A month ago, I wrote about options that would help make a parking garage at Northgate more acceptable – pricing the parking, funding a pedestrian bridge, and splitting up the parcel so that not all of the park and ride area was a single structure, helping bring needed variety to the station area.

Most of these things are now within reach. Sound Transit reached out to the community and listened to their concerns. Councilmember Conlin has proposed matching funds for a pedestrian bridge across I-5. The parcel is to be split into four sections. We just don’t know about pricing, which is a contentious issue that Sound Transit staff have expressed interest in pursuing many times – pressure is building in the right direction, but it’s possible that because of adjacent free mall parking, this can’t be the place to start.

Remember that this is about fairness. 92% of Northgate station users will be coming on foot, by bike, and on transit – but the original concepts would have spent far more on a parking garage for only 8% of users than on everyone else combined. That can now be rectified with only a little more work on our part.

Tomorrow, the Sound Transit board will consider a better deal for users of Northgate station: 25% contribution to the pedestrian bridge (up to $5 million). $5 million in matching funds for city access improvements, like sidewalks and bike lanes. And, sadly, still $12 million for a parking garage, but only 450 stalls, not the original likely 900. It’s still less than half the money to serve more than 90% of the people – but it’s a better deal than was originally likely.

To help out, go here! Cascade has set up a great way for you to let Sound Transit know you support a better deal. Remember, if we say “yes, you moved in the right direction, and we agree with that,” they will be more receptive to public opinion next time. This part is just as important as demanding change in the first place.

18 Replies to “A Solution for Northgate is Within Reach”

  1. Is it possible to be for the 900 stalls and Ped. Bridge, foot, bike, transit improvements?

    I want it all… and of course s transit crossing of I-5 at 100th….

    Also, I’m wary of using this idea of “fairness” it can cut both ways when it comes to transit…..

  2. thanks ben!

    I see cascade bicycle club (and seattle transit blog via a link) is up to their mischief again by making it incredibly simple for their followers to send an email to you in support of one of their pet causes.

    i commute by bicycle & bus every working day. i am also a realist who understands that:

    * the best way to get people to use public transit is to make it easy to drive their cars a short distance to a p&r & then take transit.

    * money is in short supply & we need to make the best use of it we can.

    i implore you to go ahead with your current plan for the northgate garage. biking connections to the proposed station are just fine–i do it many times a year.

    don’t take the the huge amount of spam email you will get from cascade as being representative of the community at large.

    //under no circumstances is the cascade bicycle club, democracyinaction.org or any other organization allowed to harvest my email address exposed in this form to solicit me in any way//

    1. the best way to get people to use public transit is to make it easy to drive their cars a short distance to a p&r

      Except that ST’s own studies show that NINETY-TWO PERCENT of the users of Northgate Station will be arriving via non-automobile means. Think of the marginal costs of adding the necessary infrastructure to meaningfully increase the number of automobile users to shift that ratio.

      Not only would we have to pay for double the number of structured parking stalls, we would have to deal with the congestion that the resulting induced demand would put on the surrounding roads (fighting with the existing I-5 gridlock), either by investing even more money in increasing road capacity (which will induce even more demand) or by throwing our hands up and saying “touch noogies, drivers trying to get to Northgate”, at which point all those extra drivers stop trying to get there and just continue down the existing express lanes.

      To say nothing about whether it should be our priority as a city, county, and region to continue encouraging people to drive their vehicles to a park & ride rather than moving closer to their jobs and increase the density of our closer-in neighborhoods.

      And all of this is predicated on the assumption that the number of people whom the Northgate P&R is designed to attract would increase. If that assumption of increase is based on extending the catchment area of the Park & Ride, why would those drivers ever get off I-5 to get on Link at Northgate, when they can just continue on the express lanes? With 92% non-automobile share, this assumption cannot be based on anything but increasing the radius of people driving to Northgate.

      All for a Park & Ride that will no longer be situated at the terminus of the line once Sound Transit builds the next phase of Link to Nowhere—er, I mean Link to Lynwood.

      1. “Except that ST’s own studies show that NINETY-TWO PERCENT of the users of Northgate Station will be arriving via non-automobile means.”

        Right, and sound transits studies have never been incorrect…. They would have no reason to doctor their own studies to suit their interests…

      2. Until this announcement, their “interest” was to build a larger parking garage with comparatively little pedestrian and bike improvements…

        I’m not sure what kind of conspiracy you’re trying to allege here, that ST is in cahoots with someone to make it easier to walk and bike to the station at the expense of parking spaces?

      3. Alternatively, spread jobs north to Northgate so that it becomes a destination in and of itself.

        LINK creates the potential for a multinodal city…rather than just one centralized downtown. Once on LINK you are essentially in a virtual city made up of all its nodes.

        However as LINK approaches critical mass BUT before its fully complete, there will be pressure to gain access to the system.

        I feel that a parking garage is a necessary evil until that point of LINKs fully extended network.

      4. “spread jobs north to Northgate so that it becomes a destination in and of itself.”

        Northgate already is a destination and has jobs. That’s why it’s getting a Link station and has been north Seattle’s transit center for decades.

        “LINK creates the potential for a multinodal city…rather than just one centralized downtown. Once on LINK you are essentially in a virtual city made up of all its nodes.”

        That’s one of the best things you’ve written. The issue is, nodes require density or they’re not effective nodes. Putting a station in a single-family residential area means ten people can walk to the train. That’s completely different from putting a station at Northgate where thousands of people can walk to the train. These “dense nodes” are the same thing as your restored town centers. They don’t have to be ten stories high or fifty stories high, but they need to at least be at the level of row houses and condos, with the ability to WALK from your house to daily necessities.

    2. It isn’t just the cyclists, the Maple Leaf Community Council opposes building a large garage at Northgate and supports the bike/ped bridge as well as other improvements to bike and pedestrian access to Northgate Station.

  3. What I’m getting at is that st’s projected numbers for people riding transit to Northgate could be inflated . With out big $$$ invested in east west transit Northgate will never reach its projections…. The number of drivers using the pr is another story….

  4. So this sounds like a good deal… assuming that the funds for the other 75% of the pedestrian bridge can be found. Are those lined up yet?

    The 450-space garage should satisfy all the actual contractual requirements and not require reopening complicated negotiations, while the bridge should increase the walkshed of the station massively.

    1. An even better deal would be to follow the Bellevue doctrine.
      Have a station on either side of the freeway. Then you apparently don’t need either a ped bridge or parking garages, and the walkshed must be ‘massively better’ too.

      1. Of course, the extra station will cost many times more than the bridge. (Though the thought has crossed my mind a few times that the business complex just north of NSCC could have been worth its own station.)

      2. If the Seattle Subway vision for Link to Lake City comes through (extended from Crown Hill), there will be two stations on either side of the freeway; one at Aurora and the other at Northgate.

      3. Just the other side of I-5 is a medical complex. Aurora and Northgate Way is a sad-sack loan shark haven.

      4. The bridge is not just about the station. It’s also about enabling walking commutes between homes and either NSCC or the mall.

    2. Actually, Conlin’s proposal covers about half the cost of the bridge: ST puts in up to $5 million and the city matches it. The 2012 state transportation budget includes money for a similar pedestrian bridge in Spokane, so they may help out here as well. Then there are grants.

      The key thing is half of the money will be programmed, which will make finding the other half much easier (though it’s not a slam dunk, either).

  5. Would a ped bridge finally justify less circuitous routing for the route 16 and 75 (new 40)?

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