Buses will operate separately from cars on a new middle level of the interchange. (Image: WSDOT)

At an open house on Thursday evening, WSDOT and Sound Transit shared design concepts for the I-405 BRT station at NE 85th St in Kirkland. The station is an ST3 project opening in 2024. The latest design features better connections to local transit and an improved pedestrian environment. None of these make up for the poor location choice. The station will serve just a few hundred riders daily after a capital outlay planned to exceed $300 million.

The NE 85th/I-405 interchange is located one mile northeast of the downtown Kirkland transit center. Today, it is a large cloverleaf with 85th St passing below the freeway. From the west, sidewalks end a half-mile before the station at 6th St, from which there is a 180 feet elevation gain to the freeway. To the east is a low-density commercial strip with modest prospects for redevelopment. This is an unpromising starting point, but the design makes a strong effort to create a station that is as accessible as possible.

The ST3 representative plan pried apart the north- and south-bound lanes of the highway, placing BRT stations at highway level, accessed from the street below via stairs and elevators. Planned stops for local buses under the overpass turned out to be impractical because of conflicts with traffic entering and exiting the highway. A modified version of the representative project moved the local bus stops further away. That meant pedestrian access moved to long steep pedestrian bridges across the highway ramps. With long switchbacks, it would take 6-10 minutes for riders to get from a local bus to the BRT stop. The added land acquisitions and extensive construction greatly increased the cost over the ST3 budget.

An unsuccessful plan to modify the representative station places local transit connections far from the BRT with poor pedestrian access (Image: WSDOT)

The Separated Transit Interchange Concept

The solution was to radically rethink the station design. WSDOT now favors a separated transit interchange that rebuilds the entire interchange on three levels. On the uppermost level, the mainline of the highway is moved far outwards. Transit operations are consolidated on the middle level of the structure, with bus stops for the BRT (north-south) and local transit stops (east-west). The middle level has direct access to the express toll lanes for the BRT and for cars. NE 85th St is on the lowest level.

The preferred design separates transit operations from general purpose traffic on the middle level, and has better pedestrian access than the modified representative project. (Image: WSDOT)

The user experience is far better this way. Transferring bus riders have a relatively short walk on the middle level of the interchange. Pedestrians and bikes arriving from 85th St have a separated path from east and west. The on- and off-ramps to the highway general purpose lanes are moved closer together, reducing the grade change and avoiding the pedestrian ramp switchbacks.

The capital cost of this option is $235-$260 million, in line with the $260 million assumed for the original representative project in the ST3 plan.

The ST3 plan also funds bus-only lanes between the highway and 6th St near downtown Kirkland. That corridor is served by Metro 248 and 235, operating on 30- to 40-minute headways on weekdays. The Metro Connects plan anticipates frequent service (every 15 minutes all day) on NE 85th by 2025.

Ridership expectations are very low

The City of Kirkland estimates 250-300 daily transfers at NE 85th in 2025. Sound Transit estimates fewer than 1,000 even by 2040. The design improvements, laudable though they are, cannot overcome the lack of activity in the neighborhood. The immediate neighbors are a Costco and an auto dealership, neither of which appears likely to redevelop soon. One mixed use project is in permitting about two blocks east.

The BRT station requires too much out of direction travel to appeal to most riders in the market. Riders from downtown Kirkland have more direct service to Bellevue. Who, as they travel south to Bellevue, would choose a two-seat ride where the first seat goes to the northeast?

Local buses on NE 85th will be lower frequency than the direct RapidRide service to Bellevue planned for 2025, and the RapidRide will connect to many more useful destinations. Few will skip the RapidRide for a less frequent connecting bus up the hill to the BRT stop.

The more probable audience for the BRT station includes (a) travel between Rose Hill and Bellevue, and (b) travel between central Kirkland and BRT stations to the north in Bothell and Lynnwood. Those are not large transit markets.

Can we do better?

The NE 85th station is a large investment, one of the most expensive stations in the ST3 system. At a planned $305 million ($260 million for the station, and another $45 million for connecting bus lanes), it is fully 30% of the I-405 BRT program. But however irrelevant the station is to most transit users, there appears no flexibility to shift the investment to projects “not consistent with the ST3 plan”.

The latest design at least improves on the original concept in the ST3 plan. Cyclists gain a mostly separated safe connection across the freeway. Drivers gain direct access to the express lanes. The transfer environment between buses is more pleasant.

Because construction will take several years, planning for NE 85th is accelerated. The next review by the Kirkland City Council is on Tuesday. The Sound Transit Board is expected to advance the preferred design concept to the next stage this summer. Project feedback is welcomed by Sound Transit (email brt@soundtransit.org), and by Kirkland City Council (email citycouncil@kirklandwa.gov).

142 Replies to “Kirkland’s NE 85th BRT station”

  1. Well, +1 for the bike lane under the freeway anyway. An East-West bike connection between Kirkland and Redmond is sorely lacking… maybe this help.

    1. “From the west, sidewalks end a half-mile before the station at 6th St…”

      That’s not actually quite true. You can’t see it from the street view picture, but there is a path running on the south side of 85th, on the other side of the trees. After crossing the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail, the path continues and eventually surfaces here. It is here where the sidewalk effectively ends. Technically, there is even a very skinny sidewalk across the freeway, but the crossing points with all the entrance and exit ramps are just too dangerous.

      It’s also worth noting that there is a pedestrian bridge a few blocks over at 80th St., which bypasses the 85th St. mess, but is too far out of the way for accessing local destinations along 85th, such as Costco.

      The new design is much better and safer, and will actually make it possible to live in downtown Kirkland and shop at Costco on foot – something that would be unthinkable today.

  2. There is another potential use of the 85th street station, and that’s travel to/from the airport. Taking the I-405 bus to TIBS, followed by a one-stop hop on Link should be faster than detouring into downtown Seattle, having to make a Link transfer anyway, plus having to ride some of the line’s slower sections.

    Of course, in order for the airport thing to work, people with luggage will want to get dropped off at the station in cars (whether driven by family or Uber/Lyft), which means there needs to be some accommodation for private car pick-up and drop-off built into the station design. Whether it’s built or not, the Uber and Lyft drivers are going to pull in and load and unload passengers anyway, we may as well build a legal and safe passenger loading zone while we’re rebuilding the interchange in the first place.

    1. I believe you’d need to transfer at Bellevue TC, because 405N and 405S will operate as separate lines, per the initial plans. But it’s a BRT to BRT transfer, which should be quick.

      But your point still stand – the 3rd transit market this station serves is Kirkland-South King trip pairs.

      1. One of the Sound Transit speakers at last week’s meeting described just this journey, except with a local bus to get to the BRT station.

        I found the prospect of a four-seat ride* to the airport underwhelming. I’d still take 255 to Link, or at least simplify the first two steps with 235 to Bellevue.

        * local bus to 405N BRT to Bellevue to 405S BRT to TIBS to Link.

      2. True, unless the local street grid south of 85th is completely gridlocked. If I’m traveling to/from Juanita on a bus, jogging over to 85th may end up significantly faster is the bus lanes on 85th flows well and there’s gridlock south of Kirland’s downtown.

        It might all end up depending on how Metro orients local routes within Kirkland – will they feed 405BRT, or will they focus on north/south travel?

      3. But if you have to transfer in Bellevue anyway, then Ryan’s original point still stands. People would prefer taking one bus to downtown Bellevue, instead of two.

    2. I didn’t realize there was going to be a transfer in Bellevue. I thought this route was supposed to be reliable enough to run one line all the way from Lynnwood to Tukwila.

      If we really do have a transfer in Bellevue adding an additional up to 15 minutes of waiting, maybe a bus to UW station does become better.

      1. The 255 to Link will be a three seat ride to Seatac, because you’ll have to change to a second train at Westlake, ID or SODO after 2035 in the current operating plan. ST is representing every transfer point as changing levels too.

      2. It’s still better from the status quo because the buses will be more frequent, maybe not in Juanita but from 85th on south.

        From 84th on east it might be more convenient to go to Totem Lake or Brickyard stations. Is there any hope of east-west bus routes that way? Juanita Drive is unfortunately isolated, with as few roads east as Sand Point Way or Seaview Ave NW.

  3. I imagine there would be some Kirkland-Redmond traffic as well, which might have a speed advantage for people from the north, depending on where they work relative to the link stations.

    But 90% of the benefit here is going to be redoing the 85th street interchange, which is really needed for cars as well. Given that, why isn’t WSDOT throwing some money into the pot? Or at least ST should get revenue from some of the ETL rolls.

    1. The new interchange is much better than the current, for both cars and pedestrians. It will make 405 much more permeable, which is great for Kirkland’s neighborhoods on both sides. Given this project is Kirkland’s flagship project, I think this is a pretty good outcome for the city for ST3, even if much of the benefit isn’t transit per se.

      If this was a WSDOT project, I’d applaud it. As a ST project, it is frustrating to see so much money spent on rebuilding freeways, but if we must put a BRT station here, I’d rather get it right.

      1. latest design at least improves on the original concept in the ST3 plan

        I agree with the sentiment that this is an improvement over the original design and and overall, much needed improvement to the interchange. As far as it being a “bad location”; 405 is where it is and this is about the only place to put a connection to DT Kirkland & Redmond.

        The “good thing” about the giant cloverleaf is that it has “preserved” a large chunk of land. Otherwise there wouldn’t be room to split the mainline. The cloverleaf works only for rural interchanges where traffic volumes are light enough on the surface street that people can merge. The new design seems to be a take on the “single point” or “diamond” interchange.

        Planned stops for local buses under the overpass turned out to be impractical because of conflicts with traffic entering and exiting the highway.

        So, my question is, why can’t the original idea of bus stops/transfers directly under the interchange be made to work once they nix the cloverleaf weave? Seems that would be cheaper and less hideous than the proposed triple decker.

        Hard to imagine that ridership would be higher than estimates but Totem Lake is developing rapidly and I’d think this would be a viable route from there to DT Kirkland (faster than the Juanita diversion of the 255) and certainly make DT Redmond more accessible. I can also see people from Kirkland/Redmond using this to get to Evergreen Medical Center which is by far Kirkland’s largest employer.

  4. >> Who, as they travel south to Bellevue, would choose a two-seat ride where the first seat goes to the northeast?

    Oh, I don’t know, it seems like a fairly logical way to go. If I was driving I might go that way (head over to the freeway, then south). Ideally I would like a one seat ride that did the same thing, but Metro doesn’t seem to offer that. So my choices are basically a fairly slow one seat ride (avoiding the freeway, making several stops) or a fairly fast two seat ride to downtown Bellevue.

