Light rail station includes windowns, bike racks

Thirty percent of the design has been completed for the Broadway light-rail station, and Sound Transit deputy project director Ron Endlich was eager to show it off at a public meeting and open house last week at Seattle Central Community College.

The underground station, which will have three entrances near the school, is part of a $1.6 billion Sound Transit expansion called University Link that will connect Westlake Center with the University District.

Sound Transit is promoting the system as a real time-saver, one that will allow passengers to reach Capitol Hill from Westlake Center in 6 minutes, and the U District from Capitol Hill in another 7 minutes.

The 3.2-miles system will include two subsurface tunnels that will rise to and sink from 65 feet below ground for the Capitol Hill station. The station and its entrances will be built using the "cut and cover" method, and the entire Westlake-to-U-District project is expected to be complete by 2016, according to Endlich.

David Hewitt from Hewitt Architects and his team are designing the station, and he noted they are not operating in a vacuum.

"We feel the neighborhood is such a vibrant urban place. We're feeling excited about working on this," he said.

Hewitt also pointed to Cal Anderson Park as being a "tremendous asset" for the project. That's significant because the south entrance to the station will be located across the street from the park on Nagel Place at the corner of East Denny Way.

Hewitt envisions foliage-covered glass squares for the station wall along Nagel Street, but he said all of the entrances will have a common architectural themes. They include having skylights and huge windows, Hewlitt stressed. "We see it as a way of contributing to the street," he said of the design.

The north entrance to the underground station will be located at the corner of Broadway and East John Street, while the west entrance will be on the west side of Broadway about a quarter block south of East Denny Way.

The west entrance and the south entrance will be connected by a 20-foot-wide tunnel that has a kink in it to improve the line of sight from one end to the other, Hewitt said. "There will be no niches or cubby holes where a person might hide and caused mischief," is how he put it.

A straight line was dropped because of potential future plans for an underground parking garage and other transit-oriented development, Endlich, the deputy project director, later explained.

The west entrance will include a covered pavilion with places to store bikes and, like the north entrance, will include a combination of elevators, escalators and stairs. The south entrance across the street will have only elevators and stairs, and the west entrance will have only an up escalator.

That prompted a question from a man in the audience about getting bikes down from the south and west entrances to the station platform.

"We presume people will use the elevators," Endlich answered. "Frankly, we'd like most people to do that."

Another suggestion that came up would be to install flanges on the sides of stairways so that people could walk their bikes up and down. "You see that all over Europe," the man said. Endlich thought that was a good comment.

Hewitt said the station platform will include two sets of bracing that will stretch from wall to wall. Six-foot-wide braces will in the lower section and smaller braces will be above those. But the braces and the duct work will be treated as architectural elements, he said.

The issue of exhaust vents for the station also came up.

"The vents could be incorporated in other structures," Hewitt said. Or they could be part of stand-alone art pieces, he added.

Sound Transit has $500,000 budgeted for art at the station, said Barbara Luecke, the agency's administrator for public-art projects. Choosing the art will involve local businesses, residents and representatives from Seattle Central Community College, she said.

Luecke is looking for artists for the project both locally and nationally, she added. But the construction timeline does present a bit of a problem, Luecke conceded, because the art won't be in place until the end of the project almost a decade from now.

Following roughly six years of construction, Broadway's light-rail station is scheduled to open in roughly 2016.

Sound Transit is in the process of buying property for the station, the entrances and staging areas for construction, said agency spokesman Bruce Gray. The total parcels of property needed for the project come to 19, and deals have already been inked for five of them he said. One of the five is the Vivace coffee house. But the popular café is slated to reopen once the Brix project is completed several blocks to the north.

The final design for the station and entrances should be completed by next fall, and open houses about the design are scheduled for then and for next spring, when the design will be only partly completed.

Pacific Publishing reporter at large Russ Zabel can be reached at

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