Recently STB writer Bruce Nourish and I had an opportunity to check out the new Link extensions from the air. Enjoy the photos!

Northgate Link Extension

We begin at Northgate Station; these photos were shot just prior to the opening of the extension:

Northgate Station & Northgate Mall
Looking north at Northgate Station. Northgate Mall is the large cluster of properties in the center of the photo. On the far left, the alignment under construction can be seen running along the northbound lanes of I-5

Lynnwood Link Extension
The alignment under construction near NE 115th Street in Seattle. The building lower center with the wrap around it is the 72-unit Northgate West Condominiums. Northgate Station just to the south (right) of this photo. This is where the alignment transitions from the elevated Northgate Station to at-grade along I-5

Northgate Station & North Seattle College
Looking west at Northgate Station. The new The John Lewis Memorial Bridge connects the station to neighborhoods west of I-5, with North Seattle College in the center of the photo

Northgate Station & Licton Springs
Looking east towards Northgate Station, with the new The John Lewis Memorial Bridge crossing I-5. North Seattle College is in the lower right, with nearby homes a short walk from the bridge

Lynnwood Link Extension

Future 130th Station
Looking east across I-5. NE 130th Street is the overpass across I-5 in the center.

Shoreline South Station
Looking northeast at the future “Shoreline South/148th” station (interim name). The football field of the Lakeside school is visible in the lower left. Towards the upper left the alignment transitions away from the elevated alignment to at-grade

King County Metro North Base
Adjacent to the alignment we can see Metro’s North Base (center), and Shoreline Recycling & Transfer Station just beyond. The Link alignment runs between the newly-constructed noise wall and the northbound lanes of I-5

Shoreline North Station
Looking east at the future “Shoreline North/185th” station

Shoreline North Station
Looking south at the future “Shoreline North/185th” station. At the top of the photo the transition between elevated tracks and at-grade tracks is visible. This angle also shows the station butting up directly to single family residences. Shoreline Stadium is visible on the right side of the photo

Mountlake Terrace Station
The existing Mountlake Terrace Station is seen here. The partially constructed elevated track can be seen as it departs the edge of the I-5 lanes and enters the area where the station will be built. On the extreme left the alignment can be seen being constructed over the travel lanes of I-5

Guideway near Mountlake Terrace Station
Looking at the elevated alignment being constructed over the northbound lanes of I-5, just north of Mountlake Terrace Station

Shoreline South Station
Looking northeast at the future “Shoreline South/148th” station (interim name). The football field of the Lakeside school is visible in the lower left. Towards the upper left the alignment transitions away from the elevated alignment to at-grade

Mountlake Terrace Station
The existing Mountlake Terrace Station is seen here. The partially constructed elevated track can be seen as it departs the edge of the I-5 lanes and enters the area where the station will be built. On the extreme left the alignment can be seen being constructed over the travel lanes of I-5

Guideway near Mountlake Terrace Station
Looking at the elevated alignment being constructed over the northbound lanes of I-5, just north of Mountlake Terrace Station

Lynnwood City Center Station
Looking east at the future Lynnwood City Center Station. Parking garage construction can be seen next to the existing HOV ramp to and from I-5

Lynnwood City Center Station
Looking south at the future Lynnwood City Center Station. The upper left of the photo shows elevated guideway from the station transitioning to at-grade next to the southbound lanes of I-5

East Link

Transitioning to the Eastside, we can see the line nearing completion:

Looking south near central Bellevue. The Sound Transit Operations & Maintenence Facility East (OMF East) can be seen in the lower left. Downtown Bellevue is on the right, and the light rail tracks can be seen crossing I-405 with the elevated Wilburton Station between 405 and the OMF

Microsoft Campus
Looking east at the Microsoft Campus, with the Redmond Technology Station on the far left.

Downtown Redmond Link Extension
Looking west at the future SE Redmond Station. Marymoor Park is in the upper left corner. Towards the center the construction of the tracks towards Downtown Redmond Station can be seen

Downtown Redmond Link Extension
Looking at the newly constructed underpass where the alignment runs along the westbound lanes of SR-520. The overpass over 520 is NE 51st

Microsoft Campus
Looking Southwest at the Microsoft campus with Downtown Bellevue in the far distance in the upper right. The Redmond Technology Station can be seen under construction in the lower center of the photo

Looking west at the greater Bel-Red neighborhood. The future at-grade Bel-Red/130th Station can be seen in the center of the photo. Near upper left is downtown Bellevue, far upper left is Downtown Seattle. Towards the lower right of the photo the alignment can be seen transitioning from at-grade to elevated along the eastbound lanes of SR-520

Bellevue Stations
Looking west across Wilburton/Bel-Red. Bel-Red/130th Station can be seen at the bottom edge of the photo; Spring District/120th Station is located near the gossy black buildings in the center. Downtown Bellevue is partially visible on the left of the photo, and Downtown Seattle along the top edge

Special thanks to Bruce Nourish for making this happen!

82 Replies to “A Photo Tour of Link Construction”

  1. These locations now largely are devoid of life. Too much concrete will do that. There should be webcams up at the train stations that everybody could view to show how few people use them.

    1. Funny, the 545 and 550 were full before the pandemic. Even when I take the 545 on Saturday to the Redmond trails and I think nobody will get on/off between Seattle and downtown Redmond, people get on and off at Yarrow Point and Microsoft for some reason.

  2. Great photos! I didn’t realize there were ten tower cranes at the Microsoft development. Having almost that many crane operators on site simultaneously must be quite the party on the radio.

    Bellevue’s self-imposed squat skyline is almost comparable to Seattle’s with that forced perspective. Although, since they’ve lifted the absolute limit to 600′, hopefully Amazon finishes their towers on time and the city will have a less boxy outline.

    Something about looking out a plane window really gives the world that Tiny Town feel, and really exposes how much space we give to cars just to park them near places we want to go. Even with all the development at Northgate, it’s still islands of low-rise in a sea parking.

    1. I am curious by the author’s note that the Shoreline South/ 148th station name is an “interim name”. I thought ST voted it as “permanent” already.

      1. That’s what I remember them being noted as during the last open house, which was mid-2018. Things could have changed since then; I haven’t monitored every board motion. Or the board could elect to make that the official name, as they did with several Central Link stations.

      2. Unfortunately. So now we have two names with a slash in them and Shoreline hogging the names. I’d call the north one “Shoreline” and the south one “Jackson Park North”.

      3. I’ve read short stories that are shorter than some of these names. It is ridiculous. Just call it “148th”. Just like the station south of it should be called “130th” and the one north of it “185th”. Being shorter means it is more legible. You can use bigger letters on the signs.

        In this case, numbers make it easier for people to see whether they are going the right direction, and a rough idea of how much longer they have to wait. Let’s say you get on at 45th, headed towards 185th. You come to a station, and notice it says 130th. It shouldn’t be long now (and it isn’t). It is only when the train crosses the county line that this becomes a problem. North of the UW station, I would name all of the King Country stops after the cross streets. That means 45th, 65th, 100th, 130th, 145th and 185th. That is way easier to understand and display.

        The names are a bizarre mix of politics and marketing. Shoreline wants their name with the station. That’s silly. Just allow them to put up a sign saying “Welcome to Shoreline” as you exit. Likewise, we don’t need to promote an area — people already know that 45th is in the U-District. Same with 65th running across the Roosevelt neighborhood. People might not know that 100th is close to Northgate, but they will figure it out.

