Two weeks ago Martin wrote at length – and then our readers commented at a far greater length – about Seattle’s ST3 input, featuring a new alignment proposal that attempted to knit together Downtown, SLU, LQA, and Ballard. As Martin noted at the time, the way the Federal Way alignment process played out reiterated how crucial jurisdictional feedback is to the broader politics of transit expansion. So over the next week or two, we’ll take a brief look at every city or agency letter submitted to Sound Transit as a part of the Draft Priority Project List feedback that will inform the System Plan that will shape the ST3 ballot measure that will go before voters next year. Phew, process!
Auburn: Auburn spent the bulk of their letter addressing parking at Auburn Station. Mayor Nancy Backus notes that Auburn has about 1 parking stall for every 2 Sounder riders, or 633 parking stalls for 1,300 daily riders. The city is fearful both of the impacts of 6,000 new Black Diamond residents, and of the coming shift of Weyerhaeuser employees from Federal Way to Seattle. The letter states that Auburn’s support of additional Sounder runs is contingent on the prior provision of new structured parking as consistent with Sound Transit’s Station Access work from ST2.
Mayor Backus also called out Auburn’s financial support of Pierce Transit Route 497, costing the city $300,000 per year and reducing parking demand by 90 stalls per day, while also acknowledging that this expenditure compares favorably to the $4M that would be required to build parking for 90 new cars. She asks for Sound Transit become a “full financial partner” in funding Route 497, similar to Sound Transit’s funding of Route 596 between Bonney Lake and the Sumner.
ST Express goes largely unmentioned except for a request to see more details before promising either support or opposition.
Burien: Mayor Lucy Krakowiak primarily lamented Burien’s possible exclusion from HCT projects in ST3, twice saying that her community’s votes for the eventual plan would be at risk if Burien lacks projects. The letter contains few specifics about what Burien would want, other than stating general support for 2 ideas: “a rib on the spine to connect westward to Burien” and/or the Downtown-West Seattle-White Center-Burien-Tukwila-Renton line that ST included in the recent Long Range Plan.
Des Moines: After beginning by asking for S. 272nd St to be built with existing funds, Public Works Director Daniel Brewer made an emphatic argument for quantity over quality, saying that, “Extending the system south as fast as possible using lower-cost alignments and station locations should be relatively high on the Board’s priority project list…and this should be a higher priority than system expansion north or east or more slowly developing an enhanced system with more stations.” Yet after going all-in on cheap LRT, the letter then says that infill stations should be studied in South King County, despite an I-5 alignment choice that largely precludes such stations, or at least greatly reduces their potential.
Kent: While similarly concerned about parking and access at Kent Station, Kent’s letter struck me as having both a more realistic and broadly transit-supportive tone compared to Auburn. The letter calls for increased Sounder service (especially mid-day/off-peak), supports platform extensions to accommodate 8-car trains, and supports Link through and beyond the Midway area to Federal Way. The letter recognizes that light rail is “just one piece of the puzzle” and calls for more bus service, both local and express, throughout the valley.
SeaTac: Mayor Mia Gregerson’s letter made 5 requests of Sound Transit:
- More parking at Tukwila International Boulevard Station. The letter claims that hide-and-ride behavior is negatively impacting SeaTac’s residential neighborhoods, and also relays the SeaTac council’s belief that the opening of Angle Lake will only induce parking demand rather than reduce pressure on Tukwila, necessitating further parking there.
- Building the spine all the way to Tacoma Mall.
- Expanding feeder service to SeaTac from West Seattle and Burien.
- Consideration that any West Seattle LRT line be extended to Burien and SeaTac.
- Building Boeing Access Road Station.
Tukwila: Mayor Jim Haggerton requested the inclusion of 3 projects: Boeing Access Road Station, I-405 BRT from Lynnwood to SeaTac, and an I-405 BRT alignment that serves Tukwila Sounder Station. The city attached their own independent analysis of Boeing Access Road station, claiming it would boost Museum of Flight visits by 25% and that the station would attract 1,400 riders per day, which they note ‘exceeds ridership numbers at other existing stations’.
You can read all the letters here, and look out for upcoming articles on Snohomish, Pierce, and East King as well.