North Link Capital Committee Presentation
North Link Capital Committee Presentation (March 8th)

As a followup to last week’s post with the presentation from the North Link Open House, click the image above to see the slides from the presentation that Sound Transit staff gave to the ST Capital Committee earlier this month, covering similar information but in more detail; tomorrow, I’ll have a post discussing the parking issues at Northgate at length. Below is is a video shown in the public meeting, that gives a sense of the broad outlines of the construction process and the finished product.

23 Replies to “More Slides and Video about Northgate”

  1. The similarities between the Northgate and Bellevue are striking. Looking at the three TOD examples on slides 29-31 and the surrounding Mall and retail will never be as robust as Bellevue currently exists, and eventually displacing the auto lots on the east-side of I405.
    Both are defined by a major freeway. Both are urban centers and existing transit centers.
    Now the differences in station design. Northgate sits next to I-5 and is projecting 15,000 riders per day by 2030, whereas all three Bellevue stations are projected to only generate 8,000 per day by 2030.
    Northgate is sited as close to the freeway as possible, whereas the Bellevue line painfully makes a series of hard turns in tunnels to get to the ‘Temporary’ (yes, that’s what it was billed as when built) Transit Center on 6th.
    Northgate is a long ways from other stops at Roosevelt, yet Bellevue, with half the ridership will have three stations all within less than a mile total.
    It’s as if two design teams, from different sides of the globe competed and came to totally different answers to the same questions.
    From my own viewpoint, Northgate is being over hyped given few new bus routes will truncate there, and parking will remain sparse, while the Bellevue planning will result in an embarrassment for both ST and the city alike. One station in Bellevue would have sufficed, and when coupled with a North-South RDC line on the soon to be lost East-side Line with cross platform transfers, and covered moving sidewalks (AKA like most major airports have, Duh?) to stitch back both sides of the freeway, creating a seamless walk/bike/bus experience in that city.
    Anyway, it ain’t gonna happen, so explaining why won’t ease the pain.

    1. MIke, I don’t think you have an accurate picture of Northgate’s use.

      Because the HOV lanes inbound to Seattle terminate at Northgate, it may make sense to terminate *all* bus routes at Northgate – especially with the downtown transit tunnel rail only by that time. With trains likely every 4 minutes during peak periods, transfer time will be low, and the operating hour savings for buses would allow for more frequent service elsewhere. The 41, the Sound Transit Snohomish routes, some Community Transit routes – a lot of riders will use this station to transfer. It’s even possible that CT routes to and from the UW should terminate here as well.

      The express lanes only ever point one direction, and while that is the peak direction, buses have to turn around – making their impact on bus service hours lower than it seems.

      In general, if you feel like something is “over-hyped”, it’s more likely you only have part of the picture!

      1. Sorry to disagree with you Ben, but talking with CT folks, will lead one to conclude that truncation of all their routes will never happen, without a Tee Ramp to bypass all the traffic. MT and ST may make the plunge without direct access to the station, but that would be a trade off between pissed off riders being forced to transfer, and operational savings, which may be the trump card.
        Ridership by FTA rules may not include hopeful TOD grand plans as shown, so you’re left with the current routes that get axed when Link starts running, and some others, but that doesn’t get you to 15,000 boarding per day at one stop.

      2. These “I have to have a one-seat ride to downtown on my bus” ideas need to stop. Ben has it correct. Go to any large Asian or European city and buses that serve outlying areas, usually serve their local community and then feed into a local rail line that will take them into town.

        Rarely is a commute in these cities a “one-seat” ride. In our county, in New York and Chicago, when commuting from suberbia there is no one-seat ride…usually it’s a bus to the train and it would be the same here. Seattle needs to get out of this mindset.

      3. Hell, I lived 25 miles from Penn Station, and my commute was a (half-hourly local) bus to (frequent) commuter rail to subway to subway to subway.

        Suburbanites here have it easy.

      4. If you don’t use a P&R in SnoCo, you’re already taking two buses most of the time: one to GET to a P&R, and then the 4xx or 5xx downtown.

        When Northgate Station opens, I can see Sound Transit truncating THEIR routes: the 510, 511, 512, etc. but not the CT commuter routes (which come from areas further from the I-5 corridor and Lynnwood TC).

