Preparing for high capacity transit along SR 522, Kenmore established a Transit Oriented Development district steps from the existing Metro Park and Ride. Credit: Lizz Giordano

This post is part of a STB series examining how suburban cities are preparing for light rail. Read the intro post here and how planning has reshaped Redmond’s urban form to leverage light rail.

Years before many other Sound Transit 3 projects even begin construction, bus rapid transit will be moving commuters along SR 522 between Woodinville and the future Shoreline light rail station at 145th St.

The BRT project, one of the early deliverables in ST3 and anticipated to open in 2024, might not have materialized without a push from residents and elected officials along the corridor. Not wanting to be left out of the third phase of transit expansion, a coalition from Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and Shoreline attended Sound Transit meetings asking for better transit options.

“We weren’t slated to get anything out of ST3. We were not on Sound Transit’s radar at all,” said Mark Abersold, a resident of Kenmore who joined the five-city coalition. “We eventually want light rail in Kenmore, so we campaigned to get increased bus service and a light rail study.”

Abersold said it was Kenmore’s Mayor, David Baker, and city staff who recruited residents and nearby cities to join the BRT campaign.

“We knew Kenmore all by itself wouldn’t be a loud enough voice, so the city took the lead and created a coalition of five cities,” said Rob Karlinsey, Kenmore’s city manager.

“We got a big win out of ST3,” Baker added.

Years earlier, Baker and Karlinsey laid the framework for the BRT project, successfully lobbying for a place in ST’s 2014 Long Range Plan for “high capacity transit” along SR 522.

“That set the stage for ST3,” Baker said. “Now with HCT through Kenmore in the long range plan, we were able to ask for BRT through Kenmore in the ST3 plan.”  

The successful campaign will bring nine BRT stations to the SR 522 corridor where buses will run every 10 minutes during peak and non-peak times. Also included in the ST3 measure is a small amount of money to study future light rail potential along the 522 corridor, as well as three new parking garages in Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell for the BRT project.

Though Baker says the city can’t do much to leverage ST3, the exurb is taking a stab at transit-oriented development (TOD). The city created a TOD district overlay along SR 522 “to reinforce pedestrian-oriented mixed-use development at intensities that support and are supported by multimodal transportation options.”

“If we are going to get BRT, we might as well zone for people to use it,” Abersold said. “The best thing we can do as a city is put more people within walking distance of the 522 BRT.”

For the TOD district, Kenmore’s city council approved a minimum density of 60 dwelling units per acre and a maximum of 150 dwelling units per acre. The plan also requires developers to build affordable housing when densities are greater than 120 dwelling units per acre.

Apartments overlooking Kenmore’s year-round Town Square are a short walk from the future SR 522 BRT. Credit: Lizz Giordano

The city also reduced parking minimums and maximums for the TOD district. For housing units, at least one parking space is required per unit, while the parking minimums for commercial and retail buildings were lowered by 75%. The city used the current minimum parking requirements set for outside the TOD district as the maximum parking rate developers can use inside the TOD district.

Abersold wants to see Kenmore also concentrate on infill development and continue the effort to make the city more pedestrian-friendly. In recent years, Kenmore has made investments in non-motorized improvements and created a year-round Town Square surrounded by apartments.

Baker eventually wants to see light rail circling Lake Washington on the north and south ends, bringing the system through Kenmore and Renton.

Beginning his first term on the Sound Transit board this year, Baker now holds a prime seat to help interlace the SR522 corridor and Kenmore into the light rail alignment.

“At some point you have to branch off from the spine,” said Baker. “It just makes sense to wrap the around the lake and pick up the industries along the way.”

53 Replies to “Pushing to be Included in ST3”

  1. I find it quite ironic that even in “affording housing in the TOD area”, it is *still* required that every unit have its own parking space. I guess we’re supposed to happy that it got lowered from the default of 2-3 parking spaces per unit.

    As to making Kenmore more pedestrian friendly, some of what’s most needed – narrower SR-522, more crossing points, shorter light cycles, would come in direct conflict with the goal of making the “522 BRT” bus run fast. Has pedestrian bridges over underpasses in a few strategic spots been considered?

