On Tuesday night in front of a joint meeting of the city councils of Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and Shoreline, Sound Transit presented ST3 options for the SR 522 corridor. The tag team of Ric Ilgenfritz and Karen Kitsis presented the lone proposed projects for the area, planning money for light rail on SR 522 (Project P-08, page 18), and BRT from Woodinville to the NE 145th St Link station (Projects N-09 and N-10).
The meeting began as so many of these meetings do, with electeds and staff trading war stories of how long it took them to drive there, with Fred Butler’s drive from Issaquah taking the provisional title for bragging rights. But even these anecdotes often serve as useful icebreakers, creating a unanimity of purpose among officials to build better transit not to solve congestion, but rather to give people a way out of it.
And unanimity there was. There was neither disagreement nor controversy, with the joint councils all expressing strong interest and support for bus rapid transit on SR 522 and a seamless connection to Link at NE 145th. Kenmore Mayor David Baker expressed the four cities’ intent to write a joint jurisdictional letter to Sound Transit, saying they should be unified on their “3 key asks”, namely BRT in the corridor, light rail planning, and structured parking (ST’s proposal includes three 400-space parking facilities). Lake Forest Park councilmember Phillippa Kassover noted her city’s historically high voter turnout of 80-90%, quipping to Sound Transit (paraphrased) “I suggest you have us on your side this November.” A Bothell councilmember described the county line that separates his city’s transit services as “our own DMZ”, expressing hope that Sound Transit’s regional mandate can fix the service gaps inherent in having Community Transit serve half the city and King County Metro serve the other.
The general feeling in the room was one of composed eagerness to get new investments in their respective cities. The 522 Transit Now coalition also had a strong turnout, with roughly half the public attendance being composed of their bright yellow shirts. Mark Abersold from the coalition spoke to the meeting, and councilmembers repeatedly praised their group for their effective and positive organizing. Consultants Fehr & Peers also praised the coalition (and Seattle Transit Blog) for informing their corridor analysis.
Councilmembers seemed particularly keen on the lower capital version of BRT, which ST models as only taking 1 minute longer than the more aggressive option, while reducing capital costs by $30-85m. In some sense, however, this is a relatively painless ask for these councils, as the BRT project would in many places widen the roads to accommodate buses without the loss of any general purpose capacity, going from two lanes to three in each direction.
Notably absent from the discussion was Lake City. With neither a station at 130th nor a BRT connection to Lake Forest Park and Woodinville, the southern half of the 522 corridor gains little from these proposals. If enacted, Lake City will depend on Metro for a good network of connections, likely including long-term investments in the Route 41 and 372 corridors for connections to Link at Northgate, UDistrict, and UW.