    2. I do think Bellevue is a bit overbuilt, with all of the stations close together. I haven’t looked at the timing, but I bet you are going to get people who don’t like the ride to Microsoft. If you live in the north end of Seattle (say, Ballard) then the trip is kind of tedious. Take the bus downtown, turn around and take the train as it winds its way through the east side. It might make more sense to take a bus to the U-District, and transfer to another bus that travels 520 (which is probably what folks do now). It reminds me of the current train to Sea-Tac. It is a great idea, but with all the surface travel, it is really slow to get to the airport from the north end of town. That wasn’t the purpose, but folks like me still find themselves taking a shuttle.

      As for Northgate, I have to disagree with you. I think the greater Northgate area is poised for a huge growth spurt. It is easy to go by there and think that it is similar to Tukwila. After all, both areas feel suburban, and contain big malls. But Northgate is much closer to downtown, and really close to the UW. Apartments in the area will become really popular. It seems crazy now, because architecturally the areas are very different, but in some ways Northgate may resemble Capital Hill eventually (at least in general density, trips to and fro, if not in style). Both have colleges, and both are pretty close to other destinations. Both have significant medical centers, which are likely to grow. Capital Hill has night life that isn’t likely to be matched by Northgate in my lifetime, but I can imagine someone in the mall adding a big concert area (they had one for a while, but it shut down). It also wouldn’t surprise me if the mall owners build over their parking areas, while other places (like Target, which has a parking garage) start to charge. If there are more apartments around there as well as places for employment, then more people might walk to some of those retailers than drive.

      As the number of apartments on either side of I-5 grows, the more the bridge makes sense. If you live at Thornton Place, for example, and go to school at North Seattle Community College, you choices right now are not ideal. You can walk around, ride a bus, bike up a bit of a hill (and back down again) or drive. Build a bridge and the walk becomes the obvious choice.

      1. The long-term solution for travel from Ballard to Microsoft is the construction of the Ballard Spur. This would already be a faster ride than today’s system by avoiding the large time drag of getting into downtown on a bus. And if you transfer at Montlake to a bus down 520, the trip would become faster still.

  2. As a frequent Lynnwood passenger I think that direct ramps from freeway bus lanes to Northgate Station are a must- especially if north-end routes will be turned back there.

    Since I lose money every time I’m late for work, I’d also like to see some interim measures to get at least the ST Express buses to Lynnwood and Everett northbound on time- like putting the 510 and the 511 in the Tunnel.

    “Different agencies” business no excuse here- ST was voted in on promise of an integrated system. Sixteen years is time enough to deliver exactly this kind of thing. It would help if I-5 express service could hit the express lanes through Convention Place staging, the way Metro did when the Tunnel was closed for refit.

    Would also be good if we could get a pm inbound bus lane from Northgate to CPS- one reason northbound Lynnwood service is late is because buses can’t get into town. But civil engineering difficulties doing that don’t apply to ramps at Northgate itself.

    Should be a “Just Do It.”

    Mark Dublin

    1. I agree that adding ramps would make a lot of sense. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will happen because eventually rail will make its way to Lynnwood. But I don’t know how cheap it is to add ramps in that area.

      On the other hand, I could see making things easier for buses coming from Lake City City, since there isn’t likely to be rail from there for a long time. It would be really nice if the 41 could navigate that area quickly, instead of spending so much time getting to the last few blocks next to the transit center.

      If the two goals could be combined it might work out well. I’m just throwing this out there, but here is it how it would work. The 41 goes up 125th, but instead of heading south on 5th (which is where it gets slow) it goes on 130th, and gets on the freeway. It almost immediately gets off the freeway, at the stop you mentioned. I’m not sure if that would work, but it sure would be nice.

      1. One thing that I thought would be a given when North Link opened would be the merger of the north leg of the 41 to the 67. The 66 would be canceled and it’s service hours (along with the service hours of the south leg of the 41) would be added to the 67 to make it more frequent.

      2. That makes sense, but I’m not sure if the 66/67 would warrant as much use as the 41. It is still needed, but not that much. It might be that some of the 41 buses continue on as a 66/67, while others just turn around. The 66/67 is a bit redundant, in that it goes by three stops that will be on the train. If we did nothing to the routes, I would expect a sharp drop off in ridership. On the other hand, if you live in Lake City (or anywhere along that route) it makes sense to take the 41 to get to downtown now and when the station is built. Right now, there are quicker alternatives for getting to the UW, but once the station is built, getting there via the 41 may be as good a route as any. This assumes, of course, that navigating the Northgate area by bus is smooth. That is the part of this process that scares me. If it takes a 41 rider ten minutes to get from 125th and 5th to the train, then it be faster to just take a bus that goes to the U-District (if that is your destination). If nothing else, the 41 could become like the 44, in that it runs all the time from Lake City to Northgate and back.

