News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood

 

City Council votes to expand staff; Debora Juarez chases NE 130th light rail station

April 28th, 2016 by Mike

Update: The Seattle Times has an editorial column on the gold-plated Seattle City Council.

Mentions The Pronto vote, too, in the fourth graph.

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Eight of the nine Seattle City Council members voted this week to add an additional staffer per council member – potentially bringing their individual staffs to four each.

Only budget chair Tim Burgess, who said the cost will be an extra half-million dollars annually, voted “no.”

The rationale: Now that seven of the council members represent neighborhood districts, they actually have more work to do. Erica C. Barnett has a post: Council: Smaller Districts Require Larger Staffs.

From Seattle Council Insight’s piece here:

Council members Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez, who hold district-based positions (unlike Burgess whose seat is city-wide), were the vocal proponents for the change this afternoon….

Juarez, (who represents the vast majority of Maple Leaf), took the point further, claiming that when voters passed the initiative switching the Council to seven districts, it was because “the voters wanted someone to advocate for them, while keeping in mind the greater good of the city of Seattle.” She rattled off a long list of issues she and her staff have needed to deal with in their first 100 days on the job, saying “you can’t expect three people to be expert in all that.”

Burgess disagreed. From The Seattle Times:

Council members in similarly sized U.S. cities with district council members have only one to three aides, according to a 2014 report by the City Auditor, Burgess noted, mentioning Austin, Boston, Denver, Jacksonville, Fla., Oakland and San Francisco.

The Times story is here (including the information that in addition to council-member aides, the council is supported by more than 20 shared “central staff” policy analysts).

Meanwhile, Juarez continues to prioritize pushing for another light rail station at Northeast 130th Street.

In two separate emails yesterday she issued a “130th Street Station Call to Action.”

If we are going to see some an amendment to the Draft ST3 Plan we need you to write in and tell the Sound Transit leadership that we need a commitment to build the 130th Street Station!

I am not sitting around hoping there will be a change, I am out here pushing every button and looking for all the possible ways to get North Seattle what it needs.

She’ll be at the Sound Transit board meeting this afternoon, 1:30 at 401 S Jackson St., and wants you to be there, too.

Here’s her full post, including a suggested letter to send Sound Transit.

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New light rail taxes and Councilwoman Juarez

March 26th, 2016 by Mike

Update: Seattle Transit Blog has an overview here.

Speaking of transit; two things:

1) Sound Transit this week released preliminary proposals for a $50 billion expansion that would cost homeowners an average of $400 annually – apparently forever.

From The Seattle Times:

This fall’s Sound Transit 3 ballot measure would deliver light rail to Ballard as late as 22 years from now, while Everett would wait 25 years, under a draft the agency’s governing board issued Thursday.

Or Publicola:

The Sound Transit board stressed yesterday that there are some “early wins” to address immediate transportation needs (and presumably to get voters excited about something that’s happening sooner than your grandson’s bris) such as improvements on the Rapid Ride lines.

2) Meanwhile, Debora Juarez, the Seattle city councilwoman who represents almost all of Maple Leaf, criticized the proposal because it doesn’t prioritize a light rail station at Northeast 130th Street. (This is one of her top three priorities.)

The draft Sound Transit 3 proposal designates the potential boon of a NE 130th Street Station as a “provisional” project. This means that no funding is currently included in the package, and that the Sound Transit board would need to secure funding to make this station a reality. This is unacceptable.

Her full post is here.

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It’s here! New bus routes start now

March 25th, 2016 by Mike

Update: Here’s another shot at this from The Seattle Times.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things.”

Actually, no.

The time has come to note that bus service changes as the week ends.

Trying to talk about those changes is a thankless task.

Exhibit A: Comments on our last bus post. (See: “No clue.” Also, there’s a lot of good information in those comments.)

Exhibit B: This befuddling series of videos from Metro about the changes.

Fact is, there are enough changes that folks need to scowl at their own routes. Here is Metro’s site for changes beginning March 26nd.

Bottom line: Some bus routes that until now went downtown will instead go to Sound Transit’s newly opened University of Washington light rail station.

Is that good? Here, in the above comments, is Lisa’s report from Tuesday:

I tried a “dry run” today to see what it will entail to get from downtown to the corner of 85th and 15th NE by using the link light rail to transfer to the 73. Looks as if ST has worked its usual magic of making a 25 minute or so trip now take 45-50 minutes with a 1/3 mile walk included (this would be for riders taking the 73 from downtown)….

