by CHARLES COOPER

Rainier Station Platform Rendering
Rainier Station Platform Rendering

On Thursday night Sound Transit hosted the last 60% design open house (30% report here) for East Link at the Northwest African American Museum. The event was well attended with an estimated 50 people seated for the presentation. The presentation included comments by the project managers Tia Raamot & Cynthia Padilla, project consultant architect David Hewitt, STart program manager Barbara Luecke (with an assist from Tia Raamot) and a short Q & A session. Of note:

  • Construction on the I-90 express lane reconfiguration starts in 2015
  • Construction for EastLink starts in 2017 and continues until 2022

David Hewitt (Hewitt Architects) gave an overview of the design enhancements including acoustical and aesthetic treatments to sound walls (see above). More after the jump.

The west entrance of the station on Rainier features a bright entrance that is enhanced by the removal of one of the current existing busway ramps thereby daylighting the street below where the station head will be built. The artist rendering shows bright materials on the facade that brightens an otherwise dark and dreary place.

Rainier Station Elevator From Street
Rainier Station Elevator From Street

At a previous design meeting there was considerable interest in a mid-block pedestrian crossing. As of this 60% design review, it appears that the cross walk will remain at the intersection. But there is discussion that SDOT and Metro would relocate the southbound bus stop so that it is next to the crosswalk. The other salient feature is that they are preserving the overhead ramp from the west side of Rainier allowing passengers to reach the west entrance via that ramp.

Rainier Station Diagram
Rainier Station Diagram

The architects have also envisioned a covered walkway from the west head-end that will cover a portion of the walk from the head-end to the platform. Access to the platform requires crossing the pocket track.

Rainier Station Track Crossing
Rainier Station Track Crossing

These public meetings often generate interesting public input and questions. Two young men from Bellevue College asked about the crossing pictured above. Another question from an audience member inquired about commerce opportunities for the purpose of enhancing safety e.g. if there was a coffee shop or opportunity for food carts or even a food truck, it would possibly lead to greater eyes on the street. Lastly, Sound Transit wants the public’s input on the Station name. The current leading contenders are Jimi Hendrix Park Station and Judkins Park Station with Colman also mentioned. The meeting concluded with remarks from East Link Executive Director Ron Lewis as well as the showing of the 4 minute animation of the EastLink path from this station to Bellevue. Sound Transit officials were on hand to answer additional questions one on one. You can submit comments about this station and the East Link project at their project page.

64 Replies to “Rainier Station 60% Design Open House”

  1. thanks … could we possibly have links to versions of the images that are actually legible? (the third one down is way too small)

    Thanx

  2. Re: commercial opportunities,+1 or whatever people under 100 say when they really agree with something Worst thing about present I-90-Rainier flyer stop is the miles-wide concrete wasteland between the entrance and the world. Only reason we don’t have more murders and robberies there is understandable absence of victims.

    It’s also imperative that these humanizing measures be designed into the station, rather than left to chance or added on later. Espresso machines, cafes, and restrooms- which earthlings really need to avoid constantly disinfecting other two- need plumbing and power.

    Good planning must also extend beyond station boundaries. Idea should be to knit the station into the surrounding community. Including, if necessary, building whatever community isn’t there now.

    Mark Dublin

    1. That’s not yellow tile (well, it kind of is) — it’s the ADA-mandated warning strip with tactile “bumps” like you’d see back from the platform edges and at other things like level curbless transitions between walking areas and drives. It’s not required to be yellow, just a visually distinctive color to the surrounding material, but yellow is quite easy to see.

  3. Who is going to use this stop? The walkshed for this is terrible and i dont see a lot of bus service here that wouldnt just use the link stop a mile south.

    1. Mount Baker station would be inconvenient if you’re headed east or coming from there. I see plenty of people using the freeway station when I ride the 554. Maybe they’re Bellevue College students, which I also see lots of on the 554.

    2. Today a lot of people use the bus stop here to get between Bellevue or Issaquah and SE Seattle. It draws from a wider area than a typical local bus stop — like the Montlake Flyer Stop, the NE 45th Freeway Station, and Convention Place to some degree, it’s the fastest way to catch a bus somewhere, so people will walk farther than usual, bike to the station, or transfer from other buses.

      It’s not the greatest station in history, and it’s sort of dumb that the North King sub-area is paying for tracks up to this point when they’re being built for a project only East King prioritizes. The new station will gain a bit of walkshed and more convenient transfers from some places with the 23rd St. entrance, so maybe a few new riders will come. But mostly they’ll be heading east from it, not west.

