Roughly two weeks ago the Shoreline City Council adopted the above Light Rail Guiding Principles, which to me essentially boils down to support for an I-5 alignment with concerns about TOD. The principles repeatedly states that transition to TOD could take decades and must ensure that impacts on residents and business are managed. The meeting was short and light on details with Councilmember Chris Roberts the most engaged member of the council. All Councilmembers stressed that they would like Sound Transit to continue public outreach to Shoreline residents.

I don’t have much to add besides that this is obviously bad news for the SR-99 alignment, which does not yet have a strong institutional champion. Additionally, the language in the document is far from hopeful if you’re expecting any kind of significant redevelopment around stations. I do find it surprising that a city that is done so much to re-define its self, through major investments and beautification of Aurora, is not more actively involved with regard to Link.

26 Replies to “Shoreline Light Rail Corridor Guiding Principles”

  1. What’s to “manage” about that transition, and why would it take decades? Surely the city just decides what zoning they want near the station area, and landowners redevelop their properties as they see fit.

    1. If only it were that simple. Unfortunately we like to dictate to land owners exactly what they can and can’t build on their property.

      1. That’s backward, we like to dictate what they *can’t* build on their properties rather than provide guidance to what the *community* wants and how it *can* fit into that vision. We have “proscriptive” zoning rather than “prescriptive”. There’s little certainty about what should be done except the “don’ts”.

    2. I found that very awkward. Planners (at the direction of a freaked out director) covering their butts so that the council and old people ‘hoods don’t flip out. Use extreme timelines and say lofty things. Gets the job done.

  2. From what I’ve seen, the SR99 alignment would be more expensive, provide fewer riders, and add significant travel time. The data doesn’t really support such an alignment, although I will admit that there is more TOD potential. Nevertheless, the writing is pretty much on the wall so why would Shoreline want to push for an alignment that is probably DOA?

  3. Hopefully the city of Shoreline, the land owners there, and the residents all had a part in the “Guiding Principles.” Hopefully ST also offered some assistance in planning. But, as usual, the residents will engage when a developer wants to do something completely out of scale for the area and then “others” from god knows where will jump in and and tell them what they have to do. It’s a process that has been going on for generations in every city for every change.

  4. What a waste of ink. Who would propose guiding principles that fostered the least number of riders or the longest travel times or the least operational efficiency. They might as well have gone on record for Moms’ and apple pies too.
    That would tell more than this document.

    1. Well, in fairness to the planners, the guiding principles are just that: guiding principles. They on their face might seem like “duh” points to be made, but when writing policy from them are a formal basis to make those goals and objectives more clear and strong. I can’t say I’d expect them to have exact goals, otherwise that would be a guiding principle, now would it?

      1. I understand that, but why not put some meat on the bones, like saying total travel time should be measured from door to door when selecting an alignment. Most every traveler will have to take a car, bus bike or walk to I-5, then jump on the train. Hwy 99 is closer to peoples front doors, which would put 99 on a better footing. The way it’s all written can shoehorn darn near anything future Councils and planners want it to mean.
        Same goes for efficiency. Count all the car and bus movements to get riders to I-5.
        Yada, Yada, Yada

  5. We must do everything we can to preserve the opulence of Aurora. Mixed use development and walkability along highway 99? Not in my back yard…

  6. Shoreline is planning to redevelop its community center at 185th & 1st NE, which is a former school. It already has a significant amount of activity in one-story buildings, but the redevelopment will be multistory. Hopefully it’ll be within walking distance of a 185th/I-5 station.

    1. There are a few facilities right around there, and it’s not far from a courthouse. But they’re community services, and the closest Link stops will be at the far south end of town and just across the northern border, neither with much walkshed. Local bus services have to be more important to this complex than Link, right?

    2. The new development would include housing I believe.

      I support frequent buses on 185th and 175th in any case. No matter where the stations are, people need to get from Aurora to 15th, and to the library. The existing peak routes would actually make good all-day shuttles.

  7. Here are my concerns. First, it was an unfair comparison. The SR-99 routing veers back to I-5 to appease Mountlake Terrace, ignoring their highest density area around 216th, which also looks to be a straighter path to Lynnwood. The comparison chosen made SR-99 a weaker choice, though Sound Transit staff said that I-5 had (unnamed) “TOD possibilities” based on current bus service there, which incidentally stops short of Shoreline city limits and only during off-peak times, hardly the basis for any conclusion on their part. Meanwhile, all this time, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace have enjoyed seven-day-a-week ST bus service, peak and off-peak.

