University Link TBM Brenda after extraction at Pine St
University Link TBM Brenda after extraction at Pine St

Over the next few weeks, Sound Transit is hosting three community meetings about the North Link project, which will extend the region’s light rail system from the U-District to Northgate. If you can’t attend, but have thoughts or concerns on these subject, you can reach ST’s outreach staff via email instead. The dates and times are as follows:

  • March 21, 6:00 – 8:30 PM Northgate Station to Tunnel Portal Construction
    Olympic View Elementary School — 504 NE 95th St, Seattle
  • March 26, 6:00 – 8:30 PM Roosevelt Station Construction
    Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center — 6535 Ravenna Ave NE, Seattle
  • April 11, 6:00 – 8:30 PM — Roosevelt Station 60% Design
    Roosevelt High School Commons — 1410 NE 66th St, Seattle

Generally, construction meetings are oriented primarily towards neighbors, and focus on the details of construction effects and planned mitigations; nonetheless, it’s still a great chance to talk directly with agency staff, and interesting questions do sometimes arise in the public question period. Design meetings are more substantive, and fairly major changes have arisen from public feedback at those meetings, as happened with Brooklyn Station’s entrances. One thing that’s not going to change at Roosevelt is the decision not to design for TOD over the station box: the ST board voted to reject a plan to spend additional money for that last month.

I do have some good news on the parking situation at Northgate: multiple sources tell me that Sound Transit are in discussion with the City and other agencies on this subject, and the possibility exists (which I had previously been told was very unlikely) that ST could ask the FTA to remove the stipulation of one-for-one parking replacement in the North Link Record of Decision, a mitigation measure which would effectively force ST to build a parking structure at Northgate. If, like me, you believe that spending millions on “free” parking in a nascent urban center and transit hub is a disastrously awful idea, I would encourage you to attend ST’s Northgate meetings, or to email their community outreach staff — especially if you live near the future Northgate Station.

50 Replies to “North Link Meetings; Northgate Parking Update”

  1. I would hate for my transit dollars to go towards building ANOTHER parking structure at Northgate, that’s for sure.

  2. What needs to be done to actually construct TOD atop the Roosevelt station? Could a developer buy the air rights from ST?

      1. I understand that now, but could a developer purchase the air rights and pursue construction themselves?

      2. The station would have to be engineered to take the weight of the overbuild, and all the vents/escapes/back of house stuff rearranged to create a developable lot. While physically possible, It’s not practicable to come along and redo it later.

      3. lol. Note to Roosevelt: ” You must get more dense, but our station will be a tribute to Brutualism and singular purposes!”

      4. Nicholas: the statement Bruce linked to puts the value of the rights at around $1.7mil. Which sounds about right to my layman’s ear, based on what I’ve seen other properties of similar size go for.

      5. For persective the land is appraised at $8.5. Are you really going to spend $5 million to give up the ground floor and underground parking to build residential on top of a train station with all the restrictions that entails? Not if you want to stay solvent.

      6. BigDonLives: I wouldn’t consider it brutalist. I would definitely consider it a poor utilization of the space. I looked at the 30% design drawings again and was really disheartened not just by how the station monopolizes 12th Ave frontage for absolutely no purpose, but also by how much of the south side of 66th Street is wasted.

        The lobbies are gigantic. I really would like to know why we couldn’t shave the buildings to half-block length along 12th Ave and enlarge the mezzanine to hold the TVMs and their queueing customers. I love how the people in the southwest perspective drawing seem to be milling about in the north entrance lobby doing absolutely nothing.

        Here’s hoping the 60% design review has some good news.

      7. Bernie: residential buildings within the Light Rail Overlay District are not required to have parking.

      8. (continued from previous)

        …and with the current site plan, I don’t think the ground floor of the building would be required to contain any retail.

      9. Yeah, good luck selling many high end units without being able to offer parking at least as an option. Lots of developers in this region; none clamoring for air rights. If you were building apartments in Manhatten or even in the Seattle CBD you could sell units without parking but not half where between UW and Northgate.

