UW News

January 13, 2005

Sound Transit access issue occupies council

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of columns by the chairs of Faculty Senate councils and committees. John Schaufelberger is chair of the Faculty Council on Facilities and Services.

The Faculty Council on University Facilities and Services (FCUFS) has responsibility for policies relating to building needs, space utilization, supplies and equipment, administrative services, and parking and traffic. As part of the shared governance of the University, the Council meets twice per quarter to review and discuss facilities and services issues and provides recommendations to appropriate members of the University Administration.

One of the major issues that FCUFS has been working on this year is Sound Transit planning for light rail service to campus. Under their preferred route, light rail trains will cross under the Lake Washington Ship Canal east of the Montlake Bridge. An underground station will be constructed adjacent to Husky Stadium which will provide access to the campus. The line will continue underneath Jefferson Road, the Husky Union Building, south edge of quadrangle, Parrington Lawn, and the Social Work/Speech Building to a station in the University District under Brooklyn Ave. NE between NE 43rd and 45th streets.

The stadium station will be located on the east side of Montlake Boulevard about 100 feet below the E11 parking lot. The south entrance to the station will be located on the east side on Montlake Boulevard at the northern edge of the intersection with NE Pacific Street. It will include ticket-vending machines and stair, escalator and elevator access to a below-grade concourse connecting with the underground station. The north entrance is expected to be located at the northeast end of the Montlake Triangle. It will include ticket-vending machines, and stair, escalator and elevator access to a below-grade concourse under Montlake Boulevard connecting with the station.

Access between central campus and the north station entrance is a major issue, because pedestrian access from the walkways along Rainier Vista and the Burke-Gilman Trail to the Montlake Triangle is across NE Pacific Place. In addition, pedestrian traffic may be further hindered by buses parked along the street for pickup and discharge of passengers transferring to and from light rail. Final design concepts for the north station entrance have not yet been developed, but FCUFS has expressed its strong view that central campus access as well as the safety of pedestrian and bicycle traffic to and from the station entrance must be considered. One possibility suggested is for a station entrance and bicycle parking facility to be located near the Burke-Gilman Trail eliminating the need to cross NE Pacific Place.

FCUFS will be meeting with campus transportation planners during Winter Quarter to discuss planned revisions to campus bus service and pedestrian circulation needs to foster the use of the light rail. The council also will continue to meet with Sound Transit planners as they develop the design concepts for the stadium station to ensure that campus access issues are addressed.

The role of FCUFS is to ensure that faculty have input into the location and design of all new facilities on campus. This is accomplished through involvement in the development of the campus master plan, site selection process, and design review. The council meets with project managers for new projects to discuss faculty concerns and provide recommendations. Another responsibility of the council is to review and approve any proposed placement of temporary facilities on the Seattle campus. Many of these are associated with construction projects on campus, but others are to meet the temporary needs of activities on campus.

Shared governance works only when faculty members are willing to become involved in faculty councils and the Faculty Senate. Each council has different responsibilities, but all address issues that are significant to the operation of the University. Councils have wide latitude to shape their individual agendas and interact directly with appropriate members of the administration. Service on a council is an educational experience, both in terms of learning how the University operates and meeting faculty colleagues from across campus.

If you are interested in shaping policies relating to University facilities and services, I encourage you to volunteer for membership in the FCUFS when the Secretary of the Faculty asks for volunteers in the spring.