MAP_Lynnwood-Link_402x663Sound Transit released a summary of public comments on the Lynnwood Link extension. The Board will vote November 21st on a preferred alignment and stations, assuming the staff finalize a recommendation next week.

The report does not include the text of the comments, but it has a count of those supporting or opposing particular segments or stations on page 8. Overall project support was 60 to 2. I wrote an article during the comment period supporting alternatives A5 (at-grade Northgate to Shoreline with stations at 130th, 145th, and 185th); B2A or B4A (east side Mountlake Terrace station with or without a 220th station); and C2 (Lynnwood station on west side of transit center). So how does that compare with the comments? 130th was the most-supported station, with 35 supporters. 145th and 155th tied for second, with 25 supporters each. The other stations each got 15 or less positive comments. Negative comments were highest for 145th (12); much fewer or zero for the other stations.

However, comments on the segments have a different distribution, so some people seem to have indirectly supported stations in their segment choices. In segment “A” (Northgate to Shoreline), alternative A1 got the most support (18 comments; at-grade 145th and 185th, no 130th station). My favorite A5 came in second (10), tying with A10 (like A5 but elevated). In segment “B” (Mountlake Terrace), segment B2A, one of my favorites, came in first (14 supporters; with 220th station). Opposition to any of the “A” and “B” alternatives was negligible.

Segment “C” (Lynnwood) got the most comments by far. This alignment is all up in the air given the outpouring of opposition to impacting Scriber Lake Park, and Lynnwood’s publishing its own alternative (C3M). My favorite alternative C1 (north side station) got 58 supporters and 21 opponents. C2 (west side station) got 3 supporters and 19 opponents. C3 (P&R station), the least walkable, got 73 supporters and 4 opponents. Additionally, a
petition opposing C1 and C2 got 1800 physical signatures and an unspecified number of electronic signatures, and a petition supporting C3 got 28 signatures.

Judging from the media reports at the time, most of the preference for C3 is to avoid impacting Scriber Lake Park, rather than specifically to be close to the P&R and freeway. Lynnwood’s preferred alternative puts the station on the east side of the transit center rather than next to the freeway, and would be closer to the bus bays. Lynnwood’s emerging downtown is expected to be mostly northeast of the station. C1 would be adjacent to this, while the other alternatives would add 2-4 blocks of walking. All alternatives would all be within walking distance of the park and the Interurban Trail.

37 Replies to “Lynnwood Extension Mini-Update”

  1. Why the heck does every station have a P in it? I understand the reflex to build P&Rs in the suburbs, but Sound Transit’s apparent mad desire to build parking lots in areas with excellent (or potentially excellent) bus connectivity is insane.

    1. I have no idea if it will make a difference, but I commented on exactly that in the long-range planning survey. May as well try to avoid P&R stations in the future.

      It’s almost a mathematical proof that long-range planing would avoid P&R stations. To first order approximation, a new Park & Ride station achieves only linear system growth, whereas a station with TOD can achieve geometric system growth. The difference is that a P&R station is not a destination, it’s only a source.

      For example, in a system with 10 existing stations, adding a new P&R station will attract 0 riders from the other stations (to first order, nobody wants to visit a parking lot by a freeway), and will only provide new riders to the new station wanting to visit the 10 existing stations. On the other hand, adding a new station in an area with interesting development not only attracts new riders wanting to visit those 10 existing stations, but also attracts new riders from those 10 existing stations to the new one. That’s geometric growth.

      From a political point of view a Park and Ride is advantageous because that initial linear growth will almost certainly be huge (they obviously put the station in a logical spot for that), but in the long run it will lose out geometric growth that will occur by a station that supports nearby development. Sad really.

      1. Yes, but. Remember that if there really IS a need for vertical development it can be placed above the parking lot.

      2. True, or the parking lot can even be removed. But the real problem is the freeway. If you do rip out the parking lot, the freeway kills 50% of your walk-shed, and a helluva lot of your desirability. So even with all the political will you can imagine (short of ripping out the freeway) these freeway P&R stations will never see the growth that other, more intelligently placed stations will achieve.

      3. The argument over putting stations in the freeway envelope has, sadly, already been lost. Still, there’s no need to compound it by building a parking lot south of 185th.

      4. Most of them are existing P&Rs, at least 130th, 145th, Mountlake Terrace, and Lynnwood. I’m not sure if there’s a P&R at 185th or 220th. So it’s mostly a matter of possibly making P&Rs “more dense” (to use Bailo’s wording) rather than creating new ones from scratch.

      5. Sometimes, people meet at park and ride’s to carpool to places outside the reach of transit, for example, for hiking, skiing, snoeshowing, etc. If the convenient place to meet is served by good transit, it makes it much easier for people who don’t own cars to participate. And such activities usually take place on weekends, so they don’t really impact parking capacity for transit commuters. Take a look at how many cars are parked at Green Lake, Eastgate, or Issaquah Transit Centers on weekends. I’d be willing to bet that, on most weekends, at least half of the people parked there are carpooling into the mountains, rather than busing into downtown. Especially Green Lake P&R, at which no bus serving there that runs on weekends is fast enough to be worth driving to.

