"Snowy Brickyard P&R", by Oran

The Brickyard P&R, which in 2008 was at 105% capacity and in the top 10 in utilization, is opening 200 more spaces this week, nearly doubling its capacity to 442 vehicles.  This will be a relief to the residents of this area, filled with low-density, unwalkable, cul-de-sac oriented development, as it gives them good access to 10 Metro and Sound Transit routes, including expresses to Seattle and Bellevue.  The $2.1m cost was covered by WSDOT’s Regional Mobility Grant program.

29 Replies to “More Space at Brickyard P&R”

  1. I wouldn’t quite call that area unwalkable. It’s better than say Bellevue or Lynnwood. The rest of your description is pretty accurate.

    1. Well I used to live in one of those cul-de-sacs, so my perception may be affected by that.

      1. I also lived in one those cul-de-sacs, and used that very same P&R. These neighborhoods aren’t unwalkable, but they are barely walkable. All of the circular loops that lead nowhere means you have to walk a half mile out of your way just to get out of the neighborhood. Then the sidewalk is directly adjacent to the main arterial. No street trees to buffer between you and the SUV’s and mini vans speeding by. There’s no such thing as a pleasant walk to the corner store or P&R up there.

      2. True.

        I don’t live in a cul-de-sac but living on a through street is only slightly better. The streets here are ridiculously wide. Some people zoom down it at 40 mph (25 mph speed limit). The time where it feels more walkable is when the junior high school has a parent meeting and everyone parks on the street, effectively narrowing it down to 2 lanes and calming traffic down.

        At least I have sidewalks and an all-day bus stop 3 minutes away.

    2. I live within walking distance of the Brickyard P&R and I say it’s convenient transit service to Bellevue, Lynnwood, and Seattle (peak-only). It took me only 31 minutes from Montlake to my doorstep on the 311.

      Parks (more like green space) are okay and a great junior high school is next door. However, that’s pretty much it. The nearest grocery store, drug store, bank and public library is 20 minutes away on foot. The strip mall by the exit is not appealing and the food costs more. It’s ridiculous that teriyaki or a burrito costs a dollar or two more than in Seattle.

      That’s why I just get to Seattle in the morning, work or hang out there, and come back in the evening. The 255 is a great route. First bus 4:30 am, then every 30 minutes, last bus home midnight, and same platform transfer to Link and other routes.

  2. I am not sure if there are any state funded roads in the area other then I-5 but I would think that at some point in the future by adding all these spaces that in the future it is going to cost the state more money (for sure the Kirkland and probably the county) to increase road capacity and road maintenance in that area. I think that the money could have been better used for TOD and to encourage walkable neighborhoods which will cost little to nothing in the future

  3. I took the 255 as a tunnel bus this morning from the Sounder that said “Brickyard”.

    I thought it was going to a bar in Pittsburgh.

  4. I’m surprised there’s room to add spaces at Brickyard. Guess I should head over to the Eastside to see what’s new…

    1. And there’s still more. If you look at the parcel map you’ll see there’s enough land remaining to theoretically double the number of surface spaces of the current lot.

    1. Actually, all rapid transit that serves the Suburbs is a subsidy for sprawl. Sprawl happens when you first zone farm and forest land for housing. Second when you make it fast enough to commute from that location to a place of work. Rapid transit helps the second, that’s dedicated buses, and/or Light Rail.

      People have an upper limit of about 90 minutes of commute time/trip. Draw circles of commute time around a work center like Seattle and you’ll see. Sounder the train has in fact created more Sprawl in the Lakewood/Tacoma/Puyallap area because now downtown Seattle is less than an hour away.

    2. How many people have moved to Lakewood/Tacoma/Puyallup because of Sounder? Sounder and the P&Rs are mainly serving people who are already there. The alternative would be building more freeways.

      Rapid transit creates “sprawl” only when it’s built out to rural areas. That hasn’t happened in Pugetopolis for six decades. Even when the Interurban did link rural towns to the city, it created pockets of density, not sprawl.

      We now have a different situation. The metropolis has already expanded, and all those people have to get around somehow. It’s unrealistic to think they’d all move to Seattle someday. (That would mean the city going from 500,000 to 3.2 million, eventually 4 million.) The solution is to build more pockets of density in the suburbs, where they want to live. That’s just returning to the “streetcar suburb” era. And it’s infill in areas that are already urbanized, not a contribution to sprawl. Eventually as the most peripheral (low-density) locations become undesirable, they’ll be returned to nature or farming.

      1. That’s a great strategy, long term when cars aren’t around anymore. Until then, when you build park-and-rides you make it easy, quick, and cheap for people in the far exurbs to get to work. That sounds like a great thing, but it encourages development there instead of in developed areas.

