Last August, Sound Transit selected a Project Priority List to proceed to the next level of study for the ST3 ballot measure. Since then, the agency has been working with other stakeholders to evaluate potential projects. The City of Kirkland, having successfully advocated for a Bus Rapid Transit option on the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC), has worked with consultants to develop a more comprehensive vision for that service. The first details of their work were shared at a City Council meeting last week. The City is also working with agencies on light rail and I-405 BRT options.
Kirkland is balancing several policy goals. The City is pro-transit, and understands that BRT on the Eastside Rail Corridor offers far better connections to Kirkland’s growing neighborhoods than the alternatives. But the corridor is also a well-loved place to walk and bike. With rails being removed to the north and south of Kirkland, the ERC is shortly anticipated to be a high demand bike corridor with the highest demand through urban neighborhoods in Kirkland and Bellevue. Walk and bike uses would benefit in obvious ways from integration with accessible transit. To these ends, Kirkland is eager to see a transit infrastructure that mostly hugs the eastern side of the corridor, maximizing the space available to trail users and preserving views to the west. Sound Transit originally anticipated transit would follow the legacy rail-bed down the center of the corridor, more closely encroaching on the trail which would be correspondingly pushed toward the edge of the corridor.
Kirkland bought a 5 3/4 mile section of the Eastside Rail Corridor in April 2012, known locally as the Cross-Kirkland Corridor (CKC). In 2014, the City removed tracks and built a crushed-gravel interim trail along the former rail-bed. The City’s master plan for the Corridor envisions the interim trail eventually being replaced by paved permanent trails alongside transit, with a primary trail mostly following the center of the corridor, and a lower-speed pedestrian-only trail on busier segments. Sound Transit retains an easement on the Corridor for high-capacity transit, as do some other utilities. However, it is unclear whether Sound Transit (as easement holder) or the City (as corridor owner) governs the placement of transit within the corridor. In September, Kirkland contracted with consultants on pre-design of compatible transit infrastructure, seeking to demonstrate to both Sound Transit and other stakeholders that a balanced design is possible.
What they came up with was an engineering design that increased the space for trails at what appears to be reasonable capital cost. Preliminary concept design also looked at pinch points on the corridor in Kirkland and Bellevue. They developed engineering concept solutions through all of the tight areas that do not adversely impact the trail.
Kirkland is advocating a gold standard BRT (per ITDP standards) with eight stops between Totem Lake and Downtown Bellevue. The corridor would see several overlapping services. A BRT route would run from Kingsgate to Bellevue (green line), almost entirely along the ERC. Overlapping would be services from Woodinville and Bothell to Seattle (orange line). These could avoid delays at the I-405/SR 520 interchange, speeding travel to Seattle while increasing service frequency through Kirkland (and incidentally providing Kirkland with faster service to its northern neighbors). A Metro service similar to today’s 255 would serve Juanita to Seattle (blue line), using the corridor for a portion of its route. Together, these would yield combined frequencies on the corridor of every 2-3 minutes at peak. The corridor bus services would be integrated with I-405 BRT (grey line), connecting at Kingsgate and Downtown Bellevue. An Issaquah-Seattle service could potentially use the corridor in Bellevue to get to SR 520 and University of Washington (yellow line).
At the south end, the BRT route would connect to Link at Wilburton station and terminate at the Bellevue Transit Center, serving riders to the Bellevue downtown core and connecting with bus service to elsewhere in the region. This would require completion of the overpass at NE 6th (currently built out only on the west side).
While light rail to Kirkland seems less probable than BRT in ST3, the City continues to work with Sound Transit on advancing the best possible options to the next stage. The City’s preference is to advance four stations in Kirkland; lower cost options under consideration would have fewer. The City anticipates that rail would have much lower ridership than BRT, hampered by the relatively few stations, and the inability to serve riders to Seattle. Downtown could only be served via a shuttle to a 6th St station.
I-405 BRT is far from most Kirkland transit users, but the city seeks to mitigate the weak local connections by adding a second Kirkland stop at NE 85th (one freeway station at NE 128th St already exists). The I-405 corridor studies explored a station at NE 85th, but the extreme cost and rework to the highway made it unlikely. The City suggests a simpler inline station, with elevator or stair access to connecting buses below. This more affordable model relies on bus and pedestrian connections rather than a large park-and-ride.
Technical analysis continues with Metro and Sound Transit, modeling travel times and estimating costs for the candidate project templates. The promising preview of the design will help allay the concerns of trail users who fretted about an over-sized transit infrastructure dominating the corridor. It remains to be seen how Sound Transit will incorporate these ideas into their process. The City’s unusually public process has, unfortunately, awakened the attention of some neighbors who are opposed to any transit on the corridor. Kirkland’s conversation with its citizens continues at an Open House and Community Update on November 19 (6.30-9PM at the Kirkland Performance Center).
The full presentation deck is here and the video (34 minutes) is here.
87 Replies to “Kirkland’s BRT Design”
While it’s a great step in the right direction, I’m disappointed by it’s reach on a few fronts.
1. They should explicitly propose that 405 BRT **does not run on 405 between DT Bellevue and Totem Lake**. Assuming that busses on the ERC will run at ~60 mph, then the ONLY reason you’d run busses on 405 instead of ERC is to skip all of the stops in Kirkland. Given that Kirkland is going to be one of the primary ridership generators on the Eastside, this is a terrible idea just to save a couple minutes. Running BRT on 405 is an even worse idea than the Duwamish bypass : it saves even less time and will have even less ridership. Plus, you’d actually have to split eastside north-south service between these two corridors, meaning less frequency, and, unnecessary longer transfers for people from Kirkland going north.
Running BRT on 405 was acceptable when there was no fully dedicated ROW through the center of Kirkland, but with that proposal the recommendation should be to kill it. Also their “proposed mitigation” is actually a very bad idea — did anyone notice it would require left-door busses for both 405 and for service on 85th street? This would mean that normal express busses on 405 couldn’t serve the flyer stop, and you’d need special busses for a low-frequency corridor (85th street).