    I think the problem is the 248. A bus that goes along Redmond Way/85th seems like it would be very popular. You are connecting downtown Kirkland with Redmond — too fairly popular places on the east side. But maybe this is doing a poor job of connecting them. The turnaround spot in Kirkland seems especially bad. I see no reason why it should just keep going up towards Juanita. That would make it a bit redundant, but give a lot more people a one seat ride from Kirkland to Redmond. I’m not sure about Redmond, but maybe it has a similar problem (just not serving the most popular places). If you did make the bus better, then you could justify running it more often, which in turn makes it a lot more sensible as a way to get from Kirkland to downtown Bellevue.

    I’m not saying it is worth the money (since this is a lot of money) but it seems like a stop at 85th would be reasonably popular if there was better connecting service. A lot of people prefer a two seat ride if the two seat ride is much faster. In this case it will be an express, making no stops between 85th and Bellevue, which means that as long as the first bus is relatively frequent, I could see it being reasonably popular.

    1. “Who, as they travel south to Bellevue, would choose a two-seat ride where the first seat goes to the northeast?”

      “Oh, I don’t know, it seems like a fairly logical way to go.”

      It’s only three blocks north, and 85th curves down to Central Way so it’s not even that much. When I lived in Bellevue I would loved to have taken that way to Kirkland and back, but the 535 (then 340) doesn’t stop at all at 85th, and east-west buses on 85th have never been frequent. The freeway buses can’t stop at 85th because they’d have to go all out of the way, so the 340 stopped at 70th and 132nd, and the 535 stops only at 128th. Taking a bus to 70th & 405 is slower than taking a bus to 85th & 405. The only other alternative is to take the local buses down Lake Washington Blvd, which is even slower. I used to walk from the 70th Street freeway stop if I could, or else take the local bus. But now the 70th option is gone so the only choice is the local buses. That’s exactly why people are demanding 405 BRT in the first place, because it takes a ridiculously long time to get from Kirkland or Brickyard or somewhere to anywhere in the Eastside, not to mention the lackluster frequency.

  5. The 234 and 235 between downtown Bellevue and downtown Kirkland are not fast, and never will be, unless Metro is willing to skip South Kirkland Park and Ride. All those left turns getting into and out of it really slow things down.

    The 405 bus should be faster than this, if you can take a bike to it, rather than waiting for another bus.

    Is the bus stop planned to have any bike parking? How about space for bikeshare bikes to park without blocking the sidewalk?

    1. Incidentally, one quick way to improve South Kirkland P&R would be to have buses stop in-lane on 38th Place. The 255 would still need to loop through the existing stop unless you let it just stop on 108th, but every other route would save a lot of turns.

      1. The Kirkland-Bellevue RapidRide is planned to operate on 108th. That alone will reduce the extravagant looping around the block. I have heard that an in-street stop is under consideration, but it’s very early in planning and there isn’t a worked out proposal yet.

        There are a lot of low-hanging fruit to improve bus operations on that corridor.

    2. I gave lots of feedback about bike parking at the open house. Seems like there should be a way to put it under the freeway lanes – then it’s even covered!

      I agree that biking to the station is the way to go.

    3. No reason the 234 and 235 can’t stay like they are. And add an express or “limited” bus between Downtown Kirkland and Downtown Bellevue with few or no stops. Could be thirty second headway, reserved lanes, and full signal pre-empt for price of the I-405 stop.

      For anybody not sleeping under the viaducts, a lot faster. Also, saves cost of amputations for frost-bite. New medicare work requirement still holds. Luckily, there is a much better-located heritage railroad track that a couple of hundred million can at least help adjust. Single track can leave room for people and their bikes. And dogs.

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/40590812495/in/dateposted-public/

      One complication: South Kirkland Park and Ride lies about five stories straight down from the track. I think there’s a passenger elevator there now. But there’s a remedy that could draw more ridership, especially from visitors, than the whole rest of the subarea’s service combined:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/37812152572/in/dateposted-public/

      From South Kirkland P&R, track could swing out to Bellevue way in same reserved signal-positive lanes as above express buses. But most important of all, could be favorable change of demographical politics that’ll make the San Andreas Fault look like a cracked driveway.

      Use the communications instruments all their mother’s give them to keep them quiet on a bus stuck in traffic to let them know what grandma and grandpa who keep putting up those signs along the trail REALLY want to give them

      Across the political spectrum, has their ever been a generation of grandparents that can resist giving their little descendants a brand new Connector? If they’re still calling themselves “Baby Boomers” they’ve really got it coming.

      If you look close, I think you can see horses too. Everybody’s teenaged sister between Kirkland and Redmond is sitting inside the streetcar in tailored red riding coats, shiny black boots, and riding crops. Mace? That is SO Lynnwood!

      Mark

      1. Little generational clarification….six decades or so and they all start to blur. Moms give kids their i-pads to teeth on. Kids internalize airborne streetcars and horses along with plastic.

        Grandparents know by telepathy what three year olds have to, and will, scream at their parents for a month to get.

        Well……how ELSE could Chicago suburbanites ever have given in and gotten me the Electroliner? (Tube radio worked too but tasted worse). My Mom’s brother’s kids had to settle for an electric train set that fills up a whole basement.

        Mark

  6. How do people get dropped off or picked up in this layout? As much as the separation looks good for local bus users and bicyclists, any drop off point appears to mean there’s 500-1000 feet of walking. I might be missing something though.

    The easiest solution would be to have drop-off zones on the bottom level, or to design for drop-off traffic on the middle level for just the 85th part of that level.

  7. For a website whose every other word is “density”, can’t believe anybody has a single positive thing to say about what’s portrayed. Would you want any member of your family you don’t hate to have to catch or deboard a bus there?

    For several years, I was in school at whatever Lake Washington Institute of Technology used to be called. 255 or 540 to downtown Kirkland, 238 up the hill. Leisurely pace hardly even annoying- enjoyed coffee stop in a pleasant place. With good restaurants and a library.

    Where nobody risks misery or death from violence, exposure, or plain notice they’re not wanted. So deal I’d give Kirkland: What you’ve got works just fine, and be grateful for it. Come back when your city extends your nice downtown to where it surrounds the station portrayed.

    Til then, if this is your price for staying in Sound Transit, doubt anybody else in your subarea will miss your competition for funding.

    Mark Dublin

  8. 260 million is a lot of money for a bus stop.

    Just goes to show how the benefits of BRT are oversold. The minute you need to rebuild a freeway you aren’t saving money over rail.

    1. When infrastructure is built exclusively for cars, fixing it requires a ton of money. There is no way around it. But it still needs doing, and is still far cheaper than the billions rail would have cost.

      1. Yeah, exactly. A train stop — built for the exact same purpose — would likely cost more, Then you have the miles and miles of additional track that would cost a *lot* more.

    2. 405 BRT is more than just this. It’s also a connection between 522 BRT and Bellevue, Lynnwood and Bellevue, Renton and Bellevue, Burien and Bellevue, Burien and Renton, etc — faster and more frequent than the current 535 and 560. It’s much cheaper than building light rail in this corridor. It’s a step toward being able to get around the Eastside at any time without it taking an hour or more each way. This is the toughest station in the corridor because Kirkland is a major city but its downtown is too far from 405 for a north-south express bus to divert to it. Other stations like Brickyard and NE 44th are so minor that it doesn’t matter that the station is in the middle of nowhere because there’s no somewhere it’s missing, but this is the Kirkland/Redmond station so we have to make the best it and dedicate some money to building it right. I wish it weren’t 30% of the budget, but on the other hand no other station requires such extensive rebuilding, except the Renton station and transit center which may be higher. The Bellevue, Lynnwood, and Burien transit centers already exist and don’t need much, and the low-density residential stations can be wherever and whatever is least expensive.

      1. This is the toughest station in the corridor because Kirkland is a major city but its downtown is too far from 405 for a north-south express bus to divert to it. Other stations like Brickyard and NE 44th are so minor that it doesn’t matter that the station is in the middle of nowhere because there’s no somewhere it’s missing, but this is the Kirkland/Redmond station so we have to make the best it and dedicate some money to building it right.

        Are the rest of the stations being rebuilt? From what I can tell, Canyon Park, 195th and Brickyard aren’t getting any special treatment. This means that a bus has to spend several minutes serving each stop. This means a trip from Lynnwood will not only take a very long time, but be very expensive.

        As for spending this kind of money for this station — I don’t like it. It is cheaper than running rail, but it is still a bad value. As I wrote down below, it just doesn’t fit in well. In part because it is the closest one to Bellevue, but also because it is relatively close to Totem Lake. The value you add by creating a station (and making the BRT bus serve it) is minimal. You would be much better off running express buses on 85th, and just having the BRT bus skip it. The handful of folks who are trying to get to that part of Kirkland from places north (e. g. Lynnwood) would go through Totem Lake, while everyone else comes out way ahead.

      2. Eh, direct point-to-point services usually end up forcing really awkward transfers or split frequencies, and usually both.

        85th is 2.5mi away from Totem Lake and 4.5mi from Bellevue. You don’t save that much time skipping a single stop.

        Assuming that they just slap an overpass station onto Bellevue at NE 6th (much preferable to this inane terminate-in-Bellevue plan), you could an open BRT. I think it’s a terrible idea to run all services up and down from Lynwood to Burien, but you could reasonably have a bunch of partial express routes serving two of Lynwood, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, and Burien.

        So in a scenario where buses run from Lynwood to Redmond, Kirkland to Burien, Renton to Brickyard, etc. 85th could be a reasonably utilized, high-thoroughput transfer point in an open BRT. Build a cheap glass-roof shed over it and you’ve got a nice, weather-protected transit station.

      3. “Are the rest of the stations being rebuilt? From what I can tell, Canyon Park, 195th and Brickyard aren’t getting any special treatment.”

        Nope, none of them are getting anything more than the RapidRide treatment. And they all have better walksheds than the 85th St station and probably higher ridership. Brickyard and Canyon Park also have large P&Rs while 195th has UW Bothell.

        That being said, DT Kirkland is a big destination and I don’t think accessing it via Totem Lake is a reasonable expectation. On the other hand, this is a lot of money.

      4. On the other hand, this is a lot of money.

        I think that’s one point fiscal conservatives and transit advocates can agree on. There’s only two reasons why the fix is in for this location. 1) As pointed out ST decisions are all made by political animals out to grab whatever dollars they can for their constituency. 2) They want the dollars to rebuild the 85th interchange for cars.

      5. So in a scenario where buses run from Lynwood to Redmond, Kirkland to Burien, Renton to Brickyard, etc. 85th could be a reasonably utilized, high-thoroughput transfer point in an open BRT.

        Yes, except that a bus that goes from Lynnwood to Redmond would exit the freeway at Totem Lake. Totem Lake has a major housing development and a hospital on one side, and the largest housing density in the area on the other (close to Juanita — https://arcg.is/1jSqOX). There is just not a lot next to 85th. So that means that buses that come from the north on the freeway will exit at Totem Lake, and either go by the hospital and the housing development/mall, or swing by Juanita. If it was serving Redmond, it would do the former (like this https://goo.gl/maps/UWDt1V7kB5n). Yes, it takes a little extra time to serve the hospital and the area around the mall, but that is the only way a bus like that can be justified.

