Dear Public Servants of the City of Kirkland and the Sound Transit Board,
I have read the news articles on the City Council's push to add a bus rapid transit line on the CKC as a means to alleviate current and expected traffic congestion through our city before the light rail line is implemented by Sound Transit. I also attended the open house meeting at the Kirkland Performance Center this past Thursday evening.
As a resident of Kirkland since 1993, I am very much against the City Council advocating for the development of an interim bus line before the light rail line. My reasons/questions/concerns/proposal are as follows:
Safety - safety issues already exist where the trail crosses the residential and city streets, won't the addition of buses increase the safety risk and at the same time slow the traffic on the main streets through Kirkland rather than improve it?
Cost/Benefit - per the news articles, the cost of moving the existing trails to make room for the bus line on the eastside of the trail will be the City's. Is it worth the tax payers' dollars to alter the existing trail yet again? In some areas the east edge of the trail is 10 to 15 feet from property lines, the trail would definitely have to be moved at least another 50 feet out. Has the city council determined how much that may cost?
Service - who will use this line versus the metro buses that run along 108th? Currently, the South Kirkland Park & Ride is at capacity during the workweek and the Totem Lake development is not to be completed for another 20 years. How will the neighborhood side streets be impacted by those needing to access the line since the line does not run through downtown Kirkland or near many major employment centers?
Studies - per the open house, the city has not and first, needs to present a thorough cost/benefit analysis and be transparent about the options they have laid out and explain why the bus line is the most favorable. The cost/benefit analysis should also factor in the cost of the loss of property values along the line, the increase in noise (noise travels up the hill, we can hear people talking on the trail, we definitely don't want to hear buses, no matter how 'quiet' they are), and survey for expected use of the line?
Alternatives - an interim plan to alleviate traffic congestion would be to 1) get rid of the tolls on the HOV lanes on I-405 that's pushing more drivers onto the surface streets, 2) increase bus lines on I-405, 108th Street, and Lake WA Blvd between Bellevue, SR 520 and Kirkland and 3)focus on ways to attract people to be able to work and live in Kirkland, meaning more affordable housing and attracting larger employers.
On a side note, in an article, the bus proposal was compared to the NY City High Line project. What NY City did was refurbish a railroad line that rises above the street level and has been converted quite dramatically into a beautiful pathway for city goers to get away from the hubbub of the city streets below. There are no bus lines running along the same level next to the pathways; in fact, the pathway just ends abruptly. It is a totally different concept and a very poor comparison to a large metropolitan city.
Have other cities, like Redmond, considered adding bus lines to the Burke Gilman trail? I think not because the people of those cities would be in an uproar and so why, would the City Council even consider allowing buses on our trail when it's only really an interim fix?
I hope that the City Council will do the right thing as they did with creating the CKC Trail in the first place, by preserving it's current state, for as long as possible. Thank you for your time and dedicated service.
Jan Young, concerned Kirkland citizen