Houghton Challenges City Council; Says No Transit on Trail; Buses Belong on I-405

Houghton Community Council Special Meeting regarding Transit on the Trail before a Packed Council Chambers, Monday.

Houghton Community Council Special Meeting regarding Transit on the Trail before a Packed Council Chambers, Monday.

Houghton urges city to support buses on I-405 as part of Sound Transit Option E-02

The Kirkland City Council’s argument seems to be ‘we have to pave it to save it.’

On Monday night before what was described as the largest crowd to attend a Houghton Community Council meeting in memory, the elected officials voted on a measure opposing the Kirkland City Council's plans to put Sound Transit regional buses on the Cross Kirkland Corridor (Trail). 

The Houghton Community Council voted 6-0 (with one abstention) to oppose the Kirkland City Council and urged them to support Sound Transit on I-405 as option E-02. 

Kirkland needs better METRO bus service but that is not being proposed. Bus Rapid Transit is a regional service and would not serve Kirkland well

Kathy Brown, Director of Public Works gave a presentation in favor of adding buses to the trail and then fielded a great many questions from the dais. One and a half hours later, Santos Contreras presented the opposing perspective representing SaveOurTrail.org. Contreras, a former councilmember himself, refuted many of the city's claims and urged the council to make their voice heard on this important issue.

Arguments against putting buses on the trail

  1. the trail is a natural green space with environmentally sensitive areas;
  2. buses, estimated up to every 2-3 minutes, would increase traffic on streets due to many at-grade crossings of trail;
  3. adding two bus lanes would cut the connectivity of the trail enjoyed today;
  4. buses on the trail would divide Kirkland with a second "expressway" running north-south;
  5. buses on trail would ignore the needs of Kirklanders living east of I-405;
  6. Kirkland needs better METRO bus service but that is not being proposed. Bus Rapid Transit is a regional service and would not serve Kirkland well;
  7. bus rapid transit belongs on the existing, designated infrastructure: I-405.

Several members of the audience also spoke before the Houghton Community Council, urging them to derail the city's plans. The Houghton Community Council has authority over land use issues impacting Houghton and was created under mutual agreement when the cities of Kirkland and Houghton became one in 1968. 

If City Hall was hoping to present a unified message that Kirkland favors bus rapid transit on the trail, Houghton has put nail in that coffin.

Sound Transit is preparing a three-county ballot measure for November 2016 which may include options impacting Kirkland. The option supported by Houghton is E-02 which would put transit on I-405 rather than on the trail.

Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to dissolve the Houghton Community Council which has earned a reputation as supporting the citizens over City Hall regarding some controversial policies.

If City Hall was hoping to present a unified message that Kirkland favors bus rapid transit on the trail, Houghton has put nail in that coffin. There is obviously a deep  divide in Kirkland as to what our future should be.

The divide on this issue between the Kirkland City Council and the Houghton Community Council represents differing views of Kirkland and how we want our future. Which council best represents the will of the people?

Who will save our trail?

For Houghton, it seems the answer is clear: the Houghton Community Council supports saving our trail. 

The Kirkland City Council's argument seems to be "we have to pave it to save it."

The Kirkland City Council wants to add two regional bus lanes to the trail and in turn, "save the trail."