        A bus from Bellevue could use 85th, but it would make sense for a bus like that to keep heading north. That again means that it would likely end at Totem Lake (like so:– https://goo.gl/maps/bBSmRp9fBiH2).

        In theory I could see a bus from Bellevue use 85th and then head south, but as Dan pointed out, that really doesn’t make much sense. Once you are a few blocks south of 85th, you might as well keep going south. Even if you ignore the good stops along the way, it makes sense to just keep going south (Google Maps recommends that when driving).

        The problem with the current plan is that it ignores scale. There just isn’t enough demand for all of the various connections. An express from Lynnwood to Redmond (using 85th) sounds great — but there just isn’t the demand to justify it as a stand alone run. It makes way more sense to include Totem Lake, even though doing so means a detour for people who are going on to Redmond. In general, Totem Lake becomes the major transfer point — which makes sense given the existing population (at Juanita), growth (at the mall) and employment (at the hospital).

      6. They’ll be in-lane I understand because that was part of the r05 master plan with WSDIT and one if the goals for BRT; in-lane stations like Yarrow Point and Mointlake Terrace to elimi ate the time-consuming detours of getting off the freeway and back on. Bot they won’t rebuild the whole interchanges like at 85th.

        85th Station exists because it looks to some people like a good way to serve downtown Kirkland. You might compare it to how Link is a hybrid between a commuter rail/city subway network. They could have done multi-line BRT with one line skipping 45th and another going directly to downtown Kirkland, but to run multiple lines with the same frequency as one line would have cost more so they went with a cheaper hybrid alternative which is mediocre for Kirkland. And if you accept Bernie’s first theory, they did it because they could partner more with WSDOT (inter-government cooperation, isn’t that good) and get ST money to pay for an intersection for cars. (Because a lot if Kirklandites care deeply about car throughout. Because how else can you get to the P&R to catch the train?)

      7. “Are the rest of the stations being rebuilt? From what I can tell, Canyon Park, 195th and Brickyard aren’t getting any special treatment.”

        Nope, none of them are getting anything more than the RapidRide treatment. And they all have better walksheds than the 85th St station and probably higher ridership. Brickyard and Canyon Park also have large P&Rs while 195th has UW Bothell.

        Which is the big problem. Lynnwood riders will have an especially slow trip, while those using Canyon Park and 195th will have a slow ride that also has a transfer. Folks at Brickyard are just a tiny bit slower (the time spent to serve this stop). Headways are much better, but this just doesn’t look like it will be that popular. There is very low ridership on the 535 outside of rush hour (and much of it is to UW Bothell — which will be less convenient). Rush hour ridership is good, but that is when this will be slowed down significantly by all the time consuming stops.

        That being said, DT Kirkland is a big destination and I don’t think accessing it via Totem Lake is a reasonable expectation.

        I disagree, but let’s assume you are right. That still doesn’t mean we need a freeway station at 85th. All we need is a bus that goes along the freeway, serves Totem Lake, gets off at 85th and goes to downtown Kirkland. For example, run a bus from UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland (like so — https://goo.gl/maps/oMWq8Hq1LWx). Someone from Lynnwood who wants to get to downtown Kirkland just transfers at Totem Lake. There is really no difference — it is the same distance and the same speed. It is simply a matter of transferring at Totem Lake or 85th.

        The logic behind this station is a bit twisted. They assume that Metro can’t justify a bus like the one I mentioned in the last paragraph. That being the case — how can they justify 300 million for a station? If there simply isn’t enough demand to justify a bus route like that — even though it is fairly cheap and would save those riders quite a bit of time and a transfer — how can they assume that other riders will even use that stop?

      8. “In general, Totem Lake becomes the major transfer point — which makes sense given the existing population (at Juanita), growth (at the mall) and employment (at the hospital).”

        Rephrased:

        In general, 85th becomes the major transfer point — which makes sense given the existing population (in downtown Kirkland), growth (in Rose Hill & the current office boom in downtown) and employment (oh hey, a Google campus).

        The growth potential within the walk-shed of Totem Lake is better than Rose Hill, but downtown Kirkland is a much, much bigger jobs & population center than Juanita. All together, I think they are pretty comparable, which is why both will have freeway stations.

      9. @AJ — Are you sure downtown Kirkland has more people than Juanita. As of the last census, that wasn’t the case (and it wasn’t even close — Juanita had way more). Things change (of course), but it wouldn’t surprise me if Juanita still has a lot more people.

      10. No, I’m not sure, because I don’t really care what the 2010 census says about a future transit investment. Take a walk around Kirkland – there are multiple 6-story buildings going up downtown; there’s nothing going in Juanita. In the decades to come, downtown Kirkland will certainly be a bigger activity center than Juanita, if it’s not already.

        You frequently criticize ST investments based upon old census data, which often misses the point – much of ST3 is intended to facilitate future population & job growth, not current. Kirkland wants downtown, Rose Hill, and Totem Lake to all growth; Juanita is not a growth neighborhood for the city.

      11. I never understand what the fixation is with new density versus old. Yes, I get it. Someday, maybe, eventually, downtown Kirkland might catch up to Juanita. Totem Lake, too (which is why I said it makes sense to focus on it). But so what if downtown Kirkland catches up — why should it get special treatment over a place that has had density for a while? It isn’t like downtown Kirkland will have more people; Juanita already has those six story buildings — https://goo.gl/maps/MD77qDSAyxT2. That’s about as good as you are going to get in Kirkland (in terms of population density). People talk about “downtown Kirkland” like it is Brooklyn. It isn’t. It won’t leapfrog Juanita — at best it will catch up.

        Employment is a different story. But sprawling tech campuses typically don’t have the sort of employment concentration that downtown towers have. I’m not saying it isn’t significant — just not orders of magnitude bigger than a good size hospital.

      12. Juanita already has those six story buildings —
        Employment is a different story.

        Employment is the story behind Juanita’s “stealth density”. The 255 goes through there, along with the 234/235 and ridership is minuscule. It is built and will remain a car-centric suburban sea of fairly expensive apartments and condos. That’s why Totem Lake future density (the future is now, this time for sure) matters a heck of a lot more than Juanita. All of the dry cleaner/nail spa/yuppie bistro jobs in Juanita will never come close to what already exists in Totem Lake and has shown consistent grow over the last several decades.

      13. There are tradeoffs with old density vs new density. It’s the same issue in Ballard: 15th or Old Ballard?

        Pro new density: 1. The politicians are already for it. 2. NIMBYs are less likely to obstruct it or to water it down, and it may get more transit lanes. 3. It might have more housing units when it’s built out than the old density will have.

        Pro old density: 1. Rider demand is already there. 2. Their pleas for better transit have been ignored for decades. 3. Developers seem incapable of building cozy friendly neighborhoods like prewar Broadway or University Way that pedestrians like to linger in. New buildings tend to be large wide breadboxes that alienate people even if they’re mixed use, and they have wide shallow storefronts instead of narrow deep ones, which limits the number of businesses per block and attracts chains like flies. Old dense neighborhoods have proven themselves for decades: people want to be in them and want to take transit to/from them.

        Another factor is the diversity of destinations. A neighborhood with a combination of housing and a wide variety of businesses, public services, recreation, and parks will attract not only residents but people from all over the region all day. A neighborhood with just housing and a supermarket plaza and a couple chain stores will attract only residents and a few people who visit them. This factor can go either way for old vs new density, because either one could have more diverse destinations. The existing University Way, Broadway, and Old Ballard probably have more diversity than any new density will, but there may be exceptions. This factor is so important that I’d give the neighborhood a stronger weight per person if it has a more diverse type of destinations. That’s why I tend to favor downtown Kirkland over Totem Lake, because it’s still not clear how much diversity Totem Lake will have, and the same for the Spring District. On the other hand, Brickyard will probably remain residential-only so I have low expectations of it.

      14. “attracts chains like flies”

        I should say, “attracts chains and banks like flies”. What burns me up is when banks take up most of the retail spaces in a block. Second is cell-phone stores. They both favor wide storefronts, preferably on two sides, to maximize their visibility and limit competition. Through post-1990 bank deregulation, financial services including stocks have become 30% of the economy so they have a lot of money to outbid others for the most visible locations, and they displace other businesses that might bring more pedestrians and transit riders to the neighborhood and make them feel that the neighborhood is a pleasant place to be in.

  9. Stepping back a bit, I think there are some tough choices to make with the I-405 BRT project. It is basically a type of “spine”. A spine works best when you have good crossing routes, and good destinations along the way. For example, Northgate to downtown will be a very good section of Link, as every stop along there will be popular as a destination, not just a place where people live. But north of there — from 145th to Mariner, for example, you really only have Lynnwood — itself a relatively minor destination. There will be thousands of people going from Northgate to Capitol Hill; there will be very few who go from Ash Way to Mountlake Terrace.

    This project seems worse. There really aren’t any destinations between Lynnwood and Bellevue. It is just too far a walk from the freeway station to UW-Bothell, for example. There will be some demand for the crossing routes, but as this article points out, there are often better (or at least comparable) alternatives that involve one less transfer. So there really won’t be much demand for trips that don’t involve Lynnwood or Bellevue. There are inevitable trade-offs between express style service (e. g. nonstop between Canyon Park and Bellevue) versus the sort of spine approach taking here. But from a demand standpoint, this greatly favors the former.

    Making matters worse, most of the stops won’t have freeway stations. This means the “cost” (in time as well as service) to serving each stop is much higher. The closer you get to Bellevue, the higher the cost (since Bellevue is the main destination). That is why this stop — while really expensive — makes sense if we think that stopping here is essential. Otherwise you are asking all the other riders to spend a lot of time on the bus while it exits the HOT lane, moves to the general purpose lane, exits the freeway, waits for a traffic light, then reverses the process after serving the bus stop.

    From what I can tell, between Lynnwood and Bellevue, only Totem Lake and this stop are served by the HOT lanes. This means that a trip from Lynnwood to Bellevue will take a very long time, as a bus will have to make three very time consuming stops along the way (and a couple of fairly quick ones).

    I think the best solution is to abandon the idea of an I-405 spine, and simply have a bunch of overlapping express bus routes. Whenever possible, these would start well off the freeway, and make a more direction connection. For example, a bus that simply goes from UW/Bothell to Bellevue (with the only freeway stops being Totem Lake and NE 85th) seems like a very good bus route. The problem, of course, is that you then make it extremely difficult to get from Lynnwood to UW/Bothell. Either spend a bunch of money on both an express from Lynnwood to Bellevue and a bus from Lynnwood to UW/Bothell, or ask people to make really long transfers.

