Help Everett Develop Downtown Zoning and Long-Range Transit Plans

A proposed design for the Downtown Everett light rail station and nearby development (City of Everett)

The City of Everett is looking to join the wave of cities absorbing our ever-exploding population growth by writing two key long-range plans over the coming months, one for downtown land use and one for citywide transit.

The “Metro Everett” plan, which will try to accommodate an expected 60,000 new residents and 40,000 new employees in Everett, has reached the draft options stage and the city is considering several options. The recommended plan entails simplifying the zoning system to favor multi-family housing and mixed-use commercial, raising height limits in the downtown area, and softening parking minimums to encourage non-driving uses. The plan is also preparing for significant changes in the Everett Station area, where Link service will terminate in 2036, adding to existing station area plans adopted by the city a decade ago.

An open house on Tuesday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at the Everett Performing Arts Center (Colby & Everett; routes 3, 17, and 29) will have more details, including the draft plan and potential changes to the Everett Station area, as well as city staffers and a chance for the public to provide written feedback.

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An Everett Transit bus in downtown Everett

Everett Transit will be seeking input throughout most of June to help form a Long Range Plan to guide the municipal bus system over the next 20 years. Through June 22, an online open house will allow the public to view materials related to the plan and take a survey on their transit use around Everett. The Long Range Plan, to be adopted in early 2018 by the City Council, will establish service standards and consider emerging technologies like electric battery buses (a few of which Everett are slated to receive soon) and partnerships with rideshare companies.

There will be a series of in-person sessions next week near three of Everett’s main transit centers.

Everett Station (Visioning Workshop)
Thursday, June 8, 6 to 8 p.m. (Presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.)
3201 Smith Avenue – Weyerhaeuser Room, 4th Floor (Most Everett Transit routes; Community Transit Swift and 201/202; Sound Transit 510/512 and Sounder commuter rail)

Everett Mall (Drop-In Session)
Saturday, June 10, 4 to 6 p.m.
1402 SE Everett Mall Way – Near Massage Envy (Everett Transit routes 2, 7, 12, 17, and 29)

Everett Community College (Drop-In Session)
Monday, June 12, 12 to 2 p.m.
2000 Tower Street – Gray Wolf Hall, Lobby (Everett Transit routes 7, 17, and 29; Community Transit 201/202)

Community Transit Kicks Off Swift Green Line Construction

A shelter at Seaway Transit Center (courtesy of Community Transit)

Community Transit has begun construction of the Seaway Transit Center in Everett, the northern terminus of the planned Swift Green Line bus rapid transit project. The $11 million transit center, funded primarily by WSDOT grants and federal funds, will serve the massive Boeing Everett plant and part of the Paine Field industrial area.

The transit center will be laid out on a triangular plot of land on the southeastern side of Seaway Boulevard and 75th Street SW, at the main entrance to the Boeing plant. It is also near Community Transit’s Merrill Creek operating base and headquarters, as well as other major employers like the Fluke Corporation, though the area isn’t exactly the most walkable or bikeable. Initially, Seaway Transit Center will be built with two bus bays for Swift and five for other buses; the site plan allows for up to a total of thirteen bus bays. After Link light rail is extended to Everett in 2036, Seaway Transit Center could become a major connection between feeder buses to Mukilteo and southern Everett.

Beginning in September of this year, Route 105 will be extended to the Paine Field area from Mariner Park and Ride during peak hours. This will form the basis of a future local, frequent-stopping route that will “shadow” the Green Line much like Route 101 and the Blue Line today. Route 107 will also begin service between Lynnwood Transit Center and the Boeing plant in the same service change, restoring a more convenient link to the South County area.

When the new transit center opens in the summer of 2018, it will be served by Route 105, in addition to other Community Transit, Everett Transit and King County Metro routes that already head to the Boeing plant. The site plan also has spaces for private shuttles, and may become a hub for Boeing’s internal shuttle system much like how Microsoft uses Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.

