Tag Archives: light rail station

Going places on light rail: Rainier Beach station

(As the big opening day for light rail is this Saturday, we want to post a bit about the stations that aren’t on Beacon Hill. Much of the coverage of the rail line focuses on using it for commuting to and from work, and many of us will be doing that. But even more than getting to work, Link is going to be useful for visiting places throughout Downtown and Southeast Seattle without a car. With this in mind, we’ve created a few posts about some of the station areas.)

The pictogram representing the Rainier Beach station is a heron. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)
The pictogram representing the Rainier Beach station is a heron. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)
The Rainier Beach Station location has an oddly rural appearance, due to its location near the Chief Sealth Trail and the large Thistle Street P-Patch. There is not yet any kind of high density development in this area, and the City Light power lines that rise over the trail and p-patch will prevent those areas from being developed in the future. This area was rural well-within living memory, and in fact, Seattle’s last working farm, Sferra Farm, is fairly close by.

Several blocks to the east is Rainier Avenue and Rainier Beach High School. Another few blocks get you to Beer Sheva Park on the shore of Lake Washington. Just over a mile’s walk south on the Chief Sealth Trail from the station will get you to the famous and lovely Kubota Garden.

The Chief Sealth Trail undulates down Beacon Hill to the Rainier Beach Link station. Photo by Wendi.
The Chief Sealth Trail undulates down Beacon Hill to the Rainier Beach Link station. Photo by Wendi.
Beaconians, still without any pizza restaurants on the hill (unless you count the Domino’s on the very lowest part of the hill on McClellan, but we don’t), might find the Link train to be their pizza express, since the Rainier Beach station is only one long block away from Vince’s, where they’ve been serving pizza and gnocchi and spaghetti for 52 years now. Dinner at Vince’s is like stepping back in time; dark, with Sinatra on the sound system and checkered cloths on the table, it’s a classic old-style Neapolitan-American restaurant, probably not much different from the way it was in 1957. Comfort food doesn’t get much more comfortable than this. (There’s a bar, too.) If Italian food isn’t your thing, there is a taco wagon about half a mile north of the station on MLK.

Dragonfly above the Rainier Beach Station. Photo by Wendi.
"Dragonfly" above the Rainier Beach Station. Photo by Wendi.
The station itself, like most of the other Rainier Valley stations, is a platform station. Metal panels by artist Eugene Parnell are embossed with hieroglyphics and other forms of writing and stand throughout the platform. An aluminum creature, “Dragonfly” by Darlene Nguyen-Ely, soars over the north entrance. Nearby is Buster Simpson’s “Parable,” meant to be pear halves that reflect the farming past of the Valley, with cables and rails to symbolize the encroachment by urban Seattle that changed the neighborhood. This, however, is one of the less-successful artworks at the stations, as at a glance, it just looks like a pile of rusty junk left over from the station’s construction. A better evocation of old farming Seattle is just across MLK, where the P-patch farmers continue an old South Seattle tradition.

Artwork by Eugene Parnell on the station platform. Photo by Wendi.
Artwork by Eugene Parnell on the station platform. Photo by Wendi.

Going places on light rail: Tukwila International Boulevard station

(As the big opening day for light rail is this Saturday, we want to post a bit about the stations that aren’t on Beacon Hill. Much of the coverage of the rail line focuses on using it for commuting to and from work, and many of us will be doing that. But even more than getting to work, Link is going to be useful for visiting places throughout Downtown and Southeast Seattle without a car. With this in mind, we’ve created a few posts about some of the station areas.)

On Link maps and printed materials, each station has a symbol. Tukwila Station's symbol is a canoe, to refer to its history on three rivers and future as a transportation hub. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)
On Link maps and printed materials, each station has a symbol. Tukwila Station's symbol is a canoe, to refer to its history on three rivers and future as a transportation hub. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)
Of all the stations on the Link light rail line, Tukwila International Boulevard Station is the most frustrating, at least, from the perspective of anyone who doesn’t live or work in the area. Of all the stations, it has the fewest neighborhood attractions to visit. What it does have that none of the other stations do is one thing: a 600-space park and ride.

Even Sound Transit’s own promotional materials struggle to find nearby attractions for this station. The Discover Link Neighborhoods Interactive Map gives as this station’s nearby attractions Southcenter Mall (about 1.75 miles away), the Interurban Railroad (historically interesting, but there really isn’t anything left of it to see), and the Museum of Flight, a whopping five miles away on East Marginal Way. (If you really want to see the Museum, and you’re willing to hoof it a bit, don’t take the train to Tukwila — get off at Rainier Beach and walk two and a half miles to the Museum, which is less than a mile away as the crow files, but is on the other side of I-5.) Other “points of interest” mentioned elsewhere by Sound Transit include Fort Dent Park (a couple of miles away) and Boeing Access Road (several miles away near the Museum of Flight, and not an “attraction” per se). In other words, there’s not much there there, near the station itself. We could all use a little more walking, but if you are willing to take the train to Tukwila only to walk 5 miles to get to the Museum of Flight, you’re a more intrepid walker than I.

