When we last left Lynnwood link, the light rail extension was $500M over budget. Now, per Mike Lindblom in the Seattle Times, that number has dropped to $300M:
By nipping here and tucking there, a Sound Transit manager says his team located $200 million in potential savings to ease a budget crisis in the Northgate-to-Lynnwood light-rail extension.
No major features such as stations or park-and-ride garages were slashed in the latest proposals, which include about 100 changes along the 8.5-mile corridor, said Rod Kempkes, executive project director for Lynnwood Link.
His team negotiated so-called “value-engineering” ideas with suburban staff and mayors since summer, when the voter-approved $2.4 billion cost estimate soared to $2.9 billion.
Even assuming the trimming works, there’s a roughly $300 million gap, which could wind up plunging taxpayers deeper into debt. A preliminary finance update is expected soon.
To fully close the $300M gap, there’s really only one option: defer the 3 proposed parking garages. The garages cost as much as $212M in total, or $88,000 per stall, an order of magnitude more than any of the other cost savings proposed.
To recap, Shoreline’s two stations (145th and 185th) are set to get 500-space garages. Lynnwood’s current 1,400-space surface lot would be replaced with a 1,400-space garage plus 500 surface spots. That makes for a net gain of 1,500 spots across the three stations (Here are all the parking lots planned for the full ST3 build out), or 2,400 total.
We understand that free parking (like free anything) is politically popular. Lynnwood link will run through cities that in many places lack sidewalks, let alone bike lanes or frequent East-west buses, making non-motorized access a challenge. For many residents, especially those who have never experienced the freedom of living within walking distance of rail transit, park-and-ride is the only way they can conceive of using the system.
Spending on parking now is a zero-sum decision. The cost overruns in Lynnwood have already delayed the Link extension by six months while a portion of the budget gap is closed. Every dollar in a Lynnwood garage delays the extension to Paine Field and Everett. At a minimum, we believe parking for a small fraction of future Link users deserves to go to the back of the line in Snohomish County funding priorities.
This is where civic leadership can have a huge impact. And indeed, Shoreline and Lynnwood governments have both stepped up to the plate with ambitious proposals for building urban villages around their stations – reconnecting the street grid, activating the space with a mix of commercial and residential uses, and increasing zoning capacity. Lynnwood will allow towers as tall as 35 stories, dwarfing the height limits around many of Seattle’s light rail stations.
Both cities deserve kudos for seizing the light rail opportunity to build vibrant, all-day communities around their stations. So why settle for a field goal when a touchdown is within reach? Let’s defer the decision until we see what can be done with surface parking. If all goes well, perhaps officials and residents may decide they’d prefer the space for jobs, housing and retail, along with the tax revenues those uses provide.
In either case, before embarking on a massive garage building project, these cities should seek to do everything they can with existing space and investing heavily in non-vehicular access. Sound Transit ought to make it as easy as possible by improving the pedestrian, bicycle and bus transfer experience in the new designs. Carpool spots, paid parking options, and privately-owned parking lots should be discussed as well. Community Transit and Metro should commit to frequent feeder bus service.
Even if Sound Transit can scratch together enough for the garages, they will end up uglier and less useful than originally envisioned. Some of the cost saving ideas for the garages include removing the decorative external facades, shrinking the size of the parking spaces, and blocking some spaces with support beams.
If leaders in Shoreline and Lynnwood won’t commit to stations forever without parking, they may consider deferring the structured parking and build less expensive surface lots. Those keep options open for adding structured lots later as funding permits, or converting to other transit-oriented development if future leaders find that more useful for their communities.
If you live in Shoreline or Lynnwood, take a moment to write your city council or comment at the next board meeting. We have one shot to create a vibrant station area for future generations to enjoy.
112 Replies to “To Bring Lynnwood Link Back Within Budget, Defer the Parking Garages”
I would start by leaving the entire 185th station out. This is assuming the silly 130th station has been dumped. They can revisit the 185th station and P&R at a later date.
Considering Shoreline has already rezoned 185th for TOD and went through a lot of trouble to get there, I don’t imagine they’d like that idea at all.
I don’t like the idea either. We already have too few stations for a light rail line.
Also, swift blue line is supposed to connect to 185th street. Where would you propose the connect it to instead?
>> This is assuming the silly 130th station has been dumped.
130th is the best station between Lynnwood and Northgate. I would hardly call it silly. Besides, that would be paid for with Seattle money, of which there is plenty.
So is 185th. Shoreline is part of North King.
For clarity; I wasn’t saying 185th is a great station like 130th, just that it is to be paid for by North King money.
Understood (and I didn’t know that). For what it is worth, I could see Seattle pitching in some extra money for 130th, above and beyond North King money. But they wouldn’t do that for 185th.
No, you’re certainly correct about that. Shoreline will have to wait a while if the Federal grant gets pulled. I would expect that a case could be made for pushing North Link on as far as 130th using the income from local taxes to do station-at-a-time extensions. All of us except Lazarus agree that there are superb bus connections possible there — far, far better than Northgate will ever be for any bus not arriving from Greenwood via 92nd.
The system can’t stall at Northgate; “One Thirtieth or Bust!”
I think 145th would be a great terminus (for a while). That way the 522 BRT project makes sense. You have good bus connections on both 130th and 145th. Unlike 130th, it also works for buses coming from the north (130th does not have freeway ramps connecting it to the north). Not that 145th is great for that purpose, but it does save some time over Northgate. It even has a northbound HOV ramp. Mountlake Terrace would be better, but if money is tight, I doubt they can go that far. But just building it to 145th would mean all North King/Seattle money and it would still be a really big improvement.
“[130th] would be paid for with Seattle money, of which there is plenty.”
