Most Mountlake Terrace residents had only one suggestion after reviewing the latest plans for Mountlake Terrace Station, which will be located on 236th Street Southwest just east of Interstate 5: build more parking.
Residents reported that, during the week, all 880 parking spaces are taken by 8 am at the transit station currently on the site. This forces commuters to park on nearby neighborhood streets or simply drive to work.
On the comment board one resident had written, “Plan for parking with a private developer. Quit passing the buck, Sound Transit.”
Rod Kempkes, the Lynnwood Link Executive Project Director, said that though Sound Transit can’t legally add parking to the package after voters approved the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure, the agency is looking for other ways additional parking can be provided.
The agency is buying a cul-de-sac with nine homes to be used for interim parking. After the station is constructed, Kempkes said, Sound Transit hopes to work with the city to require that piece of land have some sort of public parking requirement.
Over 100 residents filled the Niles Shrine Country Club June 28, excited to see the 60% design for the Mountlake Terrace Station. When finished, the ride between Mountlake Terrace and downtown Seattle will take about 23 minutes, cutting many commutes almost in half. Construction is expected to start in 2018 and finish in 2023.
The plans show an elevated station spanning 236th St with a lobby on both sides of the street. The lobby will have green and blue accent walls and interpretive tiles to help guide visually impaired riders to the train platform.
To comply with city policy, Sound Transit is including a public restroom in the station. The existing bus flyer stop will remain, but the agency is uncertain what its future use will be. ST recently brought aboard artist Kipp Kobayashi to help design installations for the art program. Bike racks and storage will be available to riders at the station.
Though not a transit rider at the moment, resident Angela Amundson said that could change when light rail reaches the city.
“I’m thrilled we are getting light rail,” Amundson said. “It’s definitely going to improve property values.”
“It’s been hard to move Mountlake Terrace forward,” Amundson added, but “the old feelings of leaving Mountlake Terrace the way it is, are changing, and people are opening their eyes to change and seeing it’s not so bad.”
She did have one concern about the flow of buses through the transit station after light rail opens. A second exit from the parking lot, on the east side, will be a bus only loop lane. Amundson believes drivers will also use the lane causing intersections to be blocked during busy times.
The station is one of four planned in the Lynnwood Link Extension, part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The 8.5-mile route will follow I-5 north with stations at Northeast 145th Street in Shoreline, Northeast 185th Street, the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center at 236th Street Southwest, ending at the Lynnwood Transit Center at 48th Avenue West. As light rail travels north from the Mountlake Terrace Station the tracks will cross over I-5 running along the west side of the highway to the Lynwood Station.
An online open house is still available where people can give additional feedback.
Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, a Mountlake Terrace Councilmember, has been helping the city plan for light rail over the last 10 years. She said the city has been working closely with Sound Transit to rezone parts of the city for density and more mixed-use. Currently the neighborhoods surrounding the transit station are filled with small cinder-block houses.
“I don’t think people quite understand just how much of a change this is going to be,” Wright said. “Change is change, and you can’t stop it.”