    1. Of course we should be “happy” that “it got lowered”. As much as Kenmore is being grown-up and responsible as a city, it’s going to be fairly close to the edge of the genuinely urbanized part of the Central Puget Sound region. It is going to attract people who don’t want the same experience as those who choose to live on Capitol Hill. People who live there will want to drive to a greater proportion of their non-commute destinations, simply because they’ll have more children and pets.

      The whole region doesn’t have to be like Lower Queen Anne to achieve greater density, and in a couple of decades the cars will mostly be electrically powered so there won’t even be much harm from folks driving between Kenmore and Juanita for a trip to the park.

      Incremental improvement is a good thing.

      1. No parking minimum doesn’t mean no parking. It means let the builder decide.

        “It is going to attract people who don’t want the same experience as those who choose to live on Capitol Hill.”

        And, it will also attract people who would choose to live in Capital Hill, but can’t afford the rent there.

      2. Oh come on, give the Kenmore council some credit for moving forward. If a project doesn’t reach some Platonic ideal floating 75,000 feet in the stratosphere it seems like it’s totally useless in your estimation. Sorry man, but that’s true.

        Mike’s proposal to insist that developers amortize the cost of the parking by separate rental agreements makes a lot of sense. It seems like that would be a good model everywhere.

      3. “Mike’s proposal to insist that developers amortize the cost of the parking by separate rental agreements makes a lot of sense.”

        Can you (or Mike himself) expound on this idea? Thanks.

      4. I’m not even going as far as Mike. I’m saying, just don’t require anything. If developers want to build parking, they can build parking. If they decide they have to build parking, or people won’t live there, they’ll build the parking anyway, so no reason for the city to require it. The traditional argument that if the building doesn’t have on-site parking, people will park on the streets for free doesn’t apply because the area in question has no street parking to begin with.

        Of course, if you really want to drive the car ownership rate down, you have to have at least some presence of car sharing in the area – ideally, via an expansion of the Car2Go home area. As long as getting a car when you need it is a huge hassle (e.g. traveling to Seattle to pick it up and return it), owning the vehicle becomes necessary, even if it’s only needed a few times per year. And, once the car itself, and its insurance, become sunk costs, it becomes all to easy to start driving everywhere out of general laziness – even to places like a grocery store that’s two blocks away.

      5. Seattle has already done it, at least in urban villages. It prohibited including parking spaces in apartment rent so you have to lease it separately. That way it’s clear what the parking cost is and non-car owners don’t have to pay it. My building already had unbundled parking.

    2. I know Mayor Baker wants a pedestrian overpass, but I don’t know how close it is to reality. The bike & pedestrian safety committee I served on 4 years ago identified it as a target we’d like to work for (really, I’d want more than one, but we’ll see what’s feasible).

    3. Richard, you’re assuming people live there because they want more space for a family and want to drive more. Some people are living there because they can’t afford a place in Seattle, or a condo in Seattle, and very much want as much transit and walkability as they can get. I’m glad Kenmore has lowered its parking requirements and applied inclusionary zoning; even if we’d want more; it’s a good step for a city ten miles from the urban centers who could have just kept ignoring the issue. Maybe it will take larger steps later. One easy step would be to require unbundled parking, so that those who don’t have a car don’t have to pay for it.

      1. Mike, I don’t think they want to drive more. I think they want the opportunity to do more. And for families with children between four and twenty that means “drive more”.

        For folks with children lucky enough to inherit a house in Maple Leaf, Greenwood, West Seattle or Seward Park where there are yards and easy access to lots of different kinds of activities and shopping, having just one car can work for such a family. At least one of the adults is very likely to work at a location accessible by quick and easy transit. Usually both are but unless they’re both work in the CBD, one will still drive in order to respond to family emergencies.

        In Kenmore that’s almost mandatory. Even with Link a parent working in the urban core would be an hour from a child’s school or activity.

        We have to accommodate kids in Central Puget Sound.

    4. The good news is that existing transit lanes or room for such already exists much of the way from Bothell to just north of central Lake City, and then again south on LCW to about NE 85th. The right-of-way through the central part of Lake City is physically constrained, and I think either the City of Seattle (or perhaps extra funds (!) from ST3 north sub-area should they end up existing) might dedicate funding for a below-grade station under 125th with entrances/exits a couple of blocks to the north and south where land exists to do so. This could be designed to be convertible to LRT should future plans call for such; if so I’d suggest reconfiguring SR 522 for center-running BRT and stations.