I’ve contacted Metro and Debora Juarez’s office’s office about this – neither have responded to email. This change is definitely for the worse …. I don’t know if we can get anywhere, but this is a real nightmare scenario with four buses (66, 68, 72, and 73) in our area being eliminated entirely and others reconfigured to connect at the UW station.

More positively, the Seattle Transit Blog has a piece here: ULink Bus Restructure Begins Saturday: More Service, More Transfers, Faster Trips.

Let’s not lose the sheer magnitude of Metro’s bus restructure, the largest in decades and one that will change tens of thousands of daily trips, mostly for the better.

The basic theme of the restructure, especially in NE Seattle, is higher frequency service paid for with a reliance on ULink and increased transfers. The ease and reliability of these transfers is an open question, and their success or failure will largely determine the public’s view of this restructure over time.

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“No.” Feds on $15 million for Northgate pedestrian bridge

October 27th, 2015 by Mike

Bad news for the pedestrian/bike bridge between North Seattle College and the Northgate light rail station.

The Seattle Times posted a story tonight beginning:

The federal government has decided not to contribute $15 million toward a Northgate Station pedestrian-and-bicycle bridge over Interstate 5. Local taxpayers would need to fund the entire $26 million project themselves.

Nor will Uncle Sam donate $10 million to help Seattle expand the Pronto bicycle network, which currently serves the University District, downtown and places nearby.

The Times story is here.

Earlier posts of ours are here and here.

The Times adds:

Bridge funding still remains within reach.

Sound Transit already approved $5 million, and the Legislature $10 million, along with $5 million already pledged by Seattle. That leaves a gap of $6 million.

If voters pass this fall’s $930 million Move Seattle property-tax levy, the city’s plan would allocate $15 million to Northgate, pushing it past the goal line.

As others have noted, however, that is not a firm commitment from the city.

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Endangered: The Northgate pedestrian bridge at I-5

January 25th, 2015 by Mike

Last week The Urbanist had this post: “Call To Action: Save the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge.”

It talks about the planned bridge over Interstate 5 to link North Seattle College and Licton Springs to the Northgate transit center and light rail hub.

When we last wrote about it, the projected cost was $20 million, paid by a variety of agencies, including Sound Transit.

Now The Urbanist reports:

The Northgate Pedestrian Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle oriented crossing of I-5 for the Northgate Link Station, is at risk of losing its funding in the summer. The Sound Transit Board placed an artificial time limit for the City of Seattle and Sound Transit to come up with a funding solution.

And it notes some of the benefits:

In recent years, new growth has been occurring at a rapid pace and transforming this area. Licton Springs also hosts North Seattle Community College, a number of office buildings, a hotel and some small retail. On the east side of this bridge lies the neighborhood of Maple Leaf, which also hosts mixed density, major retail outlets, library, and a community center. There is a significant draw between these two communities, and there ought to be a strong natural path for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between them.

For more details, and to take action, follow the link.

The Urbanist also has a post on pedestrian improvements along Lake City Way Northeast, noting: “Lake City Way is an arterial street in northeast Seattle that has been chronically unsafe for all users. It’s also a State highway, so features beyond sidewalks and beg buttons for people walking are mostly an afterthought.”

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Portage Bay moving to Roosevelt & 65th

October 5th, 2014 by master

Our partners at Wedgewood View report that Portage Bay Cafe is expanding to become a neighbor of the future Roosevelt Station. Does that mean there’s hope our nearby Northgate Station also might soon have more appeal among some of Seattle’s favorite local chains?

Wedgwood View’s hillaryu reports that:

Portage Bay Cafe signed a lease for a 3,400-square-foot space in The Rooster, a 197-unit apartment building being developed at Northeast 65th Street and Roosevelt Way Northeast near Whole Foods Market. The restaurant will seat around 125 and will also include outdoor seating for summer dining.

This is the fourth Portage Bay Café for owners John and Amy Gunnar. This restaurant will continue their mission of offering organic, sustainable foods that are locally sourced whenever possible. Examples include cage-free eggs from Olympia; bacon from the Hill Meat Company and sausages made in-house with Washington’s Carlton Farms pork.

“We just really love the Roosevelt area and have been exploring the idea for awhile. We’re really proud to be a Seattle business and have been looking for more ways to expand our cafes, but also our presence as a local business that supports Washington farmers and growers and wants to be a part of the neighborhood.” says John Gunnar.

