King County Metro officials updated the Bothell City Council on Sept. 3 on the Metro North Link Connections Mobility Project, which began its first phase in June.
The project functions as a response to changing mobility needs and how they can be integrated as development on link stations at Roosevelt, the University District and Northgate — all of which are slated to open to the public in 2021 and which cover 4.3 miles — progresses.
“We’re looking at this as the next phase of Metro and Sound Transit coordination with the integration of the light rail,” David VanderZee said.
VanderZee is a Metro project manager for the project and was one of the leaders of the presentation.
He compared the in-development link station project to the March 2016 restructure that resulted in the opening of stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington (UW).
The project is a collaborative effort between King County Metro, Community Transit, UW and the Seattle Department of Transportation. When construction on the link stations is completed, it is expected that service happens every 4-6 minutes during peak hours. The anticipated travel time from Northgate to UW will be seven minutes, while the U-District to Westlake route will likely take about eight minutes.
During the presentation, VanderZee discussed what community outreach is being done as construction moves forward.
He said that the efforts done by the mobility project can be broken down into “what,” “why” and “how” categories.
The “what,” according to VanderZee, is delivering integrated service that responds to link expansion and meets customer needs. The “how” involves equitably informing, engaging and empowering current and potential customers; the “why” concerns improving mobility for historically “un(der)served” populations, orbiting specifically around people of color.
The community outreach works in tandem with the equity impact review, which is a five-step process. The first involves scoping — essentially getting a feel for community needs and opinions on the proposal — which is followed by the assessment of equity and community context, analysis and decision making, implementation and ongoing learning once a project is complete.
“It’s about looking at impacts, how we’re actually changing service,” VanderZee said, adding, “We’re making sure that our decision making reflects a wide range of vulnerable populations…and [to] measure how those folks are impacted as a result of our change.”
The project includes four phases. Its first, which began in June and is currently in the process of wrapping up, has seen Metro fielding community needs and priorities and workshopping a mobility board. This consists of recruited community members and talking with them about the development of the project. Impacted communities can additionally provide feedback through a comment portal, which has seen about 300 posts, according to the presentation.
Metro has also been putting together a partner review board, which is made up of members of collaborative entities, to work with the mobility board. Currently, Metro is continuing to collect and organize input from the public, stakeholders and the mobility board. According to the presentation, the information is being used to develop concepts for proposed changes to bus routes that will be further refined during Phase 2.
Phase 2, which is on track to start on Oct. 16 and finish sometime in December, will involve iterative, community-driven design. At a halfway point scheduled for November, Metro will be taking feedback from the community and incorporating it into future plans in case there are any last-minute changes to be made.
Phase 3, happening between March and April 2020, will include any final trade-off decisions and the preparation of the final proposal. For Phase 4, which will last from June 2020 to March 2021, Metro says it will continue to work to be present in the community.
Councilmembers had general questions about the project rather than explicit concerns.
Councilmember James McNeal wanted to know more about what travel patterns and times will look like, and proposed that Metro consider putting more information online to benefit not only himself but the public at large.
“I think it might be useful for folks in the community — even ourselves — to be able to see what that looks like,” McNeal said.
For more information about the North Link Connections Mobility Project, go to the King County website.