Going to be sitting at your computer today at noon? Sound Transit is hosting an online tech talk today at noon to discuss the Draft EIS for the Lynnwood Link extension. Topics will include:
- Route and station alternatives for light rail in the Draft EIS
- The project’s potential benefits and impacts
- Possible effects on the environment, nearby properties and transportation
19 Replies to “Take a Deep Dive on Lynnwood Link Today at Noon”
Correctly spelled Lynnwood.
Will a recording be available later for those of us who might not be able to listen at noon?
Video will definitely be up next week for those of you who cannot watch today. But even if you don’t watch the live stream, please do email your questions now! Second link above leads you to email address
Thanks, Andrew. Was in a work meeting and unable to watch today; looking forward to the video. Count me among the hordes strongly in favor of including a 130th station, which could transform mobility in far north Seattle.
One of the panelests mentioned that how to access stations by walking, biking, and taking the bus are primary considerations in station siting and planning, along with parking to mitigate those expected to drive to the stations.
The parking problem wasn’t expressed so much in how many trips could be added by offering parking, but how to mitigate impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, where commuters would be parking if they don’t have parking available at the station. This was a welcome evolution in the thinking process.
Although each alternative was presented with various unique features, such as parking projects at certain sites, the features and the alternatives can be mix-and-match. Indeed, the Board could end up choosing to build stations at 130th, 145th, and 155th (although nobody on the panel mentioned that option).
Construction of a station at 145th doesn’t necessarily mean a parking structure will be built there. I would make the argument that such a structure would be used by a lot of commuters who would have otherwise ridden the 522, and that intensifying investment in the 522 corridor (the bus route, and only by impact, the highway), would be a cheaper alternative to building lots of parking at 145th. Similarly, feeder bus service from Shoreline CC, Aurora, and N 145th St would be preferable to providing more parking.
David will point out, correctly, that Shoreline CC, and some of the Aurora corridor would be better served by the 155th station option, but I will continue to disagree that having the 522 backtrack 10 blocks on neighborhood arterials or taking the scenic, slow route through Lake City and then 125th is a reasonable alternative to the most direct and natural connection for the 522 bus at 145th. I would add that if having the 522 backtrack up NE 5th St to a few blocks away from 155th Station is reasonable, then having other bus routes head down NE 5th to 145th Station is at least as reasonable, especially since the bus is at least headed in the right direction for most of its passengers. Given the higher volume of buses and passengers on the 522 than on local feeder routes that would serve 155th, I think 145th is the clear winner from the perspective of bus access. Given the abundance of SFHs around 155th, and the rather small walkshed, I think bus cachement has to be weighed heavily.
The strongest argument for backtracking to 155th is not that it makes sense to pick up riders on this section (of 155th and the connecting street) but that it will be faster. It seems backwards, but if traffic is really bad, and your destination is simply “anywhere next to I-5” then you are probably faster backtracking up to 155th. I would like to see some studies back that up (or refute it). Likewise, I would like to know what could be done to make 145th faster for transit. I’m sure folks on this blog would love to see one lane converted to a bus lane, but I don’t think that would get approved. It would basically make 145th a two lane road (one lane each direction) for cars. Good luck with that. Maybe there is some other fix (expensive or cheap) that could move buses through this area faster. If not for traffic, then I think 145th makes the most sense.
One other consideration is that 125th could very well have a lot more buses. Drivers will adapt, and start looking for alternatives. This is good. If 125th becomes “the bus street” then it is better for everyone. However, if 145th also has a lot of buses, then folks looking for an alternative to the north will have no choice but to use 125th. A minor point, to be sure, but I don’t think anyone has mentioned it.
The argument for buses (like the 522) to continue on Lake City Way and then turn on 125th is the opposite, in one respect from the argument that the bus should go to 145th or 155th. Going on Lake City Way to 125th may be slower, but you could pick up folks in Lake City (as it does now). There are other buses that will do that, but having the 522 do that simply means really, really good service for people in Lake City (which is a good thing, considering the rapidly rising density in the area). Keep in mind, in either case I wouldn’t have the bus stop after leaving Lake City Way (since people expect very fast service and you get diminishing returns once you leave Lake City Way). The new 41 (or whatever we create) should do that.
I forgot to mention that I think east of the station, your argument is stronger, but the counter argument is similar. While it might seem better to have a stop at 155th because it is closer to Shoreline Community College, I don’t see much of a benefit. 155th does not go through to Greenwood. The bus (if it continues to SCC) would still have to make a right on Aurora, then a left on 160th. On the other hand, a bus coming from 145th could go straight across, then take a right on Greenwood. This means fewer turns. I have no idea which area has more people along the way, but my guess is the 145th/Greenwood route. So, basically, a stop at 145th might lead to a bus route that is faster (less time waiting to turn) and pick up more people east of the stop.
