Aerial view of the future Mountlake Terrace Station Credit: Sound Transit

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.” 

Site plan of the future Mountlake Terrace Station
Credit: 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.

Street view of the future Mountlake Terrace Station
Credit: Sound Transit

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.”

70 Replies to “Mountlake Terrace Residents Want More Parking”

  1. I rode a bus to Mountlake Terrace Station once, and the acoustics of the entire station are downright awful. You practically need hearing protection the moment you walk out of your car, and the bus stop, itself, in the middle of the freeway, is not much better. (After just 5-10 minutes of waiting for the bus, my ears were still hurting half an hour later, after I got off the bus).

    Hopefully, the light rail station will be a little bit better than this, but I’m not holding my breath. The terrain and the parking garage do too good a job at funneling all the traffic noise into a confined space, which is right where all the passengers are.

    While freeway stations are never going to be exactly quiet, other Sound Transit freeway stations, including 520/Montlake, I-5/145th, and 520/NE-40th St. are not nearly this bad.

    1. Someone could walk from the MLT Transit Center west on the Lakeview Trail/236th and use the back gate to the Nile. It’s about 3/4 mile to the Nile building. Even though ST said the gate wouldn’t be open, it was.

  2. A public restroom?!?!? What!?! When was this decided? Who will maintain and clean it? Why doesn’t Seattle have a public restroom facility requirement? If Sound Transit’s reasoning for not having public restrooms are because they are expensive to maintain and attract homeless and drug issues then it seems like if they add restrooms to one station, there’s a hole in the system and they should add them to all. Either have them everywhere or none at all.

    1. Didn’t you know restrooms are only for suburbs with mostly white people in them?

      (Diverse suburbs get their restrooms locked during business hours).

      America assumes we urban dwellers will just magically find somewhere else to do our business.

    2. It’s just something the city required. Different cities have different regulations — not a Sound Transit thing.

    3. So this is the way to get restrooms at stations. Seattle should pass such a policy post haste.

      1. Yes! There is a segment of the population that does occasionally need restroom access en route, and like it or not we’re all inevitably and inexorably headed in that direction–time/age is a beast. Especially if you do the “right” thing and take a bus to the station, the bus portion of the trip generally won’t have restroom access. Not having somewhere to pee shouldn’t be a reason not to ride transit, and it would seem to limit the “accessibility” of transit. Even if the whole needle containers in restrooms thing is a bit freaky….

    4. Given that the station is in the middle of the suburbs (a long walk from business that might have a restroom) and will have people waiting there for bus connections, a public restroom makes sense. As it does in Lynnwood and at 185th Street.

      Public restrooms might be necessary for Mount Baker and UW stations, but the other Seattle stations are close enough to other restrooms that make it seem wasteful to build and maintain one.

      1. Careful, Bruce. May have been a holiday, but recall a sunset-hour search around Westlake Station for a bathroom. A lot of things were closed.

        Same for walking distance from Broadway Station on a Sunday afternoon. Not all businesses let customers use bathrooms.

        I could say right now that this matter is chief reason I’ll drive three hours between Olympia and Angle Lake rather than take chances with a one hour bus ride each leg- meaning to and from Tacoma that could go stationary any time, for any amount of time.

        As I used to be able to do three years ago. With no Diamond Lanes in sight time or concept-wise, “Free” way becomes a linear detention yard- subject to lock-down with no notice whatsoever.

        Since I know routes where I seldom see either stopped head-or tail-lights, and my car gets 50-60 mpg, I’m minimally polluting and not at all in any traffic’s way. Until transit can get me anywhere I need to go in usable time-frame, no guilt at all about using any means I need to get to places I most need to get to real fast.


      2. “he other Seattle stations are close enough to other restrooms”

        Not really. Take Westlake. In the daytime you can go to the top floor of the mall, but that closes around 8pm. After that I used to go to the top floor of Pacific Place, but the last time I was there it had numeric code locks on the doors.