      1. “…a project only East King prioitizes”? That’s an out-moded statement. This is a regional project that will connect multiple regional centers (UW, downtown Seattle, Bellevue, Overlake). At last check, the peak hour loads on this part of I-90 are pretty evenly balanced in both directions.

        Everyone who crosses the lake on rail will benefit, regardless of where they live and work. So can we please stop staring into our navels on cost allocation issues?

        As to the question of who will use this station, the whole Mt. Baker neighborhood will use it.

      2. We’ll stop staring into our navels about cost allocation issues when Sound Transit stops allocating costs like they do. Until then, we can be happy it’ll work in our favor in ST3.

    3. Big picture: This station is pretty much useless, and will serve mostly to slow down journeys rather than as a useful part of the transit network. That said, if this were the worst example of this sort of misallocation of resources on the line, I’d be ecstatic.

      btw. contrary to aw’s assertion that the existing station is well used, I hardly ever saw more than one or two people get on or off in two years of commuting. In all fairness, buses ought to be _very_ frequent in the peak, and 2 times a lot is a lot. Moreover, particularly in the evening peak, there are a lot of pass ups at the stop [enough that I think that anyone with a choice would avoid using it].

      1. When I ride, it’s typically off-peak. Because there aren’t many buses using the stop at those times, it may be that the 554 is the only option to get there, and it gets higher on/offs.

      2. William, some of those “pass-ups” are people waiting for a different route. I was once once of those people letting a bus go by because it wasn’t the 550. The stop is definitely used, and perhaps more used than some of the Rainier Valley stations. Sorry, I don’t have data to make the comparison. (The inability of buses to use this station is one more reason I hope I-90 express bus truncations happen.)

        The current flyer stops are scary, with a long walk to get away from the freeway. The new station looks a lot more inviting, and will hopefully not involve long switchbacks to get to street level. Being able to take an escalator up to 25th Ave S will add significantly to the station’s usage. Bikers will especially love it for being able to directly access the cross-lake bike path.

        The station has to be built in order to avoid losing a lot of transit connectivity with the surrounding neighborhood, including the Lighthouse for the Blind.

      3. @Brent. A lot of the time, peak hour buses that are supposed to stop there don’t even go through the station: the driver has decided that they are too full for more passengers, and no one has rung the bell. Usually, but by no means always, the driver at least makes an announcement that he’s going to skip the stop unless someone rings the bell. That’s the situation I’m talking about. I’ve been on the platform headed East a couple of times. Once, I saw 5 straight buses do this. The other wasn’t quite so bad, but was bad enough to convince me that trying to get to the Eastside from there in the afternoon peak was a bad idea.

      4. People using that stop to head east are probably not doing it in the afternoon peak – the area near it is predominantly residential. if anything, people boarding an eastbound bus or train there will most likely be doing it during the morning peak, when I’m sure passups wouldn’t be nearly as common.

        It’s also important to remember that for anybody trying to go between Bellevue and the Mt. Baker neighborhood, a station at I-90/Ranier saves a lot of time over going all the way downtown and backtracking. Enough that even a full mile’s walk to the train will still be worth it.

    4. This station is probably most useful for CD and Rainier Valley people headed to the Eastside, who would access it using the 48 or 7.

      There is also decent development potential (for a freeway stop) if the city chooses to use it.

      1. It could also be useful to Madison Valley residents–right now it’s a 9 minute ride plus the walk from Pine and Broadway to the Capitol Hill station on the 11, and a 12 minute ride on the 8 to MLK and the Greenway (8am on weekdays for both), plus the walk through the park to the 23rd Avenue entrance to the Judkins Park station. It would be faster in almost all circumstances for anyone from Mad Valley to get to the Eastside to bypass all of the downtown stations on Link and catch the train at Judkins Park. It would be a complete no-brainer if Metro changed the 8’s weird deviation to 23rd between Jackson and Yesler to stay on 23rd as far south as Massachusetts. That would enable a direct transfer to the train for anybody on the 8. I’m not sure what the ridership on MLK is between Jackson and Massachusetts, but it probably isn’t extremely high. The 4 Downtown parallels most of that stretch within a block anyway.

        It may not be worth doing since the 48 will already serve the CD–I’d still walk through the park from MLK–but a direct transfer would be sweet.

    5. The walkshed of the current bus stop is mostly the walkway down to buses.

      But take a look at the network of neighborhood greenways in development for this area, and the dramatic increases in bicycle traffic on other Seattle greenways in the past two years.

