aerial view of 344th & I-5 in Federal Way
Aerial view of a potential OMF site at S 344th St in Federal Way. I-5 and the old Weyerhauser campus are in the background (Google)

The Sound Transit board will likely vote on Thursday not to include a controversial Federal Way Kent site on its short list for a South Sound maintenance base.  The system expansion committee voted unanimously on May 9 to remove the site, which hosts several auto-oriented retail businesses including a newly-opened Dick’s Drive-In.  It was controversial not only because of the popular fast food chain, but because it would have limited transit-oriented development (TOD) opportunities within the walk shed of a future Link station at Highline Community College.

We wrote about the site and the challenges of another controversial site, the nearby Midway landfill, back in January.  Since then, ST has been narrowing sites for consideration.  The Kent Reporter, which has had excellent coverage of the maintenance base issue, notes that we’re down to three sites:

  • Midway Landfill, west of Interstate 5, which has been closed since the 1980s and is owned by Seattle Public Utilities. Estimated cost: $1.3 billion
  • South 336th Street near I-5, which is the location of the Christian Faith Center church in Federal Way. Estimated cost: $750 million
  • South 344th Street near I-5, which is an industrial area in Federal Way, includes several businesses: Garage Town, which offers private custom storage facility; an RV storage facility; and Ellenos Yogurt Factory. Estimated cost: $800 million

At the time of the 2016 ballot, ST has assumed that the OMF would be located “in the Federal Way to Tacoma corridor.”  Last spring, however, the agency came to realize that the facility would be needed in service by 2026 in order to be ready for the West Seattle link extension, per Scott Thompson, a ST spokesperson.  That means placing it further north, either within the Federal Way extension (opening 2024) or very close by, in such a way as to “avoid pre-determining the location of the South Federal Way station.”

The decision to remove the Dick’s site was a good one. While it’s hard to imagine a more anti-TOD business than a drive in restaurant, politics makes strange bedfellows. If the presence of Dick’s today makes it easier to protect a future TOD development site down the road, so be it.

Of the sites remaining, Midway is estimated to cost half a billion more than the other two sites (for context, a West Seattle tunnel is pegged at $700m). While it may seem convenient to raid ST’s bank account to pay for toxic clean up (as Federal Way’s mayor has suggested), surely that money could be used more wisely for actual transit. I’m no expert on brownfield redevelopment, but reading the EPA’s Superfund page about the landfill makes me want to think twice about locating an employment center there.

Fortunately, there seems like an obvious solution. The site at 344th & I-5 scores the best on Sound Transit’s scorecard (see p. 53 of this technical analysis).  A collection of low slung auto-oriented buildings across the street from a Walmart, it’s far enough from a station not to interfere with future TOD opportunities.  And the price is right, too.

69 Replies to “Three sites remain for a south light rail maintenance base”

  1. A vote for S 344th, upon seeing the costs. I like the idea of Midway, but only if the City of Seattle were to boot the cost of cleanup and the development cost could come down to the same as the other two options. I also like the concept of 336th, but believe that the politics of touching a megachurch could be a big hornet’s nest, like Dick’s. That leaves 344th, at a similar price tag to 336th, and half the price of Midway, with probably less of a fight. All of the businesses in that area could easily locate to another generic industrial park somewhere nearby.

    1. I don’t know. I think a yogurt factory, which is a legit high-wage employment site, could be a bigger stink. It’s also probably a lot easier to relocated a church. And the church site only requires working with a single owner.

      1. Look at the size and scale of the church, and find a site with enough acreage and constructable topography, within a similar driving distance to the homes of its congregants, and get back to me on that one. City governments and school districts can only find that scale of site in a place like Federal Way because they have eminent domain power. A church doesn’t have that power, and this one is sitting on a relatively unique site, from that perspective, and would have an extremely difficult time replicating their program. Add this to a thousand or more families who visit here weekly and donate their personal time and money to the upkeep of the building and development of their programs, and you’ve just hit on the type of folks you don’t want to face a fight with.

