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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Haugen Amendment: Transit Hub at UW

posted by on April 4 at 11:32 AM

Senate transportation chair Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10, Camano Island) has attached an amendment to the light rail/roads joint ballot title legislation.

Nervous that Sound Transit is going to sign a deal that will botch the idea for a transit hub that connects 520 bus service with the Husky Stadium UW light rail stop, Sen. Haugen added this mandate as the bill made it out of the Senate Transportation Committee before cut off on Monday:

However, as part of the single ballot proposition submitted to voters under this subsection, the authority shall include in the authority’s plan assurances that the authority will not enter into any agreement that would restrict the type of transit station serving the west end of the SR 520 floating bridge such that it would be unable to accommodate a comprehensive and coordinated corridor-based multimodal public transportation system to serve the SR 520 bridge area from Seattle to Redmond, including a high capacity transportation system not limited to rail service.

Why would ST sign a deal that would ratchet back a transit hub at a light rail station? I’m not sure they would. (I’ve got a call into them now to get their take on this amendment.) But here are some theories:
1. The UW is not to keen on having scores of buses pouring in.
2. A smaller station is cheaper.


I talked to Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick about Sen. Haugen’s amendment. Patrick says, “We intend to work closely with WashDot and the UW to coordinate our plans. We’re working with WashDot to maximize the public benefit of both projects. [WashDot’s] 520 design isn’t done yet.”

Patrick acknowledged that bargaining with UW—which is antsy about a big transit center—does have its effect on what ST can do. “It’s correct that they have an understandable interest in traffic circulation.”

Patrick also said: “We’re interested in getting as many people to ride our system as we can. At the same time, we need to be sensitive to WashDot and the UW.”

I asked Patrick if—wanting to maximize ST ridership—he supported Sen. Haugen’s amendment. After all, it would seem to give ST a bargaining chip with the UW. That is: ST could say: “Look, Olympia has mandated that we’ve got to have a major transit hub here.”

Patrick said: “Our commitment is to work with our partners. We hope the plan will please Senator Haugen. ”

RSS icon Comments


True. But since we'll be running BRT over the bridge and then upgrading it to light rail later, why is this a bad thing?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2007 11:32 AM

Will this require the new 6 lane super freeway and the enormous viaduct across the pristine Union Bay?

And more importantly where are the copies of all the Sound Transit lobbyists expenses. My guess we'll find some Democrats' names on the ST payola list. And probably some old guys from the 43rd - that want your house to fall down while your not at home on family leave but not at your local beer joint cause they couldn't put sprinklers in or the new fancy building wouldn't rent to them and the buses don't have a full schedule on holidays and stop for handicapped - where's the humanity?

Bring on the Rebublicans they'll do so much better.

Posted by kush | April 4, 2007 12:15 PM

The plural of "bus" is "buses". "Busses" are kisses.

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2007 12:18 PM


All communications between the agency and its lobbyists - including billing statements - are privileged. Wank off.

Posted by wishkah | April 4, 2007 12:35 PM

Lobbyist's expenditures are public information and can be viewed at the Public Disclosure Commission's website:

Posted by hlrs | April 4, 2007 12:53 PM

So, she'd prefer we build a light rail station at 520 instead of serving the hospital, south UW, and Husky Stadium? That's close to an *order of magnitude* difference in passenger volume - the UW has tens of thousands of people who aren't going to ride if they have to walk an extra several blocks to get to campus.

Haugen is trying to play politics where the professionals have already spent years planning - this, like trying to uncouple East Link from the rest of ST2, would likely erode support for the entire package. Haugen needs to stay out of regional planning decisions that aren't even in her district.

Posted by Ben Schiendelman | April 4, 2007 1:38 PM

With the new viaduct exit/entrance across Union Bay would the station serve 520 from where the viaduct lands by the stadium?

Josh - stay on the edge, use the second preferred plural.

bus (bs)
n. pl. bus·es or bus·ses
1. A long motor vehicle for carrying passengers, usually along a fixed route.
2. Informal A large or ungainly automobile.
3. A four-wheeled cart for carrying dishes in a restaurant.
4. Electricity A bus bar.
5. Computer Science A parallel circuit that connects the major components of a computer, allowing the transfer of electric impulses from one connected component to any other.
v. bused or bussed, bus·ing or bus·sing, bus·es or bus·ses

Posted by Kush | April 4, 2007 2:11 PM

"6 lane super freeway and the enormous viaduct across the pristine Union Bay?"

