Sound Transit is gracious but Lake Forest Park residents are not impressed with response to concerns

Friday, August 18, 2023

Standing room only for Lake Forest Park meeting with Sound Transit
Photo by Mike Remarcke
By Diane Hettrick

On Wednesday August 2, 2023, Sound Transit's Stride project team held an informational community meeting regarding plans for the S3 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line along SR 522 / Bothell Way through Lake Forest Park.

The meeting was preceded by a rally held by the Tree Coalition
Photo by Mike Remarcke

A 400+ standing room only crowd filled the gym at Lake Forest Park Elementary School to hear what the Sound Transit team had to say.

Sound Transit plans to build a dedicated bus lane, which they estimate will save commuters 15 minutes on their way to the Lynnwood Link 148th light rail station.

The new bus lane will save an estimated 15 minutes on the commute to the 148th Link station

The new 1.2-mile, dedicated eastbound bus lane through Lake Forest Park will take property on both sides of the road, including an estimated 400 mature trees, and necessitate a two-story concrete retaining wall to hold back the hillside.

People with driveways on the highway will have to back out onto a highway lane, instead of a shoulder.

Not surprising that in tree-loving Lake Forest Park, there has been a significant amount of push-back to these plans, including suggestions on alternatives to a new lane, such as the queue-jumps Sound Transit plans for 145th.

CEO Julie Timms and Bernard Van De Kamp - Program Executive
Photo by Mike Remarcke

Bernard Van De Kamp, the program executive, gave an overview of the project, with the goal of showing how Sound Transit had incorporated community feedback since the project was approved by voters in 2016, clarifying issues related to tree impacts, queue jumps, station size, retaining walls, and noise and environmental impacts.

There were many comments from residents
Photo by Mike Remarcke

The focus of the crowd was the new CEO, Julie Timm. The well-informed and knowledgeable crowd had many questions which Timm frequently stepped in to answer. 

At the end, there appeared to be no change in positions. LFP doesn't want a concrete corridor the length of their city. CEO Timm, while sympathetic to the pain, has a mandate to improve transportation options into the future.

LFP Councilmember Lorri Bodi made a statement to the crowd. Councilmembers are petitioning WSDOT to reduce the width of the bus lane and make the height of the wall slightly less (see letter). Photo by Mike Remarcke

CEO Timm was graceful and understanding of the concerns, of yards being reduced and trees being lost, but she stood firm in the belief that the regional need to move people was more important than the objections of locals in the fight against progress.

In October 2023, there will be a series of 90% design informational sessions along the entire S3 line. If you have any questions about this process, you can contact the project team at


Anonymous,  August 18, 2023 at 12:00 PM  

In my opinion, if sound transit really cared about people using public transportation they would have NOT changed the 522 bus from going downtown - and forcing it to go to the light rail instead. Adding the light rail adds at least 45 minutes to the trip in each direction and is NOT as safe
Expanding the lanes seems like a case of poor planning to me -rather than an actual need
The PEOPLE have spoken and the TREES and peoples yards need to be preserved- it’s a higher priority than widening the roadway

Jeff Snedden August 18, 2023 at 1:38 PM  

Fighting against progress?? Sound Transit gave the Lake Forest Park community less than a week's notice. Thankfully CORE (Citizens Organized to Rethink Expansion of HWY 522) got the word out to our citizens, and 450 showed up at this event. The vast majority of attendees and our community support mass transit, Sound Transit, Link Light Rail, and even this project (Stride-3), with the very notable exception of Sound Transit's dogged determination in the face of their facts to build a dedicated eastbound bus lane through the heart of our community. Beyond the fact that it will cost 50% of the entire Stride-3 construction, construction management, property acquisition, and permitting budget (funded by taxpayers), beyond the fact that when built, it saves the AM weekday rush hour bus commuter less than one minute and the PM weekday rush hour bus commuter 2.3 minutes transiting through Lake Forest Park, beyond the fact it would require cutting down as many as 400 trees and replacing them with a 4,000 linear foot retaining wall as high as 16 feet, beyond all that, Sound Transit knows there is a better way to accomplish this. It's the plan they have for 145th St from the South Shoreline Light Rail Station to Bothell Way: Transit q-pass lanes and signalized lights. Over 28 blocks on 145th, this proven method saves over 60% of the time saved over 8 miles from the South Shoreline Light Rail Station to Bothell during the PM weekday rush hour. These are Sound Transit facts. When a meeting participant brought these facts up, Sound Transit, despite having the head of Stride-3 and multiple staff members present, declined or could not respond to them.

Tyson Greer,  August 18, 2023 at 1:43 PM  

Just to clarify, ST estimates the amount of time saved for transit riders with the 2-story concrete, graffiti-prone wall in our city is LESS THAN 2 MINUTES, at a cost of nearly 400 trees over 4” in diameter and hundreds and hundreds (not counted) of 3”, 2”, and 1” trees which will never grow to Provo tree services.
We can only hope each transit-rider uses those 2 minutes wisely, and discovers and implements a NEW solution to the planet warming beyond human endurance. (We’ve already suggested preserving and planting trees…).

Anonymous,  August 18, 2023 at 10:46 PM  

Can we get some students here to sue Sound Transit based on the degradation of the environment that will seriously impact their future health and wellbeing? Perhaps some parent/lawyer in LFP has a child that needs a senior project??

