Dear City Council:
Thank you for your long-standing commitment to connecting Kirkland with a safe, central gathering place that can unite communities in a fragmented city. I was glad to participate in the community envisioning process that resulted in the Cross Kirkland Corridor Master Plan, attended the trail opening, and have been impressed by the upgrades and usage each time I've ridden or walked it. Great work.
That's what makes the rest of this letter so difficult to write. Have you actually read the approved master plan recently? (If not, see the link below). I ask because the city is now deviating widely from the tone and even specific wording of the original message, and residents are finally starting to notice.
Few are disputing the need for high capacity transit in Kirkland to overcome the Kirkland crawl. But plopping buses or trains on the corridor with ST3 is a council-generated idea. For validation of these plans, even defining Kirkland high-capacity transit as this specific idea, you have leaned heavily on the community-vetted Kirkland Corridor Master Plan---which, upon close reading, actually tells a quite different story.
In the Intro (Section 1.0, above), where community requests are listed, trains and buses aren't even mentioned. In Section 2.5 where the document gets into specific details, transit on the corridor IS mentioned...like this:
- "may one day include high capacity transit."
- "If and when the corridor is determined to be an appropriate home for transit... the city is committed to welcome it."
Now, if you listen closely to the Kirkland Public Works presentations, you hear phrases like "high capacity transit on the corridor was always a priority" and "a main reason for purchasing the corridor." So ultimately, what we have is a recent public promise to approach corridor transit one way and a city council that is already pushing heavily another direction---to the point of arbitrarily funding its own conceptual design document for Sound Transit lobbying with $250,000 of your tax dollars. Apparently, determining whether transit is even appropriate on the corridor yet isn't for Kirkland residents to decide!
With or without BRT on the corridor, Kirkland will need priority city transit lanes so all those frequent metrobuses don't get stuck in the same car traffic. So build them, Council! That alone will improve traffic and is critical preliminary infrastructure BEFORE any transit on the corridor can be called appropriate. Otherwise, this rushed set of unvetted proposals is just going to meet the same ignominious fate as the most recent big proposition that misjudged Kirkland resident feedback.