LETTER | Toby Nixon's 'Over the Top' Comment on your Paradise Lost... piece

Editor:

About two weeks ago, Toby Nixon felt that your humorous “Paradise Lost…” piece was Over the Top (See this link). I think it was right on target! The City’s arguments for BRT on the CKC are based on theoretical, idealized, and misleading renderings of what the combination of Trails + BRT will look like. Here is what the Pro-BRT and Pro-Train people are not mentioning.  The space under I-405 at Totem Lake is 62 feet, while the space under the NE 116th ST overpass is only 52 feet wide. And - since the goal is to connect Kirkland with Bellevue – the public may be interested to know that the spaces under the freeways and road overpasses south of the South Kirkland P&R are as follows:  

57.5 feet under the first (NW-most) I-405 overpass going south (it has triangular support columns) 

64.5 feet under the other I-405 overpasses next to it to the south 

33 feet under Northup St

71 feet under I-520

Keep in mind, also, that a sewage pipe runs under the entire length of the CKC surface and that might also impact where lanes can be located.  

So, if you allow for a buffer zone of just 3-4 feet on both sides of the BRT lanes, plus some separation between bike and pedestrian lanes, and another buffer on the west side of the underpasses, you can see that everything is very crunched up, to say the least.  

Now, to put the whole corridor in proper perspective, since the NE 124th Street is exactly just 60 feet wide, go to the Google Earth map and measure the width of NE 124th St with a ruler or a match, at any magnification you choose. Then, overlay that width on top of the CKC path, at the same magnification, and observe how much space and greenery is covered by only 60% of the targeted 100-feet Trail and BRT/Train footprint. But, if you want to be even more accurate, add the width of 108th Ave NE (in Houghton), which is 44 feet wide; and you get a 104-feet footprint, which is just a little over the targeted 100-feet easement.

While you can overlay that footprint anywhere along the CKC and ERC, look closely, at least, at these few segments: 

From NE 58th St to Google 

South of NE 85th down to Kirkland Way
The Highlands segment north of Peter Kirk Elementary 

The industrial area East of Totem Lake 

The segment between NE 124th St and the St. Michelle Winery (since long term you want to put public transportation all the way to Woodinville.)  

Notice how many trees will have to be cut down and how little space is left for “thick, beautiful” green screens.  Surely, ST may be able to put some rows of ‘Pyramidalis Arborvitae’ trees to screen houses and buildings in some areas along the way. But, think about the look and the cost and about how much fill dirt would be needed, how many ravines and wetlands would have to be filled; and the retaining walls that would have to be built, say just south of Google and from NE 142th St to Woodinville.  Does it look anything like that ‘beautiful corridor with plants and art’ envisioned by the City?  And, doesn’t the current ‘BRT + multi-trail’ idea look like just a medium-term ploy to eventually turn the CKC into a new heavy transportation corridor??? If so, is that what most Kirklanders want?   

Shawn Etchevers