        Regarding yogurt, relocation costs are generally considered in eminent domain suits, so their cost could be covered. It’s a small enough warehouse building that they should be able to find something of a similar scale nearby in the Kent-Sumner valley, and, in turn, improve proximity to a shipping and supply chain that they don’t current have easy access to in Federal Way.

        Folks at ST should be very accustomed to working with multiple parties. They do that for every single project.

      2. Does ST have eminent domain when required to find a “fair and like” replacement for a displaced business?

        I agree that relocating the yogurt facilities should be fairly straightforward. I could imagine a business like that actually benefit from relocation as they will be able to site and design a facility from scratch and reorganize production accordingly, particularly if ST determined it was cheaper to just buy new equipment, rather than try to move existing equipment.

      3. “Does ST have eminent domain when required to find a “fair and like” replacement for a displaced business?”

        If I’m understanding your question correctly, and I may not be given its rather odd phrasing, the simple answer is no.

        It’s a common misunderstanding about the federal as well as WA state statutes governing relocation assistance in condemnation cases that the condemning authority has a mandate to find “fair and like” properties (as you put it) for the displaced parties.

        The Washington legislature did recently strengthen the protections for displaced persons under our state’s equivalent of the federal Uniform Relocation Act, the State Relocation Act (RCW Ch. 8.26), with the passage of SB 5049 and HB 1615 back in the 2017 session:

        “Until 2017, in cases not involving federal funds, entities acquiring property through eminent domain were not required to comply with relocation assistance laws. During the 2017 Session, the Washington Legislature closed this loophole and
        made other significant changes to the State Relocation Act in two separate and important bills.

        “In Senate Bill 5049, the Legislature made relocation assistance mandatory, even when a project does not include federal funding sources. SB 5049 requires the state, local public agencies, and other persons who have the authority to acquire property by eminent domain under state law to comply with the State Relocation Act, chapter 8.26 RCW. The only exception to this requirement is for programs or projects initiated on or before December 31, 2017. SB 5049 also provides that any state or local public agency providing a grant, loan, or matching funds for any program or project that displaces persons who are eligible for relocation assistance may not limit, restrict, or otherwise prohibit grant, loan, or matching fund money from being used for any required relocation assistance payments.

        “In House Bill 1615, the Legislature revised the state relocation assistance provisions to more closely track the Uniform Relocation Act. Specifically, HB 1615 provides that certain assistance payments must comply with either federal requirements or state requirements,
        whichever is greater. In effect, this increases the minimum required payments for certain business reestablishment, moving expense, and replacement housing payments. Additionally, HB 1615 revises certain length of occupancy requirements to qualify for assistance payments to track the federal requirements.”

        With all that said, the onus to find a replacement property still rests with the party being forced to relocate. The courts have been pretty clear on their interpretation of the intent of the 1970 Uniform Relocation Act (USC Title 42, Ch. 61). For example, in Katsev et al v. Coleman (1976) the 8th Circuit Court wrote:

        “The purpose of the URA is to provide for ‘fair and equitable treatment of persons displaced * * * in order (to avoid) disproportionate injuries as a result of programs designed for the benefit of the public as a whole,’ 42 U.S.C. § 4621; it is not intended to guarantee identical substitute housing for all relocatees.”*

        Additionally, Sound Transit’s own “Property Acquisition and Non-Residential Relocation Handbook” is very explicit about this point:

        “It is important to understand that the law does not require Sound
        Transit to find a replacement location for the business operation or
        farm. Assistance will be offered, but ultimately it is the displaced
        businesses owner’s responsibility to locate a suitable replacement site.”

        *https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/530/176/354939/

        P.S. I hope this helps answer your question as I interpreted it.

    2. Ignorance is bliss!

      The South 344th site is much more than a simple “generic” industrial site. Garage Town is a collection of 67 individual condo used by a diverse community to pursue business interests and individual hobbies. The site has sanitation facilities available for servicing recreational vehicles, all the units are high bay units and to think such units can be relocated to a “generic industrial park” is terribly naive.

      Also the cost estimate and toxicity of the Midway landfill have been grossly overstated by Sound Transit which in no way is a fair and disinterested party. Ellenos Yogurt just relocated here from George Town and invested millions in establishing a new plant which employs 150 people. They are other businesses located in this area which provide jobs and revenue to the local community. There are also environmental considerations which have been downplayed by Sound Transits evaluators for the 344th street site..