2. The light rail proposal is making a false dichotomy. There is no fundamental reason why light rail has to have fewer stations than BRT, and, no reason why light rail couldn’t deviate into downtown kirkland like BRT. For truly dedicated ROW BRT, the costs will be roughly comparable for the # of stations and the deviation (I’m assuming they’re not suggesting mixed-traffic running for the downtown deviation). Thus, again the cost is primarily in the wires and rails, which at the end of the day is not _that_ expensive.
They should do a true apples-to-apples comparison, not artificially hamper the ridership of the light rail option.
Huh. I thought they had proposed making this the middle section of otherwise-405 BRT. I guess I misread it.
I don’t think any of the streets connecting the ERC to Kirkland TC have room for dedicated transit ROW. And if buses will hit 60 MPH on the ERC in my lifetime I’ll eat my hat. I don’t think trains will, either, but I’d be shocked if buses did.
There will still be express buses that SoundTransit is calling “BRT” on I-405 to serve longer-distance travelers to and from Snohomish County. And that’s entirely appropriate; the vast majority of them won’t be heading to the Kirkland Googleplex. This proposal maximizes Kirkland’s transit access to the outside world and might actually serve a certain percentage of local trips as well.
Reflecting that this would be a Kirkland-centric system, it does not heed high speeds. The vehicles should run about 40 to minimize impacts on the neighborhood and keep the adjacent bicycle trail safe.
Kirkland has produced a A+ body of work here.
@Anandakos – For Kirkland, it’s better if the express busses use the busway. That increases frequency by having a shared corridor, and increases ridership by turning what may may be a 3 seat ride into a 2 seat ride. The point of building frequent all-day networks is not everyone is doing the typical 9-5 Kirkland downtown commute. There may be people who want to live in Snohomish county and work at Google etc…
If there was a huge penalty for riders I would get it. They haven’t shared any travel times but I assume it would be small. This is really basic network design: rather than having two parallel corridors, combine them for better frequency and connectivity.
“There will still be express buses that SoundTransit is calling “BRT” on I-405 to serve longer-distance travelers to and from Snohomish County. “
Too bad ST boundaries don’t include Snohomish and Monroe, then ST Express could fill the demand for transit, given that ….
Most of the traffic entering I-405 comes down Hwy 9, and SR 522.
Last I heard, Snohomish Co is still trying to work on a proposal (though now back a the drawing board) to activate the Snohomish – Woodinville portion of the ERC for trains. First for tourism then (eventually?) for commuters.
If the ST boundaries are ever extended to include Snohomish (the city), I could see a project similar to what Kirkland is doing being a popular idea there.
“There will still be express buses that SoundTransit is calling “BRT” on I-405 to serve longer-distance travelers to and from Snohomish County.”
You must mean ST Express. ST may have called it BRT when it launched but it does not do so now. ST defines BRT as something better than ST Express. (More frequent, real stations, better ROW…) What ST is considering is 405 BRT that may replace some ST Express routes or segments. When WSDOT designed the 405 widening project, it outlined potential BRT stations to go with the new HOT lanes, so that’s the starting point for ST’s BRT.
One problem with any kind of really fast transit on the corridor is what it means for crossing the corridor. The faster you go the more you need heavy-duty crossing protections, and generally to reduce the number of crossings. That could threaten one of the key benefits of public access to the corridor so far: connecting pedestrian networks across it. A few areas along this line essentially have “stripes” of different land-use or zoning, with major roads and the ERC (and thus transit routes) traveling along the “stripes” and not across them. Unlocking the ability to walk across the “stripes” unlocks the walkability of these areas and expands the reach of both transit and a bike path on the ERC. The ERC has historically been one of the obstacles to walking between nearby areas with different land use. An ERC with 60 MPH transit on it would again be such an obstacle. In Kirkland a lot of the most useful connections across the trail have already been built, and stand a better chance of surviving major corridor work. In northern Bellevue along Northup Way where that hasn’t happened yet we’d have to fight to create them.
That said, these concerns won’t be the killer for fast speeds through Kirkland, because they’re based on a vision of the future in a region that needs glasses to see 20 years out. The killer will be legal and political pressure from Kirkland residents.
@ Jim on Hwy 9 limitation. Why not. ST runs STEX to Olympia and Gig Harbor. Monroe seems plausible. and a good idea at that.
Kirkland should be applauded for bringing this idea forward in such detail. I would be a shame to waste 100′ ROW to the exclusive use of very few cyclists each day with so many more pressing needs for mobility on the Eastside.
If you want to turn the corridor into another freeway, then, sure, run all the buses that way. But the City of Kirkland will certainly not countenance that. Long distance riders don’t care to take a jog through downtown Kirkland — note the pretzel where the alignment leaves the Corridor.
The great thing about buses is you don’t have to run them all one way.
I would agree that the all-day base service should go through the Corridor. But the vast majority of peak hour expresses should run on I-405 because those folks are heading for downtown Bellevue or Factoria, not quaint and lovely downtown Kirkland. Don’t penalize them.
Whatever you want to call it is fine with me, but those stations sitting in the middle of a ten lane freeway are not going to be popular. It’s functionally express bus because the vast majority of the riders will be getting on at a Park’N’Ride or Transit Center, not those stations.
But bottom line is that they will not want to ride through Kirkland at 40 miles per making six or seven stops including the kink on surface streets in downtown because they aren’t headed anywhere in Kirkland.
It’s fine to have the all-day base service go that way; keep the commuter expresses — and that IS what they are — on I-405.
It’s not clear that there’s enough ridership for both BRT on the ERC and parallel all-day expresses on 405 to the same endpoints. The current ST Express frequency is already minimal, which cuts into potential ridership. Bellevue is the biggest destination, and transferring to Redmond and Seattle. Kirkland is lower than that, but so are Bothell and Lynnwood where these express buses come from. So some percentage of second-priority origins will also want to go to second-priority Kirkland; you can’t assume that almost everybody from Bothell and Lynnwood wants to go to Bellevue.
I disagree that there’s not enough ridership. Most 405 peak buses are packed and it’s not unheard of for them to leave people behind. A large fraction of those people get on/off at Totem Lake, so there’s definitely demand to Kirkland.
However, there’s a huge untapped market. If you live in Kirkland, you have few transit options and those that are there are as slow as cars (in reality, they’re slower). So why not drive? While I don’t necessarily agree that the ERC is the best option (though it is decently good for Kirkland transit), it will give many people a reason to take transit that will be faster than driving.
