New Park & Ride opens Sunday in Salmon Creek

Lot’s completion marks milestone in interchange project

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Don’t expect much fanfare when the new Salmon Creek Park & Ride opens Sunday. No event is planned, and none of the routes that serve it operate on Sundays. The first bus will actually arrive early Monday.

The new, relocated park and ride marks another milestone in the ongoing Salmon Creek Interchange Project. But other than leaving their cars on the other side of Interstate 5, C-Tran commuters who use the lot shouldn’t notice much difference in service.

That’s by design, said Washington State Department of Transportation project manager Allen Hendy.

“We tried to approach it where we would replace everything in kind,” he said.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few changes: Users will notice new passenger shelters, better access for disabled riders, a new smoking area and extra bike lockers. The new “pervious” concrete covering the lot will allow rain and stormwater to drain straight through, filtered by several feet of dirt and sand below before it returns to groundwater.

Of the four bus routes that served the old lot — 9 (Felida), 19 (Salmon Creek), 105 (I-5 Express) and 134 (Salmon Creek Express) — the 105 and 134 will divert to the new park and ride this week, and their schedules will change by a few minutes here and there.

“The type of service that will come out of it is essentially the same as there is today,” said C-Tran Public Affairs Director Scott Patterson.

The new lot advances the ongoing effort to revamp the northern convergence of Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. Part of the Salmon Creek Interchange Project meant closing the existing park and ride just north of Northeast 134th Street, between the two freeways. That closure will ease congestion along Northeast 134th, plus make room for a new ramp and stormwater ponds being installed in its place, Hendy said.

To replace the park and ride, crews built a new lot on the west side of I-5. The facility sits between Northeast 136th and 139th streets, just across Northeast Tenney Road from the Fred Meyer store.

The new park and ride cost about $3.8 million to build, said Clark County project manager Matt Griswold. That’s included in the Salmon Creek Interchange Project’s $133 million total price tag secured by WSDOT and Clark County.

Crew spent last week putting finishing touches on the facility, including work on bus shelters and landscaping. It sits near a new roundabout and other rebuilt roads that have already transformed the area west of I-5, tackled largely by the county as part of the Salmon Creek Interchange Project’s first two phases.

Construction on the rest of the project, which will widen both I-5 and I-205 and extend Northeast 139th with a bridge over the two freeways, won’t be finished until 2014, according to WSDOT.

Service in and out of the relocated park and ride will likely be slowed some by ongoing construction, Patterson said. But by the time it’s finished, it should function more smoothly than the old location, he said.

“The main plus will be when the interchange project is entirely complete,” Patterson said. “One of the cons is, it’s going to be a while.”

The new facility will shrink the Salmon Creek Park & Ride from 498 spaces to 472, according to Hendy. Since the lot was built, C-Tran opened a large park and ride lot and transit center off Northeast 99th Street. The old lot was typically about two-thirds full in recent years, Patterson said, though those counts have begun to pick up some.

C-Tran representatives spent part of last week at the old park and ride notifying commuters of the change. The agency has also used signs and email alerts to get the word out, while bus drivers train to get acclimated to the new setup.

The first bus to serve the new lot will be the No. 134, scheduled to roll in just after 5 a.m. Monday.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541 or eric.florip@columbian.com.