That is, assuming traffic along 145th isn’t too bad. Which gets us back to the crux of the argument over 145th and 155th.
Haven’t been online to comment, but RossB is correct — one of the two parts of my argument is, essentially, that during the times of highest ridership 155th is faster despite the backtrack. I’ve spent enough time sitting in my car on 145th approaching I-5 on weekday and Saturday afternoons to be deeply skeptical of any claims that 145th is faster. This is another manifestation of the general theory that it’s best to have transit cross freeways away from an interchange where possible.
The other part is that I think 155th has far more TOD potential than 145th, which has problems with building in three of the four directions from the station. At 155th, you can upzone and build in three of the four directions (and build a little bit in the fourth). Also, 155th would be far friendlier as a way for pedestrians to reach the station from TOD; 145th is unwalkable even over short distances.
I should emphasize, though (which I didn’t in the last thread) that the 155th/145th question is very secondary, in my mind, to ensuring there is a station at 130th. I’ll deal with just about any other North Link decision as long as there is a 130th station.
In general, I don’t like the idea of designing all-day bus routes around backtracking to avoid a bottleneck that is really only a problem during the peak. It creates a situation where the off-peak network has an awkward time-sucking deviation, which can only be avoided by avoiding transit and driving your car the entire way.
Kind of reminds me of the 41’s routing through Northgate. It’s built around the I-5 express lanes and looks reasonably direct when the express lanes are open in the direction of travel. But when they’re not, the bus has to go south from Northgate Way to the transit center, then back north again to Northgate Way to get on the freeway. The result is a quarter-mile stretch from 5th Ave. and Northgate Way to I-5 and Northgate Way that takes 10-15 minutes to traverse in a bus, compared to a mere 1 minute in a car.
At the Rainier station open house yesterday, somebody asked how East Link would affect buses. The ST speaker said they’re strongly considering truncating all east-west buses at Mercer Island or South Bellevue, and are negotiating with Metro/M.I./Bellevue to see if they agree. If the downtown bus routes remain they would likely be peak-only, using the HOV lane in the afternoon and maybe Rainier/Dearborn in the morning (because afternoon congestion is worse). So this is another example of forward thinking.
The peak is when traffic is at is worst, and headways of all forms of transit are at their best. Meaning it’s precisely the period where a bus that originated directly from downtown in an effort to avoid the transfer would end up wasting more time sitting in traffic trying to get through and out of downtown than the transfer penalty would be. From the perspective of people who value their time, the peak is actually the best time, not the worst time to truncate routes.
Good point, although this only works central leg of the journey magically avoids the congestion — East Link will mostly do this, existing services cannot.
Absolutely. A second critical point is that trunk line has to have sufficient passenger capacity to carry everyone if a connection-based system is going to work. That is a large part of why truncating of I-90 routes to East Link in the future would work, but truncating of I-90 routes to the 550 today would be a disaster.
It is wonderful that ST is thinking so hard about bus connections. I do see a couple drawbacks to this approach of negotiating with Metro this far out.
1) Metro may plan to keep most I-90 routes going downtown, at this time. A different administration may have second thoughts later. In the meantime, ST gets their answer, and rolls with the plan that bus truncations aren’t going to happen, just like they planned not to have them at UW Station, citing Metro’s plan not to have any truncations there. Even ambivalence from Metro may be enough for ST not to design for bus connections.
2) This would add to the precedent of setting route paths in cement via legislative fiat. If it turns out later that the transfer penalty is too big to make the transfer workable, Metro could be stuck. Though, hopefully, both parties to any agreement would be reasonable. We should count ourselves lucky that the ST Board has never devolved into partisan or factional bickering, even if the county council has. To assume the board will always be reasonable would be a poor use of inductive reasoning. The Seattle City Council, if party to the agreement, may not be so quick to allow another platoon of buses back onto downtown streets, when those buses are not full of Seattle voters.
The reason they’re negotiating with Metro now is that it affects which freeway structures on the Seattle side are kept or replaced and which are torn down. The station plan calls for removing the center-lanes viaduct over Rainier Ave, which will bring more daylight to street cavern there. It sounded like there’s another structure north of there that could be removed or not added if the express buses cease or use Rainier/Dearborn westbound.
Was cool that they actually asked one of my questions on the air
I just want to throw out the additional reminder that we’re down to the final couple days to comment on the Lynnwood Link DEIS. (deadline Monday, Sept 23rd)
Even if you do not live in (or care much about) the “northern reaches” I still would really, REALLY strongly encourage everyone to send in comments on this.
