As the Puget Sound region continues to grow, excellent transit connections between Eastside communities will be crucial. The quality of transit options available to those communities will shape the safety, convenience and environmental quality possible for their residents and workers. Our vision for rail service to Issaquah would create new connections from Issaquah through Bellevue to Kirkland, would improve trips bound for Downtown Seattle, and would dramatically improve access between the I-90 corridor and North Seattle.
As discussed in earlier posts, the crucial connection missing from Sound Transit’s study is one across the Mercer Slough along I-90 to East Link. Such a connection is crucial for the viability of rail service to the I-90 corridor, as it is the only way to provide direct trips from Issaquah to Downtown Bellevue and Downtown Seattle. Option “C4” provides a direct rail connection through Downtown Bellevue to Kirkland, as well as preserves the ability to run trains directly from Issaquah into Downtown Seattle in the future when an additional operating line is warranted. This will be critical for providing a time-competitive rail option for I-90 commuters.
Sound Transit’s studies for the corridor are also conspicuously short on stations. Over 16.6 miles, The rail options in Sound Transit’s study for Kirkland-Bellevue-Issaquah rail include just 6 stops. For perspective, Central Link is 15.6 miles long and stops 13 times. While there are fewer population centers on the Eastside than Seattle, those that do exist are largely left out of Sound Transit’s alternatives, leaving only a handful of destinations along the corridor within walking distance of a station. Neglected destinations include Factoria, Bellevue College, Lakemont Boulevard, and Historic Issaquah. One advantage to fewer stops is slightly faster travel times along the length of the corridor, but pitting ridership against coverage is a losing proposition: a viable system needs both and should be designed accordingly.
The success of any regional ballot measure will require a strong Eastside turnout, as was the case in 2001 and 2008. This means Sound Transit will need to offer Eastside communities tangible benefits that substantially improve mobility options to, from and around the Eastside. To do this, it is critical that Sound Transit consider an option that provides high quality connections across the lake as well as between Eastside population centers, serves all important destinations, and keeps travel times low.
What to say to ST in your comments:
1. I want rail to Issaquah! Study “C4” to Issaquah with a connection to East Link at I-90.
2. Direct and fast connections to Downtown Bellevue and Downtown Seattle are crucial for this corridor as destinations along I-90 continue to grow in regional significance.
3. More stations please! LRP studies should include stations at Factoria, Bellevue College, Eastgate, Lakemont Boulevard and Historic Issaquah.
This post was written with contributions from Peyton Stever and the Seattle Subway Communications Team.