Oh, jesus. "Pristine"? Are you serious? And 6 lanes is all it takes to be "super" now? That "pristine" Union Bay already has a 4 lane near-"super" freeway running over it as it is -- a crappy one that, because it has no carpool lanes, traps buses on it during rush hour where they can dump their particulates into that oh-so-pristine bay. Adding a couple of diamond lanes there (or better yet, rail) would improve the net overall ecology of the area substantially.

Posted by Joe | April 4, 2007 2:11 PM

Maybe they could make up some ground by removing the ramps-to-nowhere that cover the "pristine" bay as well.

I'm a little more worried about where this super duper transit station is going to be. It's starting to sound like it's going to be as far as possible from ANY of the destinations -- stadium, university, hospital, U Village -- and they can possibly make it. Maybe they should put out in the middle of the lake, or at the far end of the old landfill.

What's the frigging point? Why is the UW terrified of "a ton" of transit when (a) they have a ton of buses already, and (b) they have 50,000+ people to move in and out every day? That's EXACTLY where you want a ton of transit. They're going to stick out in the middle of nowhere, and no one's going to use it, ever. Net result: more car dependency.

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2007 2:36 PM

Kudos to Sen. Haugen for creating the conditions for successful collaboration between Sound Transit, UW, and WSDOT on the future transit hub at the UW (whose growing population creates 80,000 vehicle trips per day; source: SR 520 DEIS)

There will be a transit hub at UW one way or another. The question is whether it will be by design or by accident.

A light rail station will open in 2016 that will have the highest ridership of any station besides Westlake: 21,500 per day. Meanwhile, SR 520 bus ridership is expected to quadruple to about 44,000 per day (source: SR 520 DEIS). Some of Metro's most popular bus routes serve this same location.

From here, it will be a 6 minute ride to Westlake, 3 minutes to Capitol Hill, 7 minutes to Northgate, on light rail. It will also be 12 minutes to Overlake/Microsoft via SR 520. To invest $8 billion in two intersecting transportation projects without even thinking about how they can work together would make Seattle the laughing stock of transportation planning worldwide.

Sen. Haugen is certainly not suggesting that Sound Transit relocate its UW station, or make any significant changes to their plan. All that needs to happen is some coordination on design and construction with the SR 520 project. This is a historic, once in a lifetime opportunity to truly integrate roads and transit that must not be missed.

If Sound Transit and the UW are not planning to ignore the SR 520 bus connection opportunity, then this amendment is harmless. If they are, it will make sure we make the right decisions now for the next 100 years.

Posted by Jonathan Dubman | April 4, 2007 2:49 PM

Heavens forbid the UW has to give up some of the stadium parking space for a transit center. Where would all those people who rode to the game on transit park their cars? Oh, um... wait a minute.

Posted by boyd main | April 4, 2007 2:52 PM

I've always seen it spelled 'buses', which should be pronounced 'boo-ses' because the 'e' makes the 'u' a long vowel sound. 'Busses', though not the common spelling, does, with the double 's' (separating the vowels by two consonants, rather than just one) gives you the correct 'buh-ses' pronounciation. So I can understand that people would want to spell it the less common way.

Technically, Kush, you're right. But fuck it, it's 'buses'.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | April 4, 2007 3:07 PM

Just tear 520 down and go with a surface solution.

Compared to the DT waterfront Union Bay is pristine. Last time I was there, there was no working waterfront or skyscrapers. Sailboats and canoes from the UW etc. Why don't we rezone it for condo development and build a promenade with latte shops and plenty of space for street theater.

Posted by Kush | April 4, 2007 3:11 PM

Ben Schiendelman - With all respect, I think you misinterpreted the purpose of this amendment. Sen. Haugen does not want to require UW, WSDOT, and ST to work together on the transit hub in order to move the light rail station from Husky Stadium to SR 520. Sen. Haugen wants them all to work together to ensure that mass transit from SR 520 can get to and use the light rail station at Husky Stadium.

