Northgate Station under construction, Jan. 2017
Cranes are up and parking closed at Northgate, as seen on January 15

Sound Transit broke ground last Friday on Northgate Station, bringing the opening for Northgate Link one day closer (though still four years away). As we’ve reported before on the blog, the station will be elevated above NE 103rd Street on the east side of 1st Avenue NE, just west of the current transit center and southwest of the Northgate Mall.

A 455-stall parking garage, the subject of much controversy, will be built on the north side of NE 103rd Street to replace the existing park and ride. The County plans to build at least 200 affordable housing units on the former park and ride to the east of the station (along with a relocated bus station), as part of a mixed-use development funded in part by the City. SDOT will also build a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5 (funded by Move Seattle) that will extend the station’s walkshed to North Seattle College and surrounding neighborhoods.

The station and elevated guideway will be built by Absher Construction, who accepted a $174 million construction contract last August. The firm was also responsible for the nearby Northgate Library as well as Tukwila’s permanent Sounder/Amtrak station and the second parking garage at Tacoma Dome Station.

While the boring for Northgate Link’s tunnels were completed last fall, there is plenty of work to do before light rail trains can begin carrying passengers. Cross-passage work is anticipated to be completed by early 2018, stations at Roosevelt and U District will have to be built from the tunnel up to the surface, and the elevated viaduct leading to Northgate Station will need to be hoisted into place.

Sound Transit has also posted a nice aerial flyover of the work area (including the approach to the tunnel), which we’ve embedded below:

Correction (16:40): The 200 affordable housing units is a King County project that is partially funded by the City of Seattle.

34 Replies to “Sound Transit Breaks Ground on Northgate Station”

  1. Do we know whether there will be a real noise barrier constructed running along I-5, not just where the station will be but also along the rest of the Northgate area? (An area we hope to significantly change and drop thousands of new people in.)

    I know these barriers are the responsibility of WSDOT, but it’s always depressing to see nice new sound barriers put up to serve small pockets of single family zones around Lynnwood and Kirkland but no noise protection for significantly denser areas, such as Greenlake/Roosevelt and–in the near future–Northgate.

  2. Is the mall going to be extended to connect with the station or are we gonna have to walk through some ridiculous parking garage to get from the station to the mall?

    1. I wouldn’t hold my breath. They haven’t made much of an effort for the existing transit center.

      1. That’s pathetic. Look at all the malls connected to the Skytrain in Vancouver. They don’t force you to walk through parking garages or parking lots to get from the station to the mall.

      2. The mall might have refused, out of fear that if it were too well connected, people would use mall parking as a P&R lot when the Sound Transit parking is filled up.

    2. I think that a complete redevelopment is probably more likely, and that could include a station connection.

      With Simon’s history of urban malls (Fashion Center at Pentagon City, Copley Place) as well as very successful major mall renovations, I am betting on a complete transformation with hotels and offices by 2030. As developers go, Simon is more aggressive than other developers at upgrading existing malls too. Simon doesn’t seem to be that motivated by residential but a partnership is possible with a property this well-located. Fashion Center at Pentagon City even has a “Metro level” with a direct connection into the mezzanine of the adjacent Metro station:

      Generally, an elevated mezzanine like Northgate Station makes it much easier to provide pedestrian linkages as skybridges (because no tunnels are required), depending on the clearance above the streets below.

      1. North Seattle, Shoreline, and Snohomish County in the future can lament the fact that they didn’t become the “Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor” because they did the opposite, putting Link on the freeway instead of 99.

    3. I wouldn’t hold my breath either. During the open houses, the mall’s concerns were essentially 2 fold – 1.)loss of parking and 2.) transit brings in the shoplifters, rather than the shoppers.

      1. Northgate Mall is dying. It just doesn’t get the walk thru traffic it used to, blame Amazon. Simon will eventually have no choice but to either sell the property to undertake a massive redevelopment. I think everyone in Northgate is waiting for the rezone before making any announcements.

      2. It’s declining but it’s a long way from dying. For a mall closer to death, see the Federal Way Commons, and earlier the Auburn Supermall. Its last interior renovation was also pretty spiffy, it’s worth going to look at the arcade ceiling.

      1. kidding — I actually believe Sound Transit’s doing a good job in spite of the elevator and escalator stuff

      2. I was going to make a prediction about the escaltors, but I didn’t want to heap on ST so heavily after my scathing escalator rants, especially since it still has time to mend its ways at this station. The escalators haven’t been ordered yet, have they?

    1. I should clarify. There are 3 escalators between the ground and the mezzanine and 3 between the mezzanine and the platform in the designs presented on the web site.

      1. With three escalators, I’d imagine they’d want the spare in each direction to be peak reversable. That’s what most modern systems do.

        It also leaves a spare when one breaks.