My personal preference would be running peak 405 + ERC-only service during peak (as long as the connections at Totem Lake and Bellevue were good) and ERC->405 during off-peak.That would provide high quality service inside of Kirkland while providing additional capacity on the 405 when needed.
“I disagree that there’s not enough ridership. Most 405 peak buses are packed”
Peak hours maybe, but off-peak they seem pretty low, and it’s the all-day network that’s the basis for BRT. Perhaps they could keep the freeway runs peak only, which is what I think you said.
It’s embarrassing to quote myself, but if you don’t read the post I guess it has to be repeated.
So, can we at least sort of agree that there should be a 5 AM to 1 AM base service from somewhere in Snohomish County at least to Central Bellevue on the ERC and an “overlay” service of commuter expresses — with flyer stops shared with the BRT to the north of the ERC — at peak hours?
Let’s not get all ideological here: there is relatively little demand for non-peak service north of Kirkland and there won’t be for a good long while. It’s too spread out and people who live must have cars, so why not drive when the traffic isn’t horrendous?
Yes, there should be frequent service on a core north-south route all day every day including of course peak periods. But nobody should get very excited about the possibilities for high-volume off-peak service. It simply isn’t going to happen absent Iran blowing up Ras Tanura.
The one concern I have with buses using both the ERC and 405 is that the buses will be extremely unreliable during peak periods. It is not uncommon for the 532 and 535 to be extremely late (I’ve seen 20 minutes late, even with the ETL). The area north of Bothell is the most problematic for the buses at the moment. The only way to alleviate this would be HOT ramps for all the stops so that the buses can use the ETL lanes the whole way.
Which is why I argue that off-peak can transition from the ERC to the 405, but peak should be separate.
Absolutely right that 405 from 522 north to I5 is a traffic jam. Money spend on HOT ramps would be a plus; Brickyard being a no brainer. But the ERC can’t do anything to alleviate the problem on 405. From Totem Lake it wanders off to the east running behind the car dealerships on 124th and then descends down to the Sammamish Slew in Woodinville. From there it goes north roughly parallel to Hwy 9 and ends up in Snohomish. It could provide an alternative to 522 and Hwy 9 but ST studied that and concluded that ridership didn’t warrant the investment. And this is from an agency that thinks Sounder North is a Good idea.
405 upgrades and ERC BRT address two separate problems. The former would improve reliability for long distance, primarily peak traffic along 405. The ERC provides access to Kirkland. While it’s not ideal (it doesn’t pass through downtown Kirkland) it does connect most of the major neighborhoods (except Juanita). Not perfectly, but a lot better and a lot cheaper than you can do with just the current roads. I don’t know if it’s worth the cost, but something needs to be done to address Kirkland traffic.
It completely misses Rose Hill, Kingsgate, North Kirkland and all of the Lake Front. It’s a 15 minute Hike from the closest point along the CKC to Totem Lake TC; add another 5 minutes to that to get to the Flyer Stop and even longer to the P&R. The only two destinations it actually connects are S. Kirkland P&R and Google. The Kirkland Google campus is not Microsoft and nobody is going to take the transfer hit to go 2 miles. Really it’s only two miles, look on Google Maps.
Tell me, what destination pair you think will generate any ridership along the CKC?
It all depends on where they site the stops. Totem Lake is being completely re-developed anyway. If transit is integrated, than you can have a centralized stop serving residential and commercial. If they’re able to get into DT Kirkland (or at least to the area of Park Place), that will also have tons of commercial and residential. I don’t know where most Google employees live, but it would not be hard to route buses to/from Seattle, Redmond, etc… onto the CKC as well, removing the connection at S. Kirkland.
Regardless, if Kirkland can reduce its traffic issues by developing the CKC, it’s worth a look. Because there are no other realistic alternatives, particularly for intra-Kirkland transit. I avoid Kirkland on weekday evenings because there’s too much traffic (I live near Brickyard). If I had frequent, fast, reliable transit through downtown Kirkland I’d stop there much more often.
Vague much? Give me cross streets along the CKC where you think these magical stops are going to be. The CKC is a long hike from any of the Mall property. When built out it’s still going to be primarily shopping on the model of Redmond Town Center where all of the retail and most of the office and residential is auto dependent. For transit to sever that area it has to run north south so that it can reach the TC and the flyer stop. The CKC is a fail because it goes east from there to a bunch of auto dealerships. At best it dumps you off in a new park that is developed around Totem Lake (the actual lake/swamp) which would be crime central after dark.
Well you can’t just reroute the 255 or 540 because you’d miss NW College and all the other stops on 108th/6th St that contribute more on/offs than Google. So you’re best proposal is we build 2 miles of dedicated bus way, run special buses through already crowded DT Seattle and 520 corridor for the benefit of a few hundred Google employees. Pretty sweet one seat ride but how much time is that going to save over the 2 mile stretch from S. Kirkland to Google, 1-2 minutes? Redmond??? The most direct route is 85th, CKC == fail. The only other route is Old Redmond Rd. You’re saying instead of using the existing route that actually gets you to the TC you detour onto the CKC for about 2 miles and dump people off at the cloverleaf to 405 where they transfer to a 248? Even if you could do that today with zero cost to build the busway it makes no sense.
It can’t. There’s not a single plausible scenario where you can reduce existing bus service or even pretend to get people out of SOVs and onto a bus. Not one!
“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Clearly you’re all about the one seat ride. First of all, you’d have to drive down 405 to get to the CKC. Then what? Hide and ride from Discount Tire Station to Park Place? Maybe you’d do that but nobody else will. I ride the 255 in the evening from Totem Lake to S. Kirkland P&R. It takes the 255 ~15 minutes to get from 124th Ave NE and NE 113th to Kirkland TC and 25 min. to S. Kirkland at 5PM. Often the delay is because the bus is ahead of schdule and sits at the TC for a couple of minutes. Sure, a busway on the CKC would cut the travel time to S. Kirkland P&R to ~10 minutes but ridership with headways as frequent as the 255 would be single digits. Maybe you get a few more people but best case you get a dozen people on the bus and most of those are leaving the 255 more empty than it already is. OTOH, if you had an extension of the ST540 to Brickyard that ran up/down 405 in the new ETL you could be at Kirkland TC in less than 15 minutes. Much faster than detouring to a busway on the CKC and the only cost being more hours for ST Express. For the deluxe treatment you put in center HOT lane exits at 160th. That’s a 10 minute one seat ride to Kirkland TC with no CKC ROW even being useful (i.e would take longer to exit at 124th and enter the busway and then go ~35 mph instead of 65 mph with no stops for cross streets.