Where did you get that idea? Seattle may have a willing electorate but its close to its property-tax ceiling, and sales tax has already been raised significantly and sensitive to economic volatility. Seattle also has a list a mile long of things it wants in ST3 which may require additional funding to accelerate or preserve all their features.
>> Seattle also has a list a mile long of things it wants in ST3 … of which 130th should be at the top, right? Seriously, what else in ST3 is a better value than the NE 130th station? What could be built much more quickly for that amount of money?
Here is the way I see it: Seattle is growing much faster than every other city (in terms of percentages or absolute number). It is clearly the center of commerce for the region. Businesses in the city are booming compared to those in the surrounding suburbs (and booming in general). This city has money. The best projects from a bang for the buck perspective are the two above ground stations (NE 130th and Graham Street). Those are cheap compared to any improvement or acceleration of the hugely expensive tunnels or elevated lines. Put it this way: would you rather have Ballard Link a couple months earlier, or the NE 130th Station 7 years earlier?
Just to add some facts to the mix: ST estimates the cost of the station at 63 to 67 million. That is very specific, which means they are probably very close to the mark. So assume it is 67 million. That is very little for Seattle (which is willing to spend a lot more on a streetcar half the council thinks is stupid). But I’m not saying Seattle pays for all of it, but just pays to have it done faster. So you are basically talking about the interest on 67 million, which in this day and age, really isn’t much. We “borrow” from ST3, and at some point (in the very, very long timeline that is ST3 funding) we pay it all back. It just isn’t that much money for what it could actually deliver.
“silly 130th station”
Huh? That’s the station that will allow the two densest neighborhoods in far north Seattle — Lake City and Bitter Lake — to access Link without an enormously time-consuming slog to Northgate. It’s far and away the best station.
If you’re going to take a station out, make it 145th. Even 185th is more useful than 145th. 145th is right in the middle of a car-centric wasteland that can’t easily be improved. The only good thing about 145th is potential bus transfers, and those can be done at 130th with only a minor time penalty.
David, spot on. If westbound-to-southbound turns from NE 145th to Fifth NE were banned for private vehicles to get the buses to the front of the queue, it might take as little as an extra minute for 522 BRT to get to 130th Station vis-a-vis 148th. That minute would be more than recovered in the evening by a similar ban on right turns from northbound Fifth to eastbound 145th.
Once 522 BRT is handled there’s little reason for a 145th station except to serve a potential parking garage. I guess there are a couple of local Shoreline Metro routes that will travel between 145th and 155th on Fifth NE that might be impacted, but if they’re headed for Northgate or Lake City, they too can travel down Fifth to 130th and use 125th to shift east. There’s not that much to Lake City north of 125th and west of 30th NE. Folks transferring from those routes could do so at 130th temporarily also.
I agree, but …
We really should have both. 145th and 130th are both really good corridors. The 522 BRT project is expected to run at 145th eventually, and that is what people in Bothell (et al.) want. It might be a minor time penalty, but it changes the dynamic, and requires a lot of coordination between multiple agencies, which is not something we are known for around here. ST wants to spend money improving 145th now, while Seattle hasn’t really gotten around to thinking about Lake City Way/130th yet (we probably need another Move Seattle type levy for that). Does ST loan Seattle money, so they build a “temporary” fix? Does ST go ahead and build out the 145th improvements, while they just ask Seattle to build out the other corridor? What if Seattle just builds something half-ass (for now) — is everyone OK with that?
I just think it opens up a big can of worms.
How about merely eliminating the 145th parking garage, and have deferred or actual plans to add those spaces at 185th (like I suggested below) and/or at Mountlake Terrace and/or at Lynnwood? That would allow for 145th to be designed much better for the 522 BRT anyway as well as likely save money for the Lynnwood Link project.
The Bull Creek and Murdoch stations in Perth come to mind as examples of a simple bus-only second I-5 crossing north of 145th with turn-arounds and bus-only signal phases could work at 145th.
Oh, and what about turnback tracks? Sending trains all the way to Lynnwood is expensive. I don’t see frequent headways all day long. So where do you turn back? Short of U-District is crazy, and I don’t think there are turnback tracks between Husky Stadium and Northgate. Northgate is not good either, for the reasons mentioned. 130th and 145th are transfer stations, where headways are even more important. They are also relatively close to Northgate. If you are going to go all the way to Northgate, you might as well go just a little bit farther and pick up connecting communities (Bitter Lake, Lake City, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville). On the other hand, I can’t see Mountlake Terrace as a turnback — it is a lot farther (at that point, you might as well turnaround at Lynnwood). In the long term, if we do build out only to 145th, I see those turnback lines being put to good use. I’m thinking all day, all night 6 minute headways from 145th to downtown, with 12 minute headways from 145th to Lynnwood (if not Everett).
Of course, 130th/155th/185th is the best combination. 145th is an almost impossible situation for walking, biking, and cross-town transit access, requiring extremely expensive changes just to make something slightly less bad. 155th is… just a street, where there are far fewer cars in the way of these modes of access. A station there would demand few changes to the street design. Connecting buses from Kenmore and beyond can come in by 130th, naturally serving Lake City, or take the 330’s route up to 155th if folks from the northeast insist.
Oh, but it’s just too important to add parking capacity while the atmosphere burns. Forget it. 145th is and always has been the wrong idea. The widest roads aren’t where we should build our future. We need to create positive space in order to form a quality public realm, and the starting point for that has to be the street environments that are least damaged by car traffic.
