The latest round of Federal Way Link public meetings came with a website. There isn’t anything of interest in terms of station area design that Bruce didn’t cover in detail over two years ago.

Nevertheless, there’s new information about the artists that have been selected for each station. I’m of no use for art criticism, but the word “plaza” comes up far too much. Except where the environment is already quite dense, for plazas read “long walks where buildings should be”.

ST did itself no favors four years ago by publishing a map that exaggerated the turns and deviation necessary to mostly run down I-5. But in the end, there’s one station with a college nearby and in the heart of a very ambitious rezone; one unexciting freeway station with little around it; and one right in the core of Federal Way. If you’re super-bullish about the SR99 corridor’s potential, ST has forgone the possibility of more infill there. But otherwise, the stations are pretty well placed.

Anyway, ST wants your opinion on station names, so fill out the survey.

55 Replies to “Federal Way Link survey is out”

  1. It’s not a ‘bad map’ it’s a schematic highlighting the ridiculousness of their chosen route. It’s slower, more expensive, and clearly inferior to running straight down Pacific Hwy. I guess the character and charm of drive-thrus and parking lots needed to be preserved.

    1. Not the character and charm but the jobs and low-cost storefronts for immigrant startups. That was Des Moines’ reason for opposing the 99 alternative. Kent wanted it.

      1. Obvious bs. What about all the housing that will be demolished in order to cut back and forth between I-5 and 99? Des Moines cares more about the chamber of commerce than immigrants or ‘low-cost’ anything.

      2. Pho Quynh. Willies Discount Work Wear. Star Bar & Grill. Ace Hardware. Los Bigotes de Villa. The Hair Joint. Lighthouse Korean Reformed Church. The list goes on.

        I’d rather bulldoze the blood-sucking corporate Wall Street leeches at Southcenter Mall than these locally-owned businesses. Small businesses like the ones along SR 99 are hanging on by a thread. Relocating would put most of them out of business permanently.

      3. It’s 2-3 blocks between 99 and the freeway, and the kill zone around the freeway is so large that there aren’t many houses to traverse. 208th is adjacent to the planned 509 extension so those will be demolished regardless. KDM Road has one commercial building in the path and it might have to be modified anyway for a 99 station. 238th-240th streets is two commercial lots. 272nd Street the only impacts are the existing P&R and possibly an elementary school. 320th Street the station is a big benefit to the city. Federal Way pushed for Link on I-5 for perceived faster travel time, so it made the decision that the impacts at 272nd and 320th are acceptable. Federal Way also threatened to sue ST if the 99 alignment were chosen.

      4. Des Moines could build a multistory building or two and lease it out at a discount to local, low-budget, minority-owned businesses. That would give the businesses more walk-up traffic and ultimately more customers while improving the quality of live in the city. One-story strip malls were a mistake in the first place and we shouldn’t perpetuate them forever. They weren’t originally built for scraping-at-the-bottom entrepreneurs and customers; they were built for people rich enough that they could drive SOVs everywhere without thinking about the cost.

      5. I call malarkey. In what world does running elevated rail *over* the highway require businesses *along* the highway to go away? Even if the rail were built off to the side, the businesses are set back from the highway and the column supports are so narrow you’d only be sacrificing one parking spot per column. If that.

      6. The track is in the freeway right of way. The businesses have their backs to it. The loss is open space, on the side that nobody but the landscapers ever go to.

      7. @Mike I meant for the now abandoned Highway 99 alignment. The fronts of the businesses do tend to face the highway, but they’re set back enough (mainly with parking lots) that even building alongside 99 shouldn’t require demolishing many of them.

      8. City code out there requires X parking spaces per Y square feet of building. If Sound Transit took only the parking lot, it would leave the businesses out of compliance, so that would be illegal. Plus, the business owners would Sue, claiming that without parking spaces, they won’t get any customers.

      9. “but the jobs and low-cost storefronts for immigrant startups. That was Des Moines’ reason for opposing the 99 alternative.” It is pretty messed up that Des Moines would oppose the 99 alternative just to deliberately hurt the jobs and immigrant-owned businesses that would have massively benefited from hordes of more customers from light rail and no longer being blighted by a massive stroad out in front with dangerous pedestrian conditions. I would have thought Des Moines would want to help those businesses rather than target them for disinvestment and blight.

      10. The strip mall across the street from TIBS evicted all its low cost and recent immigrant businesses for TOD gentrification earlier this year. Why should we think Des Moines is any different?