Why consider LR when a true BRT offers a corridor ripe with the potential for mobile home parks lining the periphery. Were talking world class solutions for world class problems.
ies, especially in Norway, especially across the very wide plaza between City Hall and the waterfront, and also uphill to the suburbs, light rail seems more comfortable for pedestrians and bicyclists than buses,
I think that this is because deviation of the outside edge of the vehicle in effect causes the horizontal profile to be both wider and less certain. In addition to pavement needing more maintenance than rail does, well-maintained track is quieter than tires.
There is absolutely no need for transitway vehicles to go more than thirty or forty miles an hour.
Though agreed, trip through the Kirkland Transit Center is a problem. If Kirkland wants the line bad enough, light rail vehicles can also negotiate street rail.
Through this stretch, marked lanes and signal pre-empt would be same presence, and speed. BTW: anybody define “Overlapping? Because it is true that at some points, buses and trains can definitely run same lanes.
The big savings with BRT over light rail is in operations, not in construction (in this case). With cheaper operation, you can get greater frequency. This is why BRT is appropriate in relatively low volume areas like Kirkland. http://www.humantransit.org/2009/11/brisbane-bus-rapid-transit-soars.html?cid=6a00d83454714d69e2012875b74b55970c#comment-6a00d83454714d69e2012875b74b55970c
Another area where bus scores over rail is in mixed traffic. With routes having tails which would navigate into mixed traffic,a BRT option with its flexibility might be preferable.
The post says Kirkland is proposing Gold-level BRT. No tails. Those buses should stay on 405.
405 buses are express buses that should have minimal stops primarily for commuters. The ERC should be used for local buses. There is no way to avoid a time penalty on the ERC (number of stops, slower speeds, etc…) which will make many people avoid the express buses if you delay them. Having both will only help transit in the area.
Thank you. Well said.
It’s not clear that we can have both, as I said above. I think the BRT is meant to replace at least some of the ST Express routes.
Dropping 405 express routes will make ridership go down. Also, I believe Snohomish already pays for most of the 405 express routes – they would probably argue that there’s no reason to do local service. The 532, BTW, is one of the best performing routes because it runs only during peak times. That one only has one stop in King county yet has very strong ridership.
OF COURSE YOU CAN HAVE BOTH, but only at the peaks. The BRT lines via the ERC would run full time and the 405 buses would be overlaid on the peaks when they’re needed.
WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?!?!?!?!?
This “cheap” 85th Street flyer station requires local buses with left-side doors. It’s in the middle of a cloverleaf, so access by any mode other than bus is really bad. Today’s bus service is only half-hourly (reflecting general transit demand along the rather dismal corridor). And sidewalk gaps on 85th west of Kirkland Way (on a bridge), and Kirkland Way south of 85th, cut off the station from nearby homes and destinations. So… we’d be getting what we’d pay for, or maybe less.
I’m glad to see an official proposal combining the ERC within Kirkland with 405 outside of it.
Personally 85th is not a place to put a station with the current built-out environment (which is why my preference would be to move the N-S corridor to ERC entirely). If they are going to do it then they shouldn’t try to do it cheaply, it would require significant rework of pedestrian patterns in the area. It might make sense combined with a large upzone, but I don’t know of Kirkland’s appetite for that.
Also, I’d be a bit concerned that the current 248 indicates the poor ridership on 85th. The 245, in contrast runs every 15 minutes. Maybe a flyer stop makes more sense at Houghton P&R? Or both?
I actually considered a comment to the same effect, that a stop at 70th might be better. Local transit connections are better and the pedestrian environment is better. But the walkshed is no great shakes, so spending a bunch of money there would likely be no more fruitful than spending it at 85th.
85th at least has some value as a walkable destination. 70th has only residential development until you get to the Google area. I don’t think either is very good except as a transfer point from Kirkland.
It seems like Kirkland should be taking the lead from SDOT on this.
Get the money secured, then water it down.
Lindblom has a nice piece in the Times this morning on Madison BRT – or what’s left of it.
Naahh…. You don’t think that’s their plan, do you?
Word is, King County is planning on tearing up the rest of the tracks pretty soon.
Intel from a friend of a friend tells me the ‘secret plan’ is to convert the BRT lanes into HOT lanes for I-405 overflow traffic.
Speaking of I-405 overflow, when the idea of what the ERC could be used for came up during the I-405 Corridor Program study back in 2000, (but since BNSF wasn’t talking about selling at that time, it was purely speculative), it was noted that under public ownership, there would be nothing precluding using the ROW through Renton’s Kennydale Neighborhood as a heavy truck bypass.
If you think about it, that would help lessen the carbon-footprint by eliminating the slog up and down that hill for truck freight traffic. It would lessen the complaints alongside I-405 about the sound of the diesel exhaust. Of course, it would totally screw up the people down on Lake Washington Blvd.
Kirkland’s BRT idea looks like a winner. Putting the transit on the east edge of the ROW makes sense, and it looks like there’s enough separation between buses and bicycles (more than most cycletracks have). It yields a large uninterrupted section of non-motorized paths and nature.
The light rail design is a total dud. It manages to bypass both downtown Kirkland and downtown Bellevue, its primary markets. Rapid transit succeeds best when it stops right in the middle of downtown within walking distance of myriad destinations. This alignment manages to be within walking distance of nothing except Chick Fil-A, Whole Foods, a gas station which may be TOD someday, and an aborted stadium.
Stephen asks why Kirkland can’t push for a better light rail alignment. The answer is, (A) Kirkland doesn’t believe LR is feasable or affordable this round and not that important, (B) this alignment is what ST favors so far so Kirkland would have to push hard to get an alternative favored, (C) a better LR alignment would cost more which would contradict (A).
