Locations considered for a new parking garage at the Kent Sounder Station
Credit: Sound Transit

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.

Locations considered for a new parking garage at the Auburn Sounder Station
Credit: Sound Transit

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. 

18 Replies to “New Parking Garages Coming to Sounder Stations in Auburn and Kent”

  1. In case anyone’s wondering, $60 million / 500 space = $120,000/space. Your tax dollars at work.

      1. In Auburn…

        Apparently 126 units of apartments (Trek) and 129 units of assisted living rooms (Merrill Gardens) have been built in the last few years downtown. Neither are affordable. Trek’s starting rent is over $1200/mo for a studio. The going rate for rent a four bedroom house with three car garage is $2000 per month nearby, and it is walking distance to a Sounder shuttle. You’d be limited to only using transit to get where you are going during peak commute times, but splitting the rent four ways, you’re looking at only $500/month.

        We need a few dozen more of these apartment developments to really stabilize the market and bring prices down to reality. Pretty much a re-development of the entire downtown. I think that the City needs to partner with developers to redevelop all of their surface parking lots and existing garages into mixed use development, and funnel the garage money into local transit service instead. As mentioned in a thread earlier this week, the Sounder shuttle buses are successful. So, we need more of them.

      2. Mike Orr, housing over garage? Yes, please. AND, use the rent to subsidize the parking stalls.

    1. Hope do we make our public agency more efficient without reducing quality? That is the million dollar question

    2. both the Auburn and Kent Station, each containing roughly 500 stalls …
      The chosen site also had the lowest forecasted cost estimated at $65m.

      This must be a new high in affordable/free parking at $130,000 a spot. Thought experiment, if you built this as a parking condo how much would you be able to charge for each spot? Currently Redfin lists 15 homes at less than $125k. A recent post mentioned $4 million per year was being spent on affordable fairs. It’s not a stretch at all to say as many affordable housing units could be provided for the same cost as a parking spot. Er, well… not if ST were building them :-/

      1. Housing, cheaper fares, ped/bike connections, grade separating arterial crossings… almost any use of this money would be better.

      2. The Times today has a front-page article about the parking controversy in Greenwood. A microapartment building with no parking is in the permitting process and a neighborhood group is up in arms, and got a judge to agree that the 5 is not really 15-minute frequent on average because of traffic delays, so parking is required even though it’s in a frequent-transit area. The city is considering changing the law to extend the standard 20 minutes and make it based on published schedules rather than actual arrivals, but that may come too late for this building. So the developer is reconsidering the project under the newly-applicable parking minimum, and it may end up with MICROAPARTMENTS getting 1:1 parking — i.e., a parking space almost as big as the apartment!!! Should we just give up and have tiny houses on wheels in parking spaces? Then if somebody leases it for actual parking, you can just wheel the house away.

      3. Should we just give up and have tiny houses on wheels in parking spaces? Then if somebody leases it for actual parking, you can just wheel the house away.

        Sadly, this actually makes sense in Seattle’s upside down regulatory environment. In today’s morning news (forget which channel) there was a piece on the City Council considering allowing apartment building owners to lease out unused parking spaces [why are they NOT allowed to do this?]. According to the news piece there is a significant surplus of parking stalls going to waste. Go figure?

      4. Mike, Link is sometimes more than a 15 minute wait when there is a delay, so does this make Link not count as frequent transit? Any reasonable judge should throw this kind of thing out.

        One of the ultimate ironies of civic life is why neighbors concerned about traffic congestion want to make it easier to have more cars in the neighborhood. Boggles the mind, no?

      5. Bernie, I think this is an incentive program of some kind, not permission to lease. Buildings on Capitol Hill have been leasing spaces to neighbors and the community for years. People in buildings without parking use neighboring buildings, and 2-car households might if their building is full.

  2. “Sound Transit is finally moving forward with improvements to two Sounder stations promised in the 2008 ST2 ballot measure.

    Postponed by the recession,….”

    Lol. I’m reminded of a common saying my father taught me as a child….”penny wise but pound foolish”.

    Frankly, this excuse from ST is wearing thin considering it’s almost 2018.

  3. I suspect I’m yelling at the tide here but let’s be realistic here. The fact is that if you want people to use wide-area transit, you’ve got to give them a place to park. Yes, the cost of this parking is exorbitant but getting the cost down should be the focus, not eliminating the parking altogether.

    1. For sure. A great way to provide cheaper parking is to 1) not provide structured parking, and 2) provide structured parking not adjacent to the station, instead allowing for more active uses and putting parking somewhere with less dense land use.

      The shuttle from the state fair parking to the Puyallup station is a good place to start.

      1. At Auburn there is a huge amount of wasted space just south of the station at the freeway interchange and the BNSF wye. Lots of space that would be great for parking but terrible for anything else.

  4. “Should we just give up and have tiny houses on wheels in parking spaces? Then if somebody leases it for actual parking, you can just wheel the house away.”

    We have those already. They’re called RVs, and they are all over the place.

  5. Kent site #4 is a park with trees and a duck pond. Are they out of their minds? Remember, this is Kent. Kent Station Shopping Center and ShoWare Center used to be parks, albeit ball fields. The one park Kent couldn’t close was Pine Tree Park in the East Hill exurbs.

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