      11. Of course densification requires demolishing existing space-wasting buildings. Tukwila could have done more to give those businessessome place affordable to go to. When you make keeping those buildings an absolute, you ignore the consequences of that. It exacerbates the regionwide housing shortage and drives prices higher elsewhere. Even those buildings will eventually become unaffordable to the businesses that are currently using them. Either that or the neighborhood will be so undesired it will decay and turn into a slum and customers will become scarce. Densifying the block increases the number of people who can lie a block away from transit, which is a scarce resource in this region. Mixed-use development means they can walk to businesses too. Are there any apartments on that block now, or just a few businesses behind a large parking lot?

      12. The mall in question housed 1y businesses. Part of the area is indeed going to apartments, but part of it is being reserved for a 69 million dollar Justice Center, with police dispatch, courthouses, and detention facilities. That latter part isn’t exactly TOD.

        Some of the evicted businesses had been there for 20 years, so it is highly unlikely that “those buildings will eventually become unaffordable to the businesses that are currently using them.”

    2. As Martin points out, it was a cheaper alignment. Running down 99 would have taken out a lot of local businesses, and commercial real estate along an arterial isn’t cheap. Low-density residential land with a freeway backdrop has an inherently lower acquisition cost. The stations are spaced 2 miles apart, with one of them a half mile off of SR 99, one adjacent to SR 99, and a third a half mile off SR 99 with a shopping mall a block away, surrounded by blocks and blocks of strip malls ripe for privately financed redevelopment, and adjacent to the new performing arts center.
      I can’t really complain about the alignment too much.

      1. Yeah, spending an extra 300 million without adding a single new station would be nuts. The time savings would be minimal — likely a few seconds — not at all worth it.

      2. But that’s the point. There could have been — and in retrospect it will be clear, should have been — at least two more stations between Angle Lake and “Central” Federal Way.

        Two more stations would add about three minutes to the Federal Way to downtown Seattle trip which will already by sixty minutes or so. That’s five percent.

        However, it’s clear than neither Sea-Tac nor Des Moines is interested in or would have allowed nodes of dense development, so the freeway makes sense.

      3. I agree. I don’t see much about the alignment to argue with either.

        “…and commercial real estate along an arterial isn’t cheap. Low-density residential land with a freeway backdrop has an inherently lower acquisition cost.”

        Exactly. For comparison, the Lynnwood Link extension, which is 8.5 miles long and largely follows the I-5 ROW, still involves 365 parcel takings (some partial, some full acquisitions) and 375 relocations for a total ROW baseline budget of $236M. There are few commercial properties among the acquisitions.

      4. I know, the I-5 route was the least expensive and the decision has been made, but was running elevated *over* the highway ever considered? Was it a WSDOT issue? Will it be impossible to build anything elevated over a WSDOT road going forward? If so, that’s pretty bad.

      5. 272nd is the only station that’s more than a block from 99 or the Federal Way Commons. 272nd is so undense that there’s “nothing there”; nothing for a station to miss.

    3. Speaking of maps, is there a better one? I’m not interested in a schematic, or something that changes the scale that it fits on a page. I’m interested in something like this:, but wonder if it is still accurate (that map was made before ST3).

      1. For the map you linked to, it’s not that far off.

        Kent Des Moines is about right except the track back to I-5 cuts more diagonally and is straighter.

        Star Lake Station is spot-on.

        Federal Way transit center station is not correct, since it’s going to be located next to the existing transit center reasonably far from the freeway.

        Anything south of there is still TBD, but S. Federal Way and Fife stations obviously won’t be built exactly on top of the freeway interchanges.

    4. The location of the tracks for accessibility is much less relevant than where the stations are — especially station entrances. KDM is just a block from 99 — and the entrances will be next to lower speed streets, which is a superior station position than in a median of a highway (SR99 or I-5). The same is true for Federal Way (noting that a 99 alignment would have still ended here).

      With a 99 alignment, only 272nd would be positioned differently. The other advantage would be if another infill station was added.

      To that end, a 99 alignment would have offered few advantages and would have cost $300m more.

      1. At the same time, I don’t think ST wanted to go through a similar headache that they’re facing over OMF from city councils, businesses, and residents. For all the problems the I-5 alignment has and there are a lot, it was the path of least resistance compared to the 99 route.

