This past Thursday evening the City of Redmond held a public meeting about bus and rail planning for the future Downtown Redmond light rail station, part of the City’s ongoing Downtown planning. The City asked the public to give feedback about four station area concepts, with the eventual goal of providing the City’s recommended station area concept to Sound Transit.

Concepts 1 (West at-grade) and 2 (West elevated) would locate the station along the north side of Bear Creek Parkway across from the Heron Rookery and close to existing high density apartments. The station itself would be along the northern rear of the triangular station area, tail tracks extending west across 161st Ave NE, with a transit busway parallel on the south. Pedestrians would need to cross at the far ends. Between the busway and Bear Creek Parkway would be a parking area with a single entrance off Leary Way NE, and the shoulders of Bear Creek Parkway would be used for bus layover space.

Concepts 3 (East elevated) and 4 (East at-grade) would locate the station on its own block just north of Redmond Town Center and with vastly better TOD potential. The station would be surrounded on almost all near sides by bus loading, with comparatively better bus-rail transfers due to minimal need to cross a street. There would be short term parking and general pick up drop off along the far side of Cleveland St, and some additional layover and parking to the east across 166th Ave NE. Notably, instead of tail tracks west across 164th Ave NE, the City proposes a center storage track back towards the east. The lack of tail tracks may require slower approach speeds to the station.

Comparing the east and west locations, the City additionally noted that the east location had fewer impacts to existing public parking and reduced impact to the Redmond Central Connector. Though not explicitly called out in the presentation, City planners in early consultation with Metro envision the new light rail station as the main transit hub for Downtown Redmond in place of Redmond Transit Center. The west station area concepts have more bus layover space than the east station area concepts, so an east station location would involve more lines continuing to terminate at RTC for the layover space.

ST3 documentation envisioned that the Redmond extension would elevated through SE Redmond Station and then proceed at-grade through Downtown Redmond, so it will be interesting to see if Sound Transit will elevate should Redmond prefer an elevated station area concept. Representatives from Sound Transit at the meeting were quick to disclaim that this is a City-led effort, and the City too emphasized that it could only make a recommendation. That said, Redmond mayor John Marchione is now as of this week a vice chair of the Sound Transit Board.

An online presentation and public feedback form is now live. The questionnaire closes February 5th, and this matter is anticipated to be reviewed by the Redmond City Council at its February 28th study session.

19 Replies to “Bus + Rail Planning in Downtown Redmond”

  1. I just thumbed through the presentation … did the west alignment have any advantages? Looks like East station placement is the clear winner.

    Elevated vs at grade is safer & quieter, but more expensive. Aesthetics seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

    Is the city of Redmond considering potential expansion when looking at station placement? Extending the line would be pretty far off in the future (2040+), but I’d think you’d want to align the station to allow for extension of the line at some point in the future. Or is everyone planning on this being a permanent terminus for East Link?

    1. I could see eventually out to Woodinville and Monroe which desperately need and alternative to 522 or maybe cut back into Bothell and Lake forest we can skip Kirkland.

      1. Notice how the west stations have a tail track and the east stations don’t! These aren’t comparable operations choices – regardless of if an extension is built or not.

      2. The tail track issue was addressed in the meeting – alternatives were presented with both a tail track for elevated and at grade, as well as a center third holding track that would be on the opposite side of the station from any tail track.

      3. Good to hear this, Phil. Someone is thinking ahead. Two tail tracks would seem to be much more useful than having a third track adjacent to the station because it would be easier train maneuvering, but I could be proven wrong.

        One of my biggest concerns with ST planning is that there isn’t enough system track to have tail tracks and sidings where they would be the most useful. Having a three-platform station (if not a four-platform station) is something that ST hasn’t designed for any of the Bellevue stations that now will be transfer points because ST3 is approved, for example; such platform arrangements allow for same-direction, cross-platform transfers.

      4. Three platform stations are very helpful in situations where something happens (power outage, major line reconstruction, etc) knocks out part of a line and a major transit hub needs to become a temporary termination point.

    2. Technically, the station is well-aligned for a future expansion. The legacy BNSF corridor points north along Willows Rd, so it could run toward Totem Lake or Woodinville if those evolve into markets one would wish to serve via rail.

      But there’s no demand, or likelihood of demand. It’s circuitous for Totem Lake travel to anywhere else. The Redmond-Totem Lake travel pair is tiny – a few low-ridership buses a day. Woodinville isn’t growing very much, and happy to stay that way.

