Federal Way Extension Page 1As part of the Federal Way Link extension, Sound Transit drafted four alternatives that would connect the Angle Lake Station, which is expected to open in 2016 on Pacific Highway (SR-99), to the currently unfunded Federal Way Transit Center. The Kent-Des Moines station, expected to open by 2023, is the first stop after Angle Lake. Voters approved S. 272nd Station in 2008, but there is not yet funding to get there. Funding to construct the all the way to Federal Way could come from grants or a future ballot measure. The alternatives follow I-5, stay on SR99, or switch between them with Kent/Des Moines as a transition station. ST is also considering additional stations on SR99 at S. 216th St. and S. 260th St.

ST has as many as eight potential locations for the Kent-Des Moines station. Project Team Manager Sandra Fann said that the details of these locations are not yet officially decided, but all of them are expected to be accessible to the Highline campus. Some of the options include having the station on the east side of campus; west east, or in the median of the Pacific Highway South (SR-99); west or east of 30th Ave South, or along Interstate 5. “These locations are based on a combination of ideas brought up by cities along the way and logic from an alignment perspective,” Fann said.

City officials from Kent, having already massively upzoned their share of the station area, prefers the station to align with SR-99 while the City of Des Moines would rather have the light rail go on I-5.

Kent City Councilmember Dennis Higgins said he prefers an alternative that serves the people and neighborhoods by the station. “Generally speaking I think a routing down the freeway median doesn’t meet that criteria,” Higgins said. “I know such routes are more disruptive during construction but in the long run they serve the public much better.”

courtesy Sound Transit - click to enlarge
courtesy Sound Transit – click to enlarge

Des Moines Mayor Dave Kaplan agrees with the city of Kent about having a light rail station accessible for Highline College students. However, he said he would rather have the line follow I-5 and SR-509 with the station on I-5.

“We wouldn’t line up with the station as chosen by the voters when they approved ST2,” Kaplan said. “We wouldn’t wind up with the station directly in Des Moines so the only thing we would wind up with is the impact that would break down SR-99 (Pacific Highway). We aren’t interested in having the impacts of that, we’ve already impacted it with number of things like the airport and other things over the years.”

Des Moines City Councilmember Jeanette Burrage said that one of the things that the city is most concerned about is using up too much of their scarce commercial property with Sound Transit’s footprint. Burrage added that Des Moines is one of the cities with the fewest commercial areas and that they need the revenue to fund city services.

“We understand and respect what Kent wants in terms of minimal impact on the area where they want the transit-oriented development,” Kaplan added. “But the alignment is the bigger concern.”

Sound Transit spokesperson Kimberly Reason said that Sound Transit will focus on four criteria to help determine the best alternative to determine both the alignment and location of the Kent-Des Moines station in the Federal Way Link Extension: conceptual design, cost and performance, environmental effects, and transit oriented development potential.

Ms. Reason said that there will be a 45-day comment period following the completion of the EIS draft. Both cities, as well as the public, will then be given the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns regarding the EIS. The public comment period is expected to be the end of 2014 or early 2015.

“We have been doing very robust outreach in this corridor,” Reason said. “We want to give the communities as mamy opportunities as possible to let them know what is happening with these [transit] projects and the options that go with the station locations.”

Following publication of the Draft EIS in late 2014 or early 2015, the Sound Transit Board is scheduled to identify a preferred alignment alternative and station location alternatives in early 2015. The final EIS is scheduled for publication in early 2016, with the Board selecting the project to be built around mid-2016. The Federal Transit Agency (FTA) is scheduled to issue a Record of Decision in late 2016.

“Once we have the record of the decision, we can then aggressively pursue whatever funding we can go after,” said Reason.

That funding became important after Sound Transit’s tax revenues took a major hit during the recession. The Sound Transit 2 plan was originally slated to raise more than $17 billion in revenues from 2008-2023, but the  recession wiped about $4 billion off the original projection.

“We had to realign what we could accomplish,” Reason said. “The good news was that we have funding to extend the Angle Lake Station to Kent-Des Moines station… But we do not have the necessary funding to construct all the way to Federal Way Transit Center at this time.”

54 Replies to “Debate Over the Future Kent-Des Moines Station Site”

  1. There seems to be a sort of bipolar nature to LINK.

    Is it a high capacity local tram where you want a lot of interaction and use at every station as it meanders through the business district? Example: Living in a TOD apartment and travelling up and down for work, education, entertainment.

