Judkins Park light rail station planning underway

When discussing East Link, Sound Transit’s approved light rail line between Seattle and Redmond, the Bellevue stations and rail alignments tend to take center stage. But as the calendar slowly crawls closer to the start of work on the line (scheduled to open in 2023, so far away it sounds like the setting of a science fiction novel), the design process for Seattle’s only new station on the line is getting underway.

With the working name of “North Rainier Station,” the station will be located in the center lanes of I-90 just south of Judkins Park. There will be entrances from Rainier Ave below and 23rd Ave to the east.

City Councilmember Richard Conlin wrote on his blog that the station will be the first station in the city that “is not in an urban village.” Surrounded by parks and freeway, the station site offers fewer transit-oriented development options than other stations.

But even without such opportunities directly near (or above) the station, it could bring dramatic changes to the Judkins Park and northern Rainier Valley neighborhoods. The station will provide extremely quick access to two of the region’s largest employment centers, an appeal likely to raise property values nearby.

CDNews will obviously keep you updated on the planning process as it moves forward. But here are some immediate questions: What do you think of the “North Rainier Station” name? What should it be named? What should be the neighborhood’s goals as the plan develops?

From Conlin’s office:

But riders will also have a chance to get on at a new station to be located in the I-90 right of way near Rainier Avenue.  This station will be the first one to be sited in Seattle at a location that is not in an urban village, and will present unique challenges in designing access and in determining what kind of transit oriented development will be possible in the vicinity.

Recognizing that early planning is critical, the Council has approved Resolution 31386, calling for DPD to begin a station area planning process for the provisionally named ‘North Rainier Station’.  Even the name can be confusing, as what is now the Mount Baker Station is located in the North Rainier Neighborhood Planning area.  That area is close enough to the new station that interaction between the two station areas will be important to assess.

The City is committed to finding ways to ensure that development around light rail stations supports ridership and takes full advantage of the transit opportunities that light rail development will provide.  It is important to begin this planning work early in order to limit incompatible development, review options for effective implementation of appropriate planning and zoning, and ensure that there is effective community engagement.  A station associated with a light rail line in a freeway alignment will be challenging to integrate into the community.

For all of these reasons, now is the time to begin work on this station, even though light rail service will not be operational for almost ten years.  The Council has asked that this begin with a plan for community outreach and station area planning around the planned North Rainier Station, to be provided to the Council by August.  We want this plan to include specific timelines and planned staff commitments that will allow planning to be conducted in time to influence decisions by Sound Transit about the configuration and design for the station.

We are also asking that the plan include a timeline for adopting a station area overlay district for the North Rainier area and station area zoning that will limit the development of new auto-oriented uses in the vicinity of the proposed station.

17 thoughts on “Judkins Park light rail station planning underway

  1. Glad to see that sketch of the proposed station.

    Lots of work to figure out on how people from the CD are actually going to get to this station down on the freeway. Street car down 23rd?

  2. I look forward to this being built. This will be much closer to me than the Mt Baker station and, even though it involves a change of trains, I think it will make it easier to get downtown from the neighborhood.

    As for the name, I think they should name it the “Judkins Park Station”. Most people respond with a blank stare when I say Judkins Park, so I’d like to see some name recognition brought to the area. “North Rainier” is just too generic and seems to describe the nearest street more than the neighborhood.

  3. It is simply amazing that transportation projects are actually happening in Seattle. Another light rail link, the tunnel, Mercer mess, a new 520? What has gotten in to you people? After 30 years of thwarting progress is it possible that Seattle has managed to pull the bus out of it’s collective ___?

    I’m not sure where this rail could possibly take me, but, you got to have a station somewhere right about there. Hopefully we can keep it from becoming the drug link like the #7 bus.

  4. The #48 will continue to be the quickest access to the station for anyone near 23rd. It’s already the quickest route to light rail for most CD folks (getting off at Mt. Baker) – just did that trip last week.