      People making comments should not rely solely on Sound Transit’s evaluations to provide fair and accurate data concerning sites for the OMF. There are many serious misstatements regarding the criteria given for the 344th Street site by Sound Transit which all favor ST’s choice of this property.
      The number of properties is half of the number actually affected and there are several other glaring discrepancies in ST data from the actual facts.

      One would be well advised to check recent news about the church in the local media. It may well affect ones opinion of how well this church serves the community. It can be relocated much easier than Garage Town and other businesses in the area.

      A knowledgeable, fair and unbaised evaluation would make the 344th site a poor choice given the other sites that have been proposed and recently rejected.

      1. “the cost estimate and toxicity of the Midway landfill have been grossly overstated by Sound Transit”

        How do you know? The point is unknown costs, those that aren’t in ST’s estimates. ST decided not to build First Hill Station or the first Ship Canal crossing because of the elevated risk of unexpected engineering costs. And landfill contingencies aren’t just an engineering issue but can occur decades after the base opens.

      2. Would you buy a house built on top of a landfill? Would you bid for the construction job if you were a builder? The risks are huge, and there are so many unknowns. What is your area of expertise to make these claims?

  2. “While it’s hard to imagine a more anti-TOD business than a drive in restaurant”

    Except that a mass transit maintenance facility is way more anti-TOD than a drive-in restaurant, because the rail facility is essentially permanent. On the other hand, a drive-in restaurant is not nearly as permanent a feature. And drive-ins are tiny – you could build a massive high-rise community around it and the drive-in can stay right where it is.

    It’s also worth pointing out that while the public was up in arms about Dicks, the City of Kent was up in arms about the permanent loss of great TOD land.

    1. You are making the exact same point the author did. It is as if you didn’t finish the paragraph, and missed the purpose of the introductory sentence. It isn’t about Dick’s. A drive-in restaurant is a terrible choice next to a mass transit station. It is about TOD around Dick’s, or TOD replacing (all or part of) Dick’s.

      1. It’s not a true “drive-in” in any sense of the word. It’s not like you *have* to have a car in order to eat there. This isn’t the 50’s where you have to pull up your car and order from the rollerskating waitress that comes up to your window. Anyone can walk, bike, train, scooter, uber, cab, run, or skateboard to Dick’s.

      2. Of course they can get there via other means. That is not the point. It is the amount of land used for a relatively small restaurant. You can see from the pictures (https://www.ddir.com/kentlocation/) that *most* of the land is used not for making food, but for parking. It is the antithesis of transit oriented development. It is designed so that people can drive there, and the vast majority of people who eat there will drive there (even after the station goes in). But again, that parking lot can be converted to other uses. The restaurant could stay, and they could just build around it. Then you probably would have a substantial number of people walking to the restaurant, although it will never be like the one on Capitol Hill (“where the cool hang out”, as Six Mix-a-Lot put it) or lower Queen Anne.

    2. I visited Dick’s when this controversy first came up. The restaurant and parking lot are pretty small, so it doesn’t overwhelm the urban village. Right next to the sidewalk is a hill going up pretty steeply, and the driveway to the restaurant goes up it. Any TOD where the restaurant is would also have that hill in front of it so it wouldn’t be people’s first choice for walking. Maybe a TOD could cut into the hillside to put the retail floor at sidewalk level; I don’t know.

      The distance from the station to Dick’s is also pretty long; it’s really at the edge of the village. If the Broadway Dick’s were the same relative distance it would be at Roy Street, again at the edge of the village. In between are two large blocks that could be more convenient TOD; the Lowe’s lot and the block between it and the station.

      So I don’t see Dick’s as harming the urban village significantly, although I don’t like the concept of a drive-in in an urban village, unless it’s in a multistory building or has as small a footprint as the Broadway Dick’s. What makes the Broadway Dick’s a positive urban place is the parking aisles go front-to-back on the sides of the restaurant, and the counter and walk-up eating space are right off the sidewalk. In contrast, the Kent Dick’s has parking in front of the restaurant so you have to walk through it.