    Or is it rapid transit, where you want to transport people into a few centralized destinations quickly? Example: Parking at a LINK station to get to Mariners game.

    Can it be both at some point…with both Locals and Expresses?

    1. With the possible exception of the Mt. Baker – Rainier Beach segment, LINK is already rapid transit. Stops are far apart, even by American standards; heavy grade separation is widespread, trains are high-capacity.

      For better or for worse, what has been created is essentially a modern, Puget Sound version of BART.

      As for the Kent-Des Moines station, locating it at I-5 or SR-99 isn’t going to have a big change on travel times. Locating the station at SR-99 will reinforce the area to have better transit-focused development and easy bus transfers, at I-5 people will be waiting for trains in a giant, noisy, dirty freeway interchange with basically no development patterns (i.e. giant freeway ramps) that are of interest to transit riders.

      1. However, there is probably ample, and un-used, space for parking lots there.

      2. Link is what BART would look like if BART trains ran on the surface from Glen Park to Daly City, and if Muni and AC Transit ran buses in the Market St Subway. BART has fully dedicated ROW, Link won’t approach that until 2019, and even then will always be dragged down somewhat by MLK.

      3. It’s not clear what a Link station next to a giant parking lot along I-5 is going to accomplish that the existing system won’t. Consider, for instance, where all these drivers are going to be coming from. Sounder will be faster for anyone headed from Kent (*), and the 577/578 will be faster for anyone headed from Federal Way. If the riders aren’t going to coming from the area around the station, it’s not clear where they will be coming from.

        (*) Yes, I realize the Sounder is peak-only. But on evenings and weekends (when all the downtown events are), there will be plenty of unused parking at other stations. The Angle Lake station garage, for instance, will probably be mostly empty. And if the real goal here is to provide shadow service to Kent that is faster than the 150, a Link station along Kent DesMoines road next to I-5 is not the way to do it. A simple express bus would accomplish this much better and much cheaper.

      4. Adding a stop on ST Express 594 would be much cheaper than extending Link to Kent-Des-Moines Rd, and faster for those making the ride, if all Des Moines wants is all-day P&R express service to downtown Seattle. (Well, okay, all Des Moines really wants is to push the construction impacts onto Kent homeowners.)

      5. With Link from TIBS to downtown Seattle taking only a minute or 2 less time than route 124, I’m sorry, but you cannot call it rapid transit. Not rapid by bus standards, and certainly not by train standards. Considering that its maximum speed is 50 mph if I recall correctly (cars on I-5 pass it all the time), and much less when it’s going through Rainer valley, it’s really a glorified, grade-separated bus route. This is why it takes less time to get to Seattle from Federal Way than it does from Highline Community College, even after this station is complete.

      6. Only a minute or two quicker?

        Current Route 124 schedule:
        Trip departs TIBS at 12:22 and arrives at 3rd & Union at 1:08. Total travel time: 46 minutes.

        Current Link schedule:
        Trip departs TIBS at 12:23 and arrives at University Station at 12:55. Total travel time: 32 minutes.

      7. I don’t think Sounder will remain peak period only too much longer. It depends on how fast Amtrak Cascades develops into the ultimate plan, but the ultimate plans I have heard as the goal is hourly service, 2.5 hours between King Street Station and Portland.

        This is not compatible with 30 mph two mile oil trains. It will require a lot of track rebuilding, but eventually the slow stuff is going to have to move to the Union Pacific line or a third main line track that is freight only.

        Once that is done, Sounder will have a lot of room to become a local train between Amtrak Cascades trains.

      8. That “not much longer” is twenty or thirty years. By that time people who just graduated college will be close to retirement and will have spent their entire productive lives with skeletal transportation choices. We’ve already done that to four generations; we don’t need to do it again. That’s if the state funds its long-term rail plan. For the past two years it hasn’t been able to pass a transportation bill to keep even the existing buses running, so we’ve lost a year or two in long-term infrastructure work and counting.

        ST2 includes midday Sounder South trains. (Hourly with two gaps in the late morning and early afternoon.) But that doesn’t help evenings or weekends: no Sounders matches, no Bumbershoot, no Seattle Symphony, etc.

        Oil trains are dollar signs to BNSF. So it would rather just fill up its capacity with oil trains than lay an expensive track, and the state can’t force it to without paying for the track itself.