        Otherwise there are restaurants and bars around some stations, but the ones in the most popular areas also have locked restrooms or a numeric code, so you have to buy something to use them and they aren’t really set up for “immediate needs” (and why would you be there if the need wasn’t immediate?), or you have to ask to use them or sneak in which is essentially the same problem as how do you ride transit when you have no money or you lost your wallet. All these are coping strategies, they’re not solutions, not in the sense that society should just say they’re good enough and leave it at that. But it’s a problem that Seattle and many American cities have left unsolved for decades.

      3. I’d like to point out many other major cities on this planet don’t think an urban station is an improper place to put a restroom.

        Especially when you’s switching between long train rides…

      4. I’ll join the above posters in stating that the presence of multiple businesses in walking distance does NOT really suffice for restroom access, not even in the downtown area. Especially after hours when the “hunt” will probably make you miss your transfer to a bus that may not be running frequently. The City wouldn’t allow a restaurant to have restroom access be “shared” with a bar that’s a 5 minute walk away.

      5. Pacific Place also has bathrooms in the basement level, where people go to the parking clerk booths to pay for their parking. Then again, they might lock up their bathrooms late in the evening as well.

    5. Well, the city requires it and they can figure out how to maintain it, and they’d better. I finally escaped Mountlake Terrace last month, but lemme tell you, the lack of a restroom ANYWHERE around that station was the bane of my existence (and I’m not that old…). I never did pull down my trousers and use some cinderblock house’s front yard for my business, but on some days it was a near thing. Restroom = civilization, and the Mountlake Terrace P & R is already brutal enough on its best days…

    6. then it seems like if they add restrooms to one station, there’s a hole in the system and they should add them to all.

      Why? It’s a bad idea and waste of resources. ST can’t force Mountlake Terrace to change their bad law, so they have to do it here, but that’s no reason to compound the error and waste lots of money that could be spent on transit. Symmetry and consistency have value, but it’s not the only goal to pursue. We currently have a region where some transit centers have public restrooms and some don’t, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

      1. Public restrooms should be required and provided period, regardless of transit; it’s a public necessity. New York City still does have several in key places (mostly near major parks). Cities which don’t, have a problem.

  3. There needs to be a frank discussion of how park and rides are doomed unless they evolve to be more oriented to carpooling and pick ups/drop offs. ST shouldn’t be building more parking, they should be working with Lyft Line and carpool matching services to make these services readily available where they are most needed (where density doesn’t support efficient fixed transit) and the people of Mountlake Terrace need to realize that they can’t build enough parking to have the kind of reliable supply that allows everyone to drive alone. Quibbling over hundreds of parking spaces when you have thousands of potential riders a day is a waste of time and money.

    1. They need to start chagrinning for the parking. Then bury the parking underground. I have no problem with them paying for something they use. Its ridiculous to think I have to spend some of my fare money on a single drop of asphalt.

      You want parking fine.
      It will be this amount.

      End of discussion.

      1. Agreed. Sound Transit needs to charge for the parking. Watch as suddenly half the parking is empty and people bicycle to the station.

        If the PAID parking is still full, well, then the payments are a revenue source which can be used to fund garages.

    2. One would think the ride-“share” advocates would be clamoring for dedicated ride-“share” and even autonomous ride-“share” infrastructure. And it would probably a good thing to have as a “last mile” option for those not living where frequent bus service is practicable, instead of just “more parking” which doesn’t scale with population growth. However, it’s only when opposing transit projects outright that this is brought up. It’s only when arguing “rideshare-in-lieu-of-transit” and never when arguing for “rideshare-in-lieu-of-parking” that it comes up. And the future is coming whether we like it or not.

    3. It’s not hard. CHARGE FOR PARKING. It’s not free to provide, and is a direct subsidy for driving to the station.

      1. I’m not sure if charging alone would solve the problem. It would certainly mean you could find a parking spot, but that doesn’t mean more people would ride the train. It would simply mean that instead of the spot going to the early bird, it goes to the person willing to pay more money. There would be a bit more turnover, but it might not be that much, especially if the bulk of the people using the park and ride are commuters.

        There could be more people using ride share services, but those could get very expensive. Again, you run into the situation where you simply price a lot of people out of the service. Or, to put it another way, a lot of people will simply drive, if taking transit is very expensive. More than likely, it would do exactly what the people here are worried about: folks parking on their street. If you charge ten bucks a day for parking, or an Uber costs eight bucks each way*, then my guess is a lot of people will drive their own car (especially since most of the people in the area own cars).