    That is why we could use another freeway station closer to Lynnwood. I would put 195th at the top of the list, not only because it is closest to the biggest destination between Lynnwood and Bellevue, but also because the combinations make more sense there. Lynnwood to Canyon Park, for example, is not going to have huge demand. For example, riders to Thrasher’s Corner from Lynnwood would be better off just taking a bus that goes along highway 524 (not that one exists, but it easily could, once Link gets to Lynnwood).

    Assuming we don’t build any more freeway stops, and assuming we are still committed to running the spine, I think it is likely we will see express buses that run from the three northern stops (Lynnwood, Canyon Park and 195th) that stop only at the three southern stops (since each one can be served quickly). Running a handful only during rush hour would make sense, as that is when the cost to get out of the HOT is greatest. I could easily see ST run express style bus service during rush hour, and the spine the rest of the time, the same way it runs the 510/5111/512.

    1. FWIW, Totem Lake is a fairly heavily used stop (by Eastside standards). And my experience when I’ve used it is that ridership to the east (toward the hospital) is at least the equal of that using the P&R (west side). I would hope that the BRT spending plan includes center access at Canyon Park?

      With direct HOV access it might be time to reroute the 255 from Kirkland TC to Totem Lake via 405. Having ridden that route a great deal I can tell you very few people get on/off between DT Kirkland and the stop at NE 124th St and 113th Ave NE. That corridor would still need to be served but maybe with different service. I think there’s at least a good argument to flip with the 236 which route uses 116th for the east/west portion and use 120th Ave NE instead of 124th to make the last northward jog to Totem Lake.

    2. Question: If the 405 “BRT” is really express busses running along the “spine” instead of to/from a downtown area, does it really qualify as BRT? Second question: for how much this is going to cost, couldn’t one or more of the east side rapid ride routes be upgraded to actual BRT? I hate the term BRT being thrown around as liberally as sharrows are called bike lanes.

      1. I could care less about whether you want to call a bunch of overlapping express buses BRT or not. But an express bus from Lynnwood to Bellevue seems more like BRT, than the same thing that stops at various freeway stops along the way (especially if serving those stops requires several extra minutes).

      2. To me BRT is a frequent bus serving several major stops in a corridor, and is higher capacity and quality and ideally faster than a regular bus route. 405 BRT with 10-minute daytime frequency meets that definition, especially when you consider that 405 is the key corridor connecting Eastside cities. RapidRide has some aspects of BRT but in others it’s deficient; in the BRT Standard it’s just this side or that side of the lowest level. “405 BRT” is just a working name for planning. ST has not yet announced the production branding of 405 BRT and 522 BRT, so they may or may not have “BRT” in the name. But ST clearly recognizes that it has to be better than ST Express or RapidRide. When we find out what branding ST is leaning toward, then we can evaluate how well it describes the level of service, fits into the current network, and fits into a possible future network with more BRT (possibly higher-level).

      3. >> To me BRT is a frequent bus serving several major stops in a corridor,

        Which is why it is a big stretch to call this BRT. Where are the major stops? The only major stops are Lynnwood and downtown Bellevue. Everything else is right by the freeway. Several places aren’t that far away, but they still aren’t that close. Get off the bus at the “UW Bothell” stop (195th) and you have to walk 15 minutes to get to the campus. Get off at the Totem Lake stop and you still have a pretty long walk to the hospital or the mall. Those are the highlights. The other stops are worse.

        It really is just a transit corridor — meant to interact with other bus lines.

      4. BRT is just a fancy marketing term for high-quality bus services that have limited stops and decent grade separation. If built in 2018, a bus-only DSTT would qualify as a very high-quality BRT, albeit a very short one.

        The only major advantage BRT has over light rail other than pre-existing infrastructure, sometimes, is the fact that it can be an open system; vehicles are not technologically constrained to the route, which is useful if destinations are in the rough vicinity of, but not quite on the spine. Coincidentally this describes I-405.

        Brisbane BRT, which is considered very high quality, looks like that. https://translink.com.au/sites/default/files/assets/resources/plan-your-journey/maps/170123-south-east.pdf

      5. Keep in mind the following: 1) Several ST Express busses already make stops along the way for people to make local bus transfers. 2) If it is broken up into a south/north segment with a transfer in Bellevue, isn’t it an express bus to Bellevue?

        I’m all for better regional express bus service, and for many long distance commutes the travel time on a solid express bus route might be similar or better than, say, spending $Bns for a light rail. These areas *should* be served by express bus because it is the better mode. “Real” BRT (and perhaps even light rail) would make too many stops to have a practical or competitive travel time for those longer distances.

        SO: What do we actually gain by branding this as 405 BRT vs. a huge improvement to the already popular ST express? (Call it ST Express 405, perhaps). And if we brand this as BRT, how’s about when we want to push for “real” BRT because it might actually be better than, say….a streetcar? “But….you guys are already getting your BRT!”

      6. If you go with the “bunch over overlapping express routes” idea, frequency would suffer and suffer big. If you split the route into two branches, and each branch gets half the service hours, this means each branch must run only every 30 minutes, rather than every 15 minutes. You could avoid this problem – for awhile – by re-directing the $300 million earmarked for construction into buying more buses and hiring more bus drivers, but, eventually, that money would run out, and then it would take a large tax increase to avoid drastic service cuts.

        I also don’t buy the argument that we don’t need a station at 85th because Totem Lake is “close enough”. A local bus from Kirkland Transit Center to Totem Lake is 20 minutes on a good day, worse in heavy traffic. You could try to avoid that by re-directing the 255 onto the freeway as you suggested, but that would cut off Juanita from Seattle and Totem Lake, which would not be acceptable – even then, without any improvements, the bus would sit in traffic at the exit ramp and along 85th between the ramp and the transit center.

        Now, compare that with what’s actually proposed. Kirkland Transit Center to I-405/85th St. station would be a 5-minute bus ride at most, and 85th is going to get bus lanes, so that trip will actually be a dependable 5 minutes, even in heavy traffic. The bus lane will also benefit many trips that don’t even use the BRT bus, such as Kirkland->Redmond on the 248. Furthermore, the distance between the freeway and downtown is short enough that with decent pedestrian amenities (which this proposal seems to do), you aren’t trapped at the station, waiting for that local connection, no matter how long it takes. Absolute worst case, you can just walk from the freeway station to downtown Kirkland in about 15-20 minutes – which is still faster than riding a a bus from Totem Lake, if you allow for traffic and wait time.

        Nor, do I buy the argument that this station won’t be useful for Kirkland->Bellevue travel. Let’s suppose you’re at the transit center, waiting for a southbound bus to Bellevue, but an Eastbound bus to Redmond happens to be coming first. You could at the 405/85th station by the time the local bus to Bellevue is just pulling out of the transit center. Even if you just missed a bus and had to wait 10-15 minutes, you still come out ahead. The local bus is really pretty slow – it’s speed would be decent if it didn’t have to slog into and out of South Kirkland P&R, but it does, and given the way Metro plans service, it always will, even if it gets converted into a so-called “RapidRide” route.

      7. I also don’t buy the argument that we don’t need a station at 85th because Totem Lake is “close enough”. A local bus from Kirkland Transit Center to Totem Lake is 20 minutes on a good day, worse in heavy traffic.

        In a world where everybody gets a free pony, sure, build this stop at NE85th. But pouring this much cash into a new bus stop(i.e. never seemed that important before) seems foolhardy when none of the existing stations are being upgraded to “BRT standards”. The 255 can immediately be rerouted via the freeway and Juanita is served by the 236 & 234. The money saved could upgrade a route like the 277 (Kenmore/Microsoft shuttle).

        A the very least a proposal to build a decent stop at Houghton should be looked at. It has the existing P&R, a much better walkshed, and arguably better connections with other routes. For the cost they are talking about at NE 85th there’s a chance they could build housing as they did @ S. Kirkland.

        Bottom line, the lions share of the cloverleaf replacement should not come from transit funding. Why is it that so many people are dead set against changing the way the ST board is selected?

      8. “Which is why it is a big stretch to call this BRT. Where are the major stops? The only major stops are Lynnwood and downtown Bellevue”

        What are the major stops on the Spine? Only downtown, UW, Lynnwood, and Tacoma? Lynnoqwd and Bellevue may be the it major destinations by that definition, but there are also the secondary destinations of Renton, Kirkland, Totem Lake, Bothell, and Burien.

        “Get off the bus at the “UW Bothe
        stop (195th) and you have to walk 15 minutes to get to the campus. Get off at the Totem Lake stop and you still have a pretty long walk to the hospital or the mall.”

        Of course it’s not grade-separated transit directly to neighborhood centers, but people decided that was too expensive at this time. In the meantime it’s better than the current service, which is the point.

        :”What do we actually gain by branding this as 405 BRT vs. a huge improvement to the already popular ST express? (Call it ST Express 405, perhaps”

        I wouldn’t mind calling it ST Express. What matters is its frequency and speed, not what it’s called. As to half-hourly “BRT”, that’s we have now with ST. Express, and people want something better. The BRT brand is intended to say, “This us better than ST Express. The same way Link is defined as “mostly exclusive lane, unlike a streetcar”.

      9. >> What are the major stops on the Spine? Only downtown, UW, Lynnwood, and Tacoma?

        What? You are saying Capitol Hill isn’t a major stop? It is the third most popular stop (and just barely behind Westlake). Look, I’m talking about places people walk to. By all means UW/Bothell is a very good stop. But to actually get to it, you need to take *another bus*. The same is true all along there. That isn’t the case with much of Link, which is why ridership along there will soon soar. To be fair, Roosevelt isn’t a big stop, but the rest of them are. The U-District is big, and Northgate is big. You have a college there, along with plenty of medical offices. These are places people visit all day long. It is what drives subway ridership everywhere. Go visit a city like Boston and you can see it. Sure, there is more ridership during rush hour, and lots of people are headed downtown. But the rest of the day, there are people getting on and off at every stop. Lots of people. Some may transfer to a bus, but a lot of people don’t.

        That just doesn’t exist for this bus route, because the destinations are not that close to the freeway (with the exception of downtown Bellevue and to a much lesser extent, Lynnwood).

        The point is that this only really directly serves one location, and the stops along the way require transfers and are very time consuming to serve. Sure, running overlapping, more direct service would be more expensive, but not a lot amount more, and the time savings for the riders would be huge. I have no idea how long it takes to serve each stop, but it can’t be fast. It wouldn’t surprise me if each of the northern stops (Canyon Park, 195th, Brickyard) all take about five minutes versus an express. So if the Lynnwood bus skipped Brickyard, for example, it would save five minutes. It means you need a bus from Brickyard to Bellevue, but that is only about fifteen minutes of service. So the whole thing costs you ten minutes — and people making a transfer from Lynnwood to Brickyard lose out — but every rider from Lynnwood gets there much faster.