The rest of the Green Line, which will travel through southern Everett and Mill Creek, won’t begin construction for a few more months. Service is scheduled to begin in early 2019.

Rendering of the new Seaway Transit Center (Community Transit)

Suggest Names and Designs For Tacoma Link’s Newest Stations

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Tacoma Link at Convention Center Station

Sound Transit is asking the public for input on designs and names for seven new light rail stations on Tacoma Link’s Hilltop extension, via this survey. The project is expected to begin construction in 2018 and open for service in 2022, bringing trains every 10 minutes to the MLK Way corridor west of downtown Tacoma.

The survey has two basic canopy styles, developed by project architects Waterleaf (who have experience in streetcar maintenance facilities, including First Hill’s in Chinatown). “Option A” is a simple glass canopy with a separate column for a sign with the station’s name, while “Option B” tacks on the sign on the end of the canopy structure. The final option will have two variants for 60-foot and 100-foot platforms, as seen in the layout documents posted by Sound Transit.

Continue reading “Suggest Names and Designs For Tacoma Link’s Newest Stations”

Help Name Lynnwood Link’s Stations

Mountlake Terrace TC entrance sign
Will Mountlake Terrace still be named as such after 2023?

Even though federal funding for Lynnwood Link is up in the air, Sound Transit is continuing to work on final design of Lynnwood Link and its four stations in Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.

Sound Transit has posted this survey asking the public to help name the stations at NE 145th, NE 185th, Mountlake Terrace TC and Lynnwood TC. The options were selected from over 650 suggestions placed during last November’s design open houses, but there is also a write-in option for other suggestions.

Sound Transit’s criteria for station names was laid out in 2012 and includes the following guidelines:

  • Reflect the nature of the environment: neighborhoods, street names, landmarks and geographic locations.
  • Be brief, easy to read and easy to remember.
  • Avoid commercial references because they may change and prove confusing to the public.
  • Avoid similar names or words in existing facility names.
  • Limited to 30 characters (spaces count).
  • Comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and requirements.

The survey closes on April 5, and a final decision from the Sound Transit Board (who are the final authority in naming stations) is expected in spring or summer of this year.

Community Transit Proposes Next Round of New Service

Community Transit, heading into this weekend with a minor service change to add late night and midday service, is proposing the addition of 21,000 bus hours of service (a 6 percent increase) in September 2017 and March 2018. The service proposal includes new service from Lynnwood to the Boeing Everett plant, as well as extensions and modifications to existing routes to improve connections at transit centers. Both service changes are funded by the 0.3 percent sales tax increase passed by voters in November 2015, which will also fund the next Swift line (between Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mill Creek).

Continue reading “Community Transit Proposes Next Round of New Service”

Pierce Transit Debuts Improved Frequency and Routes on March 12

PT 223 in the Dome District
Route 500 is among several Pierce Transit routes slated for frequency improvements on March 12.

After approving the restoration of 59,000 annual service hours in April of last year, Pierce Transit took a long and hard look at its existing route network, with some help from the public. The result is a service change scheduled for Sunday, March 12, which will affect 31 routes and add 35,000 service hours that were cut during the recession, building upon a service change from September. Some routes will be deleted and replaced with re-aligned routes, while others will see frequency bumps and later weeknight service. To make sense of the overhaul, Pierce Transit has released an interactive map of major changes that can be sorted route-by-route or by the type of service improvement; individual routes also have dashcam videos (example: Route 53), showing the drivers’ view of modified routes.

With Pierce Transit lagging behind peer agencies to the north, and a real need for better transit service to serve Pierce County’s growing population, the change will be yet another leap forward in our regional transit system. Pierce Transit is also jumping on new transit technologies, mostly funded by FTA loans, like rideshare partnerships, on-board Wi-Fi, electric buses, and better security. An additional 10,000 service hours could be added in the September 2017 service change, to complete Pierce Transit’s goal of 59,000 restored service hours in 2016 and 2017.

