Everett Station makes best use of varied public services

Today, Everett’s transit station begins moving forward – and pulling the region along with it.

It’s a rare public works project that has as much potential to transform lives as this one. Thanks to excellent, even visionary planning, the station can make a difference for the region and for many individuals in Everett and around Snohomish County.

It isn’t just a transit station project that will rise in downtown Everett, beginning with today’s groundbreaking ceremony. The University Center at Everett Station will bring upper-division higher education to area residents. Operating as part of a consortium, Western Washington University, the University of Washington, Washington State University, Central Washington University and Eastern Washington University will enable students to earn bachelor’s degrees here. On top of that innovative combination of education and transportation, there’s a third major element in the project: a job resources center.

First of all, though, the Everett Station will be a key element in improving north Puget Sound’s transportation picture. The station will be the terminal for Sound Transit’s Everett-Seattle commuter rail service, which is expected to begin late next year or in early 2002. Everett Transit, Community Transit and Sound Transit’s own buses will connect at the station, along with taxis, airport shuttles and Amtrak trains. Park-and-ride facilities will also be offered.

The project’s marriage of transportation and education brings together two fundamental elements in the Puget Sound region’s economic development. It’s a combination, moreover, that will serve area residents particularly well. After the center opens, many homeward-bound commuters, for instance, will find it possible to take classes before finishing the rest of their trips home.

Many of the students will aim at new jobs. With the new WorkSource center at the station, they will have access to a wide array of resources. Among the 17 partner agencies in WorkSource are the state Employment Security Department, Edmonds and Everett community colleges, the Job Corps, Volunteers of America and the Tulalip Tribes.

With a downtown location near I-5, the station should prove a vital part of Everett’s continuing redevelopment as an urban residential and work center. The city’s well-conceived plans for the project certainly promise to help fulfill that potential.

Fairly or not, transportation, education and job-service agencies in this state don’t have a particular reputation for creatively using limited resources. That makes the Everett Station project all the more impressive. The city of Everett, Sound Transit, the higher-education consortium, the Snohomish County Workforce Development Council and numerous agencies and individuals developed a genuinely visionary plan that ties together a variety of services efficiently.

Everett Station will become a national model as more regions seek to combine transportation and higher education for students whose careers or personal lives make it impossible for them to go away to college. More importantly, this is a project that will move the region forward – on several fronts.

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