        * The $8 is the estimate by Uber ( for what I consider to be a typical ride to the station (I put in 2427 236th Street Southwest, Brier, WA 98036 and 6051 236th St SW, Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043). It is possible that cost would go down a bit after Link goes there (just as taxi cabs are attracted to the airport, so, too will they be attracted to the station) but I wouldn’t be surprised if $5 is the cheapest you could get that ride. It is only a little over three miles, but it is about a ten minute drive (and again, this is a typical drive). Unlike an airport, it is also one way in nature. So in the morning, the driver “dead heads” from the station to the next house. That means about three rides an hour, meaning if the driver did charge $5, the driver would make less than minimum wage.

      2. Street parking needs to cost money too. The parking meter was invented in Oklahoma City in 1935 — it’s not a difficult concept.

        If parking is PAID parking, the immediate result would be more people taking bikes to the station.

        If PAID parking fills up, well, that answers the question of how to pay for more parking.

    4. 145th and 185th stations are being designed with drop-offs for both family/friend pickups and rideshare pickups, so I assume Mountlake Terrace will have that too.

    5. “There needs to be a frank discussion of how park and rides are doomed unless they evolve to be more oriented to carpooling and pick ups/drop offs.”

      Define “doomed”. I hope that driving will be less popular in thirty or fifty years but there’s no sign of it yet. The idea that autonomous taxis will replace a large percentage of cars is still too speculative at this point to count on. Carshares with drivers already exist and they’ve made hardly a dent in the number of owner-used cars on the road or in P&Rs. The future will be visible in central Seattle and Ballard long before it occurs in Mountlake Terrace: those low-density neighborhoods just aren’t designed to be navigable without an owned car, and the kind of people who buy those houses are disproportionately skewed to those who want to own cars, otherwise they wouldn’t be living there or demanding a garage. The percentage of people looking for a garageless suburban house is still around zero. There will be more people without cars living in apartments and condos around the stations and on frequent bus feeders, but those are in addition to the people who park in the garage, they don’t replace them.

      ST shouldn’t be building more parking, they should be working with Lyft Line and carpool matching services to make these services readily available where they are most needed (where density doesn’t support efficient fixed transit) and the people of Mountlake Terrace need to realize that they can’t build enough parking to have the kind of reliable supply that allows everyone to drive alone. Quibbling over hundreds of parking spaces when you have thousands of potential riders a day is a waste of time and money.

      1. Some agencies are already subsidizing ride “share” services to and from transit stations. The idea is it may be cheaper than running busses through low density neighborhoods and/or building and maintaining large garages and the land use issues that go along with it. If parking is $5/day (with risk of not getting a spot) and POOL/LINE is, say, $3 each way for trips ending or beginning at the nearest station, it gets competitive. Especially when many people can get picked up by family or take a bus one-way, whereas once you drive to the park-and-ride you’re committed to a round trip and the car being parked all day.

        Note that anything longer than a 5-10 minute drive can hardly be considered “last mile” anyways–it’s really a different problem! Perhaps it’s worth ST investigating how long/far people are driving to their various park-and-rides?

      2. I hope you’re not referring to the cities that have replaced some coverage routes with rideshares, and poor former riders can’t afford the ridershares so they’re doing without transportation.

      3. @B >> Perhaps it’s worth ST investigating how long/far people are driving to their various park-and-rides?

        Yes, absolutely! There is a big misconception about park and rides. Or, at the very least, people don’t think about it much. They look upon them like you would a restaurant. If the restaurant is too busy, then you should make it bigger.

        But that really isn’t how we should think of park and rides. They are more like hospitals. You need them, but if they are too crowded, you should ask why. Is it because the population is growing, or is it because there are too many people getting sick? If it is the latter, then figure out ways of treating people in the field, and trying to keep them healthier. The V. A. does this all the time, because it is cheaper (and better for the patients) than expanding the hospitals.