        “The alternative would be building more freeways.” No it’s not. The alternative is to do nothing and let traffic be a limiting factor that makes living in the exurbs unpaletable. If this serves only existing commuters, why would you need more freeways? The fact is that we’re still building in the exurbs like crazy (except slowing down momentarily due to the economy).

      2. Perhaps not, but it’s certainly sprawlsville, and it’s fairly easy to get deep into green areas on 522. Do you think the people that brought the park and ride to 105% capacity were long time residents that started taking the bus, or is it more likely they’re from new single family developments?

      3. Ah, and I should point out that the P&R doesn’t have to be in the far exurbs for my statement above to be true. People drive in from further away to park and rides that are situated just before the traffic starts and where there’s adequate bus service.

      4. I think it’s people in the area who mostly use the P&R, not exurban commuters, but from new developments? It’s hard to say. Brickyard has been over capacity since at least 2004, when I moved to the area. Since then, I saw two dozen new homes off 124th, and about 50 more homes deep off 124th, and under construction right now, 35 single family homes on a former office building property (but within 10-min walking distance of the P&R). These people are not the ones filling the already full P&R.

      5. But again, how many new developments are built because of the Park n Rides? How many would not have been built if the P&Rs weren’t there? My guess is zero. These people don’t think about transit when choosing a house; otherwise they’d move to a place where the transit is much better. They only think about transit later after they’ve had it with gridlock and gas bills. Then they start noticing the P&Rs and thinking, “Maybe the bus isn’t so bad after all.”

        Also, children live in these areas and don’t have cars. Children can’t choose where to live; they live where their parents live. And seniors who can’t drive further than the local P&R. And their friends from elsewhere in the region, who want to visit them. These are all people who benefit from transit and the P&R. How many carless people tell their suburban contacts, “Pick me up at the park n ride.”

      6. “How many would not have been built if the P&Rs weren’t there?” Look at it from the other direction: How many would have considered selling their suburban house for a home closer to work if the P&R’s weren’t there? Each person that moves toward work decreases the housing value in the suburbs. Low housing prices repell developers.

        “Also, children live in these areas and don’t have cars.” I’m not sure of your point. Why would children without cars need park-and-rides? Why wouldn’t carless people want to wait at a park-and-ride over any other stop? Children another great motivator to move near transit rather than living so far that you need a park-and-ride. Because giving children an option to move themselves around using transit frees parents from being part-time taxi drivers.

        And your point about seniors proves my point again. Relying on cars for seniors is a crazy idea. We shouldn’t be motivating them to drive – even to park-and-rides. Not having this option will motivate more of them to move near transit.

      7. Having lived nearby at one time I can say most of the people using Brickyard are from Kingsgate, Juanita, Norway Hill, and Finn Hill. The traffic patterns are such that you would have already hit congestion long before getting to the Brickyard P&R if you are driving in from a rural area.

        For that matter much of the area on both sides of 405 near Brickyard has a lot of multi-family developments. While there is lots of surface parking too it is hardly your 1 house per five acre sprawl.

      8. Most of the single family housing in Kingsgate was there before the park & ride existed. Much of the new developments are infill, especially the multi-family developments near the freeway.

        Not everyone works where transit is good. My neighbors work in Monroe and Preston. Bus service is poor to those locations. They will drive regardless of a P&R or traffic because they have no practical choice and moving really doesn’t solve their problem because of the split.

        “Each person that moves toward work decreases the housing value in the suburbs.” I don’t see how that is always the case. However, I could see that happen if energy and time costs significantly outweigh the benefits. A lot of people moved here because of the excellent schools, my family included but we also live near the 255 and Brickyard. So far good schools > commute time & cost. Your values may differ.

        “Relying on cars for seniors is a crazy idea.” I agree but that’s not a convincing argument against park-and-rides. Seniors’ own inability to drive (physical or financial) is much more likely to motivate them to live near transit than the lack of park-and-rides. For the case of the Brickyard P&R, most of the people who use it are commuters. I see a lot of seniors use the 255 in the Juanita area where there’s a mixed-use development and senior housing. What’s funny is that the retired seniors that we bought our house from moved to Marysville. That’s right, farther out to the real urban fringe.

      9. “How many would have considered selling their suburban house for a home closer to work if the P&R’s weren’t there?”

        They wouldn’t sell their house; they’d drive instead. The purpose of P&Rs is to cut down on the the car miles traveled. They do a great job of that.

        “Why would children without cars need park-and-rides?”

        Because a park n ride means a frequent bus comes to the area. (Except for those pathetic P&Rs with only one or two peak-only routes.)