    Second, I disagree with Ryan and others that the SR-99 alignment would provide fewer riders. With destinations such as Shoreline Community College, the state Department of Transportation, even Central Market, those would attract riders all day long, with easy access to high-frequency routes to Seattle and Everett, BRT north/south and cross-town service along SR-99.

    Third, how are you going to get riders to the stations at N 145th and N. 185th? North 145th has been a logjam for at least 3 decades and has an undersized park & ride at N. 147th that tree-shrouded lot is fodder for theft. Metro, which recently won a 2-year reprieve from making drastic cuts to service, has modest transit service to that area now, and there’s limited street parking. Up at N. 185th, you have a one-lane-in-each-direction street approaching the designated area for a station, with even less Metro service. And, ST staff has indicated that they’re not adding any parking to either area. IN 2 year’s time, well before light rail, Metro may cut service drastically. The possible result I see: limited usage of the two Shoreline stations, primarily during peak commute hours and weekends due to access limitations.

    I also disagree with Ryan about the SR-99 alignment adding “significant” travel time. Adding 4 minutes is the equivalent of a slow-down in traffic. In over 30 years of commuting by bus, that’s never influenced my choice of using transit or not. Access and lack of transfers are far higher priorities.

    I do agree with Ryan’s statement that “the writing is pretty much on the wall,” but it’s due to how the choices were derived. Now that the election is done, I expect the Shoreline City Council to endorse the I-5 alignment, due to it not involving tearing up SR-99, which took decades to fix up. The result, the I-5 choice, will require a one or two bus transfer in addition to light rail to get to any of the destinations I’ve mentioned, this for a city that has virtually the combined population of Lynnwood plus Mountlake Terrace. ST will be happy, as they get the lowest-cost option while appeasing Mountlake Terrace (population 20,078), while Shoreline (53,007) will get light rail that’s inconvenient to its city center/business core and difficult to access, with little in economic development dollars, again taking one for the North End.

    1. ST’s numbers show the 99 alignment would gain fewer riders than it would lose due to to the 4-minute difference. A lot of people take the freeway route, so many that both ST’s and CT’s buses are full. Four minutes makes a significant difference in people’s choices, even if you think it “shouldn’t”. It’s not just that it takes 32 minutes instead of 28 minutes; it’s that it takes “more than half an hour” instead of “less than half an hour”, and it takes “51% of an hour”. Lynnwood is the designated major urban growth node, not Aurora, so it’s unlikely Aurora will densify very quickly. You can object to that, but changing it would require changing the cities’ master plans and maybe the Puget Sound Regional Council’s endoresments, which is a lot bigger elephant to move than just one rail line.

    2. There’s also the cost of 99. In this budget climate, we can’t aim too high or we might not get enough funding and then nothing would be built or it would be halted partway through construction.

  8. Shoreline officials believe an elevated Aurora alignment would ruin commercial development opportunities on that corridor. The corridor has shallow lots and is only 1-2 lots deep before hitting single family neighborhoods. An elevated light rail would effectively take over the street and prevent any chance of real dense, walkable development. And with only a couple of stations in a very long corridor, there would only be a 2 walkable nodes surrounded by pedestrian un-friendly tracks with little commercial development.

    What that corridor really needs is a rapid streetcar in the median, NOT light rail as Sound Transit is building it. A rapid streetcar with 6-7 stops in Shoreline would be a far better TOD vehicle.

    1. Yes, but an in-street segment would not be adequate for a Seattle-Lynnwood trunk line, and it would also limit the frequency so that it would be at capacity when it opened and wouldn’t be able to expand. However, a rapid streetcar on Aurora could supplement Link, sometime in the future. Or if they get really aggressive with street improvements, they may be able to bring the RapidRide E travel time down from 45 minutes to 30 minutes; that would be adequate for Aurora.

  9. Ugh… Why the hell is this thing being built before Seattle neighborhoods are served better? Building in areas that require TOD (much later and after a big zoning fight) and parking lots before places like Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle just makes me wince. Truly horrible plan.

      1. Sort of my point… The concept of subarea equity is bad tax policy. If Seattle had subarea equity for all the state sales tax we pay then we would have 40% of our money back and the state would be (even more) broke. This kind of planning should be done to maximize advantage… Not to make sure people in some geographically arbitrary area are kept happy.

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