In 2016, Puget Sound voters approved the Sound Transit 3 plan, making BRT on the I-405 Corridor possible. BRT will allow for improved connections and commute times between Lynnwood, Kirkland, Bellevue and Burien. This new north-south BRT service will aid in accessing the new regional light rail lines scheduled to open by 2026.
In Kirkland, the I-405/85th Street Interchange will be reconstructed to comprise three levels. The lower level will be NE 85th Street, the mid-level will be devoted to transit, and the top level will be I-405. The BRT Station will be accessed by buses using inline access ramps. There is a focus on transit and non-motorized access to the BRT Station, as no Park and Ride is planned.
With the passage of the 2019-2020 budget, City Council authorized creation of a Station Area Plan associated with the Sound Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station planned for the I-405/NE 85th Street interchange. This budget direction was affirmed on February 19, 2019 when the City Council adopted Resolution R-5356 approving the 2019-2020 Priority Goals and City Work Program. One of the twelve City Work Plan initiatives related to developing the Station Area Plan is shown in the following excerpt from R-5356:
Continue partnerships with Sound Transit, the State Department of Transportation and King County Metro Transit to ensure that I-405 investments serve Kirkland’s mobility needs and maximize the benefit of Sound Transit’s NE 85th Street/I-405 Bus Rapid Transit interchange project by completing land use, zoning, and economic development plans for areas adjacent to the interchange project to further the goals of Balanced Transportation and Economic Development.
The City will continue to partner with Sound Transit, the Washington State Department of Transportation and King County Metro Transit to ensure that investments along I-405 serve Kirkland’s mobility needs and maximize the benefit of Sound Transit’s NE 85th/I-405 Bus Rapid Transit interchange project by completing a cohesive land use plan for areas adjacent to the interchange project.
The initial study area is generally the land within a 1/2 mile of the future BRT Station. The current land uses in the study area are a mix of multi-family, mixed-use, commercial/retail/office, schools, parks, and lower-density single-family residential uses. The final Station Area Plan boundaries will be defined through the process and may expand or contract beyond the ½-mile radius based on initial findings.
The City is interested in maximizing the use of the I-405/85th Street BRT Inline Station while continuing to build a vibrant, livable community that ensures land use and zoning are compatible with and support transit use. The challenge to integrate the interchange with the surrounding land uses will require a focus on creative urban design concepts. The subareas surrounding the interchange will contribute to transforming the current land uses to a denser, mixed-use community and will accommodate new residents, employees, and visitors who have better transportation choices.