Morning Fizz: We do not have an endless amount of money
1. At a hastily-called public hearing on the proposed Northgate light rail station last night, Sound Transit staffers fielded question after question about a planned 600-to-900-stall parking garage that will cost, according to Sound Transit's own estimates, as much as $30,000 a stall but serve just 8 percent of the 15,000 people Sound Transit expects to use the Northgate station by 2030.
Opponents of the garage handed out yellow-and-white stickers that made that point with Occupy-esque rhetoric, reading "Northgate's 92%: We deserve a fair deal!"
Most of the questions focused on why Sound Transit had decided to build a large new parking garage while dismissing other, less-expensive options, such as a pedestrian bridge across I-5 that would link the station to North Seattle Community College.
King County Metro deputy director Ron Posthuma said the agency plans to redeploy some of its existing bus service to help serve the light rail station, and emphasized that Sound Transit is "also interested in the 92 percent." And he noted that the new garage could include some paid parking for Northgate Mall users — not just free parking for commuters. "Sound Transit does not have an endless amount of money," he said.
None of that was convincing, however, to the crowd who had come to object to the garage. Among them: State Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46), who represents the district. He questioned why Sound Transit was proposing a garage without a pedestrian bridge across I-5 — a proposal that will effectively force every light rail rider on the west side of the freeway to drive to the east side and park.
A pedestrian bridge across the freeway, Pollet argued, "would certainly reduce the demand for those [parking] spots sooner."
And in fact, although Sound Transit planners have dismissed a pedestrian bridge as too expensive (supporters estimate it would cost about $20 million), King County Metro's own maps show that the densest concentration of current Northgate park-and-ride users is in the neighborhoods around and to the north of Northgate Way and immediately to the west of I-5, suggesting that people are, in fact, driving across I-5 because they don't have any other alternative.
2. The New York Times has some even-keeled analysis in advance of today's (not so?) big vote in Wisconsin.
3. Geekwire has some fitting news: a gun enthusiast online startup is leaving its original hometown, Seattle. After two years, GunUp is relocating to South Dakota.