        It would be different if these stops were easier to serve. If these were all freeway stops (like Yarrow Point and Mountlake Terrace) than the trade-off would be worth it. But the cost to riders is too high, and the benefits (even when you add headways and easier transfers) is too low.

      10. If you go with the “bunch over overlapping express routes” idea, frequency would suffer and suffer big.

        Yeah, sure, but the more suburban you are, the less important headways are. It also depends on how you want to set this up.

        To be clear, the big problem is the lack of freeway stations north of Totem Lake, which makes it extremely difficult to produce a cost effective network. That is why I think ST is simply building the wrong thing. A station around 195th, for example, would make it much easier to create a network. But consider this sort of thing:

        Canyon Park to Brickyard to Redmond (via 85th)
        UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland (also using 85th)
        Lynnwood to downtown Bellevue

        All buses stop at Totem Lake. This does involve more overlap (roughly 50% more). So that means instead of ten minute headways, you have fifteen. So what? It also gives you a lot of flexibility. Maybe it isn’t that important to serve Canyon Park and Brickyard as often as UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland.

        The end result is that you have much faster, more convenient service for riders. Lynnwood to Bellevue is very fast. UW/Bothell to downtown Bellevue is basically the same — either way you have to transfer. Lynnwood to UW/Bothell requires a bit more backtracking (less than five minutes) but really not the end of the world considering the relatively few riders (150 or so) who want to do that every day. Meanwhile, UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland is much better (one seat ride, instead of three). Canyon Park and Brickyard lose out — they will have to transfer to downtown Bellevue. But in return they have a one seat ride to Redmond. Furthermore, if you wanted to, I see no reason why you couldn’t just connect the Swift Green Line to this. That would mean that riders to Bellevue would have the same number of transfers, while those headed to Redmond would come out ahead.

        The only real losers in that scenario are folks who use the park and rides. That is something transit fans have glossed over here. This really is a “Park and Ride BRT” line, and nothing more. Every stop north of downtown Bellevue has a park and ride (except this one — which was supposed to be what we are talking about). I’m not anti-park and ride, but simply having a line like that is bound to fail. Very few people will walk to a bus, which means it will be a real pain to actually get anywhere. Relatively short trips (UW/Bothell to downtown Bellevue) will require a transfer, while longer trips (Lynnwood to downtown Bellevue) will require both a transfer and a long bus ride. That is not a good combination, and the sort of thing that loses a lot of money if you run it all day.

      11. “What? You are saying Capitol Hill isn’t a major stop?”

        I’m saying that by your definition of Lynnwood and Bellevue being the only major stops on 405 BRT, then it wouldn’t be. Capitol Hill is akin to Renton or Burien in a 405 BRT context, so important secondary destinations.

        “The point is that this only really directly serves one location, and the stops along the way require transfers and are very time consuming to serve.”

        I’m thinking of the people in the other areas that need transit access to the region. They may not like the less-than-optimal 405 BRT but it’s better than nothing or the status quo. Any of the multi-line ideas or your alternate ideas might be even better, but ST has already rejected them or didn’t consider them in time, so there’s no way they’ll ever be a possibility. I focus on the future decisions we can influence, not the past decisions we can’t.

      12. “The only real losers in that scenario are folks who use the park and rides. That is something transit fans have glossed over here. This really is a “Park and Ride BRT” line, and nothing more. Every stop north of downtown Bellevue has a park and ride (except this one — which was supposed to be what we are talking about)”

        The northern Eastside is a low-density area in case you hadn’t noticed. That means a lot of people don’t live near an urban village and have no hope of frequent transit or any transit to the stations, so they have to drive to the P&Rs. That’s why the P&Rs exist.

      13. >> The northern Eastside is a low-density area.

        Right — which is why it is nuts to pretend that it isn’t, and that a high frequency “spine” makes any sense. There is no reason why a bus can’t go on the surface streets, get on the freeway, and then go to downtown Bellevue. That is basically how the 41 evolved. Sure, at first the park and ride was very important. But over time, ridership has grown so much that they got rid of one, and tried to get rid of the other. But at no point would it have been a good idea to run an “I-5 BRT” from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle (stopping at various exits to serve park and rides). Yes, it has always been more difficult to get to places like Capitol Hill (and even more popular places like the UW) but it worked reasonably well given the overall demand.

        This is, again, something that merely benefits the park and ride users. UW/Bothell, the various hospitals, downtown Bellevue, downtown Kirkland and downtown Redmond are reasonably popular destinations. There are various places which have something in the way of population density (Juanita, Redmond, and likely a lot of places that haven’t shown up on the census charts yet). There is no reason why you can’t weave them together, and provide a network of pretty decent service for the area. But it doesn’t require spending a million dollars a rider rebuilding an interchange.

      14. I think you’re being too pessimistic about how far people can walk. The distance between the 195th St. stop and the UW Bothell stop currently served by the 372 and 522 is just 0.6 miles. People are used to traveling by transit walk this distance all the time. The minimum distance where I start to even consider waiting for a bus I don’t imminently see coming is around 1-2 miles. This applies even if it’s cold and wet, as you only get colder and wetter standing in one place than if you keep moving.

      15. UW Bothell is “served” by the 195th St stop the same way Belltown is “served” by Westlake, and by the Denny stop in ST3.

        A quarter mile is generally considered the upper limit of walking to/from a bus stop. And if this is a route where people will be transferring to/from a lot, people will be much less inclined to do walking on top of all that.

      16. 522 BRT will provide the “last mile” connection between the 195th freeway stop and UW Bothell campus. So a better comp might be how First Hill will be served by the ST3 Madison stop via Madison BRT?

        That said, a 15 minute walk to school really isn’t that different than UW Stadium station to Red Square, or Eastgate Freeway station to Bellevue College.

      17. I’d also throw into the mix Lake Washington Institute of Technology accessed from Totem Lake. Enrollment of 6,500 is slightly larger than UW Bothell; a little less than UW+Cascadia. NE 85th (aka Rose Hill) really is a no man’s land.It’s about a mile and a half down a steep ass hill to Kirkland TC. There’s really not any realistic service proposal that hinges on adding a flyer stop I haven’t seen any reason to justify $300M other than it’s Kirklands turn for the goose to lay a golden egg. What’s sad is there are no shortages of projects along the 405 corridor that need to be done to improve the existing transit infrastructure that benefit the entire subarea.

      18. > Any of the multi-line ideas or your alternate ideas might be even better, but ST has already rejected them or didn’t consider them in time, so there’s no way they’ll ever be a possibility. I focus on the future decisions we can influence, not the past decisions we can’t.

        The magic of a busway is that you can change the routes of buses that use them. For example, nothing in this busway prevents you from running overlaid express services in a manner different than the current draft plan, the same way that nothing prevents you from reusing the Third Av infrastructure for more RapidRides. In fact, why design an 85th St roundabout at all if you’re *not* expecting buses to turn off?

      19. > So a better comp might be how First Hill will be served by the ST3 Madison stop via Madison BRT?

        You mean like how it’s served by the streetcar from ID and Capitol Hill, or how Belltown is served from Westlake by RapidRide D and E? Because the answer to both of those questions is “poorly.”

        If you are expecting most of your ridership to come having already done one or two transfers (bus, light rail, or their car via P&R) then asking them to do another one in an unfriendly highway environment is going to be a bad experience and you’ll depress the hell out of ridership. UW’s ridership is so high because pretty every bus in the north terminates there and it goes directly to Cap Hill and downtown, but you really cannot say the same of an I-405 BRT – it is neither feasible or desirable to terminate every eastside bus there, and it certainly doesn’t serve anything directly by any definition of the word.

    3. The multi-line BRT alternative would have done what you’re asking, with one line going from Bellevue to downtown Kirkland, another from Bellevue to Totem Lake and probably Lynnwood, a third one doing something else. But ST rejected that alternative.

      The problem is the Eastside’s layout and density. But it has hundreds of thousands of people, so it needs some kind of frequent regional transit however we can do it. Otherwise you’re telling people that they should drive if they want to get anywhere faster than coverage-quality service, and so naturally they drive. And they just voted to spend their own money for regional transit. We can all imagine ways to make it much better, but it would require zoning changes and transit/bike/ped priority that are currently unacceptable to Eastside cities. So the best we can do is shoehorn something in. And ST is not always the best at doing that.

      405 BRT is a kind of spine but not like the Tacoma-Seattle-Everett axis that has huge destinations in line. It’s more of a “suburban spine”, connecting smaller cities, and with lower expectations. But in the Eastside context it answers the need for a north-south axis, and East Link is an east-west axis. If you asked anybody in the Eastside what the two most essential corridors are, they’d say Redmond-Bellevue-Seattle and Lynnwood-Bellevue-Remton. And some were even putting the latter one first, saying that there’s more intra-Eastside circulation than Eastside-Seattle. Rentonites, we learned a few years ago, were clamoring for a better way to get to Bellevue College. Who would have thought that was a significant destination for them? There are other latent trip patterns like that where many people overlap, but they’re not well recognized because there’s no Eastside Transit Riders’ Union pointing them out.

      405 BRT will only partially help with this, because of the indirectness of 85th Station, and because many neighborhoods are far from an urban village, and some people would have a three-seat-ride. But at least it can help with some trips, as a better 535 and 560 and 566. And over time the urban villages along it will grow, and people may find it desirable to live near it, and that may increase ridership and mode share significantly. Also, if Renton ever gets its local transit straightened out, that would bring more people quickly to 405 BRT, and then they’d want to use it more.

      1. >> If you asked anybody in the Eastside what the two most essential corridors are, they’d say Redmond-Bellevue-Seattle and Lynnwood-Bellevue-Renton

        Yes, but again, that is thinking of corridors. We need to think of destinations. We think of corridors because we are used to driving. But if you back up, and ask “where are people going” the corridors are important, but unless there are destinations on those corridors, forcing people to transfer there — for every trip — is just not a good thing. By all means, adding a freeway station so that folks can switch buses — even switch directions — is great. The 520 freeway station is a good thing. I think you could make a very good case for a lot more of that. I think a station at the intersection of SR 520 and I-405 could make a lot of sense. But that doesn’t mean you have a series of those every couple miles, or worse yet, force a bus to get off the freeway using regular lanes and then back on again.

        You only need a handful — every five to ten miles or so — and that is it. This particular corridor already has Totem Lake, which means that basically Kirkland is covered. I would add something close to 195th, then run a series of express bus routes and call it a day. Getting from the park and ride from say, Canyon Park to Brickyard might take a little longer, but getting from actual destinations (e. g. Thrasher’s Corner to Kingsgate) would be significantly faster (and Lynnwood to Bellevue would be much faster).

