New ST Board Chair
Dave Sommers
The Sound Transit Board met for its first meeting of 2017 Thursday, elected its new leadership, selected the alignment for Federal Way Link, and approved several construction contracts.

To start things off, Dave Somers (Snohomish County Executive) was elected the new board chair, while John Marchione (Mayor of Redmond) and Marilyn Strickland (Mayor of Tacoma) were elected vice chairs.

The Environmental Impact Statement phase of Federal Way Link planning, which started back in 2012, came to a close, as the board unanimously selected the alignment, profile, and station locations.

Federal Way Link will add three elevated stations to the south line, currently terminating at Angle Lake Station.

The first is along 30th Ave S in the Midway neighborhood at the boundaries of Kent and Des Moines, crossing over a new section of S 236th St, a couple blocks east of Highline Community College.

The second is just south of 272nd St and west of I-5, at the northeast corner of Federal Way, on the east edge of the Mark Twain Elementary School playfield.

The third is along 23rd Ave S, between S 317th St and S 320th St, just north of the Federal Way Commons. Tail track for that station is planned to cross over 320th, which is the major east-west arterial for the city.

In order to move forward with the elevated station over the west side of the Mark Twain Elementary School playfield, Sound Transit, Federal Way Public Schools, and King County Metro met frequently for the past month to arrive at a Memorandum of Agreement that the three entities will work together to find an alternative site on which to build a new, larger Mark Twain Elementary School. FWPS Superintendent Tammy Campbell repeated her position that light rail and a public elementary school cannot co-exist, but she and two FWPS directors expressed strong support for the MOA. The properties already mentioned as being part of the land swap were Star Lake Park & Ride (owned by Metro) and Mark Twain Elementary. Added to the list was Redondo Heights Park & Ride, at the southeast corner of S 272nd St and Highway 99, which is generally only 8-12% full. Various speakers mentioned that transit-oriented development could be part of the mix for the future of all three properties.

Two elements of the alignment came to the board without a recommendation from the Capital Committee: the grade at the 272nd St station and the grade just north of Federal Way Transit Center Station. The original preferred alignment had trenches at both. Concerns about groundwater contamination, and cost savings, led to Dow Constantine (King County Executive, and former Board Chair) making the motion for an amendment to select the elevated alternative at 272nd, and Pete von Reichbauer (King County Councilmember from Federal Way) moving the elevated alternative at Federal Way TC Station. Constantine thanked the numerous good players in the memorandum negotations, and quipped that “The MOA came together in a matter of days and weeks, surprisingly, rather than months or years.” Both amendments and the resolution for the alignment selection passed unanimously.

The Federal Way Link extension is scheduled to open in 2024.

Next, the Board approved a contract with Max J. Kuney Company to construct Bel-Red Station and the guideway to it, in the amount of $93,170,012, with a 10% contingency of $9,317,000, for a total authorized contract amount not to exceed $102,487,012. Deliverables on the contract include:

Bel-Red / 130th Ave Station
o The Bel-Red / 130th Ave Station;
o Approximately one mile of elevated, retained cut and at-grade guideway from Spring District / 120th Ave Station to Bel-Red / 130th Ave Station;
o Road widening and full reconstruction of roadway in at-grade section;
o Site restoration, roadway and sidewalk improvements;
o Landscaping and irrigation;
o Traffic signalization;
o Public and private utility work;
o One signal bungalow; and
o Close coordination with the City of Bellevue, adjacent property owners, and businesses.

East Link is scheduled to open for service in 2023.

The Board also approved:

  • moving Sumner Station improvements to Phase 4, with a lifetime budget of $17 million.
  • a contract with the City of Sumner to build some of the station-area improvements, for $2.7 million.
  • property acquisition for the Lynnwood Link extension, scheduled to open in 2023.
  • property acquisition for Puyallup Station improvements.
  • a 10-year wind power purchase contract with Puget Sound Energy, as part of the Green Direct program, aimed at making Link Light Rail carbon-neutral.
  • 31 Replies to “Sound Transit Approves Federal Way Link Alignment, Bel-Red Station Builder”

    1. “light rail and a public elementary school cannot co-exist”

      They can and they should. A light rail next to a grade school normalizes mass transit for students. This would be a good thing.

      1. I think a land swap with Redondo P&R is a win-win for everyone. That moves the elementary school away from I5 and frees up space for TOD adjacent to the station. A 1-story elementary school adjacent to a LRT station is very inefficient land use.