UW, for all of its pro-transit posturing, does not want buses to connect directly to the Husky Stadium light rail station because UW fears the station will need to be larger, thereby using more "UW" land. That is why UW wants that station to only service light rail.

I don't know about you but I think a $3 billion+ mass transit system that runs north and south should connect with a mass transit system on a $4 billion+ state route that runs east and west. For the reasons you and others mention, it makes sense for them to connect at UW where most of the riders are! UW doesn't seem to think so. That is precisely why this amendment is necessary.

Posted by Montlake Dawg | April 4, 2007 3:12 PM

...would make Seattle the laughing stock of transportation planning worldwide.

Uh... too late.

Posted by Joe | April 4, 2007 3:24 PM

Kush, are you seriously proposing we tunnel across Lake Washington?

I mean, you saw what happened with a short tunnel proposal in downtown Seattle - you actually think the taxpayers will buy that?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2007 3:30 PM

You have no sense of humor.

Posted by elswinger | April 4, 2007 3:40 PM

Ahh...Jonathan Dubman....the guy who wants to spend as much of the taxpayers' money as possible to help isolate his neighborhood, and dump all the traffic somewhere else.

In the 90's, Dubman's fellow Montlake activists fought expansion of the 520 bridge - but the minute a third cross-lake bridge was proposed from Magnuson to Kirkland, they were all over it.

I call it hyper-NIMBYism. Not only does Montlake wish to minimize the impacts of projects (which all of them use) on their neighborhood - they are also perfectly happy to shift those impacts to "somebody else's" community.

Posted by Bristol | April 4, 2007 4:55 PM

Tear that schitt down! Take the pressure off the street grid. Put the billions for AWV and 520 into transit around the lake and inside Seattle. We will never solve the Seattle - Redmond across the lake connection. In 50 to 75 years the bridge will have to be replaced again and what will you do with the rail system onboard (or for that matter I-90 which will be replaced when, 2065?)

Where is the outrage? How can people that argue that 20 blocks of DT highway must be replaced with a beautiful waterfront beach street but in discussing a six lane freeway with two shoulders that replaces a four lane freeway with no shoulders their biggest concern is where the station is located? They are tearing down viaducts across the universe but we will build a new one across the beautiful Union Bay - the humanity. But of course those that live in Belltown and work in Redmond probably like the view as they drive on the bridge and they are allowed to enjoy it because they, unlike the viaduct drivers, are young and technical and can handle it.

Come on Josh, ECB, Dan, Cary, Peter, - Stop this new capacity freeway. We could rename Foster Island - one of you could have a park named after you.

Posted by Kush | April 4, 2007 5:02 PM

So, Dubman talks about the great benefits light rail will bring to the UW and his neighborhood, but he wants Sound Transit to sit around and wait for his 520 mess to be resolved? The "consensus" process on this thing goes back nearly a decade. The preferred plan was supposed to be done years ago. In the last couple months, we even have the new Craig Dalby plan - and I'm certain their are plenty more Dalbys and Dubmans out there, with the next neato concept to pitch to us.

Ben S: I'm getting sick of legislators interfering and delaying local projects, but I'm even more tired of people who continuously suck-up to them, no matter how misinformed these politicians are.

Posted by Bristol | April 4, 2007 5:10 PM

Dude, you miss my point. There already is a transit hub at the UW, it just encircles the whole campus and it's comprised of bus lines. It even goes into the campus.

All the new PCI interchange for 520 will mean is that the bus lines will just go to the light rail station and the bus lines will probably have a tunnel to the light rail station from across the road.

Much ado about whiny light rail avoiding Mercer Island reps who don't want to give up their single driver HOV lanes they should have lost 20 years ago in the original contract.

Try digging sometimes - heck, use google maps and some transit maps, it might refresh your memories.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2007 5:20 PM

Jon Dubman, I'm interested in your comments.

I wonder what facilities you're expecting this forced “coordination” will result in?