      2. “Yes, but again, that is thinking of corridors. We need to think of destinations. We think of corridors because we are used to driving.”

        It is destinations. A BRT corridor, Link corridor, RapidRide corridor, Swift corridor, etc, is a string of destinations along one line. There’s a difference between limited-stop (Swift or the 9X) and full-stop (RapidRide), but it’s still the same concept. Drivers think more like rivers because cars continuously flow and can turn any direction. Activity centers are important because both residents are coming from there and outsiders are going to there, but some residential in-between areas are important too because the residents there have to get to the activity centers somehow and people occasionally visit them. Corridors like Lynnwood-Bellevue are more peak-oriented than downtown-Northgate, but they still need some decent level of transit because some people do travel all day and more would if the transit were there.

        “This particular corridor already has Totem Lake, which means that basically Kirkland is covered.”

        You can walk from Totem Lake to downtown Kirkland? Only if your name is asdf2.

        Totem Lake is a designated urban growth center, so it could become a major destination like you suggest. That could cause the center of Kirkland activity and residents to toward Totem Lake, but there will still be a significant subset going to downtown Kirkland, for one reason because that’s where the Moss Bay waterfront is which is a significant destination for people from all over the Eastside.

      3. >> It is destinations.

        No, dude — just no. This is not a destination: https://goo.gl/maps/PxWRn1yU69p
        This is: https://goo.gl/maps/bRQqL5W3f832. They aren’t that close (roughly a 12 minute walk between them).

        Nor is this a destination: https://goo.gl/maps/hAKxysjstqH2. Nor this: https://goo.gl/maps/1fDH1n7hGC92.

        In all cases they are simply means to an end. Places you go through, on your way to where you really want to be. The point being, Link, for the most part, connects actual destinations. This really has one main destination (downtown Bellevue) and that is it. Totem Lake maybe (because it isn’t too far from the hospital) and Lynnwood sort of (because there are some apartments nearby). But for the most part, this manages to skip destinations, while sticking close to the freeway.

        This saves money — but that isn’t the real purpose. This isn’t about creating some sort of wonderful East Side grid. It is about serving those who use the park and ride. As an approach towards effective transit, it really fails. It requires way too many transfers unless you happen to be willing to drive to a stop. Downtown Kirkland to UW/Bothell (a fairly reasonable trip, given the fact that those are arguably the two most important destinations between Lynnwood and Bellevue) requires two transfers. This, after spending $300 million on this project, supposedly to make getting to downtown Kirkland easier.

      4. The stations themselves aren’t destinations but downtown Kirkland and UW Bothell etc are, and people need to get to them on transit. You can’t just wave that away and say “Only people going between Lynnwood and downtown Bellevue matter” or “Only people who drive to the P&Rs matter”. There are people who go to all the different parts of the Eastside from all the other parts, and some of them don’t drive or use P&Rs, yet they still need a way to get around. 405 BRT is not the best and it may be a shockingly high cost but it is something. If we could get the Powers That Be to make it better, we would. In the meantime, it’s something people can use.

      5. >> The stations themselves aren’t destinations but downtown Kirkland and UW Bothell etc are, and people need to get to them on transit.

        That is my point! Holy cow, man — that is what I’ve been saying. You don’t seem to get it. My point is this BRT line — for the most part — does not serve destinations. It serves park and rides and it serves places that connect to destinations. That is the problem.

        The ST solution means a three seat ride from UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland. My solution is to run a bus from UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland. The ST solution costs 300 million. Mine costs whatever it costs to run that bus. How expensive is that? Not very. We’ve already agreed that we want to extend the 522 BRT to the freeway station — this would replace that segment. We’ve already agreed that we want frequent bus service from I-405 to downtown Bellevue — this would cover that segment. So the only new section is the overlap on I-405. That is about six minutes of service. 300 million dollars will cover a lot of six minute service.

        Meanwhile, you have greatly improved things. For some, it is a straight shot bus ride, instead of a three seat ride. That is definitely worth the extra six minute a trip cost.

        Meanwhile, you do similar overlapping runs. That then greatly reduces the chances that you have a three seat ride. For most it would be two, but that is still a big improvement. As I mentioned before, you really need to have another freeway station north of Totem Lake, as unfortunately building a network would be expensive. But even if you didn’t — and you had major overlap — it would likely be worth the cost, even if you were stuck with slightly less frequent buses.

    4. As far as the layout of this particular stop goes, it looks like the stops will be in the median and directly exit from the HOT lane.

      1. Yeah, I agree. That is why I said (somewhere in my ramblings) that if the buses stop here, this is a big improvement. My argument, though, is that the buses along I-405 shouldn’t stop there at all. They should stop at Totem Lake, and then run directly to downtown Bellevue.

      2. Eh, 85th is a reasonably direct path between Kirkland and Redmond, and Redmond has a lot of jobs. Google Maps gives me an hour by transit to get to Redmond from Totem Lake by 9:00, which is unreasonable for people to depend on. 85th allows you to cut that time a bunch.

  10. So we’re spending almost $300 million to build this abomination for an amount of ridership that would be a rounding error on the Ballard/West Seattle lines. Glad this is a different subarea than North King or there would be pitchforks, especially with the critical Salmon Bay tunnel going nowhere with ST.

    1. If it weren’t for subarea equity you might be spending the same amount of money in Ballard or Lake City, or you might be spending it in Tacoma and Everett. The mayor of Everett and the Snohomish county council think we should be spending it in Everett.

      Tuck: if would be even worse to do nothing in the Eastside.

      1. Yes. You might be spending this money elsewhere, but you’d also be serving more riders. And that is the key.

        $300m to serve just a few riders is ridiculous. This clearly is something that bought itself into ST3 for,political reasons,not because of merit.

    2. If ST3 were strictly about maximizing ridership, we all know what the solution would be – take all the money from the entire Puget Sound region, and spend it all in Seattle – subways from Ballard to UW and Queen Anne to Capitol Hill, and more. Heck, we could probably get even more ridership for the money by taking all of the ST3 dollars and shipping it over to New York City to build more subway lines there.

      But, maximizing total ridership is not the overarching goal. Each sub-area has to feel like they’re getting something for their tax dollars, and don’t want their tax dollars shifted elsewhere. Spending East King money on Seattle projects is simply not an option, no matter what the ridership projections say.

      1. It’s worth remembering that even within North King money is being badly misallocated: West Seattle service is being prioritized over almost everything else. While sub area equity is often portrayed as diverting money from highly deserving North King projects to less valuable suburban projects (not an entirely unfair proposition), a reasonable case can be made it’s most significant effect has been to prevent North King Money being diverted to get the “spine” built sooner.

  11. This project sucks monkey balls. It is something from 1955.

    tunnel some sidewalks and bike lanes under 405 and get some ramps into the commercial district east of Costco for a bus stop and transfer area

    or anything other than this crappy, expensive, unpleasant to be around “thing”.

  12. The tragic irony of this design is that this concept is what we should be building at I-5 and 145th Street. Just reverse the freeway and local street levels and change the bus freeway ramps to rail for starters — and make adjustments from there.

  13. The more I think about it, the more I think this is a very poor use of money. I get the reasoning behind it, but I think it is flawed. It has to do with express versus “spine” as I mentioned up above (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/04/30/kirklands-ne-85th-brt-station/#comment-798997).

    Imagine, for a second, that you don’t spend any money on this stop. The I-405 BRT just skips it. At the same time, you run a bus similar to the 255, but one that uses 85th to get on the freeway. Basically this: https://goo.gl/maps/6Bf7gEKuFBC2

    That just seems better for almost everyone. People from north of Totem Lake (e. g. Lynnwood) headed to Bellevue come out ahead (since they avoid a stop). I realize the stop isn’t too time consuming, but even a great, Mountlake Terrace style freeway stop still costs you time, even when you don’t pick up any riders. Meanwhile, those in Kirkland headed to Bellevue come out way ahead (no transfer). Those in Redmond are the same. Those trying to get to much of Kirkland from places north (e. g. Lynnwood) are also the same. They get off at Totem Lake and take the 255. So the only people who lose out are those headed from north of Totem Lake (e. g. Lynnwood) to places close to 85th. They will lose out, in that they have to ride from Totem Lake. That seems like a small percentage of riders. My guess is that *more* people would benefit if they simply skipped the stop. Even before we talk about the cost, it seems like this just isn’t a great idea.

    1. I get your point, but one thing which this project does hich simple rejiggering of bus routes does not is finally provide a decent east/west pedestrians connection across the freeway.

      There is no way to build a safe crossing without spending a ton of money, and if this is the way we are going to get it, I’ll take it.

      Yes, I would rather have this project come from WSDOT’s budget than ST’s budget, but you can’t have everything.

      1. Yeah, I suppose. But that is still a huge amount of money for a better pedestrian crossing. Couldn’t you just build a simple crossing to the south (oh wait, someone did — https://goo.gl/maps/135ZmbkcNV32). So basically all you need is something similar to the north (at about 90th). That would provide much greater value from a pedestrian standpoint. The plan it to have the two crossings only five blocks from each other (as they are now) while there is nothing between 85th and 100th.

        It isn’t like this will make walking along 85th pleasant when all is said and done. Definitely better, but not exactly delightful.

    2. I tend to agree that if the ridership numbers are “just a few hundred a day” this is a huge waste of money as a bus stop. Particularly if nothing is being done with the other stations. Canyon Park seems like low hanging fruit in comparison with respect to adding a center transit access. And Brickyard is a HUGE time waster. There is nothing rapid or express about any route that deviates from the center lanes to stop there. And that boondoggle is only going to get much much worse.

      Like Ross said, there are numerous options for adding service that will serve the Kirkland and Redmond market. Simply changing the 255 to use 405 between Kirkland and Totem Lake is a quick fix and the hours saved on that route can be tacked on to serve the 100th/Juanita corridor.

      That said, the NE 85th interchange really really needs to be rebuilt. And if WSDOT money can be used to cover a majority of the cost of doing that then leveraging some $T3 funds makes sense. Otherwise, I think it’s just a “give away” for getting the interchange rebuilt.

      1. ” Otherwise, I think it’s just a “give away” for getting the interchange rebuilt.” Bingo. Commingling transit and highway funds generally results in much more for cars than for transit.

      2. Brickyard, the bus doesn’t go into and out of the P&R. It just serves gets off the freeway and right back on again. I took the 535 there once, and the overhead seemed negligible, although this was a Saturday. Maybe, during rush hour, being able to stay in the HOV lane is more critical.

        That said, wasn’t bus lanes on the I-405 shoulder proposed as a solution for the Brickyard stop?

      3. Yep, during evening rush hour it’s a total PITA. SB they have a stop w/o going into the P&R but NB the buses I’ve been on always cross the overpass and loop through the P&R. If they didn’t it would be a pretty ugly death march during the winter months for people getting off and trying to get back to their cars.

