Seattle Light Rail Review Panel letter on NE 130th St

The Seattle Light Rail Review Panel wrote a letter to the Sound Transit board in support of NE 130th St with some details on why this station would be so valuable to the nearby neighborhoods. The full letter is available here. I’ve included some it below but I urge you to read the full thing as there is more detail as to their arguments and methodology.

The Seattle Light Rail Review Panel was formed in 1999 to provide design advice to Sound Transit as it develops its stations and site designs for its Central, University, North, and East Link light rail programs. Similar to the Design Commission, the LRRP provides advice to Sound Transit on all phases of station and site design, from original concept through final design details. The LRRP is not a regulatory body; its authority was established as part of the 1998 Memorandum of Agreement between the City and Sound Transit (City Council Ordinance 122400).

The Seattle Light Rail Review Panel (LRRP) continues to support the Sound Transit Board of Director’s efforts to obtain funding for the proposed light rail extension from Northgate to Lynnwood. However, we have continued to evaluate the potential station at NE 130th Street and have concerns about the approach reflected in the recent Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). We submit the following thoughts in advance of the Board’s upcoming vote on station locations. The LRRP supports locating a station at NE 130th St rather than stations only at Northgate and NE 145th St for the following reasons:

  1. Compared to the station under construction at Northgate or the proposed station at NE 145th St, a station at NE 130th St better serves the neighborhoods in and around Bitter Lake and Lake City, two growing hub urban villages that offer affordable housing options and have transit-dependent populations.
  2. Because of its lower traffic volumes, planned bicycle facilities, and opportunity for bus route restructuring, NE 130th St is a superior location than Northgate and NE 145th St for connecting non-automobile modes with light rail.
  3. A station at NE 130th St offers the potential for greater increased ridership than captured in the FEIS. This and other benefits outweigh the one-minute increase in travel times.

In closing, the LRRP sees significant merit to locating a station at NE 130th St because it optimizes non-automobile connectivity and extends transit access to currently underserved neighborhoods where transit dependence is high — with an inconsequential increase to travel time. Given recent and projected growth in and around Lake City and Bitter Lake and their above-average concentrations of marginalized populations, access to regional light rail for those residents is an immediate and direct need. This calls for providing this station sooner rather than later.

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