        Being able to demolish the elementary school and use that space for staging should make the station construction easier/cheaper.

        As discussion yet from Federal Way on upzoning the land for the two large apartment complexes that are between 99 and I5, south of 272? Hopefully that area receives similar zoning as what Kent has done around KDM station.

        1. One of them is Saybrook Condos with 60 units. Will it be easy to upzone and a developer to buy their land? Do they have to negotiate with each owner? Not sure exactly how it works.

        2. With the current administration in Federal Way – don’t hold your breath for any ground breaking rezones or forward thinking TOD.

      2. Yeah. Portland Waldorf has a MAX line less than 100 feet away. Difference is the MAX line was planned years before they moved into the old Milwaukie school building, plus the SP started using that right of way for freight 110 years ago.

    2. Video up at – 25 minutes in is Alex Tsimerman. Immediately after that is some Joe you know.

      Mark Dublin is 31:05.

      I have to tell this Alex Tsimerman story to as many as I can. Alex Tsimerman yesterday got trolled. Yes, trolled. Asked to explain why is Alex calling Dow Constantine all these filthy names by me following him around for only maybe 90 seconds at most. Alex was in a full panic over a little Sound Transit fan and then ran into the Sound Transit reception office begging the ladies to call Sound Transit security. Then a Sound Transit officer walked with Alex Tsimerman and I fessed up right away. The resulting Sound Transit law enforcement interaction was a-ok.

      But oh my, oh my to see Alex Tsimerman react to being stood up to. LOLZ. What a… but we DO have a STB Comment Policy including “no name calling” so let’s adhere to it.

      1. Engineer, thank you for speaking for thousands of us former-little-boys-in-Chicago who would have given anything to be able to see a train out the window every six minutes. Cold Karl Rove calculation. When they start turning 18, every train-distracted Mark Twain boy student will vote pro-transit for life.

        The girls will either be the next Joni Earl, Ruth Fisher or Federal Way-related, Mary Gates. But please show children everywhere frame 31:05. Campaign to make every child JUST SAY NO to full-time trolley driving has a really heart-breaking poster child.

        Now, Joe. I think everybody in the room gets a charge out of your dynamic non-Seattle-ism. More important, your sanitation observation raised the most serious and completely unmentioned subject in Central Puget Sound transit history. ADA enforcement, Public Health, and the Civil Rights Commission must all have executive-only toilets.

        Major class action lawsuit long overdue. Alo. raging mobs of lady passengers from age two on up to leaving every men’s room in the system a pile of shattered white crockery in a demand bring the few existing sit-down toilets that do exist up to minimum prison sanitary standards.

        Hey, male ST Boardmembers from Dow on down! Since you “head for the head” anyhow, after next meeting, “hold it” twenty minutes and get on tge next Angle Lake run. Half get off at Tukwila. Other half, Sea-Tac. Nobody will argue that toilets don’t belong in the elevator repair budget. Four standard toilet seats at True Value or Home Depot shouldn’t trigger an audit.

        But let’s get off Water Quality. At age 31:05 a lot of us are literally forced to plan our entire travel day around this matter. Like desert nomads and oases, except flow in reverse. Last three years’ exploding traffic jam has doubled bus time Olympia to Tacoma. Absent appointments, good book, or nap would make trip bearable. But two hours is too damned long for a plumbing-free thirty mile ride.

        After 5:30 AM and getting earlier by the day, schedules out of both Olympia and Tacoma have been obliterated by traffic and Sounder breakdowns. After decades in the service of public transit, I have to drive fifty miles by back roads to Angle Lake to board anything. Literally every inch of the trip right alongside the heaviest duty transit in the region. Tell Jeff Bezos and the whole real estate industry to pay some transit taxes, or we’ll pull all their executives-only toilet seats!

        But finally, Joe, a powerful transit advocate like you is working out of grade doing Fifth Floor Harborview’s job. Same with Sheriff’s department. Glenn, check Oregon registry for US Army Mental Health Nurse Retired Mildred Ratched. I’ll cover her Amtrak Cascades ticket next time I put on flowers on the Ken Kesey monument in Eugene.


    3. Despite the doom and gloom of the alignments, the actual station locations (what really matter) aren’t so bad from a TOD perspective (the exception being Star Lake). Highline and Federal Way are both set back from the freeway enough to have a decent walkshed to the east.

      1. And if Federal Way wants to up-zone the two large apartment complexes on 272nd, Star Lake won’t be half-bad, either. What Shoreline is doing at 145th may be a good model.