The Tukwila station as seen from International Boulevard. Photo by Wendi.
The Tukwila station as seen from International Boulevard. Photo by Wendi.
What there is to see at this particular station is the station itself. Larger than most of the other stations, its design is big, glassy and modern. The roof soars above the station at an angle for takeoff, and the tracks elevated high in the sky make you think of a monorail instead of an earth-bound light rail.

Like the other Sound Transit stations, Tukwila has its share of art, including a giant milk drop caught in mid-splash, A Drop of Sustenance, and a huge brightly-colored molecule, Molecule of Tukwila, both by Tad Savinar. Outside the station grounds, though, there is not much art, but instead a suburban auto-oriented highway-strip neighborhood of the type that grows up around all old highways (in this case, it was formerly part of US 99, then SR 99): a gas station, McDonalds, KFC, a former casino, a Pancake Chef, bars and strip clubs populate the strip. There are nearby halal grocery shops, and a post office that stays open until late at night to accept your packages. Until the SeaTac Airport station opens in December, there will also be a shuttle bus waiting here to get you to the airport.

Molecule of Tukwila, as seen from outside the station. Photo by Wendi.
Molecule of Tukwila, as seen from outside the station. Photo by Wendi.
Ben Schiendelman commented recently on one of my photos of this station that “It’s a terrible place for a station this year, but not in 20 years. And it’ll be around for 150…” With luck we won’t need to wait that long for a reason to visit.

This is the last weekend before the light rail opens

Here are a few photos of the area around the Beacon Hill light rail station as the clock ticks down to Opening Day.

The art outside the station has begun to be installed. The work on the north side of the building  is by artist Carl Smool.
The art outside the station has begun to be installed. The work on the north side of the building is by artist Carl Smool.

This flag marks the spot where the last part of the Big Blue Fence was until recently. In the background is El Centro de la Raza.
This flag marks the spot where the last part of the Big Blue Fence was until recently. In the background is El Centro de la Raza.

Until recently, this area was covered with machinery and construction supplies. Now, its a smoothly-graded field of gravel.
Until recently, this area was covered with machinery and construction supplies. Now, it's a smoothly-graded field of gravel.

In anticipation of increased demand for parking near the station, this formerly-free parking lot has sprouted a brand-new Diamond Parking sign.
In anticipation of increased demand for parking near the station, this formerly-free parking lot at Beacon and Forest has sprouted a brand-new Diamond Parking sign.

A close-up of Carl Smools cut-metal artwork on the north side of the station.
A close-up of Carl Smool's cut-metal artwork on the north side of the station.

It is getting close to being finished, but it still looks like they will have to work 24X7 to get it done by next Saturday.

Photos by Wendi.

More about Link light rail opening festivities

A Link train arrives at Othello Station in Rainier Valley. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.
A Link train arrives at Othello Station in Rainier Valley. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.
We mentioned the Link Light Rail opening weekend festivities the other day. Here’s some more information about the celebration. Opening Day is Saturday, July 18, with free rides from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. There will also be free rides on Sunday, July 19, from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. (After opening weekend, Link will be on its normal schedule.) There will be a Welcome Portal located on South Lander Street, just north of the station plaza. Staff will be on hand there to answer questions.

Sound Transit tells us that there will be lines, and you should be prepared to wait. They expect from 50,000 to 100,000 riders to ride Link that weekend. (To give you an idea of how big that number is — the population of Seattle is 602,000. So potentially one in six Seattleites will ride Link on opening weekend.) Because of the large crowds, South Lander Street will be closed to vehicle traffic between Beacon and 17th; it’s been closed for several years already for construction, so we should be used to it.

If you need to ride the bus somewhere during that weekend, be aware that buses will not be using the tunnel, and tunnel buses will be on their surface routes instead.

Though rides opening weekend are free, after that you will need to pay. Consider getting an ORCA Card soon. You can use the ORCA on the bus, train, and ferry. (You can still pay with cash, but you’ll have to buy tickets in the train station. There won’t be fareboxes on the trains.)

A bit of station trivia: Each station has an icon, or “pictogram” that represents the station and its area, visually. Beacon Hill Station’s pictograph is a kite, representing “a sense of light and air, as well as community spaces and summer picnics, items that play prominent roles in Beacon Hill’s neighborhood plan and history.” See more about the pictograms and their meanings in this PDF from Sound Transit.

The RPZ is coming soon

If you see this in your usual parking area, youll need to get a pass. Photo by Wendi.
If you see this in your usual parking area, you'll need to get a pass. Photo by Wendi.
In the last couple of weeks, new signs have been posted around the light rail station areas, with parking limitations “except by zone permit.” New Restricted Parking Zones (RPZs) are going into effect in July, to prevent people from using the neighborhoods immediately around each light rail station as unofficial park-and-rides. Park too long in an RPZ without the official city sticker declaring you as a resident, and you’ll get a ticket. (No, your “BeHi” sticker won’t help.)

