Sunday, September 19, 2021

Updated Designs for Lynnwood Link Stations, Including Public Art

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Aerial view of Mountlake Terrace Station, looking southwest (courtesy of Sound Transit)

After a bit of inactivity, the flurry of Lynnwood Link news continues for yet another week. The baseline schedule for Lynnwood Link has been set, and the last round of design open houses we mentioned have been scheduled for later this month and late next month.

Like all open houses, the online version has all the renderings and explanatory text that one could ever ask for. Lynnwood Link’s four stations have not quite reached 90 percent design, the final step before things can be locked in and ready for construction, but have progressed substantially. Thanks to the cost-savings measures adopted by Sound Transit, there’s been quite a few changes from 60 percent design, including slightly smaller garages in new spots and skinnier platforms that come one escalator short of a pair.

Shoreline South/145th Street

Platform level view of Shoreline South/145th Station and its garage (Sound Transit)

Starting with the almost-but-not-quite NE 145th Street Station, there’s been a slight reduction in the amount of paved space, with more room for trees and plants. The garage’s elevators have been crammed inward and now take up less of the pedestrian areas. The station itself will have a shorter canopy, which won’t quite reach the elevators at each end of the platform. Like all Lynnwood Link stations, there will only be one escalator from the ground to platform level at each entrance, but there will also be stairs for the short climb down. Buses, including the currently unbranded SR 522 BRT line, will pick up passengers right outside the south entrance.

The station’s commissioned piece of public art will be a pair of crop irrigation arms that hang off the south and north sides of the garage, arcing over the main pedestrian walkway and the passenger drop-off area. Artist Buster Simpson, also responsible for a sculpture in the Rainier Beach Station plaza and many works around the region, uses the sculpture to highlight the path of stormwater as it begins its journey through several drainage ditches and pipes and out towards the Puget Sound. Simpson is also working on a second piece of stormwater-related art for the station, which will be raveled at a later date.

The Seattle/Shoreline segment of Lynnwood Link also has a few extra design details between the stations, as seen in the giant rollplots and supplementary sections on the open house website. The crossing of NE 130th Street will be elevated, and there’s a straightaway that is marked for the future infill station on the north side of the interchange, which would place the north entrance a half block from the fenced-off corner of Jackson Park Golf Course. The Shoreline section will have a multi-use pedestrian/bicycle trail running under the light rail guideway, sandwiched between the new sound walls facing Interstate 5, new buffer plants, and new cul-de-sacs that Sound Transit is required to build for street stubs.

Shoreline North/185th Street

Aerial view of Shoreline North/185th Station, sporting its new garage (Sound Transit)

As discussed last month, Shoreline North/185th Station has a new garage design that tucks two levels of cars under the bus bays and bus layover zone. Buses will have a dedicated traffic signal to reach 5th Avenue NE or NE 185th Street, while park-and-ride users will have to make two turns (one through a roundabout) to continue west towards central Shoreline. The renderings show the bus layovers as being a sea of concrete, which could really be depressing for bus riders to stare at while waiting for their next Swift or Metro bus to show up. The passenger drop-off area has been moved to the far side of the garage, which entails a longer walk around and across the bus and garage exits.

The garage isn’t the only part of the station that has been dramatically altered, though. What was once a station with a single center platform is now a station with two side platforms, and not a single escalator in sight. Luckily, the impact for passengers who aren’t changing direction is minimal, thanks to the layout of the two entrances. The south entrance is level with the bus bays, while the north entrance is connected to the bus bay level by a short pedestrian bridge with stairs and elevators to both platforms.

Tucked in between the garage and northbound platform, and continuing under the pedestrian bridge, is a public plaza with public restrooms, ticketing kiosks, and a few benches. Once again, the platform canopies have been scaled back, leaving part of the route for alighting passengers uncovered and open to the elements, so be sure to carry a hoodie or an umbrella.