        Same with park and rides. If they are crowded, then figure out where people are coming from. Then run frequent buses from that area. If buses aren’t practical, then run Access vans. We should also charge for parking, with the money going into that sort of service. If they charge for parking, but folks know the money is going into improved options for getting to the park and rides, then people won’t complain it about it as much.

        This really should be a priority when it comes to park and rides. Instead of saying “We don’t have the money to expand”, the agencies (Metro and ST) should say “We are investigating and will put into place programs that lessen the need for the existing park and rides spaces. This includes improved bus service and smaller satellite park and ride lots”.

      4. St and Metro did study Northgate Transit Center, and came up with surprising results that changed how it designed the station access. The license plates showed that most of the people came from the neighborhoods directly east and west of the transit center, and not from the vast lands north of it. So it then asked people in those areas why they dove and whether they wanted a larger P&R. Most of them said they drove only because there are so few feeder buses and it’s so difficult to get to Northgate by foot or bike. 3/4 of the public feedback said they did NOT want a P&R but rather better bus/bike/ped access.

        This is something we should really ask about all the P&Rs: where are people coming from? ST has presumably studied this and has the data. I wouldn’t expect Northgate’s sentiment to be shared everywhere. But recently there was a big kerfuffle about the Mercer Island P&R, with residents claiming off-islanders are taking all the parking. Nobody stopped to ask who is actually using the P&R and how many of them are off-island. Anecdotally, a lot of Eastsiders do “shop” for a P&R along I-90, and people in the south end drive to Angle Lake and previously TIB. But that turned not to be the case at Northgate, and how many other surprises might lurk if we look at who from where is actually using the all the P&Rs.

        I would also like to know how many of them are using them for their intended purpose; e.g., houses in Brier-land who have practically no bus service near them. Hopefully they’re not being displaced by people with better bus service.

    6. “Quibbling over hundreds of parking spaces when you have thousands of potential riders a day is a waste of time and money.”

      That’s your most effective argument. If the entire population of Mountlake Terrace drove to the station, it would require parking eleven times larger than the proposal. How many stories tall would that be, or how much land would it take? It would have to be tall enough to require a zoning variance, or large enough to rival the Nile Shrine golf course or the entire freeway interchange. Does Mountlake Terrace want that in its neighborhood? That would make all the arguments about the station’s impact or a large apartment building’s impact seem like trivial nitpicking. Except that somehow parking and lanes and ramps are exempt from the “It’s an ugly eyesore” argument: they’re seen as too essential or too much a part of the modern life. (“What, you want to live in a crowded tenement without the freedom to go anywhere anytime? That’s so nineteenth-century.”)

    7. In general I don’t think park and rides are a bad idea. But when they start getting really big, and you start talking about spending big money on them, you have a major design failure on your hands.

      There are other problems with the giant park and ride model besides cost. A large park and ride causes congestion. For some of our stations, this could cause a major degradation of service. For example, 185th does not have freeway traffic (and is generally a pretty quiet street). Swift will connect Aurora to Link. If they build a huge park and ride, that connection could go from being really fast to one that is stuck in stop and go traffic. The Mountlake Terrace station is, unfortunately, built right by the freeway ramps, so any added congestion brought on by the park and ride itself will be hard to notice. But it still doesn’t help.

      If the parking lot is big enough, you also have the problem that people spend a lot of time circling around, looking for a spot. When they find one, they have to walk a long distance. Anyone who has parked at the airport is familiar with this. In short, park and ride lots don’t scale.

      The answer is pretty simple:

      1) Charge for parking. Charge hourly (without a big discount for all day parking) as a means to encourage turnover. Put the money you raise into the following:

      2) Build smaller park and ride lots connected to good bus service. A great example of this sort of thing is right here: This park and ride only serves about 30 cars. That is a small dent for the riders of the 41, but the vast majority of the 41 riders walk to the bus stop. Yet this park and ride still serves the surrounding neighborhood. Not the entire Lake City/Pinehurst/Northgate area, but the area just north of there For a lot of people, if they don’t drive to this park and ride (or park on the street), they have to make a very long walk or wait a long time for a bus. In other suburban areas, the situation is worse. Cul de sacs and dead ends often make walking difficult, meaning a walk that is a quarter mile as the crow flies is much longer if you walk.