      6. P&R’s are also weak ridership generators. A popular rail transit station can generate 10,000 boardings per day (as Lynnwood TC is projected to provide). It is economically and geometrically unlikely that 10,000 parking spots will be built at any station. ST is more likely to build 500 spaces. How will the other 9,500 riders access the station? P&R is a drop in the bucket compared to the capabilities of bike/walk/bus access.

    2. “Why the heck does every station have a P in it?”

      Maybe the “P” stands for “pretty” and is a guide to the station artist.

    3. Well the Legend says that a black “P” stands for “Potential added parking”. All things considered it isn’t surprising that at each station adding parking is at least a possibility.

  2. I guess I’m the only one concerned about having 3x the current bus traffic going down I-5 divert into one of only 6 bus bays in the C3A Lynnwood TC, using the same roadway as the ~2,000 cars are using to access the new ‘Mother of All Parking Garages’ in this area.
    OH well. Bring it!

    1. Lynnwood Transit Center is served by an HOV entrance and exit ramp from I-5 in both directions. The HOV path is pretty direct, with zero stoplights between the freeway and the bus bays. As long as the bulk of the cars parked at the “Mother of All Parking Garages” are single-occupancy, the buses should be pretty well insulated from local traffic congestion caused by people driving in and out of the parking garage.

      1. ” As long as the bulk of the cars parked at the “Mother of All Parking Garages” are single-occupancy, the buses should be pretty well insulated from local traffic congestion caused by people driving in and out of the parking garage.”

        Huh? If the vehicles going in and out of the garage are HOVs, there are more people per vehicle, so there should be fewer cars going in and out. It seems to me there would be less congestion.

    2. The downtown station needs to ditch the P&R entirely – make up the lost P&R capacity at another location.

      1. The Lynwood station will be the terminal station for a while. That’s the place where you do want a P&R. Maybe after the line is extended, the size of the P&R can be reduced.

  3. Thanks for the update. It looks a station at 130th, while not a done deal, seems highly likely.

    Every station proposal has two versions; one that is “at grade/elevated” and one that is “mostly elevated”. It is my understanding that either way, the line will be grade separated. So, pardon my ignorance, but what is the difference? What are the advantages and disadvantages of one type over another?

    1. At-grade in this case means in the freeway ROW, so no intersections. It would likely be in a retained cut, so below the level of the adjacent street (5th NE). So it’s the same speed as elevated but cheaper and no views. There isn’t much to see in the Seattle/Shoreline segment anyway, just the freeway’s concrete and some trees. So I don’t see any downsides to at-grade. Elevated would be on a raised track like in Tukwila.

      1. So, largely cosmetic (from a riders standpoint as well as the neighborhood’s). It sounds like it will be a mix anyway, so the difference will be fairly minor (you will get some views either way). As far as views go, I like whatever I can get. But I don’t think it is worth the extra cost. I would much rather spend the money on other things (like better ramps, pedestrian bridges, etc.). From my cursory reading, it looks like “reconfiguring interchanges” is the trade-off. Sounds like a pretty good trade, even for a guy like me (who loves his public transit views). I agree with you, in terms of the choice. The “at grade/elevated” options sound better than the “mostly elevated” options.

        Correct me if I’m wrong with any of this.

      2. I think people are saying “Elevated” without thinking through the benefit/cost of it. On I-5 between downtown and 45th there’s a spectacular view of Lake Union, the UW, the mountains, etc. But between 105th and 205th it’s essentially in a valley so you can’t see anything beyond the freeway structure and the roads and trees around it. So people say “elevated” with a mistaken idea of how much view they’d get, and they’re also afraid of grade crossings which I’ve said is not an issue here.

      3. RossB,

        “At grade” (meaning, “within the freeway envelope” is MUCH better in the winter because there’s much less wind in the stations.

  4. Why plan so much parking? At least two reasons. Parking can increase ridership when the local land use market is not mature enough to draw many people on foot or bike. Ridership is important in the competition for federal funds. (I’m not sure if ST is pursuing them for Lynnwood Link.) Also, parking enables the transit agency to acquire land, which can later be redeveloped when the market ripens for TOD. Although this is much more likely with surface parking rather than decked parking.

    1. I asked ST about parking at one of the meetings this year, and they said at this point it’s not so much about maximizing the number of riders as minimizing the hide-and-ride impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

      1. That is not a reason to build a giant parking garage – if hide and ride is a problem, there is nothing to stop Lynnwood from banning nearby street parking, or restricting it to permit holders. Its an excuse to cater to political pressure and nothing but.

      2. It does seem a bit of a steep capital investment to make to deal with the inability to enforce rules. One day of well-publicized ticketing followed by another of well-publicized towing would have the same impact at a much smaller cost in dollars, and a lot less concrete laid.

