McCollum Pioneer Park is a frequent destination for Leslie Douglas during her almost daily walks.
This time of year she is used to foliage changing in the trees around the park at 600 128th St. SE near Everett. Normally she would expect seeing the park and ride lot full, though not so much these past few years through the pandemic.
But Douglas, who lives in Everett, noticed some major changes around the park and ride last month.
“Have you run any coverage on the construction/destruction going at McCollum Park?” Douglas wrote to The Daily Herald. “Paving, cutting down trees, and tearing up part of the parking lot…”
She wasn’t alone.
Dick Rooney of Everett also called The Herald about what was happening at the park and ride after weeks of passing by and noticing construction.
“It looks like they’re tearing up part of it,” Rooney said.
Their eyes have not deceived them.
Community Transit has crews preparing a section of the lot for the Swift Orange bus rapid transit line. The “rail on wheels” service is slated to start in 2024, in time for the Lynnwood Link light rail opening.
Swift features buses every 10 minutes during peak weekday hours with faster and less frequent stops thanks to fare payment prior to boarding. Community Transit already operates two Swift lines: Blue between Everett and Shoreline, and Green between Bothell and Boeing.
The Orange line will run 11 miles between McCollum Park and Edmonds College. It uses Highway 527, also called the Bothell-Everett Highway, 164th Street SE and 164th Street SW, 36th Avenue W, Alderwood Mall Boulevard, and 196th Street SW. There are 16 new stations on the route to get people to Alderwood mall, Edmonds College and the Lynnwood City Center light rail station, where peak service connects to Seattle with trains arriving every 8 minutes.
“You want to be able to have a way to kind of funnel people to that fast service,” Community Transit spokesperson Monica Spain said. “People want to be able to get there quickly, and they should be able to. That’s the thing about (bus rapid transit), is it moves a lot of people fast.”
The disruption Douglas and Rooney saw at McCollum Park Park and Ride is necessary to build a reconfigured bus loop, and make parking lot and sidewalk upgrades, Spain said. Community Transit is building the new Swift Orange station, new bus shelters for other routes, a new restroom for bus drivers, redoing some existing parking, and adding a new parking lot.
This summer’s major work has been to install the new parking lot and redo some of the existing spaces to get it ready for the bus loop. It has reduced some spaces temporarily, but when all of the work is finished there will be more parking spaces, largely thanks to the new lot south of the transit center near the North Creek Trail entrance.
Work also required removal of some trees but once work is finished new landscaping and trees will be planted, Spain said.
Swift station construction is a bit more involved than what people may assume a typical bus stop needs. They require power for the card readers and ticket machines so passengers can board without digging up cash to drop in a fare box. The stations also have lighting and real-time bus information for riders to know when the next bus is coming.
Curbs at Swift stations are higher than normal so the buses are almost level with the ground for passengers to board. It helps make them more accessible for passengers with disabilities or bringing on bikes and strollers.
The platforms are larger as well to accommodate boarding and departing from all three doors. That makes the stops faster, even when there a bus is full.
Early next year, the current bus stops at McCollum Park Park and Ride will close and passengers will board at a temporary platform on Park Road.
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