Boy!, if Dunn nixed the idea of DMU’s on the CRC every 10 minutes, then she’s really going to burn a bearing on having trucks every 4 seconds.
Agreed that light rail design is very unimpressive to me, especially as someone who will be riding either of these options every day. It fails to serve the planned urban center at Totem Lake effectively by keeping all service west of the freeway.
Another reason to go east of the freeway, there is a lot of room there for a significant park and ride facility (i.e. thousands of spots) that can intercept a lot of the traffic bound for 405 on 124th. That option does not really exist @ Kingsgate PR which is surrounded by low density residential properties.
“It fails to serve the planned urban center at Totem Lake effectively”
Beware of depending on speculative development which may or may not happen. We need to first serve the existing population centers with definite ridership, meaning downtown Kirkland and Google which are on the west side of the freeway.
RapidRide D went up 15th Ave NW in the hopes that future density and TOD there would dwarf 24th, but 24th is where the existing riders and destinations are, and between RapidRide planning and opening it got significantly denser near the library, while on 15th the blocks north and south of Market Street the hoped-for TOD is still missing.
The argument has also been used against transit expansion on 45th or in the U-District or Capitol Hill, on the basis that the potential riders are already there and already using transit, so they can’t hope to achieve a ton of new ridership like they can in the Spring District or Totem Lake. That’s backwards thinking. We should start by investing in the existing urban villages and high-ridership areas because they’re the ones most likely to succeed and become non-driving-majority areas. So start with the proven high-ridership areas, and add some experiments on the side to encourage them to grow (Othello, Spring District). The proven ridership areas in the Eastside are downtown Bellevue, Overlake, Crossroads, and to a lesser extent downtown Kirkland and Google. Totem Lake is still speculative. Will Kirkland residents really shop there when they avoid it now? Will the development occur, and will it be pedestrian-friendly?
There is a planned part and an already there part, mainly the hospital and the dozens of mid-rise buildings that support it. That light rail plan serves neither well, though the BRT plan does marginally better. I agree though in principle, as we have seen in Rainer Valley TOD can lag the presence of the system significantly, if it occurs ever.
As to the planned part it’s much less speculative at this point, the mall is being vacated and the tenants booted out, several stores closed in the last few weeks. Even if the existing firm backing it failed financially we are looking at a 40+ acre site that within a few months is going to be completely vacant if not already partially cleared. The zoning has been changed so at this point something is going to go in there, the land is simply to valuable. Keep in mind a major reason the mall site was not redeveloped years ago is that it’s final disposition had been mired in lawsuits related to a major fraud investigation in IIRC New York, so what’s happening there now should have unfortunately happened a long time ago.
That said if you were truly worried about speculation you would simply stop whatever system you are putting in at downtown Kirkland or 116th’ish and wait until the situation in Totem Lake shook out.
I agree, Mike, well said.
Another plus for this idea is having a stop for all the Seahawk players with suspended licences heading to training camp.
Rainier Valley is an existing walkable area with a large transit-dependent operation, so it was clear the ridership would be there from day 1 and it would just grow from there. We also knew that development might take arbitrarily longer than expected because of the lingering impact of redlining and people paranoid about drive-by shootings. What I’m concerned about with Totem Lake is that a walkable neighborhood may not emerge at all, because of the suburbs’ insistence on parking minimums and wide arterials, and the blind spot they have for pedestrian-friendliness even when they try. Do we know that Totem Lake will be as walkable as the Spring District for instance?
The Word from King County on their plans for the ERC.
Agreed that building just for TOD is not the best policy.
In the good news column though, the TOD is apparently finally coming to 15th. If you check https://www.seattleinprogress.com/ it looks like the entire corridor between Crown Hill and Market Street is going to be seeing a lot of new apartment buildings and town homes in the next year or two…
At this point what is the likelihood of people being able to afford or buy into Kirkland and the rest of this region?
I would say slim to none.
Therefore who is this system being built for? Quite probably only the existing residents.
So the question is how much Rapid Transit do they need and where.
And also, how can we push the transit to newer, less costly areas first.
Kirkland is expanding with a lot of relatively (for Kirkland) dense residential area being built in/around downtown. Plus Kirkland has too many people and too little transportation capacity – driving through downtown Kirkland at rush hour is a disaster. Totem Lake is better, but is expected to get a good amount of expansion as well. The choice is either invest in expanding roads (extremely expensive and impossible in many areas) or expanding transit. I’d rather the latter.
This reeks of BST – Transit with the emphasis on the BS. The Kirkland NIMBYS opposing commuter rail service on the ERC. Putting buses on the ERC will be just as bad. They are not going to accept hybrid diesel – electric buses either (NOISE). And WSDOT screwed up the HOT lane design, by not using pylons to separate the HOT lanes from the GP lanes.
We don’t know what they’ll accept until we ask them about a specific bus design. And even if they oppose it, the city council and the rest of Kirkland may implement it anyway, and they may not be able to get the pro-transit councilmembers out of office. We just have to wait and see, and not assume defeat prematurely.
Who is supporting this proposal, seems like a lot of capital expense for a low density area with a community that does not want transit oriented growth?
It is unfortunate Google located in a non-transit friendly area and expanded recently. Yes, there are a lot of software engineers driving around the eastside. We want more engineers and less driving…
It’s for the existing ridership and potential ridership in the Eastside, even without more TOD. The Eastside has become a high population area with a lot of internal travel, so it needs a transit network that reflects that and makes it possible to travel without driving without undergoing extreme hardship. The BRT option is being pursued precisely because it’s low cost compared to other alternatives: it gives the Eastside the opportunity to incrementally grow into it in its limited suburban way. Sometimes you have to have development to raise ridership, but usually you have to have the transit first in order to make non-driving options look viable to people. This is an inexpensive, incremental way to do that. The “low density” is only in the middle of the corridor: downtown Kirkland and Google are already higher than that, and people already want to get there on better transit options than exist.
Yeah, this seems like a project that is quite appropriate for the density. It really isn’t very high cost. It is leveraging an existing right of way — no huge tunnels dug or new above ground lanes added. Creating a BRT line is a bit cheaper than a light rail line in this instance and a lot cheaper to operate.