      1. and, apparently on Capital Hill. I think that the statements in the article suggesting that Dick’s is incompatible with TOD are more an indicator of the Democratic Party’s growing war on meat agenda, and less about transit advocacy

      2. There is—and they are interested in redeveloping that parcel, then moving back into the first floor of whatever building goes in. I think people are underestimating the family’s friendliness to higher rise development.

      3. That’s good news. Why did they build a one-story freestanding building then? They should publicize their willingness to redevelop more so that it doesn’t look like they’re perpetuating the bad old days of South King County and making it harder to ever get it into a more walkable state.

      4. I think that the statements in the article suggesting that Dick’s is incompatible with TOD are more an indicator of the Democratic Party’s growing war on meat agenda, and less about transit advocacy.

        Oh, good god. You can’t be serious. What a completely asinine statement. Look, it is pretty simple, and if you just spent a little time thinking about it, or reading the comments made before you, then you could figure it out. A restaurant, with dozens of parking spots and wide lanes accommodating cars is not TOD. It is the opposite of it. It is auto oriented development.

        But it could change! That is the point of that simple paragraph. Even though there is currently nothing there from a transit standpoint to be worth worrying about, in the future the land could hold something a lot more appropriate for a transit station. Do you get it now, or should I break out the puppets?

      5. “it’s hard to imagine a more anti-TOD business than a drive in restaurant”. This is ludicrous, First, because there are plenty of examples of just such development in areas touted as local examples of transit oriented development. Second, because in the context of this article, it *necessarily* implies that a large OMF would be a less anti-TOD development: there’s no need to imagine it, that’s precisely what the article is about.

        I agree the article’s main thrust is that the Dick’s provides an opportunity to preserve that space for future TOD. Unfortunately, the author’s rhetorical choice to take a hyperbolic, gratuitous swipe at a much beloved local icon has the effect of obscuring the this well taken point.

      6. William, you’re going to call the author hyperbolic while you say stuff like, “the Democratic Party’s growing war on meat agenda, and less about transit advocacy”?

        LMAO

      7. Fair enough, although I do wonder how you want to explain away “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero, emissions in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”?

      8. Just heard a discussion on public radio about the latest frontier for entrepreneurs:

        Kelp farming.

        They pointed out that when fed to livestock it dramatically reduced methane emissions.

        Now …
        What to do about the farting airplanes?🤔

      9. “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero, emissions in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”

        What a beautiful and poignant sentence. It speaks to the ways greenhouse-gas emissions are intertwined with our lives, the gravity of the climate crisis, and the scale and nature of our necessary response, with understated humor. We aren’t going to get rid of “farting cows and airplanes” in ten decades, so we have to offset and mitigate their impact.

        It’s disappointing but not surprising that zero-sum partisan hacks that see politics as sport take such a statement in bad faith and serve it up in anger. That they willingly don their ignoramus masks instead of seeing the poetry of one of the best sentences written to justify a collective goal in my lifetime.

      10. Or people can just eat the kelp. It has many vitamins including B12 which is hard to find in non-animal sources, and Omega-3 fatty acids. That’s where the fish get them from.

  3. personally, the price tag and the upside of moving an unsightly mega church make that site seem like a winner to me

      1. No, but church can eat you. Or more accurately, in the case of these non-denominational “megachurches” (e.g. religions as a business), your life savings.

  4. Sounds like 344th is the obvious choice, unless the feds or the state is willing to spend a bunch extra on the landfill (which seems unlikely). This still seems like a huge amount of money (750 million) but I guess that is what big facilities cost when they are close to the freeway.

    1. I was under the impression that the feds are mandated to pay a large portion of the cost if something is officially a Super Fund site. That’s the “Fund” part of the name. I would also think Seattle PUD would gladly pay to get this thorn in their side off the books. It’s also a great opportunity to figure out what to do with dumps all over the country. This dump was not constructed to modern standards with regards to liners and ground water control. And much of it’s toxic soup wouldn’t even be allowed in a landfill today. It’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up sooner rather than later. Being presented with a viable use is gift that seems hard to pass up.

