It's Not Too Late: CORE Report Strongly Suggests That Alternatives To Sound Transit's Dedicated BAT Lane Are Viable and Must be Considered


John Drew, Editor

CORE has recently completed a comprehensive report of the Sound Transit SR 522/145th BRT project planned for our community. The report has been shared with Lake Forest Park (LFP) city leadership and we want to share it with you as well.

So, where are we now with this project? Is it too late to alter its course?

The project’s continuing delays (now not scheduled to be open until mid-2028) and challenges (it’s not clear that they have a viable plan to cross Bsche'tla Creek just south of the Sheridan Market) speak loudly that alternative designs are still possible.

The LFP City Council directed the administration in December of 2022 to ask Sound Transit (ST) for a 90 day pause to study alternatives to the design of the 522 BRT project in LFP. Only after repeated requests, ST responded in writing September 2023 (denying the request) – nine months later!

The Council made another written request, this time to the Sound Transit Board in October of 2023. The most recent request asks specifically for a serious study including a cost/benefit analysis of alternative solutions for LFP. So here we are several months later, and can you guess what has happened?

You guessed it – no official response.

For over a year CORE & LFP have been asking ST to consider bus queue jumps in lieu of the devasting design that would widen SR 522, take portions of over 100 properties, mow down 391 trees and a larger number of shrubs, and erect a nearly mile long graffiti-prone concrete retaining wall as high as 16 feet.

At an October 2023 meeting with CORE, Sound Transit staff said that a continuous north/eastbound dedicated bus lane is required in LFP. They showed a Google Maps screenshot showing afternoon northbound/eastbound congestion nearly the 1.3 mile length in LFP where they plan to create a new dedicated bus lane. Aside from the fact that the ST screenshot was 1.5 miles (erroneously including a section where a dedicated BAT lane already exists), our use of Google Maps yielded much lower congestion and travel times using the same day and time (see image above).

CORE was able to contract for a much more comprehensive analysis of Google traffic data and not only disproved the need for a dedicated lane, but also confirmed the viability of a much lower cost, less impactful set of two bus queue jump lanes.

Here’s a link to the 30-page report:

Here are some highlights:

  • The environmental review, completed in 2021, was seriously flawed. It didn’t fully compensate for two changes to the project which occurred shortly before the report was issued: the west shift of the highway creating the long and high retaining wall, and the postponement of the planned Town Center parking garage.
  • The pollution created by construction moving over 90,000 tons of dirt and debris as well as the loss of the counteracting value resulting from the removal over five acres of trees and shrubs will vastly offset any environmental benefit from using electric buses.
  • Continuous BAT lanes are not present throughout the planned route and are not essential to provide transit benefits.
  • Due to a Sound Transit error including a congested section of 145th/30th to Bothell Way, the actual average time savings through Lake Forest Park will be less than two minutes, not 2.3 minutes.
  • The enormous (and growing) cost of the project is completely out of proportion with the expected benefits.
  • CORE was unable to reproduce Sound Transit’s Google Maps screenshot of afternoon congestion showing a heavy red line and 5-14 minute travel times along the route planned for the new dedicated BAT lane construction. CORE data analysts saw much shorter times and were able to confirm a low likelihood of maximum delays.
  • CORE’s Google traffic data analysis demonstrated that the likelihood of congestion over 50% only occurs from 145th/Bothell Way to 153rd/Bothell Way and 165th/Bothell Way to 41st/Bothell Way showing that bus queue jumps are, indeed, a viable lower cost, lower impact alternative.

City leadership is using this report to advocate for a better transit solution, that will preserve transit benefits and new sidewalks, and CORE will continue to raise public awareness and advocate for a better way.

 The Sound Transit PDF version of the report is attached below.

File Attachment

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified