Rendering of 23rd Avenue entrance to Judkins Park Station (Sound Transit / Hank Willis Thomas / Authentic Hendrix)

On a quiet Tuesday night last month, Sound Transit held its final design open house for Judkins Park Station, located at the site of the Rainier Freeway Station on Interstate 90. The open house, hosted at the Northwest African American Museum in the Central District, was attended by a few dozen members of the community and regional advocates for transit, cycling and walking.

At the meeting, Sound Transit staff, architect David Hewitt, and artist Barbara Earl Thomas presented elements of the station’s designs, divided into three sections (the west entrances on Rainier Avenue, the platform itself, and the east entrance on 23rd Avenue). With an emphasis on pedestrian, bike and bus access to both entrances, which build upon existing bike trails and bus routes that converge on I-90, Judkins Park will become an important transfer point between modes, especially to access the Central District.

Artwork on the Rainier Avenue entrance (Sound Transit / Hank Willis Thomas / Authentic Hendrix)

One of the most notable and visible features of the station —and surrounding area— is the incorporation of Jimi Hendrix imagery in the art and nearby parks. The entrances will feature two archival photos of a young Hendrix, who was raised nearly a mile north of the station, rendered in a dot-matrix pattern by artist Hank Willis Thomas; the design will be harder to distinguish from close up, but come in focus from further distances.

Judkins Park Station site plan (Sound Transit)

The station itself will stretch over 1,300 feet from end to end, with station utilities and auxiliary rooms located mid-way between the Rainier entrance and platform. From Rainier Avenue, riders can use one of two entrances on each side of the street, with the west side connected by a pedestrian bridge over the street attached to the westbound lanes of I-90, and converge into a common ticketing area. Once in the station, riders will walk under a sheltered walkway attached to a maintenance building and cross over the westbound track in order to reach the platform in the middle of the tracks. Sound Transit officials told me at the open house that a configuration with the station entrance between the two tracks would have not brought enough daylight onto Rainier Avenue and require more new ramps to be constructed at additional cost and risk.

From the east end on 23rd Avenue, station access is much simpler. A single entrance, located next to a bulbed-out pedestrian signal and two bus stops, and a series of stairs, escalators and elevators descending straight onto the platform. Both sides of the station will also feature a wide variety of trees and shrubs meant to mask the concrete sound walls that shield the station from Interstate 90.

Overall, the Judkins Park Station is much more interesting than it would appear at first glance. It will bridge the gap between Rainier and 23rd avenues, both in distance and elevation, and serve as an important transfer point for bus routes 7 and 48, as well as for cyclists coming off the Mountains-to-Sound Trail. With the amount of thought, work, and sensible compromise put into the station by Sound Transit and Hewitt Architects, I can foresee few design decisions that we will come to regret after opening day.

The new station will open in 2023 as part of East Link and replace the current Rainier bus station, as well as the express lanes of Interstate 90. To accommodate this, the bus station will be closed next summer alongside the HOV lanes on Interstate 90; construction on the station will begin in 2018 and service will begin in 2023. Sound Transit has also posted the slides from the presentation on their website, which has a full set of renderings and other notes.

Future site of Judkins Park Station
Looking west from 23rd Avenue at the future site of Judkins Park Station

28 Replies to “Judkins Park Station: Nexus of Bus Transfers, Bike Trails, and Rock-n-Roll”

  1. It seems strange to tell people they can’t cross the tracks, for example at ID, and then design new grade separated stations whose access requires walking across the tracks

    1. The only saving grace for the at-grade pedestrian crossing is that it is in front of the train as it leaves the station as it’s only crossing tracks in one direction.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there ends up being tiny pedestrian crossing gates installed.

      Of course, this is one more hazard if we ever get to driverless trains.

      1. Lyon, France has a driverless bus route wandering through one of its pedestrian walkways. Information about it says they can’t intermix with other highway traffic yet because pedestrians are much easier to identify, predict and respond to than drivers.

        I would imagine the same technology applied to trains would result in similar situations.

      2. Staff told me this would be a belled crossing, with bells starting to ring whenever a train pulls into the station. Bells continue to ring while the train dwells, and when it continues through the crossing. Just like SB trains at SODO Station.

        The reality will be that approaching riders will see that the train is stopping, or already stopped, so they will ignore the bells (and flashing red lights) and cross the track to catch their train. The design actually encourages unsafe behavior by riders.

