This summary of South King County’s ST3 feedback is the second in a series of ST3 feedback summaries. See our previous coverage of Pierce County and Seattle. Future installments will be East King, North King (minus Seattle), Snohomish, and Stakeholder Organizations.
Short, sweet, and direct, Federal Way’s 3-paragraph letter supports Link to Federal Way via I-5 and completion of the spine to Tacoma as “the highest priority in the South King subarea”. Federal Way also says that while their preference is for I-5 through their city, they “will defer to Milton, Fife, and Tacoma” to decide between SR 99 and I-5 between Federal Way and Tacoma. The letter closes by expressing the city’s support for parking demand management strategies, which could include pricing, permitting, or additional feeder service.
Auburn’s letter begins by expressing qualified support for extended Sounder trains (to 8 cars or beyond), asking that any platform extensions be done to the south rather than to the north (which would close its Main Street during train stops). Complicating this process is the fact that BNSF’s Stampede Pass junction lies immediately south of the current platforms.
The letter goes on to ask that Sounder be allowed to become “a mature commuter rail system”, with evening and weekend service and Sounder/Amtrak integration “to [collect] passengers at local stations and them to Amtrak stations.”
The letter closes with strong support for a second Auburn parking garage and full funding for the South Sounder Access Program.
Kent has exceeded urbanist expectations for suburban jurisdictions on a number of occasions, including upzones in its town center and in its Link station area near Des Moines. Kent’s letter supports Link to Federal Way with joint station planning at Highline between Kent and Des Moines, as well as increased vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle access to Kent Station.
Kent’s letter also brings its demographic cards to the table to argue for all-day Sounder service on both ridership and social justice grounds. Noting that Kent is one of the most diverse cities in Washington and the one with the highest non-Seattle Sounder ridership, Mayor Cooke asks that Sound Transit “[expand] Sounder service in both directions throughout the day…a great start toward meeting the needs of shift work, non-peak travel demands such as doctor’s appointments, access to human services agencies, and entertainment options.” Her perspective brings welcome attention to Sounder’s potential to be part of an integrated transit network for all transit riders, rather than its current existence as a (rather effective) peak capacity relief valve for commuters.
Making a strong case for the most bizarre letter Sound Transit received, SeaTac’s letter is a strong departure from its (pre-election) comments last summer, in which former Mayor (and current State Legislator) Mia Gregerson supported Link to Federal Way, a second line to SeaTac Airport via West Seattle and Burien, and BRT connections to the airport. Instead, new mayor Rick Forschler functionally withdraws SeaTac’s support for the entire ST3 project, using the “transit share” canard to object to any fixed-route transit spending:
None of [your] projections for ridership, decreased sprawl, and improved traffic have been realized. In fact, the opposite is true[…]
[PSRC] projections for build out of 72 miles of light rail and doubling of bus service by 2040, at a cost of almost 80 billion dollars, show transit ridership going from 3.1 percent of all trips to 4.3 percent. Traffic congestion on arterials would get worse, and despite aggressive land-use assumptions for density around light rail stations, sprawl would continue[…].
Before we lock this region into technology that may be obsolete long before the bonds are repaid, and given the rapid growth of autonomous vehicle technology, we believe it is essential to ensure that any further investments also support future technology trends…This emerging technology suggests a reprioritization of new investments away from rail transit and toward increasing road capacity. [emphasis mine]
Des Moines, Burien, and Tukwila after the jump…
Des Moines’ letter expresses support for Link to Federal Way, full funding for a System Access Program, and supports all Sounder expansion projects. In addition, it recommends inclusion of planning studies for light rail between West Seattle-Burien-SeaTac and Burien-Tukwila-Renton.
Disappointingly, it also exhibits a standard “have it both ways” mentality with regard to the tensions between capital cost and station access. While the letter rightly states that “much more attention must be given to non-auto access to light rail stations and TOD around those stations”, it simultaneously neglects such access by reiterating its support for freeway alignments and brownfield development:
Extending the system south as fast as possible by using lower costing alignments and station locations should be relatively high on the Board’s priority project list because of its service benefits to moderate and low-income residents.
Like Federal Way’s letter, Burien’s feedback is short and direct, urging extension of light rail from West Seattle to Burien (Project C-13), but Burien requests that this project be expanded in scope to add a second line to Sea/Tac Airport “to complete the loop and maximize overall value.”
The letter also supports a Burien terminus for I-405 BRT instead of Angle Lake, noting that Tukwila International Blvd already offers a seamless connection to Sea/Tac and Angle Lake.
Sounder and Link infill stations at Boeing Access Road (BAR) “remain Tukwila’s top priorities.” Their letter claims that Metro’s 2040 plan would terminate I-5 express buses at BAR, improving the integration potential of the station beyond the lukewarm ‘medium’ assessment given in Sound Transit’s scoring.
The letter goes on to disagree with a number of Sound Transit’s assessments of BAR’s potential, especially its ‘low’ rating on supportive plans/policies and on the development potential around the station. Tukwila’s response argues for the land’s potential both by highlighting the presence of a potential master developer (Sabey Corporation owns 62 acres with a half mile of BAR) and by stressing how underdeveloped the land currently is (46% of the land within one mile of BAR being currently vacant or “underutilized” by King County’s criteria). For the demand side of the equation, Tukwila believes “With development pressures occurring north in Seattle, development opportunities will continue to move further south.”