[UPDATE 5/22: This post has been updated to include a letter from coalition of Northgate neighborhood leaders and advocacy organizations, expressing our concern about the direction Sound Transit is taking on a planned parking garage at Northgate.]
Michelle lives less than a mile from the Northgate transit center and wants nothing more than to ride her bicycle there and catch the bus to her job in Bellevue. But she doesn’t ride because she just doesn’t feel safe.
Instead, Michelle is forced to drive less than a mile to catch the bus, or pay $11 every day for tolls and gas driving to work. There are tens of thousands of people just like Michelle living near Northgate who would love to have the opportunity to safely bike or walk to the transit center. But we haven’t made the investments necessary to make it possible.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The construction of the light rail station at Northgate provides a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is our chance to transform a 1950’s auto-dominated part of the city into a bikeable, walkable and transit-rich community where everyone who wants to can safely bike or walk to the station.
But right now, Sound Transit is poised to spend around $40 million on a 900-stall parking garage that will actually make it more dangerous to bike and walk in the neighborhood.
For a fraction of the cost of the parking garage, we could make hundreds of small shovel-ready improvements that would make it easier and safer for people to bike, walk or take transit to the station. We’d even have enough money left over to build a bicycle/pedestrian bridge across I-5 so the seven thousand people who attend and work at North Seattle Community College – and the thousands of other people who live in the neighborhood – could easily access the station.
So why on earth would Sound Transit want to spend $40 million on a 900-stall parking garage that the community doesn’t want, the station doesn’t need, and would make it more dangerous for the tens of thousands of people like Michelle who want to safely bike or walk to the station to do so?
Honestly, we have no idea. What we do know is that Sound Transit reached a backroom deal to build a parking garage without any public involvement, none. A backroom deal that a prominent neighborhood leader described as “repulsive and offensive,” because it was reached without any consultation with the community and does not align with anyone’s vision for the future of the neighborhood.
Sound Transit doesn’t have to build a parking garage. They can choose to step back and do the hard work necessary to get this once in a lifetime opportunity right. But they’re not going to do the right thing unless they hear from you.