      1. In principle, yes. But the Feds long ago slimmed the funding way down, and very few sites are getting cleaned up any more unless they can find a private party to hang it on.

      2. “The Dump” is on the National Priority List and has a score of 52 which places it right up near the top of sites in Washington. Securing federal funds is all about working the system. We don’t have Maggie and Scoop any more but given all the various angles from which this can be eligible (transportation/environmental/infrastructure/shovel ready jobs/etc) it’s hard for me to believe funding and coverage of overruns from toxic hazards can’t make this cost competitive as far as what the out of pocket expenses are to ST. The reality is that ST as an agency is more of a financial broker than an engineering entity. As for cleaning up the dump it’s a case of “pay me now or pay me later.” Get ST to do their job and make this the best possible deal for taxpayers instead of the easiest thing for ST to ram down peoples throat.

  5. The 344th site is going to cost a lot more then their estimate as they haven’t even approached any of the businesses in that zone. They haven’t even looked inside to know what kind of equipment needs to be moved, what their needs for a new site will be, etc. ST will be responsible for finding them “fair and like” space and as the city of FW keeps saying, there isn’t any that doesn’t require paving something else. Also there are over 100 owners of property in that zone and you know every one of them will max what they can get. It’s a bog that will mire the project.

    1. It’s all relative. Link has to have a base or there can be no Link extension. Any other site would also have property owners and potentially businesses.

  6. I think the site should be as far south as possible. Otherwise, taxpayers will have to pay for out-of-service trains for decades (up to 25 minutes if it’s sited in Kent).

    I still think that the 2026 “requirement” is mistaken as the West Seattle line won’t be ready for testing by 2028 because of the tunnel issue, a lawsuit or some environmental or constructibility challenge anyway. For the sake of 100 years of taxpayers, this OMF should be in Fife or East Tacoma!

    1. What does it have to do with West Seattle? The West Seattle line will be going to Lynnwood, not south King County., There will be another base in Lynnwood so maybe that’s where the West Seattle trains will be.

      1. A place to park and maintain the trains. Since West Seattle is obviously going into overtime, build the base somewhere near the Port of Tacoma.

    2. Good point. A lot depends on the cost. If they can find a base farther south for a lot less money, then it would make sense to just delay West Seattle Link until the depot opens. The initial plans for West Seattle Link is to run a train from West Seattle to SoDo. The value of that line is minimal. I doubt they would truncate the buses, since that would require a three seat ride just to get downtown (for most people). There just aren’t that many people headed to SoDo to warrant spending a lot extra to speed things up. The main value for West Seattle riders occurs when the second tunnel is built.

  7. The site at South 344th (site 10A) has not been accurately evaluated or reported on. This site is not simply a bunch of warehouses with businesses that can be easily relocated. That statement is so far from the truth. Ellenos yogurt alone employs over 100. Garage Town Federal Way has 56 individual owners of 69 properties and/or businesses employing 50-100 or more depending on time of year. It took over 3.5 years to develop and is unique in it’s use, design, and location. If condemned, the only option would be replacement construction. The elevation variation of site 10A is not what has been reported either. There are many other businesses as well as residential homes and a telecommunications tower and wetlands that pose a huge issue. Public outcry and politics saved Dick’s, not numbers (dollars, businesses, and residences). The city of Kent paid for a geo survey that contradicts the cost estimate put out by ST to develop the landfill site, estimating it at or similar to the other sites.

    1. Anyone who tells you that building a rail maintenance facility on top of a pre-RCRA landfill is going to be comparable in cost to an uncontaminated site is full of something, possibly hazardous.

    2. Right, Ron Swanson. I can’t believe people are acting like a former landfill won’t likely have large cost overruns. I’m still waiting for those pushing for the site to outline how they’ll ensure the cost of addressing any unexpected toxic waste leakage won’t come out of ST’s transit budget. Do they promise not to berate ST if the costs run high?

      1. Basing thoughts on feelings rather than sound engineering evaluation is not a smart choice. A separate engineering study by a very reputable company has indicated that the Midway landfill site while not perfect is a good choice financially and environmentally for ST’s OMF South.

