Talk to anyone who has spent any time around Mount Baker station about the situation down here and one word crops up a lot, awful. The place is a car sewer. A few years back DPD proposed an improvement that went no where (the bowtie), but now SDOT is taking a look at the problem. Preliminary work on the Accessible Mt. Baker project started late last year, but tomorrow will be the first public meeting where concrete proposals will be put out. Both immediate and long term proposals will be presented. I’ve heard that the long term proposal would be quite transformative for the area. While project manager Michael James couldn’t give many any specific details, his response is extremely encouraging:

It eliminates the MLK/Rainier bottleneck…

  • Eliminating the bottleneck allows:
    • More time and space assigned to people
    • More room for livability features such as wider sidewalks and landscaping
    • Predictable traffic movement
    • Simplified traffic signal operations
  • Distributes traffic to the broader street network

Combined with the work SDOT is doing to Rainier south of Mount Baker station, this is very exciting times for the Rainier Valley. We could be looking at the biggest non-Link infrastructure upgrade in decades, on the street that most would agree is the heart of the Valley.

More details about Thursday’s Open House.

18 Replies to “Fixing the Mount Baker Mess”

  1. Will they bring the Transit Center nearer to the Light Rail station please please please? Such that one doesn’t need to walk a block and a half and cross a busy road with a suitcase in order to get to the airport. Maybe even move it into the giant space under the station that seems like it was designed for this purpose in the first place? Pretty please?

    1. The space under the Link station feels like there should be busses coming there, and it would be protected by the elements above, and an integrated transit solution to boot.

    1. Thanks, did survey. For me the Mt Baker area is a transfer point between bus and train. They need a sky bridge over Rainier, connecting the light rail station to the bus depot across the street. You have to cross it to transfer between modes of transit. The light is very long and it is very frustrating to watch your bus arrive and depart while you are across the street waiting for the light to change.

    2. For those of us who live in the neighborhood, one of the easiest fixes would be to ALWAYS (or at the very least during work/school hours) have a pedestrian walk cycle crossing MLK at McClellan. If you do not press the button, there is no pedestrian walk cycle, so people either have to wait through three light cycles or run and hope they don’t get hit by a car.

      This would add immensely to the safety of that intersection that is a major link between the neighborhood and the station it’s named after. The best part is that the only cost is to have someone reprogram the lights!

  2. Thank you for the post! It sounds like the new plan would eliminate the disconnected bus station, and convert the fenced off “plaza” between ArtSpace and the Light Link to facilitate better bus access and community gathering. The families and businesses in and near that ArtSpace structure cannot afford to wait another 10 years for this incomplete TOD project to get finished.

    Friends of Mt. Baker Town Center

  3. Wow just imagine if we thought about this during the multi-billion dollar, years long process of building central link??

      1. Glad to see SDOT and Parks working together on ideas for creating the theoretical Town Center around this blighted station. With the City’s new focus on the issue, perhaps it won’t take another ten years to actually fund and implement the plan. A visually impaired business owner was denied a seeing eye dog because the evaluators said the area was too dangerous for the dog.

        Friends of Mt Baker Town Center

  4. Maybe it’s time for the City to reconsider its abandoned plan for a roundabout at the intersection of MLK and Rainier.

  5. It isn’t an easy fix since the local path options that don’t travel through this area are circuitous.

    That said, I hope they look at swapping the transit center with Rainier Ave north of MLK so that the riders are next to the station and Rainier/MLK is split into two intersections (Rainier Ave traffic going through where the traffic is).

  6. There are sometimes opportunities where taking a property or two can create lower cost solutions to solve lots of problems. Maybe this is one.

  7. I attended this meeting and left very disheartened. Even though the Mayor is putting the largest transportation package in the City’s history on the ballot on November, there will be NO funding for this project included. Apparently 15 years of planning and they won’t have time to put together a budget in time to include in this funding packet. They have some funding to do Phase 1 which SDOT considers general maintenance. But most of what is being touted as the solution is Phase 2. And there is no funding or timeline. I am not a fan of the bowtie/bolo. Wasn’t a fan in 2011 when they first trotted it out and I’m still not. However, 15 years of planning and no budget and no funding. Thanks for wasting a perfectly lovely sunny evening.

  8. Don’t be disheartened RVResident. As somebody who lives in Beacon Hill and would love to see a few things happen up here too, I know what your frustration feels like.

    But it’s important to be patient.The last 20 years have all been leading up to this moment.

    Now the SLU is getting closer to being finished, the developer focus is going to start shifting south. A crazy amount of stuff is going to happen south of Yesler over the next decade, provided the economy stays strong.

    Unfortunately, south of Jackson, Mt Baker station isn’t first in line for attention. Columbia City is, because its development is further along. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we’re getting all this focus on Rainier Ave S in CC now that over 1000 units of housing will be going up in there in the next couple of years, the PCC is opening, and Link is opening in Capitol Hill next March.

    As a citizen, once you accept that your needs will only be met when they align with the needs of developers, it’s much easier to predict what path stuff will take.

    Like northeast Beacon Hill, Mt Baker’s development is more tied up with the completion East Link and the planned development on the Lowe’s site. Consequently, I’d expect more concrete attention and funding on MT Baker’s issues starting after 2018 or 2019. But make no mistake, they’ll get to it.

    It’s only really dawned on me in the last couple of weeks just how thoroughly transformed Rainier is going to be by the time all of this stuff is done. Ten years from now, wow, like it or hate it, the look and feel of Rainer between Jackson and Orcas is going to be a hell of a lot different than it is right now (unless the economy implodes).

  9. Fortunately, the priority to bridge infrastructure gaps at Mt Baker Town Center is on the radar. Of all the station areas, this one has been repeatedly identified as incomplete and infrastructure deficient. There is a reason that other station areas are seeing positive transit oriented development, even in the Rainier Valley corridor and Beacon Hill. With Accessible Mount Baker finally gaining traction on a plan, we remain optimistic that the leadership will coalesce and create a basic level of safety and livability for the residents and businesses in Mt Baker Lofts, and the immediate areas that were supposed to be growing at the same pace as the other transit areas. Finally, we are starting to see some light at the east end of the Beacon Hill transit tunnel!!

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