The full list of changes is below, after the jump.

Continue reading “Pierce Transit Debuts Improved Frequency and Routes on March 12”

Our Subway Plan, Rejected 105 Years Ago

What could have been: A subway from Magnolia Bluff to Madison Park (with a few transfers), among other neighborhoods.

On March 5, 1912, some 40,000 Seattleites filed into voting booths across the city to decide whether its future would be directed by a 273-page comprehensive plan designed by civil engineer Virgil G. Bogue, a practitioner of nationwide “City Beautiful” movement.

The plan was bold and ambitious, fitting for a newly-christened city that was in the middle of a massive period of growth following the Great Fire of 1889 and the Alaska-Pacific-Yukon Exhibition of 1909, capitalizing on recent public works projects by city engineer R. H. Thomson (for whom the R. H. Thomson Expressway was to be named). Thomson’s ongoing regrade of Denny Hill would provide 38 acres of flat land for a grand, European-style civic center in modern-day Belltown. The civic center would feature a central train station (replacing the then-new King Street Station) and a city hall designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, resembling Paris more than New York (with a strict height limit on buildings, advocated for by Bogue).

Continue reading “Our Subway Plan, Rejected 105 Years Ago”

Community Transit Adds Late Night Trips on March 12

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Marysville’s Route 201 will have new late-night trips beginning March 12

Beginning Sunday, March 12, Community Transit will add 40 new weekly trips on 11 routes, increasing late-night service on two major corridors, adding mid-day frequency in Lynnwood and expanding DART paratransit service hours. As we reported last year, the trips will combine for a total of 6,300 hours, and will be followed by a large service change planned for September 2017.

New late-night weekday service is planned for two routes on the Highway 99 corridor (the Swift Blue Line and Route 101), the Marysville area (Routes 201 and 202), and on local service to Mukilteo (Route 113) and Mill Creek (Route 115). New mid-day weekday trips on Routes 119 and 120, both serving the southwestern portion of Snohomish County, will boost all-day frequency from hourly to half-hourly.

Full list of changes after the jump. Continue reading “Community Transit Adds Late Night Trips on March 12”

Sunday Open Thread: Elevators, Escalators and an Explanation

At Friday’s regular board meeting, the Sound Transit Board heard a report about the state of elevators and escalators on the Link light rail system. Some stations, like University of Washington, are not meeting the escalator availability standard because of frequent and long-term outages that is being blamed on premature component failure, among other issues.

This is an open thread.

Sound Transit Breaks Ground on Northgate Station

Northgate Station under construction, Jan. 2017
Cranes are up and parking closed at Northgate, as seen on January 15

Sound Transit broke ground last Friday on Northgate Station, bringing the opening for Northgate Link one day closer (though still four years away). As we’ve reported before on the blog, the station will be elevated above NE 103rd Street on the east side of 1st Avenue NE, just west of the current transit center and southwest of the Northgate Mall.

A 455-stall parking garage, the subject of much controversy, will be built on the north side of NE 103rd Street to replace the existing park and ride. The County plans to build at least 200 affordable housing units on the former park and ride to the east of the station (along with a relocated bus station), as part of a mixed-use development funded in part by the City. SDOT will also build a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5 (funded by Move Seattle) that will extend the station’s walkshed to North Seattle College and surrounding neighborhoods.

Continue reading “Sound Transit Breaks Ground on Northgate Station”

Lynnwood Link Station Design Reaches 30 Percent

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Aerial view of Lynnwood Station, looking southeast (Sound Transit)

Sound Transit has unveiled the first designs for its stations on the Lynnwood Link Extension, a 8.5-mile light rail project that will continue the current line north past Northgate to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. While there were several open houses this week where comments were taken, the public can also use an online open house to look at the stations and submit comments until November 30.