      4. Which route are you looking at? Looking at the map, it looks like the 311 does do the loop into Brickyard P&R, but the 535 does not. The one time I recall actually riding the 535, I got off northbound at the Brickyard freeway station, and did not have to endure the loop.

        I’m assuming the I-405 BRT route will just serve the freeeway stations and not loop into the P&R. That would be consistent with the way Sound Transit has been treating the other stops elsewhere along the route.

      5. Brickyard is actually not a huge time waste for either the 535 or the 311. Both go to the 522 before (SB)/after (NB) Brickyard, which means they’re already lined up for the Brickyard exit ramp. The 311 does the loop, which I don’t understand, but the other buses go along the freeway station.

        Once 405 BRT begins, the case is a bit harder to make, but not by much. The buses will no longer serve downtown Bothell and they’d lose a mile of so of express lanes. But Brickyard is a big enough stop. Diverting everyone there to Totem Lake would remove a bunch of people walking plus the whole park and ride. Realistically, that’s impossible given Totem Lake has very high demand. Plus, if we’re going to spend $300 million for 250 riders/day at 85th street, we may as well invest a bit in service hours for the same amount at Brickyard.

      6. A major influence on service at Brickyard is the traffic disaster that is SR-522/I405. And that is going to be rebuilt using toll dollars within the ST3 timeline. If (emphasis on if) the SR-522 interchange is rebuilt correctly the possibility would exist of someday rejiggering the freeway there creating space for an inline station (ala Totem Lake) at 165th. That would make the station a much better setup, though right now it works just fine to be honest. In fact the walk from the BrickYard PR to a flyer station there would be less than the one from Kingsgate PR to the Totem Lake one.

  14. It will be possible to convert this to multi-line BRT in the future, maybe in ST4. The existence of the line and the obviousness of its shortcomings may push the Powers That Be to do that.

    1. Yeah, but the problem is, we will have already spent a huge amount of money creating an unneeded freeway station. If the Totem Lake Station didn’t exist, I would feel differently. But making folks stop at both stops (which is likely) seems like a misplaced attempt at building a grid in an area where the distances and demand simply can’t justify it.

      1. We are already facing this wasted freeway station investment problem at Mountlake Terrace. It opened in 2011, and will be obsolete in 2024.

      2. As to the MLT Freeway station, I have one thought on what to do with it after 2024
        Take the ramps on the south side of the station, and run them up to meet with 236th, giving a center on/off ramp to 236th. Not sure if it stays transit only, or becomes HOV/Transit.

        Transit wouldn’t need to use the I-5 platforms, as the buses would need to use the transit center to turn around, so pull the stairs and elevators, however if the Skybridge is left, it could at some future point be extended to the other side of I-5

        Downside is it is really close to the Lynnwood terminus, and the only way I see it getting the go ahead would be if the Lynwood transit center became buss-bound, and some of the routes were moved to terminate at the MLT station to relieve congestion in Lynnwood.

      3. You’re the one who keeps saying ST should have gone with Kirkland’s recommendation for a bus line on the Cross-Kirkland Connector or 108th in lieu of Kirkland Link. What do you think the same Kirkland City Council would think about deleting 85th from 405 BRT? I bet they’d be strongly against it.

  15. Personally I would put the I-405 BRT bus stops in the middle of the roundabout rather than on the ramps, because as it stands some riders from the local buses will have a particularly long walk.

    Is I-405BRT planned to be open, or closed? Because I feel like it would be much better as an open corridor than a closed one.

    1. >> Because I feel like it would be much better as an open corridor than a closed one.

      I agree. The plan is for it to be closed (one bus, going from transit center to transit center) which I think is a big mistake. It will take a very long time to get from Lynnwood to Bellevue, which will cut down on ridership considerably.

      Even just a series of overlapping express routes (with no major infrastructure investment) would likely be better. Just make all the buses that go by Totem Lake stop there. It is less than five miles from 195th to Totem Lake, which means that we aren’t talking about a huge amount of time going back and forth. If you really want to spend money on infrastructure, then just build a freeway station south of 195th and everyone comes out ahead.

      1. Is the travel time going to be that bad? None of the intermediate stops involve more than one stoplight until you get to Bellevue. It’s not doing a grand tour of UW Bothell like the 535 does.

      2. @asf2 — Outside of rush hour, it probably won’t be that bad. That is why I said (somewhere) that I could easily see an Everett style (510/511/512) type solution. During rush hour, run expresses. Outside of rush hour, stop at every stop. During rush hour, it takes a lot of time to get out of the HOV lane, move over to the exit lane, stop, maybe wait for a light, get on the freeway, merge back over into the HOV lane.

  16. Just looking at the renderings, it looks like the redesign will open up a lot of land for development in the footprint of the clover interchange. Since the parcels would be next to the freeway ramps, I don’t imagine neighbors would oppose high rises, and the development would be right next to quality pedestrian and bicycling facilities. Throw in the one seat rides to Bellevue and Totem Lake and there’s potential for a unique transit-oriented neighborhood here, and ST would get some money back on its investment.

    1. ST won’t make money on that because the surplus land is required by law to be given for affordable housing (if Kirkland will let them).

      1. Kirkland would be agreeable. In fact, they’d like to see development on that land.

        However, it’s not Sound Transit’s to dispose. It remains WSDOT ROW. It’s not clear yet whether any of it will be available once they are done provisioning for drainage etc..

  17. It’s amazing that this much money could be spent on a speculative station in Kirkland and meanwhile the BRT will pass right over an obvious hub at Southcenter.

  18. Of course the location of this station was a political choice, like everything in ST3. The more practical location would have been at 70th collated with the Haughton P&R lot. Center access to and from the north here would allow 520 buses to transition to and from the center lanes to the outside lanes and get lined up to exit at 520. It would also be a more feasibly location to make room for the center access than 85th, which will need to be a monster. The underutilized P&R at Haughton could be focused on serving those 405-to-520 trips.

    1. and the Haughton P&R is only about a mile walk away from Google and the other destinations of Downtown Kirkland.

      A much better candidate than the ERC, which was saved for more useful purposes thanks to the forward thinking people of SOT and like minded people.

      Bwaaa Hahahahaha Haha hahaha ah hah Haha

      1. 70th is an interesting idea and should at the very least be studied given the budget busting cost of the 85th “reset”. 70th becomes Old Redmond Road which has a bunch of condos from 60 Oh 1 down into Redmond. It connects with 100th and 148th so good access to Google and Microsoft. On 148th it connects with RR-B. On 148th it connects with RR-255. The Hougton P&R is way underused, especially considering it’s prime location. Millions were spent to add structured parking just to make room for affordable housing at S. Kirkland. Hougton P&R would be at least as good a candidate with something approaching decent bus connections.

      2. 70th is pretty far away from downtown Kirkland, and that bunch of condos is not as many units as downtown Kirkland, nor does it have any of the businesses or jobs or public services or recreational destinations that downtown Kirkland has. As I said, I used to travel to Kirkland on a freeway bus that stopped at 70th and 132nd but not 85th. The entire time — a decade — I wished it stopped at 85th, and I wouldn’t mind if the 70th stop closed. And that’s even though the 70th stop sometimes was convenient, when I was going to somebody’s house near 70th.

  19. Thank you for this article. It is clearly a complete waste of money. We’ve allowed opponents of light rail to masquerade as interested in transit via the guise of BRT. Let’s not perpetuate the nonsense by spending $300 million on a bus stop so few will use for the sake of a sidewalk or pedestrian crossing.

    There are far better candidate projects for the money.

    1. And what will people going to downtown Kirkland do? One of the three largest cities in the Eastside?

      1. Why is this going to be great for downtown Kirkland? Put it another way — it isn’t difficult at all to think of something that will be better. Here goes. Run the following two bus routes:

        UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland (via 85th).
        Bellevue to downtown Kirkland (via 85th)

        Seems to me we’ve just saved 300 million dollars, and things are as good (or better) than proposed. If I’m headed from Lynnwood (or Canyon Park or Brickyard, etc.) to downtown Kirkland, I merely get off at Totem Lake, and ride the bus to downtown Kirkland. It is basically the same trip. Instead of being on I-405 on the first bus, I’m on I-405 for the second bus.

        If I want to get from downtown Bellevue to downtown Kirkland, the fastest route is via the new bus. This is better than the original proposal — no transfer.

        Meanwhile, UW-Bothell to downtown Kirkland is much better (instead of two transfers, I have a direct bus). If I am going from Lynnwood to downtown Bellevue, I skip a stop (this one). Everyone comes out ahead.

        Now, I’m sure someone is thinking “But Ross, we can’t justify frequent service on those buses — there just isn’t the demand.”. OK, fine, then how can you possibly justify 300 million on a stop? Either there are lots of people trying to get from places north to downtown Kirkland — enough to make a UW/Bothell to downtown Kirkland bus popular — or there isn’t.

      2. It’s amazingly sad that the only one seat ride from DT Bellevue to DT Kirkland is the milk run 234/235. Especially after dumping hundreds of millions of dollars on eastside 520 flyer stops. NE 85th strikes me as yet another expensive stop to nowhere. The tallish building on the northeast quadrant of the NE 85th cloverleaf was originally built as a car dealership. Maybe ST can buy it and turn it into a P&R.

        It’s just plain silly to even be spending the money to study this without ST and Metro accounting for a detailed, and that includes funding, proposal for a route restructure making this a hub. Because there is no there there.

      3. The route restructure is on Metro’s LRP and it includes a Kirkland-Redmond RapidRide on 85th. Metro doesn’t have the authority to propose funding. A countywide transit measure has been hinted. If it fails then Metro will have to do something else, just as it always has when new Link or RapidRide lines open.

        ST can only fund things through ST# measures. It’s busy implementing the last one.

  20. I like the “roundabout” setup for the freeway & local bus stops. Local buses can turnaround at this station, in addition to simply driving through. That should make it easier to feed local service to the stations, particularly “shuttle” type service, such as:

    – Google can run a worker shuttle to it’s campus
    – Kirkland can run a shuttle to the downtown TC

  21. You have to hand it to the Eastside politicians for being clever – they are able to use ST money (admittedly their own subarea) to rebuild the highway interchange rather than a useful BRT stop.

    1. I am quite impressed how most everyone here is practically bending over backwards to swallow this pile of ….

      There are people who come to my place of business, and make the mistake of casually complaining about traffic on the eastside unknowing of my history with the transportation planning.

      I am polite, but clear in my description of how and why things are the way they are over there, but alas …
      any more, ..

      I show them No Sympathy.

      Puget Sound is WET L.A.

      1. As far as the I-405 Corridor, I was selected to represent the transit (rail in particular) point of view on the program’s Citizen Committee starting in 1999, ending in 2001.