      Rainier itself is a traffic sewer and will remain one for the forseeable future, but reasonable bicycle access and adequate bicycle parking would support a huge bikeshed from the surrounding community. Draw just a one-mile radius around the station, that’s five minutes on an upright cruiser bike, and look at the many current and future bicycle connections that will converge on this station.

      The existing bus stop is about as bicycle-hostile as any in Seattle, no commuter could leave a bike locked up with any confidence they’d come back to find it still there, let alone dry. That’s a huge damper on bicycle use — basically, only people who can take their bikes on the limited bus rack capacity and have a place to store the bike at work.

      If it’s done right, this station could easily fill more than a hundred bike parking spaces.

      1. Though the existing design shows bike parking for 20, with a possible expansion to 30, so they may not be intending to serve the larger neighborhood, just people getting off buses on Rainier or 23rd?

      2. ….perhaps from the east and from the 23rd entrance.
        There are no planned accommodations from the west.
        Mt to Sound trail users from the west will have to trundle up a sizable hill to get a safe entrance.
        It sounded as though WS-DOT was unwilling to allow the trail to connect underneath I90 on the wast side of Rainier.

      3. The platforms (unlike those of the current bus stop) are much closer to 23rd than Rainier, and closer to its street level — people biking from the west on the I-90 trail would probably find it faster to enter via 23rd than to descend to Rainier’s street level, climb to platform level, and walk east to the platform.

      4. On the I-90 Trail, getting to the east entrance is pretty trivial, definitely faster than walking a bike through the station, though it would still make more sense to have bike accommodation at both ends.

    6. There are the current #7, 7X, 9X, 48, & 4 Metro routes that would serve either head-end on Rainier or 23rd. It remains to be seen whether any express buses to the Eastside would continue to serve this area.

      It is true that the walkshed isn’t real great. But I see lots of potential.

      Not every station needs to have a gazillion riders getting on or off to be an important link in the system. This station serves the whole SE quadrant of Seattle in terms of connecting to the east side.

      1. I’ve used the I-90 station 4x so far this week and it’s a real grim place to wait for a bus. If the general traffic is moving quickly, it’s incredibly loud; if traffic is jammed, it stinks from exhaust fumes. The switchbacks and steps from Rainier Avenue are also unpleasant–if there ever was a place to install a slide, this is the place to do it.

        If done right, this new station could be very useful as a transfer hub. The distance from 23rd Avenue to Rainier Avenue looks like it’s about .2 miles (that’s point two miles, so it’s conceivable that transfers could be made on both Rainier and 23rd to destinations like First Hill, the CD, Broadway and the Deep South from the Eastside if the station is built to make transferring easy, safe and reliable (unlike MBTC or RBS). I hope Metro and ST have developed a large, thick “Lessons Learned” file from the design errors committed at MBTC and RBS.

  4. “The current leading contenders are Jimmy Hendrix Park Station …” I know where Jimi Hendrix Park is, where is Jimmy Hendrix Park?

    1. Hey, Sam! Where you goin’ wit’ dat gun in yo hand? Blues world wants to know so we can get your statue right when we name the station after you. Pigeons need bathrooms too. But general observation about depopulation of surrounding area is right on and needs to be fixed, station or not.

      All over the country, ever since WW II, the misapplication of the National Defense Highway Act has wiped out more urban neighborhoods than the whole Axis air force ever could have done. Would bet that seventy years ago, aerial photo would have shown homes and businesses from Jackson south.

      And tracks and catenary, right? So it’s only right that a major transit project should help rebuild a few of the results of worst friendly fire disaster in US history.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Sidewalk and shelter improvements beneath achieve results when they ameliorate the sight of shrieking traffic and clamorous noise. The LINK platform too should include significant shelter rather than bare seating behind minimal glass enclosure. Shelter improvements are one of those extra costs that do pay off. They don’t have to be extravagent nor pretend glamorous. Odds are, it’ll be another DOT ‘nowhere’ to go to when going somewhere else.

        [ot]

  5. I like how the image shows the street level to be very bright and welcoming. In truth, the gaps between the overhead roadways are much closer together. I’ve always found the area underneath the freeway to feel very isolated, dark and foreboding. I hope they add lots of lights and security.

  6. Does anyone here think the idea that people who live in the Rainier Valley are too dumb and would be too confused if there both a station called Rainier Beach Station and a station called Rainier Station, which are on two separate rail lines, btw, is a subtle form of racism? And is naming the station after an obscure park named after an african american is a form pandering?