    2. Is it a level crossing? I thought “cross over the westbound track” meant a pedestrian bridge.

    3. There are similar track crossings at at-grade stations like Stadium, Sodo, Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach, East Main… IIRC, there will be one at RTC as well.

    4. Easiest solution for driverless trains, aside from just not having them, is going to be to do either elevate over or cut under crossings, and architecturally adjust Judkins Park Station when the time comes.

      But come on, Glenn, especially now that marijuana is legal, how can you say that people walking are anymore predictable than ones driving cars? Hey… weren’t on the jury that said those guys were just confused, and thought they were saving federal workers from wild animals?

      Even though he would have had Louis XVI beheaded for both heresy and communism, at least late New Electric Railway Journal publisher Paul Weyrich would have been truly conservative enough to keep drivers on trains, in tradition and pay grade of medieval itinerant weavers.

      So have to be consoled by chance that State Senator Pam Roach will bring about educational reforms to teach cursive writing, with which next generation of teenagers will humiliate their hopelessly touch-screened parents. O.M.G. is much more powerfully declaratory when done with a goose feather. Also if you always make a final “S” look like an “F”.


      1. It’s a French company making driverless buses that made the claim, not me.

        You have two tools available in a train for avoiding a pedestrian: bell and horn. The brake is useful too, but all too often you wind up using that after the collision.

        None of those three should be beyond the technology currently being used on those French buses.

  2. So on the “contextual plan” page there’s a “pedestrian/bicycle route” coming from the north and south on Rainier. I’ll forget about bikes for a second. Coming from the north the line follows the path that bows away from the road and crosses under the ramp from westbound I-90 to northbound Rainier. Fine, that shows a basic understanding of how pedestrian access works at that part of the interchange. But that detail is missing for the much worse at-grade crossing of the ramp from northbound Rainier to eastbound I-90, south of the freeway. The crosswalk is a bit removed from Rainier and angled to cross the curving ramp at a right-angle, which might be the best way for the crosswalk to be laid out if the ramp must be curved that way. But it crosses two lanes of traffic accelerating toward the freeway, one of which is HOV and could be moving even when the other is backed up during rush-hour, just when the largest number of people is walking to the station. It’s a pretty bad crossing, and it’s not clear that it’s been considered in any way by anyone involved with this project!

    Then on all the other slides about stuff they’re going to do, this crosswalk is just off the edge. Even if bigger street changes aren’t going to happen with this project, this is one obstacle to pedestrian access that’s bad enough and close enough to the station that it deserves some kind of improvement.

    1. Rainier and 23rd are slated for construction with both RapidRide 48 and RapidRide 7 using them. Maybe they’ll reconfigure it then.

    2. It’s shown on the “Aerial Perspective” (the page after the “Contextual Plan”) as a crosswalk.

      At the very least it would be nice to have a ramp connecting the planned trail bridge over that same ramp to Rainier. That way, there is still a non-fatal way of getting to the bus stops on Rainier. It’s also a shorter walking distance for some locations in the neighborhood.

      It doesn’t seem like adding a bit of sidewalk from an existing trail bridge downhill a short ways would really add that much cost.

  3. I just shake my head at the lack of down escalators and having only one escalator in each direction. It’s also noteworthy that there is only one elevator on either side of Rainier. We’ll be complaining about escalator and elevator issues pretty soon after this station is opened.

    It’s too bad there isn’t the visionary will to address this deficiency now. I’ve mentioned this several times but there doesn’t seem much interest in solving this basic access problem.

    1. All about vertical distances triggering installation and maintenance costs. Broken escalators require closure for repairs but stairs never break. For example, both Capitol Hill and UW Station have been experiencing vertical circulation issues since opening due to ongoing escalator issues breaking travel paths between the surface and platform.

      Personally, I’m glad to see stairs. Most of our facilities have only stairs and elevators (Sounder stations, transit centers, those three center BRT-esq stations, most business districts, homes, etc). As for “access problems”; going up, the critical one, is covered. Going down, for those unable to use the stairs, use the elevator. For everyone else who can, take the stairs; it won’t kill anyone.

      1. Mike, you might want to check your stats on what actually kills people in this country. Especially past age 60, falling down stairs beats ISIS all hollow. And Freedom of Information Act might get you some figures on settlements over elevator confinement outlasting bladder control.

        For the first of maybe a half dozen times in my life, the martial arts I learned from a former Russian navy Seal at Seattle Central Community college reflexively saved me from becoming nutritious transit-related bone-meal dog food.

