On Thursday, July 11, Sound Transit provided an update on the North Sammamish Park and Ride project to community members at Sammamish City Hall. Described as “the small but mighty project,” it aims to improve access to existing transit networks and supplement the 267-stall South Sammamish Park and Ride (3015 228th Ave. SE). Once a site is selected for a new park and ride, work is slated to be complete by 2024.
The new park and ride aims to add 200 stalls along 228th Avenue Southeast/Sahalee Way, north of Southeast 8th Street and south of Sahalee Way Northeast, which marks the Regional Transit Authority boundary. After several months of deliberation, Sound Transit whittled 15 potential sites along the corridor down to just five in March. Stricter criteria was applied, and after June, representatives were ready to present the public with three potential locations.
The project is part of the Sound Transit 3 plan approved by voters in 2016, and has a total budget of $23 million. The budget would fund a surface parking lot, despite the fact that two of the three final spots selected by Sound Transit will require building a parking structure due to city zoning. Sound Transit, however, said a structure could materialize.
“It doesn’t mean we couldn’t do a structure solution … it just means we require a funding partnership to do that,” project manager Becca Aue said.
The first of the three sites under consideration is next to Central Washington University, at 228th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 2nd Street. The parcel is owned by the city of Sammamish and leased to the university. Aue said the parcel is advantageous because it will not require a surface structure, but surrounding wetlands will warrant extra caution during development. The main issue with the CWU location, according to Aue, is that the turn-in for the lot lacks a traffic light, and a median currently prohibits turning in for southbound drivers.
The second site presented is in the Town Center zone — future home of mixed-use development — at Southeast 4th Street and 224th Place Southeast. Aue said the site is “of particular interest” to Sound Transit and the city because the developer, STCA, has made an agreement with the city to explore a potential transit center.
“If they are looking at future transit integration here and how to improve that, this could be a good spot for a park and ride,” Aue said. She added that the disadvantages of the site lies on a sizable hill, making pedestrian access a challenge.
The last and southernmost site presented was the JCL Property at Southeast 8th and 228th Avenue Southeast, roughly 4.5 acres total. Aue said that of the three sites, pedestrian accessibility will be best at the third site. Property acquisition costs would also be higher than the CWU site, and rider commute times would be the longest from that site (an additional six to seven minutes).
During the a question/answer period of the presentation, residents repeatedly questioned Sound Transit’s priorities, expressing confusion as to why a park and ride project received precedence over efforts to improve existing bus service and implement new routes.
One resident voiced frustration regarding their daily commute to Seattle, which they claimed takes an average of two hours each way. Another attendee chimed in and said it feels “like zero dollars are invested into this part of the world.”
Community outreach corridor manager Jennifer Lemus and community relations officer Ariel Taylor urged residents to direct their concerns toward King County Metro, and acknowledged that King County Metro may soon be re-evaluating and updating its busing options for the Sammamish area.
Aue referred to the issue of unsatisfactory bus service as a chicken and egg scenario, saying improved access to public transit — for example, through a new park and ride — will incentivize service providers to integrate more routes.
As several schools are located off 228th (Eastside High, Eastside Catholic, Skyline High), some wondered whether adding a park and ride would ultimately create more traffic woes and undermine the project’s objective.
“I’m afraid that we’ll end up with just another south Sammamish park and ride,” a local high school student said.
Lemus asked residents to write down their comments and contact her for more information. Taylor stressed that community input will be factored into Sound Transit’s final site selection, which will likely be brought before city council sometime in the fall.