        It’s an emerging trend from ST. Lynnwood also follows I5 but diverges from the freeway ROW for pretty good station placement at Lynwood TC. Even the Redmond extension is really all freeway running until diverging in Redmond town center.

        Hopefully this continues with good station placement for the ST3 extensions. The Issaquah extension will heavily use freeway alignment but no reason the Factoria, Bellevue College, and Central Issaquah stations actually need to be adjacent to I90 … and same for Federal Way to Tacoma.

    4. Federal Way TC station was going to be a trench? Does that mean the track would have ran underground along S 317th, and continue underneath 320th?

      1. The approach from I-5 was going to be partially trenched, in the curve before it follows S 317th St, and then rise again before the curve before it turns onto 23rd Ave S. The diagram is in the link to the alignment.

    5. Any significance to Dave Sommers taking over at Chairperson from Dow, or just the chair rotating among the county execs?

      1. Dave Somers – sure he lives in Monroe – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t committed to transit – actually has lead Snohomish County for years on the issue. He know’s what needs to be done.

      2. As a resident of the ST district, I continue to have to disagree with the nonresident of the district about having an elected board. The bill is being put forth by legislators who want ST to fail.

        Do you think the current board is dysfunctional?

      3. Each county gets a rep on the Executive Committee. The tradition has been to rotate the Chairmanship among the counties, but not necessarily require it to be a county executive. Greg Nickels is a past chair.

      4. Old, old quandary, Joe. But suspect that reps elected locally have a hard time governing an agency running fast-moving vehicles and passengers across their own district boundaries.

        Recall some talk that bus service around Capitol Hill Station suffered from one board-member’s concentration on his own constituency.

        I’ve always thought that instead of standard voting districts, it might be better to have regional transit board members elected by corridor. Could argue that riders on any major artery have most in common with each other


    6. The local agencies and ST reps worked together really well on this. I hope they can continue this efficient work on the other extensions, to speed delivery. The record-of-decision should be routine but I’m concerned that a lot of things that should be routine are getting gummed up lately at the federal level.

    7. I’m pleased that the ST Board placed the Kent Station on 30th South rather than on SR99. That will make bus transfer much more pleasant and encourage “towers all around” the station. I do think it should be a couple of blocks father south though. There’s no much room between Kent-Des Moines Road and South 236th for development north of the station.

      I still think that an under- or over-pass for buses only should be built at 240th. If the station were built between 238th and 240th the routes could continue directly west to loop around Highline College on their way to central Des Moines. That would be a very fast, low-congestion route between Kent and Des Moines.

    8. What a huge mistake not running this thing down 99… not to mention all the ridiculous zig zagging. This is a mistake we’ll pay for this with lost time for decades until we finally pay with millions of dollars to rebuild it.

      1. I advocated this at yesterday’s meeting. After traveling to to the meeting via Federal Way Transit Center, Rapid Ride, and Angle Lake Station. Gut level, though , I think final “call” could’ve been more operations than politics, and a good decision.

        Sound Transit is already under a lot of criticism for long travel time. Also, construction costs. A line that has to be elevated its whole length costs an unavoidable amount of money. Very likely, between Highline College and Federal Way, need for speed outweighed possible ridership.

        My sense of those curves is that they’re shallow enough that they probably won’t lose any speed at all.

        I look at the transit future like the circulatory network that grows with the human body. For instance, capillaries being bicycles and taxis, moving up through local buses to express buses to streetcar-grade light rail. With LINK midway between streetcar and hundred mile an hour Everett to Olympia. Or farther, in both directions. Have linked purple streamlined trains in Southern Sweden. Smaller than intercity bullet trains, but big enough for bathrooms.

        Next surface move on SR 99, will be either giving Rapid Ride its own lane (with no Business Access, or putting same right of way to smaller light-throwing light rail). Personally, no rush. Transit will be a living thing longer than I will.


    9. Finally, the zig-zag of KDM Station from the study is put in appropriate geographical proportions! The diversion at KDM station is only a few hundred feet, but the prior study documents suggested that it was much more significant. Hopefully, ST will never use that old diagram again!

      1. Yes, the zigzag to KDM Station is insignificant because the roads get so close together there. The real loss of not having the 99 alignment is HCT-walkable urban villages at 216th and between KDM and Federal Way.

        1. Exactly. Not that many people will be riding through between Tacoma and Seattle to make the addition of two stations that painful. It was a big loss not routing along SR99.

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