A new life in the HOV lane

A new passenger is steering Street Smarts columnist Lizz Giordano away from The Daily Herald.

Lizz Giordano

Lizz Giordano

A new passenger in both my life and car is steering me from The Daily Herald, for at least a while. Last week I had my last day, so I could prepare for the arrival of my first child.

My partner and I managed to tackle the first hill, but definitely not the tallest, and installed the car seat without too much difficulty. Now every time I get into the car I’m reminded just how much my life is about to change, which includes sadly stepping away from the paper.

I’ve enjoyed tracking down answers to questions sent my way by readers and having an excuse to get answers to some of my inquiries. But also, getting to write about old and new transit issues.

Street Smarts, with its long history, isn’t going anywhere. I’m passing the column along to reporter Ben Watanabe.

And as I’m keeping tabs on my new charge, here are five things for Snohomish County residents to watch:

Development around Snohomish County’s light rail stations

Lynnwood’s skyline is changing as the Northline Village takes shape. The site, walkable to the transit station which by 2024 will be connected to Seattle by light rail, is envisioned by some as becoming a downtown for the city. As it stands now, Northline will have 1,370 housing units, seven-story offices, 170,000 square feet for retail shops, 4,700 parking spots, two parks and room for a grocery store, movie theater and gym. It is just one of many developments spurred by light rail coming.

In Mountlake Terrace, the city wants a denser, walkable neighborhood near the future light rail station. In September, Councilmembers approved a Town Center Subarea Plan, which will allow buildings as tall as 12 stories in some areas. Watch for what ends up being built there, the city is hoping developers build mainly office space, with restaurant and small-scale retail mixed in closest to the station. With buildings that have a more residential focus nearer the existing neighborhoods.

I-976 impacts

The Lynnwood Link Extension will likely be unaffected by a loss in revenue for Sound Transit from the passage of the $30 car-tab measure. But an estimated $7.2 billion loss through 2041 could result in the cancellation or delay of projects further and farther down the line. Sound Transit said the greatest impacts would fall on ST3 projects, including the extension to Everett. State and local projects are also set to take a hit.

Intersection at Highways 9 and 204

State funding for a portion of this project, which is adding a northbound and southbound lane, plus four roundabouts, has been delayed for at least six months as lawmakers in Olympia grapple with a loss in funding from I-976. Before the passage of the measure, which the state estimates will cut the transporation budget by about 7%, construction on the intersection in Lake Stevens had just begun and was set to be completed in 2023.

Everett rezoning effort

After allowing taller buildings in downtown, Everett is now taking a look at the rest of the city. Eventually during the multi-year effort the city will consider what other types of housing should be allowed in single-family areas. This could include duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling unit (which can be attached or detached from a main unit) or small apartment buildings. Through this rethinking zoning process, the city hopes to address housing affordability.

Paid parking, perhaps

This fall Everett wrapped up a parking study done in partnership with the Downtown Everett Association, which could lead the city down the same path as Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, which began charging for parking this spring.

The city doubled parking fines last year in an effort to cut down on people overstaying at spots. A 2015 parking study found more than 14 percent of vehicles downtown remained past the posted time limit. The report also concluded downtown employees were likely using about 40 percent of the roughly 2,000 on-street stalls. The results of this year’s study have yet to be released, but starting to charge for parking is an idea that has been floating around for a little while.

In Edmonds, councilmembers pushed off a parking study as the city debates how to handle parking demand downtown. A parking garage, shuttles from church parking lots and bike-sharing services are all potential solutions being thrown around.

Got a question? Email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Lizz Giordano’s last day at The Herald was Dec. 3. This is her last column.

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