After lunch, we first heard about how well our urban layouts did against the State of Washington’s climate change laws – there was one table (which I hope I got a picture of) that came very close. We voted (using little remote controls at our seats) on what issues are most important for the region – where our largest challenges will be, and what we need to focus on first. Infrastructure came first – building transit and transit oriented development.

It was pointed out that of all the square footage that will exist in 2040, 60% of it is yet to be built. That does include renovations, but it’s eye-opening. We have the opportunity to completely transform our region, building TOD and high density, green buildings, and new transit investments designed to serve them.

Right now, we have a panel discussion going (in the above image), led by Emory Thomas of the Puget Sound Business Journal, and featuring Greg Nickels (mayor of Seattle), Cary Bozeman (mayor of Bremerton), Grant Degginger (mayor of Bellevue), Ray Stephanson (mayor of Everett), John “Boots” Ladenburg (Pierce County Executive), and Ron Sims (King County Executive).

They’re discussing how to handle densification – Ladenburg just talked about how to use TOD to build new communities rather than forcing existing communities to densify. They’ve been talking about who regulates growth – Sims mentioned that King County is being pressured more and more to manage growth outside the cities, and that they’re trying to ensure that there isn’t overlap between city and county in planning. Mayor Stephanson is talking about higher education – he feels that Everett is limited by a lack of schooling. He’s also just brought up Swift, a joint venture between Everett Transit and Community Transit to build BRT on highway 99 between Everett and Aurora Village (the county line) and meet up with RapidRide. He’s expecting to grow by 100,000 people by 2040, and he says Everett can’t handle that much growth without light rail.

8 Replies to “ULI Reality Check Liveblog part 5”

    1. Ask the mayor what he bases those numbers on. The last seven years have seen tremendous growth in the Puget Sound and if Everett continued on it’s growth trajectory for that time period it would grow by 37,500.

      I’d also like to know why be believes light rail is essential. Bellevue has done just fine now without rail. The rail that is planned is really only to link the Bellevue downtown core and Microsoft campus to Seattle. Does Mayor Stephanson think Everett’s destiny is become even more of just a bedroom community to Seattle?

  1. If Everett wanted light rail, it shouldn’t have insisted on Sounder in the last ST package, which basically used up all of the north subarea funds and got almost nothing usable (particularly since landslides close the tracks every time we have a storm). If the north subarea had held onto funds like the eastside (and it is Everett’s fault that we didn’t) we’d be looking at a much better package in the long run.

    I’d also like to note that RapidRide will eventually meet up with Swift at Aurora Village, not the other way around. Community Transit was way ahead of Metro on BRT and will have it implemented next year.

  2. anonymous, there was no reason for Everett to build light rail in the first package, as it would have nothing to connect to – and Snohomish would have voted against Sound Move if they hadn’t gotten something! Remember, Snohomish had just voted against Sound Transit in 1995.

    anonymous, max, Sounder North is immensely useful. That line doesn’t even have all four trains running yet, we haven’t opened Mukilteo and don’t yet have the ferry terminal there, we only have half of our parking at Everett, and the Edmonds Crossing project to build a multimodal facility hasn’t even started! How can you pass judgment on a project that’s only really half built?

  3. Anonymous here again. I never said I thought light rail to Everett should have been built as part of ST 1. I think that Snohomish County should have banked their dollars a la the Eastside so that they could get something truly useful with ST 2 – light rail to Lynnwood. What they ended up with instead, due to Everett’s insistence (essentially blackmail) is commuter rail that can never be expanded beyond 4 peak direction trips, that offers no time savings over bus (compare Sounder to ST Express 510), and that washes out every time we have a rainstorm. It was not an efficient use of our money for the number of people that it serves.

    I also think that Sound Transit is over-sanguine regarding the prospects for the Mukilteo station. There is first the fact that it will serve primarily ferry commuters, who are not even a part of the Sound Transit voting district. Current ferry commuters can already take Community Transit 417, which only requires a walk of one block. The walk to the new Sounder station is going to be considerably further, and I think the schedules only allow 7 minutes or so for the walk. Then the fact that anyone working outside of the Int’l District area is going to have to transfer to a tunnel bus to go back north will basically negate any of the train’s time advantage over the bus. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens when Mukilteo opens. For similar reasons, I don’t hold great expectations for Edmonds, either. The town itself is not a huge transit market, and is already well-served with 3 Community Transit commuter routes (404, 406, 416). Too well-served, actually, considering the number of empty seats on those buses when people are standing on the 402 and 413.

    Please don’t think that I am down on Sound Transit at all for doing what they were directed to do by the voters. That’s their job, and I wholeheartedly support them. I just get frustrated when Everett, which is primarily responsible for the bum deal that Snohomish County is getting (compared to the Eastside), starts complaining about the problem that they created.

  4. Hey anonymous – thanks for the clarification.

    I’m not sure what you mean about more of a walk in Mukilteo – we’re moving the ferry terminal up to the location of the Sounder station, and the buses will be there as well.

    People taking the train into downtown don’t seem to generally get on tunnel buses – they simply hop on a bus on 4th. Every morning I’m down there, I see hundreds of people get off Sounder (north and south) and get on a bus there. Pioneer Square’s offices are just as accessible as the International District, and some of south downtown is easy walking distance as well.

    I think you’ll see ridership continue to increase as buildings like Pb Elemental’s ‘ID Building’ are constructed (one block from Sounder), a mixed use development goes in north of Qwest Field, and transit access revitalizes the ID. Also, next year people can transfer to a train in the tunnel, rather than a bus. :)

    Also, one of the ST2 plans being considered is the full Ash Way plan. The only reason the .4 and .5 packages we’ve seen in the news are shorter is because they’re 10 year plans, rather than 20. There is also a .5 20 year package under consideration.

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