A 'precedent setting' project
The final environmental impact statement (FEIS) was approved by the Higher Education Board in September, with the preferred alternative seeking extensive restoration and enhancement of the wetlands and returning North Creek to its original floodplain.
Erik Stockdale, wetlands specialist with the Department of Ecology, spoke highly of the project's goals.
"We are very pleased with the direction the board has taken," Stockdale said. "It's a precedent-setting project that will put back probably more than they are going to get...a legacy on the landscape that is going to restore a critical part of the North Creek Basin."
The preferred alternative for the proposed campus would return North Creek to its wetlands and floodplain, which would involve 60 acres of the site. Based on similar models, this action would enable North Creek to endure the impacts of increased urbanization in the watershed.
The new creek channel would be constructed with meanders, increasing the amount of habitat for fish and other wildlife, while gaining less than four acres of buildable area.
Another alternative explored in the FEIS would also return North Creek to the floodplain, but would call for 6,600 parking spaces.
Two other alternatives were also explored, leaving north Creek in its current location and proposing 4,200 or 6,600 parking spaces, but these two alternatives would require possible off-site mitigations and ongoing levee maintenance.
The FEIS estimates approximately three-fourths of the 9,650 students, faculty, staff and visitors would be on site at one time, and proposes the goal of 60 percent transit/HOV, 15 percent transit and 45 percent carpooling.
The main parking structure would be located at the south entrance and would be 5 to 5.5 levels stepping into the hillside, measuring about four stories in height.
The project is to be built in phases, allowing future construction to adjust to accommodate needs as they evolve.
Taking advantage of the phasing of the project, there will be ongoing monitoring of transit and carpool rates.
The flexibility of accommodating future parking needs is built in.
Automobile access to the site is planned from the south via a new off-ramp from SR-522, and from the north via Beardslee Boulevard.
The North Creek and Sammamish River Trails will connect on the campus, allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to access the campus from these two regional trails.
The traffic in Bothell would feel the effects of the new college.
At full buildout, the SR-522/SR-527/Main Street intersection would be significantly over capacity, with campus traffic increasing the critical volume by about six percent.
The four-way stop at the top of Main Street would exceed its capacity, making it necessary to install a traffic signal after Phase I is completed.
The FEIS says the peak-hour congestion at the I-405/195th Street interchange would be "significantly exacerbated" by campus traffic.
An additional left-turn lane for the northbound off-ramp, a right-turn lane for the southbound ramp and an additional through lane for 195th are planned.
A total of six campus buildings will house the classrooms and labs on the new campus, and a four-story library will dominate the site in a central location, with all other campus buildings either two or three stories.
The campus plan also features a theater, and parking is located on the outer edge of the site to create a "contiguous academic campus landscape unobscured by pedestrian/vehicular conflicts."
Promenades and boardwalks will lead from the campus to observation points in the floodplain, where a wide variety of plant communities, fish and wildlife habitats and the restored stream and floodplain will be accessible for educational opportunities.
All structures currently on the site will be removed except for the Dr. Reuben Chase house and the Truly house. The Chase house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Truly Farms-Stringtown site was selected based on educational needs analysis, site evaluations and environmental reviews.
In 1990, the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges identified the area of north King County and south Snohomish County as having the greatest recent growth and the least access to a community college.
The project would sit on parcels owned by the Truly Estate, Quadrant and a number of parcels known as Stringtown, covering a total of 127 acres within the Bothell City limits.