C-curb your enthusiasm for light rail

I’m as big a supporter of light rail as anybody, but I gotta admit that businesses and residents down here in my little corner of Southeast Seattle kinda got screwed.

First, the station originally planned for MLK and S. Graham got scrapped for cost cutting and other reasons, making the years of construction just a little less bearable. And now that the construction is done and the trains are running (if only for testing), the realignments have made crossing MLK on S. Graham a hazard and an annoyance.

S. Graham is the main route to and from I-5 for miles around, and as such, has long made its intersection with MLK an attractive, if relatively low rent, business district. And anchoring this business district is a somewhat decrepit strip mall featuring a Viet Wah supermarket and a Union 76 station on the northeast corner.

Living just a block south of S. Graham, and a couple blocks east of Rainier, the Viet Wah (or the Red Apple before it) has always been my closest supermarket, and its reasonable prices on a large selection of produce, seafood and asian ingredients have kept me a loyal customer. But like many customers, my stops there are usually on the way home from somewhere else… a convenience that, thanks to Sound Transit and SDOT alas, no longer exists.

As the Rainier Valley Post reports, SDOT is responding to growing traffic problems at this intersection by installing C-curbs in the median on S. Graham, to physically prevent left turns into and out of the corner properties. Combined with the tracks running down the center of MLK, this will serve to severely limit access to the affected businesses.

For example, heading south on MLK, I can no longer access the Viet Wah at all. No left from MLK, no left from S. Graham; southbound traffic simply can’t get there from here.  And while I can still make a right into these businesses from westbound S. Graham and northbound MLK, upon leaving, I can no longer make a left onto S. Graham to head home. I have to make a right onto MLK, a right onto Juneau or Orcas, and then circle back through residential streets and past the playfields behind Aki Kurose.

From my perspective, you might as well just pick up these businesses and move them half a mile north. Problem for them is, I tend not to patronize the businesses half a mile north, because I rarely drive by them.

Now, you may find this complaint petty, and maybe in the larger scheme of things it is, but it is also human nature. “Location, location, location” is the mantra of real estate, and for good reason. And for many of the intersection’s businesses, the corner of MLK and S. Graham is no longer nearly as good a location as it once was. Think about how often you’ve circled a half-mile out of your way to choose one gas station over another just down the road, and then think about the predicament of independent Union 76 franchisee Gurdev Mann, in the midst of $400,000 worth of improvements on his property, suddenly learning that a quarter of the traffic driving by the corner no longer has access to his establishment.

I’m not sure what the solution is.  The backups on S. Graham are more than just an annoyance to thru-traffic; it’s a hazard that at times threatens to trap cars in the intersection, and perhaps in the path of the train. And the affected businesses have been complaining about the problem for months, the manager of the Viet Wah going so far as to stand out in the street and direct traffic himself at times.

But by unilaterally installing C-curbs without buy-in from local businesses, SDOT has only inflamed the ire of local business owners against itself and Sound Transit.


  1. 1

    X'ad spews:

    But by unilaterally installing C-curbs without buy-in from local businesses, SDOT has only inflamed the ire of local business owners against itself and Sound Transit.

    This is nothing new for THEM so what is it that you find unusual or “news”?

    Seattle and King County have worked very hard for quite a few years to make sure that Light rail is a disaster.

  2. 2

    Steve spews:

    An 89 year-old friend who lives on 36th and Juneau has to hoof it all the way down south to Holly Park to catch the train. I understand the hike north to be to S. Alaska Street. I also understand from speaking with the my friend that they cut back on MLK bus service.

    “S. Graham is the main route to and from I-5 for miles around”

    A slight exageration there, Goldy. I’d hardly consider Columbian Way to be “miles” away from Graham. It’s likely little more than a mile as measured along MLK from Graham to Alaska.

  3. 3

    Neil F. spews:

    What did you expect? Unlimited billions of dollars of taxing powers, and people never can control its policies by political means. ST was designed to serve the political class and not people. Sheesh.

  4. 5

    manoftruth spews:

    goldstein, go back to philly. why did you come out west , just to turn seattle into the same cesspool as new york and philly? go the fuck home!

  5. 6

    lorax spews:

    OK next time we will not build you a fast and convenient transportation system. Maybe the North End should have gotten it first after all. The South End got “screwed” by having the rest of the region pay for your train, while voters living in West Seattle and Kirkland and Ballard and Tacoma and Everett overwhelmingly voted to tax themselves so you could have mass transit. Sheesh, talk about ingratitude.