      9. “locating it at I-5 or SR-99 isn’t going to have a big change on travel times”

        It won’t make any difference to the travel time according to ST’s estimates. The SR 99 options are all elevated.

        “at I-5 people will be waiting for trains in a giant, noisy, dirty freeway interchange with basically no development patterns”

        That’s why we must get the alignment on 99 and Des Moines is wrong.

        If Des Moines doesn’t have enough commercial space, it can *gasp* rezone some single-family blocks. And it can make the commercial areas west of 99 a more attractive place to shop.

    2. I think it is a mix. South of Beacon Hill, it is mostly designed to get people to a few centralized destinations. I’m sure there are riders who take the train from, say, Tukwila to Mount Baker (maybe a school teacher at Franklin) but those riders are exceptional. Most of the people who ride going south are headed to the airport area, while those that head north are headed to “greater downtown” (and that includes the Stadiums).

      But north of Mount Baker (and maybe soon stretching a bit south) it is a system that will serve plenty of stations in both directions. For example, someone will go from their home in the Capitol Hill to their job at SoDo, or from their place on Beacon Hill to a play on Capitol Hill. I think that will continue all the way until about 145th. There is a school and plenty of clinics at Northgate, and Lake City may grow into a cultural center (it is now primarily a housing area with some retail) but I doubt there will be many people heading to Shoreline or Lynnwood in the day time. I could be wrong, though — I may be missing something or things may change.

      Anyway, to get to your other point about Park and Rides, I think they are a sign that the system has failed. We are only making one line through the southern suburbs (at most). This won’t serve the densest part of Kent. For this to be successful, the buses have to serve the area well, just as they will serve a station at 130th NE. A small Park and Ride serving a bus is not bad, but if your light rail has one, it is a poor light rail. A parking lot big enough to serve several dozen buses will mean that riders will walk a long distance from their parking space to the train. At that point they are taking a bus shuttle anyway. That just doesn’t make sense. Meanwhile, a small park and ride is largely a waste of space — you can get way more people on the train by bus.

  2. Clearly Kaplan doesn’t understand that Des Moines future is transit-oriented development, largely along SR-99, not I-5. *facepalm*

    1. The purpose of Link is to be a people mover. (Read my first sentence twice. It’s simple, yet profound). This idea that if light rail isn’t creating TOD, then it isn’t doing its job, is both inaccurate and naive.

      But Bailo is correct. Link is bipolar. It’s a political, piecemeal system. And ST is run by, not transit experts, but mostly by former career bureaucrats and local politicians who are now wearing transit agency hats. They are making it up as they go along. This is evident when you study the past and future alignments, as I have. Link doesn’t know what it wants to be. And this is why Link will always be a mediocre system.

      BTW, to the people who are outraged it might travel on 99 through Des Moines, are you equally outraged the north line isn’t traveling on 99?

      1. Yep, most of us are outraged. For exactly the same reason: a freeway alignment suffers from a small walkshed. That's almost tragically true for the 145th Street station. It has a park in one quadrant, a posh school with no students who will ride in another quadrant, and fully developed SFH neighborhoods in the remaining two.

        In other words, it has no developable land; nearly everyone who uses it will have to ride a bus to get there, be dropped off, or park in the garage.

      2. And I see that Sam directed the question not to STB commenters but to the folks in Des Moines who object to an SR99 alignment. So I guess it was pointless to reply, since the folks who object are probably not reading the blog.

      3. In defense of 145th, the critiques of it have been colored by a sense that it is competing with a 130th St Station, which features the same park in one corner, and fully-bult-out SFH neighborhoods in the other three corners, with no reason to believe those neighborhoods will tolerate any redevelopment, given they are wealthier than the neighborhoods around 145th.

        Also, Metro has several specialty bus routes that serve that school at 145th.

        In the case of the I-5 P&R station proposal for Des Moines, there is no reachable walkshed east of I-5. The whole walkshed will be west of I-5, just as if the station had been built where it should be: next to Highline Community College. However, HCC isn’t really within the walkshed of the proposed I-5 P&R station. Yes *facepalm*.

      4. No, Brent, the fundamental problem with the 145th Street station (and 185th as well) is that it is NOT ON AURORA where actual human beings live and do business.

        I agree that a 125th/130th station at the proposed site has some genuine advantages as a bus intercept from the Lake City to Bothell corridor, but north of there Link should be along Aurora.