  2. Survey filled out.
    I’m in Federal Way 3 to 5 days per week, on average.
    I encourage folks to use local names – specifically, for the station at Kent-Des Moines Road, some reference to either “Midway” or “Highline College” would be appropriate. “Kent-Des Moines” is too general. Both cities are pretty big, and the road connecting them is several miles long. Not just “Highline” as it could be confused with Highline School District or Highline Medical Center, it has to reference the college. For this reason, “Midway” may be best, as I don’t think it duplicates any other places in the region.
    “Star Lake” makes the most sense at S 272nd St. Do you know that 272nd St runs for 20 miles, intermittently, all the way out to Maple Valley. For that reason, S 272nd St is just way too vague. “Star Lake” puts it at a really specific location.
    All of the Federal Way suggestions are pretty good. Depends on whether you like City Center versus Downtown. I think Downtown gives it a good distinction, but the other suggestions are good too.

    1. I agree, Kent-Des Moines is terrible. It is long and meaningless. Highline College is good, but pretty long. Midway works. The locals know it, and it is short.

      South 272nd would be OK, if the other roads were numbered. It is good to have subway stops be numbered, so that infrequent users have a general feel for where they are headed (into or out of downtown). For example, 45th, 65th, Northgate, 130th, 145th, etc. is better than what we will use. But in this case, the other stations won’t have numbers, and the stations are so far apart that it would be tough to follow (and you are approaching the county line anyway). South 272nd seems OK, but Star Lake is short, and it seems more attractive, so that seems like the better choice.

      I would just go with “Federal Way”, instead of “Federal Way Transit Center”, or “Federal Way T. C.” I supposed you could have “F. W. T. C.” but that gives you no clue, and only saves a little space over “Federal Way” (same number of characters). “South Federal Way” could be abbreviated “South F. W.”. It would be listed right next to “Federal Way” which means that people could figure it out.

      1. I lived in Federal Way for 20 years. When my kids got into middle school and high school, all of their friends just called Federal Way, “Fed”. It grew on me and now I only say “Fed”. Federal Way is a stupid name for a city. Who wants to live in a city named after a stroad? Of course, I also grew up in University Place- a town named after a University that ended up in North Tacoma. That turned into “U”-“P” for everyone that lives there.

        I like short names. “Highline”, “Star Lake” and “Fed”. although I can accept “Federal Way”.

      2. I don’t think these are the final station names. We just call them 240th, 272nd, 320th informally to describe their distance from downtown. 272nd will probably be Star Lake, as the existing P&R is called. Federal Way will hopefully drop the “transit center” suffix, which is probably just to indicate what’s there now. Kent-Des Moines is pretty certain because it’s Kent’s Link station too. It has the advantage of naming the two cities in the area, which people hopefully have an idea of where they are.

      3. 272nd & 99 is the north edge of Federal Way, southwest corner of Kent, southeast corner of Des Moines. Better name 272nd Kent-Des Moines-Federal Way, just to be safe.

    1. You mean less business. There’s only RapidRide A now. It takes 30 minutes from Federal Way to SeaTac, or twice as long as Link. The 574 approximates Link but is less frequent, has odd start-end times (3am-11pm), loses time in traffic and getting off the freeway to the stops, and requires a transfer to downtown or UW.

      1. I hope not. Public-private partnerships in transit from Hopelink and First Transit through Via are some of the worst partnerships in the region. Public transit, including microtransit, should be and should stay public.

  3. I’m kind of surprised that ST hasn’t offered “Federal Way North”. After all, the city covers a large area with a large population and two stations are currently planned. It would be comparable to Shoreline in naming.

    1. The preliminary alignments did have more optional stations but they were all deselected. We pushed for one at 216th for a potential urban village there. The others were Dash Point Road, 260th, maybe another. Des Moines wasn’t interested in the stations or more urban villages, beyond its token attempt at KDM.

  4. The KDM/ Highline College area is supposed to be a major new TOD. I think it would be better to give it its own identity rather than a generic name of the two very large cities whose centers are not close by. I feel that we are afraid to look to naming a future neighborhood, and instead only look to the past or present. “Midway” is one name that could reset the area’s image, but I would love to see a new place name tied into an architectural style or vibe. A European name? A craftsman/ lodge name? A Disney or fairy tale place name? There are even naming experts that corporations spend lots of money on to come up with recognizable names.

    There seems to be a regional fear of identifiable place-making by choosing names that match the desired building appearance these days. For example, it is sad how many new bland apartment buildings are built with a generic name (first names of people, geometric shapes, generic urbanist terms). Regardless of chosen station names, we live in an unfortunate era of uncreativity and mediocrity.

    1. “Midway” is too generic and connotes the landfill. The TOD will be large by South King County standards but I doubt it will be large. Something like 130th & Aurora or 155th & Aurora is probably more than we can hope for. In any case, it’s the City of Kent’s TOD, so it would be the one we should encourage to name it. I think the station name is already set. And I don’t see either Kent or Des Moines accepting anything other than “Kent-Des Moines Station”.

