Thursday night’s meeting of the Thornton Creek Alliance featured employees of Sound Transit who spoke at length about the impact of Link light rail construction on Thornton Creek. As part of the mitigation for impacting the wetlands at Northgate, Sound Transit has proposed paying for Seattle Public Utilities Knickerbocker Project in Victory Heights. SPU has no funds to finance the project itself which began with test drilling last week. While it might seem unfair and unconnected to the Northgate project, the amount of space to increase wetlands at Northgate (which often dry up during the summer) is limited due to the existing interstate and surface streets. Whereas the Knickerbocker Project, described as “shovel ready,” would be a substantial improvement to the quality of Thornton Creek. The Sound Transit money is not enough to finance the entire cost of the project which could still be delayed or canceled, but it is hoped it will attract grants to make up the rest.
During the six year construction of the Northgate Link Light Rail next to 1st Ave NE, Thornton Creek will be diverted into a culvert to protect it from dirt and other runoff. This was agreed by all the parties as the best solution, after which the creek would be daylighted again except for a 20 foot section to allow truck access across. A proposed pedestrian bridge over I-5 would cost an estimated $20 million. Sound Transit is committing $5 million to study it, with the city matching it with another $5 million. The rest would have to come from other sources if it were to be built.
Other TCA business included a unanimous vote to add Heather Ferguson to the board, revise membership levels, and a report from the treasurer of sufficient funds to finance activity through March 2013.
Brad Johnson reported that barring a last minute appeal, SPU would begin its controversial work on Meadowbrook Pond on July 9th. Fifty to sixty trees are to be removed as part of much needed dredging in the pond (some places are only six inches deep). Three hundred and eighty dump truck loads of sentiment (and invasive mudsnails) are to hauled to a site in Monroe for processing as safe soil.
After the meeting, a brief tour was made of the Meadowbrook Pond and confluence area around the community center.