Since October 2010 we’ve followed the Lynnwood Link project fairly closely. Unlike other Link extensions, Lynnwood Link had several viable alignments including SR-99, I-5 and NE 15th Avenue. While many in the transit community who believe in the importance of TOD favored the SR-99 alignment; New Starts competitiveness, cost, and institutional momentum favored the I-5 alignment.
From a TOD perspective this was disappointing. However, as discussions about the I-5 alignment advanced, the idea of a NE 130th Street Station to serve the Bitter Lake and Lake City neighborhoods emerged. This station, located half way between the two Hub Urban Villages would certainly help mitigate the lack of TOD immediately around Lynnwood Link stations. Today the City Council will again move to support the NE 130th Street Station.
Because TOD potential along I-5 between Northgate and Lynnwood is so limited, feeder transit must play a disproportionate role in connecting riders to the stations. Frequent, fast and reliable bus connections to the Aurora Avenue and Lake City Way corridors via Bitter Lake and Lake City Hub Urban Villages would do that. These areas have already grown significantly and have strong and growing transit demand. Since 2005 the Bitter Lake and Lake City Hub Urban Villages have seen more than twice as much growth as the Northgate Urban Center (1,522 to 739) and transit re-orientation of Aurora Ave in Seattle and Shoreline could result in significant additional growth.
NE 130th is the best connection between these two areas. Low-levels of congestion, the sequential and linear location of major destinations, and Link headways of 4-
58 minutes all-day make transfers to very-frequency feeder bus service ideal. Currently it takes 40-50 minutes to get between the two Urban Villages by transit compared to ~5-10 minutes by car. A single very-frequent route along Aurora Avenue, NE 130th and Lake City Way could connect:
- Shoreline Community College
- The ripe-for-redevelopment Aurora Square and WSDOT Dayton facility
- The Aurora corridor from NE 160th Street to NE 130th Street
- Bitter Lake Hub Urban Village
- Ingraham High School
- Haller Lake Neighborhood
- NE 130th Street Station
- Pinehurst Neighborhood
- Lake City Way Hub Urban Village
- Lake City Way from NE 130th Street to NE 145th Street
- SR-522 Corridor (i.e. Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell)
Because of the location of these high demand destinations only a NE 130th Street station would have a geometry that allows for frequent, direct, efficient and simple transit service. A NE 145th Street Station would require multiple, lower-frequency routes and perpetuate the fractured East-West bus system in North Seattle.
We know frequent feeder service works. Community Transit has already committed to extend Swift to the Link station at NE 185th Street where four other bus routes will also converge. The DEIS estimates that this station, with only 350-500 parking stalls and fair
modest TOD potential could attract nearly 7,200 riders a day. Metro has not yet made similar commitments to any stations, with service details at even Northgate Station still outstanding.The DEIS also make the unrealistic assumptions that feeder bus service and headways do not alter for the three different station combinations in Segment A. In all alternatives a single bus route operating at 15-minute peak and off-peak headways is the only feeder service at the NE 130th Street station.
For Lynnwood Link the key to mitigating the lack of TOD opportunity falls squarely on the shoulders of frequent, fast and reliable feeder bus service, and I believe a NE 130th Street station is critical for this. Metro must give clear and well developed guidance to Sound Transit on how it will restructure service and Sound Transit must work better to ensure that station allow for seamless platform to bus stop transfers to and from feeder buses.