      3) Add bus lanes or other priority service for the connecting bus service. Frequency is very important — especially during rush hour — but so, too is fast bus service.

      Here is an example: Let’s say you live in Brier, off of Locust Way. It is a very long walk to the 111: You can drive to the Montlake Terrace Station, but that is a longer and much more congested drive ( Still, it is only ten minutes or so (maybe longer with traffic) and likely the fastest way to get downtown.

      Now assume that you add a park and ride on Brier Road. Now you have a very short drive ( Improve the headways on the 111, add some bus lanes, and now you might as well park there. It isn’t just that riding the bus is cheaper, it is that it is just about as fast, and far less stressful.

  4. Build the 220th Street Station.
    Ok I know this wont happen until ST4 now :( but Still build it

  5. How hard is it to build a parking garage that will be safe, easy, and non-poisonous to convert to residential, commercial, and industrial use when transit renders it unneeded for parking?

    And. Only way to keep restrooms sanitary for germs, let alone humans? Make them part of a busy functioning neighborhood, 24-7-365.

    Also, from direct observation in Tanzania and Spain: At a desk at the entrance, station someone to collect entry fees, and someone else to take a mop and a bucket of disinfectant into every stall immediately after use.

    A dignified Spanish lady around 65 years old, in a black dress and handing out white hand-towels when you pay, enforces a lot more compliance than an armed security guard. Charge cost to health, safety, and marketing all three.

    Local business community should also be financially grateful to be spared their most common least-liked request or demand.

    Mark Dublin

  6. Aren’t they adding hundreds of parking spaces at the three other stations on the Lynnwood Link extension? Station switching among park-ride riders is common when trains stop at the same stations on the corridor in other cities.

    I would think that more parking at Lynnwood would be a better way to go, especially with the added attractiveness of 405 BRT (although the 50-minute rail trip from Lynnwood to Downtown Bellevue may siphon off end-to-end commuters on a 405 BRT).

    1. I don’t think they should add extra parking close to any station, but if you did, I would add it at Mountlake Terrace before Lynnwood. There are a couple key differences:

      1) There is higher density and a lot more destinations close to Lynnwood. This means that to improve bus service (to serve smaller, outlying park and rides) will be a lot more cost effective. Not only do you serve those smaller park and rides, but you serve a lot more people who walk right to the bus. Improvements to the surrounding bus service (such as bus lanes) are also justified and make a bigger difference. To make riding the bus to the train station more attractive than driving is a lot cheaper at Lynnwood than at Mountlake Terrace.

      You also make ride sharing services a lot cheaper for the same reason. Even single person cabs are cheaper, as there are fewer dead head runs. There is a good chance that a driver might drop someone off in Edmonds (at the ferry or a nearby business) before picking someone up at a nearby apartment. That is a lot less likely to happen in Brier.

      2) There are fewer places to park around Lynnwood. That is one of the key issues here. The neighbors don’t want people parking on their street. That is why simply charging for parking makes sense in Lynnwood, but not do much in Mountlake Terrace. Folks would simply do what people are afraid they will do: park on the street.

    2. Honestly I don’t have a problem with adding parking as long as it’s *paid* parking and the fees are high enough to cover the cost of construction and operation.

      But it isn’t, is it? It’s all free parking — a giveaway to car owners.

  7. This statement got my attention, 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. Any other transit agency would add this to their 6 year plan, find some money for engineering, find some money for construction, and several years down the line it would be built. However, it seems that with the way ST has evolved there is a certain amount of inflexibility when it comes to projects or services, whereas if its not in the plan, it just does not get done. They seem to have flexibility when it comes to projects within the plan, however for new projects, it seems like that’s a no-go from day 1 if its not in the plan to begin with. I think its time for some major rethinking of how they deliver services. Having a plan of voter approved projects to deliver is fine, and those projects should be delivered, however that should be one component of an overall living, changing, plan that has the flexibility to add and adapt projects for the benefit of their ridership without it being specifically spelled out hard and fast in their plan approved by voters upwards of twenty years ago. I think such a change would help resolve several shortcomings in the agency’s delivery of services.