        Starting when first contact with a metal railing was followed at least 24, (I counted them) miserably mis-designed sharp granite stair-steps between Jackson Street and Bay A at IDS. Must have been the same firm to whom we owe our vertical machinery.

        Worse at Westlake.

        The seniority that age gives Congress also makes them afraid of us because it’s harder to deny us the vote than for the average poor person. Guaranteeing us the elevators that don’t trap us, escalators that repay our taxes, and stairs that don’t kill us that we’re paying for.

        Also, point of polite usage. Correct form is: “Going down, for those unable to use the stairs, use the elevator. For everyone else who can, take the stairs; it won’t kill anyone- Please. Put. That. Stick. Down. And. Don’t. Kill. Me!”


    2. SeaTac’s elevator has been closed for over a week now. Every day there’s announcement saying passengers who need the SeaTac elevator should get off at TIB and transfer to the A to 176th. I’m not sure which elevator it is; if it’s the surface elevator then when they arrive at 176th they wouldn’t be able to get up it, so it must be a platform elevator.

      1. It’s the one on the other side of Int’l Boulevard. The announcement tells them to backtrack to TIBS and take LINK or A, as applicable.

      2. “Be careful how you choose your enemy, for you will come to resemble him.”

        -Michael Ventura

        Tempting to say our country’s present condition shows results of decades of cold war with a well-armed, deprived and decrepit enemy. Anybody who’s been to Former Soviet recently: how much do we and Russia resemble each other now? And who looks more post-Soviet?

        Same question about the video on Bogota transit. Maybe it’s because I don’t read Spanish, but do those busways have signs telling you how to find a bus in the opposite direction to take you back one stop to the station you’re going to? Anything pertinent from Mexico City?

        But Russia gets no blame for this. A five mile temporary but repeated round trip bus ride to get into an International airport. The seatless metal toilets designed with orange jumpsuits in mind. The nine billion dollars our country, including much of Washington State spends every year to jail people waiting for trial.

        All of which are our own home-grown reminders to the poor, especially the working ones, of the most desperately important thing they need to know: Their Place. And to the political side who used to fight for these people, the consequences of wearily aquiessencing to the idea that basic human rights and decency are a budget item.

        Question for anyone who’s ever installed a Sea-Tac Station-type toilet seat. What’s cost of seats and fittings, what tools, how many people and how much time? I need to make one campaign contribution.

        Invite the ST Board. Their choice who gets to tighten the railroad-historic Golden Bolt. Wednesday morning, week from today. And name the whole project for our new President. And let representative of the winning party get First Flush!

        Mark Dublin

      3. “It’s the one on the other side of Int’l Boulevard.”

        “Other side”? I thought there’s only one elevator at Intl Blvd on the east side, and from the southbound bus stop you have to cross the street, go up the elevator, and recross the street in the overpass to get to the station. If it’s not that elevator, where’s the other one?

    3. They have to have stairs for emergency evacuation. They have to have elevators for ADA. Escalators are the optional part.

  4. Another missed opportunity is the MT to Sound trail and bridge over Rainier from the south.
    Grade is perfect and access is all available to connect trail to station, and bypass all those merging cars.

    Unfortunately, ST decided not to attempt to negotiate with WSDOT to get the safer access built.

    Station access from 23rd side is pretty good.
    I do wish they’d be clear about what parts of the mountain to sound trail they’ll be closing during construction.

  5. There are two stations like this on the original MAX line along Interstate 84, where there is a entrance on one side of the road and people have to cross the road to get to buses going one direction.

    This mistake was avoided on the Orange Line at Bybee Blvd, so that there are stairs and an elevator on both sides of the street.

    1. The Rainier Avenue entrance has a pedestrian bridge to the west side, so you don’t have to cross the street to access the southbound bus stop or the northbound bus stop.

    2. Here there are connections to important bus routes on two different streets. As Bruce points out, you’ll be able to get to either side of Rainier without crossing at-grade (you can do this today from the bus station, too). You’ll have to cross 23rd at-grade. Waiting up on the lid (as you do today following the I-90 Trail) isn’t the worst: it’s a bit of a wait for the signal, but once you get the walk signal you at least aren’t harassed by turning traffic like at every other intersection.

      1. If you say so.

        The experience at the 60th and 82nd Ave MAX stations has been bad enough that Bybee was built different.

        People are willing to run all manner of risks if it means having to wait for the next bus – and the 82nd Ave bus is usually very frequent. It’s hard for me to imagine this being any different.

      2. It also means they have a backup elevator for when they need to take one out of service.

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