The system we could have had – Seattle Transit Blog


Wow, I never thought of when Forward Thrust would have opened. I moved here right after the failure, but I was a preschooler then and didn’t find out until later. It would have really helped me in 1979 when I started going to U-District and Broadway, 1985 when I went to UW, 1989 when I graduated and moved up north from the U-District, and in 1990 when I started working in Licton Springs, downtown and Harborview. After first seeing a subway station in 1982 (Chicago O’Hare) and riding one in 1985 (BART), I wish I had a subway between downtown, the U-District, and Northgate. But everyone said that was impossible because voters wouldn’t approve of a subway, they only wanted highways.

The Eastside lines appear to have been opened earlier since they were part of the original plan. So I would have expected them in the 1980s rather than the 2000s. If I remember correctly, it would have approached East Link running from Bellevue to Redmond. But the I-90 line to Eastgate was also in some proposals somewhere. There was a time when growth was going to be funneled into the I-90 corridor, so the I-90 line could have fit into that. I don’t see a phase to the east of Mercer Island, then nothing on the Eastside for twelve years.

Sounder wasn’t part of Forward Thrust that I heard, so everything after 2000 seems to be borrowed from ST2/3 or other speculation.

“Interestingly, Lake City and Renton aren’t even on the radar for ST3 despite being at the start of Forward Thrust.”

“if Tacoma was part of the system”

“Forward Thrust had the right idea: avoid freeway rights-of-way if possible.”

This shows how much things have changed since the Forward Thrust votes in 1968 and 1970. The economic center was a triangle southeast of Renton Boeing and northeast of Lake City. Growth was to be channeled to the Eastside, essentially inside the triangle. I-5 and 405 had just opened or were under construction, so they hadn’t affected travel habits much yet. Before I-5, Seattle had 90% of the population, and typical routes were from North Seattle to downtown or from Beacon Hill to Boeing Renton.

Northgate wasn’t big enough to be on Forward Thrust, and Southcenter and Sea-Tac were nowhere. Southcenter was originally going to be in Burien, but then the developer decided to put it at the confluence of I-5 and the converging 405.

“The area” then meant part of King County. Auburn, Tacoma, and Everett were mostly separate labor markets, except for Boeing employees who traveled to all plants. Shoreline and Lynnwood were marginal.

I don’t remember Forward Thrust going south of Renton, so all the Pierce County stuff sounds like a neologism.

If Forward Thrust had been built, it might have encouraged densification and walkability, since there was now an advantage to living in these places close to the stations. So Renton and Lake City and the areas in between might have gotten more multi-family housing near the train stations. This might have curbed freeway rush and sprawl and encouraged further investment in public transportation, as there was now a viable alternative to driving to low-density off-highway neighborhoods.

Similarly, the evolution of regional transit could have been different. In 1970, the suburban belt was mostly between Lake City and Renton west of Lake Washington. In 1990 it was between Bothell and Kent west of Lake Sammamish. In 2000, trips from Snohomish and Pierce counties were common. Regional transit could therefore have followed this trajectory. Or the trajectory itself could have been different.

Sound Transit was created in the 1990s out of frustration with the lack of all-day inter-county expressways and the apparent inability of county-based transit agencies to build them as they were always given last priority. place behind the desires of the neighborhood. And Sound Transit was created in the absence of Forward Thrust or any other regional transit authority. So Sound Transit could have been something else in this scenario.

I hope Forward Trust would have led to further additional improvements to the transit system. Better funding for the metro could have led to a frequency at the level of the 2000s in the 1980s; i.e. no more 15 minute lanes. In the ’80s, most Seattle hallways were 30 minutes and most suburban hallways were hourly. The 150’s “exceptionally good” service was 30 minutes daytime, 60 minutes evenings/weekends. Railroad expansions might have accompanied it. I won’t speculate on particular rail routes, or Snohomish or Pierce counties, because it’s too depressing to think of what we could have had but not suffered.

It’s ridiculous to think that anything at all would happen in Snohomish County beyond Sounder. If Tacoma gets a street car, then there would have been a thought about something in Lynnwood. These Mountlake Terrace homes were built just after World War II, and the population would continue to grow and needed a center and a public transportation system. Lynnwood would inevitably have become the magnet of downtown, because it’s right in the middle of and where I-5 and the 405 converge. (And where the Interurban went in the early 20th century.)


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