Don’t you get it, the goal is to generate as many trailer parks in the area as possible. This will increase the value of the nicer areas.
I know it’s not in Kirkland’s wheelhouse, but using the corridor to get down to Lake Hills Connector would be a really good start on a three pointed star-shaped BRT system linking Bellevue, Issaquah and Factoria via Bellevue College. There’s PLENTY of room along LHC for reserved lanes — take some of the median if necessary.
Again, keep the long-distance stuff to Renton and points south on I-405.
A lot of the current dispute about whether or not we should have BRT on the CKC now, and Light Rail later, revolves around technical issues regarding how to put transit on the CKC, one way or another; as well as on the different interpretations and understandings of previous legal documents. From my perspective, if sufficient public and/or private funding is available, regrettably both of those options will eventually become reality, regardless of the cost and long-term merits of them. But, I believe that that is not the only, or even the main, issue that we should be discussing and focusing on. Instead, I think that we should be asking ourselves the following two questions:
1. How many long, quiet, and safe urban-trail alternatives like the CKC are there in Kirkland today for walkers and bikers? Answer: ONE.
2. How many more of them are there likely to be in the future? Answer: NONE.
The other relevant issue in this discussion is whether or not there are alternatives for additional bus routes around the city. The answer to that is YES and they’re cheaper than on the CKC. Of course, I-405 is still the more logical and less disruptive long-term choice on which all intercity transit should go. Buses or rail on the I-405 can move faster, in a straight line, and be next to some major Park & Rides and other bus connections.
So, looking well beyond the typical planning of 30-60 years into the future, why should we even consider forever destroying Kirkland’s urban trail, instead of preserving it and improving it as time goes by?!! Don’t we want future generations to have a safe, walkable, bikeable, and quiet urban trail that connects parks, schools, and downtown in Kirkland, precisely at a time when population density will be much greater than today??? Has anyone seen young kids using those bike lanes on Kirkland streets? Is it pleasant, or even acceptable to city residents, that our main current option for urban walking is on narrow sidewalks alongside busy and noisy streets? Especially when these sidewalks, where there are any, often have obstacles on them.
Let us not continue to focus on clearly failed, narrow, expedient, and fairly short-term solutions to our motorized transportation, that were favored by previous regional transit planners over the past 80+ years. Let us focus on a balanced long-term solution that values equally motorized transportation and separate non-motorized transportation within the urban boundary. Young and old people need the opportunity to move around the city in a safe and pleasant environment. Offering them only the option of walking next to noisy cars, or riding bikes on very dangerous narrow strips next to fast moving vehicles, is myopic and irresponsible. It is also a reflection of the car-oriented mindset and, perhaps, the age city leaders and King County planners.
As a guiding principle, I keep thinking how much nicer King County and its recreational spaces would be today, in terms of urban livability, if most, if not all, of the shores of Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish had been preserved as public areas like around Green Lake in Seattle. Unfortunately, that option has been lost forever.
So, with that in mind, today’s choice for Kirkland, as to whether or not to save the CKC as an urban trail, should be an easy, obvious, and unequivocal YES! And I believe that that should also be the case for the other cities crossed by the ERC. Unless I am misinformed, nobody today seems to be clamoring for connecting streets across New York’s Central Park to solve their traffic problems. And… there must be a reason why subways, or even elevated ways, are often used as the solution to urban traffic congestion around the world, even in much poorer countries.
Where are these alternatives for high-quality bus routes in Kirkland? I-405 isn’t an alternative, since it’s only on the outskirts; no one going anywhere from any part of Kirkland except Totem Lake would use it. Where would you put your alternatives from downtown Kirkland? From Google? The CKC is the only good choice, and fortunately, these plans show it can still be a high-quality walking route after a busway is put in.
The shore of Lake Washington is “preserved” in a park all the way from Seward Park north to about Yesler Way. It’s about seven miles and most of it is pretty wide though there are a few stretches where LWB is a bit close to the water.
And yes, it’s very nice, but your politicians in Kirkland apparently didn’t think it worthwhile to make such a park along the town’s waterfront, so there’s that.
The idealized description of what a new CKC with BRT will look like is shamefully and completely misleading. It’s intended to get public support for this project from people who do not know well the CKC.
The 520, Northup Way, and two 405 overpasses (one of which is at Totem Lake) are only 30 feet wide underneath, without any buffer on either side. At best, barely 2 bus lanes may fit there. Redoing the 520 intersection is completely unrealistic, because it would be incredibly costly and unbearably disruptive to traffic circulation for a long time. Consequently, the beautiful pedestrian and bike lanes depicted by the City, at least at those pinch points and maybe others, would have to be re-routed or would need to go over the highways. Just those few exceptions will immensely degrade the quality of the corridor for pedestrians and bikers. Additionally, this still ignores the complete destruction of current green belts on both sides of the CKC, and the resulting encroachment of Bus lanes onto the property of houses and parks along the East side of the CKC, as well as onto the Bike and Pedestrian lanes on the West side to avoid the underground Public Utilities.
And all of this destruction would be done just to get 2 bus lanes, after they have already spent around $15 million dollars on developing and upgrading Kirkland’s future “Central Park”??? Buses belong on 405 and city streets where people can easily access them and connect with other buses!
According to the detailed map on p. 224, the tunnel under 405 at Totem Lake is at least 50′ wide… are you saying that’s wrong?
Which link goes to the detailed doc? I just see the video and the PowerPoint which doesn’t have detailed maps.
I believe he’s referring to the City master plan for the Corridor.
That space under I-405 is encroached on by the support columns, but is still plenty wide. I walked under there just a few days ago.
Thanks, Dan, that was it. It’d be nice if they gave plans for the southern underpasses, too, but they’re outside Kirkland city limits.
It didn’t come up in the CKC master plan process of course. But the consultants looked at those too as part of the recent process, and were happy with the outcomes. No published details at this point. It’s been a while since I’ve been through that area (a much less pleasant stroll since the rails are still in).