      1. There could potentially be another Redmond station along Willows Road, maybe in the vicinity of NE 95th St. or NE 124th.

      2. but both station placements are on the legacy BNSF corridor — that’s what all the talk about impacts on the Redmond Central Connector are about.

        The west station is a little closer to where Redmond is dense today, and serves the most pedestrian friendly parts of Redmond Town Center a little better. This advantage is likely to be transitory: the area near the West station is further along in the redevelopment process.

        When all is said and done we are talking about two sites only about a quarter of a mile apart, so as long as the perceived better integration with buses is real, it’s probably the better site

        Strong preference for an elevated alignment, since I don’t believe the impacts on the Redmond Central Connector can be adequately addressed.

      3. Suggestion: Build the East station and leave room for another station even further west, perhaps around Redmond Way and Bear Creek Pkwy where the corridor crosses Redmond Way.

      4. “Technically, the station is well-aligned for a future expansion. ” I agree. I was mostly wondering if ST staff or the city of Redmond staff were actively considering expansion options when evaluating station placement.

        A 2nd station like what William C suggests could be a good idea – checking Google maps that’s right at 0.5 miles stop spacing, which is good design for urban environment.

        A station around 160th Ave and 85th St would be great station placement, but the cost & disruption of leaving the BSNF legacy ROW probably makes that’s prohibitively expensive.

        Looking further down the BNSF corridor, something around Willows & 90th would be good. That area is mostly suburban retail & light industry. In theory Redmond could up-zone that whole area west of the Sammamish river into 8-story mixed-use, but who knows if the city or the region would want that much growth there.

        I agree Totem Lake doesn’t make sense – at that point you are better off extending the line via Kirkland. But maybe the CKC is completely stalled due to political opposition, Kirkland isn’t able to get rail to their downtown, and Totem Lake grows to the extent that it merits more than 405 BRT.

        Just for fun thought experience, if Link becomes driverless you could build out East Link and Kirkland link until they meet in Totem Lake. You’d then have a train that goes Everett-Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond-Totem Lake-Kirkland-Bellevue (again)-Issaquah. No one would ever ride it end-to-end, but it is operationally elegant, eh?

        For Woodinville, it probably makes more sense to pave the BNSF ROW and run buses to Woodinville, rather than run 4-car Link trains that far. Woodinville-Redmond or Woodinville-Totem Lake-Bellevue are both interesting bus routes.

  2. I have to ask: Is this input designed to push the idea of the aerial east station site to the public? I’m left wondering how on why the information is presented like it is. I’m particularly finding basic data like the number of residents and employees with and without TOD strategies for a 1/4 mile radius is missing. I am not saying that I wouldn’t choose this option but it’s hard to make an informed comment.

  3. They cannot be serious about at-grade, especially in the West location. Blocking Leary Way every six minutes (that’s what I was told would be the train frequency) would cause massive gridlock twice a day. In the evening, it would plug up W. Lake Sammamish Parkway and EB SR520. In the morning, would seriously affect SR202 (RedWood Rd.) and 166th Ave. NE (main road to/from Education Hill neighborhood).

    Even the East at-grade location would have a negative effect on Bear Creek Parkway and the hordes of commuters going home to Sammamish each night.

    As far as aesthetics, crossing gates and fences are no prettier than an elevated train track.

    And pedestrian and bike safety would take a big hit in either at-grade location.

    All to save a few bucks and make a few people happy about a “view?” smh

  4. At grade should be off the table by this point. At grade means that periodically the whole line has to shut down after someone gets run over. Look at all the problems we’ve had with the rainier valley.

    1. At grade is what was presented in the initial plan, so it formally still must be considered. Hopefully the city council can give a firm recommendation towards elevated, and ST Staff can move forward accordingly.

  5. The fact that they’re even considering at-grade alignments is not surprising, but still disappointing. When people are late for trains, they run. When you have to cross in front of the trains path to access the station, there will inevitably be collisions – some of them fatal – which will shut down the whole station and leave many commuters stranded. If the light-rail is not grade separated, Redmond will profoundly regret that decision once the first train strikes a commuter or bus, wreaking legal and PR havoc..

  6. Build the East station and leave space for one more station even additional west, maybe around Redmond means and Bear Creek Pkwy wherever the passageway crosses Redmond means.

  7. I submitted comments that they should use either of the elevated stations, but shift them slightly either to the east or west so that the station can span the crossing street. If you have the opportunity to eliminate a street crossing for walk-up passengers, why not take it?

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