Yesterday Sound Transit announced that Angle Lake Station will open on Saturday September 24th. The elevated station sits 1.6 miles south of Airport Station, currently the southern terminus of the Link light rail line. Angle Lake will be the furthest south you can go until the Kent/Des Moines extension is opened, expected by 2023. Sound Transit says that it will take just 41 minutes starting from Angle Lake to reach Westlake Center and about 48 minutes to reach University of Washington Station.
Originally scheduled for a 2020 opening in the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure, the agency accelerated the project by four years after securing $10 million in TIGER funding, with the press release giving a special shout out to U.S. Senator Patty Murray for helping to snag the grant. The $383 million extension also came in $40 million under budget.
Now, some Seattleites may be asking themselves: where is Angle Lake and why would I go there? A few even took some ribbing on Twitter.
Six Reasons to Visit Angle Lake Station:
1 Missed airport stop
2 Reporting for prison sentence
3 Name is @SounderBruce
4 Ugh, this is hard
— Qagggy! (@Qagggy) August 24, 2016
Kidding aside, Angle Lake Station will bring more of the city of SeaTac into Link’s walkshed, perhaps spur a moderate amount of transit-oriented development, and offer people from around the region access to lovely Angle Lake. Granted both the walkshed and development potential of the station area is hindered by institutional uses near the station, namely airport facilities and a federal detention center. However, we still expect to see a few mixed-use projects to go in where they can.
Plus transit riders might want to take the trip at least once to see the station itself, which has an impressive design and station art. Sound Transit policy dictates that they spend 1% of the project budget on art. Laura Haddad created a sculpture called “Cloud” above the station platform. The Angle Lake Station website paints quite the picture:
Wind activates thousands of individual discs while the sunlight makes them shimmer and glow. The Cloud serve as a sculptural barometer of local weather.
Meanwhile, Jill Anholt’s piece “Immerse” hangs over the plaza and staircase and apparently “the sculpture’s four delicate arcs [transfer] light into the parking area below.” Did we mention the parking? The station raison de vivre is the adjoining 1,050-stall parking garage (plus 70 surface spots) which one would hope would guarantee at least that many riders from the station each day. Sound Transit actually expects five times that number and predicts Angle Lake Station will serve 5,400 riders coming and going each weekday by 2018.
But there is one small hope for the immediate station area: one of the main pockets of density in SeaTac is adjacent to the station. The density is nearly 15,000 per square mile in a small census group just southeast of the station. On the other hand, the rest of the adjoining census block groups are not very dense. A mile to the south a few census blocks spike significantly in residential density. But all told, for a suburb, the land use is not as bad as it might seem at first glance even with the sprawl-y ramblers breaking out like hives on a cul-de-sac grid.
So, Angle Lake Station is a modest addition to our light rail network, but one not without perks, a few of which are hiding just below the surface. Maybe we’ll see you at Angle Lake Park for an autumn dip? Or hey, if you forgot to get off at the airport, at least take a moment to gawk at the station art.
Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.