      The potential upzoning and development in this area, currently filled with car dealerships and parking lots and not particularly full of NIMBYs as in other areas with views and the like, would make such a line and station worth the expense. Consider it future-proofing: it could be useful today if it existed, it, like the DSTT before it, would reduce the cost of a future rail line by already existing (and by allowing purchase of private property necessary for station access while it is still parking lots and not apartment or condo complexes); it serves the densest neighborhood north of the U District with great transit access years before rail reaches this corridor, and it fits in to long-term plans for BRT and potential light rail down the road. Access not only to Roosevelt and the UW but to UW Bothell/Cascadia College from all of NE Seattle would be greatly improved.

      Buses could continue to Roosevelt Station either in mixed lanes S of NE 85th (not optimal), or by routing down the lightly-used 20th NE to NE 65th and thence west to the station.

      1. This is an excellent idea, but not on 20th. It’s too narrow and it is only a neighborhood arterial.

        Twelfth and Roosevelt will be fine. Eventually the left-side parking will be taken for bus lanes.

      2. I’d agree (although 20th was a through arterial for many years until they closed the bridge over the Ravenna ravine to traffic – a good move) – once you’re on 12th or Roosevelt it should be possible as you mention to create space, but the problem is getting between 85th/LCW and 12th or Roosevelt. There is literally no additional room there to even add a turn lane without substantial taking of existing property/structures; due to this there are exceedingly lengthy backups off-direction through there. Even 15th to 65th would be better although you still don’t have room for the left-hand turn from LCW to 15th and you still have no place to put a transit lane on LCW until you get north to 85th. LCW is a major regional highway and it’s highly unlikely that transit lanes will be allowed to take half of the lane capacity in each direction even with 12th/Roosevelt making far more sense from a purely “map” perspective.

        The only benefit to 20th is strictly because you can turn to/from LCW there. Were there a way to accomplish that further south, I’d completely agree that it should not be used.

      3. Well, you’ve advocated for under-passing 125th for a few blocks either side. Why not do the same thing at Maple Leaf? You really only need a single lane because of the short length of the tunnel. I would not expect this part to be railed some time in the future. If Link ever comes to Lake City it should be via 25th NE or even 35th in order to serve the U-Village/Hospital area.

        Either that or extend the auto tunnel to 17th or so and then you can have a bus lane on the surface.

      4. I’m with Scott. Lake City Way backs up both directions during rush hour, and they really can’t do much about it. There is no parking to take. They could take a general purpose lane, but that is pretty much unheard of, and might end up screwing up buses in the area anyway (as traffic backed up for a very long distance). 20th is the obvious solution. Ideally you add a left turn signal on Lake City Way for that purpose. Once you are on 20th, it is smooth sailing (as mentioned) to 65th because there is so little traffic. Even if traffic was a problem, you could remove parking (it is four lanes wide).

        That doesn’t mean you don’t work on Roosevelt/12th. That would simply be a different bus line (heading straight north). Something from the UW to the city border (145th) would work nicely. I wrote a proposal a while ago that had both of those ideas: https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1KDWI_ZGvzkoGxA6Z9DPeQr9EtQw

      5. Simply trying to minimize costs, Richard – yes, a tunnel where you describe would definitely be preferable but you’re adding a great deal of money for tunneling and land taking – land that is already built upon (at 120th and 127th there are open parking lots available). NE 125th is a) in the center of an urban village; b) in the middle of any route going N-S, c) at the only real pinch point for transit-only lanes between NE 85th and Bothell (really Woodinville), and d) a location where you would put a station no matter what form of HCT you end up building. You kill several birds with one stone there, and with finite resources that location would be a no-brainer to build first. With more resources – absolutely try to get rid of the mess at LCW/80th. Really future-proofing the system would have provided for a potential station on North Link where it crosses under the area for transfers towards Lake City, but alas.

