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Community Update ST3 Nov 9 2015

City seeks input from residents and businesses to help shape Sound Transit 3 service in Kirkland

Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit on the Cross Kirkland Corridor to be explored at Nov. 19 Open House and Community Update

November 9, 2015

On July 1, 2015, the State Legislature authorized Sound Transit (ST) to seek to voter approval of funding for an ST3 expansion of the region’s transit system, such as light rail transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Sound Transit (ST) Board of Directors is in the process of developing a project list for an ST3 measure that will be included on the ballot for the November 2016 general election.

Kirkland city officials are working hard to ensure that any ST3 ballot measure includes significant transit service to Kirkland residents and businesses to help relieve congestion and support economic development.

ST has a transportation easement that allows the agency to place high capacity transit on the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC). The CKC Master Plan, adopted in June 2014, also envisions transit on the CKC, as do the Transportation Master Plan and City Comprehensive Plan which will be adopted in December 2015, following extensive public outreach. Kirkland officials are committed to achieving transit on the CKC that is the right scale and fit for Kirkland, and that implements the CKC Master Plan vision.

On Thursday, November 19, 2015, the City is hosting an Open House and Community Update at the Kirkland Performance Center (350 Kirkland Avenue) from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Staff will be available to answer questions about high capacity transit from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  A formal presentation by City officials on high capacity transit in Kirkland will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by a question and answer session.

Sound Transit 3 Candidate Projects that could serve Kirkland

Sound Transit initiated a public process in June 2015 and the ST Board of Directors developed a draft list of ST3 projects to consider. In August 2015, the ST Board of Directors, with input from Kirkland officials, advanced a candidate project list—three projects on the list could provide high capacity transit to Kirkland and help ease local and regional congestion.   

These projects and the other CPL projects are now being evaluated by ST staff for costs, ridership, and other criteria. In early 2016, ST staff will make project recommendations to the ST Board of Directors and will initiate another round of public process. In the spring of 2016, the ST Board of Directors is expected to make final decisions about what projects to include in the final ST3 System Plan for voter consideration on the ballot measure.

On November 4, 2015, the Kirkland City Council received an update on the ST3 transit candidate projects as they related to the Cross Kirkland Corridor.

Why High Capacity Transit on the Cross Kirkland Corridor?

A multimodal corridor that includes transit on the CKC has been a key policy priority of Kirkland. Sound Transit purchased an easement along the corridor prior to Kirkland’s purchase and acquisition of the CKC in 2011. Sound Transit’s easement allows the agency to place transit on the Corridor and ST is currently evaluating options for light rail or bus rapid transit here as part of its ST3 ballot measure.  It is critical that residents, businesses and city officials be involved now in shaping what high capacity transit looks like in Kirkland.    

Without significant transit improvements in Kirkland in general and along the CKC in particular, traffic congestion will only worsen as the City grows.  High capacity transit service on the CKC is necessary to create mobility alternatives and support the economic development in Downtown, 6th Street/108th (Google, Nytec, Houghton/Everest Shopping Center) and Totem Lake.

Given ST’s expedited timeline to determine a final ST3 project list, the Kirkland City Council, at its September 15, 2015 meeting, authorized $250,000 for consultants to develop concepts for the three Candidate Projects and to provide input on the ST3 project selection process. Although some work has been done on all three projects, particular focus has been given to the potential for BRT on the CKC.

These concepts are intended to keep Kirkland’s quality of life and could be built sooner than a light rail system.  Kirkland contracted with a local firm, Transpo Group, and BRT Planning International, a consulting firm with experts who have helped develop innovative BRT systems throughout the world.  A design firm, Perteet Engineering, has also been retained.

The concepts that BRT International is developing show that BRT could be built relatively quickly, could be accomplished in a 30-foot transit envelope to the east of the Interim Trail, would have high ridership and could be done at a substantially lower cost than light rail.  One of the features of BRT on the CKC is that it could serve Metro Transit as well as Sound Transit and make existing bus service more reliable and efficient.   Buses can be quieter and more flexible than light rail, which is limited to a fixed guideway, while still maintaining similar service standards to light rail.  Even exhaust fumes could be eliminated as 100% electric buses are already entering the market.

The City Council approved an Interest Statement for the Eastside Rail Corridor (PDF) in 2011 which identified, among other goals, transit as a priority on the CKC.  Additionally, transit on the CKC is the community’s vision for a multiuse corridor as captured in the adopted CKC Master Plan.  Transit on the CKC is also supported by both the City’s Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission and is included in the Transportation Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan update that will be considered for adoption by the City Council in December 2015.   Each of these documents was developed with significant public involvement, including dozens of workshops, public hearings, online open houses, surveys and much more.  

Kirkland has an opportunity now to shape how its transit needs can be met, while at the same time implementing the world class trail and amenities envisioned in the CKC Master Plan. From now until the ST Board of Directors makes its final determination of the ST3 projects in early 2016, Kirkland officials will continue outreach efforts. This outreach is intended to discuss mobility issues currently facing the City, share updates on the ST3 ballot measure process, listen to concerns and answer questions so that the City can  best meet the goals of keeping Kirkland a livable, walkable, connected and sustainable community.

For more information visit www.kirklandwa.gov/ST3 or contact the City with your questions and concerns at 425-587-3800 or ST3questions@kirklandwa.gov. (11.09.15)