        Yes, I know travel times would be longer and there would be “impacts” on downtown Shoreline (an elevated structure in the middle of Aurora). But North Link placed there would at least have the potential to be real transit, not a commuter railroad.

      5. 145th even compares poorly with 155th, where we run buses today to avoid interchange-related traffic delays, and which would actually have reasonably pleasant pedestrian and bike access.

        But all these stations, I-5/130th, I-5/145th, I-5/155th, none are actually in neighborhood or town centers because those were places too important to blow up when I-5 was built (and also because these areas built out in a time when personal auto use was de-emphasizing neighborhood and town centers). Building stations at interchanges merely compounds the error of building lines along freeways.

      6. I agree that Link should have gone over to Aurora to serve an all-day purpose. But let’s not pretend we’re looking out for Bothellites when talking about routing an ST Express bus to a (probably-not-happening) 130th St Station. There are other riders who *will* benefit from a 130th St Station. Find those who would actually benefit, and rally them, and it might not be too late for 130th. But using 145th as a foil, arguing for 130th by opposing 145th, pretending 130th will serve north King County riders better, and invoking the fantasy of TOD at 130th is only going to ensure 130th doesn’t happen. Every time you mention TOD, fewer people around 130th will want to keep trying to get a station. Every time you antagonize people who live around 145th or who want an express bus connection to Link, 130th loses support.

      7. Well said, Sam. It is a hybrid system, and they are making it up as they go along, and they are paying way more attention to politics than functionality. But Seattle has a history of failed light rail proposals going way back and extending into the present day (Sound Transit failed with its first proposal). So, I guess I don’t blame them too much for their focus on politics, I blame the politicians who won’t level with us and tell us what makes the most sense for the area: light rail in the central city (and Bellevue) with really high quality BRT outside it. The central city is the most congested part, and the most lacking in freeways. It takes forever to get from Ballard to the U-District. But Burien to Renton? Just get on the freeway and go. If the freeways clog up, add an HOV lane. The state is doing that for the entire length of I-5, from Seattle to Tacoma and it is lot cheaper than light rail. Besides, most of the people in the suburbs just want to get into the city, or maybe the airport. I really doubt their will be many people who travel from Angle Lake to the Othello Station. But Ballard, Queen Anne, South Lake Union, Uptown, Eastlake, Seattle U and First Hill are all places that plenty of people want to go to, but won’t be served. As a result, a lot of suburban riders will simply continue to drive. They will vote for light rail, hoping that someone else will get out of their car so that they can drive from Kent to SPU without encountering so much traffic. They will also support rail to the suburbs because it seems more “fair” (why should those city folks get the nice light rail, but all we get are express buses). But our light rail system, as it is currently being built, won’t serve their needs, and thus won’t be that popular.

      8. @Brent — It is quite possible that 130th will serve north King County riders better than 145th. At worst their is a time penalty, but as others have pointed out, that isn’t that clear (since traffic is so bad on 145th). But more to the point, it splits the possible bus line into pieces . You need to serve Lake City. Without a station at 130th, you serve it with Northgate. This adds substantial time for the bus, which lessens the frequency. You also want to connect Lake City to Bothell (for various reasons). That further dilutes the line. Metro (or Sound Transit) can run buses from Bothell to 145th, but if they are stretched too thin, those buses don’t run that often. In short, a line going from Bothell to Lake City and then cutting over to the train at 130th would be far more efficient, and thus way more frequent, than a mix of lines serving the same area.

        But I agree with you about TOD at a 130th station. There is no reason to spend any political capital on that fight. There is only a very small area that could be upgraded. There are already a handful of apartments on some of the streets (on Roosevelt as well as 130th) while other areas can’t have any development at all (it’s freeway or parks). There just aren’t that many houses that could be converted to apartments. The main value of a station at 130th is as stated — it would serve the buses well.

      9. @Ross: Maybe demand for Angle Lake-Othello trips is small. But people from all over south King County want to go to Southcenter. And I haven’t heard a reasonable explanation yet for how a bus that just “gets on the freeway and goes” actually serves any real need except P&R service to downtown Seattle — certainly Burien to Renton is not it. That’s why the 140 was popular enough to turn into a RapidRide route despite its many problems (1) and the 560 is always one step ahead of the headman (2).

        (1) The difficulty or impossibility of direct road access to important destinations like Southcenter and TIBS; deviations to destinations only government officials think are important like Tukwila City Hall and South Renton P&R; generally disjointed pedestrian environments in most areas served.

