The future site of NE 185th Street station

Sound Transit has released a list of design changes for Lynnwood Link, requested by WSDOT and local governments following the 2015 EIS, with some major changes for stations at NE 185th Street and Lynnwood Transit Center, along with other minor tweaks. The changes, which are separate from Sound Transit’s quest to fill the $500 million budget shortfall that the project faces, should bring modest improvements to vehicular access at both stations, while scraping away at the property acquisition costs that have dogged the project over the last few months.

New design for NE 185th Street station (Sound Transit)

The original design for Shoreline North/NE 185th Street station placed the five-story, 500-space parking garage on the west side of I-5, opposite the station, and funded an improved overpass with wider sidewalks and better fencing. The refined design now places it on the east side, under the planned bus bays adjacent to the station’s two entrances. Vehicles would enter and exit the garage from 8th Avenue NE, away from bus traffic at the improved 5th Avenue intersection; the site itself is sloped, lending itself well to a partially-buried garage, but some excavation would be required to fit all 500 parking spaces in there (though we’d prefer they didn’t). The new design wouldn’t dramatically impact bus operations or traffic around the station, but would save Sound Transit from acquiring the Shoreline Stadium parking lot from the Shoreline School District.

Updated design for Lynnwood City Center station (Sound Transit)

The changes for Lynnwood City Center station are far more dramatic, with a complete re imagining of the parking garage and the east side of the station, now occupied by the fenced-off and soon-to-be demolished Black Angus restaurant and a gas station. The garage, previously in the shape of a bent rectangle, has now been squashed into a pair of offset rectangles to make way for a daylighted creek running along the west edge of 44th Avenue West. The garage would lose its direct access ramp to 46th Avenue for carpools and instead have a ramp that leads to the southbound lanes of 44th Avenue West, across the now daylighted creek. On the west side of the station, the surface parking lot would be split by a new bus layover area with 20 spaces, able to support the expected post-restructure load of 182 peak-hour buses that will serve the transit center. The shrunken parking lot would also eliminate a few kiss-and-ride spaces, which would be moved to a new street (202nd Street) on the north side of the current “A” bus bays. The reconfigured parking areas would be encircled by a system of relocated bicycle and pedestrian paths connecting to the Scriber Creek Trail and Interurban Trail.

Lynnwood’s new design would not save on land acquisition or construction costs, but it would reduce the footprint of the parking garage and improve vehicular circulation around the transit center. The daylighting of the unnamed creek along 44th Avenue would also bring minor ecological benefits, mainly the opportunity to introduce new streamside plantings and add a buffer between the station and 44th Avenue. The design changes would not affect some of the developable parcels on the north side of the tracks, facing 200th Street, or the station’s layout (including the all-important overcrossing to the bus bays).

Along with the major changes at these two stations, Sound Transit is also shifting the alignment of light rail tracks near Northgate and Mountlake Terrace. The Northgate realignment, approximately where the northbound offramp meets 1st Avenue NE, would switch from straddle bents that cross over 1st to narrow columns that require less space and concrete. The Mountlake Terrace switch would smooth out the crossing of Interstate 5 by moving it further north of the current freeway bus station, also reducing the number of columns hat would need to be installed in the freeway’s right-of-way (and thus saving on disruptive construction).

These design changes are likely to be the last layer of polish that Sound Transit will place on the project before it heads off to the Federal Transit Administration for a full grant funding agreement (FFGA), anticipated to happen around summer of this year. They seem to be reasonable concessions that won’t have a detrimental long-term impact on the design of the line, but I do question where else Sound Transit can safely cut corners to fill the budget shortfall. At last check, Sound Transit was considering a slew of design refinements aimed at saving costs, including reduced platform widths, removal of some escalators, and ditching some noise reduction equipment (including sound walls and floating slabs). It’s unsure whether these changes will make it into yet another design document before the FFGA or if they will come to roost during engineering review or 90 percent design later this year (or perhaps next year).

16 Replies to “Design Changes Proposed for Lynnwood Link Stations”

  1. Reading about all this parking construction gives me anxiety. Can you do a piece on how Sound Transit is or is not building garages for convertibility to other uses in the future?

