8th Avenue W concept for Mariner Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

Link service to Everett remains 17 years away from its estimated completion date, but the narrowing of station options is already progressing at the county level. Snohomish County is soliciting another round of public comments for its light rail station subarea plans, which cover the two stations in unincorporated area between Lynnwood and Everett: Ash Way (164th Street Southwest) and Mariner (128th Street Southwest). These two stations mark the end of the “easy” section of Everett Link, with an opportunity to open early if the stars align.

The second open house, which we reported on in November, drew 3,000 online visitors and narrowed down the set of options per station from three to two. Respondents to surveys about both stations also ranked their priorities in choosing station options, placing Swift and bus connections above the likes of sidewalk/trail access, TOD opportunities, and bike access. The responses from this third open house will be used to shape the subarea plan that will be presented by the county to Sound Transit for further consideration, which will likely involve a good deal being lost to the Seattle process.

Mariner Station

8th Avenue W Option for Mariner Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

The remaining options at Mariner Station are at 8th Avenue West and the yet-unbuilt 130th Street Southwest, leaving out an option that was deemed too close to Interstate 5. The 8th Avenue concept places an elevated station that is parallel to the north side of 128th Street Southwest, which would be crossed by a pedestrian overpass to reach the south side of the street and its southbound Swift Green Line station.

Both options have a park and ride garage would be built up against the freeway interchange and require a short walk along a new east-west circulator street, named 130th Street Southwest. Bus connections would be moved on-street or the new circulator to facilitate re-use of the current transit center for new development. The county’s concept also envisions a central park or greenspace surrounded by multi-story apartment and condo buildings, along with a bike-and-pedestrian trail underneath the elevated tracks.

130th Street SW Option for Mariner Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

The other Mariner Station option, at the new 130th Street Southwest just south of the 8th Avenue option, would be more pedestrian-friendly at the cost of bus connections. The north-south station would have perpendicular connections to buses, which would stop at 130th. The concept also proposes a new overpass along 130th to the east side of Interstate 5, which would carry a connection to the Interurban Trail as well as Swift Green Line buses without the burden of crossing interchange traffic. As a bonus, it would also provide better connections to a local medical clinic and newer apartments that were recently built on the southeast side of the interchange.

Overall, both options present a very attractive plan that looks quite similar to some of the suburban stations on Vancouver’s SkyTrain in Burnaby and New Westminster, which utilize mezzanine-level bridges to cross wide streets and connect to nearby development. While not at the same scale (Burnaby’s stations famously have clusters of 40-story residential highrises), it would be a welcome addition to the area, which does have a relatively dense collection of housing around the existing retail center. The 130th option would be more expensive and complex due to the need for a new overpass, but would have greater long-term benefits for both sides of the freeway while also shielding bus transferees from waiting along the six-lane stroad on 128th.

Ash Way Station

Park and Ride Option for Ash Way Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

Further south at the future Ash Way Station, half of survey respondents chose the existing park-and-ride on the west side of Interstate 5 as their preferred location instead of a similar spot to the south along 164th Street Southwest, which was environmentally challenging and had poor walkability. The other, more radical option on the east side of Interstate 5 also made the cut for the next round, with 31 percent of respondents marking it as preferable.

Both of the remaining options also propose completing the existing HOV direct access ramp, which currently only points south towards I-5 and west to the park-and-ride. Adding a north connection, which had been proposed in the early stages of ST2, would eliminate the long and pointless journey around the 164th Street interchange for Routes 512 and 532, which would become especially important once the Everett routes are truncated for Lynnwood Link. The eastern connection, which would also include a pedestrian/bicycle path, would connect to townhomes and retail on the east side of the interchange while also providing a better route for buses bound for Mill Creek, including the future Swift Orange Line.

The park-and-ride option envisions an elevated station along the edge of the freeway that is located at the far reaches of the current parking lot. The bus bays would be moved closer to the freeway under the new platform, subjecting bus riders to even more noise, while the park-and-ride stalls are reorganized between surface and structured parking, possibly in tandem with TOD. As part of the plan, the section of Ash Way south of 164th Street Southwest would be realigned to the west to eliminate turn movements on the street that cause backups through the interchange.

Ash Way East Option for Ash Way Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

The east side option shows a cut-and-cover tunnel for Link trains and the platform, which would be at the west end of a small collection of multi-story apartment buildings with a small-scale street grid. The parking garage would be on the west side of the cut-and-cover tunnel, while the bus bays would be relocated to the station entrance on the new 162nd Street Southwest, which would continue east towards Martha Lake. Interestingly, this concept also proposes an underground crossing of 164th Street for the Interurban Trail, which would travel directly to the station.