Are you thinking bus bays, off street bus parking, a flyer stop east of Montlake Blvd w/ elevators, etc? Or, are you expecting bus stops to be preserved as shown in current plans?

Posted by BigD | April 4, 2007 6:10 PM

Montlake Dawg:

Those stations can't be connected effectively. The 520 interchange is too far from the UW/Hospital destination - you'd have to move the interchange to connect them, and I seriously doubt that's going to happen.

Posted by Ben Schiendelman | April 4, 2007 11:06 PM

Thanks for the question, BigD.

Actually, the Haugen amendment does not explicitly force coordination between Sound Transit and UW; it merely prevents Sound Transit from misguidedly forging an agreement with UW that artificially constrains the transit potential there (full text above.) I think, if anything, it could be strengthened to mandate *actual* cooperation on designing this vital intermodal hub.

The light rail tunnel alignment and the Sound Transit UW station location are fixed and do not need to change an inch. Nobody wants Sound Transit to delay their project (which is already 10 years late.) They are naturally risk-averse and don’t want to pay any incremental expenses, but that can all be worked out. The design of the UW light rail station is not yet finalized. There is still an opportunity to coordinate the station entrances, bus stop locations and construction staging with UW and WSDOT such that the whole area works as a system. A year from now, it will, in fact, be too late to begin this effort without delaying the light rail project. That’s why the Haugen amendment is needed right now.

BigD correctly anticipated some of the elements that could be part of the plan. The current thought is to widen and lower the intersection of Montlake/Pacific by about 10 feet and cap it with a pedestrian plaza that extends the UW campus’ famous Rainier Vista. That much is good. However, the current thinking is for regional and local buses to stop where they do now, in front of the hospital at the west end of the Triangle parking garage. This is a bit of a walk (a couple of hundred yards) from the light rail station. That walk could take longer than the ensuing train ride, which would be as little as 3 minutes to Capitol Hill once you’re on board. If bus stops can somehow be added adjacent to the light rail station (again, without moving it at inch), one could exit a bus and go straight into the light rail station. If this is not possible, there could be moving walkways with weather protection. There are also many bicycles in the area and we need a better, safer bicycle route between the Burke-Gilman trail and the Montlake Bridge. The whole area is crying out for an integrated plan.

We are about to make the most crucial decisions on the most significant transportation investments in this area in our or our children’s lifetimes. The Pacific Interchange plan for SR 520 is a clear winner in terms of transit and transportation in general and was strongly favored in the public comments to the Draft EIS in a broad geographic area (Of the 548 comment details in support of the Pacific Street Interchange, 60% were from outside the Montlake and Madison Park zip code. Source: WSDOT SR 520 DEIS Comment Report.) There are legitimate concerns over impacts to the UW and Arboretum and elsewhere – every plan has significant impacts – and there is a broad commitment to further refine the plans and mitigate whatever impacts remain. Contrary to the unfortunate personal attack above, there is no nefarious plot to benefit individual communities at everyone else’s expense. Pacific Interchange would never have gotten off the ground if it wasn't broadly seen as benefiting the entire region.

Pacific Interchange offers fast and reliable bus service to the UW from the Eastside, unimpeded by Montlake drawbridge openings and the legendary congestion in that area. It dramatically improves travel times on Montlake Blvd. – where it takes 28 minutes to go 1.5 miles on a typical afternoon. This becomes a 7 minute trip with Pacific Interchange in place, yielding significant improvements in emissions and creating new bus route opportunities. (Try getting from U Village, Laurelhurst or Ravenna to Redmond on a bus.) There are also advantages to popular Metro transit routes (43, 48, etc.) and some park advantages not directly related to this thread. There is a universal desire to reduce the impact in the Arboretum, which I am confident can be done.

We need a transportation system that works, and no transportation system works in this area that doesn’t work for transit. Sound Transit actually runs many of the regional buses that need to connect with its own light rail station, and UW is generating a lot of the transit demand in the region. They need to be part of the solution as well as part of the problem. I am optimistic we can make a plan that works for all of us. In fact, we’re almost there. All we need is for all the planning agencies involved to avoid the temptation to put their blinders on.

Posted by Jonathan Dubman | April 4, 2007 11:30 PM

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