        In the grand scheme of things, this is a tiny thing to worry about. But it is still annoying, and while ST think this helps promote the system, it is the opposite. It makes us look bush league.

      4. I would name all of the King Country stops after the cross streets. That means 45th, 65th, 100th, 130th, 145th and 185th. That is way easier to understand and display.

        To those that aren’t intimately familiar with the street grid, those are seemingly random numbers and would easily be confused. And as you alluded to, this will be a problem when the next extension opens up: 45, 65, 100, 130, 145, 185, 200, 184, 164, 128, 99, 526, 529?!

        Heck, far too many people navigate the freeways with exit numbers. “Where is our destination?” “47th & 15th” “Which exit do I take?” “169” 🤦‍♂️

      5. Naming is such a complex topic! It’s why ST is revising its naming policy.

        I’m pretty satisfied with the revisions except I think the 26 character maximum is still too many. I don’t see train destination signs showing that many characters without sign scrolling. I’m not sure what would be the maximum but my guess is that it’s somewhere between 11-15 letters. Then give some of these names a letter diet!

        Examples: Lynnwood City Center becomes Lynnwood Center. Redmond Technology Center becomes just Redmond Tech or just Technology. TIBS becomes Tukwila Ridge or something that short. ID/C becomes just International or just Chinatown.

        I’m also not a fan of street numbers as station names. Admittedly some US systems do use numbered streets but most don’t. The problem with numbers here is that we have numbered streets in both directions as well as multiple street grids. I kind of like how Salt Lake City puts the street grid reference as a secondary station name. We already have a Bel-Red/ 130th station coming on the 2 Line and that will create confusion with a 130th station in North Seattle.

        A few other quibbles with the new rules: I don’t have a problem with using a city name in the title except I think a City should only get their name in no more than 2 or 3 stations and preferably get just one. The city name should be reserved for important transfer points — so that if you get off at a “Redmond” station you can be assured that a connecting bus will reach most areas of the city.

        I’m also not averse to ST creating a new landmark where there is no great place name (like 272nd or South Federal Way). Something like Mallard Fountain or Yeti Lair or Cucumber Clock would quickly register as vivid geographical visual reference terms in public awareness as well as inspire distinctive public art.

      6. To those that aren’t intimately familiar with the street grid, those are seemingly random numbers and would easily be confused.

        Right, and to those who aren’t intimately familiar with the city, the names are meaningless as well. How does “Symphony” help you in the least, if you aren’t going to the Symphony? Do you think those unfamiliar with the city know exactly where the Symphony plays, but can’t possibly understand where Seneca Street is? How about people heading to Green Lake. What is Roosevelt — I want to get to Green Lake? I thought there was a station at Green Lake, but I don’t see it. Maybe I should take Westlake — at least it has the word lake in it.

        People don’t take subways that way. They don’t think “OK, I need to head to Shoreline … hmmm, oh, look at that, there are two stops, I guess I need the southern one”. No, they have a destination in mind, and they figure out the stop. Otherwise the system we have set up is more likely to confuse them. They get off at Mountlake Terrace, when they should have got off in Lynnwood, since their destination is in north Mountlake Terrace. This isn’t Amtrak, this is a subway.

        Often it is easier to understand the numbers than the names. What if you are trying to get to 60th, in between U-District and Roosevelt. Unless you know exactly where the stations are, you have no clue. But with numbers it is obvious.

        Anyone who knows how to read a map can understand the numbers. People usually know the numbers as much as the neighborhood. Ask anyone who has ever been to the Roosevelt neighborhood what the big cross street is and they will tell you it is 65th. Same with 45th. Often they know the cross street better than the neighborhood. A lot of people have been on 130th, and most of them knew the street they were on. But most didn’t know they were in the neighborhood of Pinehurst (the most likely name for the station). Seriously, where the hell is “South Shoreline”? Ask anyone — even people who live in Shoreline — and they won’t have an answer. Ask them where 145th is and they all know.

        Look at a subway map of Manhattan, by far the most confusing subway system in North America. There are a lot of numbers. Even a casual tourist can figure it out. The fact that there are numbers actually simplifies things. “Oh, look at that — the numbers get bigger as you go north.” Do they name the stops after neighborhoods, or famous landmarks (of which they have plenty)? Of course not. If you want to get to Greenwich Village or Chelsea (world famous neighborhoods) you have to figure it out.

        And as you alluded to, this will be a problem when the next extension opens up: 45, 65, 100, 130, 145, 185, 200, 184, 164, 128, 99, 526, 529?!

        No its not, because as I clearly wrote, the numbers stop as you reach the county limits. Numbering won’t work. The names are rather arbitrary, and little can be done about it.

        We can’t solve that problem. Ash Way, Lynnwood — those names are fine. But the least we can do make it better where we can. We can simplify it in King County, which will make up the vast majority of ridership, and where the train just might be crowded enough to make reading a sign difficult.

      7. to those who aren’t intimately familiar with the city, the names are meaningless as well. How does “Symphony” help you in the least, if you aren’t going to the Symphony?

        Humans aren’t good at memorizing numbers. Which stop was it, 63? Or 48? Neither of those would be on the line, but much like a phonetic alphabet you’d (ideally) make your station names such they couldn’t be confused with each other.

        What if you are trying to get to 60th, in between U-District and Roosevelt. Unless you know exactly where the stations are, you have no clue

        Even if you do know there’s a station “on the 65 street” it doesn’t help you a whole lot. 60th runs from Shilshole to Sand Point; the station’s street name alone doesn’t mean that’s where you should go.

        Anyone over 40 once knew how to read a map to understand the numbers

        FIFY. Everyone else just searches for destinations by name and probably doesn’t want a string of unrelated numbers.

      8. Take downtown Seattle. The avenues are pretty simple. The streets however required the old saying Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest, and still you had to memorize the street names.

        The thing about numbers is they tell you what direction you are going. 45th to 65th to 130th tells you that you are going north. This is pretty much how the freeways do it, except right downtown.

      9. I think the 26 character maximum is still too many.

        Bingo! It is also the wrong approach. We shouldn’t be looking at names to see if they are too long. We should try and shorten them whenever possible. If you have a ten character name when a five character name will do, choose the latter. But accept that sometimes, we might need a long name (which will likely be abbreviated — e. g. UW).

        The problem with numbers here is that we have numbered streets in both directions as well as multiple street grids.

        Right, but no one is suggesting we use numbers everywhere. No system does that. The New York City Subway uses numbers a lot, but they don’t use numbers for everything.

        The main place it makes sense to use numbers is north King County. From Husky Stadium to Mountlake Terrace there are well known cross streets at every station (with the possible exception of Northgate — which is why I would consider keeping “Northgate” as the name). The cross streets are often better known than the neighborhood. They become self descriptive, unlike the neighborhood names. But more than anything, there is a regular, obvious pattern. Just about everyone knows that as the numbers get bigger, you are farther away from downtown.

        In other parts of the system, it wouldn’t make sense. If you started numbering things in Snohomish County it would be confusing. In Rainier Valley, the major cross streets have names, not numbers (McClellan, Genesee, etc.). Same with West Seattle. It could maybe work on the East Side, but not as elegantly. East Link is essentially diagonal — often heading more north than east. You could do it, but you probably need the entire address, which gets messy. That being said, the whole “Overlake Village/Redmond Technology” thing is a mess.