  3. Also, in addition to the NSCC footbridge, we need 1 or 2 more crossings for peds, bikes, and buses; maybe even other vehicles.

  4. Looking through the power point, I see NO provisions for increased bus activity at the current transit center, nor do I see any accommodations for bus pick up and drop off on 1st Ave. I do see lots of slides on parking, but not a word on bus transfer, therefore have to assume no provisions for truncation’s are in the works.
    That makes sense looking at current transit times for both bus and expected rail to Univ. Stn in Seattle. MT41 is 18 min, SB in the AM peak, and 16 min NB in the PM peak. Link is advertised at 14 min. To truncate a route off I-5 would require about 5 minutes to maneuver off the HOV lanes, exit, and work their way to the transit center. Walking to the platforms, and waiting for a train about another 3 minutes for a total of 8, thus wiping out the extra 2-4 minutes time the bus takes to reach downtown. In fairness, PSRC travel times for bus are expected to climb to 26 min in 2030, so assuming no additional TSM were taken to keep bus times at current levels, then yes, the train ride would beat the bus, by a few minutes. Is that worth convincing people to put down their paper, and find another seat on a different vehicle? I don’t think so.

    1. The Northgate TC redevelopment is being handled by King County Metro, as it’s their property. What the future TC will look like, and what the bus flow will be, has not been decided at this point (they’ve narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities, although I can’t find the slides offhand), so it won’t be shown in this animation. If I recall correctly, 1st Ave is going to have a paratransit loading zone and a kiss’n’ride on the east side. There’s not really enough space on 1st to have large numbers of buses stopping in the street, and I don’t think ST is wild on having tons of pedestrians crossing 1st either; all the ideas have buses pulling in to circulate in a dedicated set of bays.

      1. That’s exactly the methodology used to get us Mt.Baker Stn with a dysfunctional transfer between one side of Rainier for buses and rail on the other. ST has deferred the decision to MT, and MT is broke, so the transit center won’t change much, given the property constraints.
        What you see is what you get. Design will be at 60% by July. The last 40% is mostly what kind of shrubs to plant and street hardware.

      2. Metro is broke, yes, but they are sitting on two surface parking lots either side of the current TC that would be prime for private development after the opening of North Link, and the sale of those lots could be used to fund the rebuilding of the TC, if the agencies involved can make it happen.

        I do agree the Mount Baker TC isn’t a terribly inspiring example of interagency cooperation.

      3. That would be the wise thing to do. I just don’t think Ben’s comment about forcing all the buses off I-5 is practical. Lot’s of planning and facilities would have to be in place to efficiently handle the existing and projected workflow. I don’t see any of that happening, therefore conclude it’s an inconvenient truth that it’s not going to happen.
        Another opportunity lost!

  5. It looks feasible to construct I-5 HOV direct access at 103rd St., to enable efficient bus connections to Northgate Station. The pedestrian and bicycle connection that is needed to connect NSCC and the neighborhoods west of I-5 to Link could be integrated into that project. My wild guess is $60 million.

    How useful would an I-5 HOV direct connection to and from the north be after Link is extended to Lynnwood on I-5? Is the ped-bike bridge all that’s really needed there long-term?

    The related story that seems weakest to me right now is how bus service on SR 99 integrates with Link. It looks like Link is following I-5, so which Link station does bus service deviate off SR 99 in order to serve? 185th St. maybe? Should that station become the southern terminus of Swift?

    1. No-one seems to have any interest in deviating Aurora trunk services to connect with Link on I-5; I think you’re more likely to see crosstown service do that. Current long-term thinking in Shoreline seems to be centered around moving the functionality of the Aurora Village TC into the Shoreline P&R (building it up into a TC), and surplussing the AVTC property to help pay for it. That “Shoreline TC” would become the single focal point of all Shoreline bus service; presumably from north or south of there on Aurora you’d have to transfer to reach the train.

  6. RossB: The frequencies on the 41 and 66/67 are roughly the same, with the 41 having slightly better service in the peak direction mornings and evenings, so combining the two routes wouldn’t be that hard. As for 66/67 redundancy with LINK, King County metro already runs the 8 at 15 minute frequencies on a route directly parallel with LINK, as opposed to my 41/66-67 conglomeration, which intersects LINK at multiple points while not directly over it, it could be considered indirectly parallel.

  7. As to the built form of the guideway:

    Get rid of the bents!!

    The SkyTrain on Lougheed Highway in Burnaby, BC looks awful because of the bents.
    The Canada Line was built without bents where it crosses roadways.

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