The extension has four stations planned to open in 2023, and two provisional stations that will have accommodations to be built at a later date as infill stations. One of the provisional stations, at NE 130th Street, was included in ST3 and could open in 2031 (or earlier), while the other at 220th Street SW in Mountlake Terrace has not been approved.

In addition to feedback on the station designs, the public is also encouraged to submit station names using the online form or written comment. Continue reading “Lynnwood Link Station Design Reaches 30 Percent”

Across the Nation, Transit Wins on Election Night

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Map of city-level transit measures during the November 8, 2016 elections (CFTE)

While we celebrate a huge victory for transit here in Seattle and lament the result of the presidential race, one must not forget about the plethora of other transportation ballot measures put on by other cities across the country Tuesday night. Out of a total of 48 local and state transit measures, 33 were approved as of Tuesday night (including ST3 and the Kitsap fast ferries measure), a success rate of 71%, and representing over $200 billion in transit investments (the lion’s share of which is taken by Seattle and Los Angeles).

The Transport Politic has an excellent list of measures, results, and a basic summary of what is required for each to pass (and what is in each package). Streetsblog USA has also been going around the country and looking into the measure during the run-up to the election, and each piece is worth a read.

For now, let’s review some of the major measures and others of regional significance here in the Northwest. Continue reading “Across the Nation, Transit Wins on Election Night”

Moving Forward on ST3 – Press Conference & Live Thread

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(Sound Transit)

Beginning at 4 p.m. today, Sound Transit will hold a press conference in the wake of ST3 passing and what next steps the agency will take to expand mass transit in the region. ST will have a Facebook Live stream to watch, and we will be live blogging and live tweeting comments made by Sound Transit Board members, CEO Peter Rogoff, and other officials. Continue reading “Moving Forward on ST3 – Press Conference & Live Thread”

Judkins Park Station: Nexus of Bus Transfers, Bike Trails, and Rock-n-Roll

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Rendering of 23rd Avenue entrance to Judkins Park Station (Sound Transit / Hank Willis Thomas / Authentic Hendrix)

On a quiet Tuesday night last month, Sound Transit held its final design open house for Judkins Park Station, located at the site of the Rainier Freeway Station on Interstate 90. The open house, hosted at the Northwest African American Museum in the Central District, was attended by a few dozen members of the community and regional advocates for transit, cycling and walking.

At the meeting, Sound Transit staff, architect David Hewitt, and artist Barbara Earl Thomas presented elements of the station’s designs, divided into three sections (the west entrances on Rainier Avenue, the platform itself, and the east entrance on 23rd Avenue). With an emphasis on pedestrian, bike and bus access to both entrances, which build upon existing bike trails and bus routes that converge on I-90, Judkins Park will become an important transfer point between modes, especially to access the Central District.

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Artwork on the Rainier Avenue entrance (Sound Transit / Hank Willis Thomas / Authentic Hendrix)

One of the most notable and visible features of the station —and surrounding area— is the incorporation of Jimi Hendrix imagery in the art and nearby parks. The entrances will feature two archival photos of a young Hendrix, who was raised nearly a mile north of the station, rendered in a dot-matrix pattern by artist Hank Willis Thomas; the design will be harder to distinguish from close up, but come in focus from further distances.

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Judkins Park Station site plan (Sound Transit)

The station itself will stretch over 1,300 feet from end to end, with station utilities and auxiliary rooms located mid-way between the Rainier entrance and platform. From Rainier Avenue, riders can use one of two entrances on each side of the street, with the west side connected by a pedestrian bridge over the street attached to the westbound lanes of I-90, and converge into a common ticketing area. Once in the station, riders will walk under a sheltered walkway attached to a maintenance building and cross over the westbound track in order to reach the platform in the middle of the tracks. Sound Transit officials told me at the open house that a configuration with the station entrance between the two tracks would have not brought enough daylight onto Rainier Avenue and require more new ramps to be constructed at additional cost and risk.