        The only other area I would consider for numbers is to the south. These would all have “South” or “S” in front of the number, just as the places up north would have “NE” after them (e. g. “65th NE”). Again, this makes it much easier to understand. If you are downtown, a train headed to “South 200th” is likely heading south (yep, sure is). In contrast, Angle Lake means nothing — until they added the train station, most people in Seattle never heard of it. So after SeaTac it would be South 200th, South 240th, South 272nd, Federal Way. I would consider abbreviating “South” in some cases, and would definitely drop the “street”.

      10. “Just call it “148th”.”

        145th. That’s where the arterial and destinations and buses are. 148th is a technicality, nobody is going to 148th or looking for something at 148th. It’s like how Metro’s stop announcements are so GPS-dependent they come up come up with minor streets even though the stop is really for a nearby major street, like how the 11’s 3rd Avenue stop is called “4th Avenue”, Boyleston Ave eastbound is called “Summit Ave”, Summit Ave westbound is called “Boyleston Ave”, and on the 12 the Broadway stop is called “Broadway Court”. (What’s Broadway Court? A tiny one- or two-lane street next to Broadway. You don’t know, so visitors wouldn’t be looking for it either. They’d be asking, “Is this the Broadway stop?”)

      11. “to those who aren’t intimately familiar with the city, the names are meaningless as well. ”

        The point is that Seattle has strong neighborhood identifications, and these are often used in describing where something is and printed in guidebooks and known to visitors. The U-District and Capitol Hill are known nationwide, at least among a subset of people, and Ballard and Fremont are probably pretty widely known, and even if Roosevelt isn’t, it’s easy to remember one more. If the stop just says “45th” or “65th” or “145th”, it doesn’t tell you if it’s the U-District or Roosevelt or Shoreline or someplace far from all of them.

      12. @Mike — I agree, I would just call that station “145th”. It felt awkward to argue two points at once. The first is to shorten the name (from “Shoreline South/ 148th” to “148th”) the second is to use the main street (“145th”). I would also keep the “NE”, even though that is three extra characters. That makes it easy to differentiate between southern stations (e. g. “S 272nd”). It is a shame the train doesn’t go up Aurora, then the stops would just be “N”, not “NE”.

      13. The U-District and Capitol Hill are known nationwide

        And Greenwich Village isn’t???

        Sorry, continue…

        at least among a subset of people, and Ballard and Fremont are probably pretty widely known, and even if Roosevelt isn’t, it’s easy to remember one more. If the stop just says “45th” or “65th” or “145th”, it doesn’t tell you if it’s the U-District or Roosevelt or Shoreline or someplace far from all of them.

        OK, except again, people don’t take the train that way. They don’t think “I need to get to the U-District, I’ve heard it is a nice place, oh, look at that, there is a station there — I guess that is the train I want”. That isn’t how it works. Give people some credit — if they are headed to the U-District, it stands to reason they would take the northbound train, especially since it has a station called “UW”. On the other hand, knowing the street address is especially helpful, even for folks who know the city well. If you don’t know where the stations are, the terms “Roosevelt” and “U-District” only help a little. If you are headed to 58th, for example, you want “Roosevelt”, even though 58th is in the U-District.

        That’s part of the problem — it doesn’t really tell you where it is. There are two stops in the U-District. Depending on where you are going, the “UW” stop may make more sense. For that matter, depending on where you are going on campus, the “U-District” stop makes more sense than the “UW” stop. So if you really only vaguely know the stops, the current nomenclature is worse than street names.

        I’m not saying I would go overboard, and call UW station “Montlake Boulevard” or “Pacific Street”. Capitol Hill is fine as well — the street names would likely cause confusion. I would probably just go with “Northgate” since the numeric street names are broken up by Northgate Way, and Northgate is a well known as a place (a mall, specifically). It is also short. It also has the word “north” in it. This is a bonus (a bit of luck) in that it would mean a “north” destination in the middle of a bunch of numbers getting bigger, practically hitting you over the head that you are heading north.

        The big problem with names like “Shoreline South/145th” is that it is way too long, and much of the wording adds nothing. The fact that they have to put the street name after it makes it clear that “Shoreline South” tells you nothing. It is an entire half of a city, with no clue where the station is. The middle of Shoreline is 175th. Without the numbers, you would figure that one station is as good as the other, and end up walking not ten blocks, but 30 (give or take).

        “Symphony” is also stupid, and shows that asking the public for names is not a good idea (at least it isn’t “Station McStationface”). I’ve been to the symphony, several times, and I can’t remember where it is. That doesn’t mean I remember where Seneca is, but I do remember “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest”, which means that if I’m headed to Second and University, that’s my stop. I can easily see Seneca on a map of downtown. I’m looking at a Google map, and there it is, between Spring and University. I can’t see Benaroya Hall unless I zoom in. Even then, it doesn’t say “Symphony”. In other words, the name is practically meaningless. Might as well have called it “Mustard”. I have to look up the station and figure out where it is, instead of the name at least giving me a clue.

  3. The tail tracks for Lynnwood City Center Station look like they’re pointing right at a new apartment building. I’ll be curious to see how the Everett Link Extension project deals with that.

    1. I live in the area, the tracks are definitely oriented at an angle to the roadway to transition (I’m assuming) to being elevated right over the road. A lot of the width there actually the scaffolding structures upon which the tracks are being built. Trains will eventually be passing pretty close to some of the windows in those new apartments though, and some parking spots will likely be underneath the tracks. From above it does look like a very short stretch of track if you need to have trains waiting there to turn around, and that will be the terminus station for a long time.

      1. The tail tracks are definitely oriented to intersect the road, but I think the actual plan is to maintain the slight curvature of the tail tracks and place the ST3 extension just on the south side of Alderwood Mall Blvd.

        Not sure exactly why they want it off center, but *could* be a function of not wanting to mess with underground utilities. That, and big concrete pillars in the middle of the road usually isn’t a good thing.

        And not a lot of scaffolding involved. They build the pillars and then truck in the beams and lift them into place. Easy peasy.

  4. Looking at those pics of Northgate Mall it is clear just how badly Simon has handled the mall.

    That large, 2 story, parking garage was always an expensive waste of prime real estate. And now we have the Kraken Ice Plex on the other side which is basically a large, flat building with no housing on top. What a waste.

    But hey, Simon knows suburban malls, and in suburbia land is cheap and the car is king. Except Northgate really isn’t the typical suburban mall that Simon is used to developing and running.

    And, yes, I know their redevelopment isn’t done. But I guarantee you they won’t put housing, or offices, or anything on top of that garage or the Ice Plex. The development potential of that land is lost for generations.

    But hey, there is always Alderwood Mall. And U Villiage. And Bell Square.

    Thanks Simon. *not*

    1. Yes, the Kraken building looks a 1970s one- or two-story design like the existing mall or Crossroads. Why aren’t there apartments above it? The mall lot is the only Northgate lot with 200′ zoning, and Simon is throwing it away, and the city won’t upzone the neighboring lots to compensate. But at least it’s building apartments on other parts of the partking lot, and I assume those will be 4-7 stories. That’s more than the lot had before. Although a far cry from 20 stories or Vancouver’s Metrotown or New Westminster.

      1. Yes, the development all seems rather timid.

        I think this is one of the drawbacks in having one owner for such a large piece of property. Let’s say you own a lot that is 100 feet wide, and 100 feet deep. This is a good size lot, allowing you to build pretty much anything. The economy is strong, and there is a lot of demand for housing. You build what the city allows you to build. You build as much housing as possible. As time goes on, people sell their houses and more lots become available for developing. The market has its ups and downs, but overall, bit by bit, things keep getting added. Eventually it looks like … Ballard. There are plenty of old apartments, and old buildings that add character, but it is all basically filled in.

