Sound Transit is finally moving forward with improvements to two Sounder stations promised in the 2008 ST2 ballot measure.
Postponed by the recession, the projects will add a new parking garage to both the Auburn and Kent Station, each containing roughly 500 stalls and not yet-defined non-motorized improvements. ST predicts ridership on Sounder will double by 2040.
In Kent, four locations were evaluated for the future parking garage. Both ST staff and Kent’s City Council recommended a site located south of James Street along Railroad Avenue, less than a block from the station. Karen Kitsis, a director at ST, said the large size of the lot allows for the consideration of multiple design options for the new parking structure.
Kitsis also told the committee that this spot would provide better bus-rail connections. King County Metro Transit, who is coordinating with Sound Transit on the project, was in favor of the recommended spot due to better transfers.
The chosen site also had the lowest forecasted cost estimated at $65m. Two of the other sites considered were already in use while another required a pedestrian bridge. Costs went as a high as $82m for other sites not recommended.
In Auburn, ST staff and local officials also reached consensus, recommending a site at the intersection of First and B Streets, about two blocks north of the train platform. The site is owned by the city of Auburn and currently a surface lot.
The other spots considered either required relocation of existing businesses, needed a pedestrian bridge, or the shape of the lots was not conducive to a parking structure. The site chosen was also forecasted to be the least expensive at $60m, with other sites estimated costing as high as $81m.
However, Kitsis warned there was a “strong likelihood costs estimates will
increase decrease and contingencies will adjust accordingly.”
“At this stage of planning the costs are very preliminary,” Kitsis said. “With less than 5 percent of engineering, the real purpose of cost at this stage is to compare between alternatives. So you can see an order of magnitude in looking at one site compared to another for a parking structure.”
A budget of roughly $2.6m was included for non-motorized improvements at Kent Station, and $1m for Auburn Station. ST said improvements could include improved pedestrian crossings and bicycle connections, increased lighting and security, larger transit shelters and sidewalks, and bus-rail connections.
The recommendations were approved by the Capital Committee Meeting November 11, and will go before the entire board for final approval this afternoon. Once approved, the preferred alternative design will enter the environmental review stage next year, with the completion of the parking garages anticipated in 2023.
This post was updated to accurately reflect cost estimates are predicted to decrease, not increase.