Other Portage Bay locations include South Lake Union, Ballard and the U-District.

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Silver Platters, SAS Shoes, others to leave Northgate Station for light rail

August 4th, 2014 by Mike

Sound Transit got back to us today, confirming it will acquire Northgate Station –  the strip mall that houses Silver Platters, SAS Shoes and several other stores.

The site will instead become a part of the link between the Maple Leaf Portal and the Northgate Light Rail station.

“As the station and guideway construction plans moved past 90% it became apparent that we would not be able to maintain reasonable access for the businesses for at least two years while we build the guideway through the area,” emails Bruce Gray, public information officer for Sound Transit.

“Four of the large columns supporting the guideway will be on the property and as the designs progressed, it became clear that we can’t put them in while maintaining access to the tenants.”

The mall is immediately south of the Northgate Transit Center, and just east of First Avenue Northeast and Interstate 5.

Gray said that by now all the businesses in the mall should have been contacted.

Sound Transit will pay for all moving expenses and up to $50K in costs associated with reestablishing their businesses at a new location. Our people will also help the businesses find suitable new locations and work closely with them throughout the process.

In other light rail news, Sound Transit emailed on Thursday:

The first of two tunnel boring machines that will build the Northgate Link tunnels between the University of Washington Station and Northgate Station is having a good start. Today it will have travelled 500 feet since crews began mining south from the Maple Leaf Portal near NE 94th Street in early July. Crews expect the first TBM to reach Roosevelt Station in early 2015.

The light rail line here is set to begin operating in 2021.

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Two nearby news items – a shooting and a TBM (the T stands for tunnel)

July 9th, 2014 by Mike

Two press released arrived this afternoon. One is on a shooting nearby in Victory Heights. The other is the launch of Brenda – the Tunnel Boring Machine heading for the University District.

From Seattle Police:

Police are investigating after a man was wounded in a shooting in the Victory Heights neighborhood Wednesday afternoon following a dispute over an apparent drug debt.

Police responded to the 1700 block of Northeast 103rd Street, where they found the victim, who had been shot in the foot. Medics transported the man to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

At the scene, witnesses told officers two men had fled the scene in a black Lincoln Town Car. Police are now searching for the two men, described as a white male, 5’8, wearing a black tank top, and a white male, 6’0, wearing a blue dress shirt.

From Sound Transit:

The first of two tunnel boring machines that will dig new twin light rail tunnels from the Northgate neighborhood in Seattle to the University of Washington began mining today.

That would be Brenda. You can read more here.

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Welcome (and soon goodbye to) Brenda, our own Tunnel Boring Machine

April 28th, 2014 by Mike

Update: There is now a Sound Transit press release about this event here.

Brenda, the Tunnel Boring Machine that already bored a segment of the light rail tunnel from downtown to the University of Washington, is being given a send off this afternoon at the Maple Leaf Portal.

With speakers, ceremony and a smashed cider bottle, Brenda is on her way again from the portal across First Avenue Northeast from Silver Platters and SAS Shoes.

Two light rail tunnels will be drilled from this location to Sound Transit’s Roosevelt Station, on 12th Avenue Northeast near Northeast 65th Street.

Marcus Donner, at the Puget Sound Business Journal, has more photos here.

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Light rail construction to begin at Maple Leaf Portal

September 30th, 2013 by Mike

Sound Transit announced today that work building a light trail tunnel from Roosevelt to Maple Leaf will begin as soon as this week.

Once construction begins, residents, local employees and drivers through the area will notice a series of short-term and long-term changes along First Avenue Northeast between Northeast 90th  and 100th streets.

The immediate work will continue until January, and will include bicycle detours and making First Avenue a one-way street. Details are here.

Trees and shrubs will be removed, and jackhammers will cut through concrete.

Long-term construction includes launching a tunnel boring machine from the Maple Leaf portal to drill two light rail tunnels to Sound Transit’s Roosevelt station, on 12th Avenue Northeast near Northeast 65th Street.

Other machines will tunnel between the underground Roosevelt station and the University District and Husky Stadium stations. North from the Maple Leaf Portal, the trains will run above ground along Interstate 5 to the Northgate station.

All this is predicted to take about four years and is the biggest chunk of the $2.1 billion Northgate Link Extension, set to fully open in 2021.

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