      2. Who is this “very reputable company”? Does it by some fantastically unlikely happenstance belong to a highway construction conglomerate?

  8. If the Muncipalities want the landfill site for the OMF, then they should contribute out of pocket towards paying to go with the more expensive site. I’d say not a lot, but at least some money.

    1. They need to step up and commit to covering any cost overruns as well. If they are that confident in their study, they will put their money where their mouth’s are.

  9. It’s seems like none of you studied or learned from the two previous OMF site selections. ST likes to choose sites that will displace the fewest number of businesses, and they like the sites that cost the least, or close to the least.

    And all this talk of TOD … Bellevue said to ST, um, we created the Spring District for TOD, please don’t take chunk of our TOD land for your big train yard. ST’s response to Bellevue: 凸 (`д´) 凸

    1. It was a bus base long before there was any thought of a Spring District. And again, Link needs a base somewhere. Here’s an investigative reporting opportunity for you. Find some pother Eastside site on or near the East Link alignment that would be a more suitable site.

      1. East Link’s OMF site was never a bus base. It’s across the street from a bus base. And I’m not interested in revisiting Bellevue’s OMF siting. I’m just telling all the people here talking about the TOD potential around Dick’s what they can expect from ST in terms of caring about that issue. ST didn’t care about taking potential TOD land in Bellevue, so why would they in Kent?

    2. Right. Which is why I’m saying that Dick’s has been useful in creating a constituency that “future TOD” by itself doesn’t have.

  10. How about the rock quarry (or whatever it is) just to the E of I-5 at S. 376th St. and Milton Road S.?

  11. I’ve heard that the Church may be interested in selling, so my money is on that site. They have been rocked by scandals & lawsuits in recent years, and may have a dwindling congregation income-stream. They could retire their helicopter that they used to fly between the Bellevue campus and the Federal Way campus to trim their costs…

    I think there are also operational impacts from siting the OMF too far towards either end of the line. Since all of the active trains need to reach the OMF every night for cleaning, the shortest maintenance window results from a site near the middle of the line. The Midway and Dick’s sites were ideal from this perspective, and sites further south than the 344th site (e.g. Milton) are impractical. Even the 344th site will mean a wider nightly maintenance window (or extra rolling stock for rotation) than the Kent sites.

    It’s a very complex problem, with many dimensions, and so far the process seems to be working to find the best available choice.

    1. Is it possible they are keeping the other two sites in the mix because compared to the church site they will have some clear failure points and leave the church as the obvious choice? I think it’s odd that at all of these public comments no one from the church has spoken up. There are third parties like a few here saying “we shouldn’t move their church” but no one saying “this is my church please don’t move it”. I don’t know the politics of the church but looking at the site, they have had empty land marked as the future site of a school and athletic facility, and it’s been that way since at least 2007 with no change. Maybe they would take the money and build a smaller facility elsewhere. It’s also the largest and flattest site left on the list.

  12. “The decision to remove the Dick’s site was a good one.”

    Not really. The site was the best operationally and from a cost standpoint. And it doesn’t require segmenting the Tacoma extension. This strikes me as a failure of leadership and imagination, and a reflection of how far the once-mighty ST Board has fallen into parochialism.

    This is an agency that once intervened in, and re-made, the city of Bellevue’s entire Bel-Red plan around a 25-acre maintenance base NEXT TO A STATION that essentially replaces and preserves all of the commercial and residential development envisioned in that transit-oriented corridor. To cave into the mob mentality around a burger joint and use TOD the market won’t produce for a generation is a really weak argument, because ST has already shown TOD and maintenance can co-exist.

    The landfill is a non-starter financially and environmentally. And if they can’t handle a burger joint, good luck displacing the old Weyerhaeuser campus.

    That leaves the agency stuck with raiding the Tacoma extension for the money to build long lead tracks to the 344th site. Maybe they’ll have to break it into two projects: a short, one-station extension with a train yard, and the rest. How will this affect the chances of federal funding for Tacoma? How will this affect the schedule for the Tacoma extension, which at 2030 is already aggressive? I’m sure they’ll figure it out. But it’s crazy how much more complicated they have made it for themselves for want of some leadership and creativity.