The choice of an ambitious cut-and-cover tunnel is a welcome way of reducing some of the impacts associated with stations next to freeways, namely noise and air pollution for those waiting on the platforms. This option would provide better access for Mill Creek, especially with frequent bus connections via the Swift Orange Line, at the expense of several apartment complexes that were built along Ash Way in the last decade. The Ash Way corridor, however, should still have frequent bus connections of some kind, and would also be served by the pedestrian and bicycle portion of the HOV direct access overpass, so the net benefit would be beneficial for the area as a whole.

The public comment period for the online open house closes on July 31. At the end of the evaluation period, Snohomish County will submit a locally favored option to the Sound Transit Board for their station scoping process, which is set to begin next year for Everett Link. There will be plenty of time to debate and dream about the fates of these two stations, along with those in Alderwood and Everett, before a final decision is made.

Snohomish County is also hosting two in-person open houses that will present the same concepts and content. The first will take place on Thursday, July 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Mariner High School; the second will take place on Thursday, July 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Oak Heights Elementary School (three blocks north of Ash Way P&R).

31 Replies to “Snohomish County narrows down light rail station options for Mariner and Ash Way”

  1. I find it interesting how the completion of the I-5/Ash Way bus ramps are tied to the completion of ST3 rail. It’s like ST couldn’t put them in during ST2 because it would weaken the case to vote for rail to Everett and ST3, and now that ST3 has passed, there’s no reason not to do it anymore.

    Glad to see that these ramps are going to have sidewalks so people on the other side of I-5 can walk to the station, rather than be forced to wait for a bus connection to go 1,000 feet.

    As to 128th St., it is good to see a station that’s not right up against I-5 (a silver lining of the Paine Field Deviation). I also like the idea of an elevated station with pedestrian access on both sides of the arterial – something that Ballard doesn’t look like it’s going to be getting with its station. The SWIFT green line also suddenly starts to make a lot more sense, once it has finally has a connection to regional transit, which this station will give it.

    1. I find it interesting how the completion of the I-5/Ash Way bus ramps are tied to the completion of ST3 rail.

      Yes, and the really bad part is that they probably won’t be used much (if at all) once the train gets up there. Right now they could be used, as ST has bus routes that exit the freeway there. But when the rail projects are complete, it would be silly to skip over 128th, since that is the first connection to Link. There are lots of possibilities, but one option would be to have the 201/202 serve the South Everett park and ride and simply terminate at Ash Way. That way you serve the neighborhood between the two stations, while connecting to Link (and other bus service). I wouldn’t rule out express buses going both places, but then you water down the system (reducing frequency).

      I can think of two things that would be a lot more valuable (although admittedly more expensive). The first is HOV ramps connecting 128th to the north. Another is ramps connecting the I-5 HOV lanes and I-405 lanes.

  2. The King County representatives on the board will do what they want re: selecting station locations for the northern stretch of LINK. They have the votes.

    1. What they want is whatever the Snohomish boardmembers, county, and cities want. They don’t have much opinion about that, and they want reciprocal deference for their own subareas. There are broad boundaries of what they’d accept, but details like this are minuscule.

  3. It’s great to see station areas and not mere stations (or worse, just little platform rectangles. Every station needs these kinds of visions. This should be the standard also applied to West Seattle-Ballard and Tacoma Dome extension studies going on right now!

    Of course, this is Snohomish County and not Sound Transit doing these concepts.

    1. The West Seattle and Ballard extensions are more complicated by several orders of magnitude, both politically and logistically. You can bet there will be ample opportunity for everyone to review, comment, revise, and complain every single minuscule detail about these stations when the time comes.

      1. Uhhhh ….. the time may have already passed.

        Providing station area concepts helps to understand where a station should go. Much of the WS-B discussion involved only where station platforms should go. In fact, a station that will be used for pedestrians and transit seem MORE important to diagram early. With stations relying on park-and-ride, the area is less critical to envision.

        I’m convinced that thinking through pedestrian circulation at each of the WS-B station areas would have shifted the alternatives that made the cut. Of course, that should have included early visions about the underground pedestrian circulation concepts. The public didn’t get that — and decision makers were left getting direction based on uninformed fears and biases from stakeholders instead.

      2. Of course the time hasn’t already passed. Pretty much no decision of any kind has been made on the Ballard/WS route, in fact, we’ve increased the scope to include tunnels we’ve got no plan to pay for. There are many more years of slow, contentious decision making to be had. Don’t you worry.

  4. Looks exciting. I used to live in Snohomish county, and often wished there was a link station, or even just a 512 stop, at 128th.

    Both the 128th options look good, and I agree allowing good bus connections is key here. I think there will be a lot of people coming from further east on 128th trying to commute to Seattle.

    I’m surprised they are considering adding an overpass over the freeway at 130th. That’s an interesting idea, but I wonder if, with all the turns the buses will need to take, it will really save time.

