The Fremont Neighborhood Council voted tonight to send the following letter to SDOT and Sound Transit, responding to their planning study for transit in NW Seattle:
The Fremont Neighborhood Council is encouraged by the potential for increasing transit connectivity for Fremont and NW Seattle with the Ballard transit expansion. The Fremont Neighborhood Council finds that it is not possible to meet all of the transportation needs of NW Seattle with either of these projects alone. FNC therefore encourages both Sound Transit and SDOT to pursue projects simultaneously, and to insure that the different projects complement rather than compete with each other.
FNC therefore offers the following recommendations:
The Fremont Neighborhood Council recommends the following for any lines built by Sound Transit between Downtown Seattle and Ballard:
- Have Exclusive Right of Way – Any HCT lines built by Sound Transit should be built in completely exclusive right of way, excluding traffic both traveling along and crossing the right of way, to ensure the reliability and speed of the system.
- Improve Access to Fremont – Fremont is a core neighborhood within the Downtown-Ballard study area. It is crucial that Sound Transit build a line to Ballard that serves Fremont. While the tunnel under Queen Anne required to get to Fremont may be expensive, it is an opportunityto connect both neighborhoods to each other and points beyond that will not come again.
- Facilitate Access to Queen Anne – If Sound Transit decides to build something similar to Corridor one through four, all of which bypass Fremont, consideration should be given to how to best facilitate transit access to Queen Anne. Currently people living north of the Ship Canal have a very difficult time accessing Upper Queen Anne using transit. Transit access to Lower Queen Anne (LQA) is also limited. The suggested routes along Elliott Ave in corridors one and four make it necessary for riders from the west side of Fremont, Ballard and points north to switch to a bus in Belltown and then backtrack to Upper Queen Anne.
- Integrate with existing and planned land use. Several high density neighborhoods between Downtown Seattle and Ballard could be served by the new light rail line but will remain underserved if it avoids urban villages in favor of internal. The high density neighborhoods of Fremont, South Lake Union and Queen Anne could be served by the light rail line, but will remain unserved if Interbay is selected.
- Consider Automation – If Sound Transit builds a line with exclusive right of way, the potential for automating the new line should be evaluated. While automation does increase the capital cost of a line, it significantly reduces operational costs. An automated system could be run at very high frequency until very late at night, ensuring that transit is an attractive option for travel around the clock.
The Fremont Neighborhood Council recommends the following for corridors to serve NW Seattle under consideration by SDOT:
- Maximize dedicated right of way – All efforts should be made to insure that any streetcar operates in its own lane as much as possible. Aggressive signal priority should also be used throughout the line. In particular, the streetcar should have its own lane:
- Along the section of Westlake between the current Westlake Terminus and Valley Street;
- Over any crossing of the Ship Canal;
- If the Fremont Bridge is used, the streetcar should have its own lane when approaching the bridge to insure that it is never stopped in the traffic backups that occur when that bridge is open;
- Westlake Ave N should be selected over Dexter Ave N because only Westlake has a wide enough right of way to provide the streetcar with its own lane.
- Coordinate the two systems to avoid duplication – The Sound Transit long range plan contains a line from Downtown to Ballard and one from Ballard to the University District; it is therefore highly likely that the east-west line will connect Fremont to Ballard. This makes a streetcar connection between Ballard and Fremont duplicative. FNC recommends extending the streetcar north from Fremont to Phinney Ridge and Greenwood.
- Serve Downtown Fremont – Any alignment built by SDOT whether on Westlake Ave N or Dexter Ave N should cross the ship canal in the vicinity of the Fremont/Aurora bridges. A crossing further west as shown in Corridor 8 does not provide adequate access to downtown Fremont.
- Assure connectivity between Lower and Upper Fremont – running the streetcar line from Lower Fremont via Upper Fremont to points further north will provide much needed neighborhood connectivity.
If Sound Transit does not choose a corridor from this study that includes Fremont, it is imperative that the streetcar route fully serve Fremont and provide fast and frequent service. In any case, it will be highly desirable to link downtown Lower Fremont and the developing density in Upper Fremont with transit that traverses the neighborhood north to south and connects to points beyond.
The Fremont Neighborhood Council appreciates the opportunity to comment on transit projects that will impact the neighborhood.