Phoenix-based artist Mary Lucking was commissioned to design the artwork for Shoreline North/185th Station, and chose to use forest imagery as her inspiration for several metal ornaments that will adorn the station’s plazas, entrances, and platforms. The platform’s columns will have metal vines growing up from the pavement, while metal shrubs will be sprinkled around other spaces.

Mountlake Terrace

Looking at Mountlake Terrace Station from the west side of 236th Street SW (Sound Transit)

Mountlake Terrace Station remains largely unchanged from earlier designs, but the new metal-like finishes provided by artist Kipp Kobayashi brings the “natural” theme of the station together. And keeping with the theme, Mountlake Terrace Station will require no new parking garage (reusing the existing one) and is already becoming a draw for transit-oriented housing.

The station will hang over 236th Street SW, with an entrance on the south side of the street adjacent to a new bus stop, a large public plaza, and a new street for the Terrace Station development. The north entrance has its own plaza and a pair of bus stops that will require buses to loop through a street shared with garage users to a new layover lane on the east side of the current parking lot. Even further east will be a temporary parking lot for 220 vehicles during construction of the station (which will require the closure of the current surface parking lot) and will presumably be available for transit-oriented development as surplus property.

Kobayashi’s contribution to the public art program will come in the form of a photographic mural on the underside of the light rail guideway as it crosses 236th Street SW, similar to the mural planned for Judkins Park Station. Unlike the rock-and-roll mural planned there, Mountlake Terrace will be graced with the image of two trees whose branches stretch out and over the street to connect. The image will be made using perforated metal, a material chosen as part of the cost-saving measures for the project, and be rendered in various colors.

Lynnwood City Center

Lynnwood City Center Station, seen from ground level (Sound Transit)

In contrast with the relatively compact nature of Mountlake Terrace Station, the terminus at Lynnwood City Center is a mess of parking lots, bus facilities, and trees. Since the last design open house, the garage has been reshaped from an “L” to a stylized “S”, or perhaps a pixelated version of New Jersey’s silhouette. The garage now takes up less space, leaving behind room for a wetland and daylit creek along 44th Avenue W, and has lost a direct exit to the HOV access ramp as well as a “high-speed” exit spiral. In response to a request from Community Transit, half of the south surface parking lot will now be reserved as a bus layover space, leaving space for a new east-west street between the bus bays and north surface parking lot. A pair of misshaped parcels on the northeast end of the station, facing the “gateway intersection” of 44th and 200th Street SW, have been turned into additional surface parking space instead of being marked for future development.

The station’s two entrances are now tucked neatly under the shadow of the platform and guideway, instead of jutting out towards the bus bays and the Interurban Trail. Like the other three stations, the platform is now narrower and only has one escalator (which will presumably be stuck in the “up” position, angering many PM peak commuters). The narrowed platform seems to be a bit more cramped thanks to the perpendicular seating and shelters, possibly a reference to the cramped conditions inside the current (and future) Link cars.

Claudia Fitch, a sculptor who created the two existing pieces of public art at Lynnwood Transit Center, returns with a sculpture celebrating the humble hummingbird as well as highway signage–the latter of which perfectly encapsulates modern Lynnwood. Her two sculptures will hang above the plazas adjacent to the two entrances and are meant to represent the natural history of Lynnwood before its devolution into auto-oriented sprawl, as well as the neon lights that once lined Highway 99 during its pre-interstate heyday.

Open houses

Sound Transit is taking public feedback on the updated station designs at and at three public open houses, the first of which begins tonight in Mountlake Terrace:

Mountlake Terrace – Wednesday, June 13, 6-8 p.m.
Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, 23000 Lakeview Dr., Mountlake Terrace (use Community Transit Route 130)

Shoreline/Seattle – Wednesday, June 27, 6-8 p.m.
Shorewood High School, 17300 Fremont Ave. N., Shoreline (RapidRide E Line or Metro Route 331)

Lynnwood – Wednesday, July 25, 6-8 p.m.
Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. S.W., Lynnwood (Community Transit Route 196, or any Lynnwood TC bus)

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