        Now assume you have a really big lot, spanning several blocks both directions (roughly 1,200 feet by 2,000 feet). You could build out the same way, and build a gigantic set of apartments (essentially hundreds of apartment buildings the size of those built in Ballard). But that involves a lot more risk. You are making a sudden, dramatic change in the housing for the area (adding tens of thousands of new units) and you aren’t confident the market can handle it. You could try and mimic the way that places like Ballard grew, but that just won’t work. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense to build once. So you do, but hedge your bets. You add nice courtyards, so that the apartments can compete with other apartments nearby. The Kraken offers you a deal, and of course you take it. You build (or retain) lots of parking, because that too seems low risk. It is how the vast majority of people get to your property, so it isn’t crazy to assume that it is still important. Link represents a major improvement, but from a transit standpoint, Northgate had good transit before it (much better than average). It may be easier than ever to use transit to get to the property, but it is still easy to drive to (being right next to the freeway).

        I can’t help but think that the fact that one company owns so much land contributes to the timid, conservative nature of the development.

    2. I’m afraid that is the nature of malls. The Northgate Mall area will improve dramatically in a few years. There will be a lot more housing, and it will be much easier to walk around the area, as they open up the streets. When you look at the pictures ( it looks pretty urban. But when you look closely, you notice a lot of parking, and big open space. It looks like … the U-Village. Walking around the U-Village is fine, but if you walk through the U-Village, you realize how much land it taken up by parking. Not only the big parking garage, but surface parking as well (

      In both cases, the city has grown around it. All the apartments are nearby, and the mall itself becomes a bit of a weak point (like Bell Square). It is nothing like Capitol Hill, Ballard, Roosevelt/Green Lake, which have both retail and apartments mixing organically, and with a lot of density.

      They could have put the station on 5th, in the heart of Northgate (or at least the heart of the Northgate apartments) but that would have cost a lot more money, and would have put it farther away from the college. It would be a lot better for buses, be a lot closer to more apartments, but it would still be dependent on mall redevelopment.

      The other weakness are the big parking lots with the clinics in the area. Hopefully over time these will be redeveloped. It is easy to look at the mall and say it is waste, but for now, the biggest waste is close to the station, on the other side of 100th.

    3. Private parking lots are not a waste. Cars fund transit, and many other things. And, property taxes are paid on private parking lot parcels. The same can’t be said for public parking lots. The Overlake P&R used to be one, big flat parking lot. About 25-30 years ago, a 300+ unit apt building was built over it. It might a KCHA project. I’m not sure. How come apartments haven’t been built over other parking lots, like the one on the south side of Husky Stadium, or over the TIBS lot? It seems like they’d be idea locations for it. If you people want to bray about undeveloped parking lots, start there. You get a twofer. Not only are they undeveloped, they aren’t taxed.

      1. Parking lots aren’t very valuable. An apartment building is worth more money. So if they build an apartment building, the government will gain more tax revenue.

        Gasoline is subsidized in this country, so the idea that cars fund transit is a big stretch.

        But yeah, the public parking lots are a huge waste. Just like the private ones. In the case of the UW, it makes them money (just like Simon makes money from theirs, directly or indirectly). Major public universities operate like businesses, to a point. It is rather absurd. They can make money off their parking lots — often charging market rates — but if they tried to add market rate housing, they would likely see complaints. I would love to see a developer push the issue though, and offer to build some apartments there.

        In the case of the Northgate parking lot, I believe there was some legal requirement to keep them — again, in relation to the property Simon owns. In the case of most of the (public) park and ride lots, they were encouraged by the community — again, a big waste.

      2. Car infrastructure takes more subsidies and has more negative impacts on society than the amount cars raise for transit.

        Overlake P&R, are you talking about the one at 24th, 40th, or 51st? I didn’t follow the one at 24th closely since it was built near the end of my time living in Bellevue, but it would have been a 2-story building in keeping with the time? So the kind of building that needs to be redeveloped.

        The Husky Stadium lots are owned by the university, as you well know. Sound Transit can’t wave a wand and order the university to build housing there. And it’s on top of a toxic waste dump so that would require a large cleanup budget. But the university has a master plan to build classrooms all over the Montlake parking lots, it will just take years to fulfill one building at a time.

        TIB and South Bellevue were designed for potential conversion to future housing I’ve heard a couple times.

      3. The giant parking lot to the north of Husky Stadium, the one that stretches toward University Village, and that J.P. Patches used to be the Mayor of, I know used to be a landfill. I was talking about the smaller parking lot to the south of the stadium, next to the climbing rocks. I don’t believe that was ever a landfill. If it was a landfill, my bad. If it wasn’t a landfill, it’d be a great place for some apartments.

        Oh, and I just remember another Metro P&R property that was turned into apts. Right across from the Redmond TC. Now it’s a large 6 story apt building called Veloce, but, back before about 2000, it was a parking lot that was part of what I believe back then was called the Redmond P&R.

      4. What all has been happening at 24th? I know the Safeway and ex-Sears lots well, and the strip mall east of Sears, and on 164th the office building with the huge lawn and across from it Trader Joe’s (which used to be a small Safeway, then Uwajimaya), but I’m fuzzy on where exactly the P&R, Group Health, and the Overlake Village apartments were — I think a block or two east of Safeway — and when they were built or torn down. I’m assuming the Link station is at the P&R, no?

      5. The Overlake P&R, the old Group Health, and the Overlake Village Station, are all north of where the old Uwajimaya was. The Overlake Village Station is in an awful location, tucked into the corner of a road on one side, and 520 is on its backside. I do think it will be a popular station, however, due to all the apts, Microsoft, the continuous growth of that area, and it’s the closest station to Crossroads. The Group Health property is now a massive apartment village called Esterra. Here’s an old arial photo of it.

    4. Simon is no dummy. They have a few (but not many) TODs next to rail stations that are less suburban. The economics of retail real estate is very nuanced and unique to each site — and the range of Simon projects around the US reflects this. I think their weakness is with residential projects, but residential development partners could lead that effort.

      Much of Northgate is not yet redeveloped. It will look different by 2030 and plans with the City demonstrate this.

      I’ll be interested to see what changes. I’m expecting to see more hotels because it seems well-situated for serving UW fans and opposing teams. I’m expecting more neighborhood things like a return of ground-level restaurants. I’m not expecting the many planned office buildings to be so popular and would not be surprised if Simon eventually changes those plans to residential or hotels in response to the market.

      The one thing that I think Simon missed is not creating a new signature “Main Street” through Northgate. Neighborhood main streets are very popular in our region and would have attracted visitors from across the region. In that sense, I’m very disappointed in Simon’s plans.

      1. “Simon is no dummy.”

        How can you justify a two-story single-use building at the core of what’s clearly an emerging urban neighborhood? It’s not Southcenter, for crissakes. People without cars go to Northgate because it’s easier to get to and closer to central Seattle and the 45th corridor than any other mall. Couldn’t it have designed the building for at least a future possibility of apartments above? Is the Kraken and ice skating really so important it should have a two-story building with nothing above, in the center of an urban neighborhood?

      2. I go back to what I wrote earlier. No, Simon is not being stupid, they are simply being conservative, because they have so much land. If they built 50,000 new units (quite possible with that much land) and it all went south they would be in deep trouble. Simply building the apartments could collapse the market.