  6. 7

    Cleve spews:

    Typically, the major spine of a regional rapid transit system (at least inside the major city of the region) would be grade separated, not sited on surface streets. In this case, the geography of the Rainier Valley is that there is no large “grid” of streets and avenues that would provide alternative routes or alternative destinations. Also, the train is on the major arterial for miles. So yes, it will have negative impacts and affects the “connectedness” of the neighborhood.

    At the time the decision was made, leaders cited the cost of undergrounding the line. (A cut and cover tunnel in the Valley would have been hundreds of millions of dollars.)
    Also cited was that people in the Valley said they did not want an elevated line in community meetings.

    So, the decision was made to put the train on the surface. Now, we live with it, for a very long foreseable future.

  7. 9

    Transit Voter spews:

    Neil F. @3, just a friendly reminder — the region’s voters gave Sound Transit a rather substantial vote of confidence last November, approving their new 15-year plan AND voting to raise their taxes to build it.

    Looks to me like ST must be serving the people pretty well. Or at least the people seem to think so.

  8. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    So, when the green-eyeshade boys at ST figure out they can’t build an $11.5 billion system with $69 a year for 30 years from 1 million households ( = $2.07 billion, not $11.5 billion), and only 2 stations and 200 parking spaces end up getting built, will light rail still seem like such a good idea?

  9. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Rabbit Thought For the Day

    Sarah Palin is a stupefyingly ignorant fool who appeals to stupendously foolish ignoramuses.

  10. 15

    Gern Blanston spews:

    One point – the C-curbs don’t have anything to with your access to Viet Wah. It’s half a block north of the Graham & MLK intersection.

    If you’re eastbound on Graham, you can still turn left onto MLK to get up to that strip mall. If you’re WB you just hang a right on MLK.


    As your main route to I-5, like mine, I’d think you’d be happy to have something in place to stop the idiots who cros MLK on Graham and immediately stop to hang an illegal left into McDonalds across two lanes of Graham and back traffic up across MLK.

  11. 16

    Haywood Jablome spews:

    LMFAO @ trains….ahahhaahhaahhahha

    19th century technology that doesnt have the ability to adapt to migrating population densities….WAY TO GO SMART PEOPLE! hahahahh


  12. 17

    Sven spews:

    Goldy earns Troll’s seal of approval.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Haywood Stonedbloom @16: migrating popoulations migrate towards light rail stations. Difficult concept, I know.

    Cleve @ 7: you did your best to drive grade-separated transit into the ground as a disgraced (ex) monorail Boardmember. Congrats.

  13. 18

    Sven spews:

    NeilF @ 3: by ‘political class’ you mean democratically elected officials. If you hate democracy that much, I have a couple countries to recommend…

  14. 19

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    Automobiles are also a 19th Century Technology that has been improved over time. The Auto make actually be older than the Streetcar, but not by much. Mr. Benz’s first production car started in 1888. That was about the same time the first Electric Streetcars began to replace horsecars and cable cars.(Although Cable Cars held out in Seattle until 1940).

    Also, down in Portland, United Streetcar LLC, is now building the first US Built Streetcars in 58 years. When San Francisco Municipal Railway took delivery of PCC Car No.1040, the automobile interests thought they won. No.1040 was the last streetcar built in the US. MUNI still has it, and looks like a company in Pennsylvania will get the contract to renovate it. They want it up and running again in 2012, for MUNI’s 100th Birthday. At the ceremonies, another historic streetcar will be there, MUNI No.1, built in 1912, it’s MUNI’s first streetcar.

    By the way, LINK is not Light Rail, it is a hybrid form, with stations spaced further apart, called Light Rapid Transit, with mostly(but not all) Grade Separation. Also, some of that waste is building platforms bigger than the trains they will be using. It was a good idea to do that now, Minneapolis thought they did not need to run more than 2 car trains, so Hiawatha Platforms were built accordingly, and this summer they are now expanding the platforms to handle 3 car trains. I do agree that there should have been a station at Graham St, and another at Boeing Access Road, as originally planned. The latter was going to be a transfer platform, connecting with SOUNDER Commuter Trains.