    1. ST has talked about some P&Rs being designed for convertability. I think it mentioned South Bellevue and TIB, and part of one of the northern ones. There could be more beyond that.

    2. Oh, and the small surface lot at Bel-Red (130th) is intended to be temporary, until development catches up to the area.

  2. Those changes to the 185th St station are *major* improvements. Smaller footprint, less walking to actually get on the train, cheaper. Makes me wonder which other stations could be improved by making them cheaper. 145th St, I’m looking at you.

    1. Yesterday’s NE 85th interchange at I-405 concept with the top and bottom levels reversed (I-5 on tte bottom) with a parking garage above I-5 is the way I’d fix the 145th Station flow nightmare of a station, take advantage of the hill, and reduce the project footprint.

  3. Makes me wonder how much could’ve been saved at TIBS with a less extravagant, less ostentatious design.

    1. Before the Tukwila/ST pissing match, the plan was to run up International Blvd from the Boeing Access Rd.

      Most of the structure of TIBS is just to get the station high enough to go over Hwy 99.

      1. ST had similar issues with overdesign at SeaTac Airport Station. Budget wouldn’t handle it so the architect had go back and downscale, which still yielded a perfectly nice and serviceable station. Same approach at TIBS could have been taken, and still get over 99, but the budget was fatter when those decisions were made.

  4. Generally, this is a good thing. The smaller the parking garage, the closer the TOD!

    I’m still not believing that circa-2000 loopy driveways are good for drop-offs. People will just hop out on the street, like they do all over Seattle today (especially Lyft and Uber).

  5. “The changes, which are separate from Sound Transit’s quest to fill the $500 million budget shortfall that the project faces, ….”

    Regarding the Lynnwood Link project budget woes, let’s be sure we get our figures straight.

    FTA New Starts rating from Nov 2015:

    Total capital cost in YOE$ (incl financing)
    $2,345.93 million
    Subtracting out financing costs
    -$194.3 million
    Capital cost only
    $2,151.63 million

    FTA New Starts rating from Nov 2016:

    Total capital cost in YOE$ (incl financing)
    $2,347.72 million
    Subtracting out financing costs
    -$179.3 million
    Capital cost only
    $2,168.42 million

    Finally, as recently reported in the Seattle Times, per ST board motion 2017-162:

    Total capital cost in YOE$ (incl financing)
    $3,069 million
    Subtracting out financing costs
    -$135 million (assumed)
    Capital cost only
    $2,934 million

    Thus, taking this latest figure supplied by ST,
    $2,934M, and comparing it to the 2015 FTA ratings figure, $2,151.63M, one can quickly ascertain that the agency has blown a far bigger hole in the estimated budget for this project than the narrative they have been trying to push since last August.

    $2,934M – $2,151.63M = $782.37M

    That’s a far cry from the figure that keeps getting reported.

    Also, the project director stated last August that the 6-month schedule delay (while they held a couple of workshops to review their “value engineering” options) would still put the project at 90% design and ready for baselining (which is normally done at 60%) by spring 2018. Well, we are there.

    1. For the record, it has now been over 8 months since the magnitude of the budget problems for the Lynnwood Link project were made public at the Aug 24, 2017 board meeting.

  6. Side note: CT wants to place the stops for Swift Orange Line (currently routes 115 & 116) at 44th & 200th st – very much outside of the transit center. The reasoning is for riders to quickly exit the bus while it sits for the traffic light to change. But CT doesn’t realize riders will have to wait for at least one light cycle and a longer-than-desired walk to the actual platform. Design is preliminary and Info was recently obtained from a discussion with planners at CT.

    1. Are you proposing that CT delay everybody on the bus to save people transferring a few feet of walking. That doesn’t sound like a good idea.

      We do too much of this in general, and it leads to a transit system that takes a long time to get anywhere.

  7. Oh good lord, get on with it. I’m sure this will delay it a few more years now. here in Lynnwood, we’ve watched the estimate of when we’ll get light rail be pused from 2018 to 2020 to 2023, and the banner on the fence currently says 2024. At this rate, they MIGHT get it built before I’m forced to retire….

    1. I’m not sure what estimates you’re referring to, but the ST2 estimate was 2023 before the election and 2024 now.

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