130th and 185th would be best of course. 145th is because of the legacy of 20th-century highways and P&Rs , and it’s a lesson in how big is the long-term destructive reach of that mentality. Northgate Station also came out of that mentality, as it came out of the 1980s decision for Nothgate Transit Center, which came out of the 1970s decision for Northgate P&R. And all of this came out of the 1950s decision for I-5. The answer is not to rail against 145th station (pun unintended), but to try to make future decisions better. And if we can easily pop off 145th Station with some mild criticism, why not? But of course we can’t. Lake Forest Park to Woodinville are very keen on it, and don’t want to hear of a 130th substitute, and they’re a politically powerful area. I originally supported 155th, but yeah it has some access issues from the east.
The turnbacks are at Stadium and Northgate. ST originally planned to send Blue Line (East) trains to Lynnwood peak only, but became convinced it needed the capacity full time. That was long before the alternatives analysis was finished, so it could have specified a turnback at 145th. Meanwhile it’s he said vs they said over whether Lynnwood will need the off-peak capacity. We’ve erred on the side of underbuilding for decades and faced terrible consequences in mobility and car dependence, so let’s err on the side of overbuilding for once. Ridership on the 510/511/512 has been growing, and the whole point of installing high-capacity transit is a gamble that ridership will grow and it will gain mode share. One thing a friend from New York said around 2000, “The NYC subway was built for ten million people but it has seven million now.” That meant it had plenty of infrastructure for everybody and for growth. I’d rather see that than not enough. I’ve spent all my life in an environment of not enough.
I used to live a couple blocks away from 145h. It has apartments, federal housing, a grocery store, and sidewalks at least to 15th Ave NE. It is in no way suburgatory.
If proponents want SR 522 BRT to go through Lake City and along NE 125th St, make a ridership argument. The travel-time argument is just not going to get taken seriously, especially by riders north of 145th.
But consider that if this is the route serving 125th, ST will not pay to extend it to Bitter Lake. That would have to be a separate Metro route.
Getting street/bike/pedestrian infrastructure brought up to what is needed on 145th is going to require Seattle and Shoreline leaders sitting down together to pay attention to the need and hashing out a plan. And a willingness to split the cost. Please don’t South-Park-Bridge 145th. Like the Point Defiant Bypass project, someone needs to step forward, take leadership, and make what needs to happen happen.
What needs to happen, by the way, is give up some of the north side of Jackson Park Golf Course to make room for a bus turn lane westbound, and sidewalks on both sides of the street. A protected bike lane would be nice, and could also come out of the golf course ROW without further realigning the street.
Stations should be close to the densest communities, where the pedestrians are. Lake City is denser than anything between Northgate and Vancouver BC. Bitter Lake is no slouch either and has grown and has much more potential, like Lake City and the station area do. It makes sense to put 522 BRT at a station that already has strong user bases east and west of it: they tend to reinforce each other. And the BRT route would give 10-minute service directly through the center of Lake City to the station. As for access to Bitter Lake, Metro is planning to reroute the 75 to it. All the bus routes would have to be reconsidered if the BRT line moves, but given the existing gap in east-west service in far north Seattle, and the need to get people from Bitter Lake and the E to the train, and the fact that it would overlap with 522 BRT for just two miles in the middle, I don’t see it changing.
I’m not campaigning for deleting 145th. I’m just saying that if we have to choose between the stations, if the income doesn’t allow both, then we should consolidate with the strongest station, the one that has the densest communities around it, especially if the BRT would also go through one of those communities.
The 130th station is part of ST3. Not ST2. Lynwood extension is part of ST2.
Have you been to the Lynnwood Transit Center? The surface level parking lot is enormous and frequently packed. We should take advantage of the opportunity to attract drivers from north end suburbs to use a park-and-ride rail system to get into downtown without adding to the ever worsening mess on I-5. A better solution to the issue of raising funds to provide the parking would be to have a toll structure for hourly rates, monthly passes, etc.
Paid parking sounds like a good idea to me. It’ll have to be daily rates to make park and rides still work though, and cheap enough to still be a bargain vs driving. It might be worth different rates per garage depending on how close it is to the urban centers.
its also worth asking cities to look into more parking alternatives though. Most suburban bus service is still 30 minute frequently or worse. There are plenty of riders that might consider the bus instead of park and ride if it came frequently enough to make transfers hassle free.
The reason why the feeder buses are so infrequent is that Community Transit is spending so much money running buses that slog through rush hour traffic all the way to downtown Seattle. Truncate the commuter routes when Link opens, and there will be plenty of money to run the feeders more frequently.
Truncating the routes is the plan once Link reaches SnoCo.
Once Link reaches Lynnwood. There probably isn’t room at Mountlake Terrace to truncate all the commuter routes there, and how would they turn around if they use the flyer station?
Yes. I was implying Lynnwood TC when I said SnoCo. Sorry for any unintended confusion.
If a very large park and ride lot is packed, then the solution is not to make it bigger. The solution is to provide more feeder bus service, with satellite park and ride lots as necessary. That ends up being cheaper, and better in the long run.
Oh, and add bus lanes to the train station. Since all the suburban stations are close to I-5 and have huge parking lots, simply driving to them is a challenge. Thus with bus lanes someone who parks in a satellite park and ride would not only have a shorter drive, but a faster end to end trip.
The evidence from BART station access studies is that drop-off and pick-up is surging. It’s already as important as park-and-ride access in many places that have huge parking capacity.
Eliminate the P&R especially if its entry lane is the same as the bus lane loop as it is in the design of 145th. Eliminating the park and ride at 145th station should improve the BRT 145th, which frankly is the main purpose of 145th as compared to 185th or 130th.
