Sound Transit’s route to Federal Way is no longer just a vague line extending south from the Angle Lake Light Rail Station to residents attending an open house as the extension project moves into the pre-construction phase.
With design plans still developing for the stations, residents had little to react to during open houses hosted by Sound Transit last week. However, residents expressed concern about the accessibility of the stations and what they say is a lack of parking planned at each station. Comments included providing better bus service to the station and the need to build future parking adequate for the next 30 years.
Sound Transit plans to build parking at each station. At the Kent/Des Moines station, a 500-space garage is planned directly east of the station. A 1,100-space garage will replace a 600-space surface parking lot at the 272nd Street Station, and at the Federal Way Transit Center, Sound Transit is planning a second garage adding 400-spaces to the existing garage which currently holds roughly 1,200 cars.
Despite that the future Federal Way Station planned near the downtown area of the city, several residents doubted Federal Way could become a walkable city with the rainy weather.
With one resident commenting, “Sound Transit hasn’t planned for the people. They want us to be a walking city, but it’s the Pacific Northwest.” Another resident chimed in suggesting Sound Transit should make it easier for commuters to be dropped off at the station.
Several alignments were originally studied, with Sound Transit ultimately choosing to run the 7.8-mile extension from the Angle Lake Station along I-5 rather than following State Road 99. Near Highline College, the track will deviate west to reach the Kent/Des Moines station located adjacent to the college. The alignment will quickly return to I-5, continuing south along the highway with stops at 272nd and the Federal Way Transit Center.
A previous STB post details station plans and potential nearby development.
Similar to the Angle Lake Station, Sound Transit will eventually award a single contract for the design and construction of the extension. According to the agency, “the integration of design and construction services eliminates many opportunities for conflict” and “some stages of construction can begin while the design process is still in the development phase.”
“It’s efficiency not typically seen,” said Dan Abernathy, Executive Project Director of the Federal Way Link Extension Project. “The engineer understands what the contractor needs.”
He predicts the design-build approach, rather than the traditional design-then-bid-then-build method of project delivery, will shave at least six-months off the timeline of the project.
Abernathy said the design-build method often also saves projects money with the contractor committing to a project cost up-front. But, there are challenges to managing a design-build project, Abernathy added, so Sound Transit plans to hire a project coordinator to act as a liaison between Sound Transit and the contractor.
Voters approved the entire extension in 2008 with the passage of the ST2 ballot measure, however, then funding was only available for the Kent/Des Moines. The passage of ST3 in 2016 provided funding for the 272nd and the Federal Way Transit Center stations.
ST anticipates selecting station designs in 2019 with construction also beginning that year. The extension is slated to open in 2024, after a one-year testing phase. ST has already begun the process of acquiring property for the project.
Residents have until this Friday, September 22 to participate in an online survey and submit public comment.