From the east end on 23rd Avenue, station access is much simpler. A single entrance, located next to a bulbed-out pedestrian signal and two bus stops, and a series of stairs, escalators and elevators descending straight onto the platform. Both sides of the station will also feature a wide variety of trees and shrubs meant to mask the concrete sound walls that shield the station from Interstate 90.

Overall, the Judkins Park Station is much more interesting than it would appear at first glance. It will bridge the gap between Rainier and 23rd avenues, both in distance and elevation, and serve as an important transfer point for bus routes 7 and 48, as well as for cyclists coming off the Mountains-to-Sound Trail. With the amount of thought, work, and sensible compromise put into the station by Sound Transit and Hewitt Architects, I can foresee few design decisions that we will come to regret after opening day.

The new station will open in 2023 as part of East Link and replace the current Rainier bus station, as well as the express lanes of Interstate 90. To accommodate this, the bus station will be closed next summer alongside the HOV lanes on Interstate 90; construction on the station will begin in 2018 and service will begin in 2023. Sound Transit has also posted the slides from the presentation on their website, which has a full set of renderings and other notes.

Future site of Judkins Park Station
Looking west from 23rd Avenue at the future site of Judkins Park Station

Station Design Open Houses for Lynnwood Link Coming Next Month

The current bus bays at Lynnwood Transit Center, future light rail terminus (photo by author)
The current bus bays at Lynnwood Transit Center, future light rail terminus (photo by author)

The Lynnwood Link Extension, which will bring light rail service to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood, is seven years away from opening and is preparing to break ground on construction in 2018. Sound Transit is holding a series of open houses in November on the final station designs, including renderings and concepts for new stations, at three locations in the three cities. Each open house will focus on the specific stations in the area, but an overview will be available at an online open house at Sound transit’s site  beginning November 15.

Sound Transit staff will be present at the three open houses to answer questions and respond to feedback from the public on a variety of issues, including designs, project plans, station names, potential impacts, public art, and related projects from other agencies.

Continue reading “Station Design Open Houses for Lynnwood Link Coming Next Month”

Community Transit’s Proposed 2017 Budget: More Buses and More Swift

CT 9165 at Everett Station
Likely to be replaced in 2017, under the proposed budget

Community Transit has released their proposed 2017 budget, which estimates $19 million in additional sales tax revenue thanks to the passage of the 2015 ballot measure, for a total of $172 million in operating revenue and $134 million in operating expenses.

CT plans to use the additional funding to increase bus service by 6 percent, building on recent expansions and service improvements. More detailed plans will be released closer to planned implementation in March and September, but the transit development plan from May proposes 6,000 service hours spent mostly on evening service for the Swift Blue Line and routes 101, 113, 115, 201, 202, and 222. Routes 119 and 120 would also see an increase in mid-day service. Conceptual plans for a South Snohomish County route restructure in the September service change would come along with additional weekend service and additional trips on commuter routes. A final plan for the September service change will be released early next year for public comment.

CT placed an order for at least 57 buses from three different manufactures in August, and plans to operate new service and replace older vehicles with the new fleet. The 2017 budget allocates $63.4 million for the new buses, taking a plurality (but not majority) of capital funds; the rest is spent on upgrades to transit centers and building the Swift Green Line ($50 million), machine upgrades and new security cameras ($13.6 million), and other costs ($4.7 million total). The entire Green Line will cost $73 million, but operations will be funded by an expected $50 million in federal grants; the project will be CT’s largest, surpassing the Blue Line when it opened in 2009 for $29 million.

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One possible route for the Swift Orange Line: Edmonds-Lynnwood-Mill Creek

Of the leftover funds, including routine administrative costs and wages for employees, $4.4 million is allocated towards planning and development. With planning and design work on the Green Line about to wind down, CT will fund early planning of a possible Swift Orange Line that would open in 2023 to feed Link light rail at Lynnwood Transit Center, likely to serve southern Snohomish County. CT expects Swift lines to open every few years, with a goal of a complete network by 2030, extending to Edmonds, Marysville, eastern Mill Creek, and Arlington.

