Open Letter to Sound Transit – Northgate Development
Feet First penned a letter to Sound Transit regarding opportunities for improving walkability in the Northgate neighborhood. Open the pdf here or read on below.
April 5, 2012
Dear Sound Transit Board members:
For the past ten years, Feet First has been the established leader in working to ensure all communities across Washington State are walkable. We have been following issues related to walkability around the Northgate neighborhood for a number of years. In our previous letter on the Northgate rezone Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Feet First advocated for better pedestrian connections to transit. Pedestrians and transit are closely-linked modes, as transit enables longer trips, better connections, and faster travel than one can complete solely on foot. Enhancing pedestrian connections to transit is crucial to making the system work better for everyone.
The upcoming Sound Transit Link light rail station planned for Northgate creates several opportunities for improving walkability throughout this burgeoning urban center. Feet First is advocating for a stronger investment in improving the pedestrian infrastructure in the area. We also strongly believe that Sound Transit should not invest its limited station-area funds in more parking garage space than absolutely required at the Northgate light rail station.
Since the North Link Record of Decision, the King County Department of Transportation (KCDOT) has expanded the number of available parking stalls around the Northgate Transit Center from 970 to 1,500. Once the North Link is completed to Lynnwood, Northgate will not be a terminal station. To cover any short-term parking needs, Sound Transit should consider leasing surface stalls from Simon, the owner of the Northgate Mall.
The City of Seattle, a recognized Feet First Agenda City, has been very clear about the transformational possibilities of the Northgate light rail station. Building a 500-stall parking garage, at an estimated cost of $20 million, further encourages auto dependency, and does not help achieve Seattle’s goals of increasing walking, bicycling, and transit use. Nor would a parking garage help move toward the city’s vision of a pedestrian-friendly Northgate Urban Center.
The proposed garage impacts access to transit for pedestrians. The garage will attract general-purpose traffic at peak hours, when local bus service is using the same streets. Sound Transit is willing to invest in more parking despite the fact that its own ridership modeling says 80 percent of Northgate light rail ridership will transfer from Metro service.
Feet First believes there are two options the Sound Transit Board should consider that would improve pedestrian mobility in the area around the station, help further the city of Seattle’s goals, and spend scarce resources on travel modes that are more sustainable in the long-term:
2. Provide much-needed sidewalk infrastructure on transit arterials in the Northgate area that currently lack sidewalks. This includes Meridian Avenue North north of North 115th Street, and 15th Avenue Northeast between Northeast 90th and 115th Streets.
1. A pedestrian/bicycle bridge from North Seattle Community College (NSCC) to the new Link station. This bridge has already been designed by King County Department of Transportation (for more information click here). The bridge would enable pedestrians to cross safely between NSCC and the station, with an estimated pedestrian crossing time of about seven minutes. This bridge would also make an easier connection for cyclists wanting to reach NSCC and its surroundings from North Link.
As mentioned, the city of Seattle is a recognized Feet First Agenda City. Both of the above options support initiatives identified by the Feet First Agenda, while building a parking garage does not.
Feet First looks forward to being a part of the conversation. I appreciate your time and look forwarded to receiving a response to our concerns regarding the proposed project. Please feel free to contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 206-652-2310 ext. 6.
Cc: Joni Earl, Sound Transit
Diane Sugimura, Seattle Department of Planning and Development
Peter Hahn, Seattle Department of Transportation