        This wouldn’t be an issue if they owned a normal lot — even a big normal lot. You build a 300 unit apartment. Then six months later, someone builds another 300 unit apartment. Simon doesn’t take that approach, because it gets them nothing. They need all of the property to look good — they don’t want the constant churn that has occurred on the other side of 5th. So they go with a “new mall” style, but ultimately, it is way less than what they could build. It will be a huge improvement, both in terms of walking, but also in terms of density. It just isn’t what would have been built if the property was split up, and the street grid rebuilt. For that, you just need to look across the street, on the other side of 5th.

      3. @Al S. “I think Simon missed … not creating a new signature “Main Street” through Northgate”
        @ross “they are simply being conservative”

        I agree . They may avoid losing money by not making more risky bets, but I’m quite disappointed as a shopper/diner/customer.

        In contrast, I am definitely more inspired by Alderwood Mall (Brookfield Properties), taking risks years before they get a nearby Link station. They are currently building multiple 6-story residential buildings over parking spaces. Also, many years ago they had already rebuilt the north side to what can be charitably described as an open-air ‘Main Street”. Of course, they could build even more density and variety, but they are already way ahead than Simon in proactively addressing housing needs and public space preferences.

        Northgate Mall at this stage still seems too focused on the idea of “anchor” tenants, when they could have diversified their revenue sources by having in-demand housing units built in time for the Link station opening. Unless they take more risks, they are definitely headed to become just one of the north-end Link stations – just another park and ride/transit center, nothing special, as mentioned by other commenters in this blog.

      4. [Alderwood Mall owners] Tare currently building multiple 6-story residential buildings over parking spaces.

        So is Simon. Look at that previous link — lots of apartments. It is just that when all is said and done, it won’t look like Ballard (where there are apartments every block) or have the density of even a low-rise neighborhood (like Brooklyn or Montreal). My guess is Alderwood will look a lot like Northgate which will look a lot like U-Village, and so on. They all will have some six story apartment buildings, along with relatively nice walking paths through retail areas. It is only when you zoom out that you realize that so much of it is still parking and there is a lot of open space between those apartment buildings. Nowhere near what exists now (or what existed in the past) but still a lot of parking.

  5. I wish East Link’s 130th station was a little bit further east, and not located so close to 120th station. Closer to 136th and Northup would be good.

    Microsoft’s Redmond Technology station pedestrian bridge, while impressive, looks like will be of use to only MS employees. “But, Sam, all the people from the 520 trail will also use the ped bridge!” What people? Nobody uses the 520 trail except a few bicyclists.

    1. I conceptually agree that the station would appear to be better located at the Northrup crossing. Not only is it only about 1/2 mile from 120th, but it’s kind of far from the next station at 152nd and 520.

      I would however not want to second-guess the siting decision made after years of consideration. Of course, ST has a way of prematurely locking in decisions on station siting early — before enough analysis is performed.

      I’d be curious to learn how that station site was chosen.

    2. 136th & Northup would be a good place for a future station. Unfortunately the way the alignment curves, crosses Northup at grade and then starts up a steep grade along with being in the center of Spring Blvd means that would be extremely difficult (expensive) to add. Right now and for the foreseeable future the only thing there are new car dealerships. The Chevy dealer just relocated there from old “Auto Row” on 116th and the owner combined the site with his GMC dealership that was in Totem Lake.

      130th is a P&R so location isn’t that important but it sits between 130th and 132nd which are both N S connectors to NE 8th. The next one east is 140th which link crosses on a high bridge. Also 132/134th is a N/S connector to Old Redmond Rd.

      The site was a 2 fer because it has double as a construction staging area. What better place for a P&R than a sea of auto body collision repair shops! That is, the land is still relatively cheap. It will be an easy walk to the new apartment going up on 20th. All of the other large parcels that have have self storage on them now are ripe for development. Development north of Link on 116th and 120 is limited by the two bus bases and the E-OMF. Maybe someday they’d do what they did at S Kirkland and build affordable housing.

    3. “Nobody uses the 520 trail except a few bicyclists.”

      That’s what it’s for. And the trail may get more use as the trail+transit network gets more built up and construction ends. The Sammamish River Trail and the Cross-Kirkland Connector get a lot of use on a good day, and the CKC is a viable urban corridor for trips between north and south Kirkland and Bellevue with no car intersections. The 520 trail could similarly be well-used between Redmond and Bellevue, connecting to the Redmond trails.

    4. “Nobody uses the 520 trail except a few bicyclists”.

      The bike counter contradicts that assertion. Apparently as many as 1775 cyclists have used the trail per day in the last few months, and that’s not counting pedestrians.

      IIRC it’s also intended for emergency vehicle access in case the freeway is blocked by an incident.

  6. It sure would have been convenient if they had put pedestrian tunnels under 110th to connect the Bellevue Link station with the buses at the transit center. I think drivers are going to get really annoyed at all the pedestrian traffic as frequent beg button activation will reduce the light cycle for through traffic.

    1. It’s like no one learned from the Mt Baker Station problem (where the bus transfers were almost all across the street from the station)!

      In fairness, I don’t think there would have been room between the Link tunnel top and 110th St NE surface.

      Still, I will be curious to see how many people will jaywalk across the intersection — and how many will get injured or killed running for a bus.

    2. Link riders in dt Seattle have to emerge from tunnel stations and cross streets to catch buses. The walk from Bellevue Station to the BTC is no different.

      1. While there are similarities to Downtown Seattle, there are some notable differences.

        1. The pedestrians will be concentrated at a single wide intersection in Downtown Bellevue as opposed to dispersed like Downtown Seattle. Plus, almost all intersections in Downtown Seattle have at least one street one-way (many with both) and that means way less opportunity for turning movement conflicts.

        2. Many Downtown Seattle bus stops are on the same block face as a Link station entrance. In Downtown Bellevue, every bus rider appears to need to cross the street.

        3. Honestly, Bellevue drivers seem to drive faster than Seattle drivers. That increases pedestrian risks.

        Ultimately, I see Bellevue treating 110th as more of a local street or creating a 110th-108th one-way pair. It’s going to be quite hard to keep drop-offs from occurring there at levels not seen at BTC. As Bellevue gradually becomes less concerned with traffic throughput, I expect an increased interest in making 110th more for local access.

      2. Drivers will adapt. When they realize that 110th is no longer the speedway it used to be they’ll divert elsewhere

      3. And downtown Seattle is a much larger neighborhood than downtown Bellevue, with many more destinations that riders are going to instead of transferring.

      4. Not only does downtown Seattle have more destinations, but the intersections are timed with the idea that people will cross the street in large numbers.

        Bellevue assumes pedestrians only exist in ones or twos, not a train of 200 all trying to cross the street at once.

        The two or three times I’ve been to Bellevue, there were perhaps a dozen or so people total that I encountered on the sidewalks, and that includes walking over to the art museum and Downtown Park.

        There’s virtually nothing east of the light rail station. It’s only one block to the freeway and it serves as a wall to anything further east. The only thing on the station block is city hall, with a parking lot serving only city hall. So everyone getting off the train is going to want to head to one single exit and cross a street, because there’s simply virtually nothing that will attract riders in any other direction.