      10. For Brutalism, see the monorail stanchions. And one of the community college campuses that’s mostly concrete: I don’t remember offhand if it’s North, South, or Green River.

    1. What’s the maximum design grade for Link? I see in the linked SEPA Addendum that coming up from Ravenna to Roosevelt station it’s at a 5% grade. Under the UW it’s at an even 4%. Does anyone know how steep the climb from UWS to CHS is? That’s a massive grade change after going under the cut.

  3. Many Northgate neighbors oppose building new parking garages at the station and strongly support using those funds to build a pedestrian/bike bridge over I-5 to North Seattle Community College.

    1. That would be great. There are no crossings between 92nd and Northgate Way (which is the equivalent of 110nd). Northgate Way is a nasty street for walking, and probably even worse for biking. 92nd is much nicer, but there is a significant hill to climb if you are coming from the Northgate area. In other words, a pediatrian/bike bridge at about 103rd would not only serve the folks that use the train, but anyone who wants to walk from one side of I-5 to the other in that general area.

      1. @groan: If people are clamoring for a bridge to NSCC, clearly they think it could be part of the walkshed. With the bridge, most of the campus becomes much closer to the transit center.

      2. There has been widespread support for the pedestrian bridge ever since North Link got underway. I’m pretty sure it’s a question of money, not will, at the government level.

    2. (I should have added this to my previous comment)

      So, is there something I can sign to support the bridge proposal?

      1. I don’t know of any petition, but ST staff do read these comments, and I would encourage you to email ST at the address in the post, or to attend the Northgate meetings if possible.

      2. Maple Leaf Community Council has sent a letter to ST, Seattle and King County in support of this. Pinehurst Community Council has a similar letter drafted and being discussed by the community.

  4. If you think people won’t continue to look for a place to park their car so that they can catch the light rail to the UW, downtown, and points south, particularly at the northern terminus (albeit temporary) of the light rail system, then I suggest you are dreaming.

    1. Er, if so, then great, some developer can build a high-priced parking garage to service that demand.

      But the city sure as hell shouldn’t be subsidizing (or mandating) any parking.

    2. Not my problem. Why should I pay for them to park for free? I’m sure if the mall finds it to be a problem, they’ll start towing.

  5. If, like me, you believe that spending millions on “free” parking in a nascent urban center and transit hub is a disastrously awful idea,

    Is there anything that says that it has to be “free” parking?

    1. Unless you’re proposing that we charge enough to pay for the lot (good luck with that – ask Seattle how that Nordsrom parking lot worked out), then it’s still subsidised parking. If there’s enough demand, I’m sure the market will provide parking solutions.

      1. Well, something is better than nothing and a there’s nothing that curbs demand better than eliminating the word “free”. As for the City and Pacific Place they managed to spend $60,000 per stall; and that was without South African granite := But looking at the numbers they should still be able to break even. Of course you can’t charge the same rates at Northgate as DT but I bet that if they just sold the parking consession to Joe Diamond it would turn a profit. FWIW, the Port managed to spend $67,500 per stall for the new rental car garage but that includes a lot of office space. Hopefully that tax payer subsidized venture pays off.

      2. If anyone wants to build a private parking lot there, or add additional parking to their development so they can rent it out, they can go for it as far as I’m concerned. I also think it would be great Metro/ST/WSDOT/whoever started charging to limit demand, although no-one has shown much interest in that yet, and I’m not holding my breath.

        It’s worth noting that there will still be some surface P&R capacity left at Northgate even if no replacement is made.

  6. I strongly disagree with the contention that no parking should be provided at Northgate for transit commuters. Given the ex-urban nature of the catchment area for the station, which basically goes anywhere north of the station and east and west along Northgate Way, and the very poor transit service from Northgate in any direction except south, not providing parking will result in an underutilization of the station. What about the people who may be coming in from Snohomish County or parts north? Very few people are going to be able to walk to the station given the makeup of the area and I-5.