Still love your idea about increased feeder bus service and satellite p&r lots that you have commented about previously. Fwiw, up here in Snohomish County we have already voted to tax ourselves more for increased bus service thru a 2015 ballot measure (+.3%) for CT. (Along with the ST3 sales tax increase, communities within the ST district in SnoCo now have some of the highest sales tax rates in the state.) One needs to keep in mind, however, is that Community Transit’s long range planning policy still prioritizes coverage over frequency.
I think in this instance it could be cheaper to move the promised spaces from one station to another, and have fewer garages:
– It avoids a park-and-ride user from guessing which station has parking. That’s a notorious station-switching issue that will occur in Link’s future but hasn’t really happened yet (except possibly Angle Lake and TIBS, or with South King Sounder stations).
– A garage that has more levels takes no more land while adding several garages do.
Example: If the 145th spaces were moved to 185th, ST could radically change the station layout to be for buses, press and bikes and drop-off and pickup only and save money. The added park-and-ride traffic would also move away from this problem interchange. No overflow parking will spill onto residential streets because people won’t be looking to park there in the first place. Meanwhile, 185th garage would just be a few floors taller.
“Eliminating the park and ride at 145th station should improve the BRT 145th, which frankly is the main purpose of 145th as compared to 185th or 130th.”
145th was originally chosen because of the existing P&R land and the highway access to it (i.e., 145th Street). Now it has become because of 522 BRT and the P&R, and I’m not sure which is greater in ST’s or the cities’ mind. There’s also the small bit of TOD, which is probably third priority for them.
“Still love your idea about increased feeder bus service and satellite p&r lots that you have commented about previously.”
Everybody here wants more feeder buses in Snoho, and more frequent local, and small satellite P&Rs if appropriate, and is greatly looking forward to CT’s feeder expansion and more frequent local service when Lynnwood Link frees up a lot of bus hours. CT’s long-term frequent network may not be like Seattle but it’s a big step forward for Snohomish County, and will make it easier to live there without a car.
What is the status for federal funding for Lynnwood Link? The FTA’s budget for FY18 does not seem to have any funding for this project compared with FY17. How much of an impact would this be?
That sounds like a Trump congress issue.
That sounds like the elephant in the room.
If ST has every reason to believe the budget hole is about to get billions bigger, not much point in irritating every single lynnwood and shoreline pol by killing the thing everyone believes is critical.
If the federal funding doesn’t come through, then the impact to timelines of $200 million in parking gets larger. Pols may be irritated, but they also need to deal with the math of the financial shortfalls.
There is a colorable case to be made that Lynnwood Link is a project of regional significance where other subareas might assist in getting it over the finishing line on time. There’s no such case to be made for parking structures with only 1500 net stalls.
How big would the hole be if no grants come through? How does that compare to the cost of a station or segment?
Mike Orr. The agency is counting on an additional $1.1 billion from the FTA for Lynnwood Link. I believe the Capitol Hill station was on the magnitude of a $110 million contract to Turner Construction. I don’t think the Lynnwood Link stations are as expensive as that though.
Why not charge for parking like in DC? Or work some kind of partnership with the cities to operate and charge for parking like they do all over the NE? I don’t think you guys are being creative enough here…
ST has said there likely will be paid parking in the future and is taking baby steps toward it. Both ST and Metro have monthly reserved parking at some lots (where a space is reserved until 9 am and then opened up if it’s still empty). I can’t remember which agency’s permits are paid and which are free for carpool. The use of monthly parking schemes depends on who owns the lot and how full it is. There’s a wide variation with some lots completely full and some half empty.
Mike, I hear ya. My comment was more a criticism of this editorial board for not being more creative, and instead engaging in the tired knee-jerk “garages are bad” rhetoric. If you look around the country, there are lots of viable parking solutions that involve different stakeholders and monetization schemes. It’s been noted here many times how dreadful the land use and bus frequency and reliability is up north, so deferring garages just penalizes lots of folks who don’t have the luxury of excess time or physical ability to make this reasonably work.
Each space costs $88,000 to build. Charging $1 per weekday pays it off in 352 years before counting interest and collection costs. Exactly what parking fee are you proposing to close a $300m budget hole?
It’s true that about 1,500 people per weekday will lose out with a deferral. Who would you prefer to screw instead?
Huskytbone. Well said.
I’ve long advocated for cities to consider owning and operating the garages here like they do in lots of East Coast places. Then they could manage the parking pricing and duration in ways that can even generate income and dovetail better with a city’s overall transportation strategy.
The current implicit message is that ST should pay because it is an intrusive land use creating local traffic for its benefit of increasing ridership, when in actuality it is a mode-changing land use that doesn’t theoretically add any person trips at all and reduces vehicle trips.
I would also agree that general ST culture and some STB contributors are somewhat lazy to think of and study out-of-the-box solutions.
“The current implicit message is that ST should pay because it is an intrusive land use creating local traffic for its benefit of increasing ridership”
That’s the position of local governments and the public. Just as a supermarket has to provide a parking lot at its own expense, an HCT line has to provide parking at its expense so that people can access it. The northeastern mindset of cities providing parking if they’re motivated to is what we need to get to, but it’s not the tradition here so it’s an uphill battle, especially because it would require the cities to take on major new expenses. The northeastern train stations were built long ago in a different environment, either before cars or by entities that didn’t care if there was any parking, and new stations were able to leverage that tradition. Here there were no train stations, and when P&Rs were created in the 1970s they were to beg people to take transit, so the transit side didn’t have leverage to make the cities pay for them. Now we’re turning it around slowly but we’re not there yet. This actually dovetails with the excellent editorial, because STB (and I) are advocating for parking to be lower priority, and having cities take on the parking responsibility (if they want parking) is another step in that direction.
The editorial is sound.