        It’s like Mt Baker, only move every other nearby business to the Mt Baker transit center side, and wall off half of the Link station side with a freeway half a block away. Then, terminate the 7, 36, 106 and a few other routes there so that to get to Seattle you have to transfer to Link, so that everyone now has to cross the street. You now have a wad of about 200 Link passengers all arriving at once and all trying to cross the street at once to get to their bus, or other destination.

        The other direction is more dispersed though.

      5. It’s a nice explanation, Glenn. Add to that the effect of Stride, which would be like ending I-90 or I-5 express buses to the Mt Baker Transit Center and adding that to the congestion.

        Surely the effect of huge rider surges will change the character of that intersection. Add to that drop offs and pick ups, as Mt Baker Station has side streets for that and Bellevue Downtown Station does not. In particular, a couple can drive together on the 405 HOV lanes and get off at NE 6th so one of them can hop out at Bellevue Downtown Station (and reverse that later in the day).

        My prediction: The City of Bellevue will have no choice but to react to this because ignoring it will result in pedestrian injuries and probably some fatalities after 2 Line opens. They’ll have a big community meeting a year or two after the opening to discuss what to do. The most incrementally acceptable solution will be to rethink 110th to discourage through auto traffic (as a grid, driver street choices are easier to shift than in a funneled network). Through it all, the staff and commissions will claim that the magnitude of the problem wasn’t really foreseen (never mind that it was identified here by me and a few others several years ago).

        Fortunately, I don’t believe that such a major intersection crossing with this volume of transferring riders is going to result at any other upcoming Link station — although it could certainly happen with Ballard or West Seattle or at some end stations that have not yet been fully sketched out. Many other stations now planned or under construction will better forethought and have bus plazas or curbs adjacent to the stairs and escalators without forcing transferring riders to cross intersections with lots of traffic.

      6. I would expect the city of Bellevue to treat the 6th & 110th intersection just like the treat the 6th and 108th intersection today, with a frequent, all-direction pedestrian scramble, probably from day 1.

        Neither 108 or 110th are ‘speedways.’ 112th is the arterial.

  7. Question for Tim. Even though we can look at existing aerial photos, or satellite maps (which tend to be out of date), is there anything you learned by flying around the station areas that you didn’t realize before?

  8. I noticed that the 185th station is going to be in a trench, which is rare for our system. It also has a transit center above the parking garage, which I think is unique (in the area). Does anyone know how far down it will be from the bus stop to the train stop? In other words, how many stories is the parking garage?

    I also wonder if they will add bus stops on 185th, close to the station, or whether they will send the buses looping in and out of the station. It doesn’t matter for Swift (which will terminate there) but for a bus like the 348, it would be nice to avoid the detour.

    1. Mercer Island’s light rail station is essentially a trench between the east-west lanes of I-90. It has the advantages of underground stations (out of sight) but for some ST feels it has to build 30’ entrances at street level, and ST architecture is cheap and cheesy. This could be a solution for WSBLE. Cut and cover without the cover.

      Ideally MI gets a lid over I-90 and the station, although ST claims that is WSDOT’s responsibility. If our former mayor hadn’t signed off on our SEPA permits without a written mitigation agreement we would have a lid, and a lot more, because there is only one Island in Lake Washington between Seattle and Bellevue.

      I had hoped the intercept would be an opportunity for further mitigation like a lid and SOV access westbound from ICW, but now that the intercept on MI will have less intensity than MI originally agreed to I am not sure. Many think cross lake peak travel will decline significantly, and Issaquah will likely demand some express buses to Seattle like the 630. Plus most think that when buses no longer cross the bridge span the HOV lanes will convert to general purpose lanes.

    2. “If our former mayor hadn’t signed off on our SEPA permits without a written mitigation agreement we would have a lid”

      Talk about a Christmas-tree scramble and asking for the moon. At some point ST could claim eminent domain and siting an essential service. And you wonder why light rail is so expensive to build?

      1. Well the UW got $70 million because it claimed Link would damage its experiments. N. King Co. got tunnels from Sodo to Northgate. Bellevue got a 1500 stall park and ride and $35 million in cash. WSBLE is estimated to cost $12+ billion. Bellevue got a $:300 million tunnel and dumped Link on 112th like an orphan. Issaquah got a $4.5 billion line.

        Meanwhile N, King Co. spent a fortune building the spine to nowhere and skimped on intra-city urban rail. Talk about fools: $131 billion and no stations at First Hill or SLU. I take it transit advocates were asleep at the wheel when those decisions were made. Maybe MI’s mayor was in charge of those tragic decisions.

        What are you talking about. ST is a huge slush fund. Obviously you don’t understand SEPA or mitigation for siting an essential public facility.

        Right. SOV access from ICW or a lid over the light rail station and I-90 would have broken the bank. Or just the $40 million westbound I-90 ramp promised in 2010.

        We never wanted light rail. East Link will be a dud on the Eastside, and was going to be pre-pandemic. Total waste of money by a bunch of ideologues who don’t have a clue about East King Co.

        Let’s see what happens when reduced ridership pushes one way trips on Link to $6 and then $10 because the operations budget is based on fantastical ridership estimates.

        I don’t think many on this blog understand the operations budget — whose assumptions are as dishonest as project cost estimates — is the real issue.

        Reduced ridership means ST 4 or an operations levy won’t pass. Because who cares about transit if commuters are not riding it. At that point you reduce frequency or raise fares.

        Link is predicated on a 40% recovery rate, based on unrealistic ridership estimates pre-pandemic. Let’s see how Link riders feel about $8 one way fares,or 30 minute frequencies.

        Operations is the Achilles heel while everyone has chased dishonest project cost estimates, and some Link trains are starting to get a little long in the truth.

        The pandemic solved MI’s intercept problem, and the HOV lanes on I-90 will become general purpose lanes — or better yet HOT lanes— when East Link opens. MI will be ok, but better focus on that operations budget. Fares will have to go way up without an operations levy, which has no chance in East King Co because everyone hates ST. B

      2. North King also got 7 miles of surface track in a median strip. Maybe Mercer Island should have a nice, easy surface only bus + light rail station so people can also walk across a platform?

        It should be noted that the tunnel in North King carries passengers going to/from a bunch of different subarea combinations. The Mercer Island lid that you apparently envision would serve no functional purpose, except ornamental and would only fulfill that purpose should Mercer Island ever permit tall buildings that would have a downward view onto the platforms.

      3. I take it transit advocates were asleep at the wheel when those decisions were made.

        You lying POS, “transit advocates” were begging SoundTransit to keep the station in U-Link and wore out the knees in their leggings from begging ST and WSDOT (the prime opponent) to include a First Hill station in ST3.

        It’s obvious you have hated transit supporters since your very first post.

        Frank, since this troll won’t go away, please give us a “Block” button.

      4. “UW got $70 million because it claimed Link would damage its experiments.”

        I hadn’t heard that UW got any money for that. It simply nixed alignment alternatives closest to the instruments. And seismic monitoring is an essential service for all of us in an earthquake-prone region.

        “N. King Co. got tunnels from Sodo to Northgate.”

        Um, no, and not all of the tunnel segments were mitigation giveaways.

        SODO-Intl Dist: there is no tunnel. Some ST3 alternatives may have a tunnel but none is decisively approved.

        Intl Dist-Westlake: the tunnel was built in the 1980s before Sound Transit existed.

        Westlake-63rd: A tunnel was necessary due the hills, Ship Canal, lack of space for aboveground right of way, high passenger volumes as witnessed on the existing express buses, and necessity of serving Broadway and University Way (which an I-5 alignment wouldn’t have done).