  15. 20

    Haywood Jablome spews:

    @17 – sure sven, I can see a massive population explosion in the Rainier Valley simply because of the rail line..HAHAHHAHAAHHA, dumbass. Oh, and I am sure people are just itching to move into such nice places like Seatac because they have a rail station too…….hahahahh

    People will continue to move away from the city, just as they always have for the last 30 years. 80% of Seattle is a shithole, nobody wants to live there(unless they are single or gay), especially if they are trying to raise a family.

  16. 21

    Haywood Jablome spews:

    @19 – No matter how much technology you shove at LINK, or light rail, or whatever the popular name of the day is – the problem remains this: you cant pick up the tracks and move them to follow populations – not unless you want spend BILLIONS. Busses are flexible enough to follow the population, which they have over the last 30-40 years.

    The other thing is that the math never pans out for Sound Transit. Billions upon Billions being spent to move how many people?

    The Sounder on the other hand is a great idea: use existing track to move people up and down a main corridor.

  17. 22

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    MOT, Puddy is from Philly too. Wrong generalization dude. Puddy don’t think like Goldy cuz Puddy from the inna city, Goldy is a burb boy. But, you are about to get Puddy to break his prime directive fool!

  18. 23

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Puddy wonders why Seattle and King County couldn’t get their political act together on the 520 upgrade, Alaskan Way Rt.99 Viaduct replacement, and Sound Transit.

    What’s the common denominator here? Hmmm…?

  19. 25

    correctnotright spews:

    Oh yeah, I went to one of Puddy’s links on a report that was supposedly “suppressed” by the EPA on global warming.

    There were few actual scientiifc refences, the author was not named and the report was not only poorly written – it seemed unscientific. Apparently, Faux news and others were tryupeting this as some kind of cover-up by the EPA.

    Now the real information comes in. the guy who wrote the report does work for the EPA – but he is an economist (not a scientis who studies global warming).

    I love how easily Puddy is fooled and links to whatever rightwingnut BS that is put out there.

    Here is a good summary of this “so-called” report:

    the author, EPA veteran Al Carlin, is an economist, not a climate scientist. EPA says no one at the agency solicited the report. And Carlin appears to have taken up the global warming topic largely as a hobby on his own time. In fact, a NASA climatologist has called the report — whose existence was first publicized last week by the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — “a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at.

    Thanks Puddy – for once again showing you have no clue and for citing work as authoritative and scientific – that is clearly just JUNK.

    Maybe you need to stop watching and reading the BS rightwingnut sites – you are really coming across as a pandering fool.

    Learn to actuslly think critically instead of just passing along false information (they used to call this bearing false witness).

  20. 26

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Amazing how NutsTooTight delivered #25 for a light rail thread. Where is Dr Darryl the thread policeman? MIA again, or he’s using his “discretionary” motto?

    Here is a good summary of this “so-called” report

    Butt as always NutsTooTight never gives his links. Must be he got it from some nut-case left-wing kook-aid site. Puddy gives his links. That’s why checksaid got smacked side his head!


  21. 27

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    NutsTooTight: More from TPM? Wow, they know it all don’t they?

    let’s see their pedigree again.

    1) Barack the Magic Negro – Wrong again as a source
    2) Trigg Palin is Bristol’s Child – Wrong again as a source
    3) Phony Soldiers – Wrong again as a source

    Now Puddy knows why you didn’t include da link.

    Since NutsTooTight is on another of his disparage the messenger kicks here is Al Carlin’s pedigree:

    Al Carlin, PhD Economics Massachusetts Institute of Technology BS Physics California Institute of Technology

    If one reads the report which we know from above by the reference used by NutsTooTight…over 2/3s of his references are from peer-reviewed publications. Isn’t that what NutsTooTight always complains about? Again we all know why his NutsTooTight to think well.

    You see NutsTooTight do you remember what the new EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in her acceptance speech Jan. 23, 2009? No, well you are kinda dopey when it comes to past facts… “As Administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency.” You can find her comments here NutsTooTight…
    http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/ad.....enDocument. You see Puddy produces links for all to see. Why don’t you NutsTooTight?

    Didn’t “the messiah” state at the National Academy of Sciences April 27, 2009 “Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.” So now we see ideology again here…

    Ideology Case # 1447677 – Why would his boss Al McGartland, PhD say “The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”


  22. 28

    correctnotright spews:

    Poor delerious Puddy, who is getting his butt handed to him once again, needs a link?

    Here it is:

    oops, once again Puddy is wrong:

    Butt as always NutsTooTight never gives his links.

    More from TPM? Wow, they know it all don’t they?