    Both of the “more expensive options” allow connections to the interurban trail… That’s also worth thinking about, but I feel like it’s actually somewhat difficult to get to the interurban trail itself. It really hugs the freeway, and looking at google map it doesn’t have that many connections to local streets so that commuters can get on the trail.

    It looks much more geared to long haul recreational biking than commuter usage, though I guess that could be fixed.

  5. Regarding the Mariner options:

    It is a terrible idea to put a park next to one of the few train stations in the area. It is continuation of the “ferry dock” mindset of mass transit that leads to ridiculous ideas like a “Ballard” station at 14th Avenue NW. The assumption is that very few people will walk to the station (or people don’t care what the walk is like) so it doesn’t really matter where it is. You are throwing away a lot of potential riders by putting in a park there, instead of apartments. Put the park away from the highway and away from the station.

    Speaking of apartments, I find it interesting that the new apartments seem basically designed like the old apartments in the area. Maybe it is just the way they drew them (fair enough). But as drawn there are huge gaps between the apartments. This reduces density dramatically. Oh, I’m sure some of those building will be tall (six stories or more) leading many to say “wonderful — TOD!” but you would be much better off with three story apartments, along with narrow streets. (Better yet, six story apartments with narrow streets).

    Both options look terrible from a pedestrian standpoint if you live north of 128th, but probably as good as you can get. It is hard to get excited about the pedestrian bridge, when it will be so far to the station from the other side. With the station at roughly 6th, it is about a half mile to Swedish, and that is pretty much the only thing over there. I’m all for pedestrian overpasses, but I don’t see that many people using that one. I think it makes more sense to favor connecting bus service, and go with the first option. It isn’t great (you lose the other side of the freeway) but I think it is best to consider it lost anyway, and focus on getting a few more bus riders and saving a few bucks.

    1. Oh wait, I just realized that the plan was to add a regular automobile overpass (rather than a pedestrian overpass). That being the case, things change dramatically. Swift moves away from 128th, and crosses the freeway there. The transfer is fine, and it really doesn’t cost any extra time. It is a little “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in that those north of 128th have a longer walk (to both the train station and Swift) but I could see it being worth it, as I think there are more apartments to the south. The only issue then is whether it is worth the extra money.

      1. I would say yes to a small active green space too. Rather than some specialized large space use like a golf course or even tennis courts, it could be used for community gatherings and meet-up locations.

        It would perhaps be interesting as a mezzanine level open space.

        Finally it begs a larger question: what should be the “there” there? The concept seems like a village green. Does that mean that it should become a new municipality? I’d support creating a new town center at one or both of these station areas.

      2. I am not opposed to adding a park *in the neighborhood*. But adding a park *adjacent* to the train platform will reduce ridership. No one is going to take the train just to check out the park. I don’t want to state the obvious, but ridership increases the closer you are to station. Thus this will decrease ridership.

        Put the park farther away, and put the housing closer.

      3. Washington Park in Portland has the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, Children’s Museum, Hoyt Arboretum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial plus all the Washington Park trails plus the parking lot is a fee parking area. It really doesn’t get a huge amount of traffic most of the time. Special events might generate some crowds but most of the time it’s 5-10 passengers per train that use this station.

        The park at this Link station is not going to be any Discovery Park or Ballard Locks Park or Kinear Park.

      4. Even if Washington Park doesn’t get a ton of riders, it’s a unique cultural entity. There is no other large park on MAX that I know of, and Washington Park is famous nationally for being an especially good one and having a MAX station. We should look not just at the raw number of boardings but the variety of destination types on the network offers and the cross-section (=diversity) of riders who find it meets their needs. The wider a cross-section of riders and variety of destinations, the closer it gets to benefiting the whole society and all visitors rather than just one narrow type of person. So ideally a network should serve the region’s principal park, shopping mall, stadium, airport, etc. It should also reach pedestrian concentrations where a lot of people travel at once, which overlap with that a lot (downtown, stadiums, malls, airports).

        Washington Park has another factor, in that bus 63 also goes through the park and does double-duty as the park circulator. MAX only goes to one end of the park, and it’s a mile away from some of the attractions. So some people may not be on MAX because they’re on the 63.

        (I thought it was the 20 Burnside that went to the park, but the TriMet map says it’s the 63. Were they restructured or am I remembering wrong?)

      5. @Mike Orr, the 20 Burnside goes past the edge of the park; the 63 goes through the park. I know it’s been that way for at least the last two years, but I’m not sure before then.

      6. The 20 has been the Burnside route for decades. It has a stop sort of by the Wildwood Trail, which connects Washington Park, Pittock Mansion (our Kinear Park equivalent), McCleay Park and Forest Park. Pre-1998 I think it went all the way to Beaverton. I know they changed the route a bit when the west side MAX line opened but I forget what. Since then the west end has pretty much been the same.