        (2) Name one ST freeway bus route that doesn’t go to downtown Seattle and that people actually use off-peak.

      10. 1) The 140/Rapid Ride F is flawed because there has been very little investment in the route. Meanwhile, folks are seriously talking about a really expensive light rail line there. HOV ramps and lanes are expensive, but not nearly as expensive as light rail. With enough work, that corridor could be served by fast, frequent buses. It wouldn’t be cheap, but it wouldn’t be nearly as expensive as light rail because a big chunk of it is already freeway.

        2) What’s your point (I really don’t know)? Do we need more fast bus routes that go from neighborhood to neighborhood? If so, then by all means build them.

        I want to be clear here: I don’t think the folks are well served by all the buses. There is definitely a need for more crosstown bus routes in that area, as there is in Seattle. There are two significant differences though: 1, those areas don’t see the kind of volume that Seattle does and 2, that area can often leverage the freeways (which could be significantly improved). Southcenter is right next to two freeways (with existing ramps). Making BRT work in that area is far easier than connecting Ballard to either downtown or the U-District. BRT (or simply bus oriented improvements) would pay huge dividends in that area, while it could only do so much for Ballard (e. g. you could make the RapidRide line a lot faster by adding a station at Dravus that wouldn’t require the bus getting off 15th, but you would still encounter bottlenecks close to downtown, unless you build another tunnel).

        So, yeah, there are a handful of destinations that are popular in the south end of King County: SeaTac, Southcenter, Burien, Kent. But if you list out your top ten, I think you’ll find that the popularity dwindles rather quickly compared to Seattle and that in almost all of the cases could be well served by good transit center service (requiring a transfer in many instances). But like I said, to leverage the freeway requires an investment — something we should focus on instead of assuming that light rail will serve every community (does anyone think we will build a spur line to Kent?).

      11. @Ross: As we’ve gone over in other threads, I don’t think it’s a given that Burien-Southcenter-Renton light rail is a good idea, but I think it’s worth studying — how much can travel time and reliability be improved for common trips, and how much does that matter for ridership? Meanwhile, I’ve never even seen a hand-wavy suggestion that freeway infrastructure could be leveraged to build great BRT in this corridor. All the serious BRT suggestions are based on improvements to arterial routes.

      12. There never was a proposal to move the 145th station to 130th; it was always going to be an additional station. Skipping 145th would cause severely uneven station spacing, a 3-mile gap to 185th, and Shoreline would lose half of its voter-approved stations. The confusion is that 145th-155th is considered the same station node, so “145th station” could have been as far north as 155th. But that has nothing to do with 130th station (which was 120th-130th).

      13. Mike,

        To paraphrase Pickett in the movie Gettysburg after the charge: “General Lee, Shoreline has no stations.”

        At least none that actually serve Shoreline.

    2. Though Des Moines’ boundaries are quite large and in some places extend out to 99 and even across it to I-5 for a short stretch, the historic core of Des Moines and the only part of it that resembles a walkable town center is down by the water. Link isn’t going anywhere near there.

      The only good thing to say about 99 as a TOD corridor (ignoring for the moment its virtues as a transit corridor, essentially that it’s long and wide) is that it isn’t I-5. That ain’t nothing, but… it is sad that stations along a “stroad” like 99 are the best we can hope for.

      1. Al,

        “it is sad that stations along a “stroad” like 99 are the best we can hope for”

        It might be sad, but it’s the reality. We can at least be thankful that the “strip” along Pacific Highway is almost without exception at least a quarter of a mile wide, so any station has the opportunity to be a node supporting at least 10,000 people or employees (or ideally a combination) within walking distance.

        Given the necessary political foresight and cojones of course.

  3. I’m lost as to how a station way over on I-5 will serve Highline Community College / Central Washington University – Des Moines. Have you tried that walk? Or is the expectation students will just drive?

    I’m also befuddled about the taxable-property argument. ST will need temporary space around Highway 99 to build the station where it can be more than a park&ride. But after that, it is an aerial line following the highway, with the construction area available to be built way up, and put back on the property tax roles at enormously increased value.

    Construction around I-5 will impact just as much space, and more directly impact a larger number of commuters getting on and off of I-5. The property would probably become a parking lot afterward, owned by Sound Transit. The users of the station would consist almost entirely of people using that parking lot.