        I’m actually in full agreement that a new rail line should use 25th for the reasons you mention (and have been for decades). It could be part of a N-S line extending all the way through the CD to Mount Baker, or a turn north of a Ballard-UW line west of the U District. That said, the Lake City station/125th bypass idea could and should be looked at by at least the City as a potentially game-changing use of funds much sooner than a rail line would ever be built up 25th.

      6. Yeah, 125th and Lake City Way is a key point (as an urban center that has both east-west and north-south transit). But any sort of tunnel (even a small one at 125th) would be expensive, and likely of dubious value. 125th and Lake City Way is a choke point, but it works fine for pedestrians, and is fine for transit, as long as you allow the buses to get to the head of the line. That’s the way it works now (more or less). You have a northbound bus lane up to 123rd, before the street narrows. The bus lane starts up again 130th. It could start up earlier, but there is a curb bulb there. There is also one at 127th. The bulbs do double duty — they prevent people from driving in the parking lane, and they make crossing the street easier. If they simply converted it to a bus lane, it wouldn’t be that much worse for someone trying to cross the street. The central core of Lake City would remain pedestrian friendly, while crossing at the other intersections would be a bit worse. But as it is now, neither intersection gains a lot by those bulbs, as they only exist on one side of the street (in both cases). That means that if we wanted to speed up buses, we could reduce the amount of shared running substantially. Instead of 7 blocks (123rd to 130th) you would have about three blocks of shared running (from 123rd to where the road widens, here: https://goo.gl/maps/6WUVUUnVBis).

        Southbound there isn’t as much in the way of bus only lanes. I’m not sure why. There appears to be parking, but it might not be wide enough to replace that with bus lanes. If you could replace it with bus lanes, then the first curb bulb is at 127th, while the last is at 123rd. It narrows again at Northgate Way, but traffic rarely backs up that far.

        I seriously doubt that we will ever see light rail on 522. Part of the problem is that many of the areas have so little along the way. Northgate is probably the best route in terms of stops, but it would be very expensive to build, as it would be underground most of the way. Serving Children’s means you have about three miles of nothingness before you get close to Lake City. That means you have a lot of tunneling for some very weak stops (or none at all). The most likely route (if it every happens) is to spur off of Roosevelt. Lake City Way seems the most likely to grow. That means you could have a stop at 20th (where new apartments are being built) and then surface somewhere down the hill. That would allow for several stops along Lake City, which would hopefully be next to apartment buildings (if the Pierre family ever sells their lots). You could then keep going, and then at 145th, with stops every half mile or so. In that case, Scott’s idea makes sense (as a starter) in that the only other tunnel (a short cut and cover) would be the one at 125th. The rest of the time, the train would travel in its own lane, on the surface (like it does on MLK). But with the other tunnel (the one connecting it at Roosevelt) it still wouldn’t be cheap, which is why I think it is highly unlikely it will ever be built. When we finish with ST3, we will have passed Chicago, and be up there with the Bay Area and Washington D. C. in terms of miles of track. Hard to imagine we build this, along with other projects that are better values (Ballard to UW, Metro 8).

      7. “I seriously doubt that we will ever see light rail on 522. Part of the problem is that many of the areas have so little along the way.”

        More than in Fife. :)

    5. 522 isn’t an oversized street that needs to be narrowed. It is a through-road, first and foremost. It needs to be crossable for transit access, of course, but the first priority is keeping people moving along the corridor.

      The main thrust of Kenmore’s redevelopment is similar to the main thrust of Bothell’s 522 rebuild and redevelpment: establish and strengthen the town center off of 522, far enough that you’re not constantly inundated by traffic concerns and road noise while trying to enjoy the town’s public spaces. Well, Bothell thwarts this substantially by focusing so much development around a massively rebuilt 527, but it’s also restructured its local streets so they can have more of their own life. That’s different from, say, Lake City, where 522 tries to be the main through-road and the central street, and these things are always in conflict. Another potential inspiration for Kenmore is Burien, whose old walkable main street on 152nd has been the site of more recent civic projects.

      1. Agreed.

        Also, with Bothell, though 527 has a big footprint, the redesign an attempt to separate the “through” street from the “local” street. I’m interested to see if it works.