    Being realistic, I find it extremely unlikely that the area will be developed to anywhere near the density of the Seattle CBD, as hoped for by the poster. Note that increased density hasn’t even been able to be accomplished to your desires at Roosevelt Station, which is in an already far more dense area than the area around Northgate. Places with far higher rail ridership than Seattle will ever have – Toronto, Chicago, Washington D.C., etc. all have gigantic parking lots on the outskirts of their systems to make the rail lines accessible to people who live in areas with poor bus service. Some of you may hate cars and drivers, but they add ridership to rail lines – and increased ridership on rail lines make it more likely that the federal government and the local population will want to spend money to create more. Increasing the number of people who can take advantage of and like your product is always smart business, even if the way they take advantage of it offends your sensibilities.

    1. Northgate is zoned as an Urban Center, and the presence of a BART-like system that can get you downtown in minutes is about the biggest shot in the arm I could imagine for the desirability of an area. The 41, 66 and 67, which serve similar markets, combined had more than 12,000 daily riders in Spring ’09 — a bit less than half of what Central Link has now; a system of North Link’s quality will generate non-P&R ridership that dwarfs that of the current busses. We do not need park and rides to make North Link an extremely effective project.

      Your characterization of the Northgate area as exurban is simply false. The area already has some midrise market rate apartments and is zoned for lots of midrise commercial and residential growth — growth that will make it a center for people commuting downtown, and people coming from the south to shop. I have never claimed that the area will reach the density of the CBD, and that’s not required for ridership at this station to be excellent. Even the single family areas areas are smaller-lot older developments, not McMansions on acres of land.

      People coming in from Snohomish County will almost certainly be better off using the extensive commuter bus system that they pay for, or driving to a P&R served by the 51x ST buses. Moreover, Northgate is only an interim terminus — Link will be extended to Lynnwood, intercepting all that Snomish demand up north.

      Finally, if you’d actually bothered to read the linked posts on this subject, you’d see a map showing the results of a Metro survey of P&R users at Northgate:

      https://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/NG-routes-ridership-map.jpg

      The vast majority of those users are from Seattle, and most of them have access either to existing direct commuter service to downtown, or to local service that could take them to Northgate; they’re basically using the P&R because it’s there, because it’s free, and it probably saves them a few minutes over taking the bus.

      1. Exactly. If they have to pay they’ll start carpooling, taking the bus, walking, riding a bike or maybe just move to the eastside so they’re closer to their job :=

      2. Well, until the #347 runs more frequently AND later, then I will have to drive to Northgate and park there if I want to take the bus(later, LINK) to work. So, until that happens, keep the parking available at Northgate, please!

      3. Once North Link enters service, routes like the 41 and 7x series will be truncated (or otherwise restructured) saving Metro tons of money that can then be reallocated to improving connecting bus service into Northgate. While it’s too soon to say what Metro might do, improving routes like the 347 is exactly the kind of thing I’d hope to see.

      4. I wish I trusted Metro to do the right thing and improve bus connections to light rail, but given the experience in the Rainier Valley, I’m not holding my breath.

    2. I grew up in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, which has great (and well-used) commuter rail service, much less connecting bus service than Northgate, and a little downtown area that needs parking reserved for local business use. The city operates parking garages for regular train commuters that buy 6-month permits and has day-rate uncovered parking spots (I think parking permit holders can also use these). It happens that the garages fill up pretty early but there are almost always open day-rate spots, so nobody is totally left in the cold. Other downtown spaces have enforced time limits. I don’t know what the rates are, or the level of subsidy (it’s possible Elmhurst profits on parking, but I sort of doubt it), but I’m not sure it matters if there’s a subsidy — it’s a clear need and the city, which controls useful and relevant land, provides it.

      This model reserves valuable land near the station for parking, which means it can’t be used for other development. But it also spreads the benefit of the rail system over a larger group of current residents, especially homeowners. Now, I don’t have some idea that homeowners are superior to renters — I’m currently a renter — but homeowners tend to be politically engaged, and especially in today’s market, they aren’t likely to move.