    1. I didn’t understand that statement by ST. If it has the flexibility to put the alignment and stations a mile away from the representative alignment (Lynnwood Link alternatives included Aurora to Lake City Way and 145th Station had alternatives from 120th to 155th), then that sounds like enough flexibility to add or subtract a few hundred parking spaces. Or he could have been making an urbanist argument by dubious means, saying ST legally couldn’t when it really meant ST doesn’t want to increase the number of spaces. (And let’s not forget structured parking is expensive: $30-70K per space.)

      It’s unfortunate cities can’t take responsibility for funding garages like northeastern cities do. But as with Access, the argument is that it’s “transit” so it should come out of the transit budget, and in any case parking was explicitly included in the ST tax measure, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as high (and it wouldn’t have passed in the suburbs).

      1. I think your comment makes a good point. I would be curious what would happen if every city had to fund and plan their own parking supply around stations. They would then decide what works best around their stations and it would save tens if not hundreds of millions for ST. It comes down to who the public trusts more on how to add and manage parking around transit.

      2. I can’t believe the number of parking spaces is that restricted. When the ballot measure passed the engineering studies hadn’t been done yet, and they could have determined that that kind of parking structure was infeasible. As we learned during the siting of 145th station, ST can move, delete, or defer a station in the ballot measure by simply writing a statement justifying the change. ST is extremely reluctant to do so but that doesn’t mean it can’t. So a difference of five spaces or two hundred spaces seems like the same kind of administrative detail. But at some point a change is big enough that it violates what people voted for. That would require a lawyer to determine, but I assume it would be something like not going to downtown Lynnwood or being a streetcar. (Because BRT was an acceptable alternative too.) So ST may have to clean up its terminology, buf it the real reason is that ST doesn’t want to build more parking than it said it would (and it doesn’t want to divert more money to parking), then that’s a good sign. This plan does not show the restructured ST Express or Community Transit feeders that will be additional service.

      3. Let’s see. If a parking garage lasts 20 years (I think this is about right), and is used 365 days per year, and costs $70K per space, then charging $10 / day would be sufficient to pay for the garage. Maybe it would only have 80% occupancy, so call it $12 / day.

        Is this so hard, people? If you want parking, pay for it…

        If you can do it at $30K per space, you only need to charge $6 / day. Good deal!

      4. If your parking garage only lasts 20 years, you’re doing it wrong (and structured parking costs are far, far closer to $30K/space than $70K – that number, wherever it came from, is flatly ridiculous – it doesn’t even cost that much as part of an 8-level below grade structure under a downtown tower). Figure twice that time period, at least. We still use parking structures built for the World’s Fair. Your numbers come out even better with those things said, and are a great argument for paid parking as are more obvious things like not subsidizing a relative handful of drivers.

        That said, you’ll never see full usage on 365 days a year – Angle Lake for example Is nearly vacant on weekends, and that’s with free parking. Figure it at closer to 275 or so.

      5. Sound Transit looked at the cost to build an additional parking garage at the Mountlake Terrace Station as part of ST3.

        The total cost is around $32 million. This was a 500 stall garage and the garage would have to be built on the existing 220 stall surface lot. This only results in a net gain of 280 stalls. In this case, the total cost per net new stall is actually $114k.

      6. I’ve mentioned this several times before on this blog, and I’ll keep saying this until the cows come home. Structured parking generally costs +/-$25,000 – 30,000 per stall in this area; a similar garage to that which ST is constructing was opened a couple of years ago for less than that by San Diego’s transit authority (see link below). Everything comes under budget if you are budgeting 3x actual cost! I have some familiarity with reasonable numbers in this regard, and ST is budgeting far too much for this type of structure. They put this number in their budget without explanation, and then everybody believes it because they have no point of actual reference to what these things should cost in the real world. In your example it’s even worse because they already own the land.

        Giving them the benefit of the doubt and just calculating 500 new stalls (as opposed to the actual +280 you so rightly point out is the net), at $32M you’re still at $64,000/stall. Without other evidence to the contrary, it’s budget padding. I have no particular problem with that, but we shouldn’t use it as an actual construction cost because that’s not what it would cost to build that structure were the municipality or a private entity to build it as a single budget item and not a tiny part of a multi-billion dollar contract. If someone would like to provide information as to WHY a $12M garage in San Diego will cost $32M in Seattle, I’d love to hear the rationale.