The comment thread is odd. NE 185th Street is by far the better of the Shoreline pair. It will not have much traffic congestion, as it does not have an I-5 interchange. It is a good place for bus-Link integration. NE 145th Street will have a full interchange with significant traffic congestion.
Yep. Defer the 145th St Station, if anything.
You really can’t. The 145th Street Station was in the ST2 vote.
We technically don’t even have an actual 145th Station. It’s already moved to 148th. Let’s just move it a little further to 130th and close the cost gap by using ST3 and Seattle levy funds!
We technically don’t even have an actual 145th Station. It’s already moved to 148th. Let’s just move it a little further to 130th and close the cost gap by using ST3 and Seattle levy funds!
The vote doesn’t guarantee a station, it just sets a precedent that’s harder to change. ST can move it delete a station by simply writing a statement explaining its reasons for doing so.
185th has Swift. 145th has 522 BRT, which is more critical to the network because it’s not parallel to Link.
If 145th is needed for the ST3 522 BRT, then a pretty good case could be made to divert some ST3 funds to build 145th station access as a way to reduce the ST2 cost burden.
Can we drop the talk of dropping stations? This isn’t an express train only for Snohomish County riders coming North of Lynnwood. Its a light rail system, to be used by everyone riding it.
People living on the south end, east side and downtown have relatives and errands up north too.
Removing stations removes utility from the system.
Thank you, I agree.
1) The only people who will be truly happy at dropping stations and in general denying transit service should be those who want to defund transit. This argument we have in the STB comments coming out in various forms like we should not have high speed rail stop in Skagit nor a bus stop by the Future of Flight nor a light rail that stops frequently but quickly is a pathetic line of debate that is cruel to disabled folks and fundamentally anti-transit.
2) Translink’s Skytrain has many stations but the trains are very frequent and stops are very quick. We should have confidence in Sound Transit to build a truly awesome system worthy of all those who fought to get ST3 molded, passed to the Board, sent to voters and voter-approved.
Some of the talk is about deferring stations, not deleting them.
Deferred stations cost more to add back later because it requires construction around an active rail line. It would be very penny-wise, pound-foolish to have deferred stations. I don’t understand why cancelling or deferring is coming up – all of these stations are obviously useful – but if one really doesn’t believe a station is useful, it should be cancelled outright rather than deferred.
Parking structures are different in that respect. Being somewhat removed from the rail line, the cost of construction at some later date wouldn’t be that much higher.
“I don’t understand why cancelling or deferring is coming up>’
Because of possible cost increases, grant shortfalls, or revenue losses. If we can’t afford it, we can’t afford it. And extending ST3 much beyond 2041 or $50 billion is arguably dubious: it should either cut it off or have a revote in the 2030s to reset decades-old expectations.
“Translink’s Skytrain has many stations but the trains are very frequent and stops are very quick”
Translink is a shorter network. It doesn’t have any equivalent to Everett or Tacoma. It was not a priority to get to Langley (39 miles), Cloverdale (36 miles), or Point Roberts (30 miles) in an hour. Vancouver has no major employers or politically-powerful cities east of Surrey (33 miles) as far as I know. And Surrey was explicitly planted as a satellite expansion city with a dense downtown in the 1990s, so Skytrain had to get to it. (The first phase went to Scott Road just east of the Fraser, later to Surrey Central, then to King George.) It may eventually be extended to Langley but that wasn’t an early priority or a reason to limit stations to every 1-2 miles. In contrast, the vision for Link was explicitly that it would connect Seattle, Redmond, Everett, and Tacoma: those were the base requirements.
One factor I think needs some attention. I know we can’t know for sure. But can we consider what the neighborhood around each station COULD turn into? So whatever alternative we end up choosing, we can be ready to take maximum advantage of the location?
From my own suburban park and ride experience, namely Angle Lake, I think that time and traffic could be on our side before we think. Because a parking garage is going to be less and less of an attraction as people arrive at nine am and find the place full.
After a half hour wait in traffic to get in. It’s neither environment, urban planning, nor even skyrocketing expense that’s going to force a change. It’s the fact that over huge and expanding amounts of our service area, nothing can move. Especially people who’ll get fired for being late for work.
What I’m saying is that rather than fighting over station location itself, we start developing plans to transit-re-orient whichever location politics and cost choose us. First priority is to get ourselves out of this tail-spin where transit can’t be provided because of the traffic for which transit is the only cure.
My own first move would be to concentrate on getting buses friendly signals and bus lanes we can keep clear. So people can actually see, and ride, buses getting them to trains on time. As a single example. Have a feeling that business communities are noticing what I am.
Also that, same as steering vehicles, we can draw energy from the accelerating change we’re seeing only as another obstacle. So since whole STB editorial board is paying attention this morning: How many contacts, especially readers, do we have in the business world affected by each station alternative?
A reasonable case could be made for WSDOT to be partly or totally funding the garages. We subsidize feeder buses from local transit funds. We build pedestrian and bicycle connections with funds targeted for those modes. Getting traffic off of I-5 defers the need to widen it and makes managing it less difficult.
On a related example, WSDOT could explore moving the Shoreline operation to offices in a new taller building on top of the 185th station parking — and selling off much of the current property. We really should be increasing density at the stations anyway, and having additional land uses as part of a much taller mixed-use strategy would seem to be a win-win solution. If cities want their stations and their parking badly enough, they can sacrifice their height limits to get them!
That’s a good New Year’s joke, getting WSDOT to fund P&Rs, ha ha. The state sees transit as a local or regional responsibilty, and P&Rs as the transit agency’s responsibility. We have no leverage over the state until we can convince a critical mass of legislators, and the state is more car-centric and less willing to raise taxes for P&Rs or anuything else than the Puget Sound governments are. If we can ever get the state to take an interest in transit, subsidizing the agencies would be a good place to start.
