Sound Transit doesn’t have a lot of extra cash lying around right now, but should that change, surplus subarea funds might be used to construct an infill station — that is, an additional station on an existing line. There are 5 such stations that come up now and then. What follows is a highly speculative review of each of these; note that all of these have the drawback of increasing travel times by a minute or two. Click on each station name to see a Google map of the approximate location.
1. MLK & Graham St. – This station would plug the biggest gap in the Rainier Valley segment and place virtually everyone within a half mile of a station, potentially allowing cutbacks in Metro service in this corridor. It would also serve a minor retail district, middle school, and in the long run probably allow MLK to become a solid line of dense development instead of islands around stations.
2. Boeing Access Road – Long mentioned and long lamented, BAR station actually has fairly low ridership estimates, as there’s almost nothing to walk to. Additionally, potential building heights are unimpressive because it’s at the foot of a runway. However, BAR is the only place for an intermodal Sounder/Link/Bus transfer point aside from King St; the connection would facilitate connections from the Green River Valley to the airport, provide a bypass of the Rainier Valley for Link riders from Federal Way, and possibly allow the truncation of bus service along I-5.
3. S. 133rd St. A station here would also break up the huge stop-less stretch between Rainier Beach and TIB. It provides a superior transfer point to get I-5 buses like the 150 off the freeway before they enter town. However, there is no Sounder connection. Since it’s in Tukwila, this station would have to be paid for by South King funds, which might otherwise be used to extend the line another stop.
4. Broad Street Sounder. A station on the Belltown end of downtown would improve anemic ridership on North Sounder by providing better connections to jobs in Seattle Center, SLU, and Belltown. It’s not entirely clear that the logistics of terminating South Sounder here work out, but if they did that would be an additional bonus. One drawback is that fixing the street grid could be messy and expensive.
5. Ballard Sounder would bring Sound Transit service to an otherwise ignored quadrant of the City. It would provide a traffic-independent means downtown and boost ridership on North Sounder. However, the tracks run well away from the population and business centers, hurting ridership. Furthermore, this station would credibly require North King operating funds to contribute to North Sounder operations, which is a either a feature or a bug depending on what else is going on.