ST board charts course for Federal Way link extension

The Sound Transit Board of Directors has selected the alignment for extending light rail to Federal Way. The route, with stations at Kent/Des Moines near Highline College, South 272nd Street, and the Federal Way Transit Center, will travel along the west side of Interstate 5 between stations and maximize future transit oriented development around the stations.

Sound-Transit_FederalWay-map“Identifying a route gives us a clear path forward for bringing light rail to Federal Way by 2024,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and King County Councilmember Peter von Reichbauer. “In just a few years’ time, the people of South King County will enjoy the convenience of light rail that thousands of other regional commuters already enjoy.”

“South King County desperately needs more public transit to connect people to jobs and schools, said Sound Transit Boardmember and King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “This is an exciting step forward.”

The selected 7.8-mile route will extend south from the Angle Lake Station in the City of SeaTac, cross State Route 99, continue along the south edge of the future SR 509 highway to Interstate 5, and travel south along the west side of the I-5 freeway. In the Kent/Des Moines station area, the route will transition west near Highline College with a station along the west side of 30th Avenue South. The alignment will then continue south along the west side of I-5 to the Star Lake Park and Ride at South 272nd Street in the City of Kent. South of South 272nd, the alignment will continue along the west side of I-5 before curving west at South 317th Street and terminating at the Federal Way Transit Center at the west side of 23rd Avenue South and north of South 320th Street.

A map of the selected alignment is available online:

The Board selected the alignment and stations after receiving public feedback on a Final Environmental Impact Statement published in November. Following yesterday’s action by the Board, Sound Transit will request a Record of Decision from the Federal Transit Administration. Following the Record of Decision, procurement for a design-build contractor would begin, with construction scheduled to start in 2019.

In addition to yesterday’s action selecting the alignment, Sound Transit, King County Metro and the Federal Way School District signed a Memorandum of Agreement to work diligently toward a transaction with King County Metro that could enable the school district to acquire the nearby Redondo Park-and-Ride property. The current Mark Twain Elementary School property, which is in close proximity to the new light rail station at S. 272nd, could potentially be transferred to King County Metro or Sound Transit to be used for transit oriented development.

“This is a potential win/win/win for all parties involved. Mark Twain Elementary School will gain a better location for expansion; Sound Transit will avoid $30 million in additional cost to the taxpayer; and Federal Way residents will benefit from enhanced transit oriented development,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “Extraordinary creativity and collaboration between the Federal Way Public School District, King County Metro and Sound Transit led to this very positive solution.”

By the time light rail begins serving Federal Way in 2024, Sound Transit will be operating Link across more than 60 miles of light rail service to Northgate and Lynnwood; Mercer Island, Bellevue and downtown Redmond; and Tacoma Link to Hilltop. Link is expected to carry more than 80 million riders annually by 2030.

– Sound Transit