Weren’t many of the current local p&r’s funded by WSDOT?
Interestingly, I just checked the Snohomish County Assessor’s information on the Lynnwood Transit Center parking.
The land is owned by the State of Washington.
I would think that a strong nexus case could particularly be made between the I-405 tolls and Lynnwood parking garage costs. After all,wouldn’t riders from Lynnwood to Bellevue on Link be making a trip that could be made on I-405?
OK, how many of you are going to do the following:
a) Attend the next Lynnwood Link meeting – if and when that happens….
b) Attend the Sound Transit Board Meeting at 1:30 PM on 25 January in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom and demand the Lynnwood Link parking garages be deferred?
Because in order to even begin to fight the inertia at work here for these parking garages, that’s what we’re going to have to do.
“a) Attend the next Lynnwood Link meeting – if and when that happens….”
I certainly plan on attending. The community meeting was supposed to happen last fall as you know and so far it’s been just another Sound Transit broken promise.
I hope to meet you there if and when it happens.
Agreed… cut 185th out entirely or leave it as an infill station. Remember that we’re talking about the NIMBYiest of NIMBY campaigns of rage over the upzoning. They’ve even reclaimed the NIMBY slur as their own. They sued the City over 185th and the density is not going to happen unless the city takes drastic steps, which they’ve officially claimed they won’t, to displace single-family homeowners and renters to make way for more apartments and condos.
185th is not just for the immediate area, but also for easy bus connections to central Shoreline, North City, and the Ballinger area. Without something like it those areas will be cut off from Link.
Just assess the land at its “highest and best use”. If something is zoned for 20 stories, tax it as if the building were already there.
The NIMBY’s will take their windfall of $1.5 million for a 1960’s ranch and run.
Nonsense. Build what was promised to voters back in 2008 and has been in the works ever since. Without the parking facilities, the ridership numbers will suffer. Use the agency’s additional bonding capacity to cover the increased costs.
Then fire the project management director Rod Kempkes.
Finally, there has NOT been $200 million in cost savings for Lynnwood Link. Read the Seattle Times piece again. The “savings” is in the $100 million range since the $2.4 billion figure (which is not even close to the ST2 yoe$ estimate) already included the financing costs.
Build what was promised to voters back in 2008 and has been in the works ever since. . Use the agency’s additional bonding capacity to cover the increased costs.
Bonding isn’t free money. Snohomish County and the affected communities in North King need to prioritize. Build the parking, and accept the delay to Lynnwood Link and every other project north of there. Or finish Lynnwood Link with less parking and put the parking in the queue behind the other Snohomish County priorities.
“Bonding isn’t free money.”
Lol. Your replies always make me chuckle.
Who made the claim that it was? For that matter, federal grants, upon which the Lynnwood Link project is heavily dependent, aren’t either.
It seems to me that the folks in SnoCo are being penalized for being on the tail end of this 15-year extension. When the ST3 ballot measure was being promoted, it was widely reported at that time that this subarea had paid in more on the source side than we have received on the use side. Of course, the folks at ST like to claim that this imbalance will all even out at the end of the 15-year (now 16-year) ST2 capital program cycle.
“Value engineering” = we promised you this great thing but instead we are going to deliver far less.
This feels like the First Hill link station debacle all over again….
Using the agency’s additional bonding capacity means relaxing ST’s strict limit on debt, which goes beyond the state’s requirement. The board did that to ensure it can make bond payments even if a major shock hits like a 2008-style recession or the kind of problems it had in 2000, and to make it most unlikely it might have to go back to voters again for supplemental money. The board can change this policy but it’s reluctant to. Seattle Subway urged the board at the beginning of ST3 to buy all the future bonds now (i.e., front-load the bonds) so that it would have the cash flow to accelerate projects the quickest. The board didn’t. So expecting it to do so now is unlikely.
I’m well aware of all of this. It was the reason I was sort of harping on the agency’s extremely late release of their 2017 Annual Financial Plan which was finally published at the end of this past October*. Frankly, we should have the 2018 Financial Plan as part of the annual budget process.
These sorts of miscues simply are not tolerated in the private sector and CFO McCartan would be out.
*with multiple errors included
For anyone that’s truly serious about the debt financing issue for ST I would strongly encourage reading these annual reports.
2016 Financial Plan, pages 12-13
“The agency debt-to-equity ratio reaches a maximum of 47% in 2024, at the completion of the ST2 capital
plan, and then declines thereafter.”
2017 Financial Plan, pages 9-10
“The agency debt-to-equity ratio reaches a maximum of 35.1% in 2035, and then declines thereafter.”
The figure I heard in a board meeting ca 2015 was 50%, and I thought that was a constant limit. So I think that’s the maximum ST is willing to go (must-not-exceed), and your numbers represent the actual plan outline (a curve). If so, the difference between the two is the amount we can more easily prod ST to bond. But that’s all in later years.
Question: Should we be using the newly-agreed station names? Everyone including myself keep using the original names.
Sure, if you remember them. I can’t always remember them until we start seeing the signs regularly. There were so many potential names and i can’t quite remember if 145th is Jackson Park, Jackson Park North, Ridgecrest, or something else, and I’d hate to use the wrong name,
“On Thursday, July 27, the Sound Transit Board adopted the permanent names for the four stations of the Lynnwood Link Extension.
From south to north:
Lynnwood City Center
Call me crazy, but I’m going to abbreviate the first two (no need to add the Shoreline part).
Politically, deferring the parking garage to open the station on time is probably a non-starter. They see a train station without parking as essentially useless, while grossly overestimating the percentage of ridership that really needs the parking.
That said, as long as Lynnwood is the terminus of the line, the parking will almost certainly fill up. Remember, people will be driving to the train from as far away as Everett, Marysville, and beyond, just like Angle Lake station fills up with commuters from the south end.
Charge $10 per day and folks won’t drive from anywhere that has a shuttle bus. Demand pricing; it works for just about everything in transportation.
The lack of a P&R would dampen ridership though, so we should expect a dip in the numbers, and objections from the naysayers over Link’s worth or ST’s estimates because of it.
You don’t even need to go out that far. Without the necessary feeder routes, commuters from Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek and the unincorporated SnoCo gaps will be driving to a Link station.
Where are the plans for “reconnecting the street grid” in each city? Can’t seem to find any documentation for improvements or prying open dated cul de sacs.
I think the project will actually increase cul de sacs, because they are required by city code when streets are dead-ended
Lynnwood Link is almost completely in the I-5 right-of-way. Almost all the dead ends were made long ago.
“I think the project will actually increase cul de sacs, because they are required by city code when streets are dead-ended”
What do you mean by cul-de-sacs? Growing up I always thought it meant a lollipop-shaped street end because all the cul-de-sacs I saw were like that. But Wikipedia says cul-de-sac and dead-end street mean the same thing, so all streets that don’t connect to another street at one end are cul-de-sacs. The issue of prying open dated cul-de-sacs usually refers to opening ped/bike paths to the adjacent street. Opening car paths (i.e., re-establishing the street grid) is much harder because it would require massive displacement of houses and yards. In any case, these issues are mostly orthogonical to Link: they require a neighborhood-specific analysis of which walkways would be useful.
Would it help financially to delay, rather than defer, the garages? So still build them, but just push it out a few years. The line can open before the garages open.
Sound Transit’s tax authority lets them build everything that’s in the plan even if costs run over target. The constraint is cash flow and time, not total authority. So they can build the line on schedule without parking, then decide how to prioritize the parking vs further extensions for the next dollar of tax revenue.
I am reminded of the “outrage” over the time frame for ST3 when it was first unveiled back in 2016. Flash forward a few weeks and suddenly the agency has revamped the time frames for delivery of these new projects. Rogoff’s explanation at the time was use of increased bonding capacity. Hmmm.
“The improved timelines and added projects are primarily enabled by refinements including adjusting the financing plan for the ST3 measure to modestly increase the issuance of bonds, improving the region’s financial capacity by approximately 8 percent or $4 billion.”
“The cost overruns in Lynnwood have already delayed the Link extension by six months while a portion of the budget gap is closed.” False. That delay was an executive decision to push the project schedule back while engaging in “value engineering”. Delaying the schedule also has its own risks, per the agency’s own risk assessment report. This STB editorial board’s op-ed is essentially based on the assumption that the decision to build the promised parking structures is a zero-sum decision. It is not. Likewise, “Every dollar in a Lynnwood garage delays the extension to Paine Field and Everett” is a false choice argument.
Waymo (Google), Uber, and GM are all expected to scale self-driving car networks starting in 2019. Hard to know exactly when they will come to the Seattle area, but Waymo is testing in Kirkland now. Building parking makes no sense. Has anyone at planning thought about the impact of driving as a service (AI cars) on the transit plans?
Tell ST and Snohomish County about that; they haven’t listened to us about downscaling parking. But we can’t base decisions on unproven assumptions like “Self-driving cars will massively reduce parking use.” That’s what the companies want us to believe but they haven’t demonstrated that it will succeed, or that it won’t go in an unexpected direction. Remember the Segway? It was hyped as “This will be bigger than the Internet”. I think the argument for electric cars is more solid than for self-driving cars, or replacing the majority of owned cars with robotaxis. Because electric cars are a straightforward incremental advance, and there aren’t the huge unknown issues of how self-driving cars will behave and whether they’ll meet our needs, and China and India are investing heavily in electric cars, and some big manufacturers have said they’ll stop making petrol cars soon.
The P&Rs are a way to get political acceptance of ST’s taxes in the suburbs. They’ll be expensive and wasteful but they brought Link over the top to make it a reality. And hopefully in the future they can be replaced with more walkable housing.
Although I think we have a limited time for large-scale construction like we’ve seen the past 150 years, because eventually materials will become scarce, wars or policies might shut off intercontinental shipping, or the climate impacts of construction might be too great, and we’ll have to stick with what we have. It’s important to have something robust when/if that happens. After the 1970s oil-price shock, the US and Europe went opposite ways. Europe built a society based on transit and walkable land use and not being dependent on foreign oil, while the US ramped up the Interstates and cul-de-sacs and ever-larger houses and SUVs, and put us into this position that northeast King and Snohomish insist on large P&Rs now.
“They’ll be expensive and wasteful but they brought Link over the top to make it a reality.”
It’s all relative. The line itself is incredibly expensive. Personally I’d rather see the funding support an increase in the number and frequency of feeder routes. (I often think that many of the so-called “urbanists” who contribute to the discussion on this blog have no idea how far away the nearest bus line is for the vast majority of commuters outside of Seattle.) But this is where we’re at and this is what has been promised to district taxpayers.
Btw, I don’t recall any discussion in the orginal North Corridor HCT studies white papers about only running trains to Lynnwood at peak times. You commented earlier about that. Do you have a source?
I know because I grew up in eastern Bellevue, and while I had a five-minute walk to a bus stop, most people didn’t. For a few years I visited people in Mountlake Terrace and Brier a lot, and that was even more skeletal. And now I have a friend who moved in with her family on 164th; I don’t know exactly where, but she walks all over Seattle and yet she says it’s too far to walk to Ash Way P&R and there’s no bus so she gets a ride from her family. But that’s the problem with suburban land use that we’re trying to fix with density and grid streets and feeder buses.