Buses of any ilk on the Cross Kirkland Corridor is close to the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. The only reason I can imagine Kirkland wanting it to be part of an ST3 measure would be to assure that it fails at the ballot box. The lunacy, where do I start? First let’s start with the end points of the trail. It starts at S. Kirkland P&R. OK that’s good; really good for transfering to/from a bicycle! There are two routes that Metro takes between S. Kirk and Kirkland TC; 108th and Lake Washington Blvd. The 255 which is a Metro workhorse on the eastside goes up 108th and right past NW College, Houghton and Google. All three are pretty major on/off destinations and it takes 10 minutes. Lake Washington Blvd (234/235) is 8 minutes to the TC and the only “destination” is Lk WA Blvd and Lakeview where you get 2-3 on/offs. The CKC picks up only Google and never gets to the TC!. Where is the DOH emoticon? It takes the 255 10 minutes to get from S. Kirk to the TC. OK, longer if the light at 65th is screwed up but that intersection can be fixed especially if you tap into ST’s pot of gold to do it. Haven’t timed S. Kirk to Google but I’d guestimate it’s on the order of 7 minutes. Let’s say you instead run a bus down the CKC and against all odds it’s somehow able to run at 60 mph and can get there in 3 minutes. Google has smart people working for them. They’re not dumb enough to take the hit of a transfer from the 255 or ST 540 Express they just rode over from Seattle to save 3-4 minutes of travel time. So we scratch Google off the list of destinations. We’ve already scratched the TC off the list since the CKC doesn’t go there and a deviation on public streets negates any time savings of using the ROW (that whopping 3-4 minutes less transfer penalty). So, all aboard for Totem Lake. OK, well that don’t work neither. The CKC goes under 405 just north of 116th. That’s the road the near negative ridership 236 takes and nobody is going to take a bus on the CKC from S. Kirk or Google to get off there. After it goes under 405 it misses the Flyer Stop, the P&R and Totem Lake TC (aka Evergreen Hospital). It doesn’t even come close to Totem Lake Mall. Double Doh!!
Let’s see; spend mega bucks -check, zero ridership -check, screw over the central portion of what is a great bike/pedestrian trail that has the potential (for not a lot of additional funds) to be a regional gem -checkmate.
I’ve been very impressed with the thoughtfulness that has gone into Kirkland’s plans. A lot of suburban cities want something from Sound Transit, but take a wholly negative view of “impacts”. Keep it away from anywhere that very many people live and work. So it’s personally exciting for me that Kirkland has come up with something smarter than widely-spaced freeway stations.
The City is trying to thread a needle. Find a transit solution that fits the city’s needs, and find a way to preserve the walking and biking corridor they have. Everybody who’s thought about the issues knows I-405 can’t possibly work. So it has to be the corridor. Because buses are so much more flexible than rail in this particular area, it has to be BRT.
There’s an anti-transit group that’s sloganeering how “buses belong on 405”, but it’s showcasing just how unserious they are. It’s just code for “put the buses far away and out of sight where nobody will ever use them”.
Will Sound Transit take the City’s ideas on board? One would hope so. It’s remarkable to see a suburban city come up with a plan that takes multimodal access to transit (and multimodal travel generally) so seriously.
WRONG. Proven WRONG! Have you looked at travel times in the HOV lanes since they were doubled between SR522 and DT Bellevue and it was made 3+? It’s a speed limit commute. CKC gets you from nowhere to nowhere anybody is trying to go via a circuitous route that would take longer than the current bus routes that use surface streets. People, wake up and smell the coffee!
For through access between Woodinville/Lynnwood and Bellevue, yes, 405 can now work. But for local access to everything in-between, 405 can’t work.
Do you have any idea what the area you’re commenting on is even like? Ever been there? I have to doubt it when you lump together “Woodinville/Lynnwood”. And back pedaling much on 405 can’t work? Just what “local access” is it you think this billion dollar boondoggle provides? There is nothing, really, nothing there. Like I said the part where it comes close to Totem Lake is even worse access than the 236 which has virtually zero ridership and misses everything the 235, which by eastside standards is almost a decent bus route serves. The CKC is a great bike trail but you need a bike to get from anywhere along its route to anywhere.
Actually, I was talking about access to not just Totem Lake, but also downtown Kirkland, Google, South Kirkland, and the whole area around there. The CKC serves that (with a brief deviation to downtown) and 405 doesn’t come anywhere close.
I can not agree more with Bernie here. The solution for a fast ride between Kirkland and downtown Bellevue is a bus down 405. The solution for a fast ride between Kirkland and Seattle is building a bus lane down the Montlake exit ramp so that the existing route 255 can drop people off at the soon-to-open Link station without getting stuck in traffic.
Turning the Cross Kirkland Trail into a bus corridor solves none of these problems. Especially the part where buses get subjected to a 5 mph crawl through the Google parking lot. Even buses that do not use 405 don’t save any significant amount of time by using trail over existing nearby streets, such as 108th Ave. or Lake Washington Blvd. And the price for doing it is not small. The Cross Kirkland Trail is a very rare opportunity to walk or bike somewhere without having to deal with the noise and fumes of internal combustion engines. Run buses alongside of it and the trail becomes just as noisy as walking or biking along any other arterial road – maybe worse, as the average bus is noisier than the average car.
Then, there’s the scars of the construction itself. A bus corridor (~30 feet) is much wider than a trail (~12 feet). Even if the ROW may technically be wide enough, at least paper, that’s still a lot of green space that would need to be paved over to make room for the busway. It would completely ruin the aesthetics of the trail and the surrounding neighborhood. If anything, we should be replanting excess ROW space with native trees and shrubs, not paving it over.
Next, there’s the problem about safety and crossing points. If it’s just a walking and biking trail, you can cross it just about anywhere. Frequent crossing points provide not only access to the trail itself, but also general east/west pedestrian mobility for reaching local destinations. Throw in a busway and, all of a sudden, people crossing have to worry about getting run over, which means that the trail needs to be fenced off (as in secure fencing, not the current fencing that anybody can easily climb over), and crossing points limited to street intersections only. Now, somebody on 60th St. has to go all the way around to 52nd or 68th just to reach the lake, while today, they can just walk straight through.
I could maybe see buses running alongside the CRC for a short section underneath 405, since the area around Totem Lake can get bad traffic. But, even then, Totem Lake to Kirkland is still going to be slower than BRT down 405, assuming an 85th St. transfer point gets built. And local buses traveling the route down actual streets are still going to be needed for coverage reasons, regardless.