      3. That’s assuming Shoreline is willing to be so heavy-handed, and that its residents would tolerate it. Remember that residential parking zones are a foreign concept to them. Those are “things that happen in the U District”. If ST were in charge of land use and zoning, it could just do it, but in this case it would have to ask Shoreline to do it. And it doesn’t seem that ST has much leverage to do it, especially with parking being an assumed part of ST2.

  5. I do not understand why so many people are parking garage haters. If you look at the capital costs the parking garages are some of the cheapest contracts let for any of the light rail expansions less minor utility relocates etc. If the Park and Rides or Transit Centers (whatever you prefer to call them) are located in areas convienient to but not next to the freeway that seems to be the best option in my opinion. Take Issaquah for example, both of the BIG parking areas are blocks from I-90. If the ST3/4 light rail runs to these P&Rs there is a ton of TOD potential surrounding them and the garages provide visitors form North Bend, Maple Valley or other areas with limited or no transit options a place to ditch their cars and enjoy the system we’re building. I know there are a lot of Gen Y’ers out there that think cars are evil, that’s fine but just wait until they’ve got kids and a 800 sf condo doesn’t cut it anymore. For this system to be successful it needs to be convenient to a majority of those paying (and voting) for it, in present day reality those people are not packed into TODs surrounding future stations, but “If you build it, they will come.”

    1. The reason people (at least those without an ideological problem with cars) don’t like parking garages is because they serve far fewer riders per dollar than stations built in places with easier pedestrian, bike, and bus access. Yes, they are often the only way to get residents of far suburbs and exurbs into the system, and so they make sense at the system’s extremities. But that doesn’t justify building them at places like Northgate or NE 130th St, where people from far out would be bypassing farther-out stations, and where more people near the stations would gain access if we spent the parking garage money on connecting bus service and ped/bike infrastructure (like the I-5 bridge) instead.

      1. That’s an argument that makes sense. I totally agree on the I-5 bridge for example but that’s all driven by internal politics, the amount of interagency squabbling and extortion is incredible!!! If these agencies WashDot, various cities, ST, and KCMetro to name a few would keep their hands out of each others pockets the number of delayed and/or stupid expensive design decisions would be dramatically reduced. It makes me sick to see it first hand. I would dare say the Northgate garage would be a non-issue if that were the case. On the other hand it will be a terminus for a substantial period of time until Lynnwood Link is turned up. Same with Tukwila Int’l Blvd. Station #dumbstationname, yes the airport is technically farther but for the present commuters that’s the end of the road for now. Seems to me it’s worth the added expense for the political good will of those who drive to vote for future transit funding.

    2. ST/Metro ran the numbers on Northgate TC parking and found the vast majority came from east and west, and not from Shoreline or Edmonds or Lake City like might be assumed. They then asked the users whether they wanted a larger P&R or more feeder buses/bike paths/ped paths, and the overwhelming majority said the latter. We can’t expect the same further out, especially at P&Rs like Kent Station that were designed as wide-area collectors, but the usage patterns in north King County and south Snohomish County may be somewhere in between, and may get better over time.

    3. Even if Sound Transit doesn’t build parking, the free market can and will provide paid parking to the extent that it’s needed. In many cases, the per-car subsidy of offering free parking is equivalent to offering all driver-passengers free fares. If you’re going to spend the same amount of taxpayer money to provide free parking as free fares, ridership should in theory be higher with the free fare approach since not all riders would actually have to pay for the parking (some will walk, get dropped off, ride a feeder bus, etc.).

      This, of course, is under the naive assumption that people act rationally. The counter-argument is that there are lots of people out there who believe free parking is an entitlement, but paying a fare to ride the train is acceptable. In other words, parking for free and paying $3 to ride the train feels normal, but paying $3 to park and riding the train for free feels like being ripped off.

      There is one precedent to a paid-parking-free-admission approach. The National Zoo is Washington D.C. charges a hefty fee to park in their lots but once you get there, admission is free. (And, of course, those who don’t want to pay for parking can easily ride MetroRail and get there that way).

      1. Even if Sound Transit doesn’t build parking, the free market can and will provide paid parking to the extent that it’s needed.

        No they won’t. You have no evidence that the private sector will build parking to the extent that there is demand in places like train stations.

        There are several reasons why someone might operate a parking lot, like as a convenience for tenants and customers, or as a way to get revenue out of some land that doesn’t currently have a higher use. And of course, there are zoning rules for minimum parking. Providing parking for the transit-riding public will be low on the list.

  6. I suspect in the long run once link is up and running that it would be quicker for a person living in Snohomish County to reach downtown or other north and central Seattle neighborhoods than it would be for a person living in West Seattle, particularly if WS continues to be the non link black sheep of king county. Most of Seattle will get link, but West Seattle will get “linkages”.

  7. Such a waste of money. We should focus on improving and expanding the interstate, or even building an elevated toll road running parallel to i5. There should be no public buses north of shoreline. Lets get a toll road with ten lanes on each direction, and ditch the train. Freedom to go when and where you want.

  8. Any idea on what travel times will be from Lynnwood TC to Downtown after these stations are added?

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