What if the Sounder train added a Ballard stop?

That’s the idea floated by Stephen Fesler in the Urbanist: what if the North Sounder train, which travels between Seattle and Everett, added stops in Ballard, Interbay and Belltown?

Since the tracks already exist (map), the Sounder could add “infill stations” in Ballard just north of the Salmon Bay Bridge and south of NW 57th St. — as well as at Fishermen’s Terminal, Smith Cove (near the new Expedia campus) and Broad St. along the waterfront. If the stations are “modest” and don’t include parking, Fesler writes, they could cost a “few million dollars a piece.”

He continues:

A station serving Ballard could be successful in generating favorable ridership for several reasons. Firstly, riders north of Seattle may find the station useful to access jobs in central Ballard and the industrial area centered on Salmon Bay. A variety of all-day and peak-hour buses make connections to those areas easy. Secondly, local residents might find the service desirable to get quick service to Downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, and SoDo. Other proposed stations could make intermediary destinations viable, too.

What would this mean for light rail? Fesler says the Sounder could pick up some of the slack before light rail debuts in Ballard in 2035. After that, light rail “wouldn’t fully compete with North Sounder since the commuter line would still serve unique destinations to the south,” he writes.

What do you think of his idea? Fesler has many more details in this post.

Highway 99 tunnel could open this fall

The Highway 99 tunnel through downtown Seattle may be running severely behind schedule, but it may open a little sooner than its late target date.

Considering an updated work schedule from Seattle Tunnel Partners, WSDOT says the Highway 99 tunnel could be finished by this fall instead of early next year. But it adds in the blog post, “a significant amount of work remains between now and tunnel opening” and “it’s too early to accurately predict a tunnel opening date.”

Crews are still working on the roadway and systems inside the tunnel, and then they’ll test “approximately 5,000 individual components and nearly 90 tunnel systems.” And Scarsella Bros. workers need to build the final connections between the existing highway and the tunnel.

Then the real fun begins. “When the tunnel is ready to open, SR 99 through downtown Seattle will be closed to traffic for approximately three weeks,” WSDOT said. It goes without saying that 99 is a major corridor to North Seattle, and those will be a painful 3 weeks.

Once the tunnel is open, crews will demolish the Viaduct — carefully.

You can track the construction progress on WSDOT’s website.

Concrete pouring this Friday at new office building will impact traffic on 56th

A 5-story office and retail building is under construction at the NE corner of 15th and Market (where the old gas station used to be), and they’ve scheduled the concrete pour for this Friday.

Construction crews have received a “noise variance” for the pour, which will start setting up at 4:45 in the morning. Crews will shut down the west half of NW 56th St. between 14th and 15th Ave. until about 12:30 in the afternoon.

They’re building a 202,000 square-foot office and retail building — with underground parking for 253 vehicles — for the real estate company Martin Selig. According a story published a year and half ago, the building was already 70% leased.

“It’s fair to say that there’s been very little office development in Ballard,” said Brad Hinthorne at the time, a managing principal for Perkins + Will, the architecture firm on the project. “The community was quite excited during the design review board process that there’s office product coming to Ballard. There’s a real shortage.”

Sewer line work to impact traffic on 3rd Ave.

If you commute along 3rd Ave. through the Greenwood area, the city of Seattle will begin work tomorrow on a sewer line replacement that will impact traffic between 89th and 90th St.

Lanes will be restricted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays — you’ll see flaggers directing traffic — and Seattle Public Utilities says it will work with nearby residents to provide local access.

The project is expected to take four to seven weeks to complete.

Nearby News: Temporary traffic impacts for Magnolia Bridge next week

SDOT is advising local travelers that crews will be doing work on the Magnolia Bridge as part of continuing assessment of the safe load capacity of the bridge.

Travelers can expect the following impact on traffic:

On Tuesday, February 7:

  • Closure of the westbound curb lane on the bridge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Wednesday, February 8:

  • Closure of the westbound curb lane on the bridge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Intermittent traffic stops on the bridge for a few minutes at a time between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Sidewalk, bus stops, and marina access will remain open throughout the work.

SDOT appreciates the public’s patience during this work.

Ballard Greenway to bring traffic restrictions to 17th and Market

Crews are at work this week to continue construction on the Ballard Neighborhood Greenway and some traffic restrictions will be soon in place at the intersection of 17th Ave NW and NW Market St.

Pavement markings and signage are being installed this week that, once operational, will no longer allow vehicles to travel straight through the intersection (see image below).


The work was originally planned for December last year, however wet weather caused the work to be rescheduled.

According to SDOT, the restrictions are being imposed due to the concerns about the volume and speed of vehicles traveling along 17th Ave NW that were expressed during the design of the Ballard Neighborhood Greenway.

SDOT released a press release stating that changes “will not only reduce cut-through traffic on the greenway, but will also improve safety and help preserve the residential character of the neighborhood.”

