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.