A month and a half ago, the city of Kenmore held a meeting in its city hall to rally its citizens to a cause: building support for more transit along the highway 522 corridor. The city council was concerned that the communities along highway 522 were going to be left behind in the 2016 Sound Transit ballot measure. The meeting was held to find like-minded citizens who were willing to volunteer to make a push for better transit along the corridor.
Why the interest in transit? Well, traffic volume has gotten measurably worse on highway 522 over the years, especially due to tolling the 520 bridge: 522 has seen a 9% increase in traffic as a result of people changing their driving habits because of the toll. Bus service has traditionally worked well, but overcrowding during peak hours is becoming a big problem, and off-peak headways are infrequent (if you miss the 9:30 PM bus from downtown, you could be waiting an hour for the next one). Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and Lake City have all been adding additional housing along the corridor, which means even more transit riders. Improving our transit service is the clear answer.
Thus, 522 Transit Now was born. The organization is a coalition of city staff and volunteers (myself among the volunteers), working together to make sure we can get transit improvements along the corridor in ST3 as well as future ballot measures. The primary goal is to get bus rapid transit service along 522 from Bothell to the Seattle city limit, which will then follow 145th Street to connect with the future light rail station at 145th and Interstate 5. Looking ahead to the future, we want the corridor to be studied for light rail. 522 is an attractive corridor for light rail, since there is a lot of development potential, and it’s impossible for the light rail to simply run in the shadow of a giant freeway. Additionally, it would presumably connect to Lake City, one of Seattle’s urban villages not yet a part of the light rail network, so Seattle would also benefit from this.
Our first effort was to get citizens to respond to the now-completed ST3 survey, which many did: Kenmore was the top non-Seattle zip code to respond to the survey, and Sound Transit listed 522 BRT as a project they’re looking at in their meeting on July 23. Of course, the city of Kenmore doesn’t plan on going it alone on this, and city staff have been communicating with staff and council members in Shoreline, Bothell and Lake Forest Park, as well as local business owners.
Ongoing efforts include a petition, and we invite all residents of the Northshore area – or really anybody else who’s interested – to sign it. We hope to deliver the petition to the Sound Transit board by their August 27 meeting.
Members of the coalition also plan to appear at meetings. About a dozen volunteers were at Thursday’s meeting in yellow shirts, and we’ll be attending meetings on August 13 and 27.
— Michael C. Lindblom (@MikeLindblom) July 23, 2015
We’re always looking for more volunteers. If you’re interested, you can sign up at the website.