News

Transit center, garage project gets go-ahead

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

A hearing examiner gave the go-ahead to a transit center and parking garage project in Federal Way following an appeal filed by Gateway Center business owners.

After hearing testimony from both sides, Greg Smith, a hearing examiner pro tem for the city of Spokane, concluded Gateway Center business owners and their experts did not meet the burden of proof for noise, transportation and land-use impacts they expect the transit center and garage will introduce.

Gateway Center business owners appealed a March 6 decision granting a determination of non-significance to the project, a five-story, 1,200-stall parking garage and transit center on South 317th Street and 23rd Avenue South. The proposal also includes direct access ramps to and from Interstate 5.

Sound Transit conducted an environmental assessment in concert with the Washington Highway Administration and the state Department of Transportation, but the business owners said the agency should have conducted an environmental impact study.

Gateway Center business owners expressed several concerns with the project, including noise generated by the buses, air quality degradations from exhaust, increased traffic congestion from buses and commuters driving to the center and garage and the projects potential impacts on the city’s comprehensive plan.

Smith dismissed the air quality issue, saying the business owners didn’t address the issue previously in public comment. Smith also suggested the city of Federal Way might be better equipped to address comprehensive plan issues.

Smith is one of several hearing examiners Sound Transit keeps on a roster and calls upon to hear appeals filed against the agency.

“This one was chosen because he’s far away,” said Sound Transit spokesman Lee Somerstein.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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