Construction is also in progress on other sections of the Ballard Greenway this month with crews completing the curb ramp installation at the intersection of NW Dock Pl and Leary Ave NW.

Access to NW Dock Pl from Leary Ave NW is now open on both the north and south sides of the intersection. The southwest corner of the intersection is still under construction. Crews were required to dig up the sidewalk to place additional electrical wiring for the crossing signal.

While work is being completed on this corner, the sidewalk will remain closed. Temporary pedestrian paths and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps around the closed sidewalk portion will remain in place until the work is completed this month.

Crews are also set to install an enhanced pedestrian/bicycle signal on Leary Ave NW within the next few weeks. Once the sign is installed vehicles traveling on the greenway at NW Dock Pl will be controlled by a stop sign.

The traffic signal will stay predominantly green for vehicles traveling along Leary Ave NW but will change when triggered by a vehicle, pedestrian or bike waiting to cross on NW Dock Pl. The crosswalks and other pavement striping require dry weather for installation and will be installed by SDOT crews as soon as possible.


In addition to the construction detailed above, SDOT confirms that the following elements of the Ballard Greenway are now complete:

  • NW 90th St crossing and walkway – In September, new curb ramps were installed on NW 90th St adjacent to the walkway connecting to 17th Ave NW.
  • NW 85th St and 17th Ave NW – New curb extensions, curb ramps, crosswalks and crossing beacons were installed.
  • NW 65th St and 17th Ave NW – New curb extensions, curb ramps, crosswalks and crossing beacons were installed (see above photo).

Click here to view more photos of the project elements that have been completed so far.

Photo and image courtesy of SDOT.

Traffic accident snarls Ballard Bridge

Long traffic delays stretched deep into the evening commute after a collision blocked all but one northbound lane on the Ballard Bridge. The accident happened just before 3 p.m., sparking a car fire.
There’s no word on injuries. Traffic jammed Fremont, Aurora, Westlake and the Mercer Mess — making for a very messy evening commute. It took over an hour to clear the accident; all lanes opened at 4:10 p.m.

85th Street paving project detours in place, traffic smooth so far on first day

The major NW 85th Street repaving project began today and so far there are no major traffic disruptions. Eastbound traffic, including Metro buses, is being detoured between 15th Avenue NW and 8th Avenue NW to NW 80th Street. The detour route was put in place after this morning’s commute.

SDOT workers cover up the left turn signal from southbound 15th Avenue NW onto eastbound NW 85th Street.

One of the employees of MidMountain Contractors Inc., who was stationed at the intersection of NW 85th Street and Mary Avenue NW, told me at 9:20 a.m. that traffic was flowing smoothly so far.

The intersection of NW 85th Street and Mary Avenue NW.

A Seattle Police Officer stationed at NW 80th Street and 15th Avenue NW told me at 9:30 a.m. that traffic was flowing normally.

The intersection of 15th Avenue NW and NW 80th Street.

The real test comes this afternoon during rush hour. The project to pave N/NW 85th Street from 15th Avenue NW all the way to I-5 will last until October. The work will be done in phases. Stay tuned to My Ballard for updates.

Here’s the official word from Metro for riders of the eastbound 48 and 81:

Eastbound bus routes (#48 and #81) detoured to NW 80th St

  • Catch eastbound route #48 at 15th Ave NW just south of NW 85th St, or at 8th Ave NW and NW 85th St
  • Catch southbound route #81 at 15th Ave NW just south of NW 85th St, or at 8th Ave NW and NW 80th St
  • No temporary bus stops will be added to NW 80th St in an effort to keep traffic moving along the detour route
  • Metro will post rider alerts to notify transit riders of detours and/or temporary bus stop closures

Truck stuck under Ballard Bridge

Updated: It appears a truck driver took the corner from Leary Ave NW onto the Ballard Bridge a little tight.

Jill sent us this photo of the truck tipping on its back wheels. The bridge appears to be cutting into the trailer of the truck. According to @KIRO7Seattle on Twitter, this was the first time the driver has been to Seattle.

As of 5 p.m., Metro says the southbound routes 17 & 18 have resumed regular route at 15 Ave NW & Leary Ave NW.

Viaduct closure this weekend

Traffic note: The Alaskan Way Viaduct will be closed this weekend for the semi-annual inspection. Crews will close both decks of SR 99 between Spokane Street and the Battery Street Tunnel from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
From the Washington State Department of Transportation:

During the closure, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and city of Seattle crews will inspect the structure for settlement and perform routine maintenance and preservation work such as: Applying a protective covering to exposed rebar; servicing drainage systems and traffic cameras; washing the walls of the Battery Street Tunnel and inspecting its lighting and ventilation systems; and restriping the roadway.

Results from this inspection are expected by Friday, October 22.