Light rail station planning brings cities and communities together for more walkable, connected neighborhoods

CTGlogo2The way streets and sidewalks in your community are built can affect your health. How? If a neighborhood is spread out and disconnected, it requires residents to be more dependent on their cars, which discourages walking and other forms of active transportation. Studies have shown neighborhoods that are more walkable are associated with active transportation, lower body-mass index for adults, and less air pollution.1teens

The Angle Lake District in the City of SeaTac is an area that was built for cars. International Boulevard (SR99) is a main thoroughfare with very long city blocks. With large distances between businesses and not many opportunities to cross the street, it’s difficult to get from place to place without a car.

With the construction of the City’s Angle Lake Link Station, however, comes the opportunity to build a more walkable, bicycle-friendly district. The City of SeaTac clearly values health and has a long-term vision of the type of city it wants to be. Through the planning process for the Angle Lake District, the City wanted to explore ways land development around the station could meet the needs of the community and support health and community well-being.

The planning project included two main parts: The Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study and community engagement.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study included a combination of policy and literature analysis, assessment of existing conditions and community outreach.

Recommendations included:

  • Intersection improvements—such as updating crosswalk markings and curb ramps
  • Increased sidewalk widths recommended for busy streets
  • Sidewalks on both sides of the street
  • Shared streets (low-volume, low-speed streets that accommodate cars, bikes, and pedestrians)
  • Separated bike paths
  • A new signal on International Boulevard

Voices from the community
Community Liaisons from Global to Local (G2L), a non-profit focused on bringing global health strategies to King County communities, played a vital role in engaging community members in the process. G2L successfully reached Latino, Somali, Eritrean, and Arabic-speaking communities in the station area to provide their input.

High school students also took part in the project. They conducted a walking audit, completed questionnaires, and provided their own feedback.

“It was great to have the resources to reach out to more people in culturally appropriate ways about how the City could increase access to community and economic opportunities,” said Kate Kaehny, senior planner at City of SeaTac.

The input from community stakeholders, including business owners, led to a “community vision” in the draft planning document. The vision highlights several issues including the need for new and different types of affordable housing, improved connectivity, safety, and landscaping.

Feedback from the community and the results of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study have now been integrated into the action and implementation steps for the Angle Lake Station Area. As the City of SeaTac moves forward with developing the Angle Lake District, they are sure to create a healthier, more walkable and bicycle-friendly district that the community supports and uses.

1 Frank, L. D.; Sallis, J.F.; Conway, T.F.; Chapman, J.E.; Saelens, B.E.; Bachman, W. (2006) Many Pathways from Land Use to Health: Associations between Neighborhood Walkability and Active Transportation, Body Mass Index, and Air Quality” Journal of the American Planning Association Vol. 72, No. 1, pp. 75-87