        63rd-93rd: Two factors are in play here. One, Roosevelt wanted a tunnel. That’s Christmas-tree item. Two, Roosevelt agreed to a station at its center. That’s a transit best practice, and improves the justification for the alignment and line, so that subtracts from any mitigation extra. Three, later engineering found it was less expensive to extend the tunnel to 93rd than to go up and down and weave around I-5, so that may have negated the entire cost of the tunnel.

        “WSBLE is estimated to cost $12+ billion.”

        An alignment has not been chosen yet so it’s unclear how much it will cost or how much of it is mitigation.

        “Bellevue got a $:300 million tunnel”

        Bellevue paid for half the tunnel. The other half came from reductions in the Spring District and south Redmond (where Link was lowered from elevated to surface), and from North King taking on the cost of Judkins Park Station and the segment west of it. None of this is extra mitigation money.

        “and dumped Link on 112th like an orphan. Issaquah got a $4.5 billion line.”

        I don’t see what either of those have to do with mitigation.

      5. And, “Yes”, I’m certain that many of you will block me, too. A small price to pay.

      6. Everybody missed SLU. The city was talking about 400′ highrises there in the 1990s and throughout the 2000s but nobody connected that with the need for a high-capacity transit station there. They acted like the streetcar and 70 were adequate. Then Metro scrambled to get the C, 17X, 40, and 62 there to meet demand. Then finally in January 2016 SDOT said, “Oh, we need a Link station there” — which should have been obvious all along. But neither the city, nor Sound Transit, nor SDOT, nor the county, nor transit activists noticed it until then.

      7. Tom, when I referenced transit advocates I meant folks in the decision making chain. Not folks like Mark Dublin commenting on this blog at the time.

        I don’t “hate” transit. Who has that kind of emotion for transit. I think light rail as planned is grossly overpriced and ST has not been honest in any of its levies. Don’t forget, a year ago you were accusing me of fear mongering because I said I didn’t see how ST project costs could be covered by the levy revenue, and from my view the Eastside feeder restructure would not emphasize Mercer Island or Seattle.

        If just the revenue from the “realignment” ($35 BILLION through 2044) had been allocated to other uses we could have solved homelessness, built stations at 130th and Graham St., real affordable housing for the 30% to 50% AMI folks, redone all of Seattle’s bridges, completed the convention center remodel, and still have $20 billion left over.

        I am going to give you two more hard truths:

        1. The realignment won’t solve ST 3’s funding deficits, because project costs rise faster during each year of extension than the revenue realized.

        2. Farebox recovery won’t cover operations. 40% is too high when reduced ridership and full fare commuters are factored in.

        Does reality and viewing ST’s estimates and assumptions through non-rose colored glasses mean I hate transit. No. It means I think we paid way too much for what we got, there is no coordinated thought between urban and commuter rail in the design, and the pandemic will exacerbate those factors.

        If I could offer you advice it is don’t fall in love with transit. Transit is just a tool, so judge it based on its costs and design.

    3. The latest plans for Shoreline North that I can find are in this presentation from 2018:

      They may have been scaled back since that was when the designs were modified to reduce costs. Buses will pull onto the bus deck, and riders appear to have about 40 steps down to/ up from the platform and they won’t need to cross a street. (I note the missing escalators.)

      Several other new stations under construction will feel somewhat “trenched” on one side similar to Shoreline North including East Main, Spring District/ 120th, 272nd and SE Redmond. That’s on top of Judkins Park and Mercer Island median stations in a partially trenched I-90.

  9. @ross I think the train will be roughly one floor (maybe 15ft)
    below the street and bus platforms. The accessibility is one of the few things that’s nice about the station, a consolation amid the freeway noise and giant garage. The garage seemed like 3 stories, with maybe 1 or 2 stories below the train.

    I think there will be space for a bus stop in the SE corner of the N 185th bridge, where a very tiny park is also planned. I assume local buses will use that and not have to enter the bus transit platform.

    1. Thanks. I found some documents about the station, but couldn’t get the details. Some of them were out of date, back when the plan was to put the park and ride on the other side. This one is up to date, but didn’t have details about the parking lot, nor the street:

      It is an interesting design; I really like the way they combine the parking garage with the transit center.

      1. How did you type in the URL link to not appear as a long nasty string? Was it like (link text)[url]?

  10. These pictures capture a very important period in the development in transit in the region. I think most people — myself included — think that the smallest possible rail line in Seattle would go from 45th in the U-District to downtown. This what I would call the core. We didn’t complete that core until this month. As a bonus, we got two very good stations: Roosevelt and Northgate.

    By 2024, we will have an avalanche of new, significant improvements. By then we will have Federal Way Link, East Link and Lynnwood Link (including the additional stations). We will have our first clear, obvious BRT line, in RapidRide G. Yes, other bus routes approximate BRT, but nothing will have the frequency, nor the ridership per mile, nor the improvement in all-day speeds along that corridor that this will. There will be frequent regional bus service along SR 522 and I-405 (although this might be delayed a year). By 2025, transit in the region will improve significantly, especially if Metro can overcome the funding shortfalls.

    But then … not much, really. Not for a really long time. Even then, the changes are rather minor, in the grand scheme of things. Everett Link, Tacoma Link — these will save a few people some time, but nothing like what we will have completed by 2025 — even for people in Everett and Tacoma. Same with West Seattle Link. In the middle of the day, it is faster to take Link from Northgate to Capitol Hill than to drive. Prior to Link, it was the opposite. Nothing like that exists for West Seattle Link. When that project is done, it will be easier to get to … SoDo? Sorry, but that is not the same.

    It isn’t until Ballard Link that we get something big — something like the changes that are occurring during this relatively short period. Even then, it doesn’t quite measure up. Because of Northgate Link, it is much faster for me to get to the second most popular destination in the city (the UW). But those in Ballard — even those lucky enough to live close to the station — won’t get that. Trips to Ballard will still involve the 44, which hopefully will be running a bit faster by then. Transit will be better for Ballard, but none of the changes are dramatic. They already have a bus to Uptown, as well as a different bus that goes to South Lake Union. Both cover more of Ballard, the latter going right through the heart of it. By then both should be faster, and hopefully more frequent. Northgate Link also works well in bringing in riders from both sides. Because of Northgate Link, Greenwood to Capitol Hill just got a lot faster as did Sand Point to Capitol Hill (and downtown). Ballard Link will have little of that. No one is going to take a bus from Fremont to Ballard to hop onto Link, unless they are headed to Uptown, and even then, a bus combination might work better. Likewise, Northgate to Ballard got a lot better with Northgate Link; it won’t improve at all with Ballard Link.

    To be clear, I think Ballard Link is a worthy project, that will save a lot of people time. But it will be years before it comes here, and it won’t have the sort of effect that the changes going on now will have.

    1. “No one is going to take a bus from Fremont to Ballard to hop onto Link…” That’s an odd example. No one will take a bus from Fremont to U District just to access Link either, unless the are heading to Northgate or perhaps Cap Hill. Fremont is very close to downtown so the 40 will always be the best way for Fremont to access the broader region.

      Also, I’m not really sure what you are bemoaning. I think it is rather impressive that 2022~2026 is going to realize both the long-term achievements of ST2 and the early wins of the ST3 program. But once the early wins of ST3 are on the board, without another investment package, by definition all that is left are major projects with long timelines. The fact ‘nothing’ is occurring for a decade is a simple function of their being no ST vote between 2008 and 2016.