    I’m sympathetic to neighborhood noise / views-into-people’s-backyards arguments. But those are easily solvable problems with noise barriers.

    The City of Des Moines should welcome Link, or be forthright and say they want Link to terminate at 200th St. and go no further.

    1. Agree completely on the need for an SR99 station a KDM. So far as the “looking into my backyard” arguments, at least along this stretch of SR99 there are no back yards! It’s either auto-oriented strip development, most of which will be torn down and replaced in the next few decades, a dump (literally) or empty land. All the way to Federal Way.

      What I don’t understand is why there are not more stations planned. Not just two, but at least five. This is South Link’s catchment area! Almost without exception, a strip about a quarter of a mile wide fronts Pac Highway which could be built up throughout the corridor, not just here at KDM Road.

      And when I say “it’s catchment area” I mean in both directions. If Tacoma booms as an employment destination between Midway and Fife will be interested in filling those jobs. But very few people who actually live in Tacoma or Fife will be interested in riding the train all the way to Seattle for employment. So adding a few extra stops won’t be a huge impact on ridership.

      This line is going to cost billions of dollars when all is said and done. If 100,000 people eventually live in its walkshed it will be a great thing for the region. If those 100,000 people instead are forced to drive to it and park it will be a catastrophe.

      1. Chris,

        Maybe all five of them today (and of course that’s an exaggeration, but I get your point). But the million people who are expected to move to the Puget Sound region in the next thirty to forty years have to be accommodated somewhere. I’d personally much rather they live in string of pearls developments along Aurora, Pacific Highway South and NE 16th Street near Link stations than in sprawl in Buckley.

  4. “‘We wouldn’t line up with the station as chosen by the voters when they approved ST2,’ Kaplan said.”

    This stuff SERIOUSLY pisses me off. I’ve heard it in other jurisdictions from other people as well. There is no way there should be an expectation of a specific station location at the time projects go to vote for funding. ST needs to make it abundantly clear that the vote is on a line to whatever communities are indicated, that it may take one of a number of different potential routes to get to those communities and have X number of stations to be generally located in those areas. Voters (and jurisdictions) should have NO expectations that they are voting on siting a specific station in a specific location on a specific routing. That’s just bloody insane. ST should be able to immediately respond to comments like the above with “No, the voters DID NOT choose a station location. That’s what the lengthy public comment periods are for. We were given authorization to build this line and now we will work with you on routing and siting stations.” Let the professionals do the jobs we hire them to do, and stop micromanaging the hell out of everything. Kent and Des Moines likely have excellent reasons for making the statements they are making–and this is the time to discuss them–just don’t bring up something like “the voters voted on a station that’s right here, and by God that’s where it needs to go!”

    Same thing with naming stations. Does any other transit agency go through this folderol? Maybe they do. It just seems silly to have a public debate on what to call the, say, Mercer Island station when it’s the ONLY station on the damn island. Urgh. /end rant

    1. I agree completely on both points (the first is way more important than the second, though).

      1. Well, yes…the placement of lines and stations is indeed more important than station naming. ;-)

        The point was that the process in both instances is similarly overwrought, and flawed in both instances.

  5. The bigger determinant that I see is how station access will occur both horizontally and vertically — from walking and bicycles, from connecting local (and possibly regional) transit service, and from Uber, cabs, shuttle and drivers that drop off or pick up riders headed to and from the station. This is more important than where the actual platform is. I also mention that just because something is closer on a birds-eye view map doesn’t mean that getting there will be easier – things like elevation changes and high-speed traffic can affect the quality of the connection in a big way.

  6. Sound Transit spokesperson Kimberly Reasons said that Sound Transit will focus on four criteria to help determine the best alternative to determine both the alignment and location of the Kent-Des Moines station in the Federal Way Link Extension: conceptual design, cost and performance, environmental effects, and transit oriented development potential.

    I would add one more: bus interaction. That could be lumped into “cost and performance”, but I really think it needs to be spelled out. There is nothing nearly as important as this.

    Look, we can dream all we want about TOD, but it probably won’t happen to the degree that would justify a rail station. Meanwhile, the train won’t serve the areas that are reasonably dense. There is only one area in King County south of Seattle that has density over 25,000, and it is to the east of there (around SE 256th and SR 516). The community college is a good destination, but it is in the other direction. Lots of people will have to take buses if this is even reasonably successful. Building your station based on hopes of future development, or acres of parking is probably a recipe for failure.

