Battle brewing over Northgate parking garage

Battle brewing over Northgate parking garage
SEATTLE -- A battle between drivers, bicyclists and walkers is brewing in North Seattle, and it all centers around plans to build a new parking garage to be used during construction of the new Northgate light rail station.

Northgate community members turned up in droves on Monday for a public meeting on the proposal.

"When we heard about the parking garage, those of us in the neighborhood were pretty outraged," one resident said.

By 2030, Sound Transit expects 15,000 riders will pass through the station every day, and officials believe most will travel to and from the station by bus.

Many people are still wondering what the parking situation will look like after the station opens, as well as during the six years of construction.

"What do you do with the 1,500 people who are parking here everyday when we close down that area and take 900 of those stalls over six years to build the station?" said Sound Transit's Bruce Gray.

Sound Transit officials say they just want to make sure the current amount of parking space is still available during construction. They also want to free up surface parking lots for redevelopment.

"To hear that a government agency is going to spend tens of millions of dollars on a parking garage that will only benefit a few people was really repulsive and offensive to us," said Eric Youngblut of the Pinehurst Community Council.

One rumor that was dispelled at Monday's meeting was the idea that the garage would cost $40 million to build.

"We are way too early in the process to know what a garage like this is going to cost," Gray said.

Despite hearing from Sound Transit officials, many who attended Monday's meeting still have concerns about the project.

"The money would be better spent on sidewalks and bus headways and especially the pedestrian bridge over I-5," Youngblut said.

Sound Transit officials say they're working closely with city leaders and with the Seattle Bike Advisory Board in order to improve the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in Northgate. They plan to spend the next few weeks hashing out concerns from the community.