        This is one of the problems we have in Issaquah – front street is an excellent local street in Old Town, but right now it’s the preferred “through” street for people on their way to I90, so the traffic is awful during commute times.

      2. If you don’t center Kenmore around SR 522, where do you center it?

        The narrow strip by the waterfront, next to the Burke Gilman trail. That seems too small. Up the hill, where all the single family homes are? Good luck with that. And, besides, you don’t want a large elevation gap cutting off the activity from the Burke Gilman trail.

      3. @asdf: As in Bothell… not some unwalkable distance away. The area between 522 and 185th Street or so is not way up in the hills. You just focus streetscape improvements on smaller streets that have some hope of really being walkable. Make streets 181st, 182nd, 68th, 65th, and 73rd more granular and more appealing. Close pedestrian gaps, create connections in the middle of today’s giant blocks, and make it easier to access stuff without using 522. Kenmore is doing this, and siting its civic features accordingly.

        Maybe there need to be more ways across 522, especially if the industrial parts near the Burke get redeveloped more… but I’m not sure there needs to be another way across for motor vehicles, or more access-points for 522 itself, so maybe ped/bike overpasses or underpasses would be better than more signals. There isn’t much direct business access on the south side anyway, due to the railroad history there, and some grade issues. I wouldn’t rush to add more.

    1. It’s definitely how the locals feel about it though. They like being at a distinct remove from Seattle, even if they may not strictly be so as the crow flies.

      1. heh heh – in the mid-1930’s my grandfather commuted from their Kenmore home where Plywood Supply is now to his market near downtown on Eastlake – so despite what people now living in Kenmore think, it was already somewhat of a suburb 80 years ago to our family! :)

        I have a fond spot for Kenmore due to family ties and am happy to see them being proactive.

    2. Kenmore was within the pre-1990 suburban ring, so to me not an exurb. The ring went south from Lynnwood to MT, then east to Kenmore and Bothell, and southeast to Redmond. Briar and Woodinville were the outer fringe, so to me where the exurbs start. For exurbs, see Issaquah and Monroe. However, others use the term exurbs to mean all the suburbs, or suburban-rural areas without a downtown like parts of Highway 9.

      1. Even Issaquah, not really. When I think exurb, I think Snoqualmie Ridge, Monroe, Marysville, Bonney Lake.

        Of course, it just goes to show that the definition of exurb has to keep getting revised every few years as more sprawl gets built.

      2. We could define a exurb as any community w/ a population below 100k were the commute to the regional DT is an hour or more. It may vary from year to year based on traffic but it would be helpful if were were all talking about the same thing.

      3. I think of exburb as not contiguous with the major city, but still within commute distance. So Issaquah is a suburb – there’s continuous development along I90 from Bellevue to Issaquah. Exburbs would be like Monroe or Snoqualmie/North Bend.

      4. Here is how the Census defines the Seattle urban area for 2010, based on a complex formula that measures residential density using a GIS.

        https://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/dc10map/UAUC_RefMap/ua/ua80389_seattle_wa/DC10UA80389.pdf

        I would suggest that anything beyond this is definitely an “exurb” or a “satellite city”. Anything within this area is probably considered a suburb, perhaps unless it’s theoretically counted as part of the urban area because of a “jump” like Monroe or Enumclaw is. Regardless, Kenmore would clearly not be classified as an exurb.

      5. There are two conceptual visions of exurbs. One is being a long commute to the central city, longer than the fifteen miles envisioned in the golden age of suburban expansion, which reaches to around Lynnwood and Kent. The other is a semi-rural area without traditional city services; e.g., an area whose “downtown” is a big-box power center or Safeway plaza. These different concepts lead to different conclusions. In one, Covington and Marysville are exurbs. In the other, the semi-rural parts of Highway 9 are exurbs, and maybe Spanwawy and Snoqualmie Ridge. As far as I can tell the biggest concentration in Spanaway is Wal-Mart.

        The census sidesteps these issues. It doesn’t distinguish between large central cities like Seattle and satellite cities like Bellevue, Redmond, and Lynnwood; it defines them all as “principal cities”. And it defines metropolitan area as everything that has an economic relationship with the principal cities, so it goes beyond the urbanized area to the Olympic Penninsula etc. So it has given in to the sprawlites, which makes sense since car-based expansion has been federal policy for six decades.