    I’m not sure what the answer is. If you build it next to I-5, then buses could easily interact with it. There would be more work needed (on surrounding highways) but that work is needed if you put it close to the school. Should you make commuters ride through 516 to a 99 station, or students ride the bus from an I-5 station to school? What about buses on 99? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I know this should be focus of the study.

    1. You raise an important point. I’d just like to point out that PHS has bus lanes between Kent-Des Moines (230th) and South 200th. Perhaps Angle Lake is better place to transfer riders from Kent; there will never be much development there in the western quadrants of the intersection because of the very low flying airplanes. There’s a POS motel just adjacent to the south end of the station on the west side of PHS; it would make a great bus transfer facility. South 200th has almost no traffic and gives through access to Des Moines Way,

      So which is better for commute hour operations, ten blocks out-of-direction or thirty blocks in-direction? Certainly the base period buses should interchange at Midway; they’ll have plenty of people on them headed for HCC, and perhaps the TOD area.

      Some investment in bus transfer at Angle Lake might pay permanent dividends, allowing the Midway Station area to be slowed down and pedestrian oriented.

      1. Ten blocks out of direction? You seem to be repeating a common mistake among the engineers and planners: treating the station as if what is passing through it is a singularity, and not a four-car train longer than a football field.

        The station can (and should) have exits at both ends, with one end designed with Highline Community College in mind, and one end serving the business district around KDM Rd.

        If we really want to prioritize buses at Highline Station, extend the station superstructure over KDM Road, so transferring bus riders can take an elevator up from the north side of the road. And then be sure to give buses control of the lanes they will be using.

        The same principle could salvage Federal Way TC Station to serve more than just a parking garage. Put one end of the station just west of the garage, and the other end as close to Pacific Highway as possible. And then have the buses coming from western 320th serve the west end of the station before pulling through the transfer center.

      2. Brent,

        Link trains are nowhere near ten blocks long, and the currently favored station is shown lying between 236th and 240th. And, not to put too fine a point on in, but where the hell are you going to put a bus transfer facility at the corner of PHS and Kent-DeMoines?

  7. Other than the fact that Kent Transit Center already exists, what is the purpose of the sharp curve and then going into the station there?

    I’ve been to that station, and other than the park and ride lot, it’s a concrete desert for quite some distance around the station.

    Is the line eventually supposed to go to Auburn? It seems to me it would be better to just point the line south and plan on it heading in that direction.

  8. And, I seriously doubt that there will ever be a “commercial district” at Kent-DesMoines and Pac Highway. The intersection is a stonking huge eight lanes by seven monster with looooooonnng, dangerous diagonal cross-walks. There are large traffic loads on KDM since it has a freeway off-ramp about a quarter of a mile down the hill; PHS is certainly not devoid of traffic either. There is a strip mall in the southwestern quadrant which could be ‘dozed, certainly. But will it?

    If the station is placed where it’s shown on the map, buses from Kent and other eastern points will have to make two left turns to access the bus transfer facility, or people will have to walk across PHS. Grant that leaving they’d have a nearly free right into the bus lane and then a ramp-style right turn onto KDM eastbound,

    At Angle Lake they’d make what is almost a “free right” into the bus lane on PHS — add a second lane to the right of the current one bypassing the light to allow the buses a yield merge into the bus lane. Then at 202nd add a bus only left turn bay with pre-emption to allow the buses free access to the transfer facility.

    I realize that the greater distance from Kent-DesMoines is a problem with this idea, but it better separates the buses from general purpose traffic.

    1. One good thing about elevated stations though is that you can have a network of walkways above traffic that can connect a station to various places, and get across those 8 lanes of traffic. However, actually getting the station and connecting walkways built is another matter.

      1. Your points are well taken. I like elevated stations, especially for bus interchanges; in the ideal world they can stop right under the station structure, protected from liquid weather at least.

        But I truly believe it would be crazy to build a bus transfer right at KDM and PHS; it’s about the LEAST pleasant intersection for five miles in any direction.

    1. It’s to accommodate the Willy Horton’s out on weekend passes.

      Murderers deserve good transit too.


  9. The SR99 route is obviously the only decent one.

    The “I-5 to SR99” option would be OK, but it demolishes a bunch of housing for no real benefit.

    The options with stations near I-5 are no good at all.

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