      “Highline” is too vague; everything from Highline CC to White Center has been called Highline. There’s also Highline medical center at 164th & 8th Ave SW. It’s like “Overlake” in the Eastside; we’re supposed to believe it spans to Overlake Hospital in Bellevue and Overlake Tech Center in Redmond, with Overlake Village in between. That would make it the largest city in the Eastside if it were incorporated.

  5. The video shows the light rail route in green. Does this mean that ST is going to propose getting around the “red line” name problem by calling it the “green line”?

  6. I thought there was a plan to trade Mark Twain Elementary with the park and ride on 272nd and 99 with the Federal Way School District. The school was worried about a train on the edge of their playground that would distract kids. Did that fall through? If not, what are they going to do with the old school? It was going to be replaced eventually because it is a little old. If a trade was made, it looks like they aren’t going to use the land….

      1. What is the focus of immigrants and the association of immigrants to low-cost? Last I check, you all are immigrants and not the real natives of this country. At least current immigration are not kill you off as you have with the native. Fyi, white people your land is European. Quiet tell the rest of us non-whites that your native. If we compared today’s immigration to 1500-1920 immigration, we know who has blood on their hand. So please keep us out of your problems. Your problems today is what your ancestors created. Go blame your ancestors.

        Secondly, the biggest race group that use the ST is whites and we know it benefits you.

  7. This is an amazing addition to our States’ transportation system. Not every City has a spacious land to build a new train routes nor every opportunity and fund to better and offer extended convenience to their people. A very close relative of mine owned a local business along areas they bought out. It’s a big deal because it’s a pain and time consuming to move a business or buy a new house but they get paid for moving, and so much more. In the long run, this entire project will benefit us and our future generation. The amount of cars on the road multiply day by day and our traffic are getting worst and worst. As a matter of fact 62,000 people move to Washington year 2016-2017 and it will only go up. I have a lot of respect for our City employees that plan and execute this kind of projects.

  8. Those large parcels in the video that say “construction staging,” those will eventually be turned into TOD, correct? Does anyone know what the law says ST has to do with surplus land?

    1. ST’s policy now is to consider it for affordable housing first, and otherwise to maximize the regular TOD in station areas. It got the state to change a law to allow it to donate parcels or sell them at a discount to facilitate affordable housing. Since housing is our other biggest crisis and low-income residents are likely transit users, it wins on those counts. The tradeoff is ST doesn’t recoup as much money to shorten the tax-collection period.

      It didn’t use to be this way. ST’s attitude in ST1 was to be neutral in the TOD/NIMBY debates to avoid being villified by either side, and in Rainier Valley it tried to take as few parcels as possible by minimizing the construction footprint. The former led to the problem that train stations need walkable station areas and nearby residents to be the most successful and effective. The latter led to the problem that after construction many of the remaining lots were small and oddly-shaped and hard to build on.

    2. Here are your sources:
      RCW 81.112.350

      Also, I would encourage you to read the ST board’s resolution R2018-10 as well as the agency’s latest statutorily required quarterly update report, “Sound Transit’s Office of Land Use Planning & Development – Transit-Oriented Development Quarterly Status Report – Q3 2019”.

      Imo, ST abuses its eminent domain power when it purchases far more property than is needed for a project’s components. The agency seems to have a tendency to want to “spread out” when staging projects which eventually leads to surplus properties aplenty. There have been multiple examples of this to date. For example, the Roosevelt Station component of the Northgate Link extension project resulted in 50% of the properties acquired ending up in the surplus inventory. From what I can see of the progress being made on the Lynnwood Link extension project along the I-5 corridor it appears the agency is continuing this pattern of spreading out its staging areas. Originally we were told at an open house that the Lynnwood Link project would involve around 100-150 parcel acquisitions. The latest quarterly progress report for Link has the needed parcel takings at 365.

  9. Even without Link on 99 Des Moines and Federal Way could still choose to zone urban villages around their RapidRide stations as Lynnwood has done with its Swift stations. The current problem is the 30-minute gap between Federal Way and Angle Lake Station, but when Link opens that will shrink to a 10-minute gap to get to a station. That will make it easier to live along 99 even if you’re not within walking distance of a station. And conversely it will make it easier for customers to get to businesses there. This redevelopment could include a 2-, 3-, or 4-times increase in the number of businesses there. And as I said above, the cities could arrange for affordable storefront buildings for the displaced businesses and others. If cities can build affordable housing, they can build affordable storefronts.

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