        If they are REALLY paying $64,000/stall for these garages, the boondoggle’s already here.

        (Note that San Diego has more or less similar land, construction, and seismic costs to Seattle.)

      7. If you look at the cost breakdown in my previous link you’ll see that $20 million is the construction cost. The other $12 million is agency admin, engineering and environmental, final design, construction management, contingency, etc. So we’re talking a construction cost of $40k per stall which may still be high compared to what the final construction cost would be but at this type of planning level cost estimate doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

      8. Here’s a look at the budget for the similar San Diego project I referenced. You are correct in stating the difference between the $20M and the $32M at Mountlake Terrace is the difference between construction costs and design/engineering/administrative/contingency costs. That said, I’ll point out that the San Diego garage (and 90 surface parking stalls) cost $12.1M in construction costs; all other expenditures including everything ST budgets in their $12M only cost $2.8M there. The total budget for this project was $15M all in, as opposed to ST’s $32M at MLT. I’ll still state that the difference between $20M and $12M in construction and $12M and $3M in ancillary expenditures is substantial, even taking into consideration cost increases over time. Padding is a good thing to some extent, and I’d love to hear “Yay! We came in $10M under budget at Mountlake Terrace!” from ST. I’m just saying that in my opinion people stating an inflated cost-per-stall figure to make a point aren’t using real world numbers.

        (Caveat – my work in the design world does not deal specifically with stand-alone parking structures and I would bow to the expertise of someone who does that kind of work locally; I am somewhat familiar with budgeting for parking as part of larger developments, and I believe my comparison to a project very similar in scope to MLT is a valid enough one to discuss costs. I appreciate your viewpoint on the subject!)

      9. oops – link sometimes goes to the total project board, which is not useful! If it does, click on the “segment” tab, then use the pull-down menu at the top of the page called “View information for” and select ” I-15 BRT Sabre Springs Parking Structure (1201512).” It’s near the bottom.

    2. Yes, that is an ominous statement. It makes me concerned when a primary explanation is “that’s what the voters said” by approving a broad regional measure when it comes to station design requirements. If the referendum says 500 spaces, does that mean that 495 or 505 spaces violate the referendum?

    3. It comes down to ST being a very different agency than a Metro or Community Transit. ST’s funding is tied to a specific set of projects, and the agency is very firm about scope creep. Metro has continual funding and regularly updates their long term plan by adding & removing capital projects.

      1. Metro didn’t have a long-term plan from the early 2000s and the new one revealed last year. It laid off the long-term planners due to the Eyman cuts and the recession. Its long-term plan in the 00’s was “finish RapidRide”. That was why we were floundering so severely and David Lawson and Aleks and I were drawing up our own network maps: because Metro didn’t have any plans to improve the network and we despaired that it would just stagnate. Community Transit I haven’t followed closely but I gather its long-term plan was also a quantum leap rather than just a regular update. Bellevue and Marysville among others have also been busy writing impressive transit master plans. One might say that all this has been spurned on by the arrival of light rail, but probably also by increasing public awareness and demand for local transit, and hopefully STB has played some small part in making that awareness happen.

      2. With all due respect, as Sound Transit slowly transforms itself from a capitol projects agency to one that also manages high profile operations they need to have the flexibility to add capital projects to their plans, projects in support of their services and riders. This is not an out of the ordinary thing for any transit agency, as most every one has a capital projects program outside of rolling stock of some size. Their original mission was to deliver projects, now that they have they need the flexibility to maintain, expand, and make further investments in those projects. Sometimes I think their own internal policies are as much of a hindrance to their projects as the NIMBYs are. I can think of several issues that a more normally structured transit agency would have addressed a long time ago by now if they were not so rigidly locked into their plan. On the plus side they do have a good record for delivering projects on schedule and budget, so there is that tradeoff…

    4. ST can’t change the plan from what the voters approved if it’s a significant change to either service provided or cost. If ST 2 says to put a station at 236th in MLT, they have some flexibility as to where on 236th it goes, as long as it’s not a major increase in cost or a major degradation of service (like deleting the station entirely). Same goes with parking. ST2 can make changes to the proposed parking, but only at similar cost and type of service. Adding or deleting 5 spaces from a 500-car garage is not significant either way.