    1. No. There’s another station on Ranier Avenue (Mt. Baker Station), and more stations near it, so this one place shouldn’t be called “Ranier Station.” It might not be confusing to locals, but it would be to tourists.

      And I don’t really care for the park name either, but I don’t know any better ideas. Do you?

      1. 25th Ave S Station.

        Really, the main buses should head up 25th Ave S for the quicker, safer connection.

      2. I personally don’t buy that Rainier Station is too confusing. Or I-90/Rainier Station. Or North Rainier Station. I think they want to name it after a more obscure, neighborhood thing for non-logical or non-functional reasons. To appear to be culturally sensitive? IDK. But it’s not about it being too confusing. Because just look at the alternatives. How on earth would I-90/Rainier AVE Station be less confusing to the masses than Jimi Hendrix Park Station??

      3. You’re right; if you include the cross-street (I-90), it’s much less confusing. My only objection then would be awkwardness… it just doesn’t flow off the tongue as well as “Judkins Park.” Even so, I’m not going to object to “I-90 / Rainier Station”, given the already-existing precedent of “International District / Chinatown Station.”

      4. @Brent: 25th Ave S? Doesn’t that end on either side of IH-90? 23rd Ave S is the one that crosses over 90 and goes from Rainier up through the middle of the CD to Montlake.

      5. Totally with the ‘confusing to tourists, part. Cf University Street Station/university Way/Ave mixup.

    2. I’ve seen people getting off at University Street only to later learn that UW is still quite a ways away.

      Don’t underestimate how little people research before they get off the plane.

  7. From the post:

    “The west entrance of the station on Rainier features a bright entrance that is enhanced by the removal of one of the current existing busway ramps thereby daylighting the street below where the station head will be built.”

  8. I’m really not a fan of encasing track in concrete unless it is absolutely necessary (ie, shared traffic with bus routes). It makes maintenance a bit more of a hassle, and in general produces a lot more noise that well designed ballasted / landscaped track because the concrete acts as both a vibration amplifier and reflection shield, while ballasted track will refract the noise in a bunch of different directions, leading to self-cancellation.

    Yet, here everything is encased in concrete.

      1. Several years ago, a rail weld on MAX developed a crack, and was detected by the usual methods. Replacing the section would have been fairly quick using standard main line railroad methods and tools. However, as it was in a section that was encased in concrete along NE Holladay, it was a much more involved process and required a bus bridge for several days.

        The section shown will have switch machines for the siding and various other complications that will make it easier to maintain if it is left in the open as much as possible.

    1. They might use direct fixation like they’re planning to on the bridge, but for the 60% design, embedded rails are easier to draw.

  9. Atlantic Station! If not, Judkins Park, the station should be called “Atlantic.” That is in fact the former name of the neighborhood bounded by Rainier Avenue, MLK and Yesler as it existed prior to being divided by I-90. It would only seem fitting to bring that name back to the fore as Link contributes to physical re-connections in this vibrant neighborhood.

    1. If Westlake had been named differently, we could have two stations named for oceans. “From Pacific to Atlantic, take Link light rail anywhere!” would’ve made a decent slogan.

  10. In their presentation materials, it sure is bright and sunny. I wish they’d be required to do illustrations of rainy November weather, as a practical matter. Take a look at “WEST ENTRY WALKWAY LOOKING WEST” — where there’s an overhang, it covers less than half the walkway, the rest is out in the rain. Why?

    1. Cynical comment: Having passengers as wet as possible increases the need for more cleaning of the cars at the end of the day That creates more cleaning jobs!

  11. Does ST hate its riders so much that it absolutely refused to ever have a down escalator even when there are 45-50 steps?

    1. I completely agree. It looks like the gap between the bridges at the west end is too narrow for two escalators and a stairway. BUT, there’s clearly enough at the 23rd Avenue east end. The view from the platform shows an escalator on the viewer’s right, a staircase in the middle and “something” on the viewer’s left.

      All three structures are the same width, so basically ST is saving a couple of million dollars on a $60 million or whatever extravaganza just to make people climb down the stairs. It makes no sense.

      1. I suppose that may be true, but if it were popular department stores wouldn’t have “down” escalators.

        It’s just a little bit of chintz in an ocean of excess.

      2. It’s one thing when they cut the down escalators out of the design for cost considerations. It’s another when they leave it out of the design entirely. That’s nothing but mobility arrogance. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen in stations that are over 50 in good physical shape have mobility issues walking down stairs because of arthritis.

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