  2. The excruciating Link connection at 145th Street will prove to be a major thorn in the side of 522 BRT. It’s going to take buses up to ten minutes to get through several intersections in mixed-flow traffic to get to the bus loading area.

    Something like exxclusive bus lanes all the way to Shoreline South/ 145th Station, a repositioining of the station bus staging area (that can now be justified and funded because of ST3), or a terminus at another station (Roosevelt? Northgate? 185th?) should be in alternatives under study right now if this is to open by 2024.

    There has been no public roll-out or discussion of design alternatives explaining how new ST3 money should be used to design a better interface between 522 BRT and Link.

    1. The BRT project includes funding for BAT lanes the entire length of 145th.

      The 145th station is designed to be the terminus of a major bus route, with significant bus layover facilities.

      1. Actually, there is a serious inconsistency between the 145h Street Multimodal Corridor Study released in early 2017 (adopted by Shoreline City Council in April 2016 before ST3 and the ST relocation of the station), the cost estimates and design for ST3 (July 2016) and subsequent 145th station relocation of the station by ST (later in 2016 and into 2017). The multimodal corridor study had the station just north of 145th and the revised station design (rolled out later of 2016 after the study was adopted, and presented for the public just a few days after ST3 was adopted in November 2016) puts the station at 148th. It’s also notable that the cost estimate for the 522 BRT was prepared in July, 2016 before ST moved the station (a significant part of the Lynnwood Link cost increase).

        ST 3 says that the entire 522 BRT project is less than $400M, which includes funding for the 145th project. The Shoreline study puts the widening at a very unlikely $85M of that (for example, the cost estimate includes only $5.4M for right-of-way for the entire corridor from 522 to I-5).

        ST, Shoreline, Seattle and others need to update the corridor study preferred alternative and cost estimates based on ST3. There appears to be very serious approval chronology, operational BRT design and cost problems for the 522 BRT on 145th.

        http://www.shorelinewa.gov/our-city/145th-street-corridor

        https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/BRT_145th_SR522.pdf

        https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/project-documents/NE145thSitePlan_2016_1103_OpenHouseBoards.pdf

      2. Even if 145th has a BRT lane, the station itself is inset on 148th, with no apparent BRT lane to it. Getting into the station, there is a giant blob of unmarked concrete where the kiss and ride and the car overflow for a wait for a parking space is going to be. Basically, in the station plan itself there is no BRT line the last 500 ft.

      3. Thanks for explaining that more directly, baselle.

        Probably the most congested area in the corridor will have buses mixing with interchange traffic and parking garage/drop-off/pick-up traffic at the station, and have pedestrians going to and from the station! It’s a big congested mess!

  3. Never too soon to be planning for LINK. Would be good if BRT could get some use out of any of the right of way- but by long before preliminary engineering, the whole lake shore will be so built and populated there’ll be no surface running at all.

    Some of the foot and bike trails along the lake could probably be comfortable with a streetcar line alongside the trail. Skoda cars ok, but not LINK. Maybe from a ferry terminal up 68th into town. But remembering what I most miss about Ballard, and what I’d like to see replace it, there, and in Olympia, and other shoreline towns….

    Can we have places and businesses that actually make things that people can watch being manufactured? With locals running the machines? Which themselves are clean, quiet, healthy neighbors? Not talking ideology. Just currently-missing necessities of life.

    Mark Dublin

    there

    1. It could conceivably be more than just a streetcar – a decent amount of the Perth – Fremantle (Western Australia) commuter rail line has a bike/ped trail adjacent; most of the right-of-way is park-like nowadays. These trains are more metro-like than Sounder-like; it runs every 10-15 minutes, with half-hour frequencies late as well as late-night trains unlike some systems. ;) (schedule looks much like the Metro 11 bus here)

      The link following shows the trail and train behind; it’s between Perth and Claremont; primarily single family suburban area.

      https://goo.gl/maps/Fn4CKCSLacK2

      Further SW in Cottesloe:

      https://goo.gl/maps/SEjAapxBYqQ2

      Of course there has to be some separation between the two uses, but as can be seen they can coexist where there is sufficient room. When I was there the day was brilliant and the trails/parks were quite well used despite the evil evil trains running frequently only meters away. The trail runs more than half of the way between Perth CBD and Fremantle; there’s room in the right-of-way to extend it almost all the way into Fremantle if they so desired. It’s about 25km between the two.