The zones are in effect from 7:00 am until 6:00 pm on weekdays, limiting parking to two hours unless you have an RPZ pass. General information on the RPZ passes and how to apply may be found here, along with specific information for the zones at Beacon Hill, Mount Baker (McClellan), Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach.

Pass fees are waived until spring 2011 for residents near the light rail stations, limited to two free resident passes and one free guest pass per household. There is a cost for additional permits.

Beacon Bits: Tunnel views, golf memories, and closed wading pools

Beacon Bits: Chekhov, snakes, and liquor

Volunteers are building a better home for snakes like these in Jose Rizal park. Photo by benketaro.
Volunteers are building a better home for snakes like these in Jose Rizal park. Photo by benketaro.
  • Performances of Anton Chekhov’s The Lost Highway are tonight (June 6) and next Thursday through Saturday, June 11-13, at 8:00 pm. The venue is Art’s on Beacon Hill, 4951 13th Avenue South. (Thanks to Audrey Chesnutt for letting us know.)
  • Craig Thompson reports that, as part of today’s Seattle Works Day event, a team of folks was to help build a herpetarium (an environment for garter snakes) near the northwest side of the off-leash area at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Additionally, volunteers picked up rocks and debris in the off-leash area to make it easier for Seattle Parks and Recreation to mow the meadow. (Garter snakes are not poisonous, so have no fear of the snakes!)
  • Inay’s beer/spirits/wine application has been approved. Inay’s Asian Pacific Cuisine is at 2503 Beacon Avenue South and the food is quite tasty. In other liquor license news, two local businesses have liquor license renewals coming up on August 30: Thai Recipe at 2609 South McClellan Street and Dahlak Eritrean Cuisine at 2007 South State Street. If you have comments or concerns about either of these renewals, send them to John McGoodwin at john.mcgoodwin@seattle.gov. (Thanks to Shelly Bates for the report.)
  • Can’t wait to see the inside of the Beacon Hill light rail station? Sound Transit has posted a photo of the recently-installed artwork inside the underground station. A couple of weeks before that, they posted a photo of air-flow testing within the station.

Emergency drill at train station will cause parking restrictions

Sound Transit, Seattle Police and Fire, and King County Metro will conduct an emergency response drill at the Beacon Hill light rail station (Beacon Ave S. and S. Lander St.) on Wednesday May 27 through Saturday May 30. Please do not dial 911 about the drill activities; it’s only a drill.

Temporary parking restrictions will be imposed on those dates between South McClellan and South Bayview streets on 17th Avenue South from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. This restriction will enable the Fire Department to stage response vehicles during the drill.

Thanks to Steve Louie for forwarding the info to the mailing list!


View Parking restrictions for Sound Transit Drill in a larger map

Beacon Bits: crocheted art, construction photographs, and fighting crime with coffee

Crocheting by Mandy Greer, for the project "Mater Matrix Mother and Medium", an interactive, process-based art installation. Photo by Jennifer Zwick.
Crocheting by Mandy Greer, for the project "Mater Matrix Mother and Medium", an interactive, process-based art installation. Photo by Jennifer Zwick.
  • Artist Mandy Greer is creating Mater Matrix Mother and Medium, a “process-based temporary public art installation” that uses recycled fabric and yarn along with the volunteer help of many hands to build the installation. You can help crochet this artwork at the Beacon Hill Library on May 24 — all skill levels welcome! Details are here.
  • Peter de Lory, the Photographer in Residence for the Sound Transit Central Link light rail project, has posted some interesting recent pictures of the Beacon Hill and Mount Baker stations under construction. (Go here, click “Visit the gallery now”, and choose March 2009 to see the slide show. Flash required.)
  • Beacon Hill neighbor Lorraine reports on the mailing list: “I was waiting at the northbound bus stop at Beacon and Hanford (yesterday) morning
    when a guy tried to grab my phone from me. I held on tight and whacked him with my coffee thermos and he ran off. Then I followed him and watched him get in his small, black pickup truck and take off.” The unsuccessful thief was white, with short brown hair and brown facial hair, about 5’9″ and 180 pounds, wearing a short-sleeved, plaid shirt with a collar and pale blue jeans. Lorraine adds, “The guy asked me a few questions and what time it was before he grabbed my phone. I had turned the phone to show him the time after he acted like he hadn’t heard me. So, lesson learned. Please be alert at those bus stops, everybody!”

Beacon Bits: Recession affects light rail area development and local cut glass company

On a positive note, the cherry trees are blooming! (A little late this year, aren’t they?)

Photo by Joel Lee, in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
Photo by Joel Lee, in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.