        I’m listed as representing People for Modern Transit, who were the local boosters of ST1.
        (and at the time, also WashARP).

        Once my home in the Snohomish County portion of Bothell had been annexed, I pretty much became a Bothell City Council groupie. I was encouraged to apply for a spot on the Citizens Committee by one of the council members I knew. My occupation at the time allowed for that particpation.

        So I spent a whole lot of volunteer time attending meetings, ingesting massive amounts of information, and giving my esteemed opinion. Well, in my own mind, at least, since the project I was championing was rail in the ERC, and that was tossed out of the process early once Renton’s mayor Jesse Tanner, and the Kennydale Neighborhood Association asked the Executive Committee to not include that in any further cost benefit analysis.

        Including going to public open houses in addition to my committe participation, just to see how well the information was being transmitted.

        I have a great respect for the work of all the staff on that project.

        Many people think that the FEIS for the corridor, completed in 2001, is somehow outdated, and not being used. However, the one thing that is oudated is the cost estimates.

        They are a LOT WORSE Now.

        What’s pretty amusing, if you know how they work the alternatives building an EIS, they always create a ‘No Action’ alternative as a baseline.

        Pretty much..
        That’s exactly what has happened over there.

        That process is the playbook they are using now in the final planning, including the misguided decision to use ‘BRT’ on the freeway instead of commuter Rail in the ERC.

        I will always challenge anyone who tries to change history by claiming that BRT was chosen because it was the better alternative to the ERC commuter rail option. They were never compared side by side. (Yeah, I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m really calling out the Better Bus Apologists on their claims)

  22. I haven’t read every comment upstream, but I’m wondering why the “BRT Stopxs” are on one side instead of in the middle or the roundabout. That preferences one side of the street pretty unnecessarily.

    1. I think to keep the roundabout flowing? The BRT stops are pullouts, so they don’t block traffic. Adding pullouts to the elevated part of the roundabout would require making it bigger, which would be more expensive?

      1. So this is for HOV’s also, not just transit? Why is Sound Transit paying for all of it then?

      2. Ah, yes. The second diagram says “and express toll lane users”. Well, then, can some of the vigorish from the tolls go to pay for this? I bet it will be heavily used by ETL drivers.

      3. NE 44th in Renton will also add direct access lanes for drivers. I believe ST1 and ST2 included investments in HOV access throughout the region. The new HOV lanes on I90 were (entirely?) funded by ST2. So it isn’t anything new.

      4. A, they HAD to replace the HOV lanes in order to get possession of the center roadway. It wasn’t because Sound Transit believe in HOV. They probably do in a general sort of way, but they aren’t subsidizing it.

  23. I feel like ST is building in the dark. By that I mean they have HCT studies funded in ST3 to study HCT from Bellevue to Bothell, and HCT across Northern Lake Washington.

    Yet, it seems to me that the information that will be in these studies would be really good to have to inform the decision making as it pertains to the ST3 build out.

    Am I crazy?

    1. Take one part difficult legislature. Add one part building-as-politically popular. Add one part using funding referenda as a substitute for the planning process — calling quickly-developed and badly-vetted representative projects as preferred alternatives without studying options. Call a table of hors d’œuvres a coordinated meal but don’t look at its total healthy value. Keep everything separated by agency until opening day and realize that things don’t go well together. Choose what tastes good (popular with specific groups or entities) but is not very nutritious (benefits the public) or is easy to digest (user-friendly). When constructively criticized about anything, distrust the criticizer as a right-wing fanatic or a malcontent ex-hippie.

      That’s how it works here.

  24. Was part of ST3 just to do random poorly conceived and unnecessary projects on the Eastside?

    1. Eastsiders said north-south BRT on 405 was their highest priority. 405 is where the largest number of trips are.

    2. The reason for everything to be on I-405 is simple.

      Not In My Back Yard.
      405 is a car sewer, so let’s be sure everything stays there.

      If Kirkland was actually interested in useful BRT connections, they would make Lake Washington Boulevard at least a proper BRT route, with bus only lanes, serving the downtown core.

    3. But look wider to the entire Eastside. It’s not just trips between Kirkland and Bellevue but also Bothell and Renton and everything in between. Maybe Lake Washington Boulevard should get RapidRide, but that can’t serve all these other trips which are far more numerous, because it has too low a speed limit and too many lights and not enough street capacity. Maybe Lake Washington Blvd should have a RapidRide route, but that can’t replace 405 BRT, it could only be in addition to it.

      Link is creating an east-west axis in the highest-volume corridor. This is a north-south axis to complement it. When I said 405 I didn’t mean specifically on the freeway, but a north-south route near downtown Bellevue. It could have been any number of things. But right now 405 is the highest-volume corridor because it’s the freeway, and it happens to be located in the “west Bellevue” longtitude where the highest densities are, and people assumed the corridor would be approximately near the freeway.

      As for the NIMBY stuff, that was about Kirkland-Issaquah Link, not 405 BRT. They’re two different services with different ridership markets. They overlap only between Bellevue and Kirkland. They can’t replace each other any more than the 7 and 36 can replace each other.

      1. I think you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying, Mike.

        The whole idea of keeping everything, including transit via the BRT option, on the freeway is because of the NIMBY mentality of everyone involved in that process.

        Just as rail proponents say that it’s better to deliver people to where the density is, the same should be true for BRT, if it’s really being sold as the cheaper HCT alternative.

        The freeway is not where people want to go to work or live.

        The ERC is closer to such areas, with less of a footprint than the freeway options.

        The BRT solution in the FEIS for the 405 Corridor was predicated upon what could loosely be described as Express Freeway Bus with ‘Totem Lake’ style stops.

        The cost estimates in the WSDOT white paper were based on that style, or at least HOV access to adjacent park and rides/destinations (Cascadia/UW in Bothell)

        At $300 million, this ‘BRT Station’, is an abomination, and could be better spent up and down the corridor more effectively, given the idea is to keep everything within the footprint of the current freeway ROW.

        No amount of lipstick will make this pig of a project any prettier.

  25. Two general predictions:

    1. Future voters and riders will wonder why we just didn’t resolve our long-distance transit approach with light rail or DMU, especially after East Link opens in 2023. This plan’s best attribute is that it can be upgraded to rail at some point, even if the current design doesn’t consider that.

    2. We are only a few years from having last-mile driverless low-speed shuttles everywhere. This setup would be able to feed large nearby areas of both Kirkland and Redmond. Again, this is not a project design objective, but a beneficial unintended consequence.

    In 2025 or a few years later, a service plan will evolve for a freeway shuttle that would reliably meet every East Link train.

    When we get to 2027-2030 (this opens in 2024-2025), I expect these two factors will be much more important. I wouldn’t be surprised if public pressure even ends up pushing ST to walk from a South Kirkland light rail stub and go here (and maybe Totem Lake) instead, and to push ST to have half of the East Link trains go to Kirkland (with half of Issaquah trains going to Kirkland and half going to Redmond).

    1. Not half to Kirkland. Redmond, Overlake and the Spring District will always need more service than Kirkland and Totem Lake. It makes sense to run the base service between Totem Lake and Issaquah. Folks headed to Seattle can change at Bellevue or take an express bus to SLU and ride from there.

      During peaks an overlay could serve downtown Seattle, because there ARE a lot of high-end commuters north of 520.

      1. Yeah I could see that peak service only scenario too. It reminds me of the CTA direct Evanston rush-hour express trains.

        Frankly, I’m still not 100 percent convinced that the floating bridge won’t end up creating some operational limitations (speeds? One train at a time?) in the future.

  26. Sound Move, 1996, included a NE 85th Street project on I-405. It proved infeasible. ST redirected the fiscal resources to other Kirkland projects (e.g., a new KTC, Totem Lake TC, NE 128th Street overcrossing and center access ramps, and NE 85th Street sidewalks). These changes were made by a two-thirds vote of the ST board. (Several other change were made to the program).

    The topography is against this project. It is difficult to connect service in the middle of I-405 with downtown Kirkland, a pedestrian center, to the west. Freeway interchanges are hostile to pedestrians; freeways are barriers to pedestrians as dams are to fish. Interchange congestion slows local bus service.

    Transit service in the middle of I-405 can connect Snohomish County markets with downtown Bellevue via the NE 128th Street overcrossing as the NE 6th Street center access that has already been provided.

    Commenters pointed out the superiority of a project at NE 70th Street. ST3 did not include it. The plan could be amended by the ST Board. Route 245 would connect a NE 70th Street project and downtown Kirkland via the Google campus.

    As ST3 was assembled, Kirkland suggested superior projects that were seen as too politically risky. Instead ST3 has Link between a parking lot and Issaquah. Service in I-405 is a different market than intra Eastside trips between the pedestrian markets of Kirkland and Bellevue.

    1. Totem Lake TC, NE 128th Street overcrossing and center access ramps, and NE 85th Street sidewalks

      Thanks for the reminder that the freeway station is not the Totem Lake TC. The TC isn’t much more than a bus turn around/layover. With the redevelopment of the mall property there is going to need to be a serious upgrade to the transit coverage in this area. I’m not sure the existing TC is going to be of much use. A DT Kirkland to Totem Lake via 405 could be a big help. One option would be to exit at 128th and go east back through the Mall Redux (what’s it’s actual catchy name?). Then cross 405 going west on 124th turning South either through the business part (south of QFC) returning in front of the court house and getting back on 405 SB at 116th. A bit of a circuitous figure 8 but it cover most of the Totem Lake destinations and with 15 minute all day service might lure people away from their cars.

  27. I did some measuring on the map. Somewhat surprisingly, the Google campus is actually the same distance (1 mile) from the I-405/85th St. station location as downtown Kirkland, in spite of being further south, and with less elevation change. The reason is that the walking route would be not the streets, but the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail, which runs diagonally and shaves off a fair bit of distance.

    With a location of 70th St., the Google campus is just 0.8 miles away and downtown Kirkland is 1.5 miles away, with *more*, not less elevation change than 85th.

    So, from a standpoint of walking distance, 85th is a shorter walk to downtown, once the walk is made safe by building the sidewalks and fixing the impossible-to-cross-on-foot loop ramps. 85th also has more room for wider sidewalks, and the freeway is just a few hundred feet from the CKC, putting the Google campus and more within than one-mile walk range. 70th, you have narrow sidewalks immediately adjacent speeding cars to contend with, with no room to widen it, but CKC isn’t in a useful position to get anywhere from there, and unless the freeway station is completely rebuilt, at similar cost to the 85th project, as proposed, just getting from the northbound station to the other side of the freeway is already several minutes with multiple stoplights.

    1. On the other hand, from 70th St, both of them can be connected by a single frequent bus (like the existing 245). From 85th St, you’d need to run two buses or else detour through downtown to get to Google.

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