The Link schedule was one of several scenarios ST went through before settling on the current one. I saw them in the flyers and mentioned at board meetings; I don’t recall any white paper. I attended a lot of open houses in the run-up to ST2 but I don’t remember what was in which stage of the process. The first scenario I heard had three lines; the third being a daytime shuttle between Northgate and Stadium. Then it went to the two-line scenario I mentioned, with East Link trains going to Lynnwood peak-only and Northgate otherwise. Then ST had concerns about that being enough capacity so it extended them to Lynnwood full time, and that has been stable for several years.
At one of the late Northgate open houses (in the EIS phase) I talked with an ST staff afterward and some of them had concerns that even that level might reach capacity within the target window (2035 or 2040; remember, ST3 planning hadn’t started yet). I wrote an article about that session. I remember that in the public comments, I was the only one who said anything about the project alternatives and priorities. Several people spoke up for a Ukranian community center they didn’t want displaced, and a few people said general things like “We need better Metro service” or “Go light rail” and that was it.
Mike Orr. Here’s the link to the white paper completed for Sound Transit by
Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglass back in March 2005.
“Issue Paper N.2: I-5 Corridor Northgate to Everett HCT Assessment”
Section 2 discusses the service levels for both peak and off-peak periods. For example, between Northgate and Ash Way (the original northern terminus under consideration at this time) the frequencies were 2.5 mins and 7.5 minutes respectively.
This was after the Lynnwood terminus had been established. I distinctly remember it saying Lynnwood, not Ash Way. But 7.5 minutes is consistent with a three-line plan with only one line going to Ash Way. So switching to two lines may have coincided with truncating Link at Lynnwood. The decision to extend the second line to Lynnwood full time would have been after that. I don’t know that there was any singinficant report on it; I never saw any significant report on frequency. I have been curious about it all along, and have been frustrated that the only information is hints in ST’s maps and flyers, which are only sometimes there. So it may have been a minor point in a staff update and the board just approved it along with the rest of the draft.
The orginal ST2 plan, adopted by the board on 5/24/07, had Ash Way/164th as the northern terminus. As you may or may not recall, this was the transit portion of the 2007 Roads and Transit ballot proposition that went down in defeat in November of that year. When ST2 was revamped the following year, the changes made included the change to reduce the number of stations in the north corridor light rail project and to only extend the line to the Lynnwood TC. I don’t recall any discussion to change the frequency between the two versions, all-day trains still being the working assumption.
Also, the proponents of self-driving cars usually argue they will make transit unnecessary, so they call projects like Link dodo technologies. But even if everyone wants to switch to robotaxis for everything, there’s no f*ing way they can replace all the buses on I-5 or in Seattle, there just isn’t enough room. That’s what I worry most about in acquiescing to self-driving car predictions, because they can be used as a reason to cancel rail or BRT or RapidRide plans.
PRT at it’s finest, just that now instead of their own infrastructure to worry about building, they will take over the highways.
Hordes of Ballard Drivers will take over, so if you think you know what you’re doing behind the wheel, beware.
Likely they will delay construction… which is not the end of the world. I think pushing back the project a year while taxes accumulate is better than cutting something major.
Also, I would like all of the people who don’t live in Snohomish county to quit it with the insistence that the parking garages be removed. You guys are like a broken record. Obviously that is not going to happen, and it isn’t constructive to keep harping on it…
They aren’t being “removed”; they just might not be built on surface lots. The theoretical future of removing garages or parking lots is based on a time when the public massively shifts away from driving, like 50%. We don’t know when/if that will ever happen, at least before such a time that operating either cars or transit becomes economically/environmentally impossible.
What about those of us who live in North King, which also has parking garages in the plan? What about those of us who want to go there, or to Snohomish? What about those of us who’re concerned that the North King part of this line might be delayed due to Snohomish’s insistence on parking garages?
1. It, likely, isn’t going to happen. So it’s not constructive to keep complaining about it.
2. If it did happen, it would set the precedent that major parts of the package that were voted on could be cut. The last time this happened, Seattle lost a subway station, so don’t assume that just parking would be cut.
I think it’s smarter to insist that what we voted on gets built categorically. Instead, put pressure to on ST to say “no,” when communities ask for things which weren’t in the package. A lot of the ballooning costs are because local communities keep coming back to ask for more.
Brendan. I hear you, brother. The refrain does get old after a while.
As someone who lives in Lynnwood and commutes daily to Seattle for work like thousands of other people, I would love to have Link in Lynnwood. Despite all of the delays and budget problems, I hope this project comes to life in the near future.
I’m with you, House cleaner Jenny, though I live a little farther north of you in unincorporated SnoCo. We have been waiting a long time for light rail to reach our area. Before changing jobs a decade ago I slogged my way down into West Seattle every day and it was truly awful even then. Transit use just wasn’t a viable option then, as it isn’t for the vast majority of SnoCo commuters today. Community Transit could really use the savings from truncated Seattle routes to increase coverage and frequency, so from my perspective Lynnwood Link can’t get here soon enough.
First of all. I applaud Lynnwood for the 35-story upzone. That is incredible and what I have said needs to be done (it still needs to be done in Seattle). As for the parking spaces, I would think the city could ask private developers to build the spaces in exchange for the 35-story upzone (probably in the basements of their buildings). Seems like to would be doable (depending on how much land has been upzoned), but maybe not. If not, the next option would be to have private developers add the parking and run it privately (for a profit). Nothing wrong with that in my book.
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