A public hearing on the 2017 Proposed Budget will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, November 3 at the monthly Community Transit Board of Directors meeting at 7100 Hardeson Road in Everett (accessible on Everett Transit route 8). Written comments can be sent to riders@commtrans.org or Community Transit, 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett 98203.

Vancouver’s “Vine” BRT Begins Service January 8

Vancouver’s C-Tran, one of the largest suburban transit agencies in the state, will open its bus rapid transit system, “The Vine“, on Sunday, January 8, during a weekend of celebrations.

It is the first bus rapid transit system in the Portland region, and has been over a half-decade in the making. The $53 million project was funded with a $38.5 million federal grant, state contributions, and $7.4 million in local funds from C-Tran, using reserve funding after a sales tax increase was defeated at the ballot. Opponents tried to stop the project with a lawsuit, arguing that BRT did not meet the legal requirements of high-capacity transit that was specified in the ballot text. Next City has a nice write-up of the project’s troubles and general history.

The Vine will operate more like Community Transit’s Swift than Metro’s RapidRide, featuring a wider variety of traditional BRT features. Stations are spaced a third of a mile apart, with only 17 pairs on the 6.7 miles from Downtown Vancouver to Vancouver Mall. Platforms are raised to be level with buses, which have three doors for boarding and three interior bicycle racks for roll-on boarding through the back door. Payment is done off-board, with ticket vending machines at all stations; the Portland region’s new Hop Fastpass fare card will debut next year and C-Tran is one of the launch agencies, so integration with The Vine is expected soon. Sections of Fourth Plain Boulevard, where The Vine runs, will have transit signal priority to help speed up bus travel through the corridor by as much as 10 minutes, despite remaining in mixed traffic.

Fourth Plain is currently served by route 4, and formerly by route 44, which will be replaced by The Vine in January. Replacement of the two routes, among the agency’s most popular, is expected to cost less to operate for C-Tran. The two routes also continued to a transfer with the MAX Yellow Line across the river at Delta Park, which will instead be served by a “frequent cross-river shuttle” from Downtown Vancouver.

Community Transit: 40 Years of Snohomish County Transit

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A U District-bound bus at Mountlake Terrace TC

For the past few months, Community Transit has been celebrating its 40th anniversary, culminating this week with a Customer Appreciation Day this morning, Employee Appreciation Day on Wednesday, and a special board meeting on Thursday with Governor Jay Inslee in attendance.

Community Transit is the largest suburban agency in the Seattle area, barely eclipsing Pierce Transit in ridership, and has one of the most visible presences on Seattle’s streets at rush hour in the form of their “Double Tall” buses. To celebrate, I’ve hastily prepared this history of the agency using notes I had compiled during earlier research for other projects. Enjoy the read and wish a happy 40th to Community Transit.

Origins

Continue reading “Community Transit: 40 Years of Snohomish County Transit”

League of Women Voters Hosting ST3 Forums

Snohomish Co. Executive John Lovick at ST3 Open House

The League of Women Voters is hosting a series of free public forums on Sound Transit 3 at five locations around the region. Each forum will feature pro and con speakers, including Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, Transportation Choices Coalition’s Shefali Ranganathan, and Smarter Transit’s Maggie Fimia.

  • Tacoma – Monday, Sept. 12 at 7 pm (tonight): Phillips Hall, UW Tacoma Campus, 1918 Pacific Ave. (use Tacoma Link)
  • Bellevue – Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 pm: St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 2650 148th Ave. SE (use Metro routes 221, 226, 245, and 271 from Eastgate P&R)
  • Auburn – Saturday, Sept. 17 at 10 am: All Saints’ Lutheran Church, 27225 Military Road S (use Metro route 183 or ST Express route 574)
  • Lynnwood – Monday, Sept. 19 at 7 pm: Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W (use CT route 112)
  • Seattle – Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 pm: Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave. (use Metro route 2)