On the one hand, I agree with all the people saying the CKC should be preserved as walk/bike only. It is a nice trail and impossible to replace. No matter what you do (short of tunneling), having buses/trains run every 2-3 minutes will disrupt the experience and will make people around there unhappy.
On the other hand, BRT/LR on the CKC is the only way to get from one part of Kirkland to another using transit. Buses on roads will not work because of the horrible congestion: ever tried getting through downtown Kirkland, along Lake Washington Blvd or Market St during rush hour? It once took me over 20 min to get from 68th St to 85th St on State St – that’s 3 miles per hour! The 405 doesn’t work either – the only access points could be at 85th and 70th (both expensive to build) and would require and additional shuttle. Tunneling could be solution, but extremely expensive. Bus lanes could work, but would also be expensive and would require expanding streets.
To top it all of, Kirkland is expanding, both downtown and at Totem Lake. That will mean even more congestion. Unfortunately, too many people in Kirkland don’t care and prefer the NIMBY approach.
So maybe what Kirkland needs to do is price out all the options. Here’s how much more capacity we’ll need to even maintain current levels in 10 years. Here’s how much that will cost to expand streets, and here’s what all the transit options cost. Only then could some of the people against transit be convinced.
Since you obviously have never been to this area, please at least look at a map. The CKC crosses NE 85th virtually AT 405. Likewise, it doesn’t come close to serving Totem Lake; like 15-20 minute walk to anywhere people are actually trying to get to. The idea that buses are going to run every 2-3 minutes on this route is ludicrous. The demand isn’t even close to that. On any given 255 at peak there are maybe, maybe 4-5 people making the trip between S. Kirkland and Kirkland TC. Add another 3-4 on the 234/235/540 and you’ve got a grand total of 30-40 peeps per hour at peak. You’re going to get maybe 2-3 buses each direction per hour, not per minute. You’re competing against buses that run 8 – 10 times per hour (234/235/255/540) and take 8-10 minutes. Any potential time saving is more than eaten up by the transfer. And NO, existing bus service WOULD NOT shift to the CKC because it misses all of the stops those routes serve with the exception of the Google Campus which BTW is peak only and not the mega destination people seem to think.
“I’ve been very impressed with the thoughtfulness that has gone into Kirkland’s plans. A lot of suburban cities want something from Sound Transit, but take a wholly negative view of “impacts”.
… I can tell you’re new to the area, stranger, because of those who:
“agree with all the people saying the CKC should be preserved as walk/bike only. It is a nice trail and impossible to replace. No matter what you do (short of tunneling), having buses/trains run every 2-3 minutes will disrupt the experience and will make people around there unhappy.”
Transportation in Puget Sound still car dominated.
People whine the loudest, the regular media makes lots of money supporting it (traffic reports generate the most listeners, hence making ad space more valuable), cities and towns get their biggest tax inflow from auto dealerships, politicians will ‘Solve the congestion problem” with more pavement.
Things aren’t going to change…
This discussion is entertaining, but the ERC is a DEAD thru corridor. The Nimbys control.
The $10 Billion(YOE) I-405 solution ($8 billion car lanes, $2 billion ST Express), is being argued as the superior alternative…
RIGHT HERE !!
And since a number of you don’t drive (i.e., you live in your transit bubble), you don’t care that the legislature passed a gas tax increase to fund that expansion will perpetuate a pavement based solution.
As someone who wants to see more transit (rail, frequent bus, a WHOLE LOT MORE), I will now have to vote for MORE TAXES to attain that solution.
Throwing away the ERC is singularly the most embarrassing planning move I’ve ever witnessed.
Bring on MORE OIL TRAINS, folks, because we will never admit to our addiction.
I agree, Dan. I’m impressed by the work Kirkland has done here.
I’m surprised nobody has commented about the split level service for the line (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/08184051/CKC_Corridor.png). This is great. Not only do you avoid having the bus run right by you, but you separate out bike and pedestrian traffic. This is huge. As someone who has walked and biked the Burke Gilman, I can tell you it makes a huge difference. Bikers don’t like walkers, and walkers don’t like bikers. The little picture shows why. If you are biking, you really don’t want to worry about that dog taking a bite out of your leg or just straying into your lane. If you are holding onto that kid’s hand, you don’t want to worry about a biker flying by you. This looks like a great trail for everyone.
I am concerned about what Al mentioned, above (One problem with any kind of really fast transit on the corridor is what it means for crossing the corridor.). How many crossing are there on this? I know overpasses are terrible, but are there any here? Are there underpasses, and if not, should be consider adding a few (I know those have issues as well)? I think it is unrealistic to have the buses go 60 MPH, but 40 MPH is reasonable, and would still be a bit challenging to cross. Maybe the best thing to do is simply add gates, as you would with a train. You will need this for the sections where the road crosses anyway, but add them at particular pedestrian crossings.
I’m not sure I agree that split level service will be nicer, but if it’s only a foot or two it would probably be fine. As you mention the bigger problem is crossings, underpasses, and overpasses. There are a bunch. Ignoring the ends, I think there’s 6 street level crossings if I counted right (a few are minor roads, but it also crosses some high-traffic routes), overpasses over Kirkland Way and 68th St, and underpasses under 85th St, 116th St, and 405.
Gates would work, but if buses run every 2-3 minutes, that means basically closing those streets 1/3 – 1/2 of the time at least (assuming gates are closed for a minute per bus). Some of the streets are pretty high traffic, so I don’t think this would work.
I just keep shaking my head at the loss of the only through route from Vancouver BC to south of Seattle… not counting the one at the base of the unstable bluffs at sea level with the mudslides and the flooding. Some day you’re going to want to put mainline rails back on this, and with it broken up into umpteen different ownerships…
This corridor could truly be a world class corridor for biking, walking and jogging. Instead, people power will once again be second class to engine power. People will die from being struck by the train or the bus. There will be yearly construction and years of construction before its opened to low users.
Of course…follow the money. Mass Transit just can’t resist getting their grubby hands on a new road. Plenty of roads out there to take over. Go after those.
“There will be yearly construction and years of construction before its opened to low users.”
Could you clarify this? Who are ‘low users’?
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