      Of course, closer to home there are some similarities with the Elliott Bay Trail and BNSF at Myrtle Edwards Park.

  4. Thanks Scott, and Wanderer.

    But here’s something I noticed in the Nordic countries, especially Oslo, Norway and Gothenburg, Sweden:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/27168309668/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/40637140382/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38482126330/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38194261355/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/27297306929/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38195146905/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/25729293585/in/dateposted-public/

    Major, and I think deciding difference between buses, even electric, and street rail at very close quarters with people. People are “easy” with railcars at very close quarters.

    One thought: these countries have kept their streetcar systems operating, war and peacetime, for over a hundred unbroken years. Average person really does have correct senses for being around these trains since before birth. Bells. But mostly the vibration in the pavement.

    But also, since the outer edge of the car never varies right to left, you’re comfortable having it go by close to you. Serious question worth some on-site talks with streetcar operations in the Old World: How long does it take average person to get that acclimatized?

    However, what’s been on my mind is the Cross Kirkland Connector. Could be a train-ride from Kenmore, Used to be freight rail itself. Width looks like you can make bikes and hikers comfortable with the trains. Though mentioned the Skoda cars as what I think will be a good “fit.” Blue and white train first video, pretty much right size.

    Except since it’s a Breda- get something else. Swedes should know better, but low-bid is an uglier international contagious disease than oil. This spring and summer, walk the Kirkland trail. Best part, figure out how to get service from the Trail to South Kirkland Park and Ride.

    Where there’s a will…….

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38525561755/in/dateposted-public/

    They’re all going to my cat!

    Mark

  5. Thanks Scott, and Wanderer. Like for everything else in the world including Australia, route I’m thinking about has a little less side-room. But interesting observation in Europe:

    In places where people are used to them, like countries where streetcars have operated a hundred fifty years through two World Wars, pedestrians are a lot more comfortable at close range with railcars than buses.

    Partly, they know the car edge won’t vary side to side, with all motion very smooth. But also, literally, everyone is born recognizing sound and even more, track vibration, enough that they can sense where the car is.

    City Hall Plaza on the Oslo waterfront…granted, there’s escape room that wouldn’t be there on a crowded street…not a single warning sign. Train drivers tell me no problem- though they do close the line for large gatherings.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38194261355/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38195146905/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/35530894233/in/dateposted-public/

    But I’m thinking that the biking and hiking on the excellent rail roadbed above Kirkland will benefit from a car-line same caliber as South Lake Union. Sections added as need be.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/25851523976/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/25729293585/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/25381820415/in/dateposted-public/

    Never crawling- lane reserved. 25 mph max. Think of it as a rolling rest stop. For regular transit, the line crosses several bus routes.

    However most serious obstacle isn’t hostile homeowners. It’s the four story elevator ride from the east end of the tail at 108th Avenue. Tracks continue to industrial part of Bellevue- with no suitable stops in between.

    But luckily: Joe, Bet there’s one or two of these parked somewhere above Ross Dam in the Skagit. Like they say….where there’s a will…

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/38525561755/in/dateposted-public/

    I’m leaving everything to my cat.

    Mark Dublin

  6. Man, whatever the program is, I need some lessons. Worked on this piece for a couple of hours. No response or problem warning. Figured that these videos just took up too much space. So I cut it down. Looks like a State Police PSA on buzzed commenting.

    Well, good practice for dealing with a fare enforcement system that’s probably driven so many passengers off LINK that even John Niles is begging people not to be fooled by GP lane bus advocates and try to fight criminalizing wrong fare-taps from within.

    Real trouble, however. They’ve got my cat.

    Mark

  7. This is very interesting and leads me to ask a few questions.First, from the document:

    The Overlay would be optional; a developer could choose to develop under the existing zoning regulations or under the standards of the Overlay.