      1. What is the threshold of significance? ST seems to believe that a referendum allows them to relocate entire stations but not remove or add 200 spaces from a structure.

      2. So they can completely re-route a line (see ST1 and Sane v. Sound) but they can’t add a parking lot. I don’t buy it; in a less polite forum I’d make an “If I smell it I call it” observation. This falls very much into the convenient lie category: it’s easier to tell people that you can’t do something than to explain to them why you won’t do it.

    1. What is the question? Used up by what? Are you asking how many bike spaces the station will have?

      1. I think he’s asking whether the bike parking is full and pointing out how cheap it is to expand bike parking…

  8. I wonder if they plan to improve bicycle access from either or both directions of 236th St. Today there is a very nice bike lane along 236th through MLT which dead ends at 56th Ave, less than 1/4 mile from the transit center. I frequently take this route, but it can be intimidating for anyone not accustomed to cycling in traffic, especially during rush hour. This seems like a lost opportunity to me, especially when you consider the parking crunch and the potentially huge bikeshed of the endless suburbs to the east.

    (On the west side of the freeway the connection is better, although cyclists have to wait at a pedestrian crossing of 236th to switch from the trail along the Nile golf course, to the north side of the road before crossing the I-5 bridge on a shared wide sidewalk.)

  9. We’d also like to provide an accessible, paved trail through Veterans Park to the Transit Center but that project isn’t currently funded. (I say “we” because as until recently I was the chair of MLT’s Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission and this trail was discussed often.)

  10. I found it odd that there’s no mention of the relatively large TOD development planned (and already permitted) immediately adjacent to the station site. the boulevard by Cinebarre is finally going to get extended all the way through to 236th and there are three multi-story mixed-use buildings to be built on the parcel, all with structured parking.

    I know in the past mountlake terrace was doing a bit of foot-dragging about up-zoning
    (see: )
    but things have definitely improved since then, with several mid-sized developments along 56th, and now things moving forward on this fairly large, very “TOD” reworking of a big chunk of land. The development(s) are on more than 14 acres of land and will center on a new boulevard to be constructed from the current “Gateway Place” area (Cinebarre Theater, Mazatlan Restaurant, Umpqua Offices, Studio 6 Hotel, etc.) to the Transit center (and new LINK station) at 236th,

    I don’t know exactly all the numbers, but I see on the architect’s website that the first of three buildings will have 258 apartment units and 61,494 sq ft commercial space. In the plans, buildings #2 & #3 seem a bit smaller, but a powerpoint I found online says 600+ residential units and 90,000+ sq ft commercial (and 1000 stalls of parking!?) — all of this will be immediately adjacent to the transit center and LINK station. There also seems to be set-asides for parks, buffers, and wetlands — so it seems like it’s being done thoughtfully?.

    I haven’t found a timeline, but in April 2016 the city passed a resolution that seems to clear the way for all the approvals.

    No doubt, it ain’t perfect — but it seems a huge step in the correct direction.

    info / links:

    city resolution in 2016 (seems to approve the development agreement):

    the site plan and conceptual drawings (25-page):

    27 slide powerpoint:

    1. You’ve got the numbers about right. Total in the 3 bulidings somewhere around 600 residential units and 100k SF commercial. Construction on the project was supposed to start last summer with Phase 1 opening late 2017 but got caught up in some permitting issues due to a stream in a culvert on site. Then the contractor that was lined up to build the project pulled out. I haven’t heard if they have another contractor lined up yet. In the meantime there have been lots of discussions between the developer, the City of MLT and Sound Transit concerning the shared, expanded plaza south of 236th.

      In addition to this, the City is currently working on some potential zoning changes in the Town Center east of the station from what is mostly 3/4/5 story limits (with a few areas of 6/7) to a large area of up to something like 8 stories. Also been lots of talk of improving the trail through Veteran’s Park which would provide a great pedestrian connection between the station and the Town Center.

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