  5. the east line will go to Bellevue and then out to Redmond, and headed into town it’ll get you at least as far as the ID; I don’t know if Sound Transit has decided the routing yet. They could go Redmond-SeaTac or Redmond-Northgate or do something completely different :)

  6. All trains coming from Bellevue will go into downtown Seattle and continue north. I assume at least as far as Northgate, maybe all the way to Lynnwood. The track design does not allow a Redmond to SeaTac train. Trains coming from Northgate will be able to go to either Bellevue or SeaTac.

  7. I love Sam Smith park and the landscaping that surrounds the 90- it’s a great hub for bicycle trails too and i hope bike
    Iockers will be a significant part of the station plan. Name ideas: Judkins Park Station, Colman Station, South CD Station, The Garlic Gulch, and of course Umoja station. Whatever it’s called- the earlier point about the 48 bus running by will be clutch for me.

  8. I think I remember the plan being for Eastlink to go to westlake station and then turn around and head back to the eastside.

  9. I think the Judkins Park Station name fits best, especially since the other line already has a major station on Rainier, and goes thru the Rainier Valley. People may get confused and get on the wrong train if the Rainier stop is on the Eastlink line, even though they’re really trying to get to Rainier Valley on the south line.

  10. They’ll eventually go all the way to Lynnwood, once that’s built in 2023. Trains from Sea-Tac to Lynnwood will be every 8 minutes and trains from Overlake to Lynnwood will be every 8 minutes, meaning a train every 4 minutes from IDS station, through downtown, Cap Hill, U District, Northgate, to Lynnwood.

  11. At open they will go from UW-Bellevue, and will continue to grow northward as more of the line is built. The idea is that there’ll be double-service between Downtown and Lynnwood (eventually), with half the trains heading east to Bellevue (eventually Redmond) and the other half heading south to Sea-Tac (eventually Federal Way).

    The routing is pretty much pinned down for the whole route, with only some small decisions left to be made – adjustments of less than a couple of blocks.

    After leaving Seattle:
    * 1 stop on Mercer Island
    * 1 stop at the South Bellevue Park & Ride
    * 3 stops in Downtown Bellevue (at least one of them underground)
    * 2 stops in the Bel-Red area
    * 2 stops around Overlake.

    Beyond that, there’s plans for taking it to Redmond, but nothing past Overlake is currently funded.

  12. The comment was more obtuse than not knowing physically where the line goes. More a question of why I or many people would want to go to Mercer Island, Bellevue Mall, Northgate, or God forbid – Lynnwood. Certainly Dowtown is better accessed on foot, bus, or the street car for most of us. The route is less for Seattlites than for Eastsiders coming in to gape at the idiot fest.

    My appreciation of the rail system is that over a long long period of time areas will develop around the system. As we are laid out now – I could care less where it goes. Just stick it somewhere. Somebody will put something I want there someday.

    I’ll be dead before the transit system gets me to my office in a reasonable time. I would move closer to the office, but, it is in stinking Kent/Tukwilla area and If I did move, they would move the office to somewhere else again. So – the SUV for me. Why the 4X4 station wagon? Opulence.

  13. Good luck getting transit out to Kent/Tukwila. Sounder ate up all the budget for building serious transit out in the east valley (and Sounder can/will never run more than a handful of times a day). If you’re going to be commuting there long term the only advise I can offer is move closer.

    The Lynnwood link is because there appears to be near-infinite demand for travel along that corridor.

    And East Link is mostly supposed to replace the existing Sound Transit bus routes 550 and 545 – both currently overloaded. The idea is to link Downtown Seattle, Downtown Bellevue, and Overlake (aka Microsoft) on a single high-capacity line.

    I’m probably not going to use it except on rare occasions. But the costs for the entire line are being charged to Sound Transit’s eastside budget, so I guess it doesn’t really matter what I do.