Anonymous,  August 19, 2023 at 2:42 AM  

Describing this as a “fight against progress” is unfair and short-sighted. No one who spoke at this meeting was opposed to transit. Citizens of LFP ask that ST consider alternatives that are less expensive, less environmentally damaging and could still improve transit times (such as bus queue jump lanes, as ST chose for the Seattle section).
There is no way Sound Transit can replace those trees anywhere near the project site, when they are adding that much concrete and widening the road, so those trees are lost forever. A standing mature tree has much greater ecosystem and economic value than any small replacement tree, and the climate change threat is NOW.
The estimated 15 minutes time saved for transit riders is over the entire ST3 expansion, for the LFP section it's just 2 min or less. This tradeoff of hundreds of trees lost and properties impacted for a massive concrete wall and 2 minutes saved for bus riders is not acceptable. ST must be good stewards of our taxpayer $ not to mention our environment. Sound Transit has never shown data supporting this incredibly damaging over-engineered solution, a design decision which was made during the pandemic with insufficient public input.

Kim Josund
Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation

Anonymous,  August 19, 2023 at 8:21 AM  

Costs: 1. $300-400 million (est) and certain to go up as more delays and problems are found. 2. Dozens of property acquisitions, some of which will literally ruin people's lives. 3. Noise pollution from concrete walls that will cause health problems 30-50 years into the future. 4. 400 mature trees lost.
Benefits: Saving 2-3 minutes in this 1.2 mile corridor ONLY IN RUSH HOUR.
Conclusion: Waste of taxpayer's money and total madness

Janet Nimlos,  August 19, 2023 at 8:42 AM  

To be clear, LFP residents are NOT against progress and support transit. But there is a better way to move buses through our city without the huge environmental damage of cutting down over 400 mature trees that we need now more than ever during the ongoing global warming. That solution is queue jumps and signalized lights like are planned for NE 145th St. The choice isn’t between progress and no progress. LFP residents should be commended for seeing that we must integrate engineering goals with critical environmental needs. For more information about this situation, please go to LFP

Anonymous,  August 19, 2023 at 8:47 AM  

The third sentence of this article gives the impression that the LFP segment of the Sound Transit plan will save 15 minutes of commute time. INCORRECT. The LFP segment saves a mere 2 minutes. The removal of 400 trees and the slope on which they live will have far-reaching, negative effects on the climate, environment, and appearance of LFP. It is extremely disappointing that this central statistic is misrepresented in this article.

Paula Goode August 19, 2023 at 9:24 AM  

In the recent Montana Court Case, the judge ruled in the favor of the young activists.

The starement from the lawyer was “Today, for the first time in U.S. history, a court ruled on the merits of a case that the government violated the constitutional rights of children through laws and actions that promote fossil fuels, ignore climate change, and disproportionately imperil young people,” said Julia Olson, Chief Legal Counsel.

The lack of Engineering Without Environmental Concern is a common theme for builders and transit companies alike. While Sound Transit is an Engineering focused organization, it definitely does not consider Environmental concerns to any degree that makes sense.

It is time that our City and State government put more focus backed by laws to ensure these concrete heavy projects do not rob our future generations of their right to a healthy environment.

I'm sure that with all the money Sound Transit is throwing at poor designs that they can come up with new alternatives in Transit concepts that incorporate our future needs in Transit with sensitive environmentaly focused methods. These would be methods that don't destroy our tree canopies which endanger our future population or take 100's of citizen properties for the sake of a few minutes.

Sheridan Resident,  August 19, 2023 at 1:26 PM  

This is a difficult one. The transit time savings is nearly 10 minutes during rush hour and benefits many more people than those in Lake Forest Park. Repeating the 2 minute canard is downright Trumpian. This project went through all public approvals, notice requirements and appeal periods over 2.5 years ago! It is the epitome of privilege to pop up now in opposition and complain about tree loss. Oh and the trees are mostly poor quality, badly maintained and many are small. The existing rock walls are 10' high and look awful. And no one has provided evidence that que jumps work on this stretch of Bothell Way. 145th has buildings within feet of the right of way so que jumps make sense there. Delay means millions down the tube for design over the last 2.5 years and equals transit opposition. If these trees can't be impacted for improved transit and safety then what trees? Ever? Anywhere?

Anonymous,  August 19, 2023 at 7:29 PM  

Great comment!!

Anonymous,  August 22, 2023 at 8:00 PM  

Agreed, seems much of the green area is blackberries all along that strip from Kenmore on...

Just My Opinion August 23, 2023 at 8:29 PM  

re: Sheridan resident - yes I think that is exactly what we need - trees everywhere! they are our lifeline to the future - please be aware the planet is not in danger from global warming - it is us who are in danger. planet earth will survive without us

Anonymous,  August 24, 2023 at 1:51 PM  

As someone who does not use this road, I have a potentially naive question: the LFP section of Bothell Way NE is already 6 lanes wide in most places. Why can't we repurpose a driving lane or two in the portions were there aren't already bus lanes?

Anonymous,  January 31, 2024 at 1:00 AM  

Sounds like the good citizens of Lake Forest Park don't want the state road through their fine city changed or their transit options improved in any significant way. As a region, let's spend that money somewhere else where people want vastly improved public transportation. LFP can spend their own city tax dollars on traffic light queues, if that's what they want, for the bus service they already have.

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