It's official: No light rail in Federal Way | Sound Transit reviews options for Highline Community College station

A planned expansion of light rail to Federal Way has been delayed indefinitely. - File photo
A planned expansion of light rail to Federal Way has been delayed indefinitely.
— image credit: File photo

A planned expansion of light rail to Federal Way has been delayed indefinitely due to a lack of money.

Sound Transit predicts a revenue shortfall of $3.9 billion through 2023, when a light rail station near South 272nd Street and Pacific Highway South was scheduled for completion.

In 2008, voters approved the Sound Transit 2 expansion, which included plans for the Federal Way light rail station. The station would have linked with the existing light rail line that runs from downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Light rail may not reach the northern edge of Federal Way until 2034 or later, and would require another ballot measure, said Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason. It is also uncertain when light rail will connect with Pierce County as originally planned.

The Sound Transit governing board will meet again May 26 to consider options for bringing light rail past South 200th Street to include a stop at Highline Community College. However, building the light rail even that far south means other non-related Sound Transit construction projects would be cut, Reason said.

Sound Transit’s revenue intake, about 25 percent less than expected, can be attributed to lower tax collections, according to a March 2011 report in The Mirror. Tax revenue projections in the South King County area are down by about 31 percent — the largest shortfall among the five subareas from which Sound Transit collects taxes. Tax revenue projections are down across all five subareas.

“It’s something we care about and we would like to see come our way as soon as possible,” said Federal Way City Councilwoman Jeanne Burbidge, noting the council’s support for bringing light rail to Federal Way. Burbidge, who serves on the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board, said light rail would provide an efficient transit option for Federal Way’s residents and workforce.

“I will do all I can to ensure it’s coming as soon as it possibly can,” she said. “It was included in a vote of the people. It was a very positive vote.”

According to Sound Transit’s plans, a Redondo station would stretch almost 5 miles from South 200th Street with a station each near Highline Community College and the Redondo/Star Lake park and ride lot. The estimated cost of the project, according to a March report, was between $809 million and $950 million, and would have included a 500-space parking garage.

Sound Transit still plans to include expand the light rail north to the Northgate area of Seattle, and from downtown Seattle to Redmond and King County’s Eastside.


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