    So, that begs the question: What are the existing zoning regulations? It appears that the only major difference is parking, but developers are still required to add parking, and the parking is still based on the number of units added, or whether you have a commercial property.

    Which makes the dynamic very interesting. To qualify for the smaller parking requirement, you need to add a lot of units (at least 60 per acre) but the building can’t be too tall. At the same time, you still need one parking spot per unit*. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that make it difficult to put up an apartment building, and then just have parking next to it? Hopefully a developer can comment, but this is not your typical suburban development. Typically you build a building, and have parking next to it. Does this basically require parking to be built underneath a building? If so, couldn’t that push the cost beyond where developers are interested (to the point where they simply use the old rules)? Again, I would love to hear from a developer about this.

    Another issue that seems to be glossed over in the document is the land itself. From what I can tell, much of it is wetlands. The map on page 6 is a bit confusing, since it shows 185th going through (from 73rd to 80th). Maybe that isn’t the case (and they are just using the lines). But more importantly, the map doesn’t show the creek or the little lake (which is visible on maps). Nor does it separate out areas that are woodland (full of Herons, apparently) and areas like this: https://goo.gl/maps/bCYkTdEcz9o. Will development be allowed into the woodlands, or not?

    * The parking requirement drops even lower if you have “affordable” or senior units. Since there are a fair number of senior facilities in the area, it seems like this is likely to lead to more of them.

    1. I would guess the intent of the zoning is to move away from surface parking lots, and that’s a good thing. It’s possible that the parking requirements will drive away some developers, but if you look at other developments already built in Kenmore and the buildings along 527 in Bothell, all of them have underground parking rather than adjoining surface lots. The market appears to support that model, and in the long run, it’s better than incentives that keep lots of surface lots around. These are suburban downtowns, and they should be designed for pedestrians, but with a way for people outside an easy walk to drive. Underground parking is what you end up with when those are your goals.

      1. It also helps that when you get out of Seattle you are more likely to see two and three bedroom units. so one car per 3 bedrooms is equivalent to 0.33 stalls per one bedroom unit.

      2. >> you look at other developments already built in Kenmore and the buildings along 527 in Bothell, all of them have underground parking rather than adjoining surface lots.

        Huh? There are plenty of apartments in the area that have surface parking. https://goo.gl/maps/Jb6ttGnF8Bo, https://goo.gl/maps/ihCvYucojQv, https://goo.gl/maps/JajPPzPFX7H2, https://goo.gl/maps/qWYsoeaGTJC2. Looking at it from the air, it seems like the majority. Some of the new ones (and a handful of old ones) don’t, but it seems to be the prevailing style.

        >> it’s better than incentives that keep lots of surface lots around.

        I guess it depends on your goals. If affordability is an issue, this makes it hard to build. You can’t just put up a building, next to a parking lot. If you put up a small building (with plenty of parking) then you aren’t big enough (density isn’t high enough, despite the building itself being an apartment). If you use up the entire lot, then you meet the density requirements, but you fail on the parking. Thus your forced to build the most expensive option (or the cheapest, which is to do nothing).

        On the other hand, if they you put up a building on one end of a lot (and keep all the parking) there is no reason why you can’t go back later, and build over the parking, when people are less obsessed with it. If it turns out that this really is Transit Oriented Development, then it seems to me you shouldn’t require parking of any sort. Just let the market decide whether parking space or housing space is more valuable. My guess is in twenty years (if not a lot sooner) most people will have little use for parking, just as most people don’t need a stable.

  8. The line “Baker eventually wants to see light rail circling Lake Washington on the north and south ends, bringing the system through Kenmore and Renton.” Reminded me of Virgil bogue’s 1912 vision of a Seattle totally encircling lake Washington

    1. It’s decades away if ever. ST dismissed Bellevue-Renton as premature and is waiting for it to develop more potential ridership.

      1. I don’t think premature is the right term. ST looked at the 405 corridor and decided BRT was the best option for both Renton-Bellevue and Lynnwood-Bellevue. Some of is due to ridership projections not as high as most LRT projects, but also had to do with BRT able to take advantage of billions already invested in HOT/HOV lanes and direct access ramps throughout 405, while LRT would need to be built effectively from scratch.

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