      1. The facility has to be operational well ahead of the T-Dome extension in order to accommodate fleet deliveries. With the last two “viable” sites over a mile south of FWTC, the agency has to consider breaking out funds form the T-Dome project and building the lead tracks, and possibly the 344th station, and activate them a few years before the T-Dome extension itself opens.

      2. The entire Tacoma Link extension has to be operational at least a year before the opening! It’s called the testing phase. That puts the track as operational in 2028 or 2029.

        ST could also build the facility and take delivery of rail cars without being connected to the rest of the system for a few months if needed.

        It’s entirely likely that Federal Way Link won’t open until 2026 anyway. It’s also going to require 1-2 years of testing starting in 2024.

        Any tunnel for the West Seattle segment will push the schedule at least to 2033 if not 2035..

        The date argument for the landfill site is silly. It’s no more than an 18-month issue if that! ST should put the facility where the operational benefit over 100 years and not try to use a few months on inconvenience as a site selection criterion.

      3. For what it’s worth, TriMet was receiving light rail cars at its Elmonica facility years before the Hillsboro extension opened. Track was completed through the tunnel long before signal systems and electrification was completed, so they just shoved the new cars through the tunnel to the old line using the maintenance tractor.

        Lines don’t have to be fully operational for maintenance movements.

      4. Lowe’s could build apartments above its store. It could move the parking behind the store so it’s not such an eyesore and the front entrance is close to the sidewalk.

    1. The choice to remove Dick’s Drive-in was the best choice for our community. Dick’s was the focus of the fight because it got the most attention. There are other businesses on that campus that are important to the local community. Especially Lowe’s because if we lose that we have nowhere to build a replacement. This was not about Cheeseburgers it was about the local community actually having a real say in how we are going to be impacted by all this.

    2. I think that I would have to know more facts about when Sound Transit knew they chose the Dick’s/ Lowe’s site. If Dick’s bought the land then found out about the OMF site, maybe they should not have even built it. If Sound Transit knew about the site earlier and waited until very recently to inform them then Sound Transit brought on the drama on their own. I just don’t know.

      Here is another issue. Dick’s has been considered part of Seattle as much as the Space Needle to some people. And Dick’s have been here longer. I do not have that emotional Seattle tie to that establishment, but I know many that do. My own Dad has not had a Dick’s burger for over 20 years. He has never lived in the south end. But when he heard about the site he was mad It is seen by many that Sound Transit does not care for local businesses. I din’t think that the CEO’s response helped that. I was actually surprised about the reaction south of Seattle. Until recently, Dick’s was only inside the city limits of Seattle.

      Dick’s has been known for treating their employees very well since at least the early 80’s that I can remember. It may be the best site, and I won’t try to argue that. But going against Dick’s whether it is for taxes or for a light rail facility is going to be an uphill battle. That business will be seen by most as a very positive influence in most communities. It will be hard to break that reputation. People want that restaurant in their community. Nobody votes on Wendy’s or McDonalds. In reality, Lowe’s and the other businesses should be thanking Dick’s. Nobody was coming to their rescue.

  13. ST already bent over backwards to save all the auto-oriented businesses from being impacted by an obviously superior alignment down Pacific Hwy S. Now they’re moving the OMF to do the same. I’m sure in the future, when the train is zigzagging around, we’ll all be really glad the “character” of this highway was preserved.

  14. ST should build at the Christian Faith Center site. It is the most ideal location, with a crossing under I-5 located near the church, for easy access for the many employees the base will have. Also lots of vacant land that could be put to use to deter the homeless camps in the area.. That specific area of Federal Way, wouldn’t hurt to have some type of new development in it.

    My main takeaway about the 344th station would be it’d take out Federal Ways, new business Ellenos which has just invested millions into building their facility, and also pays pretty well from what I hear and employees 100+.

  15. This was a great win for the people of the South End. We stood up as a community and forced those who think we are not important to listen. That was the first battle but the war is far from over. The landfill site is the only site that the South End should accept. It is the only site that does not steal homes, businesses and churches of local residents.

    1. Then the cities of South King had best be putting up binding pledges to share costs when the landfill cleanup costs go sky-high.

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