by TIM BOND
On Tuesday Sound Transit held an open house for Northgate Station. Northgate Station is the northernmost station of North Link, which will stop at Roosevelt and Brooklyn stations before connecting to U-Link. This $1.35 billion (2010 dollars) ST2-funded extension is expected to open in 2021. Northgate station alone is expected to add 15,000 daily boardings by 2030; the entire North Link segment is expected to add 62,000 daily boardings. Both numbers assume a full ST2 buildout to Lynnwood.
The alignment consists of 3.3 miles of twin bored tunnels and one mile of retained cut/fill and elevated tracks. The cut/fill section will be very similar to the segment that currently parallels I-5. Previously the alignment was to transition from below to at grade at NE 75th, however last year Sound Transit revised this moving it north to NE 85th which will save approximately $10 million. The retained cut/fill section will parallel I-5 and will become elevated at NE 95th and will continue to the elevated station to be constructed just west of the Northgate Transit Center.
Lots of diagrams and details below the jump.
The elevated station will span NE 103rd Street. A stub track will extend north over the Northgate Mall parking lot and will eventually continue to Lynnwood. The station will have two entrances—the north entrance will connect to the mall, and the south entrance to existing transit center. Sound Transit currently has 15% designs of two alternatives for the station.
The layout and access of this alternative is very similar to the existing Tukwila/International Boulevard station with a ground floor, mezzanine with Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) and a platform level. Due to the surrounding grade, there wouldn’t be a mezzanine at the north end of the station.
This alternative would not have a mezzanine forcing all the TVMs to be on the ground floor. This alternative reminded me a lot of Lougheed Town Centre Station in Vancouver, BC.
Sound Transit did not have cost differences available but noted that a station with a mezzanine would be more expensive. Having a mezzanine frees up some space on the ground floor that would otherwise be used for equipment rooms. An important note is that a proposed pedestrian bridge from North Seattle Community College (being designed by Metro) would easily connect to the mezzanine level.
The current Northgate Transit Center has 993 parking spaces. This includes some spaces from the garage shared with JCPenney and spaces in the Thornton Place garage. Sound Transit is not considering building a parking garage at any of the stations inside Seattle. Further, Metro owns the parking lots immediately surrounding the transit center and is considering redeveloping it with TOD after the station opens. Currently the zoning allows buildings of up to 125 feet.
During construction, much of the nearby parking will be used for construction staging. This includes all parking east of the transit center—including the strip of parking owned by WSDOT next to the freeway—and some parking at Northgate Mall. While Sound Transit hasn’t finalized any plans, they do intend to mitigate this loss, perhaps by leasing additional spaces from JCPenney.
While Metro’s service planners wouldn’t commit to any specific changes, they did mention that bus service changes could begin happening as early as 2012, and that the real service changes for North Link would start happening about 18 months prior to the line’s opening. The Northgate-Downtown portion of the 41 will be eliminated, but the Northgate-Lake City portion will live on.
The public comment period had comments ranging from “the station is too close to the freeway” to “the station is too far from the freeway”. Residents of Maple Leaf were concerned that they’d have to drive eight blocks to the station and suggested that the station be moved closer to their neighborhoods. Others suggested that commuters driving from Lynnwood would have to travel too far off the freeway to reach the station. Sound Transit insisted that they place stations in central locations near big attractions and where buses can easily come to drop off/pick up passengers. The station, of course, is located within spitting distance of one of the region’s largest shopping centers, which will no doubt attract thousands of riders.
Sound Transit expects to have a finalized alignment and a 30% station design this fall. You can send your comments regarding the design to Sound Transit.