***Take Action! Join us in Northgate on Tuesday and Wednesday, and at the Sound Transit Capital Committee meeting at 1:30 pm on Thursday, 6/14. Email email@example.com for more information.***
by Beau Morton
In 1993 the City of Seattle designated the Northgate area as an urban center. As a developing urban center, it is expected to take much of the job and residential growth in the city over the coming decades. Years of planning and studies have been performed in order to make Northgate a denser, less car dominated, more livable neighborhood centered around low-income housing and transit oriented development. So why is Sound Transit proposing a 600-900 stall, $27-40 million parking garage be built as part of the Link light rail station?
In Sound Transit’s own words “it is not feasible to meet future transit demand at Northgate and achieve land use goals without shifting focus to non-driving access modes such as expanding rail-bus connections and pedestrians and bicycle access.” By Sound Transit’s own numbers, the Northgate Transit Center currently serves more than 5,000 riders each weekday, with 70% of them getting there by transit, foot or bike. By 2030, Sound Transit projects 92% of 15,000 daily weekday riders will get to the station by transit, foot or bike.
Under the terms of the North Link Record of Decision, Sound Transit has to provide “best effort” mitigation for 428 park and ride stalls temporarily lost during construction. After construction is finished, 117 park and ride stalls and 64 other private stalls will have been permanently eliminated. There are many ways Sound Transit can mitigate the temporary loss of parking: leasing additional parking stalls, running shuttles from satellite parking locations, purchasing additional bus service from King County Metro. So why spend up to $40 million on storing cars, while leaving less than $2 million for pedestrian and bike improvements and increased bus service?
In a time of ever rising gas prices, declining incomes and demographic shifts away from driving, mitigating the loss of 181 parking stalls with a permanent 600-900 stall parking garage is the wrong answer. Siting a 600-900 stall parking garage in the middle of what will be dense transit oriented development is the wrong answer. Spending $27-40 million on the 8% of people who will drive while leaving less than $2 million for the 92% who won’t is the wrong answer. Seattle deserves better than a mid-20th century solution to a 21st century problem.
As an organization of working and poor people, the Transit Riders Union opposes the use of taxpayers’ money in such an unfair, inefficient, and wasteful way. We believe Sound Transit should look to the future, heed their own words, and focus their investments on the 92% of people who will get to the station in 2030 by transit, foot or bike.
***You can send a message to Sound Transit from the Cascade Bicycle Club’s blog here.***