      In my dream world where there’s an ORCA day pass, you could integrate day-rate parking with an ORCA day pass (as a package that costs more than either separately but less than both combined). But that’s just a dream…

    3. “the very poor transit service from Northgate in any direction except south”

      We’re hoping that will change by the time it opens, and it’s our job to pressure Metro to make sure there’s frequent local buses north, east, and west.

      “What about the people who may be coming in from Snohomish County or parts north?”

      If they’re coming from Snohomish County they can take Link and park up there. Lynnwood station will open 2-3 years after Northgate station. Hopefully ST will truncate the 510/511/512 at Northgate in the meantime and raise the frequency to 10-15 minutes, so that Snohomishites have no excuse not to leave their cars in their own county.

      “Given the ex-urban nature of the catchment area for the station”

      Exurban means the areas that were suburbanized in the 90s or later, so Woodinville, Canyon Park, Marysville, Maple Valley, and Bonney Lake. Northgate is way too close in to be an exurb, and so is Redmond.

  7. I think its time for ST to look at charging for parking at various P&R lots that offer structured parking (Lakewood, Tacoma Dome, Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, etc.) $2-5 on weekdays, All-Day, to help manage demand at the stations. Of course Payable by Cash/Credit/ORCA E-Purse. Also, before charging for parking I’d hope ST could work with partner agencys to provide better Local “feeder” service to their P&R lots, something which they dont seem to be enthusiastic on doing right now.

    1. You’d think! Since all are claiming to have a “revenue problem” that owning a cash cow they’d learn to milk it. I mean Metro is already an expert at milk runs. Seriously, I find it impossible to support any tax increase when this revenue stream, consistent with transit’s environmental and land use goals remains untapped.

      1. One problem our region has is the success of our transit systems. To meet this demand we keep building more and more park and ride lots. I think its time as a region we take a look at where we really need our P&R lots to be, and make an investment in building structured parking to replace surface lots, where practical. Charging a modest and consistent $3-5 each weekday will initially push some riders off, however i think there will be more waiting who are willing to pay the price to park at the facility. the funds raised can than be used to cover maintenace and security costs at the facility. This would also be a good oppertunity to rebuild some of these early P&R lots, such as StarLake and Kent-Desmoines road, to have a proper freeway station, much like the Mount Lake Terrace Station, and the ones on the Silver Line in LA along the Harbor Freeway to expidite bus service. Smaller and Older nearby facilitys should be closed in favor of the new and improved facilitys. This would get property back on the tax rolls, save maintenace costs, and service hours spent providing service to these facilities.

  8. Building construction is the process of adding structure to real property. The vast majority of building construction projects are small renovations, such as addition of a room, or renovation of a bathroom

  9. It seems to me the point of North Link is to reduce the “need” for parking. If the money for a parking garage can be spent buidling a pedestrian/bike bridge linking to the already-existing and underutilized parking east of North Seattle Community College, that strikes me as a much more fruitful investment. If Sound Transit has to buy some of that existing parking, so be it. Then, when it can be surplused, it can become TOD.

    I also don’t want that parking garage because it might slow down the opening date of North Link. Yes, it is nine years away, on paper, but I’m hoping it can be much sooner, if the tunnel boring continues at its rapid (but safe) pace.

    I’d even be delighted to see the First Hill Streetcar take the slow track in order to make it possible to open North Link five years early. The streetcar is meant as a connector from Capitol Hill Station, so we don’t really need it open before 2016.

    1. Tunnel boring for North Link hasn’t started yet. The machines will launch from the Tunnel Portal near 95th Street and from Roosevelt, all headed south.

      I’d be amazed if building a parking garage was a time constraint on this line. Between all the tunneling and the two underground stations, construction activities at the Northgate Station should be a piece of cake. Of course, we will know more tonight.

      I too would rather see the money spent on the pedestrian bridge rather than a garage. At previous meetings, though, ST was clear that funding the bridge is up to the City and/or Metro, possibly with help from WSDOT. ST sounding willing to build the station such that a bridge could connect into it. Since the bridge is just a hypothetical at this point, however, ST could easily change plans to contribute some money or design work.

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