As several people have already noted, perhaps the most important comment to make would be to support the inclusion of the 130th street station. Without it, everyone to the NE, and especially everyone to the NW from about 100th to 140th will need to make their way (by car, bus, bike, or foot) through all of the congestion at Northgate to get to the station south of the mall. Which would mean so much frustration that few people will use the system….
So the 130th Street station is maybe the #1 priority comment to make — but a close #2 has to be regarding the near total lack of Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD) potential.
In broad terms, it would seem that the communities and neighborhoods to the north are being asked to accommodate a series of large Park & Ride facilities for a commuter railroad. Sure, the residential densities are slightly lower than in downtown Seattle, but it is a continuous metropolitan area — ready to be served by this intra-urban transit system which will support urban growth and increasing density. No doubt, one of the goals of Sound Transit’s Light Rail system is to meet the needs of commuters, but this is not its only use, nor the only goal identified by the Sound Transit Board. Each station needs to support its immediate community, and foster the TOD that will in turn help support the station and the whole system.
In April Sound Transit reported that the potential for TOD at all the proposed Lynnwood Link station sites to be poor. It appears that the Lynnwood LINK conceptual design, as described in the DEIS, pretty much completely disregarded Sound Transit’s own policy (passed in Dec 2012). The development of designs are directed to “facilitate TOD” (Sound Transit’s words) — NOT to simply study the issue and then report that, “nope, not much chance of TOD here…” (my paraphrase)
A representative of Sound Transit has told me that ‘we can’t expect every station site to allow for TOD’ (which I do tend to believe is true) — but the fact is (as established by Sound Transit’s own report), that NONE of the proposed stations allow for appreciable TOD.
Again, I get it that this section of LINK is never going to have the TOD potential of some of the station sites in Seattle. Likewise, I understand that it would be too much to expect that Sound Transit would site, design, and build every one of the Lynnwood LINK stations to maximize TOD potential. But NONE??
Eight months after Sound Transit publicly commits to a policy of designing its transit projects to encourage and facilitate TOD — and the very next project design which is released to the public has little to none. At some point in design and scoping — especially after the Sound Transit board adopted an official policy and commitment to TOD — there should have been a recognition that the current design was not meeting Sound Transit’s own criteria.
It seems like the lessons learned by Sound Transit a mere ten years ago have already been forgotten. At that time, the preferred alternative of locating a LINK station alongside the highway at NE 65th was realized to be a mistake –both by the community AND the Sound Transit Board– simply on the basis of the lack of TOD potential.
No transit station which is sited immediately adjacent to a highway will ever encourage –or even allow for– effective TOD and integration into the surrounding community. By definition and simply geometry, half of the land adjacent to a station located immediately next to a highway can never be developed, because it is taken up by the highway itself. And then the other half of the land adjacent to the station will never foster good, valuable, and attractive urban development, because all of that property, by definition, is next to a highway.
I understand that it must have seemed the obvious solution to run LINK along the edge of I-5 from Northgate to Lynnwood — its simpler, and probably cheaper. But by choosing this ‘easy’ way, Sound Transit has disregarded what it has already learned about station areas.
But here we are, and the DEIS, as it is currently written, basically only allows a choice of which type of Park-and-Ride station the public wants to accept (at-grade or elevated; where to build the huge parking structure…).
So what can be done? Re-designing the alignment is probably never going to be even considered at this point, but by pointing out the insufficiency of potential TOD in their proposal, we can perhaps suggest the many other changes which will maximize the little potential for TOD there is. These ideas should include:
–NOT using the land immediately adjacent to the stations for blank open spaces, retention ponds, maintenance sheds, service vehicle parking, etc. (as is currently shown in the DEIS) Design compact town-square plazas and allow as much as possible of the area adjacent to the station to be developed.
–Diminish or even eliminate some of the parking structures currently proposed for every single station site.
–design and build stations which incorporate over-build / under-build, and integrate public spaces and commercial development.
–design for and plan better, safer, more efficient transit connections — not just a bus stop located across a busy (and getting busier) arterial from a station.
The fact that the Lynnwood Link as currently designed offers little hope for TOD means its even more important than ever to do everything possible design to encourage related station-area development. This must be much more than a commuter-centric park-and-ride railroad, but rather the creation of vibrant community hubs as part of the entire regional public transit system
So I dunno if I’m just a “squeaky wheel”, or a “Sancho Panza”, or what; but I really do believe its gotta help if Sound Transit gets public feedback every time, every project — comments which remind them of the basics of designing for efficient transit connectivity and encouraging Transit-Oriented-Development .
They are never going to embrace their own policies — or ‘get in the habit’ of smart design on all their projects — if there is NO public push-back about the lack of TOD on this route/segment.
If there are few complaints that there is no TOD here, then its not going to happen — AND — it will be all the more difficult for to get TOD prioritized elsewhere in the future.
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