The new Kirkland Transit Center on Friday

[Correction: route 255 and 540 continue to serve 6th St and will not serve State St]

Today, the new Kirkland Transit Center reopens to transit service. The twenty-two year old on-street transit center was upgraded to improve transit operations and create a pedestrian-friendly environment in the heart of Downtown Kirkland. New passenger shelters, lighting, and an in-pavement flashing crosswalk improve the safety and comfort of users. A green trellis and public plaza welcomes people to the downtown park. There is new sheltered bicycle parking next to the library. The street was completely rebuilt with a landscaped median and 10-inch thick concrete pavement over a 6-inch subgrade to withstand heavy bus loads. More photos of the transit center can be viewed here.

Bus routes 255 and 540 Express return to their original routing along State Street and will no longer continue to serve 6th St S between the transit center and NE 68th St in Houghton.

The project has a budget of $13.3 million and is one of the last bus capital improvements in the 1996 Sound Move program. Construction started in October 2009. At an open house meeting during construction, I asked Sound Transit about the cost breakdown and I checked the figures in the budget. Roughly speaking, $8.5 million was budgeted for civil construction work, $2.6 million for the environmental review (EIS), engineering design and specification, just under $1 million for permits and overhead, with the remaining million for contingency. Some might wonder why it cost so much. The transit center project worked in conjunction with a King County wastewater pump station upgrade project. That project required digging up the entire street to install a new sewer main. I have a call in to Sound Transit to see whether the stated cost includes the wastewater and excavation component.

An interesting tidbit: did you know that the Eastside Interceptor, the main pipe that collects wastewater on the Eastside follows the length of the BNSF east side rail corridor? The wastewater gets treated in Renton.

29 Replies to “Kirkland Transit Center Reopens”

    1. There was an antique mall occupying most of that block that closed a few years back. Hopefully that becomes a TOD.

      The other businesses on Park Lane face inward to a parking lot accessible from Central Way.

      1. The antique mall was originally a Safeway, hence the large-ish parking lot (it was a small Safeway, back when Kirkland was a small town).

      2. Umm, thinking back maybe it was a different chain (IGA?) because I’m thinking there was a Safeway up the hill that became a Salvation Army store.

      3. Yeah, Safeway was a bit east on Kirkland Ave. Colin, was it Thriftway or Tradewell? I seem to remember Tradewell. Sorry off topic, again!

      4. It would be nice if there was a grocery store in downtown Kirkland, incorporated with housing above. The nearest groceries are PCC and Metropolitan Market in Houghton, and Costco and Safeway up the hill on the east side of 405.

      5. I think we’re really stretching to think that there will be any TOD around here. Apart from the 255 and a weekday-only express to the U-district (which is slated for a service reduction), there’s no frequent service at the KTC. It’s mostly just a transfer hub for half-hour headway routes. That’s not particularly compelling.

      6. Depends on what you’d consider TOD. Even if it wasn’t a “TOD”, much of downtown Kirkland is already high-density mixed use condos. A TOD by the TC would likely have significantly fewer parking spaces. The City of Kirkland is already planning for TOD at the S Kirkland P&R.

        In October, if the proposed changes for RapidRide B Line integration are implemented, the 255 will get more frequent service during peak and evenings and the 230/234 will provide 15 minute service between Kirkland and Bellevue downtowns.

        Long term, Kirkland has a future in transit. Per the SR 520 HCT plan, the 255 will become a BRT route plus another express BRT route (assuming they could get funding). Under ST2, there are planning studies for light rail to Kirkland.

      1. They look like they’re meant for vertical parking. It’s hard to tell from that photo, but do they maybe have hooks for the front wheel? Either way, even if anyone figures out how to use them, it looks like horrible design. No wheel tracks to stabilize the bikes so they don’t knock into eachother, plus no matter how good your lock is, if you’re locking to one of those loops, a thief with a bolt cutter could get your bike in literally one second.

  1. Oran, do you know if anyway thought that far ahead for this transit center when in what…ST3 or ST4 possibly, when LINK would head north toward Bothell from Bellevue and go through Kirkland? Would this transit center even be a logical, most likely elevated, stop in Kirkland?

    1. Michael, I don’t think anyone a ST has officially planned that far ahead with regards to future rail use of the TC. I do think the TC is in a central location that makes sense as a train stop, unlike where the tracks are right now to the east of downtown. All of downtown Kirkland is within a 10 minute walk of the TC. I had a dream where the Link stop was underneath the current transit center, kind of like Intl Dist Station.

  2. They did a really good job (and so did you, Oran, great photos!). I used to take the bus there when I worked in Kirkland and it was never a very welcoming place. This is a lot more attractive and the space is much better at alerting drivers to pedestrians.


    Routes 255 and 540 will sere 6th Street. They will NOT return to their prior path on State Street. The City of Kirkland requested that Route 255 serve 6th Street (for Google) and ST is reducing service on Route 540 in June, so wanted to use a live loop in downtown Kirkland. Route 540 will drop and pick up in northbound bay 2.

    At the opening ceremony, it was a bit ironic to hear the ST Board brag about Route 540 serving the KTC just a few months from the time it will be reduced. Service levels on several ST routes will be reduced in June.

  4. Eastside Interceptor… follows the length of the BNSF east side rail corridor? The wastewater gets treated in Renton.

    Interesting. What happens at the Wilburton Trestle and where the Wilburton Tunnel used to be? I know there was a large pipe put in (replaced?) that follows the Sammamish Slew from Redmond out to Lk Washington about 15 years ago (maybe 20 now) with a pump and treatment station on 124th by JB Lawns. And of course there’s the Brightwater tunnel that eventually will connect Woodinville with Magnolia.

  5. I was at the Kirkland transit center twice today. Once around 11 AM, and again at 3 PM. I was absolutely amazed that there were no Sound Transit or Metro Transit personnel on hand to answer questions and direct passengers to the correct bays. It was a $13.3 million dollar project and it was closed about a year. And they couldn’t supply even one employee for the reopening?

  6. What’s really changed? Apart from a more modern appearance, it looks the same as it did back in the 90’s when I used to use it. 4 bays with shelters, a crosswalk in the middle, and some bike racks.

    1. The crosswalk isn’t the same. They eliminated left turns, consolidated two crosswalks, and added flashers to improve safety. The new shelters are much more spacious than the old ones. The lighting is better. The street has been completely rebuilt for buses. The entire environment is more aesthetically pleasing than what used to be there.

    1. read the article again, Bailo. They had to completely rebuild the entire street from the ground up. That’s never cheap. And for once agencies actually cooperated and only tore the street up *once* – something which should be celebrated!

  7. Looks pretty good. As a rider who’s been using the KTC for ten years, I’m happy to see it looking positively snazzy. I am however, disappointed by the bike loops and by the upcoming reductions to 540 service. I have to echo Andreas’s sentiments of these loops’ uselessness; a proper bike rack is not only obvious in its function, but supports the bike at two points minimum and allows both the frame and front wheel to be securely locked. I’m all for vertical racks, but the fact that it’s a cable instead of a rigid metal tube makes me think they didn’t ask even a single cyclist for input.

    Also, ST just reduced 540 service a year or two ago, so I’m surprised they’re doing so again so soon. Sad day for Eastside-UW commuters. (IMHO, I can’t belive they found any 540 trips they could justify cutting, given the service is already so low. But I’m biased here.)

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