    Wrong link, FOOL!

    This article completely takes apart the pseudoscience CRAP you are promoting.

    Why don’t you talk about how the earth is flat too?

    You are out of your league and out of your depth. You cite absolute crap. You believe the crap you read and see on the rightwingut sites.

    You need to learn to think for yourself and not try to fit all the data into your tiny, cramped and warped worldview.

    “there are more things in heaven and earth than in your phiolosphy…” Shakespeare

  23. 29

    correctnotright spews:

    Al Carlin:

    Senile, plagiarist, not a climate scientist and just plain un-scientific.

    But Puddy loves the stuff.

    what a fool and what a tool.

  24. 30

    correctnotright spews:

    Where oh where is little Puddy and his BS?

    How many times do I have to completely dismantle your small-minded arguments?

    You still don’t get it – you don’t have FACTS – instead you have lousy data, innuendo and falsehoods that you get off right wing sites that are lazy, inacurrate and just plain wrong.

    The science simply does not support the crap you are putting out there. the more you protest – the more you deny the science and try to hang on the unscientific crap. The more marginalized and frantic you and the rightwingnuts become…

  25. 31

    Sven spews:

    Haywood @21: dump more slow buses on crowded rush hour roads, and you get….more gridlock!

    Solving gridlock with gridlock is some sMaRt thinkin’!

    One more example you have no idea what you’re talking about: the cost per rider figures are higher for those Sounder trains than for Link light rail. And bus operating costs are much higher than rail operating costs. Think Metro is in dire financial strights for no reason?

    Oh yeah, to put rail “on existing tracks”, it took $1.5 billion for track and signal upgrades.

    Got any more stoopid stuff for us today, Haywood?? Are all conservatives airheads these days?

  26. 32

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    Yeah, buses are flexible, look at Metro 152, used to be a route from Enumclaw to Seattle, been shortened over the past few years. Metro 7 has at least had it’s core route since the trolleybuses took over for the streetcars. Then in 1963, Seattle Transit listened to earlier versions of Haywood, and dieselized the route, because Diesels were flexible. Seattle Transit ridership dropped like a rock over the next few years, and a surplus turned into a loss.(Amazing how electric buses turned out to be a cheaper investment when the city that owned the transit system also owned the power company, but suddenly now had to buy diesel to fuel the flexible buses).

    What LINK will not do is appease those who want instant results, although it might surprise some.

    Also, look at Amtrak, all I hear from critics is how it did not work so shut it down. They do not want to admit it was set up to fail, because it is not a network. There are 48 states it could serve, but Wyoming and South Dakota are not served, and thankfully, they are the last 2. Over the past few years, Maine, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma had service restored. Because it would have looked like a train to nowhere, the Heartland Flyer was set up to be a failure in the eyes of Amtrak critics. Had to terminate in OKC, it should have terminated in Newton, Kansas. Might look like the middle of nowhere(not sure, might be a university town), but it would have been a thru-train instead of a stub-train. It would be connecting with the Southwest Chief.

  27. 33

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    Sven, something I remember from last year during the buildup to November, there was one poster on SeattlePi.com that fixated on California’s High Speed Rail and called it “Being innovative when Light Rail is being shoved down the region”. Did not get that it is two different kinds of rail for two different purposes. The plan in California is Los Angeles to the Bay Area. I see 2 Light Rail systems and 2 heavy rail systems along the line, and at least 2 others in the neighboring region.(Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego(first modern US Light Rail System), San Francisco, San Jose) Then there is the LAMTA Red and Purple lines in Los Angeles and BART(the Heavy Rail). If and when Amtrak Cascades is upgraded to High Speed Rail standards, LINK will be a connector to it, just as SkyTrain and Canada Line(the latter is not technically SkyTrain, Rotem of South Korea won the contract, one critical system of SkyTrain is proprietary to Bombardier) in Vancouver, and MAX and Streetcar in Portland will.

  28. 35

    Chris Van Dyk spews:

    “somewhat decrepit strip mall featuring a Viet Wah supermarket…” There are about 25 businesses, great restaurants—a great place to visit. Ought to be called ‘Little Saigon’ for all the good reasons.

    The ‘C’ Curbs went in because the City would not listen to the businesses—we came up with an alternative proposal that would have painted ‘DO NOT BLOCK DRIVEWAY’ WITHIN A SET OF DIAGONAL LINES on the pavement (just like the big boys at State DOT do) which would have served to keep access open in all directions. But the City caved in to time-driven paranoia about the trains starting on July 18, and would not give us time to test it.