        “Children another great motivator to move near transit”

        You may not be able to convince your own parents, much less anybody else’s parents. I grew up in a single-family neighborhood east of Crossroads. A mile to the nearest store; a bus once an hour. When I first took the bus to Seattle when I was 16, I was amazed at the frequent buses and the walkability. But I couldn’t move there till I was 18.

        “Relying on cars for seniors is a crazy idea.”

        If they live in the suburbs they need a car. I think it’s crazy too. But not all of them are willing to move to the city (senior women are especially worried about crime). And if they can only afford Section 8 housing with disability accomadations, there are only a few of those places available, and they aren’t necessarily near transit.

  5. [Oran]”My neighbors work in Monroe and Preston” That’s a bit off topic, as they don’t and won’t use a P&R. And job sprawl is a tough problem. How do we discourage jobs in suburbs? In some respect, they discourage themselves, since decentralization almost always comes with long commute times. Your neighbors are great examples – if they both worked in the city their lives would be different.

    [Mike]”They wouldn’t sell their house; they’d drive instead.” Sure, at first. But inconvenience and cost are real factors for moving closer to work. My wife and I each commuted an hour each way to work, and after a few years we changed our lives to be able to end that life-draining situation. We are not unique in this decision – simple logic would bring anyone to the same decision.

    “Because a park n ride means a frequent bus comes to the area.” There’s no need to have a P&R for that.

    What I think you’re missing is the general concept of incentives. No, removing a P&R won’t make every old woman move to a downtown condo. But every bit you make it easier and cheaper for people to live in areas that used to be forest, you add more incentive to do so.

    1. “What I think you’re missing is the general concept of incentives.”

      I understand incentives and I agree with your goals. But removing transit from the suburbs is not going to make people flock to the city or bulloze their cul-de-sacs in favor of a walkable grid. It’s going to make them more dependent on cars and voting for more roads. And those who would ride transit to suburban jobs will either get a car or turn down those jobs. You have to start with how people are and move them along inch by inch. In Vancouver and Europe the government can just mandate good urban design. In the US it has to make concessions to the suburbanites’ wishes.

      “The Option of Urbanism” gives a good description of what happened. Every city has a favored quarter flanked by two highways out of the city (I-90 and 520) and a ring road or peripheral freeway (405). The biggest bigwig lives in this triangle (Bill Gates), one of the freeways goes directly from his home to his office (Microsoft), and the office is further out than he is (so he can reverse commute). Other bigwigs flock to the same area, and ten years later most of the new jobs and shopping are also in this area. The poor/industrial areas are in the quarter opposite the favored quarter if possible. In Seattle the Sound is west so poor/industrial quarter is south. So the new jobs are in the favored quarter but the transit is still focused on downtown. So the workers have to commute from the poor quarter to the favored quarter, and often have little transit available.

      There are some countervailing trends. Amazon and Google set up offices in the city. Microsoft is expanding in downtown Bellevue. The walkable urban neighborhoods are the ones that are holding up their real estate value, while exurban McMansions are losing it the fastest. Gas prices will inevitably rise. The transit/highway dichotomy is moving toward transit. Urban gardening and locally-produced food are becoming a matter of national security. Things are turning around, and the long term is in our favor. But we have to be patient, and not do reactionary things like cutting off P&Rs in the suburbs. Frequent buses need a place to go, and suburbanites need a way to get to the bus, so P&Rs meet both needs.

      Snohomish County has done a good thing by announcing transit corridors it intends to improve, and warning residents of other locations that they won’t get more transit. King County should probably do the same. That will give people an incentive to move closer to the transit corridors. We can’t just foresake suburbia, but we can define some transit corridors in it to tame it. East Link is one such transit corridor. I guess the 255 will more or less be another because it’s been around for so long.

      This is why I also support McGinn’s idea to write a comprehensive transit plan for Seattle before implementing more rail routes. We need a plan that shows how somebody can get somewhere from anywhere within 30-60 minutes, so that we can make sure the plan works, before building more individual lines in isolation.

      1. Good arguments, [Mike]. This is something that I’ve been struggling with in regard to rebuilding 520. It feels like the best solution would be to just tear the thing down and not replace it – forcing people and businesses to choose a side of the lake and stick with it. But I wonder if that would just make too many people choose the sprawl side. Maybe the answer is a slow and steady reduction approach. Rebuild 520 with 2 lanes, and make one of them a carpool lane at first, then transit-only later.

        Similarly with P&R’s, maybe we just announce a regional intent to not build any more or expand existing ones further. This will change things more slowly than just removing P&R’s.

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