surrounding the five-acre Capitol Hill Station site home to a well-regarded collection of public art projects is starting to be prepared for removal as construction on the light rail facility wraps up in preparation for a start of service in early 2016. Here is an update on one section of art recently removed from STart on Broadway’s Jennifer Babuca:

It’s a beautiful spring Thursday on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Tim Marsden of Sound Transit stands in the basket of a scissor lift, efficiently working an electrical screwdriver as artist Stefan Gruber looks on.  Starting on this sunny Thursday, the attached pieces of artwork and signage are being removed from the section of wall that faces Cal Anderson Park.
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With expanded light rail a year away, Metro rolls out proposed route changes

alt1-traveltime-capitol-hill alt2-traveltime-capitol-hill (1)

(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

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(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.

According to Sound Transit, the project remains around 8% under budget with the total cost expected to come in around $1.8 billion. A March opening would put the project about six months ahead of some of its early planning and keep to the pace the agency has been talking about publicly since 2013.

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