    Here’s the current status: the business owners are hiring real traffic engineers to come up with a ‘best practices’ design that fixes the traffic problem without harming the businesses; and, they’ve hired lawyers to get the city to actually consider that design. The ‘big’ question is, why do we have a City government that does not work with or listen to its communities, insists that it is right, and believes the ‘cram down’ is good public policy? Mayor Nickels & staff, want to answer?

    Also, while the businesses are at it, they’re going to look at the pedestrian safety considerations—since Sound Transit is making everybody walk (no station, no train, no bus) their customers at least ought to be able to cross the train tracks safely.

    The business owners were given five days notice that this change was going to happen, then managed to stave it off for a couple weeks, and were given three working days notice that it was going to happen, regardless their objections. So the business owners (business owners!!!) are also considering standing on the train tracks with picket signs, the first day Sound Transit operates, just to show them what it feels like, to have their business blocked…

    Working with them, my work to defeat the various Prop 1’s notwithstanding, I have been not surprised but stunned at the level of festering anger Sound Transit and the City have generated–with respect to this project–in the valley. Anybody running for Mayor ought to take note.

  29. 36

    Chris Van Dyk spews:

    Also, Goldy, if you are southbound on MLK, make a U-Turn (it’s legal) at Graham. You are now northbound, and can turn right into the Union 76 (if no Metro Bus is blocking Gurdev’s driveway) or into the Viet Wah shopping center. Just don’t ask why the Transit planners want you making U-Turns in front of their southbound trains—as has been shown just a few days ago, whatever you do, don’t get impatient and run the red light! You’ll be T-Boned by a Train for dinner!

  30. 37

    OneTrack spews:

    Just to correct “Cleve” – the Valley along MLK all voted for the monorail – the “X” plan – down thru the Valley. The Valley wasn’t against an elevated monorail. Unfortunately it was the City-appointed ETC that made a decision, after the vote, to give the Rainier Valley leg of the X to unSound Transit. The Bastards!

  31. 38

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    NutsTooTight is SUCH A LIAR!

    Puddy took this phrase:

    Carlin appears to have taken up the global warming topic largely as a hobby on his own time.

    And guess what HA libtardos? It’s not in the link NutsTooTight provided. But…

    Carlin appears to have taken up the global warming topic largely as a hobby on his own time.

    is there in TPM. And…

    a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at.

    is found there too.
    The full comment in TPM, right where Puddy found it…

    But it’s hard to blame EPA for not paying much attention to the study. And it’s more than a little ironic that DC Republicans have chosen its author as their new standard-bearer in the defense of pure science against politics. Because the author, EPA veteran Al Carlin, is an economist, not a climate scientist. EPA says no one at the agency solicited the report. And Carlin appears to have taken up the global warming topic largely as a hobby on his own time. In fact, a NASA climatologist has called the report — whose existence was first publicized last week by the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — “a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at.”

    So Puddy rests his case and NutsTooTight is once again NutsTooTight!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahaha Once again!

    EPIC FAIL fool!


  32. 39

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Talking about out his league and at the depth of whale shit in the Mariana Trench…

    Puddy presents NutsTooTight! Keep drinking the kook-aid fool!

    The Prosecution Rests.

  33. 40

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Now looking at the link provided BY NutsTooTight he seemed to skip over info provided:

    Neither are climate scientists. That’s not necessarily a problem – perhaps they have mastered multiple fields?


    However, despite this odd pedigree, the scientific points could still be valid.

    Butt…Puddy just can’t find…

    whose existence was first publicized last week by the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)

    which is also in the TPM post by Puddy!

  34. 41

    tlp spews:

    “heading south on MLK, I can no longer access the Viet Wah at all. No left from MLK, no left from S. Graham; southbound traffic simply can’t get there from here”

    Goldy, all you have to do is take the legal u-turn at the intersection of Graham and MLK, go back half a block and turn directly into the Viet Wah parking lot. No big deal.

  35. 42

    uptown spews:

    Most of the main roads in Silicon Valley are divided just like that, without the benefit of light rail running down the center.

    BTW – God gave you legs, use them. My gocery store is a four block walk and Trader Joes is a hike up the south slope of QA. I do take the car if buying large quanitities or heavy items, but I should get one those wheeled grocery bags (kinda of like the wheeled carry-ons).