The Sound Transit board voted unanimously on Thursday, Jan. 27, to develop 12th Avenue Northeast as the area connection for the North Link light-rail station in the Roosevelt community.
The route, which travels through Roosevelt's commercial core, will run along 12th between Northeast 65th and 67th streets. The alternative proposed route was along Eighth Avenue Northeast, adjacent to Interstate 5 and south of Northeast 65th.
"The unanimous decision today to locate a light-rail station along 12th Avenue Northeast is a smart decision for Sound Transit and a great decision for the Roosevelt neighborhood," said Mayor Greg Nickels in a released statement. "This will greatly benefit the neighborhood by connecting transit service to housing and commercial developments."
The council members cited location, urban design and community support as the main reasons for supporting 12th Avenue over the Eighth Avenue alternative.
The 12th Avenue station will be located in the commercial area of Roosevelt, supporting the current community growth, as well as offering more opportunities for transit-oriented development than Eighth Avenue Northeast's layout along the freeway.
The 12th Avenue station also would require less relocation for current residents, affecting about six businesses and eight residences instead of 34 residences (including at least two historical structures).
The Washington State Department of Transportation expressed preference for the 12th Avenue alternative as a way to avoid potential conflicts with future I-5 developments. All light-rail trains will run primarily underground, though the proposed Eight Avenue Northeast location would have had an elevated portion.
The main argument in support of the Eighth Avenue station included a lower estimated cost for development, about a $35 million to $40 million range difference. Eight Avenue had an estimated $420 million to $440 million price tag vs. 12th Avenue's $455 million to $480 million cost, according to a comparison summary document distributed at the Jan. 27 community meeting to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the two locations.
Sound Transit media relations contact Geoff Patrick noted that the estimated numbers are only a ballpark measure for the actual costs.
Parking could be an issue for the 12th Avenue location, as less space will be available for the estimated increase in residents and commuters. However, Metropolitan King Country Councilmember Dwight Pelz noted that steps will be taken to develop effective parking-management strategies.
"Sound Transit and light rail are about moving people, but it's also about building better communities," Pelz said, adding that while the Eighth Avenue route was less expensive, the 12th Avenue route was capable of building a better community with its more relevant urban design.
Development for the initial central segment between Westlake Center and the airport is already underway, and the additional area connections have been selected for the light-rail extension North Link (including First Hill, the University District, Husky Stadium, Roosevelt and Northgate).
However, the Roosevelt location created a dilemma with two possible options for construction: 12th Avenue or Eight Avenue.
"The community support for 12th was overwhelming," Patrick said, also noting that while the plan has been approved, at least partial funding of the development will need to be supplemented through voter-approved taxes. A proposal for that funding could be on the ballot in 2006.
For almost 10 years, many Roosevelt community members had been in support of the 12th Avenue option, but the January vote kicked the support efforts into overdrive.
"We are incredibly relieved," said Andy Reay-Ellery, the vice president of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association and a board member for North Link Neighbors for 12th, a community group focused on outreach support for the 12th Avenue alternative. "We were not just saying no to Eighth. We're saying we've got a choice, and [12th is] better."
Along with Roosevelt, the nearby Green Lake and Ravenna neighborhood associations also supported the 12th Avenue route.
Sound Transit is currently in the preliminary engineering stages for the North Link connections, developing the details necessary for implementation, such as timelines and construction financing.
The light rail is projected to have about 118,00 riders by the year 2020. For comparison, Pelz noted that the state Route 520 bridge currently carries about 120,000 cars daily.
Pelz suggests that the first light-rail line could open in 2009 and that the Roosevelt station could open in 2015.
Community members also can learn more about the North Link project by visiting www.soundtransit.org.
They can sign up for project updates by contacting Brooke Belman at 398-5238 or belmanb@soundtransit. org.[[In-content Ad]]