  3. Drove by the site last night before 10 PM and saw the contractor out in force with tons of workers moving a giant concrete pillar of some sort (probably for station support?). I was thinking, wow they are definitely trying to move this along with that kind of manpower at that time of the day.

  4. I realize it’s much more manual than TBM operations, but is there a way to speed up the cross-tunnel work? Would it be a question of adding more crews/equipment, or is there some other bottleneck that limits how many can be done at a time? With 2 tunnels, each with 2 working ends, I would think they could be done 4 at a time in each segment pair … ? Same would be true for track bed, rails, utilities, etc.

    1. WSDOT had similar problems with Bertha and in a Q and A, they said, ya we could run crews 24/7 IF we increased the budget to pay for even more highly skilled labor to work on holidays, late nights, etc. Yet the problem they found was there wasn’t enough qualified skilled labor to do it, even if they did spend even more money on it. So basically sometimes it’s not even about the budget, or logistics, but whether the contractor can find enough qualified people to do more work in parallel which will still increase the overall cost.

  5. When does construction on the ped bridge over I-5 start? Is there any chance this could open before the station itself does?

    1. SDOT has said recently that the plan is still to have it open no later than the station opening, if not before; there is a new project manager on the project and hopefully additional information/timelines will be coming soon.

  6. Latest from The Swamp is that transit will be zeroed out. So figure that everything in ST3 will take an additional three to seven years to complete. I don’t know if ST has the funds to complete Link to Northgate on time, but it shouldn’t be hurt too badly. The hole is dug and that’s the biggest cost.

    I guess the extra cars haven’t been paid for yet, so that could be a definite hiccup.

    1. Not gonna happen. Public transportation (subways and similar) has been funded by the federal government since UMTA in 1964, including through the anti-transit Reagan and Bush II administration — and Trump is going to continue to fund subways (he’s already SAID he’s going to, he’s all about building infrastructure and even mentioned railroads specifically, and he’s from New York so he knows you really can’t live without subways in big cities).

      I know the Randroids in the Republican Party want to kill the funding, but Trump’s not quite as stupid as they are. And I know the Republican Party is compulsively anti-city, but enough of them are elected from suburbs dependent on public transportation that they aren’t going to kill the public transportation funding.

      I wouldn’t expect it to grow, but they ain’t gonna kill it.

      1. We’ll see soon.

        Trump has taken on hundreds of millions in personal debt before as a means to an end. So I don’t think he’ll be opposed to more federal debt as long as it is an investment (e.g. aiports, seaports, transit, highways, etc.)

        He surprised everyone, especially his own party recently, when he suggested obamacare be replaced with a “Medicare for all” solution.

        I suspect Trump will be a big (“huuge”) spender on certain things and will completely shut off the spigot to others. We’ll find out soon if mass transit makes the cut. I have a hard time though seeing Trump be anti-transit as he grew up in NYC. I think the bigger threat is rural legislators that don’t like cities

      2. If they’re from “suburbs dependent on public transportation”, they’ve already got theirs, and, as I know you know, “I’ve got mine, screw you” is the party’s mantra. The Federal government gives relatively little in operating support so they wouldn’t be hurt eliminating the $4 billion annual expenditure.

        In fact, if loss of public transportation ended up in forcing some of “those people” to move, there wouldn’t be a tear in the caucus.

      3. The feds are unlikely to revoke grants already rewarded, just those that are still in evaluation or haven’t been applied for yet, so this mostly affects ST3. If the Swamp is reliable and can predict effectively. What politicians say they want and what finally gets passed are two different things.

        “he suggested obamacare be replaced with a “Medicare for all” solution.”

        Did he? He said it would cover everybody and be much cheaper than Obamacare, but I didn’t hear anything about eliminating the insurance companies. Of course, doing Obamacare much cheaper and better than Obamacare is a fantasy, but that’s not the only fantasy His Trumpitude has uttered. Reasonable conservatives acknowledge that Obamacare was their own idea and an attempt to prop up the insurance companies and prevent a single-payer system. if they break the legs out from under it, then we’re headed to a single-payer system long-term. (Or a German solution, which is like Obamacare but the insurance companies are nonprofits and the government sets consumer-friendly rates).Or if not single-payer, then fragmentaion or 19th-century nothing.

      4. “suburbs dependent on public transportation”

        Trump may not know there are suburbs like that, such as the woman at a 1960s apartment in outer Atlanta whose bus to the store was hourly and ended at 7pm, and the apartment is right on a highway with crossings every mile or two and the apartment in the middle, and after her shopping she was too tired to take the kids a half mile to the crosswalk and back, so they jaywalked and her son ran ahead and a car hit him and killed him and she was charged with endangering her children. Never mind that the city could have installed a crosswalk at the bus stop.

  7. I hope the elevators go directly to the platform and don’t require a transfer at the mezzanine.

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