by TIM BOND
Last Wednesday Sound Transit held an open house (PDF) for the Central Link extension to S. 200th Street. Not much new was announced at the meeting; the 30% design has been completed and the project is being readied to be put up for bid. Because this will be a design-build contract, the contractor will finish the remaining engineering for the station.
One of the advantages of a design-build project is that the contractor can gain additional efficiencies by tailoring the design and construction processes to meet their internal flows. This echoes the Sound Transit’s mantra for the project of “save money, build quicker.” Proposals will be due in June 2012 and the contract will be awarded in August 2012. Construction is expected to begin in early 2013, with the extension opening mid to late 2016–the same time as University Link.
More below the jump.
In July Sound Transit released an addendum to their design and environmental analysis which presented new alternatives for parking at the station due to a study required by the City of SeaTac. The initial design called for 630 parking spaces at the station; the new design calls for 1,100. 1,100 stalls is the expected peak demand between the time the station opens and when the next station opens at Highline Community College. Terminus stations always have the highest demand for parking as riders flock from many points around the station instead of just areas between stations. Once the next station opens, the demand is expected to reduce significantly.
With that in mind, there are three alternatives:
- Build one 1,100 stall garage
- Build two garages with 470 and 630 stalls, respectively; the latter being on leased land
- Build a 470 stall garage and utilize surface parking on leased land
While mega-garages do sound transit-unfriendly, SeaTac code requires that at least 50% of the streetside portion of parking garages be occupied by retail or commercial uses “not specifically auto-oriented in scale or nature.” That would mean this garage would look similar to WallyPark’s new garage or MasterPark’s garage, which both have ground-level retail units. The only other garage inside SeaTac’s city limits is the airport garage, which just happens to be the second largest parking garage in the US and has no retail to speak of. It was grandfathered in when SeaTac’s multi-use code kicked in.
No alternative on the parking structures have been decided yet. ST is checking cost estimates to determine which will be the most feasible. Because the southern parking facility would be located on leased land, it might actually make the most sense to build the 1,100 stall garage. Otherwise, you end up leasing spaces for a few years until the next station opens up, and at the end of the lease you have nothing to show for it. The 1,100 stall garage might end up costing nearly the same or slightly more than leasing spaces but would be somewhat future-proofing capacity and would allow greater flexibility for surging demand. Regardless of which alternative is chosen, demand at Tukwila/Int’l Boulevard Station is likely to drop considerably.
Separate from the parking alternatives, Sound Transit is also submitting an application for $27 million of TIGER III funds. You can show your support for this project and the TIGER III grant by writing a letter that Sound Transit can include in their final application. The most effective letters speak to the importance of the project from your own perspective as a transit rider, supporter, or advocate.
You can fill out this comment card or better yet write a letter using this template (PDF) and fact sheet (PDF). Address your letter to USDOT and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a hard copy to Sound Transit, Attn: Rachel Smith, 401 South Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104 while making sure your letter arrives by Friday October 14th. The letters will be submitted with the TIGER III application. The letters will also be forwarded to Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Governor Christine Gregoire, Congressman Adam Smith, and Joni Earl, Sound Transit CEO.
As always, you can submit general comments about the project to email@example.com.