      You think Tacoma Dome link is hot garage, so let’s set that aside. Things that may occur before Ballard Link that we can get excited about:

      1) Graham Street – you are a huge advocate of this infill station, and it looks like it will occur well before Ballard Link
      2) 130th station – perhaps should be viewed as a part of the 2021-2026 wave, but in your framing this is the next transformative opening post ST2 build out
      3) OMF south opening. This will provide ST with the fleet to improve upon ST2 operating capacity, perhaps allowing ST to boost frequency in certain segments.
      4) Improved Sounder frequency. Timing is unclear (might be after Ballard Link), but Sounder going from 20 minute to 15 minute headways is a big win. For someone who is aghast when Link runs at 10 minute headways, I think you’d appreciate the improvement of bidirectional frequency on Sounder from 20 to 15 minutes.
      5) Link station at Mariner. A direct connection between Link and the 3rd Swift line strikes me as transformative for travel within Snohomish.
      6) Link station(s) at 99/Evergreen. Swift 1 will have a direct connection to Link at 185th, but providing multiple direct connections much further north should greatly enhance transit along the Swift corridor and transform the central part of that corridor. I wager the station at 99/Airport road will open prior to Ballard Link, due to the need to get OMF-North online prior to Ballard Link completion.

      And finally, the WS Link stub may be transformative if the WS car bridge is decommissioned prior to Ballard Link opening.

      1. I think for the things that you could say about Tacoma Dome link extension, my main hope is that Pierce Transit gets its act together by the time the extension rolls around. Lived in Pierce for more than 20+ years and PT has been in an aimless lack of vision funk since the 08 recession in what kind of transit system it wants to be. It wants to be both suburban service for Lakewood and Puyallup and then urban service for Tacoma while failing at both. Though I think it might take some better leadership from municipalities and the county in general to fix the mess that is PT.

    2. “No one is going to take a bus from Fremont to Ballard to hop onto Link…”
      No one will take a bus from Fremont to U District just to access Link either, unless the are heading to Northgate or perhaps Capitol Hill.

      I think you are missing the point. All along the entire route, Northgate pulls along trips from the east and west, to major destinations. The whole idea that Fremont riders — closer to Ballard Link than Northgate Link — would take Northgate for more trips shows how much stronger Northgate Link is. I don’t live particularly close to Northgate, or any of the other stations, and yet my life has changed dramatically. Even during a clear downturn in Metro service, my transit life is much better. I know that I can walk over to 15th NE, and catch *any* bus south. 347/348, 73 — they all work. Prior to this, only the infrequent 73 was useful. Oh, and if I really want high frequency, I can walk up to 130th, and catch the 75. All buses go to Link, and all buses make sense for me. This includes (but is not limited to) trips to downtown, UW, Roosevelt, Capitol Hill, Wallingford, and yes, even Fremont.

      Even getting to Ballard is better, and yet, Ballard Link won’t make any difference at all. From anywhere in the north end — from the UW to Everett — Ballard Link is largely irrelevant. Uptown will be easier, but the monorail works pretty well. The stops in South Lake Union will be OK, but it is so short that a bus would work fine. That leaves Interbay. Whoopee.

      Consider Wallingford. Folks in Wallingford now take the 44, for practically everything. Northgate, UW, downtown, Capitol Hill, you name it. As a result, that bus becomes even more popular which should lead to even more frequency.

      Ballard just doesn’t have the same catchment. Fremont should be to Ballard Link, as Wallingford is to Northgate Link. But it isn’t. The geography is all wrong, and the stations in between are much weaker. The biggest destination between Ballard and Uptown — a distance well over 3 miles — is Interbay.

      Fremont isn’t the only problem. Consider Phinney Ridge, which sits literally 1 mile east of the Ballard Station. So is Phinney Ridge the equivalent of Wallingford for Ballard Link? No. It isn’t connected, and can’t be very easily. Same with the top of Queen Anne Hill. This is definitely a place where lots of people want to go, and yet if you are going from Ballard to the top of Queen Anne, you have to go through Lower Queen Anne, or some combination involving Nickerson. Fundamentally, it isn’t that different than what you do today.

      Under the first Northgate restructure, Metro was going to run a bus from Sunset Hill to Northgate. It is easy to imagine someone taking that bus the entire way (from the far northwest side of Seattle to Northgate) and then transferring to Link, to get to major destinations (UW, Capitol Hill). It is hard to imagine the equivalent with Ballard Link.

      And yet, this is by far the next big thing that will happen after 2025, even though it won’t happen for 20 years. 2025 will represent the end of a golden era in mass transit for the region. Everything else will involve smaller changes (some relatively cheap, some not).

      Lynnwood Link will be a bigger deal to Everett than Everett Link. Federal Way Link will be a bigger deal to Tacoma than Tacoma Dome Link. East Link is a bigger deal for Issaquah than Issaquah Link. Ballard Link will be a bigger deal for Ballard than Northgate/Lynnwood Link — but not by that much. The fact that isn’t huge just shows how things have changed. It is not that there won’t be some nice additions, it is just that they will be relatively small. Looking at your list, it is quite possible that bus improvements (e. g. a faster 44) will benefit more people.

  11. I walked by the future 130th Station station today. Would have been very nice to be able to just hop on a train, right from there. Instead, I had to walk to the nearest #75 bus stop, wait for the bus and ride it to Northgate, making the trip a good 20 minutes longer.

    Also, as I crossed I-5, the pedestrian environment was a big disappointment. Those slip lanes to turn right onto I-5 are very anti-pedestrian, and many drivers are pre-occupied about merging on the freeway and seeing how fast their car can accelerate down the ramp, to the point where they don’t bother looking for pedestrians. There is a dog park at 130th Station, just to the west of I-5. It would be nice if the path between the station and the park were just a little bit more dog friendly. Wider sidewalks and sharper right turns for cars would help a lot in this regard.

    1. Interesting. I’ve wondered if I-5 should have a small kid north of 130th for both pedestrians and bus stops. Would that be worth the cost?

      1. A lid is probably excessive, but in addition to a better bike/ped experience on the 130th bridge (SDOT staff is recommending narrowing the car lanes to make space for a shared use path), I think it might be a good investment to build a bike/ped bridge that interfaces with the northern end of 130th station (at 133rd?), simillar to the ped bridge to be build at 148th.

        I could also see a ped bridge at 125th get wrapped into a 130th Station access fund, but that didn’t even make it on to the initial project list by SDOT.

    2. The city is working on it — I’ve attended a few planning meetings. This is a pretty good rundown:

      There are a number of very good projects. For example on page 49, it proposes a pedestrian/bike overpass, on the north side of 130th. It also adds “If sidewalk improvements are made on the south side of the NE 130th St Overpass, improve pedestrian crossing at the southbound I-5 on-ramp.” Given the station is entirely north of 130th, that doesn’t seem necessary. All you would need is a wider pathway on the north side, along with a crossing on First (adjacent to Northacres Park, which has the dog park).

      While a lot of the projects are geared towards better pedestrian and bike access, it is clear from the document that SDOT recognizes the importance of connecting buses (e. g. “More than half of the Sound Transit riders at
      the future NE 130th St Station are projected to arrive by bus”). It also lists a map showing a Metro bus route with ten minute frequency, along the 125th/130th corridor from Aurora to Lake City (with arrows on both ends).

      To me, this suggests that while there will be pedestrian/bike improvements, they won’t screw up traffic for buses.

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