        I think it’s good we have the MAX station there, but my point is that a tiny neighborhood park isn’t going to be a major regional destination. We have such a destination park, and while people take the train there it isn’t anything like the traffic at some of the other stations.

        So, putting this Lynwood park on the opposite side of the new housing, so more of the neighborhood has access to it, is really the better location.

    2. Having a park at Mariner Station is honestly not a bad thing in my opinion. Mostly because while we need said density, we also need green spaces as well for people to go enjoy recreation in their area where they live, which is ideal if you want to capture families or various different groups of people than just commuters. The thing I do worry about is safety and security for said park, because you want people to feel as though they are safe walking through there anytime of day.

    3. I think having a central greenspace would be a good use of land that would be partially covered by the 90-degree turn for the elevated tracks. It would also help avail fears about continued midrise (or perhaps even high-rise) development around the station.

  6. Sorry if you mentioned it somewhere but doesn’t the “Ash Way East” Concept also require two additional rail overpasses over I-5? To get from West of I-5 at the Lynnwood TC and back again to get to the East of I-5 concepts at 128th. I see that as a cost factor Snoho County will have to consider.

    In any case, exciting options all around!

    1. I did mention the extra crossing in the November update, but I think that the difficulty in approaching the park and ride from the southwest might change the math.

      The tunnel, however, complicates things even more.

    2. Yeah, I noticed that omission as well and was just going to post a comment inquiring about it and the additional cost that would add to the alignment. (I don’t think the OP addressed it in his otherwise excellent summary of these two station options.)

      Because of this and because of the existing residential density that already exists on the west side of I5, particularly along Ash Way itself, I don’t favor the “Ash Way East ” option.

  7. To give you an idea of the kind of bus transfer traffic 128th station will see, check out community transit 109:
    https://www.communitytransit.org/busservice/schedules/route/109

    This route gives access to a huge area with transfers to downtown Seattle. People are already riding routes like this, but Link’s increased speed and reliability will make them much more viable. People will be able to commute all the way from Snohomish in around an hour.

    For many suburban commuters, that will be a big improvement over their drive time, which could be closer to 2 hours each way depending on traffic.

      1. That jogs a possible overlooked detail: There will need to have an additional siding track upstream from Mariner Way to turn around half of the trains (the current ST operations concept).

  8. I’m going to put this out there.

    Since this appears to propose large-scale redevelopment, why not do this at the deferred 99/Airport station instead of at the Mariner site?

    – That location is the crossroads of the Green and Blue Swift lines.

    – That location has less than a mile from the proposed Mariner Link platforms.

    – The Mariner site is close enough to the Ash Way site to move half or all of the parking spaces to there. Since people are already driving (including those using I-5) and the garages aren’t next to the Mariner Station, does the actual parking location really matter much? I could see benefits to parking consolidation at one station (Ash Way) because it reduces the risk of driving to the station and finding the parking lot full.

    – Every station tries to be conceptualized with just a little bit of everything — parking, TOD, employment, residential, transit, drop-offs, pedestrian/bicycle paths. However, a good case could be made to change the mode of access priorities at each station. That’s why East Link stations have evolved with different mixes, right? That has the additional localized benefit of encouraging Link use entirely in Snohomish County instead of being mainly a Seattle commuter service.

  9. How does feedback work for the online open house?

    I see a submit button for the demographic survey on the welcome tab, and a space to take notes, but if I select feeback from drop-down on the Ash Way tab, I don’t see any submit option?

  10. I’m glad to see that the “powers that be” finally see the wisdom of completing the northbound end of the direct access ramp at 164th, something I’ve advocated for over a decade! Already, whenever there’s inclement weather in the area, the freeway segment from 128th to 164th is a mess from buses having to cross all of the lanes to exit onto an already congested 164th, then slug uphill to the transit center, leaving the opposite way when they get an opening, for the county “powers that be” didn’t see the wisdom in having a traffic light at the exit, and the transit center designers didn’t think about designing it so that the buses exit to the south where there is a traffic light.

    A lot of these aforementioned folks suffer from a “disease” called “not riding the bus, but designing for people who do.”

    The north direct access ramp should be finished ASAP. It shouldn’t take long, as the design is probably sitting in a box somewhere in the basement of ST, and there’s little elevation gain and no overpass to construct.

    In addition, ST should be lobbied to open the Lynnwood to Mariner light rail segment, 3 stations, on par to Northgate and shorter than Lynnwood, when it’s done, which could be in the late 2020s, rather than 10 years later. In that way, direct connections to Swift Green BRT will open up, and the armada of buses going to light rail can be shared between Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, as is currently envisioned, and Ash Way and Mariner.

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